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Even in this place one can survive, and therefore one must want to survive, to tell the story, to bear witness; and that to survive we must force ourselves to save at least the skeleton, the scaffolding, the form of civilization. We are slaves, deprived of every right, exposed to every insult, condemned to certain death, but we still possess one power, and we must defend it with all our strength for it is the last — the power to refuse our consent.
― Primo Levi, Survival in Auschwitz
On the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the German Nazi concentration and death camp at Auschwitz, I hope we can keep telling the stories of survival and miracles that the victims experienced. But never shall we forget the six million Jews that were murdered. There are many stories of the Shoah (Holocaust) that are told over and over again by survivors, witnesses, and children of survivors. Today, the tenuous relationship between Jews and Muslims around the world echoes negative sentiments and feelings about these two rich traditions. Anti-Semitism has been on the rise in Europe and unfortunately some of the weight of this tide rests on the shoulders of Muslim immigrants in Europe.
As an Islamic and Holocaust scholar, I was always saddened to witness such animosity and tension between the two traditions and decided to take another turn in the field of the Holocaust: Muslims and the Holocaust. I am a Muslim woman who teaches the Holocaust, Genocide, World Religions, and Islam; many questions are raised about my work and identity. Some scholars and community members view the two areas of study, Holocaust and Islam, in contradiction; they seem puzzled and at times, accuse me of being “divided.” They ask me: “How can you teach two unrelated fields? How can a Muslim teach the Holocaust? What kind of a scholar are you?” I am amused by these questions as I think of how much esoteric knowledge rests on dusty shelves, for I believe there is an important connection between my two areas of research.
My work has steered me to confront my own Muslim community on the suffering of “others,” which I argue can become a bridge of mutual understanding and interreligious dialogue. How can we create interreligious dialogue and confront the suffering of one another at different historical moments? How can we discuss and sustain dialogue, which by its very nature also risks dehumanizing the “other”? What aspects about Islam and about the Holocaust might connect both Muslims and Jews? And in a greater sense, what does my work offer students, communities, and academia? These and other questions haunt me every day, knocking on my faith, my study of Holocaust memoirs, my study of new research on Muslims and Jews during the Holocaust and colonialism.
The lost stories of Muslim rescuers and the relationship between Jews and Muslims in Arab countries have been lost under the noise of media portrayal of these faiths being at war throughout time. Israel and Palestine seems to carve the relationship for the rest of us and I feel that we must change that for the future of Judaism and Islam. To tell the stories of positive cooperation between Jews and Muslims is crucial in my work. To reflect on the deep-rooted anti-Semitism and Islamophobia within each community is an important.
Teaching the Holocaust to young students with very little knowledge of the Holocaust or Islam has been challenging. I invite Holocaust survivors to visit our classes and they are stunned and shocked at the stories of survival and loss. The personal connection creates an intimate reaction within the classroom and that is why I embarked on the idea of interviewing survivors. Interviewing survivors as a Muslim was an uncomfortable experience because I did not know what to expect and neither did they. There is one man I will never forget for the rest of my life:
On February 27th, 2010, I looked into the sky-blue eyes of Albert Rosa, an 85-year-old Shoah survivor, for three hours as he spoke about his experience at Auschwitz-Birkenau. As I left him, he told me with tears in his eyes that he wanted someone to write his life story, since he had very little formal education and would not be able to express in writing his feelings on the Shoah. He asked me, “How can I express in words how I felt when my sister was bludgeoned to death in front of me by a Nazi woman, or when I saw my elder brother hanging from a rope when I had tried to defend him?” I looked into his eyes, which had pierced me all day, and wondered how I could tell his story in words without losing the sense of the emotional and physical strength it had taken him to survive the horror of his life in the camps. He spoke of maggots crawling on his body as he was ordered to move the dead Jewish bodies, the gold he stole from the teeth of the dead, the urine he saved to nurse the wounds inflicted by a German Shepherd, the plant roots that he dug out with his fingers for nourishment, the ashes he swallowed from the crematorium as he helped build Birkenau. How was I to give these events any life with mere words? These feelings of paralysis emerge as I write this testimony; how I can give the Shoah a life of its own without trespassing on politics, ethics, and the millions of victims? In some ways, I felt like abandoning this project because I feared that I could not do it justice. (Shoah through Muslim Eyes (Academic Studies Press, 2015))
Finally, I hope to take the testimonies of survivors, lost stories of Muslims during the Holocaust, and the memory of two traditions to a new level where one can speak up for one another.
Why Goal-Setting Matters Much has been written about the current environment in education. We can choose to focus on the ways in which fear is driving the work that we do, the ways in which… Continue reading →
Today is Multicultural Children's Book Day! The organizers asked me if I'd come up with a coloring page for the event, which I was very happy to do as I've strived throughout my career to show diversity in the books I create.CLICK HERE to read more about it!
CLICK HERE for more coloring pages! Sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially... my debut novel, A BIRD ON WATER STREET - winner of six literary awards. Click the cover to learn more! When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing? A miner's strike allows green and growing things to return to the Red Hills, but that same strike may force residents to seek new homes and livelihoods elsewhere. Follow the story of Jack Hicks as he struggles to hold onto everything he loves most. I create my coloring pages for teachers, librarians, booksellers, and parents to enjoy for free with their children, but you can also purchase rights to an image for commercial use, please contact me. If you have questions about usage, please visit my Angel Policy page.
Today is Monday, January 26th. There's a wicked snow storm just getting started here and it's predicted we're going to get 2-3 feet.
Along with the snow and winds, there will most probably be power outages. Since I'm not sure how long we might be without power, I'm letting you know that if I'm not responding on social media or elsewhere online, that's the reason.
I'm scheduling this to
While nascent talk of the Holocaust was in the air when I was growing up in New York City, we did not learn about it in school, even in lessons about World War II or the waves of immigration to America’s shores. There were no public memorials or museums to the murdered millions, and the genocide of European Jewry was subsumed under talk of “the war.”
