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1. Pottermore’s Guide to Movie-Making: Shadowing David Yates

This week, Pottermore gave us a look inside what David Yates actually does as Director of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Apparently it’s not all yelling ‘Cut!’ and ‘Action!’ – at least not for David Yates.

A team of Assistant Directors ensures filming runs as smoothly as possible, and according to Pottermore, most of their jobs involve adjusting leads, moving extras and actors around, preparing props and muttering instructions into mics. This team is led by first Assistant Director (AD) Josh Robertson, who usually does all the yelling, cutting and hushing:

“Josh and the other ‘ADs’ do a lot of yelling and a lot of shushing. Volume control is one of their principle duties. And when you consider that a mistimed cough could ruin a scene and cost thousands to reshoot, it’s very important.”

“There are four ADs on set (or, in movie speak, ‘on the floor’) and they all have earpiece microphones that make everything they say sound urgent. On Fantastic Beasts, Josh is joined by Tom Brewster, Danni Lizaitis and Katherine Hingst as second, third and fourth AD. Their names will appear right near the top of the end credits of the film when it’s out – you’ll spot them.”

“To support [David’s] process, the ADs fan out, assume positions at various spots on set and keep that area clean, clear, quiet and calm during and between scenes. They are the purveyors of smooth operation, the enablers of great direction.”

David Yates adjusts cameras to get the perfect shot, gives quiet directions to actors and monitors each shot and how the action plays out on screen. His gentle manner is something Katherine Waterston (who will portray Tina Goldstein in Fantastic Beasts) previously shared insight into David’s inspired style of directing:

‘He has a shorthand and a comfort with the world. He’s not precious with it, he understands what it needs and what it doesn’t need and there’s something really comforting in that.’

 ‘When we’re incorporating things that aren’t actually there, to look at David and know he can see the world is… everything,’

The Pottermore Correspondent adds:

“He is both obsessively detailed-oriented and able to see the whole project as if from above. After directing the final four Harry Potter films, this is his fifth venture into J.K. Rowling’s imagination and he knows the territory well. He just needs a dependable crew to clear his path for him”

Read the full piece here, and Pottermore’s interview with David Yates here!


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2. Level Up Your Setting By Thinking Outside The Box

With the Urban and Rural Setting Thesaurus books releasing in just two weeks (June 13th), pretty much all I can think about is the setting, ergo today’s topic. You guys have no idea how much Becca and I are loving all the tweets, emails, comments and posts from all of you about these upcoming books–thanks so much for your enthusiasm and support! 

Okay, moving on… :)

With writers, there seems to be two camps: those who love writing setting description, and those…who…don’t. There isn’t always a lot of middle ground.

Becca is definitely in the former group. She’s freakishly good at world building. Each setting she writes feels like a living, breathing place, yet distilled to have clarity and purpose, so only the most important bits are shown without disrupting the pace or action.

For many, when it comes to describing the setting, the words don’t immediately flow. Some of us (cough-me-cough) tend to write on the leaner side of things, especially early on, and it is only in later drafts we put more “meat” on the setting “bone.”

Here’s the good news: regardless of whether you embrace setting description or not, one way to level up your writing is to think hard about each location you choose. The “where” of each scene is an important factor, and worth the extra time to plan. Here’s two big reasons why:

It Achieves Story and Character Depth

The right setting can greatly enhance our story, providing tests and challenges for our hero to overcome (the Black Gate in The Lord Of The Rings, or the Cornucopia in The Hunger Games), fortify the character, reminding them of their greatest assets (Hermione and the Hogwarts library come to mind) or allow the ghosts of the past to resurface and shape a character’s vulnerability (the sewers in Stephen King’s It.)

lonely1The location can even reinforce a character’s deepest longing (the Notre Dame stadium in Rudy), and act as a tangible reminder of a missing Human Need (The Incredibles’ Bob Parr, an unfulfilled insurance claims adjustor in his cramped office, who needs to be something more, something greater.)

