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26. Black Friday ’14: For the Ladies

By Hannah Lodge

Though Cyber Monday deals are a few days away and not officially revealed everywhere, we’ve spotted a number of Black Friday top picks from the scattered corners of the internet. Here’s a run-down on some of the best deals in fandom-inspired clothing, cosmetics and decor.

Geek Chic Cosmetics

What it is: Fandom-inspired makeup line, including loose eye shadows, lip glosses and lip sticks (dubbed ‘joysticks’ and ‘geek gloss’)

The sale: 25% off site-wide, beginning at midnight Friday (or is that midnight Thursday, depending on how you look at it…?)

Top pick: The “awesome mix” tin, inspired by Guardians of the Galaxy, comes with six eye shadows, including “12% of a plan” and “The destroyer.”

Where:  http://www.geekchiccosmetics.com/

awesome mix limited edition tin 19 Black Friday 14: For the Ladies

 

Black Milk Clothing

What it is: Original and licensed nylon (including Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, DC, and Bioware)

The sale: 20% off select items on the U.S. site and 30% off select items on the world wide site, in limited quantities, through Monday

Top pick: The Riddler leggings were sold out almost immediately, but the iconic R2-D2 swimsuit is still available

Wherehttps://blackmilkclothing.com/

artoo 2 0 swimsuit 1369789623 1024x1024 200x300 Black Friday 14: For the Ladies

 

Shiro Cosmetics

What it is: Another indie, fandom-inspired make up site, Shiro Cosmetics offered loose & pressed eye shadows, colored glosses, and more

The sale: TBA on Friday, but last year’s sale featured 15% off all items

Top pick: We can’t possibly choose between the “Genius Billionaire Playboy Philanthropist” shadow or the “Cages through the Ages,” Nic Cage-inspired lip gloss set. (Ah, who are we kidding: Cage takes this one)

Where:  http://shirocosmetics.com/

geniusbillionaireplayboyphilanthropist3 Black Friday 14: For the Ladiescagesthroughtheages 400x400 300x300 Black Friday 14: For the Ladies

 

Her Universe

What it is: Sci-fi and comics inspired clothing and accessories, including Star Wars, Doctor Who, and Marvel brands

The sale: Up to 60% off select items, starting Wednesday

Top pick: We’re partial to the Black Widow zip-up jacket

Where: http://www.heruniverse.com/

heruniverse 300x300 Black Friday 14: For the Ladies

 

Fandom Cosmetics

What it is: Though they feature a variety of make-up and cosmetics, Fandom Cosmetics seems to have one of the larger and better fandom-inspired nail polish collections, including Sherlock, Doctor Who, Hannibal, Walking Dead, Justice League, and more

The sale: 40% off select items, starting Friday

Top pick: The Justice League inspired nail polish set, including signature colors of Batman, Superman, Green Lantern and The Flash

Where:  http://www.fandomcosmetics.com/

justice league 300x267 Black Friday 14: For the Ladies

The Geekerie

What it is: Posters and prints, featuring movie, television, and science-fiction inspired images.

The sale: 20% off of bundled items, starting Friday

Top pick: The “Table of Thrones” Game of Thrones-style periodic table – warning, spoilers!

Where: https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheGeekerie

table of thrones 300x255 Black Friday 14: For the Ladies

 

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27. FOODFIC: Please Welcome Greg Carrico, Author of Apocalypstick

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13418049-apocalypstick



Thanks for inviting me to guest post at BWATE. Like most of us, this is super-busy time of year for me. I’m launching a new business this month, preparing for next month’s release of the 2nd book in my super-hero/horror series, Sand, and I’m writing an entirely new six-book series with my awesome new writing partner Jennifer L Oliver. But even with all of this AND the holidays, I simply had to do this post. Food Fiction? Two of my favorite things in one place? Brilliant!

If you are reading this and have never read any of my stories, which is a pretty safe assumption, I write dark science fiction and horror. My first title was a book called Apocalypstick, which contains two short stories about men who wreak havoc upon the world because of the unrealistic ways that they view women.

The first story is a post-apocalyptic tale about a man with extraordinary powers who tries to rescue a handful of humans from a monster-infested Manhattan. As you can probably guess, food is sort of a big deal in any post-apocalyptic setting, and that is equally true with this one. I’m going to leave it there for this story, because I wrote a novel based on "Killing Tiffany Hudson", and what the characters eat -or don’t eat- hints at the Big Secret behind the main character and her twin brother.

The second story in Apocalypstick, "Finding Home", is part paranormal horror and part psychological thriller, and food plays an important thematic role. The story is told in first person from the perspective of a very troubled man who wants nothing more than a happy, normal life in a place he can call home. Chaos and bloodshed ensue.

But along the way he eats! Each mention of food in "Finding Home" is symbolic of the character’s progress in his journey. This made sense to me because nothing says Home like food. At first, he is drinking cheap cola from a can and stale ham sandwiches from a cooler in a minivan he stole from his previous “home.” Later, after he identifies his next dream-home, he enjoys slightly better fare in a hotel. A BLT and fries from room service. Feeling optimistic with his goal in sight, he goes to a movie and has popcorn. Things are looking up!

Like many of us, he has little time for breakfast and grabs a couple of baked goodies from the hotel buffet. But the moment in the story when he truly feels like this new home and family are for him is when he observes a woman cooking dinner for herself and her husband.

It is a simple meal. Baked chicken. Some veggies. Rice. The non-descript food takes a back seat to the fact that this couple’s meal represents the kind life that our main character so desperately craves, but knows he will never deserve. He wants the intimacy of sharing a meal cooked for him by someone who loves him. Eating on trays in front of the television; tossing little bits to the cute dog at his feet: these things belong to someone else. These experiences can never be his.

Ever the optimist, he decides that he has to try and make it work. And if a few more people have to die in the process, well, that’s just how life goes. 

If you decide to see for yourself how this story plays out, you can get Apocalypstick for free from Amazon and most distributors, but be warned. "Finding Home" is creepy. It’s not graphic or gratuitous, but it will probably make your skin crawl. "Killing Tiffany Hudson" is more of an adventure story, and I expand the setting and lives of the characters in my novel Children of the Plague. My super-hero horror series, Sand, is set in the same world as a prequel, and so far includes Book 1: Shadow of the World, and Book 2: Phantom Drift, which will be released after Christmas.



Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Greg!




 
You can find Greg and his books here:




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28. Thanksgiving Bride

I got married on Thanksgiving
And what I remember least
Is the food out on the table,
Though it likely was a feast.

We were young and we were foolish –
Getting hitched on such a day,
But it’s thirty-nine years later
So it all worked out okay.

Still, tonight when I was eating
All that turkey and the sides,
I thought back to being one of those
Unique Thanksgiving brides.

Though in hindsight it was crazy
And we both kind of regret it,
When it comes to anniversaries,
We never can forget it!

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29. Thankful for....



OK, books I have read recently that I have to review.  (Not all in one day, although I read one yesterday and one today.)

I Kill the Mockingbird by Paul Acampora

Half a World Away by Cynthia Kadohata

Dangerous by Shannon Hale

The Madman of Piney Woods by Christopher Paul Curtis

Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff

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30. Art as a literary device in fiction

Bronze of "David," by Verrocchio
Our May 31, 2014 blog discussion included a concept of "ekphrasis," a term referenced by writer Stephanie Coyne DeGhett as a "literary representation of visual art."  DeGhett explored, among other things, the ways that accomplished writers, including Oscar Wilde, Steven Millhauser, Stanley Elkin, and A. S. Byatt, have incorporated actual works of art as focal points in their works of fiction; i.e., in Byatt's Matisse stories.  

There are many ways that visual art might point the way to creating interest and satisfaction in literary constructs, and it has been a topic in several past postings. In this post let's explore how some creative energies that seem evident in a particular work of visual art might prove useful in drawing out a main character's own emotional space, and in a most natural manner.  


I've chosen an example from my recent YA novel, "Leaving Major Tela," about a young woman, Caitlin, reared by a strict, army officer mom, and given an opportunity to find her independence while having to temporarily live with her divorced dad:



The pot fumes were most fragrant near a long, glassed-in porch at one side of the house, and they wandered through the doorway there.  Stopping next to an elephant-leaf palm tree growing in a redwood tub, they lit their cigarettes and listened-in on the conversation.  A dozen boys and girls were there, some sitting on wooden Adirondack lounge chairs; others straddled on straight-back chairs brought out from the dining room.  They passed around the last tokes of a dying roach, held by a metal clip at the end.
“When is he going to get here?” someone named Jay groused.  “This roach is hereby pronounced dead.”
“Product’s been a little tight lately,” his friend said.  “Wouldn’t surprise me if he asked for a price jump on this run.”
“Yeah.”  Jay looked over at the newcomers.  “What kind of junk are you two smoking?”
“Regular old tobacco-stuffed coffin nails, sorry,” Luka said.
“Come over here, and let’s get a look at you,” Jay said.  “Do I know you?”
The two girls walked over to where he sat in a propped-up lounge chair.  “We’ve met before,” Luka said.  “You came to a showing at my mother’s art gallery a few months ago.  We talked, remember?”
“Oh yeah, got it; you were the chick passing around the finger food and champagne. You know, that artist really sucked.  Did you sell any of his stuff?”
“My mom said he had the third biggest opening night sales of any artist she’d handled over the last two years.”
He scowled and turned to Caitlin.  “Were you there, too?  Did you see all that welded brass rod and polished aluminum tube crap?  Do you like that sort of sculpture?”
“Well, I didn’t see the exhibit, but no, it’s not my favorite sculpture.”
“Oh yeah--what is?”
Caitlin studied him.  He could have been twenty or so, a tangle of dark hair, long angular face, nice mouth.  He was so edgy though, and he had her on shaky ground about sculpture.  “Well, I haven’t seen all that much sculpture, just in Art Appreciation, but I often think of Verrocchio’s ‘David,’ and—“
He interrupted.  “Verrocchio’s?  You don’t mean Michelangelo’s?”
“No, I’ve seen Michelangelo’s too, but it’s so muscular, almost too perfect a male body.  Verrocchio’s was this slender, bushy-haired boy dressed in a sort of kilt, holding a sword, standing relaxed and with Goliath’s severed head lying between his feet.  Even just the screen image projected a whole room full of qi.”
“The severed head must have done it for you.  What the hell is qi?”
“Oh, well, you can think of it as his inner energy.”
“Hey, Jay, he’s here,” his friend said.  “Grab your money belt and let’s go.  He’s dealing in the kitchen.”

Caitlin and her friend, Luka, are at a neighborhood party, gathering material on student use of recreational drugs for their school newspaper article.  Caitlin's brief meeting and discussion with the new character, Jay, presented an opportunity to explore a number of his personality traits, and suggest possibilities for a relationship with Caitlin.  The statue of David, by Verrocchio, shows Jay having a sensitive nature--he sometimes attends art shows--and knows something about art.  He affects a macho attitude toward this powerful sculpture, but also seems impressed by Caitlin's response to it.

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31. A Tale of Two Activities - Clémentine Beauvais

If you're reading this post in the morning of the day it's come out, send me a positive brain wave and cross your fingers for me: I'm currently shaking fretting panicking calmly getting ready for a job interview in a university somewhere in the UK...

So I'm taking this blog post as an opportunity to reflect on the difficulties and joys of having another job in addition to writing, one that you really don't want to give up on. Most people tend to assume that I'm secretly dreaming of being a full-time writer. I often hear, 'Are you keeping up the academic side just for the money?'

That's easily answered in MS Paint:

To most people, if you have an 'artistic' side, anything else you do must surely be 'paying' for your artistic activity. If you're not giving up the 'day job', it probably means the artistic one doesn't earn you anything, or not enough. 

Even my academic colleagues have somehow internalised the notion that I would 'prefer' to write children's books as a full-time job; that it's what I really want to do. We were talking at lunch about what we'd do if we won the lottery (yes, students: that's the kind of thing your lecturers and tutors talk about at lunch), and several colleagues said that they'd quit their job immediately. I said I certainly wouldn't stop working - I like my research and teaching, and I'd get bored. The immediate response was, 'But you could spend all the time you want on writing your children's books!'

