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1. My Worldcon Schedule

The Worldcon program was published today, and just from a quick glance I can already tell that I am going to be a) worn off my feet running from panel to panel, and b) overcome by agonizing choices between conflicting but equally awesome events.  I'm truly looking forward to this convention. My own excellent slate of panels is below.  In addition to these, I will be on hand at the Strange

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2. Where is our Graham Harman?

As I tried to make very clear in my post on Sunday, the small and contained argument that I'm advancing is not that serious and interesting writing about books is not happening online. Categorically, it is. I listed five blogs and bloggers in my original Guardian postThis Space, David Winters, 3:AM, Flowerville, Time's Flow Stemmed – and in my follow up blog, I listed several more – John Self, Berfrois, LARB and Dan Green. Very many more wonderful book-related spaces and places could be mentioned – The Quarterly Conversation and HTMLGiant both deserve a shout, as do Marooned Off Vesta, Infinite Patience and in lieu of a field guide. Without all this fine online work, the cultural landscape would be very much more bleak. Thank god for websites!

I'm really not sure how more clearly I can say this: I'm not saying interesting work is not going on; I'm not saying you can't find great writing about writing online; I'm simply pointing out the observable, and to me rather odd, fact that in very many other fields (all kinds of genre writing, political blogs, philosophy blogs, food writing etc, etc) a named individual of real skill has emerged from the blogosphere to change the debate in their respective fields. Richard Seymour fundamentally changed, and often set, the debate in his part of the Left. Graham Harman has changed the debate in Continental Philosophy regarding realism for good.

Or lets take the offline example of James Wood – via his 'criticism'/reviewing he has changed the conversation by banging on about e.g. Hysterical Realism or bringing our attention to Free Indirect Discourse. Sadly and strangely, nothing remotely like this has come out of the online conversation about books. Take also e.g. Blanchot's NRF monthly essays from back in the day – quietly and insistently his interventions changed the conversation, altered perceptions, re-routed thinking. The Blanchot example could perhaps be seen as being a little arcane, but I think it might be the best example. Blanchot's monthly essays – no requirement here whatsoever that the blogging should be daily or even weekly – slowly, via their form, percolated into the consciousness of literary France, and changed literary critical discourse for good.

Blogging has added more critical voices to the general clamour. Great. Good to have more voices, excellent to have more views. But neither in content or form has it substantively affected the wider book conversation. These days we just have lots more reviewers mimicking newspaper reviews. Plainly, noting this does not equate with suggesting in any way that blogging is dead, or that online writing is not a considerable cultural boon.

The question remains, however, why have no serious literary critics emerged, maintaining a blog, doing innovative work and gaining a following for that work and changing the wider conversation, as we have seen in plenty of other fields? Where are the lit-critical Jack Monroes, Graham Harmans, Paul Slaines, Richard Seymours, Ian Bogosts? I don't see them. And I regret the lack.

In the UK, one blogger, John Self, has become a talisman. John is a superb book reviewer. Everyone should read him. He writes straight up and down reviews in the broadsheet style, penetrating and amusing, incisive and witty, and he has rightly been embraced by the Guardian, and thousands of eager readers. He is a tremendously good writer. He is not, however, a literary critic, and his writing, on the blog, echoes the form and style of response we see every week in the newspapers. That is not a value judgment, it is a fact. And it echoes another fact: no literary critic has yet emerged from the blogosphere; no writer has yet emerged from the large and informed online writing community and changed the wider conversation about writing on writing.

You may well think that the world doesn't need literary critics. Fine response! You may well think that book reviewing suffices. It's an entirely valid point. You may well want to ignore my actual argument and tell me that great writing is happening online here, there and somewhere else. And, as I've stressed, I can only agree that it absolutely is. Wikipedia tells me the "term 'weblog' was coined by Jorn Barger on 17 December 1997." So blogging has been around for a long time. And blogging is just part of the wider online writing revolution, the vibrancy, breadth and depth of which can only be applauded; it astounds and amazes. But in very many other fields, writers have emerged from online and changed their respective fields for good. Particularly noteworthy, as I've said, is the rise and rise of speculative realism which has fundamentally changed the debate raging in modern European Philosophy and is setting the agenda for exciting work ahead. It's a wonder to behold. Has this happened in the field of literary criticism? No, it has not.

