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1. Pre-PiBo Day 5: Molly O’Neill Looks at the World with New Eyes

mollyby Molly O’Neill

It’s day [whatever] of PiBoIdMo when it finally happens . . . you run out of ideas.

The blank page. It mocks you. And you’re panicked, because you’ve already plundered every cute/amusing thing your kids/pets have ever done, looking for inspiration. You’ve already turned your own experiences into rollicking, rhythmic (but never rhyming!) texts. You’ve perhaps even transformed Buzzfeed videos about unexpected animal friendships into whimsical odes to human emotions.

what now

So now what? Well, now comes inspiration in the form of one of my favorite quotations:

 The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.                                                                                                                                                     Marcel Proust

Even though this quote is nearly 100 years old, it’s meaningful, especially for a writer. In fact, Proust probably made this observation because as an author himself, he knew well that reaching past one’s initial, obvious, or cliched ideas to a place of true, fresh, personal creativity is among a writer’s greatest challenges—and greatest triumphs, when achieved. So, in Proust’s spirit, here are 5 tips to train your eyes, make new discoveries, and ultimately shape your words as a writer.

  1. Warm up your vision. Take one of your favorite ideas from a previous day’s writing and spin it into something fresh and new by changing one key element—like the point of view, the setting, or even a character’s identity. Switch the narrative voice from first person to third person, or turn from a contemporary setting to one that’s exotic or faraway or historical or fantastical. You can even turn human characters into animals and vice versa, or swap who the reader will see as the story’s hero/villain. And since the shape of your story was already established in your earlier creation (whether it was a full manuscript or just a simple outline), you’re temporarily free from thinking about plot and can instead play with transformation-enhancing details of voice and language. You may even realize that you enjoy the resulting version of the story more than your original! (An aside—one of my favorite books on writing covers similar ground: exploring how shifts in perspective can spark your creativity: check out 99 Ways to Tell a Story by Matt Madden.)
  1. Train your new eyes in real life. For one week, outlaw yourself from taking even a single photo. Every time you reach for your phone or other device to take a photo, force yourself instead to capture the moment differently, using only words! At the end of the week, select your favorite of these moments-turned-into-words on Facebook or Instagram and ask your friends and family if they can “see” the moment through your words alone. (If you like, snap a photo of your screen or notepad for more effective/visual social sharing.)

new eyes

  1. Watch for details that make you ask “why. Stories don’t always arrive in your mind, fully-imagined. Often, they start with a simple-but-intriguing image or detail, and the author’s curiosity to explore the story behind it. So study everyday life for places where paradoxes happen and tensions meet—for moments are memorable and yet unexpected at the same time. If you’re writing a humorous story, these details can sometimes add a layer of ridiculousness or absurdity that picture book readers will delight in. But more importantly, they make readers ask “why” enough to keep on turning pages. For example, imagine: Best friends who are suddenly not speaking, and no one knows why. A castle with a doorway that’s too small for any of its inhabitants to walk through. An abandoned home with a gift-wrapped package waiting at the door. With any of these jumping-off points or thousands of others like them, you can often reveal an interesting story to yourself (and your future readers) if you ask enough whys or what-ifs.
  1. Reverse the story-making process with visual storytelling. Many writers are accustomed to thinking that text always precedes art. But exercises in visual storytelling can engage your creativity in entirely different ways—making art an integral part of your creative process. To try this type of hybrid creativity, explore Storybird, which houses a curated collection of high-quality, original art and offers free and simple creative tools for authors. Simply select an image that catches your eye, and then use the art to enable your writing in one of countless ways—it can help spark or inspires story ideas; help you “unlock” or puzzle your way through a story, offering visual clues and perspective to offset your own imagination and talent with words; or simply enhance a story you’ve already been imagining. You can keep a story private, and share the link only with those you choose (like critique partners or friends/family); or you can add your stories into Storybird’s public library to get swift feedback from millions of young readers worldwide who use the platform.

storybird

  1. Remember that less is more. In art or photography, “negative space” is the white space in and around an image’s subject that helps viewers focus. For writers, there is sometimes a temptation to think that more words = better. But just like negative space can enhance artwork, sometimes a few well chosen words will say far more than an endless ramble. Fewer words means that each carries more power, so their precise selection and arrangement matters more. Similarly, remember that what’s not on the page is just as important as what is, and if a detail of your story can be portrayed through artwork, then it rarely needs to be repeated in the text. Your job as an author is to decide what does not belong in a story, as much as what does!

Here’s hoping you arrive at the end of these exercises—and PiBoIdMo—with powerful new eyes that would make Proust proud. Questions? Thoughts? Please share them, and your own suggestions to fellow writers seeking creative vision and unique perspectives, in the comments.

guestbloggerbio2014

Molly O’Neill is Head of Editorial at Storybird where she works at the intersection of story, art, technology, and new publishing opportunities for authors and artists. Previously she was an editor at HarperCollins, where she launched the careers of talented authors and illustrators including bestselling phenom Veronica Roth (author of Divergent), heartwarming award-winner Bobbie Pyron (author of A Dog’s Way Home), and the distinctive narrative and visual voices of S. J. Kincaid (author of Insignia), Hilary T. Smith (author of Wild Awake), Sarah Jane Wright (illustrator of A Christmas Goodnight), and many others. Follow Storybird on Twitter for daily thoughts on art, writing, and creativity.


10 Comments on Pre-PiBo Day 5: Molly O’Neill Looks at the World with New Eyes, last added: 10/30/2014
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2. Query Question: does the query have to be about the main character?


Dear QOTKU

Does the MC of a query have to be the MC of a book? The direction my query is heading, I’m learning to build the book around the query, is maybe fifth on the list of characters. The query is going that way because his story is the easiest to clarify in 250 words.

The query MC is in the beginning, middle and end of the book so I could not say I was misleading anyone. The reason I say that is that the story morphs from a floating body into much more and the query MC bypasses some of the leads the cops have to investigate.



I'm not sure why you think you have to "clarify a story" in the query. You don't. You have to tell me what choice the main character faces and what's at stake for him/her with that choice.  By default, that means the main character of the book, not the fifth guy on the cast of characters.

What you're proposing here is to query a Harry Potter novel by talking about Ron Weasley.

Let's take this to the next step: I'm reading the query and I am expecting a book about Ron Weasley. All of a sudden, here's this Harry Potter guy with all the page time.  I'm confused. Confused is NOT what you want your reader to be, whether it's agent or book buyer or anyone in between.

The first rule of queries is to entice the agent to read on. The second is to tell what the book is about and by definition that's the main character.


I had a very similar situation in a recent query.  It was a terrific query, one of the best I've ever seen, but the pages opened with a character who was clearly not the protagonist or the antagonist.

Here's my reply to the query:


This is probably one of the best query letters I've ever gotten.

But the pages start with a person I thought was a secondary
character, and you've really buried the hook deep in that fifth paragraph.
And it's a pretty subtle hook too.

My taste runs to starting the book where the story begins.
From the query it sounds like the story starts when (X happens.)

Of course, other agents may have different opinions and finding
out what those are before revising is a smart strategy.

IF you do think I'm right, I'll be glad to hear from you again.

And that's a GREAT query. If you don't get a lot of positive
replies, I'll eat my hat.

Hat:


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3. Mary Amato, author of YA novel Get Happy, on divorce–and win a signed copy!

mary-amato-gethappy_web-500

I’m happy to host Mary Amato, YA author of Get Happy, today–talking about divorce and writing about painful issues. Readers, if you’d like to win a signed copy of Get Happy, please leave a comment on this post. US and Canada only. (I’m two days late on posting this; I’ve been sick. My apologies!) Take it away, Mary!


