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1. 2014 April PAD Challenge: Day 17

Yesterday afternoon, I posted about the value of poetry (at least in my eyes). Spoiler alert: It’s more than just publication credits and rolling around in hundred dollar bills. In fact, it has nothing to do with either. Click here to check it out and share your thoughts


For today’s prompt, write a pop culture poem. I guess I broke out the Bon Jovi a day early, eh? But hey, write a poem about Bon Jovi or Van Halen; write a poem about the Kardashians (or don’t–and say you did); write a poem about a popular SNL skit; write a poem about Dr. Who or Downton Abbey; write a poem about any kind of popular culture thing-a-ma-bob you wish. In fact, write three! (Just kidding; you only need to write one poem–but seriously, write three and be sure to add a little more cowbell.)


Workshop your poetry!

Click here to learn more



Here’s my attempt at a Pop Culture Poem:

“Much Ado”

I wanted to write a poem on James
Franco, but it turned out too obvious,
because he writes his poetry the same
as Jewel, and I’m not the fool who’ll discuss
what is or is not good poetry. My
poems have their own flaws and unspoken
laws of engagement. Shia LaBeouf cried
in his paper bag over Miley’s tongue–
they’re both young, and I do not understand
kids these days [or adults, for that matter
(like I fell asleep and a complex strand
of the '80s took hold--but it's sadder,
more self-aware)]. I miss all the good times
when poems were filled with funtastic rhymes.


Today’s guest judge is…

Mary Biddinger

Mary Biddinger

Mary Biddinger

Mary is the author of multiple collections, including Saint Monica and O Holy Insurgency. Her collection A Sunny Place With Adequate Water

is due out in May. She’s also the founder of Barn Owl Review.

Mary has received two Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Awards in Creative Writing for her poetry: one in 2010, the other 2007.

In addition to all this, she also edits the Akron Series in Poetry and the Akron Series in Contemporary Poetics for the University of Akron Press.

Learn more here: http://www.marybiddinger.com/




Poem Your Heart Out

Poems, Prompts & Room to Add Your Own for the 2014 April PAD Challenge!

Words Dance Publishing is offering 20% off pre-orders for the Poem Your Heart Out anthology until May 1st! If you’d like to learn a bit more about our vision for the book, when it will be published, among other details.

Click to continue



Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems

. He writes by the motto: When in doubt, write a sonnet. Learn more about Robert here: http://www.robertleebrewer.com/.


Get more than pop culture here:

  • What Is the Value of Poetry
  • ?
  • Heather Bell: Poet Interview
  • .

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    2. Things I Love Thursday

    I love kids who write letters like this:

    Dear Barbara O'Connor:

    What I like in your books are the settings. They are very vibrant. What I dislike in your books is when you describe some things. 

    Don't get me wrong. Describing is okay. But when you described Mama Nell's purple feet and yellow toenails, I lost my appetite.

    0 Comments on Things I Love Thursday as of 4/17/2014 5:49:00 AM
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    3. What Do You Want to See Us Do Next?

    Via Crytal on Flickr

    Time to take stock guys! Here's your chance to say what features you like and what features you'd like to see us do more or less often. Unless we're absolutely perfect, would you let us know where you'd like to see us go? We are always trying to keep the site exciting and fresh for you guys, full of the most up to date information and best advice we can wrangle but we need your input! Go ahead and answer the poll, or if you don't want to do that, leave us suggestions in the comments!

    What would you like to see more or less of on the blog?
    Are you are reader, writer, or both?
    I want more giveaways
    More book posts
    More writing craft posts
    More author interviews
    More agent interviews
    More inspiration for writers
    More features for readers
    More agent judged contests
    More writing guidance
    Please Specify:
    Poll Maker

    With love and thanks from the AYAP Team!

    0 Comments on What Do You Want to See Us Do Next? as of 4/17/2014 7:41:00 AM
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    4. What Killed it For Me #6: Action Too Early


    This looks like a good place to start my story…

    It’s likely that we’ve all encountered these stories—the ones that open with an explosion, plague, car chase, alien abduction, fist fight, or other volatile scene involving a main character that we know virtually nothing about. I get why authors do this. It makes sense that starting the story with a bang would engage readers and suck them right in. But most of the time, the opposite happens for me: I end up confused and uninterested. And here’s why: To care about what’s happening to the character, I have to first care about the character.

    To care about a hero, readers need to know what he wants and what’s at stake if he doesn’t get it. They’ve also got to respond to him emotionally on a certain level if they’re going to empathize with him and his circumstances. Readers need to have a feel for this stuff before the main character gets thrown into the arena or accused of espionage. If the cart comes before the horse here, it’s highly likely that readers won’t engage and may not continue reading.

    So how do we avoid this problem in our own writing?

    1. Don’t start with the main action. We need to see the character in her real world before the main conflict arises. This provides contrast, pitting the old safe-but-somehow-unsatisfactory world against the crazy new one. It also gives us a chance to get to know the hero before her world is turned upside down. So if your story is about people surviving an ebola outbreak, don’t open with the hero’s mother bleeding from the eyes. If it’s about a woman living in the aftermath of divorce, don’t open with her husband leaving her. Give readers a chance to care about the hero before the main conflict arises, and readers will be more inclined to stick around to see what happens to her.

    2. Avoid gimmicky opening action sequences. I made this mistake in one of my first novels. My book opened with the main character running through a field, breathing heavily and casting frantic looks over her shoulder. Readers assumed she was being chased, and she was. But when it turned out she was just playing hide-and-seek, they were not amused. The opening came across as contrived, which is fitting, since that’s exactly what it was. Readers are smart. They know when they’re being deceived or manhandled, and like anyone with any sense, they don’t like it at all. (This is one of the reasons why opening dream sequences rarely work.)

    The thing is, enthralling stories that suck readers in don’t have to start with action. Look at The Hunger Games. Talk about action-packed—yet, it opens with the main character waking up. Collins could have opened her book at half-a-dozen later points in the story, and there would have been a lot more going on. But those openings wouldn’t have worked, imo, because they weren’t the right place to start her story. And that brings us to something super important that you have to do…

    3. Start your story in the right place. I’ve heard it said that you should start your story just before the protagonist’s life intersects with the antagonist’s agendaThe Hunger Games is a great example. President Snow’s agenda is to strengthen his control over the people of Panem via the hunger games. Katniss has been to the reaping a number of times, but because her name hasn’t been called, her life hasn’t yet intersected with Snow’s agenda. That doesn’t happen until Prim’s name is picked. Had Collins started the story after that, the opening would have been jarring and probably confusing for readers. Had she started much earlier than she did, the opening would have dragged.

    Finding the right starting point is critically important in engaging readers early. Locate that magical point where the antagonist’s agenda intersects with the hero’s life. Open your story just before that collision, and you’ll likely be starting in a spot that will resonate with readers.

    Photo credit: The Official CTBTO Photostream @ Creative Commons


    The post What Killed it For Me #6: Action Too Early appeared first on WRITERS HELPING WRITERS.

