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26. Stan Lee pacts with Steve Wozniak for the Silicon Valley Comic Con

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Huh, what was I just saying? 10 minutes ago? It seems that Stan Lee has pacted yet again, this time for Apple co-founder and Silicon Valley free spirit to starts something that is sorely lacking in the world, another comic con! This time the Silicon Valley Comic Con for San Jose—and they’ve already acquired this weekend’s Big Wow ComicFest:

Stan Lee and Steve Wozniak have this morning announced the creation of the Silicon Valley Comic Con. The event’s inaugural dates set to be March 19th and 20th, 2016 and will be held at the San Jose Convention Center. With the Woz at the helm, and with help from his many friends, the event will unite America’s two greatest superheroes: pop culture and technology. SVCC will feature Hollywood celebrities and technology leaders from movies, TV, and music, as well as consumer electronics, apps, gaming and emerging innovations. Different genres and artists in comics, cosplay, science fiction, fantasy, anime and more will be in the spotlight, while panels, talks, autograph sessions, photo ops, and many more events will give fans a chance to enjoy special experiences with their favorite celebrities and content.

This weekend’s Big Wow ComicFest has become part of the SVCC family of events, and will be working with SVCC to create an annual calendar of Bay Area conventions to celebrate a range of interests and fandoms. SVCC will be at Big Wow with a large central exhibitor booth spreading the news and also playing host to a number of celebrity guests, including Guests Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy, “Harry Potter” Series), Daniel Cudmore (Master Chief, “HALO” web series; Colossus in the X-Men films; Twilight Saga vampire Volturi guard Felix) and Jake Lloyd (Young Anakin Skywalker, “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace”) will be on site at Big WOW! for autographs and photo ops.


Based on the PR, Woz seems to be the front man for this effort, with Stan, as always, adding his smiling presence to the proceedings as a benign deity.

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27. Day 10 – Helping Herbie Hedgehog Virtual Book Tour

Today is Day 10 and the final day of the 10-day virtual tour (sponsored by the National Writing for Children Center) for Helping Herbie Hedgehog.

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Read another review of the book at examiner.com. Just click here:

Day 10 – Helping Herbie Hedgehog

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28. Booth removed from Calgary Expo after members derail panels


A new and potentially awful chapter in Con Wars opened up today.

The Honey Badgers are the ladies auxiliary of the MRA (Men’s Rights Advocates) groups, and MRA groups are largely affiliated with GamerGate, the endlessly annoying group that has been fighting diversity behind a shield of anti-censorship for the last two million years since last summer. And sadly this warzone—mostly held on social media until now—just got dragged into the real world of the Calgary Expo.

The Honey Badger Brigade purchased a booth—which was crowdfunded—and sent some of their biggest names to the show. The goal was:

In April of this year, the Honey Badgers plan to put on a booth at the Calgary Comics and Entertainment Expo! We plan to infiltrate nerd culture cunningly disguised as their own. Each of us has been carefully crafting a persona of nerdiness through decades of dedication to comics, science fiction, fantasy, comedy games and other geekery, waiting for this moment, our moment to slip among the unaware. Once there we will start distributing the totalitarian message that nerd and gamer culture is… perfectly wonderful just as it is and should be left alone to go it’s own way.

That’s it folks.

As men’s issues advocates and defenders of creator’s rights to create unmolested, that’s what we have to say to the nerds and geeks and gamers. You are fantastic as you are, carry on.

Yep, in today’s political climate that’s considered an extremist position. Just letting creative communities create; consumers consume what they want; and gamers get down to the business of vidya without being judged.

So if you share our vision of a world in which nerds and geeks and gamers roam free and unfettered, help us spread that message by throwing a few shekels our way to attend the con.

However, as posted by The Mary Sue in a full report you should definitely read, the group was actually there to disrupt panels that didn’t agree with their world view:

We’re not done just yet. The group also attended the “Women Into Comics” panel last night. Panelist Brittney Le Blanc gave us this account of the events that transpired:

We were about fifteen minutes into the panel when a woman in the second row stood up and identified herself as a Men’s Rights Activist. She and her male companion both came to raise issues they felt would not be covered by our panel. Raising points about the way men are portrayed in comics struck a note with all the panelists, as we agreed that we want to see a diversity across body types, characters, races, etc in mainstream comics. Not everyone wants to see a hero who looks like he’s built like Gaston from Beauty and the Beast. They also accused us of presenting all women as victims, which was an outright lie and derailing tactic.

Their questions did take up quite a bit of time at the panel and served to derail the topic onto another tangent, which was frustrating for the panel and for those in the audience. It’s what they came to do, and in part, they succeeded. I would say that it brought up some great discussions though, allowing us to talk about the lack of representation for people of colour in comics and to give well deserved props to artists like Sophie Campbell, who has done an amazing job in showcasing a broad range of bodies with her art in Jem and the Holograms.

 

News of the HBB booth, which was not registered under that name—with its images of Ellen James, a bizarre idealized girl gamer who coexists with men in some peaceful wonderland straight from the imagination of Henry Darger—spread on social media. After complaints from congoers, who just went to have a good time and not get caught up in a partisan war, the booth was removed.

…which had led to a renewed explosion of trolling from the proGG forces on twitter.

ON the surface, this event seems to play right into the GG/HBB agenda by making it appear that a group with an “alternative viewpoint” has been “censored.” But of course that isn’t the real agenda. If it was just about promoting one’s own opinion it would be one thing, but the GG/HBB faction has (from my own personal experiences) been focused on verbal abuse, gender based slurs, and basically, as with the panel above, attempting to disrupt the promotion of views opposite to their own—exactly what GG/HBBs accuse their foes of doing.

Sadly, this shows no sign of slowing down. Are convention panels soon to be a nerd version of a CNN “expert” panel, with loud talking heads shouting over one another seeing who can make the most noise and no one listening? Dear Crom, I hope not.
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29. Interesting blog posts about writing – w/e April 17th 2015



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

6 POV Hacks for Fiction (Susan DeFreitas)
https://litreactor.com/columns/the-minds-of-others-6-pov-hacks-for-fiction

Common Writing Pitfalls that Sabotage Your Book (Mary Keeley)
www.booksandsuch.com/blog/common-writing-pitfalls-that-sabotage-your-book/

Sponsorship At Writers’ Conferences: A Question of Awareness (Porter Anderson)
www.writerunboxed.com/2015/04/16/sponsorship-at-writers-conferences-a-question-of-awareness/

Writer's Retreat (Matt Q. McGovern)
https://authorchronicles.wordpress.com/2015/04/15/writers-retreat/

Making “Sense” of Your Characters (Janice Hardy) [Jon’s Pick of the Week]
http://blog.janicehardy.com/2015/04/description-tip-making-sense-of-your.html

The Story You Tell Yourself (Rachelle Gardner) [Jon's other Pick of the Week]
www.booksandsuch.com/blog/story-you-tell-yourself/

Taking Care of Business: Making Friends (Rochelle Deans)
http://querytracker.blogspot.com/2015/04/taking-care-of-business-making-friends.html

Amazon Takes On Fake Review Services (Victoria Strauss)
http://accrispin.blogspot.com/2015/04/amazon-takes-on-fake-review-services.html

Fooling Yourself (Tracy Barrett)
http://yaoutsidethelines.blogspot.com/2015/04/fooling-yourself-april-theme-fools.html

The Key Book Publishing Paths in 2015 (Jane Friedman)
http://janefriedman.com/2015/04/17/key-book-publishing-path/

The Hidden Meaning Behind a Rejection Letter (Rachel Kent)
www.booksandsuch.com/blog/the-hidden-rejection/

If you found these useful, you may also like my personal selection of the most interesting blog posts from 2014, and last week’s list.