Frankly, if I really wanted to spend all my time writing children's books... well, I would take the jump and do it. And if I needed a job to subsidise this activity, I probably wouldn't opt for one that requires hours of teaching, reading, essay-marking, meeting-going, networking, jargon-deciphering, revise-and-resubmitting, email-sending at two in the morning, in a crazy incertain job market, with no weekends to speak of, holidays that are in fact conferences, and the absolute impossibility to stick to regular hours.

Well then, are you keeping up the academic job as a safety net, 'just in case the writing doesn't work out?'

(The notion of academia as a 'safety net' is just... I mean, I wish, but...)

If the writing didn't 'work out', it would probably be in part because of the other job. Writing success isn't some esoteric thing that does or doesn't work out according to the unpredictable movements of the stars - the more you work on it, the more likely it is to 'work out'. You might never be J.K. Rowling, but you can get very respectable sales by being strategic, working hard, meeting children and promoting your books. This is more difficult when you've got another job.

So of course, having another job isn't ideal for your publishers, agents and publicists. There is definitely faint pressure to 'quit the day job' and be a full-time author. School visits and festivals often happen during the week. Even if you can make some of it, you can't be one of these writers who do school visits all the time. Therefore your books might not sell as well, and you might not get as high an advance next time, or even asked for another book.

Gone are the days when it was acceptable to write your books in your 'free time', and to decide that this year, you'll only publish one, or none. It doesn't work like that in the UK (to a degree, it still does in France). The publish or perish rule applies here like it does in academia; being a part-time writer will always put you at a disadvantage.

Implicitly, there is pressure also from other authors and illustrators who are full time. There's a very legitimate worry that writers like me contribute to making our activity appear unprofessional, amateurish, dilettantish, something you do 'when you've got the time', or if a partner is subsidising your indulgent bohemian bourgeois lifestyle. I entirely understand this concern, and it does bother me that I contribute to this vision. Authors and illustrators should absolutely be in a position to live - and to live well - thanks to their work. Saying that your writing brings you 'pocket money' or is 'a fun thing on the side' is quite insulting to the rest of the community.

But choosing not to choose is perhaps the only authentic option when you have the luxury of having two activities that bring you different rewards, different challenges and different joys. And many people, I'm sure, secretly want to do not just one thing, but several. Recently a student asked me for career advice (I know, terrifying). She said she was split, because she wanted to be a film maker, but 'not just': she was also considering being a researcher in psychology, or perhaps a teacher, or even a consultant. Why can't we do several things at the same time, when we have so many interests?

I agreed of course, but said the reasonable thing: doing several jobs, especially an artistic one and another 'official' one, is difficult. She said 'Well, you manage it!' I told her 'managing' was a strong word - she doesn't see the moments when I'm marking essays all evening before updating my PowerPoint for a school visit the next day, or playing Google-Calendar-Tetris with deadlines on fiction-writing and article submissions and conference abstracts and book edits.

Since I was making it sound like my life was only slightly less sinister than that of the Baudelaire orphans, she blurted out: 'But you're happy, aren't you?'. I had to admit that I am...

_____________________________________

Clementine Beauvais writes children's books in French and English. She blogs here about children's literature and academia and is on Twitter @blueclementine.

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32. Washington, D.C. Best Kept Secrets

Hi!Washington, D.C. Travel Tips for Families!

I’ve been a United States President fanatic since first grade, so it was only natural that my mom started bringing me to Washington, D.C. during summer vacations. I’ve been there three times, and here are some tips I’ve learned.

Washington D.C. Capitol building

Photo by Nicholas Raymond

Tip #1: Everything is awesome, especially the D.C. Metro.
The Metro is an underground subway, and it is a good way to get around D.C. It’s safe, clean, and easy to use. Within a few days I learned all the lines to take. Some places don’t have a Metro stop nearby, so be ready to walk a little. It will be worth it because you are probably going somewhere awesome.

Tip #2: Get more out of your Capitol building tour.
You can book a tour through the Capitol building website or through your congressional representative. I’ve done both, and the tour from my Congressperson’s office was way better. I got to see more stuff, such as the Brumidi Corridors and the spot where George Washington laid the original cornerstone for the Capitol. It was also a smaller group, so there was more time for questions. Remember to pick up your passes to see a session of the Senate or House of Representatives. If you get lucky, you might be able to see a debate in action. I saw a minor debate and it was totally worth the line.

Tip #3: National Postal Museum: Mail yourself to a great time!
I was really surprised by this museum. I thought it would be boring, but it was extremely fun. It was interesting to see how mail delivery developed from pony carts to modern trucks and airplanes. When I was there I saw a Titanic and Hindenburg exhibit on how these accidents disrupted the mail system. I also learned about a mail dog named Owney.

Tip #4: Make a visit to Woodrow Wilson’s home.
This is not the first thing you think of when you go to D.C. (unless your parents are Princeton University alumni). You get to see Woodrow Wilson’s whole house, from the kitchen to his room. An especially interesting thing is the elevator he used to get around, since he had a wheelchair at the end of his life.

These places are just an introduction to D.C. There is a truckload full of more sites, memorials, branches of government, and museums to visit. Have fun!

Beata, Scholastic Kids Council

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33. Free Fall Friday – Results

Alexander SlaterI want to thank Alexander Slater from the Trident Media Group for agreeing to be November’s First Page Critiquer. All the agents and editors who have been Guest Critiquers are doing this for free because they want to help writers improve their writing. So please realize what a big deal this is to have an industry professional take their valuable time and share their expertise with all of us.

I also want to thank everyone who submits their work for the chance of review. It takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there, but it is the fearless who end up making it to the published book goal line.

This is the last First Page Critique session for 2014. I will announce January’s guest in December.

Here are November’s winners and Alex’s thoughts:

 

TILENIKA, LEGEND OF DEO by Richard Bisbee – YA

Darkness surrounds me as I float, lost, on the wild sea…

“Ghemmi, you must take rest and come to bed this day,” Kiyami said. “Our Tilenika is away now three days. She is young; she cannot swim forever. Even you, stronger than most, would find difficulty swimming in these wild and powerful seas we now have. You also know,” she swallowed hard, “that the giant bullwah fish rise from their depths seeking prey in waters so restless.”

