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1. Why we write (in GIF form)

We write.

(Source)

We write because we want to change the world.
(Source)

We write because we want to walk a mile in someone else's shoes.
(Source)

We write because we want to travel new places.
(Source)

We write because we want to see what we know in a new way.
(Source)

We write because we want to create.
(Source)

We write because we want to connect.
(Source)

We write because we want to inspire.
(Source)

We write because we want to see the future.
(Source)

We write because we want to remember the past.
(Source)

We write because it's an immense challenge.
(Source)

We write because it's an incredible feeling to finish.
(Source)

We write because we want to make magic.
(Source)

We write because sometimes we just can't deal.
(Source)

We write because we seek the truth.
(Source)

We write because we want justice.
(Source)

We write because we're angry.
(Source)

We write because we're happy.
(Source)

We write because we're lost.
(Source)

We write because we want to find something better.
(Source)

We write because we love.
(Source)

Why do you write?


Want to write your story? Check out my guide to writing a novel, How to Write a Novel: 47 Rules for Writing a Stupendously Awesome Novel That You Will Love Forever, on sale for just $4.99 at:

Amazon Kindle
Apple iBooks
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The print edition is on sale for just $11.99 at:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
CreateSpace

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2. Cafe de Sketchy



John and I had another fun evening recently with Dr Sketchy Sheffield. The theme was a Toulouse Lautrec style cafe. Some great costumes. We had a fabulous cancan dance half way though too:


For some reason, I didn't feel much in the mood for drawing with my watercolour pencils, so worked the whole evening in watercolour, using a paintbrush instead of a pencil. Luckily, I had brought pretty big sketchbooks with me, which made it easier. 

I ended up giving this painting to the model, as she was so taken with it:


Luckily, I had a 2nd opportunity to sketch the dancing girls in their extraordinary costumes. I just love those huge turquoise feathers:



I had been working at a school in Scunthorpe during the day, so unfortunately we were a bit late getting to the pub where the Dr Sketchy events are held. I like to get there first, so I can get a seat at the front, where you can see better. The organisers do allow for that problem though, by having the models roam the audience, posing around the room, often sitting at the tables amongst us: 


The pose of the three dancing girls in the photo above was sideways on to the audience, with the girls leaning on the bar. I was sneaky and quickly slipped onto the other end of the bar, which gave me a clear view and more room for my paints:


The rest of the time I sat myself on the floor at the front, so I could spread out. When you are working quickly in paint, you have to have somewhere to put the ones which are still wet, while you work on the next pose. I put my lager on the stage, to stop me accidentally using it to wash my paintbrush!


There were fellas modelling too. I was very taken with this man's waxed moustache. This was another sketch I gave away, which is why it's signed. I was having a rare generous moment! The model kindly did a scan of it for me before he got it framed:



I love the challenge of Dr Sketchy - so much to do in so little time. You can feel the concentration humming in the room. With multiple models at once, you often only get part done:


I really enjoyed the paint-drawing. I think I need to get a better brush though. I know Liz Steel works a lot with a dagger shape, which gives a good range of fluid marks. I've got to get one, but I am having trouble getting a wide enough one from a UK seller that isn't also really long. 


Thanks so much to Eric Murphy for the use of these great photos. He even managed to capture me without the usual sketcher's double-chin, so an extra thanks for that!



If you like the idea of Dr Sketchy and live in or near either Sheffield of Buxton, check out their Facebook page for future events. If you live further afield, try a bit of Google searching, as Dr Sketchy is a franchise, with groups around the UK and USA I believe.

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3.


Another quick oil paint study of mine, and more wisdom from my figure drawing teacher, Mr. Parks:

"Simplify your drawing into 3 values: light halftone and dark. Keep the halftone area noticeably grouped with the light. (It will help define your shadow pattern.)

--Don’t MUSH your values; keep them distinct."

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4. March is NATIONAL READING AWARENESS MONTH

As we wait for the snow to melt

and SPRING to arrive, it's a great time to enjoy READING!

I usually highlight story books, but today I'd like to celebrate
some fun research sites.