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

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30. SPONSORED POST Star Banks Adventure

T-Rowe-PriceSponsored Post Star Banks Adventure

Mysterious planets, an alien mentor, and a robot shopkeeper—sounds like the ingredients to an amazing sci-fi story, right? It’s also the foundation for a new swipe-and-match game called Star Banks Adventure!

Check out the game trailer.

Like all great games, Star Banks Adventure is packed with choices for you to make. But every choice has a consequence, so be careful! You’ll need to partner with Odal, an alien guide, to stop Overlord Zek, the evil mastermind bent on causing financial chaos. Use different Star Banks to collect coins and build space devices to save the galaxy from financial chaos. I can’t wait to see what comes next! Click here to check it out.

Accompanied by spacey music and a story line that unfolds as you go, Star Banks Adventure is a blast!

This free game was created by T. Rowe Price as part of their Money Confident Kids Program, which focuses on helping kids better understand money. It can be played online or on mobile devices through iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon.

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31. YALSA Tweets of the Week, April 17, 2015

A short list of tweets from the past week of interest to teens and the library staff that work with them.

Do you have a favorite Tweet from the past week? If so add it in the comments for this post. Or, if you read a Twitter post between April 17 and 23 that you think is a must for the next Tweets of the Week send a direct or @ message to lbraun2000 on Twitter.

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32. Entertainment Round-Up: Cooper cast in Preacher lead, an Oscar-winning screenwriter is developing a Marvel project, and is John Stewart your new movie Green Lantern?

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It’s Friday! Here a few of the Entertainment-related headlines that just hit the wire:

– After weeks of negotiations, AMC has found its lead for its adaptation of DC Comics/Vertigo’s Preacher, and it’s a face familiar to comic book movie fans: Dominic Cooper. The British actor, who you surely recognize as the younger face of Howard Stark (Mad Men‘s John Slattery plays him in his middle aged years) in Captain America: The First Avenger and Agent Carter, will be playing the role of Jesse Custer, with production on the pilot beginning this summer. Preacher‘s Executive Producer Seth Rogen confirmed the news on twitter today.

For you Garth Ennis experts out there, what do you think about this casting choice? Did AMC make the right move?

- 12 Years A Slave is easily one of my favorite films of this decade, and one of the only movies that’s moved me to near-tears in the theater. It is truly that moving and engrossing. So, it was with great shock today that I saw EW reporting that its screenwriter (and winner of the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for his work on the film) John Ridley is teaming up with Marvel for a mysterious television project aiming to reinvent an existing Marvel character for ABC. This project is reportedly a separate entity altogether from the already announced Agents of SHIELD spin-off that’s in the works.

Given that it’s for ABC, something like the Punisher seems like a no-go, and really, neither does Blade (both of which Marvel recently regained the rights to back to a few years back). I’ll keep my fingers crossed for Moon Knight perhaps, but really any guess is a good one at this point.

Ridley is no stranger to comics, having written The Authority and the graphic novel The American Way.

– Yes, we know all about the leaked Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer, and we won’t be posting it here for obvious reasons. Plus, the presentable version will make its way online by Monday, if not over the weekend. We’ll hold out for that. In the meantime, here’s a related unconfirmed rumor, according to Jeff Sneider (of TheWrap) on his latest episode of Meet the Movie Press, he stated that the Green Lantern that we’ll see in the 2020 reboot (and presumably the Zack Snyder directed Justice League films) will be John Stewart.

Sneider’s sources on this kind of information are generally pretty strong, so there’s likely something to this. Many fans had hoped/figured the new Green Lantern post-Ryan Reynolds would be Stewart given the younger audiences greater familiarity with the character over Hal Jordan thanks to the Justice League animated series.

Plus, he’s just an awesome character. Green Lantern: Mosaic anyone?

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33. O is of Oswold

from First Wolf...

‘Keep still, wriggly little eel,’ I whispered angrily. ‘If the men see us, we’ll both be beaten.’
 This quietened him, for he knew about beatings, and I settled to watch the members of the folk moot with a feeling of great bitterness in my heart.  I was old enough to attend the meetings, to join their war talk, but there was no place for me.  With my useless leg, they would never send me into the forest to kill my first wolf.  They would never think of me as a man.
Many nights I dreamed I was searching for the wolf, only to wake sweating, shouting, and filled with sick fear.  The creatures often hunted in packs, it would be dangerous work, but I longed for my chance to prove my worth.  Boys of my age had slain the wolf; they sat by right at the meeting place and pitied me. Their pity did not upset me much, for it was kindly meant, but some like Oswold, uncle Heolstor’s son, threw stones at me and shouted insults that made me burn with anger.
At my birth, my kinsfolk saw my useless leg and voted to leave me on the hillside for the wild beasts to eat, but Father would not let them tear me from my mother’s arms.  He followed the teachings of the good Saint Cuthbert, knowing it wrong to kill a helpless child, and I was thinking it was a blessing to have such a father, when a sudden shout made me jump. 
‘Godwin, what use is your folk moot?’  It was Heolstor, his face like thunder. Spitting angry words, he threatened my father with the ash spear. ‘There’s no king’s man to attend the meeting,’ he shouted, ‘there’s no one with the right to hold the spear, to judge what should be done!’
My father growled, wrenching the spear from his brother’s hand.  An anxious cry went up, for only the king’s high reeve held the ash spear to decide right from wrong.  Then clenching the spear in his fist, as tough as the hammers he used to beat the glowing iron on his anvil, my father gave so threatening a look that the men placed their weapons on the ground, squatting in the sand to listen to him speak.

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34. Charlie Hebdo Book Defends Religious Satire

A book by Stephane Charbonnier, the former editor of Charlie Hebdo who was killed in the attack on the satirical magazine’s offices, came out this week.

