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1. Guest Post: Writing books or working pub?

Industry Life

by

Kerrie Byrne McCreadie

Kerrie McCreadie“But what are you going to do?”

Majoring in English always seemed to be a very puzzling thing for those around me. It took me five and a half years to finish my undergraduate degree, and I probably couldn’t count the number of times this question came up. I also couldn’t count the number of ways I’ve responded. Writer. Editor. Book publicist. Agent. Designer. All noble causes, all professions inhabited by creative and brilliant people. But somewhere, in answering that penetrating question—with all its strength of will in making me feel like my degree would be ultimately useless—I got lost in the possible options and forgot to think about the most important thing: what did I want to do in the first place?

You learn early that being a writer isn’t considered a “realistic” career. Going into editing, that can work. But writing, being an author, not so much. I’m still fairly certain that the Grade 11 Careers class I was forced to take (a Canadian rite of passage) existed just to tell me that my dream jobs (at the time: writer, musical theatre performer, etc.) were impractical, and that I was unreasonable.

I can still see my teacher rolling her eyes.

What they don’t tell you in Careers class is that it’s probably not that much more impossible to become a writer than it is to become an editor in this economic climate. Becoming a writer who creates a six-figure novel? Not so likely. But becoming a writer at all? It’s hard, it takes passion and dedication—but it does happen. And it isn’t really less possible than being an editor. But we’re told it is. We’re told as young writers that the publishing industry is the smarter, easier choice. Not only is that not necessarily true, but it also belittles the work done by the incredible, driven people in the industry. There are publishers who spend their entire lives making sure other peoples’ books do well. People who work in the industry are often ambitious and passionate and…well. Practically superhuman, in some cases.

But still, I really wanted to be an editor; and, admittedly, it wasn’t just because of Careers. I love editing, I love being the person who gets to polish something beautiful into something perfect. At this point I have a little more than year of experience in the Toronto publishing world. Not a lot. I’m a baby, and I know it—but it’s enough to get a peek. I worked as an intern at a small publisher, sorting through submissions and slush. At the same small publisher, I worked as a typesetter and graphic designer. This past summer I have been working as an assistant for the president of a literary agency. These have all been really rewarding experiences and I’ve learned a lot. Publishing is hard. There’s a lot on the line for everyone emotionally, mentally, and financially. Doing design on a fast-paced publishing schedule is one of the most challenging jobs I’ve had so far, and seeing how agents function while they work is awe-inspiring. So many people in this industry work 17-18 hour days with hardly any weekends, just because they love it so much.

As I’m starting to grow into a publishing toddler, this experience has given me a pretty startling realization. I knew going into these internships that I wanted to write, that I always have wanted to write. But somewhere along the way I started letting my Careers teacher’s voice whisper in my ear. I am dedicated to continuing to educate myself on how to edit more thoroughly and how to design more beautifully. I’m just starting to get good enough to freelance reliably. But what I really want to focus on  at the moment is my writing.

It’s not to say that some people can’t balance both. I know some wonderful ladies and gents who pull off doing both with style. There is definitely value in being both a writer and involved in the industry, whether it gives you a greater understanding of what’s required of you to get yourself published or whether it lends you empathy towards your clients. But that life is only suited to some very specific people. I’ve met some ex-agents-turned-writers who realized that they loved their own work more than working on other peoples’, even if they ultimately loved doing both. And I know plenty of once-writers who seem to be leaning towards becoming editors.

Me? Somehow, coming out of all of this has ended a five-year novel writing block, and I’m happily typing away at a new project every spare moment I have. My industry experience helped me make some major life decisions, like moving on to grad school instead of going on to a publishing certificate without a single doubt. Doing this work now means I got the experience while I had as many doors open as possible. I’m able to acknowledge that just because I’m interested in industry work doesn’t mean I have to commit to it 100% now when I’m only 23. Even if my career advisor told me I should.

Besides, there are so many other things I can do with my English degree.

(Like getting a PhD!)

Kerrie Byrne McCreadie has dipped her toes/feet/shins/waist into the publishing world in various ways over the past few years, and thinks the whole industry is pretty fascinating. You can follow her on twitter, or find her on her brand new blog. She is currently writing a rather depressing fairy tale contemporary, and will thank anyone for holding her hand as she starts her PhD applications this fall.

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2. PEN/Heim Translation Fund grants

       They've announced the 2014 PEN/Heim Translation Fund grant winners:

From a field of 120 applicants, the Fund's Advisory Board -- Esther Allen, Barbara Epler, Sara Khalili, Michael F. Moore, Lauren Wein, and Lorin Stein -- has selected fifteen projects for funding.
       (That's a pretty impressive advisory board, by the way.)
       Some great-sounding projects, including work by some pretty big names -- Johannes Urzidil, Arseny Tarkovsky, Romain Gary, and Per Aage Brandt -- as well as a Richard Weiner, forthcoming from Two Lines Press (alas, too many of these other projects are still listed as: 'Available for publication' -- so check them out, publishers, some great things still up for grabs !).
       Among the intriguing projects: Sholeh Wolpé's translation of Farid ud-Din Attar's The Conference of Birds -- somewhat misleadingly presented as: "This artful and exquisite modern translation brings one of the definitive masterpieces of Persian literature to the English-speaking world". 'Definitive masterpieces' is right -- but of course it's hardly new to English-speaking audiences -- hey, there's a Penguin Classic's edition (Afkham Darbandi and Dick Davis' 1984 translation; get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk; my own dates to 1991, when I paid the then-list price of $6.95 for it at my local Barnes & Noble-- and even then I was reluctant to pay list, so a pretty significant book if I was willing to shell out that kind of money ...). Peter Avery's 1998 translation, published as The Speech of the Birds (see the Islamic Texts Society publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk), has long seemed the most definitive version, but after more than fifteen years perhaps the time is ripe for a new version.

