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1. The Thing About Being a Debut Author

JENNIFER LONGO holds an M.F.A. in Writing for Theater from Humboldt State University. She credits her lifelong flair for drama to parents who did things like buy the town graveyard and put their kids to work in it-because how hilarious would that be?

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2. What I Did on My Summer Vacation Part Two


Enjoyed a bit of sun on our deck back home in California, watched pelicans dive for fish pulled weeds, trimmed massive vines invading the garden and planted new things. 




Clean up and properly stored some old friends I haven't used in awhile and probably won't in the near future ...I'm going to take up paddle boarding here in Mauritius. 


Here is a picture of the one made by Shannon McIntyre for me back in 1998- my first surfboard. I took this photo from the water in 2001 and it hangs in may parents' home. 

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3. Tales from the Lead-Up to the Symposium


Today is my last day in the studio for nearly 2 weeks: I am off on a book-tour trip to Spain. There is so much exciting stuff happening at the moment! I will of course tell you all about that when I get back but, in the meantime, I still have plenty to tell you about my extraordinary time in Brazil.

The historical centre of Paraty, where this year's Usk Symposium was based, was a lovely, calm place and very pretty, so perfect for sketching. 


There was quite a lot of variety to draw too. I had a full day to get my bearings before the symposium, so I decided to use one of the concertina sketchbooks I made recently to record my day and what I could see as I walked around.

 

You can see the first couple of sections more clearly - the sketches of the church and the vultures - in my first symposium post. That was my morning, pottering around, sitting down beside other sketchers, or wherever caught my interest. 

At lunchtime, we found a brilliant little self-service place, where you paid by the weight of food eaten - a rather novel and very handy idea. We ate there almost every day and more and more sketchers joined us each time until, on the last day, you couldn't move for urban sketchers:


In the afternoon, I sat on a doorstep to draw this wonderful church across the Praca da Matriz, half-obscured by trees dripping with vines and covered in epiphytes. Unfortunately for me, the woman in the house behind me was doing her cleaning... 


I was suddenly enveloped in a cloud of dust and muck that she swept through a gap under her front door. Bits in my eyes, bits in my mouth... it also filled my paint palette. And then, just a few minutes later, I was sprayed with water from a passing van's windscreen washer. A rather eventful half hour! 


There were quite a few work-horses in Paraty. Some were pulling carts, but this one was for tourists, with a trap. He was unsure of me, because of the eye-flaps, which meant he could hear and smell me, but not see what I was up to, so I tried to be as quick as I could. 


In the evening we did 'drink and draw' sessions, first in a little bar and then at a restaurant. These are a regular feature at symposiums. We all go out together and draw each other across the table. It's great fun and much better than photos when you are looking back. We often pass the books round, so people can add their names to the drawings of themselves - it's a good way of remembering people's names:


Okay, that's all for now, but I have plenty more, which I will set up to publish while I am away. I still haven't told you about my workshops, the flood (!) or my trip to Rio. Watch this space!

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4. Newman Prize for Chinese Literature

       They've announced that Chu T'ien-Wen [朱天文] Wins 2015 Newman Prize for Chinese Literature. The fourth winner of the biennial prize -- after Mo Yan, Han Shaogong, and Yang Mu -- she beat out other nominees Yan Lianke, Yu Hua, Ge Fei, and Chang Kui-hsing.
       Chu is best-known in English for her novel, Notes of a Desolate Man; see the Columbia University Press publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

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5. Caitlin Keegan

Caitlin Keegan on grainedit.com

 

Caitlin Keegan recently updated her website with some some stellar new projects including this 2015 lunar calendar. In addition’s to her hand-drawn typography, the calendar features vegetable-based inks, space to write important dates and a charming moon illustrated in Caitlin’s signature style.

 

 

 

 

Caitlin Keegan on grainedit.com

 

 

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6. Book Beginnings - 9/19/14


*Please join Rose City Reader every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author's name.  *Taken directly from Rose City Reader's Blog Page.

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This is the same as last week.  I am almost done with LAST BREATH.  Very good mystery.
 
This week's book beginnings comes from LAST BREATH by Kimberly Belle.


"Some guy on Oprah last week said there is no such thing as an accidental lapse of memory.  That every phone call you forget to return, every errand you forget to run on the way home is a whisper of your subconscious."

That first line drew me in immediately.  I forget a lot of things lately. :)

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Read last week and wanted to share.

