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1. A House for a Tink

I’ve been working on some readers that have kept me pretty busy.  Mostly fairy tales which I really enjoy creating. But when work is done and I have a few spare minutes, I let my pencil wander. This is where it goes, to the land of little creatures, where fairies collect the things that go missing in the house, and whose friends are the crickets and the mice in the woods. Won’t you join me?snailshell_House_RobertaBaird_72

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2. An Animation Fan Offers A Dramatic Reading of Bugs Bunny’s Life

Bugs Bunny's life explained by a true animation fan.

0 Comments on An Animation Fan Offers A Dramatic Reading of Bugs Bunny’s Life as of 7/27/2015 7:30:00 PM
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3. Retweet for a Chance to Win “A Little Chaos”

SnitchSeeker is giving away Blu-Ray copies of Alan Rickman’s new film, A Little Chaos. All one has to do is retweet a tweet from SnitchSeeker’s Twitter feed. This contest only applies to US Residents only. Please visit the original article for more details!

Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 6.52.08 PM

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4. Creativ Magazine

I don’t often talk about magazines here for no other reason than they are not top on my list of reading material I feel compelled to discuss. Oh I read them, but I’m pretty sure you don’t want to know how awesome I thought the article on building a solar oven in Mother Earth News was. Still, when I got an email offering me a review copy of a new magazine called Creative, I thought sure, why not?

Creativ aims to share the stories of people who are, well, creative. But lest you think it is all about artists and writers, we are talking creative in a very broad sense. So broad that it includes the stories of people like fourteen-year-old Alyssa Carson who decided at the age of three she wanted to be an astronaut and has proven it to be not just a passing fancy. Now a Mars One Ambassador, she is determined to be one of the first humans on Mars. All of her studies are aimed at this goal. Then there are the Australians, Cedar and Stuart Anderson, who created a new and revolutionary beehive. The Flow hive allows beekeepers to harvest honey without disturbing the hive which means no bees die and the hive is left intact so the bees don’t have to waste energy rebuilding it. And then there is book sculptor Emma Taylor who creates gorgeous art from old books.

The magazine itself is beautiful to look at. Thick, glossy paper and page after page of full-color gorgeous photographs. It is a feast for the senses. My only complaint is the stories are too short, I want more! It is inspiring to see and hear about people from all around the world and the creative things they are doing with their lives. It made me want to be more creative.

Creativ has lots of online content and is trying to build a community where people can share their stories. The magazine is available at bookstores like Barnes and Noble and Chapters, through subscription, and online. Take a look if you are searching for a little inspiration. If you don’t find any I’ll be surprised.


Filed under: Books, Reviews Tagged: Creativ

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5. Listening to Rupert Grint

Looking for an audio book for your last road trip of the summer?  Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley) narrates the audio books editions of British author Liz Pichon’s series of Tom Gates books.

In the first book, The Brilliant World of Tom Gates, fifth-grader Tom tells a comic tale of teacher-misunderstandings, a tormented teenage sister, concert tickets, and rock bands through a diary-style narrative.

Grint’s friendly voice and child-like persona fit the story perfectly, and listening brings scenes from the early Harry Potter films to mind, when Grint himself was about the same age as Tom Gates.  (Ever wonder what Tom would think of bogie-flavored beans?)

Grint brings not only the voice of Tom Gates to life, but also Gates’ imitations of the people he knows.  Grint differentiates between them all and gives each character a personality.  Had the audio effects been less obtrusive, Grint’s performance would have shone even more, but all of the loud sounds and noises are probably just what a fifth-grade boy would want in his audio diary.

Listen here for a sample of the audio book available from Bolinda Publishing, and thank you, Ice Cream Man, for the information.

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6.

We are in our sixth week of summer reading and so far Syosset kids have read 3024 books.  

Our last day is August 8th, if you haven't signed up yet you still have time to come in and receive prizes.






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Josephine

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7. Native Writers and Illustrators on Twitter

Do you have a Twitter account? Do you follow Native writers! Some tweet a lot, some a little. Some tweet about books, some tweet about their nations, and some tweet about a wide range of topics.

If you know of Native writers/illustrators who I haven't listed here, submit their name/Twitter ID in a comment and I'll add them to this list. These are primarily Native writers or illustrators whose work has been discussed on AICL.