One of the central issues of Get Happy is how divorce can affect a child. Minerva’s father leaves when she is two, and she struggles with this throughout her childhood and into her teen years.

Divorce can be messy and the adults involved can sometimes fail to understand what the child needs. Minerva feels as if the subject is taboo and so she bottles up her questions and her emotions, which is the opposite of what she needs.

I know that my adult readers are not going to like the way the parents in this book behave. They aren’t good role models by any means. They’re flawed. They’re human.

To me, it’s important to write about all kinds of experiences because life is messy. Books can provide safe places to explore lots of different emotions.


mary-amato-library portrait-500
Author Bio:
Mary Amato is an award-winning children’s book author, songwriter, musician, puppeteer, and poet. She writes for children of all ages, and is beginning to focus on YA. Her first YA novel was Guitar Notes. Mary lives with her family outside Washington, DC, where she also performs regularly, singing and playing her own songs. Mary is a popular speaker and runs numerous workshops for teachers and students, including many on all aspects of creative writing, even songwriting. The author lives in Silver Spring, MD. You can visit her online at thrumsociety.


Readers! Leave a comment below to win a signed copy of Get Happy! (US and Canada only)

And check out the other stops along the tour.

Thursday, October 30, 2014
Reading Nook Reviews: Q&A and giveaway

Fandom Monthly: Giveaway

Rockin Book Reviews: Review and giveaway

Saturday, November 01, 2014
Adventures in YA Publishing: Question

Sunday, November 16, 2014
Children’s Book Review:
Guest Column and giveaway

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4. One Little Word: Silence

Did you pick one little word this year? How's it going?

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5. 5 Questions with Best Selling Author Regina Swanson

 
BookBuzzr author Regina Swanson’s book – My Husband’s Other Women – recently hit the # 3 spot on the Amazon. We reached out to Regina to learn more about her story.

The screenshot below was taken on Oct, 20 2014.
regina swanson amazon rank

1. Congratulations on the success of ‘My Husband’s Other Women’. Can you tell us a little about yourself and your journey as a writer?

Thank you for showing interest in “My Husband’s Other Women.” It is appreciated.
Regina Swanson
I was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. I took a short hiatus from Dallas to attend college. Upon completion of my undergraduate degree, I returned to Dallas. I have Master of Arts Degree in counseling and a PhD in Education. I am a late starter to the writing profession. I have always enjoyed fiction and creating stories but only recently decided to put it down on paper. Once I completed my first novel, I sent the manuscript out to some of the larger publishing companies. Needless to say, I did not hear back from any. I was extremely grateful when I was introduced to Royalty Publishing House. The company owners, Niyah Moore and Porscha Sterling, were excited about the manuscript. Together we put in the work to bring this debut novel to lovers of women’s fiction.

2. Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?

I do not have a special time to write. When idea’s spring into my brain I make notes. I could be riding in the car or standing in line at the grocery store. In the past, I would make outlines of what I wanted to happen, but I stopped because I’d never stick to the outline. You could say that I let my characters develop themselves as I am writing. It gives them more of an authentic feel as opposed to sticking to a premade script.

3. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

The most challenging part of writing for me is being concerned with how the editor views my knowledge of structure in preparing the manuscript. I know that may be weird, but the other parts of writing come very easy for me. I believe that my love of writing causes little stress throughout the process.

4. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

Absolutely! I learned that I love happy endings. I also love developing characters. It is one of the best things in the world to get to decide the outcome of what’s happening.

5. Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books?

My advice for other authors is to first entertain yourself with your writing. If you by chance entertain others in the process, well that’s just icing on the cake!

Thank you, Regina, for your Interview responses!

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Vikram Narayan is the founder of BookBuzzr Book Marketing Technologies. Vikram is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University. Prior to starting BookBuzzr, Vikram founded another software company that has been successfully serving clients from all over the world since 2001. When he is not dreaming up ways to help authors accelerate their earnings and book sales, Vikram spends his time playing the guitar, practicing Aikido and spending time with his family._________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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6. Eight facts about the waterphone

What in this galaxy is waterphone? You’ve might have not seen one, but if you’ve watched a horror or science fiction movie, chances are you’ve heard the eerie sounds of the waterphone. With Halloween around the corner and a spooky soundtrack required, I toured through Grove Music Online to learn more about the monolithic, acoustic instrument.

1. The waterphone was invented in 1967 and patented in 1975 by Richard A. Waters. It was manufactured individually to order by him (formerly under the company name Multi-Media in Sebastopol, California) so each was unique.

2. The Standard model is a stainless steel bowl resonator containing water. The dome-shaped top opens into a vertical unstopped, cylindrical tube that serves as a handle. Around the edge of the resonator are attached between 25 and 55 nearly vertical bronze rods, which (depending on the model) are tuned in equal or unequal 12-note or microtonal systems.

3. Various sizes have been produced; the earliest (‘Standard’) had a resonator 17.8 cm in diameter. Current models (‘Whaler’, ‘Bass’, and ‘MegaBass’) are constructed from flat, stainless steel pans.

4. The rods can be struck with sticks or Superball mallets or rubbed by a bow or the hands.

5. The movement of water in the resonator produces timbre changes and glissandi.

6. It has been played in a wide variety of musics, including rock and jazz, and featured in the compositions of Tan Dun and Sofia Gubaidulina.

7. It is an important element in the Gravity Adjusters Expansion Band founded by Waters in 1967.

8. It has been featured in many horror and science fiction film and television soundtracks, such as Poltergeist and The Matrix.

Headline image credit: Waterphone. Photo by Hangklang. CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

The post Eight facts about the waterphone appeared first on OUPblog.

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7. Agent Brent Taylor of TriadaUS Literary Chats About Unconventional Relationships, Agenting Style, and What He's Wishing For

Brent Taylor is a literary agent at TriadaUS Literary Agency, Inc. Prior to joining Uwe Stender's team in 2014, Brent completed a handful of internships in publishing, most recently at The Bent Agency. For more information on what he represents and how to submit to him, visit his Publishers Marketplace pagethe TriadaUS website, or find him on Twitter.



1. Welcome, Brent! Tell me, what are some of your favorite authors/books and why do you love them?

I have so many favorite books, so how about I instead tell you about what I've been reading lately and why I liked it.

HOOK'S REVENGE by Heidi Schulz. I loved the classic middle grade voice in this one, but more importantly, the witty and whimsical punch the all-knowing narrator gave to the story. I am eagerly anticipating the second installment in this series.

SERVANTS OF THE STORM by Delilah S. Dawson. I'm a big fan of all of Delilah's books, because they're incredibly written, but this one in particular struck me with its conventional approach to crafting unconventional relationships among the characters. The friendship in this novel is an interesting one, as well as the protagonist's relationship with her mother, her peers, the villain(s)! On top of all that, the southern gothic setting and the horror elements of the story just sucked me right in.

NOT THAT KIND OF GIRL by Lena Dunham. It's Lena Dunham! Besides that, I'm the biggest sucker for coming-of-age themes and summer-before-college stories, and Lena wove some poignant stories along those lines in this book.

2. Those are some great choices. Let's talk about books-yet-to-be. What is on your wish list? 

I represent all across the board (for more info, see my Publishers Marketplace page), but I'm dying for a great middle grade fantasy and young adult contemporary.

3. Are you an editorial agent?

I don't know an agent in this day and age that doesn't work with their authors in some sort of editorial capacity, big or small, before sending the work(s) out. There are of course exceptions to this, and it's dependent on many factors.

