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1. Pulse on Pacing: How Smooth Transitions Keep Your Story Moving

Writing itself is change, and within story structure, transitions are key to keeping things moving.

It isn’t just about getting your character from scene to scene, it’s also is about communicating ideas and making sure there’s a smooth flow from one piece of information to the next.

raceWithout deft transitions, the manuscript flow becomes herky-jerky. Characters seem to leap about in time and space, plot points can get dropped and instead of riding down the flowing river of the writer’s consciousness with a pina colada in hand, the reader is riding shotgun in Monster Truck Crash Rally Death Match with an icy beverage all over their lap.

So how do we kick ass and take names as far as learning to transition well?


The plot and characters should always be in motion. Every action, every thought, every emotion should all draw the reader forward, deeper into the story. As you write, always think movement. Are the stakes rising, are the characters acting? Does each piece of information deepen the reader’s understanding of what is at stake, and what the character must face?

Each sentence should form part of the picture and contribute, naturally lead to the next. I’m not just talking sentence structure here, I’m talking about substance. Every word, phrase and idea must not be wasted. Select each carefully, with intent. This will create a natural and compelling flow.

Transitioning Between Scenes

Not every scene ends with a chapter break, so we need to have a little bag of tricks to get characters from one place to the next. First and foremost, always know where the ending point of your scene is. Every scene should have a natural beginning, middle and end…the end being where the character resolves to take a new action or where he finds himself in worse trouble than at the start. We don’t want those characters taking it easy, no sir. Bring on the hot irons of conflict & consequence!

TIP: When starting a new scene, be quick about anchoring the reader in the setting and let them know who’s viewpoint it is, especially if your book has two or more POV characters. Nothing turns a reader off faster than not knowing where they are, and who is speaking/narrating. A new scene should never feel like Musical Chairs–the reader should always know which POV they are experiencing.

Angela’s Tricksy Bag of, erm, Tricks

Keep a Weather Eye on Your Story

This is an excellent way to show a passage of time and get the character moving. No one can hang out at the park for long on a wintery January morning, not unless hypothermia is on the menu. Ditto with a character noticing how the cloud cover is stealing the sun’s heat, a storm is brewing or how the sun’s position changes as it crosses the sky. When your character takes note, the reader does too. Time is fluid.

–Thinking Ahead

The character’s thought process can easily allow you to skip ahead to a new scene. By letting thoughts (or worries!) drift to a future event (getting off work, meeting up with someone for a date that night, a ball game on the weekend, etc) end the scene, it allows you to jump right into that event in the scene that follows without causing a ripple in the story’s flow.

A Nice Fish Slap to the Face

Remember those high stakes we talked about? Well, action and pressure often leads to mistakes, which leads to nasty, sticky consequences. A great way to transition to a new scene is to show the character having to face the result of his earlier poor choice.

Routine, Routine, Routine 

No matter how wild and crazy things get,  some routines are rarely broken. The responsibilities of school and work, waking up, going to bed, mealtimes…if you need to, you can use these (but don’t slow the pace!) to show a leap forward to a new scene. But remember some routines can be overused (such as starting a chapter with the character waking up). Instead, try showing them start the day brushing their teeth or heading out the door to school or work. Take care that transitions don’t turn into long coffee breaks, either. Each setting choice should contribute directly to story and character development and have meaning, not provide a reason to show a long internalization that probably is not needed anyway.

Tick Tock 

There’s nothing wrong with having a good old-fashioned ticking clock to get a character out of one scene and onto the next one. If your character is on a schedule (and really, who isn’t?) they will be very aware of the time and can easily communicate this through their thoughts, actions or dialogue. No one likes to be late, right? Again, just be careful of not overusing this trick to get in and out of all your scenes.

Changing POV 

Obviously, this is only one to use if you’re using multiple POVs. If you’re at a loss over which POV to use in a scene, it should be told by the person with the most to lose or gain from the action & events of the scene.

Need some more ideas on how to use the world around your characters to transition? Check out The Bookshelf Muse’s Symbolism Entry on The Passage of Time

Image: pixabay
Original post

The post Pulse on Pacing: How Smooth Transitions Keep Your Story Moving appeared first on WRITERS HELPING WRITERS.

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2. Top Ten Ways to Deal with Curious Spectators

Yesterday's post about the challenges of curious spectators generated a lot of interest— 35 comments on the blog.....and on Facebook: 533 likes, 104 comments and 83 shares.

As promised:

James Gurney's Top 10 Ways to Deal with Curious Spectators 

10. Deflect questions by answering them in advance. There's the "Critic Be Gone Shirt," marketed by Guerilla Painter, which has a rather sarcastic tone.....
....and blog reader Christian shared this T-shirt design made by his friend Graeme Skinner for a friend Laura Young.

9. Place headphones on your head, so that you look zoned out, even if you're not listening to any music. Good way to overhear candid comments.

8. If you like to smoke, blow smoke out of cheap cigars. It keeps away mosquitos, too.
The only problem with these first three solutions is that you can miss out on the really rewarding encounters that can come from curious spectators. How do you make the experience work out better for both parties?

Let's remember that most spectators mean well. They're not as judgmental as we suppose them to be. They almost universally admire an artist who is courageous enough to bring their studio outside. Spectators often ask dumb things because they're shy and they don't know what to say to an artist.

If a person comes up and they seem unsure of what to ask, I usually have a stock line ready to help orient them, such as, "Hi, I'm working in casein, which is an old fashioned milk-based paint that people used before acrylic was invented."

In other countries, the language barrier often helps. When I sketched in China, people watched with quiet, respectful absorption, or they would just smile and make encouraging gestures. In my experience, Europeans tend to be really considerate and watch for a reasonably short time, and just saying a kind word or two.  In Ireland everyone is such a wonderful and witty talker that every encounter is great fun, so I love painting in public there.

In Africa, curious spectators have volunteered to be models. In Morocco, kids can't resist gathering very close and even blocking the view.

Most of the time when kids hang around, it make sketching much more fun. If you bring an extra sketchpad to loan to a really interested kid, you might change a life. Long-time blog readers may remember the time I wore a steampunk outfit to Amish country, and everyone totally accepted me.

But being inviting and friendly doesn't always work, and sometimes I get annoyed, especially by questions that obsess over sales and careers and money and commerce, and all the things that stop the wings of inspiration from flapping.

....so, let's continue the list:

7. Let them know it's OK to take a quick look, and invite them to come back later. That gives them permission, but it lets them know implicitly that you may not want them to park too long next to you. If you're in the middle of a difficult passage, and can't talk, just briefly explain that you'd love to chat, but you can't right now because your speech centers aren't working. People get that.

6. Change the topic of discussion away from you, your proficiency, or the price of your painting. Ask the person something about the place you're in or the thing you're painting. For example: "Do you know who owns that old building?" Or: "How high did the floodwaters get here in the last storm?" This often leads to truly interesting encounters, and it lets them do the talking so you can concentrate. I've learned a lot about many of my motifs this way.

5. Before you go out painting, create a web page or blog post with common questions and answers, including information about your galleries or your books, or whatever, and generate a QR code so that they can read your answers on their cellphone. You can put up a sign that just says FAQ and the code, and it will be fun for them to read it on their cellphone.