“I know Kiyami, but I will not leave this spot until she returns. I smell Tilenika on the wind and taste her on the sea spray. The waves whisper that she yet swims. Her heart throbs with life as surely as mine. I feel she has not parted from our world.”

Kiyami lowered her head as the wind whipped through her long black hair and blew the tears from her eyes. “I too wish to believe as you, my husband, but…I will pass by later.” She turned and slowly walked away.

Ghemmi’s deep blue eyes continued scanning the water as his floating samong community moved with the waves and currents of the sea. He thought, ‘Tilenika, your spirit is strong, but I feel you are weakening. Take care not to distance yourself from life. I sense you are close, so please come to the signal float I tend. Death only offers change of life…with understanding and wisdom too late to use.’ He closed his eyes as he rocked upon one of the bulbous seaweed kiila floats of the samong. His mind reached out to hers, rippling, spreading, reaching out, like circular rings expanding when a shell is dropped in still water…rippling…reaching out…reaching out.

Suddenly, he felt a strong tug on the line. He sprang to his feet and began pulling length after length of dripping line. “Kiyami!” he yelled, “Sound the alarm! We have a fight ahead!”

Here’s Alex:

TILENIKA, LEGEND OF DEO

The dialogue here has the old-fashioned feel of a 1930’s Hollywood film, with its grandiosity, detail, and heightened exposition. I see this style utilized in many high fantasy projects, as the ornate and otherworldly setting tends to mirror itself in the language. My problem is that I often have a tough time connecting to this lofty speak, as it might simply feel unnatural and overexposed, as in this sample with descriptions like, “stronger than most,” and, “rise from their depths seeking prey.” These are examples of dialogue that tell, rather than show, and in so doing, the voice feels forced, rather than organic. I would say be careful with such a high style, as it leads to easy traps where characters blend into the narrative, rather than stand out. Also, I think it would be for the readers benefit if Tilenika is given just a bit more description – I cannot tell from this first page if this name is that of a character, or a pet, or what, and therefore, it is difficult to get hooked immediately without that knowledge.

 

Fool’s Mate by Chris Friden – YA

Constance Yearly lashed out across the chessboard and stabbed an ice pick into the table beside her opponent’s king. She let it thrum. This pre-match ritual intimidated most foes, but Alastair “The Bellman” Brown didn’t flinch. He kept his focus on the black and white universe at their fingertips.

Constance sat back, concealing her pleasure in his brave resistance. Like so many boys, he was sure of his impending victory. Sure that everything in reach was his to take. Sure of his invulnerability, and that left him entirely vulnerable.

Constance watched him scan the playing pieces again while he tried to ignore the damnable space she’d left empty in the back row. She let that missing matriarch vex him and simmer his impatience as she waited for a sign of weakness.

And as reliably as a Caro-Kann defense, it came. Alastair’s left eye twitched.

Constance lowered her red-gloved hand into a Styrofoam cooler at her feet. She searched for her prize and an apropos expression. Revenge is best served cold? That expression didn’t do this justice.

“I’ll have the match before my Ice Queen melts,” she promised in a tone as chilled as the frozen figurine she dangled from the pinch of her fingers. She clinked her lady––clear except for the small drop of suspended red where a tiny heart might have been––onto the place beside her widower king. “Let’s begin.”

Here’s Alex: 

FOOL’S MATE

This opening sentence contains great action and violence. It’s captivating, original, and memorable. However, by introducing a universally known game like chess, prepare yourself for the reader’s intuitions. Sentences like, “missing matriarch,” confused me until I realized they were still setting up the game. Let that be clearer. Also, I am still left perplexed that Constance is able to stab the ice pick, “beside her opponent’s king,” leaving me wondering where Alastair’s queen is? The great reveal of her piece makes sense, but I’m still unsure of Alastair’s pieces. Overall, an interesting opening, with clear characters and mini-plot set to reveal itself. I like openings that feel they can stand on their own, as this does.

 

Mad Cow Science Club by Jennifer Swanson – Middle Grade

Nick Newton stepped on his shovel and pushed it deep into the dirt. Today was the day. He could feel it. He was going to find something amazing.

“Hey over, here!” Nick’s best friend Rudi Patel shouted excitedly. “Look at this.”

Nick’ heart beat fast as he raced to Rudi’s side. A treaure!

“Omph!” Nick tipped sideways as their other friend and fellow treasure hunter, Rebecca Raintree, elbowed him out of the way. “Take it easy, Beccs, this isn’t the lacrosse field.”

She snorted. “As if you could handle that.” Her dancing eyes and swift grin took the edge off the words. Nick flushed. Rebecca was right. He wasn’t good at sports. Especially lacrosse. Holding the stick while running, throwing, and catching a ball, required way more skill than his

awkward arms and legs could manage. Now science he could do. Nick was awesome at science.

“A skull!” Nick shouted. Yes, today was a good day.

“I thought we were supposed to be looking for dinosaur bones,” said Rebecca. “That doesn’t look like a dinosaur to me. It looks like a cow skull. What’s so special about finding that? This place used to be a farm.”

Nick thrust out his chin. “I think it’s great.” He wasn’t about to let Rebecca take the wind out of his sails. This was the first big discovery for their new science club. And it was going to have a place of honor in their garage clubhouse

“ This would make a great drawing.” Rudi pushed his glasses up on his nose, his brown eyes gleaming, and studied the rock intently.

“Who cares about a dumb ol’ skull, let’s go down to the river and see if we can clean up the shore. That’s what a real science club would do,” said Rebecca.

Nick sighed. Maybe Rebecca was right. This field was a bust. Nick was about to toss the skull aside when he stopped suddenly. His hand froze. Had the sightless skull just winked at him?

