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दो दिन पहले भावना मिली. भावना हमेशा के लिए दिल्ली रहने चली जाएगी. असल मॆ, उसका अपने पति से लडाई झगडा चल रहा है. कारण इतना है कि वो नौकरी करना चाह्ती है जबकि पति चाह्ते हैं कि बेटा अभी छोटा है इसलिए अभी बच्चे पर पूरा ध्यान दे और घर सम्भाले.
घर पर रह कर जो भी काम करना चाहे कर सकती हैं नेट और वाई फाई की भी सारी सुविधाए घर पर थी. चाहे तो घर पर ही छोटा सा आफिस भी बना सकती है. कभी कोई रोक टोक नही थी. ये बात तो भावना भी मानती है पर ना जाने किसलिए अपने सातंवी क्लास में पढने वाले बेटे को छोड कर हमेशा के लिए जाना चाह रही है. इसी सिलसिले में मेरे पास भी आई थी. मैने भी उसे बहुत समझाया. जाने के बाद बच्चे पर क्या बीतेगी कौन करेगा उसकी देखभाल. इस बात का भी हवाला दिया. पर शायद वो मन बना चुकी थी. आज, अभी थोडी देर पहले वो घर पर आई और रोने लगी.
मेरे पूछ्ने पर उसने बताया कि आज उसने एक गाजियाबाद मे रहने वाले बच्चे की खबर पढी. बच्चे की मम्मी दुबई नौकरी करने चली गई थी. पति बीमार रहता और बच्चे अपनी नानी के घर रहते. वो बच्चा कक्षा नौं में पढता था. माता पिता के बिखराव से लडाई झगडे से बहुत दुखी था और अपने जन्मदिन से एक दिन पहले 13 साल के शानू ने वट्स अप पर अपना प्रोफाईल फोटो डाला और खुद को श्रधांजलि दी और फांसी लगा ली. बच्चा अपने माता पिता के अलगांव से बेहद दुखी था. उसे उस फांसी में अपना बच्चा नजर आया. वो ऐसा कभी नही होने देगी इसलिए उसने मन बना लिया है कि घर पर ही रह कर कोई काम शुरु करेगी पर बेटे की परवरिश पर पूरा ध्यान देगीं. इतने में भावना के पति भी आ गए.
मै चाय बनाने के बहाने वहां से बाहर चली गई. दोनों की बातचीत हुई और शायद दोनों ने एक दूसरे से माफी भी मांगी. हमने बिल्कुल चुपचाप चाय पी और जाते जाते एक बार फिर वो भावुक हो गई. मैने उसके गाल पर प्यार से चपत लगाई और बोली बस … वरना अब मैं भी रो दूंगी… दोनो अपने घर चले गए एक आशा के एक उम्मीद के साथ .. मुझे खुशी इस बात की हुई कि बेशक दर्दनाक खबर ही सही पर उसे पढ कर भावना का मन पसीज गया और एक और बच्चा मरने से बच गया.
वैसे आपसी लडाई झगडे में कई बार अहम इतना आगे आ जाता है कि हमारी आखों में पट्टी सी बंध जाती है और हमें कुछ नजर नही आता. जबकि ये फैसले बहुत सोच समझ कर लेने होते हैं.. इसलिए अगर आपके मन में या आपके किसी जानकार के मन में भी कुछ ऐसा चल रहा है तो उन्हें एक बार समझना और समझाना आपका फर्ज बनता है कोई भी कदम उठाने से पहले एक बार अपने मासूम बच्चे की ओर एक बार जरुर देख लेना कि आपके इस लडाई झगडे में मासूम क्या कसूर …थोडी सी समझदारी से काम लेने से बिखरता घर बच सकता है.
और फिर मैं भी उस खबर को गूगल सर्च करने लगी जिसमें बच्चे ने खुदकुशी की थी…!!