My father was a somber man who arrived here from Poland after the war and, like many survivors, kept to himself, trying his best to block out the past. Growing up, my connection to my father’s lost world consisted of names mentioned in hushed tones and photographs retrieved from hidden boxes.
But as I grew older, I watched with great interest, more than a little curiosity, and a good deal of relief as it became more acceptable to talk about “our” tragedy. By the 1980s, lessons about the genocide of European Jewry became de rigueur in high schools through the nation. In the following decade, people could flock to a hulking museum in our nation’s capital that told the story for all who cared to listen.
The Holocaust became a universal moral touchstone that called upon us to defend our common humanity against the capacity for evil. But today, on the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on 27 January, the lesson we Jews seem to draw from our history is that those outside the tribe cannot be trusted.
In the wake of the recent terrorist attack on a kosher food store in Paris, and as anti-Semitism rises in France and elsewhere, these fears seem understandable. I know these kinds of fears well. Even in the relative comfort of his postwar existence, my father had a recurring nightmare that he was being chased by German shepherds.
But when such fears lead to catastrophic thinking, they harden our hearts to the suffering of others and contribute, paradoxically, to a sense of Holocaust fatigue among many Jewish Americans — particularly younger ones.
“I’m sick of the Holocaust as a shorthand for ‘we suffered more than you, so we should get the piece of cake with the rosette on it,’” a 20-something columnist wrote in the Forward. Peter Beinart in The Crisis of Zionism argues that the growing emphasis on the Holocaust in American life beginning in the 1960s and 1970s marked the end of Jewish universalism.
“Liberalism was out,” Beinart wrote. “Tribalism was in.”
Beinart and others are partly right: Holocaust trauma is too readily exploited. But historically, Holocaust commemoration efforts have been more than simply exercises in tribalism. They often emerged from an urge to acknowledge and alleviate human suffering writ large.
Raphael Lemkin, the Polish-Jewish legal scholar and Holocaust survivor who coined the term “genocide” and fought to have the concept recognized by the United Nations, exemplified this impulse. So did the mobilization of the Holocaust second generation. Descendants of survivors, empowered by the progressive movements of the 1960s and 1970s, coaxed our parents to share their stories. The Holocaust consciousness we helped build was part of a larger search for self-expression and human rights.
Today, many Holocaust commemoration activities reflect this universal spirit as well, including the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s efforts to promote awareness of genocide in Sudan and elsewhere. Jewish-American donors provided the bulk of the funds for a memorial to the more than two million Cambodians murdered during the brutal reign of the Khmer Rouge, an acknowledgement of a shared tragic history.
These and other efforts to remember the suffering of others should be applauded, but they must be more than window dressing. They should also spur our own collective soul-searching. Committing funds for projects in places where Jews have few political or emotional investments, such as Cambodia or Sudan, is relatively easy. Subjecting our own deeply felt loyalties to Israel to scrutiny is a much more difficult, but no less important, task.
The truth is that at times our privileges may in fact be implicated in the suffering of others in the Palestinian territories, where life is brutal and frequently too short. A sense of hopelessness prevails among both Israelis and Palestinians, fueling acts of desperation and violence in the Middle East and beyond.
A chorus of leaders on both sides is promoting a politics of fear, declaring I cannot be my brother’s keeper when my brother is out to murder me. But on this Holocaust Remembrance Day, let us honor the memory of the parents and grandparents, uncles and aunts, and all of the unknown others we have lost by resisting such talk and redoubling our efforts to seek peace.
This Christmas, London’s Royal Opera House played host to Christopher Wheeldon’s critically acclaimed Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, performed by the Royal Ballet and with a score by Joby Talbot. Indeed, Lewis Carroll’s seminal work Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) has long inspired classical compositions, in forms as diverse as ballet, opera, chamber music, song, as well as, of course, film scores. Examples include English composer Liza Lehmann’s Nonsense songs (1908); American composer Irving Fine’s two sets of Choruses from Alice in Wonderland (1949 and 1953); and contemporary composer Wendy Hiscock’s ‘Jill in the box’, commissioned by the BFI to accompany the first footage of Alice in Wonderland – a 1903 silent film directed by Percy Stow and Cecil Hepworth.
In the Oxford catalogue, the influence of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland can be seen in choral pieces by Maurice Bailey, Bob Chilcott, and Sarah Quartel, and it is interesting to observe the similarities in their treatment of this famous text. Maurice Bailey selects seven poems from the book to produce a set of seven songs for upper voices and piano or instrumental ensemble. The set begins with a short narration—a direct quotation of the book’s first four paragraphs—and the first song takes up the image of Alice sitting by the riverbank, setting the scene with the performance direction ‘like a warm and lazy summer afternoon’. Each song has a distinct character:
‘Twinkle, twinkle, little bat!’ is jovial, with a gentle swing feel;
‘You are old, Father William’ is solemn and dramatic;
‘How doth the little crocodile’ is a peaceful, chorale-like setting;
‘Will you walk a little faster?’ has a deliberate feel, featuring call-and-response imitation;
‘Beautiful Soup’ is in the manner of a leisurely waltz; and
‘They told me you had been to her’ is mysterious and energetic, with evocative musical language.
In all the songs, the piano or instrumental ensemble is a key component in the drama, rather than being simply a supportive accompanying force. There is also some scat singing, recitation, and spoken text. ‘You are old, Father William’ in particular exploits recitation to great dramatic effect, requiring a member of the choir to take on the part of Father William, which is entirely spoken, while the rest of the choir adopt the role of narrator, with sung interjections that complete the story.