    0 Comments on What Killed it For Me #6: Action Too Early as of 1/1/1900
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    5. Book Review- Say Her Name by James Dawson

    Title: Say Her Name

     Author: James Dawson
    Series:   N/A
    Published:  5 June 2014 by Hot Key books
    Length: 240 pages
    Source: publisher
    Other info: James has also written Cruel Summer, Hollow Pike, Being a Boy and This Book is Gay. He’s also done a few interviews here.  
    Summary : Roberta 'Bobbie' Rowe is not the kind of person who believes in ghosts. A Halloween dare at her ridiculously spooky boarding school is no big deal, especially when her best friend Naya and cute local boy Caine agree to join in too. They are ordered to summon the legendary ghost of 'Bloody Mary': say her name five times in front of a candlelit mirror, and she shall appear...But, surprise surprise, nothing happens. Or does it? Next morning, Bobbie finds a message on her bathroom mirror...five days...but what does it mean? And who left it there? Things get increasingly weird and more terrifying for Bobbie and Naya, until it becomes all too clear that Bloody Mary was indeed called from the afterlife that night, and she is definitely not a friendly ghost. Bobbie, Naya and Caine are now in a race against time before their five days are up and Mary comes for them, as she has come for countless others before...
    Review: Bobbie Rowe does not believe in ghosts. so when another girl dares them all to summon Bloody Mary, she's fine with it. And she's fine to start with. But the next door, a message appears while she's in the shower: five days. Over said next five days, Bobbie realises that she, Caine and Naya are actually possibly in trouble  and they have five days to find a way out before Mary comes  for them.
    I read this because I love James Dawson's work and horror so a proper combination of the two was bound to be something I'd look forwards to.
    I really liked the friendship between Bobby and Naya. The romance between Bobby and Caine was good too. All three of them worked really well together. I also liked the way characters came in for a couple of chapters, played their part, then left. This plays out very much like a horror slasher ghost film. I like it.
    I love the fact that Mary gets a great story. Villain back-story is always something I love, and the one James wrote makes you really feel motional for Mary. Also, I may be a horrible person for liking hr even more after the last page. but that was a great ending- lots of clever little things coming together, one very unpredictable twist, and a final parting shot.
    James' style is, as in Cruel Summer, informal, full of pop culture ad  modern references, and very funny, more so than you typically find in horror. but the horror is definitely there in scenes with Mary, and lingering  when she isn't. 
    This isn't the absolute scariest thing I’ve ever read-that title still belongs to Koji Suzuki and Ring which was completely terrifying. But this is up near the top, with tension rising and falling in a two steps forward, one step back approach. And it also succeeded in making me scared of mirrors at night.

    Overall:  Strength 4 tea to a really good teenage horror story that will hopefully bring more horror to the shelves.

    PS. For more UKYA horror, check out Georgia’s post about it. 

    0 Comments on Book Review- Say Her Name by James Dawson as of 4/17/2014 8:07:00 AM
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    6. Guest Post: Get Ready for Good Friday with Sloane Taylor

    Today, I've got romance author and gourmet cook, Sloane Taylor slaving away in my virtual kitchen in order to share one of her popular catches of the day for the upcoming holiday. Heat up those elements, Sloane and take it away...

    Hi, Sharon! Thanks for allowing me to steamroll my way into your kitchen. This dinner we’re about to make is delicious and a breeze to prepare. The perfect meal for busy schedules. So please pour us a glass of white wine, maybe a Riesling, and lets cook Seared Tilapia and Baked Potatoes.

    Baked Potatoes
    1 Idaho potato per person
    olive oil
    sour cream
    fresh chopped chives

    Preheat the oven to 400°F.

    Rinse potatoes in cool water then wipe dry. Stab each potato in 6 or 7 different locations to allow steam to escape and stop the vegetable from exploding.

    Coat the potatoes with a small amount of oil. Set them on a cookie sheet you’ve covered with aluminum foil.
    Roast in the oven for approximately 1 hour or until a toothpick may be easily inserted in the potato.

    Serve with butter, sour cream, chives, and pepper.

    Seared Tilapia
    ¼ cup flour
    3 tilapia filets or any mild white fish
    4 tbsp. butter
    1 lime, ends trimmed and sliced into thin circles
    1 tbsp. capers, rinsed and drained

    Pour flour into a paper or plastic bag. Add one filet and gently shake the bag to coat fish. Shake to remove excess flour and set filet on a plate. Do the same with the next fillet skillet.

    Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a medium – large skillet over medium-high heat. Add lime to skillet. Cook until lime is lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Push limes to the side.

    Add 1 tablespoon of butter and the fish. Fry until the tilapia flakes easily, about 2-3 minutes per side.

    Add the remaining butter and capers. Remove skillet from the heat and tilt the pan to swirl the butter until it melts.

    Transfer the fish and limes to individual plates. Spoon the caper and butter sauce over the top.

    Add tossed salad for a wonderful meal you and your family will want to repeat.

    Thanks again, Sharon, for sharing your kitchen. Bon Appétit!

    Sloane Taylor is a sensual woman who believes humor and sex are healthy aspects of our everyday lives and carries that philosophy into her books. She writes sexually explicit romances that takes you right into the bedroom. Being a true romantic, all her stories have a happy ever after.

    Her books are set in Europe where the men are all male and the North American women they encounter are both feminine and strong. They also bring more than lust to their men’s lives.

    Taylor was born and raised on the Southside of Chicago. Studly, her mate for life, and Sloane now live in a small home in Indiana and enjoy the change from city life.

    She is an avid cook. Check out “It’s Wednesday. So What’s Cooking?” with new recipes posted each week on her blog http://sloanetaylor.blogspot.com/.  The recipes are user friendly menus, meaning easy. Feel free to email her at sloanetaylor@comcast.net to be included on the Cooking Pals list. These people receive advance notice of the new recipe.

    Twitter https://twitter.com/sloanetaylor2
    Sloane Taylor Amazon Author Page

    0 Comments on Guest Post: Get Ready for Good Friday with Sloane Taylor as of 4/17/2014 6:27:00 AM
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    7. The Collective Power of a Nation of Readers

    This piece also appears on The Huffington Post’s Impact blog.

    Steve White, a volunteer at a local nonprofit, worked through the holidays to ensure that 3,000 kids in need in Denver would have brand-new books of their own at Christmas.

    Elisa Mayo, the finance coordinator for a school district in Mississippi, helped students at her Title I school get the books — and the encouragement — they needed to start book clubs, and now dozens of students, from third to fifth grade, voluntarily skip recess to meet and to talk about their new books.

    A community group in Navajo County, Arizona was so determined to have a free library for local children that they raised money through bake sales, started with a donated room in a nearby gas station, and eventually came up with the funds to build a library.

    These everyday heroes all have something in common. They are part of First Book, a nonprofit network of teachers, librarians, community leaders and program administrators serving kids in need — a network that stretches across the country and around the world.

    An Alabama teacher and her class, part of First Book's network

    These men and women and thousands more like them are working every day to transform the lives of children from poor neighborhoods, and they know how desperate the need is. Kids from low-income families lack the resources that many of their middle and upper-class peers take for granted. Every study confirms the impact that has on their futures. One study that never fails to shock revealed that, while children in affluent neighborhoods had access to an average of 13 books a day, there is only a single age-appropriate book for every 300 children.

    First Book is working to change that. We partner with the publishing industry to provide books — brand-new, high-quality books — to the teachers and program leaders who sign up with us. Our network is the fastest-growing group of educators in the country serving kids in need: we just reached the incredible milestone of 100,000 registered schools and programs.

    Reaching that milestone is exciting, because that means that we’re reaching more children in need than ever.

    But there’s another reason why bringing so many educators together matters.

    By joining First Book, the people we serve are acknowledging something important: we have more power collectively than we do as individuals. It’s one of the most powerful ideas in human history, from the birth of cities to the workers’ unions that built the country to the marvelous online social networks that are transforming how we communicate.

    We’ve already seen the impact this can have. For example, at one point, there was no bilingual edition (English and Spanish together) of the perennial children’s classic, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, but the educators we work with requested it repeatedly. Based on that feedback, we were able to go to the publisher and show that there was real demand. A bilingual edition rolled off the presses shortly thereafter, a book now available to all children and families.

    This unprecedented network is also the source of valuable insight into the needs of those serving children at the base of the economic pyramid. There is no group of people whose voices are more critical to our collective future; what they have to say about the 30 million children living in low-income families in the United States and their futures is of paramount importance to us all.

    Everyone at First Book is proud of our role in supporting this network. But we know there’s much, much more to be done. We estimate that there are 1.3 million educators and program leaders out there eligible to join us, and we’re doing everything we can to connect every single one.

    The post The Collective Power of a Nation of Readers appeared first on First Book Blog.