If the client is a debut novelist, I most often do at least one round of semi-major revisions and perhaps a few rounds of line edits. Some projects come across your desk and need only very light work, though, so I do believe that it's more important to remain flexible, and willing to tailor your job to the individual needs of the client.

 Am I an "editorial" agent? Sometimes. Strategic and instinctive agent? Always.


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8. Catch up post – Inktober Day 26, 27, 28 and PiBoIdMo!

Here is my catch up post! A 3 in 1 :) We are getting down to the wire now, only a few days left of Inktober. I will miss it, but I will have PiBoIdMo to keep me occupied. What is it? It is Picture Book Idea Month. Every day, for 30 days, participants come up with an idea for a picture book story. It is a wonderful, creative project that I have participated in every year since 2009. More details at Tara Lazar’s blog!

Inktober 26

Morning bird & bugs 

Micron brush pen black & graphite

Inktober 27

Witch hat 

Micron brush pen black & graphite

Inktober 28

This isn’t scary…

Micron brush pen, micron 05 black, graphite

 

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9. Spotlight: By Winter’s Light by Stephanie Laurens

by winters light

Title: By Winter’s Light

Author: Stephanie Laurens

Date of Publication: October 28, 2014

goodreads-badge-add-plus-d700d4d3e3c0b346066731ac07b7fe47

THE PERFECT HOLIDAY ROMANCE TO CURL UP BY THE FIRE

BY WINTER’S LIGHT

#1 New York Times Bestselling Author Stephanie Laurens

Returns to Scotland and the Cynster Clan!

Combine romantic Scotland, the boisterous Cynster family, and a wintry storm, and you have the perfect recipe for a wonderful Christmas love story.

When all the members of the Cynster family gather together at Casphairn Manor for merriment and holiday tidings, they bring with them their faithful minders and teachers; including Daniel Crosbie, and Claire Meadows. Having met before, Daniel is determined this visit will allow him to show hesitant Claire that just because she is a widow, does not mean that love doesn’t strike twice.

Assisted by the younger generation of Cynsters, all aspiring matchmakers, together with the help of a wintry storm and unforeseen circumstances, BY WINTER’S LIGHT Claire begins to see Daniel for the worthy partner he would be.

Stephanie Laurens returns to her beloved Cynster clan with BY WINTER’S LIGHT. With all six families together for the holidays, she ushers in a new generation of Cynsters.

Combining love, holiday spirit, and a little bit of magic, Laurens once again weaves a tale that shows that true love can withstand anything life—or mother nature—throws at you.

Amazon // Barnes & Noble // iBooks

You state that BY WINTER’S LIGHT is an essential volume for the Cynster novels going forward. Why is that?

One of the critical features of a long-running series is readers’ feelings of returning to places and people they know – of seeing heros and heroines they have come to know as individuals go through the challenge of finding love and marrying the right man or woman for them. Knowing at least one of these characters beforehand – understanding what has made them as they are, what their strengths are, and even more importantly what weaknesses they hide – allows greater interest, empathy, and absorption for the reader. 

In the case of the Cynster Next Generation, the children of the Bar Cynster couples, readers know who they are, but have seen very little of them. And as we all know, actions speak much louder than words about the caliber of people, of who they really are beneath the outer glamor. In BY WINTER’S LIGHT, readers see Lucilla, Marcus, Sebastian, Michael, Prudence, and Christopher in action, responding to external pressures and threats, and also to each other, and separately readers also learn more about Louisa and her emerging character.

Readers have more recently seen Lucilla and Marcus act in VISCOUNT BRECKENRIDGE TO THE RESCUE, but now they are a decade older, and we – both the readers and me as author – need to see more of the adults they are shaping up to be, which are insights BY WINTER’S LIGHT affords us. Unsurprisingly, the first pair of Cynster Next Generation romances are those of Lucilla and Marcus, and as they are twins, the stories are tightly linked.

Subsequently, working off the base of their characters revealed in this book, we’ll follow Sebastian, Michael, and Louisa through their romances, and later learn about Prudence and Christopher’s romances, too.


So there’s lots more Cynster novels in the pipeline?

Indeed! Lucilla’s book, THE TEMPTING OF THOMAS CARRICK, is already written, and will be released at the end of February, 2015. It will be followed by Marcus’s story, A MATCH FOR MARCUS CYNSTER, in late May, 2015. Further Cynster novels are scheduled for release in 2017.

There’s an obvious tradition that isn’t included – that of a Christmas tree. Why is that missing?

Christmas trees – the erecting and decorating of them – while echoing the decorating of a house with fir and holly, was a German custom. In the early 1800s, the only major house in England that sported a Christmas Tree was the Duchess of Rutland’s household at Belvoir Castle, because the Duchess was German. Only much later, after the marriage of Victoria to Albert, who introduced the custom of Christmas trees to the royal household, did the custom of Christmas trees become more widely adopted in England.

Victoria married Albert in 1840, so in 1837 in Scotland, the custom of a Christmas had not yet arrived.


If there was one thing you could say to readers when they pick up BY WINTER’S LIGHT, what would it be?

Put your feet up, kick back and relax, and enjoy the holidays Cynsters-style!

Excerpt: CHAPTER 1

December 23, 1837 Casphairn Manor, the Vale of Casphairn, Scotland

Daniel Crosbie felt as if all his Christmases had come at once. Letting his gaze travel the Great Hall of Casphairn Manor, filled to overflowing with six Cynster families and various associated household members, he allowed himself a moment to savor both his unexpected good fortune and his consequent hope.

About him, the combined households were enjoying the hearty dinner provided to welcome them to the celebration planned for the next ten days—as Daniel understood it, a combination of Christmas, the more ancient Yuletide, and Hogmanay. Seated about the long refectory-like tables on benches rather than chairs, with eyes alight and smiles on their faces, the assembled throng was in ebullient mood. Conversation and laughter abounded; delight and expectation shone in most faces, illuminated by the warm glow of the candlelight cast from massive circular chandeliers depending from thick chains from the high-domed ceiling. The central room about which the manor was built, the Great Hall lived up to its name; the space within its thick walls of pale gray stone was large enough to accommodate the Cynster contingent, all told about sixty strong, as well as the families of the various retainers who worked in and around the manor, which functioned like a small village.

With no family of his own still alive, Daniel had spent his last ten Christmases with the Cynster family for whom he acted as tutor—the family of Mr. Alasdair Cynster and his wife, Phyllida—but this was the first time in that decade that the Cynsters had come north for Christmas. The six Cynster families present—the six families closest to the dukedom of St. Ives, those of Devil, Duke of St. Ives, his brother Richard, and his cousins Vane, Harry, Rupert, and Alasdair—invariably came together at Christmastime. They were often joined by other connected families not present on this occasion; the long journey to the Vale, in the western Lowlands of Scotland, to the home of Richard Cynster and his wife Catriona in a season that had turned icy and cold with snow on the ground much earlier than expected had discouraged all but the most determined.

Out of long-established habit, Daniel glanced at his charges—soon to be erstwhile charges—seated at the next table with their cousins and second cousins. Aidan, now sixteen years old, and Evan, fifteen, had passed out of Daniel’s immediate care when they’d gone up to Eton, yet Daniel still kept an eye on the pair when they were home—an action their parents appreciated and which the boys, at ease with him after all the years, bore with good grace. At that moment, both were talking animatedly with their male cousins in a fashion that instantly, at least in Daniel’s mind, raised the question of what the group was planning. He made a mental note to inquire later. Jason, the youngest son of the family and the last of Daniel’s true charges, was similarly occupied with the group of Cynster offspring nearer his age. Now eleven, later in the coming year, Jason, too, would start his formal schooling—a circumstance which had, for Daniel, raised the uncomfortable question of what he would do then.

