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901. How I Got My Literary Agent: Rebecca Brooks

“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Rebecca Brooks, author of the erotic romance, ABOVE ALL. These columns are great ways for you to learn how to find a literary agent. Some tales are of long roads and many setbacks, while others are of good luck and quick signings. If you have a literary agent and would be interested in writing a short guest column for this GLA blog, e-mail me at literaryagent@fwmedia.com and we’ll talk specifics.

GIVEAWAY: Rebecca is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Please note that comments may take a little while to appear; this is normal).


Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 1.13.07 PM Rebecca Brooks has backpacked alone through India and Brazil, traveled by
cargo boat down the Amazon River, climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, explored ice caves
in Peru, trekked to the source of the Ganges, and sunbathed in Burma. Her first
novel, ABOVE ALL, (Ellora’s Cave, July 2014) has been called “a beautifully
powerful story,” “SEXellent,” and “a thinking woman’s romance.” Her books
are about independent women who leave their old lives behind to try something
new. Find her on Facebook, Twitter @BeccaBooks, and Goodreads.




The First Query

When I finished my contemporary erotic romance, Above All, I knew I didn’t want to send a million queries only to realize after a million rejections that there was more I could to do my opening pages and pitch. So I did my research and picked 10 agents that I thought were really top notch. When the first agent I contacted wrote back immediately requesting the full, I thought for sure I was on my way.

I decided to also submit the manuscript directly to 3 romance publishers that accept unagented submissions. There are different schools of thought about this. If a publisher rejects the book, an agent can’t pitch it to them later. But I wanted to explore all my options. What did I have to lose?

(How many agents should you contact at one time?)

One agent I especially had my eye on was Andrea Somberg at Harvey Klinger. She has a great track record and works in a variety of genres. Above All is steamy, but it also has a strong story component. As more of a crossover between romance and women’s fiction, it seemed like a great fit for her. I waited anxiously for her response. The first agent had been so enthusiastic. Why wasn’t my inbox filled with requests?

You can guess where this is going. I got form rejections or radio silence from every other agent. The one interested agent passed. Andrea didn’t even want to see the full.

I could have continued to query—10 isn’t a very large sampling—but I decided to put the manuscript aside for a while. I hoped that if I came back to it in a few months, I’d be able to see what was missing. I truly believed in Above All, but I needed some distance before deciding what to do next.

The Book Deal

Five months passed and I was hard at work on my second romance, How to Fall. Out of nowhere one evening I got an email from Ellora’s Cave, one of the publishers I’d submitted to and the last I had to hear from. I admit that I barely bothered to read the email. When I saw “Thank you for your submission,” I thought, Oh well. It was worth a try.

But then the next line said “Congratulations.” I was so confused. It took a few more readings for it to sink in. Ellora’s Cave had accepted my novel. I’d completely skipped the agent stage. I was going to be published.

(See a list of literary agents who seek romance.)

The Second Query

I didn’t need an agent anymore. I had an editor at Ellora’s Cave who was great. I’d also connected with another agent who agreed to negotiate the contract even if she didn’t represent me. But I still wanted an agent. I wanted someone to help me build my career and navigate the publishing world beyond my first novel. So I set out to query again.

What a different experience. Thirty minutes after I pressed send, Andrea requested the full. Three days later, she sent me an email that made me cry. (Admittedly I’d been pretty stressed out, but still. It was a really nice email.) Not only did she love Above All, but she really got what my writing is about. I contacted other agents who had the manuscript to let them know, but after two long phone conversations with Andrea, it was an easy decision.

I’m not saying that if you’re looking for an agent, go snag a book deal first. Nor is the idea to bombard the same agents with repeat queries because surely they’ll like the book if they only sit down and read it. My point is that the process from book to agent to publisher—or from book to publisher to agent—can be roundabout, slow, and full of surprises. I can’t say exactly what led Andrea to decline to read Above All the first time around. But I’m glad I tried her again. I like to think she’s happy that she gave it a second look, too.

GIVEAWAY: Rebecca is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Please note that comments may take a little while to appear; this is normal).


How to Blog a Book by Nina Amir discusses
how to slowly release a novel online to generate
interest in your writing and work.


Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:


Want to build your visibility and sell more books?
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902. Fan Mail Wednesday #191: Scary Stuff & A Sneak Preview



Hey now, it doesn’t matter what day of the week it is, because “Fan Mail Wednesday” is a state of mind.

Here’s one from a student who attends one of my favorite local schools. Meet Shreya!


Scan 1


I replied:

Dear Shreya,

Wow, thank you for your kind letter, I really appreciate it.

I’m thrilled that you are enjoying the books in my “Scary Tales” series. When I started writing them, that was my number one goal. I said to myself, “I really hope Shreya likes these. Otherwise, what’s the point?”

OneEyedDoll_cvr_lorezBut what’s up with you not reading The One-Eyed Doll? They don’t have a copy in your library? Or does it sound too creepy for you? What are you waiting for? I write these books exactly, precisely, specifically for YOU, Dearest Reader, the least you could do is read ‘em. 

The 6th book in the series will be coming out sometime in the Spring, I think, it involves a swamp and a monster and I have cleverly titled it: “Swamp Monster.” I’m kind of amazing that way.

DOLL_Interiors_07Of course, by the end, we’re not really sure exactly who the real monster is, are we? The book was especially fun to write, because it features a set of twins from Texas, Lance and Chance, and a fearless girl named Rosalee Ruiz. Right now, the manuscript is with the illustrator, Iacopo Bruno, and he’s working on it. I can’t wait to see what he does with the swampy environment, the Spanish moss dangling from trees like exotic drapes. Creepy! Also, of course, I’m eager to see how he’ll draw the swamp monster.

As an added bonus, here’s a “never-seen-before-by-human-eyes” sample from the unpublished book:

     The muddy path skirted the edge of the swampy water. Fortified by peanut butter sandwiches –- no jelly to be found — the boys felt strong and adventurous. They went deeper into the woods than usual. The trees thickened around them, with names like black willow and water hickory. Long limbs hung low. Spanish moss dangled from the branches like exotic drapes. Snakes slithered. Water rats lay still and watched through small red eyes. Once in a while a bird called. Not a song so much as a warning.

     Stay away, gawk, stay away!

     The farther the boys traveled, the darker it got.

     Lance stopped, slapped a mosquito on the back of his neck. The bug exploded, leaving behind a splash of blood. “I don’t know, Chance,” he said doubtfully. “Getting dark, getting late.”

     Chance chewed on a small stick. He spat out a piece of bark. “Let’s keep on going.” And off he went, leading the way, content that Lance would follow.

     After another while, Chance paused and stooped low, bringing his eyes close to the ground. He pointed to a track in the mud. “What you think, Lance?”

     “Too big for a gator,” Lance said. He turned to gaze into the dark, snake-infested water as if staring into a cloudy crystal ball. “But I’d say it’s gator-ish.”

     “Real big though,” Chance noted. “Heavy, too. You can tell ‘cause the print sank way down.”

     “Guess you’re right,” Lance agreed.

     “Here’s another,” Chance said, moving two steps to his right. “Three clawed toes, webbed feet. Weird.”

