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1. A Little Light at the End of the Tunnel

Just when I was in despair about the state of the world because of our dependence on oil, I read The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World by Daniel Yergin. Whew. There is some hope. At least, that’s my interpretation of it. I am a glass half full type of person and that’s my view of it. I may be wrong. I’ve been wrong before. THE QUEST ENERGY, SECURITY, AND THE REMAKING OF THE MODERN WORLD DANIEL YERGIN 2011 774 Pages The Penguin Press ISBN 978-1-59420-283-4 It also Includes Acknowledgements, Photos and Photo Credits, Notes on each chapter, a Bibliography and an Index. This book gives me hope. Its message is simple and positive. It convinced me, through painstaking research, interviews and a recounting of recent history, that human beings will survive. Somehow, through some miracle, In some unpredictable, unknowable way, human kind will make it through. It is worth reading for that hope alone. The list of major events and their effects on human efforts to harness available energy is impressive. And it all happened within the span of a lifetime. Desert Storm, the collapse of communism, OPEC and Venezuela’s actions, the world recession and, of course, 9/11, the accidents at Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the Japanese tsunami and the Arab Spring. All of them and others are on the list. Daniel Yergin, a Pulitzer Prize winning writer, lays out this book in six sections. Part 1 is called The New World of Oil and is made up of ten chapters which deal with events which range from the Gulf War to the rise of China. The definition and examples of “the Dutch Disease” and “Petrostate” are contained in these chapters as well as an accounting of the creation of the “Supermajors” (giant companies like ExxonMobil) and their influence. Part 2 is called Securing the Supply and includes chapters eleven to sixteen. They deal with unrest in the Middle East, the uncertainty of Venezuela, the threats from Iran and the history and currency of “energy independence” from American and Chinese points of view. Part 3 is called The Electric Age and includes chapters seventeen to twenty which demonstrates that “the history of the oil and gas industry, as with virtually all industries, is one of technological advance”. It is here that human progress is tied inexorably to electricity which is produced, in large part, by burning carbon. Part 4 is called Climate and Carbon. It includes chapters twenty one to twenty-six which tell the story of how climate change went from the study of a few curious scientists climbing around glaciers to the main focus of the Kyoto Conference to the beginning move toward a carbon market and a cap and trade system. Those who object to “trading pollution” are reminded that the internet exists because of electricity. Part 5 is called New Energies and includes chapters twenty-seven to thirty-two in describing alternatives to coal and oil such as wind, sun and other “Renewables”. Part 6 is called Road to the Future and includes chapters thirty-three to thirty-five. The last chapter (35) is called The Great Electric Car Experiment and the Conclusion is called “A Great Revolution”. Who could have known that last year China bought more new cars from American manufacturers than Americans did? And that 70% of all new housing in Japan will have to have solar panels on the roof by 2020? And that grow your own biofuels and electric cars are well on their way to commerciality? On November 12, 2014 China and The US signed an agreement to increase their use of “renewables” to 20% by 2030. Even if it is for show, as some say, it is a small, faltering, baby step in the right direction. When those two behemoths move, they get everyone’s attention. The landscape won’t change appreciably until the 2030’s. Coal, oil and natural gas will generate most of the power and car engines will become more efficient. When the people born now are sixteen years old, the 2030’s will be beginning a new age of energy and power generated by human beings with less pollution of the atmosphere with carbon and other waste. Here you can only hope that it’s not too little, too late. As Yergin demonstrates in this book, huge events like the Japanese tsunami and the Arab spring are as unpredictable as hurricane Katrina and the world recession in their effects on the energy picture. Yet the genius of human beings always finds an answer. Unimagined solutions to our present problems are waiting out there for us to discover them. We might not find them but someone will. This is not a book that encourages us to maintain the status quo. It is worth reading because it delineates the history of human progress and points out the many cases where people were too dedicated or determined to give up until they discovered solutions or partial solutions to our energy problems. No matter how humans try to see what the future holds, they can never quite get it right but somehow, in an unexpected way, they find the solution to the immediate problem and discover a way to attack the bigger problems. The Quest is a meticulously researched book which gives the reader a refreshing, unfamiliar, positive point of view on the big picture. But that’s just my glass half full interpretation of it. As a Canadian that’s the only way to look at it. “This is not a blind faith, by any means. There is no assurance on timing for the innovations that will make a difference. There is no guarantee that the investment at the scale needed will be made in a timely way, or that government policies will be wisely implemented. Certainly, lead times can be long and costs will have to evolve. As this story has shown, the risks of conflict, crisis and disruption are inherent. Things can go seriously wrong, with dire consequences. Thus, it is essential that the conditions are nurtured so that creativity can flourish. For that resource will be critical for meeting the challenges and assuring the security and sustainability of the energy for a prosperous, growing world. That is at the heart of the quest, it is as much about the human spirit as it is about technology, and that is why this is a quest that will never end.” P 717 The Quest

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2. कार्टून … मौका विवादित बयान

The post कार्टून … मौका विवादित बयान appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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3. Music Monday - Shadowland

I've done a heck of a lot of driving over the last busy busy month. I've listened to the Broadway version of The Lion King soundtrack a number of times in the car. My favorite piece from it is Shadowland:

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4. Seven Key Elements of Pacing Your Novel--Plus a Mystery Box of Four Books/ARCs

We hear it all the time, “start with action.” I see the results of that every month in the First Five Pages Workshop, where writers have heard it so often they automatically think they have to start with a murder, a car crash, or an explosion to get someone’s attention.

