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1. Librarians Converge on Orlando to Celebrate Books, Comics, Diversity

AC16_LOGO_RGB300x300  Every summer, thousands of librarians and other bibliophiles meet at the American Library Association’s Annual Conference. This year, it’s in Orlando (yeah…) and like years past, “ALA Annual” will host feature numerous creators, publishers, and panels relating to comics, gaming, and all the other geekery stuff that kids who hang out in libraries enjoy […]

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2. FlameCon Announces Gun-Free Cosplay Policy Following Orlando Massacre

FlameconbannerFlame Con, New York City’s first LGBTQ comic con, has announced that the second year of their event will be “(toy) Gun-Free” in the wake of the June 12 mass shooting in Orlando.

1 Comments on FlameCon Announces Gun-Free Cosplay Policy Following Orlando Massacre, last added: 6/23/2016
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3. “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” Midnight Release Party Slated for GeekyCon!

GeekyCon 2016 has just announced that it is creating a large-scale, old-school, Harry Potter release party to celebrate the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. The book comes out on July 31, 2016, the last day of the convention, which means that it will be the site of one of the biggest midnight parties in the country.

And this party is just one of all the cool and amazing events and activities scheduled for the weekend long festivity that is GeekyCon. As GeekyCon was once a Harry Potter-only convention and is planned by the same crew that brought us LeakyCon, it is backed by and attended by some of the biggest Harry Potter fans on the planet. As many of the people who run GeekyCon are still the biggest Potterheads, and have attended more than their fair share of Harry Potter book parties from 2004-2007, they decided to recreate the Harry Potter Book Midnight Release Party experience!

The party will be hosted by classic Potter podcast MuggleCast and PotterCast, and many others with experience and knowledge of Pottermania. The fun will start at 7 PM with the convention’s traditional Esther Earl Rocking Charity Ball. Starting at 10:00 PM, festivities will convert themselves into a huge Harry Potter and the Cursed Child midnight book release . In tried and true Harry Potter Book Midnight Release party fashion, there will be a set of games, activities, and events to take part of–including, but not limited to:

  • Costume Contests
  • Sorting
  • Trivia and other games
  • Wizard Chess
  • Quidditch
  • Wizard Rock performances
  • Face painting and other crafts
  • Video retrospectives
  • Appearances from special guests
  • Put your name in the Goblet of Fire! (Submit your predictions, and we’ll go through them together at Sunday’s programming!)
  • Share in the Pensieve: Submit memories about Harry Potter and your experiences; we’ll be sharing them throughout the night.
  • And a lot more!

At midnight, everyone will begin to receive their book copy of the Cursed Child script! You must reserve a copy, and purchase will happen on site. Full, detailed instructions will shortly follow this announcement.

Fans in the Florida area, and maybe those who want to apparate further, can choose to come to just the party (which includes the ball) for $20, to enjoy the night’s festivities. If you are a full registered GeekyCon attendee, you can join us for the whole weekend — during which there will be a lot of Harry Potter related festivities and programming. Sunday we’ll be discussing Cursed Child almost nonstop!

Screen Shot 2016-05-26 at 11.55.58 PM

Are you pumped up yet? We are so excited!

For more information about GeekyCon, visit the GeekyCon website. For tickets to this absolutely fantastic geeky convention, please visit this link.

 

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4. Lives Lost in Orlando Mass Shooting

Tragedy strikes the nation as the news of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub hits our hearts. 50 lives were lost and even more people were injured that night. People everywhere are mourning the deaths of these wonderful people.

Among the victims identified, we have lost one of our own. Luis Vielma, who was only 22 when he died, had worked the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride at Universal.

“Luis was by far the best person I knew,” Luis’ friend, Will Randle, told the Miami Herald. “He inherently made us all better people by simply existing around us. Part of him will always live on in every good decision I make.”

Jo mourned him, as well as the many other victims, on twitter.

Our thoughts are with the Orlando victims as Pride month pushes through this terrible adversity.

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5. Hate Is NEVER Okay. Let’s work towards a kinder, more inclusive world, with diversity of all kinds accepted and appreciated. A world that doesn’t have massacres like Pulse Orlando.

