20 Serial Killers?

Unh… 20 Killer Series?

It’s satisfying to have a stand-alone book. When you are writing it, that’s the story, and when you’re done you’re done. You can go onto something else without a qualm of conscience.

But series are something else again. They don’t let you go. With the first book, they open the door just a crack. But when you come inside, you realise that there are more doors waiting for you, and it’s irresistible, you can’t NOT open them to see what happens next.

My first series was inadvertent – a 250,000-word novel was picked up by a publisher who demanded that it be split into two more manageable volumes. That became “The Hidden Queen” and “Changer of Days”.

After that, I wrote what was essentially two stand-alone novels which were set in the same world, but 400 years apart – “Secrets of Jin-shei” and “Embers of Heaven”.

And then I stepped into the series world.

The Worldweavers books were born in the aftermath of the Harry Potter mania, and happened when I heard Jane Yolen say that she wasn’t at all sure that she liked the way the Potter books treated girls. And I was off and running with Thea Winthrop and her adventures. That series was a trilogy for the longest time and then I wrote the fourth and final book in the Worldweavers canon. “Dawn of Magic” was published in 2015.

My latest series, also YA, is The Were Chronicles – “Random”, “Wolf”, “Shifter”. The genesis of these books was an anthology about the Were creatures for which I sat down to try and write a story… and discovered that my idea was far too big to fit into a short story mold. It wanted to be a novel. And then it wanted to be THREE novels. And it is possible that the ramifications of those three novels may mean that it eventually becomes SIX novels.

Series. They never let you go.

The Book Depository has come up with their list ofTop 20 SeriesIt rounds up the usual suspects: Lord of the Rings, Narnia, Harry Potter…

What would you add, or subtract, from their list?

Best series ever? HERE

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Wolf Cover

 

WOLF, Book 2 in The Were Chronicles, is now available as an ebook on Amazon.

Other online vendors to follow.

 

 

 

Buy it at Amazon HERE

 

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My first book – the very very first book I sold – was a collection of new-minted fairy tales which were a cross between Hans Christian Andersen and Oscar Wilde. The three stories eventually became “The Dolphin’s Daughter”, a book that went into NINE PRINTINGS and still gave me a trickle of royalties more than ten years after it was first published, which speaks volumes about the power of the fairy tale. So I do have a vested interest in the area.

At io9, Charlie Jane Anders offers
10 Books That Will Change How You Think About Fairy Tales

Fairy tales are everywhere these days, she says. They rival superheroes at the movies and TV, and novelists rush to create their own darker, more relevant versions. But how well do you really know fairy tales? Do you know this one?

e.g.
Not One Damsel in Distress: World Folktales for Strong Girls by Jane Yolen
Jane YolenThe prolific Jane Yolen has been called America’s Hans Christian Andersen, and with this book she hunts down great folktales from around the world and presents them for young readers.

Read the whole story HERE

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25 Genre Novels That Should be Classics

At Flavor Wire, Emily Temple notes that there’s a stigma that keeps worthy works of genre fiction (mostly SF/fantasy, with a little historical, mystery and crime thrown in) from reaching classic status: being taught in high schools, appearing on all-time best-book lists, etc.

Some genre novels have already crossed the border into pure classic territory — Brave New World, Slaughterhouse-Five and 1984, for example. Here are 25 genre novels that should be considered classics.

e.g.
Solaris, Stanislaw Lem

Solaris

 

Lem’s weird, surrealist space novel is a classic of sorts for those in the know, but epidemically under-read.

The book vacillates between beautifully ruminative and action-packed exciting, as the inhabitants of a space station deal with the clones of their loved ones that the sentient planet they’re on continually sends their way. Also, best depiction of an alien sea that has ever been committed to print.

 

 

Read the whole story HERE

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THIS n THAT

Uhtceare: An Old English word meaning ‘lying awake before dawn and worrying.’

9 other Old English Words You Need to Be Using

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Literacy Falling From The Sky In Brazil!

In a part of the world where most adults don’t have books, it’s highly unlikely the kids will as well. Enter the “Stories In The Sky Project”. Brazilian writers donated stories and the stories were than printed on kites and handed out to kids. They would fly the kites and at some point, would cut the string and let the story kites fall to the ground where other kids could pick them up and enjoy the stories. Then those kids would start the process over again. What a brilliant way to give kids the opportunity to read!

