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1. Writing Contest Announcement and Exciting Changes at Adventures in YA Publishing!

I'm SO excited about this post, because I finally,
Image via Alan Cleaver
WE finally, get to share some of the amazing things that are going on here at Adventures, the First Five Pages Writing Workshop, and YA Series Insiders. We have a number of new contributors we've added recently, and we're expanding our social media channels, and launching a number of new initiatives. 

We're also going to be announcing a brand new and wonderfully FUN Red Light, Green Light writing contest in the next weeks, with author and agent critiques, audience voting, and more!

So lets kick this off! Here, starting with me, are all of our contributors to tell you what we're most excited about.

Martina Boone: I'm excited that we're adding more fabulous team members for all the blogs, that we're bringing YASeriesInsiders.com closer to the AdventuresInYAPublishing.com family and yet continuing to work with a lot of my author friends. I'm thrilled that we're getting to expand the First Five Pages program, and I'm especially thrilled with all the new enthusiasm and energy that's going into developing more great ways to celebrate YA Literature with both readers and writers.

Erin Cashman: I'm so excited to have new interns at AYAP and new mentors! YA authors Stephanie Scott whose debut, ALTERATIONS will be published by Bloomsbury and Brenda Drake, author of the forthcoming TOUCHING FATE and LIBRARY JUMPERS, both from Entangled, and host of PitchWars, will be joining the First 5 Pages Workshop as permanent mentors!

Lisa Gail Green: So excited to have such an amazingly talented and sweet bunch working together. I'm looking forward to showcasing more agents and editors and their insights. If you have agent questions you'd love answers to tweet them or Facebook them on our new accounts and I'll pick some to do for upcoming agent roundups!!! Also looking forward to some new and innovative contests for writers. 

Susan Sipal:  I'm thrilled with all the new energy and excitement at AYAP. Love having all the wonderful new team members as well as the lovely "old" crew. (wink emoticon) I'm eager to line up additional insightful articles for the Craft of Writing features. And hope that any writer with a detailed question for the MS will consider submitting to Ask a Pub Pro! Also, be sure to look for something special and Harry Potterish on July 31!

Jocelyn Rish: I’m thrilled to have all these lovely ladies joining the team – lots of new ideas and enthusiasm flowing around AYAP! I’m excited to use some of this new energy to revamp the look and feel of the weekend author interviews. I also look forward to reaching new readers and writers with our newly implemented social network accounts. Help us spread the word!

Shelly Zevlever: So many changes are happening with AYAP, and all of them are exciting! Like others have mentioned, I'm super excited to have all these fabulous interns helping out. I also am looking forward to running the Twitter account! I finished school recently and I'm getting into the hang of everything but I'm excited to see us having a larger presence in social media!

Jen Fisher: I'm excited to be part of AYAP as well! I'm looking forward to featuring some really great authors in the coming WOW Wednesdays posts: Susan Juby, Erica O'Rourke, and Wendy Higgins to name a few.

Sandra Held: I'm really excited about the upcoming First 5 contest, and about leading the brand new Pitch Polishing part of the workshop. I think we're on our way to a fun summer that will be amazing for both readers and writers.

Sam Taylor: First of all, I'm excited to BE part of the AYAP team. I'm looking forward to tracking the YA new releases for the Monday Round-Up posts, and to kick-start the quarterly posts of books we are itching to read. And I'm excited to engage with other blogs as an AYAP rep.

Lindsey Hodder: I'm excited about the new monthly series we're instigating on AYAP - round ups of the best writing related posts around the web, and a series that brings together the best of the AYAP archives! And I'm thrilled to be representing AYAP on other blogs.

Kristin Sandoval:  I'm excited to be a part of AYAP through her sister site, YA Series Insiders and spreading the word and the love of reading through YA series books! We have some wonderful, juicy YA series secrets that I can't wait to put up on the blog, and a monthly giveaway, and I'm just thrilled to be working with such great and enthusiastic people both at AYAP and at YASI.

Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan: I’m really excited to connect with the community of past First Five Pages Writing Workshop participants and find out how everyone is progressing with their manuscripts. I’m looking forward to building a community where we can share advice and tips with each other. There’s nothing like paying it forward to build good karma. Maybe we should plan virtual "class reunions!"

Anisaa Denise: I'm so excited to be a part of the AYAP team, along with working for her sister site, YA Series Insiders! Its been such an amazing experience so far and with all the new things happening, I know that it can only get better! I'm looking forward to creating some awesome graphics and helping to expand our social media presence.