    0 Comments on The Collective Power of a Nation of Readers as of 4/17/2014 7:45:00 AM
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    8. #541 – Abayomi, the Brazilian Puma: The True Story of an Orphaned Cub by Darci Pattison & Kitty Harvill

    abayomi the brazilian puma.

    Abayomi, the Brazilian Puma: The True Story of an Orphaned Cub

    by Darci Pattison & Kitty Harvill, illustrator

    Mims House           2014


    Ages 6 to 8       32 pages


    “From the award-winning team that brought you WISDOM, THE MIDWAY ALBATROSS, comes a new heart-warming story of an orphaned puma cub. A mother puma, an attempt to steal a chicken, and an angry chicken farmer—the search is on for orphaned cubs. Will the scientists be able to find the cubs before their time runs out?

    In this “Biography in Text and Art,” Harvill takes original photos as references to create accurate wildlife illustrations. Pattison’s careful research, vetted by scientists in the field, brings to life this true story of an infant cub that must face a complicated world alone—and find a way to survive.”


    “In the far south, in Brazil, a puma cub was born in the early spring month of October 2012.”

    The Story

    Brazil, once covered by deep forests, now houses more people in cities and villages. To keep their cars moving more sugar plantations took over much of the remaining forest. Pumas, and other wild animals, must live closer to man and find it more difficult to hunt for food. One night, a female puma spotted some chickens in a farmer’s barn. Their normal diet of armadillos, capybaras, and ring-tailed coatis were getting hard to find. The puma needed to feed her cub and the chickens were easy prey. But she fell victim to a farmer’s trap. Before wildlife officials could get to the farm and safely remove the puma, she died.

    Alone, hungry, and no mother to help, her cub had to hunt, but would he know how? Wildlife officials followed the mother puma’s trail trying to find her cubs but came up empty. Twenty-three days after his mom left and never returned, dogs a mile away from home cornered the cub. Dehydration and starvation ravished the cub’s body, stealing the energy he needed to walk. He staggered from place to place. This time wild life officials safely caught the cub, naming him Abayomi, which means happy meeting in the Tupi-Guarni native language. Scientists did what was needed so this little guy could return to the wild. Were they successful?

    mom in wildlife officials cage


    The team of Darci Pattison and Kitty Harvill have made their second successful wildlife children’s book about a fascinating survivor. The first, Wisdom, the Midway Albatross, garnered starred reviews. Abayomi will undoubtedly do the same. With simple language and thoughtful prose, the story of Abayomi will come to life for schoolchildren, many of whom live in urban areas and have never seen a puma. Though the death of the mother puma was most likely gruesome, Pattison wrote,

    “. . . She fought back. Once, she hit her head hard against the side of the cage and was dazed. After hours of struggling, she died.”

    The illustrations were just as easy on the subject. You see the puma in a cage and some chickens in a roost, but nothing more. Not one spittle of blood mentioned or seen. Children should not experience nightmares after reading Abayomi. All of the illustrations are soft watercolor renditions of actual locations in this true story, completely vetted by experts. Each image is realistic yet gentle on the eyes. The scrawny cub, shown from the backside, does not noticeably display starvation. The hips are noticeably larger due to a lack of abdominal body fat, yet not so much as to scare even the youngest children.

    starving cub

    The book concludes with some facts about Abayomi, the Corridor Projects, and urbanization, along with some resources children can look up for more details. Children could write an interesting book report after reading Abayomi the Brazilian Puma. Pattison and Harvill make a splendid team that children, parents, and teachers should not ignore. Conservation and wildlife experts and scientists fact check Pattison’s research. Harvill uses photographs taken on site when painting her illustrations. The pair have made clear choices that make the books assessable to younger children, while still interesting older kids. (Yes, like myself.)

    As with Wisdom, the Midway Albatross, Abayomi, the Brazilian Puma should be in school libraries and homeschooling bookshelves that cover wildlife, conservation, or the changing world. As starting points, Abayomi and Wisdom, are great resources for children. While not an expansive missive, these two books will guide students to other resources and further knowledge. The two books also allow younger children to learn about these subjects in a mild, non-scary manner that will peak curiosity, not provoke nightmares.

    mom and cub

    ABAYOMI, THE BRAZILIAN PUMA: THE TRUE STORY OF AN ORPHANED CUB. Text copyright © 2014 by Darci Pattison. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Kitty Harvill. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Mims House, Little Rock, AK.


    Learn more about Abayomi, the Brazilian Puma HERE.

    Get your copy of Abayomi, the Brazilian Puma at AmazonB&NMims Houseask for it at your local bookstore.


    Meet the author, Darci Pattison, at her website:   http://www.darcypattison.com/

    Meet the illustrator, Kitty Harvill, at her website:  http://www.kharvillarte.com.br/artist.html

    Find more Mims House stories at the publisher’s website:  http://mimshouse.com/


    Also by Darci Pattison

    Saucy and Bubba, a Hansel and Gretel Tale

    Saucy and Bubba, a Hansel and Gretel Tale








    .Also by Kitty Harvill

    Up, Up, Up! It’s Apple-Picking Time

    Up, Up, Up! It’s Apple-Picking Time

    Vida Livre (published in Brazil)

    Vida Livre (published in Brazil)






    Also New from Mims House

    The Girl, the Gypsy, and the Gargoyle

    The Girl, the Gypsy, and the Gargoyle




    Filed under: 5stars, Children's Books, Library Donated Books, NonFiction, Picture Book, Series Tagged: a changing world, Abayomi, Brazil, conservation, Darci Pattison, forest depletion, Kitty Harvill, Mims House, pumas, wildlife, wisdom

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    9. A Single Red Sock

    There was a young husband who took a young wife to live in a shoebox beside a busy thoroughfare. The young man attempted to treat his wife with utmost sincerity and kindness, but often found that his tongue got in his way. Dull and ill-advised words suitable only for bachelorhood unfortunately found their way from his mouth to his young bride’s ear.

    While the ever-patient bride overlooked most of the offenses, the stupid young husband constantly felt it necessary to pay penance for his outbursts by aiding his wife in her chores. After one particular peccadillo, the husband took it upon himself to do the laundry.

    Knowing at least that colors and whites must go separately, he sorted the clothes into piles and decided to begin with the whites. In went the slightly dingy load while the hopeful husband added soap and waited nearby. When the buzzer rang, he jumped to his feet expecting to pull out gleaming white clothes. What to his wondering eyes did appear, but a washer full of pink. Pink, the color of panic. Nothing was the same as it had gone in.


    With his bride due home soon, he frantically searched the load to find an offending single red sock. Casting it aside, he loaded the machine with bleach and ran the whites through once more. Bing – cycle over, no change. Pink panic.

    A key at the door

    A smiling bride

    A kiss before the confession

    Disappointment, accusation, regret

    “My favorite shirt!” she exclaimed as she held up a blushing blouse. “Ruined!”

    “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry,” pled the husband. “I’ll buy you another. What else can I do, my darling?”

    “I will tell you what you can do,” she fumed. “You can promise you will never, ever, ever do the laundry again!”

    “I swear it, my love,” promised the young man on bended knee. “I will never touch dirty clothes for as long as you’ll have me.”

    One score and two years later, the older husband is still bound by his oath and forbidden to use the washing machine with the following exception: his rag towels.

    With a family so large, the machine seems to run day and night, but can he help? Not besides folding.

    I ask you the following, was the young naïve husband really so foolish decades ago, or did he craft a cunning plan sure to guarantee a life of marital slackness? Could you place that much credit for forethought on the brash youth who couldn’t keep his pie-hole closed? Would the wife’s version tell a different tale?

    0 Comments on A Single Red Sock as of 4/17/2014 8:23:00 AM
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    10. What’s the secret to high scores on video games?

    By Siu-Lan Tan

    When playing video games, do you play better with the sound on or off? Every gamer may have an opinion, but what has research shown?