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3. Writing in a Digital Age

I was honoured to be invited to speak at The Literacy Consultancy's Writing in a Digital Age conference yesterday. (A particular personal pleasure because I got to see Lynne Hatwell and Sam Leith again, and it had been far too long in both cases.) Huge thanks to the organisers for inviting me. Seemed to be a very vibrant and well run affair, and I enjoyed the discussion immensely.

The conference was the occasion for writing this piece (What became of literary blogging?) for the Guardian last Monday. It was the subs at the Guardian who framed the piece thus: I hoped that blogs could provide an outlet for the serious criticism missing from the mainstream media. I didn't reckon on Twitter but it doesn't give a terrible sense of my thinking.

Principally, I wanted to make the observation that whilst the book blogosphere had thrown up some fine writers (those I mention at the foot of the piece, but several others could be cited - and, indeed, the comments thread, whilst occasionally inane and dyspeptic as per Guardian comments threads, throws up some fine examples) it had not thrown many good literary critics. This is simply a fact.

Blogging has been around a good decade now, and the online writing revolution has touched every sort of genre and created well-known writers of many stripes. We've had the rise of fan-fiction (E.L. James), paranormal fiction (Amanda Hocking), women's fiction (Anna Bell) and erotica (James, and H.M. Ward); we've had food writers (Jack Monroe), political blogs (from Paul Slaine / Guido Fawkes to Richard Seymour / Lenin's Tomb) and philosophers (the rise of and rise of speculative realism and all its countless blogs and forums) all hugely affecting their respective fields; we've had wonderful book bloggers (like John Self) arrive on the scene and add sparkle and insight to the book review pages of the MSM; and we've had exciting Multi-Author Blogs (like 3:AM, Berfrois, LARB) arriving to show how broad-based, intelligent and informative online writing can be. All this shows the wonderful diversity and energy of online writing. Most all examples are to be welcomed. But despite the fine work of a few (and I should mention Dan Green here because Dan has worked hard over the years to use blogging as a means to write seriously about books and literature) good literary critical writers have not turned up in droves. I wish I was wrong about this. But it's a fact.

I'm deliberately not defining literary criticism above because by not defining it I'm hoping to keep the category as wide open as possible; I'm not being proscriptive here: if you think it's literary criticism, that's good enough for me. I think most would agree that book reviewing and literary criticism are very different (even if they can be on a continuum). And we all know the difference between a Guardian review and an essay in the LRB and a book by Gérard Genette. Many fine book reviewers have emerged from the blogosphere, but I don't think we can hide from the fact that no serious literary critics have emerged, maintaining a blog, doing innovative work and gaining a following for that work as we have seen in plenty of other fields.



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4. NY Artist lunch…. and so much more

Time seems to be just running away this long awaited spring! Part of the race for CATugeau Agency was run in NYC recently…the first visitation trip Christy and I have done together.  Thank you to the wonderfully welcoming editors and AD’s at Penguin Group’s Grosset & Dunlap, Dial and Viking for letting us practice on you! :) I think Christy thinks this is all FUN! and I think I agree.

We started with a very special, fun lunch at Westville Hudson with our four NYC artists. They surprised Christy with a silver pin with two cats sitting together! So perfect and she wore it all day! Thank you CAT gals…

NYC artist partyleft to right: Melissa Iwai, Lisa Fields, Christy Tugeau Ewers (coral sweater), Chris Tugeau (me!), Heather Maione, Nina Mata

The next day we started BEA at the early Children’s Breakfast…always special and inspirational. Then we ‘walked the halls’ seeing publishing people from out of town, and literally bumping into others from ‘town.’  Always fun.  We loved seeing so many great children’s books displayed (though I might have picked up a couple of ‘advance’ adult books too!) We passed out lots of our BEA BOOK BRAG SHEET too.  Here it is for you to peruse as well. We’re very proud! Hope you’ll check them out at your local bookstore.

BEA

So now the follow-ups are done, and we’re settling back into the ‘day to day.’ Oh I almost forgot - Christy and 6 other of our artists have a new email Blast about ready for June’s “Adopt a CAT Month!” How perfect is that?  come back soon to see that one…. and of course, we wish all a HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!                    image by Michelle Hazelwood

fathers day

 

 


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5. Sorrow is nothing but worn out joy

"Sorrow is nothing but worn out joy..."

Nice review of one of my favourite films here:

"Old Joy is a movie where nothing and everything happens. It is perfectly paced, wonderfully acted and incredibly shot. The score by Yo La Tengo is also extraordinary and it helps the movie feel so sacred..."

