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901. Three Months of Book Giveaways! Four Enchanting Tales from Wisdom Tales Press!

 Wisdom Tale Press Giveaway

With the winter months upon us, I feel this is a great time for readers of all ages to snuggle in with a good book. I have been blessed with tons of amazing books titles for kids over these last few months and I want to get these books into the hands of young readers. SO, for the next three months Jump Into a Book will be hosting a book giveaway every Wednesday! Some giveaways will be a single title, some will be a “Book Bundle,” but all will be books that your readers will love and cherish. I think these books will also make great gifts as well! Here’s what we are giving away this week (NOTE: All of these books are physical books, not Kindle versions).

This week I am giving away some wonderful books courtesy of Wisdom Tales Press! As you may already know, I a huge fan of Wisdom Tales and their high-quality multicultural books for kids. Wisdom Tales is also one of our Platinum Sponsors for Multicultural Children’s Book Day and I couldn’t be more grateful. They were also kind enough to supply me with FOUR gorgeous books to giveaway this week! Good luck!

The Olive Tree by Elsa Marston and Illustrated by Claire Ewart
The Olive Tree
Read my book review of this wonderful book (with activities!) HERE.
The Dreidel That Wouldn’t Spin: A Toyshop Tale of Hanukkah by Martha Seif Simpson and Illustrated by Durga Yael Bernhard
“This dreidel doesn’t work!” the father had cried. “What do you mean? How can a dreidel not work?” the shopkeeper asked. It was certainly the most beautiful spinning top the shopkeeper had ever seen, with magical golden letters on its sides. But it just would not spin for two spoiled children who insisted on owning it! Later, the shopkeeper decides to try it one last time: would it spin for another child, one who carried the true spirit of Hanukkah in his heart?
Horse raid by Paul Goble
Read my book review with companion activities HERE.
The Pandas and Their Chopsticks
Eating bamboo shoots with chopsticks three feet long? Impossible, you say. Not if you are a playful panda and learn to share and work together with your friends! In her beautifully illustrated new book, award-winning author, Demi, presents ten classic animal stories, each containing important moral lessons for little hearts and minds to absorb. Cunning kitties, helpful hummingbirds, talkative turtles, and hasty hedgehogs, all bring these meaningful fables to life. Through her magical illustrations and whimsical storytelling, Demi teaches the importance of being humble, the dangers of being too proud, the importance of generosity and sharing, and how everyone, no matter how small, has a part to play in life.


  • ONE winner each receive a one copy of all three books. Giveaway begins December 10th and ends December 17th, 2014
  • Prizing & samples courtesy of Audrey Press
  • Giveaway open to US addresses only
  • ONE lucky winner will win one copy of each book listed above.
  • Residents of USA only please.
  • Must be 18 years or older to enter.
  • One entry per household.
  • Staff and family members of Audrey Press are not eligible.
  • Grand Prize winner has 48 hours to claim prize.
  • Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on December 18th


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The post Three Months of Book Giveaways! Four Enchanting Tales from Wisdom Tales Press! appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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902. Rameau's Nephew review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Denis Diderot's dialogue, Rameau's Nephew.
       This was first published in 1805, in the German translation by Goethe, which sounds like a pretty good recommendation.

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903. Shooting at the Stars: the Christmas Truce of 1914 by John Hendrix

Shooting at the Stars: The Christmas Truce of 1914 is the newest book from a longtime favorite of mine, John Hendrix, and the second that Hendrix illustrated and authored himself. Commemorating the 100th anniversary of World War I, Herndrix turns his thoughtful eye to a humane moment in the midst of an inhumane period of history, telling the story of the incredible Christmas Truce between

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904. Walking and Talking with . . . Gene Luen Yang!

Author and artist Steve Sheinkin continues his marvelous “Walking and Talking” series with us today. The subject? Gene Luen Yang, who draws connections between immigration and superheroes in ways I’ve never really ever considered before. Enjoy!

Gene1color copy Walking and Talking with . . . Gene Luen Yang!

Gene2color copy Walking and Talking with . . . Gene Luen Yang!

Previous editions of this series include:

share save 171 16 Walking and Talking with . . . Gene Luen Yang!

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905. Candy Cane Apple (again!)

 Here's a blast from the past. Do you remember this candy cane apple from a few years back? I still like to make these at Christmas time for my kids.

Just wash a red apple.....

Cut up several strips...

Slice into equal parts....

Just arrange!

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906. Christmas crime films

In order to spread some festive cheer, Blackstone’s Policing has compiled a watchlist of some of the best criminal Christmas films. From a child inadvertently left home alone to a cop with a vested interest, and from a vigilante superhero to a degenerate pair of blaggers, it seems that (in Hollywood at least) there’s something about this time of year that calls for a special kind of policing. So let’s take a look at some of Tinseltown’s most arresting Christmas films:

1. Die Hard, directed by John McTiernan, 1988

Considered by many to be one of the greatest action/Christmas films of all time, Die Hard remains the definitive cinematic alternative to the usual saccharine cookie-cut Christmas film offering. This is the infinitely watchable story of officer John McClane’s Christmas from hell. When a trip to win back his estranged wife  goes awry and he unwittingly finds himself amidst an international terrorist plot, he must find a way to save the day armed only with a few guns, a walkie talkie, and a bloodied vest. With firefights and exploding fairy lights abundant, this Bruce Willis tour de force is the undisputed paragon of policing in Christmas films.

2. Home Alone, directed by Chris Columbus, 1990

In a parental blunder tantamount to criminal neglect, the McCallister family accidentally leave their youngest member, Kevin (played by precocious child star Macaulay Culkin), ‘home alone’ to fend for himself over Christmas as two omnishambolic burglars target the McCallister household. As the Chicago Police Department work through the confusion of the situation, Kevin traverses his way through a far from silent night. Cue copious booby traps and slapstick as the imagination of an eight-year-old boy ingeniously holds the line in this family-fun classic.

3. Batman Returns, directed by Tim Burton, 1992

Gotham is a city perennially infested with arch-criminals whose seemingly endless financial resources demand that they be tackled head-on by a force who can match them pound-for-pound (or dollar-for-dollar, if you prefer). Enter Gotham’s very own Christmas miracle: billionaire Bruce Wayne and his vigilante alter ego Batman (Michael Keaton), who provides a singular justice-hungry scourge against the criminal underworld. As the Penguin (Danny DeVito) hatches a nefarious plot which threatens the city, Batman’s wholly goodwill must prove resilient. Though director Tim Burton went on to make The Nightmare Before Christmas the following year, Batman Returns itself is hardly a Christmas classic.