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3. Simin Behbahani (1927-2014)

       I last mentioned leading Iranian poet Simin Behbahani less than a year ago, on the occasion of her being awarded the Janus Pannonius Poetry Prize. Now she has passed away -- see, for eample, the IBNA report
       Some of her work has been translated into English -- your best bet is still A Cup of Sin: Selected Poems; get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk See also her official site.

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4. Knitting Reimagined by Nicky Epstein

KNITTING REIMAGINED by Nicky Epstein

Knitting Reimagined by Nicky Epstein

ISBN 10: 0385346255
ISBN 13: 978-0385346252

Publication date: 03 June 2014 by Potter Craft

Category: Adult nonfiction

Keywords: Knitting, crafts

Format: Hardcover, ebook

Source: Finished hardcover copy from Publisher

 

I usually avoid Nicky Epstein designs, as they frequently don't match the kind of clothes I want to make. I'm a very practical knitter in general; while I love to knit complicated cables and lace, I also like the pieces I create to be things I can wear comfortably all the time, whether I'm going to the office, out and about, or just sitting at home knitting more things. Epstein's designs tend to appear much more precious and frilly than I'd normally wear.

I took a chance that Knitting Reimagined would have at least a couple of projects I could envision wearing, and that's about all I got. I'll agree that the designs are imaginative, playing with construction techniques, turning oddly-shaped sections at weird angles, and utilizing just about every show-offy skill there is: entrelac, intarsia, you name it. However, considering the amount of time it takes to finish a project if your knitting schedule is hampered by things like a day job or other hands-on activity, I don't think there are many pieces I would bother starting. On this very short list are the Crisscross Weave Tank with its braided back strap (p. 92), the dainty Edging Epilogue Dress (p. 162), and maybe, just maybe, the Directional Vest (p. 78), minus the swirly I-cord closure in front. 

One thing I do like about the book is that a "re-imagine it" section appears at the beginning of each pattern. It took me up to the third or fourth pass through this book to really take them to heart, otherwise I wouldn't even have been able to come up with the handful of projects that I might want to make and wear. Even then, occasionally even these miss the mark; on the Quintessential Cable Pullover, for example, it states "You'll want to keep the unique sleeve construction and the flaps..." No, no you won't. This pullover is a busy mess of tight cables, ribs, and flaps that make it look like the upside-down parapets of a castle. Compiled with poufed shoulders, an additional band of cable over each wrist, and a collar (optional, the re-imagine section notes, you can leave it off for "a sleek V-neck"), it's a hot mess of a sweater.

One project I'm still on the fence about is the Buttons and Bows Manteau (p. 124). It's a dress-length jacket in a lightweight mint-green yarn, with tucks adding texture to the skirt of the piece. There are two pink bows adorning the front on either side of the buttoned opening, and another one in back over a pleat to shape the waist. The optional ruffled collar is in the same contrasting color. My first thought is to change the color scheme entirely. The "re-imagine it" note suggests, "Remove bows or add even more to create the look you want." Add even more? Crazy talk. I really like the undulating shape of the tucks, but I'm already considering undertaking this piece in a purple sportweight yarn and replacing the bows with puffy stars to make a sort of deconstructed Lumpy Space Princess outfit for next year's Comic-Con. In other words, I'm not seriously considering making this unless it's part of a costume.

I'll spare you and the designer my descriptions of the projects I didn't like and can't re-imagine into a marginally wearable ensemble; that would just be hurtful snark. I can't decide if some of them are just tragically old-fashioned, or trying and failing to reach into the realm of couture. My modern/pragmatic biases aside, the book itself is fine. Photographs are taken from thoughtful angles and if nothing else, jog the imagination towards "this would look almost OK if..." The instructions and charts are clear, at least the ones that I read through completely for the handful of projects I think I might someday attempt. I can tell that this book really tried to stretch past the boundaries of the typical knitting pattern; it just doesn't quite make it past the edge.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for review purposes.

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5. Watch Out, Hollywood!: More Confessions of a So-called Middle Child | Book Giveaway

Enter to win copies of both CONFESSIONS OF A SO-CALLED MIDDLE CHILD and WATCH OUT, HOLLYWOOD! MORE CONFESSIONS OF A SO-CALLED MIDDLE CHILD, by Maria T. Lennon. Giveaway begins August 20, 2014, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends September 19, 2014, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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6. Pigment profile in the photosynthetic sea slug Elysia viridis

How can sacoglossan sea slugs perform photosynthesis – a process usually associated with plants?

Kleptoplasty describes a special type of endosymbiosis where a host organism retain photosynthetic organelles from their algal prey. Kleptoplasty is widespread in ciliates and foraminifera; however, within Metazoa animals (animals having the body composed of cells differentiated into tissues and organs, and usually a digestive cavity lined with specialized cells), sacoglossan sea slugs are the only known species to harbour functional plastids. This characteristic gives these sea slugs their very special feature.

The “stolen” chloroplasts are acquired by the ingestion of macro algal tissue and retention of undigested functional chloroplasts in special cells of their gut. These “stolen” chloroplasts (thereafter named kleptoplasts) continue to photosynthesize for varied periods of time, in some cases up to one year.