The LGBTQ massacre at Pulse Orlando yesterday by Omar Mateen was horrifying and devastating – and it made it even more clear how important it is still to work against homophobia and hatred, and toward greater compassion for all. How important it is that lesbian, gay, bi, trans, and queer folk are visible and normalized in every aspect of our society (as well as people of color, people with physical and mental disabilities, people with mental health issues, people who are “fat,” all of us who are “different” in some way from the “normal” or “beautiful” that society sells us). How important it is to have LGBTQIA – and other forms of diversity – books, movies, and media, support centers and crisis lines, and community. Pride Month seems like a celebration to outsiders – but we have fought hard for equality and safety, and we are still fighting against homophobia and hatred. This horrific massacre shows how much we still need LGBTQIA Pride, and greater compassion and awareness for all kinds of diversity.

All day yesterday I kept going back to the news coverage and social network updates. It was wrenching and painful, disturbing and deeply saddening, and brought up so much hopelessness and despair and pain for me. For so many people around the world. As a lesbian torture and rape survivor who has witnessed a lot of murder, violence, hatred, and homophobia, it hit me on so many levels.

Mateen’s father reported that his son had recently been repulsed by seeing two gay men kissing and that he himself believed that “gays should be punished by God”. (Learned homophobia and hatred, anyone?) And Isis followers of the Sharia law, which the shooter said he stood for, believe homosexuality is a crime, and they have killed many queer people. The shooter had also been abusive, and beat up his first wife. Violence and hatred is rarely isolated.

So many people responded with compassion to this tragedy. I was glad to see people from all over – queer and heterosexual – lining up to give blood, attending vigils worldwide and expressing shock and pain, and offering support to LGBTQ people and loved ones.

cheryl-petal-rainbow-after-pulse-2016-500-cropBanding together after a tragedy, offering support and compassion and working to help others in trauma shows the beauty of the human spirit. Please, let’s not lose that compassion and determination to work towards a better world in a few days or weeks or months, when the shock and devastation fades. Let’s try to prevent something so horrible happening again.

Mateen, although he’d been investigated twice by the FBI and had his cased dropped, and was mentally unstable, had gun permits and used an AR-15 rifle, the same used in Newtown and San Bernardino.

getting-gun-as-hard-as-abortion-PAID-700

After this horrific massacre, and so many others in recent US history, I desperately hope that US people will work towards greater gun control, and make it harder for violent and mentally unstable people to get a gun. In 2015 alone, there were 352 mass shootings, 64 school shootings, and overall some 13,286 murdered by guns in the USA. “Of all the murders in the US in 2012, 60% were by firearm compared with 31% in Canada, 18.2% in Australia, and just 10% in the UK” (In Canada, Australia, and the UK we have stricter gun laws than the US).

I have witnessed so much murder and abuse, experienced daily/nightly torture and rape and hatred at the hands of my parents and their cult members – and what I know deep in my soul is that compassion and love cut through hate; that hate destroys souls and people and lives; and that every life is important and matters – human and animal – and that we should not allow it to be thrown away. And I have seen that violence and hatred, discrimination and abuse, are all interconnected.

The extreme hatred and violence of Pulse Orlando is not isolated; it is echoed in the homophobia and hatred spewed daily from right-wing Christians; in the many shootings of Black people by white police in the US; by the murders, rapes, and attacks on queer people throughout the world, by the “honor” killings of thousands of girls and women in Pakinstan and India each year; by genital mutilation (and sometimes resulting death) of girls; by frequent rape and sexual harassment of women and girls and boys around the world. We are all in this together.

We need to make changes to our world to prevent murder, violence, abuse, torture, and heartbreak.

We need to:

  • Work towards greater compassion, empathy, and an end to hate.
  • Not blame Muslims for this homophobic, hate-filled attack. I have seen homophobia and hatred towards LGBTQ people from Christians (especially right wing), Catholics, and other religions, even atheists.
  • Work towards freedom, safety, and equality for all.

  • “No one is free until we are all free.”

    – Dr Martin Luther King Jr.

    cheryl-rainfield-orlandoI will do my part. I will never stop being who I am – a lesbian feminist torture survivor – and being open about it. I will always stand up against homophobia, sexism, racism, and other forms of hatred and inequality when I see it. I will always write about LGBTQ characters who love each other and who heal, as well as survivors of abuse and trauma, and other diverse people. I will always have rainbow flags, buttons, t-shirts, and celebrate pride. And I will try to always approach others with compassion, empathy, and love. I will not put hatred or unhappiness in this world.

    There is so much hatred and cruelty in the world. But there is also so much hope, and compassion and beauty and love. Let’s take some of that goodness inside us–and act.

