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1. Bookselling in ... the US

       In The Los Angeles Times Frank Shyong describes how To Survive in the U.S., Chinese Bookstores Evolve Way Beyond Books.
       Yes:

Internet competition has forced bookstores across the nation to close, but in the San Gabriel Valley, they've evolved. Chinese bookstores ship packages, repair laptops, supply lottery tickets. One bookstore became a classroom, another a convenience store.
       Sadly:
As for books, they mostly gather dust.

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2. When bad things happen to good characters



Last week I got to visit a school in my neighborhood to talk about my book, The Desperate Adventures of Zeno and Alya. The kids had excellent questions about parrots and muffins and writing. One boy wisely chose to email me. He knew that his question would spoil part of the story for others. And so, if you haven't read the book ...... please be advised.

SPOILER ALERT!    (I've always wanted to say that.)

With his permission, I'm going to share his emails to me and my answer.

Hello, 

My name is Johnny and I'm nine years old. 

I loved your book! I really loved the adventure Zeno was on and how he had to fly over the Atlantic Ocean. I also liked when Alya climbed the six steps. There was so much tension and excitement.

I was hoping Zeno and Bunny would stay friends. I know sometimes characters die in books, so I was just wondering why you chose him to die?

Thank you, 
Johnny C.
Hi Johnny,

I'm glad that you loved my book. But I'm really grateful that you asked me such an important question. I had to think a lot about why I chose to let Bunny die.

First, I wondered did any of the characters really have to die? I think the answer to that is yes. If a book is realistic, then the events that the author describes should have real consequences. I think that Zeno's dangerous journey over the ocean is more exciting because you knew that bad things really might happen. Without real risks and real dangers,  his accomplishment wouldn't mean as much.

Hawks do kill pigeons. They don't do it to be cruel. They do it because they need food. I think you can accept that the hawk would attack a bird. But you want to know why did that bird have to be Bunny?

I could have let the hawk attack a different pigeon. But Zeno is so selfish, he wouldn't have helped anyone except Bunny. All of Zeno's adventures teach him important lessons. First he learns that a friend needs to fight for a friend. But he won't really learn how important that friendship is until he loses Bunny. Zeno has to learn the hard way.

If Zeno hadn't learn those lessons, he wouldn't have been there to help Alya when she needed it. That would have been sad too.

Like you, I hoped that Zeno and Bunny would stay friends. I do know that Zeno remembers everything that Bunny taught him. And, in that way, Bunny lives on.

Thank you again for asking me such a great question.

Sincerely,
Jane Kelley



Hello,

Thank you for writing back to me. What you said made a lot of sense because Bunny was such a good friend and Zeno cared for Bunny and when Bunny died, it changed Zeno and made the story better. It was sad, but I realize why it had to happen.

I can't wait to read your other books.

Sincerely,
Johnny C.





I am grateful to Johnny for letting me share his thoughts on my blog. I'm lucky to have a reader who is willing to journey with my characters, over the Atlantic Ocean or up the six steps to a Brooklyn brownstone. And willing to think about why those journeys are important.

I'm humbled to be reminded that my characters matter to my readers. Writing novels for kids is a privilege––and a responsibility. Sometimes bad things have to happen to good characters––but there better be a very, very, very good reason.

(Thank you, Eliza Wheeler, for your amazing drawing of Zeno and Alya.) 

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3. Artist of the Day: Alexandre Diboine

Today we look at the work of Alexandre Diboine, Cartoon Brew's Artist of the Day!

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4. Convention Weekend - CTNx

 I spent this past weekend down in Burbank, attending the Creative Talent Network Expo (my first for this convention). It focuses primarily on animation and related art forms.

 It's a relatively small event, but VERY well attended (crowded crowds...)

 A number of the top companies were in attendance. Lots of portfolio reviews....




 (Big Hero 6 was very visible at the Disney booth. Lots of fun swag :-) 

 Of course, Stuart Ng was there with his delicious, hugely tempting selection of yummy art books.
There were lots of live demos, life drawing, lots of panels and workshops.....