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6. On and Off Topic

I was delighted to learn that a book I read and very much enjoyed earlier this year, Braiding Sweetgrass, has won the Sigurd Olson nature writing award. I was so pleased to learn this and even more pleased to learn that a local press, Milkweed, had published the book. Why I didn’t pay attention to this fact when I was reading it I can’t say, but there it is. Another two Milkweed published books are on the PEN Literary Awards longlist. So exciting!

Now, off topic. Bookman and I have been watching the new TV version of the 1996 film Fargo. The TV version is even more twisted than the movie and stars Billy Bob Thornton and Martin Freeman. The TV show takes place mostly in Bemidji, a city in northern Minnesota not far from the the headwaters of the Mississippi River. I’ve never been there but I’d like to go sometime because in a few steps you can walk across the Mississippi and they have a thing for Paul Bunyan and his blue ox up there. I have had a fondness for Paul Bunyan and Babe ever since I was a kid and my family went camping up in far northern California and stopped at Trees of Mystery. There they have a giant statue of Paul and Babe and Paul used to talk (there was someone inside talking through a microphone to the people down below). We did not know Paul talked and as we stood waiting for my Dad to get the park entry tickets Paul starting talking to my mom and darn near scared the pants off her.

Now I’m getting off my off topic!

Back to the Fargo TV show. When the movie came out in 1996 I had only lived in Minnesota for two years. I thought the movie was hilarious, especially the way they talked, because I knew people who talked like that. I couldn’t understand why Minnesotans didn’t think it was very funny. Now, as of July 1, 2014, I will have lived in Minnesota for 20 years. Watching Fargo I often find it difficult to hear any sort of accent. Sure, I can hear it sometimes, we don’t generally say things like “fella” in the Twin Cities and our “o’s” aren’t so elongated. But half the time when I am watching I find myself thinking, gosh, they don’t sound funny like they did in the movie. And then I think, oh no, I probably sound just like them! Ask my mom in California and she will tell you that I do, that I have sounded like that for quite some time now. To me though, I sound just like I always have.


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7. REPETITIONS….an ‘I’ve noticed’ comment….

 

Last month I was visiting a son’s family in Cleveland OH and we visited our favorite place there The Cleveland Museum of Art. Even the 3 young grandkids love this fabulous building and their interactive kids room!  just for grandma’s too!  The show we went to see was Van Gogh “Repetitions.”  (it’s on till May 26th if you can get there)

I got thinking about how we learn from practice as I gazed at this versions and variations on one of his own compositions and subjects.  We see differently and deeper as we experience a thing, person or place repeatedly.  Studying the differences and similarities between several of his repeated works gives us a new window into the mind and eye of this ‘well known’ artist.

On returning home to Williamsburg I was lucky enough to catch the last day of a small Caravaggio show at our own Muscarelle Museum of Art here on the campus of Wm and Mary.  Caravaggio has always blown my mind’s eye anyway with his beyond realistic talents, but this too presented a repetition study of two similar paintings that might have been both by the artist himself…or not. Two unsigned versions of ‘Saint Francis in Meditation’.  The viewer, after following the studies and exercises they presented, was to come to their own conclusion!  The show also spotlighted the very fine and famous Caravaggio ‘The Capitoline Fortune Teller’ which was a true treat.

I couldn’t help but to notice the message I was to share with my artists and all of you readers! REPETITION = an intentional practice to learn and expand the opportunity to deeply know a subject.  Illustrators of course conceive, sketch and revise then paint and maybe revise again on a regular basis.  We forget perhaps that famous artists walked this same path over and over that we all walk. Dive in! Deeper! and again!  Get to REALLY know your subjects to bring them more fully to the world to view!

my artist son Jeremy Tugeau and grandkids at the Cleveland Museum of Art new atrium…

Cleveland Museum of ART!


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8. One day last summer...




One day last summer, a visitor came. Greedily devouring my bookshelves with their eyes, finally they landed on the only place appropriate...

(Nabokov fans feel free to reproduce these photographs, but please credit ReadySteadyBook. Thanks.)

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9. Terence Davies' Of Time and the City


Of Time and the City is a 2008 documentary collage film directed by Terence Davies. The film has Davies recalling his life growing up in Liverpool in the 1950s and 1960s, using newsreel and documentary footage supplemented by his own commentary voiceover and contemporaneous and classical music soundtracks. The film premiered at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival where it received rave reviews... (wikipedia)

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10. 7 Things You Don't Know About Me

Many thanks to everyone who participated in this month's blog series at readergirlz! I had a lot of fun gathering candid and heartfelt responses from authors. Lorie Ann asked me to post my own list, so here goes nothing:

7 Things You Don't Know About Me

1) I've been writing stories and songs since birth, practically.