4. Bring a friend or a spouse along who doesn't mind fielding the questions from the spectators. (Thanks, Mikey!)

Andrew Wyeth en plein Jeep
3. Choose a motif where you can back up to a wall or a rosebush so that no one can get behind you.
Or sit up high. Andrew Wyeth would sit on the hood of his car, with his feet on the bumper so that no one could watch from behind. (image courtesy Making a Mark/Squidoo).

2. Wear a uniform shirt and surround yourself with traffic cones, or crime scene tape or "caution" barricade tape. If there's more than one of you, and you're wearing uniforms, spectators are so bewildered, they don't know what to say. That's what our sketching group, the Hudson River Rats does—we disguise ourselves to look like some obscure municipal department. The "Department of Art" patches add to the official effect. (Thanks, Steve).

1. I mocked up this T-shirt design to suggest a final thought. The challenge of spectators is just one of the things that makes plein air painting so exhilirating. There's also wind, rain, bugs, animals, traffic, and changing light. Dealing with all these issues helps develop our concentration and gives us a sense of urgency that makes us do our best work.

Winston Churchill said about painting: "Painting is complete as a distraction. I know of nothing, which, without exhausting the body, more entirely absorbs the mind. Whatever the worries of the hour or the threats of the future, once the picture has begun to flow along, there is no room for them in the mental screen."
Previously: Interview on Urban Sketchers

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3. 2014 PEN Literary Awards

       They've announced (most of) the 2014 PEN Literary Award winners. (The winners of the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize -- for a debut work of fiction -- and the PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction will only be announced in September (the former at the awards ceremony itself, on the 29th, the latter "in early September"). And the PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grants will be announced in August.)
       There are two translation categories: the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation (winner: Diaries of Exile by Yannis Ritsos, translated by Karen Emmerich and Edmund Keeley) and the PEN Translation Prize (for a work of prose), won by Autobiography of a Corpse by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky, translated by Joanne Turnbull and Nikolai Formozov.
       My favorite category, however, is the PEN/Edward and Lily Tuck Award for Paraguayan Literature, awarded: "To a living author of a major work of Paraguayan literature not yet translated into English". This year's winner was Raúl Silva Alonso, for En Tacumbú.

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4. Author appearances

       As longtime readers know, I'm not a big fan of taking into account much (especially of the personal/personality/appearance sort) about authors when it comes to literary appreciation -- a losing fight in this age where image trumps everything. Yet even I have to admit to being amused by Dmitriy Romendik considering The look of Russian literature: From Pushkin's sideburns to Solzhenitsyn's chin curtain at Russia Beyond the Headlines -- and there are some (semi-)valid points to this.
       Anyway, the piece is worth it just for this inspired GIF of 'Mayakovsky's shaved head':

Mayakovsky !

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5. Tren bala hacia la gran urbe

Los árboles me pasan de largo
brazos alargados diciendo adiós
amiga, regresa pronto

Corre un lago sereno sin derramar
una gota de su carga

Pasan vacas lecheras
dejándoles de regalo
sus manchas negras a las ovejas

La cabaña de troncos se desliza
muda, sin perturbar la rutina
mutiladora de deseos

Todo pasa sobre esta acera 
rodante del recuerdo
alejándome del presente
de cifras, sueños y rascacielos

News from Arte Público Press:

The Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage Project, led by Nicolás Kanellos and Carolina Villarroel at the University of Houston, is a 2014 recipient of the Diversity Award given by the Society of American Archivists (SAA). The award will be presented at a ceremony during the Joint Annual Meeting of the Council of State Archivists, the National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators, and SAA in Washington, DC, August 10-16, 2014. The award recognizes an individual, group, or institution for outstanding contributions in advancing diversity within the archives profession, SAA, or the archival record.

The Recovery Project is being honored for its outstanding achievement in accessioning important Latino archives, organizing and describing them, and making them available broadly to educational institutions and communities via publication and electronic delivery. The project has accessioned, organized, and described such important collections like that of Leonor Villegas de Magnón, a Laredo activist who in the early twentieth century recruited Anglo Texan, Mexican American, and Mexican women for a nursing corps to tend the wounded and fallen on the battlefields of the Mexican Revolution. As an early feminist, she documented the role of women in her writings. The Recovery Project has also assembled the world's largest collection of microfilmed Hispanic newspapers published in the United States from 1808 to 1960.

"[This program] has made these records accessible to increasingly larger numbers of researchers who have in turn significantly impacted the development of Latino Studies," one supporter wrote. "This has become obvious in scholarly conferences that I have attended and noticed increasing numbers of scholars acknowledging the use of digitized records made available by the program."

The Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage Project joins Jennifer O'Neal, university historian and archivist at the University of Oregon Libraries, as the 2014 recipients of the Diversity Award.

Founded in 1936, the Society of American Archivists is North America's oldest and largest national archives professional association. SAA's mission is to serve the educational and informational needs of more than 6,000 individual and institutional members and to provide leadership to ensure the identification, preservation, and use of records of historical value.

 CHAC GALLERY in Denver presents: 

Sol Creación

Seven artist with diverse backgrounds and mediums fuse together to produce one great Art Show. August 1st - August 29th at CHAC.

Christy Mundy ~ Christy is working with intricate embroidery on fine fabrics – including scarves and clothing. She will also be showing hand-beaded, multi-media jewelry pieces.

Steve Rozic ~ Steve’s artwork is inspired by nature.  Working in acrylic allows Steve to express his illustrative painting in bright bold colors.  Little Bleu Egg is a company started by Steve to highlight and sell his Natural Soaps, Hand Scrubs, Bath Salts and Sugar Scrubs.

Leann Stelzer ~ Leann continues her devotion to fabric art, choosing projects that depict nature's beauty and diversity.

Janis Adams ~ Janis has been making things all her life and in the last few years, she has discovered new mediums in glass and in fiber. Janis will be showing fused glass jewelry and other glass creations, as well as hand painted silk scarves and felted scarves. She is always drawn to color and texture, especially in nature. She is inspired by her wonderful circle of fellow artists, who encourage and challenge her.

Paul Potts ~ Paul is deep in his fixation with steampunk, which means this show will have more of his owls, foxes, gears, and queens. He is a storyteller with his art. Many of his paintings include humorous twists that he hopes no one has seen before – an octopus waving a wrench, owls at Marti Gras, a gentleman owl enjoying a good cigar and a deer experiencing a close encounter to name a few.

Rene Horton ~ In Rene’s words “I went to a Saturday market once with a friend. She saw a chair she liked, and I made the comment that I could make the chair, so why buy it? She said prove it. So I did.”  Rene creates wire and beaded jewelry.

Suzanne Sigona ~ Suzanne has created vibrant oil paintings to add to her works in watercolors and acrylics.

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6. Getting the Words Out (7)

A weekly post about writing and life in general

You may have noticed the lack of anything going on over here. Don't worry! It's a good thing. 

First, Thuy and I (and a few hundred thousand other people) went to Comic-Con in San Diego. It remains to be seen whether I will actually blog about all that. Stranger things have happened.

Second, we're moving! Yes, after 5 years on Blogger we will be moving to Squarespace. No need to update all your feeds etc. just yet. Soon, though! Everything at readnowsleeplater.com will actually remain the same; our new site will still be under the same name but look and feel very different.

Third, I have a bunch of web projects that I'm working on and will, hopefully, have up and running soon so I can tell you about them. But they are taking up all my time and energy at the moment so... I'd better hop to it!