Takeaway tip: When choosing a setting for the scene’s events, look at what is going to happen, and make a list of setting choices that can reveal something deeper about the characters involved. The setting should act as a symbol for one or more of the elements above, bringing forth deeper meaning and making characters and their desires matter more to readers.

It Offers Readers a New Experience

imaginationOne of the big promises we make to readers is that we will take them on a journey that is somehow new and fresh. One way to achieve this is through setting choice. After all, do we really want to show them the same location they’ve read about a million times before? And while genre might influence the range of settings that one might expect to see, this shouldn’t hold a writer’s creativity hostage.

Take the typical party scene, a common sight in many contemporary Young Adult novels. This event doesn’t always have to be at the beach or in someone’s house while the parents are away. Why not have your teenagers sneak into a shutdown construction site or an empty warehouse that’s up for sale, instead? Add some beer, a few spray cans, and the unexpected appearance of a security guard with a stun gun, and you’ve got a unique setting primed for a storm of conflict, plus you’re offering readers something new to experience.

Takeaway Tip: If you start with the scene’s action, make a list of all the obvious places this exchange or event could take place. Then, branch out, thinking about locations that logically fit with your characters’ general location, but offer fresher setting options.

The Setting Thesaurus DuoMake Something Familiar New

Now if you do find yourself using a familiar setting out of necessity, don’t worry. Just strive to make it unique through different factors. The time of day or night, the quality of light, the season, the weather, and the POV character’s emotional filter will all help you transform the location into something tailor made.

Plus, you can turn your setting into an obstacle course to differentiate it further, because setting is also a vehicle for conflict.

one-stop-for-writers-badge-xsmallBonus Tip!

Not only do our two new Setting Thesaurus books have the sights, smells, tastes, sounds and textures of 225 locations to kick-start your imagination, you can find a list of both volumes’ settings at One Stop For Writers to mine for ideas, even if you are not a subscriber of the site.

Simply register (always free) and click on The Setting Thesaurus in the menu. If you are a subscriber, you can access all the entries in full, as the setting thesaurus books have already been uploaded to the One Stop site.

Do you think “outside the box” when it comes to setting? What are some of the more unusual locations you’ve chosen?

Image 1: Antranias@ Pixabay
Image 2: Unsplash @ Pixabay

The post Level Up Your Setting By Thinking Outside The Box appeared first on WRITERS HELPING WRITERS™.

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3. Fish

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4. Presidential Polar Bear Post Card Project No. 161 - 5.30.16

For Memorial Day 2016.

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5. Pottecast Episode #257: Cursed Child Party at GeekyCon!

We know you have all been waiting with anticipation for the return of your favorite podcasters…and it’s time! There is a new Pottercast available on iTunes. Episode #257 talks about the upcoming fan convention unlike any other–GeekyCon.

Pottercast and Leaky will take part in hosting GeekyCon and its Harry Potter events, including the Cursed Child midnight release party!

Also wondering why PotterCast disappears for long periods of time? Have no fear, the Potter podcasters talk about their plans to get Pottercast back on track again!

Thanks to our amazing listeners for sticking with us!

(If the newest Podcast isn’t showing up in the Feed, refresh your iTunes several times. Go to “My Podcasts,” “Pottercast,” “Feed,” and refresh. For those of you who haven’t subscribed to PotterCast it may take a couple of days for the newest episode to appear on the iTunes page. Sorry for any inconvenience.)



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6. Peter Owen (1927-2016)

       As reported at the official site, publisher Peter Owen has passed away.
       He was responsible for an impressive and interesting list -- and many of the Peter Owen titles are under review at the complete review.