2) I am capable of charming squirrels out of trees.

3) There is no television show I have loved more completely from start to finish than Leverage.

4) I love word play.

5) Synchronicity and causality are recurring themes in my life.

6) Chances are, I'm shorter than you.

7) I project. In more ways than one.

So there you have it! I hope March has been lovely for all of you. Don't forget to mark your calendars for Operation Teen Book Drop 2014, which will be happening in just a few weeks on April 17th. Stay tuned to the readergirlz blog, Facebook, and Twitter to learn how you can participate and #rockthedrop!


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11. Reflections on 8 Years of Blogging

JRBPlogo-smallToday marks the 8 year anniversary of the day that I started my blog. Here's what I said in my very first post:

"Hi! I'm Jen Robinson. Here are three things that you should know about me.

  1. I love stories, especially in book form, and most especially mysteries, thrillers, and children's books. To that end, I would like to offer support to the people who produce stories (writers and publishes), and offer ideas to the people who love stories.
  2. I strongly believe that all children should be given the opportunity to learn to love books and reading for pleasure. I'll be on the lookout for suggestions for parents to help raise children who read, inspirational success stories, and literacy news and resources.
  3. I think that many adults could benefit from reading children's books, too. I think that if more adults read children's books they would a) find them enjoyable, b) help to support the children's book industry (thus bolstering item 1 above), and c) offer tremendous validation to children (thus supporting item 2 above).

I'm saddened by the declining rate of reading for pleasure in the our adult population in the U.S. I'm even more saddened when I hear of children growing up illiterate, or literate, but too busy to take time to read. I've started this blog as a tiny step to do something about that. Thanks for reading! More to follow..."

And more has followed. This is post #2697 at Jen Robinson's Book Page. Typepad says that I have >800,000 page views and >10,000 comments (including my own responses to other people's comments). I now have my own snazzy logo, designed by the talented Sarah Stevenson.

Cybils2013SmallI'm involved with the Cybils, Kidlitosphere Central, KidLitCon, and the Children's Book Review Wiki. I've participated in dozens of Carnivals of Children's Literature. Pretty good, for someone who's not much of a joiner. I've participated in these things because in the Kidlitosphere, I've found my people, and I love interacting with them. The community of children's and young adult book bloggers has become something of an extended family for me, and this makes me very happy. 

I'm still reviewing children's and young adult books, and sharing literacy news and tips. In many ways, my blog hasn't changed much over the years. I think the two biggest changes are:

  1. LiteracyMilestoneANow that I have a child, my literacy tips and musings, as well as some of my reviews, include a more personal component. I've been sharing my daughter's literacy milestone, for example, and the books that she loves (even when I don't love them myself). This may make the blog a bit less "professional" (if it ever was), but I think it adds something, too. 
  2. When I run across blog posts or news articles about literacy, I no longer post about them directly on my blog. These days I share those things out on Twitter (and, to a lesser extent, Facebook) right away. Then I round up the links once a week in a single blog post, without any commentary. I'm not sure whether this is a good change. I don't discuss these stories as much as I would like these days. On the other hand, I'm able to share more of them, and with a broader audience. So there are pros and cons. But really, it doesn't matter whether it's good or not, because this is what I can manage right now. And if there's one thing I've learned in 8 years of blogging, it's that you have to do what you can, and not let the things that you can't do stress you out. 

As I said in my first post, I am a person who loves books, and who believes strongly that kids should have the chance to love them, too. But I'm also a person who chose to go into engineering and start a software firm (from which I make my living). Even though I chose a different career path, this blog allows me to do something constructive with my love for books and literacy. For that, I am very grateful. And I expect that I'll be here blogging for a long time. Whether you've been with me for the whole 8 years, or are just popping in today for the first time, or anywhere in between, thanks so much for reading. 

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate. 

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12. Happy Thanksgiving!

When I got into bed last night, perched my glasses on my nose and opened my book I exclaimed, “I forgot to blog today!” This has never happened to me before, forgetting to blog. It has always been a conscious decision when I don’t. But between being distracted by the arrival of the thing I had to pre-order and it feeling like a Friday because today is Thanksgiving, well, my brain just got all confused.