Sherman Alexie
https://twitter.com/Sherman_Alexie
@Sherman_Alexie

Shonto Begay
https://twitter.com/shontobegay
@shontobegay

Joseph Bruchac
https://twitter.com/JosephBruchac
@JosephBruchac

Margaret Bruchac
https://twitter.com/MargaretBruchac
@MargaretBruchac

Nicola I. Campbell
https://twitter.com/NicolaCampbel20
@NicolaCampbel20

Lisa Charleyboy
https://twitter.com/UrbanNativeGirl
@UrbanNativeGirl

Art Coulson
https://twitter.com/UpWithTheMooses
@UpWithTheMooses

Heid Erdrich
https://twitter.com/HeidErdrich
@HeidErdrich

Julie Flett
https://twitter.com/julie_flett
@julie_flett

Joy Harjo
https://twitter.com/JoyHarjo
@JoyHarjo

Daniel Justice
https://twitter.com/justicedanielh
@justicedanielh

Marcie Rendon
https://twitter.com/MarcieRendon
@MarcieRendon

Cynthia Leitich Smith
https://twitter.com/CynLeitichSmith
@CynLeitichSmith

Arigon Starr
https://twitter.com/superindun
@superindun

Kara Stewart
https://twitter.com/artinphotgrphy
@artinphotgrphy

Drew Hayden Taylor
https://twitter.com/TheDHTaylor
@TheDHTaylor

Tim Tingle
https://twitter.com/tim_tingle
@tim_tingle

Anton Treuer
https://twitter.com/antontreuer
@antontreuer

Richard Van Camp
https://twitter.com/richardvancamp
@richardvancamp

Richard Wagamese
https://twitter.com/richardwagamese
@richardwagamese

Daniel Wilson
https://twitter.com/danielwilsonpdx
@danielwilsonpdx

Erika Wurth
https://twitter.com/etwurth
@etwurth



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8. Picture Books for Stubborn Kids

In typical toddler fashion, my youngest daughter (aged two and a half) has developed the “NO! I don’t like it!”, and the “Don’t want it!” approach to almost everything offered, much to the delight of her parents (that’s me). If you’re a parent or teacher of children anywhere between two and five years old, and […]

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9. Return Of The Gods & The Cross-Earths Caper Parts 1 & 2 Of The "Invasion Earth" Trilogy



The Return Of The Gods:Twilight of the Super Heroes

Terry Hooper-Scharf
A4
Paperback, 
Black & White
331 Pages
Price: £20.00
It begins slowly with Earth’s heroes going about their daily tasks –fighting a giant robot controlled by a mad scientist’s brain , attackers both human and mystical -even alien high priests of some mysterious cult and their zombie followers and, of course, a ghost and a young genius lost in time. 
 
Pretty mundane. But there is a huge alien Mother-ship near the Moon and strange orange spheres chase some of Earth’s heroes who vanish into thin air –are they dead?
 
 Then black, impenetrable domes cover cities world-wide. 
  
Alien invasion of Earth! 
 
A war between the Dark Old Gods and the pantheons that followed! 
  
Warriors from Earth’s past having to battle each day and whether they die or not they are back the next day!
 
 And no one suspects the driving force behind the events that could cause destruction and chaos throughout the multiverse —assaulted on all fronts can Earth’s defenders succeed or will they fail...is this truly the end?

THE CROSS EARTHS CAPER

 Terry Hooper-Scharf
Paperback, 
Black & White
107 Pages 
A4 
Price: £12.00
Following the events on Neo Olympus and the Boarman invasion of Earth, many heroes and crime-fighters have withdrawn from activity. 
 
 Some are trying to recover from injuries while others are fighting the mental scars left by the events. 
 
 As heroes from other parallels who helped during the events return home, members of the Special Globe Guard are shocked at the sudden appearance of Zom of the Zodiac. 
 
Very soon, a group of heroes find a quick rescue mission turn sour as they become lost between parallel Earths and threats. Sometimes one Earth just is not enough. 
  
The complete story published in issues 7-10 of Black Tower Adventure now in...one handy dandy book!

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10. Ruff Life Mascots Max & Bella Ridiculous Hoop Challenge

Sorry guys the filming went wonky due to me laughing and Bella's antics.  Even the iPhone had a hard time trying to keep up with her!
Watch what I mean below.



 let me know what challenges you'd like to see the pair do!


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11. Permissions

If you quote song lyrics in your manuscript, you might want to rethink that.

http://jetreidliterary.blogspot.com/2015/06/query-question-permission-we-dont-need.html

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12. 15 THINGS THAT WILL KEEP ME FROM BUYING YOUR BOOK



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Now I’m not saying that doing these things are automatically wrong, but why hurt your chances of getting a book sale or scaring off potential readers? 