Chilcott’s Mouse Tales, for SA and piano, is in two movements: the second setting the familiar poem ‘The Mouse’s Tale’ from the published version of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland; and the first setting the poem that Carroll included in its place in his original manuscript. Both movements have an abundance of character, and Chilcott marks the first movement ‘sassy’, a term that perfectly describes the musical style and that encourages the singers to give a characterful performance. The first movement has a jazz flavour, while the energetic second movement features driving ostinatos in the piano and accents in the vocal lines that place emphasis on unexpected beats of the bar, keeping the singers on their toes. Like Bailey, Chilcott employs scat singing and spoken interjections such as ‘you did?’ and ‘nice!’ for dramatic effect, as well as a catchy refrain to present the well-known proverb ‘when the cat’s away, then the mice will play’.
Unlike the other two composers, Sarah Quartel uses Carroll’s story as the basis for her own text, in which we encounter characters such as the White Rabbit, the Cheshire Cat, and the Hatter. The piece, for SSA and piano, has great potential for dramatic performance, with sections of a cappella scat singing and spoken text and a catchy refrain that centres around the Cheshire Cat’s declaration that ‘we’re all mad here’, where the part-writing encourages playful interaction between the different sections of the choir. The choir adopts the role of Alice, and Quartel helps the singers to convey Alice’s responses to the narrative through performance directions such as ‘with distinct character, telling a story’, ‘playful, like a caucus-race’, ‘indignant!’, and ‘with awe!’. Naturally, the music itself contributes to the characterization. For example, a march-like figure is employed to represent the Queen, while the music for the flustered White Rabbit features rapidly ascending and descending scales in the piano. Indeed, once again, the piano is a key component in the portrayal of the drama, and the rapid movement through different keys also helps to convey Alice’s mixture of confusion and wonder at the strange world she inhabits.
As we have seen, there are certain similarities in the three composers’ responses to this influential work of children’s literature. Perhaps unsurprisingly, each of the composers elected to write for upper voices, so that their settings might be performed by children’s choir. Imaginative and descriptive performance directions play an important part, assisting the singers in their characterization of the unusual protagonists in the story that they are telling. Again, unsurprisingly, the book appears to inspire a certain theatricality in the writing and music; it requires the performers to give a dramatic performance that has a strong sense of fun. Spoken text and scat singing are also prevalent in all three works, and the piano makes an integral contribution to the musical characterization. With its adventurous heroine, extraordinary characters, and unapologetic celebration of the quirky and the ‘mad’, it is little wonder that the text has proven a source of inspiration for composers since its inception and will undoubtedly continue to do so.
Headline image credit: Иллюстрация к главе Бег по кругу книги Алиса в стране чудес. Image by Gertrude Kay. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.
These days the news is full of stories that seem to indicate that in some places the divide between people of different cultural backgrounds is getting wider and wider. Too many of us are getting less tolerant and accepting of people who not like us. I find this trend to be both disturbing and very discouraging. One way to counter this trend is to help our children to understand and appreciate people who are culturally different from them. Books that celebrate diversity can help parents, teachers, and librarians to explore how our lives are made richer when our communities are heterogeneous. Today is Multicultural Children's Book Day and below you will find out why this event was created by two women who want to open hearts and minds one book at a time. Visit the Multicultural Children's Book Day website to find out more.
Children’s reading and play advocates Valarie Budayr from Jump Into a Bookand Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom have teamed up to create an ambitious (and much needed) national event. On January 27th, Jump into a Book and Pragmatic Mom will be presenting yet another Multicultural Children’s Book Day as a way of celebrating diversity in children’s books.
Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day, Mia and Valarie are on a mission to change all of that. Their mission is to not only raise awareness for the kid’s books that celebrate diversity, but to get more of these types of books into classrooms and libraries. Another goal of this exciting event is create a compilation of books and favorite reads that will provide not only a new reading list for the winter, but also a way to expose brilliant books to families, teachers, and libraries.
Multicultural Children’s Book Day will include book reviews from noted bloggers all over the world, giveaways and book-related activities for young readers of all ages. The MCCBD team will also be partnering with First Book to create a Virtual Book Drive for the event, and with The Children’s Book Council to offer readers quality resources along with fun and informative author visits.
Together the MCCBD team hopes to spread the word and raise awareness about the importance of diversity in children’s literature. Our young readers need to see themselves within the pages of a book and experience other cultures, languages, traditions and religions within the pages of a book. We encourage readers, parents, teachers, caregivers and librarians to follow along the fun book reviews, author visits, event details, multicultural children’s book linky and via our hashtag (#ReadYourWorld) on Twitter and other social media.
Megibow (pictured, via) has devoted more than a decade to a career in publishing. Prior to this move, she worked at the Nelson Literary Agency.
Megibow specializes in writers who create middle grade, young adult, new adult, LGBTQ, romance, erotica, science fiction and fantasy stories. Some of the authors she represents include authors Roni Loren, Jason Hough, Stefan Bachmann, and Tiffany Reisz.
Ares: Bringer of War by George O'Connor First Second, January 27, 2015 review copy provided by the publisher
"The stories that make up the body of Greek myths are what remain of their culture’s deeply held beliefs. The stories of Zeus and his family are more than just entertaining yarns about giants who slice open the sky and monsters so fearsome their gaze can turn a person to stone. They were, and are, an explanation of the world that that ancient culture’s people saw around them: a lightning storm could only be the King of Gods hurling his thunderbolt; a volcano could only be the escaped vapors of an entombed Titan.
Not many people today believe in the gods of Ancient Greece. But their stories are still around, and they live on in all of our memories." George O'Connor (from his website, The Olympians).
The volumes in George O'Connor's Olympians series (Zeus, Athena, Hera, Hades, Poseidon, and Aphrodite) do so much more than simply retell a story from Greek mythology. They also feature a detailed family tree at the beginning of the book. At the end are extensive G(r)eek notes that cite page and panel numbers and are a combination of author commentary, historical context, and vocabulary and classical art connections. After that, there are resources for the reader who wants to know even more.
The whole premise of Ares is pretty amazing -- in it, O'Connor retells the Illiad with a focus on the gods' role in the Trojan War. In a 66-page graphic novel. For kids.