Student gives tribute himself on WhatsApp before committing suicide – Navbharat Times
पुलिस सूत्रों से मिली जानकारी के अनुसार, सोमवार देर रात जीटीबी हॉस्पिटल से पुलिस को सूचना मिली थी कि एक लड़के को मृत हालत में हॉस्पिटल लाया गया था, उसने फांसी लगाकर जान दी है। सूचना मिलते ही पुलिस मौके पर पहुंच गई और शव को पोस्टमॉर्टम के लिए भिजवाया। पूछताछ में खुलासा हुआ कि मृतक लड़के का नाम शानू है। वह अपने बड़े भाई शिखर के साथ वैशाली, गाजियाबाद में रहने वाले अपने नाना-नानी के पास रहता था। वह वहीं के एक पब्लिक स्कूल में नौंवी क्लास मेंपढ़ता था, जबकि उसका भाई दसवीं क्लास में पढ़ता है। स्कूल में खेलते समय उसके पैर में फ्रैक्चर आ गया था। इस कारण वह 19 अगस्त को अपने बड़े भाई के साथ कबीर नगर गली नंबर-4 में रहने वाली अपनी मौसी के घर आया हुआ था।
A new exhibition of my original art has just opened at the museum of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. The Art of James Gurney includes more than 25 oil paintings from the Dinotopia books, as well as natural science science illustrations, preliminary sketches, and maquettes.
One of the featured images is "Waterfall City: Afternoon Light" from Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara. This is the only image that overlaps from the Delaware Art Museum exhibition a few years ago; the rest are all different.
The Art of James Gurney will be on view at the The Richard C. von Hess Gallery of Illustration is at 333 S Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA through November 16.
In connection with the exhibition, I'll be doing a public presentation on Thursday, October 29: 1 - 2:30 pm at Levitt Auditorium with a reception following.
As we know from her recent social justice endeavours, Emma Watson is eager to use her celebrity status to make a positive impact on the world.
Watson, who is the Goodwill Ambassador for UN Women, is working to promote ethical, socially conscious fashion, reports Vanity Fair:
The actress, who has made Vanity Fair’s International Best-Dressed List for the past few consecutive years, has embarked on her own fashion challenge during the current press tour for Alejandro Amenábar’s Regression. Her goal: encouraging a green carpet, rather than red, full of stylish ensembles from designers who do not use fur or chemicals that could harm the environment.
Inspired by Andrew Morgan’s recent documentary, The True Cost, which explores the disturbing underbelly of “fast fashion,” Watson began the challenge with the following message posted on Instagram: “Inspired to consider the whole process of creating a fashion look, we are thinking about all the people, pieces and moving parts! This rack includes designers that are considering local craft and production, artisan skills, the environment, sustainability and the longevity of fashion!”
In a review of The True Cost this May, the New York Times recounts the horrors that the documentary uncovers in the fast-fashion industry including “zealous pesticide use,” underpaid factory workers who are abused to meet America’s affordable demands, and clogged landfills. The review ends as follows: “The True Cost stirs and saddens. Not least because it’s unlikely to reach the young consumers most in need of its revelations.”
Hearteningly, Watson wants to use her celebrity to reach that exact demographic.
Perfect for fans of Shayla Black and Lexi Blake, the deeply sensual new Birmingham Rebels series introduces an unforgettable team of chiseled football gods—and the daring, provocative games they play behind closed doors.
Birmingham Rebels offensive linemen Beau Perez and Cass Zielinski are inseparable, on and off the field. Cass, the captain with the cowboy swagger, is a loose cannon. Beau, the veteran tight end, is cool under pressure. And ever since they were caught on tape in a steamy threesome, their exploits have fueled more than a few tabloid headlines—and naughty fantasies.
Marian Treadwell knows all about the video. And now that she’s the Rebels’ new assistant offensive coach, she can’t look at Beau and Cass without picturing their hard, naked bodies—with her pressed in between. Marian would like nothing more than to indulge those impulses, but she knows better than to get too close to her players, a bunch of adrenaline-fueled alpha males who don’t always follow the rules.
Just the thought of sharing the gorgeous yet guarded Marian drives Cass wild. At first, Beau isn’t sure she’s right for them . . . and lately, all he desires is a little alone time with Cass to explore their new intimacy. But it’s only a matter of time before Cass breaks through both of their defenses. Because when seduction is the game plan, he always plays to win.
Broken Play is intended for mature audiences.
“Get. In. Here.” Marian spoke in that one-word-sentence staccato that had become so popular on television and that she’d sworn she’d never imitate. Now she knew it wasn’t a choice. She was simply so mad she couldn’t get more than one word out at a time. Beau didn’t argue. He simply slid sideways in through her office door, past where she stood holding it. She started to close it, but a hand grabbed it from the hallway and pushed it open again. Cass. Of course. “Can’t I even yell at him without your presence?” she asked coldly.
“Nope. Team captain. Got to be here.” Cass turned and closed the door behind him, then leaned against it, his arms crossed, that damn cowboy hat in one hand.
“Fine,” Marian said. “Since you piss me off, too, you can share the punishment.”
“I don’t take punishment,” Cass said, his usual charming smile gone as he gave her a heated stare that made sweat pop out along her spine. “I give it.”