But here’s the thing. Every novel has its own speed, and its own readership. There's no one-size fits all solution. 

Joe Shlabotnik via Flickr

The critical aspect of pacing for any novelist is control—knowing why you’re making the choices you’re making and knowing how those choices will affect your readers. Compulsion, for example, starts slowly to build the world and the sense of disorientation my main character feels as she slips from the everyday world into a world of magic. But as she becomes immersed in that magic, the pace picks up.

  1. Not every part of a book should be paced the same. As a rule of thumb, adding description and slowing down the pace can create suspense. But as you get to the action, the scenes where the main character’s adrenaline and danger level shifts into high, there’s less room for description, thought, dialogue, and anything that doesn’t contribute to immediate survival.
  2. Let pacing build and release, rinse, repeat. Then ratchet it even higher. Working toward a mini climax at a turning point, and then slowing down again allows the reader to catch their breath. At some point, if you don’t release the tension, the reader will grow too weary to care much by the time you reach the climax.
  3. Provide conflicting goals for characters, and never give your main character what she wants—not, at least, without piling on the complications in compensation. If she succeeds, there has to be a “but” to her success. If she fails, occasionally let her fail so spectacularly that she not only falls on her face, she also loses her dog and breaks her leg so that she can’t go after it. Go ahead. Be mean. Once your character succeeds, there’s no reason for a reader to keep reading, unless you provide that reason.
  4. Make the motives clear to support your character’s goals and elicit sympathy and connection. If you don’t show how the character responds to failure, the reader will be hard-pressed to understand or “get” the character, and it’s going to be hard for them to engage in the book and feel like the failure mattered, or to be interested in the next attempt to win.
  5. No matter how slow the pacing, use conflict to immerse the reader in the story. Tension is what pulls the reader into the page, and tension comes from conflict, whether on a large scale or a smaller one. The more aspects of conflict you can incorporate (one character against another, a character against himself, etc.) the more you create an immersive reading experience.
  6. Use unanswered questions to build a sense of urgency. Make sure there are always new questions introduced when providing a revelation, and seed tension into a story on every page. And always end a scene or chapter with new unanswered questions to keep readers engaged.
  7. Use the “rule of three” in to provide structure and take advantage of hard-wired story “intelligence” that readers have developed. After millennia of storytelling, the human brain has grown used to certain conventions, and the “try, try, try” technique is one that can work at the novel structure level, at the “act” or movement level, or a the scene level.

This week's giveaway:

Compulsion was long-listed for the SIBA Book Award from the Southern Independent Bookseller's Alliance this week, so I'm in the mood to celebrate. How about another mystery box giveaway? Four books and/or ARCs, mix of old and new. Sound good?

Enter below.

Your Two Cents

Any thoughts on pacing? Do you struggle with it in your novels? Do you get tired of the books that go at light-speed from start to finish? Or do you need that non-stop adrenaline rush? Leave a comment!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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5. vertically challenged

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When I read SERAPHINA in 2012, I was just about out of words to describe it. It was, I decided a medieval mystery, based on its woodcut American cover, only it's not really set in medieval times, and there are dragons, half-dragons and... Read the rest of this post

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7. Cover Reveal – Mr. Puffball: Stunt Cat to the Stars

It is my infinite pleasure to present to you today a middle grade novel’s cover that amuses me in a way that really speaks to my particular proclivities.  Humor is so subjective.  Still, it is beyond me how anyone could look at this and not be immediately charmed.  And so, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you MR. PUFFBALL: STUNT CAT TO THE STARS by Constance Lombardo.

And for the full jacket . . .

On shelves September 29th.

Thanks to the folks at Harper Collins for the reveal!


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8. How Do You Do Music Series - a bookwrap

Unwrapping the first two books in, "How Do You Do Music Series."

Quotes about music:

"Where words leave off, music begins."  - Heinrich Heine

"Music touches us emotionally, where words alone can't."  - Johnny Depp

"Music is the universal language of mankind."  - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow"

"Music can change the world because it can change people." - Bono

Unwrapping Book # 1 - "A Song for the Birds"

This charming book is a delightful way to introduce reading music to young children.  Sisters Leah Wells and Naomi Rosenblatt team up to write, illustrate  and publish Unique Music Story Book for Early Readers.  The book is designed to introduce pre-schoolers and beginning readers to music through stories and pictures.  Notes on the treble clef bring individual birds who sing their own notes (C for canary, D for duck etc.) and then under the direction of the Birdwatcher the whimsical little flock compose a melody, using all their notes together making a song.  The illustrations orchestrate the   power and magic of the music for the reader to behold.

Unwrapping Book # 2:  "The Rainbow Remembers the Music"

Unwrapping some illustrations for you...

Guess what?  You can actually see songs from the birds on the rainbow," Grandpa tells his grandchildren, Doug and Daisy.  The rain had stopped and they donned their rain gear to go out fishing together.  The sun peeked through and low and behold a beautiful rainbow appeared in the sky prompting Grandpa to impart the information that you can see the bird songs on the rainbow.  How ever could that be?  And why?  Grandpa explains that then they all can sing along as the rainbow is a gift from the birds, and they tell us the notes to sing.  But what happens when the rainbow disappears?  How do you keep the music to enjoy?  The kids find an ingenious way to keep the music alive and shares it with the all young music lovers everywhere.  

This fun, inspirational and educational book acquaints the readers with elements of music.  A wonderful addition includes 22 pages of enlarged staff paper to use.  What a brilliant idea!  This book has been nominated for a 2015 Family Choice Award and rightly so.

