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Viewing: Blog Posts from All 1562 Blogs, since 12/19/2007 [Help]
Results 37,176 - 37,200 of 164,290
37176. SI 54 Award Winners

A big year for me at Society of Illustrators, I got 9 images in the show and also another piece I art directed. So thankful and humbled. The most prestigious illustration show in the world! I can only show 8 images, so I need to pull one of these, any thoughts? 

All six from my Rolling Stone Trivia package, in the series category: 

Three from my dickens book:

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37177. Help Mr. GreenBeanSexyMan Find a New Read!

If you've read my blog, you know Mr. GreenBeanSexyman (aka Andy, my husband). He enjoys reading, yet he is the one person who can continually stump me when it comes to finding him something to read.

You see, he loves epic fantasy and that's the one genre I don't really read (well, adult epic fantasy). Here are his rules:

-Swords and Sorcery
-Dragons a plus
-No Guns (although I made him read an article from Brandon Sanderson about his new book with guns and I'm hoping that changes his mind ;)
-Prefer male main characters, but open to some female main characters
-Would like it to be a series that is still being written that has some following and reviews
-Intelligible names-(if he has to look up a pronunciation, chances are he won't read it)
-Complex characters and plot
-No D&D World-he's read many of them

See what I mean?

He's enjoyed Harry Potter, Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson, Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin, Sword of Truth by Terry Goodkind, and Riftwar Saga by Raymond Fiest, The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss.

(He's trying Robert Jordan but says the characters are too simple)

So I'm turning to you, dear blog readers. Will you help me find a book for Mr. GreenBeanSexyMan to read? He's open to adult and some YA.

And dear readers, will you PLEASE help me convince him that if he doesn't like a book he can put it down?? :)

13 Comments on Help Mr. GreenBeanSexyMan Find a New Read!, last added: 11/18/2011
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37178. Facematch

When Carolyn Mackler and I had one week left to edit The Future of Us, we began to get a bit loopy. Too many late nights, too many donuts (for me), and too much staring at the computer screen was a little...too much!

One evening, during a late night barrage of back-n-forth emails with my cross-country co-writer, one of us had a fascinating realization. Our book is set in 1996. Our characters initially have no idea what Facebook is, though it magically appears on one of their computers. So, when they search for their friends and family members in the future, the profile pictures they see then would be the same pictures we'd see if we searched those names today.

Thus began an absolutely hilarious (especially when you're tired) email exchange, linking to the various Facebook profiles our characters would find. And sometimes, the pictures they'd find, which just might be their friends/family, would have freaked them out!

But you know what's making me loopy right now? Knowing that my next book comes out in just a few days!!!

Speaking of... If you haven't seen the EW.com exclusive yet, here's the official book trailer for The Future of Us.

Did you notice that little stuffed animal next to Emma's computer? That's Snort, a Beanie Baby that Emma could've actually owned. And how do I know its name? Because my parents still own it!

1 Comments on Facematch, last added: 11/16/2011
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37179. Harry Sewing A Balloon

A recently inked Maddy Kettle panel, with Harry showing one of his many skills. Silvio is playing banjo in the background. So, I've set a deadline for myself to have the first book half finished by Christmas and the rest finished by Spring. So suddenly I feel like there's not enough hours in the day. Although, the inking is going very, very well. I can actually see a lot of improvement in my inking. There's more control. If I have a major complaint about my inking is that it can get unintentionally sloppy, I'm not aware it looks sloppy until after, but I seem to be getting past (passed?) that. 

2 Comments on Harry Sewing A Balloon, last added: 11/17/2011
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37180. Interested in self-publishing?

There's a LOT of talk about self-publishing and electronic publishing (not the same thing!) going on.  If you're hearing the siren song, one thing to do is find out how it all works before diving in.

One good way to do that is this webinar offered by Meredith Barnes via Writer's Digest.

4 Comments on Interested in self-publishing?, last added: 11/16/2011
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37181. CBC Extreme Trivia Night

When I was Marketing Director of the Children’s Book Council, the Early Career Committee had their first few Extreme Trivia Nights — held annually in November. For those first few years, I sat in the back sitting on my hands because I could not compete. Of course, I’d helped with some of the questions, so it would not have been fair.