It took Marian a moment to get past the images that flashed through her head at that outrageous claim. “On the field, not in my office,” she said a little unsteadily.
“Anywhere I choose,” Cass told her calmly.
“Maybe I should go,” Beau said from behind her.
Marian jumped and spun around to face him. She hadn’t been paying attention. She couldn’t believe she’d let him flank her like that.
“Settle,” Cass said quietly but firmly. “There’s no threat here.”
“You just made threats,” she countered, backing up until her back hit the wall a few feet off to Cass’s left.
“No,” he said, the charm back in his voice, a sexy little drawl making it sound like Naw. “Those were promises.”
She actually felt a bead of sweat slip down her cleavage, and she shivered.
“Stop it,” Beau said. “You’re scaring her.” She glanced at him and he looked a little sad, his eyes big and golden brown, and soft with some emotion she couldn’t name. Instinctively she knew he wasn’t the threat here, which threw her into confusion. Wasn’t he the one in charge?
“I’m not scared,” she said. It was a knee-jerk reaction, something she’d said so often in the past few years—to others and to herself—that it was second nature.
Cass sort of rolled himself along the wall toward her until he was leaning over her, not quite pressed against her, his hands on either side of her head, one still holding his hat. “Good,” he said, his voice rough and heavy with wanting. “I don’t want you scared.”
She was breathing too fast. “Move your arms,” she said, and she winced at the panic in her voice.
“Cass,” Beau said. She saw his hand on Cass’s shoulder and her heart nearly beat out of her chest. She had to put her hand up to her chest and press against it to make sure it didn’t.
“You know I’d never hurt you,” Cass said softly. He turned and tossed his hat onto the couch, against the opposite wall. Then he dropped both arms to his sides. He didn’t move back, though. He stayed close enough that she could feel his heat and smell his cologne and a hint of his sweat and deodorant and laundry detergent and shampoo, all the things that combined to be Cass’s scent. She hadn’t realized she knew his smell so well. It was an odd thought and made her frown at him. He frowned back. “Don’t you?” he asked.
It took a moment to remember what he’d said. “Yes.” She did know it. But that didn’t make her heart slow down, because she wasn’t afraid of him. She was afraid of herself, and what she’d let him do if she let go.
“Yell at me.” Beau’s soft words were lost in Cass’s gaze for a second and then they sank in.
“I should,” she said, standing straighter and tugging on the hem of her shirt nervously. “What in the hell do you think you were doing out there?” She pushed on Cass’s chest, but he wouldn’t budge, so she stood on tiptoe and glared at Beau over his shoulder.
“Speaking my mind,” Beau said. He walked over and dropped down on the couch, easily within her sight, making sure not to crush Cass’s hat. “It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to do that.”
“So you decide to do it on my watch?” Marian said in a strangled voice. “Gee, thanks.”
“On your watch?” Beau asked, obviously getting angry. “Now you’re my babysitter, too? Jesus, how many do I need?”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Cass said, turning to glare at Beau, hands on his hips.
“Don’t try to distract me with a lovers’ quarrel,” Marian warned them. “I’m still pissed about Beau’s big mouth.”
Cass slowly swung his head back around and pinned her to the wall with his stare. He had the bluest eyes, and they could go cold and hard as fast as they could turn hot and heavy-lidded. “Lovers’ quarrel?” he asked quietly. Too quietly. Marian tried to slide sideways along the wall, out of his reach.
“That’s right,” she said, full of false bravado. She thought for a second that this must be what the canary felt like before the cat pounced.
Suddenly Beau laughed loudly, a harsh bark that sounded more incredulous than amused. It broke Cass’s stare and Marian quickly moved over to lean against her desk, facing them on more solid ground. “What’s so funny?”
“We”—he gestured between him and Cass—“are not lovers. We’re friends and we fuck women together. That’s it.” He didn’t sound happy about it. Or was he unhappy that people thought they were?
“Beau.” This time it was Cass trying to yank on the leash with a warning in his voice.
“Forget it,” Beau said flatly. “I’ve come out of my shell today. I’m not crawling back in.”
Samantha Kane lives in North Carolina with her husband and three children, two boys and one girl. With a master’s degree in American history, she spent seven years as a high school history teacher before becoming a full-time writer and mom.
Well usually I just just talk about me me me.. ..well this is just a little bit me and a lot about John K, Milenko and the great team at Strangeloop games: The Eco Kickstarter actually made it- almost to its first stretch goal so far. Which is great because so many good ideas sink without trace in this social media world- so to make funding is not to be sneezed at. Well done you people!
