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As writers, we want to make our characters as unique and interesting as possible. One way to do this is to give your character a special skill or talent that sets him apart from other people. This might be something small, like having a green thumb or being good with animals, to a larger and more competitive talent like stock car racing or being an award-winning film producer.
When choosing a talent or skill, think about the personality of your character, his range of experiences and who his role models might have been. Some talents might be genetically imparted while others are created through exposure (such as a character talented at fixing watches from growing up in his father’s watch shop) or grow out of interest (archery, wakeboarding, or magic). Don’t be afraid to be creative and make sure the skill or talent is something that works with the scope of the story.
Aaron Brinker, Creative Commons
Description: “Reading people” is the ability to size others up quickly and accurately. People with this skill are able to see through misdirection and outright deceit to correctly identify a person’s character or motives in many different situations.
Beneficial Strengths or Abilities: being a good listener, being able to think clearly and in an organized fashion
Character Traits Suited for this Skill or Talent: observant, perceptive, extroverted (other-focused), discerning, objective, decisive, focused, sensible, empathetic
Required Resources and Training: While some people are inherently good at reading others, there are some things that can be done to improve one’s discernment in this area.
There’s a kind of science to lying, with certain tells that reveal deceit. Paul Ekman studied this in great detail and shares his findings in his book Telling Lies; studying these tells and the micro expressions that people use when they’re not being truthful can improve one’s ability to identify truth from falsehood in others.
Much of what we know about others, we learn by observation. Anyone who wants to read people better can do so by simply studying them. Paying close attention to people, listening intently to them, and engaging with them will result in a better understanding of people in general and will eventually help us to recognize patterns.
Associated Stereotypes and Perceptions: Con-artists, detectives, gamblers, psychics, and empaths are often portrayed as being able to read others well. While it’s a positive skill to have, it often has a negative connotation, being used by people to manipulate and take advantage of others. The other stereotype is that of the shy and under-valued but highly perceptive sidekick or peripheral character. This person keeps to the background and doesn’t seem to have much purpose until, at a pivotal moment in the story, he/she reveals some great truth about the hero or villain that everyone else has missed.
Scenarios Where this Skill Might be Useful:
- when someone with power or influence is not who they appear to be
- when a dangerous person is about to do something deadly
- when someone is suicidal and is hiding their desperation
- when a friend is in an abusive relationship
- when someone is being conned
- when a famous or highly regarded person needs to know his true friends from those who would use him
- when trying to get to the bottom of an argument or long-lasting feud
- when a police officer is interviewing a subject
- when a con-artist or criminal is looking for a mark
Resources for Further Information:
18 Tips and Tricks about Reading People
What Every BODY is Saying
You can brainstorm other possible Skills and Talents your characters might have by checking out our FULL LIST of this Thesaurus Collection. And for more descriptive help for Setting, Symbolism, Character Traits, Physical Attributes, Emotions, Weather and more, check out our Thesaurus Collections page.
The post Talents and Skills Thesaurus Entry: Reading People appeared first on WRITERS HELPING WRITERS.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Szentkuthy Miklós' Towards the One and Only Metaphor, the second of his works to be brought out in English by Contra Mundum Press, with more to follow (not soon enough !).
One of these hard to review/get a grasp on titles, but definitely worthwhile.
Inky Arabian Nights : Process Video
New Blog Post over on BrianBowesIllustration.com!
A while back I put together a video sharing some of my watercolor techniques. There was a lot of positive feedback on that video that I wanted to create another process video.
Original post by Brian Bowes via Emergent Ideas: http://ift.tt/1vVXz06
Are staffers outside of youth services ever responsible for staffing your children’s desk in a programming pinch? Would employees outside of your department feel comfortable and confident in providing this service or would they feel stunned like a deer caught in the headlights?
At our community branch library, information services staff members also staff our children’s services desk, and we receive a great number of children’s reference questions at our adult information services desk. Staff members outside of youth services must be familiar with the needs of children and those that work with them. Being cross-trained to provide customer service to customers of all ages is a necessity, but how do we ensure that staffers receive the training necessary to handle the unique needs of our young customers?
My colleague recently presented training for library staff outside of youth services. Not meant as a substitute for advanced youth services training in reference or readers’ advisory, this overview highlighted many of the traditional questions staffers receive when they work in the children’s services department. This training served as a perfect introduction for those employees who may occasionally need to staff this service desk.
Where are the BOB books?
(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)
During this youth services basics training, my colleague used questions that have been previously asked by customers as training examples. Just as when working in the information services department, training participants realized that questions are often not as simple as they appear. The question, “where are the BOB books?” is a perfect example. The answer could mean numerous things in our library system, depending on the needs of the library user, and could include a request for a standard beginning reader series; it could also serve as a request for the TV inspired books based off the popular Bob the Builder character, or the extremely popular Battle of the Books (BOB) competitions sponsored by our public school system. Understanding how this one type of question, “where are your BOB books?” could mean various things to different people, was rated by attendees as one of the most valuable pieces of information they learned during the training.
Let’s Take a Tour
As part of the training, participants toured our children’s department at our Headquarters Library. This touring component provided staffers with a close and personal look at our collection and was helpful to staffers from each of our branches as our youth services departments are structured similarly in each of our eight library locations. By including this hands-on training component, participants were able to view exactly where items were located, from the juvenile biographies placed at the end of the children’s nonfiction collection to the difference among board books, picture books, and beginning readers. Knowing our collection is critical in providing excellent customer service, and this tour helped our trainees gain confidence in providing that service for our young patrons.
Priorities of Programs and Services
Questions about children’s programming, and the specialized services offered within the children’s services department, are often questions asked by patrons. Adults may frequently register their children to attend special programming, request information on how to duplicate the story time experience at home, or request tutoring resources. Staffers must be able to quickly address these questions while also being aware of the unique services offered within the children’s department, such as our picture book bundle service, where customers may check out a group of books organized by a specific theme. Children’s unique interests and needs must be understood by all staff, not just those librarians specializing in children’s services.
