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1. Friday Feature: Summer's Sweet Embrace "Truly Paradise"


Summer's Sweet Embrace

Truly Paradise by Michelle Ziegler 

Waiting for the right one can be torture. Too bad for Hailey, impatience got the best of her. Finding Mr. Right in time for a destination wedding couldn’t happen fast enough. Instead of listening to reason, or rather her friends, she’s stuck in paradise alone, again. Nothing ruins a tropical paradise faster than catching your date with another woman.   Justin’s ready for a change. He’s been caught up in his own success for too long and is looking to finally settle down. Timing is everything and his cousins wedding is the perfect start of his new life. His luck is changing with the captivating mystery woman on the beach. Now all he has to do is find her, before he agrees to his family’s match making plot.   

Excerpt: “This is paradise, though, or so the brochure said. I’m fairly certain a woman like you could find someone better in the matter of a few hours.” He glanced back to her. His gaze sent heat coursing through her in a way she’d never experienced, let alone expected. She couldn’t be certain the sudden wriggling in her stomach was something she’d eaten, or a good thing invoked by Mr. Beach-God. A hot burn seemed to claim her neck and kiss her cheeks. There was no suppressing the grin that spread ear to ear. No one had ever made her feel like she was an object of desire. Tossing her head, she took it in. Feminism aside, it was nice to be wanted. He smiled back at her, a full smile that reached his eyes. “Then again, it isn’t exactly bad to have morals. I respect the fact you didn’t head straight for a bar to try and pick up on someone new. I know my roommate certainly could use a few morals for the love of my sanity.” Is he hitting on me? “This is Mexico. Are you implying there are a lot of desperate men here?” She leaned into him, bumping his shoulder with hers. The bit of contact sent a new sizzling flash racing over her. The stranger’s brow knit together. “What? No. That’s not at all what I meant. I suppose it’s true though, unless there are a lot of cold showers to be had around here. Men are pretty useless around woman in bathing suits.”   

About the Author: Michelle’s imagination started spilling out onto paper the second she could scribble. Her drawing never improved, but her love affair with words continued and evolved as she became infatuated with one story after another. If life could be written, Michelle would write everyone’s ending as a happily ever after. Michelle grew up in Chicago and later moved to Colorado. Her husband still makes fun of her Midwest accent. By day, she is an engineer, wife, and mother to two kids and two dogs. Her sanity survives on the pages she writes, even if her toddler is trying to drive her to the edge one temper tantrum at a time. 
Website: http://www.michellezieglerauthor.com 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MichelleZieglerAuthor 
Twitter: http://twitter.com/MZiegler_Writer  
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Check out Michelle's story and the others in this anthology.

Purchase Links:
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7f4ea-add2bto2bgoodreads2bbutton       

Want your YA, NA, or MG book featured on my blog? Contact me here and we'll set it up.

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2. Spidergrams

Find out how to use spidergrams in plotting your book.

http://nerdychickswrite.com/2015/07/28/leeza-hernandez-plotting-with-spidergrams-and-giveaway/

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3. Spidergrams

Find out how to use spidergrams in plotting your book.

http://nerdychickswrite.com/2015/07/28/leeza-hernandez-plotting-with-spidergrams-and-giveaway/

0 Comments on Spidergrams as of 8/27/2015 9:45:00 PM
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4. Writing and Naming

I am woefully behind in progressing through the James Patterson Master Class on writing. It is not because it is a bad class (my thoughts so far here and here) but because I have so many other things going on it is hard for me to make the time to watch the videos. A few weeks ago I got am email inviting me to submit a writing sample to be critiqued by Patterson himself and even though I did not take advantage of the opportunity, having no fictional work in progress, I thought it was a pretty cool thing and felt a bit bad that I did not have any fiction in progress to submit and see just what kind of feedback was on offer.

Today in my email I received a message that my friends are eligible for a $15 discount of the price of a Master Class, any Master Class it seems. So if you are interested in taking Patterson’s fiction class or trying out any of the other classes on offer, if you sign up by midnight PST on September 8th, enter the code PTS86W.

***

There is a great article called Silence in the Library that you all might be interested in reading. It is written by an archivist and discusses the issue of naming that those who catalog materials must deal with. Before I went to library school I could honestly say I never once thought about how materials were cataloged, that someone had to figure out what subject headings and keywords and other metadata to add to them. And then when I did think about it I wondered, really, how hard could it be?

I am not a cataloger, but I had the pain and pleasure of finding out just how important these folks are in more ways than you can imagine. Because we all know that naming is important and it bumps into issues like privilege and race and class all the time. Library cataloging is not immune to any of the issues. Catalogers struggle with it every day. Not only do they have to figure out what to call materials so you, the library patron can actually find and borrow them, but they also very often consider the implications of how materials are named. Librarians at the reference desk often get all the glory when they help a patron find something, but those behind the scenes catalogers are owed a great deal of credit for creating the metadata that allows that reference librarian to help you.

Anyway, the article is great and delves into a bit of the issues and implications of naming and how librarians have the opportunity to be silent radicals. Give it a read you will have a new appreciation for librarians and archivists.