Since then, I have not competed because I was never in NYC at the time of the event…but that changed last night. As I spent two days meeting with editors, librarians, and other children’s literature opinionmakers, my mind often drifted elsewhere — to Tuesday night — when I could compete in my first Extreme Trivia Challenge!

Hosts: Gabrielle Zvirin and Carolyn Mackler

So last night, I approached the Scholastic building in Soho with eager anticipation. I ran into old friends and met a few new ones, but then it was on to round one.  We were assigned teams (roughly randomly, but I did notice that all of the former winners were on separate teams) — here is my team:  Team 1

Sarah Barley (Harper); Julie Leung (Random House), Michelle Bayuk (Albert Whitman), Amy Allen (Henry Holt), Dana Bergman (Penguin)

I told them immediately that I wanted to win. We talked specialities — mine being that I have read all the Newberys. One woman was a fantasy fiction fan.  Another read very widely as an editorial assistant in a paperback house. We felt we had a fighting chance.

So, round one had NO NEWBERY QUESTIONS and for a run of about 5-6 questions in the middle I had not read any of the books mentioned. On the plus side, we had to name three of the dwarfs from THE HOBBIT and one of our team members could remember four. We did very well on the name the movie based on a children’s/YA book based on the actor — just missed one. And we completely guess on one question — and we got it exactly right!

In the end, we were in the middle of the pack – perhaps in the upper half — but the first round went to Team 5 and Team 10.

Round Two featured a Jeapardy-style board with various categories — including “Book Meets Book.” This category featured the best question of the night — I don’t remember the clue, but the answer was BOXCAR CHILDREN MAKE TERRIBLE PETS.

This category helped propel Team 10 to the win in round two — but then came the final question where both teams had to wager points based on the category (again Jeapordy-style, but the answers were not in the form of a question in any round).

And there was my Newbery question — and I would not have had the answer. I knew I’d read the book in question — the clue was a quote from the book. The answer: MANIA MAGEE.

Neither team had the answer, but Team 5 wagered more points than Team 10 — so Team 10 won the treasured Golden Bunny statues. My friend Heather Scott (Scholastic) won her second first place Golden Bunny!  (She’d also been on a second place team awhile back.)  Congratulations!


I wonder if I can be in NYC at the right time next year?

2 Comments on CBC Extreme Trivia Night, last added: 11/17/2011
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37182. Catching up on a Classic: The Phantom Tollbooth

Here on the TeachingAuthors blog, we've been discussing the classic children's books we never read till adulthood. The series was inspired, in part, by Esther's interview with Leonard Marcus in honor of the release of The Annotated Phantom Tollbooth last month. When Esther first told me about the new book, I felt a twinge of guilt--I'd never read the original Phantom Tollbooth. So I suggested this topic to motivate me to finally read Norton Juster's masterpiece. If you're wondering what classics and must-reads you may have missed, be sure to check out the links in the Writing Workout below.

I wasn't reading yet in 1961 when The Phantom Tollbooth was first published, but that was no excuse for my not reading this classic. When, as an adult, I became interested in writing for children, I began reading voraciously in the field. Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time, which Mary Ann blogged about on Monday, was one of the many children's books I came to as an adult that I fell in love with. (Unlike Mary Ann, I'm somewhat of a Math geek, which made me love L'Engle's book all the more!) Yet, despite a number of fellow children's literature enthusiasts telling me that Tollbooth was one of their all-time favorites, I never made time to read the book, until Esther's interview with Leonard Marcus inspired me to do so a few weeks ago.

I'm happy to report that I thoroughly enjoyed the book. The wordplay and puns are great fun, but the Math geek in me was especially happy to see the book's celebration of numbers. I was also impressed at how Juster wove important themes about the value of education and action into such an entertaining read. One of my favorite paragraphs (among many) was:
"You must never feel badly about making mistakes," explained Reason quietly, "as long as you take the trouble to learn from them. For you often learn more by being wrong for the right reasons than you do by being right for the wrong reasons."
I believe the combination of entertainment and enduring themes contributed to making The Phantom Tollbooth such a classic. I'm grateful to Leonard Marcus for bringing this book back into the spotlight. In case you missed the short video in which Norton Juster, Jules Feiffer, and Leonard Marcus discuss the book's creation, I've embedded it below, or you can watch it at YouTube here.

