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1. FOODFIC: Please Welcome S.A. Hunter, Author of Elanraigh



Elanraigh: The Vow is a YA/Adult High Fantasy set in medieval times, on an alternate Earth.  It’s fitting that my Heroine, Thera of Allenholme, should meet Chamakin, son of a Ttamarini Chief, at a celebratory feast in honor of their new alliance struck in a time of an impending war.

Feasts were important celebrations in medieval life, whether to welcome a new alliance, the arrival of a dignitary or to celebrate commemoration days and agricultural festivals.

Being of noble families, Thera and Chamakin are seated at the High Table. Their meat course tonight is tender roast chicken served in a stew of wine, sugar, and expensive spices such as saffron and ginger. These spices, including the sugar loaf, Thera’s mother keeps under strict lock and key. The chicken is served on an “upper crust” trencher of pandemain, the best of white bread, made from highly sifted flour. A dessert course of wafers, candied fruits and mulled wine is placed before them.

As Thera sips at her mulled wine, and casts shy glances at the handsome stranger next to her,  at the lower tables, soldiers and merchants are enjoying their dark beer.

The feast grew raucous and loud, dinning in her ears. Even the Harbor Master who had been so pompous in his welcoming speech was now blowing froth off his beer into the laughing face of a burly stave smith.

Thera and Chamakin, seated side by side, are very conscious of each other…

I can’t eat. This surprises her, for usually her appetite’s hearty. She eyes the trencher before her and her mouth waters—but her stomach clenches. Tentatively she takes a bite of crusty warm bread, chews and swallows with an audible sound. She glances sideways at Chamakin. He ate slowly, chewing with determination. His face was flushed with bright color along the high cheekbones.

From this night on, life will never be the same for Thera, Chamakin and their peoples—it is a good thing we learn that Thera can communicate with the ancient and sentient forest, Elanraigh—for that powerful entity has no intention of letting Allenholme fall to enemy invaders.


Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Sandy!




You can find Sandy here:




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2. Preordering “Cursed Child,” Already Number One in Charts

Yesterday, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was made available for preorder shortly after the announcement of its publication. (I preordered a hard copy lat night from Amazon, as soon as they put it out there.) The book, that is not a novel but still a book, of the eighth Harry Potter only took hours to top charts.

Despite being already half-off (available for preorder at only £10.00) on UK book dealer, Waterstones’ website, and the full price of $29.99 for a hard copy on Amazon US, price doesn’t seem to be a factor in it’s success already. Interestingly enough, Barnes and Noble is also making the book available for preorder, already advertising 28% off and offering the book for $21.59.

Both Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes and Noble’s Nook are pricing the electronic book at $14.99. It assumed that Amazon, in the coming weeks (the book has only been available for less than 24 hours) will adjust its pricing to a more competitive number to match the market. (Click on the Amazon and Waterstones links to preorder your copy, and contribute to the chart-topping statistics.)

The book was trending news immediately after its publication announcement, yesterday, as the world exploded with the idea of getting more Potter in print, and the fairness of not having to fly to London to get the rest of the story. Though it never left number one Trending News on Facebook, the byline of the title changed form “Rowling releases 8th Harry Potter book,” to “script of upcoming play reaches No. 1 on book sales charts.” Honestly, who expected any less?

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The book, being published by Little, Brown and Scholastic, and authored by all three script writers (J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany), is being released in both paper copy and electronic versions. Both formats seems to be over taking charts everywhere. Waterstones, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon serving as an example:

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The Gulf News reported on this chart-topping phenomenon and ringed Little, Brown for comment and questioning on whether or not such success would warrant a midnight release party for the books–a phenomenon that Harry Potter introduced to the publishing industry. Gulf News reports:

 

Little, Brown, publisher of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, said it was “too early to say” whether there would be midnight openings this time round, but that Rowling herself would not be doing any events.

As the book topped the Waterstones, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com bestseller lists – where it is already discounted to half price – James Daunt, Waterstones chief executive, said there were “no sweeter three words to the ears of a bookseller than ‘the eighth story’.