Review is in the book's title.
FLIGHT OF THE SPARROW by Amy Belding Brown

It is an account of how folks had to live in Early, Puritan America.  It was a good historical book.
 *****************
What are you reading that you can't keep to yourself?  :)

*****************




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7. Goin' to Carolina in my mind. Also, in real life.


If you need me today, I'll be speaking for FOUR HOURS at SCBWI Carolinas. With critiques and another workshop on Saturday, let's hope I don't end up losing my voice.

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8. Melissa Marr at BN The Grove Recap

See how excited Kimberly is to see Melissa Marr?

See how excited Kimberly is to see Melissa Marr?

Hi, everyone. Last night I went to the Melissa Marr event at Barnes & Noble at The Grove. This was sort of a last minute event. I wasn't planning to go but Kimberly convinced me that it would be the fun thing to do - and she was right. Melissa was there to promote her newest novel, Made For You, a creepy contemporary about a young woman and the serial killer who is obsessed with her.

While I have had the opportunity to meet a lot of authors in the last few years, this was my first time meeting Melissa. I was immediately struck by how energetic and gregarious she was. As she said, she is "very animated" and "extremely caffeinated." It was a small, intimate crowd, which meant that the event wasn't very formal. Melissa talked a bit about herself and about how the new book was inspired by real life events that happened to her when she was in her 20's. Melissa had a stalker, a man who appeared one day claiming to be a police officer. Melissa wisely deflected his attentions but he showed up later that weekend trying to climb into her window for their "date." Unlike the stalker in her novel, Melissa's stalker never tried to kill her or her friends and she eventually moved away where he could not find her. 

She said that the book left her feeling emotionally raw because, in order to make the reader feel what the characters are feeling, she had to pull up those own feelings in herself. She had to bring back the memories and feelings of what it was like to have her own stalker.

Melissa also said that she writes a good serial killer because both her editor and son thought that the sections of the book from the serial killer's point of view where a little too spot on. Her son even proceeded to give her a serial killer quiz while they were grocery shopping. Good news - she passed.

She also let drop the news that there is another Wicked Lovely book in the works. Her daughter was unhappy with the original ending to the series and recently handed her a 60,000 word draft of an alternate book/ending. She plans to edit it and add to it and hopefully publish. The working title for the book is Brightest Vengeance

Melissa also had a bit of movie news for us. The movie is definitely happening and two actors have been cast. Unfortunately she could not divulge their names just yet, but everyone was excited to hear that the movie was moving along.

After more questions, it was time to sign books. Melissa was super gracious and spent a lot of time making conversation with everyone and signing big stacks of books.

We also got to see a mock up of Melissa's new picture book which comes out next spring. The book is entitled Bunny Roo, I Love You and will be released by Penguin. The book was written while she was in the hospital with her adopted infant son, who was working through the symptoms of being exposed to drugs in the womb. The book is illustrated by Teagan White and it's gorgeous.  I can't wait to see this one in person. 

Melissa also told me and Kimberly her pseudonym for a couple of upcoming romance novels she's written. I love a good smutty book and was super excited to hear that Melissa was delving into the romance genre. She said that the books are biker romances, inspired by her days running a biker bar in her youth.

As you can see, Melissa has led a pretty awesome and interesting life. It was a great pleasure to meet her and I am really excited to read Made For You and to see what other goodies she comes out with in the coming year.  Thanks to BN The Grove and Melissa for a fantastic event!


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9. Literary Turk

       At Eurozine E. Khayyat wonders How to turn Turk ? (a piece originally published in the Belgrade Journal of Media and Communications), an interesting look at: "The literary history of the Turk".

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10. Craft of Writing: From Pantser To Planner: How I Changed My Writing Style by Victoria Strauss


We are incredibly pleased and tickled pink to have Victoria Strauss on the blog today discussing some amazing writing techniques. Victoria is the widely acclaimed author of many young adult and adult novels and her advice is something to watch out for.

From Pantser To Planner: How I Changed My Writing Style by Victoria Strauss


I'm the original pantser. I hate planning and preparing. I'd rather just dive into whatever it is and learn as I go. This has gotten me into some messes, as you can imagine. Deciding to refinish a table and realizing halfway through that you really ought to know how to work with furniture stripper is not a recipe for a happy outcome.

Once upon a time, that was also how I wrote.