Are there any classic children's/young adult books you missed reading as a child or teen? If so, please share their titles in the comments below. And if you need suggestions of children's/YA books now considered "must reads," see the Writing Workout below. 

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37183. Don't Punish Everyone!

Mr. Bryne over at Free Technology 4 Teachers shared this video on his blog.  The video explains how ridiculous it is to punish the entire group for the wrongdoing of one customer... or patron or student or child. We have all done it. 1 kid prints 90 pages from Wikipedia on the color printer (on accident) so the color printer is BANNED forever! 1 teacher goes to Youtube everyday during lunch and watches music videos, so the district bans the site forever. Even my own daughters- Leah put stickers on the back window of my car and guess what? Stickers were banned FOREVER (from the car). We shouldn't make policies or rules when we are upset. Those policies tend to punish everyone- and everyone ends up feeling bad. "Why am I punished? I didn't use the color printer!!!" Thanks, Mr. Byrne for sharing this. It is something for us to consider as teachers, parents and librarians.

1 Comments on Don't Punish Everyone!, last added: 11/16/2011
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37184. National Book Awards Guess the Plot

Each of the titles below belongs to a book nominated for this year's National Book Award (fiction). You should have no trouble figuring out which of the plots are fake and which are real.

The Sojourn

1. In a distopian future America, a man and his children struggle to make their way to the safety of San Diego.

2. A passionate journey of the senses that explores the boundaries of time and space, transcending the barriers of race, class and religion, to ultimately triumph in a joyful celebration of life, love, and what it means to be human. Also, mad scientist penguins on rollerblades.

3. Jozef leaves Colorado and goes to Austria-Hungary to be a shepherd. But then World War I breaks out, and Jozef finds himself enduring a perilous trek across the Alps.

4. Ralph and Edna have traveled worldwide and this is their story, a story of roaches, dusty sheets, parking lot views, thieves in the night, and rude clerks. Around the world on a shoestring of hellish motels.

5. When his motorbike breaks down in Kenya, Chenda must spend three days at a hotel that caters to rich tourists in an animal preserve. Though he has long ached to be wealthy himself, he finds that the wealthy tend to be assholes.

6. Emily, a harassed mother of four children under five years steps out of her life for a few days. In her hotel room, she overhears a terrorist plot to poison the water supply. Does she have to do something about it when all she really wants is some goddam sleep?

The Tiger's Wife

1. Soft-spoken Rarrgh and his new mate Aragha must make a perilous journey across India with their cubs to the fabled Shangri-La as the ice-cap flows down from the poles in the next ice-age.

2. Investigating her beloved grandfather’s death, Natalia searches for clues in his worn copy of The Jungle Book and the one story he never told her: the legend of . . . The Tiger’s Wife.

3. Carlotta is delighted with her new transgendered self. Next challenge: a transpecies change involving genuine tiger fur. And romance with a handsome tiger might be on the cards, and d' you know what? He's even looking at rings...

4. They call him The Tiger because he's ferocious in the boxing ring. But at home in Santo Domingo, he is tormented by his cruel, overbearing spouse. Perhaps his success in the ring stems from imagining his opponent is his wife?

5. In the schoolyard game they play, Garrett is the tiger who chooses a wife-- Alice. But lately, Garrett's been playing with the new girl, Sandra. What Sandra doesn't know is that when Alice gets really, really mad she turns into a REAL tiger. Sandra should have stuck to Duck, Duck, Goose.

6. In a distopian future America, the widow of a baseball player killed by Detroit cops struggles to lead her children to the safety of San Diego.

The Buddha in the Attic

1. A group of Japanese mail-order brides come to America and have miserable lives with their new husbands. At one point Haruka places a laughing Buddha in the corner of the attic, where it is still laughing to this day.

2. Stoners Bud and Rick's house is so smokey and ripe with green growth that their attic reincarnates the Buddha, much to the delight of Bud and Ri

8 Comments on National Book Awards Guess the Plot, last added: 11/17/2011
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37185. Big Fish

3 Comments on Big Fish, last added: 11/17/2011
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37186. Poetry and me at NCTE

I'm heading off to the NCTE convention and looking forward to several poetry sessions and will be presenting one myself along with a lovely panel of poetry people. I hope to report on those sessions with film and video when I return-- J. Pat Lewis is receiving his NCTE Poetry Award, as well as speaking, there will be a "parade" session of other poetry award recipients, Joyce Sidman and Pat Mora will be speaking at the annual "Master Class" session, and Joyce is also the CLA Breakfast speaker (where we'll be finalizing the art auction, too). Plus, informal gatherings and excellent exhibits. Very fun and poetry-filled!