Now of course the thing has to be worked on to completion- (but even as an awareness/publicity exercise i'ts a great result).
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"Choosing Courage" Inspiring Stories of What It Means to Be a Hero
Authored by Peter Collier
About the book...
This fabulous book is inspiring and very educational. It is a story of courage in our modern day world. The superheroes of the book are Medal of Honour recipients from WW2, Korean War, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Collier also highlights civilian counterparts who step up and display outstanding bravery in the face of extreme danger.
Today the very word "hero" has been overused and overrated. Kid's link the word to fictious cartoon characters, anyone who aces an exam, or wins a race in the Olympics. While all those things are truly wonderful the genuine men and women who deserve that word bestowed upon them are those who step into harms way selflessly rising up and moving forward to protect others from the impending dangers at large.
Peter Collier's book gives us insight into these individuals using stories of combat veterans and normal everyday people who spring into action and literally put their own life on the line for the greater good of those around them.
*"Colonel Jack Jacobs, USA (ret) is one. Jacobs was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in 1968 Vietnam. He is a thoughtful man who explains how in the midst of battle, wounded in an ambush that killed many of his troops with a piece of shrapnel in his eye, remembered the questions posed by Hebrew scholar Hillel of two thousand years ago 'If not you, who? If not now, when?' Jacobs knew that if someone didn't take charge, the slaughter would continue, and if he was the only person capable of action, then he needed to get on with it"
*Jack Lucas was a thirteen year-old boy who keeps his age a secret so he could enlist in World War 11; at the Battle of Iwo Jima he deliberately covered a grenade with his body and absorbed the explosion to save his buddies.
*Jencie Fagan, a middle-school teacher in Reno, Nevada risked her life to disarm a trouble eighth grader before he could turn his gun on more of his classmates."
"Choosing Courage" provides context and background for each profile. Boys will especially be fascinated by the essays, photographs and sidebars on battles and weaponry. The book is both entertaining and historical. I think it is would be a wonderful resource for classrooms, libraries or at home. It truly is an ennobling read and I highly recommend it.
NOTE: Like Collier's New York Times bestselling adult book, "Medal of Honor: Portraits of Valor Beyond the Call of Duty", "Choosing Courage" is published in collaboration with the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation. The Foundation not only celebrates the individuals who have received the nation's highest military honour but helps Medal recipients spread the message that citizens of all ages and backgrounds can make brave choices in their everyday lives.
About the author...
Peter Collier has written extensively about bravery in battle in the New York Times bestselling "Medal of Valor: Beyond the Call of Duty", first published by Artisan in 2003, which has more than 330,000 copies in print. He lives in Nevada City, California.
Today's our official publication day for Pugs of the Frozen North!
With a dog sled team of 66 pugs, pug lovers will not be disappointed. But what about the other characters, which one is your favourite? Mine is Helga Hammerfest, a gentle giant of a women who's in tune with nature and instead of dogs for a sled team, has two polar bears named Snowdrop and Slushpuppy. She also has a luxurious beard, which comes in handy when the pugs get too cold:
When my co-author Philip Reeve and I were talking about characters we wanted in the story, Helga was top of my list. I'd set myself the #NonIdentikit challenge to draw attractive women who weren't beautiful in a Hollywood standards sort of way, and facial hair on women is such a taboo in our society. Which made me want to defy that standard, so I drew this girl:
I think this was Helga as a teenager, growing up in Anaktuvuk Pass, or whatever remote place she came from. After drawing that, I started making decisions about how the Helga in our book would look. Here's an early drawing I made of her for the book, in India ink and dip pen. (I'm tracing from the pencil drawning, on my light box. Helga's meeting Mitzi Von Primm, who very much plays up to fashion and finds Helga a bit disturbing:
When I first start drawing pages, they start as 'thumbnail roughs', which are small (but not quite as small as thumbnails, in this case). And then I move on to sketching it out in pencil, in the size I'm going to draw it for the book. (I drew most of the images at either 100% or 110% of their final printed size.) I sent scans of the pencil roughs to our editor, Clare Whitston, and our designer, Jo Cameron, to make sure that the drawings showed the right things and worked with the placement of the text.
Then I put the penciled page on my light box and trace over it with dip pen and ink. I have to be very careful not to smudge the ink! If I do, I can fix it later in Photoshop, but it takes time and is fiddly, and I like to get it right the first time if I can.