See video HERE

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Quote of the DayQUOTE Nietzche~~~~~
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What inspires?

Travel by Book

Several books and movies have sparked my wish to travel.

Pearl BuckIn books, it was Pearl Buck’s stories of China, “Out of Africa” by Isak Dinesen, and Walter Scott’s Scottish tales.

I have been to Africa and Scotland; China, not yet. Of course, I’ve never found the road to Narnia, although I always feel the urge to explore the backs of wardrobes in the hope that someday …

With movies, it’s been “Best Little Marigold Hotel”, “Ghost and the Darkness”, “Gigi”,  “Breakfast at Tiffanys”… (I never read the last as a book it was the movie that nailed it down for me) .And any movie set in London, my favorite city.

Morse in Oxford

 

When it comes to TV, I want to go again to Morse’s Oxford.

AFAR magazine has their own ideas, Derek Richardson writes, and offers several more films and books that inspire the urge to travel.

 

AFAR’s FILMS that inspire travel HERE

17 BOOKS that inspire travel HERE

And for good measure, songs, including “I’ve Been Everywhere” by Johnny Cash

Songs to travel by HERE

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The Were Chronicles continue

Read an excerpt from Book 2, WOLF, Mal’s story, Wolf posterRead it HERE

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Literary Adventures for Every Day of the Week

“It can be easy to get stuck in a reading rut,” Julianna Haubner says at Off the Shelf, “so here’s a fun and untraditional angle to inspire your reading: a fantastic book for every day of the week.”

For example
month-of-sundays

A Month of Sundays, by John Updike:

In this update of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic novel The Scarlet Letter, Reverend Tom Marshfield is banished from his Midwest parish in the wake of a sex scandal. He keeps a journal of all his thoughts and desires, and at the center of it all is his growing infatuation with a woman named Ms. Prynne.

 

 

 

Check the other days HERE

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García MárquezBrain Pickings illustration
Gabriel García Márquez’s Formative Reading List

At Brain Pickings, Maria Popova offers us 24 books that shaped one of humanity’s greatest writers, “along with some of the endearing anecdotes he tells about them.”

e.g.
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner: “I became aware that my adventure in reading Ulysses at the age of twenty, and later The Sound and the Fury, were premature audacities without a future, and I decided to reread them with a less biased eye. In effect, much of what had seemed pedantic or hermetic in Joyce and Faulkner was revealed to me then with a terrifying beauty and simplicity.”

Read the whole story HERE

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Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google

If you were airdropped, blindfolded, into a strange town and given nothing but a bus ticket, to where would you ride that bus?” Amien Essif asks at AlterNet.

You might be surprised to learn that there’s only one good answer, and that’s the public library. The library is the public living room, and if ever you are stripped of everything private—money, friends and orientation—you can go there and become a human again.

people in librariesOf course, you don’t have to be homeless to use a library, but that’s the point. You don’t have to be anyone in particular to go inside and stay as long as you want, sit in its armchairs, read the news, write your dissertation, charge your phone, use the bathroom, check your email, find the address of a hotel or homeless shelter. Of all the institutions we have, both public and private, the public library is the truest democratic space.

Read the whole story HERE

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A Pencil Shop, for Texting the Old-Fashioned Way
Pencil shop
Photographs by Jennifer S. Altman for The New York Times

A store devoted to pencils has opened in Lower Manhattan, Molly Young writes in the New York Times. “If the enterprise seems belated, well, it is. Who uses a pencil anymore?”

Pencils are like fax machines and margarine, she adds. “They do a job, sure, but other things do the same job better — pens, email and butter, respectively. You can write a letter in pencil, but it’s more adult to write in pen. You can solve a crossword in pencil, but it’s more courageous in pen.”

Framed vintage advertisements on the wall depict the likes of Booth Tarkington shilling his favorite pencils. (Tarkington’s advice to young writers: “Use pencils. Write on thick paper. Sharpen two or three dozen rather soft pencils before you work. Use pencils with erasers on them — and use the erasers!”)

Read the whole story HERE

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THIS ‘n THAT

Is it “anyway” or “any way“? “All together” or “altogether“?

More confusing words HERE

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Oh yeah. I’d go for this. And there would be a whole damn FOREST out there with my name on it.

biodegradable coffee  cup

 

Embedded with seeds, coffee cup grow into trees when thrown away.