Filed under: Library, Writing Tagged: James Patterson

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5. Illustration Friday: People

Lulu preferred the company of Gus and his merry band to people.


There is a wall that runs behind my house.  Critter Highway.  Squirrels, stray cats, and raccoons often saunter across the wall.  This summer, we watched three baby raccoons grow up on that wall.  It looked like they were orphaned, because there was never a mommy raccoon to be seen.  In the evenings, we'd see the three baby raccoons huddled together on the wall.  They were so cute.  And so sad looking.  I haven't seen them in a little while, but I hope they are okay.  I had to include them in a drawing so that I can imagine them happy and well.




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6. research: book 3 sixties trilogy (TRIBE)

I'm gonna do occasional posts on research as I move deeper into Book 3 of the Sixties Trilogy. I house research links on my Pinterest boards, but I also want to document my process, thinking, and resources here. I'll label all research posts as such.

===========

Full disclosure: I am stuck with book three. I don't know my story. I'm frustrated. So I'm contenting myself with research, which I've been doing intensely (ebb and flow) for about a year now, which has been mostly reading, and with no real focused objective but to understand the late sixties.

I did this with REVOLUTION and COUNTDOWN as well -- I read for about a year. You can find my bibliographies on Pinterest -- they are incomplete but will be added to as I can get to it.

So I'm working on scrapbooks today -- the non-fiction pieces of the documentary novels. I need about seven songs, one to anchor each scrapbook. They will change as the story is known and changes, but I need something to get me started, and I'm wondering if listening to the songs of the late sixties might also help me with finding my way into the story itself.

I spent most of my research day listening to the Billboard hits of 1967, 1968, and 1969. I dipped into 1970 as well. I want book 3 to be (in part) about ROCK-AND-ROLL. We've not had the chance to really do rock-and-roll with COUNTDOWN and REVOLUTION, so here is the chance to Go Big Or Go Home, and I want to revel in the music. Maybe I have a character who does the same (that's what I've been playing with, anyway).

This is the kind of day where I have 24 windows open online at once and jump back and forth between YouTube and Wikipedia for lyrics and cursory information about The Rascals, Chicago (can only use their first album), Buffalo Springfield ("For What It's Worth" is perfect, about the Sunset Strip riots in 1967 -- I can use it for larger meaning), Jefferson Airplane (which leads to a lengthy side-trip down the "San Francisco Sound" tunnel), The Fifth Dimension, The Isley Brothers, Steppenwolf -- yes, I can use "Born to be Wild," now that I have moved book 3 from 1968 to 1969.

Last year, anticipating the long flights to Hong Kong and back, I invested in Bose noise-cancelling headphones, and they are perfect for this task. I'm listening a lot right now, trying to find a way in, and pulling out a line here, a line there, of select songs (not scrapbook anchors) for inclusion somehow -- don't know how yet. I'm going on faith here that I'll figure out a way to do this, and if I don't, it's not time wasted.

Delicious lines like "It appears to be such a long long long long time before the dawn." Know it? "And the beat goes on." "The past is just a goodbye." "All the world over it's easy to see, people everywhere just got to be free." And many more.

I've been wondering if I can put more of myself into this book, like I did with REVOLUTION and COUNTDOWN. I've said I'm going to the Bay Area for book 3, but I lived in Charleston, South Carolina in 1969, my dad flew into and out of Vietnam, our high school was integrated - in spite of Strom Thurmond's defiance - by the National Guard, boy picketed to grow their hair long, girls picketed to shorten their skirts, and I loved Crosby, Stills and Nash and the Beatles and many more... the music was fresh, new, energizing, and amazing.

I was 16 years old and wanted to see the film Easy Rider. I didn't have the $3 it cost for a movie ticket. My dad said, "I will not give you three dollars to support Peter Fonda's drug habit." He forbid me to see Easy Rider. So I told my parents I was off to somewhere or other on a date with Jim (that took care of the $3, and besides, it was JIM), and instead went into downtown Charleston, South Carolina to see Easy Rider.

It. Was. Thrilling. Imagine sitting in the theater, a sheltered child of strict Southern, military parents who didn't even want rock-and-roll in the house -- I'd had to "audition" rock-and-roll in order to be allowed to play it -- I chose my 45 of "We Can Work It Out" by the Beatles and got a reluctant okay.

Imagine this kid sitting in the theater and watching Easy Rider unfold. Born to be Wild indeed. Here is the beginning of the movie with Steppenwolf's signature anthem (if you can call it that):



That's it for today. I've listened until my ears hurt. And we've got to get myself back to the garden....


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7. Please Welcome Alisse Lee Goldenberg, Author of Bath Salts

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18013122-bath-salts


Canned foods, freshly grown vegetables, arctic goose, caribou, and fish all caught and hunted by the characters are what is being eaten in the zombie novel Bath Salts. It is the middle of the zombie apocalypse and two women living in Toronto, Canada see the reality of the situation around them. They pack up friends and family and run off to the heart of Nunavut where they set up a compound built out of two tiny trailer houses surrounded by a metal fence.