(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)
This training helped staff members without a background in children’s services to gain a better understanding of the interests and needs of our young patrons. Our goal is to prepare our colleagues to feel as comfortable and confident as they can when working with children and their families, instead of feeling caught like a deer in the headlights! What topics do you believe are important to introduce to staff members outside of your department if they were to staff your children’s desk? How do you ensure staffers are most effectively able to reach out to your customers? Please share in the comments below!
By: Hannah Paget,
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, emily dickenson
, first world war poetry
, John Milton
, jon stallworthy
, Louis simpson
, men who march away
, On the Late Massacre in Piedmont
, the heroes
, thomas hardy
, war poetry
, WWI centenary
, Add a tag
‘Poetry’, Wordsworth reminds us, ‘is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings’, and there can be no area of human experience that has generated a wider range of powerful feelings than war: hope and fear; exhilaration and humiliation; hatred—not only for the enemy, but also for generals, politicians, and war-profiteers; love—for fellow soldiers, for women and children left behind, for country (often) and cause (occasionally).
So begins Jon Stallworthy’s introduction to his recently edited volume The New Oxford Book of War Poetry. The new selection provides improved coverage of the two World Wars and the Vietnam War, and new coverage of the wars of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Below is an extract of two poems from the collection.
On the Late Massacre in Piedmont* (1673)
Avenge, O Lord, thy slaughtered saints, whose bones
Lie scattered on the Alpine mountains cold,
Even them who kept thy truth so pure of old
When all our fathers worshipped stocks and stones,
Forget not; in thy book record their groans
Who were thy sheep and in their ancient fold
Slain by the bloody Piedmontese that rolled
Mother with infant down the rocks. Their moans
and his Latin secretary, John Milton.
The vales redoubled to the hills, and they
To Heaven. Their martyred blood and ashes sow
O’er all th’ Italian fields where still doth sway
The triple tyrant, that from these may grow
A hundredfold, who having learnt thy way,
Early may fly the Babylonian woe.
* The heretical Waldensian sect, which inhabited northern Italy (Piedmont) and southern France, held beliefs compatible with Protestant doctrine. Their massacre by Catholics in 1655 was widely protested by Protestant powers, including Oliver Cromwell and his Latin secretary, John Milton.
The Heroes (1955)
I dreamed of war-heroes, of wounded war-heroes
With just enough of their charms shot away
To make them more handsome. The women moved nearer
To touch their brave wounds and their hair streaked with gray.
I saw them in long ranks ascending the gang-planks;
The girls with the doughnuts were cheerful and gay.
They minded their manners and muttered their thanks;
The Chaplain advised them to watch and to pray.
They shipped these rapscallions, these sea-sick battalions
To a patriotic and picturesque spot;
They gave them new bibles and marksmen’s medallions,
Compasses, maps, and committed the lot.
A fine dust has settled on all that scrap metal.
The heroes were packaged and sent home in parts
To pluck at a poppy and sew on a petal
And count the long night by the stroke of their hearts.
Image credit: Menin Gate, Ypres, Belgium. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.
The post War poetry across the centuries appeared first on OUPblog.
A while back I put together a video sharing some of my watercolor techniques. There was a lot of positive feedback on that video that I wanted to create another process video.
via Studio Bowes Art Blog at http://ift.tt/1n7CZ7B
By: Wilson Swain,
By: Kathy Temean,
Blog: Writing and Illustrating
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authors and illustrators
, Illustrator's Saturday
, American Greetings
, Anne Wilkinson
, Illustrator Saturday
, Simon & Schuster
, Add a tag
Annie Wilkinson is the youngest of eight children and the mother of two. She works in a variety of mediums including traditional and digital, creating bright and whimsical illustrations for both books and products. She also has a background in design and as a fine artist, two skills that she calls upon quite frequently when illustrating. She is currently working on her own picture book.
Simon & Schuster – Macmillan
LadyBird Books – Hallmark
CJ Educations – American Greetings
Oxford University Press – Hasbro
Yeowon Media – National Geographic
HERE IS ANNIE EXPLAINING HER PROCESS:
All of my work is done on the iPad. For the project for Story Corner, the guidelines were really loose – the story was to take place in outer space, after that I had a lot of free reign to draw whatever I like.
So I started with some quick thumbnails, using the app Paper by 53. I had some loose concepts – riding space beasts, hanging out in a space garden, swimming with ‘star fish’.
I like to share the thumbnails with the client to see if they’re happy with the general idea and composition, and if they are I then work on more refined sketches. Mostly I use the Vellum app to create my sketches.
There’s also an app called Art Studio that functions like Photoshop, I can make selections and move things around if I need to refine the composition a little.
When the sketches are finalized, I create the colour versions in Paintbook, which is a vector drawing app.
Sometimes at this stage, depending in the spread size, I might have to export the pdf file to my computer and add textures in photoshop.
Since these we’re going to be playing cards, The iPad could actually handle their print size, so I added my textures using iColorama.
If I find the textures wash out some of the details then I will paint over some of the edges and add more shadows and highlights using either Photoshop or procreate.
How long have you been illustrating?
I have been illustrating as a job for about 6 years, but for about 5 of them I was also working as a web & graphic designer . This is the first year that I am solely illustrating. I have always loved drawing!
Where do you live?
I live in Vancouver, BC Canada
Did you go to school to study art?
I have not. I am completely self-taught, but I do dream about going to art school some day – maybe when the kids are old enough.
What area of art did you study?
I took an independent course with Geraldo Valerio “http://www.geraldovalerio.com” a Brazilian illustrator who was for a time living in Vancouver. I had belonged to a drawing Meetup group, and on a message board there, several people had mentioned taking his course on illustrating children’s books and how it was better than anything offered by the universities or libraries.
After my first illustration job, when I started to realize it was something I might really like to do, I thought I should learn more about it and enrolled in his course. It was extremely helpful to have someone with experience to turn to! Even though he’s no longer in Vancouver, we still email every now and then and I still ask him for advice.
What was the first art related work that you did for money?
Prior to working as an illustrator, I played in bands for many years, and toured a lot. These would have been my first paying art jobs.
What was the first job you took after you graduated from school?