 

 

 

earth porm shows us Plantable Coffee Cups HERE

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Quote of the day

Life is not what one lived, but what one remembers and how one remembers it in order to recount it.” ~ Gabriel Garcia Marquez

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Read anywhere

Read anywhere“My name is Jakub Pavlovsky and I’m a 21-year-old supporter of reading books. A few months ago, I realized that people weren’t reading books as much as they did before. Nowadays, they prefer modern technologies rather than a lovely and interesting book. .

“Therefore, I created a project called “BOOKS CALLING” and I did it on social media – I want to spread a traditional idea through a modern system. The project’s motto is “Make Time For Reading. Anywhere, Anytime.” I keep the pose of sitting at the same angle and posture in all of the photos, as if the world and environment pivots around this pose throughout the day, every day.”

Read the whole Bored Panda story HERE

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77 years later…Igeborg Rapoport

Ingeborg Rapoport was denied her PhD at the University of Hamburg in 1938 for “racial reasons” due to her Jewish heritage. Last week, the 102-year-old Rapoport at long last had the opportunity to defend her doctoral thesis on diphtheria before an academic committee — 77 years after she completed it.

After she aced her oral exam, her PhD was approved and the degree will be awarded to her in a ceremony next month in Hamburg. When this Nazi injustice from decades ago is finally righted, Rapoport will become the oldest person in the world to ever receive a doctoral degree.

Read the whole story HERE

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A Brief Ode to a Long and Beautiful Marriage

“Calvin Trillin is not easy to sum up as an author,” Leslie Kendall Dye writes in Off the Shelf, “the good ones never are.” In a touching essay, she talks about a book he wrote about his wife Alice after her death.

About AliceAbout Alice is about Alice, but it is also about a marriage. Every now and then a writer has a chance to document finding a needle in a haystack: the perfect mate. Whenever we have a chance to etch a happy history into stone, we should take it.

Trillin performs a neat trick in this book. It’s about Alice, but it’s also by Alice. She wrote about fifty percent of it, because so much of it is quotations. I’m not sure there is a greater testament to love and adoration than a writer giving so much real estate to someone else’s words.

 

 

Read the whole essay HERE

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How to live a middle-class life in New York City on less than $5,000 a year

Marie is a French woman living in Brooklyn who has no job, no visa, and lives in a three-story house for free. Her secret: living off the waste of others.Living freeDiscover how she does it HERE

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Scientists examine why men even exist

“Sex is a messy, inefficient method of reproducing,” Rachel Feltman writes in the Washington Post, “but most multicellular organisms have evolved to rely on a partner regardless.”

Matt Gage, an author of a study on the matter, asks: “Why should any species waste all that effort on sons?”

A study using 50 generations of beetles suggests the answer.

You can find that HERE

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THIS ‘n THAT

Hot scenes in three words
red silk sheetsDescribing Dreamfever by Karen Marie Moning

Others HERE

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How Many Of These Books Adapted Into Movies Have You Read?

Take the BuzzFeed quiz HERE

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Literary Places In Paris Every Book-Lover Must See

Bustle suggestions HERE

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Quote of the DayQUOTE A writer is...~~~~~
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He’s still alive?

Herman WoukHerman Wouk, The Atlantic

The Great (War) Novelist America Forgot

Herman Wouk, just about to turn 100, deserves more critical acclaim than he’s enjoyed, an article by David Frum argues in The Atlantic.

While Herman Wouk may have made his name for books on war, to me his name has quite different associations.

I found ‘Marjorie Morningstar’ (in translation) on my mother’s bookshelves back when I was still a pre-teen. I read it several times, first when i was quite young, then later, when I was just the right impressionable teenage age.

Marjorie MorningstarMarjorie Morgenstern-as-was, the bright and beautiful and burning girl full of dreams of glory, lived in a world far removed from my own, both in time and in space (she belongs to the first half of the twentieth century, and to a gilded American world of which I knew nothing outside of books). But there was something about her story that reached out to me.

The distillate of the tale is the fact that Marjorie “grew up”, and abandoned her childish dreams and fancies. The “Morningstar” persona rose like a sun, and then, after its day was done, set again, and the next day was a different and workaday one. She stopped being a dreamer and a bright butterfly in the summer haze and became a solid, solemn, proper matron settling into her proper role in life, accepting … I don’t know… something ordinary, something lesser, something safe, something “Real” as opposed to the gossamer dreams fo her youth.

