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1. I Finally Got Him!

I Wish!!!

And I need to thank Subzero -ace German blogger- for helping me complete the whole run.  I think I have an idea for my next video!

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2. Shocking Schiaparelli - MEETINGS AT THE PALACE - Venice

Elsa Schiaparelli
(Venice, Italy) Elsa Schiaparelli, the cosmic fashion designer who created the color Shocking Pink, was born into an aristocratic, intellectual family in Palazzo Corsini in Rome in 1890 -- her great-uncle, Giovanni Schiaparelli, discovered the canals on Mars; her father was a professor of Oriental literature; her mother was descended from the Medicis. Elsa Schiaparelli - Fashion Artist was the topic of today's inaugural conference of Incontri a Palazzo or "Meetings at the Palace," a series of lectures held in the piano nobile of Palazzo Mocenigo, Venice's Museum of Fabric and Costumes.

Miley Cyrus in Schiaparelli jumpsuit at Oscar parties Feb 22, 2015
Elsa Schiaparelli was a wild child. She liked to be called Schiap, not Elsa. Schiap ran away from home at the age of six and was found three days later marching at the front of a local parade. Criticized by her mother for her homely looks, she spent a lot of time with Uncle Giovanni, the astronomer, gazing at the nighttime sky through a telescope. In 1911, while at the University of Rome, Schiap published an mystical, overtly sensual poem, and her horrified parents sent her to a convent in Switzerland. Schiap went on a hunger strike and got out of the convent, then ran off to England and became a nanny. While attending a theosophical conference, she fell in love with the lecturer, Wilhelm Wendt de Kerlor, who claimed to be a Polish count, theosophist and spiritualist, whom she promptly married. They spent several seasons in Nice, then went to NewYork in 1916 on an ocean liner where Schiap became friends with Gabrielle Picabia, the wife of the avant-garde artist Francis Picabia, who would tug her into their circle of famous friends like Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp. 

Elsa Schiaparelli - Photo: Man Ray
The couple produced a daughter whom they called Gogo, who contracted polio. But Count de Kerlor turned out to be a con man and a womanizer, and when he had an affair with Isadora Duncan, Schiap asked for a divorce, and in 1922, took Gogo to Paris.

Schiaparelli trompe l'oeil Bow Tie Sweater
Schiap quickly became part of the Paris scene, encountering fashion icon Paul Poiret, who supported her fresh ideas. Schiap considered herself an artist who channeled her creative energies into fashion, and since she was touched by the cosmos, there was an element of other-worldliness to her designs. Her rise to fame was due to a simple hand-knitted black pullover with a white trompe l'oeil bow tie that Vogue declared a masterpiece and was a huge hit in the US.

Marlene Dietrich wearing Schiaparelli
According to Bio.com: "For Schiaparelli, fashion was as much about making art as it was about making clothes. In 1932, Janet Flanner of The New Yorker wrote: "A frock from Schiaparelli ranks like a modern canvas." Not surprisingly, Schiaparelli connected with popular artists of the era; one of her friends was painter Salvador Dali, whom she hired to design fabric for her fashion house."

Shocking de Schiaparelli Perfume
Schiap became a success on the Place Vendôme, counting Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo among her clientele. She invented culottes, the evening gown, the built-in bra and dared to expose zippers. In 1937 she launched a fragrance, "Shocking," its pink glass torso bottle based on Mae West's body. She began collaborating with the Surrealists, especially Salvador Dali, with whom she created a lobster dress which was worn by Wallis Simpson.

Wallis Simpson in Schiaparelli lobster dress
Schiap closed her business in 1954, and published her autobiography Shocking Life. She died in her sleep in Paris in 1973.

Kate Blanchett in Schiaparelli
In 2007,  Diego Della Valle, CEO and President of Tod's, acquired the brand Schiaparelli. In addition to Miley Cyrus wearing the brand to the after-Oscars parties, Schiaparelli has been recently worn by such celebs as Kate Blanchett and Lorde.

Lorde in Schiaparelli
Like many originals, Elsa Schiaparelli's spirit continues on long after her body was laid to rest.

Ciao from Venezia,
Cat
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

0 Comments on Shocking Schiaparelli - MEETINGS AT THE PALACE - Venice as of 2/26/2015 4:09:00 PM
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3. Ranking Harry Potter Characters in terms of Dateability

Throwback Thursday, Fun Friday, a combination of both–going out on a limb here to try something new and fun/silly on the Leaky News page. Bustle recently posted a hilarious list of “25 Harry Potter Characters, Ranked by Dateability.” You can read the list on their sight, here, and peruse their pros and cons of each character–Dolores Umbridge ranks below even Lord Voldemort, holding the glorified 25th position on the list. At Leaky, we would like to know who would be on your list (the goodies and the baddies) and your hilarious reasons why. We will compile a list of the most recurring characters as well as the accompanying reasonings behind each choice! Get your Quick-Quotes Quills and godspeed!

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4. Elizabeth Gilbert to Narrate Big Magic Audiobook

Big Magic CoverElizabeth Gilbert will serve as the narrator for the audiobook edition of Big Magic.

Gilbert shared the news by uploading an audio clip onto her Facebook page. Throughout the past few months, Gilbert has been posting quotes from the book on her social media accounts.