Once Jason left for Eton and there were no more boys in Alasdair Cynster’s household in Colyton, in Devon, for Daniel to tutor, what would he do for a living?

The question had plagued him for several months, not least because if he was ever to have a chance at the sort of life he now knew he wanted, and, if at all possible, was determined to claim, he needed to have secure employment—a place, a position, with a steady salary or stipend.

He’d been wracking his brains, trying to think of his options, of what might be possible, when Mr. Cynster—Alasdair—had called him into the library and laid before him a proposal that, in a nutshell, was the answer to all his prayers.

On several occasions over the years, Daniel had assisted Alasdair with his interests in ancient and antique jewelry, with documenting finds and establishing provenances, and also with cataloguing and adding to the collection of rare books Alasdair had inherited from the previous owner of the manor. Alasdair, supported by Phyllida, had suggested that, once Jason had departed with his brothers for Eton, if Daniel was happy to remain in Colyton as a member of their household, they would be delighted to engage him as Alasdair’s personal secretary, an amanuensis to assist with Alasdair’s ever-expanding interests.

The suggested stipend was generous, the conditions all Daniel could have hoped for. Not only would the new position suit him, it would solve all his difficulties.

Most importantly, it cleared the way for him to offer for Claire Meadows’s hand.

He glanced along the board to his right. Clad in a soft woolen gown in a muted shade of blue, Claire—Mrs. Meadows—was sitting on the opposite side of the table, two places down. She was the governess in Rupert Cynster’s household; as Rupert and Alasdair were brothers, Claire and Daniel were often thrown together when the families gathered. It was customary in such circumstances that the attending tutors and governesses banded together, sharing responsibilities and each other’s company, as they were at present. The manor’s governess, Miss Melinda Spotswood, a comfortable matronly sort with a backbone of forged iron, was chatting to Claire. On Melinda’s other side, opposite Daniel, sat Oswald Raven, tutor at the manor; a few years older than Daniel, Raven projected a debonair façade, but he was hardworking and devoted to his charges. Raven was chatting to Mr. Samuel Morris, who was seated alongside Daniel and hailed from Vane Cynster’s household in Kent; the oldest of the group, Morris was slightly rotund and had an unfailingly genial air, yet he was a sound scholar and very capable of exerting a firm hand on his charges’ reins.

All five had met and shared duties on several occasions before; the rapport between them was comfortable and relaxed. Over the coming days, they would, between them, keep an eye on the combined flock of Cynster children—the younger ones, at least. The oldest group, the seventeen-year-olds led by eighteen-year-old Sebastian Cynster, Marquess of Earith and future head of the house, could be relied on to take care of themselves, along with the large group of sixteen- and fifteen-year-old males. But there were six boys thirteen years and under, and seven girls ranging from eight to fourteen years old, and over them the tutors and governesses would need to exert control sufficient to ensure they remained suitably occupied.

There was no telling what the engaging devils would get up to if left unsupervised.

Being governess or tutor to Cynster children was never dull or boring.

Daniel had managed to keep his gaze from Claire for all of ten minutes. Despite the color and vibrancy, the noise and distraction—despite the many handsome and outright stunningly beautiful faces around about—hers was the shining star in his firmament; regardless of where they were, regardless of competing sights and sounds, she effortlessly drew his gaze and transfixed his attention.

She’d done so from the moment he’d first seen her at one of the family’s Summer Celebrations in Cambridgeshire several years ago. They’d subsequently met on and off at various family functions, at weddings in London, at major family birthdays, and at seasonal celebrations like the current one.

With each exposure, his attraction to Claire, his focus on her, had only grown more definite, more acute, until the obvious conclusion had stared him in the face, impossible to resist, much less deny.

Utterly impossible to ignore.

“If the weather holds,” Raven said, commanding Daniel’s attention with his gaze, “and the older crew go riding as they’re planning, then we’ll need to invent some suitable pastimes to keep our charges amused.”

Seated with his back to the table at which the Cynster children were gathered, Raven had turned and asked what the animated talk had been about. Riding out to assess the position and state of the deer herds had been the answer.

Daniel nodded. “If at all possible, let’s get those left to our care out of doors.”

“Indeed,” Melinda said, turning from Claire to join the conversation. “We need to take advantage of any clear days. If it is fine enough tomorrow, I was saying to Claire that the fourteen-year-olds—the girls—might like to gather greenery to decorate the hall.” Melinda gestured to the stone walls hosting various fireplaces and archways, all presently devoid of any seasonal touches. “It’s customary to decorate them on the twenty-fourth, which is tomorrow.”

“I’d heard,” Morris said, “that there’s some tradition about the Yule log that’s followed hereabouts.” He looked to Raven for confirmation.

Raven, his hair as dark as his name would suggest, nodded. “Yes, that’s an inspired idea. Not only is it necessary to collect the right-sized logs, but the logs have to be carved. That should keep the boys amused for hours. I’ll speak to the staff about organizing whatever’s needed.”

Daniel nodded again, and his gaze drifted once more to Claire; she’d been following the conversation, her calm expression indicating her agreement with the suggestions. With her glossy mid-brown hair burnished by the candlelight, with her delicate features and milky-white skin, her lips of pale rose, lush and full, and her large hazel eyes set under finely arched brown brows, she was, to his eyes, the epitome of womanhood.

That she was a widow—had been widowed at a young age—was neither here nor there, yet the experience had, it seemed, imbued her with a certain gravitas, leaving her more reserved, more cautious, and with a more sober and serious demeanor than might be expected of a well-bred lady of twenty-seven summers.

Her station—gentry-born but fallen on hard times—was similar to, or perhaps a touch higher than, Daniel’s; he didn’t really know. Nor did he truly care. They were both as they were here and now, and what happened next … that was up to them.

He’d come to Scotland, to the Vale, determined to put his luck to the test—to seize the opportunity to speak with Claire and plead his case, to learn if she shared his hopes and if she could come to share his dreams.

A gust of laughter and conversation drew his gaze to the high table.

The six Cynster couples were seated about the table on the raised dais along one side of the room, a traditional positioning most likely dating from medieval times. In addition to those twelve—middle-aged, perhaps, yet still vibrantly handsome, articulate, active, and engaged—there were three of the older generation at one end of the board. Helena, Dowager Duchess of St. Ives, mother of Devil and Richard and elder matriarch of the clan, was seated at the end of the table closest to the hearth, and had chosen to summon Algaria, Catriona’s aging mentor, and McArdle, the ancient butler of the manor, now retired, to join her there. The three were much of an age and, judging by their glances and gestures, were busy sharing pithy observations on all others in the hall. Having met the dowager and been the object of her scrutiny on several occasions, Daniel didn’t like to think of how much she, let alone black-eyed Algaria, was seeing.

A comment in a deep voice, followed by laughter, drew Daniel’s gaze back to the twelve Cynsters of the generation that currently ruled. Their children might have been growing apace, might already have been showing signs of the forceful, powerful individuals they had the potential to become, yet the twelve seated about the high table still dominated their world.

Daniel had observed them—those six couples in particular—for the past ten years. All the males had been born to wealth, but what they’d made of it—the lives each had successfully wrought—hadn’t been based solely on inherited advantage. Each of the six possessed a certain strength—a nuanced blend of power, ability, and insight—that Daniel appreciated, admired, and aspired to. It had taken him some time to realize from where that particular strength derived—namely, from the ladies. From their marriages. From the connection—the link that was so deep, so strong, so anchoring—that each of the six males shared with his wife.