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2. Things I Love Thursday

So, I've been pretty absent from this blog lately.

But there's been a lot going on.

Because, well.....this....

After 26 years in New England, my husband and I are heading back to my beloved South....right there at the edge of the Smoky Mountains, my heart's home.

Specifically, to Asheville, North Carolina...one of the most beautiful and coolest places ever.

So happy.



So hard to say goodbye to things and places and PEOPLE I love dearly.

Starting with my house.

My son grew up here.

We have 26 years worth of amazing memories.

My husband's hippie carpenter friend came out from Arizona to help us build our screened porch:

Where we spent so many magical summer nights:

We built a swimming pool:

My son on the right

Which brought us lots of happy times:

With my dearest pal, Gucci, who shared almost daily walks and talks with me. (And sewed for me and picked me up when I wrecked my cars and was always there for me and on and on and on. BFFs forever.)


In the cement beside the pool

There is still chewed woodwork in our house caused by puppies who grew into gray-faced old dogs.

Murphy, the first puppy we brought to this house. (She lived to be 14) Son on the left.

My son brought a chestnut home from the cemetery beside our church when he was very small. It was in a paper cup. We said he could plant it anywhere he wanted to, never dreaming it would become this beauty:

This is the gate between my yard and my neighbor's, who is also the dearest of friends one could ever want. That friend who GETS me. On countless summer nights, she came through that gate to dance to disco music with me under the moonlight or listen to owls in the Adirondack chairs in the yard (snuggled together under a quilt like little girls instead of grown women), or laugh and cry and gossip on the porch. (Because that's what you do with your besties.) Pool Girl, you know I love you.

A gift she gave me. Perfect

So, yeah, lots of memories in that house

 I'll miss my gardens.

I'll miss my summer writing office:

So on this Things I Love Thursday, I'm loving my house.

And loving my dear, dear friends here, including:

Janet Zade (left), so wise and honest and punctual (three of the greatest traits of a friend, I think.) How lucky am I? Thank you, Janet.

My writers' group (There is no greater treasure for a writer than a group like this. We've been up, down, and all around together.)


I'm looking forward to making new friends

and building memories in a new house

in a new place.

Turning the page.

New chapter.

So, by the way, school teachers and librarians of the Carolinas, I'll be ready to come to YOUR school this fall.

And, now, I'll close with a song that makes me cry

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3. Shrewsbury Food Festival

My birthday treat was this year's Shrewsbury Food festival - it first started three years ago, with immense success, but (as some of you may know) I haven't been in the right mental place to enjoy such things. There were also wonderful birthday presents from Joe, including a Swedish whittling knife, of the type recommended by Ian the Toymaker. And a humungous bottle of my favourite (and rather expensive) perfume.

Summer had finally decided to arrive in the UK and we were glad we got there early - the Saturday country bus deposited us in town before 10am, so we arrived before the crush. The festival was held in Shrewsbury's beautiful Quarry Park, where the legendary Percy Thrower was the Superintendent gardener for 28 years.

We wandered about. It was crammed with mostly local small producers  There was cheese and pies and pickles and fudge and cider and bread and meat and stuff. And more stuff.

And rare lop eared pigs, from nearby Middle Farm.  This was part of the 'farm-to-fork' section, enabling people to make the connection between what they eat and where it actually comes from.

This is 'Beckfoot Damica' and her new calf, from Great Berwick Organics. She's an English Longhorn, one of the oldest breeds in the country, dating back to at least the 16th century.

We stopped for handmade venison pies, and in my case (what with it being my birthday and all) I had a pint of 'Steam Punk' beer from Shropshire's own Three Tuns Brewery. Dark treacle-y and delicious.

By now, the crowds were building up and as neither of us do people en masse, it was time to head off. So Joe bought some sausages...

...and I bought some bread. And we headed back to the cottage after a lovely day out. Full of pie.

Goodbye lovely Shrewsbury Food Festival, you were great - and good luck for next year!

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4. International Kissing Day and DNA

Another ‘Awareness Day’, International Kissing Day, is coming up on July 6. It might not seem obvious but kissing, like most subjects can now be easily linked to the science of DNA. Thus, there could be no more perfect opener for my Double Helix column, given the elegance and beauty of a kiss. To start, there is the obvious biological link between kissing and DNA: propagation of the species. Kissing is not only pleasurable but seems to be a solid way to assess the quality and suitability of a mate.