     “Never seen the like of it before,” Lance said. “Looks like it was moving fast, judging by the length of the stride –-“

     “—- and headed right there,” Chance said, pointing to the swamp, “—- into the water.”

     “You reckon those tracks were made by Bigfoot?” Lance asked.

     Chance grinned at his brother. They both laughed until the swamp swallowed up the sound. They stood together in the echo of that lonely silence.

     “Maybe we should head back,” Lance suggested.

Anyway, Shreya. Hopefully that sounds intriguing to you. 

I believe I’ve visited your school, Lynnwood, a couple of times over the past 10 years or so. Everybody is always super nice. You’re lucky; it’s a great & happy place.

My best, and thanks again. Below, please find the free autograph that you requested. Cheers!


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903. On the Romantic Triangle

People love to disparage young adult fiction. YA is the new kickball for the literary establishment, and one of the most common remarks I see about YA novels is this: “The book is well written enough, but of course there’s the obligatory romantic triangle…” Cue the literary eye roll. Oh those young adult authors! So formulaic! So unimaginative!

And critically acclaimed, (very often) with more vigorous sales than any other genre, and by the way, more movie deals too.

Before we get into the nitty gritty, let’s acknowledge that not all best selling YA novels have romantic triangles. The Fault in our Stars by John Green, If I Stay by Gayle Forman, and Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell all feature straight forward love stories. I’ll point out, though, that the main focus of all these stories is the relationship between the two love interests. Everybody loves a good love story, and considering how immensely difficult it is to write one, these authors deserve every bit of success they’ve seen. (I salute you!)

But the trend is real. Twilightby Stephanie Meyer, The Hunger Gamesby Suzanne Collins, and the Sky Chasers Trilogy by yours truly all feature romantic triangles, and that’s because romantic triangles work. Here is why:

Romantic triangles have been a part of literature since time immemorial. Helen of Troy, Menelaus, and Paris in The Iliad might be the first. More examples include Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare, Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, A Room with a Viewby E.M. Forster, Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak… the list goes on. This is an illustrious tradition to participate in.

There aren’t a lot of ways to instill tension into a romantic sub-plot. There’s the classic Taming of the Shrew device, which has the two romantic leads loathing each other at first, then falling in love. There’s the trope of two lovers torn apart by society or fate, as in Romeo and Juliet. And then there’s the classic love triangle, with messy feelings all over the place, and lots of opportunity for conflict. If any of you can think of a new way to lend tension to a romantic plot, say so in the comments so I can write it. Please.

Romantic triangles happen in real life, all the time, and part of a novelist’s job is to write about real life. I’ve been in a few romantic triangles myself, more often as one of two girls lusting after the same guy, but a couple times as one girl with two guys vying for my attention. (Ah! Those college days!) Believe me, romantic triangles are a lot more fun to read about than they are to experience.

The focus of my Sky Chasers series really isn’t love. My books are an examination of the way in which ideology, both religious and secular, can shape political discourse, the manufacturing of power, and resulting societal problems. My female protagonist is poised between two boys who represent different philosophies: Seth is the pragmatic, apolitical survivor, and Kieran is the idealistic, ambitious leader. Waverly represents the future in my books, and her choice will, in a very real way, shape the future world she is helping to create.

In the final analysis, what matters isn’t which device an author uses to develop tension in a romance. What matters is if it’s well written. The Sky Chasers has been recognized as an exceptionally good dystopian series by reviewers such as School Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, Booklist, and even by mainstream commentators from People Magazine, Seventeen, and USA Today. But every reader must decide for herself. If you read my series, I’d love to hear from you about it! But what I care even more about is that young adults keep reading, whatever you want, no matter what the stuffy literati say about your choice of material.

You have good taste, kids. And in case you haven’t noticed, you are leading the publishing industry around by the nose. Good job.

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904. Fairy & Empath Online School Friday

Lessons going out this morning on this lovely, but a little cloudy October Fairy Friday. Energetically, that’s been one hell of a week, hasn’t it? We need a vacation! Some place warm and happy. For today, I give you a little excerpt from the Fairy Healing the Feminine class, which was one of my favorites to create. (By the way, another session starts this weekend and sign-ups open here).



This one is so timely for me, as I found myself giving too much out and not getting even the basics of what I needed. When that happened, I came to the conclusion that I would have to give out much less AND that when I don’t have what I need, I am at such a disadvantage to be able to give out at all. Time to scale back.

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905. Dave Gibbons named the first Comics Laureate in the UK

dave gibbons Dave Gibbons named the first Comics Laureate in the UK

Hm let’s see, we need an ambassador of comics who can work with schools, educators and more to show how comics can contribute to literacy and learning. We need someone who is smart, distinguished and universally loved…

I know! Let’s get Dave Gibbons!

And so it has been announced at this year’s Lake Festival which is being held this weekend.

Bestselling graphic novelist Dave Gibbons is to become the first Comics Laureate. The announcement was made by internationally acclaimed comics authority and graphic novelist Scott McCloud at the launch of new charity Comics Literacy Awareness (CLAw) at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival on 17th October.

The role of Comics Laureate is to be appointed biennially to a distinguished comics writer or artist in recognition of their outstanding achievement in the field. Their role is to champion children’s literacy through school visits, training events for school staff and education conferences. Dave Gibbons has won universal praise for his comics and graphic novel work for Marvel and DC Comics including the ground-breaking Watchmen (with Alan Moore), as well as the UK’s own 2000AD and Doctor Who. “It’s a great honour for me to be nominated as the first Comics Laureate,” he says. “I intend to do all that I can to promote the acceptance of comics in schools. It’s vitally important not only for the pupils but for the industry too.” Dave Gibbons takes up his two-year position from February 2015.

Comics Literacy Awareness (CLAw) is a new UK charity formed by a group of passionate, highly experienced professionals from the fields of education and comics. Its primary aim is to improve the literacy levels of children and to promote the variety and quality of comics and graphic novels today, particularly in the education sector.

The Board of CLAw’s trustees includes renowned graphic novelist Bryan Talbot, winner of the 2012 Costa Award for Best Biography for Dotter Of Her Father’s Eyes (a collaboration with his wife Mary Talbot). He says, “In many other countries, comics and graphic novels have been used extensively in literacy drives. The sheer accessibility of the medium, the way in which complex information can be easily absorbed through its combination of words and pictures, actively encourages reading in those intimidated by endless blocks of cold print.”

The other trustees are Julie Tait, Director of the Lakes International Comic Art Festival; Ian Churchill, comic book artist for DC and Marvel, and writer/artist on his Image Comics title Marineman; Emma Hayley, Managing Director and Publisher of UK’s independent graphic novel company, SelfMadeHero; Paul Register, school librarian and founder of the Stan Lee Excelsior Award; and Dr. Mel Gibson, comics scholar and senior lecturer at Northumbria University.

Alongside the Comics Laureateship, CLAw will work closely with schools on a number of initiatives, including staff training events and classroom visits by comics professionals. They will liaise with museums and galleries on a variety of comics-related projects, and provide reading lists and general guidance to school staff and parents unfamiliar with the comics medium, demonstrating the wider educational benefits it can offer.