Here’s Alex: 

MAD COW SCIENCE CLUB

This first page sets up a fun premise that will seem to blend some fantasy and adventure elements, told with a light touch. I like Rebecca’s strong will, and especially Rudi’s contribution that the skull would make a “great drawing.” This subtle detail speaks volumes about Rudi’s character, and it works to allow the reader to discover Rudi on their own. I feel like more subtlety could be employed for Nick, rather than stopping the action with sentences like, “He wasn’t good at sports. Especially lacrosse.” I know these are essential lines to painting Nick’s character early on, but they stall the action for me in these important first paragraphs. I don’t care that Nick is more inclined towards science class right now – I already kind of understand that with the tension between he and Becca. What I care about is discovering, along with the characters, what they’ve dug up, so avoid characterization when your narrative is in the middle of plot-building.

 

Winter Hare By Laurie J. Edwards – MG

The wolves bared their teeth and slunk closer. Achen scrabbled for a foothold on a huge oak. Splinters bit into her hands and bare feet. Blood pounded in her head and made her ears throb.

A wolf lunged.

Achen yanked her foot upward, scraping it raw. The wolf’s teeth snapped shut, just shy of her foot. The damp breath from its nostrils heated her toes and sent tremors through her body.

Terror propelled her higher. Inch by inch, she dragged her shaking limbs above slavering tongues. Below her, the beasts fanned in a semicircle. Fangs glinted. Yellow eyes glowed, feral in the gloom of winter dusk.

Achen trembled. They waited only for her to tire and lose her grip.

A snarl pierced the air, followed by a high-pitched scream. Then a slab of meat, splattering blood as it flew, arced over the wolves’ heads. The beasts turned, growling, to fight over this chunk of flesh.

While they were occupied, a black-cloaked figure stepped from the trees, drew a bow, and with deadly accuracy sent arrows quivering into the wolves, one by one. When the last carcass lay twitching, the shrouded figure threw back its hood, revealing a mass of coppery curls.

“Mama!” Achen slid down the trunk, not caring that splinters embedded themselves in her palms. She flung herself into her mother’s outstretched arms. Drawing in a shuddery breath, she begged, “Please don’t leave me again, Mama.”

Her mother’s eyes shimmered with tears. “I must, dear heart. You know that.”

Here’s Alex: 

WINTER HARE

This is an action-filled opening that grabs the reader by the throat. I can see the scene, thanks to details like, “heated her toes,” “winter dusk,” and, “quivering into.” The use of fresh language, and spare details allows the reader to fill in the missing details, and that’s a rewarding experience. Trusting the reader always pays off. After re-reading, the only think I am concerned about is Achen’s age, or size. The feral request of not being left along feels rather young, while the ability to climb such a tree is difficult. I think providing the age in this opening would be a detail best kept for later, but again, a word about her size or ability might paint her clearer in my mind. Overall, compelling.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, Agent, Editor & Agent Info, inspiration, revisions, writing Tagged: Agent Alex Slater, First Page Critiques, Improve Writing Skills, Trident Media Group

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34. Ten Library Books I'm Thankful To Have Read This Year


Happy Thanksgiving! I thought I would share the top ten library books I'm thankful to have read this past year. If you love the library, you might want to create a top ten list of your own! I'd love to read your list if you do make one!

1. The Night Gardener. Jonathan Auxier. 2014. Abrams. 350 pages. [Source: Library]

I love and adore Jonathan Auxier's The Night Gardener. Love and adore is probably even an understatement. I read this one twice this year. I have a review here at Becky's Book Reviews and a review at Operation Actually Read Bible.

Here's how this one begins:

The calendar said early March, but the smell in the air said late October. A crisp sun shone over Cellar Hollow, melting the final bits of ice from the bare trees. Steam rose from the soil like a phantom, carrying with it a whisper of autumn smoke that had been lying dormant in the frosty underground. Squinting through the trees, you could just make out the winding path that ran from the village all the way to the woods in the south. People seldom traveled in that direction, but on this March-morning-that-felt-like-October, a horse and cart rattled down the road. It was a fish cart with a broken back wheel and no fish. Riding atop the bench were two children, a girl and a boy, both with striking red hair. The girl was named Molly, and the boy, her brother, was Kip. And they were riding to their deaths. This, at least, was what Molly had been told by no fewer than a dozen people as they traveled from farm to farm in search of the Windsor estate.

2. Goodnight, Mr. Tom. Michelle Magorian. 1981. HarperCollins. 320 pages. [Source: Library]

I checked out the book and the movie from the library. Both are highly recommended!!!

3. Unbroken. Laura Hillenbrand. 2010. Random House. 473 pages. [Source: Library]


This memoir is so intense and compelling!!!


4. Bridge to Haven. Francine Rivers. 2014. Tyndale House. 468 pages. [Source: Library]

Historical fiction set in the 1950s. Would love to see this as a movie!!!

5. The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights. Steve Sheinkin. 2014. Roaring Brook. 208 pages. [Source: Library]

Love this nonfiction title!

6.  Poem Depot: Aisles of Smiles. Douglas Florian. 2014. Penguin. 160 pages. [Source: Library]

Without a doubt my favorite poetry book of the year!!! 

7.  Frozen in Time. Mitchell Zuckoff. 2013. Harper. 391 pages. [Source: Library]

Yes, it's more nonfiction! And, yes, it's set during World War II.

8. The Boy on the Wooden Box by Leon Leyson. 2013. Simon & Schuster. 240 pages. [Source: Library]

More World War II. But it's so good. A Holocaust book for the audience of Number the Stars perhaps. 

9. The Midnight Library. Kazuno Kohara. 2014. Roaring Brook. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

There is something oh-so-magical about this picture book. It just captured my heart.

10.  A Snicker of Magic. Natalie Lloyd. 2014. Scholastic. 320 pages. [Source: Library]

It wasn't easy choosing the final book. Hence why there will be honorable mentions!

Honorable Mentions:

Bo at Ballard Creek. Kirkpatrick Hill. Illustrated by LeUyen Pham. 2013. Henry Holt. 288 pages. [Source: Library]

Free to Fall. Lauren Miller. 2014. HarperCollins. 480 pages. [Source: Library]

Kiss of Deception. (The Remnant Chronicles #1) Mary E. Pearson. 2014. Henry Holt. 489 pages. [Source: Library]

Absolutely Almost. Lisa Graff. 2014. Penguin. 304 pages [Source: Library]

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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35. Get It Done!