The post International Kissing Day and DNA appeared first on OUPblog.

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5. The baby is all grown up

This year, the Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education is celebrating its 20th birthday, and I’m celebrating my 20th year as Editor. After bringing JDSDE into this world, watching it grow up, attending to its bumps, bruises, and milestones, it’s time for me to let it go and let it find its own way in the world.

The post The baby is all grown up appeared first on OUPblog.

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6. Mock Newbery Club

We are starting a Mock Newbery Club at our school this year.  We have a meeting coming up to introduce books and think about those we'd like to read. I've been working on a Padlet to collect trailers and blurbs on many of the books on our list.  I am hoping it is a resource that helps members choose great books!  Looking forward to our first meeting later this month!

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7. Interview and Giveaway: Second Chance Summer by Jill Shalvis

Jill Shalvis dropped by the virtual offices to answer a few questions in celebration of her upcoming release, Second Chance Summer.

What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?

My Kindle!!!!!  I’m always on the run and when there’s any downtime at all, I whip that baby out and have my choice of hundreds of books right in my purse.  Smile

Name three things on your desk right now.

I don’t have a desk.  I work on a laptop.  So I’ll tell you three things on my “desk top”.  A hot guy file full of pics for writing inspiration.  A pics of my kids wrestling on the couch.  And the manuscript I’m writing…

What’s your favorite snack when you’re working on a deadline?

COOKIES. Any kind. All kinds.

If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

My cat.  She has the life…

You have been granted the use of one superpower for one week. Which power would you choose, and what would you do with it?

I’d want to be able to transport.  I’d go to a deserted island with my Kindle.  And cookies.

SECOND CHANCE SUMMER by Jill Shalvis (June 30, 2015; Grand Central Publishing Mass Market; Cedar Ridge #1)

Cedar Ridge, Colorado, is famous for crisp mountain air, clear blue skies, and pine-scented breezes. And it’s the last place Lily Danville wants to be. But she needs a job, and there’s an opening at the hottest resort in her hometown. What has her concerned is the other hot property in Cedar Ridge: Aidan Kincaid-firefighter, rescue worker, and heartbreaker. She never could resist that devastating smile . . .

The Kincaid brothers are as rough and rugged as the Rocky Mountains they call home. Aidan has always done things his own way, by his own rules. And never has he regretted anything more than letting Lily walk out of his life ten years ago. If anyone has ever been in need of rescuing, she has. What she needs more than anything are long hikes, slow dances, and sizzling kisses. But that can only happen if he can get her to give Cedar Ridge-and this bad boy-a second chance . . .

Buy the book!







About the author:

New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill’s bestselling, award-winning books wherever romances are sold and visit her website for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.

Social Media Links:






“So you going to tell me what’s wrong?”

“Other than I hate snakes and you saw me in my PJs? Nothing.” She lifted her chin and defied him to contradict her.

She should have known better. Like Ashley, he’d never met a challenge he didn’t face head-on.

He moved toward her, right into her personal space.

She took a step back and came up against the wall.

This didn’t stop him. He kept his forward momentum until they were toe to toe. And then while she was still standing there a little dumbfounded and also something else, something that felt uncomfortably close to sheer, unadulterated lust, he put his hands on the wall on either side of her head.

This both escalated her heart rate and stopped her lungs from operating. “Um—”

“You had your chance to tell me what’s wrong with you,” he said. “You passed. Now I’m going to tell you what’s wrong with me.”

Oh, God. Talking would be a bad idea. As for a good idea, she had only one, and before she could consider the consequences, she gripped his shirt, hauled him down, and kissed him.

He stilled for a single beat and then got on board quick, pulling her in, sinking a hand into her hair to tilt her head to the angle he wanted, and taking over the kiss.

The next thing she was aware of was the sound of her own aroused moan, and she jerked free.

The corner of his mouth quirked. “Did you just kiss me to shut me up?” he asked.

She blew out a sigh. “It made a lot more sense in my head.”

He grinned, one of those really great grins that made something low in her belly quiver. Needing some space, she pushed him, even though her instincts were telling her

to pull him in tighter instead of pushing him away.

“Back to what’s wrong with me,” he said, still looking amused. “It’s you.”

She opened her mouth to say something, but he set a finger against her lips. “My turn,” he said, and lowered his head and kissed her.

And oh. Oh, damn… There were some men who just knew how to kiss, the kind of kiss that could send a woman reeling. The kind of kiss that could take away problems and awareness and…and everything. The kind of kiss that could shatter her into a trillion little pieces. The kind of kiss that somehow both calmed her body and soul even as it wound her up for more.