Everything you know about Ares is shown to be true in this book -- when it comes to warmongering, he is the opposite side of the coin from Athena, who is the disciplined strategist of war. Ares represents the violent, crazed, bloodthirsty side of war. But in this book, we also see that he is a father with at least a teeny tiny soft spot in his heart.
One of my favorite spreads in the book is p. 12-13. It takes you by surprise as a reader, because the top half of both pages is one large panel. It shows the gods gathered around a sort of table that is the battlefield in the mortal world. The panels below the large top panel read left to right as usual, but all the way across both pages. When you turn the page, the story continues in the usual page-by-page format until the climax on p. 52-53 when the gods can't stand it anymore and they go down to the mortal world to battle it out "god-on-god" (p. 73 in the G(r)eek Notes) All of this is to say that besides being a master of mythology and storytelling, George O'Connor is an amazing graphic artist.
I recommend this book for students in grades 4 and up...all the way up to adults who would like a refresher course on mythology and a peek into some of the best graphic novels around.
I loved Going Down in Flames, so I was eager to revisit Bryn and her friends in Bridges Burned. I was a bit disappointed with it. There was too much boy angst, and the non-ending diminished my enjoyment. The action picked up in the second half, but it was all setup for the next book in the series. The book doesn’t end so much as it tapers off to nothing. I found this very frustrating.
Bryn is settling in at her new school, and as long as she has Zavien, she’s sure she can put up with the mockery and cold shoulders she’s receiving from some of the other students. As a crossbred dragon, she’s looked on as something forbidden and aberrant, and with the controlling Directorate calling the shots for all of the dragons, her future doesn’t look too bright. Even though her grandfather is a powerful Blue dragon, there are many in the dragon society who object to her existence. Her parents, both promised to others, ran away from their restrictive culture and blended in as humans. When Bryn turned 16, her heritage came banging on her door, and she was forced to attend the dragons’ academy to learn to control her powers.
One of the things I loved about the last book was Bryn’s forceful personality. She’s pissed that her peers treat her like dirt, she’s fed up with people trying to kill her, and she can’t stand the rigid social structure that she’s been forced into. Dragons can only marry dragons of the same clan, and even then, only with the Directorate’s approval. It galls her that her future rests in their hands, and she’s infuriated that she can’t be with Zavien, the Black dragon she loves. She didn’t take crap from anyone, and since she’s so powerful, she could defend herself from even the most obnoxious of her detractors.
Cut to Book 2, and I kept wondering what happened to that Bryn. Now she is consumed with Zavien, letting him dictate their relationship. Did I mention that he’s been promised to another, and that he’s engaged? Because for the formalities involved in dragon marriage contracts, he can’t just void his engagement. All through the first half of the book, I thought he was taking advantage of Bryn, twisting the truth about the future of their relationship and lying to her outright. He really pissed me off. I don’t like cheaters, and worse, I don’t like cheating heroes. I didn’t find Zavien or his behavior heroic, and I wanted to slap Bryn and tell her to get over herself. He wasn’t worth the grief he was putting her through. She was like a shell of herself, and it infuriated me. So deep was my aggravation that I almost set the book aside.
I kept doggedly at it, however, and things improved in the second half, after Bryn is forced to move in with her grandparents. I think Zavien’s absence from the storyline at this point made it more palatable for me. Jaxon, who I thought was a spoiled bully in the first book, quickly gained my favor. He and Bryn are thrown together again and again as an enemy faction attempts to tear the dragon society apart at the seams. This unknown enemy attacks the school on several occasions as they work to divide the dragon clans and cast suspicion on the Directorate, and these upticks in action kept me reading, especially the attack on Dragon’s Bluff.
After all of that intense, pulse-pounding action, the book just stops. That was so frustrating! There’s no question that I’ll continue with Book 3, but I’m hoping that Bryn focuses more on herself and less on Zavien, because, really, who wants a lying, cheating boyfriend, regardless of how good looking he is? So, while Bridges Burned was a bit of a mixed bag for me, I am invested in the story and would like to see what happens next.
Bridges Burned <?XML:NAMESPACE PREFIX = "O" />
By Chris Cannon
January 27, 2015
Don’t just fight the system…burn it.
Since discovering she is a shape-shifting, fire-breathing dragon on her sixteenth birthday (surprise!), Bryn McKenna’s world has been thrown into chaos. Being a “crossbreed”—part Red dragon and part Blue—means Bryn will never fit in. Not with dragon society. Not with the archaic and controlling Directorate. And definitely not when she has striped hair and a not-so-popular affection for rule-breaking…
But sneaking around with her secret boyfriend, Zavien, gets a whole lot harder when he’s betrothed to someone else. Someone who isn’t a mixed breed and totally forbidden. And for an added complication, it turns out Bryn’s former archnemesis Jaxon Westgate isn’t quite the evil asshat she thought. Now she’s caught between her desire to fit in and a need to set things on fire. Literally.
Because if Bryn can’t adapt to the status quo…well, then maybe it’s time for her to change it.
Chris Cannon lives in Southern Illinois with her husband and her three dogs, Pete the shih tzu who sleeps on her desk while she writes, Molly the ever-shedding yellow lab, and Tyson the sandwich-stealing German Shepherd Beagle. She believes coffee is the Elixir of Life. Most evenings after work, you can find her sucking down caffeine and writing fire-breathing paranormal adventures. Going Down In Flames is the first book in Chris Cannon’s shape-shifting dragon series.
On the drive back to school, Bryn reflected on how her life had recently gone to hell. It had all started when flames shot out of her mouth on her sixteenth birthday, proving she wasn’t completely human. Since then she’d been shipped off to a secret school for dragons—the Institute for Excellence—where she was learning how to control her shape-shifting dragon powers. She’d faced discrimination, death threats, and poisoning. She’d been blown up and involved in a battle to the death with a radical Revisionist member—and she’d been there for only a few months.