I did take a multimedia course about 15 years ago that was a very basic introduction to Adobe & Macromedia (who originally created Flash) software – it was just enough to get you going on everything and it was up to you if you wanted to take it further. I had expected that I would move into web design from there, but my first job after finishing that program was illustrating and animating Ecards in Flash for a Toronto company. It’s funny now that I think about it, it didn’t give me the idea that I would be an illustrator! I think probably because looking back at it my illustrations were fairly crude!
How did you find your first illustrating work?
Robeez Baby Shoes gave me what I consider my first real illustration job – they had a job posting for a web designer, and I applied and sent them a link to my online portfolio, which also contained some of my artwork. They got back to me saying the job had been filled but would I be interested in doing the illustrations for their shoes. Prior to this it hadn’t even occurred to me to be an illustrator! (Robeez shoes designs)
Have you done any illustrating work for a US publisher?
I have done work for a few publishers, including Simon & Schuster, National Geographic, as well as a handful of educational publishers.
How did you start doing greeting cards?
Not long after the Robeez job I was contacted by the Bright Agency in the UK http://www.thebrightagency.com, and I have been with them ever since. Another illustrator who was also working for Robeez, Ken Gamage http://www.sparklefishworld.com told me about http://www.childrensillustrators.com which is based in the UK, and I believe this is where Bright found me. Bright works in both publishing and art licensing, so my greeting card work was through them.
What made you want to illustrate children’s books?
I had not thought originally that I could even be an illustrator! I was always drawing but in my mind it was just a hobby. I met another illustrator when our bands played a show together, Jenn Playford, http://www.jennplayford.com, who I think at the time had just got her first illustration job, and her telling me about it put the idea in to my head. I didn’t really do anything about it until I got the Robeez job though! I guess children’s books seemed the best fit for me, given the way I draw, which tends to be cute and colorful.
How many books have you illustrated?
I’m not sure I can count them all! I’ve done around 4 books for the Korean market, 1 in New Zealand, 3 in Canada, a few in the UK, and maybe 10-15 for the US market, which would mostly include the educational market.
What was your first picture book?
My first picture job was with Rubicon Publishing in Canada, with AD Rebecca Buchanan, now over at Pajama Press, she was lovely to work with.
When and how did that happen?
They found me on a portfolio site, practically the day I finished my How To course with Geraldo, so I was pretty glad I’d taken the course. It was called “Splish-Splash” and had 4 illustrators illustrating about 4 pages each, so it was the perfect job to start with.
Of the picture books that you have published, which one is your favorite?
It may be because it was the most recent one I illustrated and so am not tired of looking at it yet! I’m actually still working on it, but it’s called Nanna’s Magic Globe for Benchmark publishing. Another favourite I did recently was for Story Corner, which is a brand new company in the Uk – not a picture book but illustrated story cards, where the child lays out the cards and then tells their own story – that was a particularly fun job for me because I was allowed input in what happened in the story, and also because it involved telling the story in a non-linear fashion. (Thumbnails in paper by 53, Sketches in Vellum, final art for Story Corner)
When did you decide to get involved in children’s illustrtation?
A big thing that happened was having kids of my own, and reading books to them – there are so many beautiful picture books out there! I particularly love Isabelle Arsenault and Oliver Jeffers, whose work really borders on fine art. I also am a big fan of Sophie Blackall, Peter Brown, Giselle Potter – there’s so many!
How did you connect with LadyBird Books?
This was a job through my agent – I had done a test illustration for The Secret Garden (which also happened to be one of my favourite books as a child!) and my AD thought my rendition of Dickon made a good Peter Pan, so I got to do both books.
(The Secret Garden, Ladybird Books)
How did the get the contract to do My Wonderful Clothes for Korean Publisher, English Hunt?
I was approached by them, this book was slightly different than the other books I’d done in the Korean market as it was an English reader. I love working with Korean publishers as they are so invested in picturebooks!
(My Wonderful Clothes, EnglishHunt)
What do you consider is your first big success?
Getting paid to draw! To be honest, it’s still an ongoing thing – I’m one of those people who can be their own worst critic, and I’m still trying to make art that impresses me as much as other illustrators work can.
How did that come about?
How do you promote your work to get more business?
I have a few portfolio sites that I try to keep updated regularly, and most of them have news sections which I find helpful. I also started sending out email newsletters to keep in touch with previous clients, I do one every 6-8 weeks or so. When things are slow I remind my agent I need work.
What materials do you use to paint your color illustrations?
All my work is done digitally. Originally it was done traditionally because I was never comfortable drawing with a graphics tablet, where your hand is drawing in one place and your eyes are somewhere else. In the beginning I would have loved a Cintiq but couldn’t afford one, then I got an ipad. I went from oil pastel drawings to vector illustrations, because the limitation of the iPad is the print size of your drawings. I grew to love it so much that I only occasionally think about the Cintiq still.
(Personal work, ipad)
Do you use do any black and white illustrations?
I have not done many, except for the comics I like to do in my spare time.
What type of paint and other materials do you use to when illustrating a picture book?
Everything is done on the iPad, even sketching. I discovered I hate the tedium of scanning! I tend to do thumbnails first, generally in Paper by 53 or a Bamboo Paper, sketches in Vellum, and color in Paintbook, which is like Adobe Illustrator except that it behaves much like a pixel based painting app, rather than making shapes. I usually export this as a pdf and then do final touch ups in Photoshop on my mac. The funny thing is that I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with digital – it certainly makes it easier to make amendments and clients love layered files, but I just love the look of traditional materials. So I’m always trying to make that aspect better. Ultimately, a good drawing and good composition is the most important thing!
Has your style changed over the years? Materials?
I’m really hoping it’s getting better! I am always, always trying to make my work better. I’m getting in to using textures a lot lately. There’s a great ipad app called iColorama which let’s you paint your textures using masks, and then I usually do a little finishing work using Procreate, which is a great painting app but can only print up to around 10-11 inches, which makes it difficult to do spreads. I have been known to deal with single pages when the app can’t handlethe spread size and then stitch them back together in photoshop.
Have you done illustrations for any children’s magazines?
I have done work for Laybug and Cricket in the US.