Aidan was that kind of kisser. Shocking, really, to also realize that in between their first kiss all those years ago and now, that there’d been nothing like it for her.

Aidan pulled back a fraction of an inch, opened his eyes, and stared into hers.

She stared back because wow. Good. So damn good, and for one glorious moment there she’d let her lips cling to his, let the memories of him and all that he’d meant to

her wash over her.

And those memories had all been…epic.

Until the end.

Finding her sanity, she pushed him again. For a beat he didn’t move, just looked into her eyes.

And then, on his own terms, he stepped back.

She pointed at him. “That was…”

He arched a brow.

“Never mind what it was,” she said. “We aren’t going there.”

His smile was grim and utterly without mockery.

“Agreed.” But then he hauled her up to her toes and kissed her again.

And again.

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8. Going sour: sweet words in slang

Jonathan Green, an expert lexicographer and contributor to The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets, gives us the rundown of the sweet terms and phrases that have been re-imagined and incorporated into slang.

The post Going sour: sweet words in slang appeared first on OUPblog.

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9. Just Borrowed From The Library...

These days I'm only borrowing occasionally, when I can actually get to the local library, but my local library is very good. It has an entire bay of speculative fiction. 

I remember when the new head honcho at the library merged everything together, all the SF, romance, mystery just being shoved in with the non-genre stuff, despite all the genre fans using the library. My mother loves crime fiction and when there was a crime section she used to browse her way through and choose her borrowings that way. When they shoved the mysteries in with the literary fiction, she stopped choosing her own books and made me do all the borrowing for her, which I'm doing till this day. Fortunately, the books do still have labels on them to let you know if they're mysteries, romance, etc., or I'd have to look it all up in the catalogue. I'm a librarian myself, but I have no patience to do that unless there's something specific I want. The place is too big to look it all up in the catalogue under "mystery", then write it down and hunt for individual books by author all over the place. 

I asked the staff, who said they had tried to explain to the new head librarian that their library users liked having separate sections, but she wouldn't listen. So they carefully sneaked genre books on to the "new books" display shelves, even if they weren't new. They didn't say that, but it was obvious. They suggested I send a letter to the head honcho, which I did - and regretted it... She phoned me at work and earbashed me for forty-five minutes or more about why she was right and I was wrong! I finally escaped from her; that was forty-five minutes of wasted work time I never got back. 

Anyway, these days, while you still don't get separate crime or romance sections, there is a bay just for spec fic again! I guess the spec fic fans must have made the most noise. Really, I do like to find new writers, not just the old favourites. I spotted some anthologies of Nebula winners, which I noted down for my next visit. There was a cute Connie Willis story about political correctness gone haywire in the school library, which I must get back to. 

But tonight, I have found a new - to me, anyway - book in Tanya Huff's series featuring Henry Fitzroy! Yay! I've only read a couple of the early books, but I know what they're about. In modern Canada, a woman detective who had to leave the police force because of her night blindness has found a partner who can do night things very well, but needs someone to do things for him in the daytime, being a vampire who's been around for a few hundred years. He is Henry VIII's son, who died in his teens(and yes, he was a real person, in case you haven't heard of him, who may have died of TB)and became a vampire from choice, after meeting a sweet young thing who had been around since the 1300s and only turned him very reluctantly, on his insistence. These days he is making a living as a novelist writing historical romance. He doesn't harm anyone - when he needs blood, he romances a woman or two and sips just a little blood from them in the middle of fabulous lovemaking! They never notice. 

I know the books are not everyone's cup of tea, but I thoroughly enjoy them. I also like her Confederation series of space operas/military SF. There just aren't enough these days, with Lois McMaster Bujold mostly turning to fantasy(but not entirely!), ditto Elizabeth Moon. So when I find well-written space opera I grab it. Unfortunately, none of the Confederation series are in the library, so I may have to buy the ebooks. 

So, that's my library borrowing for this week! What's yours?

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10. Books from Finland closes shop

       More than a month ago I mentioned they were pulling the plug on the wonderful Books from Finland site -- keeping it only as an archive -- and now they've gone and done it: here's the final post.
       Yes, after: "almost 10,000 printed pages and 1,500 posts" they've decided it's no longer worth adding content, so they're calling it a day. Very disappointing.