4. Lethal Weapon, directed by Richard Donner, 1987

Ward Bond (1903-1960) as Bert, the cop in It's a Wonderful Life (1946) by Insomnia Cured Here. CC-BY-2.0 via Flickr.
Ward Bond (1903-1960) as Bert the cop in It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) by Insomnia Cured Here. CC-BY-2.0 via Flickr.

With a blizzard of bullets and completely bereft of snow, LA-based Lethal Weapon lacks nearly all the usual trimmings of a Christmas film. Seasoned detective Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) is close to retirement when he’s paired with the young (and morose) Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) to tackle a drug smuggling gang. As their stormy investigation progresses, Murtaugh and Riggs’ unlikely union flourishes into a double-act worthy of Donner and Blitzen (and, judging by the pair’s return in a subsequent three installments of the series, their entertaining policing partnership always leaves audiences wanting myrrh…).

5. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, directed by Jeremiah Chechik, 1989

In this third installment of the Griswold family’s catastrophic holidays, Clark (Chevy Chase) navigates his way through the perils of yet another disastrous calamity, but at least this time he has his Christmas bonus to look forward to. Things take a bizarre turn for the criminal when the bonus isn’t forthcoming, resulting in a myriad of mishaps of Christmas paraphernalia and SWAT teams. As the tagline for the film attests, ‘Yule crack up!’

6. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, directed by Shane Black, 2005

Petty thief Harry Lockhart (Robert Downey Jr.) finds himself embroiled in a series of increasingly byzantine cases of mistaken identity as both a method actor and criminal investigator. Reality cuts through when Harry is shepherded into a murder investigation involving the sister of his childhood crush, Harmony Lane (Michelle Monaghan). Perhaps one of the less christmassy films on this list, there are definitely still a few seasonal signs parceled  in to this murder/mystery thriller.

“There’s something about this time of year that calls for a special kind of policing”

7. Miracle on 34th Street, directed by George Seaton, 1947

Arguably the ultimate Christmas film, Miracle on 34th Street is the classic tale of the legal battle around the sanity and freedom of a man who claims to be the real Santa Claus. This original film won three Academy Awards including Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Edmund Gwenn’s portrayal of Kris Kringle (‘the real Santa Claus’). Despite being remade in 1994 and adapted into various other forms, the 1947 version remains the quintessential Christmas film which no comprehensive watchlist could be without.

8. Bad Santa, directed by Terry Zwigoff, 2003

Dastardly duo Willie (Billy Bob Thornton) and Marcus (Tony Cox) make their criminal living by posing as Santa and his Little Helper for department stores, and then opportunistically stealing as much as they can. As the security team for their latest blag hunts them down, Willie meets a boy determined that he is the real Santa and the race is on for the degenerate pair to reform their lifestyles before they are stuffed.

What would would you add to this list? Tell us your favourite policing Christmas film in the comments section below or let us know directly on Twitter. Merry Christmas everyone!

Headline image credit: [365 Toy Project: 019/365] Batman: Scarlet Part 1. CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0 via Flickr.

The post Christmas crime films appeared first on OUPblog.

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907. Spotlight and Giveaway: A Christmas Melody by Roberta Capizzi

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Valerie and Ryan have been living the American dream in Boston for more than ten years. Best friends since adolescence, their feelings changed when Ryan nearly lost his life. Now they’re engaged and can’t wait to break the news to their families and get married.

Valerie has been dreaming of getting married on Christmas Eve since she was a child, and a Christmas wedding back home in Dublin seems like a very romantic way of celebrating the most important day of their lives.

Back on home soil Valerie and Ryan are surrounded by the love of their families and things start to change as homesickness creeps into their hearts. Can seven days erase a decade of hard work and life-long dreams? Or is it only a little nostalgia caused by the festive season?

Doubts fill their minds as they start questioning their choices, until an unexpected complication, only days before the wedding, makes Valerie and Ryan realize it’s time they decided where they really belong.

A sweet Christmas romance that will warm your heart this yuletide season and all year long, A Christmas Melody is a novella and a short sequel to The Melody In Our Hearts, but can also be read as a standalone.

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A Christmas Melody Playlist

An avid reader since her childhood years and being an only child, Roberta always enjoyed the company of her fictional friends from the children’s books she loved reading, while she dreamed of writing her own stories one day.

It was when she discovered novels by authors Rosamunde Pilcher and Maeve Binchy in her teenage years that she realized it was time she put down in words the stories she had kept well hidden in her mind until then.

What started as a hobby, soon turned into a real passion and a way of life, until she could no longer keep the stories to herself, and decided to get over her fears and share them with the world.

Roberta lives in Italy, but her dream is to move out of her country and live either in a thatched cottage in the Irish countryside or in a country house with a swing on the back porch, somewhere in the United States, where she would love to spend her days writing novels as a full-time job, and maybe one day even get as far as writing a screenplay for a movie.


The post Spotlight and Giveaway: A Christmas Melody by Roberta Capizzi appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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....and the Runner Up is .....

I have been busy making my annual Christmas Card in between everything else! This little fella was pipped at the post. I don't think he looks too happy about it!

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909. Human Rights Day: abolishing the death penalty

Every year, on December 10, UN Human Rights Day commemorates the day in 1948 on which the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Although the Declaration itself said nothing about the death penalty, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) that incorporated its values in 1966 made it clear in Article 6(6) that ‘nothing … should be invoked to delay or to prevent the abolition of capital punishment by any State Party to the … Covenant,’ which now has been ratified by all but a handful of nations.

Today, we pause to consider the considerable changes that have taken place in the use of capital punishment around the world over the past quarter of a century, changes which have shifted our pessimism – believing that in many regions of the world there was little hope of worldwide abolition occurring soon – towards increasing optimism. Since the end of 1988, the number of actively retentionist countries (by which we mean countries that have carried out judicial executions in the past 10 years) has declined from 101 to 39, while the number that has completely abolished the death penalty has almost trebled from 35 to 99; a further seven are abolitionist for all ordinary crimes and 33 are regarded as abolitionist in practice: 139 in all. In 2013 only 22 countries were known to have carried out an execution and the number that regularly executes a substantial number of its citizens has dwindled. Only seven nations executed an average of 20 people or more over the five year period from 2009 to 2013: China (by far the largest number), Iran (the highest per head of population), Iraq, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, the United States, and Yemen. The change has been truly remarkable. Indeed, we have witnessed and recorded a revolution in the discourse on and practice of capital punishment since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

We have witnessed and recorded a revolution in the discourse on and practice of capital punishment since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

This year’s Human Rights Day slogan – Human Rights 365 – encompasses the idea that every day is Human Rights Day. It celebrates the fundamental proposition in the Universal Declaration that each one of us, everywhere, at all times is entitled to the full range of human rights, that human rights belong equally to each of us and bind us together as a global community with the same ideals and values. What better day then to reflect on the dynamo for this new wave of abolition – the development of international human rights law and norms.