(Cricket Magazine Nov/Dec 2013 issue)
Have you done any work for educational publishers?
Tons! A lot of my work comes from Educational publishers and so for that I am grateful :)
What is the one thing in your studio that you could not live without?
Given that I work on an iPad my studio is not one specific location, but I like it best when I have my ipod and dock to listen to music or podcasts while I work.
Do you try to spend a specific amount of time working on your craft?
Yes, but I don’t think of it so much as that. I love drawing, so I have my work drawing, and my hobby drawing, which is usually playing around with different apps or doing comics. Another fun aspect if doing greeting card work or licensing art is just drawing whatever you feel like and maybe someone can turn it into a card. So I’m not consciously trying to improve myself unless I’m in the middle of the job, and mostly this happens at the sketching stage – can I make this drawing better, more visually interesting? Sometimes that is constrained by deadlines, though!
(illustration of Mary Anning for http://www.coolchicksfromhistory.tumblr.com
Do you have an agent?
I work with The Bright Agency, who are based in the UK but have offices in New York also.
Do you take pictures or do any types of research before you start a project?
Yes, lots on internet research. I’m currently working on a book that takes place in Kenya. I’m always looking at images of how things look, their clothes, their houses, vegetation, etc. Some clients want the pictures of trees, for example, to look like actual trees you might find in the area, some don’t mind if you make everything up.
Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?
Absolutely. If it wasn’t for the internet I would probably have to move to New York and walk around every day with a hard copy portfolio.
Do you use Photoshop or Corel Painter with your illustrations?
I use Photoshop along with a hundred ipad apps :)
Do you own or have you used a Graphic Drawing Tablet in your illustrating?
I have an old Wacom Graphire tablet that I use for photoshop touch ups. I’ve tried all kinds of styluses for the iPad, but the ones I like the best are the microfiber tipped ones,as there is no drag whatsoever. I suffer from tendonitis, so when it gets bad I just start drawing with my finger!
Do you have any career dreams that you want to fulfill?
I’d love to do more picturebooks, and maybe write one of my own.
What are you working on now?
I’m currently working an interactive iPad storybook, which is my first. I’m also doing a small job for a family in the US who are doing a book as a gift for their daughter. I’m working on a second book for Benchmark while waiting for feedback on the final artwork for the first. And I have a couple more books coming up very soon with Cantata Learning, who are a new Educational publisher in the US.
(Illustration for the Boston Family)
Do you have any material type tips you can share with us? Example: Paint or paper that you love – the best place to buy – a new product that you’ve tried – A how to tip, etc.
For traditional materials, I love Koi watercolours and Holbein Acryla Gouache. Also I’m a fan of Caran D’ache oil pastels.
Any words of wisdom on how to become a successful writer or illustrator?
All the old stuff is true! Keep drawing as much as possible. Go to the library and find those illustrators that inspire you!
Thank you Annie for taking the time to share your process and journey with us. We look forward to hearing about all your future successes.
To see more of Annie’s illustrations visit her at:
Please take a minute to leave a comment for Annie, I know she would love to heard from you and I always appreciate it. Thanks!
Filed under: authors and illustrators
, Illustrator's Saturday
Tagged: American Greetings
, Anne Wilkinson
, Illustrator Saturday
, Simon & Schuster
Yesterday the New York Times paid respectful tribute to illustrator McCauley Conner, even to the point of starting off the article by calling him "an artist."
Mr. Conner is 100 years old and going strong. His paintings are being featured at an exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York
through January 11.
He never thought he'd live to see his work recognized in this way, but it helps that they're calling him "one of the original 'Mad Men'" —a reference to the popular TV series. The museum says:
"McCauley (“Mac”) Conner (born 1913) grew up admiring Norman Rockwell magazine covers in his father’s general store. He arrived in New York as a young man to work on wartime Navy publications and stayed on to make a career in the city’s vibrant publishing industry. The exhibition presents Conner’s hand-painted illustrations for advertising campaigns and women’s magazines like Redbook and McCall’s, made during the years after World War II when commercial artists helped to redefine American style and culture."
The Read Russia Prize for translations of Russian works into (selected) foreign languages will be announced 6 September, and at Russia Beyond the Headlines they have all the information and the finalists -- seventeen titles (only three of which are translations-into-English), selected from 112 nominations from 16 countries.
This seems a great way to encourage translation, with both the translator(s) and the publisher getting decent prize-money -- and it's great that it's not limited to translations-into-English.
I’m so excited to be part of the Southern Sweethearts blog tour! I asked Sandra Hill, Marilyn Pappano, and Laura Drake how they survive the pressure of their deadlines. Check out their answers, and then enter the giveaway below.
Top 5 items in your deadline survival kit
1. Jelly beans
2. Coffee, but no more than two big cups
3. Alarm clock (I usually get up no later than 4:30 a.m.)
4. Ear plugs (I need quiet.)
5. Comfy clothes (usually lounging pj’s)
1. Lots of Diet Dr. Pepper
2. My ancient, tee-tiny computer that I can tuck away and take anywhere
3. Snacks that won’t transfer too much gunk to the keyboard
4. A bathroom (see #1)
5. My husband, who keeps life on track, reminds me to sleep, looks up any and all information I need, and makes food runs
1. A husband who runs interference with everyday things, and doesn’t expect that I’ll remember a conversation we had, just yesterday.
2. Protein. The only thing that satisfies me.
3. Coffee. Unending gallons of it.
4. My bicycle. It’s where I work out all my plot problems!
5. A schedule. I work backwards to figure out how many words I need a day, and I don’t quit until I’ve written them. Sometimes takes 2 hours, sometimes (like yesterday) 15. But I typed ‘The End” this morning! Whew!
SWEET ON YOU by Laura Drake (August 26, 2014; Forever Mass Market; $8.00)
A Love as Bold as a Texas Sunset . . .
Ex-army medic Katya Smith has always healed other people’s pain. Now she has to deal with her own. Taking a job as an athletic trainer on the Pro Bull Riding circuit seems like the perfect escape from her grief-except Katya doesn’t know anything about bulls, and even less about the tough men who ride them. She doesn’t expect to fall for the sport, or for one tantalizing cowboy who tumbles her defenses.