If you really want to know what I've been reading and working on lately, head on over to my Instagram feed.

In the meantime, we have a couple of blog tour posts coming soon before we head over to the new blog. Stay tuned for those...

Anyone waiting for raffle prizes, hang in there. I am aiming to get to the post office on Saturday.

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7. Spotlight and Giveaway: Desired by Stacey Kennedy

DESIRED: Club Sin (Book Three)

Written by Stacey Kennedy

Published by Loveswept

July 22, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-553-39118-3

DESIRED: CLUB SIN on Goodreads

Readers of Fifty Shades of Grey are sure to love Desired, USA Today bestselling author Stacey Kennedy’s latest seductive, electrifying novel of Club Sin, where fantasy becomes reality.

Kyler Morgan, Master at the legendary Club Sin in Las Vegas, knows how to give women what they want—too well. He hasn’t had a real challenge in a long time. Then Ella Snow enters his life. Beautiful, inhibited, and innocent in the ways of submission and domination, Ella is the new blood he’s been lusting after. Soon, the thrill of training her to embrace his world brings forth desires Kyler cannot control.

After ending an abusive relationship, Ella makes a promise to herself to start living life to the fullest. It’s one of the reasons she seeks out Club Sin. Here, Kyler’s every touch is a lesson in liberation, stirring passions that have no bounds. But as she falls under Kyler’s command, Ella discovers that some secrets are so dark they must come to light. Submission alone may not be enough to save her, leaving her Master with only one question: How can he help Ella heal while unlocking the deep pleasures she craves?


Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBookstore | Google Play | Kobo | Other retailers

About Stacey Kennedy

Stacey Kennedy is an urban fantasy lover at heart, but she also enjoys losing herself in dark and sensual worlds. She lives in southwestern Ontario with her husband, who gave her a happily-ever-after. Together, they have two small children who can always make her smile, and who will never be allowed to read Mommy’s books. If she’s not plugging away at a new story, you’ll find her camping, curling up with the latest flick, or obsessing over Sons of Anarchy and Game of Thrones.

Connect with Stacey

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Connect with Loveswept

Website | Facebook | Twitter


a Rafflecopter giveaway

The post Spotlight and Giveaway: Desired by Stacey Kennedy appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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8. Summer Reading Lists

Now that summer is winding down, many librarians are undoubtedly seeing an increase in patrons clutching stapled white sheets while approaching reference desks.  It’s time (or nearing time) for students to consult their required summer reading lists and hopefully choose something that will not be too much of a chore to read.

As I look at these lists, I occasionally think about what I would put on a required summer reading list. Would I even have a required summer reading list if that was a decision I needed to make? Although some summer assignments take me aback with the rigidity and amount of homework they require, I have to give credit to my high school’s freshman summer reading list; it introduced me to Chaim Potok’s The Chosen, which is now one of my favorite books.

If I were creating a required summer reading list, I would

–include a mix of standard classics and modern favorites

–include titles that featured diversity (not only racial, but geographic diversity, include differently abled characters, and the like)

–include nonfiction and graphic novels

–include authors that live in Virginia and write stories that take place in Virginia, either fiction or nonfiction (historical or present day). If I lived in another state, I would do the same for that state.

On the other hand, chucking the notion of a  standard required summer reading list is also appealing. It could be as simple as reading 2-3 new books, and to be be prepared to recommend them to the teacher and/or class at the beginning of school.

If you had to put together a required summer reading list, what would you put on it? Or, if you had the power to make such a choice, would you not have a required summer reading list?




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9. German literary prizes

       The flood of German literary prizes is apparently unceasing. The latest:

  • They've announced that Angelika Klüssendorf has won the Hermann-Hesse-Literaturpreis 2014 (worth €15,000; to be awarded 15 October)

  • Arnold Stadler has won the biennial Bodensee-Literaturpreis; no announcement at the official site yet, but see for example this (German) report; the award will be handed out on 9 November
       The Bodensee-Literaturpreis 'only' pays out €5,000, but has a pretty solid winner's list: the last one (2012) went to Agnes-author Peter Stamm, the 2006 prize went to Zündel's Exit-author Markus Werner, etc.

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10. Review of the Day: S is for Sea Glass by Richard Michelson

SforSeaGlass1 300x246 Review of the Day: S is for Sea Glass by Richard MichelsonS is for Sea Glass
By Richard Michelson
Illustrated by Doris Ettlinger
Sleeping Bear Press
ISBN: 978-1585368624
Ages 3-8
On shelves now

Every small publisher needs a staple. Something to keep them going through hard times. Years ago Sleeping Bear Press hit on the notion of writing books with the [letter] is for [word] format and they’ve kept up this abecedarian staple ever since. These are books that are fairly easy to dismiss, sight unseen. You assume you know what to expect. Never mind that they’ve a range of different subjects, authors, and illustrators. For the picture book snob, one glance at the title and you’re immediately dismissive. You think you know what to expect. And of course by “you” I really mean “me”. It was the fact that S is for Sea Glass was written by Richard Michelson that gave me pause. No fly-by-night poet he, I sat down with the book and was happy to find that my expectations weren’t just met but greatly exceeded. Chalk that up to my own personal prejudices then. In this book Michelson and artist Doris Ettlinger gracefully sit back and present to us a most thoughtful, meditative picture book on summer and sea and the relationship between the two. Absolutely lovely and original, this is a summer book of poetry worth remembering and revisiting year after year after year.

“A is for Angel” begins the book. Open it and here you’ll see a girl on her back in the sand. She swings her arms and legs up and down “Like I’m opening and closing a fairy-tale gate” creating sand angels behind her. Welcome to summer. To beaches and tides and those elements of the season a kid can’t wait to experience. Through poetry, Richard Michelson brings to life the little details that make a summer come alive. From doomed sand castles to morally superior seagulls to the child that dreams of someday living in a lighthouse so they’d never have to leave, Michelson places a good, firm finger on the pulse of the warmer months. Artist Doris Ettlinger accompanies him and brings to life not just the obvious moments of summertime but some of the softer more esoteric feelings conjured up by Michelson’s words. The result is a book that will almost smell to you of brine and surf, even in the coldest, frozen depths of the winter.

SforSeaGlass2 300x121 Review of the Day: S is for Sea Glass by Richard MichelsonWhat is the moment when a book flips that switch in your brain from “like” to “love”? It’s different for everyone. For some it might be a word or a phrase. For others a haunting image or illustration that conjures up a personal memory. In the case of S is for Sea Glass it was the poem “H is for Horizon”. It’s not out-and-out saying you need to contemplate the nature of infinity but it might well be suggesting it. After all, is there any point on the beach so wrought with possibility and promise? As Michelson writes, “If I travel the world or stay here on this beach, / The horizon will always be just beyond reach. / But it’s real as my dreams and it’s always nearby – / That magical line where the sea meets the sky.” Inculcating a kid in poetry that’s fun because the language is fun is as easy as the next Shel Silverstein poem. Inculcating a kid in poetry that’s fun because it expands your horizons (pun intended) and lets your mind wander free is much harder. Michelson manages it here.