As we previously reported, Gilbert’s internet conversations with her fans inspired her to write about creativity. Riverhead Books will publish this nonfiction title on September 22nd.

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5. No Boys Allowed: School visits as a woman writer

I've been doing school visits as part of my tour for PRINCESS ACADEMY: The Forgotten Sisters. All have been terrific--great kids, great librarians. But something happened at one I want to talk about. I'm not going to name the school or location because I don't think it's a problem with just one school; it's just one example of a much wider problem.

This was a small-ish school, and I spoke to the 3-8 grades. It wasn't until I was partway into my presentation that I realized that the back rows of the older grades were all girls.

Later a teacher told me, "The administration only gave permission to the middle school girls to leave class for your assembly. I have a boy student who is a huge fan of SPIRIT ANIMALS. I got special permission for him to come, but he was too embarrassed."

"Because the administration had already shown that they believed my presentation would only be for girls?"

"Yes," she said.

I tried not to explode in front of the children.

Let's be clear: I do not talk about "girl" stuff. I do not talk about body parts. I do not do a "Your Menstrual Cycle and You!" presentation. I talk about books and writing, reading, rejections and moving through them, how to come up with story ideas. But because I'm a woman, because some of my books have pictures of girls on the cover, because some of my books have "princess" in the title, I'm stamped as "for girls only." However, the male writers who have boys on their covers speak to the entire school.

This has happened a few times before. I don't believe it's ever happened in an elementary school--just middle school or high school.

I remember one middle school 2-3 years ago that I was going to visit while on tour. I heard in advance that they planned to pull the girls out of class for my assembly but not the boys. I'd dealt with that in the past and didn't want to be a part of perpetuating the myth that women only have things of interest to say to girls while men's voices are universally important.  I told the publicist that this was something I wasn't comfortable with and to please ask them to invite the boys as well as girls. I thought it was taken care of. When I got there, the administration told me with shrugs that they'd heard I didn't want a segregated audience but that's just how it was going to be. Should I have refused? Embarrassed the bookstore, let down the girls who had been looking forward to my visit? I did the presentation. But I felt sick to my stomach. Later I asked what other authors had visited. They'd had a male writer. For his assembly, both boys and girls had been invited.

I think most people reading this will agree that leaving the boys behind is wrong. And yet--when giving books to boys, how often do we offer ones that have girls as protagonists? (Princesses even!) And if we do, do we qualify it: "Even though it's about a girl, I think you'll like it." Even though. We're telling them subtly, if not explicitly, that books about girls aren't for them. Even if a boy would never, ever like any book about any girl (highly unlikely) if we don't at least offer some, we're reinforcing the ideology.

I heard it a hundred times with Hunger Games: "Boys, even though this is about a girl, you'll like it!" Even though. I never heard a single time, "Girls, even though Harry Potter is about a boy, you'll like it!"

The belief that boys won't like books with female protagonists, that they will refuse to read them, the shaming that happens (from peers, parents, teachers, often right in front of me) when they do, the idea that girls should read about and understand boys but that boys don't have to read about girls, that boys aren't expected to understand and empathize with the female population of the world....this belief directly leads to rape culture. To a culture that tells boys and men, it doesn't matter how the girl feels, what she wants. You don't have to wonder. She is here to please you. She is here to do what you want. No one expects you to have to empathize with girls and women. As far as you need be concerned, they have no interior life.

At this recent school visit, near the end I left time for questions. Not one student had a question. In 12 years and 200-300 presentations, I've never had that happen. So I filled in the last 5 minutes reading them the first few chapters of The Princess in Black, showing them slides of the illustrations. BTW I've never met a boy who didn't like this book.

After the presentation, I signed books for the students who had pre-ordered my books (all girls), but one 3rd grade boy hung around.

"Did you want to ask her a question?" a teacher asked.

"Yes," he said nervously, "but not now. I'll wait till everyone is gone."

Once the other students were gone, three adults still remained. He was still clearly uncomfortable that we weren't alone but his question was also clearly important to him. So he leaned forward and whispered in my ear, "Do you have a copy of the black princess book?"

It broke my heart that he felt he had to whisper the question.

He wanted to read the rest of the book so badly and yet was so afraid what others would think of him. If he read a "girl" book. A book about a princess. Even a monster-fighting superhero ninja princess. He wasn't born ashamed. We made him ashamed. Ashamed to be interested in a book about a girl. About a princess--the most "girlie" of girls.

I wish I'd had a copy of The Princess in Black to give him right then. The bookstore told him they were going to donate a copy to his library. I hope he's brave enough to check it out. I hope he keeps reading. I hope he changes his own story. I hope all of us can change this story. I'm really rooting for a happy ending.

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6. Short blog to let you know I am alive…

I meant to have a new blog post in January, but after doing Knott’s and going to see family, I was a bit worn out to be honest. But that is neither here nor there, I have a few shows coming up soon, plus working on new art along with commissions. Without further ado, let us begin with some shows.

