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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: travel, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 823
1. The Front of the Parade

I dislike parades. Not a little, a lot!

I don’t care about the pageantry or the spectacle. I just get bored. A.D.D.? Maybe. Every time I’m stuck watching them, I can’t find an ounce of enjoyment – I just think about two dozen other things I could be doing. This couldn’t be truer than when I’m at Disneyworld.

My kids, on the other hand, love parades. So when people start lining the streets, they want to stop riding roller coasters and wait. UGH…

Wait for what? Floats. No thank you! If a float doesn’t contain root beer and ice cream, I don’t want it.

I figure with half of the eligible riders standing along the parade route, the lines to the cool things are shorter. Not my family. We wait – and not for the good stuff.

A funny thing happened on our trip last week. We were headed to a ride at the back of the park while people were lining up for the parade. No one with me suggested we stop to watch (miracle), so I powered into the street. We must have been the last ones let out before they closed the rope because we found ourselves about 20 paces in front of the parade with all of its flags and music.

Maybe it was the fact that I was pushing my daughter’s wheelchair, or possibly because I looked so stately and official, but it became apparent that the spectators thought we were supposed to be the ones leading the parade. We all realized it at the same time as they clapped and waved at us.

My kids became confused.

They grouped together.

“Should we pull off and get out of the way?” they wondered.

The oldest asked, “What do we do?”

Of course they looked to me, the leader, the head honcho, the alpha male for direction and what did they find me doing?

Waving

With a dopey grin on my face, I waved back at all of my adoring fans.

When life puts you at the front of the parade, smile and wave!

parade

The kids laughed at me, but it caught on. All of us began waving to the crowd.

You know what? Everyone waved back. The people didn’t think we looked out of place – they just waved at us. I wonder what they thought when the real parade came and they realized we didn’t belong. Oh well, we were gone by then. We walked over half of the parade route unencumbered by the bustling crowd until we got near the ride we wanted. Then we simply ducked into the masses and became one of them – anonymous once more.

I still hate parades… But for a moment, I was the grand marshal.


Filed under: It Made Me Laugh

6 Comments on The Front of the Parade, last added: 12/10/2014
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2. Manhunt, by Kate Messner | Book Review

Manhunt, by Kate Messner, will appeal to middle grade readers who enjoy solving mysteries and who like learning about other countries as well as famous artists and pieces of art.

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3. Go There: Lessons In Writing From Dear Old Dad

Andrew_Maraniss3_horz (1)BY ANDREW MARANISS

People assume that when your father is a Pulitzer Prize–winning, bestselling author, he must have helped you a lot with your first book.

For a while, I thought he might, too.

I’d email first drafts of my chapters for “Strong Inside” to my mom and dad, and I soon discovered why the messages I’d get back only contained suggestions from my mother: my father understood from the very beginning that I’d feel a whole lot better about my book if I knew I did it without major input from him.

Which isn’t to say that he had no influence. His fingerprints are all over it, but more in the sense of lifelong lessons on reporting and writing: avoid clichés and unnecessary words; find the universal in the particular; do the reporting.

Growing up, the people who came to visit our house for dinner or picnics were mostly journalists—I’d sit around on the periphery of the conversations and listen to the joy everyone took in describing great lead paragraphs, or scooping the competition. (I also remember the time Bob Woodward brought my sister and I some 45-RPM records, including “Safety Dance,” and the time Sarah and I tried to trick John Feinstein into eating a dog biscuit). Growing up in the home of a Washington Post journalist meant reading a great newspaper every morning—and reading great writing is the best way to learn to write. (Another childhood memory: Each morning, I’d spread the Post out on the dining room table, read the sports section first, and our family sheepdog, Maggie, would hop up on the table, park her body on top of the rest of the paper, and then lap up the milk from my cereal bowl when I was nearly done. Wow.)


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My father did not become a published author until after I graduated from college, but one of the lessons I’ve picked up from him in this later stage of his writing career is the concept of “go there.” For him, that meant traveling to Vietnam for one book, moving to Green Bay, Wisconsin, for the winter for another, and flying to Kenya, Indonesia, Hawaii and Kansas for his bio of Barack Obama.

