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1. 2015 Challenges: Alphabet Soup

Host: Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book
Name: Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge (sign-up)
Dates: January - December 2015
# of books: 26

Titles
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
K
L
M
N
O
P
Q
R
S
T
U
V
W
X
Y
Z

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2. Christmas Sale

Black Friday 
and Cyber Monday?

Friends of my site can take a discount today!

www.BeckyKelly.com/shop
 prices are listed, no coupon needed.
 
 www.PeriwnkleSky.Etsy.com
use coupon code THANKYOU20
for 20% off

 

 Friends,  I plan to close my shop after Christmas to spend more 
time working on my artwork. 
Thank you for the support throughout these years.  
It was a difficult decision to close my shop. 
I plan to work on some personal projects.





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3. 2015 Challenges: Newbery Reading Challenge

Host: Smiling Shelves
Name: Newbery Reading Challenge 2015 (sign up here)
Dates: January - December 2015
# of Books Points:   30 to 44 points (Spinelli) 3 points for each Newbery winner, 2 points for each Newbery Honor Book (So 30 points could be reached by 10 Newbery books, for example, or 15 Newbery Honor books)

Newbery Winners Read in 2015:

1)
2)
3)
4)
5)
6)
7)
8)

Newbery Honor Books Read in 2015:

1)
2)
3)
4)
5)
6)
7)
8)


© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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4. Artist of the Day: Robert Löbel

Today we look at the work of Robert Löbel, Cartoon Brew's Artist of the Day!

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5. On-the-Spot Research for Writing Historicals

When I write historical fiction, I know any success I might have in recreating an era for my readers largely hinges on my getting the details right. I relied heavily on research when writing The Glass Inheritance, my mystery novel involving Depression era glassware, and found it invaluable to visit historically significant sites from the Great Depression and World War II era. I toured a Japanese internment camp in Wyoming, Pearl Harbor, two concentration camps in Germany, and three Holocaust museums, among other sites. Such travel isn’t always financially feasible, but I’ve discovered local sites offer a wealth of information and inspiration also.

Just this summer I toured a Victorian mansion here in the Midwest and was thrilled to see the museum had a bowl of calling cards near the door. Because I had read in Victorian era novels about characters dropping off their calling cards at one another’s houses, I recognized what the cards were. The tour guide allowed me to pick the cards up and look through them even though the cards were authentic, not reproductions.

calling cards

Some of the cards clearly came from a printer as is, but others appeared to be homemade or had the owner’s name stenciled in after printing. They were all works of art compared with today’s business cards.

Holding these cards gave me insight and inspiration I doubt I would have drawn from just reading about them. I may choose to write a story involving calling cards and have more assurance now of getting the details right.


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6. 2015 Challenges: Vintage Mystery Bingo

Host: My Reader's Block
Name: Vintage Mystery Bingo 2015 (sign up)
Dates: January - December 2015
# of Books: at least 6, preferably 12

I'll be going for the gold edition which is mystery books published before 1960.

Bingo #1

Category:
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Bingo #2:

Category:
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 © 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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7. Player Profile: Karen Foxlee, author of Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy

Karen Foxlee, author of Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy Tell us about your latest creation: “Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy”.  It’s the story of a lonely young girl who finds a three-hundred and three year old boy locked away in a museum room. It’s a fast paced adventure story with lots of twists and turns. Where are you from […]

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8. Library Loot: Fourth Trip in November

New Loot:
  • A Medal for Murder by Frances Brody
  • The Art of the English Murder by Lucy Worsley
  • Goodbye, Piccadilly: War at Home, 1914 by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
  • Operation Bunny by Sally Gardner
  • Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear
  • Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear
  • Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms by Katherine Rundell
  • What If...? by Anthony Browne

Leftover Loot:

  • Hero on a Bicycle by Shirley Hughes
  • Hercule Poirot's Christmas by Agatha Christie
  • Follow Follow: A Book of Reverso Poems by Marilyn Singer
  • McElligot's Pool by Dr. Seuss
  • Horton Hatches The Egg by Dr. Seuss
  • And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street by Dr. Seuss
  • The King's Stilts by Dr. Seuss
  • The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins by Dr. Seuss
  • Death at Buckingham Palace by C.C. Benison
  • Keepers of the Covenant by Lynn Austin
  • The Daring Ladies of Lowell by Kate Alcott
  • Train by Judi Abbot
  • Waiting is Not Easy by Mo Willems
  • The Time Traveler's Almanac ed. by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer
  • Sleep in Peace Tonight by James MacManus
  • The Princess Spy by Melanie Dickerson
  • A Great and Glorious Adventure by Gordon Corrigan
  • Murder at Honeychurch Hall by Hannah Dennison
    Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.  