Though not everything about her new life was bad. She had a sexy boyfriend, Black dragon Zavien Blackthorn, and two good friends, Clint and Ivy. Being a crossbred dragon meant she had both the Red and Blue dragons’ breath weapons, fire and ice, and even though she was the only crossbreed, she could still outfly even the fastest Blue. Of course, that’s why some of the other Clans hated her. She’d upset the natural order of things in this color-coded world, where the Directorate dictated what Red, Black, Green, Orange, and Blue dragon Clan members could do as a profession and whom they could marry. It was absurd. Yet most dragons didn’t question it.
Part of Zavien’s appeal lay in the fact that he headed up the student Revisionist group that petitioned the Directorate to change outdated laws. Bryn glanced at Directorate lawyer Merrick Overton, who was driving the Cadillac SUV hybrid she was riding in. Her classmate and former nemesis Jaxon Westgate rode shotgun. She and Jaxon no longer hated each other. Scratch that: he no longer hated her based on his father’s vendetta against her mother, but that didn’t mean they were friends. Funny how saving someone’s life could turn you from enemies to…what? Not friends. Frenemies, maybe? Who knew? It’s not like she wanted to hang out with him, but there was a weird level of trust between them now that she didn’t know what to do with.
This morning I have an Top 5 from Jessica Lemmon, who is celebrating the release of her latest, Bringing Home the Bad Boy.
Top 5 things you’ll never find in Evan’s bedroom by Jessica Lemmon -
Thank you for having me! I had to think hard about this one, but I believe I came up with five fun answers for you. Here we go…
5: A gun. He’s a lover not a fighter. Okay, unless someone is giving Charlotte a hard time. Then he’s a fighter, but he’s all about the fists.
4: A television. Evan prefers a different kind of entertainment when he’s in bed.
3: Clothes on the floor. Evan is neat…unless Charlotte is there. Then, the clothes go wherever they fall.
2: Painted walls. Evan prefers a blank canvas.
1: A woman other than Charlotte. Evan is fiercely loyal, and he only has eyes for her.
What about you? What is the one thing you won’t ever find in your bedroom? My answer is Henry Cavill. More’s the pity…
About BRINGING HOME THE BAD BOY:
Creativity is his drug, painting is his escape, but she’ll be the addiction that brings him to his knees.
Evan Downey buried a part of his soul when put the love of his life in the ground. He knows he needs to get his shit together for the sake of their son, but escaping into his art is the only way he can begin to cope with Rae’s death. When the chance to move back to Evergreen Cove, one of the few places that has ever felt right to him, he knows it’s a chance he has to take. For his sake, and his sons. Charlotte Harris would give anything to have her best friend back. But if she can’t have Rae, then she vows she’ll at least be there to support the family Rae left behind. So when she learns that Evan is looking to move home, she does everything she can to help him and Lyon re-build their lives at the Cove. But when sparks start to fly between Charlotte and Evan it’s the first glimpse of something bright and beautiful either of them has seen in far too long. And they start to wonder if fate has offered them a second chance at happiness– if only their brave enough to take the risk and let love back into their lives.
About Jessica Lemmon:
Jessica Lemmon has always been a dreamer. At some point, she decided head-in-the-clouds thinking was childish, went out, and got herself a job . . . and then she got another one because that one was lousy. And when that one stopped being fulfilling, she went out and got another . . . and another. Soon it became apparent she’d only be truly happy doing what she loved. And since “eating potato chips” isn’t a viable career, she opted to become a writer. With fire in her heart, she dusted off a book she’d started years prior, finished it, and submitted it. It may have been the worst book ever, but it didn’t stop her from writing another one. Now she has several books finished, several more started, and even more marinating in her brain (which currently resides in the clouds, thankyouverymuch), and she couldn’t be happier. She firmly believes God gifts us with talents for a purpose, and with His help, you can create the life you want. (While eating potato chips.)
“Know why I moved here?” he asked, keeping his voice low.
She wrenched her eyes from his and focused on a spot over his shoulder.
“Because you didn’t want to live in Columbus anymore.” That’s what he’d told her. That he wanted a change. That he and Lyon had outgrown the house. And, she imagined it’d be hard to live in the house where Rae had passed.
“But why here?”
His fingers grazed her jaw and turned her head, his palm moving to her neck where he cupped her nape and forced her eyes to his.
Reluctantly, she met them.
“Rae’s more alive when you’re around, Ace.”
Her heart, oh her heart. Kicking against her chest in a confusing, hectic rhythm.
“You bring her to life for Lyon—more than anyone else. I need him to remember her because he can’t remember her alive.” His hold stayed, his palm warming her neck, his gaze unwavering.
She tried to separate the two feelings she was having—one that she was now talking about Rae with Evan and two, that he was touching her while talking about Rae.
Before she could, his lips closed over hers.
Her thoughts short-circuited.
This wasn’t anything like a soft peck hello. This was his lips moving over hers, slanting over hers, warm and firm and then his mouth opened and—
Oh my gosh!
His wet, warm tongue slid along the seam of her lips and she stopped being passive and started kissing him back. When she would have touched her tongue to his, he relocated it, running along her bottom lip instead and tugging with his teeth.
If she’d been standing, her knees would have given out and dropped her right on her butt.
And then there was the palm on her neck, now spearing up through her hair and clutching onto a handful of it. He held her captive, his hand fisting her hair as he angled his mouth again. In response to the soft whimper escaping her throat, he swept his tongue into her mouth. He tangled his tongue with hers once, twice, and released her.
When he pulled his mouth away, a long, satisfied sigh escaped her lips. Because that was a kiss. A kiss to rival all other kisses.
She opened her eyes to realize A) she’d closed her eyes and B) she’d at some point wrapped both hands around his forearms where she was holding tight and C) Evan looked as please as she felt.
“God damn, Ace. Your mouth.” His eyes flicked to her lips. Lips still tingling from the rough scrape from the stubble surrounding his.
She concurred with that sentiment. Not that she said anything. She’d gone dumb; completely mute.
He backed away, but held onto her chin and tweaked it lightly with the rough pad of one thumb. “That’s the way this is gonna go from now on.”