    Some studies suggest that music and sound effects enhance performance. For instance, Tafalla (2007) found that male gamers scored almost twice as many points while playing the first-person shooter game DOOM with the sound on (chilling music, weaponfire, screams, and labored breathing) compared to those playing with the sound off.

    On the other hand, Yamada et al. (2001) found that people had the fastest lap times in the racing game Ridge Racer V when playing with the music off. Interestingly, 10 different music tracks were tested—and the lowest scores were earned when playing with the soundtrack built into the game (Boom Boom Satellite’s “Fogbound”).

    Sometimes the results are more complex. Cassidy and MacDonald (2009) tested people playing a driving game with car sounds effects alone or with car sound effects plus different kinds of music. People playing with music that had been shown to be ‘highly arousing’ (in previous research) drove the fastest—but also made the greatest number of mistakes, such as hitting barriers or knocking over road cones!


    In our own research (published 2010 and 2012), my colleagues John Baxa and Matt Spackman and I found that people playing Twilight Princess (Legend of Zelda) performed worst when playing with both music and sound effects off. This game provides the player with rich auditory cues that function as warnings, clues for access points, feedback for correct moves such as successful attacks on enemies, and more. Many of these don’t just “double” what you see on the screen.

    As we progressively added more game audio, performance improved. However, surprisingly, our participants performed best when playing with background music playing on a boombox that was unrelated to the game! (This would be like playing a game with the game sound switched off—while your roommate’s music is playing in the background.)

    How to boost your game play?

    So how do we make sense of these findings? And do they shed light on what distinguishes the top gamers?

    A closer look at the individuals in our 2010/2012 study suggested that the majority of our participants—but not all—played better with unrelated background music until they “got the hang of” the game.

    We used a game that was new to everybody. As Twilight Princess is a pretty complex adventure role-playing game, the average player seemed to have to focus attention on the visual information when first navigating the game. So music and sound effects built into the game may have interfered with their concentration, as they had to “tune it out” to focus on visual cues to guide their actions at first.


    However, our top players (who concluded four days of play in our Videogame Lab with the highest scores) were different. They tended to play better with the game sound on (full music and sound effects coming from both screen and Wiimote) from the very beginning.

    The best players seemed to be better at paying attention to and meaningfully integrating both audio and visual cues effectively—thus benefitting from the richest warnings/clues/feedback. While the typical player strongly favored one sense, the best players were truly playing an audio-visual game from the beginning.

    So…one secret to being a successful gamer may be to sharpen your attention to audio cues (in sound effects and music) within a game. Paying more attention to and integrating cues to both ear and eye may boost your game!

    More than just high scores…

    I’m also reminded of what a participant in our study expressed so well: “There’s more to a game than just high scores. It’s also about being transported and immersed in another world, and music and sound effects are what bring you there.”

    Indeed, the lush cinematic scores take us through the emotional highs and lows of the journey of a game. Atmospheric tracks immerse us in other worlds. Rhythmic tracks serve as an engine to drive the action, the propulsion of the music making the virtual environment appear deeper and the visual array seem to whizz by faster (motion parallax).

    When you have a great soundtrack, music can be the soul of a game.

    Postscript: Sonic Mayhem!

    Recently I had a chance to speak with composer Sonic Mayhem (Sascha Dikiciyan) when we were both interviewed on video game music by Sami Jarroush for Consequence of Sound. Sonic Mayhem is one of the most sought-after video game music composers today. He scored Quake III Arena, Tron: Evolution, Mass Effect 2 & 3, Borderlands, Space Marine, James Bond: Tomorrow Never Dies, Mortal Kombat vs DC, and a ton of other monumental games.

    Click here to view the embedded video.

     Siu-Lan Tan is Associate Professor of Psychology at Kalamazoo College in Michigan, USA. She is primary editor of The Psychology of Music in Multimedia (Oxford University Press 2013), the first book consolidating the research on the role of music in film, television, video games, and computers. A version of this article also appears on Psychology Today. Siu-Lan Tan also has her own blog, What Shapes Film? Read her previous blog posts.

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    Image credits: (1) Dubaj, by Danik9000, CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons. (2) Dataspel, by Magnus Fröderberg/norden.org, CC-BY-2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.

    The post What’s the secret to high scores on video games? appeared first on OUPblog.

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    11. Have a blessed Holy Week

    I'll be off work from Thursday-Sunday. I'm hoping the Lamb of God thing remains a metaphor, cause I've already had a problem with sheep in church.

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    12. Digger Dog by William Bee, illustrated by Cecilia Johansson

    <!-- START INTERCHANGE - DIGGER DOG -->if(!window.igic__){window.igic__={};var d=document;var s=d.createElement("script");s.src="http://iangilman.com/interchange/js/widget.js";d.body.appendChild(s);} Digger Dog is the newest picture book from William Bee, marvelously illustrated by Cecilia Johansson and perfect for the littlest listeners.  Digger Dog loves to dig, especially

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    13. The letter S


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    14. Tyrannosaurus Wrecks! by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, illustrated by Zachariah Ohora

    <!-- START INTERCHANGE - TYRANNOSAURUS WRECKS -->if(!window.igic__){window.igic__={};var d=document;var s=d.createElement("script");s.src="http://iangilman.com/interchange/js/widget.js";d.body.appendChild(s);} <!-- END INTERCHANGE --> Tyrannousaurus Wrecks by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen with great illustrations by Zachariah Ohara is an awesomely colorful, dinosaur filled wreck of a book. Well

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    15. Naming your kids after Superman

    My daughter’s name is Lara. It was one of the few female names my wife and I agreed on. I don’t remember who proposed it, but I know it was on the list I started in my early twenties. (Yes, I am that guy.) And I know my wife latched onto it after being swept up by Doctor Zhivago (which I still have not seen).

    Though my wife might never believe me, and I can barely believe this myself, in deciding on the name for our baby girl, I did not remember that the name of Superman’s biological mother is Lara. In other words, I didn’t secretly propose/go along with the name because of my fondness for the Man of Steel.

    My son’s name is Rafael. It was, I believe, the only male name my wife and I agreed on. (One of my first choices—Clark—was nixed even faster than I nixed one of her first choices…Fritz. Cut some slack. She’s German.)

    I’m Jewish and because my wife is not, she gave her blessing for our son’s Hebrew name to be “Kal-El”—which is Superman’s Kryptonian name. Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman was not yet out so my life was not yet so linked to Superman, but even then I felt going this route would be too fannish. I did not want our son—who may not care a whit about Superman—to be saddled with a Hebrew name he would not be able to say without a sigh.

    So instead, we chose “Emet”—“truth” in Hebrew. (This was inspired by the motto of my alma mater, Brandeis University: “Truth even unto its innermost parts.”)

    And just like I had a revelation only after naming our daughter, I had one with our son as well. I recently realized that, perhaps subconsciously, I did saddle him with a Superman name after all:


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    16. designing seawigs

    Big congratulations to Lucy Yewman, age 6, for winning Moontrug's top prize for describing and drawing her own Seawig! This one's a corker! Keep an eye on Moontrug's website as she's always running good competitions.

    I just remembered, for a dinner at the Bologna Book Fair last year, I designed this Draw-Your-Own-Seawig sheet for all the adults to draw at the table. But I can't remember if I posted it on my blog, so here it is, if you'd like to give Cliff a Seawig! You'll make this Rambling Isle very happy. WHAT can you pile on his head? Use drawing, magazine collage, whatever you like! Download the PDF here. And do tweet me your results (I'm @jabberworks) or post them on my Facebook Author page, I'd love to see them!)

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    17. Little Passports Passover Stories and Facebook Giveaway

    Send to Kindle

    **The links in this post are affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

    Passover has begun! I have a fun post to share with your friends about Passover traditions that many of our friends are celebrating this week as well as a big giveaway that Little Passports is running on their Facebook page. Share your family traditions and get creative!