The title, “An Open Letter to the Fraudsters of Islamophobia who Play into Racists’ Hands,” defends the practice of ridiculing religion. The New York Times has the scoop:

In the excerpt, Mr. Charbonnier said the Charlie Hebdo caricatures previously published by the newspaper \"do not target all Muslims.\" In 2012, Mr. Charbonnier aroused anger and criticism when he published caricatures showing Muhammad naked and in sexual poses. The newspaper’s offices were firebombed after it published a spoof issue in 2011 that it said had been guest-edited by Muhammad.

 

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35. Kid Problems: When suddenly, everything is so much bigger than you (or: #IWishMyTeacherKnew )

Last Saturday, I went to the Colorado Teen Literature Conference in Denver. It's a one-day event for teachers, librarians and teens, all about books. I love it, even if it starts pretty early. There's breakfast, and this year's keynotes were Wendelin Van Draanen and Andrew Smith. I was inspired, and got to eat a dynamite sandwich for lunch with some cool librarians for company.

I was honored to be invited to talk about how to reach YA and middle-grade reluctant readers. This is a bit of a soapbox topic of mine, so it was a good thing I had a whole hour. I've done this talk at too many library conventions to mention (in AL, MS, GA)--basically, I try to share ideas on how to reach reluctant readers, and ask for teachers and librarians to share theirs. It's fun, inspiring, and I love it when I see heads nodding in agreement as I talk. Makes me feel like we're all in this together.

But I'll admit: this talk has changed over time. I now talk more about how reluctant readers are often kids with undiagnosed reading disabilities (hate that word, but it's the best I've got). I talk about how I have one of those kids in the house, and how easy it is to miss this struggle. How kids become experts at hiding their difficulty reading. And I also talk about how often, much of this reading reluctance is really about the kid's home life. Whether Mom and Dad or guardians read.

And about money. Because after doing so many school visits, and talking to many teachers and librarians and the issues they deal with, so much of it all is an issue of economics. No money=less time=less education=forgotten kid problems. We need to fix economic inequality, that's the bottom line. Teachers and librarians shouldn't be forced to be the Band-Aid to society's ails when kids come to school with gorilla-sized problems in their backpacks.

I could go on about this forever... But I won't.

But I will share this story, since I'm still on my soap box: it's of a third grade teacher who asked her students to share things with her in a note: I wish my teacher knew... These are third-graders being honest, and it'll make you cry, I swear.

After my presentation at the Colorado Teen Lit Conference, a parent stuck around, crying about her struggle to get her son (who has a reading disability) through life. It's a lonely gig, being a parent, kid, teacher, librarian dealing with these enormous problems. Sometimes, it's good to know you're not alone.

Chapeau to the teacher in this online story. Makes me think we should all write a note...

And since this is all a bit sad, I thought I'd surround this post with a bunch of nice drawings I got in the mail after doing a Skype visit not too long ago. Because sometimes, you get a nice note, too. And you make a kid reader friend named Dezarae.

I'm a lucky duck, to be an author of kid books.

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36. Special Person for Special Love




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37. Mo Williams Stands Up to Support First Book

Bestselling children’s author Mo Williams has written an email to help support the non-profit First Book, a charity that brings books to underserved kids.

In the message, which went out today to First Book supporters, Williams asks recipients to donate money to the charity. “My family and I have been proud supporters of First Book for many years,” reads the email. “Now we’re asking you to join us to get as many books in as many hands as possible by matching your donations, dollar for dollar, up to 50,000 smackers. The importance of books in the home cannot be overstated. A book is more than a gateway to a brighter future — it is a friend right now.”

Follow this link to donate.

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38. Archie Comics & Syfy Team Up For Archie vs. Sharknado

Archie Meets SharknadoArchie Comics and Syfy are partnering together for a crossover project called Archie vs. Sharknado. This special comic book and the third Sharknado movie (Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!) will both be released on July 22nd.

Sharknado trilogy director Anthony C. Ferrante wrote the story. Famed artist Dan Parent created the artwork.

Here’s more from the press release: “Just when Archie and the gang think they can kick back and enjoy a few months of beaches, naps and sun, they’re faced with a storm of sharknados – heading straight for their hometown of Riverdale. 

Archie and his friends have to battle the incoming pop culture storm as it creeps up the “Feast” coast to Riverdale – and then try to save what’s left of their hometown. Who lives? Who dies? Read the book!”

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39. Jo Nesbø & Roger Priddy Debut on the Indie Bestseller List

Jo NesboWe’ve collected the books debuting on Indiebound’s Indie Bestseller List for the week ending April 12, 2015–a sneak peek at the books everybody will be talking about next month.

(Debuted at #8 in Hardcover Nonfiction) The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House by Kate Andersen Brower: “These dedicated professionals maintain the six-floor mansion’s 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, 28 fireplaces, three elevators, and eight staircases, and prepare everything from hors d’oeuvres for intimate gatherings to meals served at elaborate state dinners. Over the course of the day, they gather in the lower level’s basement kitchen to share stories, trade secrets, forge lifelong friendships, and sometimes even fall in love.” (April 2015)

(Debuted at #10 Hardcover Fiction) Blood on Snow by Jo Nesbø: “This is the story of Olav: an extremely talented \"fixer\" for one of Oslo’s most powerful crime bosses. But Olav is also an unusually complicated fixer.” (April 2015)

(Debuted at #12 in Children’s Illustrated) Pete the Cat’s Groovy Guide to Life by James Dean and Kimberly Dean: “Pete’s glass-half-full outlook on life shines through as he adds his fun take on well-known classics attributed to luminaries from Albert Einstein to Confucius to Abraham Lincoln to Shakespeare and more!” (April 2015)

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40. Everything you need to know about what happened at Star Wars Celebration yesterday

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• The event was held at the Anaheim Convention Center, and thus far no controversy about moving it to LA or Vegas.

• The panel included director JJ Abrams, producer Kathleen Kennedy, and cast members Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Issac, Peter Mayhew, Anthony Daniels, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill. Money shot above.

Film-Star Wars-Celebration daisy-ridley-star-wars-4 oscar-isaac

• The desert planet shown in the trailer is called “Jakku.” It seems to be a dumping ground for detritus from the star wars. It was filmed in Abu Dhabi where the temperature was a mild 128 degrees.

• The lightsaber everyone is handing around seems to be the one that Luke lost in his battle in Empire, which also belonged to his father, Anakin. You know….I always did wonder what happened to that lightsaber. I liked to think that Luke must have used the Force to retrieve it while he was sliding through the tunnels, because I didn’t like to think it was lost, but now we have a whole new movie to figure that out.

• The villain is Kylo Ren and we got a good look at him. His costume includes three layers of cotton and wool, so he must have been pretty hot in the desert.

• The new Star Wars mythos will include more female characters! It could not have included less, so win.