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7. Review: Air by Ryan Gattis

Title: Air
Author:  Ryan Gattis 
Publisher:Adaptive BooksPublication date: June 7, 2016

Stars: 3.5

Summary: After 17-year-old Grey witnesses the tragic death of his mother in Colorado, he is shipped off to live with his aunt in inner-city Baltimore, where he struggles to fit in to a new school and community. His new friend Akil introduces him to the enigmatic Kurtis, the leader of a group that uses high-octane sports as a form of social activism. By challenging the police with death-defying stunts and posting videos of them online, Kurtis, Grey, and their group become unlikely heroes in the fight against the prejudice that surrounds them.
As Kurtis takes Grey under his wing, they create a group name, an insignia, and a cause attracting more and more followers as they post videos of their extreme acts. The lines between social activism and criminal behavior blur and their escalating stunts become a rallying point for the underprivileged and disenfranchised around the country, spreading like wildfire across the Internet. How far will Grey and Kurtis go to push their message, and can their friendship withstand their growing notoriety?
Review:Taking a look inside the mind of a 17 year old, Grey, and his friend as they endure a series of questionable events. After many changes in Grey’s life, he finds himself in situations encouraging his controversial behavior via the internet.

As a book intended to entertain, the sequences of action and thrill of the ride as Grey continued to push his own boundaries will keep you hooked. People can connect with a lot of the feelings portrayed by Grey when life hits it’s hard times. Life lessons in this novel being portrayed through the eyes of a young man brings personal nostalgia from a period in time most everyone can recognize as how we learn who we are and where our places in life might be. Bringing in many elements of today’s world, it is easy to remain connected to characters realistic and probable lives. A good, easy read for those looking for a modern novel to entertain on many levels. 


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8. FX picks up LEGION for early 2017

Legion Dan StevensLegion, the Noah Hawley (Fargo) developed X-Men spin-off for the FX network has just been picked up for an eight episode order in early 2017. Per a press release from Marvel, here’s how the new series is described: “Legion” introduces the story of David Haller: Since he was a teenager, David has struggled with mental […]

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9. Synopsis 50

Sixteen year old PRINCESS PEGI is a misfit who prefers books to fashions and saves animals instead of hunting them. Her parents plan to marry her off to a suitable prince. Pegi wants to experience life outside the palace walls. On the day of the wedding she escapes into the woods, drawn to the cottage of evil fairy INGENIOSA.

As a baby Pegi had been cursed by Ingeniosa. [Why?] Pegi is to run away on her sixteenth birthday and spend the rest of her life searching for herself. Ingeniosa offers to remove the curse but Pegi sees it as a chance to break free of the yoke that is her royal destiny and chart her own path in life.  [Didn't she just break free from that yoke in the previous paragraph?]

As Pegi begins her quest, Ingeniosa offers her two gifts. The first is a companion – KUMO the were-dog, a mutt who can turn into a wolf at need. The second is a magical cookie which embodies the curse; if Pegi consumes it, the curse will end and she and Kumo will be back in their normal habitats. [You put a curse on someone, wait sixteen years for the curse to take effect, and immediately hand your victim the antidote?] [What is Kumo's normal habitat?]

Pegi’s new life is strange, confusing and full of misadventures. Kumo dismisses her as a silly royal; his superior attitude maddens her. But their relationship evolves as Pegi subsumes her vanity and learns from her mistakes. Mistrust and contempt change into mutual respect and affection, and they become true companions. [This was advertised as a YA book, but the magic cookie and the fact that Pegi grows close to her dog rather than a boy make it seem like a book for a younger crowd.]

When Pegi thwarts a witch hunt, she hears about the TRUTHERS.  [Not clear what that means. Were witches literally hunting, or was someone hunting witches or is this the more common figurative meaning of a witch hunt? I'm not sure we need to know what Pegi was doing when she heard about the Truthers anyway.] There are many groups of Truthers and each group believes it possesses the Sole Truth. [Do all groups of TRUTHERS refer to other groups of truthers as the LIARS?] All of them want to outlaw magic, hunt magical creatures and ban ideas they disagree with. Pegi is appalled by what she hears, but the world seems big enough and the danger remote. She realizes her mistake when she and Kumo try to help a besieged bookseller and witness the Truthists burning books and artifacts considered unacceptable. 