“Younger booksellers now face, of course, the dubious prospect of their older colleagues rolling out war stories of Harry Potter launches for the next five months. On 31 July, we will put these into the shade.”

Simon Heafield of Foyles said the bookshop chain was “massively excited at the news and are already putting our heads together on the question of how to mark the occasion in style.”

“It’s great that bookshops will get the chance to benefit from this new chapter of Harry’s story,” he said.

David Shelley, chief executive of Little, Brown, said on Wednesday that Rowling and her team had received many requests from fans who cannot see the play to publish it in book form: “We are absolutely delighted to be able to make it available for them,” he said.

 

The full report may be read here.

 

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3. Will Genre Wars Ever End?

Even with the success of Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Game of Thrones and so many other genre books over the last years the genre wars are apparently still raging. The latest salvo has come from Kazuo Ishiguro. With the release of his book The Buried Giant (one of my favorite books last year), the criticism the book received for its fantasy elements came up in a recent interview.

Unfortunately, it seems this interview is behind a subscription firewall so I can only go by what the articles, mainly The Independent, report about the interview.

It seems what is getting folks up in arms is Ishiguro’s comments that educational systems have been for a long time focused on conformity and turning people into productive citizens to grow the economy:

Education’s task was to get pupils to abandon the fantasy that comes naturally to children and prepare them for the demands of the workforce.

Ishiguro suggests there is a reason why geeks, who as a group tend to read science fiction and fantasy, are in demand by big companies. The big companies are looking for creative thinkers and the geeks, not beholden to mimesis, are sought after people.

And perhaps that is true but I don’t think it is the whole story. I am inclined to agree with Charlie Ander’s thinking that Ishiguro has oversimplified just a bit because there is also the matter of math and coding skills to consider. I read SFF and have no problem thinking up all sorts of imaginative worlds and creatures, but Google is not going to hire me based on that and my mediocre html skills.

Still, the author of the Independent article gets a bit grouchy by declaring that while fantasy may be good to read, “life is more like bullshitty literary fiction” and he’ll put his trust in people who “think inside the box” to make decisions about how we live our lives.

Sigh.

Ishiguro doesn’t just talk about fantasy but all genre fiction and how it is not taken seriously, how it is just as valid a means of exploring human lives, feelings and relationships as “literary fiction” is. With that I am completely on board. That we even still argue over genre seems ridiculous to me. Good literature is good literature whether it is realist or fantastic, involves a murder mystery or a romance. It is convenient to use genre as a means to discuss books that partake of certain tropes and plot elements, but as a way to categorize readers or assess literary value? We really need to get over it.


Filed under: Books, Mystery/Crime, SciFi/Fantasy Tagged: genre wars, Kazuo Ishiguro

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4. Dynamite Entertainment and Humble Bundle Create the ‘Best-Selling Authors Bundle’

_1__Humble_Bundle304Dynamite Entertainment has established a new partnership with Humble Bundle. The two collaborators will offer a deal called the “Best-Selling Authors Bundle.”

Customers can choose between the publisher or a non-profit as the recipient of their money. They will have three charity options: the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Doctors Without Borders (a.k.a. Médecins Sans Frontières), and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Here’s more from the press release: “The ‘pay what you want’ model offers readers the chance to unlock over 120 comics, and over 3,500 pages of content. This will give graphic lit fans access to: Charlaine Harris’ Grave Sight Part 1 by Charlaine Harris, The Shadow Vol 1: Fire of Creation by Garth Ennis and Aaron Campbell, Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thomson: Hopcross Jilly by Patricia Briggs, The Complete Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, Leah Moore, and John Reppion, Sherlock Holmes: Year One by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Scott Beatty, The Spider Vol. 1: Terror of the Zombie Queen by David Liss and Francesco Francavilla, and Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Echoes by Tom Clancy. As the bundle progresses, there will be a running average.”