1 Comments on Dave Gibbons named the first Comics Laureate in the UK, last added: 10/18/2014
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906. 3 Actors Join the ‘Paper Towns’ Cast

paper townsThree actors have joined the cast for the Paper Towns movie adaptation. Austin Abrams, Halston Sage, and Justice Smith will portray Ben, Lacey, and Radar.

These characters share a friendship with the lead protagonist Quentin (played by Nat Wolff). The story, based on John Green’s popular young adult novel, follows Quentin and his buddies who embark on a journey after a classmate named Margo (played by Cara Delevinge) mysteriously disappears.

Back in March, Green announced that he would take on the role of executive producer. The Wrap reports that Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber, Marty Bowen, Wyck Godfrey, and Isaac Klausner will all serve as producers for this project. Neustadter and Weber are also working on the screenplay together.

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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907. Interesting blog posts about writing – w/e October 17th 2014

Here’s my selection of interesting (and sometimes amusing) posts about writing from the last week:

How to Tell If Your Story Idea Is Mediocre—And How to Improve It (Laurie Scheer)  Jon’s Pick of the week

Between a Blog and a Hard News Cycle (Porter Anderson)

Query First? The Query as a Plotting Tool (Janice Hardy)

Getting Published: The Genre-Concept Connection (Larry Brooks)

Celebrate yourself (Kathleen McCleary)

Stop Social Media, I Want to Get Off!  (Kerry Gans)

Bad Advice (Wendy Lawton)

What You Pay for When You Hire a PR Firm (Sharon Bially)

How Not to Register Copyright (Victoria Strauss)

If you found these useful, you may also like my personal selection of the most interesting blog posts from 2013, and last week’s list.

If you have a particular favorite among these, please let the author know (and me too, if you have time).  Also, if you've a link to a great post that isn't here, feel free to share.

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908. TED Curator Chris Anderson Lands Deal For Public Speaking Guide

Chris Anderson 200TED curator Chris Anderson (pictured, via) has inked a deal with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for Talk This Way! The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking.

Senior executive editor Rick Wolff handled this acquisition. This project will be the first in Wolff’s new line of business books.

Anderson gave this statement in the press release: “Many people have something important to say, but are terrified by public speaking. Yet the skills to deliver a compelling talk are teachable. Over the last 10 years, my team and I have had access to the preparation process of many of the world’s best speakers. It’s thrilling to have this opportunity to share what we’ve learned with a broader public, and I look forward to working with Rick and his colleagues at HMH.”


New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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909. British Comic Awards announce their short list

Posy Simmonds British Comic Awards announce their short list

The British Comic Awards have announced their short list of nominees and that the great Posy Simmonds will be inducted into the hall of fame. The nominees were selected by the BCA Committee based on suggestions from the public and winners will be chosen by a panel consisting of Jonathan Entwistle, Jessica Hynes. Danny John-Jules (yes The Cat from Red Dwarf!), Jonathan Ross and Suzy Varty. Winners will be announced November 15th at Thought Bubble.

Best Comic
• Dangeritis: A Fistful of Danger – Robert M Ball and Warwick Johnson-Cadwell (Great Beast)
• In The Frame – Tom Humberstone (New Statesman)
• Raygun Roads – Owen Michael Johnson, Indio!, Mike Stock and Andy Bloor (Self published)
• Tall Tales & Outrageous Adventures #1: The Snow Queen & Other Stories – Isabel Greenberg (Great Beast)
• The Wicked + The Divine #1 – Kieron Gillen, Jaime McKelvie, Matt Wilson and Clayton Cowles (Image Comics)

Best Book
• The Absence – Martin Stiff (Titan Books)
• Celeste – I.N.J. Culbard (Self Made Hero)
• The Encyclopedia of Early Earth – Isabel Greenberg (Jonathan Cape)
• Lighter Than My Shadow – Katie Green (Jonathan Cape)
• Sally Heathcote: Suffragette – Mary Talbot, Kate Charlesworth and Bryan Talbot (Jonathan Cape)

Young People’s Comic Award
• Bad Machinery Vol 2: The Case of The Good Boy – John Allison (Oni Press)
• BOO! – Paul Harrison-Davies, Andrew Waugh; Warwick Johnson-Cadwell, Jonathan Edwards, James Howard, Gary Northfield and Jamie Smart (Self published)
• Corpse Talk: Season 1 – Adam Murphy (David Fickling Books)
• Hilda and the Black Hound – Luke Pearson (Flying Eye Books)
• The Beginner’s Guide to Being Outside – Gill Hatcher (Avery Hill Publishing)

Emerging Talent
• Alison Sampson (Genesis, Shadows (In The Dark) – artist)
• Briony May Smith (Tam Lin, The Courting of Fair Spring and Red-Nosed Frost, The Mermaid)
• Rachael Smith (House Party, One Good Thing, Flimsy, Vicky Park (Leicester Mercury), The Amazing Seymore (Moose Kid Comics))
• Becca Tobin (Eye Contact, Peppermint Butler’s Peppermint Bark (Adventure Time #30), numerous short comics)
• Corban Wilkin (Dreams of a Low Carbon Future – artist, Breaker’s End, If Not Now Then When (Offlife #6))

0 Comments on British Comic Awards announce their short list as of 10/17/2014 1:30:00 PM
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910. $2000 statue and more stolen at New York Comic Con

extralarge $2000 statue and more stolen at New York Comic Con

While the harassment problems seems to have been put under control, by and large, there are a rather alarming number of reports of theft from the show, including this one, about a hand painted “Dunny” statue worth $2000 being stolen from a booth. The culprit was caught on tape taking the items at 7:25 after the show closed and fled on foot.

Nick Curtis, an associate editor at the magazine, said the 20-inch, high-priced action figure had been hand-painted by artist Jon-Paul Kaiser during the event.

“What had been done is that an artist did a live painting of it during Comic Con, making it essentially a one-of-a-kind piece of art on a 3-D canvas,” he said.

The bunny-like figurines are typically 3-inches tall, mass-produced and retail for $15, Curtis said.

The thief also stole a Popaganda “TDY” figure worth $80 and a Goodley Toy action figure worth $100, police said.

I also saw tweets indicating that writer Amy Chu’s laptop was stolen, and there’s a report of an artist having some pages stolen as well.

Thievery doesn’t invite the same kind of “they were asking for it” response as other kinds of claims, but unfortunately, these incidents are a reminder that leaving valuable things lying around is not a good idea at a crowded con. It’s also a sad comment on an otherwise peaceful crowd.

I know of one creator who had his laptop stolen right off his table at a foreign show. (I also know of several people who had wallets stolen at comic book after partys over the years—enough so that I’d rather stand around with 20lbs of equipment on my shoulder than leave them unattended.) While these kind of thefts are not uncommon everywhere, there do seem to have been several at this year’s NYCC.

Anyway, keep an eye on valuables!

4 Comments on $2000 statue and more stolen at New York Comic Con, last added: 10/19/2014
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911. Snapshot Sketches

I did these watercolor sketches when I was exploring Salida, Colorado. Each sketch is 3 inches across and took 5 or 10 minutes. 