Her breathing went shallow, her thoughts went muzzy and her head blurred as her heart palpated to the point of panic attack.
She didn’t mean to say it, and it had only been a whisper, but by the look twisting Evan’s face—the angry look twisting his face—he’d heard. And he hadn’t liked what he’d heard.
“Sorry,” she said to him this time. “I should go.”
Unbelievably, he leaned closer. She pulled her chin back until she realized she likely had a double chin, then settled her head on her neck in a more reasonable position.
Please read and visit the page. If you can help please do.
NORM BREYFOGLE SUFFER STROKE and has a long road to recovery ahead with extended therapy and has no insurance. as a lengendary BATMAN ARTIST. his lifetime savings has already been dwindled down to nothing paying for for out of pocket, insurmountable medical expenses in nearly a week in I.C.U.
Norm has suffered paralysis on his left side (and is left handed). As an artist...that is devastating! Norm now needs months of extended care in a Nursing Home fscility with daily therapy that will hopefully enable him to once again, continue his skillful art and regain his mobility to be able to walk again.
Norm as touched many fans throughout his career as a professional artist and now needs all of our help. Norm has helped so many with his generosity throughout the years and has saved others lives in nearly the same situation of those in need of medical care expenses.
PLEASE Fans, Family and Friends, let's pull together now to help Norm after all he has done for all of us in the many ways he has touchd our lives. SPREAD THE WORD!
All it takes is just a $1 Donation from 200,000 of his fans, friends and family to pull him through! I am sure he may need much more to cover all the expenses...but this is a start!
Thank you all for all of your kind words and support! Norm appreciates all you do!
This week we have an exciting one-a-year event for the younger set! Bookworm Festival!
January 31, Saturday, 9:30-12:00
Spring Oaks Middle School, 2150 Shadowdale Bookworm Festival
Bookworm Festival is a celebration of reading and a chance for primary grade children to meet several authors who create books for them. Dan Santat, illustrator of countless books including his newest, A CRANKENSTEIN VALENTINE, will give the keynote speech. He will be joined by nationally known authors and illustrators of picture books and early chapter books including Tad Hills, Deborah Freedman, Jennifer Hamburg and Dan Hanna.
Librarians and language arts teachers from across Houston comprise the steering committee for the Bookworm Festival. Their goal is to connect emerging readers with authors to foster the joy of reading.
I know you're going to scroll right past this to get to the gorgeousness--and I can't say I blame you
(In fact, I'm always tempted to put a big spoiler in the text before the cover reveal since no one ever reads it--but I shall refrain!).
So here you go--without further ado. The cover you've been begging me to see....
You have no idea how many hours I have spent staring at that stunningness!!!! I mean...
I can't even....
IT IS TOO AWESOME--I LOVE IT TOO MUCH!!!!
And yeah, I'm sure you now have ALL THE QUESTIONS. Most of which I probably can't answer. But here's what I CAN say:
~ That is Sophie, Keefe, and Biana on the cover
(YES--WE FINALLY GET TO SEE BIANA--DOESN'T SHE LOOK BEAUTIFUL???)
~ No, Fitz and Dex aren't on the cover, but YES they are in the book just as much.
~ Yes, that IS Biana's hand grabbing Keefe's arm. And no, I have no comment on that.
(Though I'm sure the fandom will have LOTS of thoughts...)
~ Yes, they all look worried--and rightfully so. A humongous wave is crashing over them!
And...that's it. I can't tell you what the scene is, or where they are, or at what point that scene happens in the story. For that, you'll have to wait for the book
So I know the next logical question is; when does the book come out?!?!?!?
And the only answer I can give is: Fall 2015. It'll probably be November like EVERBLAZE, but release dates change all the time, so I won't have an exact date to give you until we're closer to that season. Plus, yanno, I'm still writing the book, so there's that. Realllllllllllllllllllllly need to finish...
So how about I go back to writing and you guys go back to staring at the gloriousness and we'll see how long it takes before the first fan art from the new cover pops up on the Internetz?
This morning I have an excerpt and giveaway for Filthy Rich by Dawn Ryder. Enjoy!
Filthy RichBy Dawn Ryder
February 3, 2015
“Tantalizing” – RT Book Reviews on Out of Bounds
SHE’S FIGHTING FOR CONTROL…
Celeste Connor swore that she’d never be a victim again. After the hell of her abusive ex, the last thing she needs is to be under another man’s thumb. But when she catches the eye of fiercely dominant Nartan Lupan at her best friend’s wedding, Celeste finds herself drawn into a glittering world of wealth and power that has her body aching and her mind reeling.
HE’S FIGHTING TO MAKE HER HIS…
Nartan is a filthy rich businessman who works hard, plays harder, and doesn’t take no for an answer—and he wants Celeste with a hunger he’s never before felt. He’ll do whatever it takes to have her. But Nartan didn’t expect that he’d want still more…
Dawn Ryder is the erotic romance pen name of a bestselling author of historical romances. She has been publishing her stories for over 8 years to a growing and appreciative audience. She is commercially published in mass market and trade paper, and digi-first published with trade paper releases. She is hugely committed to her career as an author, as well as to other authors and to her readership. She resides in Southern California.
The sun had finally gone down sometime after ten. Now the stars were brilliant, and a yellow moon was casting an amazing level of light in the nighttime hours.
There was a whimper and then another long howl.
She could sleep when she got back to Southern California.
She got up and hurried into her jeans. Only the range light was on in the kitchen, but with so much moonlight coming through the windows, it was easy to get to the mudroom and lace up her boots.
She opened the outer door slowly, sliding through to keep from moving it too much. A howl sounded, so much louder now that she was outside. She pressed the door shut and knelt down.
The starlight illuminated the wolves. At least six of them were pawing the ground as they moved along the road that connected the house with the test facility offices. Those offices weren’t even in sight.
But the wolves were.
And so was Nartan.