Long Beach Comic Expo is coming up on February 28 and March 1st at the Long Beach Convention Center. I love doing show and hope to see everyone there.logo_expo

Then it is off to do the 3rd Annual Spook Show on March 7th at the Halloween Club in La Mirada. I did this show last year and had a blast; great music, horror, and food.spookshow3-halloweenclub-costume-superstoreFinally I will be ending March with two big shows. First up is Monsterpalooza on March 27th-29th at the Marriott Burbank Hotel and Convention Center. Well I won’t be there, but Shawn will be there representing me. So please stop by and say hello to him.monsterpalooza2015splashv1.04And the reason I won’t be there is because I shall be going to Emerald City Comicon on March 27th-29th for my second year at the Washington State Convention Center. I had an amazing time last year and can’t wait to go back, maybe this time I will get a chance to look around.logo Now for a quick look at a new piece I have of a dark fairy with wings and horns. She playfully sits on a stone block in front of a doorway. Is she here to stop you from entering or to entice you to your doom? Available as a print at my store.il_570xN.733400137_ofm7That is it for now, I am off to pack up for the shows. Take care and keep creating.

–Diana

 

 

The post Short blog to let you know I am alive… appeared first on Diana Levin Art.

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7. Strip Magazine

We're sorry for the ongoing and frustrating delays to I really wanted to rest today.  Anyhow, I get a couple of requests a month about STRIP: The Adventure Comics Magazine and just why I have no idea.  Wasn't involved.  Wasn't asked to be involved.  Request for a review copy (after each of the Press Releases I got from them) never got a response

meh

Anyway, from what I can find out there were three issues? That's it.  No idea what happened.  No one tells me these things!

The other question is usually about Clint magazine and, no, same applies as per Strip but at I wrong in saying it has ceased publishing?

This is UK comics for you.  Try as you might no one wants to tell you anything.

So, no, I have no idea about either publication -send THEM an email and see if they reply!

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8. Kristina Marie Darling: Poet Interview

Confession: I don’t really keep records on Poetic Asides, but I’m pretty sure Kristina Marie Darling has the record for most poet interviews in PA history.

Kristina Marie Darling

Kristina Marie Darling

If this is your first time hearing her name, Kristina Marie Darling is the author of over 20 books, which include Vow, Petrarchan, and Scorched Altar, all available from BlazeVOX Books.  Her writing has been recognized with fellowships from Yaddo, the Ucross Foundation, and the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, as well as grants from the Kittredge Fund and the Elizabeth George Foundation.  She was recently selected as a Visiting Artist at the American Academy in Rome.

Visit her online at http://kristinamariedarling.com.

It’s been fun watching her writing evolve over the years, and in Darling’s collection Scorched Altar: Selected Poems & Stories 2007-2014, it’s now possible to get a sampling of her writing from 12 different sources.

Here are a few of the pieces you will find:

*****

Recreating_Poetry_Revise_PoemsForget Revision, Learn How to Re-create Your Poems!

Do you find first drafts the easy part and revision kind of intimidating? If so, you’re not alone, and it’s common for writers to think the revision process is boring–but it doesn’t have to be!

In the 48-minute tutorial Re-Creating Poetry: How to Revise Poems, poets will learn how to go about re-creating their poems with the use of 7 revision filters that can help poets more effectively play with their poems after the first draft. Plus, it helps poets see how they make revision–gasp–fun!

Click to continue.

******

What are you currently up to?

I’m getting ready to leave for a residency at the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts and couldn’t be more excited. I’ll spend my time there working on a new collection of erasure poems, which examines the egregious amount of gender violence in Shakespeare’s tragedies. The fragmented, elliptical poems ask reader to consider whether the literature we’ve inherited has normalized gender violence, since plays like Hamlet, King Lear, and Othello are so present within the public imagination.

Part critique, part excavation, the poems are intended to redirect the focus of scholarly and readerly attention. It is when we become conscious of underlying beliefs and assumptions in culture, and their roots, that change emerges as a real possibility.

scorched_altar_selected_poems_stories_kristina_marie_darlingScorched Altar is a collection of selected poems and stories published by BlazeVOX [books]. How did this collection come about?

That’s a great question. I initially contacted Geoffrey Gatza, the fabulous editor in charge of the press, to inquire about the possibility of a Selected Poems.

It turns out that Geoffrey had the same idea himself, and I simply e-mailed first. Since I had worked with BlazeVOX on numerous previous collections, I knew that my Selected Poems was in very good hands.

Was the process of selecting pieces from previous collections different than putting together a new collection?

When I compiled the poems from my previous collections for Scorched Altar, it was a much different process than working on a brand new collection. For me, writing a new poem or poetry book is an intuitive process, and I don’t reflect much on what I’m doing, at least in the drafting stage. If I allow myself to become too self-aware, that allows me to become self-critical, and then no writing gets done at all.

What I really enjoyed about the process of compiling Scorched Altar was that it prompted me to reflect on my body of work as a whole, to see patterns emerge from my writing over the past seven years, and to see progress and growth. The act of examining my poetry over the course of several years also helped me see what ideas, obsessions, and literary forms I returned to most frequently. And as a result, I came away from the process with many ideas for new projects, experiments, and poems that were completely different from anything I’d ever written before.

In many ways, the act of examining my body of work showed me what is possible within it.

Many of your pieces, especially in collections like Correspondence and Fortress, have a very visual element to how they’re arranged on the page. Do you ever perform these in readings? If so, do you have to explain how they’re set?