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9. Oh, I Am Still Here

Been a rough few days but I am still alive.

Interesting that after posting "A Request" to all my blogs and Yahoo groups and where ever else I could find that I received....zero responses.

I think 'comic fans' ought to hang their heads in shame.  Grab and download art from CBO or use one of its postings but a simple request...nothing.  Even "I'll forward it to groups I'm on" would have been something.

There is no comic 'community' or fan base anymore.  The internet has bred a generation of "grab-it-it's-free"

Very annoying is the fact that I KNOW people with old UK comic collections and references read CBO.

I just turn my back.

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10. Padlet with Resources for NCTE's Charlotte Huck Award Winning Books

I attended OCTELA on Saturday and presented with Barbara Kiefer and Fran Wilson on NCTE's Charlotte Huck award winning books from this year.  It is an honor to serve on this committee and I soooo love the premise of the award -- this award recognizes fiction that has the potential to transform children’s lives by inviting compassion, imagination, and wonder. I love the list of award books.  It was great fun to share them at OCTELA.

This week, in preparation for OCTELA, I started pulling together resources that connected to most of the award winning books. I thought it would be helpful for teachers who wanted to know more about the books and many of the links would be great to share with students.  I collected them on a Padlet and am happy to share that Padlet here. Enjoy!

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11. Own. #gazianogirling #hove #vintageoak #dg70 #skoaktiebolaget #nofilter #mensshoes #classicshoes #me

Own. #gazianogirling #hove #vintageoak #dg70 #skoaktiebolaget #nofilter #mensshoes #classicshoes #menswear #shoegazingblog by shoegazingblog

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12. Antigone, Forty Years Later

In my senior year at North Plainfield High School, our "accelerated" English class was taught by the formidable Miss O'Brien. She gave us a "Great Books" curriculum: it was there that I first read John Stuart Mill's On Liberty and knew I wanted to major in philosophy in college. She taught us how to write the five-paragraph essay with the thesis statement in the last sentence of the first paragraph. She drilled us in rules of grammar. The one I still chant to myself is "One, of phrase, relative pronoun, plural agreement."

In one class, I don't remember the particular topic, I made an impassioned speech against compromise (these were the politically turbulent early 70s): I would never compromise on anything I believed in, ever, ever, EVER! As a result, Miss O'Brien gave me Sophocles' tragedy Antigone to read, in the adaptation by Jean Anouilh. In the play, Antigone, the daughter of deposed King Oedipus, defies her royal uncle Creon's edict to leave her dead brother Polynices unburied. Antigone refuses to compromise. Creon refuses to compromise. By the end of the play many characters, including Antigone herself, are dead.

I loved the play, though it did not make me any more inclined to compromise. Instead, at age seventeen, it made me yearn to be a tragic heroine. Even more than loving the play itself, I loved that Miss O'Brien gave it to me, that a teacher would think an ancient tragedy could be relevant to a 20th-century schoolgirl's life and way of being in the world.

At DePauw this spring, I'm in a reading group on Antigone. The Prindle Institute for Ethics sponsors a number of reading groups each semester. Some faculty member proposes a book on which he or she would like to lead a discussion. The Prindle purchases the books and the lovely snacks. Then the group members meet together for a period or weeks or months to discuss the book, over wine and cheese, by the Prindle fireplace. I just finished leading my own group on philosopher Susan Wolf's book Meaning in Life and Why It Matters. Now I'm in the group on Antigone, led by Keith Nightenhelser, who also happens to be my dearest friend from graduate school.

This group is erudite and intellectual beyond anything my youthful self every could have imagined. We've read Judith Butler's book Antigone's Claim: Kinship between Life and Death. Now we're on to Bonnie Honig's fabulous book Antigone, Interrupted. Both authors continue what I now know is a long tradition of thinking that the play is relevant to our way of being in the world. Hegel's famous reading of the play is as a dialogue between the opposing claims of sovereignty (Creon) and kinship (Antigone), the state and the family, the public and the private. Butler complicates this view considerably: Antigone, as the child of an incestuous union (her father, after all, was Oedipus, who unwittingly killed his own father and married his own mother), is hardly positioned to defend traditional family values. Honig focuses on "interruptions" in the play: which characters interrupt other characters, and why, and what does this say about the balance of power among them? She interprets Antigone not as crazed with lamentation for her dead brother, but as a political actor, committed as strongly to life as to death.

At my second meeting with the group last night, I loved thinking how happy Miss O'Brien would have been to have eavesdropped on our discussion. Oh, and how happy she would be that I could spot the error in the first sentence of Honig's first chapter: "I am one of those people who finishes other people's sentences." NO! One, of phrase, relative pronoun, plural agreement: "I am one of those people who finish other people's sentences." And how happy she would be that now I compromise all the time, probably too much, a result of all that has happened to me over the intervening forty-three years: wonderful things, terrible things, transformative things, things that make me much less willing to stake my life on any absolute.

The reading of Antigone has been a beautiful gift to me, then and now.