Arising in the aftermath of the Second World War and linked to the emergence of countries from totalitarian imperialism and colonialism, the acceptance of international human rights principles transformed consideration of capital punishment from an issue to be decided solely or mainly as an aspect of national criminal justice policy to the status of a fundamental violation of human rights: not only the right to not to be arbitrarily deprived of life but the right to be free from cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishment or treatment. The idea that each nation has the sovereign right to retain the death penalty as a repressive tool of its domestic criminal justice system on the grounds of its purported deterrent utility or the cultural preferences and expectations of its citizens was being replaced by a growing acceptance that countries that retain the death penalty – however they administer it – inevitably violate universally accepted human rights.

A prison cell in Kilmainham Gaol. Photo by  Aapo Haapanen. CC BY 2.0 via Flickr.
A prison cell in Kilmainham Gaol. Photo by Aapo Haapanen. CC BY 2.0 via Flickr.

The human rights dynamic has not only resulted in fewer countries retaining the death penalty on their books, but also in the declining use of the ultimate penalty in many of those countries. Since the introduction of Safeguards Guaranteeing Protection of the Rights of those Facing the Death Penalty, which were first promulgated by the UN Economic and Social Council resolution 1984/50 and adopted by the General Assembly 30 years ago, there have been attempts to progressively restrict the use of capital punishment to the most heinous offences and the most culpable offenders and various measures to try to ensure that the death penalty is only applied where and when defendants have had access to a fair and safe criminal process. Hence, in many retentionist countries juveniles, the mentally ill, and the learning disabled are exempt from capital punishment, and some countries restrict the death penalty to culpable homicide.

There has been some strong resistance to the political movement to force change ever since the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1989. Attempts by the abolitionist nations at United Nations Congresses, in the General Assembly, beginning in 1994, and at the Commission on Human Rights, annually from 1997, to press for a resolution calling for a moratorium on the imposition of death sentences and executions met with hostility from many of the retentionist nations. By 2005, when an attempt had been made at the Commission on Human Rights to secure sufficient support to bring such a resolution before the United Nations, it had been opposed by 66 countries on the grounds that there was no international consensus that capital punishment should be abolished. Since then, as the resolution has been successfully brought before the General Assembly, the opposition has weakened as each subsequent vote was taken in 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2012, when 111 countries (60 per cent) voted in favour and 41 against. Just three weeks ago, 114 of the UN’s 193 member states voted in favour of the resolution which will go before the General Assembly Plenary for final adoption this month. The notion behind Human Rights 365 – that we are a part of a global community of shared values – is reflected in this increasing support for a worldwide moratorium as a further step towards worldwide abolition. We encourage all those who believe in human rights to continue working towards this ideal.

Headline image credit: Sparrow on barbed wire. Photo by See-ming Lee. CC BY 2.0 via seeminglee Flickr.

The post Human Rights Day: abolishing the death penalty appeared first on OUPblog.

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910. Guest Post and Giveaway: Jennifer Chance, Author of Want It

Please welcome Jennifer Chance back to the virtual offices this morning! She’s here to share some info about Zander, the hero of her latest release WANT IT. 

Zander’s top five nom-nom-nominations for comfort foods

Julie, hello—I hope you are ready for Christmas already! ? Thanks for being a part of the tour!

Many of us are still recovering from the culinary masterpiece that was Thanksgiving and gearing up for the awesome that is Christmas. So when faced with the question of best-ever comfort foods, how could we possibly decide?

Fortunately, Zander James, Army Ranger, is up to the task. Serving your country can really work up an appetite in a guy, so Zander definitely has some ideas on go-to comfort foods.

1. Mac N’ Cheese

Zander’s rockin’ it old school with this option, but don’t tell his mom: He actually prefers Kraft® Macaroni-N-Cheese to her standard Mac n’ Cheese casserole. There’s just something about the stay-bright yellow coloring, tiny curved pasta tubes, and amazing powdered cheese goodness that takes you all the way back to being eight years old. Zander prefers to eat his Mac-N-Cheese with a dollop of ketchup. . . even thought that’s clearly disgusting. You gotta go with barbecue sauce.

2. Picnic Food

Like most moms faced with a houseful of kids on a summer day, Zander’s mother knew how to throw one heck of a barbecue. Zander grew up loving all the very best picnic foods: hamburgers, hot dogs, cole slaw, baked beans, barbecue pork, and every chip and dip combination imaginable. But the best part of those get togethers? The lemonade—a high-sugar homemade drink that was even better than the kind you get at street fairs. Zander just needs one sip of that lemonade to take him all the way back home.

3. Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

Winters in Boston can get pretty cold, but there’s no chill that a bowl of hot tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich can’t chase away. Zander was never picky on his soup—if it looked like tomato and tasted like tomato, he was happy enough, and was never inclined to experiment. The grilled cheese sandwich, however, was a moveable feast. As a kid, you had to go with sliced American cheese on white bread. But now, as a discerning adult, Zander is up for any cheese and bread combination, from cheddar to provolone to swiss—on top of whole wheat, sourdough, or crusty French bread. He’s still waiting to find a combination he doesn’t like!

4. Texas Sheet Cake

Imagine an inch-tall chocolate cake, covered with a layer of sweet chocolate icing and sprinkled with nuts, and imagine it all baked in a cake pan the size of Texas… you pretty much have Texas sheet cake. The beauty of this cake is that it tastes even better the next day, and because it is so short, you can cut off just a square every time you pass through the kitchen. When Texas sheet cake was in the house, Zander and his friends found lots of reasons to pass through the kitchen in the James’s residence!