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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9. Book Review: Purity by Jackson Pearce

Title: Purity
 Author: Jackson Pearce
Series:  N/A
Published:   6 March 2014 by Hodder
Length: 224 pages
Source: publisher
Summary : A novel about love, loss, and sex -- but not necessarily in that order.
Before her mother died, Shelby promised three things: to listen to her father, to love as much as possible, and to live without restraint. Those Promises become harder to keep when Shelby's father joins the planning committee for the Princess Ball, an annual dance that ends with a ceremonial vow to live pure lives -- in other words, no "bad behavior," no breaking the rules, and definitely no sex.
Torn between Promises One and Three, Shelby makes a decision -- to exploit a loophole and lose her virginity before taking the vow. But somewhere between failed hookup attempts and helping her dad plan the ball, Shelby starts to understand what her mother really meant, what her father really needs, and who really has the right to her purity

Review: Shelby promised her dying mother that she would listen to her father, love as much as posible, and live without restraint. She's done quite well in the five years since then, but when her father wants to arrange her part in a purity ball, in which she promises her purity to her father, which is essentially no drugs, drink or sex. Shelby doesn't want this. So she tries to find a loophole; if she has sex before then, she won't have purity to give. Thus begins a five week search for someone to lose her virginity to.
I wanted to read this obok because commentry on the value of virginity and women in society is an important one to me, and I quite liked Sisters Red, even though I knew from the presmise that this would be completely different. 
The characters are funny, not particularly bright, but the friendships are nice and supportive, even if the end “revalation” isn't that surprising or enjoyable. I liked watching the relationship between Shelby and her dad develop.I think Shelby could have developed more.
I like the fact there's humour throughout, without which Purity would be much less lighthearted, and either too sad or too serious.
I find it a bit weird that Shelby goes from not really caring about sex to wanting to do it without caring about who it is as long as they're not diseased. Sure, the possiblity of lack of sex for years is obviously going to make her try and find someone, (it would me if I were in that situation) but there are other ways she could have dealt iwht it, and other parts in the novel when she could have done something else.
I like the fact that faith is a theme. It's not there too much to make it into a preachy book, but it did add a bit of depth to Shelby.
Finally, I just want to ask; since when was “listen to” synonymous with “completely obey”?

Overall:  Strength 3 tea to a book that opens discussions for lots of things.


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10. 2015 Challenges: Victorian Bingo

Host: Becky's Book Reviews
Name: Victorian Bingo (Sign-Up)
Dates: January - December 2015 (you can start reading now)
# of books: minimum of 5, I'm going to try to read 10 books


First Bingo

Category:
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Category:
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Category:
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Second Bingo

Category:
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© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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11. Editing tips for fiction Writers - #WriteTip #GetPublished

  A few editing tips I have learned along the way.

Let's add action and remove bulk.

Search and Destroy the following...
 
1 - ly words, especially in dialogue tags.
 

These remove the action and tell as apposed to show the characters reaction.
In fact, by adding action to these tags, we can even do away with many of the 'saids' too. Remember every dialogue tag, even 'said. desrupts the reading flow, to some extent, though 'said' is safest.
This: "Annable, it's time for tea," she said loudly.
Or: She inhaled before calling, "Annabel, it's time for tea."
Other dialogue tags examples: 
"Stop calling me," she exclaimed. (exclaimed is a telling tag - these are bad. Remove them all, replace with either action, or said, or better still, nothing... make sure we know who's talking by voice, or another way.)
She frowned, "Stop calling me." (frowned is an action tag - these are better than a telling tag. They show instead of tell)
 
2 - Turn passive voice to active voice:
 
Such as, were, that, then, to be, words. We all know this rule, but it bears repeating. Some of these words will be fine (they are more a sign of something you could rewrite with more action, less passivity), but most can be terminated.
For a list of all passive words and a great tool to check your document for passivity, click.
This: It was cold and the wind was blowing so harshly that it burned my cheeks. (15 words)
OR: A harsh wind blew until my cheeks burned. (8 words)
 
3 - ing words are overused and must be replaced with action words. 
 
Re-write those sentences to say for example:
This: I was saving up my pocket money for that coat for over a year, before buying it. (17 words)
OR: I bought the coat after I saved my allowance for over a year. (13 words)
The first sentence is flimsy: she is saving, buying (not doing), and it took 17 words to say so.
The second sentence is robust and full of action, action words: saved, bought. She does it (action) and we saved 4 words.
More examples:
This: She started walking toward him. (5)
OR: She walked toward him. (4)
This: He began running to his car. (6)
Or : He ran to his car. (5)
Also, starting a sentence with ing words is a sure sign of passivity and inaction.
This: Starting to comb my hair, she said, "Your hair is lovely." (11)
OR : She combed my hair, "Your hair is lovely." (8) - we have action, saved 3 words and got rid of a dialogue tag!
 
4 - Get rid of excess or throwaway words

A lot of To tell the truth Going to go Along with the fact Of all people Anything but What on earth In the first place In order to In particular I’ve got to (We’ve got to, You’ve got to) Actually Almost Although Because Really Still Though Usually Like
You will find you can remove so many words for you MS without even changing the meaning or your sentence.
This: I think that I will have some of that cake. (10)
OR: I will have some cake (7)
And redundant phrases must get the boot too!
This: She
is able to run a mile without
breaking into a sweat.
OR : She can run a mile without sweating.
 
5 - De-cliche you MS
 
There a re so many cliches we use without even thinking about in our everyday speech, but when we come across them in fiction, it weakens the writing and the point the author tried to make.
Cliches:
She had butterflies in her stomach, after he kissed her.
He jumped into the frying pan, out of the fire.
at this point in time
don't hold your breath
easy as pie
 
The list is endless: LIST Find cliches in your MS here.
 
There are so many more tips for revision. These are just a few. Hope these are useful to you.