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13. Query question: more on comp titles

My question regards comp titles. You've spoken many times about the need to know what's selling in your genre right now, and to showcase this knowledge in your queries by naming successful comp titles. You've also said that if we can't find appropriate comp titles we're not doing the right research.
I write high concept YA, of which there are many, many on the market right now. My main character is also a lesbian. The number of YA novels featuring f/f romances is on the rise, but everything I've seen is exclusively contemporary or science fiction/fantasy (m/m romances are a different story). I've scoured Goodreads, Absolute Write, and many other forums, but the recommendations I get there tend to be obscure. Titles that receive more than a couple thousand reviews on Goodreads are rare. The most mainstream I've found are Malinda Lo's books, which were published by Little, Brown and have sold reasonably well. They are also fantasy novels. The lack of representation motivates me to finish my novel, but at the same time discourages me from ever hoping to be published by a large company.
My question is: Am I focusing on on the wrong aspects of my work when looking for comp title, i.e., should I list titles that are similar in concept and tone but with straight MCs? 

Yes. What you're missing here is the unique selling point for your novel: your character is a lesbian. AFTER you've done research and found few titles, then you know that you've got something that is probably fresh and new. That's a GOOD thing.

You're on the right side of "there's nothing quite like mine" because you've found books that are similar to yours but without the main character being a lesbian.

Comp titles aren't the same as clone or twin titles.  Lee Child writes very different books than those of John Sanford. I love both authors and their books. Both are generally called crime novels. They appeal to the same readers. They're not similar books in plot, tone or character.  

You've also not mentioned utilizing one of the best resources available to you: your local library. Librarians live for this kind of question.  Give them a shout.

And while we're at it: writers, support your local library. Join Friends of the Library and volunteer to work at the annual book sale. Kick in some money to the fundraiser. Writer letters of support to the government body that funds the library.  

Libraries, like writers, are the foundation of democracy and we all need to make sure both stay strong. 


Today's blog post brought to you by The Tao and The Bard by Phillip dePoy.

The Tao Te Ching or Book of the Way of Virtue is a touchstone of Eastern philosophy and mysticism. It has been called the wisest book ever written, and its author, Lao Tzu, is known as the Great Archivist.

Shakespeare, the Bard, was the West’s greatest writer and even invented human nature, according to some.

The Tao and the Bard is the delightful conversation between these two unlikely spokesmen, who take part in a free exchange of views in its pages.

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14. Does philosophy matter?

Philosophers love to complain about bad reasoning. How can those other people commit such silly fallacies? Don’t they see how arbitrary and inconsistent their positions are? Aren’t the counter examples obvious? After complaining, philosophers often turn to humor. Can you believe what they said! Ha, ha, ha. Let’s make fun of those stupid people. I also enjoy complaining and joking, but I worry that this widespread tendency among philosophers puts us out of touch with the rest of society.

The post Does philosophy matter? appeared first on OUPblog.

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15. A Peek at the Creative Space of Pat Zietlow Miller

Pat Zietlow Miller is the author of the award-winning (and adorable!) picture book Sophie's Squash, illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf. Sophie's Squash is story that celebrates the special love between a child and her favorite toy--only in this case it's a butternut squash. On a trip to the farmers' market with her parents, Sophie chooses a squash, but instead of letting her mom cook it, she names it Bernice. Sophie's Squash has earned many accolades and honors, including four starred reviews, the Golden Kite Award, the Charlotte Zolotow Honor Book Award, and the Ezra Jack Keats Honor Book Award.

And fortunately for the children's book world, Pat has more books coming out in the world--SEVEN to be exact (at last count). Coming in April is Wherever You Go, illustrated by Eliza Wheeler. In Wherever You Go, join an adventurous rabbit and his animal friends as they journey over steep mountain peaks, through bustling cityscapes, and down long, winding roads to discover the magical worlds that await them just outside their doors. This book celebrates the possibilities that lie beyond the next bend in the road – the same road that will always lead you home again. Kirkus Reviews gave Wherever You Go a starred review with the praise: "Miller's verse, infused with musical momentum, communicates the emotional arch of a journey with beautiful brevity."

To learn more about Pat Zietlow Miller, visit her website.

Describe your workspace.

I write in one of two spots. At my kitchen table surrounded by the detritus of life in a family of four – books, papers, pens, calendars, mail, dishes – or at a desk upstairs that looks much more writerly. I’m probably in the kitchen more often just because that’s the way things seem to work out.

Describe a typical workday.

Most days, I’m at my regular job in corporate communications at an insurance company editing copy and writing about auto, home, and life insurance. (Hint: Having umbrella coverage is a good idea.)

When I get home, I start dinner, talk to my husband and kids, and help with homework where I can. English and language arts are fine. Calculus and physics are not. Then, when the kids are studying and my husband is watching basketball, I flip open my laptop and get going. Of course if the kids have evening activities, I’m probably driving them there instead of writing.

So when I do write, I tend to be pretty focused. I don’t have a lot of time to mess around.

List three of your most favorite things in your workspace and why they are meaningful.

These are all from my upstairs formal writing space.

  • A dictionary and bookmark I got from my high school English teacher Gladys Veidemanis after I was voted “Most Likely to Be Published” by my classmates. It took more than 20 years after I graduated, but it did happen.

  • A nameplate that belonged to my aunt, Faye Clow, who was director of the Bettendorf Public Library for many years. She was a huge proponent of books and literacy, and I always loved her and admired that. My upcoming book, Sophie's Seeds (Schwartz & Wade, 2016), is dedicated to Faye.

  • The F&G [publishing term that means folded and gathered--they are fancy colored proofs] of whatever my next book is. Right now, I have Wherever You Go, which is coming from Little, Brown on April 21 and Sharing the Bread, which is coming from Schwartz & Wade on Aug. 25. Getting the F&Gs always makes the book finally seem real.

Do you have any rituals in your work habits? If so, describe them.