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5. Yomiuri Prize for Literature

       They recently announced the 67th 読売文学賞, with Furukawa Hideo's 女たち三百人の裏切りの書 taking the fiction prize.
       Furukawa is definitely someone to look out for: Haikasoru brought out his Belka, Why Don't You Bark ? a few years ago (see their publicity page, or get your copy at or Amazon.co.uk), while Columbia University Press is bringing out his Horses, Horses, in the End the Light Remains Pure shortly (see their publicity page, or get your copy at or Amazon.co.uk). (I have both, and should be getting around to reviewing them.)
       See also the (Japanese) Shinchosha publicity page for the prize-winning title, or the (English) J'Lit Hideo Furukawa page, which also has information about some of his other not-yet-translated titles.

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6. Valentine Printable

 
Here's a free Valentine printable (including three different designs) for all your February 14th based needs. Give them to your classmates, pass one out to your letter carrier or send surreptitiously to your secret crush, your call. These look fun as is, but would look even more swell with glitter I bet. Enjoy!


And want more options? Here's a few other designs from the archives:

And a Valentine's themed desktop wallpaper:
Free for personal, classroom and library use only, please. Abigail Halpin, © 2016

 

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7. Cairo International Book Fair report

       In Al-Ahram Weekly Nevine El-Aref reports on the recent Cairo International Book Fair, in Of books and bread.

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8. Big Whopper

Big Whopper. Patricia Reilly Giff. 2010. 80 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Big Whopper is the second book in Patricia Reilly Giff's Zigzag Kids series. The books are loosely connected, I believe, by the fact that all the main characters attend the same school, Zelda A. Zigzag elementary school. But the books do not share main characters. The book is narrated by Destiny Washington.

The theme this week for the after-school program at the school is discovery. Students are being encouraged to share what they've discovered with others on an art-project in the hall. Destiny Washington, the heroine, is discouraged and frustrated. She doesn't think she'll have even one discovery to share with others. In general, she's having a hard time of it. A few poor choices have her really down. Can she find a way to turn things around? A secondary story focuses on a cat...

While I enjoyed this one slightly more than the first book in the series, I still can't say that I am enjoying the series overall.


© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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9. Presidential Polar Bear Post Card Project No. 83 - 2.10.16


Alas, the Supreme Court recently put the White House's carbon pollution limits on hold. Thusly, despite President Obama's best intentions, the hands of progress are currently tied...

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10. At the Farm: Five-day memoir workshop, coming this September





I have written here of our upcoming memoir workshops—Juncture Workshops—and friends, they are indeed coming. We have completed our visit to our first planned gathering place—a working Civil War era farm in central Pennsylvania. We have spent time with our hosts—an historian extraordinaire and his wonderful wife. We have slept in the Yetter cabin. We have walked the farm, talked to the peacocks, climbed up into the surrounding hills, watched the baby calf get loose from the barn.

We think it will be exceptional.

We're looking to launch this in the second week of September.

We are finalizing details and will be announcing more on this blog and on this site.


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11. Pottercast #256 “The 8th Book”

That’s right, ladies and gentleman, after a long and earned-filled wait, your Pottercast withdrawals are over! Pottercast is BACK! The gang is back and discussing Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

The release of the “eighth story,” and now “the eighth book,” has stirred up a lot of conversation and debate. In the latest episode of Pottercast, Melissa, John and Frak give their thoughts and opinions on Cursed Child, its form as a play versus a book, the publishing of the script (or “book”), and the relevance of Cursed Child not being solely written by J.K. Rowling.

Of course, one could not get away without talking about the many Pottermore revelations that have occurred as of late, so there’s a little extra thrown in there about additional Wizarding World content in addition to Cursed Child.

Pottercast episode #256 is available to download through iTunes, here. In order to download the new episode, please subscribe to Pottercast! It’s great to be back!

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12. Marvel Month-to-Month Sales December 2015: “THE GROUND IS THE LIMIT!”

secretwars-lgMagic is the new trend at Marvel!