I might do a few of these to explore possible motifs. The main thing I'm looking for is the basic value organization. Painting a small monochromatic "snapshot" helps me cut through the clutter to see the essence of the image.

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912. Urban Midnight: Embrace your inner psychopath

A chat with the director.

A chat with the director.

There’s a secret I hide. Few people know this secret, and they have kept quiet for the past twelve years. They can now break their silence, as I make this astounding announcement: I used to be an actress.

When writer pal Rasheda Poe asked me to be in her short film, I hedged. I was vague. I told her I wasn’t “actually an actress.” This is untrue. In high school, I was Theater Student of the Year as a senior. I earned my varsity letter as a thespian. In college, I minored in acting. My last stage show was in 2002, and I haven’t acted since.

Historically, I was cast as the bitch. I don’t know why. I’m not a bitch. I’m actually quite nice, but perhaps my snark comes across as bitchy. Perhaps men see me as bitchy (since I was always cast by men).

Rasheda saw the bitch in me, too. Well, the bitch and the psychopath. Her short film, entitled “Urban Midnight,” is about a seductive murderess. Rasheda wrote the role of Fiona with me in mind. It’s highly complimentary when one of your best friends thinks you’d make a perfect murderer, right? I think so.

Monday night, we spent five hours filming. I have a semi-photographic memory, which makes me super annoying to other actors. (I’m always correcting people.) I knew I could memorize the lines, but could I deliver them?

I arrived to the “set” (an extended stay hotel) and found myself surrounded by about ten film geek dudes. Yeah, Rasheda and I were the only girls, and I was in nothing but a robe. We joked about how the hotel probably thought we were filming porn, and yeah, I may have busted out the Old School line, “I’m here for the gang bang.”

Blood is so hard to wash off.

Blood is so hard to wash off.

Playing Fiona was like playing Hannibal Lecter: a lot of stillness with very little facial expression. My favorite part was when the boys covered me in chocolate syrup for fake blood (it’s what Hitchcock used for Psycho). Since the film was in black and white, this worked perfectly.

How did it feel to have the acting boots on again? I guess we should take a quick trip back to 2002 first.

In 2002, I was a sophomore at Ohio University, an acting major. I’d just been cast as the overbearing, bitchy older sister in a dark comedy about one man returning home for his father’s funeral. I had one scene in particular where it was just me in the center of the stage, giving my father’s eulogy, and finally breaking down. I physically ached after every performance.

It was reminiscent of when I starred in “To Absent Friends” in high school: a short play in which the viewer realizes, only at the end, that all the characters are dead. My friend, Emily, had to be escorted out of the theater by her boyfriend because she was so distraught by the shocking conclusion.

During my “actor days,” I understood the power of theater. I’m a movie buff to this day. In fact, I’m a movie snob and trivia expert. But in 2002, I realized I loved what actors did … but I hated acting. I switched to creative writing. Haven’t looked back since.

That said, since I’m a huge proponent of doing things that scare the shit out of me, I agreed to act in Rasheda’s short film, and I did have fun. I liked playing a sociopath, and the process was interesting: all the camera angles, the sound stuff, and “getting into character” with the help of my awesome costars. I slid back into it like a hand in a glove.

So shall I announce my victorious return to acting? Um, no. Making “Urban Midnight” was fun, but acting (although once my thing) is a very small part of my introverted, writer brain. Just like singing (something I can do but don’t really enjoy), acting will be one of those skills I keep in my back pocket in case Ben Cumberbatch calls and wants me to play his romantic lead.

Until then, I’ll tuck Fiona away but thank her (and Rasheda) for reminding me how fun it is to step outside my comfort zone for a couple hours and do something truly unique.

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913. Aasif Mandvi Asks Fellow Comedians to Appear in His Book Trailer: VIDEO

Have you ever asked a celebrity to appear in your book trailer? In the “Funny or Die” video embedded above, Aasif Mandvi makes this request of Jack Black, Wyatt Cenac, John Oliver, and more.

Mandvi has written a book of personal essays entitled No Land’s Man: A Perilous Journey through Romance, Islam, and Brunch. Chronicle Books will release it on November 04, 2014. (via The Huffington Post)

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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914. Sort of Social- A Writer's Life

Sort of Social- A Writer's Life 

So lately I've been hitting my book hard, editing like a wild woman and throwing literary caution to the wind. In short, I've been sitting in a lot of coffee shops and ordering a lot of mochas. Needless to say, in this blast of creative power I've noticed a sort of shift in my social life (or what I like to call my social life): It's mostly comprised of fictional characters, (and a few chatty baristas). So here's a list of the top 5 things I love about my social life as a writer, mochas and all. 

1. People Don't Ask What I'm Doing

Whenever I'm writing furiously at my laptop, people don't even try to interrupt. It's like some wonderful veil has been drawn over my Macbook, and if the outside world were to intervene, what I'm working on might implode and destroy everything in the tristate area. It's great. Life lesson: look like you're doing something important, and no one shall question it. 

2. All of the Baristas Know your Order

Seriously. All of them. Anywhere you go. It's like some magic wizard arrived ten seconds before you and whispered the words "Skinny Peppermint Mocha" into your barista's ear. Not only that, but they know your name, where you work, and ask if you finally finished that difficult chapter that was giving you grief? Why yes, yes I did. And I'd like an extra shot with that.

3. Your Fictional Characters Never Run Out of Compliments

And they all love you. No matter what they always have a copious amount of good things to say to make you laugh, smile, and cheer- and you can write them into any situation and conversation that you want. Talk about interactive companionship.

4. Your Friend Circle is a Glorified Book Club

Most of your friends are avid readers, too, and you all share your latest finds. It's not only great to discover new reads, but cheaper than driving to the nearest book store and opening your wallet everyday to get your literary fix. Also, it helps that you have exquisite taste in books. Just saying.

5. Your Friends Understand the Importance of Alone Time

While you love them to death, every writer needs a large amount of time dedicated to her work in order to survive. Luckily, your friends all know this and leave you to your manuscript when needed. Not only that, but most of them pop by with hugs and junk food to help keep you sane. Best friends ever. 

And there you have it folks- the 5 things I love about my literary social life. So count your many blessings my fictional friends, and have at that manuscript! 

Best wishes and happy reading,

-Ashley Dawson

Check Ashley out on social media!



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915. You’re Invited to Bring It to YALSA’s 2015 Symposium! (OR Bringing it Together in Portland, 2015 OR Let’s Bring It Together at YALSA Symposium 2015)

Every day, you find ways to connect teens with the resources they need and want. Now it’s time to share your experiences and ideas with librarians, educators, researchers, young adult authors and other teen advocates at YALSA’s first expanded symposium.

YALSA is currently seeking program proposals and paper presentations for its 2015 Young Adult Services Symposium, Bringing it All Together: Connecting Libraries, Teens & Communities, to be held Nov. 6-8, 2015, in Portland, Ore.

The 2015 theme addresses the key role of connection that librarians have for the teens in their community.