There, they now have to focus on survival. Naturally, the subject of food comes up a lot. Food, is a basic necessity for a person to live, and as such, the characters don’t want to merely get by. They set up a hydroponics shed in which they grow their own vegetables and fruits, as well as whatever herbs they can to make what they manage to trap and hunt more palatable. They keep a couple of mating gorals as livestock to provide them with milk and cheese.

The character of Ali takes on the role of mother for the entire group. She sees there survival as being about more then just living. For her, survival is keeping the humanity of the group intact. As such, she focuses on making their meals about more than just food. It’s about finding a way to make a birthday cake out of old cake mix and goose eggs. It’s about marking the holidays with the appropriate feast, substituting goose and caribou for turkey and roast beef. She sees the food she prepares as comfort and familiarity; something for the group to cling to and keep their spirits alive.

In contrast, An takes on the role of the hunter. She goes out, armed and ready, killing zombies and animals for their meals with relative ease. She believes that survival means staying alive, no matter what. Her attitude is reflected in her actions, and while she is a part of the group, her beliefs keep her as somewhat apart from it all. She will partake in their meals and their attempts to keep the past alive, but her heart isn’t in it like the others.

With two differing viewpoints, how will this group keep together, when their survival against bandits, zombies, and the elements counts on them being a team? Find out in Bath Salts.


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



You can find Alisse here:




 
 

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8. An Interview with Monster & Boy — Not To Be Missed!

Today I am honored to have two wonderful guests from the Monster & Me series, including the recently released Monster Needs Your Vote (reviewed here). You might remember them from another interview (read it here). There is no better way to get at the story than from the view point of the characters.

monster-banner-1

Monster and Boy cut to the chase as they answer a few of my hard-hitting questions. Of course, you’d expect nothing less from an interview with a political candidate. Monster is vying for President! Yep, he doesn’t play around folks (well, not much), and aims for the top! Monster’s long-time friend goes along on the campaign trail, giving guidance and help as only Boy can. (NOTE:  Kids, any Boy—or Girl—and any Monster can aspire to this relationship, as enviable as it is.)

HOLD ON, HERE WE GO!

Welcome Monster and Boy. Your new book Monster Needs Your Vote is in bookstores now. The author, Paul Czajak, chose an interesting topic for your 5th book:  politics. What did you think, Monster, when you found out you would be running for president?

m1.

“First off thanks for having me, any opportunity to get the message out I am up for!”

“MONSTER 2016!! Turn your voice into a roar!”

b5“Monster we’re no longer campaigning, remember? You already saved the library.”

m4“Oh yeah, I forgot. Sometimes I forget stuff. Anyway I want to point out when I was running I was my OWN Monster and not an imaginary Monster created by Mr. Paul Czajak. I decided to run for President when I found out I wasn’t old enough to vote. Which is not fair!”

I BELIEVE IN MONSTER 2016!!
Capture

True, at first, you simply wanted to vote. Have you ever voted before that day? I know I’m not supposed to ask, but my curiosity is overpowering my good sense. Which candidate did you vote for?

m1“I never voted before. In fact I didn’t even know what it was until that day. Once I heard about it I thought, “How cool is that?! Being able to voice your opinion on how decisions are made! What an awesome responsibility!” Then Boy told me I wasn’t old enough to vote yet, UNFAIR! So I figured I would run for President and help change that rule.”

Boy has always helped you, like when he helped you choose a Halloween costume, find a Christmas tree, and when he helped you go to sleep. How did Boy help you on the campaign trail?

m1“Well, he’s very good at making posters, and he’s great at coming up with campaign slogans. He created “A chocolate cake on every plate, a pie in every pot!” I thought that was very clever.”

b2.

“Thanks, Monster!”

m4“Even though I really liked that slogan, Dessert For Dinner was probably not the best platform, or issue, to run on. Boy helped me figure out that I should stand behind something that isn’t about what I need but what everybody needs, like a library staying open. But honestly who wouldn’t want chocolate cake for dinner?”

b11s

“I like vanilla.”

m3.

“You’re so difficult.”

Boy, I’m curious again. You have a giant amount of confidence when guiding Monster, but he is, like, 100 times bigger than you. Aren’t you afraid Monster might, well, become a monster?

b5

“I don’t get it? Monster is a monster, that’s why his name is Monster. He can’t become a monster since he’s already a monster. Any idea what she’s talking about?”

m4

“Sorry I wasn’t listening, I’m still thinking about chocolate cake.”

In Monster Needs Your Vote, both of you use some odd words and combinations of words, like soapbox (a box of soap?), oratory, platform, grassroots movement (moving grassroots?), “give a voice” (you can do that?) and “all for naught” (who is naught?). What do these words mean and why are these important when running for president?

m3

“This sounds an awful lot like a “gotcha question.” Where’s my agent?”


b5   
“Monster, you don’t have an agent. Plus, I think she just wants to know how you got such a big vocabulary.”