And meeting new and/or hanging out with old friends (I got to have dinner with the lovely Terryl Whitlach all three nights there).

 Ran into a nice handful of illustrators I know (here is Zelda Devon). 
A number of people I talked to at their various booths are posted on my facebook page.

My roommate and I also made a side-trip to Universal Studios 
(since I've never been to the California version of this park).

 The weather was *perfect*, bright, blue, sunny and warm - which made all the Christmas decor appearing feel rather odd.

It was mostly one big treat of a weekend. :-)



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5. Annual Black Swagday Giveaway

Wow, I can't believe we're already to Black Friday weekend--seriously where has the year gone??????

But deadline panicking aside (MEEP!), it's also time for my annual Black Swagday Giveaway!!!  

Since this is the time of year where everyone has gifts on their minds--and I personally feel that signed books are THE BEST gifts anyone can give--I have a nice handy way for you guys to make your gifts even more special.

If you buy any of my books (Keeper of the Lost Cities, Exile, Everblaze, Let the Sky Fall, and/or Let the Storm Break) this weekend--which just so happens to be the biggest shopping weekend of the year, between Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday--and fill out the form at the end of this post, I will send you the corresponding swag pack below.

If you buy any of the KEEPER books, I'll send you this (for each book purchased):


















And in case you can't tell, that's:
- a signed (and personalized) bookplate 
- 4 Team Stickers
- 1 5x7 character art print (featuring the awesome illustrations by Courtney Godbey)
(*whispers* if you buy more than one KEEPER book, I *might* throw in some other goodies as well... #justsayin')



And if you buy either of the SKY FALL books, I'll send you the corresponding swag you see in this pic (for each book purchased):
So if you buy Let the Sky Fall you'll get: 
- a LTSF signed (and personalized) bookplate
- a LTSF bookmark
- a LTSF sticker

And if you buy Let the Storm Break you'll get:
- a LTSB signed (and personalized) bookplate
- a LTSB bookmark
- a LTSB sticker 


All of this swag is exclusive--only available here--and hand signed by me!

And there's no limit on how many I'll give away. Everyone who fills out the form between now and 11:59 pm pacific time on Monday, December 1, 2014 WILL get the swag. I'm also not requiring proof of purchase. If you say you bought it, I believe you. But remember, every time you lie, an alicorn's poop stops sparking AND WHAT WOULD THE WORLD BE WITHOUT SPARKLY POOP??????

It also doesn't matter where you buy the book (though supporting your Local Indie Bookstore guarantees you a life of sunshine and happiness) or if you buy the paperback or the hardcover (ebooks and audiobooks count too!). And you're welcome to buy as many books as you want! (Just make sure you fill out the form separately for each book, so I know to send you more prizes).

Giveaway is also open internationally!!!


**Please note** This giveaway ONLY applies to books purchased between 11/26/14-12/1/14, and does NOT include books previously purchased. Of course I super-appreciate if you've bought my books before now, but I've also done previous giveaways for many of those purchases that you would've had a chance to take part of (sorry if you missed them). So this is only for new purchases, and if you are desperate for the swag you could always buy a book to give as a gift (what better gift could there be, really? Plus then you can get your friends/family/teachers hooked on the books so you have someone to talk about them with) and keep the swag for yourself--I won't tell! :)

Um... I *think* that covers everything--but if I missed something, of course feel free to ask any questions you may have in the comments. 

Here's the form you'll need to fill out (and if it doesn't load for some reason, go HERE)

Loading... Read the rest of this post

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6. Writing non-human characters - by Cavan Scott

Last month I attended the world's friendliest convention, AKA Bristolcon. It's one of my favourite events of the year, full of good-natured, liked-minded people all coming together because they like stories. What could be better?

This year I took part in a fascinating panel entitled 'Writing Non-Human Characters', which is always an interesting subject and linked to most things I write. 

To prepare I jotted down my top five hints and tips, which I thought I'd share with you in case you ever have the need to write a believable and hopefully relatable monster / alien / cybernetic dolphin. 