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11. Redução da Maioridade Penal

Sobre a votação da redução da maioridade penal no Brasil:
1- Aqueles a favor da redução para 16 anos da maioridade penal se recusam a debater o assunto com base na busca de informações sobre o caso. Ignoram, ou nem se importam, que crime hediondo inclui o tráfico de drogas – bastam umas poucas trouxinhas de maconha pra acabar com o futuro de um rapaz ou uma moça de 16 anos. E ainda que a proposta recente não inclui o tráfico de drogas e o roubo comum, nada impede de voltar a incluir, gerando inseguração jurídica e mais confusão em um sistema já caótico. Dentro dos crimes hediondos está o crime de "terrorismo". A nova lei de terrorismo, que está parada no Senado, é criticada porque possui vários pontos dúbios e poder ser utilizada para reprimir movimentos sociais e outros que protestem contra o governo;

2- Do lado dos contra, Joaquim Barbosa, ex-ministro do Supremo, informado e honesto em suas colocações. Do lado da redução, Eduardo Cunha, o presidente de Congresso mais corrupto que já tivemos, com 23 processos contra ele (talvez algum assinado pelo Barbosa), que usa sua posição para intimidar os deputados e garantir o resultado que ele deseja. Não respeita nem resoluções de juízes ou Constitucionais;

3- TODAS as instituições e personalidades especializadas no assunto criminalidade e juventude, serem contra a redução da maioridade penal, não foi o suficiente para convencer o público leigo de sua ineficiência e periculosidade, preferiram pautar o destino da nação por manchetes de jornais sensacionalistas e mentirosos (esses jornalistas é que deveriam ir mofar na cadeia!);

4- O discurso de ódio é a base de TODA a argumentação de quem desejam reduzir a maioridade. Todos as favor consideram que a criminalidade é um tipo de traço genético, presente "nos outros", que essas crianças nascem "más". Depois não entendem quando a multidão de crianças excluídas do mínimo de respeito e afeto solidário, retorna com faca na direção deles;

5- Essa turma que não saiu da própria infância em termos de capacidade de raciocínio, adora usar termo como "semente do mal", "monstros", "gente de bem" Quando ouvir alguém usar esse vocabulário, corra pras montanhas!

6- Nossa ditadura-extendida conseguiu criar uma nação de gente despolitizada, ignorante e mal informada. Mais propensa a repetir velhos preconceitos do que pensar em soluções efetivas, até mesmo para seus mais graves problemas;

7- Essa juventude, hoje tão abandonada e condenada, é o futuro do Brasil. A ela eu peço nossas desculpas, por não termos conseguido atender o mínimo de seus direitos e enecessidades;

8- O ECA (Estatuto da Criança e Adolescente), que traz TODAS as diretrizes que poderiam ter resolvido há 25 anos o problema do abandono das crianças e jovens no país, NUNCA encontrou na política agentes que o implementassem de fato. LEIAM o ECA, e verão que se aplicado, não estaríamos com o alto grau de violência de hoje;

9- Ninguém se pergunta por que o Cunha, tendo todo esse poder de priorizar projetos pra votação a aplicação, ainda não elegeu nenhum que resolvesse o problema da educação e do amparo aos jovens. Pelo contrário, ele tem escolhido a dedo projetos que pioram a situação dos pobres e da classe média, perdoado dívidas bilionárias dos planos privados de saúde aos SUS, destruído o emprego formal, garantiu a corrupção na política através do financiamento de empresas nas campanhas (responsáveis por TODOS os escândalos de corrupção do Brasil! Como a Lava-a-Jato, Trensalão, acordos sujos da Copa e sistemas de transporte público dos Estados). Veja aqui a lista dos projetos que aguardam esquecidos nas gavetas.;

Quem semeia vento...

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12. DESIGNER - studio lilla form

Cathy Westrell Nordström is a designer from Stockholm, Sweden who designs under the label Studio Lilla Form. Cathy had been working as a graphic designer for ten years when she stumbled across Elizabeth Olwen´s surface pattern design class on Skillshare and recently won a competition where Elizabeth had set the task to create a full collection of 6-8 patterns and spot graphics. Cathy then