Once he’d seen and understood, Daniel had wanted the same for himself.

His gaze shifted again to Claire. Once he’d met her, he’d known whom he wanted to share just such a link with.

Now he stood on the cusp of reaching for it—of chancing his hand and hoping he could persuade her to form such a connection with him.

Whatever gaining her assent required, he would do.

Now Fate in the form of Alasdair Cynster had cleared his path, it was time to screw his courage to the sticking point and act.

Hope, anticipation, and trepidation churned in his gut.

But he was there and so was she, and he was determined to move forward. He knew how he felt about her, and he thought she felt similarly toward him. His first step, plainly, was to determine whether he was correct in believing that—and whether with encouragement, “like” could grow into something more.

About Stephanie Laurens:

stephanie laurens#1 New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Laurens began writing romances as an escape from the dry world of professional science. Her hobby quickly became a career when her first novel was accepted for publication, and with entirely becoming alacrity, she gave up writing about facts in favor of writing fiction.

Laurens’s novels are set in the time period of the British Regency, and her settings range from Scotland to India. Laurens has published fifty works of historical romance, including 29 New York Times bestsellers. All her works are continuously available in print and digital formats in English worldwide, and have been translated into many other languages. An international bestseller, among other accolades Laurens has received the Romance Writers of America prestigious RITA Award for Best Romance Novella 2008, for The Fall of Rogue Gerrard.

Her continuing novels featuring the Cynster family are widely regarded as classics of the genre. Other series include the Bastion Club Novels and the Black Cobra Quartet. For information on upcoming releases and updates on novels yet to come, visit Stephanie’s website.

Website | Facebook | Goodreads

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The post Spotlight: By Winter’s Light by Stephanie Laurens appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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10. Billy Collins' and Karen Romagna's VOYAGE - Interview and Giveaway!


I had the great honor to hear Billy Collins, US Poet Laureate 2001-3, speak when he came to my home town. His poems are truly brilliant and engaging. Then one day he wrote a poem for the Director of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, John Y. Cole, to celebrate his 25th anniversary in office. (I am a Board Member for the Georgia Center for the Book, so it’s an organization close to my heart.) The poem was called “Voyage.” And Bunker Hill Publishing turned it into a lovely picture book with illustrations by Karen Romagna. They do the poem justice and I’m thrilled to have Karen on today to answer some questions…

Q. Hi Karen, Congratulations on the publication of VOYAGE! How did this project come to you?
A.
Hi Elizabeth, Thank you. I know this sounds crazy, but it sort of just came out of the blue. I received an email from Ib Bellew, the publisher of Bunker Hill Publishing. He asked if I would be interested in a collaboration with the poet Billy Collins. After sending off several manuscripts of my own with dummies and receiving the initial rejections (of course), this email just seemed a little far fetched! What the heck? Really? I was sure it was some sort of bizarre mass email sent to hundreds of illustrators. My illustrator friends convinced me not to delete it and find out a little more.
     It turned out Billy Collins had requested Bunker Hill contact me about doing the illustrations. Billy likes to find the illustrators to work on his books. He went online, poked around the children’s illustration world and came up with me!
     I was up against one other illustrator and needed to submit a sample piece and thumbnail sketches of how I might handle the illustrations. Before submitting a sample I asked the publisher exactly which illustration made Billy Collins decide that I should illustrate “Voyage”. He said “Oh sure, it’s the one of the boy and the boat.” That isn’t one of my illustrations. Billy found a painting I had done years earlier of my son at the age of three. So, I submitted the sample with Tim as the boy. When I received word that they wanted me to illustrate “Voyage” there was a message from Billy saying the child in the illustration was “just the kind of boy I had in mind.”

Q. Were you aware of who Billy Collins was when you got the contract and were you at all intimidated?
A.
I did recognize his name. However, I had absolutely NO idea just how big Billy Collins actually was. I have become a complete Billy Collins groupie.
      Intimidated isn’t the word I would use. There was more a feeling of not wanting to disappoint him. I wanted more than anything to have my illustrations convey the message and meaning Billy was expressing in the beautifully lyrical words of the poem. Sheesh! No pressure!

Q. The words created some very abstract ideas - were they tricky to visualize?
A.
I had the manuscript for a few days and had read it over and over. It seemed so confusing at first. I think I was in panic mode. A friend called and asked me to read the poem to her. I remember sitting at my drawing table reading the poem. It just came alive and suddenly made perfect sense. I hung up and read it out loud again. It was right there. I just hadn’t opened my eyes to it. Of course I went back and forth with different ideas, but the images were all there.

Q. I love your wide open watercolor spreads in the book - they truly give me the sense of beach and water. What is your method?
A.
I typically paint with oils. However, I had recently been doing a lot of work with watercolor. The essence of this poem seemed to call for the light touch watercolor could give the poem. I worked at 100% on 140 lb. Arches Bright White WC paper. Voyage has only 100 words and is one sentence. I painted each page in watercolor as a double page spread which I hope gives the sense of the vast ocean and the feeling of the hugeness that becomes the experience of reading and the worlds it can lead you to.
      The publishers were great. As I was beginning the rough sketches I spent a weekend with Carole and Ib, the publishers, at their home in New Hampshire making revisions to the drawings. It was decided then that I should illustrate everything, end papers and all! The story begins as soon you open the book when the boy is wandering along the beach. “Voyage” ends on the back end paper with the boy on the beach looking up at the moon... at the end of his voyage.

Q. How long did it take you to complete the book?
A.
One full year! I received my first email from Bunker Hill the first week of April, 2013 and I delivered the illustrations to Ib Bellew on March 31 of 2014. I began painting the final illustrations in November and completed them at the end of March. I have a feeling my next book will not take quite so long!

Q. Have you and Billy done anything special to celebrate the book’s release?
A.
Yes. VOYAGE had its big kick-off at the National Book Festival in Washington, DC on August 30. Billy and I, along with John Cole, who VOYAGE was written for, Ib and Carole Kitchel Bellew presented VOYAGE in the Children’s Pavilion. Billy and I followed up with a book signing later in the day. It was a pretty magical day for me. Billy Collins is as wonderful as his poetry.

Q. Anything else in the pipeline?
A.
At the moment I am working on a picture book about a young family waiting for their dad to return home. I was also recently commissioned to paint a portrait. It will be fun to get back to oil painting again!
      I am SCBWI's Illustrator Coordinator for New Jersey. Earlier this year I began a year-long mentoring program for our illustrators, Evolution Resolution. A year of setting goals and bringing them to fruition. NJSCBWI is also in the thick of putting together our Fall Craft Weekend scheduled for the first week in November.

I wish you much continued success!!
Check out this lovely book trailer (the image will take you to YouTube):


GIVEAWAY!
Bunker Hill Publishing has kindly offered to give one free copy of VOYAGE to one of my lucky followers. Must live in the US/Canada to win. Enter below.

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11. Hong Kong International Literary Festival

       The Hong Kong International Literary Festival runs 31 October through 9 November.
       Sorry, but The Translator and the Translated event is already sold out.

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12. The Hallo-wiener - a book review

Titiel

And to add the last straw .....

"I'm so happy that Hallowe'en falls on a Wednesday this year!" said NO teacher ever. 
                                         -author unknown

Today's featured book:


Title:  The Hallo-wiener
Author and Illustrator:  Dav Pilkey

Let's take a peek inside shall we?