    We need to stand up against hatred and violence. I hope that you will–whether you’re part of the LGBTQ community or an ally, whether you’re of color or white, whether you’re able or differently abled … stand up against hatred when you see it. Say something when you hear a homophobic, racist, sexist joke or comment. Stand up against bullying, sexual harassment, rape. Work towards better gun laws in the US and every country that needs it. Work towards better laws against homophobia and rape and murder. Sign petitions against horrific things. Spread the word about companies that hurt people or animals or the earth. Do whatever you can in whatever way you can. I know that together we can make a healing difference in this world. I’ve seen it already – a greater awareness of child abuse, of homophobia, of sexual harassment and rape, of sexism (think the right for women to vote), and greater rights won. Let’s keep working together for a kinder world.

    – Cheryl Rainfield, author of SCARS, STAINED, HUNTED, and Parallel Visions.

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    6. Presidential Polar Bear Post Card Project No. 171 - 6.13.16


    The world is at times a puzzling place... But it is also good, and real, and colorful, and varied. Many pieces together. Interlocking. Patterned. Reliant on the whole for strength and unity.

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    7. Authors in the Park

    In five days, the authors are going to be loose! That's right, local authors from around Central Florida are going to be signing books and meeting fans in downtown Mount Dora.


    Authors in the Park will take place Sunday, Dec 16th from 2PM to 6PM at the Mount Dora Community Bldg Green Room (520 N. Baker, Mt. Dora, FL).

    Why is it called Authors in the Park if they are in a building? Well, this is our first event and we did not want to take a chance on the weather. We are literally across the street from well-known Donnelly Park and we will have a Welcome Booth set up outside, along with live music performed by the Round Lake Christian Church Youth Band.

    Inside, we will have 9 authors representing a huge variety of genres for all ages. There is absolutely something for everyone.

    We will also be an official Baby DJ drop off location, as heard on XL 106.7 FM. Who knows, maybe one of your favorite on-air personalities will put in an appearance!

    Here is the amazing part: Local Mount Dora businesses, supporting the arts, have donated close to $1000 in gift certificates and merchandise to be used in our gift basket raffle. That means we will have 10 baskets with almost $100 worth of gifts in each. Winning is simple, but you have to attend to win. For every $5 you spend with one of the Authors in the Park, you get one raffle entry. Even if you don't win a basket, you still win with a great book!

    Check out the authors scheduled for Sunday:

    Janet Beasley

    Julie Compton




    Jean E. Lane

    Amy I. Long

    Mark Miller

    Theresa Oliver

    Amy Sellers

    C. Kevin Thompson

    Rebecca Wilson-Shore

    Can you believe that talent? Who would have thought so many gifted authors live right next door?

    Here's some of the fine print. The event is presented by JLB Creatives and MillerWords.com. It is sponsored by the Mount Dora Library Association (www.MountDoraLibrary.org). We would like to thank the City of Mount Dora Parks & Rec Department for their excellent cooperation. We would also like to thank all of the local businesses that have generously donated to our gift basket raffle:

    Amy Sellers Art Gallery, Barrel of Books and Games, Copacabana Cuban Cafe, Cupcake Delights, Debbie's Dog Treats, The Frog and Monkey, Gold in Art Jewelers, High Five Frozen Yogurt, Home & Garden Treasures, KaDee Kay Gourmet Kitchen Products, Ken's Place, Long & Scott's Farm, The Lost Parrot, Maggie's Attic, Merrill's Market, Mt. Dora Veterinary Clinic, Mt. Plymouth IGA, Oakwood Smokehouse, The Olde Clock Shoppe, One Flight Up, Permanent Solution Hair Salon, Race Car Diner, Stoneybrooke Publix, Whispering Winds, The Windsor Rose Tea Room

    Please visit 
    to learn more about the authors and our supporters.

    Check out the Facebook event page
    and let us know you're coming!

    What more can I say? We hope to see you there!

    Merry Christmas
    and Happy Holidays!





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    8. In Which We Discuss You Tube, BARGAIN DEALS, Seinfeld, Orny Adams, Orange Blossoms

    Did I ever tell you you're my hero? haha

    Did I ever tell you I have a You Tube channel? Please check it out! Danette Haworth You Tube Channel Great stuff for authors, including an interview with Barnes and Noble CRM, Geoffrey Shoffstall.

