A few days later, I found myself in the middle of Stockholm. The old city is so very pretty, and there's sketch opportunities on every corner of the street (just like in paris).
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Below is my Gen Con schedule, but first some interesting news:
Early this year I returned to the Uglies universe to write a short story called “How David Got His Scar.”
David, of course, has a scar through one eyebrow, the origin of which is the subject of much discussion. In the novels, Tally asks him about it, and he says, “I’ll tell you how I got it one day.” But he never does. Because he and I are perverse that way.
In the Shay’s Story graphic novels, he STARTS to talk about it once, but only says something about being chased by a bear. Still perversely uninformative.
But now, dear readers, you can discover the unvarnished truth in this Barnes and Noble Exclusive edition of Uglies! Just look for this black sticker at B&N stores:
That’s right, you can pay money for a book you already own for the sole purpose of reading 4,000 new words! (Not even 4,000. Like, 3914 words.) You could also go into a store and just stand there and read it. (But you would never do that. You are a TRUE fan. Have I mentioned how great your hair looks today?)
You can also order this exclusive edition online right here.
The story is set in the time before David has met Tally, but after Shay’s runaway friends, Croy and Astrix, have reached the Smoke. It was fun writing in that world again, particularly from a new viewpoint, and it was weirdly easy too. (Read NOTHING into this statement. Unless you want to.)
Also, because someone is bound to ask, I hereby declare this story CANONICAL.
Anyway, here’s my Gen Con schedule. See some of you in Indianapolis!
Thursday, August 14
Writer’s Craft: Creating Story Arcs
The Art of Leviathan
Friday, August 15
Q&A with me
Business of Writing: Selling Your Stories
Saturday, August 16
Pushing the YA Envelope
Impact of Reader Gender on Your Writing
We became pretty solid soccer fans while living in Germany, especially around World Cup time, so on our recent return trip, we were psyched to watch games with our German friends.
For the U.S. v. Germany game, though, we were on our own in France. We planned the whole evening around the game, which aired at 6 p.m. in that time zone.
It was also the only night we could eat at the local Michelin-starred restaurant—and the night they serve a very reasonable prix-fixe menu. So we made a late reservation to fit in both, planning to watch the game at our B & B.
We’d biked 15 miles that day (a lot for us), and I planned to take a shower during half time.
One big problem. After the pre-game commentator chatter, the screen went blank with a message that said something like: “This game is not authorized to be shown in this region.” We flipped around, hoping another station would carry it, but the only game on was the other World Cup match happening at the same time.
Luckily, we were staying right near the German border, so I took a 3 minute shower, hopped into a dress, and we loaded up and drove to the ferry to cross the Rhine. On the other side, my husband knocked on restaurant doors until we found one with public viewing in its little bar area.
The one long table was full of retiree-aged tennis table club members, and the only free seats were at the front with a mustachioed man who’d already had a few too many beers.
He was friendly, though, and when he found out we were American, he told us over and over how much he loved Americans and how the best possible outcome for the game would be a 1-1 tie. He reminded us many times (a few too many) that the German coach and the American team coach (also German) were best friends and how they would both want this.
If you were watching, too, you know the Americans actually lost 0-1. We were disappointed, but after the game, everyone (except the kids) was treated to house-made pear Schnapps while the table tennis team sang the German victory song (is there a name for this?). Everyone was very friendly, and when it was over, we thanked our hosts and dashed back across the river to make our 8:30 reservation.
The restaurant was lovely, with a view to a garden and a stream. The noise level was nearly silent, but our kids were completely awesome and went with the flow.
We opted for the prix-fixe menu and added on the “Festival of Desserts,” which sounded perfect. We envisioned a dessert sampler.
First course (salad above) was great, second course (some kind of meat pie) was amazing. Meanwhile the service was first-rate. Our hostess made sure to graciously inform us when we were missing something, i.e. “You can actually eat those flowers,” and, “Those table decorations are actually pretzels” (in the first photo, the rock-looking things behind the ceramic elves).
Here’s the cheese table, from which we could choose what we liked.
And then the desserts started. First, a platter of teeny tiny cookies of many kinds. Then, a pastry with gelato. Another pastry with gelato. Another….we were losing count.
Surely the cookies had counted as dessert #1. There were supposed to be five desserts in total. Surely the gelato counted for one and the pastry counted for another, right? Wrong. The desserts kept coming, and we slowed down so much that we started getting two at once. The cookies hadn’t even counted as part of the five.