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13. Appeals court rules that 2001 agreement covers Siegel/Superman case

What may just be the FINAL final decision in the long running case to get the rights to Superman back to the Siegel family was announced on Wednesday, with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in Warner Bros. favor, citing that a 2001 agreement signed by the late Joanna Siegel was in fact binding. […]

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14. ‘A Brief History of Time’ by CraveFX

A comedic performance where past, present, and future realities overlap and interact in an environment where time has no start or end.

The post ‘A Brief History of Time’ by CraveFX appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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15. Pottermore Interviews Eddie Redmayne on “Fantastic Beasts” Set

Today, Pottermore released a new interview with Fantastic Beasts leading man, Eddie Redmayne. The interview talked a little of how Eddie came to be Newt Scamander in J.K. Rowling’s new movie series, and some of the characteristics he shares with Newt. For starters, Eddie actually carries his own brief case and it contains important aspects of his life within it.

Pottermore reports:

 

‘This is actually slightly embarrassing…’

Eddie Redmayne is sheepishly telling me the story of meeting Fantastic Beastsdirector David Yates for the first time. There’s a broad, bright smile on his freckled face as he does.

Eddie has a case. A tan leather case just like the one his character Newt Scamander keeps his beasts in…

‘I’ve had it for about eight years. My dad works in the city and has always had a briefcase. I always did this acting thing for a living, which didn’t feel like a proper job and I wanted something that made me feel like I was doing a proper job and so I got this case. I use it whenever I go on set. I keep my script and whatever mementos I find useful in it.’

 

When Eddie met David Yates, and the Harry Potter director was telling him about Newt’s story and his magical brief case, Eddie became a little self-conscious of his brief case, telling Pottermore,

 

‘I said [to David Yates], “I promise I didn’t know about Newt’s case. I didn’t bring this as some sort of weird method audition – like, don’t worry David, I come with my own case!” And I’m afraid it’s still here, it’s still got my life in it. Not quite as much as Newt has in his case, though…’

 

Telling Pottermore of getting the part of Newt after that first meeting with David Yates, Eddie said it wasn’t a matter of him wanting the role, it was a matter of him getting the role. Pottermore reported,

 

‘David has such a lovely manner and this incredible kindness to him. There was no question I wanted to do this movie. For me, it was a question of whether I’d get the gig. When I read J.K. Rowling’s script, I just had my mind blown. I was so excited by it. The amazing thing was that I found it funny, I found it a thriller, I found it romantic. At the end, I was deeply moved by it.’

 

The entire interview may be read here, keep an eye on Pottermore for more Fantastic Harry Potter news coming soon (hopefully).

 

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16. How Making Online Shorts Landed Steve Cutts A ‘Simpsons’ Couch Gag Opening

Steve Cutts may not be a household name, but his viral films got him the gig of a lifetime.

The post How Making Online Shorts Landed Steve Cutts A ‘Simpsons’ Couch Gag Opening appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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17. found: some inspiration

My neighbor and fellow poet here in Maryland, Laura Shovan, celebrates her birthday month each year with a series of daily writing prompts.  She writes every day and invites anyone else so inclined to join her.  This February Laura has made a collection of intriguing found objects captured in photographs, and you can read her introduction to the project here.
 
I can almost never keep up with a poem a day in February, but I like to jump in when I can.  This week I wrote about these two found objects:

http://laurashovan.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/mayr.jpg
stone face in the wood

             
lost not found | Day 8


bold white bruin man
where your boulder feet?
where your legs,
your stone torso,
your swinging arms?

they crash on
through the forest:
white columns of motion
can’t think what they’ve lost,
lost on the way
bare gash of narrow eye
bare slash of missing mouth

–Heidi Mordhorst 2016
all rights reserved


http://laurashovan.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Simon.jpg
lotus seed pods
anthropology | Day 10

once thought to be
an elaborately carved musical
instrument used
only on the wedding day
of a woman born under
the eleventh moon,

it is now understood to be
a deliberately culled muscular
implement used
only on the winding way
of a man burned under
the oppressive soon

context is everything

                                                                   Heidi Mordhorst 2016
                                                                                          all rights reserved 
   
And because I do profess to write for children, I had a second go at this one with that audience in mind:

Making Sense

First it’s something to see–
almost black among the greens and yellows,
scalloped around the edges like
crayon clouds or flowers,
clouds full of black hailstones–
or it’s a leopard-skin jellyfish.