    Bargain deals: Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning is available in HARDCOVER FOR LESS THAN $5.00 ON AMAZON! Perfect for your middle-grade reader this Christmas! Also, I've been keeping a craft book open as I work on my new manuscript--lit agent Mary Kole's Writing Irresistable KidLit, available in paperback and ebook. Perfect for the writer on your Christmas list! Look for my review soon!

    JERRY SEINFELD and ORNY ADAMS! On separate dates in January, I get to see Jerry Seinfeld at the Bob Carr, Orlando, and Orny Adams at the Improv! I cannot wait! I've never seen Seinfeld live before, but I have seen Orny and he was excellent. Not only that, but he did a meet-and-greet afterwards and was so patient with me and my sister, spending probably fifteen minutes or so with us because my iPhone camera was flaking out (which, honestly, worked out, because we got to spend more time with Orny!). The only thing that could make the new year better? Brian Regan tickets in February? Dare I to spend more money on comedy

    And finally, Casey and I were hanging around in the backyard today, and I swear I smelled the sweet, powdery scent of orange blossoms. My neighbor's trees are ornamented with perfectly round, shiny oranges, but no blossoms. A close inspection of the greenbelt behind my yard (read: marsh populated by gators, river otter, rattle snakes, scorpions and more) revealed some kind of weedy tree, resplendent with tiny white buds, emitting the sweet perfume.

    That is all for today! Tomorrow, back to work!


    2 Comments on In Which We Discuss You Tube, BARGAIN DEALS, Seinfeld, Orny Adams, Orange Blossoms, last added: 12/16/2012
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    9. Be Lucky--Win a Free Book!

    If you're lucky enough to be Irish, you're lucky enough. 

    This month, everyone has the chance to be lucky! 
    Win a Free hardcover of A WHOLE LOT OF LUCKY! 

    Kirkus Reviews pinned a nice, big, blue star on A Whole Lot of Lucky, so what are you waiting around here for? Enter now at Goodreads!



    Goodreads Book Giveaway

    A Whole Lot of Lucky by Danette Haworth

    A Whole Lot of Lucky

    by Danette Haworth

    Giveaway ends March 31, 2014.
    See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
    Enter to win

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    10. A Whole Lot of Lucky: Behind the scenes look at title development

    Titles--heartache city! The title must do everything a synopsis or query does: grab the reader, provide a summary, and hint at the action yet to come. A lot of time goes into working up a good title, and it's not just the author's work, either. The editor, the editor's coworkers, and sales and marketing all have their say; everyone's input must be considered.

    Titles cooked up and rejected for A WHOLE LOT OF LUCKY:

    • Two Flavors of Lucky
    • The Year of My Magnificent Luckiness
    • Three Million Dollar Girl
    • The Duplicitous Luckiness of Hailee Richardson
    • Serendippitydoo
    • Lucky Me
    • Impossibly Possibly Lucky
    • Hailee Richardson, Girl Millionaire
    My editor and I brainstormed pages of titles and promptly rejected most of them. The problem lies in the word "lucky:" phrases involving "getting lucky" are imbued with the wrong kind of nuance! Also, we wanted to avoid words like jackpot or other buzzwords that are too close too gambling. (This was hard, because even the buying of a lottery ticket is gambling.)

    My sister suggested "A Whole Lotto Lucky," and the powers that be loved her suggestion! With a bit of morphing, my sister's words became A WHOLE LOT OF LUCKY.

    Now you can try your luck without all the heartache my editor and I went through! For a free, signed hardcover of A WHOLE LOT OF LUCKY, just enter the Goodreads contest!


    Goodreads Book Giveaway

    A Whole Lot of Lucky by Danette Haworth

    A Whole Lot of Lucky

    by Danette Haworth

    Giveaway ends March 31, 2014.
    See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
    Enter to win

    0 Comments on A Whole Lot of Lucky: Behind the scenes look at title development as of 3/18/2014 1:41:00 PM
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    11. Virginia Woolf’s Orlando and the country house