DK Publishing has a free online encyclopedia: FIND OUT
The site is for simple searches on a variety of science-related
topics. Results provide a colorful illustrated page with brief
explanations and related topics. Of course, if one of the topics interests you, check at your local library for a corresponding DK book on the subject.

Another free online site, available through public and school libraries, is EBSCO Kids Search. This is a more in-depth database of magazines, encyclopedias, dictionaries, web articles, biographies, books, newspapers, and photos. A handy tool to have at your fingertips.

Kids Info Bits from Gale/Cengage Learning is search resource available through some libraries as well. It's a more simplified database of sources, including magazines, encyclopedias, dictionaries, and maps. It includes advanced search capabilities and is geared toward elementary school students.

So during this month focused on READ ALOUD time, choose a topic of interest (I know my grandson would pick Monster Trucks); use one of these kid-friendly sites or a book and read together for 15 minutes.

Spring, Summer, Fall, or Winter--every season is just right for READING!

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5. Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Story

shamrocksChoose Your Own Adventure: A St. Patrick’s Story

This morning, you found out your two so-called best friends, Megan and Kelly, are going to be co-leading the presentation in the school St. Patrick’s Day festival . . . and you’ve been assigned to dress up as a bearded leprechaun. Ugh!

You were hoping that you could be a part of the Irish Step Dancing troupe, but when assignments were announced today, you found out that Megan and Kelly would be dancing with Tommy instead. And you three were supposed to be best friends! So you’ll be leading the “folklore” segment of the presentation, whatever that means, and you are definitely NOT a happy camper. The costume alone makes you want to hide under a million blankets until March 18th.

It’s a gray and dreary day, but at least it’s not raining. You take the long way home so you can get a cookie to cheer yourself up. You’re right–a delicious Snickerdoodle is just the trick, and you’re feeling way more chipper halfway through. That’s when you notice a kind of shabby-looking woman sitting behind a homemade stand. She is wearing a cape, and has long, windblown, brown hair flowing out from underneath her hat. She sees you, smiles, and starts waving. Something about her makes you curious, so you walk over. As you approach, you see her stand is full of little bottles organized neatly.

“Hello, darling,” she says in a thick accent. From underneath the brim of her brown hat, her eyes are sparkling and bright. “Fancy a potion?”

“A potion?”

“Yes, yes! A love potion, a healing potion, a lucky potion. I do all kinds of potions. Though I think what you need,” she says, reaching into her pocket and pulling out a little bottle, “is this little guy right here.”

The bottle is made of dark green glass. There’s a tiny, faded label on the side with a three-leaf clover painted on it.

“What does this one do?”

“Exactly what you need it to,” the woman says. “And don’t worry; it’s a gift.”

“How do I even use it?”

“You’ll know when the time is right.” She smiles and shoos you away, so you slip the potion in your pocket and start to go home.

Your walk takes you past a bridge that goes over the lake, and at the foot of the bridge you see a most unusual sight. A lone, white horse is standing at the edge of the water. It’s an overcast day, but the horse seems to be glowing. When it sees you, it begins neighing and nodding. When you don’t move, it starts to huff and paw the ground impatiently. You . . .

  1. call Animal Control. Someone is definitely missing a glowing horse!
  2. keep walking. Someone is definitely missing a glowing horse, and that someone is responsible for finding it!
  3. approach the horse. I mean, it’s a glowing horse! That’s awesome!
  4. take out your phone and look up how to safely interact with a horse. Hey, better safe than sorry, right?
  5. wait a while to see if the owner shows up. You don’t want to jump the gun and call for help, but you want to make sure the horse isn’t left alone or eaten by a swamp monster.

Leave your response in the Comments and tell us what you think will happen next! Part 2 of this 3-part story is coming to Ink Splot 26 on March 10.

En-Szu, STACKS Writer

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6. Gene Luen Yang to Write For DC Comics

Gene Luen YangDC Comics announced that graphic novelist Gene Luen Yang has been brought on to write for the Superman series.

The issues with Yang’s stories will feature artwork by artist John Romita Jr. According to a DC Comics blog post, Yang and Romita will aim to present this beloved hero “in a more contemporary light.”