5. Well… it used to be Mexican.

Tacos, nachos, chips and salsa, huevos rancheros, refried or charro beans, enchiladas, burritos… there is so much win in Mexican food, that Zander never imagined that his taste for the fiesta would die. However, that was before he spent three nerve-wracking days in a Mexican border town with a very stubborn ex-girlfriend who was determined to save her parents from some very bad people who’ve done some very bad things. Combine all of that with a few too many tortilla chips, and anyone would start to think “no mas”. Zander can only hope Erin’s next life-or-death problem doesn’t take them to Italy. Mmmmm, Italian food. . .

And that’s Zander’s list! Of the above, I confess that MOST of these are my favorites as well, as an author, but one of them I could leave behind quite easily. Still, especially during the holidays, comfort foods seem to be the bane of my existence . . . no wonder so many New Year’s Resolutions center around losing weight!

Want It
Rule Breakers # 3

By: Jennifer Chance

Releasing December 9th, 2014



In the latest tantalizing Rule Breakers novel from Jennifer Chance, an irresistible alpha male follows his ex into a deadly standoff—and reignites a heated affair.

For Erin Connelly, being a good girl isn’t such a bad thing. She’s working her dream job at a Boston art gallery and staying out of trouble, which is more than she can say for her deadbeat mom. Unfortunately, her mother’s latest misadventure lands her in the clutches of a Mexican drug lord. Now the only person who can save her is the one man Erin has no business asking for help: the sexy-as-sin army ranger who just so happens to be her former high school sweetheart.

Zander James is no gentleman—and no officer, either, thanks to Erin. Four years ago, she made a call that terminated his highest aspirations . . . and their relationship. He’s never forgiven her, but when he learns that Erin’s embarking on a half-baked rescue mission, he sure as hell can’t let her go alone. Now, with a treacherous enemy lying in wait, the electrifying tension between them may just be Zander’s undoing. Because while he may be able to keep Erin alive, he can’t promise to keep his hands off her.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/09/want-it-rule-breakers-3-by-jennifer.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22676320-want-it?from_search=true

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes | iTunes | Kobo

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Want-Rule-Breakers-Jennifer-Chance-ebook/dp/B00KAFVO64/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1411406218&sr=1-1&keywords=Want+It+%28Rule+Breakers%29

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/want-it-jennifer-chance/1119471244?ean=9780553392272

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/want-it/id914361097?mt=11

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/want-it

Author Info

Jennifer Chance is the award-winning author of the new adult Rule Breakers series. A lover of books, romance, and happily-ever-afters, she lives and writes in Ohio.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Website: http://www.jenniferchance.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/authorJenniferChance
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Jenn_Chance
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7303154.Jennifer_Chance

Rafflecopter Giveaway ($25.00 eGift Card to Choice Book Seller and Loveswept Mug/Tote)

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The post Guest Post and Giveaway: Jennifer Chance, Author of Want It appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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911. Tenth day of Advent - Ornaments

Tenth day of Advent

Tonight we put up the Christmas tree and brought out the boxes of decorations, waking them from their year-long slumber.  For the tenth day of Advent here is a tiny detail from  "Grandmothers Tree", a story about just such an evening.

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912. ‘Wurst’ by Carlo Vogele

Featuring organic, grassfed, local meat from San Francisco butcheries... Read the rest of this post

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913. Santiago Stays

Review by Ariadna Sánchez

Santiago Stays is the latest book of award-winning author and illustrator Angela Dominguez. Dominguez’s story is charming, delicate, and easy to read. Her narrative is about a young boy who tries to play with his French bulldog Santiago. The boy offers Santiago diverse colorful options like playing with a toy, going for a walk, and even eating a hamburger to captivate his attention. What the boy didn’t know is that Santiago had a very important job to do that’s why he could not play with him. When the boy lost control and became loud, her little sister woke up with a cry. As soon as she saw Santiago, she smiled. The boy now realized why nothing made Santiago looses his post. “Good Boy, Santiago” the boy exclaimed.

With engaging and simple text, young readers and listeners enthrall in the artwork illustrations created in pencil, ink, marker, and tissue paper.

Santiago Stays is a highly recommended book especially for pet lovers and families who enjoy great stories. Reading gives you wings! Visit your local library to emerge in the fascinating world of books.

To read more about Angela Dominguez please check the following links:

<!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-US JA X-NONE <![endif]-->

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914. Favorite Funny Books

Funny Books FiestaScholastic wants to know . . . What are your favorite funny books?

Scholastic just completed a national survey of children aged 6–17 to study their “attitudes and behaviors around reading books for fun.” According to 70% of kids aged 6–17, books that “make me laugh” rank highest on the list across all ages.

Here at the STACKS, we already know you love funny books, but we want to know which funny book is your favorite and why?

Please tell us in the Comments! And if you are among the 30% of kids who did not pick funny books as your favorite, tell us what is YOUR favorite kind of book to read for fun?


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915. IF: Light

Candle light.

Vector presets

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916. Why are structural reforms so difficult?

In times of economic crisis, politicians and analysts alike are typically quick to call for structural reforms to stimulate economic growth. Job security regulations are often identified as a policy area in need of such reforms. These regulations restrict the managerial capacity to dismiss employees to allow for downsizing or to replace workers and use new forms of employment such as fixed-term contracts when hiring new workers. Mainstream economics typically blames such regulations for the sclerosis of European labour markets, in particular in southern Europe. But so far, European countries have mostly failed to reform dismissal protection – despite the economic crisis and pressure from international organizations. Why are these regulations so difficult to reform (i.e. dismantle)?

The easy answer is, of course, that some powerful groups, in particular trade unions, oppose these reforms. However, opposition to reform is costly, and unions have been under massive political pressure in recent years to assent to such structural reforms. Why are unions so adamantly opposed to structural reforms and in particular the reduction of dismissal protection in case of open-ended contracts? What is so special about these regulations?

Job security regulations are more important to trade unions than one might think at first sight. In fact, trade unions have at least three reasons to fight the reform of dismissal protection in case of open-ended contracts. The first reason is rather straightforward: unions need to represent their members’ interest in statutory dismissal protection. The two other reasons, however, are often overlooked: unions have an organizational interest in retaining dismissal protection because these regulations prevent employers hostile to trade unions from singling out union members in workforce reductions. Put differently, protection against arbitrary dismissal also involves the protection of the local union organization against anti-union employers. In addition, unions have an interest in protecting their involvement in the administration of dismissals because this involvement allows them to influence management decisions at the company level. In many countries, job security regulations give trade unions important co-decision rights in case of dismissals (e.g. Swedish regulations award unions the right to co-decide the selection of workers in case of dismissals for economic reasons). Put simply, job security regulations often make unions relevant actors in the workplace.