Open lap top. Sit down. Start typing.

Ignore any tears, arguments, or requests for help finding lost items until the young person involved either goes away or asks my husband. While some writers follow very organized processes when writing, I’m a little more haphazard. I wrote a post about this for Tara Lazar’s Picture Book Idea Month.

What do you listen to while you work?

Everything listed in my answer to the previous question. I really prefer not to have music playing while I write. It impedes my ability to focus on the story. (When you read my answer to the next-to-last question, you’ll see that this can be a problem.)

What is your drink and/or snack of choice while you’re working?

I normally don’t eat or drink while I’m writing. I tend to eat and drink when I get up and walk around because I’m temporarily stuck. Then, dark chocolate is always good. But I have standards. It’s got to be top-of-the-line stuff.

What keeps you focused while you’re working?

Getting the story done and making it the best it can possibly be. Finding the perfect combination of words is really important to me. And I love critique partners and editors who really challenge me if they think I haven’t quite done it.

Do you write longhand, on a computer, or another way?

Nearly always on a computer. Very rarely, I’ll write longhand if I’m on a plane or a bus and a pad of paper is all I’ve got to work with. But I do jot down notes longhand, usually phrases that I think sound intriguing.

How do you develop your story ideas? Do you use an outline, let the muse lead you, or another technique?

It sounds terribly boring, but I’m afraid I just sit down, open my laptop and start writing. Sometimes, I stare at my manuscript for a while before starting. While I certainly have been inspired, I don’t really believe in waiting for inspiration, because I could be waiting a long time. I find that the mere act of beginning to write usually kick-starts my inspiration.

If you were forced to share your workspace but could share it with anyone of your choosing, who would it be?

My husband. He’s a sportswriter and works out of our house. On days that I’m not at my day job, we often work in adjoining rooms. He’s fun to have around, although he sometimes plays really, really bad music while he works – like “My Girl Bill.” If we ever worked next to each other long term, this could become problematic.

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve heard or received? 

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It’s what I learned in a high school journalism class taught by Ron Harrell. The end of your story has to have some element of the beginning in it to provide satisfying closure. He said it was like wrapping a ribbon around a present and tying a big bow. I wrote a blog post about this concept on Picture Book Builders.

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16. Cat Says Meow (and a giveaway!)

Cat Says Meow by Michael P. Arndtby Michael Arndt (Chronicle Books, 2014)

This book won me over when I saw it last year, and it’s one that is fun to peek into again and again. And how is that the case with something so simple, but so sophisticated? So spare, but so complex? That’s the best truth of design.

Here’s what’s happening. Each spread shows an animal and its sound. And each animal is mostly made up of the letters of that sound.

It’s a fun puzzle to unlock. The portraits are bold and saturated in color, often different than we’d see them in the wild.

But here they are, wild anyway.

Cat Says Meow by Michael P. Arndt Cat Says Meow by Michael P. Arndt Cat Says Meow by Michael P. Arndt

I do love an animal book that goes beyond the usual suspects, don’t you? A mosquito! Not my favorite friend by any means, but he looks good and menacing here.

Cat Says Meow by Michael P. Arndt Cat Says Meow by Michael P. Arndt Cat Says Meow by Michael P. Arndt

This small volume is a perfect primer on both typography and onomatopoeia.

And it’s got killer endpapers.

Cat Says Meow by Michael P. Arndt

A portion of  proceeds from Cat Says Meow goes to support animal rescue organizations, including the ones from where Michael’s dog (Clooney!) and cat (Aiden!) were rescued.

And for more type fun, play this kerning game and see how your eye stacks up to a designer’s. Or this one on letter forms, which is a bezier curve bonanza.

Would you like a signed copy? And these one of a kind bookmarks and vinyl stickers! You do, yes. Leave a comment here or share this post on Twitter before midnight on March 8st, PST. Good luck!

Cat Says Meow by Michael P. ArndtCat Says Meow by Michael P. Arndt



All images are © 2014 Michael Arndt. Thanks to the artist for sharing them (and an awesome giveaway!) here. And be sure to check out his Instagram if you love all things type, animal, and lovely. It’s a great one!


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17. Suffragist Lucy Stone in 10 facts

Lucy Stone, a nineteenth-century abolitionist and suffragist, became by the 1850s one of the most famous women in America. She was a brilliant orator, played a leading role in organizing and participating in national women’s rights conventions, served as president of the American Equal Rights Association [...]

The post Suffragist Lucy Stone in 10 facts appeared first on OUPblog.

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18. Advice For Young Writers/Illustrators, WISH and SPECIAL DELIVERY: Three Questions With Matthew Cordell

Matthew Cordell is the illustrator of over 25 books for children including picture books, novels, and works of poetry. Several of which he has also written, including New York Times Notable picture book, HELLO! HELLO!. Matthew lives in a suburb of Chicago with his wife, author Julie Halpern, and their two children. Visit him online at matthewcordell.com. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Matthew's two newest books are SPECIAL DELIVERY, written by Philip C. Stead and illustrated by Matthew (Roaring Brook Press), and WISH, written and illustrated by Matthew (Disney-Hyperion).

SPECIAL DELIVERY synopsis: Sadie is determined to deliver an elephant to her Great-Aunt Josephine, who lives completely alone and can really use the company. With the help of some interesting characters, she tries mailing the elephant, flying it over, hopping a train, and even an alligator boat ride. This eccentric and hilarious story will surprise and entertain from beginning to end.