Author Bio

Shah WhartonShah’s father nurtured her love of the written word as a child, although her words remained private until recently, when she decided to apply her imagination to short stories, in 2010. Finding Esta is her debut novel, and the first volume of The Supes Series. Shah enjoys all good speculative fiction and is an avid Kindle abuser and cinema fan. On her blog, she discusses her writing, publishing, books and storytelling, and supports other authors. She is always happy to accept feedback so please do get in touch. 

FIND SHAH

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12. Breaking: ‘Lego Movie’ Wins Feature Film At BAFTA Children’s Awards

"The LEGO Movie," directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, picked up the feature film prize at the BAFTA Children's Awards.

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13. stripes and bows...

©the enchanted easel 2014

©the enchanted easel 2014























and a sweet little penguin named alaska!

that's what's been on the easel this week...in honor of my favorite season, which is right around the corner...WINTER! :)

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14. Creative ways to think outside the box

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It’s easy to presume that your doodles, illustrations, paintings and creative thoughts should make their way straight to paper or canvas although just for a minute why not think outside the box.  Break the rules and do something creatively different that sets your doodles apart , not to abandon your sketchbook for to long but challenge yourself to something different. To help get you started heres just a few creative ways you can do that and truly think outside the box to show others just how creative you can be.

  • Remember that rather dull phone or tablet case you bought thats lacking a certain creative omph, well grab yourself some paint or a paint based marker and create your own custom case design.  Add your own style and choose your own theme to make a stylish creative case you’d want to show off and not hide.
  • Mugs are great because they often get filled with heart warming teas or beverages although a plain little old mug is some what sad and gloomy. However with some ceramic paint or markers you  could give it an unique handdrawn design of its own that is sure to make your tea breaks even better.
  • For fellow lovers of fabric the dream is no doubt to create your own and you can even without a huge fabric printer. With some acrylic paints and fabric medium you can paint your own designs onto calico, making reams of your own one of a kind design to embellish any type of project from home furnishings to wallart and more.
  • That little pair of converse you happen to have sitting in the hallway could use a splash of ink wouldn’t you say? Grab yourself some pens and markers ( ones that work well on canvas fabric and will not run) and create yourself a fashion piece that will set you apart from everyone else.

Image by artist  Jaco Haasbroek  you can find out more about their work here.

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15. Seed Catalogs Already

It isn’t even really winter yet and I received my first 2015 seed catalog in the mail. I’m used to getting a flood of seed catalogs around the end of December so this one took me by surprise. I normally would set it aside as the first in a pile not to be looked at until January, but it came from Pinetree Garden Seeds, one of my preferred places to order from. And it looked so colorful and inviting, so fat and full or potential that I decided to just take a little peek.

Half an hour and twenty breathless pages later when I came up for air after falling into raptures over cosmic purple and atomic red carrots, I reluctantly put the catalog aside for fear of an overdose. And I do feel like I have been drugged because it has been a couple of days and I can’t stop thinking about those carrots or the catalog. Just one vegetable, I tell myself, what if I only look at all the different kinds of cauliflower and then put the catalog aside, surely I can do that? And next thing I know I am deep into all the varieties of eggplant with only a vague recollection of how I got there.

And then I get an email from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, my other main seed squeeze, telling me their 2015 catalog is now available, click here to request it now. But wait! There is a second catalog they have, The Whole Seed Catalog. This catalog is not free. This catalog is the free catalog on steroids MiracleGro super compost tea. At 352 pages it is nearly twice as big as the free catalog.

But why should I pay for a catalog? Why indeed. Don’t be ridiculous I tell myself, just request the free one. But. But But. Articles about the history of various seeds. Recipes. Growing methods and tips. And more. You know those cartoons where there is a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other and a fight ensues? Today the devil won and I bought the catalog.

I’m still a little stunned. The devil is grinning from ear-to-ear and the angel is grumbling about how it better be worth it and I’m jittery and wondering how long it will take to get here because the Pinetree Seeds catalog might not last long enough and what will I do if I can’t get another fix? Bookman just shakes his head and doesn’t want to be bothered with gardening stuff until spring when I tell him, these are peas, plant them there. I don’t think he realizes the danger of his hands off approach. This last spring he ended up digging me a small pond. The spring before that it was the herb spiral. It’s only the end of November so there is no telling what big garden project I will settle on by next spring.

I think it is going to be a long winter.


Filed under: gardening

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16. Dim’s Top 25 Cracking Christmas Reads for Kids

All righty, you’ve noted what others are reading this Christmas. You are possibly getting a little woozy from a department store diet of flashy titles and quick fixes but you still haven’t managed to locate that special literary treasure for the younger person or young at heart person in your life. The following list is […]

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17. Many Years Ago.....


....I wrote this in response to criticism about how I treated a publisher who was a crooked con man.  I actually did not realise that years later gangster Ronnie Kray used the same line.  It is very important that if you have dealings with me you understand this:

" I am a nice man with nice people.  But I am a bastard with bastards."

Comic creator, publisher, event organiser or otherwise: word.

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18. Sunday Sentence

"Writing is about finding out who you are, what you have to say that is not the same as what everyone else has to say, and how to express it in the strongest possible terms."  The Point of Writing by Meg Rosoff at Writer Unboxed.

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19. A CGI Makeover for Aardman’s Morph

Illustrator Stephen Collins in "The Guardian" imagines a CGI makeover for Aardman's clay character Morph.