She herself no longer recalls those days, that girl, but she is not gone. Because there is someone who DOES remember her, will always remember her, the young man who fell in love with the dream in her soul when she was young.

He meets her again many years after their first encounter, after the first and last kiss they shared. And it is in his memory of her that Marjorie Morningstar lives again.

But his memory is elegiac, shadowed,, bittersweet/ He knows she “settled”. He knows that his limits were always small, and he too has settled or will settle for a life on the ground. But he remembers – as Marjorie herself does not, will not, cannot – that bright careless rapture of that shared summer of their youth. And of all of that long book, and of all the things that Herman Wouk ever wrote, it is the last line of this particular passage that had taken root in my heart, the line that I still remembered all these many years later:

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And if she wasn’t the bright angel I thought, she was a lovely girl; and where is that girl now? She doesn’t even remember herself as she was. I am the only one on the face of God’s earth, I’m sure, who still holds that picture in a dim corner of memory. When I go, that will be the end of Marjorie Morningstar, to all eternity.

Yet how beautiful she was! She riises up before me as I write – in a blue dress, a black raincoat, her face wet with rain, nineteen years old, in my arms and yet maddeningly beyond my reach, my beautiful young love, kissing me once under the lilacs in the rain. I have known most of the pleasant things I can expect in this life. I’m not famous or distinguished, but I never really hoped I would be; and my limits have been clear to me for a long time. I’ve had the success I aimed for. I’ll go on working, and I’ll have mroe success, I’m reasonably sure. I’ve had the love of good looking women. If I”m fortunate, I may someday have what Milton Schwartz has, and what’s been denied me: a wife I love, and children, and a warm happy home.

But one thing I know now I’ll never have – the triumph I once wanted above everything on earth, the triumph I promised myself when I was heartsick boy, the triumph that slipped through my fingers yesterday, once and for all. I will never have that second kiss from Marjorie under the lilacs.
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I myself am older now and I understand even better – I understand the resignation, and the sense of loss, and yet the sense of utter glory that a memory like this exists at all, is clung to, is refused the sanctuary of oblivion and of “the ordinary”. That second kiss under the lilacs has been something that has haunted not just that young man who never received it… but a young woman who carried someone else’s kiss into her own future, and built her own memories upon it.

The Frum piece in the Atlanic says that over his long career, Wouk has achieved all the wealth and fame a writer could desire, or even imagine. His first great success, The Caine Mutiny (1951), sold millions of copies and won him a Pulitzer. Wouk’s grand pair of novels, The Winds of War and War and Remembrance, likewise found a global audience.

Read the whole Atlantic article HERE

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The other day I mentioned Heidi as the first book I had read as a child. It comes up again in Emma Oulton’s story about

10 beautiful literary locations that inspired beloved novels

One of them that Oulton talks about is Maienfield, Switzerland, aka the setting for Heidi

HeidiThe exquisite Swiss area where Johanna Spyri grew up has become a total tourist trap, to the extent that it has been renamed “Heididorf,” or “Heidiland.”

Slightly tacky as this may be, when you’re looking over the spectacular landscape of the Alps, you won’t much mind.

 

Another example:

Home in Anne of Green Gables

Green Gables FarmGreen Gables Farm in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island

L. M. Montgomery made this island farm famous through her Anne of Green Gables series.

Visitors to the farm can see the place where Montgomery spent the first 37 years of her life, but also the landscape she imagined onto it: from the schoolhouse to Diana’s house to the babbling brook.

Read the whole story HERE

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The Books ofBooks of Mad Men“Among the many reasons we’ll be sorry to see the end of Mad Men”, Rich Rennicks writes in The New Antiquarian, “is the bravura way the writers have woven literary references into the show. Characters have been seen reading books that were popular at the time as well as obscure volumes that explored themes they would have found very meaningful at the time.

e.g.
babylonBabylon Revisited and Other Stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald:

Betty Draper developed a taste for Fitzgerald after flirting with a young man who recommends she reads “The Diamond as Big as the Ritz.” We assume we should read Don as the patriarch in that story, who had everything he could want, but was never happy. We suspect Betty saw the parallel.

— Incidentally, a couple of seasons later, Betty’s daughter Sally is seen reading The Twenty-One Balloons by William Péne du Bois, which is basically the same story as “The Diamond as Big….” It’s a subtle joke that both mother and daughter are thinking the same thing.