    A ‘slobbering valentine to a member of the upper classes’, ‘an orgy of snobbery’, and ‘the apotheosis of brown-nosing’: Angela Carter’s excoriating dismissal of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando (1928), delivered in Tom Paulin’s notorious televisual polemic, J’accuse Virginia Woolf (1991), serves as a reminder that this work has as much potential as any of her novels to provoke heated disagreements. That it should be so might seem surprising, as it is one of the most easy-going of her novels, one in which she consciously simplified her prose style in the interests of drawing in the reader effortlessly; it is also the most comic of her novels, mocking the conventions of history and biography. That Carter in particular should be so violently opposed to the novel is particularly surprising, as its willingness to rewrite conventional fictional forms anticipates her novels, and its employment of fantastic elements anticipates the ‘magic realist’ mode that she was to employ. Like Orlando, Carter’s own The Passion of New Eve (1977) also centres on a change of sex, albeit more violently wrought. Mostly intriguingly of all, in 1979 Glyndebourne Opera House commissioned Carter to write a libretto for an opera, never completed, of Woolf’s novel. Carter’s dismissal of Woolf might appear to stem from unease about working in her shadow.

    To leave it there would neglect the prominence of social class in Carter’s opinion. Though the fragments of her libretto were published under the title Orlando: or, The Enigma of the Sexes, another working title was Orlando: An English Country House Opera; the country house and the aristocracy are significant factors in Orlando. Woolf’s novel was inspired by her passionate relationship with Vita Sackville-West in 1925 and 1926. Vita had been brought up at Knole in Kent, her family’s ancestral seat since the early seventeenth century; she loved the house and its history, but as a woman, she did not stand to inherit it. Vita’s family history made a strong impression on Woolf: ‘All these ancestors & centuries, & silver & gold, have bred a perfect body’, she wrote in 1924, with a hint of critical awareness of Vita’s privilege; in the same diary entry she noted how Knole could house all the poor of Judd Street, then one of the slum areas of Bloomsbury. In 1927 she was more overawed, more deeply in love, and less critical: walking round Knole with Vita, ‘All the centuries seemed lit up, the past expressive, articulate; not dumb & forgotten; but a crowd of people stood behind, not dead at all; not remarkable; fair faced, long limbed; affable; & so we reach the days of Elizabeth quite easily.’ Politically Woolf was liberal, progressive, and above all anti-authoritarian; by the 1930s she was actively involved in her local Labour Party. Visiting Knole in 1927, however, she seems to have been enchanted by a conservative ideology in which the country house serves as symbol of continuity between generations, of the centrality of monarchy to the British constitution, and of a benign relation between the aristocracy and the people. It is ‘ideological’ in the sense of masking and normalizing exploitative economic relations.

    From left to right: Harold Nickolson, Vita Sackville-West, Rosamund Grosvenor, Lionel Sackville-West (1913)
    From left to right: Harold Nicolson, Vita Sackville-West, Rosamund Grosvenor, Lionel Sackville-West (1913). Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

    The strength of Carter’s hostility in 1991 may well have something to do with the revival of the country house ideology in British mass culture in the 1980s. ITV’s adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, in the depths of the economic recession of the early 1980s, was a particularly pointed example. Critical works such as Patrick Wright’s On Living in an Old Country (1985) and Robert Hewison’s The Heritage Industry (1987) highlighted the ways in which ‘heritage’ serves political ends. However, Carter’s remarks don’t tell the whole truth, no matter how much they resonated in their moment. Important though the country house is to Orlando, it is less important than poetry and the hero/heroine’s dogged pursuit of the muse, and poetry in turn is less important than the question of personal identity. House-building and poetry-writing stand in direct contrast to each other. In Chapter II, it is the scorn of the poet Nick Greene that makes Orlando turn to the refurbishment of his house; though when the work is complete he holds banquets there, when the banquets are at their height he retreats to his private room to enjoy the pleasures of poetry. When Orlando travels to Turkey, his/her English values are put into perspective. To the Turkish gipsies, a family lineage four or five hundred years is of negligible duration, and the desire to own a house with hundreds of bedrooms is vulgar. Viewed from a certain angle, the established aristocrat becomes a vulgar upstart. Although the house still matters to Orlando when she returns to it triumphantly in the final chapter, and although the house still holds vivid memories of the people she has known, the cause of the triumph is the recognition of Orlando’s writing; and she recalls the sceptical perspective of the gipsies.

    Focusing on the relationship between Vita and Virginia, Vita’s son Nigel Nicolson described Orlando as ‘the longest and most charming love-letter in literature’, a phrase that was Carter’s starting point. If Carter’s estimate is distorted by the demands of her time, Nicolson’s isn’t quite right either: Orlando is more than a purely personal document. It raises questions about personal identity and national identity, about history and its transmission, and about the value of writing, and it does so in a way that persistently mocks established values.