For rodeo champion Cam Cahill, fifteen years of bucking bulls have taken their toll on his body. Before he retires, he wants a final chance at the world title-and he doesn’t need some New Age gypsy telling him how to do his job. But when the stunning trainer with the magical hands repairs more than his worn muscles, everything changes. Soon Cam finds himself trying to persuade Katya to forgive her past so she can build a future . . . with him.
About the author:
Laura Drake grew up in the suburbs outside Detroit, though her stories are set in the west. A tomboy, she’s always loved the outdoors and adventure. In 1980 she and her sister packed everything they owned into Pintos and moved to California. There she met and married a motorcycling, bleed-maroon Texas Aggie and her love affair with the West was born. Laura rides motorcycles: Elvis, a 1985 BMW Mystic, and Sting, a 1999 BMW R1100.
In Texas, Laura was introduced to her first rodeo, and fell in love. She’s an avid fan of Pro Bull Riding (PBR,) attending any event within driving distance, including two PBR National finals. She is hard at work at her next novel.
Social Media Links:
SNOW ON THE BAYOU by Sandra Hill (August 26, 2014; Forever Mass Market; $8.00)
THE BAYOU’S BADDEST BAD BOY IS BACK!
Joining the Navy was the second best thing that ever happened to Justin “Cage” LeBlanc, the rebel son of a no-account convict. The first was Emelie Gaudet, the love of his life . . . until he was forced to leave town and swore there would be snow on the bayou before he ever returned. Now, only his mortally ill grandma can bring the injured Navy SEAL back to Terrebone Parrish, where he must face his past-and Emelie, who’s even more beautiful than she was all those years ago.
Bourbon Street blues singer Emelie is once bitten, twice shy. When she learns that Justin is back in town, she wants nothing to do with the once wild Cajun teenager who fled with the law on his tail-and broke her heart. But she can’t deny the red-hot attraction between them . . . or his efforts to prove he’s finally changed his hell-raising ways. Can she trust that this time the bad boy of the bayou will be the best man for her?
About the author:
Sandra Hill is a graduate of Penn State and worked for more than 10 years as a features writer and education editor for publications in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Writing about serious issues taught her the merits of seeking the lighter side of even the darkest stories. She is the wife of a stockbroker and the mother of four sons.
Social Media Links:
A LOVE TO CALL HER OWN by Marilyn Pappano (August 26, 2014; Forever Mass Market; $ )
It’s been two years since Jessy Lawrence lost her husband in Afghanistan, and she’s never fully recovered. Drowning her sorrows didn’t help, and neither did the job she’d hoped would give her a sense of purpose. Now trying to rebuild her life, she finds solace in her best friends, fellow military wives who understand what it’s like to love-and lose-a man in uniform . . . and the memory of one stolen night that makes her dream of a second chance at love.
Dalton Smith has known more than his fair share of grief. Since his wife’s death, he revels in the solitude of his cattle ranch. But try as he might, he can’t stop thinking about the stunning redhead and the reckless, passionate night they shared. He wasn’t ready before, but Dalton sees now that Jessy is the only woman who can mend his broken heart. So how will he convince her to take a chance on him?
About the author:
Known for her intensely emotional stories, Marilyn Pappano is the USA Today bestselling author of nearly eighty books. She has made regular appearances on bestseller lists and has received recognition for her work in the form of numerous awards. Though her husband’s Navy career took them across the United States, he and Ms. Pappano now live in Oklahoma high on a hill that overlooks her hometown. They have one son and daughter-in-law, an adorable grandson, and a pack of mischievous dogs.
Social Media Links:
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Published: 4 September 2014 by Hot Key Books
Length: 271 pages
Other info: James Dawson has written many things.
Summary : Former PSHCE teacher and acclaimed YA author James Dawson gives an uncensored look at what it's like to grow up as LGBT. Including testimonials from people 'across the spectrum', this inclusive book explores everything anyone who ever dared to wonder wants to know - from sex to politics, how to pull, stereotypes, how to come-out and more. Spike Gerrell's hilarious illustrations combined with funny and factual text make this a must-have read.
Review: I don't normally review nonfiction, but this is a hugely anticipated book by a brilliant author and a topic I have an interest in. There’s so many things that make this book wonderful.
First, there’s the fact that this book exists, with a bright rainbow cover and direct information and not hiding. I can only think of one other sex-ed book that addresses queer people as well as cishet people, and that's Scarleteen's book, which I read once in a library but it later disappeared. The fact there's a book that speaks directly to a group of people ignored by almost every school when it comes to sex-ed, is brilliant, and I hope this book finds its way into the hands of everyone who needs it.
Then here's the breadth of topics covered; labels and common definitions, biological theories, stereotypes, coming out, dating, sex, marriage, and children, as well as more serious, less happy topics, such as religious opposition, homophobia, transphobia, HIV/AIDS.
James gives clear advice that hopefully will be hopeful to people of all genders and sexualities about how to combat homo&transphobia, coming out, and many other things.
I love the range of voices from the online survey, especially the longer studies, that talk about experiences such as living with HIV, transitioning, and having children via surrogate mothers. They give a snapshot into many different lives, and, after reading about things like this in fiction, it's fascinating to see real-life perspectives.
My favourite thing is James's voice tying it all together. I read the book straight after James did a reading from this book, and it's so easy to imagine him reading it aloud. There's a lot of laughs in appropriate places, highlights including "a very bad lady-let's...call her Maggie....some years later [there was] a slightly less evil man let's call him Tony", "what I felt for Dean Cain (whose name I did not change for this book- I mean, I think it's time he knew of my love", and (in the first edition) bullet points 2 and 3 on page 45.
Now, this is going to sound really picky, but I did notice that it sometimes reinforces the gender binary (yes, I'm aware one of my contributions does too, and I apologise for younger, less informed me and cis-centric language) and uses ciscentric language when talking about sex (e.g. a label of a woman being accompanied by a diagram of a female-bodied person, or the words "gay women get turned on by vaginas" (here not taking into account e.g. gay women with preop transwomen). I do get that it is impossible to cover the full range of identities in one book, and my noticing this is probably a result of me getting used to sites where gender and sex are strictly separated, and this book is wonderful in its existence, but still, a couple of word changes here and there could make this book absolutely perfect.