In our study, we analyzed the pigment profile of Elysia viridis in order to evaluate appropriate measures of photosynthetic activity.

The pigments siphonaxanthin, trans and cis-neoxanthin, violaxanthin, siphonaxanthin dodecenoate, chlorophyll (Chl) a and Chl b, ε,ε- and β,ε-carotenes, and an unidentified carotenoid were observed in all Elysia viridis. With the exception of the unidentified carotenoid, the same pigment profile was recorded for the macro algae C. tomentosum (its algal prey).

In general, carotenoids found in animals are either directly accumulated from food or partially modified through metabolic reactions. Therefore, the unidentified carotenoid was most likely a product modified by the sea slugs since it was not present in their food source.

Image credit: Lettuce sea slug, by Laszlo Ilyes. CC-BY-SA-2.0 via Flickr.
Image credit: Lettuce sea slug, by Laszlo Ilyes. CC-BY-SA-2.0 via Flickr.

Pigments characteristic of other macro algae present in the sampling locations were not detected inthe sea slugs. These results suggest that these Elysia viridis retained chloroplasts exclusively from C. tomentosum.

In general, the carotenoids to Chl a ratios were significantly higher in Elysia viridis than in C. tomentosum. Further analysis using starved individuals suggests carotenoid retention over Chlorophylls during the digestion of kleptoplasts. It is important to note that, despite a loss of 80% of Chl a in Elysia viridis starved for two weeks, measurements of maximum capacity of performing photosynthesis indicated a decrease of only 5% of the photosynthetic capacity of kleptoplasts that remain functional.

This result clearly illustrates that measurement of photosynthetic activity using this approach can be misleading when evaluating the importance of kleptoplasts for the overall nutrition of the animal.

Finally, concentrations of violaxanthin were low in C. tomentosum and Elysia viridis and no detectable levels of antheraxanthin or zeaxanthin were observed in either organism. Therefore, the occurrence of a xanthophyll cycle as a photoregulatory mechanism, crucial for most photosynthetic organisms, seems unlikely to occur in C. tomentosum and Elysia viridis but requires further research.

The post Pigment profile in the photosynthetic sea slug Elysia viridis appeared first on OUPblog.

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7. Teaching With Heart



Teaching with Heart: Poetry that Speaks to the Courage to Teach
edited by Sam M. Intrator and Megan Scribner
Jossey-Bass, 2014
review copy is my own, and will live on my shelf at school, ready to offer words of wisdom when I am in need

I have loved the first volume this duo edited, Teaching with Fire: Poetry That Sustains the Courage to Teachfor 10 years. The poems and accompanying essays have buoyed me up and carried me forward.

This new volume already has five poems sticky-noted for sharing, and dozens of others that made me nod and smile. In times when we have to keep stuff like this in mind, it is good to have a place to go where our profession is valued, understood, and truly celebrated. This is a book I will turn to and thumb through many times throughout the school year, in good times and when I'm worn down and worn out.

Plus, how much fun is it to find my Poetry Month pal, Kevin Hodgson (Kevin's Meandering Mind, @dogtrax), right there on pages 18-20 in the section "Relentless Optimism" sharing "What Teachers Make" by Taylor Mali (who wrote the introduction to the book)?!?!

In his introduction, Mali writes about still getting a feeling of "imminence" every fall, even though it's been since 2000 that teaching was his day job. He continues,
"For years I couldn't figure out why as a poet I still felt this way. But it makes perfect sense. Because on a very basic level, being a poet and being a teacher are inextricably linked. Whether teaching or writing, what I really am doing is shepherding revelation. I am the midwife to epiphany."
Today is our first day day with students. Nothing could be better than approaching this day as "the midwife to epiphany."



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8. Colores de la Vida



Review by Ariadna Sánchez

A vast variety of colors cover the universe. Their presence in the environment provides human beings with the inspiration necessary to create exquisite art pieces. Colors can cheer the spirit up in only seconds. They transform a lonely soul into a cheerful one by giving hope and serenity to it.
Colores de la Vida by Cynthia Weill has fabulous folk art by Artisans from Oaxaca, Mexico.  Weill’s perfect combination of art and colors results in a boost of power of the immense world of colors in English and Spanish. Page by page, Colores de la Vida is an open invitation to admire the beauty in our surroundings.
Visit your local library to check out other great books written by Cynthia Weill. Reading gives you wings!
For additional information regarding Weill’s work click the following link:
Listen in Spanish Cynthia Weill Interview

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9. Have You Heard About Moses Telling You That Jesus Watching You?

Come on -anyone knows me KNOWS I had -HAD- to share this one!

A burglar broke into a house one night. He shined his flashlight around, looking for valuables when a voice in the dark said, ‘Jesus knows you’re here.’ He nearly jumped out of his skin, clicked his flashlight off, and froze. When he heard nothing more, after a bit, he shook his head and continued. Just as he pulled the stereo out so he could disconnect the wires, clear as a bell he heard a voice....say, ‘Jesus is watching you.’ Freaked out, he shined his light around frantically, looking for the source of the voice. Finally, in the corner of the room, his flashlight beam came to rest on a parrot. ‘Did you say that?’ he hissed at the parrot. ‘Yep’, the parrot confessed, then squawked, ‘I’m just trying to warn you that he is watching you.’ The burglar relaxed. ‘Warn me, huh? Who in the world are you?’  ‘I'm Moses.’ replied the bird. ‘Moses?’ the burglar laughed. ‘What kind of people would name a bird Moses?’  ‘The same kind of people that would name their Rottweiler Jesus.’