BottomSpot_DONE_REVISED-copy-copy-150x150.

“Oh! Mr. Czajak teaches me lots of big words. No reason not to use them when the opportunity presents itself,

“New Hampshire, then to Iowa he caused a rousing raucous,
“Speaking to the voters at the primary and caucus.”

b11s

“Monster, no one likes a show off.”

m1

“Tell that to Trump.”

People running for president usually have a running mate, why isn’t Boy your running mate instead of your campaign manager? (Did the author veto that idea?)

BottomSpot_DONE_REVISED-copy-copy-150x150

“He was going to be my running mate!”

“Monster needs a running mate, “So who’s it going to be?”
“Monster said, “My only choice is you for my V.P.”

“But I never got to that point since it turns out you have to be 35 to run for President. Which, again, is unfair! I know, I’ll run for President and change that rule too!”

I don’t recall from your first adventure, Monster Needs a Costume, if we found out where you came from. President Obama had to show his birth certificate to prove he was born in the U.S.  Running for President is tough to do. Did anyone ask to see your birth certificate?

m5“It all happened during a debate with one of the other candidates, I think I still have the transcript.”

“A Monster can’t be President, he has no expertise!
“Who is Monster? Where’s he from? I think he may have fleas.”

“Fleas are not the issue, this is just something that misleads
“This country needs a Leader that will focus on the needs.”

“After the debate the officials asked for my birth certificate which showed I wasn’t 35, dumb rule.”

b5.
“Also, I would like to go on record that Monster does not have fleas. That man was just being mean.”

What I really like about Monster Needs Your Vote is all the other monsters Wendy Grieb brought out. There are some interesting-looking monsters. Monster, there is one that sure looks like he/she could be a relative. Do you know any of these monsters?

m7.

“A lot of them came to my Birthday Party this past April! It was such a surprise when I came home from Pirate Land and found all my friends in the house.”

 

I’m so sorry. I missed your birthday party. I bet it was a frightful affair!  Anyway, I think Monster would be absolutely terrific at any sport or getting fit (kids need that—adults, too). Boy, what is next for Monster?

a1

.

.

“We will focus on Monsters message of “Reading Turns Your Voice into a Roar!” for the rest of the election. Then I think Monster might go to school next fall… His sports career will have to wait a bit. Though he will definitely get involved in something.”

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m1“Yup, like basketball, or swimming, or tennis, or yoga, or maybe surfing or cheerleading…”

.

Ah, Monster, you are such a dreamer . . . I mean you have great dreams . . . um, what I really mean to say is, “Yes! You go Monster!”  So, is there anything either of you would like to say directly to the readers?

BottomSpot_DONE_REVISED-copy-copy-150x150.

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“Read! Read! Read! And support your local library!”

b2.

“What he said, it’s why he’s the best candidate.”

.

That is a fantastic message! Monster and Boy, thank you for stopping by . . . Oh, wait! I forgot to ask one BIG QUESTION. In Monster Needs Your Vote (you have my vote)—DID YOU WIN?

Capture2

m3.

“Well I guess someone didn’t read the book. It’s only 350 words, it’s not like it would take that much time.”

b5.

“Monster, I think she’s just pretending to have not read the book to build up suspense. You know, a bit of suspended disbelief on the part of the interviewer.”

a2“Suspended what?”

“Suspended Disbelief, when something doesn’t make sense, but you let it go for the sake of the story. You know, kind of like if someone wrote a story about a monster who’s too young to vote but then decides to run for President.”

m4.

“You lost me.”

Monster and Boy, thank you for stopping by Kid Lit Reviews once more. It is always a delight and a surprise!

Boy and Monster, what a pair. You got to love them and I believe you will while reading the Monster & Me series. This is one series that has never disappointed me. The stories and illustrations are full of humor, bold images, and a gentle message no one, not even a Monster, tries to blast at you.

You can start the Monster & Me series with their the latest, Monster Needs Your Vote (reviewed here), as each book can stand on its own (and no, Monster, I do not mean that they actually stand on their own, but that you can read any story without having to read the story before it).

Soon it will be Halloween, a good time to read Monster Needs a Costume (reviewed here). And then Christmas will be upon us and Monster Needs a Christmas Tree (reviewed soon) is the perfect holiday story.

If holidays are not your thing (really, could that be true of anyone?) how about a birthday party story with Monster Needs a Party (reviewed soon), or a story to help you nod off with Monster in Monster Needs His Sleep (reviewed here)?

It sounds like Monster will be heading off to school—for the first time—next Fall and maybe joining a sports team—or the cheerleaders. I cannot wait for those stories. Until then, I hope you have enjoyed this latest interview with Monster and Boy.

And don’t forget to “Read! Read! Read!” Support your public library, and VOTE FOR MONSTER!

#5 needs your vote

.

Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

 

Full Disclosure: Monster & Me by Paul Czajak & Wendy Grieb, and published by Mighty Media Kids. Monster and Boy’s interview answers by Paul Czajak. Images copyright © by Wendy Grieb.  The opinions expressed are my own and no one else’s. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monster & Me Series

Monster Needs a Costume

Monster Needs a Costume

Monster Needs His Sleep

Monster Needs His Sleep

Monster Needs a Christmas Tree

Monster Needs a Christmas Tree

Monster Needs a Party

Monster Needs a Party

Monster Needs Your Vote

Monster Needs Your Vote

.

.

Purchase at  Amazon  IndieBound Books  Mighty Media Kids

11.

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.

A HUGE THANKS to Paul Czajak!


Filed under: 6 Stars TOP BOOK, Books for Boys, Children's Books, Favorites, Guest Post, Interviews, Picture Book, Series, Top 10 of 2015 Tagged: Boy, Mighty Media Kids, Mighty Media Press, monster, Monster & Me series, Monster Needs a Christmas Tree, Monster Needs a Costume, Monster Needs a Party, Monster Needs His Sleep, Monster Needs Your Vote, Paul Czajak, Wendy Grieb

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9. The Guardians Family Welcomes an Infinite Amount of Heroes

Marvel is mixing up the publishing line with the surprise addition of another book in the Guardians of The Galaxy family: Guardians of Infinity. ComicBook.com broke the news. Previous Guardians author Dan Abnett is returning to the franchise with an art team including Marvel star Carlo Barberi on art. The roster includes new and old Guardians favorites: Drax, Rocket Raccoon, […]

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10. China Bookworm Literary Award

       With judges including A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers-author Guo Xiaolu and translator (e.g. Running Through Beijing) and editor Eric Abrahamsen, the China Bookworm Literary Award seems well-positioned to select worthy new Chinese fiction deserving of translation -- and now they've announced the first winners of the award, with the winner getting 5000RMB, and both the first and second place titles to be published in English translation.
       Hard to judge based on the brief descriptions available here, but second-place-winner Li Ziyue's I Am in the Red Chamber, You are on the Journey to the West is one of the best titles I've heard this year.

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11. Shabanu: Daughter of the Wind

Shabanu: Daughter of the Wind. Suzanne Fisher Staples. 1989. 240 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]

Did I enjoy reading Shabanu: Daughter of the Wind? Not really. This Newbery Honor book doesn't fit my idea of what a Newbery or Newbery Honor book should be. I'm not sure that's fair on my part, and it could be a good thing to be a shockingly different children's book.

Shabanu is the young heroine of the novel. She's eleven or perhaps twelve. On the verge of "adulthood" in her culture, she's almost of marriageable age. Her wedding has already been arranged--a cousin--but it is about one year away still. Her sister's wedding, her sister is about thirteen, is months away when the novel opens. The arranged marriages for both of them are with their cousins. (I think one is 15, one 17. They are brothers). The novel is set in Pakistan. (I'm assuming contemporary-to-the-publication Pakistan). Shabanu and her family live in the desert, and live a more nomadic lifestyle. They travel from place to place depending on the time of year and the amount of water. Shabanu loves, loves, loves, LOVES tending the camels, and, she has definite favorites among them. She does not envy her sister being "all grown up." She enjoys the freedom she has as a child. Though it's not complete, absolute freedom ever. (I'm not saying it should be necessarily.)

The setting is interesting. Readers definitely get exposed to a whole new world, a camel-centric world. I thought there were at times a little too much information about the camels. (Warning: there's CAMEL SMUT)

If life had gone according to plan, the novel would not have taken a decidedly dark and depressing turn. But things went horribly wrong before her sister's wedding, and, Shabanu herself pays the price though she is not responsible or to blame for the souring of events. It seems most all the characters have a happier end than she herself does. That may or may not be completely realistic, but, it certainly isn't fair. It may push the extremes of what children consider NOT FAIR.

I'm not sure what response readers are to have with a novel like this. Shabanu may be the first or one of the first books readers come across that either a) stars a Muslim family, features a Muslim heroine, OR b) is set in Pakistan. I doubt the impression of either will be a good one, if that makes sense. Especially considering the ending.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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12. Why Do I Write?

As I turn 53 today, several recent events converged to make me examine why I write and whether I want to continue writing.

I wrote and published 8 books between 2007 and 2012. I have not written a book in a while and Create Space sent me an email asking if I was still writing.

I had lunch with a friend and we talked about my dry spell and she asked me what would make me passionate about writing again. I have suffered health crisis after health crisis since before I wrote Mythikas Island, which has resulted in a roller coaster of frenzied work and months living as a cat. Health woes certainly contribute to the ambivalence.
 
I began writing poetry and journaling as a young girl. I did not attempt fiction until I was middle-aged. So as I explored the reasons why I started writing books in the first place, a theme developed.

I wrote the Mythikas Island series (I: Diana, II: Persephone, III: Aphrodite, and IV: Athena) for my daughter Anna. She was a teenager and was sick of love triangles in YA books. She said some girls wanted stories that didn’t revolve around guys. Ideas for stories about goddesses and girl power had been percolating for a while and that became the impetus for the Mythikas Island series. Four girls are groomed to be leaders and must save themselves and fight for their future.