Tor.com reports that Yang’s hiring, along with a number of others, was done in part because the company is pushing “to bring greater diversity to its books.” In an interview with Mercury News, Yang revealed that he feels “it’s an honor to work on a character with such an influential legacy, but it’s also gut-wrenching.”

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7. Doing the Promo Thing

I'm making animated GIFs of all my novelty books.
Please send help, or cookies, or say well done or something.


If you think that having books published means that people do all your promo for you, boo you are wrong. Almost all of us need to sort out our own author pictures, websites, reading tours and whatnot.

In good news, the basement now has a light tent.

MORE SOON.

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8. March New Releases: Picture Books


I have lots of client books coming out in March. It's thrilling - but it also makes it somewhat difficult to blog about all of them without this blog becoming a wall-to-wall advertisement. So instead of doing a post every time one is released, I'm going to post about them in categories. Here, then, are the Picture Books of March 2015. Enjoy!

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9. Mystery Grab Bag Sale... LAST DAY!

Only a seven more Mystery Grab Bags left for sale... $20 a piece in my Etsy shop.

I'm gonna close the sale at the end of day on TODAY, and sort books for shipping on Tuesday, so get them while the getting is good!

Each package will include at least 4 to 5 vintage books that are super awesome. The $20 includes shipping and packaging, and will hold guaranteed awesome stuff and maybe a surprise here and there. Way, way, way over a $20 value. The suspenseful thrill alone is world hundreds! All books shipped media mail. Allow 2 weeks for delivery, though it usually taken less time for the PO to deliver. Continental United States only please. Remember, all books will be vintage, but they will be in good condition. Still an old book is not a new book, but you get my drift... If you put a note with your child's age and likes, I can try and accommodate.

 Click here to sign up!

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10. Together Forever Art Give Away!!

Acquerello III Kickstarter​ up-date:

This week, I am giving away special edition original art from Acquerello III. I will randomly pick two lucky winners and announce the result on March 6nd, Friday morning, Pacific Time.  The campaign only have 10 days left, I will do one more give away this up-coming Friday, and announce the winners on the last day of the campaign.  Join in the fun and pledge now!!


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11. Cybils Finalist Review: THE HARLEM HELLFIGHTERS by Max Brooks and Caanan White

Summary: The Tuskegee Airmen of World War II are, by now, well-known to American and African American history. But the regiment known as the Harlem Hellfighters--the Army's 369th infantry unit--were the first American unit to reach the Rhine in the... Read the rest of this post

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12. Howie the hermit crab is looking for a bigger HOUSE!



Howie the hermit crab was originally commissioned by Your Big Backyard Magazine.

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13. Be Thankful for Friendship!

Ten Thank-You Letters

By Daniel Kirk

 

There are so many approaches to this picture book, I honestly don’t know where to start reviewing them.

First, I thought I’d take the friendship angle of the yin and yang. Hey, it IS the beginning of the Chinese year of the goat. Friends are often not mirror images of one another. But often they do complement each other. After all, we are all not alike in personality and tastes; that’s why we have chocolate and vanilla ice cream!

And, in the case of Rabbit and Pig, I was reminded of the divergent friendship of Wally Cleaver, in TV’s “Leave It To Beaver” and his pal, Eddie Haskell. Does your child have a friend that they fully embrace and you, as a parent, scratch you head and wonder why? Wally’s parents did. But they sagely figured there was something about their super kind and considerate son Wally, that he needed in the “all about me” Eddie.

Here, Pig is bent on writing a series of thank-you notes, only to be constantly interrupted by Rabbit for paper, stamps and who knows what all.

Pig is nothing if not task-based and very methodical in his pursuit of same. Rabbit is, well, shall we say, more of a spontaneous spur of the moment type. Rabbit is constantly prompted by the ideas of Pig, and he too sets his own into motion. There’s one glitch. Rabbit lacks the physical things to put make them happen! Enter his friend Pig. He is only too obliging, kind and willing to provide the needed apparatus of pencil, paper, stamps, and envelopes for Rabbit’s just thought of thank-you notes.

As Rabbit thinks of MORE people to write letters to, Pig’s letter to his grandma is constantly put on hold amid a flurry of interrupts.