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20. Secrets from a Celebrity Makeup Artist

The one beauty book every girl and woman must have With over 20 years’ experience in the makeup industry, Liz Kelsh has captured the hearts of a long list of celebrities, as well as the fashion elite, charming them with her warmth, wit and impeccable makeup artistry. Now she shares the secrets that have made […]

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21. NaNoWriMo - Do You Love It Or Hate It?

Those of you who follow my blog will know that this year has been a little patchy for me so I thought a good way of giving myself a kick up my creative backside was by taking part in NaNoWriMo - yes, I really thought that writing 50,000 words in one month would be a good idea... Emma from NaNoEssex asked me to write a post for her blog and I thought it would be nice to share with you.  So here we go - this is my NaNo blog, I hope you enjoy it!


NANOWRIMO – DO YOU LOVE IT OR HATE IT?

A couple of days ago an author friend of mine wrote this simple statement on Facebook: “I don’t understand NaNo”.  He just threw it out there and I read the comments first with interest and then with an open mouth because I couldn’t believe the ferocity of feeling it generated – it appears that you either love NaNo or you hate it, there’s no middle ground.  None at all.  Nada.  Nothing.  And there was me thinking authors were a balanced bunch who could see other people’s point of view.  Tsk.  Silly me.

The comment which surprised me the most was this from an indie author:  “I always think if you can write that much, just do it all the time.  Plus a lot of people turn out garbage to keep up the word count. Just my opinion, but I think it’s ridiculous.”  Ridiculous?!  At least with Marmite if people say they don’t like it then the chances are they’ve tried it.  How can anyone say it’s ridiculous without ever having tried it?  My hackles were raised I have to say, so I feel I have to stand up and explain to the doubters why NaNo is not ridiculous and, in the process, also explain why it’s not always possible to ‘just do it all the time’.  In a balanced way of course.

I happen to love Marmite and I love NaNo (although there are times when I’m struggling I could cheerfully smack the creator of NaNoWriMo with a large wooden spoon for having devised such a torturous event…).   My good friend Stuart Wakefield introduced me to NaNo in 2010.  From that one small initial NaNo meeting in Nero we met Brigit and Jane and the four of us started Writebulb, a writing group, in Chelmsford.  Our very first speaker was Penelope Fletcher, a young indie author, who spoke to us about self-publishing.  Heavens above, what a revelation that was!  As Penelope talked I just knew it was something I wanted to do and as soon as I left the meeting I started self-publishing – me, who barely knew what a Kindle was!  Here I am four years later – over 190,000 of my books have been downloaded and I’ve loved every step of the journey.  Yes, that meeting in Nero’s four years ago was a catalyst like no other!  Way to go Nano.

There is another reason why I like NaNo so much, but it’s more personal. This year has been very been busy and sometimes difficult.  I’ve moved house, leaving the home I’d lived in for 24 years, into a house that needs a lot of work done to it.  In addition, my father’s Alzheimers has deteriorated rapidly; he still lives in his own home but I am responsible for him and most evenings after work (I commute to London) I go and check on him and see how he is.  I’ve tried to write, to keep up on social media but have failed miserably throughout the year – by the time I get home, unpack yet another box or paint (or even knock down) another wall, go to help my dad find whatever he’s lost, and then have some supper I’m usually too tired to do anything other than go to bed!  When Emma contacted me to see if I would contribute to the blog it was like a ray of light shining through the dark (thank you Emma!) but then I thought hold on, I’d better sign up to NaNo if I’m going to write about it and immediately I did that panic set in.  How would I cope?  When would I find the time?  Would stress finally overwhelm me?  Nuhuh.  Not one bit.  The only feeling that’s overwhelming me is that I’m finally back doing something I love.  I’m not stressed by trying to write 50,000 words because if I don’t make it the target, I don’t make it.  That feeling of creating something has made me feel happy.  Simple.  

So – do you love NaNo or do you hate it?

If you still think you hate it then I’d ask you read this blog again because what I’m saying in a nutshell is that NaNo will give you the opportunity to go on a journey, to meet interesting people, to find support and encouragement, to learn new things, to spark that creative fire inside you and to give you a sense of achievement.  It’s pretty damn good stuff.

If you already love it then hold fast – you’re now just over half way through and we will all celebrate together when it’s over.  I’ll bring the toast and Marmite!  Good luck everyone J

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22. Making Peg Dolls & More – a very satisfying craft book for families

Making Peg Dolls & More: Toys that spin, fly and bring sweet dreams is a second book by Margaret Bloom full of ideas about how to make the most delightful peg dolls.

pegdolls

Like many families, now we’re in the run up to Christmas, we’re spending time getting crafty together, making presents and decorations, and this book has given us hours of delight. Full of ideas about how to customise wooden peg dolls into adorable characters, Bloom also provides lots of tutorials for how to use your peg dolls in innovative ways, such as in mobiles, wands, wall hangings and pincushion embellishments.

Super clear and friendly instructions, made beautiful and even easier to follow by the inclusion of simple but beautiful watercolour illustrations along with many photos of all sorts of children making and playing with peg dolls made sure this book really appealed to my kids as soon as they set eyes on it.