I wrote the Story Building Blocks (I: The Four Layers of Conflict, II: Crafting Believable Conflict, III: The Revision Layers, IV: Build A Cast Workbook) because I couldn’t find them anywhere when I needed them. I was tired of reading about the story arc and all those motivational tomes. I wanted nuts and bolts and tools for developing plots and characters. 
I wanted advanced craft lessons. I also wanted to centralize all of my notes on revision, editing, and proofreading. So, I spent several years learning, reading, dissecting stories, and researching. I developed a story architecture theory that made sense to me. This blog, Game On, is an extension of the desire to share what I learn. I also guest post on The Blood Red Pencil, another blog devoted to the craft of writing.

I have studied interior formatting, cover design, and website building. Although far from expert, I have added those skills to my tool kit.

Then I was blindsided with the misdiagnosis of a mystery muscle disease. That led to a year of research and another year of developing that research into a website for the rare disease, Stiff Person Syndrome, which became The Tin Man. It not only has up-to-date information on SPS, but a large section on how to cope with debilitating diseases and resources for patients with rare diseases. Again, things I couldn't find that I needed.

While I haven’t been entirely slothful, there was no book at the end of those two-plus years. Create Space had no way of knowing that, hence the gentle reminder.


It turns out, I am motivated by writing things that benefit other people. It is the sharing information and helping that bring me joy. If I inspired one teenager, helped one writer, or educated one patient, I consider all that time well spent.
I’ve always joked to my critique group that my biggest problem is that I don’t need the money and I don’t want to be famous. I admit to being turned off by the business and promotional aspect of publishing, as necessary as it is to being a lucrative independent author. It is an area I would need to research and I’d have to overcome my natural resistance to being in the spotlight and sales promotion. I would also have to work around my physical limitations. I’d much rather sit in a room churning out work and let others worry about what to do with the end product. Alas, successful writer-preneurs are not built that way. So, I have to decide if that is the way I want to spend time.

I attended a funeral yesterday for a friend that made me ponder what I want to do with my remaining time. He died during the adventure of a lifetime, checking off a big item on his bucket list. This led me to examine what I am still capable of and prioritizing my bucket list.
The hubs is going to retire next year in August. After our relocation from Windyana to Adult Disneyland, I don’t know what my days will be like. All those long hours I spent working or sleeping while he was at the hospital will now be filled with different things.

My muses still visit and my characters still chime in with ideas of where they'd like to go, especially my goddess girls. I have more ideas for the Story Building Blocks series. I have a draft of a YA story, and first chapters of many others that I call my Widows & Orphans file including a mystery called The Wicked Stage.


But will they ever see print? Who knows? Once the reno nightmare of the new house and trauma of moving are over, I may put fingers back to keyboard. If for no other reason than to free the characters that haunt me like trapped ghosts seeking the light.

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13. Press Release Fun: A 2016 Children’s Literature Fellow Program Accepts New Applications

MFA in Creative Writing and Literature

CONTACT: Emma Walton Hamilton
Stony Brook Southampton                                   emma.waltonhamilton@stonybrook.edu

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

2016 Children’s Literature Fellows Program
Now Accepting Applications from Aspiring Children’s Authors Worldwide

August, 2015. Southampton, NY. The Children’s Literature Fellows, a one-year graduate level certificate program sponsored by Stony Brook Southampton’s MFA in Creative Writing and Literature, is now accepting applications for 2016.

The year-long course of instruction—accomplished mostly in distance learning format—was developed by author and Children’s Literature Conference Director Emma Walton Hamilton, MFA in Creative Writing Director Julie Sheehan and YA author/faculty member Patricia McCormick to offer aspiring children’s and young adult authors a more affordable and flexible option than matriculation in a two- or three-year MFA program.

Because not all writers who want to complete projects have the time or the funds to complete a full degree program, the Children’s Literature Fellows do their work within a framework tailored to their needs. The program bears 16 graduate level credits, and is customized, affordable, comprehensive, and professionally useful. Twelve Fellows are accepted into the program per year. The Fellows work independently with award-winning, best-selling authors who serve as faculty mentors—such as Christopher Barton, Samantha Berger, Rachel Cohn, Donna Freitas, Cindy Kane, Megan McCafferty, Patricia McCormick, Margaret McMullan, Trica Rayburn, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Tor Seidler, Amy Sklansky, Emma Walton Hamilton, Ann Whitford Paul and Maryrose Wood—in a highly individualized curriculum that is primarily accomplished from home.

Twice a year, the Fellows come together as a cohort: once in July during the annual Southampton Arts Writers Conference and a second time in January for a special Publishing and Editing Conference, during which they study with visiting faculty such as Libba Bray, Peter Lerangis, Grace Lin and Dan Yaccarino – and meet with editors, agents and other members of the publishing industry.

During their year, each Fellow completes either one publishable YA or middle grade manuscript, or, for chapter and picture book writers, three to four separate manuscripts.