Nearly all my books require some degree of preliminary research. But after investing that initial effort, I just want to get on with the actual creation. When I first began writing, I'd start out with a premise, a setting, a compelling image for the beginning, and a definite plan for the end. The rest was a blank canvas that I couldn't wait to fill, discovering the bones of the story as I wrote it.

The problem was that the story never fell organically into place. I'd get interesting ideas for characters and scenes and plot points that sometimes worked, but often took me down irrelevant byways or banged me up against dead ends. Somewhere around the middle of the book (which never turned out to match any of the hazy ideas I might have had at the outset), I would realize that I’d gotten to a place that didn't fit either my planned ending or my already-written beginning, and be faced with the choice of throwing out a lot of material or making major changes to my basic concept. You'd think, since my concept was so nebulous, I wouldn't have a problem tossing it; but those strong beginning and ending images were (and still are) the essence of the book for me, what made me want to write it in the first place. I could never bring myself to abandon them.

In the end I always managed to pull it together. But it was exhausting and frustrating to do so much backtracking and re-writing, and with each book the process seemed to become messier. By my third novel, I felt that I was doing more fixing than creating--and if you do too much fixing, the seams start to show. Writing by the seat of my pants clearly wasn't working for me. I realized that if I wanted to continue with my writing career, something had to change.

So I decided to turn myself into a planner. No more pantsing. No more blank canvas. I'd discipline myself to craft my plot in advance, creating a road map to guide me all the way from A to Z.

But how to plan, exactly? Books on how to write offer a plethora of methods. Index cards. Whiteboards. Timelines. Checklists. Worksheets. Character questionnaires. Three-act structure. The Snowflake Method. Yikes.

Outlining (the kind of conventional I.A.1.a. outlining I learned in school) seemed most familiar. So for my fourth novel, that's what I decided to try. It totally did not work for me. It was too terse, too cold, too structured. Too boring.

Next I attempted a chapter-by-chapter synopsis. But that felt too arbitrary--how could I lock myself into a chapter structure before I knew the rhythm of the narrative?--and too choppy. I didn't want to jump from chapter to chapter like hopping across a series of rocks. I wanted the story to be all of a piece: to simply flow.

So I decided just to tell the story from start to finish, imagining myself speaking to a rapt audience in the warm glow of a blazing campfire, with darkness pressing all around. This approach fit me much better. It felt creative; it had flow. I still took wrong turns and stumbled down blind alleys--but it's a lot easier to fix those in a synopsis than in a manuscript. And when I was done, I had a clear path from my blazing beginning image to the ending I was dying to write.

For reasons that had nothing to do with planning, I never did finish that fourth novel. But I've used this basic method ever since. First I figure out the core of the book: premise, setting, opening and conclusion. Then I build a bare-bones road map in my head, establishing the story arc and the main characters, making sure I can travel all the way to the end without getting lost in the middle. Then I write a synopsis, fleshing out the story bones and adding detail to plot and characters, but not drilling down to the level of individual scenes (unless an image really grabs me). For a 100,000-word book, my synopses generally run about 10-12 single-spaced pages. I also do brief character sketches as I go along.*

Once I'm done with all this preparation, I file it away and never look at it again. This may seem like a waste of effort. But writing from memory, without paying slavish attention to a plan, gives my pantser's soul the flexibility it needs, allowing room for change and inspiration, for those "aha" moments that, for me, are the most exciting part of writing. Because I do have a plan, however--because I've fallen into most of the holes and backtracked out of most of the dead ends in advance--I don't veer off track the way I used to; and where I do diverge, it's productive rather than destructive. My finished books nearly always differ in significant ways from my initial road map. But the important plot turns don't change.

This melding of planning and improvisation is the best balance I've found between the creative license I crave and the structure I need.

Changing my approach to writing has also taught me something important about writing itself: there is no "correct" or "best" way of doing things--only what's best for you. I can't count the number of times I've heard that planning destroys inspiration, or that only hack writers plan, or that real creativity is letting the story find you, not the other way around. Conversely, most of the highly-recommended planning techniques I tried felt too constraining or too boring.

Trial and error is the key. Don't be afraid to experiment. If something isn't working for you, don't be afraid to abandon it and try something new. It took me a long time, and many mistakes, to figure out my ideal method. But eventually I found my way.

You will too.

* If worldbuilding is needed, as with my fantasy novels, I work that out in between the in-my-head planning and the written synopsis (I've written about my worldbuilding method here: http://www.victoriastrauss.com/advice/world-building/).