WISH synopsis: As an elephant couple embark on a life together, thoughts of children are far away-at first. But as the desire for a child grows, so do unexpected challenges. And it's only after thwarted plans and bitter disappointment that their deepest wish miraculously comes true.

Q: Could you please take a photo of something in your office and tell me the story behind it?

This is a corkboard that hangs in an awkward spot on the wall--kind of hard to reach--between my computer desk and my drawing table. At one point or another over the years, I've tacked up bits of stuff I was working on at the time, images by favorite artists to inspire, and personal photos. Most of the things on the board are ridiculously out of date (I should really put up some photos of my two beautiful children!), but I am rather proud of myself for having the motivation to hang the thing on the wall in the first place.

Q: What advice do you have for young writers and/or illustrators?

I'm not sure how original this is, but I think it's good advice and I wish I had followed it much earlier in my career. Which is this: figure out what makes you unique, interesting, weird, and you. Think about the things that sculpted you in your life, past and present that made you the individual that you are today--your interests, passions, personality quirks, etc. And use this as much as you can in your writing, art, etc. Do not be afraid to let this stuff come out. It's what makes you you and not look like and read like other books that are already in print. It's incredibly hard not to be overly influenced by authors and illustrators from all times (and you will be influenced, and you should embrace that) but you can use that and manipulate it to your advantage too.

Q: What are you excited about right now?

My wife (YA author, Julie Halpern) loves to plan family vacations. I love taking her planned family vacations because she does exhaustive research, plans things out full tilt, and does such an incredible job to insure we get the most of out these trips. We are taking our kids (our daughter's 6 and the boy's 20 months) to Disneyworld this coming fall. Julie updates us everyday on all the stuff we can do together there, how we'll make things work with a toddler, scoring the best deals on stuff, etc. Really looking forward to it. I love books and I love art intensely. But time away with the family is what I really enjoy the most in life.


For more interviews, see my Inkygirl Interview Archive.

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19. Draw Tip Tuesday - golden oldies never really get old

Welcome to Draw Tip Tuesday!
And ... it's Throw Back Tuesday here today.
Why? Because golden oldies never really get old. So here's a fun video for you that will hopefully ignite you into some experimenting yourself.

If you'd like to learn more, have a look on my website: koosjekoene.nl, and sign up for one of my classes today!

The workshop 'Draw It Like It's Hot', on drawing food and illustrating recipes has started just yesterday, so you can dive right in. Click here to enroll and start right away.

Or you could start a daily drawing habit during my online workshop 'Awesome Art Journaling'. Click here for more info and to enroll.

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20. Cultural Competence and the Maker Movement

As the Maker Movement gains momentum across the country in schools and libraries, YALSA’s Cultural Competence Task Force is encouraging organizers to think about ways to expand the scope of maker programs to broaden their appeal to all kids. Making isn’t just about robots and Legos, and it’s not just for the “nerdy” boy. In fact there are many developments and initiatives that are changing the definition of makers and making that we want to highlight. From Black Girls Code, New York City’s Mouse.org, DreamYard’s DIY Dream it Yourself, the Community Science Workshop Network, to programs like Able Gamers and the Washington D.C. Public Library’s “DIY Fair for People with (and without) Disabilities”, we are seeing a concerted effort to engage and include children from underserved communities so they may envision a future for themselves in the tech world.

Another important direction for the maker movement is to step away from the robots and find opportunities to include maker activities that tap into a broader range of cultures and traditions. A research group at MIT called High Low Tech is a wonderful source of information about this topic and offers tutorials for some amazing and unique projects. We take particular inspiration from Leah Buechley, a designer, engineer, and educator who likes to create tools and programs that mix together cutting edge technology with traditional art forms (her inventions include the Lilypad Arduino). A great discussion of equity and the maker movement, and a nice shout out to Buechley’s work, can also be found at Rafi Santo’s blog.

If you’ve been thinking about how you can incorporate the maker movement into your library programming, we encourage you to take some time to explore these resources and find ways to connect with kids who may not think “making” is for them.


submitted by YALSA Cultural Competence Task Force

The mission of the YALSA Cultural Competence Task Force is to help you incorporate cultural competence into your everyday work, and to increase the relevance and value of our libraries as partners in our communities, especially in reaching traditionally underserved young adults. Kim Dare, 2014-2015 Chair

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21. An A – Z guide to Nicolas Nabokov

Who was Nicolas Nabokov? The Russian-born American composer had a huge impact on music and culture globally, but his name remains relatively unknown. He had friends and acquaintances in a variety of circles, whether his cousin the writer Vladimir, the poet Auden, or the choreographer Balanchine.

The post An A – Z guide to Nicolas Nabokov appeared first on OUPblog.

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22. Blog Tour: Witherwood Reform School by Obert Skye PLUS Giveaway

Genre: Contemporary/Mystery

Release Date: 3/3/2015

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About the Book: Did you know a gravy boat can change your life? Charlotte and Tobias Eggers do. After a prank on their terrible nanny involving gravy and tadpoles ends in a misunderstanding, Charlotte and Tobias's father packs them in the car, drives them to the desert, and leaves them outside of Witherwood Reform School. Before he can change his mind, a car accident leaves him with amnesia. Charlotte and Tobias have no choice but to enter Witherwood Reform School with is odd teachers, fierce animals, and unending chocolate pudding. But Witterwood is no ordinary school-the headmaster has perfected mind control. Can Charlotte and Tobias escape before it's too late?