• Carrie Fisher will not wear hair buns or a metal bikini.

• The new droid is BB-8 and he and other droids in the film were designed by fans who got to work on the movie and showed up at the panel yesterday.

• Um, what else…Oscar Isacc plays Poe, a hot shot pilot. Daisy Ridley is Rey, a scavenger on the ship graveyard. John Boyega in Finn who does indeed start out as a stormtrooper.

• There is also a fanfest going on. Graeme McMillan and Borys Kit report on autograph prices :

The chance to get a signature from Mark Hamill at the show costs $125, while Carrie Fisher charges $70. Anthony Daniels, meanwhile, will sign something in exchange for $50, and Peter Mayhew shows the intergalactically-renowned kindness of Wookiees by also asking $50 for his hairy John Hancock.

It’s not just the big names who are offering their signatures. John Morton, who played an X-Wing pilot in The Empire Strikes Back, will give you an autograph for $20, and Brian Muir, who sculpted the Stormtrooper armor for the original movie (although the helmet was sculpted by another artist, Liz Moore), will sign for the same amount. The autograph of visual effects artist Lorne Peterson, meanwhile, will cost 50 percent more, at $30.

• A bunch of “posters” appeared on twitter throughout the day and no one is sure if they are real. Probably not but here they are.

CCtbfZHWMAADVzP CCtbXHIW8AAi1qh m1 m2 CCtbcmrWYAE0VeU

• Here’s a bunch of set photos.

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• There was a display of costumes from the film and IGN took photos. They also have a much more thorough news roundup.

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• Io9 has a trailer breakdown with the most spoilers.

• Disney sent out a ton of stills from the panel and here’s a gallery.

548631219_AE_4406_DA331C32D1841917214BE8C535256488 548631219_AE_4860_C8B3953475529A93A0FCBCADD2A2BCB6 548631219_JG_0960_13B184CE95DDE8D4184E040608216FDA 548631219_AE_4967_5DA00F09DFB843EDE71FF66441D389CE 548631219_AE_5048_E0317FC05BAAE82BEDA8E0ED08C79803 548631219_AE_4981_9D99341F331C256D7458881398C7B6E4 548631219_AE_5023_93C3B4833C78C5320E9194D5457DE890 548631219_AE_5102_1755884C794207F6C9A794AEE6B84AC6 548631219_AE_9511_1A3F9D98411219B8911EBF8B7E6BA449 548631219_AE_9559_13988BEF130D10F8E8650A4E5FEE337F 548631219_AE_9369_6B53A2E9C87BA0A010F7EB41AD797070 548631219_AE_9386_DBA70A485C380B30DB7633BE453E83DD 548631219_AE_9831_D74555CA7E3A339A2B2E0C1221AE7D2B 548631219_AE_4662_36391CAACF7CE64FA2FF911B02181CDE 548631219_AE_4906_0FC5CB333E15C0F27BB45B45532E1072 548631219_JG_6687_80EBB4E0A1BF4B4D5954CD1DDD3DA12A 548631219_AE_4709_BCD39FA6C88278EA09FE5A2028B1C522 548631219_AE_9245_051A883394FD595A36790D4A7353E960 548631219_AE_9604_142F01B3E62E166526F640A5140D7706 548631219_AE_9400_1C824F7491C5C015708D381CEC9A9A9B 548631219_AE_9187_A80B5107C6CA8E91BDE5F8EE592D6B01 548631219_JG_0866_9E7AF9D05D4656C0A52EFC9818D617B1 548631219_AE_4704_23D5EA574AA9AB4C641A4BB42ED75F7A 548631219_AE_9668_4300878FCC8DD11BF19DDB76C76AE722 548631219_JG_0963_1968F5D8ED64562405E8565909120225 548631219_AE_9300_AC479D1DCAC8BCBEE277AA250205A82A 548631219_AE_9315_1BC646B8C3E913D0DAD1422E5E6AF9ED 548631219_JG_0973_11D60B637E5A3EAC678B2A1090981965 548631219_JG_0828_AE68D33674783DF233D804CB808833B6 548631219_AE_4591_C57161DBCDD3C7F5819EA4305B4C23C9 548631219_AE_4576_7244E2112E773C1A57195615D0673051 548631219_AE_9048_C0C20B1643141CBB7BB9FB653E01CDD3 548631219_AE_9243_4EE30DD5D228D99175CD7CCD64921F61 548631219_AE_4559_11A9A2389F98F7DDF1CE7E1C31E64467 548631219_AE_4741_44F60E4C2A1DDF0BA6AC2940099FC350

• Many people will probably go see this movie.

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41. Harts Pass No. 245

FINALLY home from two weeks of school amazing visits/travel near Trondheim, Norway and then 3 more days of excellent school visits in Ellensburg, WA. Harts Pass has been waiting in the wings a bit, but now we're back and good to go. Stay tuned for a post or two about the last few weeks of travel as well. GRRR!

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42. Online Job Boards for Children’s Writers

Since I’m both a children’s writer and a writing coach, people are always asking me where they can find jobs for children’s writers.

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This is a list of links to some of my favorite job boards and other sites that offer work for freelance writers (many times you can find work for children’s writing at these sites):

BookCatcher.com: Book Publishing Jobs: Jobs for Publishers, Authors & Writers
http://www.bookcatcher.com/marketplace.php

The Burry Mans Writing Center: Freelance jobs
http://www.burryman.com/freelance.html

Craig’s List: Job postings and more from around the country
http://www.craigslist.org

Dmoz Open Directory Arts: Writers Resources: Freelancing: Variety of links for freelance writing job listings
http://dmoz.org/Arts/Writers_Resources/Freelancing

EditorJobs.com: Job Postings
http://www.editorjobs.com

FreelanceWriting.com: Job Bank
http://www.freelancewriting.com

FreelanceWriting.com’s Morning Coffee: Published every morning, MORNING COFFEE provides fresh freelance jobs and writing opportunities to help writers find their next freelance gig.
http://www.freelancewriting.com/newsletters/morning-coffee-freelance-writing-jobs.php

Media Bistro: Job Listings, courses, insurance and more
http://www.mediabistro.com

Poewar.com: Job Listings
http://www.poewar.com/jobs

Sunoasis: Freelance Job Listing
http://www.sunoasis.com/freelance.html

WriterFind.com: Job Board
http://writerfind.com/freelance_jobs/

WriteJobs.com: Listings for content professionals, editors and technical writers.
http://www.writejobs.com

WritersWeekly from Angela Hoy (this is actually a newsletter full of job ads)
http://www.writersweekly.com

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43. Spring! Contests! New Books!

Spring is here!

I know because these have arrived . . . .

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Oops, no, not those.  Silly me.  I meant these:

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Advanced reader copies of Princess Diaries #11, Royal Wedding, and From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess!