Next, I scan the ink drawing into my computer and open the file in Photoshop. I colour it using my Wacom pen. Here you can see the coloured layers under the ink! I'm only allowed to use black and one colour for the inside pages - blue - but I can use different opacities of the colour, which let me have darker and lighter blues, and a lighter shade of black (grey).
I e-mailed the picture file to Jo Cameron, and she placed the text around the picture and sent the book off to print. Huge thanks to our Oxford University Press team for all their work on this book! With our publisher Liz Cross, editor, head designer, design group, publicists, rights sales team, publicity tour coordinators, printers, it's quite a large team!
Why am I mentioning this now? Simple. If you watched Howlermouse and his DC 52 rant video (just go down this page a post or two) I think it was one of his best video blogs. Firstly, he lives in the United States, has been a life long DC comics fan and collector and, more importantly, I don't know him and he does not know me.
Again, why is that important? Firstly, because he has underscored literally everything I have written about Marvel and DC and, to an extent, the current "new fans" and how the companies are treating their fans as morons who are told what they want in comics because it is the latest "cash cow" plan. I think "Enough is enough!" has been screamed out by so many long time comic fans that if Marvel and DC really did have that open-ness to fans and creativity of the 1960s/1970s they would have taken notice long ago.
Instead, we all know that DC and Marvel are run by "suits" who get a great deal of sexual gratification when they see that $ sign....the higher the number the better it gets (though some require sedating when it gets too intense).
Another point was that George Perez is "one of the old guys" but the companies don't pull them into conventions because they want, what they see as young, hip and cool creators so that their companies look young, hip and cool. Some of the "old guys" do get to comic book conventions like Perez or Neal Adams but usually independent of Marvel or DC. You know, the "young, hip and cool" are not that good and people like Sal Buscema have to tidy up and make their comic work presentable. Do these old guys get credit? HELL NO!! Is DC or Marvel going to tell their purchasers (I won't say "fans") that "old guys" have to finish off the latest 'star's' work because he is not capable?
WHY do you need six pencillers and some times even more inkers on one feckin comic??? You work it out. In the old days when quality was the key word and artists pencilled and inked without a computer it was one penciller and one inker unless a deadline had been moved up and so a book had to be rushed through.
My conversations with youngsters (I'm old and "rad" enough to be able to write that) on putting comics together usually goes like this.
Me: "I pencil straight onto the page then ink it" Anon: "What computer program?" Me: "Don't use one for anything but lettering" Anon:"So HOW do you draw -?" Me: "I use a pencil -different types- and then various pens for inking or brush and ink for solid black areas" Anon:"On the computer?"
At this point I usually pull out pencils and a pen and demonstrate. Usually to dumbfounded expressions.
A silence usually falls as the person stares at what I've drawn. It's almost like them trying to push their brains through thick molasses!
Anon: "Every page?" Anon: "You don't do any drawing on the computer?" Me: "No. Not one page. Only lettering because I simply cannot letter to any publishable standard -that I use the computer for"
Oh lords! They see a colour illo and when I explain I used colour inks, water colours or a mix of tools a few have to be taken away in an ambulance.
Come on, I am not the only one out there does this and it surely cannot be beyond the little minds to understand that I use a pencil for what pencils were designed for and pens and inks for what they were designed for?
I almost feel like I've been thawed from a block of ice having been frozen in 1950!
Jim Lee does drawing demoes at events using a Wacom. Big feckin deal. I've seen one after another "computer artists" have near nervous breakdowns when their computers fail because everything -everything- is stored on it. "Art studio", comic work -everything. I just have to go to my folders and pull pages out. Word.
"Old school" they say to me. "Artist" is how I normally respond to the non-pain-in-the-ass ones.
In the United States and UK "it's all about age", as Bollo once said. Howlermouse nailed that. And I pointed it out in my "Too Radical" post. I mentioned how I got the strange looks and even the rudeness of other creators there -and it really did seem to be because of my age. Drawing, writing and publishing comics at my age? My response is this: how dare YOU fucking demand that I conform to your inane and grotesquely stupid idea of what someone of my age should be doing.
In Europe you have musical performers who started in the 1960s and still continue today because it is the talent and music NOT their age that is taken into account. If you do not know that or understand it then get back inside your tin can.
Hansrudi Wascher...well, I could make a very long list of comic creators from Europe who are well past 60 years of age and still going strong. In the UK many comic creators and cartoonists are kicked out into retirement on reaching 65. There is no reason WHY any publication cannot use them as freelance or, in more recent years, continue to employ them. Let's not get started on British comics because that is dead unless someone with money comes along.