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13. The Awesome: Review

Imagine being a 17 year old hunter-in-training, going about your business vanquishing poltergeists, mucking up vampire politics, and getting into other general supernatural hijinks.  You know, the usual. Now imagine the one obstacle in your way to becoming a fully fledged hunter: losing your virginity (it turns out vampires go crazy in the presence of virgin blood). This is the dilemma for our heroine, the magnificently irreverent, snarky, and confident Maggie. It’s hard enough to navigate the realms of normal adolescence. Add in several layers of paranormal complications, and many years of homeschooling, and our Maggie finds herself at a disadvantage in swiftly accomplishing this goal. The conversation in which Maggie’s hunter mom, Janice, informs her of this unique challenge sets the stage for one of the highlights of the story: the beautifully complicated yet loving mother/daughter relationship. The two are close, but have plenty moments of conflict and misunderstanding.... Read more »

The post The Awesome: Review appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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14. July Words without Borders

       The July issue of Words without Borders, now available online, features: 'Emerging German Writers', with a bonus batch of: 'Burundi: Writing from the State of Sleep'.

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15. Hollow Heart review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Viola Di Grado's dead-girl-talking novel, Hollow Heart, just out from Europa Editions.

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16. Two creative cures for when you feel your art isn’t good enough.


We all have down days as creative’s, when whatever we draw just doesn’t turn out how we envisage in our heads. We screw up countless balls of paper to add it to the emerging mountain of sketchbook remains behind us and we just feel our art isn’t good enough.  Now believe it or not despite the fact that feeling despondent with our art is a natural thing that every creative goes through from time to time. It can be used to push us into being more brave and exploring new avenues we hadn’t before. It’s when we produce creative work with a closed mind that things can become to narrowed down and you’re just not sure what to do to make art you’re confident in.

So here’d a few ways to boost that creative confidence, regain that part of yourself that knows you’re good enough and how to present that artwork with pride!


  •  Draw things you get excited to draw : Although creative trends do help in our industry to produce work of interest to different markets, it can over time wear you down drawing things that don’t inspire you. This is why drawing things that make you smile, get your head reeling with ideas and heart filled with enthusiasm that you will be more happy with what you draw.  You’ll be less likely to second guess yourself and people will connect with your joy and enthusiasm for the art you make.


  • Think outside the box  : Taking a little inspiration from people around you can really refuel your creative energy and give you a boost to take your art in a new direction. For example you might take inspiration from a creative whose just launched a new project and think ” Wow if I tweaked this with my artwork in my own way then maybe the outcome would be better”. This is can also be used when you’re looking to expand your creative reach or  acquire that dream client. Don’t copy others but take a little inspiration and make it your own.

Illustration featured in this post was created by illustrator Jessica Richardson, you can find out more about her work here

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17. DESIGNER - rachael jane harrison

Rachael Jane Harrison is a designer and fashion blogger (koko luxe) based in Devon in the UK. Rachael currently works as a freelance surface designer and is focusing on her passion for pattern. She has sold prints though several studios and one of her favourite commissions was designing for fashion retailer Warehouse. She is available for sales and licensing and can be found online here.

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18. Hairdressers of the world unite

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19. The Cabinet of Earths, written by Anne Nesbet, 258 pp, RL 4

The Cabinet of Earths, debut novel from Anne Nesbet stands out above recent fantasy novels I have read for the creation of main character, twelve year old Maya. For me, Maya can take a place at the table with strong girl characters in fantasy novels alongside Hazel, hero of Anne Ursu's beautiful Breadcrumbs. At the head of this table is Lyra Belacqua, the fearless, complex, heartbreaking

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20. Val Doonican 1927-2015

BBC News
 Val Doonican
Irish singer and TV entertainer Val Doonican has died aged 88.

His family said he died "peacefully" at a nursing home in Buckinghamshire. He had not been ill, but his daughter said his "batteries had just run out".

The performer was a regular fixture on TV with The Val Doonican show which ran on the BBC from 1965 to 1986, featuring his own performances and guest artists.

He was also rarely out of the UK charts in the 1960s and '70s with songs like Walk Tall and Elusive Butterfly.

In the album chart, he had five successive top 10 records and even knocked The Beatles' Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band off the top spot in 1967 with Val Doonican Rocks, But Gently.

In a statement, his family said: "He was a wonderful husband, father and grandfather and will be greatly missed by family, friends and his many fans."

Born in Waterford, Ireland, Doonican's career took off after he was booked to appear on Sunday Night at the Palladium in 1963.

It led him to be offered his own BBC show - for which he became known for his trademark rocking chair, colourful jumpers and cardigans - and kick-started his recording career.

He filmed some 25 Christmas specials, which Doonican told The Express in 2013 he "couldn't bear to watch".