In my case, going there meant two things: seeing my adopted hometown of Nashville through the eyes of my subject, Perry Wallace, and trying to travel back in time to the 1960s in as many ways as possible. On the time-travel side, I set my satellite radio to the 1960s channel and spent my 45-minute commutes to my “day job” listening to the songs Wallace and his contemporaries would have heard while he was making history as the first African American basketball player in the Southeastern Conference. I watched movies from the period, and read books about the Sixties that had nothing to do with Wallace’s story but shed light on the culture of the times in interesting ways (in addition to my dad’s many books that are set in the decade, one of my favorites was Mark Harris’ book, Pictures at a Revolution, on the five  movies nominated for Oscars in 1967).

It was seeing Nashville through Perry Wallace’s eyes that produced the most valuable anecdotes for the book. I’ll forever remember the afternoon we spent driving around the town he left 44 years ago. He showed me the houses he grew up in, the parks he played in, the schools he attended. Driving past one house, he saw an old friend sitting on the front porch and jumped out of the car to say hello. Driving past a street corner in a now-fashionable part of town, he explained that in 1955, standing on that same corner, he had been stunned by a carload of white teenagers who pointed a gun out their window at him, pointing it, pointing it, pointing it, as the car slowly made its way around the corner. And as we drove past a baseball field, he asked me to stop the car. We got out, and he pointed to a thicket of rocks and trees behind the outfield fence. “See that rock?” he asked. “That’s where I sat and meditated over my decision whether to go to Vanderbilt.”

Suddenly I was standing next to Perry Wallace in the present, but also sitting next to him on that rock in 1966.

“Go there” indeed. Thank you, Dad.


MarannisNewCoverRGBAndrew Maraniss is the author of the new biography, Strong Inside: Perry Wallace and the Collision of Race and Sports in the South. His father, David Maraniss, is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist for Washington Post and the author of 10 books.

Follow Andrew Maraniss on Twitter @trublu24 and at his website, andrewmaraniss.com.

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4. Is your commute normal?

Ever wonder how Americans are getting to work? In this short video, Andrew Beveridge, Co-Founder and CEO of census data mapping program Social Explorer, discusses the demographics of American commuting patterns for workers ages sixteen and above.

Using census survey data from the past five years, Social Explorer allows you to explore different categories of American demographics through time. Here, Beveridge walks viewers through the functionality of the “Transportation” category, revealing the hard truth of Americans’ car dependency, as well as the true scope of the bike-to-work trend gaining speed across college towns and urban areas. Want to see how your travel time stacks up to the rest of the population’s workers? Use the “Travel Time to Work” category to explore other American commuting trends, or explore the various additional categories and surveys Social Explorer has to offer.

Whether it is the speed, assumed efficiency and control, or the status-marker of the automobile that makes it so ubiquitous, the numbers don’t lie – for most Americans, “going green” may be only secondary to “catching green” (lights, that is).

Featured image credit: Charles O’Rear, 1941-, Photographer (NARA record: 3403717) (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration). Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

The post Is your commute normal? appeared first on OUPblog.

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5. Apalachicola for Thanksgiving

Hubbie and I went to Apalachicola, Florida for Thanksgiving. Even though it was in sunny Florida, it rained for several days, which turned out fine for me. I made massive progress on my work-in-progress mid-grade novel, putting National Novel Writing Month's goal of 50,000 words well within reach.
     And best of all, we brought our pooch, Bernie with us to see how he would adapt to a new environment, including elevators. He's a rescue and doesn't like change, so I'd been nervous about how he'd adapt to Edingurgh, Scotland in the fall. Happily, he did GREAT! The elevators had him quite puzzled - he'd look at the door and the floor with his ears perked up, wondering why the world changed on the other side when the door opened. But within three days, we'd already established new patterns and he was fine. I think he'll be fine in Scotland! Here he is on his very first beach experience:


     Meanwhile, we had a lovely and scenic Thanksgiving. Here are some photos:
Gotta do Boss Oyster when in Apalach:

We had raw, oysters with roe, and I had grilled oysters too. I got my fill! Stan was happy too:





Although we couldn't catch the image, two dolphins were playing in the marina and swam straight towards us like torpedoes before coming up to make their happy cackle sound and swim on. Can you see the fin? Wow.



I loved this one that Stan got. I think it would make a great screen saver too. Click the image to open a larger version:

This is an oysterer going out for the day's catch. What a different life, what a relaxed pose of ability, skill, and knowledge. I love this photo:


I thought this one would make a good screen saver too - seagrasses. Click the image to get to a larger version:





And finally, the view from our mini apartment:


And being Apalachicola, they didn't have a Christmas tree - they were putting up the Christmas net with all the crab trap buoys for decorations. All I can say is... Happy Yule, Y'all!