The Apprentice: you’re fired? by Adam Foster. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 via flickr

Of course, these three reasons don’t have the same weight in all European countries. For instance, the fear of employers hostile to unions is probably more important in southern European countries characterized by conflictual industrial relations (in most of these countries, employers were not required to recognize local union representations before the 1970s), while the involvement in the administration of dismissals is particularly important in countries characterized by long traditions of cooperative industrial relations (e.g. Germany and Sweden). Everywhere though, unions have sufficient reason to fight any reform of dismissal protection.

Facing such union resistance, governments have typically resorted to the deregulation of temporary employment. Unions have been more accepting of such two-tier reforms because temporarily employed workers are underrepresented among the union rank-and-file and because in the case of temporary employment unions have no organizational interests to defend. The deregulation of temporary employment (while the protection awarded to workers on open-ended contracts has remained more or less constant) has become a prominent example of so-called dualization processes, which are characterized by a differential treatment of workers in standard employment relationships (‘insiders’) and workers in more precarious employment relationships (‘outsiders’). Arguably, in some countries like Italy, the share of workers benefitting from (overly?) strict dismissal protection is now lower than the share of workers benefitting from hardly any dismissal protection at all.

So where are we standing after about three decades of calls for structural reforms such as the deregulation of job security? The three aforementioned reasons for unions to oppose the reform of dismissal protection in case of open-ended contracts are still there. The average union member still benefits from these regulations, unions continue to be worried about employers taking advantage of collective dismissals to rid themselves of unionized workers, and the institutional involvement in the administration of dismissals continues to be an important source of union power – in particular in times of dwindling membership.

Today, however, unions have a fourth reason to oppose structural reforms. For three decades they have reluctantly assented to two-tier reforms only to be confronted with further calls for numerical flexibility. By now there are as many workers on precarious contracts as there are workers on regular open-ended contracts – in particular in the countries that are said to be in greatest need of structural reforms. Nevertheless, calls for reform focus almost exclusively on dismissal protection of workers on open-ended contracts rather than on measures to improve the lot of the disadvantaged young, women, or elderly on precarious contracts. You don’t have to be a radical Italian trade unionist to find this one-sidedness a little bit odd.

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917. Manhunt, by Kate Messner | Book Review

Manhunt, by Kate Messner, will appeal to middle grade readers who enjoy solving mysteries and who like learning about other countries as well as famous artists and pieces of art.

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918. 'Tis the season to calendar the book conferences to attend in 2015!

Ho Ho Ho!...'Tis the season to start planning for upcoming book conferences in 2015.  The early bird gets the worm, or at least the possibility for cheaper flights and hotels, therefore scroll through the list below of many domestic and international book conferences taking place in the new year. 

Happy Conferences!

United States

Wizard World New Orleans Comic Con
Where: New Orleans, La.
When: JANUARY 9-10-11, 2015

Digital Book World Conference & Expo
Where: New York, N.Y.
When: Jan. 13–15, 2015
Web site:

Wizard World Portland Comic-Con
Where: Portland, Ore.
When: Jan. 23–26; 2015

American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting
Where: Chicago, IL
When: Jan. 30th – Feb. 3rd2015

Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators
Where: NY, NY
When: Feb. 6-8, 2015

San Francisco Writers Conference
Where: San Francisco
When: February 12-15, 2015

West Coast Writers Conference – The Big Story
Where: Van Nuys, Calif.
When: February 20-22, 2015

Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP)
Where: Minneapolis
When: April 8 - 11, 2015

SleuthFest 2015
Where: Orlando, Fla.
When: Feb. 26–Mar. 1, 2015
Web site: http://sleuthfest.com

Wizard World Sacramento Comic Con
Where: Sacramento, Calif.
When: JUNE 19-20-21, 2015

South By Southwest
Where: Austin, Texas
When: Mar. 13–17, 2015
Web site: sxsw.com/

Where: San Antonio, Texas
When: March 13 - 14, 2015

Unicorn Writers Conference
Where: Portland, Conn.
When: Mar. 14, 2015

Where: Charleston, S.C.
When: March 22-24, 2015

WonderCon Anaheim
Where: Anaheim, Calif.
When: April 3, 4, and 5, 2015
Idaho Writers & Readers Rendezvous
Where: Boise, Idaho
When: May 14-16, 2015
BookExpo America (BEA)
Where: New York, N.Y
When: May 27–May 29, 2015

uPublishU at BEA
Where: New York, N.Y
When: May 30, 2015

ALA Annual Conference
Where: Las Vegas, Nev.
When: June 26–July 1, 2015
Web site: ala14.ala.org/

ThrillerFest IX
Where: New York, N.Y.
When: July 7–11, 2015

Comic-Con International: San Diego
Where: San Diego, Calif.
When: July 9–12, 2015

Where: Atlanta, Ga.
When: September 4 – September 7th, 2015


Montreal Book Fair
Where: Montreal, Canada
When: Nov. 19–24, 2014

Québec International Book Fair
Where: Québec City, Canada
When: Apr. 8–12, 2015

Ontario Writers’ Conference
Where: Ontario, Canada
When: April 24th-25th , 2015


Angoulême International Comics Festival
Where: Angoulême, France
When: Jan. 29–Feb. 1, 2015

Cairo International Book Fair,
Where: Cairo, Egypt
When: January - February 2015

Kolkata Book Fair
Where: Kolkata, India
When: January 28 –February 8, 2015

Jerusalem International Book Fair,
Where: Jerusalem, Israel
When: February 8-12, 2015

Taipei International Book Exhibition (TIBE),
Where: Taipei, Taiwan
When: February 11-16,  2015

2014 San Miguel Writers Conference
Where: San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
When: Feb. 11–15, 2015

New Delhi World Book Fair
Where: New Delhi, India
When: Feb. 14–22, 2015

Vilnius Book Fair
Where: Vilnius, Lithuania
When: Feb. 19–22

Brussels Book Fair
Where: Brussels, Belgium
When: Feb. 26- MARCH 2, 2015
Web site: flb.be/

Dublin Book Festival
Where: Dublin, Ireland
When: Mar. 4-6, 2015

Leipzig Book Fair
Where: Leipzig, Germany
When: Mar. 12–15, 2015

Paris Book Fair (Salon du Livre)
Where: Paris, France
When: Mar. 20–23, 2015

Bologna Children’s Book Fair
Where: Bologna, Italy
When: Mar. 30–April 2, 2015

London Book Fair
Where: London, England
When: Apr. 14–16, 2015

St. Petersburg International Book Salon
Where: St. Petersburg, Russia
When: Apr. 23–26, 2015

Buenos Aires International Book Fair
Where: Buenos Aires, Argentina
When: Apr. 23–May 11, 2015

Budapest International Book Festival
Where: Budapest, Hungary
When: Apr. 24–27

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919. Jami Gold’s Writing Worksheets

Jami Picture 200 x 300Yvonne Ventresca (Pandemic author) sent me a note pointing out all the wonderful writing worksheets on Jami Gold’s Blog. I wanted to make sure I pointed out all the helpful information you can find, download, and use on her site.