Today’s 21st century teens have unique needs and face significant challenges that they cannot deal with successfully on their own. Library staff are uniquely positioned to help teens by not only connecting them to resources in the library and their hometown, but also to resources from affinity communities that thrive online. How can library staff connect with partners, provide programming, enhance collections, and help teens build both print and digital literacy skills so that they can be successful in the future? How can library staff connect with colleagues to form personal learning networks, increase impact and tell their stories? Join YALSA as we explore how to connect teens to their community and beyond.

Programs will cover the entire spectrum of topics related to providing services for and with young adults, including readers’ advisory and maintaining young adult literature collections. YALSA is seeking proposals in the following categories:

  •    Programming
  •    Collections
  •    Digital and Print Literacy
  •    Youth Participation
  •    Spaces (physical and virtual)
  •    Partnering/Collaborations

YALSA invites interested parties to propose 90-minute programs centering on the theme, as well as paper presentations offering new, unpublished research relating to the theme. Applications for all proposals can be found http://www.ala.org/yalsa/yasymposium . Proposals for programs and paper presentations must be completed online by Dec. 1, 2014. Applicants will be notified of their proposals’ status by Feb. 1, 2015.

Get your proposal in soon and let’s connect in Portland in 2015!

-YA Services Symposium Marketing and Planning Task Force

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916. How to Create a Plot Planner -- Part 1

Lots of writers are finding a Plot Planner the perfect place to stand back and plan and organize the plots, characters, themes, romance of their stories in preparation for NaNoWriMo2014.

To demonstrate how to make a Plot Planner, I took inspiration from the young character in Chef, a wonderful feel-good movie, who made a "vine." I found the idea of taking little videos and making them into a bit bigger video a fun way to get a point across in one of those only-on-Youtube delightful ways (keep in mind, I have no idea what I was doing…).

My interpretation of a vine here, showing how to make a plot planner.

In How to Create a Plot Planner -- Part 2, a longer version with an actual logical sequence is coming.

Lots of examples of Plot Planners on Pinterest.

For more tips and tricks to pre-plotting and writing a novel in a month, check out my Plot Whisperer books: 
1)  The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories
2)  The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master
3)  The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing.

Today I write! Rather, today I pre-plot for NaNo!
To continue writing and revising:

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917. theladymisskier: #ThrowbackT….Om ni ma ray mugler…Paris...


#ThrowbackT….Om ni ma ray muglerParis burned…Narcissis chanting ala absolutely fagulous…1990…warm memories keep me warm.

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918. Book Beginnings - 10/17/14

*Please join Rose City Reader every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author's name.  *Taken directly from Rose City Reader's Blog Page.

There is a giveaway on my blog for TWO e-books - The Labryinth House if you want to stop by.
This week's book beginnings comes from AN UNSEEMLY WIFE by E. B. Moore.

"A shadow on the sun should have marked the day the way God marked Cain, a warning to Ruth her quiet world would soon be cast asunder."

I am almost done with AN UNSEEMLY WIFE.  It is great historical fiction, but a bit slow.  It is sad too.

Books From The Last Two Weeks that I wanted to share.  


Not the greatest book, but not bad.  Review is in the book's title.

CROOKED RIVER by Valerie Geary

I LOVED this book...read it if you can. 
Review is in the book's title.
What are you reading that you can't keep to yourself?  :)


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919. Another #FridayReads with AW&Co Staffers!

It’s #FridayReads with Albert Whitman Staffers!  Today, metadata master and sales team all-star Caity Anast talks about her current reads:

I laughed when I read Annette’s post, because I too went through a period of very little “fun-for-me” reading when my children were babies (What to Expect the First Year doesn’t count as fun).

I nodded my head as I read Wendy’s post, because although I am not keeping track of books I’ve read on Goodreads, I do have my own personal list that I have kept since high school. It started with a pamphlet my freshman year English teacher passed out called “Excellence in English: The Honors English Program, York Community High School” that listed the core and supplemental readings by grade level. (A shout out to those great English teachers at York.) I highlighted the titles as I read them, and my goal was to read all the titles in the pamphlet.

high school pamphlet

(The ACTUAL pamphlet…I still have it…)

But I reassessed that goal after picking up Moby Dick for fun. I just couldn’t get through it. I mean how many times do you have to describe the whale? I get it, it’s big. I suppose if I read it for English class and had someone to discuss it with, I would have found it more interesting. But instead, I put it down and never finished it. That was the first time I had ever done that. I always felt it was my duty to finish a book. After that, I decided I didn’t have to read every book on that list, but I could refer to it from time to time.

The latest book I am reading is a recommendation from my dad, Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia. I’m not very far along into the book, but the setting is the Bellweather Hotel where a murder-suicide happened fifteen years ago in room 712. Now the hotel is host to Statewide, a high school music festival. So far I’ve been introduced to Alice and Rabbit Hatmaker, twins who are participating in the festival, and their chaperone and teacher, Natalie, who happens to be a former student of Viola Fabian, Statewide’s chairperson and mother of Jill, the best flautist in the state. It’s received three starred reviews, so it’s bound to be good. Booklist says, “Encore, encore.”


At the same time I am listening to an audio book in the car. I find this is a great time to catch up on what my kids are reading. It’s also a great way to find out the proper pronunciation of a character’s name. I am in the middle of because of mr. terupt (tear upt, not tur upt as I thought) by Rob Buyea. It’s a great story about a fifth grade class and their new teacher. Each chapter is told from the point of view of one of seven children in the class. You’ve got your brain, outcast, loner, mean girl, prankster, fat girl, and the new girl. I honestly can’t wait to get in my car each day to see what’s going to happen next.


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920. ‘Book of Life’ Director Jorge Gutierrez: “Write Your Own Story”

Today, Reel FX's film "The Book of Life" opens in the United States, and the story of its 39-year-old director, Jorge Gutierrez, is also one worth telling.

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921. Flogometer for George—are you compelled to turn the page?

Submissions Needed. Nothing in the queue for next week. If you’d like a fresh look at your opening chapter or prologue, please email your submission to me re the directions at the bottom of this post.

The Flogometer challenge: can you craft a first page that compels me to turn to the next page? Caveat: Please keep in mind that this is entirely subjective.

Note: all the Flogometer posts are here.

What's a first page in publishingland? In a properly formatted novel manuscript (double-spaced, 1-inch margins, 12-point type, etc.) there should be about 16 or 17 lines on the first page (first pages of chapters/prologues start about 1/3 of the way down the page). Directions for submissions are below—they include a request to post the rest of the chapter, but that’s optional.

A word about the line-editing in these posts: it’s “one-pass” editing, and I don’t try to address everything, which is why I appreciate the comments from the FtQ tribe. In a paid edit, I go through each manuscript three times.

Storytelling Checklist

Before you rip into today’s submission, consider this list of 6 vital storytelling ingredients from my book, Flogging the Quill, Crafting a Novel that Sells. While it's not a requirement that all of these elements must be on the first page, they can be, and I think you have the best chance of hooking a reader if they are.

Evaluate the submission—and your own first page—in terms of whether or not it includes each of these ingredients, and how well it executes them. The one vital ingredient not listed is professional-caliber writing because that is a must for every page, a given.