But first, I would like to toot my own horn, if you don't mind. Plus we have a freebie to promote! Here are the details on my session if you're in Chicago and free early Saturday morning! Janet Wong and I are offering free copies of our forthcoming e-book of holiday poetry for kids to all who come early.

Poetry for Paupers from Recitation to E-Books; Infusing Poetry into the Classroom
National Council of Teachers of English Annual Convention
Chicago, IL
Sat., Nov. 19, 2011
Chicago Hilton

*Yours truly
*Janet Wong, Author and Poet, sponsored by Charlesbridge
Autographing Sat., Nov. 19 (3-4pm) at Charlesbridge booth #1120
*Laurie Purdie Salas, Author and Poet, sponsored by Clarion Books
Autographing Sat., Nov. 19 (11am-12pm) at HMH booth #105
*Stephen Young, Program Director, Poetry Foundation, Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest
*Youssef Biaz, Alabama, 2011 Poetry Out Loud national champion (great to have a teen on our panel!)

Here's the session description:
Why is poetry for young people so important? Poetry embodies emotion and imagination that help connect readers and listeners across barriers of culture, ethnicity, and even age. As Emerson said, poetry teaches us the power of a few words, helping us see old things in new ways. It can make us laugh out loud, or stop and think. How do we find ways to share poetry when financial resources are so tight? Inexpensive teaching materials and resources, from the old fashioned tried-and-true to the cutting edge e-reader, offer new and inexpensive approaches for connecting kids and poetry. These resources allow us to bring poets and poetry into the classroom through multiple media using print, visual, and digital tools.

This session will introduce participants to a variety

3 Comments on Poetry and me at NCTE, last added: 11/16/2011
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37187. Army of Darkness returns from Dynamite

AOD01 Cov mychaels Army of Darkness returns from Dynamite
One of its early hits but on hiatus for a while, Army of Darkness is coming back from Dynamite in a new series with a new female Ash who wears her underwear 2005-style. . Based on the Evil Dead trilogy, the new series is by writer Elliot Serrano and artist Marat Mychaels.

Written by Elliot Serrano and drawn by Marat Mychaels, with covers by Tim Seeley and Marat Mychaels, Army of Darkness returns to comics with a new #1 next February 2012!  In issue #1, A new chapter in the Army of Darkness saga begins! As the evil of the Necronomicon spreads across the cosmos, a new ally in the war against the Deadites emerges. Who is the woman named “Ash” and what relation does she have to “The Chosen One” Ashley J. Williams? And who is the alien Deadite creature who follows her across time and space? The answers lie deep within the pyramids of ancient Egypt…in a parallel universe! The adventures of everyone’s favorite chainsaw swinging, boom-stick wielding hero continue!  Be sure to get Army of Darkness in February, 2012!

“With the relaunch of the Army of Darkness series, we’re hoping to take the story of Ashley J. Williams’ struggle against the forces of the Necronomicon in interesting new directions, while remaining faithful to the spirit of the original film,” says writer Elliot Serrano.  “We’re going to meet new characters, face bigger baddies and explore what it truly means to be the ‘Chosen One’ in the AOD universe.  Starting with Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell, so many talented people have contributed to the AOD mythos – not only in the movies but also in comics and video games – and living up to their efforts has been a real challenge. But I’m also drawing inspiration from those creators who’ve gone before me. As a HUGE AOD fan myself, I’m trying to tell a story that I would love to read myself!”

AOD01 Cov Seeley Army of Darkness returns from Dynamite

“I have had a chance to work on a lot of very cool projects through the years, but working on Army of Darkness with Elliot Serrano has been one of the best,” adds artist Marat Mychaels. “Having a chance to add to the AOD mythology is very creatively satisfying.”

The Evil Dead is a trilogy of horror films created by Sam Raimi. The films focus on the protagonist, Ashley “Ash” J. Williams, played by Bruce Campbell, who deals with “deadites”, which are undead antagonists created by the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis. Released in 1992, Army of Darkness is the last film in the franchise so far, taking Ash back in time to England in 1300 AD.