I think every poetry reading has some element of performance. Whether the poet shouts their poems, or sings them, or invites audience participation, I’m positive that all writers have a constructed persona, which is an extension of the work itself. With that in mind, I love performing my footnote poems at readings.

I typically read them in a completely flat, monotone voice, almost like the bad math professor that just about everyone had in college. I love seeing the audience lulled into a sense of comfort by the unexciting presentation of the work, only to be surprised by the wildly imaginative content.

You’re an active literary critic. Does this inform your writing? Help? Hinder?

I’m glad you asked about my reviewing and involvement with literary criticism. I love reviewing books, because it exposes me to poetry that is completely outside my comfort zone. This is great because it helps me question and interrogate what I normally do in my own writing. It pushes me to try new things and experiment more within my own practice. And it helps me see more clearly where my poems fit within the larger literary community.

The best thing about reviewing, though, is that it helps build relationships within publishing and writing. I’ve met friends, collaborators, and even mentors when working on reviews. And there’s nothing better than free books!

You’ve published 17 collections now. How do you keep the writing flame lit?

By reading and reviewing other poets. As long as you’re constantly being exposed to new ideas, literary forms, and aesthetics, you’ll always have something to write about.

I also run a small press, Noctuary Press, which has been great for my own creative practice. The press primarily publishes women’s writing that takes places across and beyond genre categories. Although I pride myself on my ability to question genre distinctions, reading submissions for the press has shown me the tremendous variety inherent in contemporary cross-genre writing by women. My work as editor has helped me see what’s possible within the hybrid forms I typically inhabit, and it’s a great deal more than I had initially envisioned.

One poet who no one knows but should–who is it?

Erin Bertram. She has several magnificent chapbooks out, including one from Kristy Bowen’s fabulous Dancing Girl Press. I’m just waiting for someone to realize that her first full-length book needs to be published (so I can buy it and read it!).

Who (or what) are you currently reading?

I’m very excited to check out Donna Stonecipher’s Model City and Dawn Lonsinger’s Whelm. I also just picked up Olena Kalytiak Davis’s newest collection, which I’ve been eagerly awaiting for quite some time.

And if you haven’t checked out Carl Adamshick’s Saint Friend, just published by McSweeney’s Books, then you sure are missing out. It’s a terrific collection, even better than his first book, Curses & Wishes.

And usually I ask for one piece of advice for poets, but we’ve done a few interviews together now. So instead, and this is probably still one piece of advice for poets, I’m going to ask you about your amazing organization and follow-up abilities, because you do a better job than most. Could you share how you stay organized and on task for writing, submitting, following up, etc.?

I’m probably going to out myself as a total nerd with this answer, but here goes:  Excel Spreadsheets. I keep track of everything (applications I’ve submitted, review copies sent, deadlines for applications) in a couple of gigantic spreadsheets.

If I could offer one piece of advice to poets, I’d say keep records of where you send your work, whether it’s review copies, applications, or poems. If you don’t remember where you sent something, then there’s no way you’ll ever be able to follow up with the decision maker.

And believe me, persistence pays off, especially in small press publishing.

*****

Robert Lee Brewer is the editor of Poet’s Market and author of Solving the World’s Problems. Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.

*****

Check out these other poetic posts:

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9. MARCH UPDATE!

March is looking to be a great fun Month with lots of Theater all over the country, appearances in Amherst, MA and, for the first time, New Zealand! But first a quick look at last month: RECAP! What a fun month February was; starting out with a surprise call from the Geisel Committee informing me that Elephant & Piggie's WAITING IS NOT EASY! had garnered a Geisel Honor!  This was a

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10. A counting book with a story

Little Kiwi Counts the Chicks by Bob Darroch (Puffin)

I love kiwi books; understandably since I help release kiwi chicks on Motuora Island during the breeding season. And I've loved Bob's series of kiwi books with their humour and cartoon drawings ever since the first one came out quite a few years ago. This time Bob's written a counting book with kiwi chicks but it's a counting book with a difference - it actually has a story. I can see this being very useful in the classroom. It's just a shame Penguin didn't make the book bigger so that it can be seen by all the 4-5 year olds sitting on the mat
learning to count.

What's the story? Two little kiwi chicks ask Morepork where everyone is in the forest because it is so quiet. Morepork tells them all the birds will be home getting ready for their new families. When the two kiwi chicks hear some noise they go and investigate. First they find one little kakapo chick, then two little moreporks, and three baby silver-eyes, and four kaka ... but it doesn't just end with counting - there's a little surprise ending.

Bob's cartoon like characters fill the page with bright colour. This book will sure to be popular with 3-5 year old children (and their parents). The small book can easily be held by small hands but as I said above it won't be easy to share with a class. It would be great if they made some big size ones, and perhaps a Maori version. (If enough teachers requested it perhaps Penguin would.)