It’s the last few days of the National Novel Writing Month challenge. Many of you have already gotten to 50,000 words already (or blown right past it). But I haven’t. I’m still chipping away word by word. Yesterday I filled my belly with turkey and in my current state of post-food bliss I’m thinking about throwing in the towel. Who was the crazy person who decided NaNoWriMo should be in November?

But I shouldn’t give up. The fact that Thanksgiving is part of NaNoWriMo month is a lesson. I should write every day, even with a turkey coma, even when it’s a holiday.

I’m almost there. If you’re in the same boat as me and pushing these last few days to get your word count — let’s do it together! Let’s keep writing.

Here are some words of encouragement for you (and me!).

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dontgiveup1

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first-draft

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comfort-zone

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FinishLine

You’re almost there! Let’s do it together. I’ll see you on the other side of the finish line!


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36. If you want to know the answer to Ruff Christmas?

This picture might give you a little clue about our bellatastically exciting sixth book, Ruff Christmas, or maybe it won't!

If you want to know the answer, then enter the FREE competition to win the only signed copy of Ruff Christmas.  The link is below.



Goodreads Book Giveaway

Ruff Christmas by B.R. Tracey

Ruff Christmas

by B.R. Tracey

Giveaway ends December 09, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

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37. Silvermaigne:Knight Ghoul Hunter

 
 
Paperback, 
A4
Black & White
42 Pages
Price: £7.00
The Silvermaigne line is said to go back to the time of the Ancient Britons. 
 
Silvermaignes ancestors were part of a druidic clan based in the great forest that is today known as Leigh Woods, overlooking the River Severn entering (today) Bristol. All the members of the tribe had white hair from birth and they were known as the mwng arian (Silver Manes). Even the druids bowed to their knowledge of demons, spirits and things of the darkness. 
 
But at a point several centuries ago the family split and took two paths -one embraced magik for its own fight against evil. 
 
For the first time Ben Dilworth looks at this branch of the family and what one of them endures to keep the fight Holy!

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38. What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Bárður Oskarsson


“…’She is totally flat,’ said the rat.
For a while they just stood there looking at her.”

(Click to enlarge and see spread in its entirety)


 

This morning over at Kirkus, I write about the anniversary editions of Robie H. Harris’ It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health and It’s So Amazing! A Book About Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families. These informative and thorough books for children (must-haves for parents and children’s libraries) on sexual health and puberty have been updated for their birthdays this year. Both books are illustrated by Michael Emberley.

That link will be here soon.

* * *

Last week, I wrote here about Bárður Oskarsson’s The Flat Rabbit, and I’m following up with some art today.

Enjoy.


“They went to the park to think. At least the dog was thinking –
so hard that his brain was creaking. Where could they move her?
And what if somebody found her and ate her? …”

(Click to enlarge and see spread in its entirety)


 


“‘Watch the ears!’ said the dog, while carefully peeling her flat legs off the road.
The rabbit was so thin, he was afraid she might tear. …”

(Click to enlarge and see spread in its entirety)


 


“…The dog was quite proud of their excellent work,
but the rat wasn’t convinced the tape would hold. …”

(Click to enlarge and see spread in its entirety)


 

* * * * * * *

THE FLAT RABBIT. Copyright © 2011 Bárður Oskarsson. Translation © 2014 Marita Thomsen. Illustrations used by permission of the publisher, Owlkids, Toronto.

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39. Before Quatermass There Was....DENE VERNON THE THING BELOW

DENE VERNON THE THING BELOW

Writer: Terry Hooper-Scharf
Artist: Gavin Stuart Ross
A4
Black & White
Paperback, 
53 Pages 
Price: £5.00
It was the 1940s and he was the first British comics investigator of the supernatural. Dene Vernon -Man Of Mystery! 
Now Dene Vernon gets his first adventure in 60 years.

Set in the late 1940s, Vernon is recovering from a previous case when he is called upon to investigate mystery deaths in London dockland.

Despite the assistance of one of the Silvermaigne family - famous werewolf, demon and vampire hunters-  it looks as though the threat of Lorimed may be the Man of Mystery's last....

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40. La Bloga: Ten Years And Still Going Strong




November 28, 2004 -- La Bloga's birthday

That first post appeared, seemingly out of nowhere. Ten years later and La Bloga is stronger than ever. Born in conversations between Rudy Ch. Garcia and Manuel Ramos in the Aztec Sol, a Denver bar that no longer exists, La Bloga was meant from the beginning to be a place, a home, where all things Chicana/o Latina/o could be discussed, reviewed, analyzed, praised, recommended, criticized, and simply enjoyed. We had a focus on literature, and that focus continues today, but anyone who reads our daily changing posts knows that we are so much more.  From health advice to cooking tips to interviews to cutting edge art to musical videos to folkloric exhibits to poetry that celebrates and energizes the struggles for justice, peace, saving the earth, and equality, to ... whatever we come up with next. To commemorate our tenth anniversary of providing content we hope our readers find informative, provocative, or at least entertaining, here are a few thoughts from the current family of eleven devoted writers.

The lead post for this edition is a powerful new poem from Xánath Caraza that in less than five hundred passionate words wraps up the hopes, fears, and anxieties of today's world, and the place La Bloga has in helping to make sense of it all. Muchísimas gracias to all the bloggers - for all you do.

¡Feliz Cumpleaños!