The nice thing about the poems is that they aren’t the usual beach fare. Sure you’ll find the standard “O is for Ocean” or “W is for Wave” but Michelson has an impish quality to his selections. “E is for Empty Shells” isn’t just about the shells you find on the beach but also the fact that their innards have been consumed by YOU much of the time. “I is for Ice” isn’t about the cubes in a glass on a hot day but rather the strange and startling beauty of a beach in the blustery depths of winter. Some of the poems will take some practice to read aloud, so parents be ready. “B is for Boardwalk” for example eschews the regular ABAB rhyme scheme for something a little more visually exciting. “D is for Dog” in contrast contains both hard and soft rhymes. There are poems with AABB rhymes and even haikus like the one in “P is for Pail”. Michelson doesn’t distinguish or label the different types of poetry found here, so in terms of curricular ties that feels like a lost opportunity.

It’s always interesting to watch what a kid latches onto in a book like this. My 3-year-old has recently been on a beach books kick. We’d already exhausted Splash, Anna Hibiscus, Ladybug Girl at the Beach, Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach and many others when we came across S is for Sea Glass. My daughter enjoyed the poems, treating each one with equal interest, but the poem she kept going back to and appeared to be haunted by was “Q is for Quiet”. I suspect this may have a lot to do with the image in that book which also appears on the back cover. In it, a girl sleeps, half her hair dark, the other silver white in the moonlight. As she dreams a shoal of fish swim about her across the star strewn sky. Many’s the time we’ve read the book and just come to a dead stop at Q. No need to go further. She gets everything she needs out of this poem alone.

SforSeaGlass3 300x130 Review of the Day: S is for Sea Glass by Richard MichelsonCredit where credit is due to artist Doris Ettlinger then. I was aware of Ms. Ettlinger’s work thanks to books like The Orange Shoes (it tends to come up when patrons want picture books on class distinctions) and other books in the Sleeping Bear Press series. The sea appears to be particularly inspirational to Ms. Ettlinger, though. A strictly representational illustrator most of the time, here her watercolors find much to enjoy in the roaring pounding surf, the ice choked chill of a wintertime beach jaunt, the infinity of the deepest ocean, and that gray/brown gloomy beauty of a rained out beach. The “R is for Rain” sequence in particular is one of her loveliest. Credit too to “Y is for Year-Rounders” where seaside locals celebrate a town empty of tourists in the fall. In her version, Ettlinger conjures up a small town beach resort street at the end of the day, four family members and their dog just tiny black silhouettes against the blazing yellow of a setting sun.

When the weather warms and the leaves reappear on the trees, then it will be the time for families to pluck S is for Sea Glass from the topmost shelves of their bookcases for multiple reads by the seashore. We all do that, right? Keep our seasonal books apart from one another so that when the right time of year appears we’ve books ah-plenty to refer to? Well, if you haven’t before I recommend you start now with this one. Parents buy summery beach titles for their kids regardless of the quality. All the more reason the care and attention paid to “S is for Sea Glass” impresses. There are books a parent does not wish to read 100 times over to their offspring and there are books they wish they could read even more. This book falls into the latter category. A treat for eye and ear alike.

On shelves now.

Source: Final copy given by author for review.

Like This? Then Try:

Other Blog Reviews:

Misc: A discussion with Michelson about the book on MassLive.

Videos: A peek inside.

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11. SDCC ’14: Journal – 4 Days and 10 Years Later, What I’ve Seen and Learned

By Victor Van Scoit


I planned on writing journal updates based on my daily experiences, but the time vortex that is San Diego Comic Con always wins at some point. With its voracious appetite it eats up every second of time that isn’t reserved for basic human survival – like sleep and sustenance – and even those begin to suffer. But I have time now to look back not only over the past few days, but the past ten years of attending San Diego Comic Con.

I was surprised that by Thursday afternoon I felt like I’d seen all ten football fields worth of pop culture goodness on the convention floor. Any additional time I spent was focused on Artist’s Alley and chasing down the final issues of Locke & Key. The former involving great conversations and artistic discoveries. The latter left me empty handed and proving that SDCC was no longer suited for back issue digging, and I would have to go to a smaller convention to experience the thrill of the hunt to fill in my collection.

The expectations of acquiring SDCC Exclusive merchandise remained in high gear. Hasbro was king with the biggest draw and people camping overnight, while Funko and Super7 had fervent demands for their toys as well. Publishers also pushed their exclusives often in combo with creator autograph sessions yet in both cases (toys and comics) the lines were in control.

In speaking with seasoned attendees there was a sense that while crowd size grew day-to-day the floor felt less packed and more maneuverable than in prior years. The Warner Brothers booth still drew large crowds for celebrity signings for the casts of Game of Thrones, The Hobbit and the like, but gone were the spectacle booths, holy grail giveaways, and additional celebrity signings that often caused traffic bottlenecks. Considering SDCC sold out of attendee tickets this year again, I was curious where all the people were especially since the number of off site ventures had decreased as well.

The new mainstays were still there like Geek & Sundry Lounge, Nerd HQ, and PetCo Park’s Interactive Zone whose main draw is Adult Swim. Geek & Sundry served its niche audience well with activities like board games, video game demos, and panels featuring talent from their YouTube shows that kept attendees engaged and sticking around for their evening parties. PetCo Park’s Interactive Zone and the park near the Hilton Bayfront had brands that drew people in for a carnival like atmosphere. Nerd HQ continued to offer its Conversations for a Cause and celebrity photo opportunities but didn’t have as many offerings as last year that would keep attendees around, though they did throw a fun Thursday night dance party. Such as it was, there was a decrease in off sites that contributed to the sense that Comic Con wasn’t in crazy showbiz mode.

The decrease in Hollywood studio presence and other big branding attempts was definitely noticed. There were only a couple of hotels wrapped with ads for upcoming TV shows, and the number of parties and interactive branding spaces were small compared to years prior where there were 3-5 times as many. Consider that in 2011 when Trickster, the creator driven alterna-convention, was located in the wine bar across from the convention center. Each subsequent year they were pushed farther away from the convention center due to rising event space costs and the companies that could pay them. That same wine bar from 2011 remained unbranded and relatively empty all convention long. Rumors of greed had event space owners asking for five times more in 2014 for the same space in 2013. Mix in Hollywood being more cautious after not gaining returns on SDCC darlings like Scott Pilgrim and Cowboys and Aliens, one can speculate as to the diminishing presence.

That’s not to say studios weren’t represented well in the lines for panels in Hall H, Ballroom 20, and the Indigo Ballroom. Attendees were quick to pull out the sleeping bags, pillows, and lawn chairs for their overnight stays so that they could gain a seat. Even the wristband mechanism that was implemented for Hall H this year seemed to help the organization. But once again it was curious to see how things had changed from what may very well be the peak of last year.

While all weekend long each of the big rooms had long overnight lines, once the rooms opened up the dynamic changed across each. Ballroom 20 would fill in for its first panel of the day and then the line hardly ever extended outside again. You could actually show up for the panel you wanted as much as an hour in advance and sometimes as little as five minutes and get your seat. Indigo Ballroom’s line remained strong compared to prior years but it benefited from better programming, yet suffered since it had less seats to offer than Ballroom 20. Such was the case Friday when I arrived at 4PM to check out both the Bob’s Burgers and Archer panels. The folks at the front of the line had been in line for four hours and were finally going to get in. These were two shows that would’ve been better suited in Ballroom 20 rather than, say, the world premiere of unknown pilot Scorpion. Perhaps we’re at a sea change where there’s not as many cultural phenomenon shows out there as there once was.