Last week we talked about the Seven Point Story Structure System. You can find worksheets for other story structure systems to use on Jami’s site, too.

I particularly like the one below because you can use to see if each scene in your manuscript has what it takes when you revise.

Here is Jami Gold’s Elements of a Good Scene Worksheet from her blog:

jamigold elements of a scene

Use this link to download and print the spreadsheet out to use: http://jamigold.com/for-writers/worksheets-for-writers/ – Check it out!

Jami also does workshops:

Full Beat Sheet Basics OnDemand Workshop Information:

Beat sheets, long used by movie scriptwriters, can also help us create strong stories for our novels.
Don’t know what beat sheets are or how to use them?
Do you write by the seat of your pants and don’t want to plan your story in advance?

Never fear—learn the terminology, uses, and ways to adapt beat sheets to our writing methods. At the end of this class, students will have an overview of story structure and beat sheets:

  • Introduction to story arcs
  • Introduction to beats and terminology
  • Digging deeper to avoid formulaic clichés
  • Using beat sheets to find unnecessary scenes and pacing issues
  • How those who write by the seat of their pants can use beat sheets too

Click here for more information about Jami Gold’s Beat Sheet Basics OnDemand Workshop

A little bit about Jami: After escaping the corporate asylum by leaving a clone in her place, Jami Gold moved to Arizona and decided to become a writer, where she could put her talent for making up stuff to good use. Fortunately, her muse, an arrogant male who delights in causing her to sound as insane as possible, rewards her with unique and rich story ideas. Fueled by chocolate, she writes paranormal romance and urban fantasy tales that range from dark to humorous, but one thing remains the same: Normal need not apply. Just ask her family—and zombie cat.

Thank you Jami for sharing this with all of us.

Talk tomorrow,



Filed under: Advice, Courses, How to, opportunity, reference, writing Tagged: Downloadable Writing Worksheets, Forms, Jami Gold, Yvonne Ventresca

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920. Arno Schmidt in paperback at Amazon

       My own recent little Literary Saloon dialogue, Arno Schmidt: a centennial colloquy is now available in paperback from Amazon, too (US and UK, along with most of the others).
       It's also available on Kindle, or, from Lulu, in either ePub or paperback. Availability at other outlets should follow, sooner or later, but paperback-at-Amazon seems the most trusted buying option relied on by many readers, so I mention it -- and note that the Amazon page gives you a decent 'Look inside'-preview opportunity, so you can see what you'd be get yourself into.

       You still have time, I should think, to put it on your Christmas wishlist, or purchase it as a gift for your literarily-inclined friends and acquaintances, and those you might want to convert to Schmidt.
       I'd suggest it might also serve as a useful planting-the-seed title, an appropriate gift to give someone from whom you might hope for Schmidt's Bottom's Dream in return eventually, when that becomes available -- a much dearer proposition. (Planning ahead, it's perhaps also a useful gift for a spouse or loved one, whom you'll be trying to explain the huge outlay for Bottom's Dream when it appears (it ain't going to be cheap) to, if you're forced/compelled to purchase it yourself; I'm not sure Arno Schmidt: a centennial colloquy can fully justify your folly, but surely it provides some decent arguments in favor of Schmidtian indulgence, even at its most extravagant and costly.)

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921. Elena Ferrante Q & A

       In The New York Times Rachel Donadio has a lengthy Q & A with Elena Ferrante, who seems to have become a breakout-author over the past year or so; Donadio also has offers profile of the author, based in large part on the Q & A, Scant Clues to a Secret Identity.
       None of the titles in Ferrante's Neapolitan-quartet are under review at the complete review, but her three earlier novels are:

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922. Across the spectrum of human rights

What are the ties that bind us together? How can we as a global community share the same ideals and values? In celebration of Human Rights Day, we have asked some key thinkers in human rights law to share stories about their experiences of working in this field, and the ways in which they determined their specific focuses.

*   *   *   *   *

“My area of research is complementary forms of international protection, which is where international refugee law and international human rights law merge. Since the beginning of time, there has been an element of compassion in customary and religious norms justifying the acceptance of and assistance to persons banned from their communities or forced to leave their homes for reasons of poverty, natural disasters, or other reasons outside their control. Based on a general conviction that the alleviation of suffering is a moral imperative, many industralized countries included in their domestic migration practice the possibility to grant residence permits to certain categories of persons, who seemingly fall outside their international obligations, but who they considered to deserve protection and assistance because of a sense that this is what humanity dictates. In the past twenty years, many of these categories have become regulated and categorized as beneficiaries of protection, either through a broad interpretation of the refugee concept or through the adoption of new legislation confirming the domestic practice of States, such as the EC Qualification Directive. I find this to be a fascinating area of international law because, it shows how human rights and the notion of ‘humanitarianism’ (i.e. reasons of compassion, charity or need) have generated legal obligations to protect and assist aliens outside their country of origin.”

Liv Feijen, Doctoral Candidate in international law at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, and author of ‘Filling the Gaps? Subsidiary Protection and Non-EU Harmonized Protection Status(es) in the Nordic Countries’ in the International Journal of Refugee Law

*   *   *   *   *

“My work focuses on the forms and functions of the law when faced with contemporary mass crimes and their traces (testimony, archives, and the (dead) body). It questions the relationship between law, memory, history, science, and truth. To do so, I call into question the various legal mechanisms (traditional/alternative, judicial/extrajudicial) used in the treatment of mass crimes committed by the State and their heritage, especially at the heart of criminal justice (national and international), transitional justice, international human rights law, and constitutional law. In this context I have explored the close relationship between international criminal law and international human rights law. These two branches of law, that have distinct objects and goals, are linked by what they have in common: the protection of the individual. Their interaction culminated in the 90s when international criminal law, and in a larger sense transitional justice, boomed: an actual human rights turn took place with the strong mobilization of human rights in favour of the ‘fight against impunity’ of the gravest international crimes. At the heart of this human rights turn lays the consecration of a new human right, namely, the ‘right to the truth’, which is the object of my current research.”