1. Think about their values.
The first point is a simple one - get world-building.

Think about your non-humans' life and existence. What are their intrinsic values? How do they view the big things in life? And yes, I am talking stuff as basic as sex and death. 

For example, if you have a mayfly race that only lives a day at a time, how will that affect their relationships or the way their society works? How would they approach tasks? In fact, how developed would they even be as a race? Could a race of mayfly aliens develop space-flight for instance? How would they do it? Would they be more concerned with reproducing than developing a faster-than-light drive? Or have they developed a science that handles reproduction for them so they can focus on other things for the good of their race? And what about knowledge? Would it be passed from one 'generation' to another?

Other values would surely be different as well. If an individual lives only for one day, then funerals would probably not be a big thing. And how would the characters relate to those whose lifespan stretches into years rather than hours?

A little world-building will bring all manner of story ideas, as well as giving you interesting non-human characters.  

2. Make them individuals.
I've just written for the Daleks. This makes me happy. But, of course, you know what you're going to get with Daleks. Most of the time they are completely identical to each other; each infernal pepper pot a scheming ball of hate. There are, of course, exceptions, but usually its because they've been affected by some exterior influence. (see the recent Inside the Dalek for an example). That's nothing against the Daleks. Being nasty is literally in their DNA. And that's why we love them. Well, it's why I love them anyway. 

However, it's not the norm. Let's face it, not all humans are the same. There are kind humans, there are cruel humans; there are funny humans, there are humourless humans. There are humans who mention cybernetic dolphins far too much. 

Non-human characters should be the same (except for maybe the dolphin thing). A race of non-humans should never have the same characteristics, unless perhaps if they are a true hive mind. Similar traits maybe, but there should be individuality there. Look at the Klingons, to mix my science fiction franchises. They became far more interesting when we started to see bump-heads of all moral types and motivations. 

3. Give the reader a Han Solo.
Good old Chewbacca. He's a giant walking rug who makes great noises. And most Star Wars fans love him. Why? Largely because Han loves him. Han is our window to Chewie. The old rogue understands everyone's favourite wookie and literally translates him for us. Without Han is it doubtful that Chewie, wonderful though he is, would have been such a sympathetic character.

And the same can go the other way. Want to make your non-human characters completely and utterly uncanny? Then, give us a viewpoint character who can vocalise the differences and react to their absolute alienness. 

4. Remember human doesn't always mean better.
Poor old Spock. He spends most of the time being berated by Bones for being a green-blooded, cold hearted son of a... 

Well, you get the idea. 

However, it's all to easy to play all non-human characters as inferior in some or all ways to humans. They are somehow limited or stilted and don't quite understand the way the universe, just because they're not human, the poor things. 

What about a non-human character who is a more rounded-person than your humans, who is wiser or shows more compassion? 

Basically, don't be a Bones. Human doesn't always mean better.

5. Cheat.
No-one wants to read a truly non-human character. That's a bold statement, but it's true. Why would you? A reader needs something to relate to, so they can invest in the character. So make sure, no-matter how alien your non-human there are some recognisable traits in there, something that chimes with us all, whether they're fae, alien or cybernetic dolphin.

Have any tips of your own? Then share them below, especially if you are a cybernetic dolphin. 

(Can you tell I've been writing about cybernetic dolphins recently?)


_________________

Cavan Scott is the author of over 70 books and audio dramas including the Sunday Times Bestseller, Who-ology: The Official Doctor Who Miscellany, co-written with Mark Wright.

He's written for Doctor WhoSkylandersJudge Dredd, Angry Birds, Adventure Time and Warhammer 40,000 among others. He also writes Roger the Dodger and Bananaman for The Beano as well as books for reluctant readers of all ages.

Cavan's website
Cavan's facebook fanpage
Cavan's twitterings

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7. Athens Prize for Literature

       As Theodoros Grigoriadis reports at his weblog, they've announced this year's winners of the Greek Athens Prize for Literature, with Anthony Marra's A Constellation of Vital Phenomena winning the best translated category (dominated by translations from the English; see the shortlist, which included titles by Coetzee, McEwan, Banville, and Hollinghurst) and Tηλέμαχος Κώτσιας' Kώδικας Τιμής taking the Greek novel prize (see also the Ψυχογιός publicity page).