9 Comments on Army of Darkness returns from Dynamite, last added: 11/17/2011
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37188. SOLSTICE in Brazil!

I am beyond excited to announce that Brazilian rights for SOLSTICE have sold!

From Publishers Marketplace:

Brazil rights to P.J. Hoover's SOLSTICE, to Novo Conceito, by Sandra Bruna Literary Agency, on behalf of Taryn Fagerness Agency and Laura Rennert of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

Whoo hoo! In case you haven't heard of Novo Conceito, they are the same publisher who has picked up other awesome YA books like ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins and JULIET IMMORTAL by Stacey Jay, along with books by Nicholas Sparks and Barbara Walters.

How do you say "totally awesome news" in Portuguese? Go SOLSTICE!

22 Comments on SOLSTICE in Brazil!, last added: 11/18/2011
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37189. Why Picture Books Matter

Stories were different, though:  they came alive in the telling...  
like seeds in the beak of a bird, waiting to fall to earth,  or the notes of a song laid out on a sheet, yearning for an instrument to bring their music into being... Once someone started to read them, they could...take root in the imagination, and transform the reader. 
Stories wanted to be read... They needed it. It was the reason they forced themselves from their world into ours. 
They wanted us to give them life.
- John Connolly, The Book of Lost Things

It's Picture Book Month.

Some say picture books are a dying breed,
that it's better to skip kids ahead to bigger and better
as soon as possible.

My two cents?

Picture books go deep,
offer layers of learning,
teach children before we even realize they're paying attention.

Picture books teach art, rhythm, humor, language, nuance.

Picture books help us observe,
listen, question,

picture books give us
snuggles with best friends,
undivided parent time.

If books are seeds to the imagination,
and picture books seeds to a life of learning,
what will our culture become
if we lose them?

For some great posts by authors and illustrators on why this particular book form is so

3 Comments on Why Picture Books Matter, last added: 11/16/2011
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37190. Frustration, Pain, Anguish, and Disappointment

First - here is another sketch for my monster app - The monsters are coming! This is going to be a really good test in marketing when I'm finished. Not only will I have it programed for Ipad/iphone but also Kindle Fire so I'll have a good comparison on these two retail giants. I don't ever know whether to call it an app or an ebook - if I call it an app people think it's a game - ebook and they might not look for it in the app store. Confusing.

Ok, what's up with all the frustration and pain talk? Over the years I've gotten to know quite a few artists and I've realized that most of us share something that I don't think the 9 to 5'ers have. We often bleed for our art. I'm not saying that people that work a shift don't care about their jobs and aren't dedicated but I do think that in general, artists have to invest much more emotionally.

There's nothing like the euphoria of working on a piece that's really working - at times it's almost like it's painting itself and you're just there as an observer. But, when it's not working out the agony is often hard to bare. I used to burn paintings every now and then it while it relives a little stress it still haunts you until you right the wrong you created. When a painting is going south the lies begin, "it's not that bad"..."it's good"..."it will start looking good after I finish the figure"...We want it so bad that we're willing to overlook obvious major problems - kind of like I do with my kids. :)

I've had students crying in my classes before because their paintings were heading straight to hell. I tell them that their tears are a great sign. Tears over paintings mean that you have the aesthetics and sensibilities to know that you aren't hitting the vision you have in your mind. That you know you are much more than your creation. That your expression is being stifled by the skills you have yet to attain. There's nothing sweeter than scratching, clawing, and bleeding for your art when it attains your vision. If it were easy it would be common and worthless.

7 Comments on Frustration, Pain, Anguish, and Disappointment, last added: 11/19/2011
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37191. Two new books from 4RV

I am delighted to say that two new books I illustrated have been released by 4RV Publishing, LLC.

The continued adventures of Dilly the Pickle loving rat, by Rena Jones is a heartwarming and humorous romp through an alphabet of possible new friends.  His final choice will lead him right into a new story I am sure.

Another new book, Sammy the Shivering Snowblower, really hit home with me.  Living in the northern New England area we are used to snow and having any kind of help removing the mountains of the white stuff is key to getting where you want to go.  Sammy's story is written beautifully by Mike McNair. He has a flair for humor and pairs that with a genuine care for feelings that we all share.