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13. Literary prizes in ... Zimbabwe

       In The Herald Beaven Tapureta argues that We need literary awards in Zimbabwe.
       Of course, the whole writing/publishing infra- and all other structures could use some help in Zimbabwe, but more literary awards, of the sort he proposes, probably wouldn't hurt.

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14. Where are all the British superheroes? Here Is My Angry, Naked (its a theme -roll with it) Response


Above: Me "back in the day"  as The Red Dragon.  Honest.


I mentioned in yesterdays Where are all the British superheroes? asked The Journalist. "They All Live Here With Me" Was My Reply! that journalists who write these items have absolutely no idea what they are talking about.  Well, I hinted at that.  No so much a hint as a bottle of tabasco sauce in the eye -which the postman assures me: "Hurts mightily!" And I responded: "Well, Crispian, do not sneak up behind me and prod me when I am nude gardening then!" No come-back to that.

Uh. Wait a minute....sorry. Nude typing.

Anyway, the journalist responsible did what any journalist would do.  Research the subject for a few hours and turn in a worthy piece of light reading?  No -turn to Wikipedia.  Even admits it. sigh.

You know, he could have found my post on the subject just by googling for a while (it took me five minutes to find).  You do remember my "At Long Last! The Return Of The Improbability Of The British Super Hero" -last updated in August?  Sigh. Here:

http://hoopercomicart.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/at-long-last-return-of-improbability-of.html

Anyway, the article writer referred to Zenith -it's more-or-less obligatory to despite what Grant Morrison might demand.  So fair enough even though it is obvious the journalist hasn't read any of the series.

But then, to smear a little garlic paste into the tabasco stained eye -I really am sorry, Crispian. Just let it go- he comes up with this and all typos are his:

"Knight
Britain’s first superpowered blueblood. Created in the Fifties with his sidekick Squire as a homegrown competitor to Batman, Knight was initially the alter ego of Percy Sheldrake, Earl of 'Wordenshire', and could be summoned by ringing the bell of his local church. By the time Grant Morrison briefly revived the character at the end of the Nineties, the new Knight was seen to have piddled away his inheritance and acquired a drug habit, and had to be rescued from the gutter to restart his crimefighting career from someone’s garage. Now there’s Broken Britain for you."

Right.  Percival Sheldrake debuted as the Knight in Batman #62 (December 1950), and was created by Bill Finger and Dick Sprang. We are talking about a period when a lot of Americans, particularly kids, thought England still had knights in armour.  Yes, "armour" and not "armor".  Now, Cyril Sheldrake debuted as the Knight in JLA #26 (February 1999), and was created by Grant Morrison and Howard Porter. Or "rebooted" is probably the better term -change a first name blah blah blah.

Oh, he'd lost all his money and had a drug habit and had to be kicked out of it? Well, Morrison really is turning into Moore's rival for lack of originality.  In Zenith the Red Dragon character had to be dragged out of his alcohol addiction.  And....sigh.  I bet it really hurt Morrison not to be able to use the "C" word in JLA. Get feckin real.  I've met "landed gentry" whose families lost money and were working as aircraft and even rail engineers and even dirtier jobs.  One even threatened to kill me but, to be fair, I was skipping through his rose garden naked.

Have you noticed how I keep slipping into constructing sentences like a German?  Over 50 years ago I went to that school and it's still in my brain. As my mother once said while choking me: "You are ours, bitch!"  Funny woman.



Then we have...this:

"Captain Britain
Another super-aristo who failed to move with the times. Raised in a posh family fallen on hard times — Wikipedia amusingly describes him as “too proud to fraternise with lower classes” — Brian Braddock has the good fortune to be around when Merlin turns up brandishing a superpowered Amulet of Right. Subsequent exploits made for a wearisome parade of victories over Arthurian villains, Nazis and other gestures towards Britain’s storied past, while successive attempts to rename him as ‘Excalibur’ and ‘Brittanic’ took the franchise even farther towards swivel-eye territory."

Yes, some ass on Wikipedia did write that.  Braddock went to university and had friends and worked with colleagues who were not "landed gentry" and in the Jasper World saga CB even pops into a "commoners" house for a cup of tea and a chat.  Maybe I missed all the snobbery...or maybe it was not there?

Captain Britain, as you all ought to know by now, was created by Chris ("Primadonna") Claremont and the wondrous Herb Trimpe and first appeared in Captain Britain Weekly, #1 (October 13, 1976). The character has been used in stories -some quite bad ones- by various creative teams over the years and I last read 'his' adventures in Captain Britain And MI13.  Now, despite what they tell you, MI 13 is only a fictional version in this series.  In fact, as I know, there really WAS an MI 13(Eastern Europe) "folded into" Military Intelligence.

 INEVERSAWTHEUFOINEVERSAWTHEUFOINEVERSAWTHEUFOINEVERSAWTHEUFO

The "silly flag-wearing" well, let Alan Davis describe how he came up with the design:

"I decided to base his costume on military uniforms. If you've ever seen the mounted guards outside Buckingham Place, you'll recognize the components. The white leggings and the tall boots with the flaps over the knees were easy. The headgear took a bit more time because I wanted it to look like a helmet rather than a mask. The stripes across his chest started as two crossed sashes and underwent numerous changes."

As for taking the character into more "swivel-eye territory"...what is the ass writing about?  Super heroes fighting aliens, other dimensional beings, monsters, vampires...that's "regular"...but that is also what Captain Britain does..more swivel eyed journalism.




"Miracleman
The best homegrown superhero writing draws more on British satirical tradition than it does on Blitz-spirit cliché and poshos with funny names. Years before Watchmen and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, the Northampton magus Alan Moore began sniping at superhero tropes with Miracleman, imagining a knackered freelance journalist able to swap bodies with a glittering blond super-being at the whisper of a magic word. Under Neil Gaiman’s subsequent stewardship, the series became a queasy meditation on the moral demands of supreme power in a super-utopia. Last year’s resolution of a long-running rights dispute holds out hope for a reprint, too."




  Now that is really showing total ignorance of the character that was created when Fawcett/National stopped the Captain Marvel reprints and so Mick Anglo created Marvel Man -over a decade before Timely changed its name to "Marvel".  A character to star in a childrens weekly comic. "Blitz-spirit cliché and poshos with funny names" -what an utter feckin arse -an arse that probably never grew up at a time of no internet, nothing but three TV channels, rationing (that didn't stop totally until 1959 on most things) and when kids had to entertain themselves -usually in parks or on bomb sites!

The more I think about it the more I really hate journalists who write this crap.

Anyway, Di$ney own the character now so he's dead as far as being British goes.

 

"Union Jack
Originally Lord Falsworth, military man and scourge of His Majesty’s enemies during the Second World War. Loses his legs in combat with the evil Baron Blood, so his son takes up the mantle, subsequently becoming one of the very few gay superheroes. He bites the dust in turn, however, and it falls to a working-class Mancunian to take up the cudgels in Jack’s most recent incarnation. It’s an interesting trajectory for a British character, if you overlook the temporary possession by Sir Lancelot’s ghost, but perhaps of more use as a sociological document than a Hollywood adaptation."

I really do think that there are a great many uneducated morons out there.  Some go to college to just booze, get addle-brained and study journalism.  Study "journalism"???

nakedintherosesnakedintherosesnakedintheroses.....