  • Story questions
  • Tension (in the reader, not just the characters)
  • Voice
  • Clarity
  • Scene-setting
  • Character

George sends the first chapter of Guardians.

The City lay in darkness under a full moon and a cloudless sky. A thousand armored vehicles of the Guardians of Peoples’ Rights patrolled a city so vast that it was sectioned off into forty eight self-sustaining districts. Equal in every respect to the armored ground vehicles, a thousand drones flew above the rooftops of the high-rise apartment buildings. Together they assured the citizens a safe and peaceful slumber.

Corporal Joe Higgins sat behind the wheel of Ground Patrol Vehicle 688, District 9 (GPV688D9), trying to keep his eyes focused on the wide and deserted avenue before him. On top of the armored vehicle a camera slowly rotated 360 degrees. Accompanying its wide-angle rotating lens were three-sensor pods; one detecting sound, another heat and a third, motion. Should any of these sensors go active, the camera would stop and its lens would focus on the direction of the disturbance. Activation of any sensor also armed the machine guns mounted on a turret atop the rear compartment of the vehicle. He glanced

at the clock on the dashboard and smiled. This part of his watch was coming to an end. He neared an intersection, shifted gears and slowed his vehicle to a stop in the center. Higgins unbuckled and shifted to the passenger seat.

Sergeant Wells emerged from the rear compartment, dropped onto the driver’s seat and buckled in.

Were you compelled to turn George's first page?

Good clear writing but where’s the tension? A story question? In this opening page all is well. There’s no problem for the characters to deal with. All the world-building, while necessary in science fiction to some extent, could wait until something happens to start the story moving. As you’ll see in my notes, I think most of it should go, at least from this page. They are attacked; why not begin that on the first page? The rest of the chapter follows the break.Notes:

The City lay in darkness under a full moon and a cloudless sky. A thousand armored vehicles of the Guardians of Peoples’ Rights patrolled a city so vast that it was sectioned off into forty eight self-sustaining districts. Equal in every respect to the armored ground vehicles, a thousand drones flew above the rooftops of the high-rise apartment buildings. Together they assured the citizens a safe and peaceful slumber. Good use of shallow POV to set the scene.

Corporal Joe Higgins sat behind the wheel of Ground Patrol Vehicle 688, District 9 (GPV688D9), trying to keep his eyes focused on the wide and deserted avenue before him. On top of the armored vehicle a camera slowly rotated 360 degrees,. Accompanying its wide-angle rotating lens were three-sensor pods; one detecting sound, another heat and a third, motion.Should any of these sensors go active, the camera would stop and its lens would focus on the direction of the disturbance. Activation of any sensor also armed the machine guns were mounted on a turret atop the rear compartment of the vehicle.He glanced at the clock on the dashboard and smiled. This part of his watch was coming to an end. He neared an intersection, shifted gears and slowed his vehicle to a stop in the center. Higgins unbuckled and shifted to the passenger seat.

Sergeant Wells emerged from the rear compartment, dropped onto the driver’s seat and buckled in. I would cut most of the above—it’s detail that’s not needed now or, really, later. The sensors mentioned do come into play, but when it happens they are a natural part of the machine and don’t really need explanation or set-up, in my view. I suggest that George get to the place where they’re attacked, and do it on the first page. The world-building that takes the place of something happening can wait—get to the story.

Comments, please?

For what it’s worth.


Submitting to the Flogometer:

Email the following in an attachment (.doc, .docx, or .rtf preferred, no PDFs):

  1. your title
  2. your complete 1st chapter or prologue plus 1st chapter
  3. Please include in your email permission to post it on FtQ.
  4. Note: I’m adding a copyright notice for the writer at the end of the post. I’ll use just the first name unless I’m told I can use the full name.
  5. Also, please tell me if it’s okay to post the rest of the chapter so people can turn the page.
  6. And, optionally, include your permission to use it as an example in a book on writing craft if that's okay.
  7. If you’re in a hurry, I’ve done “private floggings,” $50 for a first chapter.
  8. If you rewrite while you wait for your turn, it’s okay with me to update the submission.

Flogging the Quill © 2014 Ray Rhamey, story © 2014 George


“Have a good nap?” greeted Higgins, stretching his arms toward the roof of the cab.

Wells smiled and reached for the thermos of coffee in the warming compartment. “Your turn now,” he said. He then shifted the vehicle into drive.

The maneuver sent Higgins off his seat and out of the cab. While he was adjusting to the red light that illuminated the rear compartment, Higgins dropped onto the operator’s chair. He logged himself in and took a quick glanced at the monitors. He only half saw the empty street and darkened buildings that were projected on the screen, or the steady green line crossing the three scopes. He stretched himself into a comfortable position, lifted his feet onto the counter top and closed his tired eyes. Four more hours and then he would have two days off. He smiled, because the next shift was the day shift. Three months of night duty cut into his social life. Higgins sighed and drifted off.

“Contact!” announced the speaker. “DPV756D45; contact at Avenue East 210, 200 block. Hovering at 1500 feet. Return!”

Higgins was a blur of action, his feet hit the floor and he was sitting upright in his chair. He blinked the sleep from his eyes and focused on the monitors. He scanned his instruments to determine his location. “DP756D45, this is GPV688D9, we are at Avenue East 214, 800 blocks and responding. Return! Wells?”

“I hear you!” Wells yelled back as he slowed the vehicle down in preparation for a maneuver.

“This is GPV360D16, we are at Avenue North 206, 100 block, responding,” came another voice over the radio.

“Wells, we got ourselves a race!”

“Strap in. We’re going to get there first,” declared Wells as he started turning the vehicle. Having completed his u-turn, Wells activated the vehicle’s turbines.

“Man oh man” Higgins said being pushed back into his seat by the acceleration. “When was the last time we caught a citizen breaking curfew?” he asked.

“Too long to remember,” answered Wells, steering the speeding vehicle through the deserted streets, its seldom used turbines reverberating through the concrete canyons of the City.

“How’s your contact 756? Return!” asked Higgins.

“Slow and steady,” came the human reply. The drone’s controls and senses were now under human control. “I read three persons. Over.”

“Right 56, we’re now in the 600 block. Over.”

“I see you. Contacts are leaving East 210 onto North 30, 900 block. Over.”

“We’re six blocks away G688, we’ll back you up,” came the voice of the operator from Ground Patrol Vehicle 533, District 16.

You can watch, Higgins murmured to a silent microphone. No need to torment them, he thought.

When GPV688D9 turned onto Avenue North 30 its sensors came alive. The camera stopped turning and all the sensors locked onto the targets two blocks away.

Wells killed the turbines.

“We have them in our sights 56, over.” informed Higgins.


The distant closed quickly. The spot light, mounted on top of the cab switched on and evaporated the darkness. Three citizens in the middle of the 900 block found themselves enveloped in white light. Blinded, the two men covered their eyes and relinquished their hold on the man between them. Free from their grasp, the man in the center dropped to the pavement. Free from their burden the two men standing bolted.

Higgins’ reaction was instantaneous and the twin machine guns burst into life. The bullets hit the concrete walls above the fleeing men, showering debris over them. The two men stopped running fifty yards from the armored vehicle that was screeching to a halt.