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6. Trip to Romania Part 3: Painted Monastaries

Me Sketching at Voronet

We went to a lot of monasteries old and new. Of course the star monasatries are the old ones...

Above is Voronet Monastery in the Moldovan area of Romania. It was built in 1488 by Stephen the Great. The painting have survived war, weather and disuse. They are now restored including the paintings on the inside. They are not restoring the exterior paintings as far as I know which I think is a good thing.

This was the only place where we ran into an American tour group.

Detail from the exterior of Voronet. All of these churches have paintings of the Last Judgement... This is the place you want to avoid...


This is from the Humor Monastery located in Mănăstirea Humorului.
Me sketching at Humor Monastary

Detail of the battle in Constantinople.

Above is the Humor Monastery, a painted monastery located in Mănăstirea Humorului.  The frescoes were originally painted in 1535 and this one shows Constantinople defending itself from a Persian invasion in 626. The Persians were illustrated as Turks which is proof that the news is always prone to revisionism even if it is really old news

A lot of the monasteries had these cool seraphim images depicted as wing clusters with lots of eyeballs.


I know I have been slow to post these images. But there is MUCH more! Next up, the Merry Cemetery and a stones throw from the Ukraine border... Read the rest of this post

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7. States I’ve Visited

This make-your-own map is going around Facebook and I couldn’t resist.


Create Your Own Visited States Map

I’m a little tortured by that Arkansas gap! On our cross-country trip four (!!) years ago, we just barely missed that state; our route eastward took us through Tulsa and then northeast to Mansfield, MO, to visit Rocky Ridge Farm (naturally). We almost nicked the top corner of Arkansas then, but nope. And on the way back, we took the southern route through AL, LA, TX and so on.

I’ve been back and forth past RI several times too, en route from NYC to Massachusetts. But somehow we never drove through it.

Funny that two more of my missing states (so far I’ve been to 40, which ain’t bad) are major Little House milestones! One of these days I’ll get to DeSmet, SD, and Pepin, WI, for sure.

Beyond the borders of the U.S., I’ve been to four countries: Canada (for a wedding in Toronto, but I really need to hie myself to PEI one of these years, too); Germany; France; and Spain. Germany & France were one summer during high school, when I got to stay with a German family for a couple of months. They took me all over the country, with a week in Montélimar, France (nougat capital of the world) to boot. And Spain was the awesome week in Barcelona with Scott in 2008. A life-changer in some ways, that one.

But then I suppose all travel is life-changing!

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8. Illustrator Interview – Frané Lessac

Naturally, my greatest reason for inviting an illustrator to be interviewed on Miss Marple’s Musings is because I admire her/his art, but often it is also because I am a little nosy (what writer isn’t?) and I want to find … Continue reading

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9. Fun at the California Capital

Thanks to everyone who came out to the California Capital Book Festival in Sacramento. It was fun to meet new people, talk with readers, see familiar faces. And of course, buy some new books for myself! This was the first year for this book festival and the organizers did a great job making the entire […]

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10. Trip to Romania Part 2: The Carpathian Mountains and Piatra Neamt

Sketch of the Museum of History and Archaeology in the city of Piatra Neamt.
More from the Romania trip!

Piatra Neamt: We loved this city so much, we stayed for 2 nights at the Grand Hotel Ceahlau and took a lot of time to sketch. They have the cutest gondola up to the top of the mountain.

Recently restored fortress that was much more vertical than the sketch suggests in order to defend from the Turks.
Sketch of the Carpathian mountains before a hike on September 7th.

Picture on location from the porch at our little pension. I sketched during breakfast.
Just call me Indiana Wald! Hiking over a safe but rickety looking bridge in the Carpathians

I was sad not to see any brown bears in the mountains. We did see their scat though…

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11. Still on Tour

I’m still on tour for Afterworlds, because touring is fun.

If you live in Texas (Dallas, Austin and Houston), or in Phoenix, San Francisco, or Boston, you can come see me in the next two weeks! And in November I’ll be in Toronto and Charleston, SC. Just check out my Appearances page for details.

For the rest of you, here are some amusing photos from tour.