My basic problem was finding just the right kind of representation for Sammy.  The final cover shows poor Sammy shivering away in the snow. I ended up using our own snowblower as a model of sorts *:)

Both of these books are available on the 4RV Publishing site.  There is a sale going on until Dec. 5.

1 Comments on Two new books from 4RV, last added: 11/16/2011
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37192. Rain Rain Rain

8 Comments on Rain Rain Rain, last added: 11/19/2011
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37193. Books I Am Thankful For: Twilight Series

I really enjoyed Twilight. These were books I raced through and loved. I was a fan of vampires long before Twilight (my favorite always being Stefan Salvatore from The Vampire Diaries when I read those too long ago--for the record, I don't like bad Stefan). They were great reading and escapism.

But here's why I am really thankful for these books--they brought many, many people back to reading YA and they amped up the quality of YA books (and the amount that were published).

I have so many friends willing to try more YA books because of their love for Twilight. We can all thank Stephenie Meyer for that!

2 Comments on Books I Am Thankful For: Twilight Series, last added: 11/17/2011
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37194. Book Giveaway & Author Interview: Aine & Faerie Folk By Kathleen S. Allen

Welcome to Author to Author Kathleen S. Allen

Kathleen has been writing since she self published her first book of poems at the age of eight. Okay, she copied her poetry in her best printing, she hole punched the sides of paper, tied a red ribbon around it, made a construction paper cover and called it her first book! She writes in different genres, but Young Adult fantasy is her favourite.

Website: www.gaelicfairie.webs.com
Facebook: Witch Hunter https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Witch-Hunter/142372955812353
Guest blogger every Wednesday on www.downtownya.blogspot.com

What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? 
A bagel with a schmear and tea.

Night owl, or early bird? 
I am a night owl. I stay up late reading and yet I still get up around eight every morning.

If you could jump in to a book, and live in that world.. which would it be? 
Pern. I want to be a either a dragonrider or a Harper Hall singer, Mellony is one of my favourite characters from the Harper Hall Trilogy. I love Anne McCaffrey, she's one of my I-hope-I-can-meet-her-someday-writer.

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? 
Ireland, on the coast near Galway. My great-grandmother was from Ireland and I've always felt a connection to the country even though I never been there. That's why I set both AINE and FAERIE FOLK in Ireland.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you "grew up"? 
An actress, a singer or a writer. I recall when I was entering high school the career counselor asked me that question and I said, "An actress." And she said, "well, what else? Something practical." I remember walking out of her office thinking she was wrong, I was going to be an actress. . . or a singer. . . or a writer.

You have won one million dollars what is the first thing that you would buy?
A cottage on the Irish coast so I could write my fantasies there. Of course there'd have to be WiFi nearby!

Finish the sentence- one book I wish I had written is....
The Dragonriders of Pern

In your wildest dreams, which author would you love to co-author a book with? 
JK Rowling or Anne McCaffrey.

Sweet or Salty?
Salty all the way. My favourite food is popcorn popped in a hot-air popper with butter and salt.

Harry Potter or Twilight? 
Harry Potter, hands down. I have a crush on Lupin and Sirius, oh and Snape. I think Lucius Malfoy is gorgeous but he's evil, so no.

What TV show/movie/book do you watch/read that you'd be embarrassed to admit? 
The Rachel Zoe Project. I'm not into fashion at all but I love this show!

What is your favorite Quote? 
"This is reality, Greg."-From E.T.

If you could meet one person who has died who would you choose? 
Shakespeare, maybe I could collaborate with him! Or Elizabeth I, she was a fiery queen. No, wait, King Arthur and Merlin because I am fascinated with Arthur and the whole legend. In fact I wrote two

7 Comments on Book Giveaway & Author Interview: Aine & Faerie Folk By Kathleen S. Allen, last added: 11/18/2011
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37195. "Green Screen" Distraction-free Text Editors

by Deren Hansen

I started playing with computers when green screen, character-mode displays were state-of-the art (I preferred amber over green, but that's another story). Then the original Macintosh (yes, that's what they were before they became hip enough to afford a three-letter name), splashed onto the scene with a full-time graphical user interface (GUI).

A few years later, folks from the English department at the University of Delaware published a study in which they argued that the quality of freshman papers written on a Macintosh was lower than those written on PC-class computers with character-mode displays. Oh, the papers produced on Macs looked better with well-laid-out text and proportional fonts, but (so the authors of the study claimed) the content of those papers was less well-thought-out than the papers composed without graphical blandishments.* They suggested that this was because the students tended to believe that their papers were good (and more importantly finished) because they looked good.