Here’s another take on this picture book that is a great angle to bring up for kids. And that is the writing of a thank-you note. Does anyone even do this any more?

I remember at Christmas; first, came the thank-you notes to aunts and uncles that sent us presents, and then, and only then, were we allowed to play with said toys.

Let’s face it, some kids are natural procrastinators. “Later, mom.” or “I promise I’ll do it later.” And sometimes later never arrives. “Ten Thank-You Notes” is a fine vehicle for reminding young readers there are so many people in their lives deserving of thanks. It’s not only provides a fine read, but a teachable moment. Everyone, from Madame President to the crossing guard is worthy, in Rabbit’s book, and on paper, of a thank-you note!

I fully realize Pig and Rabbit are very young, and therefore they have only learned to print letters in their notes. And that is so wonderful in and of itself. They are so neatly written and very well expressed. But, I can’t let this picture book go by without another plug for the teaching of handwriting.

Finally, what if Pig’s grandma writes a reply to Pig in her own handwriting? Might he be unable to read it? Just some food for thought, parents, as the teaching of cursive sinks from view in some schools.

We have letters that family members wrote by hand on the day of our daughters’ christenings. They were put aside until the girls were old enough to read them. The letters were filled with the feelings of family members on that day. They are rare and revert to a time filled with members of our family that are no longer with us. Please don’t deny your young reader the ability to actually read letters like these.

In the meantime, have your young ones read along with Pig and Rabbit as they both model behaviors and a friendship that not only allows for differences, but would make both Martha Stewart and Emily Post proud!

 

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14. Together Forever Art Give Away!!

Acquerello III Kickstarter​ up-date:

This week, I am giving away special edition original art from Acquerello III. I will randomly pick two lucky winners and announce the result on March 6nd, Friday morning, Pacific Time.  The campaign only have 10 days left, I will do one more give away this up-coming Friday, and announce the winners on the last day of the campaign.  Join in the fun and pledge now!!


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15. Instagram of the Week - March 2

A brief look at 'grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform.

This week we're focusing on school libraries and media centers. From board games to book dominos and book clubs to volunteer opportunities, school libraries can provide a place for students to have fun and unwind during free periods or before and after school. Prominent displays are one way to grab students' attention and connect them with books and library services with which they may unfamiliar. Book themed bulletin boards can also call attention to library materials or can drum up interest for upcoming events.

We've included a few examples below, but we want to hear from you! Do you offer before and after school programs for your students? What's the coolest display you've put together? Which bulletin board theme has been most popular? Do your teens give you input or decorate for you?

 

Have you come across a related Instagram post this week, or has your library posted something similar? Have a topic you'd like to see in the next installment of Instagram of the Week? Share it in the comments section of this post.

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16. Some Legend of Korra for your afternoon.



Some Legend of Korra for your afternoon.



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17. Veronica Roth Inks Two-Book Deal

Veronica RothVeronica Roth has signed a two-book deal with the Katherine Tegen Books imprint at HarperCollins.

Publisher Katherine Tegen negotiated the deal with Newleaf Literary agent Joanna Volpe. The release date for book one has been scheduled for 2017; book two will follow in 2018.

Here’s more from the press release: “In the untitled first novel of a highly anticipated duology in the vein of Star Wars, Veronica Roth explores—with poise and poignancy—the story of a boy who forms an unlikely alliance with an enemy. Both desperate to escape their oppressive lives, they help each other attain what they most desire: for one, redemption, and the other, revenge.”

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18. We're in Edinburgh!

This is our first trip over and we're scouting out all sorts of things. Stan has interviews lined up. We'll be meeting with various realtors. AND I finally got to tour the College of Art in the University of Edinburgh where I will be studying an MFA in Illustration!