He was crouched down twenty feet away. Her breath caught as she took in the way he blended with the moment. The wolves made yipping sounds as they came closer, smelling the road and the air as they went.
Nartan lifted his hand and beckoned her toward him. Her steps seemed too noisy, the crunching sounds grating on her ears. A wolf looked toward her and she froze.
Nartan beckoned again, turning to look at her.
The animal was still fifty feet away, but it was looking toward her. She bit her lower lip, afraid of spooking the animal.
Nartan closed in on her, moving right up next to her.
“He can smell you. You’re upwind. Come down here with me. He won’t worry about you then.”
Nartan clasped her hand and pulled her down to where he’d been. He lifted his head, judging the wind. The wolf let out a yip and joined the rest as they scratched at the dirt and one another. Two of them would circle another, lowering their heads and yipping. The wolf in the center was the one who lifted its head and let out a long howl.
“The alpha…” Nartan whispered.
He had his arm draped around her, his scent filling her senses.
Why did he smell so good?
Not that it really mattered. He was still as pond water but his skin was warm. His attention was on the wolves, but she felt like it was on her as well. He shifted just a bit, and inhaled next to her hair.
Fresh from bed, it was a soft cloud. She reached up, self–conscious about how messy it was. He caught her hand and stopped her as the alpha looked at them. The animal’s eyes were pools of moonlight. Its mouth was open, giving her a glimpse of its long canine teeth. It made a low sound before pushing its front paws out and stretching its neck up and tilting its head until its nose pointed at the moon. A long, mournful cry filled the night.
It felt like she was suspended in time. They might have been anywhere, in any year.
“Lower your head.”
He tucked his chin and cupped her nape.
“To show submission…”
Celeste stiffened. Nartan chuckled in a bare whisper next to her ear. “To the alpha.”
She bent, the wolf watching her before losing interest and moving along with the pack.
Nartan massaged her neck, his fingers working the stiffness from the muscles as she straightened. “Well done.”
It felt like there was innuendo in his comment. But maybe she was just being too sensitive.
She drew in a deep breath and forced herself to relax. The wolves were moving away now, heading toward a forested area. The alpha looked back at them before it disappeared into the timber.
“That was amazing,” she whispered.
Nartan’s hand was under her hair, the touch so intimate that she was loath to pull away. He threaded his fingers through her hair, pulling his hand free as he finger–combed the strands. He watched her as he did it, his eyes reflecting the moonlight just as the alpha’s had.
He was in his element.
Call it cheesy or lame but she couldn’t shake it.
So she rose, backing away from him as he stood. His shirt was open all the way down his front, his jeans sagging low on his waist because he didn’t have a belt on. And his feet were bare.
“Aren’t you cold?”
He slowly smiled and extended his hand. “Judge for yourself.”
She started to reach for him and froze. Indecision held her in its grip as the wind blew her hair around. One of his dark eyebrows rose as she hesitated.
She reached out and touched him. Allowed her fingertips to rest on his forearm for a moment that felt like a mini eternity. It ended when he twisted his arm around and captured her wrist. He stepped up to her, pulling her toward him. She could have broken the hold, if she was able to think.
Which she wasn’t.
Her brain seemed to have shut down. Somehow, she was caught in a storm of sensations, completely unwilling to think about anything. She simply wanted to experience the moment.
Well, it was quite a moment.
Rich with scents and sensations that were intoxicating. His breath teased her ear and then her cheek. A shudder shook her, sending a tiny gasp through her lips. Nartan took advantage of her parted lips, pressing his down on top of them and tasting them slowly.
God, how long had it been since she’d been kissed?
Pleasure flowed through her, gaining strength like a flame catching a wick. Sure, she knew that a candle was for lighting, but until it was lit, the memory of how bright it could shine was dim.
She stepped back. Startled by how much she liked his kiss.
She wanted more.
A hell of a lot more.
But she turned and headed back into the house before she could do anything impulsive.
Moon madness. That was all.
Only she wasn’t really sure if she would ever be sane again.
Rafflecopter Giveaway for 3 copies of OUT OF BOUNDS by Dawn Ryder:
Not long after the beginning, Genesis tells us that there were two brothers. One killed the other. “And the Lord said, ‘What have you done? Listen; your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground’” (Gen. 4:10). This is the Lord’s response when the murderer denies knowing where his brother is and asks, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” We humans are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers; and yet we have been disowning and killing each other since the beginning.
On this day seventy years ago, the last prisoners were liberated from Auschwitz. On this day today, we commit to remembering the more than six million Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, and others who were rejected and murdered by their fellow humans. Their blood still cries out to God from the ground.
When we remember the Shoah, always but especially on this day, we must focus our energies on remembering those who we have lost. Those who murdered them dehumanized them. Let us defy that curse and celebrate their thoughts, beliefs, feelings, and experiences – the fullness of their humanity.
Let us sit in the memory of those who we have lost. Those of us without memories of our own must humbly seek welcome in the memories of others, to the extent that they are knowable. When we cannot know what the people who perished were like, let us grow in our awareness of our ignorance. We can never fully understand what we have lost. Let us mourn both what we know and what we know we cannot know.
The words of the victims themselves offer the clearest hope of seeing and remembering through their eyes, of knowing what the Shoah was and what it destroyed, even as it defies human comprehension. In 1947, writing from Sweden, poet, refugee, and future Nobel laureate Nelly Sachs offered words of caution to her fellow humans: “We the rescued beg you: Show us your sun slowly. Lead us step by step from star to star. Let us quietly learn to live again. Otherwise the song of a bird or the filling of a bucket at a well could unleash our ill-sealed ache and wash us away.”
There is beauty in the world. There is hope. There is joy to be found in the midst of the ordinary. But there is also great darkness within those around us and even, at times, within ourselves. We have killed our brothers and sisters since the beginning of humanity, it seems. We are each other’s keepers. We learn to keep each other in the present, in part, by keeping the memories alive of those who have gone before, especially of those who were the victims of immeasurable evil.