You see, following my response to a comment on CBO as to WHY I am unable to get a table at event after event in the UK (excluding the little minded conspirators) I hear from two comic people that when they mentioned to certain event organisers my post on the subject the response was also a whince and (that ***** expression again) "Well, he's really old school and we want to attract younger people". So Howlermouse REALLY nailed it.
I mentioned someone into maths had worked out the odds of my being "unlucky" enough not to get a table for five straight years for every event I contacted. Doug responded in an email: "Actually, easiest way of putting it when it gets broken down, is that the odds against this happening over that period come out as 99.8% against it" I think the term is "screwed".
I get far more views of my Maakika Art from Europe -mainly France. UK hardly ever registers.
This is why, and I was only just sitting down to catch up on videos yesterday, I shared the video. I had not intended to but I thought "See? Ain't just me! I'll show everyone" and that was it.
No one told Jack Kirby "You iz too old, man!" (but then he had 99% more talent than me!)
“The Pizz” (a.k.a. El Pizzo a.k.a. Stephen Pizzurro), the self-described Lowbrow artist who evolved into a celebrated influence to a generation of artists, has left us. He was only 57. Born in 1958 and raised in a large Italian family in Orange County, California, The Pizz grew up creating art – he once said that he began drawing since he had a pen in his hand.
He caught his first big break working on Rat Fink comics for his personal inspiration, cartoonist Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, before going on to design cover art for punk label Sympathy for the Record Industry, and eventually entering the gallery world with fellow notable artists like Robert Williams.
With his signature dark glasses and a most impressive “fuzzy chin”, The Pizz was a familiar figure at openings and events. He even made appearances on reality TV and in film documentaries, including Flake and Flames (2013) and The Treasures of Long Gone John (2006).
At that time, Lowbrow Art was just a bubbling underground art scene and today works by The Pizz are considered as one of the original sources of “cartoon expressionism”, inspiring waves of artists to build upon. Artists like The Pizz, Coop, Anthony Ausgang, and many others drew from the well of hot-rod influenced Kustom Kulture, surf, skateboarding, tattoo, underground comics, Beatnik and tiki styles and brought it to galleries like La Luz De Jesus as fine art like no other. For over 20 years, The Pizz’s brutal, colorful, and enthralling graphics presented a surreal alternative to our consumer-driven pop culture.
Using the sensibility of cartoons, his paintings pop with the things he loved: eye-catching pinups, pimps, perverts, pirates, post-apocalyptic demigods, motorcyclists and fast cars. Dedicated to an art form that was generally frowned upon by society, he helped to create a new genre of imagery that was undeniably interesting; unapologetically presented to a myriad of folks from all walks of life, not just the pedigreed elite. As he said, “It’s a tumultuous adrenaline-soaked hellride of a lifetime leaving a mountain of debris and unspeakable carnage in its wake. Yeah, it’ll scar your fragile psyche for miles into the hereafter.”
Seventh Most Important Thing. Shelley Pearsall. 2015. Random House. 288 pages. [Source: Review copy]
The Seventh Most Important Thing by Shelley Pearsall is loosely based on a true story. One of the characters in the novel was an actual person, an artist named James Hampton. An author's note tells more of his story. I do wish I'd known this at the start; that is one reason I'm beginning my review with this 'essential' information.
Arthur T. Owens is the hero of The Seventh Most Important Thing; the book is a coming-of-age story set in 1963. Arthur has not been having an easy time of it, life has not been the same for him since his father died. And one day he loses it. He sees "the junk man" walking down the street pushing his cart full of junk, and the man is wearing his father's hat. He picks up a brick, takes aim, and hits him. Fortunately, it hits him on the arm and not in the head. James Hampton is "the junk man" and he urges the court to show Arthur mercy, and sentence him to community service. His community service will be working for "the junk man." Arthur has a list of SEVEN items to collect each Saturday. And the list is the same week to week. To collect these items, he'll need to walk the streets and neighborhoods picking up trash and even going through people's trash. It won't be easy for him, especially at first, to lower himself like that. But this process changes him for the better. And there comes a time when readers learn alongside Arthur just what "the junk man" does with his junk. And the reveal is worth it, in my opinion.
The Seventh Most Important Thing is definitely character-driven and not plot-driven. It's a reflective novel. The focus is on Arthur, on his family, on his new friendships and relationships, on the meaning of life. I liked the characters very much. The story definitely worked for me.