This is one I took for my upcoming Tumblr, IndieBookstoreBathrooms:
IMG_3948

Here’s what an audience looks like when you’re giving a presentation. In no way intimidating!
PandPaudience

And this is evidence of studious reading:
studiousreader

It’s always great to see Midnighters tattoos:
MidTat

Holly Black and Cassandra Clare were also on tour at the same time, so they left me and Justine friendly notes in various bookstores:
HollyCassienote

It’s always cool seeing one’s name in lights.
nameinlights

Unlike the cake, the shortbread is not a lie.
shortbread

And in St. Louis, I got to be in my own covers. AT LAST.
covershoot

Anyway, that’s a mere fraction of all the cool stuff that happened. Thanks to everyone who came out to buy books and laugh at my jokes. You are all wonderful.

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12. Travel Madness

It has been a CRAZY summer! I am REALLY behind on posting here.

I went to Portland in July for ICON the illustration conference and just got back from 2 weeks in Romania. I am now digging out from under a TON of work.

So, enjoy these ICON and Portland sketches.

ICON was a great time. I met a lot of cool artists and got to visit LAIKA studios.

I do wish they had a set up that involved smaller groups rather than a lecture hall for all the presentations one after the other. I know there are a lot of challenges putting up an event like this, but there was an impersonal, lecture hall freshmen 101 feeling to it that would have probably been helped by everyone picking 3 or 4 smaller sessions a day to see.

It would have also been less overwhelming.

The speakers were very good for the most part; there was just a fatigue that set in when you watched so many in a day.

The workshops were set up more in that way and were excellent.

More soon!





Chinese Gardens









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13. Writing What You Don’t Know: Tips for Telling Another Person’s Story

Parker_2668_TOM

BY AMY PARKER

“Write what you know,” the adage goes. But when my heart pulled me way outside my knowledge base to help Rwandan Frederick Ndabaramiye write his unbelievable story, I knew that I had a lot to learn.

Here are a few pointers based on what I did, what I didn’t do, and what you must do … from someone who now knows.

What I Did

I saturated myself in the culture—as much as a Tennessee girl can, anyway. I asked Frederick for photos, read Rwandan news and books set in Rwanda, and listened to Rwandan (Internet) radio. Much of that information never made it into the book, but it enriched my ability to feel the surroundings, see the scenes, and hear the voices that later would be woven into the story.

I went! None of the remote research will enhance your knowledge and sense of setting as much as seeing it for yourself. If I hadn’t, I would have never known that the whole country smells like a campfire or why—almost everyone cooks over an open fire. I would have never known the inexplicable warmth and kindness of the people, felt the breathlessness of climbing the steep Rwandan hills, or known the awe of looking into the eyes of a mountain gorilla.

You’ll learn things that the native people would never think to tell you, and you’ll discover answers to questions that you would never have known to ask. Sure, it can be costly, but it is worth every cent—or Rwandan Franc—you’ll spend.

I begged the advice of those gone before me. And I got answers about everything from car rentals and hotels to what kind of shoes and electrical adapters to take.

This proved to be invaluable, especially in hiring a driver. We tried to rationalize that particular piece of advice away (the per-day fee was as much as a weekly car rental in the States), but in the end, we caved and were greatly rewarded for our investment. Our guide Charles had actually fought with the RPF (the army that ended the genocide) and shared knowledge and experiences beyond what I could find in any book. And as for the driving, we honestly could have never navigated the steep, rutted roads ourselves.

What I Didn’t Do

Learn the language. Of course, I bought the book and practiced some phrases, but I had no working knowledge of the language. So when the Rwandan pastor said something from the front of the church that prompted the entire congregation to turn and look at us, I didn’t know whether to smile or hide. (Thankfully, he was welcoming us.) If you even think that you may be traveling to a foreign-language location, start practicing the language yesterday. I can’t imagine how much more I would have learned if I had.

Ask permission to take photos. Every. Single. Time. It’s a courtesy common to most cultures, and I asked most of the time. But the one time I didn’t—in the market, when I wasn’t really photographing a person, but a place—I greatly offended one lady. And I didn’t need to speak Kinyarwanda to know it.

What You Must Do

Keep a journal. I did this but wish I had done more, had noted more details, went more in-depth about daily experiences. Stay up for an extra thirty minutes each night and jot down every single detail you remember about your day. This will be a priceless gift to yourself, not to mention the much-needed descriptions it will provide for your story.

Try something new. I ate sambaza, best described as fried minnows. And it was delicious. I fell in love with African Tea (like a chai latte with a kick). I’m not an athlete—in any sense of the word—but I eagerly signed up for the mountain gorilla trek. I drank in the culture, and I am forever changed.