These are all first chapter blunders that will probably turn-off readers right away. 

1) The opener has long blocks of straight narration and it is all in italics.

Reading italics is hard on the eyes. Short sections are fine, but pages and pages are difficult to read in my opinion. If I open the “Look Inside” feature of your book on Amazon and see text in thick blocks without much white space in italics, then I’m most likely not going to buy your book. I’m going to buy someone else’s novel.

Maybe you figured since it was a flashback that the scene needs to be in italics. It doesn’t. Maybe it is a prologue, so you wanted to make that clear to the reader. Don’t put it in italics. Maybe you thought it would look cool if the font was all in italics. It doesn’t.

I’ve worked with some amazing professional editors, like the talented Rochelle French, over the years and it helped me learn and grow as a writer. Rochelle gave me this same advice once. Now I’m sharing it with you.

2) Your opener reads like a prologue.

While a first chapter should have some suspense, foreshadowing, and tension, the problem is that why should the reader care about these characters if they already know the bad thing that’s going to happen to them? Readers are just meeting your characters for the first time and they haven’t yet formed a connection with them. So they might not care if your hero will be abducted by aliens , or he is going to lose his job, or he is about to be hit by a car.

It is true that the opener should start with some tension and action, but first I would offer the reader a glimpse of the characters “normal world” before you have them run into a burning building. That way, the reader cares if they make it out alive.

Don’t cheat your readers out of solving the mystery or telling them all the bad stuff that’s going to happen to the character(s) in the opener. To me, that’s like a huge SPOILER ALERT. Why should I spend my time and money on your book if I already know that the character will die or something else terrible is going to happen?

My advice is to “hint” at all the bad coming your character’s way. BUT please don’t tell me about it. Don’t dump it out in the opener. Leave a trail of mysterious breadcrumbs for me to follow. 

3) There are no excerpts on your blog, or, website, or wattpad, or on Amazon.

If I discover a new writer, I want to read a sample of their work. Writers, please, do yourself a favor and post them EVERYWHERE. Give readers a glimpse of your awesome story and reel them in. Then make sure the purchase links are in plain sight, because if your excerpt is awesome, I don’t want to waste my time trying to figure out where to buy it. I want to start reading. Now.

Make certain your excerpt is either the opener (you don’t need to post the entire first chapter) or some super intriguing scene that will immediately grab the reader’s interest. And make it a cliffhanger. Yes, a huge, exciting, I-gotta-know-what-happens-next cliffhanger. Get them to buy the book.

4) All backstory. Nothing happens, but a long info-dump of setup aka backstory.

 The main rule of first chapter writing, is do not include backstory!

Why it is not needed…

Because I don’t know your characters. I haven’t meet them yet, so I don’t care that he/she lived on a farm and had a broken arm at age seven. I could care less if they’re an ex-cop who’s been divorced three times with five kids to support. 
All I care about is what is happening NOW. Not what happened two years ago.

In order to get readers to care about the character and his/her backstory is to get them interested in what’s actually happening in the story now. Our job as writers is to convince readers that this story is worthy of their time and money. 

One way to do that is to pretend that the reader already knows as much about these characters as you do, then indicate some important event and fascinating occurrence happened previously. 

You’ll make readers naturally curious to know how your characters ended up in this particular situation with whatever specific burden of emotional baggage they’re lugging around. 

You have an entire novel to include snippets of backstory into your character’s past. There is a time and place for backstory. The first chapter is not the time, nor the place. 

5) No “Voice” in the opener.

 Even if nothing much is really happening in your opener, if the “voice” is well-written, then I’ll keep reading. 

Just as everyone has their own characteristic way of speaking or expressing themselves, a writer’s characters should also have a distinctive “voice” that clearly comes across in the narrative.

Interesting characters with interesting “voices” can draw a reader into a story without any big event taking place. Their unique view of the world can set them apart from other books in your genre.

Besides all the other key ingredients a writer needs to have in their opener, “voice” is among the most vital. Spend some time getting to know your characters. Fill out character interviews and/or profiles to gain insight into their personalities, then let that shine through in your narrative.

6) No hint of conflict or “hook” moment within the opening scene.

 In the first chapter, I like a hint at the dilemma. I want some foreshadowing on the problems that the main character is going to have to face throughout the storyline. I want to know that there are going to be obstacles in his/her way from the get-go.

That is a major mistake that a lot of new writers make. They fall in love with their characters and coddle them. Please don’t. You can love ’em to pieces, but make their lives VERY difficult. Everybody has ups and downs. Good days and bad ones. 