Not only that, but the kids had gotten (included) a dessert of their own, so they couldn’t help us out so much. Still, we were determined to do our duty and eat every bite. On top of the five desserts + cookies + cheese course, there was a tiny truffle course where we could choose our own adventure. How could we say no?
At one point I said, “If they bring another dessert, I’m going to cry,” and we all started laughing, on the verge of breaking the Code of Near-Silence.
Finally we ate our way through the last plate, now having finished enough dessert for about ten people. The last plate was probably my favorite, some kind of cherry cake (pictured above). We rolled out, giggling to ourselves.
My son said the other day, “Let’s never take the circus of desserts next time.” Amen. Maybe just 1/10 of it.
Below is a picture of one of the children’s desserts.
And in case you’re wondering yes, I threw the whole gluten-free eating thing out the window that week. I paid for it the next week, but it was well worth it!
Indonesia is interesting in its own right, but in Elizabeth Pisani's joyful hands, this improbable nation of 13,466 islands spanning over 3,300 miles becomes a fascinating cautionary tale about the benefits, limits, and dangers of enforcing a national identity. Pisani has spent many years living and working in Indonesia, and her historical and political insights [...]Add a Comment
I am not a scaredy cat. I love to hike and wade in mountain streams. I love to go to places I’ve never been and see things I’ve never seen. I like to watch documentaries on foods from other countries and want to visit those countries one day. I like to make new recipes! I’ll…Display Comments Add a Comment
Travel back in time to the year 1900, and place yourself in the shoes of sixteen-year-old Billy Bah, who lives in the unrelenting wintry land of northern Itta, Greenland.Add a Comment
The Lately Lily books and activity sets, bought together or separately, are beautifully designed items that not only tell an interesting story about travel and adventure, but also encourage children to be storytellers and chroniclers themselves.Add a Comment
Discover the western European country of Portugal with award-winning author and former social studies teacher Carole P. Roman.Add a Comment
This month my family and I returned from our LONGEST ROAD TRIP EVER. Longest in duration (one month), if not in miles (3,033).
We started from our home base in Rockford, IL and drove through eight states: Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, N. Carolina, S. Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, stopping in various towns along the way. What were some of the biggest differences between all these states? Well the gas price for one thing: varying by 60 cents, and the temperature: a high of 104 ° F in Georgia and a low 48 ° F in Illinois. Our journey looked like this:
Did I mention there are five of us? By the time we were done, as you can imagine, we pretty much had had enough “family time”. There is a phenomenon known as too much vacation. When we finally got home we didn’t even unpack. Instead we separated to our individual rooms.
And walking the beach while the sun set over the Gulf of Mexico. Phenomenal. I’d honestly never seen sand turn pink before.
And of course a trip to Florida is never complete without a jump over to Orlando. For . . . you know . . . Harry.
My enthusiasm at World of Harry Potter easily trumped my kids’. One of my favorite memories was having a woman’s portrait in the Hall of Portraits blink when I took her photograph using my flash.
On the other hand, one of my youngest daughter’s favorite recollections wasn’t eating at great local restaurants, swimming in dozens of different swimming pools, or exploring southern architecture. Nope. It was rescuing someone’s Barbie from a perilous fate.
She (Barbie) is currently in quarantine.
Mad cat photo © Nikolai Nikonov, text added; all other photos © Karin Blaski; route map © mapquestAdd a Comment
If You Were Me and Lived in Russia is the latest installment to a great picture book series that showcases diversity and encourages children to explore the world.Add a Comment
This has been on my mind for awhile and on the long road trip I had more time to think about it. The business has grown so much in the past couple of years and the direction I want to take it has altered slightly too. The upcoming year there will be some changes, expanding products offered, a book in the works (Shawn get back to writing!), plus some creative, weird stuff from Shawn (I said get back to writing!), along with first and foremost a change in the name of the business.
There are many reasons for the name change, some minor, but the major one has been growth. I use to share a six foot table with my friend Koko Candles and now I can barely contain everything on an eight foot table, much less a six foot table (which is why I am exploring having booths at certain cons next year). This rapid rate of growth could not have happened without someone very special in my life, Shawn. He has been supportive of me through all of this; he has given me creative ideas, does a lot of grunt work for me, and as he says his official title is, Lifter of Heavy Things. He is very much my partner in this business and I am appreciative of his contributions to the growth of it.