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: Obert Skye is a middle grade reader favorite at my library. He's a regular fixture at our local children's lit festival and he makes quite an impression on the kids. Each year I have a new group coming into the library asking for his books and eagerly wanting more. I'm delighted to report that Mr. Skye has a new series and it's one I know my fans will devour!

Charlotte and Tobias are pranksters and they're also very smart. They know to question things about their new school and they're determined to figure out the secrets of Witherwood. But what happens when the school gets the best of them and they get sucked in? And what happens when your father doesn't even remember that he's looking for you?

Witherwood Reform School is the first in a new series that is perfect for readers who enjoy their humor to be a little dark, their characters slightly mischievous, and mysteries with a side of suspense. Told in the vein of Lemony Snickett and Jason Segal's Nightmares, readers who want something that's just a bit dark, just a tad creepy, and with a slight silliness will be sure to be lining up to get their hands on this one. There are plenty of questions remaining about this mysterious reform school so readers will be eagerly anticipating book two.

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from galley sent by publisher 

Want to win a copy? Fill out the form below to enter!
One entry per person
US Address only
Contest ends March 10

Follow the Witherwood Reform School Tour!

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23. “Great resource for writing compelling stories”

Mastering front 100WshadowA new review from Amazon for my new Mastering the Craft of Compelling Storytelling:

5 stars A Must Read

"Mastering the Craft of Compelling Storytelling" is the only writing book -- and I own quite a few -- that I've highlighted. Concepts that I've struggled to understand make more sense, and my writing strengths are further improved. The section on "weak, wasted, and wrong words" is one of the many sections to reread when writing/rewriting a novel, short story, or any prose.

"This is now my go-to book when I'm writing or rewriting a story.

"Story/plot has always been something I struggled with, as far as understanding how to construct a good one. This book has been a big "aha" for me and was, within the first handful of pages, improving my storytelling.

"Definitely a must read for writers of all experience levels."

Signed paperbacks are available on my website (discounted price, free shipping), both Kindle and the paperback are available on Amazon.com.

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24. Vulnerability: The Key to Compelling Romantic Relationships

loveThe connection between two characters is one of the most magnetic forces in storytelling, especially in romance novels.

Whether they welcome the relationship, fight it, or fall somewhere in between, emotional friction creates an energy that leaves readers anxious to see what will happen next.

Building a compelling romance is not easy, and to make the pairing realistic, a writer must know each character down to their bones, including any past hurts experienced at the hands of others. Pain is a necessary component of any fictional romance. Pain? I know, it sounds crazy. Here’s why.

1) Romance isn’t simple.

You can’t throw two people together and expect pheromones and sex drive do all the work. Readers have expectations that a rocky road lies ahead, because obstacles, suffering and hardship are what makes a romance so satisfying. Characters willing to walk through fire to be together convinces readers they belong with one another. Love is powerful, and there is great beauty in the struggle to obtain what the heart wants most.

2) Healthy relationships (especially romantic ones) require vulnerability.

To really dig into this, we need to first look at vulnerability in real life. It’s usually cast in a negative light, used in the context that if we don’t avoid it, bad things will happen. If we don’t lock our doors, we’re vulnerable to thieves. If we don’t protect our personal information, people may steal it. Negative experiences teach us to be wary of appearing vulnerable, so we take care in who we trust and what we share. We dress a certain way, act a certain way, hide our hurts and pretend we are strong.  Characters, to be realistic, should think and act the same way.

But there is another powerful side of vulnerability: acceptance.

When a person accepts themselves, faults and all, they are able to show their true self to others rather than hide it. This openness, this sharing of one’s innermost feelings and beliefs, is the foundation of all meaningful relationships. Being genuine and honest allows a person to connect with another on a deep level. In romances, characters who are willing to be vulnerable and put their true feelings out there open the gateway to love and intimacy. Without vulnerability, a romantic relationship reads false.

So where does the pain come in?

Being vulnerable is not easy, especially for characters who have been hurt by those they once loved. A character’s past is often a quagmire of painful events making it difficult to let down one’s guard and trust.

For example, if our protagonist was manipulated by an abusive ex-husband, her painful experience with him becomes a wound she can’t forget. She will harden herself, maybe push people away, using emotional armor to keep from being hurt. But this also blocks any new trusting relationships from forming, something she may deeply want. Even when she finds a man to love, it is a difficult process to strip oneself of that armor and be vulnerable enough to forge a strong relationship, risking hurt once more. The character’s desire for the relationship must outweigh her fear of being hurt.

As writers, the need for vulnerability creates a giant obstacle. Why? Because it is our business to create characters who are broken, jaded or struggling in some way. Yet somehow we must show them it’s okay to trust. We must find a way to give them the strength they need to let go of their fears of being hurt and open themselves up to another. The question is, how do we do that?

1) Hone in on the desire for “something more.”

A common need we all have as people (and therefore all characters should have it as well) is the desire for growth and fulfillment. Fears hold a character back and leave them feeling unfulfilled, affecting their happiness. They must realize this, and yearn for something to change. This is the first step.

For example, if your character is having a hard time with trust and openness, have her look within and see the dissatisfaction she feels at not having close relationships, or people to hang out with, trade gossip or confide in. This realization will lead her to probe for what she truly wants (genuine friendship and connection) and create the desire within her to obtain it.

2) Create positive experiences for vulnerability.

There are many times when opening up and being genuine pays off. It feels good to tell someone a secret fear only to find out they understand because they fear it too. Or asking for help and then getting it. Even when we share a problem, we feel the weight of it lift because it’s no longer ours alone. Experiencing love, intimacy, trust, and friendship are all positive experiences that can build a person up, encouraging them to be more open and vulnerable with others.