I was so flattered that the head of the illustration department, "Johnny" Gibbs accompanied me, Stan and Lecturer/artist Mike Wendle all around the art school. I even got to see the graduate student studios. The whole thing was so inspiring, I was completely wound up after we left! I cannot wait to get over here full time and get to WORK!
     Of course, we're also running on very little sleep. We flew from Atlanta to Amsterdam, then Amsterdam to Edinburgh. It was Sunday when we started and sometime Monday when we got here. But that's the best way to adjust to a new time zone (5 hours ahead) - just go-go-go until you fall over at a normal local time.
     So far we are in love with this city. Everybody is SO friendly here - and that's coming from a Georgia girl. Peaches - the south has nothing on the Scottish - no lie! And yes, the weather is a little crazy - we've already experienced sunshine rain, snow, sunshine again, snow again, and lots of wind. But it's been so much fun to walk around like a bobble-head, admiring everything, we really haven't noticed that much. Tonight we meet up with a foodie group - chefs and the like. Stan's been plugging us in with the gastronomic crowd, so we are already eating well. But I am becoming a bit sub-verbal and will fall over soon...

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19. Inside and out

having-it-allNina Lindsay has a terrific article up at SLJ about this year’s ALA Award winners and What It All Might Mean.  And in my latest editorial, I write about the need to value art from outsiders as well as insiders. Can we have both? Can we HAVE IT ALL?

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The post Inside and out appeared first on The Horn Book.

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20. Life happens


holespoles:  林明子(Akiko Hayashi)



We had no water for 11 days.  Heat?  Check!  Power?  Good!  Water?  No, sorry.  We spent a lot of time filling up jugs and dragging them home, visiting relatives just to use their showers and washing machines, and melting snow.  Yes, I even resorted to melting snow for flushing toilets.

Since we are doing a lot of babysitting at the same time, I am not reading much - except for awesome picture books like Aki and the Fox by Akiko Hayashi.  Kon the Fox gets into a lot of trouble on the train ride to visit Grandma .  I have always wanted a sequel to this book.  I found the second illustration on klappersacks.tumblr.com

AND 10 Minutes to Bedtime by Peggy Rathman.  The little hamster kicking his soccer ball makes my favorite listener giggle every time.






10 minutes till bedtime

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21. Review of BirdCatDog

BirdCatDogBirdCatDog [Three-Story Books]
by Lee Nordling; illus. by Meritxell Bosch
Primary    Graphic Universe/Lerner    32 pp.
11/14    Library ed.  978-1-4677-4522-2    $25.26
Paper ed.  978-1-4677-4523-9    $6.95
e-book ed.  978-1-4677-4524-6    $25.32

In this innovative wordless picture book told entirely through cartoon panels, three pets escape the ennui of domestication for brief, interconnected adventures in the wild. An introduction explains that readers may read across the six-by-three distribution of rectangular panels for the protagonists’ parallel plot lines — the Tweety-like yellow bird in the blue-saturated top row of panels; the orange tabby in the green-toned middle row; and the bluish-gray guard dog in the yellow-hued bottom row—or read from top to bottom to “get the whole story.” Expressive, accessible art wordlessly follows the pets’ adventures, during which each animal not only interacts (badly) with the other two pets but also comes snout-to-snout (or beak-to-beak) with a wild version of itself: a hawk, a lynx, a wolf. While the consistent panel grid sacrifices the more dynamic layout and pacing afforded by a variety of panel sizes and shapes, this structure (with its protagonist-color-complementing rows) unobtrusively guides readers along. And it’s that much more effective when that structure breaks into a dizzying and hilarious double-page spread of all six creatures in a high-speed chase through the pets’ backyard, a bemused squirrel looking on. Once they have chased off the interlopers, the triumphant pets settle down for well-deserved naps on their well-defended home turf.

From the January/February 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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22. Advanced Copies of STRANGE SKIES Up for Grabs

Hola!

I was originally going to do a Top 7 post this week, and I’m moving it to next week because something amazing happened today. Kat Kennedy from Cuddlebuggery organized an amazing 60+ blog tour in support of #LastListEgmont for today, March 2nd. Check out various interviews and guest posts by yours truly as well as other Egmont authors. We are blown away by the generosity and pure awesomeness of Kat and all the bloggers who participated. To highlight just a few, Jade at the BedtimeBookworm asked me the hardest part of writing a sequel, Shannon at ItStartsAtMidnight asks me what kept me (mostly) sane during the sequel drafting and she’s doing at INTERNATIONAL giveaway of STRANGE SKIES, and Erin at TheBookNut asks about my writing rituals and is also doing an INTERNATIONAL giveaway of STRANGE SKIES. If you follow me on Twitter (you are, right?), then you’ll see the other interviews and giveaways as I tweet them. Good luck and see you next week for my Top 7 post.