A burglar broke into a house one night. He shined his flashlight around, looking for valuables when a voice in the dark said, ‘Jesus knows you’re here.’ He nearly jumped out of his skin, clicked his flashlight off, and froze. When he heard nothing more, after a bit, he shook his head and continued. 

Just as he pulled the stereo out so he could disconnect the wires, clear as a bell he heard a voice....say, ‘Jesus is watching you.’ Freaked out, he shined his light around frantically, looking for the source of the voice. 

Finally, in the corner of the room, his flashlight beam came to rest on a parrot. ‘Did you say that?’ he hissed at the parrot. ‘Yep’, the parrot confessed, then squawked, ‘I’m just trying to warn you that he is watching you.’ The burglar relaxed. ‘Warn me, huh? Who in the world are you?’

‘I'm Moses.’ replied the bird. ‘Moses?’ the burglar laughed. ‘What kind of people would name a bird Moses?’


‘The same kind of people that would name their Rottweiler Jesus.’




roll on snare drum please!

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10. Rebel Light Canadian Publisher

REBELIGHT_LOGO_4C

Submission Guidelines

What we want:

  • Manuscripts for middle grade, young adult and new adult novels
  • Well written and edited stories of any genre with riveting plots, dynamic and developing protagonists and antagonists we love to hate.
  • Work from Canadian writers that appeals to a worldwide market.

 Emerging writers and experienced authors welcome! Published authors, feeling stuck writing in one genre for your publisher and want to try something new? We are all ears.

What we don’t want:

Holiday stories • Graphic novels • Poetry • Short stories • Illustrations • Picture books • Non-fiction • Erotica • Previously published work (including self-published works)

Some helpful hints:

  • Have your manuscript edited by a third party who has a strong understanding of writing for young people. Your mother does not count, unless her name is J.K. Rowling.
  • A couple helpful reads: Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View by Jill Elizabeth Nelson and  Writing Great Books For Young Adults by Regina L. Brooks.
  • Your work has a better chance of serious consideration if it is presented in a professional manner, so please follow our submission guidelines below.

Submission Guidelines:

  • Rebelight Publishing Inc. is environmentally friendly and accepts emailed submissions only. Mailed submissions will be shredded and not responded to, a waste of your money (& trees).

In the body of the email (for security reasons attachments will not be opened), your submission should include:

  1. A one-page query letter
  2. Your author CV
  3. A one-page synopsis
  4. The first three chapters of your manuscript.
  • The email subject line should read as follows: “Submission – Your First Name Your Last Name, Manuscript Title.”
  • Do not send more than one manuscript at a time.
  • Address all emails, “Dear Editor:” (Yes, this goes against most advice given to writers… it’s OK. If your manuscript is accepted you’ll be introduced to your editor.)
  • We accept simultaneous submissions, however, as a courtesy, please let us know if your manuscript has been accepted elsewhere.
  • Should we request a full manuscript, it must be submitted in standard 8.5 x 11” format, typed in Times Roman 12 pt font and double-spaced. Submit as a Microsoft Word file.

Submissions are usually processed within three (3) months. Please do not contact us any sooner about your submission. Due to the volume of submissions, we cannot provide editorial comments on manuscripts. Email submissions to: editor@rebelight.com You’ve worked hard and shown perseverance to get a manuscript ready for submission. We look forward to hearing from you.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, Middle Grade Novels, opportunity, Places to sumit, publishers, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Canadian writers, email sumissions, Rebel Light, submission guidelines

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11. The Realities of Writing by Michaelbrent Collings

Okay, I’m going to be up front about a few things: this article is divided into two parts. The first part is helpful, will give you burgeoning professionals some realistic ideas about the hellhole you’re about to dive into, and (maybe most important) this is probably the only time you’ll ever hear something like this. It’s also very depressing. So if you’re the type who gets all panicky wondering whether Captain America is going to make it through the movie, or who stresses over Family Feud reruns, skip to part two. Also, please consider a new career choice because you are probably going to blow your brains out at some point.

I told you this was going to be depressing.

But if you’ll stick with it, I promise there’s a silver lining. Or at least a less-black lining. Sometimes that’s enough.

Here goes…

Part One: The Suck

First, to establish my bona fides: I’m a full-time writer. I’ve written movies, and as of now I’m a #1 bestselling novelist, one of Amazon’s top selling horror writers, and have been a bestseller in something like forty countries. I’m “successful.” And so part of my job is to travel around to cons and symposia talking about what it is to be “successful” with other folks who somehow make a living writing down our dreams (or nightmares).

Inevitably one of us writerly types makes an offhand comment about the bad-ol’ days, the days of starving, of choosing between buying a word processing program and, you know, eating. Or some comment about how many writers die of drug overdoses.

Cue laughter. And the laughter from the audience is real.

But here’s the thing: the laughter from the folks behind the table, from the speakers, the panelists, the writers…well, it’s laughter of a different sort. Laughter that’s a socially acceptable alternative to running out of the room screaming.

We make jokes about it, about the suffering. Because otherwise we’d just curl up in little balls and cry. No one wants to see that. So we laugh, and the “newbies” and “wannabes” get the wrong idea. “Ain’t it funny,” they say. “Ain’t it grand,” they muse. “Ain’t it all so terribly romantic?”