Add some conflict and tension in your first chapter. Then hint at more bad things to come for this character. 

This leads into the next thing your opener needs…

7) A huge turn-off for me is a character without a goal. 

The “passive character” to me is one without any motivation of goals. These types just drift through scenes without any real connection to events or happenings. 

The “passive character” is one that does nothing to solve the mystery or stop the killer. They observe the story rather than experience it, which creates narrative distance. And a writer NEVER wants that to happen.

The easiest fix is to give your main character(s) goals throughout the narrative to try to obtain. In the first chapter, have your character either mention a goal or actually show he/she trying to achieve one. The main characters need a clear goal. But again, don't make it too easy.

For example, your character is thirsty (motivation). She/he needs a glass of water (goal), so they go into the kitchen to get a drink. But when they turn on the facet, no water comes out (conflict). Now they have a dilemma and a problem to solve. It turns out that when she/he turns on the TV that the Earth’s water supply has mysteriously vanished overnight (foreshadowing). End chapter.

The reader is intrigued now. They’ll keep reading to find out the “whys” and “hows” of this weirdness, and most importantly, how this will affect the character’s own life. 

8) First impressions really do matter. 

Ever been on a blind date, or met someone in person for the first time? Your immediate reaction to someone has to do with a lot of different factors. Your instant like or dislike of them can be judgy, but we all do it unconsciously. 

The first time I meet your characters, I need to either like them or empathize with them right away. (This also ties in closely with number 5: “voice.”)

If your character is uninteresting or blandly written, I might not keep reading. If he’s a major jerk who kicks puppies and pushes old ladies into the street, I might not keep reading. (Although, I may wonder why they’re such a douchebag.)

And avoid making him/her too perfect (Mary-Sue types) or without any real flaws. Real people have character flaws, and bad or annoying habits. Everyone has some emotional baggage. 

Try to make your character seem as “real” as possible. Give the reader a peek at their interests or hobbies or personality tics. Give them phobias or quirks from the start. Create interesting characters that will attract your potential readership.

For example, your character suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder that alienates nearly everyone with whom he interacts with on a daily basis. He even has such strange quirks that he avoids stepping on sidewalk cracks while walking through town due to a superstition of bad luck. Yet his OCD gets overlooked once he befriends a small dog. (Yeah, this was borrowed from a movie.)

Unique or "real-to-life" characters and “voice” will always grab a reader and yank them into your story-world from page one.

9) First line is weak and boring.

The first sentence matters. I don’t care what other editors or writers say. Deny it all you want, but an amazing first line is like a promise of good things to come.

For me personally, if the first sentence (and paragraph) has a great "hook," I will buy the book 9 out of 10 times. 

I always read Amazon's "Look Inside" feature to inspect the first sentence and page of any novel before I buy it. I purchase 99% of my books from Amazon, but if it doesn’t engage me within first page, then I won't buy it. 

Rewrite that first sentence like a “pitch” that will make your book the next NY Times bestseller. Make it clever. Make it emotionally-driven. Make it powerful enough that reader has no choice but to keep reading.

10) Nothing happens in the first five pages. No action.

Engaging the reader’s curiosity is the number one thing that the first chapter MUST do above all else. 

An interesting event must grasp the reader’s attention from page one. This can be an extraordinary location, a distinctive “voice,” a shocking incident, lots of interesting dialogue, or a hint of conflict. The point is to seize the reader’s attention quickly. You only have one or two pages before the reader tosses your book aside and buys the next one.

There's no need for heart-pounding action. But do make certain that the characters don’t give anything away yet. Have them doing SOMETHING. Add some action and conflict from page one.

For example, the character is about to take their driving test (interesting event). He/she is nervous because without a license (motivation), they can’t get a job delivering pizzas. They desperately need this second job to help pay for medication (goal) that their sickly child needs to live.

In the example, the character is doing something—taking a driver’s test. So it gives the reader action, along with the other necessary ingredients, like a goal and motivation, and even potential conflict if they fail this test.

11) No dialogue. Only introspection.

Huge sections of introspection or description are boring. Sure, internal-monologues give insight into characterization and your character’s thought-process, but without action and dialogue thrown into the mix, it’s a total snooze-fest. 

When I open a book and see nothing but long chunks of text without much “white space,” I already know that nothing is happening. It’s either all backstory or introspection. 

Your first chapter doesn’t have to be exciting, or even have a thrilling car chase, but have you’re characters doing something, and get them talking. Fast. 