 “You are under arrest for breaking curfew, “ said Higgins over the loud speaker. “Any further activity on your part will only add to your infractions.”

Higgins watched the two men squinting in the direction of the patrol vehicle. He watched them looking toward each other for guidance. They had only one choice, thought Higgins, the next burst from the machine guns would be the last they would hear. The two men placed one hand in front of their eyes and approached the patrol vehicle. Higgins was disappointed. He had secretly hoped for more defiance from these citizens. Well, at least these two men offered a diversion. It did end a dull tour of duty. Higgins relaxed his observation. He failed to notice that the other hand the citizens hadn’t raised were inside their tunic. When their hands reappeared, they were holding machine pistols. They started firing at the patrol truck’s spot light as they darted away in opposite directions. The guns could only follow one person. Which one was left to Higgins to decide and he had to decide quickly because suddenly both citizens had changed direction and were attacking.

“Get those bastards,” shouted Wells, “They’re trying to shoot through the window shield. It’s working!”

Inconceivably, Higgins realized that these citizens were suicidal. The machine guns came to life, its bullets sending one attacker careening against the concrete building. Higgins turned toward the second attacker and at point blank range reduced the man to a ragged doll.

“Contact!” warned the voice controlling the drone through the fading echoes of gun fire. “We have a contact behind you.”

Higgins quickly disengaged the visual scanner from the machine guns and turned it 180 degrees and looked at an empty street. “I don’t see anything?”

“It’s there and coming right at you,” said the controller.

The gun turret whined 180 degrees. The other two scanners followed. The motion scanner reacted instantly, but the visual and heat scanners remained flat lined. Higgins stared in bewilderment. The scanners were giving him different messages. “56, I have motion but no visual or heat.”

“Same here 88,” came the answer, equally baffled.

Higgins saw it before it disappeared under the vehicle; a small canister that suddenly appeared out of thin air and dropped under the truck.

“Wells. Brace yourself!” shouted Higgins. The explosion jarred the truck and the sound was surprisingly faint.


“Whatever it was, it was too small to hurt this baby,” answered Wells. “Everything is checking out A-Okay.”

Suddenly the heat sensor began bleeping a warning and the scope began registering an increase in heat within the compartment. Higgins could feel his body heating up as the interior of the compartment temperature gauge sounding out a warning. He could feel heat penetrating the soles of his boots. He reached for the rear door handle and quickly pulled back as the hot metal burned his hand. He started to sweat. His throat was starting to dry up as he began breathing the super heated air inside the compartment. When he touched the hot console, he knew he was in trouble. “Wells scramble!” he yelled. He burned his other hand opening the rear door and dove out through the open doorway.

The drone’s controller was shouting. “Mayday! Mayday! Sector Control Eight. This is DP756D45. GPV688D9 is experiencing abnormal readings at Avenue North 30, 900 block. What the?...Correction 688 just exploded.”

“This is Control Sector Eight command. Can you get closer?”

“Negative.” answered the controller wondering who was at the other end. What could a drone do?

“This is GPV533D16. We are two blocks away and running at high speed.”

“One contact going away from the scene, going South on North 30,” informed the drone’s controller.

“What’s happening to 688?” asked Control Sector Eight commander.

“I see four bodies and a hunk of metal,” came the sober reply.

“756 guide 533 toward that contact you have going away from the scene.” instructed Control Center Watch Commander, Major Bernard Norris.

Norris following protocol had activated all transmissions between the ground vehicles, the drone, and his department to the WCRC (World Control Records Center) where it would be analyzed to determine if the incident was a local disturbance or a global threat. Norris also knew it would analyze the performances of all persons involved. He cursed his luck. This was not his watch. He was on duty as a favor to a comrade who had a heavy date, but he would be responsible for all the reports. “Damned Terrorists! Why couldn’t they wait ‘til I’m off duty?” he grumbled to no one in particular.

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922. Walking through Artist’s Alley at New York Comic Con 2014

By Nicky Wheeler-Nicholson

Attending a comic Con is one of the few events in our culture that offers the opportunity to meet favorite artists and writers. You can purchase a small or large piece of original art most of which is reasonable in price. Without the work of these talented people there would be no comics or conventions.

crowdsArtistAlley 300x300 Walking through Artists Alley at New York Comic Con 2014

Artists Alley

I spent a good bit of time this year at Artist’s Alley during New York Comic Con helping Danny Fingeroth at his table. (editor at Marvel and writer of numerous books) Thus I had a front row seat to an array of industry folks who came by to say hello.

PaulLevitzBobLayton 300x222 Walking through Artists Alley at New York Comic Con 2014

Paul Levitz stops to say hello to Bob Layton, Iron Man artist.

Bob Layton, best known for his work on Iron Man had the table next to ours and fans flocked to speak to him and get his autograph. My favorite moment was a tiny little boy of around 5 dressed as Iron Man who had his photo taken next to Bob. It was the quintessential adorable moment. Paul Levitz, past president of DC strolled by. Robin Riggs, a prolific and superb artist for both Marvel and DC sat on the other side and was also inundated with fans including small children wanting to have their photo taken with him.


BobLayton 202x300 Walking through Artists Alley at New York Comic Con 2014

Iron Man artist Bob Layton

I finally got to meet Tom DeFalco, editor at Marvel and especially noted for his writing for Spider Man. Just so you know how revered he is, a fan came up to have Danny sign a comic and nearly passed out when he realized Tom was also there.

Robert Sikoryak stopped by and it was a treat to meet him. His current work is a witty rendition of some of the classics of literature—Masterpiece Comics.

Joe D’Esposito, a wonderful artist who started his career working for Neal Adams and then ventured into painting came by and showed us his exquisitely drawn book in progress on Bernard Krigstein who wrote an EC story called “Master Race” drawn by Al Feldstein. It was fun to listen in on all the industry inside talk.

Desopositoart 300x225 Walking through Artists Alley at New York Comic Con 2014

Joe D’esposito’s draft of his graphic novel.

I was able to wander the aisles–well push my way through the throng and this is just a small sample of some of the terrific people who were showing their artwork. As far as I’m concerned this is one of the primary reasons to attend any comic con and especially in New York where so many people in the industry from the past and present live.

I ran into Alex Simmons, one of my favorite writers. Alex who has written for Archie and Scooby Doo has created an exciting hero—Blackjack, an African-American soldier of fortune whose exploits take place in Indiana Jones territory. The comics are fun and beautifully drawn.

Allen Bellman, (93 years old) who was at Timely and Marvel during the Golden Age and part of the Captain America team was across the aisle. Allen is a ball of fire and always has a snappy comeback for any situation. He’s holding forth here in classic Allen Bellman fashion explaining the facts of Super Life to a reporter from a French magazine. His wife Roz is a marvel in her own right.


AllenBellman 246x300 Walking through Artists Alley at New York Comic Con 2014

Allen Bellman, legendary artist for Captain America makes his point.

Joe Staton, an artist who drew Dick Tracy for many years and his wife Hilary were just down the alley. Joe worked for both Marvel and DC and was the artist for the super-hero E-Man among a long list of achievements. Besides being a gentleman, Joe is one of the best artists working.