Well here’s a bit of the romantic life of a writer: me, rolling over and bumping into my wife for the umpteenth time because we’re both crammed into a full bed. We used to have a king, but couldn’t take it with us when we moved. We moved because after the first big chunk of writing money ran dry, no more came, and for some reason the people in charge of our house kept expecting money. And our kids kept wanting to eat (lousy, greedy kids!). So we packed up and moved in with my parents. Four people in two rooms downstairs. Then a new baby came. So my wife and I are still in the full, plus a screaming newborn two feet away in a room that measures maybe twelve feet by twelve feet. We made sure the kids ate well, and both the wife and I lost weight.

Hahahaha…cue laughter. So funny.

We finally got out of my parents’ place, and moved into a nice house in a beautiful neighborhood. We have a king-size bed again, and we don’t worry about eating regularly. Another kid is on the way, and this one will have his own room. But I often work sixty hours or more a week, and I just had my first vacation in four years – a whopping four days in a row!

Welcome to the life of a “successful” writer.

And most of the ones who have made it have stories like this. Look at the bios of a lot of pro writers. They’ve been short order cooks, mail carriers, teachers (and that’s all one writer, mind you). Sounds like someone’s bopping around, doing research, but really that’s just a person whose royalties didn’t cover living expenses, so he or she took what was necessary to eat.

Not many of us talk about this. Partly it’s because we want to sound like we are King Crap of Turd Mountain, like our mommies shot us out knowing how to Write Good Books and we were bestsellers from day one. But partly – maybe mostly – it’s just too painful. We write books that we love…and no one else does. Or at least not enough people do. And we and our loved ones suffer for it.

No one should have to go through that. But if you choose this life, you will.

I’ll say it again: you. WILL.

Part Two: The Silver Lining

Why do I want to hurt you? Do I want to keep you out? To eliminate the competition?

Absolutely not. I want you to write. I want you to try, and to make it!

I think everyone’s got a story to tell – a good one – and I hope you tell yours. But going in without knowing the above is a recipe for (more) heartbreak. Be prepared, and you’ll last longer.

And there’s one more thing you can do. One more thing I’ve found that reminds me on the down days, the days I feel worthless and crappy and talentless (and this from a guy who’s making steady money on a level that most people only dream of).

This is what I try to remember: writing, at its core, is an exercise in love and community.

Let me explain.

We write first for ourselves. Someone hands us a pen and paper and we disappear into the magic of the written word. We take ourselves to places that seem unique to our own minds, no matter how derivative those early stories really are.

Eventually we branch out. We get better. We show our work to friends, to family. To a cherished circle of people whom we trust to be gentle, to care for our work and our hearts – for they are one and the same. And in so doing, we bring those people closer to us, closer to each other. We extend to them our trust, and they cannot help but trust us a bit more in return. A new community springs into being, a community centered around the lie of a fiction, the Truth of a story.

Hopefully at some point that community grows beyond the people we know. People who are strangers to us – strange in custom, in background, in beliefs and culture – come to read what we create. And suddenly they are strange no more, for they have understood what we communicated. They are friends. A bigger community, a greater tribe.

We are all at different places on this spectrum. Perhaps you have barely begun to share your work with others. Perhaps you are still laboring in secretive silence, afraid to show your words to any but yourself. Possibly you have a nationwide following, but hope to move across the oceans to Europe, to Asia, to other lands farther away than most of us will ever really know.

But no matter where we are, we can all move forward. We can all continue the labor of love, continue to build those communities. The money is nice when it comes, but it is – like all material items – a temporal, transient thing that comes and goes at the whim of too many factors for anyone to really control. No man is captain of his ship, and no person is even midshipman of his bank account. Not really.

But the love we carry for our writing…that is ours to provide, and ours alone. The care we give it… that is in our control. The communities we build…those are the real purpose of the writing.

So on the nights when we roll over slowly, oh-so-carefully so as not to bump a spouse out of bed or wake a sleeping infant in a room too small for either, we remember the love we share for both, the love we share for the work we have chosen, the love we both give to and receive from those lucky enough to enjoy our work…and we somehow sleep, and dream good dreams.

The writer’s life is not easy. It is, in fact, terribly hard. Bone-crushingly stressful, and wearying to body and soul.

But it is at the same time lovely, and good, and well worth it.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————
Michaelbrent

Michaelbrent Collings is a #1 bestselling novelist and screenwriter, one of the top selling horror novelists on Amazon for over two years straight, and has been a bestselling novelist in over forty countries. His newest novel is This Darkness Light.

You can join his mailing list at http://eepurl.com/VHuvX to be notified of his new releases, sales, and freebies; and find more writing advice at http://michaelbrentcollings.com/writingadvice.html.

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12. (African) literary prize debate

       In The Herald (Zimbabwe) Beaven Tapureta takes on the Caine Prize -- the leading (no doubt about that, for the time being) African short-story prize -- and literary prizes as a way of fostering (African) literature, asking What is an African story ?
       So they're wondering:

Are the Commonwealth Prize for Africa, Caine, Booker, and NOMA prizes doing more harm than good to the telling of a true African story ? On what basis are the works by African writers being judged at these prizes which in some cases have part of the juries coming from the continent ?
       And:
Zimbabwe's multi-award winning writer Shimmer Chinodya, who was shortlisted for the Caine Prize in 2000, its inaugural year, was bitter about the Prize for it has become.