    Little Passports Passover Stories and Facebook Giveaway
    Did you know the Jewish holiday of Passover began last night, April 14th, at sunset and continues until the night of April 22nd? This important holiday commemorates the liberation of the Jewish people in Ancient Egypt. If you have a minute, check out the post on the Little Passports Blog where a Little Passports employee details one of her favorite childhood memories of the Seder during the first night of Passover. Do you have any fun family traditions you’d like to share with us?

    Little Passports is also hosting their own Facebook giveaway this week! Use this link below to sign up to win a 1 year Little Passports subscription and a 1 year NatureBox subscription. (That is almost $400 worth of goodies!) The deadline to sign up to win this prize is April 18th. If you miss out on this weeks opportunity, don’t fret…There are 2 more weeks of giveaways to enter.


    Send to Kindle

    The post Little Passports Passover Stories and Facebook Giveaway appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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    18. Indulgence Mixing Business With Pleasure Blog Tour and Giveaway!


    This morning I have some info to share about the Indulgence Mixing Business With Pleasure Blog Tour.  I did have a chance to read The Seduction Game, which I enjoyed for the heroine’s complete nerdiness.  


    The Seduction Game

    By Emma Shortt

    Synopsis: When millionaire bad boy, Will Thornton, tries to buy computer-geek Kate Kelly’s building out from under her, she refuses to sell. Will might be uber rich, and super successful but she won’t be bullied. Trouble is, she didn’t expect Will to look like one of her fantasy heroes, or to make her heart beat a little too fast. She’s prepared to wait him out, but it’ll take every ounce of her self-control to win this game.

    With millions of dollars on the line, Will is positive he can make Kate sell. He’s played the game better than anybody and charming is his middle name. Problem is, the snarky, geeky, computer-wiz is nothing like he imagined—impossibly cute and a match for him in every way.

    The game is on but can two such radically different people come out winners in the game of seduction?

    Goodreads Amazon Barnes & Noble Entangled

    Author Bio: As a kid Emma wanted to be an astronaut, or maybe Captain Janeway. Because she didn’t really think her career choices through very well she ended up in an everyday geek job, crunching numbers and sighing over syntax. It seemed a long way from the stars and in an effort to escape Emma decided to get serious about her other passion. Writing. Several years later and Emma has yet to walk on the moon or sit in the Captain’s chair, but she is still writing. She scribbles stories in all sorts of genres, contemporary, paranormal, post-apocalyptic, historical, sci-fi…if she hasn’t tried it yet she will before long. The only common theme is the romance. A hopeless romantic everything Emma writes has a love story in there somewhere.

    Emma ShortBlog Twitter Facebook Goodreads

    A Night of Misbehaving

    by Carmen Falcone

    Synopsis: Before the end of the night, they’ll break all the rules.

    For just one night, Georgia Taylor wants to forget about her demanding job and the everyday struggles of being a single mom. Her track record with men is pitiful, but that’s fine because her responsibilities don’t leave room for love anyway. The new online dating site is perfect for what she’s after.

    But Georgia’s plans fly out the window when Brent Turner, aka Sexy Dad and father of her daughter’s classmate, turns out to be her Internet date, therefore, eliminating any possibility for a night without consequences.

    All of Brent Turner’s honorable intentions fly out the window when he sees highly strung “Super Mom” waiting for her date at the bar. Determined to win Georgia’s trust and show her a good time, their no-strings evening promises to become so much more…until, that is, she discovers he’s really trying to win her vote.

    Entangled Indulgence:

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

    Twitter: @IndulgenceBooks Steals and Deals

    Goodreads Amazon Barnes & Noble Entangled

    Author Bio: Carmen Falcone learned at an early age that fantasizing about fictional characters beat doing math homework any day. Brazilian by birth and traveler by nature, she moved to Central Texas after college and met her broody Swiss husband, living proof that opposites attract. She found in writing her deepest passion and the best excuse to avoid the healthy lifestyle everyone keeps talking about. When she is not lost in the world of romance, she enjoys spending time with her two kids, being walked by her three crazy pugs, reading, catching up with friends, and chatting with random people in the checkout line.

    Website BlogTwitter FacebookGoodreads Instagram Pinterest

    Giveaway Info:

    $50 Amazon GC from Carmen Falcone

    A Geeky Prize From Emma Shortt

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    The post Indulgence Mixing Business With Pleasure Blog Tour and Giveaway! appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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    19. Charlie Sullivan and the Monster Hunters: Council of the Hunters Cover Reveal with DC & C Michael Mc Gannon

    Title: Charlie Sullivan and the Monster Hunters: Council of the Hunters (Book 3)
    Author: DC & C. Michael McGannon      
    Genre: YA Fantasy/SciFi/Action/Adventure MG 13+
    Released Date: April 29, 2014
    A new school year brings fresh beginnings. At least that’s what the Monster Hunters of Hunter’s Grove are hoping for. After facing down dark magic and vengeful gods in the portal village of Drakauragh, Charlie Sullivan and his band of unlikely friends look forward to a quiet, fun—and most importantly normal—first year of High School.
    More than hope is needed however, as sinister activity is haunting the shadows of their once sleepy little town again.
    With news of Chen’s disappearance, and an unseen force that threatens to break the protective wards surrounding Hunter’s Key, tensions quickly rise once more for Charlie Sullivan and his friends.
    The five teenagers’ credibility is called into question by an elder hunter, forcing them to defend their reputations in a dangerous game where they can trust very few. Now, the reticent Council of the Hunters will convene to decide their fate as Monster Hunters.
    A shocking betrayal, disquieting new figures in their own society, a corrupted nemesis, and a cloud of deception hovering over their elders all weigh heavy on the team. The Monster Hunters of Hunter’s Grove could be shut down before they have a chance to stand against the demonic shadow that threatens their bonds of friendship, loyalty, and the safety of those close to them.
    Something, or someone, is tearing at the veil between our world and the Otherworld, promising to unleash Hell and prepare the way for what hunters throughout the centuries have feared would one day happen…the rise of the Ancients.

    D.C. McGannon pretends to be a ninja sometimes and two of his biggest fans, his sons

    Michael and Nathaniel, play along with him to make him feel better about it when he does. His other biggest fan (his wife, Holly) usually nods her head in restrained agreement, walks away, and hopes nobody gets hurt.

    Mr. McGannon is the author of the Charlie Sullivan and the Monster Hunters series with his son, C. Michael McGannon. He is also at times a pirate, an alien, or simply the one who retrieves the Frisbee from the far side of the yard.

    D.C. lives with his family and their little Maltese dog somewhere in the Midwest, and is partial to coffee, video games, and coffee.

    C. Michael McGannon is a fan. Of stories, of libraries, of books, of Japanese and British humor, of chocolate, and of Root Beer. Mr. McGannon is the coauthor of the Charlie Sullivan and the Monster Hunter series with his father, DC McGannon. He enjoys gaming, a good book, teaching his little brother Japanese, and grilled-cheese sandwiches. Especially grilled-cheese sandwiches.
    Author Links:

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    20. [PR] Georgetown Academy News

    I loved these books, so I wanted to pass along a press release I received:

    Georgetown Academy is a juicy series about the politics at D.C.’s most elite prep school. A cross between Scandal and Gossip Girl, it’s fans include Eva Longoria and nearly a million Wattpad fans.

    To celebrate the series’ success, we’ve put together an amazing campaign that involves and benefits readers—the more participation, the more we’ll give. Here are the steps:

    Book One is currently being featured on Wattpad. Add GTA to your public Wattpad reading list: http://www.wattpad.com/story/8095946-georgetown-academy-book-one

    Share Book One’s Wattpad link via twitter (Using #GTScandal)

    • If GT fans hit 1k tweets by Wednesday, April 23, we will release Chapter 1 of Book 2 on Wattpad

    • if can hit 1.5k tweets by Sunday 4/27, we’ll release another Book 2 chapter (from the POV of a an unknown character) on Wattpad

    • If we hit 2k, the price of book 2, across all platforms will be dropped to $1.99

    Join our Twitter Party! On Tuesday 4/22 @ 9 pm EST authors Jessica and Alyssa will answer all readers’ questions! Find out if Taryn will stand between Ellie and Gabe, and maybe their parents’ careers. Use the hashtag #GTScandal to participate.  Follow us @GTownAcademy.