Bookman and I will be celebrating Thanksgiving today with phone calls to family who are all far away and with our own “traditional” feast. Ever since Bookman and I went vegan back in 1993 we’ve had enchiladas with a side of brown rice and refried beans. It wasn’t even until a few years ago that I had tasted Tofurkey, and yuck, was it terrible, too salty and bland for my taste.

While we don’t have a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner, we do have pumpkin pie. I love pumpkin pie. That humble orange squash baked into a graham cracker crust, sweetened with agave, and spiced with cloves, nutmeg, allspice and cinnamon, definitely something to be thankful for. Even better is the pumpkin was grown in my own garden.

That I have a house with a garden where I can grow my own pumpkin is a blessing for which I am grateful. The older I get the more I realize that it is the small and simple things in life for which I am most thankful. It’s a roof over my head, food on the table, a garden, a husband who loves me, family, friends, a good book, a cat on my lap. This is what happiness is made of and it is right and good to dedicate a day to being thankful and celebrating these things.

My thanks and best wishes to all of you, whether you are celebrating Thanksgiving today or not.

“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.” ~Meister Eckhart


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13. COMMON CORE COMMON SENSE

I’ve enjoyed all the talk and articles lately about the adoption of the Current Educational Common Core with its emphasis on critical thinking and non-fiction facts by using trade books in our school classrooms.  I thought that was what good teachers were doing all along? and parents too.  It’s common sense.  We are trying to educate kids to the world around them….history and human interaction so they can understand people better as they grow.  Information about other lands so their eyes will be open to not only the differences but the ‘sameness’ of kids and adults, and animals all over our small earth. Good story telling has always been the draw with fiction and non fiction.  Learning comes in between the lines, if you will.

The advantage of this being ‘official’ now is that publishers are searching their backlists and bringing back good non-fiction as well as fiction, and grabbing up informational but fun new stories. And of course my agency artists are thrilled to have such a need for story telling pictures for these books…for all ages. Picture books are often a child’s first introduction to people and life outside their own family and neighborhood. They have always been vital to early learning, mental growth, thinking skills and maturity.  Ever more so today in preparation for school and during the so important early school years.

What IS new is that Publishers and marketing departments are writing up guidelines that will help teachers use these books they might not have recognized as appropriate for the standards set by this Common Core. Several publishers have new sites where teachers and parents can keep knowledgeable about books on” technology, writing, math, and early literacy” (PW).  Some books have had ‘back of book’ questions added to encourage the conversations that lead to exploration and learning.  Several houses have launched new lines of books based on the Core Concepts.

Some examples of current books from our agency that are perfect for this Core are: Nicole Tadgell illustrated “FRIENDS FOR FREEDOM: The Story of Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass” (Susanne Slade from Charlesbridge Fall 14).  KarBen Lerner will bring “Goldie Takes a Stand” about Goulda Meir, illustrated by Kelsey Garrity Riley also Fall 14.  Patrice Barton illustrated “I Pledge Allegiance” by Pat Mora and Elizabeth Martinez for Knopf/Random.(14), and Larry Day’s illustrations for “Voices From Oregon Trail” from Dial and Kay Winters, tell the story! (summer 14) But even the newly launched “Isabelle and Isabella’s Little Book of Rules” from Little Simon and illustrated by our Priscilla Burris is a lovely, observant, non fiction from the mouths of the very children we’re trying to start the conversation with!  Pick these up and see! Use your common sense and enjoy the Common Core!             

SF_causes TADGELLpledge in courthouse BARTONfrom “Pledge”

from “Friends for Freedom”


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14. Teaching and learning….

This past weekend I had the privilege of being on the faculty for the Mid Atlantic SCBWI Fall conference and Intensive. What a wonderful time of teaching, sharing and as always, learning.  A most creative time for all.  And boy did they treat us well!  Wonderful time.

My Friday afternoon title was DOWN AND DIRTY: The basics and beyond.  Hopefully we hit on lots of the topics artists, new and older in this industry, wonder about.  I shared words from the buyers mouths… many fortunately are very good about sharing.  Over all I’d say buyers (AD, editors, designers who assign) want PROFESSIONALS (ask questions, honest, team players, meet deadlines), consistent style, great characters, samples sent on big POST cards so they can KEEP them on walls and attach to ms as they think about ways to go with the art etc.  (some hints for all!)