_________________________________________________________

Aterrizando en St. Louis, Missouri
Por Xánath Caraza

La misma noche que aterricé en St. Louis
se subastó el traje de león
de la película el Mago de Oz
esa misma noche al tocar tierra
la mujer junto a mí me preguntó
si St. Louis era mi último destino
ella no estaba segura de poder
llegar a su casa porque la calles
estaban tomadas
la noche que aterricé en St. Louis
mi vuelo llegó retrasado
la misma noche que aterricé en St. Louis
el aeropuerto estaba lleno de policías
con perros que olfatearon mi maleta
llena de libros, mis armas secretas,
la misma noche que aterricé
pensaba en el río Hudson
en los colores que absorbí
en ese otoño amarillo de hojas en la acera
de árboles de ginkgo en Brooklyn
pensaba en la noche de tormenta
en el cuarto piso donde el viento
aullaba frente al Hudson
y yo en pijamas escuchaba
hipnotizada sus ritmos
la misma noche que aterricé
en St. Louis me urgía llegar a casa
y escribir un poema
esa misma noche, en el aeropuerto
me pregunté si no estaba en Latinoamérica
donde ver pasar policías armados
en las calles es el pan nuestro de cada día
esa misma noche cerca de las 8 y media
Ferguson se llenó de llamaradas
esa misma noche algo dentro
de mí se rompió de golpe
esa misma noche sentí que eran
43 + 1
esa misma noche sentí
tristeza
la noche que aterricé
en St. Louis, Missouri
me recordó que la vida
no la tenemo comprada
que es frágil, que no es nuestra
que aquí estamos de paso
me recordó que soy afortunada
de escribir estas palabras
de tener el espacio donde
manifestarlas
me recordó que tengo una voz
que quiero usar apropiadamente
que tener un espacio como La Bloga
es un santuario en esta selva
esa misma noche pensé que diez
años eran 3,650 días y que en cada uno
de esos días Manuel, Lydia, Daniel,
Em, Melinda, René, Amelia, Rudy,
Ernesto, Olga y Xánath hacen posible
La Bloga, luego pensé, al atterizar en
St. Louis que esos 43 + 1 no estaban
que no estaban, que nunca leerían
mis palabras, que esa noche
que aterricé en St. Louis
hacía frío y que las imágenes
en el televisor de uno de los bares
frente a la sala E22 era de fuego puro
que era lunes 24 de noviembre
también pensé en una noche en
la playa, en una fogata tan grande
que alcanzara la luna
la noche que aterricé en St. Louis, Missouri
pensé en ti, Michael Brown, pensé en ti
pensé en ti, niño perdido, pensé en ti
pensé en ti,  43 + 1, pensé en ti
pensé en ti, en ti, en ti, pensé
en ti, en ti, en ti, ti, pensé
esa noche, al aterrizar

-- Xánath Caraza (alternate Mondays)






Today I spent the afternoon putting the final touches on my Monday blog post which will consist of a short interview with Frederick Luis Aldama concerning his new book on the director, Robert Rodriguez. It got me to thinking about the remarkable opportunities I've had writing for La Bloga these last ten years. I've been able to give coverage to books, authors, artists and others without any fear of censorship. True, we have, at times upset a few...that is to be expected. But we've become one, big, messy familia talking (shouting) across the virtual dinner table about things we hold dear. I am delighted that our numbers have grown so that many more voices are now showcased on La Bloga. And I'm pleased that we have an audience that is engaged and growing. I started with La Bloga when I was 45 years old...I am now 55 and holding. Here's to another decade, at least! -- Daniel Olivas (alternate Mondays)




Teresa Marquez and the CHICLE listserve brought us together ya hace a decade plus. We were three names on a listerv. Then one day we found ourselves three vatos blogging. And soon we were four, five, six, now we are eleven friends, women and men blogging. La Bloga has seen a few changes, qepd Tatiana de la Tierra. ¡Viva la literatura, viva la cultura! Ten years is not a long time. A decade ago a single person could claim to have read everything ever published as Chicano Literature. Today, that’s impossible, and never again can it be true. A decade from now, hijole! Thank you for reading La Bloga, and to my blogueras blogueros colegas, thank you for writing La Bloga. Happy anniversary.-- Michael Em Sedano (Tuesday)



Ten years ago, my first book was published Waiting for Papá/ Esperando a Papá. I began to receive good feedback from readers. I read a wonderful comment in a new blog called La Bloga. I immediately loved the blog because the bloggers were commenting about latino and chicano literature. My love for La Bloga was so great that I volunteered to be a guest writer. Then I became the Wednesday blogger. It has been 9 great years blogging about children literature in this wonderful blog. La Bloga continue reviewing and commenting about Latino and Chicano Literature in English and Español. Happy 10th years for La Bloga!

Gracias La Bloga por abrirnos una ventana en internet para que descubramos más sobre nuestra literatura. -- René Colato Laínez (Wednesday)




I first joined La Bloga as a guest columnist in 2009, after meeting René Colato Laínez and Michael Sedano at the National Latino Writers Conference in Albuquerque. La Bloga, as they described it, promised to carry on the spirit of camaraderie that we, writers and lovers of literature, had lived so intensely throughout the days of the conference. Over the past few years, I have seen La Bloga blossom into an international community of readers and writers, a real family with its chismes and peleas, and also a profound cariño for one another… a home where many languages are spoken and celebrated, un verdadero refugio. ¡Gracias, mi gente! 
Lydia Gil (alternate Thursdays)








La Bloga has made a big difference for Latino lit. It has also made a big difference in my career. Ten years ago I was wondering if I'd ever be published again, now I'm appearing regularly in anthologies, my books are being reprinted, and I'm going to doing a master class on Latino speculative fiction at a university. Thank you, La Bloga! Keep going! --  Ernest Hogan (alternate Thursdays)







Thank you, Manuel, for asking me to join La Bloga six years ago. It's been a wonderful ride. Before joining La Bloga, I had the pleasure of offering many guests posts. I even won a writing contest on La Bloga. I was a regular follower of La Bloga, the main source of news for Chicano Literature. I especially enjoyed reading Daniel's column. He talked about his writing life with such enthusiasm that when he put out a call for contributors to an anthology titled Latinos in Lotusland, I was determined to be part of it. Thanks to Daniel Olivas and La Bloga, I built a career out of that one accepted short story so many years ago. La Bloga is where we build a community of people who care about our culture, politics, arts, and literature. Thanks fellow Blogueros and Blogueras, who live in different cities and states, I learn new things every day and I gain glimpses at lives that represent the diversity of our culture. It's no wonder scholars and academics also consume our writings. I'm proud to blog for La Bloga.  Ten years! And many more! La Bloga continues to be the source for relevant events in our global familia. Melinda Palacio (alternate Fridays)