    Other ways to participate in the campaign and spread the word:

    Add the books on Goodreads! Book 1 | Book 2 | Book 3 | Book 4

    If you’ve already read and loved the books, consider posting your review on Amazon.

    So will you be attending the chat? Let me know in the comments :)

    [Insert Book Cover Here] About Georgetown Academy:


    It’s the beginning of a new political administration. That might not mean much at most high schools, but at Georgetown Academy, Washington D.C.’s most elite prep school, January 20th means new alliances, new flings, and new places to party.

    While freshmen—nicknamed “interns” for their willingness to jump into bed with anyone higher on the D.C. totem pole—navigate the not-so-friendly halls of GA searching for Algebra and Bio classes, the school’s lifers have other things on their minds.

    For self-proclaimed D.C. royalty Brinley Madison (of those Madisons), the first day of school is all about establishing the social hierarchy and playing the part of perfect political wife to her boyfriend, the outgoing Vice President’s son. Too bad he has a wandering eye that puts Bill Clinton’s to shame. Can she keep him, and her own secret vice, in check?

    Ellie Walker, Brinley’s best friend, floats through the halls on the arm of golden boy Hunter McKnight (the JFK of GA). But when her ex-boyfriend, Gabe, returns to town and her Senator mother’s political nemesis is reelected, Ellie’s life starts to snowball out of control.

    Shy, quiet Evan Hartnett is more into books than beer, and her closet is full of t-shirts and jeans instead of Jason Wu and Jimmy Choo. No one’s ever really noticed her—but she’s been noticing them. When her star rises as an intern at D.C.’s most-watched political news show, she soon finds the two worlds colliding in ways that make her question what’s secret and what’s fair game.

    New girl Taryn Reyes is all laid-back, California cool; with a father who’s in line to be the first Hispanic president, she’s ready to dive into the D.C. scene with an open mind. But when her fellow students turn out to be more interested in spreading rumors than making friends, she realizes that forging a drama-free path might be a lot harder than she thinks.

    With so many new friends and former flames in the mix, things are bound to get a little heated. And while diplomatic immunity might keep the cops away, there’s not much it can do about the press.

    In a town where one teenage misstep can turn into a national scandal, the students at Georgetown Academy will have to be on their best behavior—or, at least, they’ll have to make the world believe that they are.

    Because there’s only one rule: whatever you do, don’t get caught.

    What’s Cool from Coliloquy:

    As the party scene at Georgetown Academy gets under way, authors Alyssa and Jessica let readers decide which of the main girls to follow. You’ll see scandalous behavior, unexpected liaisons, and secret betrayals…all giving you a different perspective as events unfold.

    The post [PR] Georgetown Academy News appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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    21. Creative ways to perform your music: tips for music students

    By Scott Huntington

    Many music students have difficulty finding new venues in which to perform. A lot of the time it’s because we let our school schedule our performances for us. We’ll start the semester and circle the dates on the calendars that include our concerts and recitals, and that will be it. That’s fine, and can keep you pretty busy, but I’m here to tell you to get out there and plan on your own. You’ll become much more confident and even perform better at your concerts once you get a few smaller gigs under your belt. Here’s a few tips to help you along the way:

    Don’t let nerves get in the way of gigging

    You’ve likely heard this from countless professors, teachers, friends, and family members, but everyone experiences nervousness. It’s the result of our animal instincts, our fight or flight response, and it’s natural. The solution is simply to gain experience. Think of each instance of nervousness as a new chance to conquer and control the sensation. After enough repetitions, nervousness will no longer seem like such a big deal, just an expected and regular part of performance. Nerves will probably never go completely away, but by the time you get to a huge concert you’ll be getting used to it.

    Develop your personal brand

    Whether you like it or not, self-advertising, or creating your own brand, has become more and more doable thanks to the Internet. Read up on creating a web presence. Unless you’re famous, you’re going to need to market your talents. Sites like BandCamp and SoundCloud tend to be synonymous with popular music, but this trend is slowly changing. In fact, many classical musicians are uploading recordings of their gigs to SoundCloud.

    On top of the benefits of a clean, easy to navigate repository of gig recordings, having a SoundCloud is like having a deluxe portfolio. What do I mean by “deluxe”? Well, it’s like having a resume with a built in audience of employers ready to look at it 24/7. And SoundCloud isn’t just a social network; it’s a social network of people who actively create and/or listen to music.

    Think outside the box when looking for gigs

    But where can you look for gigs? At first glance you’re at a slight disadvantage from all the rock bands that can play cover shows at bars or parties. Somehow playing solo clarinet music at the local bar just isn’t going to go over well. So, here are a few places you may not have thought of:

    1. University events

    Keep tabs on ongoing events at your university. Many students and faculty would love to have their events spiced up with some “sophisticated” music. There are plenty of fundraisers and galas that are always looking for entertainment. It even gives them a bragging point to have a student performing and could lead to more donations for the school.

    2. Elementary schools

    Music education is an important aspect of many children’s lives, and choosing an instrument to pick up can be quite a meaningful decision, even if it may seem superfluous to us at the time. Check with local elementary schools to find out when they start their students off in band and orchestra programs. They may very well be looking for people to come in and explain and play their instruments to students. You never know when you could be the one to inspire the next great performer.

    elementary school music

    Children from Kaneohe Elementary School clap to the beat of one of the many jazzy songs the US Marine Corps Forces Pacific Party Band played during their performance as part of the Music in the Schools program. Photo in the public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

    3.  Retirement communities

    Playing at a retirement community may not be very glamorous, but it will leave you with experience and the feeling that you’ve done a good service. One of the most rewarding times of my musical career was playing at a nursing home. A deaf woman rolled her wheelchair up to my marimba and put her hand on the side to feel the vibrations. Seeing her smile is something I will never forget. To me, this small gig was right up there with playing in Orchestra Hall in Chicago.

    4. Play for small businesses and company functions

    A gig at a barber shop didn’t give me a huge audience, but it’s not always the size that matters. Through it I was able to meet some people from a mattress store called Dr. Snooze, and eventually led to me getting to play at one of their open houses. I met several more people through it that led to even more performance opportunities, including corporate retreats and even a wedding. I can also use them as a reference when telling others about my music. It’s amazing how one “little” gig can turn into so much more.

    5. Play on the street

    Now you should look into the legality of this strategy before pursuing it, but playing in the street (even for no money) can be an incredible source of publicity. Who knows who might be looking? It also helps to strategically pick your location so that people who might be more likely to need musicians may listen. Another idea you could try would be to upload recordings of your performances to YouTube to be able to show them to others.

    Finnish bluegrass buskers in Helsinki, Finland. June 2006. Photo by Cory Doctorow from London, UK. Creative Commons License via Wikimedia Commons.

    Finnish bluegrass buskers in Helsinki, Finland. June 2006. Photo by Cory Doctorow from London, UK. Creative Commons License via Wikimedia Commons.

    All of these ideas will give you some great experience and help you become a better musician. And when you come to the bigger events, you’ll be well prepared.

     is a percussionist specializing in marimba. He’s also a writer, reporter and blogger. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and son and does Internet marketing for WebpageFX in Harrisburg. Scott strives to play music whenever and wherever possible. Follow him on Twitter at @SMHuntington.

    Oxford Music Online is the gateway offering users the ability to access and cross-search multiple music reference resources in one location. With Grove Music Online as its cornerstone, Oxford Music Online also contains The Oxford Companion to Music, The Oxford Dictionary of Music, and The Encyclopedia of Popular Music.