Then I did a fast “first look” for all those participating artists who dared!  It’s a great tool to see and understand how a buyer might VIEW your art given the “10 second rule.” Truly, those of us who see SO much art for the industry can determine if we can use your style in generally 10 seconds.  We’ll want to see more or move on.  I tried to share some of the intuitive thoughts that go through our head when we view art…instantaneously.  I was kind, but honest.  OH course you can tell given this ‘rule’ that you need to show ONLY your very very best art, and a sample that shows a lot of what you are capable of for THIS industry’s needs.

Sat. was the more general conference and other than some portfolio reviews, I was on a AGENTS PANEL with three other reps, all more Lit Agents. (Brooks Sherman from FinePrint, John Cusick, Greenhouse Lit, and Susan Hawk from Bent Agency ) We have different hooks but look for very much the same sort of unique talent and ‘voice’… this and talking during the weekend was my learning point.  Love that.  Frances Gilbert from Doubleday/Random was a speaker and on the Editors Panel too.  Loved seeing her as we hope to be working on a two book project very soon together. (with one of our CAT artists obviously…more on that) . We might look a little fuzzy…that happens at these conferences! lol

Frances Gilbert and me

I got to chat a bit with Annie Stone from Harlequin Teen, Emillia Zamani from Scholastic, and Melissa Miller from Katherine Tegan (HC) Books as well.  I also enjoyed the author speakers, Keynote Cynthia Lord and Mary Quattlebaum… and other talents attending.

me and authorshere I am with Joan Waites, Mary and Cynthia  quite the two day adventure! Thank you Mid Atlantic…lovely time and region!!!

By husband had driven me to Sterling for this and then nicely ‘low profiled’ it so I could work and visit. He rode the bike trail both days along the Potomac River from DC to Alexandria and south to Mt. Vernon…in wind and cool temps!  On our way home we visited both George Washington’s birth place at Pope’s Creek (his mothers maiden name) and then Robert E. Lee’s family estate just down river… the Big House and Gris Mill and more.  Both are on the Potomac and so very peaceful and special to just walk around. Do visit if you are in area (Northern Neck of VA south of DC)  Enjoy some peace…..

Pope's Creek Washington's birthplacethis is one garden and view of Washington’s home…he lived there only till 3 or so, but lovely place. these barns and horses and oxen (back) were part of the extended grounds there too.

barns at Lee's

the big house LEES     Lee's gris mill

this first is the BIG HOUSE at the Lee estate…3 generations of outstanding VA family…and the Gris Mill down closer to the beach area.   ALL in all quite the weekend of adventures…both educational and teaching moments…both I love and cherish.

 


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15. Why Children’s Books Matter….

While in NYC recently I made a point to visit between the Lions = the New York Public Library on Fifth Ave. to see the new wonderful show THE ABC of IT: Why Children’s Books Matter, curated by Leonard S. Marcus.  DO GO! It’ll run till March 23, 2014.

library ABC

abc of it

Traveling around and through the various clever labyrinths of experiences in books is truly a journey back to your childhood.  I felt in awe to be honest.  I think we do form true bonds to our favorite stories and illustrations as children ourselves, and several of those bonds were there for me … in the original!

alice

oz

I loved the visual look into how children’s books impacted our culture through the ages as well.  Many stories have become and “inspired films, plays and fashions.”  The reminder of this is itself inspiring.  We see this more and more today I think.  Story telling has always been so very important in society, and maybe never more today when they come at us in so many forms.  Children learn who they and we are through these stories. A journey back and forward, like Alice Big and Small, is a kick of a trip.  ENJOY!

goodnight moon  Carle color

monster hole

 

 


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16. Mondriowl Close-up

Close up of my "Mondriowl" painting. Acrylic on canvas.

5 Comments on Mondriowl Close-up, last added: 9/12/2013
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17. Why I've been (relatively) quiet this year

         




I just posted an update on my personal blog. I hope to get back to blogging about books and publishing again soon!

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18. CAT artists wish you a very happy and memorable day!

Memoral Day blast jpg


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19. I’m sending a little lovin’ your way!

Valentines Day (3)blast


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20. Blog30 Questionnaire

I just found Blog30. I liked their questionnaire and thought I'd share my own answers:

Where do you look for inspiration?

Life. Truth. Music. Stories. Nature. People.

What's your favorite book?