Overall: Strength 5, tea to a book that needs to be everywhere.
A little while ago I flailed about on how I don't much care for/need/get much out of descriptions of characters in fiction; now I find, in Szentkuthy's Towards the One and Only Metaphor (which I just reviewed) a passage conveying exactly what I mean.
Section 92 reads, in its entirety:
How preposterous it is for a novelist to describe a person even on the very first page: one has already long ago pictured something else -- the tablet of the book, the smell of its print, the letter font, the form of the page numbers, the touch of the paper, a title long retained in the mind, the pressure of the chair in which one is sitting, the shadow thrown by the roller blinds, the wall, door, or picture opposite: these have all once and for all time, absolutely indelibly traced the protagonist's face (even if it is not directly visible).
(And you understand now why you really should be reading Szentkuthy, right ?)
By: Lari Don
Blog: An Awfully Big Blog Adventure
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, Lari Don
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Publishers want lots of ‘stuff’ from authors now. Not just the book, but lots of other stuff. Content, it’s called, for online things.
One of the bits of content I’ve given my publishers recently is a file of deleted scenes, from my new(ish) teen thriller Mind Blind
It wasn’t hard for me to find half a dozen deleted scenes, because I delete lots from my manuscripts as I rewrite and redraft. It’s not unusual for me to reduce the length of a book by 20,000 words or more between first draft and final publication. Which sounds very inefficient – wouldn’t I be better just writing shorter books in the first place?
But I’m not a planner and plotter. I discover the story as I write, as I follow the characters on their journey, and that means diversions and doubling back. I never deliberately write anything that I know is irrelevant at the time, every word helps me find out about the characters, their reactions to problems and my own feelings about the story. But once I reach the end and get a sense of the main thrust of the story, it’s usually clear that I've regularly wandered off the narrative path, and that some scenes are now unnecessary. They may have been necessary to get me to the end, but they’re not necessary to get the reader to the end. So I'm ruthless in slashing them out. I reckon that if you can slice out a scene without it seriously affecting the rest of the story, it probably wasn’t that important.
And in a thriller like MindBlind, where it’s very important to keep the pace up and the pages turning, I also removed scenes or parts of scenes because they slowed the story down too much. (Here’s an example of one
And sometimes I cut a scene, not because it’s slowing the story down or because it’s an unnecessary diversion, but because I come up with a stronger idea once I know the story and characters better. However, the original scene is still part of the way I got to know the character, so it’s part of my history with them. Here’s an example of that
– it’s the first scene I ever wrote about Ciaran Bain, the hero (anti-hero) of the book. It’s not in the book, but it’s still the place I first met him!
Of course, it’s misleading to suggest that all this slashing and slicing is my idea. Quite a lot of it is, but some of it is in response to gentle prompts from my wonderful editor.
|a mountain of many Mind Blind manuscripts|
So, I have no problem removing large chunks of my first draft or even my fourteenth draft, because as I’m writing, I know that I’m just discovering the story, not finding the perfect way of telling it first time around. And I know that it takes a lot of work to make that original mess of scribbled ideas into a book.
But having taken all this stuff out, why on earth would I want to show it to anyone? These deleted scenes have often been removed quite early in the process, so they’re not that polished (why would I polish them, once I’ve deleted them?) So it does feel quite weird and slightly uncomfortable, revealing these unfinished bits of my creative process to the public gaze.
Even if these are scenes that I took out for plot or pace reasons, rather than pieces of writing I don’t like, they are still parts of the story that didn’t make it into the book. So is it a bit of a risk to show less than perfect examples of your writing to the world? And why on earth do it?
The first reason is the pragmatic one of feeding the voracious social media monster. (This is not a particularly good reason.)
But I wonder if a much better reason is that realising how much an author cuts from their early drafts can be useful, especially for young writers. It’s a very practical way to show that published writers don’t get it right all the time, that our first drafts are just the start of the process and that we have to work at them, slash at them, perhaps radically change them, to get them into shape. Deleted scenes are perhaps the online version of showing manuscripts covered in lots of scribbles and scorings out to groups of kids at author visits. ‘Look, I don’t get it right first time, so you don’t have to either. Just write, and see what happens!’
So, while I was wincing and cringing this week as yet another deleted scene appeared on Tumblr, I wondered:
How much do other writers delete?
Are other writers happy to let the world see the bits they sliced out?
And do readers learn anything about the writing process from deleted scenes?
Lari Don is the award-winning author of 21 books for all ages, including a teen thriller, fantasy novels for 8 – 12s, picture books, retellings of traditional tales and novellas for reluctant readers.
In my opinion, neither animation nor illustration is better than the other, and as with all things, each has its own assets and liabilities.
"Basil of Baker Street" by novelist Eve Titus was an illustrated children's book centered on a mouse who fancied himself an ace detective. The mouse resided (naturally enough) inside the walls of 31 Baker Street in London, home of a human-sized ace detective, the name of whom escapes me.
At the Times Literary Supplement site Peter Robb's piece on the truly Magnificent Machado -- Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis -- is now freely available.
It's a review of two recently published-in-translation story-collections, but (except for the odd John Updike references ...) is also a good overview/introduction to the great author.
Only The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas is currently under review at the complete review, but I've been a huge fan over the years; my review of one of these collections, Dalkey Archive Press' Stories, should be up soon as well (meanwhile, see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk).
The other collection Robb discusses is a bilingual edition from new-to-me New London Librarium, Ex Cathedra; see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
Please welcome Kristen Callihan to the virtual offices this morning! She’s here to tell us a little about Will, her dashing hero from Evernight, and after reading an excerpt, enter the giveaway below.
5 things Will is never leaves home without
1. Being properly attired. Clothes make the man, do they not? There is no excuse for sloppy dressing.
2. The clever little flask Holly designed to keep my chocolate hot.
3. Hot chocolate –obviously.
4. Radio transmitter disguised as a pocket watched (also Holly’s design) so that I may keep in touch with my ladylove. Or she may find me, whatever the case may be.