So on a long trip through the desert night of Arizona, Shawn and I started kicking around different names… some good, some hilariously bad. During the banter we had going back and forth it got me thinking; I love the darker side of things and Shawn loves horror (he always disappears from the booth during horror cons to spend money), and we always seem to be on the road lately. The name crystallized in my mind and it just seemed so appropriate. Without further ado I present the new name of the business…
This will not be an immediate transition, so Diana Levin Art will still exist. I will still be creating new art and jewelry to have at the shows as these will be the cornerstone of the business as it expands.
And finally lest I forget to thank the people who also have made this growth possible, the fans of my art. Thank you so much for your support and love, I could not do it without all of you.
Keep dreaming and creating…
–DianaAdd a Comment
Author Lauren Henderson is just as fun to talk to as we imagine Violet, the heroine of her book Kissing in Italian, would be. Half American and British, Henderson seems both posh and down to Earth.Add a Comment
This enchanting romp through the Italian countryside will have any girl, or girl at heart, melting with jealousy. Cute Italian boys and breathtakingly described scenery will make readers want to grab their passports.Add a Comment
|My favorite sketch from the weekend. This is the Holy Name Cathedral where Roger Ebert's funeral was held|
|Another church on the church architecture tour|
|Porsche at what the locals called 'Viagra Triangle' which is a good description|
|Big statue next to the hotel|
|A bit of sketching between bites of Garrett popcorn|
|Detail of the facade|
|Part of the Newberry Library|
We are six months into 2014. It’s June. Isn’t that crazy?
Summer is my favorite time of year. For one thing the software geek job tends not to be “as crazy” as it is during other times of the year and I can get more writing done. My goal is to finish my revisions. Morning writing sessions are helping a lot as well as not giving myself such pressure to be perfect. Basically I’m trying to “fail better” and “write from the heart.” Instead of trying to write what can sell, I would rather write what I would want to read. Much better.
I recently went to my favorite place — the beach — and mostly ate shaved ice and read books. Works for me. It was sultry and hot — just the way I like it!
One of my dream vacations is to go to Bali. This Travel Noire post Bali: Island in the Sun just made me want to book a ticket. I’m going to try and make that happen soon. Maybe in 2016? *crosses fingers*
I finally got a chance to read the sweeping, thick novel The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert and also the provocative and stunning An Untamed State by Roxane Gay. Both are excellent reads.
Here are some gems that I’ve found in cyberspace that you might find interesting.
YouTube Video: Inspire Her Mind – Promoting More Girls to go into STEM
Shonda Rhimes’ Real Talk for Dartmouth Grads: Dreams Are for Losers
Jan Reynolds is a writer, photographer, and adventurer who has written over fourteen nonfiction books for children about her travels. Her work has appeared in numerous publications including National Geographic, The New York Times, and Outside Magazine. Reynolds is an avid skier, mountain climber, and adventurer who held the record for women’s high altitude skiing, was part of the first expedition to circumnavigate Mount Everest, and performed a solo crossing of the Himalayas.
You are a world-class adventurer and athlete in addition to being a children’s author. Were you always a writer, or were you inspired to begin writing by your travels?
I’ve always been a writer…. I had a short story, fiction, that was published when I was in high school. I’m working on a young adult fiction book right now!
What was your hardest trip or exploration? Was there ever a moment in your travels when you wanted to turn back? What inspired you to keep going?
When I was crossing the Himalaya solo, I almost turned back, I was so sick (I talk about this in my documentary video, “Cultural Adventure with Jan Reynolds”). I lived in my tent alone for about four days and nights, and was found by a Sherpa and his son who nursed me back to health, and I finished my journey going from Nepal into Tibet over the Himalaya following the salt trade. I kept going because I needed to complete my trade on this salt trade route. I was working for National Geographic magazine, and I wanted to get my story!!
Your books, especially your Vanishing Cultures series, chronicle the time you spent with endangered indigenous groups around the world. Since those books were published, have you gone back to visit any of the communities you connected with? Do you know how they’re doing?
I’ve been back to visit many of the places in my Vanishing Cultures series, and what I’ve found is that they are vanishing in terms of their traditional lives. The young are looking for jobs in the cities and towns nearby. It isn’t possible to make a living traditionally. For example trucks and planes are much faster crossing the Sahara than a camel, so camel caravans cannot make profitable trades anymore.
When I visited these people it was a matter of me just showing up. So approaching them was literally just being there, it was so far out in most cases, they were just curious about me, that was my approach! I built trust by making one really good friend, and they became my mentor and guardian of sorts, and I always traveled as a trader with trade goods, silk, wool scarves, gold and silver jewelry, that opened doors too.