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8. I'm On Tour! Enter To Win A Copy Of My Book!




Book Tour

Hi everyone:

Good News! The day is finally here. My book tour begins today. Please complete a raffle through BK book tour and win a chance to get a free e-book of Ignition: AN Educator's Journey. Good luck everyone!





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9. PAPERCHASE - mugs

Here are some of the other mug designs currently available at Paperchase along with the previously menttioned Sleep Owls design. There are colourful ponies, a parrot and peacock, The Owl & the Pussycat and a gold winged horse from the Cosmic collection.

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10. Free ebooks Review: Ring on Her Finger by Lisa Swinton



Disclaimer: I received no compensation from the author or publisher for this honest review.


About the Book

What happened in Vegas should stay there, not follow Amanda home, newly wedded to the man who broke her heart.

After celebrating college graduation with her friends in Las Vegas, Amanda St. Claire wakes up with a terrible hangover and a ring on her finger. Her day gets worse when she finds out she's married to rich playboy Blake Worthington—the guy she has loathed the past four years. Amanda convinces Blake to legally terminate the marriage and they both return home like nothing ever happened. That is, until Blake shows up on her doorstep and Amanda has to come clean with her family.

Together for better or worse while the legalities are cleared, Amanda reluctantly plays along, but then the unthinkable happens---she finds herself falling in love with Blake.

Can they overcome the past? Or will it end their future before it even starts?

Buy the Book


Here's what I'm giving it:

Rating: 4 stars

Here's why:

There were a couple of things that kept this book from being a 5-star for me. First, I want to start off with the things I liked.

Amanda's and Blake's past played a huge role in their present interactions and also brought new meaning to the "put your past behind you" adage. The contrast between their families was well done and made me grateful for the family I do have.

What I didn't like was how long Amanda held on to her grudge/stubbornness. Granted, I do know/have known people who are "stubborn as a mule" before, but I think it was just a little bit overdone and got to be very irritating.

The other thing was how Amanda was in denial or reality even after getting a good slap of it. That also annoyed me.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, especially for those who are looking for "clean" romances.

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11. SkADaMo 2014 Day 21

catfishes

A pretty obvious one, but hey…

Wondering what SkADaMo is, check this out.


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12. Ten Wonderful Years As A Published author

From the Macondo Newsletter

Reyna Grande

Macondista Rene Colato Lainez is celebrating his 10th year anniversary as a published author. Congratulations to Rene, and here's to many more years and many more books!

Ten Wonderful Years
By Rene Colato Lainez



At the end of 1999 many people were setting goals to accomplish in the new millennium. I was one of them. At the time, I was already an elementary teacher and had written several books to share with my students. I still remember those "classic books" that my students enjoyed reading such as, "Fabiola, Fabiola", "El número uno", "Un cuento de colores." 

My students enjoyed my books so much that I began to wonder what I had to do in order to publish my work. I wanted to see my name on the cover of a book. I met children's book authors Alma Flor Ada and Isabel Campoy at the teacher's writing workshop "Teachers in the Classroom." They read some of my books and told me that yes, my work was publishable! Then I met the wonderful macondista, Amada Irma Pérez. She shared the submission guidelines of her publisher, Children's Book Press, and told me to give it a try. She told me that some day in the near future we could be signing books together. 

At that time, this was a sueño. After meeting Alma Flor, Isabel, and Amada, I set my own goal, to submit my manuscripts for publication. I started to submit my stories in March 2001. Soon, I received my first rejection letter. It was painful to read it but on the bottom of the letter someone had printed, "Your story has a big heart. We wish you luck." 