Read the whole story HERE

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The Fun Side Of Libraries

There’s just something about a library, Claire Fallon writes at Huffpost, “its well-thumbed, plastic-sheathed bestsellers and dusty shelves of obscure treasures, all just waiting to be picked up and enjoyed by you.”

Alex Johnson, the author of Improbable Libraries, agrees and his book documents unusual and visually striking libraries from across the globe in hopes of bringing “the fun and entertaining side” of libraries back into a conversation that’s become dominated by doom and gloom about their finances.Soneva Kiri libraryThe inner dome of Soneva Kiri resort children’s library, Thailand

Read the whole story HERE

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THIS ‘n THAT

#QuietYA Collects The Best Books For Introverts

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10 Moody Facts About ‘Jane Eyre’

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Quote of the dayQUOTE 5 million~~~~~
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Your first book?

 

After my mother finished reading Heidi to me, I wanted her to start all over again. When she said no, I picked the book up and taught myself to read.

I was four.

HeidiIn the beginning there was the family treasure that my great uncle had given my mother when she was a little girl herself and she then gave to me, ‘Through Desert and Jungle’, by Henryk Sienkiewicz.

I went on to the flawed adventures that were Karl May’s wild-west-that-never-was, my family’s sets of collected works of Pearl Buck and Howard Spring, and the children’s sets of Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women” books. I then went on to illustrated tomes of the myths and legends of the world, to large glorious collections of the ORIGINAL fairy tales by the Grimms and Hans Christian Andersen, on to Wonderland, and Narnia, and Middle Earth, and Asimov and Zelazny and Frank Herbert and Ursula le Guin….

I began by falling in love with the wind whispering in the trees beyond the windows of the cottage that housed Heidi’s mountain dreams, and ended up by listening to the songs of the stars themselves. And Words were the vessel that took me there. Every time. All the way.

All this comes to mind because of an article in The Guardian headlined:

“‘Get your head out of that book!’ – the children’s stories that inspired writers

In my case, it was Heidi. In the case of other authors – Margaret Atwood, JG Ballard, Germaine Greer, Judith Kerr, Doris Lessing — it was everything from sinister water-babies to Chinese warlords, Norse gods to star‑crossed lovers.’

Read the whole story HERE

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Teens Readers Ted talkA Ted talk by Laura McClure offers us books for today’s teens

A science fiction and fantasy reading list for teen creativity

Creative writing is part of being a kid. Writing and reading goofy stories of lost kingdoms and Mars colonies helps the imagination grow strong. But a recent study uncovers an interesting, perhaps even dismaying trend: this generation of kids seems to prefer narrative realism when they write.

One example she offers is
Blue Remembered Earth, by Alastair Reynolds: Why you’d want to give this to a teen: In this futurist game of Diplomacy, Africa wins. A (mostly utopian) vision of Earth in the future.

See all her selections HERE

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Another book for today’s teens – and adultsWolf posterWOLF, Book 2 of The Were Chronicles, is on the way. 

You can pre-order it at Amazon HERE

Buy Random, Book 1 of The Were Chronicles, HERE

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All right. I’m a sucker. All of my cats have been rescues. I feel for every one of these poor tiny wounded souls. I hope there is an angel watching out for all of them.

20 Touching Before-And-After Photos Of Rescued Cats

Cats are mischievous creatures full of cuddles and purrs, an article at earth porm says, adopting one is a win-win, good for you and good for the cat. Here are before and after photos of rescued cats that show just how much a little love and care can change a cat forever.Rescued catSee all the cats HERE

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Speaking of cats…

19 Cats Who Are Having A Life Crisis Because You Won’t Let Them Inside

Your safety might be at risk if you don’t hurry up and let the cat in immediately, Matt Buco writes at Distractify.Cold cat“Seriously it’s getting a bit cold out here.”

Life crisis cats HERE

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THIS ‘n THAT

For those of you who support worthwhile endeavors – here’s one. As a writer, and a scientist, and a huge Octavia Butler fan, this one hits all MY buttons…

“We use sci-fi to encourage Brooklyn girls to dream big”

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The Daily Word Counts of 39 Famous Authors:

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Quote of the DayQUOTE  Van Gogh~~~~~
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Dissing women

Richard Nieva asks at Cnet:
Why have we always dissed women in tech?