I have favorite books in different categories. My favorite books include, but are not limited to:

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (fantasy classic)
The NeverEnding Story by Michael Ende (fantasy)
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (modern classic)
Body Bags by Christopher Golden (contemporary thriller)
The Boys are Back in Town by Christopher Golden (contemporary horror)
The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (mystery)

What's your favorite movie?

As with books (and anything else you can categories), I have favorite movies in different categories. For example:

Favorite musical picture: Singin' in the Rain
Favorite film noir: The Strange Love of Martha Ivers
Favorite Hitchcock film: North by Northwest
Favorite screwball comedy: Bringing Up Baby
Favorite Barbara Stanwyck comedy: Ball of Fire
Favorite John Hughes film: Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Favorite Cary Grant/Irene Dunne performance: My Favorite Wife
Favorite Jack Lemmon/Walter Matthau movie: The Odd Couple
Favorite book-to-miniseries adaptation: Anne of Green Gables, 1986 version starring Megan Follows
Favorite Disney animated musical: The Little Mermaid

Again, give me a genre, theme, time period, director, writer, or actor, and I'll tell you my favorite film for that topic or person.

What's your favorite line from a play?

I just realized I don't have any lines from plays listed on my page of favorite quotes. I'm going to have to think on this and get back to you.

What play or production changed your life?

Since I've been on the acting/performing/writing/creating path since birth, I don't know that any play has changed my life, but many have touched me - either the script or the storyline really spoke to me, or the experience I had performing them. This includes but is not limited to Spring Awakening, The Polar Express, and the first school play I ever did. I'm also a writer - screenwriter, playwright, (hopeful) novelist, and poet, so I've performed original works, and had works published, and all of those experiences mean a great deal to me.

Is there anything you still dream of doing?

Everything I haven't done yet, but will: Have a great career, working regularly in television (including work as a series regular), film, and theatre (both musicals and straight plays) as an actress, writer, and director, creating and sharing roles and shows and songs that make me happy and inspire others.

I feel most like myself when I... am performing, singing or acting - or discussing something I'm really passionate about, or retelling the story of something I've experienced.

What is your best escape?

Performing. Writing. Reading. Watching films and TV.

What's the one thing nobody knows about you?

If I told you, then someone would know.

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21. Conflict: Inner, Personal, and Universal

by Deren Hansen

In a discussion about narrative conflict, someone suggested that there are only three kinds of conflict: inner, personal, and universal, where personal is conflict between persons and universal is conflict with forces larger than your social circle.

As I played with the idea, I hit upon the exercise of characterizing the kinds of stories you get when the protagonist and antagonist come into conflict in terms of the nine combinations of the inner, personal, and universal dimensions.

In the following table, read from the protagonist's row to the antagonist's column. For example, if the protagonist's concerns are primarily internal and the antagonists are personal, you have a coming-of-age story or a story about establishing one's place and identity.



Antagonist

InnerPersonalUniversal
P
r
o
t
a
g
o
n
i
s
t
InnerPsychologicalComing-of-age; Establishing one's place and identityThe socio-path or super man
PersonalIntervention and healingRomance, mystery, thriller, speculative fiction, etc. (i.e., Most kinds of narrative conflict)Rebels and underdogs
UniversalFatalist and extremistsOrder vs. chaos (anti-rebellion)Epic and political struggles

What I found most interesting about this exercise is that the primary locus of conflict in most stories falls in the center square (personal vs. personal). Many other stories fall on the diagonal (inner vs. inner or universal vs. universal). Asymmetric stories (e.g., personal vs. universal), are rarer.

I suspect this is because as social animals inter-personal conflict is the easiest to understand. Even if your story depends on another kind of conflict, your narrative will generally be most effective if you can put a face on the enemy for your readers. Your band of freedom fighters may be up against an empire, but your readers will identify with the dark lord who makes finding them his personal quest than with the legions of faceless soldiers he deploys. Similarly, readers will find a psychological struggle more accessible if there are other actors who symbolize the inner conflict.

It's also interesting to consider where different genres cluster in the matrix. For example, romance and mystery generally land in the upper left quadrant while speculative fiction and thrillers land in the lower right (with all, of course, overlapping in the middle).

Stories, clearly, aren't limited to one kind of conflict, so this analysis is only useful when we're considering the primary mode of conflict. Still, the moral of this story is that conflict is best when it's personal.

Deren Hansen is the author of the Dunlith Hill Writers Guides. Learn more at dunlithhill.com.