I did not give up and 2001 was a year of rejection letters. I joined SCBWI, took some creative writing classes and wrote new stories. In the summer of 2002, I received an email from Arte Público Press, asking me for revise my manuscript with the promise that they might publish it if they liked the revision. I made the changes and by October 2002, I had a contract for Waiting for Papá

I remembered the day, I had a flu and fell sleep holding the contract. When I woke up, I looked at 
my chest wondering if the contract was just a dream. But it was still there. I read it again and shouted "I will have a book! I am an author!". 

The book was published on October 31, 2004. Now 10 years later, I have written 9 children's books, a story in an anthology, 6 books for elementary reading programs and many poems and short stories for a children's magazine, Revista Iguana. I love writing children books and I have more coming out soon. 


I organized a celebration party for my anniversary. It was a costume party and many friends came wearing costumes from characters of my books. Of course, I was René, the boy!



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13. I hadn't understood review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Diego De Silva's I hadn't understood.
       The second in De Silva's series is about to come out -- My Mother-in-Law Drinks; see the Europa editions publicity page, or pre-order your cppy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk -- but I figured I should get to this one first.

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14. The Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing for Children's Book Authors




 
It's difficult for any writer to get published by a traditional publisher, whether you write for adults or for children. That's why more writers than ever are turning to self-publishing. But before you jump on the bandwagon, especially if you write for children, it's helpful to find out more about self-publishing.
Check out the recent post by guest blogger Sangeeta Mehta on publishing expert Jane Friedman's blog. Mehta, a former acquiring editor of children's books at Little, Brown and Simon & Schuster who runs her own editorial services company, interviewed agents Kate McKean and Kevan Lyon for answers to key questions on self-publishing children's books.
Here are some highlights:
Kate McKean: “The anecdotal evidence I’ve seen, however, is that the more titles a self-published author has up, the more visibility they can possibly garner.”
Kevan Lyon: “I do believe that YA writers probably have an edge over middle grade writers in the indie publishing world.”
Kate McKean: “For picture book writers, the cost of producing the book is one hurdle, and distributing it is another bigger hurdle.”
Kevan Lyon: “Self-publishing a full-color print picture book can be very expensive with little room for a profit margin, especially without distribution.”
Click here to visit Jane Friedman's blog for the complete post.
What do you think about the pros and cons of self-publishing? Please share your experiences.
Hope you enjoyed this post! To be notified of future updates, use the subscription options on the right side bar.


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15. Writer Wednesday: I'm a Very Thankful Author

Every book has a dedication page and an acknowledgments page so authors can thank all those people who helped make the book. Well, to be honest, I hate writing these. I'm always afraid of leaving someone out (by accident of course), and to be honest, I could gush for pages upon pages thanking people I'm happy to have with me on my writing journey. Still, I try to keep these short, knowing most people don't read them anyway. ;)

Since tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I want to say a general thank you to everyone reading this post. I don't care if you've ever read one of my books. I'm thankful that you found me here and that you allow me to share a little of me and my writing with you each week. I hope everyone has a great holiday filled with good food, family, friends, and a whole lot to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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16. Cast Away on the Letter A : A Philemon Adventure by Fred, translated by Richard Kutner, RL: 3

Cast Away on the Letter A by Fred, the pseudonym of Frédéric Aristidès, creator of one of the most famous graphic novel series in France (did you know that the French have long been huge graphic novel fans?) was originally published in 1972. This is the first time it has been translated in English, thanks to the amazing François Mouly and the fantastic people at TOON Books who are

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17. I Accidentally Read a Gayle Forman Book

by andye I Was HereBy Gayle FormanHardcover: 288 pagesPublisher: Viking Juvenile (January 27, 2015)Language: EnglishGoodreads | Amazon Cody and Meg were inseparable. Two peas in a pod. Until . . . they weren’t anymore. When her best friend Meg drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room, Cody is understandably shocked and devastated. She and Meg shared everything—

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18. PAPERCHASE - 2015 diaries

The colourful ponies design see on a mug in the last post also feature on a 2015 diary at Paperchase. Scroll down for a selection of next years diary designs which include designs in all tastes and sizes.

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19. Oscar Isaac Lands Villain Role In X-Men: Apocalypse

Yeah, at first I read "Oscar Pistorius".  I come from another century!