Hall H also showed how programming would affect it. I almost felt guilty being able to walk into a panel on Thursday in Hall H without having camped the night before. The only reason Hall H filled up on Thursday at one point was because Twitter notified everyone of Matthew McConaughey and Christopher Nolan’s presence. The Interstellar trailer wouldn’t be far behind and that sent everyone running. Hall H then came back in full force on Friday and Saturday with stronger programming and concluding with its usual Marvel Studios high come Saturday night. Marvel Studios still remains the Hall H crown jewel for popular culture fan as they displayed once again what other panels lacked – showmanship and hype. Just before the Marvel panel started at 5:30PM I spoke with those around me and they had only just gotten inside having been in line since 11PM the night before. That’s the harsh mistress I know the Hall H line to be.

My first San Diego Comic Con I thought to myself, “They were right. This is big. This is way big.” The Hollywood dollars changed the game and many proclaimed SDCC was too big, overexposed, and couldn’t possibly get bigger. I thought I missed the boat to visit back when the convention was small. Each year it seemed as if something new was added like brand experiences in parking lots, video game companies participating, every hotel being wrapped in giant movie and TV posters. Hell, the Hilton Bayfront hadn’t even been built. Now I can’t even imagine San Diego Comic Con without the Indigo Ballroom or the Hilton’s Odysea Bar where I’ve met many creators and talented directors and actors. Little did I know that years later I would look back and think “My first year was tiny compared to all this.”

That first year I was helping to make HD quality video blogs for DivX’s content network. The company needed someone who understood the comic book landscape to host video segments. Back then there were no iPhones, small HD cameras, and Facebook and YouTube were nascent companies. So with high quality cameras the team would hit the floor each day looking for interviews and cool items I could point out to show exactly why comic books, pop culture, and this convention was great. It’s funny to think that there were probably only twenty similar camera crews on the floor back then. Whereas now it feels like the floor is swarming with camera crews and their portable devices, trying to record interviews and bits for their YouTube channel. You also better have industry contacts because those press and professional badges don’t go as far they used to.

Ten years also gave me the perspective to notice what I’ve alluded to earlier, which is that San Diego Comic Con just didn’t seem that crazy. I used to to enjoy walking from my hotel near Broadway down to the convention center so I could see all the brand take overs. And yet this year there wasn’t much of any pop culture interest until one would hit the area near the Hard Rock Hotel. My panel schedule of the day is typically filled with plan A, B, C, and D knowing I might not get into my first choice due to crowds. And yet this year the only reason I had to go to my second choice was due to mood and not capacity being reached in a room. While attendance for Comic Con 2014 didn’t go down the looming presence of the entertainment industry certainly did. Frankly this was the first San Diego Comic Con where I felt paced, I had time to meet with various friends, and got to do 95% of what I wanted to do. Did the entertainment money bubble burst and are we in for a few years of a normalized landscape? Is the Comic Con audience now so broad that studios and brands aren’t getting the discerning looks and cultural penetration they once were? I’ll be curious to see, and if I’m lucky I’ll get another ten years to find out.

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12. Pseudoscience surplus

By Sergio Della Sala

We are besieged by misinformation on all sides. When this misinformation masquerades as science, we call it pseudoscience. The scientific tradition has methods that offer a way to get accurate evidence and decrease the chance of misinformation persisting for long. The application of these rules marks the difference between science and pseudoscience. Perhaps more importantly, accepting these rules allows us to admit what we do not yet know, and avoids the pomposity too often associated with the notion of scientific authority.


We are easy prey for pseudoscience. We are natural believers, especially in things that we would like to be true. This belief may be fostered by trusting web surfing. We come to believe that our children can improve their scholastic performances by gulping up fishy pills or other improbable supplements. We would like to be more intelligent and show off our skills in solving puzzles, have better memory and absorb volumes of material effortlessly, and to flaunt our astuteness and acumen at parties. To reach these goals by long hours of swotting is a daunting prospect, so we jump at the idea of a quick fix and are prepared to pay for it.

Take the simplistic dichotomy between the two brain hemispheres that informs a series of training programmes. Such programmes are based on the popular assumption that our brains have a nerdy left hemisphere, which acts as a rigorous accountant, opposed to a creative, hippie half, the right hemisphere (which usually needs to be awakened).

Newsmakers fuel belief in tall tales by running uncritical stories advertising outlandish methods and ignoring their obvious flaws. So we can blame the journalists: easy target. However, when we scientists engage with the public, do we really do any better? We are now all desperate to engage the public; our institutions push us to branch out and reach out, and we get brownie points if we do so. This activity too often translates into a scientist going to the media saying “I have nothing to say, and I want to say it on TV.” It sometimes seems that it is the engagement itself that is valued, independently of what we actually say.

There is nothing wrong if you are not interested in science, but if you are then nowadays there are plenty of opportunities to indulge your curiosity. Science festivals are springing up in every city. However, the idea that simply discussing science publicly can counter misinformation is naïve. I posit that too often than it would be advisable, scientists themselves promulgate pseudoscientific thinking, so even science festivals may be counterproductive. Engaging with the public should push scientists to show the evidence and praise scientific methods. We should not abuse the position to dominate by authority.

The Royal Society‘s motto ‘Nullius in verba’ is Latin for, roughly, ‘take nobody’s word for it’. We scientists should remember this motto, not only in our labs, but also when disseminating our ideas. Yet we seem to know no better. Kary Mullis, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, asserted in his autobiography his belief in astrology. But he is a Capricorn. I’m a Libran, and Librans do not believe in astrology.

 Sergio Della Sala is Professor of Human Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Edinburgh, and co-editor of Neuroscience in Education: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

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13. Agent Looking for Clients

MarykAgent Mary Krienke: Mary joined Sterling Lord Literistic in 2006 after receiving her MFA in Fiction from Columbia University. She now lives in Brooklyn.

Mary works with Sterling Lord and represents literary fiction, creative nonfiction, and realistic YA that pays close attention to craft and voice. She is especially drawn to new and emerging writers who seek to push boundaries of form and content, and she responds most strongly to writing that reaches great emotional and psychological depths. She is equally interested in work that illuminates through humor or by playing with genre. Her other interests include psychology, art, and design.

How to submit: You can email Mary with your submissions. For fiction, please send a synopsis and the first three chapters or a 50 page sample. If submitting non-fiction, send a detailed proposal.

Queries should be sent to info @ sll.com with “Attn: Mary Krienke” in the email subject line. Cover letters should be in the body of the email but send the actual submission as a Word document attachment.

You can find Mary on Twitter: @MaryKrienke.

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: Agent, authors and illustrators, Editor & Agent Info, opportunity, Places to sumit, Publishers and Agencies, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Mary Krienke, Sterling Lord Literistic

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14. Why are we doing any of this?

Every teacher has heard it before: if you’re teaching students to succeed on the Test, then you’re teaching them the skills they’ll need to succeed in college and beyond.

And if you’re like me, you’ve either inwardly or outwardly scoffed at this claim.

As I use the summer to reflect on this past school year and to begin planning for the upcoming one, I’m thinking about this in terms of my Advanced Placement English Language and Composition course. Thankfully, I’m not under much external pressure to ensure all my students earn qualifying scores on the AP exam in May. But I do feel responsible for preparing them adequately for the Test since it has the potential to beef up their transcripts and earn them college credit.