5. If at all possible? Holly.
Once the night comes . . .
Will Thorne is living a nightmare, his sanity slowly being drained away by a force he can’t control. His talents have made him the perfect assassin for hire. But as he loses his grip on reality, there is no calming him-until he finds his next target: the mysterious Holly Evernight.
…love must cast aside the shadows
Holly cannot fathom who would put a contract on her life, yet the moment she touches Will, the connection between them is elemental, undeniable-and she’s the only one who can tame his bouts of madness. But other assassins are coming for Holly. Will must transform from killer to protector and find the man who wants Holly dead . . . or his only chance for redemption will be lost.
Cool, hard, smooth, hot. The texture of his skin was unlike anything she’d ever felt. The metal made it smooth and cool and hard. Where not altered by metal, his skin was like hot satin, only silkier and tight with strength.
His flesh twitched beneath her palms as she mapped his chest. Every breath he took sounded loud and clear in her ears. And all the while, he watched her.
A quiver rippled along the backs of her thighs, up over her bottom, and crawled along her spine. Damn it, she was better than this. She was not a creature of base desires, but of logic and restraint. Her breath moved in and out, a slow, steady rhythm as she stroked him.
Neither of them spoke. The crackle of the fire in the grate, along with the occasional creak of the house settling, surrounded them. Beneath heavy lids, Thorne tracked her every move. And her touch grew unsteady. A momentary weakness he jumped upon.
“Does it feel good to you?” he drawled, low and easy. “Touching me?”
Instantly, the space between her legs clenched tight. Holly kept her touch impersonal. She could not live with the ignominy of revealing her wants to Thorne, who would treat her weakness as a bloody good joke. “It is a task. Just like any other.” A bald-faced lie if ever she told one.
His nostrils flared, the platinum in his eyes shining bright. “Then why do I smell your cunny growing wet with need?”
Holly stopped, her palm flat against his pectoral muscle, as more slick heat flooded her sex. Oh, this was beyond the pale. What on earth had gotten into the blasted demon? “Being crude is not going to get a rise out of me, Mr. Thorne.”
A small, cruel smile curled his lips. “Not going to deny it, are you, Miss Evernight?”
“Blather.” She took up stroking an area tangled with platinum webbing with more force than necessary. “That is all you’re about. Ridiculous blather. And I will not engage in such nonsense.”
Holly concentrated on pulling the metal from him. Not on his scent, clean and pleasing in the space between them. Or the way his skin grew increasingly warmer.
When he spoke again, it was soft, teasing. “Do you know that when I said “cunny” your sweet scent grew stronger?”
Again she stopped. His dense muscles tightened beneath her nails. “Mr. Thorne—”
“Do you wonder,” he whispered, holding her gaze with his, “if my cock is affected?” A dark brow lifted, his fangs glinting. “If it is more metal than flesh? Hard for you?”
She would not look down at the appendage in question. It was difficult enough to pretend each time that she wasn’t aware of that part of him, or that she hadn’t seen it grow and lengthen beneath the covers. Oh, she knew precisely how long and thick he was, and precisely how aroused. Each and every time.
His gaze upon her burned. “Do you want to see my cock, Miss Evernight? Feel it move inside of you?”
Gods, he made her feel empty, made her want to be filled up. Her hands turned to fists. “Stop it. Now, Mr. Thorne.”
He rose up on his elbows, his white hair sliding over his broad and dusky shoulders, his defined abdomen tightening. “Or. What?”
Holly sat back on the stool by the table, placing her hands upon her lap so that he wouldn’t see them trembling. “Why are you doing this?”
She could not look away from the black and platinum starburst of his gaze, so very brilliant. So very angry and taunting. Her nails dug into her palms. “Find your amusement elsewhere.”
His lean hips canted just a bit, an utterly crude gesture that held her in thrall. “I’d rather find it with you.”
“I’m helping you, aren’t I?” She hated how the words came out in a near-desperate pitch. But he had to stop. Agitation had her breath coming on hard and fast, pressing her now-heavy breasts against her too-tight bodice.
“Helping me,” he scoffed. “Do not skew this into some act of kindness. You do so that I won’t kill you.”
“Is it kindness that you want?” She laughed without humor. “A funny way you go about getting it.” She leaned forward in her anger. “Why are you saying these things? Truly? Why are you acting like such a… disgusting arse?”
He shot upright, his chest bumping into hers before she backed away a pace as if seared. “Because you never react during these torture sessions,” he ground out. “Because I want that rise out of you. I want you to…” He bared his teeth, those evil-looking fangs growing longer. “I want to know if you feel—”
His teeth ground together, his eyes wild and silver-black.
“Feel?” she prompted as if her heart wasn’t beating madly.
“Anything!” he roared. “Jesus.” He ran a hand through his hair. “You touch me every day. You rub your hands all over me. And nothing! Not a flicker of emotion. As if I didn’t exist.” The expanse of his chest heaved with exertion, the sinewy muscles along his abdomen clenching. “And all the while I’m lying here aching, fucking dying to… You’re driving me to insanity,” he finished with a wild shout. “And it means exactly nothing to you—”
She grabbed hold of the back of his neck and kissed him. Just as she’d wanted to, her lips claiming his parted ones, shutting off the stream of words that flowed from him. His lips were soft and warm, and touching them set off a rush of lust that coursed along her limbs. He froze, going so tense that his neck felt like ice. For all of one second. And then he attacked. His hands plunged into her hair and gripped the sides of her head as he fell back, hauling her with him, devouring her with quick, biting kisses, punctuated by helpless groans.
Breathless and dizzy, she answered every kiss, opening her mouth when his mouth demanded it. They both shivered when their tongues slid together.
“Hell,” he moaned, licking along her bottom lip. “Hell, I knew you’d taste so bloody good.” He angled his head, plunging his tongue in deep as his hands held her captive. The gesture wicked and decadent. Grunting, he spun them, pressing her into the table with the strength of his body. His thigh nudged between hers, and her skirts slid up. Instantly, his hand was there, long fingers trailing along her skin. “I’m not stopping,” he growled into her mouth. “So don’t ask me to.”