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23. Book review: Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, & Literary Agents

Herman bookJeff Herman, a long-time literary agent, has published his guide to the publishing industry for more than 20 years. I’ve used it a number of times to research publishers, agents, and editors. It could be quite useful for you to save time, target your efforts, and avoid missteps.

He opens the book with articles with information on the publishing industry and its processes. There are good insider insights that could help you in your quest. In this 2015 edition I found an idea I like: can’t get an agent? Then become one yourself. If you do this, then the sections on book publishers and their editors become your guide to pitching.

If you’re looking for a literary agent, he asks them a number of questions that can help guide and focus your queries (he also discusses how to write query letters and book proposals). There’s personal information that could help you connect with an agent (not all agents answer all questions, but their answers are helpful nonetheless). The questions he asks include:

  • Describe what you like to represent and what you won’t represent
  • What are the best ways for writers to pitch you?
  • When and where were you born?
  • Do you charge fees?
  • Describe your education and career history
  • Why and how did you become an agent?
  • Would you do it over again, or something else?
  • List some representative titles you have placed
  • Describe yourself as a person
  • Do you miss the way the business “used to be”?
  • How would you describe the proverbial “client from hell,” and what are the warning signs?
  • Describe your job and what you like and don’t like about it

If you’re working on getting your book traditionally published, I think Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, & Literary Agents could well give you an edge in opening that door. Highly recommended.

For what it’s worth,

Ray

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24. Jimmy Kimmel’s Book Club Reads a Simms Taback Picture Book

Late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel recently held another book club gathering. Kimmel and the young members came together to discuss Simms Taback’s There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly. This picture book won the Caldecott Honor back in 1998. The video embedded above has drawn more than 88,000 views—what do you think? (via ABC7news.com)

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25. Free e-book for March: Freud’s Couch, Scott’s Buttocks, Brontë’s Grave

9780226301310 2

Our free e-book for March is Freud’s Couch, Scott’s Buttocks, Brontë’s Grave by Simon Goldhill. Read more and download your copy below.

***

The Victorian era was the high point of literary tourism. Writers such as Charles Dickens, George Eliot, and Sir Walter Scott became celebrities, and readers trekked far and wide for a glimpse of the places where their heroes wrote and thought, walked and talked. Even Shakespeare was roped in, as Victorian entrepreneurs transformed quiet Stratford-upon-Avon into a combination shrine and tourist trap.

Stratford continues to lure the tourists today, as do many other sites of literary pilgrimage throughout Britain. And our modern age could have no better guide to such places than Simon Goldhill. In Freud’s Couch, Scott’s Buttocks, Brontë’s Grave, Goldhill makes a pilgrimage to Sir Walter Scott’s baronial mansion, Wordsworth’s cottage in the Lake District, the Brontë parsonage, Shakespeare’s birthplace, and Freud’s office in Hampstead. Traveling, as much as possible, by methods available to Victorians—and gamely negotiating distractions ranging from broken bicycles to a flock of giggling Japanese schoolgirls—he tries to discern what our forebears were looking for at these sites, as well as what they have to say to the modern mind. What does it matter that Emily Brontë’s hidden passions burned in this specific room? What does it mean, especially now that his fame has faded, that Scott self-consciously built an extravagant castle suitable for Ivanhoe—and star-struck tourists visited it while he was still living there? Or that Freud’s meticulous recreation of his Vienna office is now a meticulously preserved museum of itself? Or that Shakespeare’s birthplace features student actors declaiming snippets of his plays . . . in the garden of a house where he almost certainly never wrote a single line?

Goldhill brings to these inquiries his trademark wry humor and a lifetime’s engagement with literature. The result is a travel book like no other, a reminder that even today, the writing life still has the power to inspire.

To download a copy, click here.

 

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