Share the experience. I quickly shared my photos on Facebook, but two years later, I have yet to compose the dozen blog ideas that I jotted down while riding in that bumpy SUV. (Okay, so I did write a book, but still.) Find the time—share your experiences.

After all, it is our duty to the world as writers. And in many cases, it’s the only way readers will experience another world for themselves—through your writing, now that you know.


052910119X

Amy Parker has made her mark as an experienced and versatile writer and editor who has a particular enthusiasm for children’s books. She authored the bestselling A Night Night Prayer and has collaborated with authors ranging from a New York Times bestseller to her own son.

She is the co-author of Frederick: A Story of Boundless Hope from Thomas Nelson, which releases September 16, 2014. You can find her on amyparkerbooks.com or Facebook.

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14. Natsko Seki: dynamic urban illustrations

Telephone booths

Bookshop

Westminster

Italy

Eating & Drinking

Natsko Seki collages lively, saturated scenes of urban life from her own drawings and photographs. Begging to be explored, each illustration is populated with human activity and contains clues left by a moment in time that—if only yesterday—is now lost. Iconic architecture stands as a grandiose reminder that Seki’s people are living in the shadows of history and are unknowing participants in the writing of their city’s centuries. Seki’s interest in architecture, fashion, and contemporary urban life has landed her commissions with Transport for London, Royal Historic Palaces, The Guardian, Bloomsbury, and Hermès. In 2013, Louis Vuitton published a book of Seki’s London illustrations as part of their travel books collection. Seki grew up in Tokyo and studied illustration in Brighton, UK. She now lives in London.

A look into Natsko Seki’s process | Online Portfolio

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15. Children’s Activity Atlas, by Jenny Slater | Book Giveaway

Enter to win a copy of Children's Activity Atlas, written by Jenny Slater and illustrated by Katrin Wiehle and Martin Sanders. Giveaway begins September 10, 2014, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends October 9, 2014, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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16. Afterworlds Tour

Starting in three weeks, I will be on tour in the US and UK.
Here are the dates!

Tues, Sept 23
6:00PM

New York Public Library, Jefferson Market Branch
425 Ave of the Americas
New York, NY 10011
For this special launch event, I will be joined by Libba Bray, Maureen Johnson, David Levithan, and Robin Wasserman! Books will be on sale here, as at all events.

Wed, Sept 24
7:00PM

Quail Ridge Bookstore
3522 Wade Ave
Raleigh, NC 27607

Thurs, Sept 25
6:00PM

Barnes & Noble
300 Neshaminy Mall
Bensalem, PA 19020

Sat, Sept 27
7:00PM

Politics & Prose
5015 Connecticut Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20008

Monday, Sept 29
7:00PM

St. Louis Public Library – Schlafly
225 N. Euclid Ave
St. Louis, MO 63108

Wed, Oct 1
6:30PM

Shorewood Public Library
3920 N. Murray Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53211

Thurs, Oct 2
7:00PM

Anderson’s
123 W. Jefferson Ave
Naperville, IL 60540

Sat-Sunday, Oct 4-5
I’ll be in London, England for the Young Adult Literature Weekender
Details to come.

Wed, Oct 8
4:00PM

BookCourt
163 Court St
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Thurs, Oct 9
6:00PM

New York Comic Con
Javits Center
655 W. 34th St
New York, NY 10001

Tues, Oct 14
7:00PM

Barnes & Noble
Stonebriar Center Mall
Frisco, TX 75034

Thurs, Oct 16
7:00PM

Blue Willow Bookshop
14532 Memorial Dr.
Houston, TX 77079

Sat, Oct 18
12:25PM – panel event
2:15PM – solo talk

Austin Teen Book Festival
St. Edward’s University
3001 S. Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78704

Mon, Oct 20
7:00PM

Changing Hands
6428 So. McClintock
Tempe, AZ 85283

Tues, Oct 21
7:00PM

Hicklebee’s
1378 Lincoln Ave
San Jose, CA 95129

Wed, October 22, 2014
7:00PM

Books Inc. Opera Plaza
601 Van Ness St
San Francisco, CA 94102
This is a special ticketed event, where I’ll be giving loads of writing advice. Price includes a copy of the book. Fifteen percent of proceeds go to NaNoWriMo!