About The Author


Victoria is the author of nine novels for adults and young adults, including the Stone fantasy duology (The Arm of the Stone and The Garden of the Stone) and Passion Blue and Color Song, a pair of historical novels for teens. In addition, she has written a handful of short stories, hundreds of book reviews, and a number of articles on writing and publishing that have appeared in Writer’s Digest, among others. In 2006, Victoria served as a judge for the World Fantasy Awards.

Victoria is the co-founder, with Ann Crispin, of Writer Beware, a publishing industry watchdog group that provides information and warnings about the many scams and schemes that threaten writers. She received the Service to SFWA Award in 2009 for my work with Writer Beware.

Victoria lives in Amherst, Massachusetts.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

ABOUT THE BOOK


Color Song
by Victoria Strauss
Hardcover
Skyscape
Released 9/16/2014

By the author of the acclaimed "Passion Blue," a "Kirkus Reviews" Best Teen Book of 2012 and "a rare, rewarding, sumptuous exploration of artistic passion," comes a fascinating companion novel.

Artistically brilliant, Giulia is blessed?or cursed?with a spirit's gift: she can hear the mysterious singing of the colors as she creates them in the convent workshop of Maestra Humilit?. It's here that Giulia, forced into the convent against her will, has found unexpected happiness and rekindled her passion to become a painter?an impossible dream for any woman in 15th century Italy.

But when a dying Humilit? bequeaths Giulia her most prized possession?the secret formula for the luminously beautiful paint called Passion blue?Giulia realizes she's in danger from those who have long coveted the famous color. Faced with the prospect of a life in the convent barred from painting as punishment for keeping Humilit s secret, Giulia is struck by a desperate idea: What if she disguises herself as a boy? Could she make her way to Venice and find work as an artist's apprentice?

Along with the truth of who she is, Giulia carries more dangerous secrets: the exquisite voices of her paint colors and the formula for Humilit s Passion blue. And Venice, she discovers, with its gilded palazzos and masked balls, has secrets of its own. Trapped in her false identity in this dream-like place where reality and reflection are easily confused, and where art and ambition, love and deception hover like dense fog, can Giulia find her way?

This stunning, compelling novel explores timeless themes of love and illusion, gender and identity as it asks the question: what does it mean to risk everything to pursue your passion?

Purchase Color Song at Amazon
Purchase Color Song at IndieBound
View Color Song on Goodreads


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11. Perfect Picture Book Friday - The Most Magnificent Thing PLUS The Goodnight Ark Giveaway Winner!

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, Everyone!

Boy do I have the most magnificent book to share with you today!  It's one of those books that makes you revel in how perfect it is when you get to the end and want to read it again right away in case you missed anything and then again just to enjoy how much fun it is :)  I hope you all like it as much as I do!

Title: The Most Magnificent Thing
Written & Illustrated By: Ashley Spires
Kids Can Press, April 2014, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-7

Themes/Topics: creativity, perseverance, perspective, emotion (frustration)

Opening: "This is a regular girl and her best friend in the whole wide world.  They do all kinds of things together.  They race.  They eat.  They explore.  They relax.  She makes things.  He unmakes things.  One day, the girl has a wonderful idea.  She is going to make the most MAGNIFICENT thing!"


Brief Synopsis: A little girl sets out to make the most MAGNIFICENT thing with the help of her best friend and assistant, her dog.  Imagine their shock when the thing turns out not to be magnificent!  In fact, it's not even "good. It isn't even kind-of-sort-of okay. It is all wrong."  So she tosses it and starts again.  But it's not easy to turn her vision into reality.  Frustration leads to anger, and anger leads to defeat.  Luckily, her assistant suggests a walk which brings calm and clarity and a new perspective... and a most magnificent thing :)

Links To Resources: supply a variety of craft items and/or found objects and encourage kids to think up and create their own "magnificent things"; Goldie Blox Toys (which encourage girls to put down the dolls and pick up the tools and might give you some invention ideas)

Why I Like This Book:  I love that this story addresses what may be the most common of all childhood emotions: frustration!  The little girl has a great idea.  She can imagine it perfectly.  She knows exactly how it will look.  But she has a hard time translating what she sees in her mind's eye to the physical reality of her most magnificent thing.  Her escalation of emotion is real and believable (and kids will relate to it so well!)  And the message that sometimes a little distance and a little time to calm down can help improve your perspective is a wonderful one.  In the end, she makes something that is just perfect (but I won't tell you what it is :))  The art is cute and full of humor.  The depiction of emotion is spot on.  The story touches on imagination and creativity, making things from found objects, dealing with frustration and disappointment, keeping/finding your perspective, not giving up, the idea that it's okay to make mistakes, and the importance of having a good friend.  All around, a book kids will enjoy and parents will be glad to read multiple times.