One of the biggest crimes the Prize has committed is the way it has degenerated into gender and geographical issues. It has masqueraded as the prize 'for African writing', that's nonsense. We have had the NOMA Award for Publishing in Africa, the Commonwealth Prize for Africa although it has been downplayed by the Caine Prize which has made the short story look an easier genre to write than a novel. African tradition is not a minimalist tradition. I think the Prize should grow out of the ten-page stories and do something," he said.
       I've long argued that the Caine Prize -- estimable though it is -- shouldn't be considered the 'Man Booker' of African writing because, after all it is 'just' a short story prize. Nothing wrong with that -- but still, something different from novels (and, as you know, I'm a novel-man, through and through and through ...). Nevertheless, I must point out that the repeatedly mentioned "Commonwealth Prize for Africa" (meaning, surely, the Commonwealth Writers' Prize-African region) and the Noma Award for Publishing in Africa both ... no longer exist, having given up their respective ghosts in 2011 and 2009. Other pan-African (sort of ... northern Africa always seem to get rather left out of these, as does non-English-writing ...) prizes have sprung up, but nothing has established itself as near-convincingly pan-African as the Caine Prize.
       (As always, I note that the bizarre policy of announcing the winner of the Caine Prize in Oxford is perhaps not the best way to sell yourself as an 'African' prize; it's a big continent and there are lots of nice places you could hold an awards ceremony .....)

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13.


Okay, I'm told firm pub date is now Sept. 11. Not an auspicious day, but exciting nonetheless!

Dictionaries Out of Order defies simple description. Its stories, which intersect at Portland's "City of Books," range from the silly to the sublime, veering expertly from philosophy to farce. At its heart, the book is a love letter to the awesome and mysterious power of words. As comical as it is profound, this unique and unforgettable collection confirms that David Michael Slater is one of the most versatile authors writing today.

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14. The road to egalitaria

In 1985, Nobel Laureate Gary Becker observed that the gap in employment between mothers and fathers of young children had been shrinking since the 1960s in OECD countries. This led Becker to predict that such sex differences “may only be a legacy of powerful forces from the past and may disappear or be greatly attenuated in the near future.” In the 1990s, however, the shrinking of the mother-father gap stalled before Becker’s prediction could be realized. In today’s economy, how big is this mother-father employment gap, what forces underlie it, and are there any policies which could close it further?

A simple way to characterize the mother-father employment gap is to sum up how much more work is done by mothers compared to fathers of children from ages 0 to 10. In 2010, fathers in the United States worked 3.1 more years on average than mothers over this age 0 to 10 age range. In the United Kingdom, the comparable number is 3.8, while in Canada it is 2.9 and Germany 4.5. The figure below traces the evolution of this mother-father employment gap for all four of these countries.

Graph shows the difference in years worked by mothers and fathers when their children are between the ages of 0 to 10. (Graph credit: Milligan, 2014 CESifo Economic Studies)
Graph shows the difference in years worked by mothers and fathers when their children are between the ages of 0 to 10. (Graph credit: Milligan, 2014 CESifo Economic Studies)

Becker’s theorizing about the family can help us to understand the development of this mother-father employment gap. Becker’s theoretical models suggest that if there are even slight differences between the productivity of mothers and fathers in the home vs. the workplace, spouses will tend to specialize completely in either in-home or in out-of-home work. These kind of productivity differences could arise because of cultural conditioning, as society pushes certain roles and expectations on women and men. Also, biology could be important as women have a heavier physical burden during pregnancy and after the birth of a child women have an advantage in breastfeeding. It is possible that the initial impact of these unique biological roles for mothers lingers as their children age. Biology is not destiny, but should be acknowledged as a potential barrier that contributes to the origins of the mother-father work gap.

Will today’s differences in mother-father work patterns persist into the future? To some extent that may depend on how cultural attitudes evolve. But there’s also the possibility that family-friendly policy can move things along more quickly. Both parental leave and subsidized childcare are options to consider.

Analysis of some data across the four countries suggest that these kinds of policies can make some difference, but the impact is limited.

Parental leave makes a very big difference when the children are age zero and the parent is actually taking the leave—but because mothers take much more parental leave than fathers, this increases the mother-father employment gap rather than shrinking it. Evidence suggests that after age 0 when most parents return to work, there doesn’t seem to be any lasting impact of having taken a maternity leave on mothers’ employment patterns when their children are ages 1 to 10.

Another policy that might matter is childcare. In the Canadian province of Quebec, a subsidized childcare program was put in place in 1997 that required parents to pay only $5 per day for childcare. This program not only increased mothers’ work at pre-school ages, but also seems to have had a lasting impact when their children reach older ages, as employment of women in Quebec increased at all ages from 0 to 10. When summed up over these ages, Quebec’s subsidized childcare closed the mother-father employment gap by about half a year of work.

Gary Becker’s prediction about the disappearance of mother-father work gaps hasn’t come true – yet. Evidence from Canada, Germany, the United States, and the United Kingdom suggests that policy can contribute to a shrinking of the mother-father employment gap. However, the analysis makes clear that policy alone may not be enough to overcome the combination of strong cultural attitudes and any persistence of intrinsic biological differences between mothers and fathers.

Image credit: Hispanic mother with two children, © Spotmatik, via iStock Photo.

The post The road to egalitaria appeared first on OUPblog.