That the instructions are easy to follow and result in items which the kids are really proud of was clearly demonstrated by the way my 9 year old, M, took the book off by herself and created her first ever felt toys:

pegdolls3

Although M was totally absorbed by herself in her sewing, as a parent I especially enjoyed Bloom’s emphasis in her instructions on how the whole family can take part in making their own peg dolls; she clearly indicates which parts even the youngest children can get involved with, and encourages us grown-ups to be involved, but also to let our kids do their own things with the dolls. This book isn’t about parents turning out coffee-table-book-worthy gorgeous ornaments (although we’re definitely encouraged to play, sew and create along side the kids); it really is about facilitating children’s exploratory play and creativity.

The book includes a list of suppliers of peg dolls, felt and one or two other items that are especially nice to use (such as artificial/millinery flower stamens) and I would heartily encourage you to gift a bundle of supplies, including some watercolours, with this book so that the recipient can dive in straight away. I’ve personally used Craftshapes for my blank wooden peg dolls in the past and they’ve always be lovely to deal with.

What we started with

What we started with

Here are some of the characters we created:

pegdolls1

pegdolls2

Whilst painting, sewing, sticking and playing we listened to:

  • Wedding of the Painted Doll, one of the hit songs from the musical “The Broadway Melody” – indeed, it reach #1 in the charts in 1929! Another version with more lyrics can be heard here.
  • The doll dance from Delibe’s ballet Coppélia
  • Come Over To My Dollhouse by Lunch Money. Whilst in some ways this is a world away from the lovely peg dolls made by Bloom (which are the antithesis to Barbie, who does feature in this song), the video is enormous fun and might inspire you and your kids to make your own video for your favourite music.

  • If you want ideas about how to take things a step further with your peg dolls take a look at:

  • Using corks instead of wooden peg doll blanks. Especially good if you drink a lot of champagne…
  • Using acorns instead of wooden peg doll blanks – I really love these!
  • Turning pinecones and wooden beads into dolls – a priceless idea from Margaret Bloom herself. In fact there are lots of lovely free tutorials on Bloom’s website – I encourage you to take a look! I particularly like the bat tutorial.
  • We’ve thoroughly enjoyed Making Peg Dolls & More: Toys that spin, fly and bring sweet dreams: It is beautiful to look at and filled with enticing projects, which are both achievable and give results to delight in. It is also a book which is very proud to be just a starting point; it’s really about giving you ideas which will bloom in you and your kids’ imaginations.

    What family craft books would you recommend?

    Disclosure: I received a free review copy of this book from the publisher.

    0 Comments on Making Peg Dolls & More – a very satisfying craft book for families as of 11/23/2014 7:50:00 PM
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    23. Interview with Catherine Scully: Map Design

    Industry Life

    Kat Zhang with Catherine Scully

    Hey guys! I’m here today with the awesome Catherine Scully, who designed the gorgeous map for Claire Legrand’s  WINTERSPELL. Let’s see what she has to say about map-making :)

    Scully_headshot

    I’m sure I’m not the only one who has always loved not only drawing maps, but staring at the maps in fantasy books, following the heroes along on their journey. How did you first get into map-making? Is Claire’s map the first one you created, or have you been creating maps for your own stories?
     .
    The first time I really wanted to do a map was when I read the Hobbit as a kid. I wanted to follow Bilbo along his journey and visit the elves, face the dragon, and return home to the Shire. I used to come up with these stories when I would build these Lego cities, draw a map of what I built and where it went, and then write the entire storyline I made up that day. I should have realized then I wanted to be an author/illustrator! I remember even drawing a map of my favorite stretch of woods with land markers. I was always into fantasy and very much still am, even though I’m more known in the community for horror. The first book I ever wrote was this epic fantasy with world maps and comic panels. I plan on returning to it when I finish working on my current MG horror.
     .
    Claire’s map was the first I created for publication then, which was an interesting challenge since I needed to have something to show in my portfolio in the way of world maps in order to get the job at all. I ended up drawing it and finishing it on the hope it would go over well. Needless to say, this story had a very happy ending! Yes, that was nerve-wracking. But after five years working my way up from a graphic designer to a brand manager, I had a pretty tough skin. I knew I could take any criticism thrown at me really well because I’m much more interested in the process of collaborating on a project than an artistic ego.
     .
    Can you summarize what was the process like? 
      .
    Claire actually first approached me to do collectible cards for four of her WINTERSPELL characters after she saw the work I did for Stefan Bachmann’s bookmarks for his THE WHAT NOT book tour. She ended up loving them so much, she asked if I would be interested in doing a world map as well. After all four characters were finalized, we got started on the map next. Claire had a really clear idea of what she wanted for the map and border, so she sent me a preliminary sketch just to give me an idea of where to place elements. This was immensely helpful! Not to say you can’t start from scratch, but since we were on a tight deadline, a lot of the map back and forth was wonderful and easy because she really knew what she wanted and my job was to make that come alive.
      .
     .
    Map1
    Map2
    Map3
    In my first sketch, the map was tightly drawn, with the border elements close to the island. I went ahead and sketched portions on a piece of bristol board and sent them to Claire before I inked. As we went along, we researched a lot of maps. We looked at the Westeros map, the Grisha map, and a dozen others. I sent sketches and would ink them once they were approved. I work by hand first and ink with Micron pens before my illustrations ever see photoshop. When the ink was ready and Claire was happy, I painted it in Photoshop and we sent it off to her publisher. We went through some back and forth before print, mostly trying to extend the border to not crowd the island and balance it out well. I ended up loving the final draft even more and couldn’t be happier with what went to print! It was seriously a dream to get to collaborate with their publishing department.
      .
    Maps often seem stylized base on the genre of the book, or the type of world described in the story. Did you draw on any particular style to create Claire’s map? 
     .
    Final
    For Claire’s map, I mentioned looking at Westeros and especially the Grisha map, but I had another source of inspiration that I brought to the table for WINTERSPELL. My sister is a ballerina and has performed in the Nutcracker since she was four. As my sister is now nineteen, that means I’ve seen almost two decades worth of performances every year. I’m a huge fan. I’m also the sort of person that likes to read the book, or at least the synopsis and a few chapters, before I start on any piece I illustrate for an author. This is so I can really hear the voice of the characters, the world, and place “Easter eggs” or clues to the story. So, before I even started on the character cards much less the map, I got to read an advanced copy and really see the world and characters before I drew them. I also personally really drew inspiration from the Hobbit and surprisingly the end credits to the Secret of Nimh movie, which really influenced how I ended up spacing out the elements towards the final version.
      .
    Now that you’ve had a map published (congrats!), what do you see yourself doing next?  What would be your dream project?
      .
    Right now, I’m commissioned to do another world map for a friend and a publisher is working with me on starting to illustrate some covers for their middle grade books. Honestly, I’d love to work with more authors on more amazing things! Bookmarks, character cards, world maps, book covers, illustrated web sites, you name it, I’d probably want to work with you on it. One dream project I have is to work on chapter headings for a YA or MG book (regardless of genre) or even a short story collection. Please drop me a line if you’ve got a project in mind! I’d love to hear from you and make something beautiful for your book or author platform together.
      .
    Thanks for chatting with us today, Catherine!
      .
    Do you guys have any more questions about illustrating, or map design?