"They became something of a national institution, attracting audiences of up to 19 million. It felt embarrassing seeing myself. We'd sit as a family enjoying ourselves but as soon as my show started, I'd nip off to another room," he said.

His other hits included The Special Years, What Would I Be and If The Whole World Stopped Loving. He also sang the theme song for the film Ring of Bright Water.

If you never understood that he had a wicked sense of humour the "Val Doonican Rocks, But Gently" will just slip by you.  Talking to people who met him, I was told he was very relaxed. Very down-to-earth with no star pretensions.

So who will now look after his collection of little boxes made of ticky-tack while he goes off to chase that Wild Elusive Butterfly.

Lots of memories.

Tempus fugit


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21. Writing in ... Africa

       In Vanguard Ikenna Asomba reports on the Nigerian Breweries/Farafina 2015 Literary Evening held last weekend, where Adichie, Wainaina worry over dearth of literary works in African languages.
       Good to see the topic and concern at least be addressed this prominently; one hopes it'll inspire some of the participants (and others, too).

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22. Gennifer Choldenko's PUTTING THE MONKEYS TO BED - Guest Post

by Newbery-Honor-Winning author of Al Capone Does My Shirts
Gennifer Choldenko

     The idea for Putting the Monkeys to Bed came while trying to get my son, Ian, to sleep. I wrote the first draft when he was three. The book came out in June, two months after his twenty-first birthday! Before this, my record for the longest gestation period for one book was five years for Al Capone Does My Shirts.
     When I speak to writers, I suggest they trust their inner monkeys. Then I tell them the cautionary tale of Putting the Monkeys to Bed.
     Some picture books come easily. Moonstruck: The True Story of the Cow Who Jumped Over the Moon, Louder, Lili and the upcoming Dad and the Dinosaur came to me in a semi-completed form. Yes, I revised them many, many times, but the revisions didn’t change the major arc of the story.
     This was not the case with Putting the Monkeys to Bed. Now that it’s finished, the story structure seems simple and inevitable and I have no idea why it was so difficult to nail. But was it ever! It was both challenging to write and challenging to sell.
     Early on in the process I had a lot of interest from a house I was dying to work with. The editor sent me a two-page editorial letter, which suggested a direction for the book that I knew in my secret heart of hearts was not right.
     But because I was dying to work with that editor, at that house, I rewrote the book exactly the way she wanted it. And when the revision was complete, I glossed over the fact that it didn’t work and sent it back to her with an over-eager, slightly sycophantic cover letter.
     That editor recognized how hard I had worked to do exactly what she wanted, so she sent me another long editorial letter detailing how I might change the story yet again. So, I rewrote the book the way she wanted and sent the revision back with another eager cover letter, but this time I could no longer hide from that sinking feeling. It wasn’t working and I knew it.
     I can’t say I was surprised when I received a kind, but clear rejection. That editor had realized, just as I did, that Putting the Monkeys to Bed was not working. After that, I put the book away for a few years and took it out again when I was working with another editor, the wise and gracious Nancy Paulsen. I sent Nancy the original book—before I made the revisions that I knew were wrong—and she and the talented Susan Kochan helped me find the right shape for Putting the Monkeys to Bed. Without them, the manuscript would still be sitting in my file cabinet.
     Writing picture books is a different kind of challenge from writing novels. Writing novels is like living alone in the jungle. All I have is my tree house, the teeming jungle and all of the intense research I do. Nothing else is allowed in the bush with me. I do exactly what I want with my novels. I follow my instincts. My inner monkeys are in their element with the great huge challenge of a novel to play with.
     But when I try to take a picture book on a safari in the jungle and spend all day on it, my inner monkeys begin to eat the manuscript. Swallow it whole. My picture books are more fragile than my novels. My picture books can’t take the long hours of intense work. For me, working on picture books takes a lighter energy. A brief visit to the jungle—not a year-long safari. One hour to two hours max of intense work, then I put the manuscript away and bring it out the next day and the next and the next. Picture books can take as long as novels to write, but writing them has to be in short bursts.
     What I really love is to work hard on a novel, send it off to my editor, and while the novel draft is sitting on her desk, work on a picture book. Novels are all consuming. Picture book writing is easier for me to slip in and out of and works well with the business side of my life. By this I mean: website revisions to make, blog interviews to write, fan readers to respond to, travel arrangements to make, a social media presence to maintain, presentations to prepare—the flotsam and jetsam of work that makes up an author’s life
     The second I send a novel draft off, I jump on my to-do list. Then for my treat I start playing around with a picture book. Writing is the wild joy in my life.