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

Now, before we all trot off so see what everyone else picked this week, I'd like to take a moment to announce the winner of last week's giveaway.  Laura Sassi and her publisher, Zonderkidz, generously contributed a copy of GOODNIGHT, ARK and the lucky winner is . . .

Sandy Perlic!!!

Congratulations, Sandy!  Please email me so we can organize getting you your book!  And thanks to everyone who shared their bedtime routines - we all had so much fun reading about them!

PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you!  I can't wait to see what's on the list for today :)

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!! :)


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12. Romain Gary at 100

       Romain Gary is one of the big-name authors celebrating the centenary of their birth in 2014 (others include: Tove Jansson, Julio Cortázar, and Arno Schmidt) and among the more impressive efforts celebrating that can now be found at the Institut français de Lituanie (!), where they have a pretty impressive web-documentaire on the Hocus Bogus-author. Yes, it's all in French, but if you can manage that it's well-worth your while.

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13. H.C.Artmann-Preis

       I think it's pretty neat that the city of Vienna has a (biennial) H.C.Artmann-Preis -- a decent €10,000, and a namesake who isn't exactly one one would expect hidebound bureaucrats and politicians to appreciate. Near-impossible to translate, Atlas Press have given it a go with The Quest for Dr. U -- see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk -- but his original Viennese-dialect(ic) wordplay is, in fact, a challenge even for German-German readers.
       They've announced this year's winner of the prize, and it's Elfriede Czurda -- one of whose books, Almost 1 Book / Almost 1 Life, has been translated by Rosmarie Waldrop (if anyone could, then she); see the Burning Deck publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk. (I have a copy; it looks good, and I hope to review it at some point.)

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14. Sharing the Work: Assigning Teacher Leaders for Unit Planning

There is an adage: if the teacher is working too hard, the students aren’t working hard enough. There are many cases where this is true: in a writing conference when the teacher is… Continue reading

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15. From the copyeditor's desk

For the last 29 years, I have worked in the word business. I've been a staff editor at a diabetes center, a proofreader at a direct mail company, and I have done freelance work in every conceivable genre--magazines, newsletters, business communications, non-profit press releases, creative writing, poetry, web content, sports books, and more. Sometimes my work involves being mostly a writing coach, a cheerleader. Sometimes I have to tap into my inner mystic. Other times, it involves being a very nit-picky critic. Copyediting falls into the latter category. This is no time to be nice, just precise and thorough.

My current client is a copyediting project. And I thought I'd share with you some reasons we even care about seemingly stupid stuff like punctuation.

Let's look at exclamation points for now. Why do copyeditors always want to suck the life out of our writing by deleting exclamation points? Well, dear writer, because they are lazy writing and they make the reader feel like they're getting a sales pitch. How so? Time for an example. This one is a made-up piece of non-fiction:

In the 1950s, many women were frustrated by being expected to return to their more traditional roles as housewives, after having spent the war years immersed in the world of working to support our troops in the war effort! Some felt resentment and oppression! However, some were glad for the new, more technological home, complete with machines that washed dishes for them, vacuums that rid the home of nasty dirt in such a sanitary way, and machines that made light work of the stacks of laundry! 

(None of this is factually true to my knowledge. I did no research. Let's just pretend I did, though, and look only at the paragraph for the purposes of examining punctuation.)

There are merely three exclamation points in this piece. Which in my opinion is three too many. But let's look at how they create lazy writing. The author is expecting the reader to look at the exclamation point and bring a level of emotion to the writing that isn't present in the words. That's lazy writing, when you expect the reader to fill in emotion or something else that you, the author, are too lazy to put into words.