3) Showing how the past has affected your character but having them see how negativity is holding them back so they can take an important step forward.

In the example above of the woman seeking friendship and connection, it will take time to learn how to trust and feel comfortable sharing details about herself, but if the desire for change is strong enough, it can be achieved.

The path to vulnerability is often the meat of a romance, so it’s important to get a good grasp on it as it plays into the obstacles, hardship and struggles that must be overcome to end with a deep, loving connection.

Image: PublicDomainPictures @ Pixabay


The post Vulnerability: The Key to Compelling Romantic Relationships appeared first on WRITERS HELPING WRITERS™.

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25. Guest Post and Giveaway: T J Kline, Author of Runaway Cowboy

This morning TJ Kline dropped by the virtual offices!

Ten Things In My Bag

  1. Wallet complete with credit cards, pictures, money and coupons

  2. Notebook (a mid-size spiral bound to take notes or jot down ideas)

  3. Pens (several in various colors because I ALWAYS write with colored pens)

  4. THREE pair of sunglasses (Why three? I have no clue!)

  5. Halloween face paint – green (How did this even get in there?)

  6. Pink Himalayan salt (for my various water bottles either carried, refilled or purchased daily – seriously, try it!)

  7. Water bottle (right now, it’s a 1 liter bottle, half full)

  8. Two Victoria Secret lip gloss (because one never fails to disappear so I keep a spare)

  9. Keys (with my book key chains)

  10. Orbit sweet mint flavored gum (because this is the only mint gum I like)

Runaway Cowboy

Rodeo #3.5

By: T.J. Kline

Releasing February 3rd, 2015

Avon Impulse


You had your chance, and you threw it away…“

Five years ago, Jen woke up with a ring on her finger and her fiancé nowhere to be found. She swore she’d gotten over the betrayal, but when Clay unexpectedly hires on with the rodeo for a week, she finds herself torn between passion and regret.

Clay left intending never to see Jen again. He’s been running from his troubled past for far too long, and it’s not a life he wants for her. But it’s hard to run from the past when the past is your own family, and Clay finds himself thrown back into the chaos he thought he’d finally left behind.

Will the truth drive Jen away, or is there a second chance at happily ever after for this runaway cowboy?

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2015/01/runaway-cowboy-by-tj-kline.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23587127-runaway-cowboy?from_search=true

Buy Links: Amazon | B & N | iTunes | Kobo


Author Info
T. J. Kline was raised competing in rodeos and rodeo queen competitions since the age of 14, She has thorough knowledge of the sport as well as the culture involved. She has had several articles about rodeo published in the past in small periodicals as well as a more recent how-to article for RevWriter. She is also an avid reader and book reviewer for both Tyndale and Multnomah.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads



Clay grabbed her arm, and she spun on him, wildly swinging her purse at his head and jerking her arm from his grasp. “Don’t touch me.”

He easily caught the purse in his hand and dropped it at his feet as he pulled her into his arms. “What do you have in that thing? Bricks?”

“Let go of me, Clay,” she said through gritted teeth, twisting, trying to release herself from his grasp.

“Only if you let me explain.”

Every inch of her that was in contact with him burned with icy flames. The heat of his hands on her arms sent warmth running down her spine to melt her limbs and ignite the desire pooling in her belly. She wanted to push him away, to run to her trailer and stay there until he went back to wherever he’d been hiding, but when her eyes met his, pleading with her to listen to him, she couldn’t deny herself just one more moment with him. How was she supposed to keep hating him when her body wouldn’t follow her commands?

“You have five minutes.” One for each year she hadn’t heard from him. He released her cautiously. She walked back to the truck, knowing he would follow, and flipped the tailgate down. She hopped up on it, letting her legs dangle. When he sighed and scrubbed a hand over his jaw, she quirked a brow. “Time’s ticking Clay. Start talking.”

“You know, for someone who seems to think she has everything figured out better than the rest of us, you sure can be irresponsible. What were you thinking going into that bar?”

Jen almost let her mouth fall open at the audacity of his accusation. She bit the inside of her cheek until the metallic taste of blood forced her to stop.

She jumped from the back of the truck. “That was some explanation. I can’t believe I waited this long for it.”

Clay’s fingers circled her wrist as she started to walk away. “I have at least three minutes left.”

He pulled her back toward him, drawing her against his chest as one arm circled around her waist. His other hand buried into her long hair, and she gasped in surprise as his mouth found hers. Her body betrayed her again, melting against him as her bones seemed to turn to molten lava. Her fingers dug into the muscles of his shoulders, but she wasn’t sure if it was to keep her balance or because she couldn’t resist touching him. His mouth was gentle, in spite of their argument, as if he wanted to savor this kiss, to taste her, to force the memories of the tenderness they’d once shared to the surface. Clay nipped at her lower lip, testing her resolve, and when she didn’t protest, he plunged ahead. His tongue swept against hers as she slid her hands over his shoulders before curling her fingers around the nape of his neck, twining into his hair.

Clay’s lips trailed over her cheek and jaw. “I’ve missed you, Jen. You have no idea how much.”

Rafflecopter Giveaway (Digital Bundle Including: RODEO QUEEN, THE COWBOY & THE ANGEL and LEARNING THE ROPES)

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The post Guest Post and Giveaway: T J Kline, Author of Runaway Cowboy appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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