Next it’s something to hold–
not weighty like a microphone
or a metal shower head,
but light and hollow, not plastic
and not wood, part smooth
and part ridged and rumpled.

Now it’s something to hear–
take it by the curving handle oh!
is that a stem? and shake, shake
shake–those blackish beads or
beans or oh! they’re seeds!
they make a marvelous rattling!

~Heidi Mordhorst 2016
all rights reserved

And now, for Day 12, we have this "found object:"

snow moon full cream

http://laurashovan.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/buffy.jpg
when somewhere
    water bound in ice
under the crust of the moon
when someday
    water breaks from ice
up to the dust of the moon
it mounds to this:
    canyons and craters
soft peaks of moon rock
     swirling and moist   
seas of
     clouds of vapor
     islands of nectar
oceans of
      sweet serenity
      tranquil fecundity
snow moon full cream
deep space

Heidi Mordhorst 2016
all rights reserved

It's rather freeing to just jump in, write it down, click it out...and interesting to see what comes of writing late when half asleep!  You can enjoy lots more poems (and some prose) about these found objects over at Laura's new blog, and I'll be giving her a break by hosting the project on Day 15, next Monday--but not before joining in the announcement of the Cybils Poetry Award winner on Sunday (with love)!

Kimberley has the round-up today at her blog...  find your way to some poetry objects over there!






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18. Book Review: The Evening Spider by Emily Arsenault

The Evening Spider
Frances Barnett and Abby Bernacki are two haunted young mothers living in the same house in two different centuries.

1885: Frances Barnett is in the Northampton Lunatic Hospital, telling her story to a visitor. She has come to distrust her own memories, and believes that her pregnancy, birth, and early days of motherhood may have impaired her sanity.

During the earliest months of her baby’s life, Frances eagerly followed the famous murder trial of Mary Stannard—that captivated New Englanders with its salacious details and expert forensic testimony. Following—and even attending—this trial, Frances found an escape from the monotony of new motherhood. But as her story unfolds, Frances must admit that her obsession with the details of the murder were not entirely innocent.

Present day: Abby has been adjusting to motherhood smoothly—until recently, when odd sensations and dreams have begun to unsettle her while home alone with her baby. When she starts to question the house’s history, she is given the diary of Frances Barnett, who lived in the house 125 years earlier. Abby finds the diary disturbing, and researches the Barnett family’s history. The more Abby learns, the more she wonders about a negative—possibly supernatural—influence in her house. She becomes convinced that when she sleeps, she leaves her daughter vulnerable—and then vows not to sleep until she can determine the cause of her eerie experiences.

Frances Barnett might not be the only new mother to lose her mind in this house. And like Frances, Abby discovers that by trying to uncover another’s secrets, she risks awakening some of her own.
Writing
It's always hard for me to figure out a way to review a book where the writing was fine and pleasant and easy to read, but not extra-spectacular without sounding like I'm damning it with faint praise.  In this case, there is nothing about the writing to turn a reader off, no glaring plot holes, issues with characterization or dialogue, or slow points.  It reads perfectly fine, but there wasn't anything about it to set it above other books in a similar category.  It was perfectly fine and enjoyable, but not something I'd gush over.

Entertainment Value
This, rather than the writing, is where the novel shines.  I loved the combination of historical fiction, ghost story, and modern mystery.  I also thoroughly enjoyed the characters and loved the way that Abby interacts with Frances through her journal.  I also enjoyed getting the inside perspective on Frances and what was going on in her mind as well as what she recorded in her journal.  It has a very New England gothic feel, which was perfect snowy day reading.  There were a few threads I honestly could have done without, but none that were so distracting that it took anything away from the novel. I completely enjoyed my read and found it hard to put down - and it even gave me a couple moments of the good kind of fear, which is hard for me to find.  I also loved the format of the book - the super short chapters and alternative viewpoints really kept things moving.