This remembering can be no mere intellectual exercise of memorizing facts and figures. As heirs of the memories of the victims, we must take their legacy personally. Some felt anger and indignation, a few even hate, but for many the overwhelming response was one of sorrow. Entire communities, villages, towns, families, clans, cultures, and sub-cultures that once thrived are now gone.
The Talmud teaches that “anyone who destroys a life is considered by Scripture to have destroyed an entire world” (Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:9). In the Shoah, more than six million worlds were wiped out. Let us mourn their loss. Let us seek to remember. Their blood still cries out to God. Let us listen.
Image Credit: Holocaust Remembrance Day. Photo by Brittney Bush Bollay. CC by NC-ND 2.0 via Flickr.
Happy 2015, everyone! I hope you’re getting your January groove on, making goals or resolutions or whatever it is that gets you going in the New Year. I’m sure that some of you are wanting to rework that opening page or fine-tune those editing skillz. And if that’s the case, you’re in luck. ‘Cause it’s time for Critiques 4 U!
If you’re agonizing over that first page and you wouldn’t mind me chainsawing taking a gander at it, leave a comment that includes:
1) your email address
2) the working title of your WIP
3) its genre (no erotica, please)
4) the intended audience
ONLY ENTRIES THAT FOLLOW THESE INSTRUCTIONS WILL BE CONSIDERED.
3 commenters’ names will be drawn and posted tomorrow. If you win, you can email me your first page and I’ll offer my feedback. Best of luck!
I’m a big fan of Flying Eye Books. They put out a list that’s so unique and unusual and weird and beautiful. This guy comes out in April of this year, and I tend to not write about things before you can get them at your local bookstore or library, but I had to make an exception here. I’m eyeballing an upcoming dental appointment with cringing and gnashing of teeth. (Ha.)
But here’s a story that’s oddly comforting.
Danny’s expression is so full of joy and naiveté and hope, which is hilarious. A two-toothed hippopotamus antsy for a good scrub? Even funnier. And a school of cleaner fish to get the job done? Of course!
The setup here is so weird and wonderful.
Danny overhears the cleaner fish worry he may have a lisp, on account of that massive gap in his teeth. He doesn’t, of course, but that darn dentist fish’s comment spirals him into self-doubt and worry. The snakes he turns to for comfort do agree that he speaks strangely, but Danny doesn’t know they were a terrible choice for speech comparison.
To the city.
I love this spread. It reminds me of Richard Scarry or The Little Houseand this color palette is so perfect. The browns of the marsh yield to the yellows and oranges of the city. Danny looks comfortable up in that double decker bus but he’s obviously going to an unfamiliar place. Also, any book with a pink limousine can stick around for a while.
This lithe and lanky dentist gets right to work fitting Danny with some braces for that massive gap. (His office gear is so perfect here: funky wall art, oversized tooth models, and a bookshelf probably more for show than for reading.)
Now here’s a huge shift in pacing, in main character, and in drama. And it works. Danny settles back into marsh life, the snakes assure him his speech is back to better, and the crocodile heads off to the city for his own newfangled tooth-contraption.
It’s a picture book about the horrors of dentistry. And not really, of course, but for a dent-o-phobe like me, this story about a tooth doctor and his comeuppance is absurdly satisfying.
Danny is not without its translation quirks, but because the French are so bizarre anyway a clunk here or there is pas trop grove. (And since I Google Translated that, mine might be a bit clunky too. No matter.)
Look for Danny. You’ll smile. But maybe try that without showing your teeth.
Available April 2015. I received a review copy from the publisher, but all thoughts are my own.
I’ve seen a lot of authors talk about how they self-published their novel digitally, then sold their print rights to a publisher while retaining the rights to the digital version. However, virtually all of the query advice I’ve read says don’t bother querying an agent if you’ve already self-published, and I haven’t yet found an agent that will accept a query for the same.
So, I’m curious: What’s the best way to go about selling print-only rights to a self-published novel if most agents auto-reject this kind of query?
Make sure you open emails from editors at publishing companies.
Whereas most agents won't sign something that is a print rights only project, editors at publishing companies might have some sort of special circumstance that would allow them to acquire print only. They'll go looking for it. You have your email address on your website, right? It's easy to get in touch, right?
And one thing to REALLY be careful of here: anecdotes and stories from self-pubbed writers that are too old to apply to the current state of the market.
I know of several editors who did interesting kinds of deals with previously self-pubbed writers and are now looking at the resultant sales figures. Most of those are Not Good, which means deals that happened one or two years ago are not being done now.
The pantheon of PlayStation has a rich library of quality games, but few have impacted the art of storytelling like the UNCHARTED franchise. Developed by Naughty Dog, the studio behind The Last of Us, the UNCHARTED series is this era’s Indiana Jones. The series protagonist, fortune hunter Nathan Drake has achieved mascot like status for the PlayStation brand. With the success of previous entries The Art of The Last of Us and The Art of Naughty Dog, Dark Horse Comics and Naughty Dog are launching The Art of the UNCHARTED Trilogy in April 2015.
The three games which spanned the life of the PlayStation 3 console fill this book with never-before-seen art from Naughty Dog spanning UNCHARTED: Drake’s Fortune, UNCHARTED 2: Among Thieves, and UNCHARTED 3: Drake’s Deception, with insightful commentary from the games’ creators, this epic volume is an incredible opportunity to own a piece of UNCHARTED history.
“With each UNCHARTED game we make we strive to set a new bar for video game art, design, and tech,” said Erick Pangilinan, art director at Naughty Dog. Over the course of the last decade there hasn’t been a game developer that has raised the bar with each outing like Naughty Dog. Combine this with Dark Horse Comics eye for building gorgeous bookshelf prize collections and this feels like a book that could itself be a treasure in the game’s history.
No word yet on whether or not The Art of The UNCHARTED Trilogy will have any glimpses at the series highly anticipated fourth console installment Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End which is also set to release sometime in 2015 on the PlayStation 4.