The study and its claims were controversial. But I think there was a kernel of truth in the observation that there's value in a writing system that gets out from between you and your words: that removes even the little distractions like formatting.

Of course, now that we all use graphical interfaces the point may seem moot or at best hopelessly retro. Perhaps, but there are several applications for various platforms that give you a full screen with nothing there but your words in a console font.

I use a package called WriteMonkey on my Windows systems.

Having an editor in which I can focus entirely on my words helps me use my limited writing time well.

You can, of course, achieve a similar effect with the Full Screen mode in your standard word processor. Perhaps it's the retro angle, but I enjoy the Matrix-like way in which the black background fades away and the glowing words float in prose-space.

Of course, life is never as simple as it should be and WriteMonkey has its drawbacks, most of which come back to the fact that it is a text editor, not a word processor. This means that you get plain double quotes instead of the nice opening and closing quotes that Word supplies as you type. Also, Write Monkey doesn't convert a pair of dashes into an em-dash (again, like Word).

I turned this liability into a feature: after writing about a chapter with WriteMonkey, I import the text into Word and use the fact that I need to correct the quotes and em-dashes as an excuse to edit the new material.

For those of you who prefer Macs, I understand that Writeroom provides similar functionality. There's also JDarkRoom, which is written in Java and should run on your platform of choice.

Deren blogs at The Laws of Making.

2 Comments on "Green Screen" Distraction-free Text Editors, last added: 11/16/2011
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37196. Get Your NBA On!

I've been so busy plotting my next novel, I missed yesterday's webcast: Scholastic's David Levithan interviews the NBA finalists in Young People's Literature. Very cool, so check it out when you have a few moments. It made me want to read all of these books...

2 Comments on Get Your NBA On!, last added: 11/18/2011
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37197. Congratulations to the Winners of The Crazy Things Girls Do For Love ARC Giveaway

The winners of my first giveaway have been selected!

Kara D., Keri, Michelle M., and Katie have each won an  ARC of The Crazy Things Girls Do For Love by Dyan Sheldon. I have emailed each of  the winners, and the publisher will mail their prizes as soon as I have their  addresses.

Thanks to everyone who entered! If you missed it, my review of The Crazy Things Girls Do For Love is here. The book will be published next month.

1 Comments on Congratulations to the Winners of The Crazy Things Girls Do For Love ARC Giveaway, last added: 12/10/2011
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37198. One Shot of City Living: Blackout

I’ve never understood the prevalence of farm books for youngsters. Most kids today don’t have daily encounters with cows and pigs. Why then do we ignore the animals of the city? Your squirrels, mice, and pigeons. (Okay, one Pigeon isn’t ignored, and in fact has his own app which you can win for free because it’s really cool, but that’s another post that you should go to. Really.) Besides featuring the farm, picture books are drawn to the countryside setting. Pastures, forests, trees, all sorts of nature everywhere.

Well, it is high time for the city to rise to take its place in children’s literature. With three quarters of the population living in urban/suburban areas, kids can relate to street noises as much as cricket songs. They get cars and trucks and things that go. Here’s another thing: They don’t require a moral tale of how busy/loud/scary the city can be compared to the calm serenity of the countryside. (I’m looking at you, Town Mouse.)

BlackoutYou won’t get that in my featured book for the One Shot of Book City. Blackout, by John Rocco, is both a tribute to the city and a nod to serenity. The story takes place in New York during the famous 2003 blackout. A family is dispersed throughout the house enjoying their God-given right to electricity, when BAM! Power’s out. Everywhere. They head to the roof to escape the summer heat and find the stars filling the night sky and neighbors socializing and it’s all simply fun. When the lights come back, they’ve remembered that sometimes they can have fun without electricity — even when they aren’t forced to do so. The city and the family can return to normal, but keep a little of that special time alive. Let me just interject how much I love the family here. A realistic group with mom busy on the computer and older sister on the cell phone, they also have a look of unspecified racial diversity.