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    22. Fusenews: Not seething with envy. It’s more of a percolation process.

    • bookcon Fusenews: Not seething with envy. Its more of a percolation process.So what’s the talk of the town these days?  Well the relative brouhaha came about at the end of last week when ReedPOP announced a panel of “the world’s biggest children’s authors” in the field.  That the luminaries in question were all white and male struck a raw nerve with a whole slew of folks.  Since that moment there’s been some fancy footwork and a promise to add some additional folks.   The solution is ludicrously simple, of course.  If the gist of the grouping is to have the top selling authors of books for kids then just grab Rachel Renee Russell and ask her to join.  The fact that she isn’t tapped for more panels has always struck me as odd.
    • I am not immune to professional jealousy.  Wish that I was.  Fortunately, most of the time I am able to convert the green eyed monster into genuine fascination and interest (much, I’m sure, to the discomfort of the people I’m suddenly obsessed with).  Take this week’s example: One Margaret H. Willison.  I was listening to Pop Culture Happy Hour, a podcast I like quite a lot in spite of the fact that they can’t tell YA fiction from MG.  Anywho, they have a children’s librarian that they love very very much.  Ms. Willison has been a longstanding fan of theirs and Stephen Thompson mentioned that she was on track to be the next Nancy Pearl of children’s books.  Oh aye!  So I checked her out and she did a NPR piece called 3 Bedtime Picture Books That Won’t Put Parents to Sleep.  Excellent choices one and all.  She’s one to watch then.
    • This news made me inordinately happy recently.  The Multnomah County Library System and the Seattle Public Library went head to head in an all out reference battle.  The question?  Who could answer the most book recommendation queries via Twitter?  And I am happy to report that Portland (where the Multnomah system lives) won all the way!!  Way to go, you literary denizens you.  Thanks to AL Direct for the link.
    • Recently a new library opened up at NYU.  Called the Georgiou Library and Resource Center for Children and Literature the site will do a lot of outreach to the community as well as operate as a research facility.  Its librarian is the multi-talented Kendra Tyson and the collection, “contains several categories of children’s literature, including counting books, fairy tales, poetry, biography, and holiday books. It also houses Mother Goose books geared for African, Chinese and Russian audiences, bi-lingual counting books, and the Metropolitan Museum’s of Art’s Museum ABC (Little Brown, 2002), which portrays a range of world cultures through its collections.”  I was lucky enough to attend a small event for the library recently and in the course realized that there are other similar collections out there that I just don’t know well enough.  Like the Cotsen Children’s Library, for example.  Some of you will nod sagely and murmur “of course” when I mention it but to me I was ashamed to discover that not only are they the Princeton children’s library but they maintain these FABULOUS blogs!  The Cotsen Children’s Library blog is updated quite regularly and the Pop Goes the Page is maybe the best arts & crafts for library programs blog I’ve witnessed in a very long time.  They’ve also archived a variety of different interviews with children’s authors called The Bibliofiles that are well worth finding too.  Man.  That would be the life working at either of these libraries, am I right?
    • Good old, ShelfTalker.  I love it when they list a whole slew of their favorite first lines of 2014.  And in the process I discovered at least one book that I hadn’t even heard of until I read its line.  Bonus!
    • You know what?  Fair play to Mackenzie Kruvant.  There she is at Buzzfeed, slaving away with such pieces as “Which Sex And The City Guy Is Your Soulmate?” but often she’ll come up with a really good children’s literature piece.  Example: 15 Adorable Children’s Books For Your Little Architect .  Perhaps she got some help from a librarian somewhere to write it, but if she didn’t then it’s a pretty darn good encapsulation of what’s out there.  Well played, madam.

    bigbadbubble Fusenews: Not seething with envy. Its more of a percolation process.NYPL likes it when I blog on their site from time to time, so I’ll tend to do pieces I wouldn’t normally do here.  Case in point, recently I did the post Make ‘Em Laugh: Gut-Busting Picture Books That’ll Have ‘Em Rolling in the Aisles.  I really try to give attention to funny picture books when they come out.  And though I didn’t mention them in the piece (I only included stuff you could currently check out of the collection) if I were to put that post here I’d be sure to include the 2014 titles Big Bad Bubble by Adam Rubin, illustrated by Daniel Salmieri (without a doubt their best work to date) and Monkey Goes Bananas by C. P. Bloom and Peter Raymundo.  Both books are danged funny.  If I make a funny picture book prize this year, they will both be up for serious contention.

    A friend on mine on Facebook mentioned that he had a 12-year-old in his branch who was interested in Socialism and did we have any books to recommend?  Naturally my thoughts turned to Little Rebels, but that’s a lot of picture books (many of which are out of print).  Fortunately marxists.org (!) has a booklist of its own.  Say they, “This is the start of an ongoing broad bibliography of children’s literature for MIA with title first, divided by age range and fiction/non-fiction. Some of these books were written to be expressly radical, and others need a stretch to find political implications. Compiled by Sally Ryan.”  Cool.

    • Hey, remember when I mentioned that I’d interviewed Deborah Underwood about her amazing Bad Bye, Good Bye?  I got a little confused about when it was going to post but now, happily, it is up up up!  If you ever wanted to know the ins and outs of writing a rhyming picture book, you are indeed lucky.
    • Got a little confused with the headline on this one, but as it happens it has absolutely nothing to do with the bookstore Books of Wonder here in NYC.  No, this little article is instead about a cool new collection within the Toronto Public Library.  Its full name is “The IBBY Collection of Books for Young People with Disabilities”.  Say they: “As its official name indicates, this collection comes from IBBY, the International Board on Books for Young People. The IBBY collection features more than 3000 multilingual books in sign language, Braille, Blissymbolics, as well as cloth and tactile books and other formats — all for and about children and teens with disabilities.”  I’m downright envious again.  Thanks to Deb Pearson for the link.
    • In the world of book awards we’ve two to consider today.  The Eisner Award nominations came out and I see a lot of familiar faces in the youth category.  Meanwhile the Minnesota Book Awards were announced and you might be surprised to discover some of the winners.
    • Whenever someone asks adult authors to name the children’s books that inspired them there is a danger of the books being the same old, same old.  That’s part of the reason I like this post from World Literature Today.  Yes, there are some rote choices, but there are also some really obscure titles. The Summerfolk by Doris Burn? The Three Fat Men by Yuri Olesha? Tim and the Hidden People by Sheila K. McKullagh?!?  Wowza.  Thanks to Mom for the link.
    • Daily Image:

    Good news, poppins.  Today you have a chance to buy cool things and be a good person in the process.  And just in time for my incipient birthday too!  The site Out of Print has been killing it in the library-chic neighborhood.  Observe the cool things that there are to buy:

    librarytshirt1 498x500 Fusenews: Not seething with envy. Its more of a percolation process.

    librarybag 497x500 Fusenews: Not seething with envy. Its more of a percolation process.

    libraryiphone 500x500 Fusenews: Not seething with envy. Its more of a percolation process.

    Mom, Kate, I will happily take that iPhone case.  Wouldn’t say no to any of those baby onesies, for that matter.

    Now, how does buying this stuff make you a good person?  Well, it seems the site is THIS WEEK (it is National Library Week after all – my workplace got me a mug and everything) giving money to the following school if you buy stuff.  Voila:

    P.S. 244 (The Active Learning Elementary School “TALES”) is an early childhood public school (Pre-K to 3rd grade) located in the Flushing neighborhood of Queens, New York. The majority of students do not speak English at home and qualify for subsidized meal plans, yet at TALES they thrive. A model for public schools at both the national and state level, P.S. 244 has been recognized for its focus on health and nutrition and ranks among the healthiest schools in the country. In 2013, P.S. 244 also ranked 11th in the state for test scores and has been heralded for its innovative curriculum and extremely hard working staff.