Sévane Garibian, Assistant Professor, University of Geneva, and lecturer, University of Neuchâtel, and author of ‘Ghosts Also Die: Resisting Disappearance through the ‘Right to the Truth’ and the Juicios por la Verdad in Argentina’ in the Journal of International Criminal Justice

*   *   *   *   *

“I decided early on to focus in my work on how rights perform when they are put under some kind of strain. That could be panic and fear emerging from a terrorist attack, or resource limitations at national or international level, or political structures that make effective enforcement of rights (un)feasible, for example. It seemed to me to be important to think about the resilience of the language and structures, as well as the law, of human rights because in the end of the day we rely on states to deliver rights in a meaningful way and this raises all sorts of challenges around legitimacy, will, embeddedness, international relations, domestic politics, legal systems, constitutional frameworks, and so on. These are factors that have to be accounted for when we think about what makes human rights law work as a means of ensuring human rights in practice; as a means of limiting the power of states to do as it wishes, regardless of the impact on individual and group welfare, dignity, and liberty. Thus, rather than specialise in any particular right per se, my interest is in frameworks of effective rights protection and understanding what makes them work, or makes them vulnerable, especially in times of strain or crisis.”

Fiona de Londras, Professor of Law, Durham Law School, and author of ‘Declarations of Incompatibility Under the ECHR Act 2003: A Workable Transplant?’ in the Statute Law Review

*   *   *   *   *

“I have always been interested in the protection of individual rights from undue interference by executive authority. So, my scholarly roots arguably originate in classic social contractarianism. In my work, I have been mostly focusing on civil and political rights, whether in the context of constitutional law, criminal justice, or international (human rights) law. An important part of my research examines the (alleged) tension between ‘liberty’ and ‘security’ and explores how this tension plays out in both domestic and international contexts, often addressing the interface between the two dimensions. National security issues, such as terrorism, have featured prominently in my scholarship, but my human rights-related work also extends to the field of preventive justice, including questions relating to the post-sentence detention of ‘dangerous’ individuals for public safety purposes. A fascinating development that has captured my attention recently concerns the expansion of executive power of international organisations. International bodies such as the UN Security Council have become increasingly active in the administration and regulation of matters that once used to be the exclusive domain of States. This shift in governance functions, however, has not been accompanied by the creation of mechanisms to restrain or review the exercise of executive power. I suspect that it is in this area that much of my research will be carried out in the years ahead.”

Christopher Michaelsen, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, UNSW Australia, member of Australian Human Rights Centre, and author of ‘Human Rights as Limits for the Security Council: A Matter of Substantive Law or Defining the Application of Proportionality?’ in the Journal of Conflict and Security Law

*   *   *   *   *

“I specialize in the interaction between international financial markets and human rights, both in relation to (a) understanding international legal obligations relating to socio-economic rights in the context of financial processes and dynamics; and (b) the business and human rights debate as it applies to financial institutions. My focus on these areas resulted from an awareness that as the world economy globalised over the last twenty years, the financial markets changed beyond all recognition to become a predominant force shaping economic processes. Therefore, although they are generally seen as remote from immediate human rights impacts, they set the context of socio-economic rights enjoyment. The practical challenges involved in realising these rights can only be fully understood by accepting the way financial markets shape economic and policy making options, and outcomes for individuals. As this is a huge field of enquiry and many of the connections have not so far been extensively explored from a human rights point of view, my focus tends to be determined by (a) a desire to bring new areas of the financial markets into a human rights framework, and (b) a desire to respond to issues of importance as they arise, such as financial crisis and austerity.”

Mary Dowell-Jones, Fellow, Human Rights Law Centre, University of Nottingham, and author of ‘Financial Institutions and Human Rights’ in the Human Rights Law Review

*   *   *   *   *

“My research covers a variety of human rights issues, however I have a particular interest in the analysis of domestic violence as a human rights issue. Domestic violence affects vast numbers of people in every state around the globe. The practice of domestic violence constitutes a breach of internationally recognised rights such as the right to be free from torture and inhuman or degrading treatment; the right to private and family life; and, in some circumstances, the right to life itself. However it is only relatively recently that domestic violence has been analysed through the lens of human rights law. For example, it is only since 2007 that judgments of the European Court of Human Rights have been issued which directly focus on domestic violence. Nevertheless, there is now an ever-increasing awareness of domestic violence as a human rights issue, and there have been a number of important recent developments, such as the adoption of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, which entered into force on 1 August 2014.”

Ronagh McQuigg, lecturer in School of Law, Queen’s University Belfast, and author of ‘The Human Rights Act 1998—Future Prospects’ in the Statute Law Review

*   *   *   *   *

“Human rights discourse has been proliferating. Yet I feel that the proliferation of the discourse of human rights does not contribute to the success of implementing human rights on the ground. Perhaps one reason is that human rights scholarship and activism has great appeal to idealists and while idealists whom I admire are good in articulating ideals, they are less capable of carrying out these ideals. I believe that a major difficulty in implementing human rights is the costs of implementation. Human rights organizations may be justifiably appalled by police brutality and urge states to restructure their police forces, but such a restructuring is not costless and it may be detrimental to other urgent concerns including human rights concerns. The good intentions of activists and the scholarly work of theorists (to which I have been committed in the past) may ultimately turn out to be detrimental to the protection of human rights. What I think is urgently needed in order to carry out the lofty ideals is not more human rights scholarship but scholarship which will focus its attention on the best ways to implement the most urgent and basic humanitarian concerns. This is not what I have been doing in my own work but I am convinced it is what needs at this stage to be done. In doing so one ought to constrain idealism in favor of modest pragmatism. Ironically those who can most effectively pursue modest pragmatism are not human rights activists or theorists.”