    Headline image: Knole House, owned by the National Trust (2009). In the early 17th century the Sackville family re-modelled the old archbishops’ palace into a stately home. Photo by John Wilder. CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

    The post Virginia Woolf’s Orlando and the country house appeared first on OUPblog.

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    12. Preacher Jovan Lawson on Women Working Out!

    One of my favorite FL comedians!

    Preacher Jovan Lawson notices an important omission in how women work out. Here he is, developing the bit at Diverse Word, but it's already perfect! Preacher, I can't wait to see your inevitable Comedy Central Special!

    (Filmed w iPhone, Diverse Word open mic, host: Shawn Welcome; every Tuesday @ 7:30pm, Dandelion Communitea Cafe)


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    13. What Is Your Hot Topic for #ALAAC16?

    Submit Your Hot Topic Program Proposal for the 2016 ALA Annual ConferenceDo you see a trend in youth services that needs to be addressed? Have an idea for a great program proposal?

    The ALSC Program Coordinating Committee has opened a call for two Hot Topic Programs to be presented at the ALA Annual Conference in Orlando, June 23-26, 2016.

    Participants attending ALSC programs are seeking valuable educational experiences and are critical of presenters or sessions that are self-promotional. Presentations should advance the educational process and provide a valuable learning experience. The Program Coordinating Committee will not select a program session that suggests commercial sales or self-promotion.

    Further information and the online application are available on the link above. All proposals must be submitted by Sunday, December 13, 2015.

    Image courtesy of ALA

    The post What Is Your Hot Topic for #ALAAC16? appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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    14. NOT My Year in Photos!

    Well!


    I've been struggling to post a plethora of photos using my phone because that's where all my photos are! Blogger even has, as one of the photo sources, From Your Phone. It displays almost twenty photos, but my phone contains more than fifteen hundred photos! Clearly, I must research updating my blog from my phone.

    Until then, Merry Christmas!
    Avalon!
    Danette Haworth

    Alfie & Casey

    Vicerys (How I've missed you!)




    K

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    15. Why Royalties?: A Response to Richard Charkin

    Below Evan Schnittman shares his personal opinions on royalties and advances. This isn’t Oxford University Press’s official stance - but represents just one of the many opinions floating around our office on this very tricky subject. We hope that by sharing his views an open dialog can be initiated.

    In his blog post Royalties Macmillan CEO Richard Charkin, posits that trade publishers and authors/agents would be well served if the standard for paying authors switched from a percentage of retail price to a percentage of gross earnings. He writes, “How about agreeing new equitable royalty rates based on real money not a notional recommended retail price?

    Charkin also points out that, “The percentage is linked to a price which applies in only a minority of cases. It doesn’t apply to all sales overseas; it doesn’t apply to nearly all sales made in supermarkets, Internet bookshops and many bookshop chains.” In other words, paying on the percentage of a price that isn’t applicable to the majority of income isn’t logical or easy – which may lead to wildly confusing royalty statements.

    As expected, within hours a series of rebuttals hit the comments field by individuals and groups rejecting Charkin’s notion as folly; stating the view that the retail price is the only thing that is transparent on publishers’ royalty statements, which are notoriously mysterious and murky at best.

    While the debate will continue, it misses a far more important problem. (more…)

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    16. Orlando Has Clean Air!

    We have the mouse, we have the whale, and now we have clean air! According to a recent Yahoo! article, Orlando took fourth place in the list of US cities with the cleanest air. Oh yeah! O-town rules! Listen, I've got no swampland, but for a small fee, I will send you a vial of our fresh air. You cannot get this stuff anywhere else. (Well, maybe three other places. If you live in those three other places, I am not talking about you.) Hurry now, supplies may be limited.

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    17. Highlights from the Romantic Times Convention: Spartan Musical Chairs

    One of the most talked about events at the Romantic Times Convention was Deidre's GODS OF MIDNIGHT party. The event's smashing success was owed in part to a good-natured game of Spartan musical chairs. What is that, pray tell? Click here to see the video of hunky romance cover models dressed in itty bitty costumes ;). Always a good combo!