I’m so excited it’s finally here…the 15th Birthday of the publication of The Princess Diaries series, and with it, the first ever ADULT book in the series, and the first ever middle grade book about a whole new princess, for a whole new generation of readers!

If you want a chance to win free copies of these ARCS, enter here by May 1! Or here by April 25!

MSP_GirlsWorld_Contest_v2[2] copyThere’s an even more sensational contest happening here, where you can win not only books, but a $2500 makeover for your bedroom fit for a royal!  (You have to be under 14 in order to enter, so sorry, Mom, you’re disqualified…also you can’t be related to me, I already checked).

tiara

We’re also giving away official Olivia Grace tiaras like the one pictured left (only limited supplies were made). Click here (especially if you’re an international reader…this one is open to you, too.  I wish ALL of these contests were open to international readers, but it is very difficult to send bedroom sets overseas. We even have problems getting ARCs to readers overseas).

 

But never fear if you don’t win any of these contests! Because there’s a 100% guaranteed way you can get your hands on copies of these books:

Buy the finished, actually edited versions!

From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess will be available on May 19, and Royal Wedding will be available June 2!

(Please click on those links above for ordering info, and also to visit the beautifully designed web pages we’ve been working so hard on.)


UK Readers

Check out these gorgeous UK covers:

NotebooksMiddleSchlPrincess_04.02_v2 copy - Version 2

Middle School Princess (available in the UK May 21)!

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Royal Wedding (available in the UK July 2)!

 pdreissues1-5 UK Princess Diaries releases!

 

Have you ever seen anything as cute? Besides the many cat videos I post on my Twitter and FB pages, of course.

As more international covers (and contests) come in, I’ll post them! I know the books will be available in Brazil, France, Japan, Hungary, and many other countries SOON!


In the meantime, even though I know authors aren’t supposed to read reviews (terrible things can happen if we do), sometimes my agent and editors forward them to me, and I cannot stop myself.  

That’s how I know Kirkus Books says:

From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess is “a sweet fantasy, both funny and highly satisfying.” Kirkus went on to give Royal Wedding one of their rare stars, saying “this funny, heartwarming story is royally perfect from start to finish.”

Then Booklist was sweet enough to call Royal Wedding a:

“whirlwind of jaw-dropping, hilarious, and occasionally touching events. Original fans of the series, now adults themselves, will be thrilled with this, but it will be enjoyable for those on either side of Cabot’s extensive fan base.”

Just when I thought it couldn’t get better, Publishers Weekly declared that:

From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess is both amusing and entertaining, and Royal Wedding is “pure fun,” going on to say, “Readers who first discovered Cabot’s Princess books as teens will enjoy seeing Mia and Michael all grown up, and new readers will enjoy this sweet contemporary tale. Since this is being billed as the final book in the series, one hopes that Cabot will reconsider and write more of Mia and Michael’s story . . . .”

I have to admit right now I’m hard at work at the moment on sequels of another kind:

  • The next installment of the Olivia Grace, Middle School Princess series (which will be out next year)!
  • A new “Boy” book (this time with TEXTING).
  • Revisions for the 7th Mediator novel, Remembrance (which will be available February 14, 2016).

Hard at work, that is, when a certain someone will allow it:

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(I know my office looks like something out of a hospital ward, but I write in bed, and writing is thirsty work.)

But I’m certainly considering PW‘s advice about some new works featuring Mia and Michael (now that they’ve put it into my head).


In the meantime, I’m also recovering from the massive cold I acquired during our trip last month to Italy (He Who Shall Not Be Named In This Blog and I just celebrated our 22nd wedding anniversary there)!

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Just one of our many His and Hers Lunch in Italy. I had no problem finding gluten-free food there!

I also visited the Bologna Book Fair for the first time last month.  Perhaps you read about it in PW? I threw a big 15th Anniversary dinner for The Princess Diaries to thank all of the series’ foreign publishers for their support over the years!  It was so fun.

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Meg with a certain editor at a certain Brazilian publisher

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The MacMillan Middle School Princess party in Bologna!

I’m so excited to continue my tour for Royal Wedding and From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess next month. I’ll post the exact times/places I’ll be visiting as soon as I have a final itinerary, but here’s a sneak peek at my  schedule so far.

Meanwhile, I have to get back to work so I can finish up all of these new books before I hit the road!

But I can’t resist posting one last contest: Click here to register to win this matted 8 1/2 x 11 portrait I drew (medium: pencil) of the artist (ME!) pouring Ball-Gown-In-A-Box on Cinderella so she can go to the ball and charm the socks off everybody.  All funds for the portrait go to raise money for literacy!

meg-cabot

 

Good luck! And as always, thanks for reading.

More later.

Much love,

Meg

The post Spring! Contests! New Books! appeared first on Meg Cabot.

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44. Walking The Game Beat: STAR WARS BATTLEFRONT More Than A Battlefield Skin

Yesterday the earthquake felt around the world was from the millions chanting “Yes!” in unison after the reveal of the new Star Wars film trailer. Today at Celebration, the aftershock came in the form of a game footage reveal for EA’s new Star Wars Battlefront game. Since it’s reveal at E3 last year, not much had been seen or revealed from the game. Now we know most of the crucial details. Look at the astonishing new video below along with info from the game’s developer, DICE (Battlefield) :

Here’s the rundown:

  • - The game will release on November 17, 2015 on PS4, Xbox One, and on Origin for PC.
  • - While the game doesn’t have a traditional story mode, all the online goodness takes place on four planets: The desert planet Tatooine, the forest moon of Endor, the desolate frozen wasteland of Hoth, and the previously unexplored Sullust, where Imperial outposts manufacture weapons. Instead of the traditional campaign, Star Wars: Battlefront features a series of missions, playable alone or via online and local co-op.
  • - You’ll be able to play as your favorite characters including Darth Vader and Bobba Fett. Also, the Millennium Falcon will be a part of the aerial combat. A documentary style piece was shown that had iconic elements from other Star Wars characters like Han Solo.
  • - On December 8, owners of the game will have access to free downloadable content featuring the new planet of Jakku revealed as part of the new JJ Abrams movie. Those who pre-order the game will have access to it a week early on December 1.
  • - No Jar-Jar or prequel era stuff, it’s all original trilogy folks.

With all the new canon from shows like Rebels and the new Marvel published comics, the game could have a bottomless well of additional elements and content to turn Battlefront into a massive world that takes away our need to go outside on the weekends.

Are you excited about Battlefront? If you haven’t already, does the announcement want to make you buy a PS4 or Xbox One?