But is the purpose of the class to pass the exam, or is it to prepare students for reading, writing, and thinking at a college level? Does preparing them for the exam do just that in this specific instance?

I would argue that part of it does but part of it does not. In particular, the reading section of the AP English Lang. & Comp. exam fails to imitate authentic college-level work. The section consists of four one-page passages — usually taken from varying disciplines and time periods — each followed by multiple choice questions testing a variety of reading and rhetorical analysis skills. Students have one hour.

But in how many college courses were you handed single-page excerpts accompanied by multiple choice questions? How many of your college exams looked like this?

In my experience (as an English undergrad and then as an Education grad student) the answer to both questions is zero. I had to read book upon book upon book, many of which were unfamiliar, dense, and complex. If we weren’t reading a book, then we were reading long, scholarly articles. We read. We thought. We discussed. We wrote. We did not answer multiple-choice questions.

Yet, answering multiple-choice questions like the ones on the AP exam is the kind of skill that can theoretically improve with explicit instruction and practice. So do I spend my time having my students do just that? Or do I spend it having them read/discuss/write about the kind of texts they will encounter in college and beyond?

The College Board and many others would probably say both — but if the point of practicing multiple-choice questions is simply to become good at answering multiple-choice questions, then why are we doing any of this?

While this isn’t a new question, I still haven’t heard a convincing answer.

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15. The Boy in the Book

9780755365692Choose Your Own Adventure. Remember those books? Interactive novels written in the second person, where you get to make choices that take the story in different directions. They were enormously successful in the 1980s and there have been many other books in a similar interactive vein (including my own series, You Choose). Writer/performer Nathan Penlington certainly remembers them. And they set him off on a real-life adventure documented in his book, The Boy in the Book.

At this point, dear reader, you may…

A: Go and buy the book I am reviewing
B: Continue reading my review…

cyoa001-cave-of-timeOne day, Nathan Penlington decides to buy a set of Choose Your Own Adventure books on eBay. It turns out that all 106 books were originally owned by the same person — a boy in the 1980s named Terence Prendergast. And it also turns out that Terence wrote in the books — just a few scribbled notes about his life. Inside the pages of one particular book, The Cave of Time, are four pages of a diary. In those four pages Terence writes about bullying, the things he wants to improve in his life, running away from home and suicide. Finding this diary sets Nathan Penlington off on an obsessive search — to find Terence and get answers to the questions posed by the notes and diary entries. Did Terence overcome the bullying? Did he actually run away from home? What sort of person is he now? Is he even still alive? Or did he kill himself?

I can’t tell you whether or not he finds Terence as I don’t want to spoil the book — you’ll need to read it if you want to find out. But I can tell you that he meets a number of other interesting people in his search, including a child psychologist, a historian working on a collection of diaries, a Graphologist (someone who analyses hand writing) and even Choose Your Own Adventure author Edward Packard. There is a fascinating bunch of people wandering in and out of the pages of this book.

Time for you to make another choice. Would you like to…

A: Check out Edward Packard’s website
B: Continue reading my review…

The Boy in the Book is a twisting, turning narrative that is full of surprises, never progressing in quite the way one would expect. Although it is the story of Penlington’s search for Terance Predergast, it is also very much his own story of obsession, something that is, perhaps, more fascinating than the search itself. It is a riveting, revealing read — a journey into Penlington’s past, a study of his obsessions and an examination of his thought-processes. A unique book, indeed.

I will admit to feeling a little cheated upon reading the Afterword where Penlington reveals:

“Everything you have just read is true, but almost a lie.”

It seems that this book is based on a documentary film/live experience called Choose Your Own Documentary. So, although the events of the book are true, they didn’t always happen in quite the way the book depicts. Those meetings and interviews, personal and intimate in the book, actually took place in front of a documentary film crew. Finding this out, for me, tarnished the magic just a little. But that doesn’t make the book any less interesting or any less worth reading. It is still an excellent book and you should all read it.

Finally, you get to choose what to do now that my review is complete…

A: Find out about Choose Your Own Documentary
B: Buy a copy of The Boy in the Book
C: Read another one of my blog posts

Catch ya later,  George

PS. Follow me on Twitter


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16. What are the costs and impacts of telecare for people who need social care?

By Catherine Henderson

In these times of budgetary constraints and demographic change, we need to find new ways of supporting people to live longer in their own homes. Telecare has been suggested as a useful way forward. Some examples of this technology, such as pull-cord or pendant alarms, have been around for years, but these ‘first-generation’ products have given way to more extensive and sophisticated systems. ‘Second-generation’ products literally have more bells and whistles – for instance, alarms for carbon monoxide and floods, and sensors that can detect movement in and out of bed. These sensors send alerts to a call-centre operator who can organise a response, perhaps call out a designated key-holder, organise a visit to see if there is a problem, or ring the emergency services. There are even more elaborate systems that continuously monitor a person’s activity using sensors and analyse these ‘lifestyle’ data to identify changes in usual activity patterns, but these systems are not in mainstream use. In contrast to telehealth – where the recipient is actively involved in transmitting and in many cases receiving information – the sensors in telecare do not require the active engagement of participants to transmit data, as this is done automatically in the background.

Take-up of telecare remains below its potential in England. One recent study estimated that some 4.17 million over-50 year olds could potentially use telecare, while only about a quarter of that figure were actually using personal alarms or alerting devices. The Department of Health has similarly suggested that millions of people with social care needs and long term conditions could benefit from telecare and telehealth. To help meet this need, it launched the 3-Million Lives campaign in partnership with industry to promote the scaling-up of telehealth and telecare.

Senior woman on phone

The hope held by government and commissioners in the NHS and local authorities is that these new assistive technologies not only promote independence and improve care quality but also reduce the use of health and social care services. To decide how much funding to allocate to these promising new services, these commissioners need a solid evidence base. In 2008, the Department of Health launched the Whole Systems Demonstrator (WSD) programme in three local authority areas in England engaged in whole-systems redesign to test the impacts of telecare (for people with social care needs) and telehealth (for people with long-term conditions).

The research that accompanied the WSD programme was extensive. It included quantitative studies investigating health and social care service use, mortality, costs, and the effectiveness of these technologies. Parallel qualitative studies explored the experiences of people using telecare and telehealth and their carers. The research also examined the ways in which local managers and frontline professionals were introducing the new technologies.

Some results from these streams of research have been published with more to come. From the quantitative research, three articles were published in Age and Ageing over the past year. Steventon and colleagues report on the use of hospital, primary care and social services, and mortality for all participants in the trial – around 2,600 people – based on routinely collected data. Two papers report the results of the WSD telecare questionnaire study (Hirani, Beynon et al. 2013; Henderson, Knapp et al. 2014). The questionnaire study included participants from the main trial who filled out questionnaires about their psychological outcomes, their quality of life, and their use of health and social care services.

The most recent paper to be published in Age and Ageing is the cost-effectiveness analysis of WSD telecare. Participants used a second-generation package of sensors and alarms that was passively and remotely monitored. On average, about five items of telecare equipment were provided to people in the ‘intervention’ group. The whole telecare package accounted for just under 10% of the estimated total yearly health and social care costs of £8,625 (adjusting for case mix) for these people. This was more costly than the care packages of people in the ‘usual care’ group (£7,610 per year) although the difference was not statistically significant. The extra cost of gaining a quality-adjusted life year (QALY) associated with the telecare intervention was £297,000. This is much higher than the threshold range – £20,000 to£30,000 per QALY – used by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) when judging whether an intervention should be used in the NHS (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence 2008). Given these results, we would, therefore, caution against thinking that second-generation telecare is the cure-all solution for providing good quality care to increasing numbers of people with social care needs while containng costs.