He reports on the countless women whose accomplishments in science, technology, engineering and mathematics have been trivialized, ignored or just plain denied.

My personal lodestone is Rosalind Franklin. Her name is known to everyone who has ever dealt with any branch of science concerned with DNA, the building blocks of life – and it is an enduring shame on the Nobel Committee that they gave that prize to Watson and Crick and tried to bury Franklin out of sight. Watson not only dismissed her monumental contribution, but also criticized her as a woman.

It’s gratifying for me to see how obstinately she refuses to dwell in her assigned oblivion.

Yvonne Brill was a rocket scientist who invented a propulsion system that keeps satellites in orbit. But when The New York Times wrote her obituary, the first mention was of her “mean beef stroganoff.” A list of Brill’s professional accolades came later.Yvonne Brill

President Barack Obama awarded Yvonne Brill with the National Medal of Technology in 2011. Jim Watson/Getty

Ada, countess of Lovelace, worked on the Babbage Analytical Engine, the first general-purpose computer. Her contributions have been labled “overrated.”

And so it goes.

Read the whole story HERE

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92-year-old WW2 pilot flies a Spitfire againJoy in a SpitfireJoy Lofthouse, one of the few surviving female pilots to fly a Spitfire during World War II, took to the skies again with the aid of a co-pilot, Carolyn Cox reports for The Mary Sue.

Lofthouse said flying a Spitfire was “the nearest things to having wings of your own that I’ve known.”

Lofthouse and her sister joined the Air Transport Auxiliary in 1943, and became 2 of the 164 female pilots, or “Attagirls”, who transported planes back and forth from the front lines. Attagirls were frequently only given half an hour to familiarize themselves with an unfamiliar aircraft before take-off, and losses were high, with one in six becoming a casualty at one stage.

Story and video HERE

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Your feet are on fire

31 crazy photographers will stop at nothing to capture the perfect shotFeet on firePhoto Credit: Kawika Singson

Some of the world’s craziest photographers won’t let anything get in the way of a perfect photo opportunity, even if that means defying gravity or risking their own safety. At the end of the day it was all worth it so long as they captured the perfect shot, Earth Porm reports.

See the rest of the photos HERE

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‘Bloated, racist and a masterpiece’
The StandDoubleday

A few years ago, a Harris Poll named Stephen King’s novel, The Stand, as the fifth-favorite book of all time by American readers, four spots below the Bible, two spots above To Kill a Mockingbird.

That makes it “one of the most influential books in the history of the English language,” Ben Goldstein says at Uproxx Movies.

The Stand is also, the headline at Uproxx claims, “bloated, racist, and somehow still a masterpiece”.

What do you think?

Read the whole fascinating essay HERE

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THIS ‘n THAT

The 10-mile diet

Author Vicki Robin was challenged by a friend to see if she could could live for a month solely on food grown on the friend’s half acre farm. It turned out to be:

“one of the greatest adventures of my life”

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Quote of the day

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” ~ Ray Bradbury
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Those one-star reviews

Every author gets them – I’ve had a couple myself – but the justifications for the grade are often remarkable.The Outsiders“The only people that maybe could read it, are very old people, tired with their life, who just want to read something.”

More one-star reviews HERE

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The Wolf has arrived!Wolf, The Were Chronicles The second book in The Were Chronicles is out in paperback, ebook to follow shortly.

My name is Mal Marsh. I was the oldest unTurned Were of my generation, until the day I  stopped waiting. Instead of remaining the Random Were that I was born, I enlisted the help of a friend, a creature beyond the strictly drawn boundaries of Were-kind, and chose to become a Lycan, a true wolf. I discovered that things were far more complicated and dangerous than I had ever believed possible.  One thing was clear. Everything I thought I knew about my family and Were-kind was wrong.

You can buy it HERE

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12 Moving Novels of the Second World War

Seventy years after its end, the Second World War has never ceased to be fertile ground for fiction, Caitlin Kleinschmidt writes at Off the Shelf.

From authors who lived and died in its carnage, to contemporary writers wrestling with its legacy, she picks stories ranging from The English Patient to The Book Thief, set during the war that defined the twentieth century.

Catch 22

 

Catch-22, by Joseph Heller: A satirical indictment of military madness and the brutal insanity of war, this is the story of the incomparable malingering bombardier, John Yossarian. His real problem is not the enemy, but his own army and the hilariously sinister military bureaucracy.