    Catherine Scully is a writer, illustrator, and graphic designer with her work featured in magazines, anthologies, and in Simon and Schuster’s Young Adult book Winterspell by Claire Legrand. Catherine is represented for Young Adult and Middle Grade fiction by Carrie Howland of Donadio and Olson and is currently working on a horror series for Middle Grade. 

    As the Young Adult Editor for the Horror Writer Association, she runs a blog at yahorror.com called “Scary Out There: What is Horror in Young Adult Fiction?” with multiple Bram Stoker Award-winning author Jonathan Maberry, which was featured on CNN.com in an interview with R.L. Stine. She’s also a member of the YA Scream Queens, a group of nine women who write horror for kids and teens. 

    When she’s not writing and illustrating, Catherine can usually be found practicing on her drums.

    You can follow her on twitter @CatMScully or check out her art at cscullyillustrate.tumblr.com

    Kat Zhang loves traveling to places both real and fictional–the former allows for better souvenirs, but the latter allows for dragons, so it’s a tough pick. Her novel WHAT’S LEFT OF ME is about a girl struggling to survive in an alternate universe where people are born with two souls, and one is doomed to disappear. It is the first book in a trilogy and was published by HarperCollins in September of 2012.  Book 2, ONCE WE WERE, released September 2013, and Book 3, ECHOES OF US, came out September 16, 2014. You can learn all about Kat at her site, or listen to her ramblings on twitter.

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    24. leeds thought bubble 2014: jampires comics jamtastic!

    Last weekend, the Jampires were out in force at Thought Bubble comics festival, to spread Comics Jam over Leeds! Here's team Jampires' David O'Connell, Matt Badham, Molly Bruton and me:



    So what distinguishes Comics Jam from, say, raspberry jam?


    Badges designed by David O'Connell; Jampires jam by the Butch Institute

    A little explanation (as seen in the Thought Bubble anthology):




    Our Comics Jam session attracted fellow Jampires like, uh, bees to honey. (These were Phil Welch and Katie White, who stayed with us and blogged all the way through the 24-Hour Comic Marathon at Lakes International Comic Art Festival in Kendal, earlier in the autumn.)



    We ran a Comics Jam competition, and here's the winning comic! It's by 13-year-old Jordan Vigay and 10-year-old Jonathan 'Jonny Toons'.




    Congrats, guys! Here are Jordan and Jonathan drawing away at our activity area tables, buoyed up by jammie dodgers.



    Actually, the competition was a close call. Their original Comics Jam was in black and white:



    And was competing hard against this Comics Jam, which really zinged off the page with its colours.



    So we struck a deal, that if Jordan and Jonathan promised to colour the comic right after the festival, they'd be the winners. (And they did, using a mix of digital and coloured pencils.) You can find out more about running Comics Jams at home (or in school!) over on the Jampires website.

    So let's meet the creators: I filmed Jordan and Jonathan each giving a lesson on how to draw a character from the comics they self-publish. And you can get a glimpse of other kids getting involved with Thought Bubble:



    If you're scrolling through this and can't see the video, here's the shot of Jordan and me with the Red Crow comic he publishes. (You can buy the latest issue, No.8, for £1.75 via his website.)



    Issue 8 includes a Comics Jam that Jordan and I did at the end of my signing session in Page 45 bookshop's room at the Lakes festival.



    Oh, and you may have noticed that Jordan dressed up! He's cosplaying as Captain Spaceington from James Turner's Star Cat (which is hugely funny and I recommend it for kids AND adults). Here's an interview with James on Comics Beat.



    James was super-pleased to see his own cosplayer! Right behind him, you can see Liz Payton manning The Phoenix Comic table (a weekly comic which I also highly recommend).