As with any research, it is important to understand how to best use the findings. The telecare tested during the pilot period was ‘second generation’, so conclusions from this research cannot be applied, for instance, to existing pendant alarm systems currently in widespread use. And telecare systems have continued to evolve since this research started. Moreover, while the results summarised here relate to the telecare participants and do not cover any potential impacts on family carers, there is some evidence that telecare alleviates carer strain.

These findings inevitably raise further questions. What are the broader experiences of those using telecare? What makes a telecare experience positive? And what detracts from the experience? Who can benefit most from telecare? Some answers will emerge as we look across all the findings from the WSD research programme. We also need to look forward to findings from new research, such as the current trial of telecare for people with dementia and their carers (Leroi, Woolham et al. 2013). The ‘big’ question is not whether we should implement a ‘one-size fits all’ solution to meet the increasing demands on social care but for whom do these new assistive technologies work best and for whom are they most cost-effective response.

Catherine Henderson is a researcher at the London School of Economics. She is one of the authors of the paper ‘Cost-effectiveness of telecare for people with social care needs: the Whole Systems Demonstrator cluster randomised trial’, which is published in the journal Age and Ageing.

Age and Ageing is an international journal publishing refereed original articles and commissioned reviews on geriatric medicine and gerontology. Its range includes research on ageing and clinical, epidemiological, and psychological aspects of later life.

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17. Review – The Final Silence by Stuart Neville

9781846556951Jack Lennon returns in Stuart Neville’s relentless new thriller.

It has been a while between drinks for Jack Lennon. We last caught up him in Stolen Souls and we left him a lot worse for wear. The intervening period though has not been kind. Suspended from the police pending multiple reviews of his health and performance Jack has developed some extra bad habits to the ones he already carried, mainly involving painkillers and alcohol. His relationships are in free fall including, sadly, the one with his estranged daughter who his is the only family he has left.

Just when Jack thinks things couldn’t get any worse an ex-girlfriend contacts him. She has just inherited a house from her uncle. An uncle she never met who lost contact with her family years ago. She has contacted Jack because she has found something in a locked room. A journal detailing murders going back two decades and it appears there are links to her father, a prominent Belfast politician. She can’t trust him and she can’t go to the police so instead she has turned to Jack, who can’t even help himself at this point.

I really love what Neville has done with the Jack Lennon character. He was only a few mentions inThe Twelve before assuming the lead in the next two books. He is not your typical flawed detective, flawed is too nice a term for Jack, yet he still manages to keep your loyalty.

Stuart Neville doesn’t take his foot off the pedal once in this gripping thriller and once again demonstrates why he is the crime writer everybody is and should be talking about at the moment.

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18. Love Letters to the Dead, by Ava Dellaira | Book Review

Reading Ana Dellaira’s Love Letters to the Dead will bring about a serious book hangover: her novel will linger with you for days. Dellaira tackles serious and all-too-real issues and anxieties with grace, humility and heart-breaking accuracy.

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19. Nick Previews Its First Web Series ‘Welcome to the Wayne’

Nickelodeon unveiled the revamped Nick.com today, and as part of the new site, they offered a 90-second first-look at "Welcome to the Wayne," which is their first animated series made exclusively for digital platforms like the Nick App.

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20. Poetry Friday - A review of On the Wing

Douglas Florian is a poet and artist who has created poetry picture books that explore a wide variety of subjects. Over the years I have greatly enjoyed reading these books, and it is interesting to see how he applies his considerable talent to take on a new topic that interests him.

Douglas Florian
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 6 to 8
Harcourt, 1996, 978-0152023669
Birds truly are remarkable animals. They come in a dazzling array of colors, live on every continent, and make their homes in all kinds of places. In this wonderful picture book Douglas Florian pairs short poems with his artwork to give readers a true celebration of birds.
   Over the millennia birds have evolved to suit many kinds of environments. Some birds, like the egret, sail on water and then rest on the beach making it seem as if there is a “feathered hat” lying on the sand. Dippers love to dip and dive in waterfalls. They are so aquatic that one wonders if they would be happy to “trade / Their oily wings for flippers.” They are such good swimmers that it is possible that the little birds might “think that they are fish.”
   Birds come in all shapes and sizes. The spoonbill is tall and thin with a beak that does indeed look like a long-handled spoon. In his poem about this rather odd looking species, Douglas Florian wonders if the spoonbill uses its bill “for stirring tea” or does it “use it as a scoop / For eating peas and drinking soup.”
   The stork has a bill that is perfectly suited for the environment it lives in. Wading through shallow water, the bird uses it rapier like bill to stab frogs and other creatures. Woodpeckers also have beaks that are perfectly adapted so that they can get to their chosen food - insects that live in wood and sap that runs through wood. Not only are these beaks perfect for creating holes, but woodpeckers also use them to communicate.
   With clever touches of humor and insightful descriptions, this collection of poems will give young readers a colorful picture of twenty-one bird speci

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21. #622 – Eddie and Dog by Alison Brown


Eddie and Dog

written and illustrated by Alison Brown

Capstone Young Readers      2/01/2014


Age 4 ro 8      32 pages


“Eddie is looking for a friend—a friend who likes adventure. Then Eddie meets Dog. And the fun begins. This wonderful story, with stunning artwork celebrates the excitement of a beautiful relationship.”


“Eddie dreamed of adventure.

“He imagined flying off to far-off places and doing amazing things. Then one day . . . “


Eddie found Dog. No, wait, Dog found Eddie.

Eddie is at the airport, dreaming of adventures, when he sees Dog in a pet carrier, which Dog opens with his paw. (Dogs can get out of anything.) Dog wants a life of adventure and must see the same in Eddie. Dog asks Eddie if he would like to play. This is the beginning of a unique friendship and a lovely picture book. Eddie and Dog is one of my favorite picture books this year.

What fun the two enjoy together. Their adventures are loaded with suspense, intrigue, and some silliness for good measure. The two hunt crocodiles, sail the seven seas—I’m thinking in alphabetical order—build a grand fort, and traipse through lush jungles. That was day one.


When Eddie introduced his new best friend to his mother, she said Dog could not stay—the yard is too small.  Poor Dog. Poor Eddie. Eddie keeps thinking about Dog and it is a good bet that Dog thinks a lot about Eddie. The next day, Dog returns to Eddie. Mom stands her ground. Dog needs a bigger yard and a better home. Mom’s imagination and creativity has taken back seat t her larger practical side. She can’t see the blossoming relationship between Eddie and Dog or how important it is to the new friends. Instead of working with the yard, she instantly says it is too small.

Dog is trying as hard as he can to keep his friendship with Eddie alive. Good friendships should never die—they are too hard to cultivate. But Eddie’s mom is consistently saying no to a dog. Do dogs make her nose sneeze and her eyes cry? Maybe mom really is concerned with Dog’s happiness. Hm, I wonder what will happen next.


I love Eddie and Dog. They must belong together else, Dog would not make such grand gestures, would he? Dogs do love unconditionally. And Dog is a dog. You cannot beat logic. Eddie and Dog belong together. I bet Dog keeps trying until Eddie’s mom runs out of excuses and places for Dog to go.