Sat, Oct 25
6:00PM

Boston Book Festival
1100 Massachusetts Ave
Boston, MA 02138

Nov 7 – 8
Time TK

YALL FEST
Charleston, SC

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17. Travel journal pages

Do you like traveling as much as I do? 
I am a lucky girl because I get to travel every so often now for Sketchbook Skool. I have been recording new video lessons for the third kourse of Sketchbook Skool! A bit tiring, and when you travel for work, you get to see less of course, but still: such adventures! Paris is so close to Amsterdam, I am asking myself why I haven't visited for almost 15 years. The fast speed train takes you to the heart of the city in just 3 hours time. And I was quite amazed about my French - it wasn't too bad, or well, I could make a little bit of conversation and could understand quite a bit.


Even though the schedule for the two days we had planned in Paris were very full, I managed to draw a little.

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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18. Uglies Exclusive Edition/Gen Con

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:

uglies_B&N_exclusive

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
5PM
Writer’s Craft: Creating Story Arcs
Room 243

6PM
The Art of Leviathan
Room 243

Friday, August 15
11AM
Signing
Dealers’ room

4PM
Q&A with me
Room 244

5PM
Business of Writing: Selling Your Stories
Room 243

Saturday, August 16
3PM
Signing
Dealers’ room

5PM
Pushing the YA Envelope
Room 243

6PM
Impact of Reader Gender on Your Writing
Room 243

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19. Lately Lily Travel-Centered Books from Micah Player

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.

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20. If You Were Me and Lived in … Portugal: An Introduction to Learning About Other Cultures | Dedicated Review

Discover the western European country of Portugal with award-winning author and former social studies teacher Carole P. Roman.

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21. Staycations in the Countryside- What’s On Your Radar?

by Sally Matheny
   
 
Whether you’re short on time or low on money, don’t abandon a family getaway just yet. Instead of a vacation, consider a staycation or two.  Staycations can be fun activities, such as a luau, planned for your own backyard.  However, staycations also include day trips.  Even if you live out in the countryside, you may be surprised by the slew of possibilities you discover within a two-hour drive from home sweet home.
     Besides the obvious museums and municipal pools, here’s a few ideas to consider when checking what’s on your staycation radar.
     Perhaps some family members would enjoy creating their own Visitor’s Guide for the area. Include photos, drawings, and descriptions of interesting areas.
     Obtain a map of your county and surrounding counties. Make a copy of the map for each family member. Ask them to highlight the places they’ve visited before. Circle new places they’d like to visit. Highlight a road route they’d like to try. Pleasant surprises may lie on the road less traveled! One time our family visited beautiful, twin waterfalls. The only way to get to them was to park in a neighborhood of homes and hike from there. No one would imagine that majestic falls were nestled behind these little homes.
     Research the history of your area. Your local librarian or town historian can help you locate sources. Have any famous people lived in or visited your town? Were any movies filmed nearby?
     Visit visual and performing arts guilds. Several of these offer classes for adults as well as children. Are there other local artisans open for tours?
     Perhaps a social media survey asking friends about their favorites in the area would reveal a new farmer’s market or roadside ice cream stand to try.
     Google search for free or inexpensive things to do within a two-hour drive of your hometown. You may be surprised! Search for new restaurants to try. Find a new picnic spot.
     What about those historical landmark signs you drive by every day? Find out what important historical events occurred in your area. Visit antique stores. Check out some of the smaller museums such as car and farm equipment museums. Not only will your children gain an education of the past but perhaps a greater appreciation for the conveniences of today.
     Are there aspiring photographers in your family? Travel around and look specifically for great photo opportunities. A mulched path between tall, lush green trees presented a gorgeous backdrop for one of my daughter’s wedding photos. The path emerged between a mammography office and an assisted living center.

    You don’t have to live near a big city in order to enjoy an entertaining staycation.  A little investigation will provide plenty of gratifying locations. Be creative! Taking time out to do something fun together is what counts.    

Other things to consider:
airports to watch planes
bus tour group
tea room
farms & gardens
historical sites, battlegrounds, & battleships
water activities
visit & view various animals
try a new sport
try a new creative art
try a new food
play a new game

So, what's on your radar?


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22. Between Two Worlds, by Katherine Kirkpatrick | Book Review

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.

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23. Hide and Go Seek — and other Things that Make me Scream

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…

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24. Indonesia, Etc.

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 [...]

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25. Death by Dessert, or How to Watch the World Cup On the Border

IMG_1339

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.

Gourmet Salad

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.

Cheese Course

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.

French dessert

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.

Gourmet dessert

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.

Ice Cream Rabbit

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!

 

 


4 Comments on Death by Dessert, or How to Watch the World Cup On the Border, last added: 8/8/2014
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