Holly tore her lips from his and grabbed a handful of silken hair. She held him fast and hard. “You’ll stop if I say so.”
Thorne paused, his lips brushing hers as he breathed heavily through his mouth. Hot, black eyes bore into her. “Are you asking me to stop?” He was so still and careful that she knew he would, despite his claim.
A fire raged through her veins. And the need to suckle his curved lower lip had her voice turning rough. “No.”
About Kristen Callihan
Kristen Callihan is a child of the eighties, which means she’s worn neon skirts, black lace gloves, and combat boots (although never all at once) and can quote John Hughes movies with the best of them. A lifelong daydreamer, she finally realized that the characters in her head needed a proper home and thus hit the keyboard. She believes that falling in love is one of the headiest experiences a person can have, so naturally she writes romance. Her love of superheroes, action movies, and history led her to write historical paranormals. She lives in the Washington, D.C., area and, when not writing, looks after two children, one husband, and a dog – the fish can fend for themselves.
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1tghc5t
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By: Barbara Fisher,
A love of reading, writing and a passion for adventure are the themes of a new competition, with children aged ten and under being asked to put their imagination and creativity into action by writing a story about Lottie and her holiday adventures.
The competition is a chance for one lucky child to win a selection of ten books from the Lottie Pinterest folder ‘Great Books for Girls
’ (that boys can read too!), in addition to winning exclusive new Lottie products before they hit the shops.
Entering the competition is very straightforward;
Parents and guardians are asked to download a printable template from the storywriting app on the Lottie dolls Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/lottiedolls
so that kids can use this as a starting point for their story. Parents are then required to take a photo of their child’s story and upload it onto the storywriting contest Facebook app and fill in a form to grant parental permission for their child’s entry to be considered for the competition. Full terms and conditions of the competition are to be found at:
Disclaimer; I received no financial compensation for writing this post and have no material connection to the brand or products mentioned.
Decided to draw some fruit. These are some fruits I ate in the last few days. They are the peach, plum and banana. Decided to use a different brush and stay with it. It turned out ok. I’m still unable to get accurate edges and detailing. Drawn on Corel Painter X3 with Soft Oil Pastel […]
generally, the people who live in big cities are used to seeing things behind bars. in the zoo, in cages, and even public spaces like squares, which are surrounded by gates or wire fences which are open or closed to us depending on some law or someone's desires, so we are forced to see things severed, not complete.
Launching writer's notebooks by giving kids a peek into my own
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Does your dog seem to experience panic anxiety when he or she experiences loud noises such as thunder, lightning, and fireworks? Does your dog or your cat for that matter start to shave and quiver? Hide under furniture or behind furniture? Cower in the bathroom near the toilet.
Symptoms of Stress
If you see any of these signs, your animal is experiencing storm or loud noise phobia. There is a litany of other symptoms that you may see: your dog is pacing; your dog is looking for a place to hide; your dog pees on the floor; your dog is a nervous wreck; your dog looks at you with big brown eye that say “Please do something, just don’t sit there!”
A True Story
And how do you feel about all of this? Do you wish that you had a possible solution up your sleeve? Well, I’ve been there and done it. I’ve felt like racing to the vet through a howling storm, where all the traffic lights in my town and the next were down. I actually did this, and intersections were a gamble on living or not because there were other crazy people on the road, but not all were headed to their vet. Yes, there were a few close calls. And what did the vet do? The vet prescribed some mild medicine for Roscoe. So, that’s one solution: doggy medicine to calm raw nerves.
Other Possible Solutions?
1. Hug Therapy —Maybe your dog just needs some extra hugs and reassurance. Snuggle up in a blanket and whisper soothing words to your dog. Don’t feed them a stack of treats. This might reinforce the behavior that you want to see fade. Just let your four-legged family member know it loved, and the world isn’t really ending.
2. Thundershirt Therapy--for your dog or cat—According to the manufacturers, this shirt or sweater is 80% effective in reducing the stress of storms, travel, separation, and other anxiety causing events. Check out what PetSmart.com has to offer you and your four-legged buddy. The odds are in your favor.
3. Be Proactive Therapy —Let rover become used to noise in general, especially if you get your dog as a puppy. Play your CDs periodically in the house over an extended period of time, and from day to day increase the volume, while rewarding him or her with treats. This will develop a liking for music and noise. It won’t become a big deal.
4. If All Else Fails Therapy—race through the storm to see the vet, but be careful on the wet, slipper roads. Or better yet, be prepared with mild, safe medicated treats. If prescribed correctly, they will not turn your dog into a four-legged zombie. Certified veterinarians Know what they are doing.
BONUS: Ah, now you can relax, you have solved your dog’s problem by implementing one of the above four ideas. So pour yourself a lemonade with lots of ice, and consider writing in your diary or journal how you solved this problem. Enjoy a laugh about the whole situation. If you have any emotional pain left you could even write about traumatized dog to get the pain out.
Does that suggestion sound farfetched? Like I said, I have been there, and here’s a poem that I wrote for Picture Poetry on Parade! Yes, it contains bathroom humor, but it also contains a subtle message: if your dog has this problem, it’s time to do something about it. And please don’t punish your dog for misbehaving. He’s not a “bad dog.”
THUNDER & LIGHTNING
CRASH! CRACK! CRASH!
RIPPLE, RIPPLE, CRASH!
BOOM! BOOM! CRASH!
PITTER! PITTER CRASH!
My dog who is afraid of nothing
is afraid of thunder & lightning.
He hates BOOM! BOOM!
CRASH! CRACK! CRASH!
He hides under the table,
shaking in terrible fear,
refusing to do his “business” outside
on the dark, wet lawn.
BOOM! BOOM! CRASH!
Poor Roscoe, hunched under the table…
BOOM! BOOM! CRASH!
SLASH! SPLASH! PLOP!
PLOP! Oh, no!
That’s mom’s new rug!
She’s going to call you “BAD DOG!”
But you just hate thunder & lightning.
“I love you, Roscoe. but I don’t like cleaning up.