The story is well-paced and the illustrations hit the mark on each and every page.The final spread is my favorite illustration. Eddie sits behind Dog as Dog flies his shiny red propeller plane to their next awesome adventure.. Dog is a cute, cuddly canine. He is the perfect size for Eddie. Dog loves adventures, just as Eddie wanted! The ending has an unexpected twist that I love. Dog can accomplish many fantabulous things in a short amount of time.


Children will love Eddie and Dog. They will be sad when Eddie is sent away, but after the first return—a wonderful twist—kids will keep smiling even when mom sends Eddie off several more times. Sometimes knowing the punch line can be fun. Kids will love Eddie and Dog, even to the point of wanting their own Dog (sorry Eddie). Parents can take heart. Eddie and Dog is an easy and fun read with moments needing sound effects only a parent can provide. Will Eddie and Dog become your child’s favorite book? Quit possibly so, at least until the next edition of an Eddie and Dog adventure hit bookstores. Enjoy!

EDDIE AND DOG. Text and illustrations copyright © 2013 by Alison Brown. Reproduced by permission of the US publisher, Capstone Young Readers, North Mankato, MN.

Purchase Eddie and Dog at AmazonB&NCapstone Young Readersyour favorite bookstore.


Learn more about Eddie and Dog HERE.

Meet the author/illustrator, Alison Brown, at her website:    http://www.littletiger.co.uk/authors/alison-brown

Find more good books at the Capstone Young Readers website:  http://www.capstonepub.com/

Capstone Young Reader is an imprint of Capstone:   http://www.capstonepub.com/

Eddie and Dog was originally published in Great Britain by Little Tiger Press in 12/18/2013.


Also by Alison Brown

I Love You Night and Day

I Love You Night and Day

Mighty Mo

Mighty Mo








eddie and dog

copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews

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22. Spotlight and Giveaway: Personal Target by Kay Thomas


Personal Target

An Elite Ops Novel

By: Kay Thomas

Releasing July 29th, 2014

Avon Impulse


AEGIS: an elite team of ex-military men working under the radar of most governments. If you have a problem no one else can handle, they can help.

A former SEAL and Black Ops specialist who left the CIA, Nick Donovan gave up a life on the edge to work in the private sector. But that didn’t stop his enemies from coming after him—or his family. In a case of mistaken identity, a drug cartel kidnaps his sister-in-law’s best friend … a woman from Nick’s past.

One minute Jennifer Grayson is housesitting and the next she’s abducted to a foreign brothel. Jennifer is planning her escape when her first “customer” arrives. Nick, the man who broke her heart years ago, has come to her rescue. Now, as they race for their lives, passion for each other reignites and old secrets resurface. Can Nick keep the woman he loves safe against an enemy with a personal vendetta?

Link to Follow Tour: http://tastybooktours.blogspot.com/2014/07/personal-target-by-kay-thomas-elite-ops.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22308416-personal-target?from_search=true

Buy Links

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Personal-Target-Elite-Ops-Book-ebook/dp/B00KACAU5I/?_encoding=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&keywords=personal%20target%20by%20kay%20thomas&linkCode=ur2&qid=1400188200&s=digital-text&sr=1-1&tag=kaytho-20&linkId=VKJ26JGVY7WLJSJ5

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/personal-target-kay-thomas/1119566027?ean=9780062290878

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/personal-target/id877703928?mt=11

Author Info

Kay Thomas didn’t grow up burning to be a writer. She wasn’t even much of a reader until fourth grade. That’s when her sister readThe Black Stallion aloud to her. For hours Kay was enthralled—shipwrecked and riding an untamed horse across desert sand. Then tragedy struck. Her sister lost her voice. But Kay couldn’t wait to hear what happened in the story—so she picked up that book, finished reading it herself, and went in search of more adventures at the local library.
Today Kay lives in Dallas with her husband, two children, and a shockingly spoiled Boston terrier. Her award-winning novels have been published internationally.

Author Links




$75.00 Amazon Gift Card

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The post Spotlight and Giveaway: Personal Target by Kay Thomas appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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23. Peter Pan Diamond Edition - You Can Fly Clip

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24. TV Review: The Musketeers

BBC America's The Musketeers. Sundays, 9 pm.

Such pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty boys.

I cannot understate just how pretty these men are. For those of you who don't care about watching four very attractive men dressed in leather, don't worry, there's more!

There is BANTER. Delicious one liners. And ACTION. Because, you know, swords.

And there is just the right updating. Oh, the series is set in Paris in 1630 and the basic characters from the book are the same -- D'Artagnan, Athos, Porthos, and Artemis; Milady; Cardinal Richelieu; Constance. Confession, I haven't read the book (I know! Tried once and it didn't take), but I adore the 1973 film so, so much. So, between that and wikipedia I know the basics of the source material.

What The Musketeers has done is updated certain aspects for modern viewers (and I don't just mean the leather.) Yes, Athos's tortured backstory is all about Milady, but some of specifics of her crimes and how he discovered it have changed. (Her husband never saw a brand on her? How did that work, exactly?) D'Artagnan meeting the Musketeers has been altered. Porthos's mother was a freed slave, a bit of a nod to Alexander Dumas's own heritage. (Yes, Europe wasn't all white in the seventeenth century).

But my favorite part so far is what The Musketeers have done about the central female characters. Now, so far, they haven't really interacted with each other so I'm not getting into the Bechdel test here. Rather, on their own Milady, Constance, and Queen Anne are fully created characters, independent of the men in their lives. They exist for reasons other than being supporting characters in the Musketeers lives.

Milady is still a villain, deliciously so, and is often the smartest person in the room, but her path towards being this is still unclear. She is probably closest to the original Milady, in that Milady was always the scheming bad guy. What I hope to see more of, thought, is her backstory of who she was before and after her marriage to Athos. While I don't want or expect redemption on the level of Regina from Once Upon a Time, I still hope for more than "oh, evil woman."

Constance, though -- Constance! My memory from the film is that Constance is primarily the love object of D'Artagnan, and is more of a prop in the lives of the Musketeers. The BBC version delightfully makes Constance her own person, with her own desires and wants. She's also given funny lines, and isn't just the foil for the Musketeers. She and D'Artagnan don't have insta-love based on mutual good looks, but instead a developing affection.

And Queen Anne! What that actress can do with a look. It's clear that she sees her husband as immature and spoiled, but heis still the King, and so she has to put up with him and do her best. I'm only four episodes in and often I think there's a permanent thought bubbly over her head going "I should have been king. Really, Louis?" And man, those looks she gives him.

And if The Musketeers follow the book in terms of what happens to Constance, I will be PISSED beyond the telling.

What else? Did I mention banter, action, and some pretty, pretty men?

All images from BBC America.

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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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25. DROWNED by Nichola Reilly {Review}

"Review My Books" Review by Emily  DROWNED Drowned #1 by Nichola Reilly Series: A Drowned Novel (Book 1) Hardcover: 304 pages Publisher: Harlequin Teen (June 24, 2014) Goodreads | Amazon Coe is one of the few remaining teenagers on the island of Tides. Deformed and weak, she is constantly reminded that in a world where dry land dwindles at every high tide, she is not welcome. The only bright

0 Comments on DROWNED by Nichola Reilly {Review} as of 7/31/2014 1:30:00 AM
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