RRP $15.99
ISBN: 978 0143506621

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11. Harry Potter and the Window into Behavioral Genetics in DNA

Sound like an interesting book title? Maybe to the more science-oriented fans in this fandom, or those of us particularly interested in genetics. Professors at Rutgers University have turned towards using Harry Potter as an introductory level example of behavioral genetics to answer the famous question: what drives our personal characteristics and actions, nature or nurture? Harry looks like his father (except he has his mother’s eyes, we know, we know–pretending that young Lily’s brown eyes in the movie match Harry’s blue ones–we know). According to Professor Snape, Harry acts like his father; and, as Hermione pointed out for us in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Harry’s amazing Quidditch skills are not surprising because James Potter was an award-winning Seeker. Harry never grew up with his parents, so did nature play a bigger role in the formation of his character than nurture? (Of course, denying the fact that Harry is a fictional character, as alive as he seems to us, whose formation only comes for the pen of J.K. Rowling). However, Rutger students prefer to look at the Black family and their pure-blood relatives for their experiments. Rutgers reports:

 

For the past several years, first-year Rutgers students – mostly science majors and all Harry Potter fans — have been learning from Yu and the popular J.K. Rowling novels about the scientific approaches used for studying behavioral genetics.

“Because of the richness of the characters and the many families in the Harry Potter books, there are so many examples of physical resemblances and behavior similarities among family members,” Yu said. “The scientific question that we look at is whether these behavioral characteristics are due to genetic inheritance or because they live under the same roof. It’s the age-old question: ‘is it nature or nurture?’”

Yu says studying behavioral genetics through the tales of Harry Potter books is providing students with an introduction to college-level science and giving them a better understanding of how scientists think and apply scientific approaches to their research.

“They are taught how to spot certain patterns in behaviors that allow them to come up with a hypothesis as to whether the behavioral characteristics are genetically influenced,” said Yu. “They also have to ask themselves whether it is the environment because these characters are living under the same roof.”

At the beginning of the course, Yu explains what behavioral characteristics are, and asks students to pick a parent-child pair from the seven Potter novels and identify a behavior the parent-child pair share that might be genetic. The students engage in animated discussions about their chosen example, in order to come up with a class-consensus example.  This semester they had to decide if it would be the athleticism of the Potters or the compulsive behavior of the Blacks – the family of pure-blood wizards.

The Blacks won out, as many students in this year’s class are deeply intrigued by the family’s compulsiveness of carrying things to extreme, even though various members of the family displayed this compulsion in vastly different ways — from the maternal patriarch’s distain of anyone NOT of ‘pure blood’, to Sirius Black’s devotion to Harry Potter’s wellbeing.  The next step was to design an experiment that would support or refute the hypothesis that the Blacks’ compulsive behavior was genetically based. Last year’s class — which selected the Potter family’s athleticism to study — decided to use mice for determining the heritability of athleticism. Students, guided by Yu during class discussion, designed an experiment to first train the mice to run straight on a track and not to run back and forth, as mice are prone to do. Then mice would be bred selectively for differences in running speed, and the results would be analyzed to establish whether the behavior was genetic.

For this year’s experiment, the students have just begun to define the research design, which Yu said he will help guide during the rest of the semester.  Students are full of enthusiasm and ideas.  Megan Coakley suggested using mice of different colors for easy tracking of their parentage – “black, white and something in between” – and offer food to these mice to see if some show compulsive eating. Naweed Karimi recommended breeding mice for their compulsiveness tendencies.

 

If it strikes your fancy, the rest of the article can be read here.

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12. A slick pair of double monks by @gjcleverley #englishshoes #englishshoemakers #doublemonks #mensshoe

A slick pair of double monks by @gjcleverley #englishshoes #englishshoemakers #doublemonks #mensshoes #mensstyle #mensfashion #menswear #fashion #styleformen #style #dressshoes #shoes #shoestyle #shoestagram #shoeporn #scarpe #zapatos #chaussures #estilo #stile #monkstraps #georgecleverley #theshoesnob84 #theshoesnob by theshoesnob84
10995077_958786747474020_1863519905_n.jpg

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13. “Chandelier”

I’m not too old to be deeply moved by Sia’s “Chandelier.” It makes me think of someone I once knew well and lost, for various reasons, one of them being her lifestyle choices. She died before she could break free. Kristen Wiig and Maddie Ziegler were outstanding in their Grammy performance piece of this song. … Continue reading “Chandelier”

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14. Interview with a 7th Grader

A 7th-grader reached out because she wanted to interview me about being an agent for an expository writing assigment. Since some of these are questions that I get a lot, I figured I'd answer on the blog. Hopefully the answers are helpful to the student, and may be of some interest to other readers, as well! :-) 

1) What role do literary agents play in the writing community? 

A literary agent helps a writer navigate and manage their career. Much in the same way most actors have talent agents who help them get fancy movie roles and negotiate their contracts, or basketball players have sports agents who get them sneaker endorsement deals, authors have literary agents who help place their work with publishers. Agents also may help get those books translated into other languages and get made into movies, apps or toys. And an agent helps an author with all kinds of other business matters. Almost every book that you see in the bookstore is there because an agent helped the author place the book with a publisher.

2) Who or what inspired you to want to become a literary agent?

My friend Barry Goldblatt is an agent, and when I met him ten years ago, I thought his job looked super cool and interesting. (He represents Libba Bray, Holly Black, Shannon Hale, Jo Knowles, among many other amazing authors.) I decided I wanted to do that, too!  So I got an internship in 2006 or so, then joined my agency in 2007, and officially became an agent in 2008.


3) What did you have to go through to be a literary agent? 