Explosive and subversive, this classic remains a cornerstone of American literature and one of the funniest books of all time.

 

 

See all the books HERE

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Dorothy Parker: The Softer Side of the Sharpest Wit

I would have loved to meet this woman. I think we would have got along splendidly.Dorothy Parker
Dorothy Parker – Everett Collection

The theater critic, screenwriter and poet was famous for her acerbic wit, as when she wrote, “The House Beautiful is, for me, the play lousy,” and once complained that a performance by Katharine Hepburn “ran the gamut of emotions from A to B.

But her sharp tongue and dark spirit belied the tender heart that drove her activism, and inspired the surprising contents of her will, leaving her entire estate to a man she had never met: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Read the whole story HERE

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At BuzzFeed, Jennifer Schaffer ponders

If Dorothy Parker Quips Were Motivational PostersDorothy Parker posterSee them all HERE

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THIS ‘n THAT

When life imitates Monty Python…

Making Your Bike Sound Like a Galloping Horse

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The Oxford English Dictionary has officially added the gender-neutral title

‘Mx’

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Quote of the DayIf you could

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Alma Alexander    My books    Email me

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Boys only?

Not any more!

Boys like pirates, science and sports. Girls like princesses, fuzzy animals, and cooking. That’s how it was at Scholastic, a major children’s publishing house, until an 8-year-old girl put an end to it, Kathleen Culliton writes at Bustle.

When Els, a girl in London, spotted “Amazing Things for Boys to Make and Do” in the Scholastic book catalog, she got royally ticked off and started a petition. The rest, as they say, is history.

Read the whole story HERE

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Ray Bradbury. lost and found

In 2012, Lisa Potts rediscovered — literally, behind her dresser — a taped cassette of a long-lost interview with author Ray Bradbury that she made as a college student journalist in 1972. The recording was made in a car on the Los Angeles freeways as Potts and fellow student Chadd Coates were taking Bradbury to present a lecture.

PBS Digital Studios Blank on Blank did a delightful animated video of the interview.
Ray Bradbury videoRay Bradbury interview with Chadd Coates

Quote from the interview

On Fantasy: “Sometimes you have intuitive insight about how you think things are going to be, and you write that. Other times you fantasize completely, which has nothing to do with predicting the future.”

Full story and video HERE

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Another literary lost and found

150-year-old Mark Twain stories discovered

Scholars at the University of California, Berkeley have uncovered a cache of stories written by Mark Twain when he was a 29-year-old newspaperman in San Francisco, Nicky Woolf reports in The Guardian.

Mark TwainMark Twain, detail of photo by Mathew Brady, Wikipedia

Twain wrote some of the letters and stories at the San Francisco Chronicle when it was called the San Francisco Dramatic Chronicle, where his job included writing a 2,000-word dispatch every day and sending it off by stagecoach for publication in the Territorial Enterprise newspaper in Virginia City, Nevada.

His topics range from San Francisco police – who at one point attempted, unsuccessfully, to sue Twain for comparing their chief to a dog chasing its tail to impress its mistress – to mining accidents.

Read the whole story HERE

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10 Real Alien Worlds That Resemble ‘Star Wars’ Planets

Hot Jupitor

The gas giant planet Bespin appears in “Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back,” where it possesses a floating cloud city administered by Lando Calrissian, Tom Chao says at Space.com..

In reality, a class of exoplanets is called “hot Jupiters,” large gas giant planets that circle extremely close to their stars. One in particular, called TrES-4, is a puffy world, meaning it has an extremely low density.

See all the alien worlds HERE

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Messenger’s Mercury trip ends with a bang, and silence

Mercury's MessingerThe probe, illustrated soaring above Mercury, went into orbit around the planet in March 2011

Nasa’s Messenger mission to Mercury has reached its explosive conclusion, after 10 years in space and four in orbit, Jonathan Webb reports at BBC News. Out of fuel, the spacecraft smashed into a region near Mercury’s north pole.

Read the whole story HERE

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THIS ‘n THAT

The Girl Who Started It All

Celebrating 85 Years Of Nancy Drew HERE

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14 Of The Most Buzzed-About Books Of 2015

How many have you already read?

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Quote of the day

If you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling. You must write every single day of your life. You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next. You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads.” ~ Ray Bradbury

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Alma Alexander      My books      Email me   

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Disappearing words

Languages change. But losing words like “Buttercup” and “Kingfisher” in favor of things like “Broadband” and “chatroom”saddens me.