Personally, I love dialogue. The more you have in your book, the more insight I’ll gain about your lovely characters. The more engaged I’ll become. Dialogue moves a plot forward immediately and creates lots of white space. 

While the characters are yakking, have them doing something so they’re not just “talking heads” floating around in space. Even if they’re just walking their dog while chatting with their BFF over what a slut Amy Waltburg is for stealing her boyfriend, you have an interesting opener.
Make the dialogue short and snappy. Don’t let characters ramble on or give long speeches. Have them talk about things significant to the plot, or have it reveal characterization. Leave out the small talk and “As you know…” snippets. Have the characters discuss a problem or hint at one in the coming chapters.

This will also help with any pacing issues.

12) There is no inciting incident that rocks the main character's world.

 Give the reader an enigma to unravel. The plot, the events unfolding within the first chapter, should give the reader an immediate mystery to solve, something to feel anxious about, something to flip the page. 

The “incident” doesn’t need to be earth-shattering. But include something that either hints at a disastrous event to come, or have something actually happen that upsets the character’s world.

It could be as simple as a phone ringing in the middle of the night, the character gets mugged, or he/she stubbles across a lost child and offers to help them find their mommy.

Now, you could save the “life-changing event” until chapter two or three; however, you still need something that happens to indicate that this character’s nice and quiet life is about to get turned upside down and flipped inside out.

Which brings me to my next point…



13) No unanswered questions.

 Each chapter (scene) should either create unanswered questions within the reader’s mind or have a whole new set of questions. It’s an integral human psychological need to want to find out the why in a story. Unanswered questions do that for you.

For example, your character is in the Witness Protection Program, but the writer doesn’t include “why” this character is in it within the first chapter. That automatically creates questions in the reader. (That’s a good reason to leave out the backstory, too.)

Did they witness a crime? Testify against a drug lord? Rat out their bank robbing buddies as a plea bargain? 

Or maybe drop some titillating hints at some dark and sordid past. For example, your character doesn’t want anyone to know whythey moved to this small town, or why he/she only leave the house after sundown.

Make those questions juicy. Mesmerizing. Attention-grabbing. In other words, make the reader feel like they just HAVE to know what happens next, or why the character acts a certain way, or what circumstances lead them to having all this crazy emotional baggage, or what secret they're trying so desperately to keep hidden. 

14) The first chapter is 30 pages or longer. Or way too short.

 Chapter length is a debatable among most writers. I think genre has a big impact on chapter length. Personally, I like them shorter because it feels as though the story moves at a faster pace. 

A good rule is to keep each chapter under 10 to 15 double-spaced pages. Keep your first chapter short. Keep it engaging. Make it a teaser. Don’t give any key plot points away just yet. Create those must-know unanswered questions.

You need a find a balance. Too short and the reader doesn’t have time to care about your characters enough to keep reading. Too long and it obviously needs trimming.

Start with your character doing something. Add in some spicy dialogue. Hint at some foreshadowing. Include some characterization. Make sure the scene has some conflict or tension. Have lots of answered questions. Then leave it on a page-turning cliffhanger. 

15) No mention of where or when this story takes place.

If I read your opener and it doesn’t give me any idea what year it is or the location, I won’t connect with the setting or circumstances. All scenes need time-makers.

Just a short sentence or two is all you need. 

Some genres, like science fiction and high-fantasy, needs lots of world-building to set the scene. Just try not to go overboard with the description. The best way to include the setting and location is to have your characters interact with it and incorporate a few of the five senses.

For example:
Holly pushed open the solid oak door and stepped into her childhood bedroom. It had been years since she’d been back to her hometown of Livermore. She’d missed this warm California weather since she had moved to Seattle in 2010. 

Light blue striped wallpaper with posters of rock bands covered the walls. A plush azure rug and two overstuffed armchairs flanked a dank fireplace. A queen-sized bed, draped with a sheer curtain dominated the room. The scent of lilacs drifted in the air. She moved further into the space and heaved a sigh. 

Out the single window, the melancholy song of a Blue Jay filled her ears. Holly leaned a hip against the bulky dresser. Her hand lightly trailed the dust coating its smooth surface and she wiped her fingers off on her jeans. Tears spilled from her big brown eyes. Her heart ached with guilt. This was the last place she’d seen her father, before she’d stormed out the front door twenty years ago.

***

Explanations of events are much more dramatic if your characters are directly involved and experiencing them along with the reader. Readers may skim long pages of description; however, if it is slipped in as part of the action, then it is absorbed by the reader almost without being noticed, and enhances the scene. Always try to mix description with dialogue, actions, and the reactions of your characters. Try to include the year, place, and five senses in your opener. 