Erm.  Firstly, if you are going to have a secret identity of any kind then you need a good secure base that people cannot just walk in and out of. Secondly, you need cash.  Thirdly, you need to be able to have the time to dash off and do your work.  Fourthly, you need to have friends in high places who will help you cover up any potential scandal or rumours.  Police Commissioners, Home Secretary, owners of newspapers -all well off and many landed gentry or lords "back in the day".  "What we do is of no concern to the great unwashed"

I quote the great Lady Bracknell from a book entitled The Importance Of Being Earnest, by some newbie called Oscar Wilde:

Lady Bracknell:     “I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural ignorance. Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit; touch it and the bloom is gone. The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound. Fortunately in England, at any rate, education produces no effect whatsoever. If it did, it would prove a serious danger to the upper classes, and probably lead to acts of violence in Grosvenor Square.”

Why was it theorised that Jack the Ripper and Spring-heeled Jack (not to mention various others) were aristocrats?  For reasons 1-4, above, and the attitude as voiced by Lady Bracknell.  Only the rich can afford the time and money and exert the influence to go about this business.  Anyone recall some bloke who was named "The Scarlet Pimpernel"?  You don't know your social history or literature then do not write short sentenced crap.

nakedintherosesnakedintherosesnakedintheroseswithcrispiannakedintheroses....

 

The Boys.  Read it. Left me completely cold. Hate it.

Now, in 2013, a journalist cannot rummage through his sources (Wikipedia and the internet in the main) and come up with Captain Hornet, The Leopard From Lime Street, Billy and Katy the Cat, Danger Man, Thunderbolt Jaxon, Black Archer, Captain Miracle, The Cat Girl, Garth, Iron Master, Johnny Future, Tim (Kelly's Eye) Kelly, Leaping Phantom, Spring Heeled Jack (various), Fishboy, The Phantom Viking, Purple Hood, The Spider, Q Bikes, Smoke Man, Robot Archie, Naked In The Roses, The Steel Claw, Tri-Man, Thunderbolt the Avenger, The Avenger (from The Eagle)....I could go on for ages here but you are getting my point?

"Comics =movies" seems to be the writers main reference.  None of the above British characters have been in Hollywood movies therefore do not exist.  "What I found on Wikipedia and chopped up into a mess for a space filler =my facts" appears to be the case here.


Where is the mention of British creator Paul Grists marvellous Jack Staff?  Published by Grists own Dancing Elephant Press until Image grabbed it -but British created, written, drawn and BASED super hero. Then we have Grists other similar UK based character Mud Man -again published by Image but far more British in pedigree than some our journalistic friend cites as "British super heroes"!

Please do not get me wrong -I am not trying to write that the Telegraph item was a bunch of space filling, ill researched arse water. I am writing that.

How to annoy me in a short internet item.

Now, sun is out and it's a bit nippy so I'm off for some naked gardening (google it).




















































































































































































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15. Stress before birth

Stress seems to be everywhere we turn. Much of the daily news is stressful, whether it pertains to the recent Ebola outbreak in western Africa (and its subsequent entry into the United States), beheadings by the radical Islamic group called ISIS, or the economic doldrums that continue to plague much of the developed world. Moreover, we all experience frequent stress in our daily lives. Stress can come from your job, your family, a romantic relationship, personal attacks by way of social media, or, if you’re a student, your school performance. Counselors, psychotherapists, even self-help books and other materials may help us cope with stress, but these sources don’t usually give us very much information about what is actually happening to our brain and our body when we’re stressed.

If we think about it for a moment, it becomes clear that stress is not a recent phenomenon brought about by the features of contemporary western societies. Our hominid ancestors who evolved on the African savanna were surely stressed in the course of meeting their basic biological needs of finding food and water, acquiring shelter, and keeping safe from predators. Moreover, the principal brain and endocrine (i.e. hormonal) systems that underlie the cognitive, behavioral, and physiological responses to stress are found throughout the animal kingdom, indicating that these systems arose much earlier in evolutionary history than the appearance of the first hominids. So just what are these systems and how do they work?

Insert drawing of adrenal gland here with the following caption: Structure of the adrenal gland, showing the outer cortex and the inner medulla along with the hormones they secrete. Reproduced from Psychopharmacology. Drugs, the Brain, and Behavior, second edition, by Jerrold S. Meyer and Linda F. Quenzer. © Sinauer Associates.
Insert drawing of adrenal gland here with the following caption: Structure of the adrenal gland, showing the outer cortex and the inner medulla along with the hormones they secrete. Reproduced from Psychopharmacology. Drugs, the Brain, and Behavior, second edition, by Jerrold S. Meyer and Linda F. Quenzer. © Sinauer Associates.

A lot of research has focused on the hormonal systems that are turned on during stress. These responses are easier to access than brain responses, since researchers usually need only to obtain samples of the person’s blood, saliva, or urine to determine whether her endocrine system is showing a normal stress response or perhaps is functioning abnormally due to the effects of previous stress exposure. There are two parts to the endocrine stress response, both involving the adrenal glands. The inner part of the adrenal gland, called the adrenal medulla, rapidly secretes the hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine (also called adrenalin and noradrenalin) in response to a stressor. These hormones help prepare the person for rapid physical action by elevating heart rate and blood pressure, mobilizing sugar from the liver for instant energy, and increasing blood flow to the skeletal muscles. The outer part of the adrenal gland, called the adrenal cortex, is also activated by stressors but a bit more slowly. This part of the gland secretes glucocorticoids such as cortisol, which not only works in conjunction with epinephrine and norepinephrine but also affects inflammation, immune function, and brain activity.

For many years, researchers focused on how stress, especially chronic stress, can damage the adult brain and body. More recently, however, it has become clear that stress may be particularly destructive during development. We now know, for example, that repeated childhood maltreatment and abuse increase the child’s vulnerability to a later onset of clinical depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. But stress can exert deleterious effects even earlier in development, namely during the prenatal period. Although the fetal adrenal glands begin to function before birth, it seems likely that stress is transmitted to the fetus mainly through maternal hormones such as cortisol. The placenta breaks down much of the mother’s cortisol before it reaches the fetus, but some of the hormone manages to get through. One example that shows how prenatal stress can adversely affect offspring development stems from a terrible ice storm that hit Québec Province in Canada in January of 1998. Three million people lost electrical power for up to 40 days, resulting in significant privation. David Laplante and colleagues at Douglas Hospital of McGill University later studied 89 five-and-a-half-year-old children whose mothers had been pregnant with them during the power outage. Children whose mothers endured the greatest hardship as a result of the storm scored noticeably lower in verbal IQ scores and in a vocabulary test than children whose mother experienced low or moderate hardship.

Insert drawing of human fetus here with the following caption: Late pregnancy human fetus. Illustration by Bruce Blaus. Source: Blausen.com staff. “Blausen gallery 2014”. Wikiversity Journal of Medicine. DOI:10.15347/wjm/2014.010. ISSN 20018762. CC-BY-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Late pregnancy human fetus. Illustration by Bruce Blaus. Source: Blausen.com staff. “Blausen gallery 2014”. Wikiversity Journal of Medicine. DOI:10.15347/wjm/2014.010. ISSN 20018762. CC-BY-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

While natural disasters like the Québec ice storm afford researchers the opportunity to investigate some of the deleterious effects of prenatal stress exposure, there are many limitations of such studies because the stress cannot be controlled experimentally and there are additional confounding variables such as differing postnatal experiences among the participants. To overcome some of these limitations and additionally permit a more detailed examination of behavioral, endocrine, and brain function than normally available with human participants, models of stress (including prenatal stress) have been developed for studying nonhuman primates such as rhesus monkeys. Offspring of rhesus monkeys exposed during mid-to-late pregnancy either to repeated mild stress or to pharmacological stimulation of cortisol release show behavioral and brain abnormalities that are still present at least several years later.