“There are very few programs like this out there for aspiring children’s literature authors,” says Walton Hamilton. “But children’s literature and YA are among the strongest and fastest growing sectors of the publishing industry right now, so this is valuable for writers on a number of levels. And thanks to the program’s distance learning format, aspiring authors from all over the world are able to take advantage of what it offers. We have participants in California, Arizona, Texas, Philadelphia, Florida—even Australia.”

She adds that the few places where graduate level programs like this are offered tend to be remote, while Stony Brook Southampton, with its satellite campus in Manhattan, is near to the heart of the publishing industry in New York City, and therefore offers more opportunities than most. In addition, the publishing industry tends to be closed to writers not represented by agents. The Editing and Publishing Conference and the access it provides are a key part of the program.

Picture book author Julie Gribble, a 2013 Children’s Lit Fellow, says, “Being a Children’s Lit Fellow is like having a guided tour of a city you’d always wanted to explore—you learn so much more than you could traveling about on your own!”

“The Children’s Literature Fellowship was the best thing I’ve ever done for myself,” says Florida-based middle grade novelist Janas Byrd. “It is a one-on-one mentorship with award winning authors who are also brilliant teachers.   As a middle school teacher and mother of two, time is a hot commodity. This fellowship allowed me the flexibility to write when it was most convenient for me. I finished and polished my novel in nine months, a feat that would not have been possible to accomplish on my own.”

Admission to the Children’s Lit Fellows program is highly selective, and the application process is now open and underway. The application deadline for 2016 is December 1, 2015.

For more information about the Stony Brook Southampton Children’s Literature Fellows program and the application process, go to http://childrenslitfellows.org or visit http://www.stonybrook.edu/mfa and click on Children’s Lit Fellows.

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14. On Screen

Two newscasters were shot on screen
By some crazed gunman, first unseen;
And all who saw it were in shock,
An image they can never block.

Of course, all horror is a draw
But I am glad I never saw
The bullets hit, the bodies fall;
They pulled the footage, after all.

My heart goes out to kin and friends,
Who’ll see a scene that never ends –
Their loved ones taking one last breath,
All future plans cut short by death.

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15. Index Card of Power

Hi, everyone! It’s Stacey here, with fellow pub-crawler, Stephanie Garber to talk about surviving the grueling journey that is known as publishing.

Getting published is an exercise in patience and perseverance. It is a punishing, bone-wearying journey comparable to climbing up a fog-covered mountain. Each step is an effort and though you know you will eventually reach the top, you don’t know when, or whether you will run out of juice before you get there. (And even when you do reach the top, you might find that the view up there isn’t enough, and that there are even more mountains to climb beyond.)

Stacey: Fifteen years ago, my older sister shared with me the power of the index card. At the time, she was single, thirty-ish, and had been looking for Mr. Right for a long time. At church, her pastor gave a sermon on how God wanted us to have the things we wanted. He suggested listing these wants on an index card, in specific terms, and then letting God take care of the rest.

So my sister wrote down ten things she was looking for in a Mr. Right, qualities as specific as “a healthcare professional,” “Chinese American,” “patient,” and “at least four inches taller than me.” Hey, if you’re going to wish, might as well include everything. After writing them down, she tucked away the card, and stopped worrying.

Within the year, she was engaged to a man with all ten of the attributes she had listed.

Because I am a skeptic and generally a suspicious person, I chalked it up to luck, and thought nothing more of it. I was just happy for her and her new husband (who, it should be noted, is an amazing brother-in-law.)

Fast forward. When Under a Painted Sky went on sub, I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy journey. My agent informed me that it would take a year to sell if it sold at all—editors weren’t clamoring to buy historical fiction. As rejections piled up, I happened to have lunch with a friend, who was finally in her third trimester of pregnancy, after a decade of unsuccessful fertility treatments.

When I asked her how she had come by this miracle, she revealed that she had gone to this new-agey seminar about the power of the index card. To my surprise, she told me she had been advised to write down, in very specific terms, her wish. She wrote that she wanted a baby girl, and stopped worrying.

Within two months, she was pregnant. With a girl.

I decided maybe there was something to the power of the index card that seemed to work for both believers and non-believers alike, and even if there wasn’t, what did I have to lose? It was better than fretting over something that was out of my control. I took out an index card.

The best part of the index card is that it gives you the power to let go of something not in your control to influence (and I’m pretty sure it doesn’t have to be on an index card). True, my sister couldn’t just sit at home and wait for Mr. Right to dig her out of the sofa, just as my friend couldn’t give up on doing that deed that leads to babies if she wanted to conceive.

Stephanie: Stacey told me this story last fall, when I was struggling with my writing.

I was on submission with a book I knew wouldn’t sell, and it was killing my creativity. I was putting all kinds of pressure on myself to produce something really good that would totally sell when I went on submission again, which is a terrible way to write.

So, after listening to Stacey’s story about the magic of the index card I decided to give it a shot. Instead of stressing over my hopes and dreams for this book I wrote them out on a piece of binder paper, and just that act alone taught me something interesting.