***
What about an opener will turn you off as a reader?

What grabs your attention about a story right away?

What other mistakes do you feel writers make in their first chapters?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

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13.


It was all in my head, but now it's on paper. I believe that thoughts become things. Writing this story and it's going to be published. One day soon LOL!

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14. YABC Book Haul - July 2015

Hey, YABCers!

This month we celebrate the birth of the chosen one, Harry Potter. And we celebrate the only way we know how...with a book haul!

Enjoy the awesomeness.

Happy birthday, Harry. 


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15. How I Spent My Summer Vacation and Loved Every Minute of It

     On July 3, I saw my first "back-to-school" ad.  Outside it was 97 degrees.  On TV, children dressed in sweaters and boots did handsprings over the notion of new notebooks and backpacks.

     Even though school in Georgia starts ridiculously early (sometime in the first two weeks of August), I can't get serious about "back-to-school" while I am in the heart of my summer. The week of the 4th I was halfway through what I call my Young Writer's Camps. (The sponsoring organization...two different ones this year...call them something else, that I promptly forget.)

   

 Young Writer's Camps have been the best part of my summer (or year, for that matter) for nine years. While my Facebook friends are posting from Maui and Montana and Myrtle Beach, I take a twice-a-day selfie at camp,perhaps to compare the damage done after seven hours with twelve young authors. Young Writer's Camps are my idea of vacation. Seriously. Yes, the first camp week reminds me of my public school teaching days when I felt as if I had been worked over with a Louisville Slugger, standing on cement floors in hard soled shoes, after a summer of sneakers and sand. But now, as then, no matter how wasted I feel, emotionally and physically, it's a good feeling. Every day is a good day at writing camp.

    Starting out with one camp per summer in downtown Atlanta (the commute alone would kill you), I moved on to two camps with my local parks department (zero commute!) This year we not only added an Advanced Writers Camp for returnees and serious writers, but I also conducted a camp for the Historical Society of a neighboring county (hello, long commute!) Both my sponsoring groups are hoping to add additional weeks next summer.  This summer there were four sessions. Next year we are aiming for a minimum of six, maximum enrollment of twelve.

    These are creative days, where my writers can continue the dystopian novel they started last summer, write stories based on family history (some are pretty hair raising), personal essays, poetry. If it is not part of the Georgia writing curriculum, it's part of mine.

    Like most American public schools, the emphasis is on essay and report writing. I understand. Being able to write well as an adult is an important skill. But in a world where recess has vanished in favor of more "instruction time," and music and the visual arts are considered so much expensive foofaraw, the child whose talent is creating fantasy worlds or sonnets...well, do it on your own time, kid. After you finish that enormous amount of homework.

   When I first began the camps, deep in the darkest days of No Child Left Behind, I had kids who were afraid to write anything, for fear that it was wrong. Wrong spelling, punctuation, grammar, subject...they were terrified of writing. My first rule that year and forever after is this: There is no right or wrong way to write in my camps. I make sure they understand that creative writing and whatever it is they do in a classroom are two different things. The kids seem to get the difference. You can just see those tight little shoulders and pencil-gripping fingers relax as soon as they know they are free to mess up. It's my own version of Anne Lamott's giving yourself permission to write terrible first drafts.

    Once they know there are no writing rules, I tell them that they are all writers right now. This is not strictly the truth since there are always those kids who are there because their parents need childcare and we are a bargain compared to horseback riding camp or Young Gourmet camp. With one exception, in nine years of camps, I have never had a parent or student tell me they didn't enjoy the week, even if they were massively unenthusiastic about being there on day one.

   I begin by telling them they are good writers, but by the end of the week they'll be better writers. I tell them how even after my books are published, I always want to go back and fiddle with them. I am never finished with them in my head. This is a less threatening way of easing kids into being critiqued. I call it "conferencing" where we meet one-on-one to praise their strengths, and sneak in a few subtle grammar points. ("Does this story all take place in the past or in the right-now? You can fix that by making all the verbs "match.") I try to use as little "teacher talk" as possible. After all, it's summer, this is a camp. Camps are supposed to be fun.

     I disguise writing skills as "contests." Vocabulary building is "re-branded" into "Can you name an animal (or color or action verb or adjective) for every letter of the alphabet?" This particularly good when I have kids who are ESOL, or whose parents insist they speak their native language at home. We play "charades" by acting out action verbs. We make lists of words to substitute for more pedestrian ones. (This year's favorite word...undulate!)