Overall
This is a great choice for fans of suspense/paranormal/thriller-lite.  Nothing hugely disturbing happens, no gore, nothing very dark, but there is a hint of the supernatural and a bit of creepiness that comes with any haunted house story.  It's not boundary pushing and I think most general readers would find it engrossing, but not upsetting in any way.  If women's fiction and gothic ghost stories had a baby, it would be this book.

Thank you to TLC for providing me with a copy to review.  Click here to see the other stops on the tour.


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19. Parka Blogs Art Tool Interview

Parka Blogs has published an interview about the art tools I use

Portable expedition rig for both painting and making videos. This kit fits on my belt or shoulder straps so that I can walk through any museum.
Folding Folding tripod stoolwith shoulder strap.
Lightweight tripod for video camera, Zoom recorder, or LED light, strapped to chair with bungie cord.
Paint rag tied to the outside to allow it to dry (looks a bit weird).
Belt pouch. Contains: pencils, brushes, water cup, gouache set, mini watercolor set, watercolor sketchbook, and LED headlamp.
Flip video camera replaced by Canon point-and-shoot now.

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20. First ‘Powerpuff Girls’ Reboot Footage Revealed

The thick lines are gone, and so are the original voices...meet the re-imagined Powerpuff Girls.

The post First ‘Powerpuff Girls’ Reboot Footage Revealed appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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21. Bruce Springsteen Lands Deal With Simon & Schuster

Springsteen Autobiography (GalleyCat)Bruce Springsteen has signed a deal with Simon & Schuster. The international release date for his autobiography, entitled Born to Run, has been scheduled for Sept. 27.

The legendary rock star has been working on this book for the past seven years. Springsteen first began to write down his life story after performing with the E Street Band at the 2009 Super Bowl halftime show.

Here’s more from the press release: “In Born to Run, Mr. Springsteen describes growing up in Freehold, New Jersey amid the ‘poetry, danger, and darkness’ that fueled his imagination. He vividly recounts his relentless drive to become a musician, his early days as a bar band king in Asbury Park, and the rise of the E Street Band. With disarming candor, he also tells for the first time the story of the personal struggles that inspired his best work, and shows us why the song ‘Born to Run’ reveals more than we previously realized.”

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22. Artist of the Day: Leonard Peng

Discover the art of Leonard Peng, Cartoon Brew's Artist of the Day!

The post Artist of the Day: Leonard Peng appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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23. Bottom's Dream - the cover

       So at the Amazon.com page (and Amazon.co.uk, etc.) they now have a cover up for the forthcoming-from-Dalkey Archive Press John E. Woods translation of Arno Schmidt's long- and much-anticipated (and long, and weighty) Bottom's Dream:

Bottom's Dream


       Hurrah ! (Also because this is yet another indication that the book will actually appear ... until I see it, I will harbor some doubts .....)
       Stark and simple, like most of the German covers -- but good to see John E. Woods' name and role prominently featured.

       Still a few months until it is (supposed to be) out -- but meanwhile remember: The School for Atheists is a great starter-Schmidt/preparation volume -- and, of course, for more Schmidt background, there's always my Arno Schmidt: a centennial colloquy (get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk).

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24. School Visits

From planning your presentation to selling books, here are some essential tidbits for successful school visits.

http://www.crookedbook.blogspot.com/2016/01/wheres-my-school-visit-fairy.html

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25. Where the Conner/Palmiotti team will be at Long Beach Comic Expo –– and their latest Kickstarter

The other day we mentioned that the hugely popular team behind Harley Quinn of Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti had imposed a sensible signing limit for shows, which makes sense because they are two of the busiest people we know. For instance, Palmiotti is currently running Kickstarter — his ninth—for a standalone graphic novel in […]

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