Forced to flee for their lives, they end up in the middle of a desert [It would have to be a pretty small desert to be chased all the way to the middle of it on foot without being overtaken. I was joking in the query when I said she needed a werecamel, but since the dog's ability to become a wolf doesn't seem to be paying off . . . ] [Or the dog could have the ability to change into any animal.] and Kumo begins to ail with a mysterious malady. The cookie is Pegi’s last hope. Eating it will return her to the gilded cage of royal life, but she will make any sacrifice to save her beloved were-dog. [The cookie sends Kumo back to his normal habitat, but I'm not sure why that would cure his mysterious malady.] When the cookie doesn’t work, Pegi is forced to make do without others’ magic. She manages to escape the desert and save Kumo by enlisting the help of a dying dragon, a pair of hungry vultures and a medicine man. [You can hardly claim the cookie is her last hope when a seemingly endless supply of potential allies happen to be in the middle of the desert.] [A living dragon would be more helpful in getting out of a desert than a dying dragon.]

The near loss of Kumo helps Pegi understand who she is and what she must do with the rest of her life. Her precious freedom is useless in a world where books are burnt and thinking is unfree. [It seems to me it's the realization that her freedom is useless that shows her what to do with her life, not the near-loss of Cujo.] She must either accept a yoke worse than her royal destiny or resist in her own way. Kumo says they can still walk away but Pegi knows that soon enough they will run out of places to run away to. Pegi and Kumo head towards a city controlled by the Truthers determined to do what they can, even if it’s just protecting one book, freeing one mind and saving one life at a time


There are so many people who don't request synopses, it hardly seems worth the trouble to write one.

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10. Writer Wednesday: Summer Reading/Writing

My daughter starts summer break today, so we're selecting books to read together in our own little book club. I love reading with her (we take turns reading aloud to each other) because she has such great insights. It also means I get to read some good middle grade books.

In addition to reading this summer, I need to get my Ashelyn Drake contemporary romance, After Loving You, ready for its September release. This story is very special to me because I'm a firm believer that you don't ever stop loving someone, but you can change the way you love them. If you're not sure what I mean, you'll have to read the book in September to find out. ;)

So my summer will consist of lots of reading and writing, because they go hand in hand. Learning from great authors is my favorite form of research, not to mention the most enjoyable way to improve your craft.

Have you selected your summer reads? Feel free to share them in the comments.

*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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11. Farmhouse Flowers

I needed a break from the drafting table this afternoon, so took a couple minutes to mess about with a pattern.
I haven't had a chance to sew much this year, which I miss. But if I did, I'm pretty sure I'd turn the above into a sundress, pronto.

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12. Tamil literature

       In The Hindu Madhumitha Dhanasekaran has a piece on Legends of Tamil literature, helpfully introducing several leading authors and offering 'Our picks' of their major works.
       Sounds good -- except that you won't find these titles at your local bookstore, or, indeed, in most cases anywhere, at least in English ..... Read the rest of this post

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13. INTERVIEW: Joe Casey talks Sex, his indie Officer Downe film and why comics are not like Van Halen

officer-downe  [Recently Joe Casey conducted an email interview with a writer for a now deceased site. I expressed an interest in running it on the Beat, but was unable to contact the original writer despite repeated attempts. As its general internet principle that the interviewee owns the written answers, I agreed to run Joe’s answers, as he’s […]

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14. ‘Simpleton Jack’ by Sasha Chernogorov

A short film based on the English fairytale "Lazy Jack."

The post ‘Simpleton Jack’ by Sasha Chernogorov appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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15. Watch The Exquisite Music Video For The Chinese Feature ‘Big Fish & Begonia’

Now we really want to see this Chinese feature.

The post Watch The Exquisite Music Video For The Chinese Feature ‘Big Fish & Begonia’ appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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16. Farewell my Friend review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Rabindranath Tagore's 1929 novel, Farewell my Friend.
       The 1913 Nobel laureate is best known as a poet, but he also wrote quite a bit of fiction, including several novels -- not all of which, amazingly, have been translated int English yet (though this one has, repeatedly). Most of the fiction is also damned hard to find in English -- disappointing, because it really is quite good.