As I expressed all my hopes and wishes for this book, I didn’t say that I wanted to write a really good book—because really, what does that even mean? Instead I found myself writing things like, I hope to write a story that feels magical and mysterious. I want to keep readers guessing and sweep them into another world. I want this book to feel big and bright like Baz Luhrmann movie.

I’m not even sure I knew that I wanted to write all of those things until I put them on paper, but once I did, it was as if all my creativity flooded back. For some, I think using an index is an exercise in letting go. But for me this activity ended up showing me what I really wanted, and my true desire had nothing to do with pleasing editors and everything to do with writing a story for the sake of creating a certain type of experience for the reader.

Have you ever tried something like this? And if you haven’t, it might be worth giving it a shot.

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16. Disney TV Animation Solidifies Exec Ranks with Key Hires and Promotions

Eric Coleman will continue to lead Disney TV Animation in his new role of senior v-p of original programming.

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17. LeakyCon.com and Social Media Updates!

In preparation for the exciting LeakyCon 2016, LeakyCon is updating their website, Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. These sites are currently veiled under an air of mystery, as they are being rebuilt from the ground up. With constructing a new theme, LeakyCon promises new and exciting details about the relaunch of LeakyCon in Los Angeles in 2016.

Next Tuesday, September 1, is the “start of term” and the day LeakyCon will unveil it’s new sites. Are you ready to go to Hogwarts?

Please watch the LeakyCon website, Twitter, Facebook page, and Tumblr for more exciting news coming soon! Sign up for newsletter updates on LeakyCon.com.

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18. Interview (Part 1) with Ashley Hope Perez, Author of OUT OF DARKNESS

Welcome to Part 1 of our 3-part interview (we just couldn't stop chatting!) with Ashley Hope Perez, author of the forthcoming YA historical novel Out of Darkness, which is based on real-life events (and which we reviewed here).Not only was this a... Read the rest of this post

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19. Revolution Books Has 2 Days Left for Indiegogo Campaign

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20. Mogadishu International Book Fair

       Great to hear that they're holding the Mogadishu International Book Fair (see also the write-up by Warka at Mareeg, Literary feast in Mogadishu as Mogadishu International Book Fair opens).
       Or is this just a reaction to the Hargeysa International Book Fair they held earlier this month (see also Nyabola, H. Nanjala's write-up at Quartz, Somaliland's book fair opens the country to the world) ... ?
       Still, holding book fairs has got to be a good sign, right ?

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21. Dream Inside A Dream


So I asked the little girl, "What happens when you close your eyes?" She said, " In my dreams I am a princess trying to escape my palace room where they make me stay all day and all night. I can only get away when I close my eyes and fly. I fly right out of the window in the dark blue night. Fluffy clouds swirl around me and bright blue stars light up the nights sky. The air is light and I am even lighter. My long braids fly in the soft wind like wings taking me higher and higher. I feel God and the angels. They whisper sweet healing words to me. I feel better. I feel like I don't want to ever go back, but then He says,"You have a purpose and I have a plan. Run to your destiny for you are safe in my hand. Safe in my hand." When I wake I am back in my room safe and sound. I have a good feeling inside my tummy. I know that everything is going to be alright cause I have a purpose and He has a plan. I will run to my destiny cause I am safe in His hand. I am safe in His hand.

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22. Poetry Friday - The Box Marked Summer

As I hit the road today to enjoy one final weekend of summer and a BIG birthday (tomorrow!), I'm well into back-to-school mode as I watch my son desperately hang onto the last few days before he begins the adventure known as high school.

Today I'm sharing a poem by Bobbi Katz.

What Shall I Pack in the Box Marked "Summer"? 
by Bobbi Katz 
found in A Chorus of Cultures: Developing Literacy Through Multicultural Poetry (p. 238)

A handful of wind that I caught with a kite
A firefly’s flame in the dark of the night
The green grass of June that I tasted with toes
The flowers I knew from the tip of my nose
The clink of ice cubes in pink lemonade
The fourth of July Independence parade!
The sizzle of hot dogs, the fizzle of coke
Some pickles and mustard and barbecue smoke
The print of my fist in the palm of my mitt,
As I watched for the batter to strike out or hit
The splash of the water, the top-to-toe cool
Of a stretch-and-kick trip through a blue swimming pool
The tangle of night songs that slipped through my screen
Of crickets and insects too small to be seen
The seed pods that formed on the flowers to say
That Summer was packing her treasures away.

Poem ©Bobbi Katz. All rights reserved.


I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Sylvia Vardell at Poetry for Children. Happy poetry Friday friends!

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23. St. Honoré


A hat tip to the fictitious island of St. Honoré (because I just finished reading A Caribbean Mystery).

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24. Doodle-lings in the Kitchen.....




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25. LOVE arrives (and Temple did such a good job)

In the midst of a busy afternoon, two copies of LOVE arrive in all their hardbound glory.

I have stopped.

I have paged through.

Temple University Press, you did an amazing job. The photos are rich, the paper is kind, the cover broadcasts our love for our city.

Thank you.

LOVE is now officially on sale.

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