It's been pure joy watching La Bloga grow and prosper for ten years. We owe it all to our loyal readers and, of course, to the wonderful bloggers who have graced our pages. The Magnificent Eleven are great -- elegantly represented here in these few paragraphs in today's edition. There also have been several other contributors over the years that have made this space a success and, in my opinion, a genuine source of pride for the Latina/o cultural community.  I won't attempt to list all the various people who have been a part of La Bloga -- I know I will overlook someone -- but I think you all know how much you are appreciated and that you are a vital part of La Bloga history and, we hope, its future. Long Live La Bloga! -- Manuel Ramos (alternate Fridays)











La Bloga's just un puño on the Internet. But it's been our puño. Through ten years, posting daily about la literatura, la cultura de la mexicanidad y latinidad, for over 36,000 days! It's a treasure of history I've been proud to assist with. Today I wonder how we might enrich and enliven it into the next decade, to even better promote la raza cósmica. We could benefit from more puertoriqueño-, domicano- and cubano-American contributors. Some jovenes would be good, like even a teenager or a twenty-something. How about a Chican@ of apache or Hopi descent? Whatever happens, this puño feels like it will sigue por un tiempo más. Gracias a todos que han leído nuestras palabras e ideas pobres. -- Rudy Ch. Garcia (Saturday)




Felicidades to La Bloga’s 10th year. How very fortunate I am to be a member of this writing familia. I’ve been writing for La Bloga since 2011 (a little over 3 years), thanks to tatiana de la tierra who called me one morning asking if I’d share writing duties with her on Sundays. Little did I know that morning when I said, “yes—anything for you, Querida tatiana,” that I would be receiving so much more than what I give every other week. And she remains with us. To the spirit of tatiana and all the La Bloga familia: You inspire me to bring my best to the “La Bloga” posting table. I absolutely love that we represent various geographic areas of the United States—many great perspectives. I love that we celebrate the vast diversity within the term: Latinidad. The poetry, fiction, book reviews, non-fiction musings, musical reviews, cultural topics, cooking expertise, y mas, reveal our vast heritage. Orale. Felicidades, La Bloga! Que Viva La Bloga por muchos años mas!!
Amelia M.L. Montes (alternate Sundays)












             






Olga García Echeverría (alternate Sundays)

















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41. The Collected Merriwether: God's Demon-Thumper!

Merriwether: Gods Demon Thumper

 
Terry Hooper-Scharf  & Ben R. Dilworth
Paperback,
A4
Black & White
 85 Pages
Price: £8.00
The complete Merriwether series, originally published in Black Tower Adventure and A Little Midnight Horror–but with three strips never before published… including the Reverend’s battle with the ultimate Evil! 
 
From The Horror Of Hob Street to The Village Of Demons and Varney the Vampyre to The Fallen Angel himself, see how one Church of England vicar deals hard-fisted [and various spiked objects] justice to the ungodly ...and pays the ultimate price!!! 
 
If you were into Charlton Horror Comics or any horror comic then this one is for you! 
 
At the end of Merriwether:Gods Demon-Thumper, the Reverend had been confronted by Satan and as a consequence lay fatally injured. 
 
Star of 1980s comics, Benjamin R. Dilworth, takes us through the fleeting seconds before death as Merriwether has flash backs showing just why he took on the career he did. 
 
Be prepared for horror and a little tongue-in-cheek humour. COMIC HORROR FANS WILL LOVE THIS!

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42. Follow Friday Four Fill-In Fun - 11/28/14

Feeling Beachie

Love this meme....I hope you can join in the fun.  

Each week, Feeling Beachie lists four statements with a blank for you to fill in on your own blogs.  


The statements:
  1. Can you really____if you don't_____
  2. What are your thoughts about______
  3. Would you_____ if you could?
  4. Do you listen to____ or _____?

My Answers:

1.  Can you really be wealthy if you don't have a lot of money?  

2.  What are your thoughts about books that have a lot of characters to keep track of?

3.  Would you change how old you are if you could?

4.  Do you listen to books on tape or only read books? 






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43. Reasons to Be Thankful: Classic Cartoons

Today we're thankful for many reasons, including classic animated shorts.

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44. Book Blogger Hop - 11/28 - 12/4

 Question of the Week:

Do you visit the same blogs each week or do you branch out and try to find new blogs?

My Answer:

I basically visit the same blogs each week especially the ones on the memes.  I visit the same blogs because they enjoy reading the same genres I do, but I do make a point of finding other blogs and meeting new folks.

I actually think "birds of a feather flock together."  :) 

I try to find at least one new blog each week.  Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't.  I enjoy seeing how others set up posts, and I also love to look at different blog designs.

Do you visit new blogs or the same ones all the time?








 






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45. Off to brisbane Supanova today.

Once more  over the top

Heres a 2xA0  (8xA2) drawing I did really quickly (30 min) at  Book Expo earlier this year.
Girl is a bit small for horse etc- but considering how quickly I did it and how big its not too bad.


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46. My Interview with Kirkus about STAR STUFF

I had the privelege of being interviewed by the wonderful Jules Danielson from Kirkus and Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast (I am a huge fan of hers btw). Here is the interview

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47. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tanita and I wish you all a wonderful holiday weekend full of book binges and marathon reading sessions. (I'm hoping to fit in a few myself!)I found this nifty Book Turkey here.Just a moment of gratitude, here--I could not be more grateful for all... Read the rest of this post

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48. Illustrator Saturday – Gregory Manchess

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Filed under: illustrating, Illustrator Sites, Illustrator's Saturday Tagged: Gregory Manchess

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49. Singing my song

The habit of making art is wonderful. Sharing it is sublime.”

Danny Gregory, artist, author of The Creative License and other wonderful books on illustrated sketchbook-keeping

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50. Hard to believe it’s been almost 10 years since I wrote this post

She finished the last round of high-dose chemo on Thanksgiving Day of 1997. We ate Boston Market turkey and stuffing in the hospital playroom while her meds finished running. There were two more years of low-dose chemo to go, but we expected to spend most of that period as out-patients. When we got home that night—home, where we hadn’t spent more than ten days in a row since March—it was late, a cold, clear night, with as many stars as a New York City sky can muster. I remember thinking I couldn’t imagine ever being more thankful for anything than I was to be carrying that little girl up the stairs to our apartment that night.

I was wrong.

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