Alon Harel, Professor in Law, Hebrew University Law Faculty and Center for Rationality, and author of ‘Human Rights and the Common Good: A Critique’ in the Jerusalem Review of Legal Studies

*   *   *   *   *

“It had long been assumed that the best protection of human rights was a strong, Western-style democracy – if it came to the test, the people would always decide in favour of human rights. Recent developments, however, have challenged this assumption: human rights restrictions introduced after 9/11 in the United States and other Western democracies had strong popular support; the current British government’s plans to weaken (or even withdraw from) the ECHR system seem primarily designed to gain votes; Swiss voters have approved several popular initiatives that conflict with international human rights guarantees. Is the relationship between democracy and human rights not as symbiotic as it is often thought? Do direct democratic systems lend themselves more to tyranny of the majority than representative democracies? What is needed so that the human rights of those in the minority can be effectively protected? These, I believe, are among the most pressing questions that human rights lawyers must confront today.”

Daniel Moeckli, Assistant Professor of Public International Law and Constitutional Law, University of Zurich, co-editor of International Human Rights Law, Second Edition

*   *   *   *   *

Headline image credit: Canvas Orange by Raul Varela via the Pattern Library.

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923. DESIGNER - studio noodles

Lisa Jane Dahr is a new illustrator and surface pattern designer from Gower in Wales but is now based in London. Lisa loves to draw, sketch and paint and works under the label Studio Noodles. She is a new illustrator and surface pattern designer and a recent graduate of Make Art the Sells with Lilla Rogers and The Art & Business of Surface Pattern Design. Here are some examples of Lisa's work,

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924. Overcome Your Book Doubts By Asking WHY

Today we’re taking a field trip to touch on something all writers struggle with at some point: story doubts. It might come about because of a less-than-enthusiastic reaction from a beta reader, or after requests for fulls go nowhere. Maybe you have rewritten your opening 9,000 times or have three drafts of your novel, all told from different points of view, and still feel uncertain which version is the right one.

Doubt – soul crushing worry that we are not capturing our story well enough – can not only snuff out a novel, but the writer’s spirit as well.

Jenny Nash has some excellent insight into this pool of doubt, and how to swim through it to write deeply from passion, telling the story as only the author can.

FleuronI’m a book coach, and all day long I have writers coming to me who want to work out the Where and What and How of their story. Many of them are in the midst of some kind of writerly anguish: they have a pile of agent rejections, or they are 2/3 of the way through their 23rd draft and they’re still not sure the book is working, or they got to the last scene and suddenly realize that nothing has happened in the last 150 pages so there’s nothing to resolve. They are not sure how to move forward or even if they should move forward. They are, in other words, full of doubt, and somewhere along the line, they have come to believe that the way out of that doubt and that anguish is to focus like a laser beam on these Where, What, How questions:

Where should my story really start? What needs to happen in the middle? How is the best way for it to end?

Agony and DefeatNine times out of ten, they are asking the wrong questions. Instead of Where, What, and How they should be asking Why? – and not even about the story itself, though that is an extremely powerful exercise, too*, but about themselves as writers.

If you’re anything like me and almost all the writers I work with, your story has been haunting you for quite some time. It keeps you up at night. It nags at you when you are reading other people’s stories. It pops into your head at times when it is least welcome. It wants to be told. 

It can be extremely useful to know why you think it’s haunting you. I actually believe that not knowing the answer to why is one of things that holds a lot of writers back. They know they like to write, they know they’re good at it, they know they have a story to tell, but they don’t know why it matters to them, or what, exactly, it means to them.

As a result, they write a book that doesn’t ever really get down to anything real and raw and authentic. They write pages that skate along the surface of things. And if there’s one thing readers don’t need, it’s to skate along the surface. That’s what the Internet is for. And cocktail parties. And the line at Costco.

Listen to Simon Sinek’s TED talk on how great leaders inspire action. It’s 18 minutes long, but even if you listen to the first 6 minutes you’ll get it. The main point of the talk is this: “People buy things because of WHY you do them, not because of WHAT you do.”

Writers want someone to buy something from us as much as the folks over at Apple and Nike. We do! Even before we talk about dollars and cents, we want readers to buy that we have something important or entertaining or illuminating to say. We want agents to buy that our idea is generous and alive.

So all this work you’re going to do on WHAT your book will be? It often all hinges on WHY you want to write it — on why it is haunting you, on what captivated you from the start, on what the spark was, on why you care so much. If you can articulate that, it will probably unlock the story in very powerful ways.

In 2002, literary agent Ann Rittenberg gave a speech at Bennington College that sums this up beautifully.

            What kind of writer can make characters [you care about]? I think the kind of writer who is not afraid to access the deepest places in himself, and is not afraid to share what he comes up with… I see plenty of writing that has kernels of good in it, but it’s hedged around with so much tentativeness, or uncertainty, or excess, or stinginess, that it doesn’t allow the outsider — the reader — in… Yet when I read something that speaks to me, that absorbs me, that remains vividly in my head even when I’m not reading it, I’ve been intimate with the person who wrote it before I’ve even met him. This isn’t to say I know anything about him. I only know he or she’s the kind of writer who’s willing to explore the deep essence of character….

That’s the kind of writer I am guessing you want to be. So how do you get there? Ask yourself the following:

  • Try to recall the moment your story came into your head. What took root in that moment?
  • Why does it matter to you? What does it mean to you? It wouldn’t have stuck in your head if it didn’t mean something and matter to you – a lot.
  • Have you been shying away from the truth of that moment – out of fear of how raw it is, or how powerful it is? Let yourself to get closer to it.
  • Let that truth inform your story from beginning to end. Let it be the engine that drives your narrative forward. A story that has a single driving force tends to be a story that has a solid beginning, a gut-wrenching middle and a satisfying end.
  • *Ask why of your characters, as well. Why do they care about what they care about? Why will it hurt them not to get it? Why are the afraid? Why can’t they do what they know they should? Why did they do what they just did? Why did they cry? Why, why, why. It can be the key to great writing.

Jennie NashJennie Nash is a book coach, the author of eight books, and the creator of the Author Accelerator, a program to help writers break through procrastination and doubt and write books that actually get read. Check out her free resources: a free 5-Day Book Startup course, a free weeky trial of the Author Accelerator and weekly lessons on writing in the real world at jennienash.com. Also check out The Writers’ Guide to Agony and Defeat, and sign up to win a free coaching session.

Do you struggle with story doubt? How do you move past it? Let us know in the comments!

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925. NEW WORK - kat kalindi cameron

These folksy festive patterns and artwork were created by designer Kat Kalindi Cameron for craft magazine Mollie Makes. Kat designed them for their issue #46 as Festive Pull-out stationery papers, which could be used for wrapping, crafting, or they would also look great up on the wall. The magazine also features their 2015 Calendar and other festive craft goodies.

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