Everyone has a different path to becoming an agent. Personally, before I ever started, I first worked for a decade in bookstores as a buyer and events person... So I knew a LOT about books and publishing, and a lot of authors, illustrators and people in publishing. That means when I decided I wanted to become an agent, it was probably easier for me than it would have been for somebody starting from scratch. I still started out essentially as an unpaid intern, but  I was able to move up a bit more quickly than usual.

Still, what might have looked like "overnight success" to an outsider was, in fact, the result of 15+ years of work.

4) Was it hard to get the job? 

Again, it's not really a job you apply for and interview and either get or don't get. You don't get a regular paycheck or have to wear a uniform or anything. Instead, it's a career that you build. So, yeah, it's hard to build a successful career - it takes years, and patience.


5) What was the biggest lesson you've learned so far in you career that you would like to share with fresh agents? And what is the hardest thing about being an agent?

Imagine if you turned in an assignment to your teacher on Friday... and instead of getting the grade back the following Monday, you got the grade six months later, out of nowhere, when it had been so long you'd already forgotten about it, gone on summer vacation, become an 8th grader. Now you have to go back and re-do part of that old assignment AND add an essay and make a poster for it, tonight. UGH! What the heck! You don't even TAKE that class anymore! But you have to do it, or you'll retroactively fail. Well.... that's kinda what publishing is like. ;-)

If you are expecting overnight riches and success, you will probably be disappointed. Everything in publishing is extremely slow, and patience is critical. (This is hard for me, as I am rather impatient by nature.)


As for the VERY hardest thing about being an agent -- well, agents get new clients when the authors write us what is called a "query letter." I get hundreds of query letters a week, but I can only take on maybe five new clients a year. It's definitely hard to say no to good projects... but I have to do it, every day. :-(

6) What kind of writers have you worked with? Are there certain writers you work with more than others? 

I only work with authors of books for children and young adults. Other agents have other specialties; my specialty is kids and teen fiction.

7) What are some things you need to stay organized? 

I use a paper calendar, a google calendar, and a bullet journal for day-to-day scheduling and assignments. To keep track of all my clients and their various projects, I have a lot of excel spreadsheets, plus color-coded labels in gmail, plus a paper notebook in which I have a page for each book we are working on with all the pertinent info on it. I do end up double-entering some of the information, but I have had my computer crash and lose tons of information and it was very horrible, so I always like to write things down on paper, too, rather than rely exclusively on the computer!

8) Did you have to take extra classes in high school and/or college to become a literary agent? 

Agenting is essentially an apprentice business - really the only way you can learn it is by doing it, while being mentored by a more successful agent. There are no "agent classes."

I know agents who have MFAs in writing, PhDs in Literature, Masters of Business Administration degrees, law degrees... or, like me, studied something totally random in school, like theatre or history! What you major in doesn't really matter. But what DOES matter, whatever your college major, is that you become quite good at writing clearly and reading critically.

In addition to English (writing and literature) classes, you might also find that classes in contract law, business, marketing, web development or book-keeping come in handy. But they aren't required by any means.


9) Would you do anything over the summer before or while you've been an agent to be a better agent? 

Well, sadly, I don't get summers off. :-) Probably you mean, would I suggest anything that YOU might do over the summer to potentially become an agent in the future. IF that's the case: I'd suggest you try to get a job in a bookstore or library.  

Read everything you possibly can. And don't just READ... read critically, and pay attention to which publishers make which books. If you do, you'll start to see that different publishers have different styles and specialties. Pay attention to who publishes what. This will come in handy if you become a professional book person later -- book people pretty much always talk about who the publisher is when they talk about a book.


10) What qualities do you need to be a successful agent? 

At the very least, a successful agent will probably be a great communicator, and know a LOT about books and publishing.

I hope that helps - let me know if the comments if you need clarification or have other questions.

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15. No. There Will Be No Black Tower Toy Figures!

Right. In November of last year I was contacted by a man who makes 54mm military figures for gamers.  He had quite a nice web site.

He told me that he realised even in poorer countries where there are comics you can find toys or action figures based on comic characters  I was told he had looked at UK comics -he had gone to comic shops (Forbidden Planet, Travelling Man and a couple others) but was shocked to find that unlike when he was younger there were no British comics and the staff basically told him "Dandy" and that was it.  So, he decided to go to local newsagents -they "always" had comics.  He found the Panini DC/Marvel reprints and "just loads of magazines with awful made in China cheap toys".

Then he went to Thought Bubble, the comic event.  "Three different people told me I ought to contact you" ad he checked out the online store and blogs and got in touch.

He is quite right, toy and figure wise (particularly 54mm/1/32nd) UK comics have produced nothing.  Odd really but it probably comes from (1) no one contacting a company and (2) few people -even at the companies- have a knowledge of their own action heroes

Luckily, I had some rough rear, side and front design illoes I had put together for a toy company in the 1990s (nothing happened) and I sent these to him,  A couple of the BTCG books and that was it.  I saw the basic designed figures that are made before molding.  Heard from him in December and he was going to produce an initial ten figure set of BTCGs main characters. End of January I sent him a letter.  Then an email.  Now I hear back.

His bank "business advisor" who had been all for the project decided, just before he made the expensive molds, that he could no longer support the idea of funding the project.  The man apologised and said he would have sent the master figures to me but was so angry everything was dumped.  It seems he is also now moving to New Zealand to set up a business unrelated to gaming/toy figures.