    And here's Jonny Toon's table! Not many 10-year-olds are on Twitter, but you can follow this one at @JonnyToons. (He's just tweeted the work-in-progress cover of his Christmas issue.)



    I was very impressed with Jonathan's design skills for Crystal Orb...



    ...and the comics inside are funny and remarkably sophisticated for someone his age! Keep an eye on this guy, I think he may go far. It was great to see him teaming up with Jordan to draw stuff; they're a real power duo.





    And of course, if you read the Guardian, Independent, Vogue, almost any newspaper, you'll have seen articles about Zoom Rockman, who's been making comics since he was 8. He's 14 now, and has a lot of issues under his belt. He sources local advertising and has been a real pioneer in kids self-publishing comics. Check out his website and you can follow him on Twitter as @The_ZoomComic



    I love the Skanky Pigeon quill pens!



    His younger brother, Ace Rockman, also loves to draw and drew up a storm at the activity tables. (Great hat, Ace!)



    Here's a video Zoom made about how to make comics when he was much younger and still too shy to talk on camera.



    And it was great to see the debut of TEAM KETCHUP with their comics anthology Issue No.1! They found local Yorkshire funding and the kids involved worked shifts at the table, selling their comic and badges and running their doodle area. If you have questions about how they did it, have a chat with coordinators @_Joolze, @Coldjenius and @beth_k_t.



    And you can follow Team Ketchup collectively as @theteamketchup! Here's a recent tweet of their doodle wall:



    One of the coolest thing about Thought Bubble is seeing parents and kids geeking out together about books, comics and artwork. It's such an awesome way to spend time with your kid and let them see that reading is fun, without turning it into a lesson. This family were a joy to watch, and that little Green Lantern Guardian went straight for the books and got stuck into them. Ha, one of the funny things about Thought Bubble was that my picture books sold much better than my chapter books. Usually it's the other way around at book festivals; people see Oliver and the Seawigs or Cakes in Space and prefer them to the picture books because they have more words and are therefore deemed more like 'proper books'. Whereas I'd see Thought Bubble people leaf through them, realise they didn't have quite as many pictures, and move on to the fully-illustrated picture books, with 'proper illustrations'. This crowd is a visual crowd, and they appreciate reading pictures as much as words. It's a wonderful place to be.



    My Jampires co-author David O'Connell and I kept looking over and breaking into broad grins as we saw our teammate Matt Badham working his magic. He's SO GOOD at relating to people, I wish I could work with him full-time. He could talk to anyone, on their own level, and he made a lot of people feel very welcome. It was almost poetic. (And he also sold a heap-load of books. Matt could very easily lead courses for booksellers.)



    Here's a look at the two activity tables we had in our area. We had four tables in total: one for display, one for talking with people, book signing, laying out drawing supplies, and two table with chairs around them for families (and anyone who fancied a sit-down) to gather and draw. Some people wanted to keep their drawings, but we hung a lot of them up on the backboards and had a flip-chart ready for people to draw on and other creators to come over and do drawing demonstrations.



    Some people did Comics Jams with other people, but a lot of kids were happy just to draw comics on their own. We found they didn't actually want much adult intervention; most of them were familiar with comics and happy to be left alone to get on with making things.



    There were LOTS of jammie dodgers. When we ran out, we gave Jordan and Jonathan money to go off to the Tesco and buy us more.



    It was fun seeing people of all ages getting stuck in.



    Some people were a bit young to draw comics, or just wanted to do something a bit more relaxing, and we had a sheet posted, showing them how to draw a Jampire.



    I always love seeing the Jampire variations. (I hope someone someday writes a symphony called The Jampire Variations.)









    Flip chart fun times:





    (Who can even SPELL 'submarine'?)














    Here's Jordan and his mum, running The Phoenix Comic tables for awhile, so Liz could run around and talk to people.



    And look at the fabulous volunteers, in their matching Thought Bubble staff t-shirts! They're designed by partners Donya Todd and Jack Teagle. (I sat next to Jack and Donya for a full 24 hours to do our 24-hour comic, and they're both ace.) The lady in the middle was our main contact for the family activity area, Martha Julian, and she really worked with us to make the best possible space for everyone. Thanks so much, Martha and team!



    Of all the comics festivals I've been to, Thought Bubble and Lakes have by far been the best organised, and you could really tell, the way everyone talked about them so positively afterward. They made creators feel welcome, and we didn't have to fight like cats to make sure we had all our backboards, and they went out of their way to get stuff for us, to make things work more smoothly. Having a team in matching t-shirts is really helpful, there's always someone in view that you can run over to and get some help. I also did some planning with Lisa Wood (shown here) and Clark Burscough. If you follow @ThoughtBubbleUK, that's Clark manning the Twitter feed.



    Huge thanks from Dave and me, and team Jampires!



    Another cool thing about Thought Bubble is that kids can meet their favourite creators milling about everywhere! Here's The Phoenix Comic's Matt Baxter at the activity table:



    Hey, look, it's my studio mate Gary Northfield! Gary did some awesome drawings and little watercolour paintings at his table. Check out his family-friendly The Terrible Tales of the Teenytinysaurs and Gary's Garden comic books; they're ace. Gary's the guy who originally walked me through how to do workshops and went with me on my first library event.