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15. Moving


I'm moving my blog over to my
 website...check it out here

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16. A Piece of Cake by LeUyen Pham

A Piece of Cake by LeUyen Pham reminds me of a cheerier, more colorful version of Candace Fleming's wonderful Clever Jack Takes the Cake, illustrated by G. Brian Karas. In both Fleming and Pham's books a friend bakes a birthday cake for another friend and, in the process of delivering the cake things go awry. With a flock of crows, an ogre and a princess, Fleming's book has a definitely has

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17. Sneak peek, progress shot. #sketch

via Instagram http://ift.tt/1pc33Tu



via Studio Bowes Art Blog at http://ift.tt/1obLUEt

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18. Face-Lift 1217


Guess the Plot

City of Djinn

1. Never the sharpest knife in the drawer, Harry Bumm buys a postcard while on vacation in the City of Djinn and sarcastically writes 'Wish you were here' and sends it to his ex-wife. Seconds later, she appears in his hotel room. Can he get rid of her before she fulfills her wishes to reconcile, have ten kids and move in with her witch of a mother?
 

2. By day Gilbert York is a prosecutor for the city of San Francisco, by night a video game creator. Pocket Djinn is Gilbert’s new monster collection game. Gilbert brings a copy to work where a freak power surge releases the djinn onto the city mainframe. Now Gilbert must use his coding skill to fight every pocket djinn and bring them home before it’s too late!

3. Everyone knows never to make a wish in the city of Djinn. No stranger to the rules, Alexander has always resisted the temptation until he sees beautiful Eleeza, and in one unguarded moment does the unthinkable.  Now a djinn holds Eleeza's future in his hands unless Alexander can perform the dangerous ritual of un-whishing.

4. Worst wedding day ever: Meron's friends and family are all killed by raiders, she's left alone in the desert still wearing her wedding clothes, and then she captured by djinn, shapeshifting monsters who plan to take her to their city and have her for dinner, and I don't mean as a guest.

5. A disgruntled teenager heads to the big city, where people go to forget all their troubles, where it seems everyone is willing to fulfill his every wish. Life is fantastic, until he hits rock bottom and realizes this isn't a city of djinn... It's a city of gin.

6. Archaeologist Ahmed Rais returns to his homeland Iraq, hoping to rebuild the great museum. While cleaning some ancient silver, he is whisked away to a magic land where everything is strange and few speak his language. Just how did he end up in Dearborn, anyway?

7. When Jean Djinn comes of age, and into her powers, she thinks life can’t get any better. Pulling chairs out from under people, making the pavement over sewer lines disappear as people stroll along, materializing pies for people to walk into face first . . . Then they catch her, and send her to genie juvie to learn some respect. Now, she’s out for revenge, badda-bing-badda-boom style. And no jail in creation can hold her – especially not one located in the . . . City of Djinn.

8. Donnie dreams of becoming a star, the number one requested condiment on the planet, the name that’s on the tip of everyone’s tongue. But when he can’t even cut the mustard enough to make the top ten… well, what’s a self-respecting plant like him to do? Wait… what? City of what? Ohhh, Djinn. Never mind.

9. Slave trader Hamsi is an unpopular man in an unpopular profession. Just when it seems he may have to earn a respectable living as a shoe salesman, he stumbles upon the wondrous City of Djinn. So many potential slaves, so few oil lamps to trap them in.



Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,


I’m seeking representation for City of Djinn, a 95,000 word YA fantasy set in a desert world with elements of Persian mythology. [I'd put this at the end.]


Blighted babies should be given to the desert. To do otherwise is to invite the wrath of the gods. [Get rid of this.]


Because of Meron’s birth defect, she’s been ostracized by her tribe: blamed for every lost camel and sick child [Why haven't the tribe given her to the desert?] and betrothed to an old man who already has two wives. And he only agreed to marry her because he owes her father a favor. [When someone owes you a favor  for, say, feeding his camel while he was on vacation, it's considered bad form to demand he repay you by marrying your daughter. Especially if he's already married. Twice. Is the reason he has two wives because he owed two other guys favors?]


On the night of her wedding ceremony, raiders attack, slaughtering Meron’s tribe and leaving her alone in the middle of the desert, still wearing her wedding clothes. [At least there's no one left to blame her for this.] Her survival depends on crossing a land riddled with dangers: giant crabs that suck their victims dry, and immortal beings she thought were myths. When she’s captured by djinn – shapeshifting monsters that prey on humans – Meron is given a choice: die with the other captives [Who are these other captives?] or discover who’s been enslaving the djinn and why. [How do they know the djinn are being enslaved if they don't know who's enslaving them?] If she succeeds, she and the other captives will be freed. [Or so the Djinn claim, but can you really trust shapeshifting monsters that prey on humans?] If she fails, they’ll be dinner.


As the trail leads her closer to the dark kingdom next door and the beasts that guard it, Meron learns why the djinn selected herfor this task and discovers a secret that could propel her to the upper echelons of society, blighted or not. [When you're in danger of becoming someone's dinner, you tend to put your place in the societal order on the back burner.]


This is my first novel. I hope it will appeal to fans of Rae Carson’s Girl of Fire and Thorns and Tamora Pierce’s Tortall series. [I'd replace this with the first sentence, or combine them.]


Sincerely,


Notes

I think you should tell us why Meron was selected for this task and what secret she learned that will make her the toast of the ton.

Enslaving a shapeshifter seems impossible. He can turn into a snake to slip out of his shackles. He can become a cheetah and run away, or a bird and fly away or he can turn into the Hulk and pound you into a pulp. If this world has sorcerers capable of preventing shapeshifting, then the djinn should be smart enough to figure out that it's the sorcerers who are enslaving them, instead of sending Meron to find out who's doing it.

If the birth defect is the reason Meron was chosen, start with the 3rd paragraph, but add the first two sentences of the 4th paragraph to that one. If it wasn't the reason, you can dump the entire 3rd paragraph and start with the 4th.