After landing a role in ‘Star Wars VII’ it looks as though the up and coming star will be heading to the ‘X-Men’ universe… as he takes the title role in ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’.


X-Men: Apocalypse - Oscar Isaac lands villain role


Not content with nabbing a role in the galaxy far, far away it looks as though Oscar Isaac is determined to conquer modern geek culture. And now the actor has reportedly signed up for the upcoming ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ as the movie’s big, bad villain.

According to Variety, the 35-year-old Guatemalan-born American actor has nabbed the role of Apocalypse in the upcoming ‘X-Men’ sequel.

“Oscar Isaac will be playing the titular comic book villain in 20th Century Fox’s ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’,” they revealed. “[Bryan] Singer has described the upcoming ‘X-Men’ film, which is expected to feature all cast members including Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence and James McAvoy, as the most destructive movie in the franchise.”

Of course, Apocalypse has already taken to the big screen in a post credit teaser after the recent ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’. But while the scrawny-looking mutant was busy with his newfound pyramids, it looks likely that he’ll bulk up a bit for the upcoming sequel.

“‘Apocalypse’ will have more of the mass destruction that ‘X-Men’ films, to date, have not relied upon,” said Singer in a recent interview. “There’s definitely now a character and a story that allow room for that kind of spectacle.”

Reportedly taking place during the 80s, ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ will feature younger versions of the classic ‘X-Men’ characters. And while it seems that ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ has found its villain, the hunt is apparently on for a young Cyclops and Jean Grey.

But will they be able to conquer the mighty Apocalypse? For now, we’ll have to wait and see. Although, if Isaac has to go up against Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, I don’t fancy his chances.

‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ heads to cinemas on 19 May 2016.

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20. PAPERCHASE - sleepy owls

We are having a week of celebrating Paperchase here on Print & Pattern and today begins with their new 'Sleepy Owls' collection. Rows of graphic owls, all asleep with their eyes closed feature on notebooks stationery, cards, wrap, and mugs. The colour palette is reminiscent of mid-century modern with turquoise, orange and yellow most often used on a neutral stone ground. Available in stores and

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21. …continuing ramblings about muses and inspiration and finding stories, I give you: Erato, the muse of love poetry (warning: this page is fairly messy and filled to bursting with words)

muse-five


Filed under: journeys, love, poetry, songs

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22. Nigerian Writers Series

       Hoping to emulate the success of the African Writers Series -- see, for example, my review of James Currey's history of The African Writers Series and the Launch of African Literature, Africa Writes Back -- the Association of Nigerian Authors.has launched a Nigerian Writers Series, now announcing the first ten titles (from fifty total and thirty-eight 'valid' submissions) that will be published by a variety of Nigerian publishers.
       See also Henry Akubuiro in The Sun on the New dawn for Nigerian writers this might facilitate.
       Sounds like a good idea, in any case, and I hope to eventually see some of these titles.

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23. Impending

The highway signs flashed “High Alert!
Tomorrow, don’t be driving.”
The day before Thanksgiving,
There’s a winter storm arriving.

So traffic crawled and inched along
Much slower than just slow
‘Cause everyone was on the road
To beat the coming snow.

You’d think that Martians had attacked
Or that the world was ending
When all that fuss is for some weather –
Lousy, but impending…

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24. AMS/SMT 2014: Highlights from the OUP booth

We had a great time at this year’s AMS/SMT meeting! Milwaukee was a bit chilly, but we drank lots of coffee, cozied up with thrilling new books, and listened to some fantastic presentations!

Weren’t able to make it, or just feeling nostalgic? Take a tour through the eyes of OUP music, and check out some memorable highlights from this year’s joint meeting:

You can find out more information about the AMS/SMT 2014 conference by visiting their website. We already can’t wait for next year!

The post AMS/SMT 2014: Highlights from the OUP booth appeared first on OUPblog.

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25. Step-by-step Guide to Assigning Free ISBNs for ebooks through CISS

CISS is the Canadian ISBN Service System that’s f […]

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