I was disappointed but as we say in comics "It is not done and dusted until the cheque is cashed!" so was not heart-broken.  I thought it was interesting that the man reported: "The banks want to take your money from the business but will NOT back it!"   I've heard that so many times.

What I was **** off about was that my illoes were also thrown out.

So, any figure manufacturers out there get in touch.  I have the characters, blogs and outlets to publicise.  But not for free!

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16. March 2015 Desktop Calendar featuring interior artwork from my latest picture book Gerbil, Uncurled!


With February drawing to a quick close, I have posted my new March 2015 desktop calendar a few days early.
 This calendar features the entire extended gerbil family featured in my latest picture book, as illustrator, Gerbil, Uncurled( by Alison Hughes, Fitzhenry & Whiteside June 2015).

 Let me introduce you to the horde. We have Grandpa, Grandma, Mama, Sister, Little Gerbil and her mischievous triplet cousins...and Teddy too, of course!

 Alison and I have been pouring over the colour proofs this week, we are SUPER excited to see it all come together. Our editor, Cheryl Chen, has graciously given me the "thumbs-up" to share one of the interior illustrations for the book. I couldn't resist using it to create my March calendar. Please click on the screen resolutions above then right-click on " save to desktop" to download.
  
This picture book will be part of the Tell Me More Storybook series. It contains 2 pages of bonus  non-fiction back matter. It also has fully illustrated end-papers! *squeals* SO FUN!

 Here is the back cover copy: "Little Gerbil has learned all of the important Gerbil Mottos from Grandpa: Always Keep Your Whiskers Clean, Celery Tops Come to Those Who Wait, etc. But there is one motto that Little Gerbil just can't manage to keep: Curl Up Nose to Toes when it comes time to go to sleep. At the weekly Gerbil Circle meeting she knows she has to tell the truth. Little Gerbil discovers that she is not the only one that has problems following some of the Gerbil Mottos."

It's available to pre-order on Amazon here: http://goo.gl/jDPOIE

Andrew Larsen's Charlie's Dirt Day, illustrated by Jacqueline Hudon-Verrelli is the latest book in the Tell Me More series to hit the shelves. Have you seen it yet? It's delightful!

I hope you  enjoy the calendar, Alison and I can't wait to share this book with you. Be on the look-out, it is due to hit the shelves in June!






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17. Nikki Slade Robinson as author and illustrator


Muddle & Mo by Nikki Slade Robinson (Duck Creek Press)

This is Nikki's first solo book (as far as I know). She has illustrated 60 other children's books (one of my favourite's being 'Hannah Bandana's Hair - just because the main character has hair like mine and I've lost things in my hair before too.) I'm surprised she hasn't done it before because this little book is rather gorgeous. It reminds me a little of Rowan and Mark Sommerset's successful books.

Nikki has gone for pared back illustrations and text, with the focus on faces with lots of expression. She's used recycled paper as a backing and two illustrations on each double page spread - the duckling and the goat.

The duckling called Muddle (very appropriate name) talks to Mo the goat. First he tells Mo he's a funny colour, his beak is too hairy, he's eating the wrong foods, his wings are on his head ... Of course, you soon realise that Muddle thinks Mo is a weird looking duck and it's not until he sees a herd of goats that Muddle realises he's got it all wrong.

The story comes in a different angle from most 'accepting differences' stories. Little kids are often faced with prejudice about looking different. This clever book suggests to the reader in an underlying message to accept different species/cultures, as not everyone is the same. Let's face it - that's what makes life interesting. Read the book to find out what Mo says back to Muddle at the end.

A rather cute book that will be popular with 3-6 years old children. Teachers and parents can generate lots of discussion about accepting others/differences etc.

I'm pleased Duck Creek Press has gone back to this size format and printed it in paper back and hard back. It is practical for schools and kindies - so the books last long enough and can be read aloud in group settings. This book is sure to be popular in those settings so needs to last long!

ISBN: 1927305003 hardback $29.99 paperback $19.99

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18. Logic Problems

Watch out for these logic problems to prevent your reader from being pulled out of the story.

http://writershelpingwriters.net/2014/12/four-logic-problems-will-ruin-day-manuscript/

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19. A Moment with Emily Gravett’s Art — and Sketchbook

Last week, I talked over at Kirkus with poet and author A. F. Harrold about his children’s novel, The Imaginary, released overseas last year but coming to American shelves in early March from Bloomsbury. That conversation is here. Today, I’m following up with some of Emily Gravett’s art from the book, as well as some peeks into her sketchbook for this one. (That’s an early sketch pictured above.)

I thank her for sharing. Enjoy the art.



 

Some of Emily’s Early Sketches:


 



(Click above image to see sketchbook page in full)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 

Some Final Art from the Book:


 


“A flash of lightning hit the study and, through the wooden legs of the chair, she saw, illuminated in the split-second snap of the light,
a pair of thin, pale human legs in the middle of the room.”

(Click to enlarge)



 


“In the middle of the library, where the bookcases gave way to tables and chairs, ‘people’ were gathered. Rudger used the word ‘people’ loosely as he looked at them, and left the word ‘real’ out of his thoughts entirely.”
(Click to enlarge)


 


“In the the mirror she met John’s eye, and she winked.”
(Click to enlarge)


 


“Rudger stood at the foot of her bed and looked at her. She looked peaceful.”
(Click to enlarge)


 



 

* * * * * * *

THE IMAGINARY. Text copyright © 2014 by A. F. Harrold. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Emily Gravett. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Bloomsbury, New York. Sketches reproduced by permission of Emily Gravett and Bloomsbury.