    4 Comments on Highlights from the Romantic Times Convention: Spartan Musical Chairs, last added: 5/22/2009
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    18. Holiday Book Bonanza ‘09: Rupert Thomson

    By Kirsty McHugh, OUP UK

    It has become a holiday tradition on the OUPblog to ask our favorite people about their favourite books. deathThis year we asked authors to participate (OUP authors and non-OUP authors). For the next two weeks we will be posting their responses which reflect a wide variety of tastes and interests, in fiction, non-fiction and children’s books. Check back daily for new books to add to your 2010 reading lists. If that isn’t enough to keep you busy next year check out all the great books we have discovered during past holiday seasons: 2006, 2007, 2008 (US), and 2008 (UK).

    Rupert Thomson is a British novelist born in 1955. He is the author of eight novels including Death of a Murderer, which was shortlisted for the 2007 Costa Awards and by World Book Day for The Book to Talk About 2008. His next book is a memoir, due out in 2010. You can read the first chapter here.


    There are some books that cast a spell over you. They stay with you long after you have turned the last page, making your life feel richer and more magical. Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson is one of those books. I have known about it for some time – it was first published almost thirty years ago – but only got around to reading it this year, perhaps because Faber have just published a new paperback edition. For once, you can judge a book by its cover. The image of a single-track railway viaduct disappearing into the mist in a heavily wooded landscape does perfect justice to the poetic, haunting quality of Robinson’s prose. The novel is the tale of two sisters growing up in the care – if ‘care’ is the right word – of their disturbed aunt Sylvie, the sister of their dead mother, in the tiny, isolated town of Fingerbone in the far north-west of the United States. The narrator is the younger of the two sisters, Ruth, and she inhabits that eerie and yet utterly convincing space between the everyday and the extraordinary, demonstrating a child’s ability to adapt to anything, no matter how strange. And this novel is definitely strange: Sylvie makes her nieces eat their supper in the dark, and she sleeps on top of the covers with her shoes under her pillow. Though Housekeeping is, at one level, an investigation of madness, and the mystery of madness, and although its themes are loneliness, abandonment, and that infinitely human attempt, especially where children are involved, to make sense of the world in which they have found themselves, the writing is so beautiful, so subtle, and so wise that the book manages to be both heartbreaking and life-affirming.

    Another book that has definitely cast a spell over me is 0 Comments on Holiday Book Bonanza ‘09: Rupert Thomson as of 1/1/1900

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    19. IRA Conference

    We’ve just returned from the IRA conference in sunny Orlando!  We’re still getting our feet back under us and assure you that we’ll get back to our regularly scheduled programming soon.  In the meantime, though, here are a couple of highlights from our booth at the conference:

    Happy 15th Birthday to the adorable Biscuit!

    Attendees received a free My Weird School book when they signed up for Dan Gutman’s My Weird Classroom Club.

    Thanks to all the teachers, librarians, and media specialists who made the IRA conference such a great time!

    More pictures coming soon…

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    20. I'm thinking it's the weather

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    21. Something Close to Home

    I live in Mt. Dora, FL. I work close to home. I shop close to home. On Facebook, I have "friends" all over the world. Turns out, one of those friends is an author that also lives in Florida. Leona Bodie is the Vice President of the Florida Writers Association and she shared a touching story with me recently. It is about two other authors from Florida and I wanted to share it with you.....


    Hospice of the Comforter and Florida Writers Association Join Forces to Help One Dying Man’s Final Wish Come True

    A TERMINALLY ILL PATIENT’S DREAM IS REALIZED THANKS TO THE DEDICATED EFFORTS OF A VOLUNTEER WITH HOSPICE OF THE COMFORTER, DOUG DILLON.

    ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla… Meet Hospice of the Comforter patient Tony Mancuso. He offers you the best smile he can, given his physical situation while at theGarnet Heart group home in Altamonte Springs, Fla. And meet Doug Dillon, a volunteer with Hospice of the Comforter of Central Florida, whose patient is Tony.


    During one of Doug’s visit, he learned that Tony was a writer and before he got sick, published 1,200 copies of his first novel titled, The Lie Catcherwhere he uses first names of fa

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    22. I Do Birthday Parties, Too!

    Not really.


    At least, not yet.


    With mega-book chains closing their doors (Borders) and online booksellers battling for eBook domination, authors are faced with the daunting task of connecting with their readers. How do we get our print books out there? How do we connect with our digital readers?




    Here's the thing: I love to write. 