   We talk about books we love and why, as well as books we disliked and why. I don't force anyone to "share" their work with the group, although 99% of them do. I do insist on two things on two share items every morning. One, they have to tell something unusual they have observed, This is considered "homework" and must be read from their notebooks. This is to get them in the habit of keeping a writer's notebook of story ideas.  The other is that they have to contribute to "Ms Rodman's reading list" by giving me a suggestion for my own reading. This not only lets me know what kids like (as opposed to what librarians, teachers and book reviewers like), but has broadened my reading tastes considerably. Thanks to their suggestions, I have come to enjoy dystopian worlds (!!!) any number of new-to-me series, and my newest love, graphic novels. I learned about the world of Fan Fiction through my students. At the end of the week, I feel that I have learned more from them than they have from me.

     Last Friday was the end of camp season for this year. I packed up my gigantic sticky note pad, markers, thesauri and odds and ends of writing books. I said a mental good-by to the four girls who have attended camp every year in it's current location.  The boys who wrote historical fiction about WWII and the Iraqi War. This year's edition of the Fan Fiction writer (a girl this time who was into Dr. Who). The kids whose powers of observation are almost superhuman. I load up my car, turn off the lights, and lock the door.  I'll be back next year.

    It's my vacation.

Posted by Mary Ann Rodman

 

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16. Writing in ... Indonesia

       At DeutscheWelle Monika Griebeler has a Q & A with Indonesian author Feby Indirani, Indonesian literature 'needs exposure to be noticed internationally'.
       Among her observations:

The infrastructure of the Indonesian publishing industry isn't yet fully developed. A potential market is there but the industry is still in a poor condition.
       She also notes:
But regardless of that, we still see gems of literature and popular writings that have both market success and good intellectual reception such as the works of Ayu Utami, Seno Gumira Ajidarma or Eka Kurniawan.
       As I've mentioned previously, this fall is seeing a double-dose of Eka Kurniawan in English, as two of his novels are being published in translation: Man Tiger, coming from Verso (see their publicity page, or pre-order your copy from Amazon.com), and Beauty is a Wound from New Directions (pre-order your copy from Amazon.com). Publishers Weekly has the early reviews -- here and here -- and they're both starred; fully on board the Kurniawan-bandwagon, they also have a Writers to Watch: Fall 2015 profile of him.

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17. A Little Rain for Monday



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18. It’s Tuesday! Write your Slice. #TWTBlog

It's Tuesday! Write. Share. Give.

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19. Audiobook Review: Almost Famous Women by Megan Mayhew Bergman

From Goodreads:
The fascinating lives of the characters in Almost Famous Women have mostly been forgotten, but their stories are burning to be told. Now Megan Mayhew Bergman, author of Birds of a Lesser Paradise, resurrects these women, lets them live in the reader's imagination, so we can explore their difficult choices. Nearly every story in this dazzling collection is based on a woman who attained some celebrity—she raced speed boats or was a conjoined twin in show business; a reclusive painter of renown; a member of the first all-female, integrated swing band. We see Lord Byron's illegitimate daughter, Allegra; Oscar Wilde's troubled niece, Dolly; West With the Night author Beryl Markham; Edna St. Vincent Millay's sister, Norma. These extraordinary stories travel the world, explore the past (and delve into the future), and portray fiercely independent women defined by their acts of bravery, creative impulses, and sometimes reckless decisions.
Writing
I'm usually drawn to short stories with a somewhat fantastical twist, along the lines of George Saunders or Karen Russel, but heard so many amazing things about this collection of historically inspired stories that I couldn't pass it up.  It wound up being everything the reviews said and more.  I loved the author's voice and felt like she managed to capture multiple, diverse characters and make them each original and separate from the others.  Characterization is short stories is hard, because you only have thirty or so pages to get to know the characters.  Bergman doesn't let that limitation stop her from creating rich, complex characters who leap off the page.

Entertainment Value
You'll want to read this one with Wikipedia open and a pen in hand.  The uniting idea behind this collection is that it features women who were close to fame, although not necessarily famous in their own right, or women who achieved a bit of fame, but aren't the ones we learn about in school.  Every single one of the stories was fascinating and I spent quite a bit of time after each one looking into the background to find out all I could about the story's subject.  I added several biographies to my TBR list as a result.  Even if you're not interested in the history behind the stories, I still think readers will be pleased with how well-drawn each of these stories is.  There's something to grab you in each selection and, when put together as a whole, make a beautiful tapestry that showcases both the author's talent and the experience of being a woman throughout history.  I couldn't stop listening.