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20. Mystery Grab Bag Sale Runs Through Monday

Thanks to everyone who already purchased a grab bag! We have a few more left just... $20 a piece in my Etsy shop.

I'm gonna close the sale at the end of day on Monday, 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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21. Mysteriously, the number 7 is featuring prominently on my...





Mysteriously, the number 7 is featuring prominently on my project list this past year…(I had the urge just now to look it up). Anyhow, I’m working on a project that is part branding, part book design, part musical performance. Central to the theme is one of empathy and suffering. Here are two explorations at the final round here….I have questions about how graphic to be, how much detail to include, color saturation levels. Less is usually more, but it takes a chunk of time to find that balance. 





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22. Someone asked me a while ago to show my Edward Greens. Well, here they are. I have a couple more pai

Someone asked me a while ago to show my Edward Greens. Well, here they are. I have a couple more pairs on order from @skoaktiebolaget . #edwardgreen #shoes by gusvs9
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23. The book you write when you find out your great great grandmother is a ghost

Now this is a book on family history you don't find to often! Hannah Nordhaus has roots that go far back in New Mexico history and her great great grandparents owned one of the finer homes in Santa Fe. Now a hotel (and out of the family's hands), the hotel has been famously haunted for decades supposedly by Nordhaus's gg grandmother, Julia Schuster Staab who died in 1896. American Ghost is the story of how the author went looking for Julia, both her ghost and her truth.

German Jews who relocate to Santa Fe is a pretty interesting family history without much added to it, but Nordhaus finds out a lot more as she looks for the reasons why Julia left Germany. Because the Staab family was so prominent in New Mexico history, newspaper coverage is abundant and there are also letters, diary entries and some personal histories along with general records that Nordhaus is able to mine for information. She also goes in a different direction as well and tries to communicate with Julia's ghost.

At first, the "ghostbusting" chapters seemed odd to me, like the author was padding the narrative. But slowly she makes it clear that her attempts to reach out to the ghost, (and find out of there even is a ghost), are also a bit about finding herself or perhaps finding how she feels about her ancestors. These chapters also provide a bit humor which is welcome as Julia's life has some truly tragic downturns and, as expected, not all of the family left Germany so there is some enormous sadness found there.

I have read several books about finding your family but this is the first one where a family member is a famous ghost which is really fairly outrageous when you think about it. I will admit I am envious of Nordhaus however--she has so much family history to fall back on, such a solid place to start from and I have only the tiniest shreds in comparison. But that envy did not reduce my ability to enjoy American Ghost a lot or glean some tips from her search.

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24. Secret Wars Serves Up Second Zombie Title

You can’t have the end of the world without a few zombies. Earlier, Marvel announced Age of Ultron vs Marvel Zombies as a Secret Wars tie-in book. Today, Bloody Digusting announced a different Marvel Zombies in the never ending line of tie-in series. This book will feature the creative team of Si Spurrier (2000 AD) and Kev Walker (Magic: The Gathering). Marvel Zombies follows Nextwave veteran Elsa Bloodstone as she’s tasked with protecting a barrier part of the Battleworld known as “the Shield” from hordes of Marvel’s undead. All the while protecting her young companion and dealing with the memory of her father Ulysses Bloodstone.

In an interview with BD, Spurrier made it clear that while the story will center around Bloodstone’s internal and external obstacles there would be no shortage of horror fanatic zombie moments. Spurrier went into some graphic detail, “And hey, let’s not pretend that we don’t all get a bit of a kick out of simply seeing recognisable characters reimagined as decomposing cerebravores. That’s where Kev and I will get to cut loose on some fabulously icky visuals. Who doesn’t want to see a starvation-mad Sabretooth sucking up his own regenerating guts like spaghetti, or a zombie Carnage entirely composed of crusty bloodclots…? Fun.”

One thing more tie-in creators have been vocal about as of late is how much opportunity they’ve been given in these books to explore new things about both familiar and obscure characters. Instead of web like interconnectivity with the main event; it’s becoming more and more apparent that the majority of these tie-ins will have their own context readers can either pick up as separate tales or simply stay with the main Secret Wars book without feeling left out.

Marvel Zombies launches in June. It’s the second title to bare the Marvel Zombies name in Secret Wars, but no word on how long this series will run.

Marvel_Zombies_1_Cover-674x1024

 

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25. Kim Gordon’s Book Hits Book Shelves This Week

A memoir by Kim Gordon, founding member of Sonic Youth, is out this week from HarperCollins’ Dey Street Books.

In Girl in a Band: A Memoir, the indie rock icon talks talks about music, being an artist, marriage and motherhood. She also discusses the difficulties of doing a show in South America with her ex-husband/bandmate Thurston Moore. Here is an excerpt:

They say that when a marriage ends that little things you never noticed before practically make your brain split open. All week that had been true for me whenever Thurston was around. Maybe he felt the same, or maybe his head was somewhere else. I didn’t really want to know to be honest.

 

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