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17. FREE TREASURE! (Free Kid's eBook for Kindle)


TREASURE is FREE today! (May 31st)



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18. Good News Day Tuesday: Pictures from Last Week's Launch

Last week's launch party for WHERE DO STEAM TRAINS SLEEP AT NIGHT? was so very, very fun! Thanks so very much to Mockingbird Books for hosting this wonderful event! And thank you so very much to who attended and to all who sent their virtual good wishes!

Here are a few fun pics from the party:

And we had a green screen at the party! So everyone got to take their picture with their favorite train:

And I had the wonderful privilege of being interviewed by the Little Engineer from the amazing Play Trains website. (If you have little ones who like trains, you should definitely check this website out. It is sooooo cool!) And I am so looking forward to hearing my interview when it is all ready! Here is a picture of me being interviewed by the amazing Little Engineer (who asked me 6 great questions!):

Thanks so much for letting me toot my own good news! Do you have good news to share? Please toot-toot it with a comment below! :) 

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19. Featured Review: Return to the Isle of the Lost (Descendents #2) by Melissa de la Cruz

About this book: The sequel to the #1 New York Times best seller The Isle of the Lost Mal's an expert at intimidating her enemies, but she's broken the habit since leaving her villainous roots behind. So when she and her friends Evie, Carlos, and Jay all receive threatening messages demanding...

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20. Alaa al-Aswany Q & A

       At Deutsche Welle Sabine Peschel has a Q & A with The Yacoubian Building-author Alaa al-Aswany.

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21. An Oral History of ILM’s ‘Dragonheart’ On Its 20th Anniversary

"Dragonheart," released twenty years ago this week, was a live-action film that had one of the first digital characters you could believe in. We talk to the ILM artists who created it.

The post An Oral History of ILM’s ‘Dragonheart’ On Its 20th Anniversary appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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22. Come meet Deedy (that's Dorothea Jensen to you)!

On Sunday, June 12, she will be signing copies of A Buss from Lafayette at the Barnes & Noble store in Nashua, NH, from 3-5 p.m as part of the Teen Book Festival. It is located at 235 Daniel Webster Hwy Nashua, NH 03060 .  Here is the store’s website: Nashua Barnes & Noble. 

Come join the fun! (We'd go if we could, but New Hampshire is QUITE a long way from the North Pole!


The Izzy Elves

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23. What I’ve Learned: Black Widow

BW-Natasha-Phil-NotoI was incredibly, completely, absolutely flat broke during my undergraduate film studies at NYU. Broke like skipping meals to afford rides on the Subway. Broke like working two college jobs, with all of it going to tuition and it never being enough. Broke like having to choose between living in a pest-infested room in Harlem, or not finishing college at all because I couldn’t afford to pay for the dormitories. I was angry, but my anger was a cloak that hid my shame, shame based on a fear that if I was indeed good enough to tell stories, somehow this would have been easier.

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24. The Safest Lie

Reviewing too many Holocaust books has brought on "Holocaust fatigue" for me, so I don't cover them very often on The Book of Life. However, The Safest Lie intrigued me with its back story of author Angela Cerrito's meeting with Irena Sendler. Angela lives in Germany, but I Skyped with her while she was visiting the United States. The Safest Lie was named a 2016 Notable Book by the Association of Jewish Libraries' Sydney Taylor Book Award committee.


Or click Mp3 File (28:13)


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25. Review: Melissa Mendes’ ‘Lou’ charts family dynamics in a charming, honest way

Massachusetts cartoonist Melissa Mendes has a knack for comics that not only center on kids, but present the world from their points of view with an unromantic honesty. Her first major work, the Freddy Stories collection, and her most recent project, the serialized webcomic The Weight both show off her prowess, and Lou, a collection […]

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