 

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45. Poetry Friday: Song in My Heart

April is National Poetry Month! All month long we’ll be celebrating by posting some of our favorite poems for Poetry Friday. For our third Poetry Friday post, we chose Song in my Heart by Tony Medina, illustrated by Jesse Joshua Jackson from I and I Bob Marley.

i and i

Song in My Heart

I am the boy

From Nine Miles

The one sing

Like three little birds

In a reggae style

The one blessed

By Jah

To travel miles

Across the world

With my island girl

Guitar in hand

And my dreads

A twirl

With music

In my belly

And songs

In my heart

Healing the world

With my reggae art

Keeping you always

Like a song

In my heart

 Let us know what poems you’re reading in the comments section!

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46. Archie vs Sharknado coming in July

sharkado vs archie.jpg
The Archie gang has teamed with Predator, Kiss, Glee, the Punisher and many other things over the years, so why not Sharknado? The Syfy movie about a tornado full of sharks has quietly taken over the imaginations of people coast to coast so it is only natural that the ‘Nado would touch down in Riverdale! For those more worried about the fuure of this nation, relax, it is only a one-shot, written by the director of the Shaknado trilogy Anthony C. Ferrante with art by Archie’s Dan Parent, who often writes these milestone issues but he’s multi-talented.

The issue also ties in with the third movie in the Sharknado trilogy, SHARKNADO 3: OH HELL NO!, fans which runs on SyFy this July.
 

“Having a chance to crossover the Archie comics with our Sharknado universe has been a dream come true,” Ferrante said. “Riverdale will never be the same and I know fans are going to get a thrill out of seeing Archie, Betty, Veronica and the rest of the gang unleash their inner Fin Shepards.”

 “I can’t tell you the thrill of working on Sharknado. I might be the biggest Sharknado fan, watching multiple airings of the movies, going to theatrical screenings. attending the Riff Trax versions and then buying the DVDs,” Parent said. “So to be able to bring Sharknado into the world of Archie is a dream come true. And to be working on it with Sharknado director Anthony C. Ferrante is the icing on the cake! I promise to put my all into this project to make all the Sharknado – and Archie – fans proud!!!”

“Sharknado has become a worldwide merchandise and cultural phenomenon that has thrilled young and old alike,” said David Garber, who negotiated this deal on behalf of The Asylum with Archie Comics. “Archie’s comics and his adventures have always been fun and exciting. The fusion of these two properties is part of the social media and fan explosion that continues to grow. We are pleased to combine these historic IP’s in one consumer experience.”

“The Sharknado franchise has soared in popularity due partly to the variety of great celebrities, who bravely encounter this unnatural menace,” said Jeff Li, Vice President, Syfy Ventures. “Sharknado survivors come in all forms. It’s only natural that Archie and the gang will get a chance to save their town from flying sharks.”
 
Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! stars Ian Ziering as Fin, Tara Reid as April and Cassie Scerbo as Nova. Joining them will be David Hasselhoff as Fin’s father, Gil; Bo Derek will play April’s mother, May; Ryan Newman will play April and Fin’s daughter, Claudia Shepard, and Jack Griffo will portray Claudia’s friend, Billy.
 
Additional cameo roles include Mark Cuban as the President of the United States; Ann Coulter as the Vice President; Michele Bachmann as herself; Jerry Springer as Mr. White, a manic tourist; Washington Redskins tackle Tom Compton as a reporter; *NSYNC singer Chris Kirkpatrick as a pool lifeguard, and Chris Jericho, who will portray Bruce the roller coaster ride operator.
 
A production of The Asylum, Sharknado 3 is directed by Anthony C. Ferrante from an original screenplay by Thunder Levin.
 
ARCHIE VS. SHARKNADO #1 (ONE SHOT) 
 
It’s that time of year in Riverdale! The end of the school year.  Time for beaches, barbecues, fun in the sun and… SHARKNADOS!?!  That’s right, get ready as Archie and the gang brave the storm of a tornado full a sharks that riffs off the pop culture phenomenon known as Sharknado! The story unfolds as sharknados are spotted on the “Feast” Coast! Our heroines have to figure out how to get back to Riverdale, where the storm is about to hit next. Soon Archie and the gang go, go, go as they battle the Sharknado-ravaged Riverdale! Who will live? Who will die? Will this take a BITE out of the end-of-the-year prom? Uh….probably! The comic book action is also concurrent with the plot of SHARKNADO 3 and hits stands right before the film’s premiere in July on Syfy. Written by the SHARKNADO trilogy director Anthony C. Ferrante with Dan Parent.











Script: Anthony C. Ferrante with Dan Parent
Art:  Dan Parent, Rich Koslowski
Archie vs. Sharknado #1 CVR A Reg: Dan Parent
Archie vs. Sharknado #1 CVR B Variant: Francesco Francavilla
Archie vs. Sharknado #1 CVR C Variant: Robert Hack
On Sale Date: 7/22
48-page, full color comic
$4.99 U.S.






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47. Library of Congress to Host Exhibit On Printing

library of congress logoThe Library of Congress will host the “First Among Many: The Bay Psalm Book and Early Moments in American Printing” exhibition.

With this project, the curators will explore the early history of printing during American colonial times. An opening date has been scheduled for June 04, 2015. The closing date will take place on January 02, 2016.

Here’s more from the press release: “At the centerpiece of the exhibition will be two copies of the Bay Psalm Book, officially titled The Whole Booke of Psalmes Faithfully Translated into English Metre (1640). One copy will be drawn from the Rare Book and Special Collections Division at the Library of Congress. The second copy, which belongs to Rubenstein, will be on display from June 4 through Saturday, Aug. 8. Americans will see these texts together for the first time.”

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48. Pride & Prejudice Revamped With Illustrations On Kickstarter

Silence in the Library Publishing hopes to raise $20,000 to produce an illustrated edition of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Artist Janet Lee has signed on to create the interior artwork and illustrator Jean Masetti will design the cover. We’ve embedded a video about the project above.

Here’s more from the Kickstarter page: “For our initial goal, Janet is producing twelve full-color, full page illustrations of critical scenes from Pride and Prejudice. She’s also producing twenty partial-page black and white illustrations that will flow with the text of the book…As we reach stretch goals, we’ll be adding full-color, full-page illustrations and black and white partial page illustrations to the book, until we’ve reached a total of twenty-four full-page illustrations and thirty partial page illustrations.”

Welcome to our Kickstarter Publishing Project of the Week, a feature exploring how authors and publishers are using the fundraising site to raise money for book projects. If you want to start your own project, check out How To Use Kickstarter to Fund Your Publishing Project.

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49. All Over the World: Selected Titles in Arabic, Indonesian, German, Korean, Greek, Spanish and More

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For someone who has such difficulties with the English language, it’s something of a shock for me to realize how many of my books have been translated into different languages.