Young rhesus monkey, courtesy of author
Young rhesus monkey, courtesy of author

The implication of both the human and primate research is clear. We must pay closer attention to the well-being of pregnant women in order to minimize whatever life stresses can be controlled. By so doing, we can help newborn children begin life with better prospects for their future mental and physical health.

The post Stress before birth appeared first on OUPblog.

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16. Court tries to kill Zombie Stan Lee Media yet again

stan lee media Court tries to kill Zombie Stan Lee Media yet again

Once again, Stan Lee Media, the shell company that does nothing but line the pockets os lawyers with frivolous lawsuits, has been dealt a blow in their attempt to take over the world. The 9th Court of Appeals ruled that no, Stan Lee Media doesn’t not own Spider-Man.

I’ve written about Stan Lee Media and their endless lawsuits before. This time, they had been claiming tha tthey owned SPider-Man because Stan Lee, the founder of the company back in the go-go 90s, said they did. or something. No court has ever agreed with this reading of the law, and it was no different this time, Eriq Gardner reports:

SLMI might contend that it was assigned rights to valuable comic book characters, but a panel of appellate judges writes, “The record demonstrates that, between the date the [1998] agreement was signed and the filing of related litigation in 2007, SLMI never announced that it owned rights to these characters (even when publicly disclosing company information pursuant to a securities offering), licensed the characters, produced content related to the characters, or asserted or attempted to enforce its ownership rights.”

YOU’d think a winning record about on par with Charlie Brown’s baseball team would dissuade the folks behind SLMi that it was time to take the ball and go home, but no, they are still trying to appeal a judges ruling that Disney did not owe them $1 billion for using Spider-Man and the Avengers and so on.

Good luck with that.

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17. Nupe literature

       The Nigerian Tribune has a Q & A with Isyaku Bala Ibrahim, who argues Nupe literature has come of age.
       Among his responses:

What do you think are the factors hampering Nupe literature ?

First, the government's total negligence at all levels, little efforts from traditional institutions, gross negligence by the department of Nigerian languages of our higher institutions to explore other languages other than Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo; not teaching the language in the core language centres in Niger, Kogi, Kwara, and Abuja.
       So, yeah, maybe there's still a ways to go ..... Read the rest of this post

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18. My tweets

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19. Arnon Grunberg retrospective

       "The University of Amsterdam will present a major retrospective exhibition" on Tirza-author Arnon Grunberg 31 October through 1 February, as described here. It apparently has the (sad, German) title: "Ich will doch nur, dass ihr mich liebt"..... Impressive that they can mount a retrospective for such a young author. But there's certainly enough material to deal with: it's hard to believe that he's only been publishing for twenty years (he's accumulated a huge body of work).
       He's also featured in the current issue of De Boekenwereld -- none of the contents freely accessible online, but that cover certainly seems to be in keeping with the theme ..... Read the rest of this post

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20. on book dedications (and One Thing Stolen)

There comes that quiet time, in the life of a book, when we must make a decision or two about dedications. My son, my family, two editors, my agent, my students. I have had my reasons.

Yesterday, home from Hilton Head and binge-watching "Breaking Bad" in the late dark after a long work day, I stood, went to my office, and retrieved a galley copy of One Thing Stolen. I opened it to an early page, turned on the light, called to my husband.

I keep meaning to tell you, I said.


0 Comments on on book dedications (and One Thing Stolen) as of 1/1/1900
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21. The Strange Library review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Murakami Haruki's The Strange Library, coming out in early December in (different-looking and -illustrated) US and UK editions.

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22. Cynthia Leitich Smith's Feral Pride Cover Reveal, Feral Series Book Teaser & Giveaway

By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Check out the cover for my upcoming novel, Feral Pride (Candlewick, 2015) and the book trailer for the Feral series, produced by Book Candy Studios.

From the promotional copy for Feral Pride:

Anti-shifter sentiment is at an all-time high when Kayla’s transformation to werecat is captured on video and uploaded for the world to see.

Suddenly she becomes a symbol of the werebeast threat and—along with fellow cat Yoshi, Lion-Possum Clyde, and human Aimee—a hunted fugitive.

Meanwhile, a self-proclaimed weresnake has kidnapped the governor of Texas and hit the airwaves with a message of war.

In retaliation, werepeople are targeted by law enforcement, threatened with a shift-suppressing vaccine, terrorized by corporate conspiracy, and enslaved by a top-secret, intelligent Cryptid species.

Can Clyde rally his inner lion king to lead his friends—new and old—into battle against ruthless, media-savvy foes? A rousing blend of suspense, paranormal romance, humor, and high action.

The explosive finale to the Feral series by New York Times best-selling author Cynthia Leitich Smith.



Cynsational Giveaway

Enter to win Feral Nights (Candlewick, 2013), Feral Curse (Candlewick, 2014) and an advanced reader copy of Feral Pride. Publisher sponsored. Eligibility: North America.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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23. Spotlight and Giveaway: What a Wallflower Wants by Maya Rodale

This morning I have a chance for you to win some books by Maya Rodale!  Check out the info about her latest release, What A Wallflower Wants, and then enter the giveaway below!

What a Wallflower Wants By: Maya Rodale

Bad Boys & Wallflowers # 3

Releasing September 30th, 2014

Avon

In the third novel in Maya Rodale’s charming Wallflower series, London’s Least Likely to Be Caught in a Compromising Position finds temptation in a devilishly handsome stranger . . .

Miss Prudence Merryweather Payton has a secret.

Everyone knows that she’s the only graduate from her finishing school to remain unwed on her fourth season-but no one knows why. With her romantic illusions shattered after being compromised against her will, Prudence accepts a proposal even though her betrothed is not exactly a knight in shining armor. When he cowardly pushes her out of their stagecoach to divert a highwayman, she vows never to trust another man again.

John Roark, Viscount Castleton, is nobody’s hero.

He’s a blue-eyed charmer with a mysterious past and ambitious plans for his future-that do not include a wife. When he finds himself stranded at a country inn with a captivating young woman, a delicate dance of seduction ensues. He knows he should keep his distance. And he definitely shouldn’t start falling in love with her.
When Prudence’s dark past comes back to haunt her, John must protect her-even though he risks revealing his own secrets that could destroy his future.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/08/what-wallflower-wants-bad-boys.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20705673-what-a-wallflower-wants

Buy Links

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/What-Wallflower-Wants-Trilogy-Book-ebook/dp/B00I7UY8VM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1407066354&sr=8-1&keywords=what+a+wallflower+wants

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/what-a-wallflower-wants-maya-rodale/1118477567?ean=9780062231284

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/what-a-wallflower-wants

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/what-a-wallflower-wants/id814087124?mt=11

Author Info

Maya Rodale began reading romance novels in college at her mother’s insistence and it wasn’t long before she was writing her own. Maya is now the author of multiple Regency historical romances. She lives in New York City with her darling dog and a rogue of her own.

Author Social Links

Website: www.mayarodale.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mayarodale

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mayarodalewriter

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/377744.Maya_Rodale

Rafflecopter Giveaway (Print Set of Bad Boys & Wallflowers Series by Maya Rodale)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The post Spotlight and Giveaway: What a Wallflower Wants by Maya Rodale appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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24. Alternate Universe Tips

Question: I would like to write a story that takes place in an alternative universe. The differences between it and ours are very small and almost nonexistent,

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25. Cultural Workers In Turkey Prepare For Hunger Strike

turkey

“In protest of their unemployment and its endangerment of the country’s vulnerable cultural resources [and in] reaction to the government’s broken promise to hire 50 workers among the thousands of unemployed cultural heritage professionals, the Association of Culture and Art Workers is taking desperate measures.”

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