It is not always easy to get people to “act natural” in front of a camera, especially people who are not often photographed. How do you get your subjects comfortable in front of your camera? What do you do to ensure that your presence as a photographer does not change their behavior?
I dress like the locals as much as I can so that when they look at me behind the camera they aren’t having funny expressions! I also hang out with people quite a while before I start shooting so they are comfortable with me. I also give them a little snap shooter with a flash. Kids really love that, and they take pics of me, whether they know they are or not…. it’s like playing a game together. I try not to bring in things that are junky or techno, my trade items are things they know, and I try to blend in as much as I can so I’m not intrusive. I’m not there to teach or train, I’m just there to be, and record.
Why do you think it’s important for a young reader from, say, Nebraska, to learn about a small indigenous culture from the Amazon Basin? What do you think are the big benefits of geo-literacy and global education?
I think all kids need to know that all environments around the world have people in them, the Amazon had a thriving community of people throughout, before the Spanish explorers brought disease and killed the local Indians by the thousands. Now kids study plain environments, the rainforest, the desert, etc. without people in them, and it gives kids the wrong idea, that man and environments are separate.
We are part of every environment, we are connected, and we need to live in harmony. Man lived his daily life in all the environments on earth. We can still, we just need to be partners with the earth. So what I tried to do with my books is have students study the environment AND the people in that environment at the same time, that’s more normal….together, not separate.
What travel tips can you offer to young readers traveling abroad for the first time?
When you travel abroad, befriend a local, they are the doorway to understanding the people and the environment, and how they work together, through traditions, food, ceremonies, and so on.
Thanks for joining us, Jan! Feel free to leave further questions for Jan in the comments section below.
|cover: Emma Chichester Clark|
|illustration: Emma Chichester Clark|
Sketchbook Skool. I'll be a tutor in the second Semester, which kicks off on July 4th. I was met by the co-founder of the skool Koosje Keone and we spent two full days of filming.
The Children’s Book Review | May 21, 2014 The Tale of Tango By Paul E. Hohmann; Illustrated by Ivan Earl Aguilar Paperback: 24 pages Age Range: 4-8 Publisher: XLIBRIS (February 20, 2014) ISBN: 978-1493163687 What to expect: Airplanes, Pilots, Overcoming New Challenges The Tale of Tango is an illustrated story of one little plane’s life journey […]Add a Comment
Phew, there's so much awesomeness going on.
The very first semester of Sketchbook Skool has just finished and it was a tremendous succes. We are now working on all the good stuff coming up in the second kourse, which has the theme 'Seeing'.
Just last weekend, Andrea Joseph (I know, she is an amazing illustrator!!) came over to Amsterdam, and she and I spent the weekend, filming the videos for her klass in the upcoming kourse. I got to see some (no, a lot) of her magic and I hope it rubbed off just a little on me.
A recent visit to San Francisco inspired me to think about oral story telling, publishing, an persuasive writing. Here are five things my trip left me thinking about. PLUS, leave a comment on this blog post for a chance to win a copy of a new picture book from Chronicle Books.Add a Comment
Where have I been?
Around the world, in ninety days.
A research trip for a screenplay that was supposed to be five weeks long where I traveled to Australia and Indonesia turned into so much more. Thanks for your patience while I was away. I’m in the process of understanding all the changes that I’ve been going through and putting words to the experience. Surprisingly I’ve had no jet lag when I returned nearly three weeks ago and am instead working very hard on the screenplay and some film documentaries too. There’s so much to process. The trip was life affirming as well as life changing. You’ve been great supporters of my work and I’m thrilled to have you on this journey with me. One of the places I least expected to go was Mt. Everest, and as fate would have it, while I was there the worst disaster in the history of the storied mountain unfolded. An avalanche took the lives of 16 sherpas. They were family members and friends of the sherpas who trekked with me on the Everest trail. Sometimes stories come to you. This was perhaps the biggest story I’d ever been caught up in and it influenced my entire experience in Nepal, which started off as a humanitarian trip to provide dental care to “yakland” kids (children who live above 10,000 feet) some who are orphaned (due to the ten year civil war there) and some victims of human trafficking. This is but a small a window into one of the unexpected, but wonderful stops on my journey.
I haven’t updated my about page, because I really like the fact that I had written there that one of my dreams was to travel to Indonesia. And it’s so nice when dreams come true. I don’t think I’ll update it with my new dreams yet. It’s nice to savor and celebrate moments like this. *pops the cork off the champagne bottle* *pours you a glass* Now about that stand up comedy routine…