I'm back from summer break! Not that summer is entirely over: here in Colorado, it's still a balmy eighty-something degrees, with no end in sight... I'm kind of looking forward to fall, to tell you the truth.
But it's back to school time, which means I'm back to work. I'm writing a crime novel for adults (work-in-progress, stay tuned), and generally getting caught up with what's happening in mystery, YA, MG and for us grown-ups.
And back-to-work also means I'm stocking up on school supplies while they're on the shelves, including a good stack of spiral notebooks. They're my tool of choice when outlining, brainstorming, pretty much anything to do with writing. I should plant a tree for all the paper I go through...
How about you?? What are you up to? Read anything good lately?
It’s true, and this book is a perfect example of that. I’m a big fan of the books Enchanted Lion makes, and this one is two years old in America, and I just stumbled across it recently. Better late than never, right?
So, these ghosts.
The front endpapers here show a small spot illustration of a sheeted, ball-and-chained spook. On the title page, another ghost confronts him with disbelief in his ghost-ness, and the story is off. The two, a self-proclaimed ghost and a maybe-ghost, star in a series of pictures where the real ghost explains the reality of ghosts.
They don’t only inhabit creepy places, and they don’t drag around the old ball and chain.
And they definitely don’t go around saying, “Boo…Boo…Boo” all day.
These ghosts are different.
They live in your kitchen. See the name of this ghost, spelled out by the items on the shelf? The Ghost of the Kitchen is clumsy, spilling poofs of flour and traipsing through spilled milk. And he really likes angel food cake and creamed rice. He’s up there on your light, judging you as you snap some peas.
This one wakes at night, scatters your clothes around, and makes your toys sing. He’ll slither into your teams and nightmares, and disappear in the morning.
The Ghost of the Parents’ Bedroom does not like messes as much as his nighttime friend. But I don’t think he’s as intimidating or successful either.
(Also, I do think that’s a dirty magazine under the bed, no?! Maybe something worth hiring a ghost to protect? Maybe the first I’ve ever seen in a picture book!)
The Ghosts of the Attic and Gray Days are my favorites. The one in the attic is ‘wrinkly yet twinkly’ and ‘likes to spend his time remembering the good old days.’ He smokes a ghost pipe, reads old newspapers, and listens to scratched records. He scares spiders away by wearing silvery scarves.
And the Ghost of Gray Days is a lumbering fellow, joined by a driving slug and an elephant carrying a plate for an umbrella. Of course.
The details in these pictures is astounding. Each spread has quirky spooks and spooky quirks, and each of these ghosts has enough character to erase that old, boring ball and chain.
Perfect for anyone who likes mini-stories, visual feasts, and the fun of being scared.
Dean Jones, the actor who helmed a wealth of classic Disney movies from ‘The Love Bug’ , ‘Herbie Goes To Monte Carlo’ and 'That Darn Cat!’, has died aged 84.
He had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease.
Jones, also starred in 46 films over a prolific acting career, including titles like 'Jailhouse Rock’, with Elvis Presley, 'Under The Yum-Yum Tree’ with Jack Lemmon, 'Beethoven’, 'Blackbeard’s Ghost’, and 'Clear And Present Danger’.
It was after serving in the Navy during the Korean War that he took to acting, working at a local theatre in Buena Park, California.
He made his debut on Broadway in 1960 alongside Jane Fonda in the play 'There Was A Little Girl’, later appearing in Stephen Sondheim’s 'Company’.
After inking a deal with MGM, he then embarked on a movie career in 1956, and would go on to star with Frank Sinatra in 'Never So Few’, Fonda once again in 'Any Wednesday’, and Gregory Peck and Danny DeVito in 'Other People’s Money’.
He also played the evil vet Dr. Herman Varnick in 'Beethoven’ in 1992.
Jones was inducted into the Disney Hall of Fame in 1995.
He is survived by his three children and wife, former actress Lory Patrick.
Alex Barba is an agent at Inklings Literary Agency. She joined Inklings after a stint as a literary consultant in New York City, having scouted the U.S. book market for film & TV clients and foreign publishers. Prior to that, she spent time in Los Angeles as an editor at a digital magazine, and doing story development on scripts with a literary management company.
What is it about a manuscript that excites you? Voice, pacing, compelling characters, unique storyline ... a writing style that is so smooth & digestible that I get completely pulled into the pages and forget I'm reading at all.