In addition, exclamation points are all the same, but the emotion or feeling the reader is expected to bring to each sentence is not. What does the exclamation point at the end of the first sentence want us to infer? Perhaps that women found working during the war exciting. Or perhaps that women were mad about this freedom to earn money of their own being taken away. Those are very different expressions, and the writer should use words to convey exactly what he/she means to say, not leave it up to the reader to figure it out. What about the sentence after that--is the reader supposed to feel horrified that women felt oppressed? Or excited? Or perhaps the author wants the reader to really feel the oppression along with the women in the piece. Who knows? The reader certainly doesn't. This is lazy writing, expecting the punctuation to do something it cannot do.

Now, I realize I might be preaching to the choir, but this is why copyeditors pay such close attention to these seemingly little things.

There's another component that is a little harder to nail down, and that is a reader feels manipulated by so many exclamation points. Especially in fiction, you as the author want to make the reader work for it a little bit. We want to throw in clues that help the reader anticipate where we're going with a thread. We want to let the reader ponder what a character will do to get herself out of this seemingly impossible situation. But we don't want to manipulate the reader--at least I don't like being manipulated as a reader. When I see an exclamation point, it feels to me like I'm reading a sales letter. Maybe that's from my days in direct marketing in which every other sentence has an exclamation point. And it's used on purpose to manipulate the reader in buying whatever you're selling.

Let's look at an example in fiction:

"That's great!" exclaimed Peter.

A short example, but it shows everything I need it to demonstrate. This is lazy writing in so many ways. First, it's pretty redundant to have an exclamation point and the word "exclaimed." Even more than that, it doesn't give the reader any satisfaction, any sensory experience to connect to, any way to relate to the character. How would this particular character express his emotions with his body? Maybe jump into the air and do a flip. Maybe pump his fist. Maybe it would be more subtle, like get teary eyed. Or maybe he is being saracastic, and he lets out a raspberry.

Another thing exclamation points can affect in a piece of writing is the tone and voice. Do you want your narrator to sound like a salesperson? (Or like a football highlights sportscast or a car commercial.) That's the effect of exclamation points. Of course, at times, maybe you do want a narrator or a character to come across this way, and that might be an appropriate time to use this particular punctuation. But use it purposefully for effect, not lazily because you aren't willing to work at your craft. If your exclamation point usage is aimed toward making the tone light and friendly, then look for ways to do that with your words rather than your punctuation. Use conversational language and structure. Don't use jargon and highly specialized vocabulary. Don't use formal punctuation like semi-colons and colons. Maybe use second person. These tactics will make your writing lighter without being lazy.

Copyeditors are not here to make your life miserable. We are here to make your writing  precise and to help you do what you are attempting to do in the most effective way possible.

by Neysa CM Jensen
Boise, Idaho

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16. Lassie to the Rescue.

September is National Preparedness Month.  Heroic dog LASSIE  is teaming up with Save The Children to spread the word about the importance of having EMERGENCY KITS  for children.  These kits should include a recent photo, medical information, and more to prepare children for disasters such as storms, earthquakes, etc. To find out what should go in each kit and to see how LASSIE saves the day at Parade Magazine, visit: http://www.parade.com/lassie.                lassie

Visit the Save the Children website for more information: http://www.savethechildren.org/GetReady


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17. NEW SEASON - sian elin

Designer Sian Elin has unveiled her new Autumn Winter collection consisting of four new striking designs that building on her well-established East meets West fabric range. Prints include her Rosette Tile design has been re-worked in warm coral and Agra a black and white design inspired by floor tiles in the city of Agra. You can see more from Sian Elin online here.

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18. Social Media Marketing - Oh that Facebook (your visibility is diminishing even more)

For a while now I’ve found it a bit pointless to focus on Facebook as part of my social media marketing efforts. It’s been a while since the reigning king of the social media world reduced the visibility results of your postings. Now, they have a new algorithm reducing your posts’ visibility to around 2% of your fanbase, more likely less. I don’t get it. Okay, well maybe I do. They want you

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19. DESIGNERS - muffin & marianne

These are the very sweet illustrations of Muffin & Marianne a design studio based in Oslo. Founded in 2006 by designers Heidi Mittun-Kjos and Marianne Andresen the duo produce cards, gifts and illustrations. The designs shown above and below are from their 2015 family calendar. Muffin & Marianne have also launched their latest collection, SKAUEN  a woodland design that features on trays, boards