     Gennifer's favorite writing spot is next to her assistant. Shown here taking careful notes.

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23. Best Selling Picture Books | July 2015

This month, our best selling picture book from our affiliate store is the gorgeously illustrated Gaston, written by Kelly DiPucchio and pictures by Christian Robinson.

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24. The BookJumper Summer Reading Series: Mama Miti

Welcome to WEEK 5 of my Book-Jumper Summer Reading Series! This is my way of inspiring parents who are looking for creative ways to keep their kids reading this summer. All of our protagonists are girls or women and most of our showcased authors are women as well. I will be offering up a combination of themed weeks, great novels, booklist giveaways, and blog post recaps so be sure and stop by to discover more wonderful ways have A Book-jumper Summer while Exploring Our World and Beyond!

If you’re just tuning in, there are some great summer reading booklists here and here.

The Book-Jumper Summer Reading Series

Wangari Maathai is one of my favorite people. The first time I discovered her was through this beautiful picture book called Mama Miti. Since then I’ve had the occasion to read about her several times, follow her Nobel Peace Prize award, and watch her green movement progress. Earlier this year I wrote a review of another book entitled Wangari Maathai by Franck Prevost for Women’s History month. To her people she is known as Mother of the Trees. However you come to know Wangari Maathai, I’m quite certain that you will be inspired by her story and determination to save her country.

Blog Mama


Donna Jo Napoli tells the inspiring story of Wangari Maathai, the woman who planted trees.


On the highlands of Africa,

Near the forests and plains and a hue salt lick,

Wangari was born. The face of

Mount Kenya smiled down on her.

People told stories of how in the old days

Sometimes the sun shone too bright too long,

And droughts came. Creatures suffered.

Plants wilted. People fought.

So men held ceremonies under the mugumo

The spreading sacred fig tree

And the skies blessed them with shimmering rains

 to slake their thirst and water their farms.

Village elders placed staffs from the

Thigi tree between angry men,

And enemies became friends

Wangari listened to these stories. That’s how she came to love and respect trees. Excerpt from the book Mama Miti.


She was the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace prize. In her own garden she planted trees to be able to have fruits, shade, and to refresh her spirit.  She was also a very wise and educated, being the first woman with a doctorate in Africa.  Other women would come to her with their problems.  Each time she would tell them how strong they were and then give them a tree seedling which would be the answer to their problem.


Seed by seed, woman by woman the Kenyan countryside was filled with trees. Kenya had been changed one tree at a time.

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Donna Jo Napoli is a brillant storyteller who invites us to admire Wangari Maathai but also to follow her example and take action as “Keepers of the Earth.”

Honoring the women who saved their country by planting trees, Kadir Nelson’s stunning and colorful artwork brings the story to life with his multi-textured collages.

Something To Do:

It’s very simple …..let’s plant some trees. Each person on this planet needs 15 trees per year to have enough oxygen to live. A few years ago we planted a fruit orchard. By doing so we now are getting lovely fruits to eat from spring through fall. This year we will add to the orchard but we will also take part in planting in our greenbelt area here.

IMG_0007 Fixing and tree planting 015

A group that absolutely supports planting trees is the Arbor Day Foundation. If you don’t have room to plant the trees yourself, have a fund-raiser and let people like this restore forests. Let me know what you are planting. I would love to see them.

Fixing and tree planting 006 Fixing and tree planting 002

**Some of these links are affiliate links. The opinions expressed are purely my own.

Looking for more ways to not only get your youngsters reading, but get them OUTSIDE as well? Enjoy more month-by-month activities based on the classic children’s tale, The Secret Garden! A Year in the Secret Garden is a delightful children’s book with over 120 pages, with 150 original color illustrations and 48 activities for your family and friends to enjoy, learn, discover and play with together. AND, it’s on sale for a limited time! Grab your copy ASAP and “meet me in the garden!” More details HERE! http://amzn.to/1DTVnuX
A Year in The Secret Garden

The post The BookJumper Summer Reading Series: Mama Miti appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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25. TEXTILES - marimekko

Today I wanted to post a colourful summery print as we experience a heatwave hear in the UK. Prints don't come much bolder and more colourful than those at Marimekko where you will currently find Sitruunapuu, which i believe translates from Finnish as Citrus. This watercolour pattern was designed by Aino-Maiha Metsola and features on fabrics, ceramics, bedding, kitchen textiles, paper napkins

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