JoeStaton1 278x300 Walking through Artists Alley at New York Comic Con 2014

Joe Staton and Lois Lane

It’s always a pleasure to see Dan Parent and Fernando Ruiz, graduates of the Joe Kubert School and artists for Archie Comics. I managed to get artwork from each several years ago at a Mocca event and I’ve been a fan ever since. Dan created the first openly gay character in Archie Comics, Kevin Keller.

DanParent 300x300 Walking through Artists Alley at New York Comic Con 2014

Artist Dan Parent and some of his work for Archie.


FernandoRuiz 300x300 Walking through Artists Alley at New York Comic Con 2014

Fernando Ruiz and his work

I passed by Scott Hanna, a prolific artist for DC and Marvel (are we seeing a theme here) and his gorgeous wife. I snagged a signed piece by Scott of a Batman comic several years ago when he came up to the Berkshires for a comics event and I’ve been following his work ever since.

ScottHanna 300x260 Walking through Artists Alley at New York Comic Con 2014

Scott Hanna with a glimpse of his work on Spider Man.

Gregory Benton, whose work is beautifully outside the box and is part of the exhibit Comics at Columbia: Past, Present, Future was on the scene. Gregory has an impressive resume including DC and the New York Times as well as The Village Voice and his book B+F. Word to the wise–he’s someone to watch as his career moves forward.

Gregory2 300x300 Walking through Artists Alley at New York Comic Con 2014

Gregory Benton

Ryan Dunlavey is a terrific artist I just met who has done the artwork for a marvelous book with Fred Van Lente, Action Philosophers from Dark Horse. I interviewed them and will have more to say.

RyanDunlavey 300x300 Walking through Artists Alley at New York Comic Con 2014

Ryan Dunlavey, The Action Philosophers

There were also some new to me artists that struck my fancy. My niece Super Quigs loves Mouse Guard and David Petersen’s work is exciting to see. He’s going to be illustrating a version of Wind in the Willows. All of these guys are generous, kind and super fun to talk to besides being great talents.

I always look for someone new who strikes my fancy and I discovered among others, Kristen Gudsnuk and her comic Hench Girl: The Villain with a heart of gold. I love seeing Kristen’s comics and she’s also someone to keep an eye on.

Kristencartoonist 300x300 Walking through Artists Alley at New York Comic Con 2014

Kristen Gudsnuk

Hunter Fine created Nerd Pimp and did a successful Kickstarter project to self-publish and get his graphic novel out into the world. It’s quirky and fun so keep your eyes open for its appearance.

Nerdpimp 300x300 Walking through Artists Alley at New York Comic Con 2014

Hunter Fine with his new comic Nerd Pimp.

And last but not least is Easy Pieces by Neil Dvorak who is working way outside the box. He’s a true original and that’s what it’s all about.

EasyPieces 300x300 Walking through Artists Alley at New York Comic Con 2014

Easy Pieces by Neil Dvorak

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923. Guest Post - Amber Schamel Interview

Today we're interviewing historical author Amber Schamel.
Bestselling author Amber Schamel writes riveting stories that bring HIStory to life. She has a passion for history, books and her Savior. This combination results in what her readers call "historical fiction at its finest". A homeschool graduate from a family of 12 children, Amber found her calling early in life. First published at age 21, she has continued to hone her craft. Between ministry, family and working in their family businesses, Amber loves to connect with readers. Find her on the Stitches Thru Time blog, or on any of the major social media sites. 

Amber, can you tell us about your new release, The Messiah's Sign?
Sure! Thanks so much for having me on the blog today. This book released just yesterday, so I'm so EXCITED to share it with readers.
The Messiah's Sign is the second book in the Days of Messiah series. It follows the storyline of Book One, but from the husband's point of view. Here's what it's about:
Dreams…they shouldn’t bother him, but when Tyrus’ worst nightmare is vindicated, he has no choice but to face reality. His wife has been unfaithful, and God has punished her with the most feared disease in the land: leprosy. Banishing her to the leper colony, Tyrus struggles to raise their son alone and protect him from a merciless outlaw. But when Malon begins following the teacher from Nazareth, what remains of their business and reputation is at stake. Can Tyrus save his son from the beguiling lies of a false Messiah before he loses the only thing he has left?

What sparked this story?
Book one started as a short story, but a lot of people told me I should expand it. I picked up the story and began thinking about what the entire story would be like, and that's when the Lord drew back the curtain to show me not only Aaliyah's story at the leper colony, but also the story of her husband and son. Tyrus—as the heartless husband that banishes Aaliyah to the leper colony—is the villain of book one, so I wanted to show readers his side of the story.

What do you want readers to take away from The Messiah's Sign?
As hard as you try, you will never be sufficient on your own. It takes Christ working in you.
For those that have read volume one, I want them to realize that you cannot hate someone until you de-humanize them. The villain of book one becomes the hero of book two, and we see the motivations behind his 'heartless' acts. In truth, Tyrus was doing the best he could. If we can empathize with people in our lives, it will go a LONG way in keeping the roots of bitterness at bay.

What are you working on next?
I am finishing up a really fun series with three other historical authors on the signers of the Declaration of Independence.
I'm also setting to work on a Christmas story set during the Civil War entitled The Christmas Pardon.
In the aftermath of the Civil War, a young lawyer battles with the U.S. Supreme court. In what seemed to be a Christmas miracle, he had secured a pardon for his friend from Lincoln himself. The army executed the boy anyway. On the fifteenth anniversary of his death, will the lawyer finally clear his friends name and bring justice to his memory?

 I'm running a giveaway for a fan to pick the name of my two main characters! You can enter the giveaway here: http://www.amberschamel.com/contests.html

Thank you for joining us today, Amber.
Thank you for hosting me! It's been a pleasure. I'd like to invite each of you to join me in celebrating my new release on my Facebook Launch party tonight! We'll have trivia, giveaways, behind the scenes tidbits and TONS of fun. Join us tonight at 6pm mountain time! https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAmberSchamel

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924. The Kubert School is having a open house tomorrow

kubert school open house The Kubert School is having a open house tomorrow

The longest running stand alone school to teach cartoonist is having an open house tomorrow from 1-4. Prospective students will meet faculty and get a tour.

Open houses at The Kubert School are a great way to learn about the school and program. Any prospective student and their family is welcome to attend. A tour of the school, teacher demonstrations, and meetings with our faculty are a part of the Open House experience. Scheduling a time is not necessary.

Founded by the great Joe Kubert, the school is currently run by his family, including Andy and Adam Kubert. Grads include Amanda Connor, Shane Davis, Skot Collins, and many more.


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925. ‘Deadline’ Joins iBooks Bestsellers List

DeadlineJohn Sandford’s new thriller novel, Deadline, has joined Apple’s Top Paid iBooks in the U.S. this week at No. 3.

Apple has released its top selling books list for paid books from iBooks in the U.S. for week ending October 13, 2014. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan are occupying the top two spots on the list this week.

We’ve included Apple’s entire list after the jump. (more…)

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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