The book is laid out in a modified graphic novel style, though with narrated text as opposed to dialogue. As such, the expressions of the people are needed to help tell the story. The surprise on the family’s faces as they look out on a darkened city. The boredom as they sit around the table expecting the electricity to come back. The stunned wonder as they come out to the roof and see stars — no small thing for city folk to see. Within the dark tones of the illustration, the stories of what becomes a sort of magical night is captured beautifully. Stories like these:

A book not to be missed, Blackout is on the
5 Comments on One Shot of City Living: Blackout, last added: 11/16/2011
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37199. Book City: Historical London

image by Tanita Davis

A while back a group of us were kicking around a collaborative endeavor, and well, we're all pretty busy, so it turned into a celebration of cities. Any city, in any representation, anywhere in the world. An especially great companion to this post, among the many participating, is Sarah Stevenson's Alternate London, over at Finding Wonderland. Check out the entire (growing) tour over at Chasing Ray*

I don't know what it is about London. I don't tend to specifically get into much of the contemporary realistic fiction set there, but historical? I can't really get quite enough. Between Reformation and Restoration and the hell London went through during WWII, I'm fascinated. I intended to give you a list of some of my favorite titles set in historical London, but this post got hijacked - by the latent passion I discovered that I feel toward one of the books:

FitzOsbornes in Exile by Michelle Cooper
I have unbridled love for this second book of the Montmaray Journals. The enormous love I thought I felt for A Brief History of Montmaray pales in comparison for this longer, quieter, less axe-laden sequel. Our fictional royalty has moved off their island nation because of Nazi bombing, and now find themselves in London in the late 1930's as WWII is reving, fascism is creating divisions among and within the classes, and the city has no real understanding of what is in store for them just over the horizon.

Sophie, whose journal we're reading, Veronica, and the rest of the Montmaray Royalty... wait. Let me explain this first. That sounds all posh. It's not...

So, the first book, A Brief History of Montmaray, finds Sophie, her younger sister Henry and her cousin Veronica holding up the crumbling remains of their castle as her uncle the King gets progressively more insane, and her brother comes home more infrequently. They get by on selling the treasures of their formerly wealthy kingdom. They don't have much left and are the very picture of impoverished royalty. Then the Nazi's arrive. The Nazi's have their eye on their small but strategically located island nation for a couple of reasons. The impact of this results in lots of drama, some lethal axe-wielding, and some things that aren't going to be shared with the high society the group finds themselves plunged into at the start of FitzOsbornes in Exile. They've lost control of their beloved and historic nation, and they want it back. Now in the titular exile, and having fled to London and the estate of their long-expat, and very wealthy, Aunt Charlotte, the girls find themselves torn between Charlotte's expectations (they must be presented to society as proper royals of the highest order, and find very wealthy husbands) and their own concern for Montmaray. The girls, however, are far past the pr

7 Comments on Book City: Historical London, last added: 11/17/2011
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37200. Celebrate the Thanksgiving Holiday with Picture Books & Poetry

10 Fat Turkeys
Written by Tony Johnston
Illustrated by Rich Deas
Scholastic, 2004

10 Fat Turkeys is a “backward” counting book modeled on the Ten Little Indians rhyme that would be fun to read at Thanksgiving time with very young children.

As the book begins, we see 10 fat turkeys "fooling" on a fence—one is reading the Turkey Times…one is strumming a guitar…one is dressed in a tux…one is wearing a bathing cap and googles.

The 10…9…8 countdown begins like this:

Do a noodle dance.
10 fat turkeys,
Fooling on a fence.

“Looky!” says a silly turkey,
Swinging from a vine.
Whoops! Now there are…

9 “Looky!” squawks a goofy turkey,
Trying to roller-skate.
Ooops! Now there are…

I think you can figure out what comes next.

Finally, all the turkeys are gone…and so is the fence. Not to worry though. At the end of the book, we see that the turkeys have found a new place where they can gather together and start fooling around once more.

The humorous illustrations by Rich Deas add to the fun of the goofy, goony, loony turkeys' shenanigans.

Click here to look inside this book.

Written by Jonathan London
Paintings by Gregory Manchess
Candlewick, 2003

Giving Thanks is not a picture book about the Thanksgiving holiday. I would describe it as more of a paean to nature than a story. It is a book about a boy who is learning a deep respect for and appre

4 Comments on Celebrate the Thanksgiving Holiday with Picture Books & Poetry, last added: 11/18/2011
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