What is on your wishlist? I am looking for grounded contemporary YA, or a clever re-telling/re-spin of an old classic (a la Ella Enchanted, Gail Carson Levine). Some recent specific wishlist items: stories about girls who are uncertain of themselves coming into their own, stories about young performers (actors, singers, dancers), positive (non-angsty) stories with nerdy girl or boy characters, empowered girl protagonists in general, compelling stories of first love.
Are you an editorial agent? I look for projects that are polished as-is, but I am not averse to editing - if I find something I totally love but that just needs a few tweaks, I'll offer representation with the author's understanding that we'll do some editing before submitting!
Character, world, or plot? All of the above! But characters are what make me truly fall in love with a ms.
What advice do you have for writers getting ready to query you? Make sure you know what I'm looking for - and read the query directions on our website! Follow it to a T - that'll give you major points!
AdventuresInYAPublishing.com | @AYAPLit | @MartinaABoone
Inside Secrets, Giveaways, and Writing Tips from Authors for Readers and Writers of Any Genre
You might remember, from the wonderful Broadway musical “A Chorus Line,” the song called “What I Did for Love.” Now that my second middle-grade nonfiction book is out, I think, “Oy. What I did for research.” Watch Out for Flying Kids! How Two Circuses, Two Countries, and Nine Kids Confront Conflict and Build Community (Peachtree Publishers) tells the stories of nine otherwise normal teenagers who, when they’re not going to school and taking selfies with their friends, perform in the circus. Five of them are (actually, were, since they’ve graduated) members of the St. Louis Arches, the top performing troupe of Circus Harmony in St. Louis, Missouri. The other four tumble, acro, juggle, wire-walk, contort, and do other crazy things with the Galilee Circus in northern Israel. In addition to being professional-caliber performers, what makes these kids remarkable is that they’re about as diverse a group of young people as you could fit into a single ring, which is where you can regularly find them. (The image to the right is of Cynthia learning the ropes - literally.) The St. Louis Arches featured in the book include two black kids from Ferguson-like neighborhoods and three whites, two of whom live in the western suburbs. The Galilee Circus is composed of two Israeli Arabs and two Jews, who live in villages only three miles yet a world apart. Both programs call themselves “social circuses” because they pursue social justice through circus arts. Every other year, this mélange of Christian, Muslim, Jewish, secular, English-, Hebrew-, Arabic-speaking, and one fully covered, hijab-wearing contortionist get together in one country or the other. The circuses’ partnership goes back eight years, and, by now, the troupers are accustomed to learning each other’s tricks, and living together and communicating despite the lack of a common language or cuisine. For an aging nonfiction writer who likes to delve deeply into her subject matter, however, it’s been a different story. There were no secondary sources. So, through the three years it took me to research and write Flying Kids, I conducted over 125 hours of interviews, which entailed
• staying with families and relishing Middle Eastern hospitality in the two Israeli villages, Deir al-Asad and Karmiel. • staying with the circus director and relishing Midwestern circus hospitality in St. Louis • hiring Hebrew and Arabic translators • working out which telecommunications technology—Skype, text, email, FaceTime, Facebook, or telephone—each teen preferred and could get access to • calling Israel at odd wee hours Texas-time, often to find out that my source was unavailable for various reasons, including Facebooking with their friends, which I could watch in real time while they ignored my frantic posts to them • calling St. Louis, often to find out that my source was unavailable for various reasons, including losing cell phone privileges • trawling the kids’ Facebook pages and YouTube channels, and • groveling for family photos.
Most ridiculous of all was trying out circus tricks. You can watch me make a fool of myself falling off of both a mini-trampoline and a globe.
Then, there was the matter of figuring out how to write a book with nine main characters, multiple secondary characters, and two settings, one of which was, apparently, exotic. When I asked writer friends who have kids what they know about the Galilee, one said,
“I asked my neighbor's daughter, who is 13. Said she, ‘Isn't that where Puff the Magic Dragon lived?’" Me: "I'm fairly certain he frolicked in Honah Lee." Her: "'Well I know it has to be a place. I just don't know where. Probably, far, far away, like Florida.’”
Also, there were the tribal politics in Israel and racial politics in St. Louis. Weaving the line of fairness to everyone while not losing readers in a morass of despairing historical events was as tricky as wire-walking. I sent so many pathetic, whiny messages to my editor about why I couldn’t possibly write the book that she sent me a copy of The Little Engine that Could.
But, ultimately, I did write Watch Out for Flying Kids. My short-hand synopsis goes, “Ferguson gets together with the West Bank—and they juggle.” I hope you’ll delve into it and see what that means.
Here's Cynthia's workspace. During this project she commandeered the dining room table.