    With all of these strengths, they also have challenges. The school’s current library has no formal checkout system and relies on volunteer staff. The result? The space serves more like a reading room than a true library. Students aren’t able to check out and read these books at home, families miss out on sharing the joy of reading with their kids and the school is unable to implement a summer reading program to enhance student reading skills during off-school periods.

    Help us to give this school and its students the library they deserve. During National Library Week (April 13-20), we are donating a portion of our sales to purchase and implement a scanning system for P.S. 244 and to train staff to manage it. We will post updates after the donation and share stories from students and teachers about the impact of this new system.

    Many thanks to Ms. Marci for the links!

    share save 171 16 Fusenews: Not seething with envy. Its more of a percolation process.

    0 Comments on Fusenews: Not seething with envy. It’s more of a percolation process. as of 4/17/2014 6:17:00 AM
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    23. Rock the Drop TODAY!


    Support Teen Literature Day and Operation Teen Book Drop are underway! Sending our love to YALSA, YA authors, the publishing industry, teachers, librarians, booksellers, and rgz around the world. Special thanks to our 2014, sponsors, iheartdaily and Justine Magazine!

    Here's the drill:
    1. Find a YA book to donate.
    2. Print the bookplate below and paste it in your book.
    3. Leave the book in a public place to be found.
    4. Snap a pic or post a message about how you Rocked the Drop on our facebook or twitter. #rockthedrop

    Keep up the celebration by checking out these 7 philanthropies. It is rgz' 7 year anniversary after all!
    The Operation Teen Book Drop party is on, so join in! Get out there and rock the world with YA lit!
    ~the readergirlz divas

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    24. Guest post by Gueh Yanting, Claudine

    I am delighted to share a great guest post on the blog today.

    Dear March House Books Readers,

    Although I can’t remember it, I heard my first story from my parents. Not from story books, no. Real-life stories. Theirs.

    They were the children who ran around in villages (we call them Kampong) in Singapore during the 50s and 60s, slippers slapping the dusty paths and clothes drenched when they hopped into ponds to catch fish. And that’s where the setting-inspiration for my children’s novel (in mid-60s) came from.

    {How the Kampong looked like. Picture from Google Images Labeled for Reuse with Modifications. 
    Source: http://comesingapore.com/travel-guide/article/607/ten-things-you-probably-didnt-know-about-singapore}

    I asked my father, who especially loves telling snippets from his childhood, to contribute some for this post, and here’s what he told me:

    ·         As my father has 11 brothers and 3 sisters, they all crammed in one house, with one yard and owned one family plantation. My grandfather also reared chickens and pigs. At one point, there were more than 20 people (wives and baby cousins) living in that house!

    ·         My father and his brothers were too poor to afford school bags, so they used rattan baskets instead. When they had to sharpen their pencils, they used my grandfather’s shaving blade. They used to cut themselves quite often but never worried about it.

    ·         They showered using only one bar of soap: for the hair, face and body. That bar of soap was actually also used for laundry.

    ·         When he got off school at around 1pm, my father would return to the fields to help out. After completing his chores, he and my uncles would play at a nearby pond. Their main hobby was catching a certain species called ‘Fighting Fish’ and … letting them fight, I suppose.

    ·         Snacks were usually wrapped in newspapers. Sometimes they bought dried hawthorn flakes. If they didn’t have money for snacks, they’d get sweet potatoes from their fields, and roast them on a bed of charcoals.

    {Dried Hawthorn Flakes/Cakes. Picture from Google Images Labeled for Reuse with Modifications.}

    ·         When the weather was hot, and in Singapore it mostly is, the children would buy balls of shaved ice to eat. The man who sold ice balls would drizzle colourful sugar syrup over them. By the way, we still have these at our marketplaces. During my childhood, it was also one of our favourite desserts. They are shaped like a small hill now, and have extra corn or red bean toppings, like this:

    {Shaved Ice, a.k.a. Ice Kachang. Picture from Google Images Labeled for Reuse with Modifications.}

    ·         During lunar new years, parents would give children red packets (money stuffed in small, red envelopes) on New Year’s Eve, symbolizing good fortune for the coming year. When my father and some of his brothers received theirs, they spent all the money on firecrackers. Lighting up firecrackers was still legal then in Singapore. And they absolutely loved it! I suspect my father is waiting for Baby Olive (my one-year-old niece) to be slightly older so he could buy sparklers and play with her during New Year’s Eve.

    {Red Packets. Picture from Google Images Labeled for Reuse with Modifications.}

    ·        My father studied in the village school till he was Primary 4, which was the highest level in that school. To go on to Primary 5, students had to travel farther out. My father and his brothers didn’t have the gift for studies, because even when they’d reached Primary 2 or 3 (around 8-9 years old), they were still not accustomed to gripping a pencil and writing with it. Usually, my grandfather or one of the elder brothers would have to steady their elbows in order for them to write neatly!

    ·         So he stopped studying after that and worked in my grandfather’s fields until he was about 16. Then he went into the construction industry.

    A Gross, Mushroom Story (If you have a weak stomach, please skip this part!)

    Those days, the nearest toilet could be quite far away and it was inconvenient to walk in the dark to get to one. People had chamber pots instead. However, with so many people under one roof, pots were too small. My family used pickled jars.

    Sometimes they only poured the waste away after a few days. I’m not quite sure about this because I haven’t seen few-day-old urine, but I hear there would be sediments or dregs left in the jars.

    Once, my grandfather stepped on a big, rusty nail. It was likely to give him a bad inflammation. Yet, he didn’t go to the hospital. They distrusted hospitals. My family had learned of a traditional folk cure, which was to soak a mushroom in the urine dregs overnight before applying it onto the wound. It sounds terribly gross, but it did work. The swelling went down the next day and my grandfather recovered fully soon after.

    My father also told stories about adulthood, like how female guests attended wedding meals in the afternoon and all went home with a flower in their hair while male guests attended the evening round and each got a cigar, and how villagers called on midwives rather than hospital nurses when one of the women went into labour, and how one of my aunts ran off with a man she knew only briefly. My grandfather was livid, but they managed to get her back. That was the year the Queen of England visited Singapore.

    Those were the days that were tough, but those were also the days my father and his brothers had the most fun. Those were the days I hadn’t experienced except through his stories. Those were the days (or close enough) that I’ve let my latest characters live in.

    Gueh Yanting, Claudine, has written and published two picture ebooks (age 6 & up) and one middle-grade ebook (age 9 & up). Her latest story, LITTLE ORCHID’S SEA MONSTER TROUBLE, is about a girl trying to prove to her Ma that she hasn’t been spouting nonsense about the Giant Cuttlefish, and later turning into a sea monster herself. It is set in Singapore in 1965.

    Check it out here:

    Thank you so much for letting me spread my father’s story snippets here on your lovely blog, Barbara. I hope your readers enjoy them!

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    25. Our Wonderful World.17

    Details of my Poetry Month Project can be found here.

    17. Petra


    The rose-stone buildings stand
    with their backs to the mountains

    shot by Bedouins
    ransacked by tomb-robbers
    photographed by tourists
    shaken by earthquakes
    eroded by flooding

    disappearing as imperceptibly 
    but as certainly
    as the dimming of our sun.

    ©Mary Lee Hahn, 2014

    It was nice yesterday to have a break from writing about the Wonders of the World, and instead write about the wonder of my world. The insatiable urge of humankind to build, build, build (and in the process destroy, destroy, destroy) was wearing me out. At the same time, the enormity of our planet makes our little human scrapes and scratches, ditches and dams and monuments seem tiny and temporary. I am sorry that the amazing city of Petra will not last forever, but at the same time I am heartened that the desert will reclaim its mountains.

    Carol's poem from yesterday, "On Building the Panama Canal" is a powerful metaphor.

    Kevin's poem today is "Rose City," which you can see in final draft and in process at Kevin's Meandering Mind.

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