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20. Book Review: ‘Bible Bands: Rubber Band Jewelry’ by Katreina Eden


bible bandsBible Bands is a fun, educational how-to book for children who love making jewelry. Not only does it teaches how to make lovely designs, but it also strengthens children’s faith by combining hands-on creativity with Bible verses and stories.
Rubber band jewelry seems to be the hottest new craze, so Eden’s book comes at the right time. Though at first glance, when you look at the jewelry, it might seem complicated and difficult to make, especially for kids, the author demystifies it with simple step-by-step instructions accompanied by colorful photos. I found the language and descriptions clear and straight-forward, easy for most kids to understand, though the younger ones will need guidance from an adult, at least at first. There are over 12 designs, from the simplest to the most elaborate.
Eden incorporates faith with verses and symbols, such as a blue and white pattern to symbolize Christ’s baptism, a heart design to remind you of God’s love, and a multi-colored weave to match Joseph’s coat of many colors, among others.
Bible Bands doesn’t come with the looms or bands, but you can find these at most craft shops. This will make a lovely gift for any child, especially those who are into crafts. It is also a good book for those long summer and Christmas holidays, as it will keep children entertained for hours. Recommended!
Find out more on Amazon.
My review was previously published in Blogcritics.

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21. The Paddington Treasury : Six Classic Bedtime Stories by Michael Bon, illustrated by R.W. Alley

Paddington in picture book version is illustrated by R.W. Alley, an American who has spent the last 15 years updating and creating new illustrations for Michael Bond's bear. Although the stories are set in London, Alley's illustrations strike me as cheerfully American when compared to Peggy Fortnum's expressionistic pen and ink illustrations for the chapter books. But I tend to be the

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22. TURNING PAGES: THE SCANDALOUS SISTERHOOD OF PRICKWILLOW PLACE, by Julie Berrey

My poppets, gather round, do! There's a simply scandalous novel you must sit down and read, right away! It's a school story - boarding school. It's set in the Victorian era. There are stern spinsters, callow boys, naughty dogs, and ...dead bodies... Read the rest of this post

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23. A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond, 170 pp, RL 3

With the new live action movie coming out at the end of this year, there is a renewed interest in Paddington, the wayward bear from Darkest Peru. The Paddington Treasury, a collection of six picture book stories about Paddington and the Browns, the family that finds him at Paddington Station in London and takes him in, is a new, lovely collection with illustrations by American R.W. Alley,

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24. Novella Review: Meeting Her Match by Mary Connealy

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I really enjoyed Meeting Her Match.  This novella features an unconventional hero, and honestly, when we are first introduced to Marcus, all I could think was, “No!  He can’t be the hero!”  He is clumsy, he can’t look Hannah in the eye, and he’s completely tongue-tied in her presence.  Turns out our sweet hero has been in love with Hannah since he was a young lad, and he turns into a dithering clod whenever she is near. 

Hannah, who has spent many hours secretly finding matches for the eligible singles in town, has failed to find a match for herself.  She’s a busy gal, though, so it’s not surprising that she hasn’t found a man to get hitched to yet.  She’s the school teacher, she helps her sickly mother tend to her huge brood of siblings, and the timing never seems right for her.  Her fiancé was killed in a freak accident, and she’s been drifting through life ever since. 

When tragedy strikes her family, Hannah finds herself even more harried than before.  Then, when her father practically kicks her out of the house, she’s heartbroken.  She mopes about, feeling sorry for herself, not seeing the handsome, caring man that’s right in front of her.  Instead,  because of Marcus’ shy ways, she thinks that he doesn’t like her, even though nothing could be further from the truth.

With the meddling of the townsfolk, Hannah finally gets a clue.  This is a cute read, with likeable characters and a heroine who deserves a HEA.  The only glitch for me was that the ending took too long to wrap up.  Otherwise, this is a great time killer if you’ve got about an hour to fill.

Grade:  B

Review copy read on Scribd

From Amazon:

When the tables are turned and a tenderhearted meddler becomes the beneficiary of a matchmaking scheme, her world is turned upside down. As her entire life changes, will she finally be able to tell the banker’s son how much she cares for him?

The post Novella Review: Meeting Her Match by Mary Connealy appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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25. Captain No Beard Series and Pirate Ship Giveaway of Treasures

The Children’s Book Review | September 19, 2014 In Honor of International Talk Like a Pirate Day … Enter to win a complete autographed set of the Captain No Beard series, by award-winning author Carole P. Roman, and a Pirate Ship to deepen the imaginative play encouraged by these great books! One (1) grand prize winner receives: An autographed […]

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