    Along with that, I truly enjoy meeting fans and aspiring authors. So, I will take every opportunity to get out there and meet some great people. One of my favorite activities is visiting classrooms. I have found that teachers these days do an incredible job of motivating kids to read. When an author walks into the classroom, that is a springboard for their hungry little minds!


    Teachers: Please send me emails, I would love to come to your class, at any grade level. If I can't drive to you, then I can use Skype or Google video chat.


    Another fun suggestion is that my books can be used for fund raisers. I've done it before. It's unique and leaves a lasting impression.


    Take a look at what I've got coming up:


    April 18 - Lake County Library System: Local Authors DayThe Lake County Library System is proud to announce the second program celebrating local authors and their books. The Spring Local Authors’ Day will be held in the Lady Lake Public Library on Wednesday, April 18th from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. In addition to meeting some of the best authors from around Florida, participants can enter for a prize drawing sponsored by the Friends of the Lady Lake Public Library. http://tinyurl.com/btkfhvf


    May 7 & 8 - Great Wolf Lodge (Charlotte, NC): Home School Week - Comfort Publishing is once again parterning with  0 Comments on I Do Birthday Parties, Too! as of 1/1/1900
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    23. Gearing Up for Book 3

    As the June 1st release of The Secret Queen draws near, interest in The Empyrical Tales series is growing.

    Here is a brand new review of Book I: The Fourth Queen from The Reader's Roundtable.



    Jaymes said, "Mark Miller has added his own unique spin on the fairytales..." and "The Fourth Queen is a really good beginning to a captivating series."


    Please click here to read the full review: http://youngandtherestless.thereadersroundtable.com/?p=381


    If you haven't traveled to the land of Empyrean yet, Comfort Publishing recently released both titles for Kindle. You can get The Fourth Queen HERE (http://goo.gl/ObwtL) and Book II: The Lost Queen HERE (http://goo.gl/yYzSq).

    Over the next thirty days or so, I will begin introducing some of the new characters from The Secret Queen. Many of them were inspired by Egyptian mythology and dinosaurs. I look forward to sharing this next adventure with you.


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    24. Are you following me?

    You can, on twitter. @AuthorMark - https://twitter.com/#!/AuthorMark

    I want to be followed, except for that one guy that is literally following me. Stop it. Seriously, stop.


    Joking aside, I am going to attempt my first "Live Tweeting" event this Saturday. When I go to my book signing at Heroes Landing (http://heroeslanding.com/) from 1PM to 3PM in Clermont, FL, I will take as many pics and make as many tweets as I can. I hope you will join me in the fun with your comments.


    It is going to be a huge day. Besides selling vouchers for advance copies of The Secret Queen, it is FREE COMIC BOOK DAY! There will be other guest artists and authors, a Geeky Pinup booth, face-painting, surprise sales and more.

    Let your inner nerd have some fun this weekend!

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    25. Upcoming Appearances

    Hopefully folks in Mount Dora and Central Florida can stop by and see me! I love hearing from readers!

    I will be signing my latest release, Book III of The Empyrical Tales: The Secret Queen, and I will have a few surprises.

    First stop, Barrel of Books and Games in downtown Mount Dora. Today (June 2) from 4pm to 6pm, come check out this amazing store. They have a huge selection of new and used books. Plus, their collectibles are amazing. They have everything from Angry Birds to Big Bang Theory Bobbleheads to Star Wars. AT 144 W 5th Ave in Downtown Mt. Dora about 45 minutes from Orlando.

    On June 9th, I will be at HighFive Frozen Yogurt in the Loch Leven Landing shopping center. This one is for a good cause. Both the author and HighFive will be donating a portion of the proceeds to our local elementary school PTO. I will be there from 1pm to 4pm. I want to see somebody come challenge the HighFive Titan! The store is at 18977 US Hwy 441, in between Five Guys Burgers and Publix.

    This is only the first wave. I am working on events with some author friends and at least one of the public libraries. If you can't make it in person, I recently updated my website where you can order autographed copies at a new, special price - www.MillerWords.com

    For all you Kindle readers, I have the privilege of being one of the first to use Kindlegraph Live! Kindlegraph.com is a site where authors can personalize autographs for their digital readers. With KG Live, when you see me at an event, you can buy one of my eBooks on your eReader or smart phone. Then I can send you an autograph. All you need is an email address, and it doesn't even have to be a Kindle address.

    Keep following my blog or follow on Facebook.com/EmpyricalTales to stay informed of the latest appearances.

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