Narration
No complaints here - I liked the narrator's voice and thought that, like Bergman, she did a great job of creating a unique voice for each story.  That's not to say that she overacts or employs cheesy accents - each story sounds natural and fluid, and I appreciated her changes in intonation to give a different sound to each narrator.

Overall
I highly recommend this one to any short story fans.  I'll be watching all of Bergman's future publications, as well as adding her backlist to my TBR.

Thanks to the Free Library of Philadelphia and Hoopla for providing me with an audio copy!

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20. Seagull Books profile

       In Flight of the Seagull in The Caravan Anjum Hasan looks at: 'How an Indian publisher brought Europe home', profiling Seagull Books, the Naveen Kishore-led, India-based publisher that is one of the leading publishers of literature-in-translation (especially French and German) in English. (A lot of other publishers have great lists, but as far as number-of-(important-)titles go, it's really Dalkey Archive Press and Seagull way at the head of the pack.)
       A fascinating story -- and a wonderful success story.

       Lots of Seagull titles are under review at the complete review -- I wouldn't even know where to start -- and I hope you too are familiar with much of what they've published.

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21. Pedal Zombies on Kickstarter

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22. France wins the First European Games!

It came down to a classic and historic rivalry: the French versus the British. There were a few casualties–the French first string keeper broke his shoulder–but the “really tough, really intense” game ended on a fair Snitch snatch, leaving the French with the champion title after a 90-50 win.

Representatives from each team spoke to The Guardian, happy with the results of the tournament. All are hoping that the success of the first European Games brings Quidditch a higher profile and encourages involvement in the sport. The Guardian reports:

Dennis Jordan, captain of the French side, on Sunday said both sides played a “really tough, really intense game”. “Our main keeper was injured and broke his shoulder; he’s now in the ambulance. It was a legal tackle; both teams played aggressively but within the rules,” he said from the sidelines.

Speaking before the final, Jan Mikolajczak, one of four players from the University of Oxford, said the real-life game is surprisingly similar to the fictional version. “Other than the fact we’re not flying, it’s full contact and quite rough, just as it was in the books,” he said.

Despite the strict rules, Giulio Cioncoloni, a volunteer with organisers at the Cultural Association l’Ombrico, said the game is informal and incredibly fun. “It’s a beautiful sport because it’s one of strength. But at the end of the game, everyone hugs. It’s a great community. Quidditch is a sport for everyone,” he said.

Jordan agreed a jovial atmosphere dominated, despite injuries, with the French team celebrating alongside their British rivals. He hoped their win in Tuscany would help raise the profile of Quidditch in France: “We expanded a lot last year and we will continue next year. Winning the European games may influence people to get involved.”

After a successful European Games, all are looking forward to the bi-annual Quidditch Global Games next year. The site of the games has yet to be determined by the International Quidditch Association board. Though few new of Quidditch in the Italian country side, Italy now has 9 Quidditch teams across the country, and is hoping to continue growing. The home team (representing Italy) was knocked out of the tournament in an early defeat by the Belgians.

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23. Richard Williams Joins Twitter, Animation World Rejoices

The legendary animator responsible for "Who Framed Roger Rabbit," "The Thief and the Cobbler," and so much more is on social media at least.

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24. Laughter

Laughter is a balm to soothe
Whatever makes you ache
And those who would reject that thought
Are making a mistake.

Just spend an afternoon or eve
With friends from long ago
And reminisce until the giggles
Start to overflow.

For when you’re caught up having fun
The bad stuff slinks away,
Afraid to tamper with the joy
On obvious display.

If only we could bottle up
Those laughs for future use,
Then all the sadness lurking ‘round
Perhaps we could reduce.

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25. Amazon’s best selling graphic novel for today is…Fart Wars

As you may know, I keep a little feed of Amazon's best selling graphic novels in my desktop, just to see what's charting. It's usually the same seven or eight books—Klling Joke, Watchmen, The Dark Knight, Saga, Fun Home, Persepolis and so on. But this week, along with a strong week for anything by Scott Snyder about Batman, there is a new #1 book, and it comes with a whiff of the new: Fart Wars by J.B. O'Neil. O'Neil who has self published this and several other volumes in The Disgusting Adventures of Milo Snotrocket series, has found a formula so profound it's truly astonishing no one came up with it before: mix one part Star Wars parody, one part Wimpy Kid simple drawing, and 20 parts fart humor and you have something that is smelling, er, selling briskly in the Kindle format.

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