 

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19. Writer Wednesday: Deal Announcement


I had an exciting start to my week. Not only did I finally get to move back home, but I also got this picture from my amazing agent Sarah Negovetich.
If you're having trouble reading that, it's the deal announcement for Fading Into the Shadows, which will be published by Spencer Hill Press in 2016!

I love my editor at SHP. Trisha just gets me and the way my mind works, so I'm thrilled to work on another book with her. And this book was one that grabbed my attention from the start. It's actually the book that gave me the idea for the Touch of Death series. Yes, I drafted it before Touch of Death. I revised it after I completed the series though.

I can't wait to share more info with you, but for now I'll say it's fantasy and it involves a girl who will do anything to save her best friend after he goes missing. Of course she didn't realize "anything" involved another world of shadows and real life constellations trying to kill her.

Anyone else have good writing news to share this week? Tackle a difficult chapter, finish a revision, get a new book idea? Let's celebrate together.

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20. Poetry Friday - A review of On the Wing

Douglas Florian is a poet and artist who has created poetry picture books that explore a wide variety of subjects. Over the years I have greatly enjoyed reading these books, and it is interesting to see how he applies his considerable talent to take on a new topic that interests him.

Douglas Florian
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 6 to 8
Harcourt, 1996, 978-0152023669
Birds truly are remarkable animals. They come in a dazzling array of colors, live on every continent, and make their homes in all kinds of places. In this wonderful picture book Douglas Florian pairs short poems with his artwork to give readers a true celebration of birds.
   Over the millennia birds have evolved to suit many kinds of environments. Some birds, like the egret, sail on water and then rest on the beach making it seem as if there is a “feathered hat” lying on the sand. Dippers love to dip and dive in waterfalls. They are so aquatic that one wonders if they would be happy to “trade / Their oily wings for flippers.” They are such good swimmers that it is possible that the little birds might “think that they are fish.”
   Birds come in all shapes and sizes. The spoonbill is tall and thin with a beak that does indeed look like a long-handled spoon. In his poem about this rather odd looking species, Douglas Florian wonders if the spoonbill uses its bill “for stirring tea” or does it “use it as a scoop / For eating peas and drinking soup.”
   The stork has a bill that is perfectly suited for the environment it lives in. Wading through shallow water, the bird uses it rapier like bill to stab frogs and other creatures. Woodpeckers also have beaks that are perfectly adapted so that they can get to their chosen food - insects that live in wood and sap that runs through wood. Not only are these beaks perfect for creating holes, but woodpeckers also use them to communicate.
   With clever touches of humor and insightful descriptions, this collection of poems will give young readers a colorful picture of twenty-one bird speci

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21. A Better Life for Yourself is Tangible and Within Your Reach

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I went into my first foster home when I was fifteen years old. Back then I knew a better life for myself was tangible and within my reach, I just had to reach out and grab it. Books taught me that. Books and teachers saved me.

~Tonia Allen Gould
the Finding Corte Magore project


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22. see you in edinburgh!

Hey, space cadets! I'm coming up to Edinburgh to do lots of library and school events, all coming together for my big CAKES IN SPACE event at the Edinburgh Book Festival with my co-author Philip Reeve on Saturday!

Hope you can join us! (Ticket details here.)

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23. A LITTLE SOMETHING DIFFERENT by Sandy Hall

"Review My Books" Review by Ryann Dannelly  A LITTLE SOMETHING DIFFERENT by Sandy Hall Genre: YA Contemporary, NA, Romance My Rating: 5/5 stars Goodreads | Amazon The creative writing teacher, the delivery guy, the local Starbucks baristas, his best friend, her roommate, and the squirrel in the park all have one thing in common—they believe that Gabe and Lea should get together.Lea and

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24. Artist of the Day: Oren Haskins

Today we look at the work of Oren Haskins, Cartoon Brew's Artist of the Day!

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25. Time Management Tuesday: Your Mindset Can Impact Procrastination

Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson wrote a post at her website last winter on procrastination called How to Make Yourself Work When You Just Don't Want To. Among her suggestions and my take on how they apply to writers:

Promotion vs. Prevention Focuses


A promotion focus encourages someone to work to better themselves. Will working today mean meeting a deadline or enable you to make a submission? Will studying today enhance the quality of your writing? Will just putting in time writing enhance the quality of your writing? That's all about promotion.

A prevention focus encourages someone to work to maintain what they have and prevent loss. Will working today help me to maintain my tenuous place on the writing career ladder? Will it help me to stay published? That's about prevention.

Halvorson argues that choosing a focus can keep you working.

Do You Have To Feel Like Working In Order To Work?

This is a question of particular interest to writers and other creatives because there is a stereotype that we have to be inspired in order to work. There are muses that are supposed to visit us. Personally, I think this is a very old-fashioned attitude, at least as far as creative people are concerned. I never hear it from published writers or anyone serious about publishing. Actually, I only hear it from people who don't do creative work, and even then rarely. I don't hear about writer's block, either. The realities of publishing have moved most of us past that.

If-Then Planning

Timothy Pychyl also talks about if-then statements, calling them implementation intentions.  You plan ahead to deal with problem situations--form an intention and plan how you'll implement it. I, for instance, plan to keep working until a timer goes off. Halvorsan says, "...if-then plans dramatically reduce the demands placed on your willpower... In fact,  if-then planning has been shown in over "200 studies to increase rates of goal attainment and productivity by 200%-300% on average."

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