Yesterday I got two new ones in the mail: Jigsaw Jones in Arabic and Scary Tales in Indonesian. I always discover these translations in a haphazard way. They just come in the mail or, in many instances, never come at all. I gather that the Arabic translations of Jigsaw have existed for years. Who knew? Not me. They keep us writers in the dark; like mushrooms, we prefer damp, dank places.

Today I warmed up the trusty, rusty scanner to share a random few translations with you. I have others in French, Italian, Portuguese, and more, but nevermind that. Look here . . .

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Arabic versions of The Case of the Race Against Time and The Case of the Golden Key.

Arabic versions of The Case of the Race Against Time and The Case of the Golden Key.

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Here’s a sample page . . .

Cool, right? Here's Geetha, the class artist, showing Mila and Jigsaw an artist's rendering of the suspect.

Cool, right? Here’s Geetha, the class artist, showing Mila and Jigsaw an artist’s rendering of the suspect. Illustration by Jamie Smith.

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In German, Jigsaw Jones was entirely re-illustrated and translated into “Puzzle Paul.”

Jigsaw Jones -- I mean, Puzzle Paul --searches for a valuable coin in the German translation of The Case of the Christmas Snowman.

Jigsaw Jones — I mean, Puzzle Paul –searches for a valuable coin in the German translation of The Case of the Christmas Snowman.

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Here’s the back cover of one of my Scary Tales titles, newly translated into Indonesian.

Scan 1

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They love baseball in Korea too:

Six Innings, the Korean translation.

Six Innings, the Korean translation.

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Let’s see, how about an interior from the Spanish translation of Hiccups for Elephant?

Poor Mouse was trying to sleep. Illustration by Hans Wilhelm.

Poor Mouse was trying to sleep. Illustration by Hans Wilhelm.

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I’ll stop here with this one, a favorite, the Greek translation of Bystander. Isn’t it amazing? Aren’t I lucky? Doesn’t it just blow your mind to think about it, writing books that are read all over the world?

Scan 6

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50. Flogometer for Sydney—are you compelled to turn the page?

Submissions Needed—just one for next week. If you’d like a fresh look at your opening chapter or prologue, please email your submission to me re the directions at the bottom of this post.


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

Note: all the Flogometer posts are here.

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

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

Mastering front 100WshadowBefore you rip into today’s submission, consider this checklist of first-page ingredients from my book, Mastering the Craft of Compelling Storytelling. While it's not a requirement that all of these elements must be on the first page, they can be, and I think you have the best chance of hooking a reader if they are.

Download a free PDF copy here.

Were I you, I'd examine my first page in the light of this list before submitting to the Flogometer. I use it on my own work.

A First-page Checklist

  • It begins connecting the reader with the protagonist
  • Something is happening. On a first page, this does NOT include a character musing about whatever.
  • What happens is dramatized in an immediate scene with action and description plus, if it works, dialogue.
  • What happens moves the story forward.
  • What happens has consequences for the protagonist.
  • The protagonist desires something.
  • The protagonist does something.
  • There’s enough of a setting to orient the reader as to where things are happening.
  • It happens in the NOW of the story.
  • Backstory? What backstory? We’re in the NOW of the story.
  • Set-up? What set-up? We’re in the NOW of the story.
  • What happens raises a story question—what happens next? or why did that happen?

Caveat: a strong first-person voice with the right content can raise powerful story questions and create page turns without doing all of the above. A recent submission worked wonderfully well and didn't deal with five of the things in the checklist.


Sydney sends a revision of the first chapter for The Starshade’s Legacy . The earlier submission is here--it is very different from this opening, and it will be interesting to see how the voting differs. The rest of the chapter after the break.

The bodies are cold when I find them.

Crouched in the snow, my cloak pulled tightly about my shoulders, I touch the frozen face of a child twisted in fear. Her stomach was been ripped open revealing stiff, blackened innards. I do not recoil. I barely even wince anymore at such finds. And as I look over the other corpses, I read the story of their deaths, their ties. Their lives.

The father was killed first. His twisted form lies farthest away, a black arrow in his back and his throat torn out. My mouth forms a grim line. The Shifters are merciless with their kills. No doubt the arrow would have been fatal on its own. The pack that had done this must have been a border patrol—and a bored one at that for such harsh measures. Probably caught the small family as they fled a now-desecrated village.

The mother was raped and killed last. This, I can tell from her splayed legs and the deep lacerations on certain points of her arms, shoulders, and hips. The way her head is turned just enough that she can look where her daughter had fallen.

I examine the tracks with narrowed eyes. Large, deep paw prints are mixed in with smaller, lighter human prints. The site where the father was slain holds the deepest grooves, so deep that even I pause. A powerful, heavy-set Shifter had charged him from the side to rip into his throat. Possibly a Guard in rank. That was unusual. Guards usually stay near the den, rather (snip)

Were you compelled to turn Sydney's first page?

A clear, confident voice is the first attraction for this opening. The description is clear and done in a matter-of-fact way that characterizes this character as calm and professional. I get a good sense of the world of the story, too. The grisly scene foreshadows trouble ahead for the character and, for me, raised good “what happens next” story questions. There are a couple of small things to note:

The bodies are cold when I find them.

Crouched in the snow, my cloak pulled tightly about my shoulders, I touch the frozen face of a child twisted in fear. Her stomach was been ripped open, revealing stiff, blackened innards. I do not recoil. I barely even wince anymore at such finds. And as I look over the other corpses, I read the story of their deaths, their ties. Their lives.

The father was killed first. His twisted form lies farthest away, a black arrow in his back and his throat torn out. My mouth forms a grim line. The Shifters are merciless with their kills. No doubt the arrow would have been fatal on its own. The pack that had done did this must have been a border patrol—and a bored one at that, for such harsh measures. Probably caught the small family as they fled a now-desecrated village. The “My mouth” sentence is a couple of things: a “body part filter”and a shift in point of view. It gives an action to a body part which might more appropriately come from the character. By calling attention to what it is doing, it draws attention away from what the character is doing/feeling even though it is meant to show feeling. As for pov, she can’t see what her mouth looks like, grim feelings inside or not.

The mother was raped and killed last. This, I can tell from her splayed legs and the deep lacerations on certain points of her arms, shoulders, and hips. The way her head is turned just enough that she can look where her daughter had fallen.

I examine the tracks with narrowed eyes. Large, deep paw prints are mixed in with smaller, lighter human prints. The site where the father was slain holds the deepest grooves, so deep that even I pause. A powerful, heavy-set Shifter had charged him from the side to rip into his throat. Possibly a Guard in rank. That was unusual. Guards usually stay near the den, rather (snip) A clarity issue here: what are the grooves? They haven’t been mentioned, but paw prints and footprints have. Where did “grooves” come from? What caused them? What does their deepness mean?

Comments, please?

For what it’s worth.