0 Comments on Conflict: Inner, Personal, and Universal as of 3/13/2013 9:30:00 AM
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22. a BIG HONOR!!!

we’ve shared with you before one of our artists Priscilla Burris’s wonderful truly heart felt young characters and their special worlds.  Well one of them Heidi Heckelbeck is a most popular little girl as it turns out!

Heidi won 1st place for fiction series at the New York Book Show!!!
They announced it last night at the event. Exciting!  WAY TUGEAU (ooops To Go!) Little Simon and Priscilla!  wow and wow!

HH3 (3)BURRIS


3 Comments on a BIG HONOR!!!, last added: 4/19/2013
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23. Rock the Rock Webdesign

Need a website that's both functional and fun? In addition to my work as a freelance blogger, I am also a freelance webdesigner.

Visit Rock the Rock for examples of my work and a list of my clients.

If you would like me to create, design, redesign, update, and/or maintain your website, email me or leave a comment below!

     

     

To see the larger versions of these designs and other sites, please visit Rock the Rock.

If you need a domain and/or website hosting, I strongly recommend Your-Site.com I've been using their web and domain services since 2000. Hosting costs only $5 a month ($60 a year) with the plan I use, and a domain is only $20 a year. If you sign up for Your-Site, please tell them that Little Willow of http://www.slayground.net referred you. I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you very much!

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24. Spring BRAIN FOG?

Stay doubt - Burris
It’s spring! Time of renewal and creativity everywhere. Then WHY am I in a ‘brain fog?
Well there are lots of reasons probably…from lack of sleep (!?), to allergies, to ‘it’s still cold in VA!’ to …who knows! I just read a fun newsletter piece about just this from Simone Kaplan… check her out at simone@picturebookpeople.com . Loved her honesty in admitting she has ‘brain fog’ too, so here I am joining her honesty.

And it’s good to admit it when it hits. Use it! Take a break and step back from your projects…writing, illustrating, personal, whatever! If you are having trouble being clear, focused, concise and creatively fresh, don’t try so hard! Step away from the project if possible…maybe for a few weeks or more, and take a new look later. We only want to send out OUR BEST always. You only get one chance to make a good first impression. You can also ruin a good reputation by passing on unfinished or inferior work. Sometimes a deadline requires a ‘finish’…then you have to gut it out. But a step back of a few hours…take a walk, work out in gym or garden… might make all the difference in clearing the brain fog and letting the creativity break through! When are we and our work ‘finished?’ Well probably when the book is published! or the conference talk given! or time has run OUT! But we hope to feel that it’s THE BEST we can do with the situation… the plot is tight, the characters are real and credible and YOURS ALONE, and you’ve added something evocative and provocative to the world. Big order…not really. It’s just breaking through ‘the fog’ and seeing the day and its unique promise! enjoy the possibilities!…..

Image from Priscilla Burris who keeps clear always!


1 Comments on Spring BRAIN FOG?, last added: 5/7/2013
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25. Career Day question!

career day 1

Last Friday I had the opportunity to do a CAREER DAY talk…well 6, 15 min talks… to 6 groups of about 25 first and second graders at one of my grandson’s schools here in Williamsburg VA(Matoaka Elementary). (that’s my Coady with dark hair in left corner.) It was a hoot to do, and I was so impressed with how interested they were!  Could they, at this tender age, be interested in the difference between a ‘job’ and a ‘career?’  and my industry particularly? They seemed to get it!  wow….

One question has haunted me since.  A cute little 2nd grader asked me just at the end “why do we have to have books?”    GULP

Now in the minute I had left to answer that on going industry question, I couldn’t even ask what she meant by that. Was she asking why Books rather than iPad’s etc? or why we have to make, distribute and sell Books of any kind…and why do they ‘have’ to read them?  I had to answer fast as the exit bell rang…. and jumped in with - ”both books and electronics are equally as viable and wonderful and fun! But do you prefer to cuddle up in bed with your iPad? or a book?”  the class yelled out “BOOKS!”

I don’t know if I assumed her question correctly, thus the ‘haunting’.  What a question!  I suspect we might have a future editor or maybe techie there!  Now you think on that question too…. love to hear what you might have answered in a quick half a minute. ;)

And now as to OUR “Career Days” at BEA… I’m missing it this year due to conflicts but I’ll be watching, reading and listening to any and all coming out about that weekend.  If YOU are there, please write my email (Chris@catugeau.com) and share!  I’ll write about it….


3 Comments on Career Day question!, last added: 5/20/2013
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