    Check it out, Glasgow-based Adam Murphy and Lisa Murphy, creators of Corpse Talk! Lisa's done colourist work for Adam, Gary and lots of other people, and she's an important part of The Phoenix Comic team. I'd never really talked properly with her and Adam (other than fleeting festival chic-chat) but we had dinner together on our first night and really got to chat, which was one of my highlights of the whole trip.



    Here's a look at their latest Phoenix cover. ZING!



    And it's Neill Cameron and family! Neill's latest book, How to Make Awesome Comics is something I've been waiting a long time for; something I can recommend to kids who want to know more about making comics but are too young for the Scott McCloud books. Neill packs in loads of inspiring challenges and tips to get kids drawing and writing comics. And he's great at running workshops, too. In fact, Gary, the Murphys and Neill are all good at that, book 'em into your event diary, librarians, festival people, teachers, etc. His wife, Di Cameron, works at The Story Museum in Oxford, so they're a story-packed power team.



    Neill and Adam had printed up their own Comics Jam for the festival, a humourous horror story called The Curse of Barry Starkey, which you can read about on Neill's website here.



    Thought Bubble was so large this year that it filled three separate huge venues, all inside the big square at the Royal Armouries. The Jampires Comics Jamtastic area was in the Royal Armouries Hall, and there was a real effort to make that area the most kid-friendly place, including a special chill-out lounge for people with autism. In the middle of the square, the organisers erected a white marquis called 'The Teepee', a slightly misleading name because it was Enormous. A lot of the celeb signings were happening in there. And across the square was New Dock Hall, which has much higher ceilings, black walls and hosted more of the grown-up comics (although there was still a lot of family-friendly stuff there).

    I first made a bee-line for Philippa Rice's table. I love Philippa's comics, and she always makes the most beautiful table displays. When I do talks about getting kids involved in comics festivals, I always show photos of Philippa's tables because I think I would have LOVED to have made dioramas and things like this as a kid. Check it out:



    And a closer look. Those are real lights in there! So awesome.



    Last year I came to Thought Bubble as a punter and had a great time going to events, browsing comics and talking with people at their tables. I'm quite tempted to do that again, one year at table, one year as punter, on and off. This year I hardly had any time to see anything, but the Jampires team let me off for half an hour to run around and see as much of the festival as I could. (Huge apologies if I didn't manage to say hello to you as I madly dashed about!) This book by Becky Palmer caught my eye, La Soupière Magique (The Magic Tureen?). Becky originally wrote it as The Biggest Helping but she couldn't find an English-language publisher, so she got it published in French instead, by SarBacane. You can see some pages of it here on her blog and it is GORGEOUS. It's quite startling to think that this is her very first comic book. Wow!



    Hey look, it's Dan Berry, who ran our 24-Hour Comic Marathon! He makes fab comics and always uses hand gel. If you're not following him on Twitter, get on the case: @thingsbydan. And he also makes wonderful, professional-quality podcasts with my favourite comics creators for his programme Make It Then Tell Everybody. Check it out!



    Here's Mhairi Stewart and friend manning the Roller Grrrls table she runs with Gary Erskine. There were table neighbours at the very first comic con I did by myself, and I was very clueless and they made me feel incredibly welcome. I love those guys.



    And I'm a big fan of all three people here! That's Moshi Monsters' Nana Li, buying prints from North-Wales-based Jonathan Edwards (aka Jontofski) and Louise Evans (aka Felt Mistress).



    Coffee time for Lizz Lunney, Joe Decie and Joe List. ...Oh, look, Decie has posted a Thought Bubble DRINKS TASTE TEST.



    On Saturday night, Molly and I trotted along to the British Comic Award ceremony, hosted by a blue-suited Adam Cadwell and David Monteith, where we got to hear Maura McHugh interviewing Hall-of-Fame winner Posy Simmonds. Here's Molly, Posy and Maura with Alison Sampson, who won the New Talent award. Congrats! I was also hugely chuffed that Isabel Greenberg won Best Book for The Encyclopedia of Early Earth. (You can read my fangirl meltdown blog post about it here.) And it was no surprise, Luke Pearson winning the Young People's Comic Award again, this time for Hilda and The Black Hound. The competition was stiff, but Hilda is MEGA.



    You can read about the awards over on their website here. (Vern and Lettuce won it back in 2011 and you can read my blog post about that here.) I was a judge last year and it was great to see fellow judge Jamillah Knowles again! She caught me up on some of the comics I was missing out on by being at a table.



    Okay, now for a few costumes:







    Ha ha, here's when things started to get a little weird:



    And finally, a good place to end, Dr Mel Gibson with the elephant in the room:



    Oh wait! One more thing... what is this? Ha ha, this is what I look like to the kids I'm working with:



    (THANKS, Jordan and Jonathan.)

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    25. Going, Going, Gone…

    . . . but it won’t be forgotten!

    There’s so much to savor from The Original Art Exhibition: The Fine Art of Children’s Book Illustration, as it winds up its stay in Carlsbad, CA.

    To recap, here are more trailers from the participating artists in the Show:







    For me, the highlight was being able to hold up the actual book page, and compare it alongside its original. I will share some observations in future posts. Seeing them side-by-side provided meditations on the wide spectrum of art media possible, coupled with the reality of CMYK print — it’s all good stuff!


    0 Comments on Going, Going, Gone… as of 11/23/2014 5:38:00 PM
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