Ray

Submitting to the Flogometer:

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

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

Were I you, I'd examine my first page in the light of the first-page checklist before submitting to the Flogometer.

Flogging the Quill © 2015 Ray Rhamey, story © 2015 Sydney

 

Continued

. . . than patrol with the low-ranked Raiders. As for the source of the arrow I can’t tell, but it’s make looked to be a Raiders with its mismatched feathers and greased shaft.

Upon examining the scene again I decide there must have been five or six of the monsters in a group. It’s hard to tell how long something has been in one place. In this never-ending winter rife with ice-laden winds but little snow, tracks can last for weeks on end if the right conditions are met.

My best guess would be that the Shifters passed through here roughly three days ago. Sighing, I tuck an errant lock of hair behind one ear and stand. My spear knocks reassuringly against my shoulder when I move. My padded boots make my steps near silent as I walk over to the father's corpse. Kneeling, I shovel snow onto the body with gloved hands. The process of burying the mother and child only takes a few minutes, but before I leave I kneel beside the smallest cairn and fist a hand over my breast.

"I swear, by my promise as Starshade, last of my kindred, last of yours, that I will avenge your deaths."

Another promise.The words echo in me. Make me feel hollow. Yet it is an act I must do, for I cannot afford to fail.

Poor thing… their souls will be lost in the void now,  a voice murmurs beside me. I glance out of the corner of one eye to see the ghostly frame of a four-tailed fox.

Celestia’s image shimmers in the breeze and threatens to tear apart, but when the wind dies the slim canine regains her form.

“Yes,” I mutter, “Unless one of them was strong enough to will for justice, but I feel that vengeance has more of a hand in their last moments. To curse a man with your dying breath holds more power than many believe…” I sigh and rise to my full height. The sun warms my back, my fur-cloaked body criss-crossed by the shadows of tree branches high above. The days here are short, making what little light and warmth that they offer welcome to my arduous task. I have been traveling the mountains for over two months now. Training. Fighting. Killing. Surviving.

I close my eyes as memories of what had brought me to this point in time rush through my mind, and one hand clenches into a fist.

“They will pay for every evil act they have committed.”

They cannot all be evil. Some of them may have no choice in the matter.’ The fox stares at me with large blue eyes.

Unnerved for a moment, I look back down the path I came from. “Even you cannot tell me whether he did what he did for good, or for his own selfish reasons,” I mutter, “Why save only me? Why didn’t he stand up and fight to defend the others when he still had the chance?”

Maybe he was afraid.

A strong wind tears through the trees and Celestia is blown apart before I can turn to face her again. Cursing the chill, I pull my cloak tighter about my shoulders and brace my back against a large oak to try and dodge the worst of it. Maybe she was right. Maybe he had been afraid.

But he was a Shifter. I couldn’t let one kind act from one individual steer me from my course. My fate has been set in stone. Locked in place and carved by my own promises.

When the wind dies, I pull my scarf further over my face and grasp the rod of my favorite weapon. A double headed spear.

The instrument stabs into the side of another oak an instant later, and I use the newly created perch to spring up onto a higher branch. Reaching down, I grasp the old, wooden rod and pull upwards. The embedded spearhead comes free with only a mild struggle, its curved edges made for my personal ease of use. Any barbed points could very well get me killed the way I fight.

Hefting the spear for a moment with one hand, I flip it back into its sheath and push myself into a crouched position on the branch. I eye the tracks below for several moments, judging the path my enemies had taken, then pull a talisman from beneath the collar of my shirt and hold it in one gloved fist.

The large violet gemstone pulses in my grasp, and I feel a heightened awareness invade my senses.

“Where do I go now?”

The simple question goes unanswered for several moments, and the wind dies with an almost defeated sigh. I pay little attention to the chill that sets into my bones as I watch the forest floor below.

Finally I spy movement. The mist-like streaks of two running animals. Spirits just like Celestia.

The twin-tailed cougar is the first to reach me, leaping high onto a branch just above and to my right. The doe, swiveling her four ears nervously, remains prancing below.

Aura cannot See very far in this place, The large cat growls and extends her claws -though they cannot dig into the bark. We think it may have to do with being in this valley. The mountains block her abilities.

I nod, a frown on my face, but I’m not too surprised. Aura has had trouble with her Sight ever since we entered the Doomed Peaks. Even from my perch high off the ground I can’t see the top of the mountains. “What path must I take, then?”

The deer below us jumps and begins to dart around at a more rapid pace than ever, ebony eyes ringed by white. I glance down in concern. “Aura. What is the matter?”

No path you take will be safe. No path. The doe halts in her tracks and shivers uncontrollably.

My eyes narrow. “Then which one will give me the greatest chance of living?”

Her head turns quickly in the direction of the tracks, and to where they lead. ‘I cannot tell you for fear of what the future might change to, but that way gives you the best chance.’

“Then I shall heed your words.” Gathering my legs beneath me, I prepare to leap to the next tree. Aura nods and her form dissipates.

I turn my gaze to the cougar, wary. “Is there something you wish to tell me, Daedra?”

My mentor glares at me with blazing emerald eyes until I am forced to look away. She may be able to block me from hearing what you both say, but I know that vixen Celestia is up to no good. You would do well to ignore whatever that traitor tells you, Keit. I have already told you this so many times before. Why do you humor her?

A rueful smile curves my lips. “Maybe just because my talking to her irritates you.”

The cougar hisses and takes a swipe at me, but her raking claws pass harmlessly through my body.

‘I will be watching you, Khet‘ahk-nin,’  Her glare alone should have been enough to burn holes into me. ‘We cannot afford to fail again.’ 

I scowl at the nickname. “I know. And I will not fail.”

Her nod, as well as her expression, are grim. Good. See to it that you do not break the promise so many others have are before you.

Before I can say anything more, her form billows apart like smoke and I am alone again.

Gritting my teeth in annoyance, I push myself into a standing position, then leap toward the next branch. The frozen, cracked limb threatens to give under my weight, but I move swiftly and quietly through the treetops. Aura’s words of warning echo in my mind, and I keep a firm grasp on my spear. A keen eye all around me. The Shifters never expect an attack from above, but a Guard’s involvement in the destruction of that family might change things for the worse if I’m not careful.

I will not fail. I simply can’t. Not when his death weighs so heavily on my shoulders.

My brother’s voice echoes in the back of my mind, and I wince as I remember our last words to each other. “I promised father that I would protect you, Keit. You may think it silly now, but I do not break promises. Even silly ones.”

I shouldn’t have yelled at him. Shouldn’t have told him that such a promise was stupid. At least he kept his.

Gritting my teeth, I throw myself at the next tree, impatient for the fight soon to come. He did everything in his power to keep me alive. Died in the attempt.

I will not disappoint him by breaking my own promises.

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