In Orion, Robert Macfarlane talks about an edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary that has culled words concerning nature that it no longer felt to be relevant to a modern-day childhood. The deletions included acorn, bluebell, dandelion, and fern in order to make room for block-graph, cut-and-paste, and voice-mail.

The substitutions —the outdoor and the natural being displaced by the indoor and the virtual—are a small but significant symptom of the simulated life we increasingly live. What is lost is something precious: a kind of word magic, the power that certain terms possess to enchant our relations with nature and place.

Read the whole essay HERE

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An 1819 book warns of

10 Things Kids Shouldn’t DoClimb treesImage credit: “The Accidents of Youth

In Mental Floss, Erin McCarthy examines a book of short cautionary tales published almost 200 years ago. The authors hoped the stories would encourage children to improve their conduct, presumably by scaring the crap out of them with tales of the extreme consequences of foolish activities such as breaking an arm or a leg, cutting or burning yourself, swallowing pins, poisoning, and laming or killing yourself (or others).

But did they listen?

Read more HERE

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150 odd years later…

Top 10 books about women in the 1950s

“I was only five years old when the 50s ended,” historian Virginia Nicholson writes in The Guardian, “but even at that age the flawless, impossibly-proportioned models featured in my mother’s copies of Vogue undoubtedly embodied my idea of female perfection.”

Women always felt that they fell short of perfection, she says, and their actions and assumptions were governed by the idea that women have no independent identity outside men.

The Village

 

The Village by Marghanita Laski: One book she chose was “this wonderful Romeo-and-Juliet novel that was published in 1952, and is an example of how social historians should turn to fiction from time to time, to get true insights into the past. Laski paints a painfully well-observed picture of middle-class pretensions. But above all she writes beautifully about love in the period of postwar transition, when – after a relative suspension of hierarchy, and women’s brief release from domesticity “for the duration” – home counties Britain subsided into its former petty snobberies, and women retreated into the home.

 

Read the whole story HERE

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“‘I do not have a licence to kill or be buried at sea either”

When she got her umpteenth warning letter from the BBC, writer Jackie Morris, who travels the UK encouraging people to read books, sent them a testy letter.Jackie Morris“I recently received a letter from you…. (about) my lack of a TV license. I am sorry, but after 25 or more years I still do not have a license, and now I have run out of patience…. as someone who has been without a TV or the need for a TV for a half of their lifetime I think it’s time you cut me some slack.”

Then she provided them a list of other licenses she doesn’t have.

Read her delightful letter HERE

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I’m Alma Alexander and I fully endorse this message from Paper Fury.Tell WritersNumber six is:
“OH YOU FINISHED THAT DRAFT OF YOUR NOVEL? WE SHOULD CELEBRATE! LET ME TAKE YOU OUT FOR COFFEE AND CAKE AND PERHAPS BUY YOU A SMALL ISLAND IN THE BAHAMAS IN CONGRATULATIONS!”

Read the whole story HERE

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THIS ‘n THAT

At Distractify, Matt Buco offers
33 Insanely Clever Innovations That Need To Be Everywhere Already

Here’s one
Wall outlets with USB chargers
Wall outlets with USB chargers

See all the others HERE

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Losing bookstores

The number of independent bookshops in Britain has halved in the past decade and nearly 600 towns have none at all. Heavy discounting by supermarkets, the rise of internet retailers and the growing popularity of e-readers mean the number of independent bookshops in the UK has fallen below 1,000 for the first time.

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“Suddenly, Every Movie Romance Involves First-Edition Books,” Kyle Buchanan says at Vulture. That’s kinda weird, she says and wonders why.

Read the fun essay HERE

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Quote of the Day

People say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading.” ~ Logan Pearsall Smith

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Alma Alexander      My books      Email me

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Brilliant junkies

Distractify offers us:
20 Of History’s Most Brilliant Minds And Their Drug Of Choice

Lots of famous names here: Vincent van Gogh – Absinthe and Digitalis, Sigmund Freud – cocaine, Francis Crick – LSD, Carl Sagan – Marijuana, Benjamin Franklin – Opiates….

Charles Dickens – Opium
Charles Dickens

When this famous author walked its streets, London was rife with opium dens. He even described them in his final unfinished work, The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

Dickens, like many other famous names of the Victorian era, was addicted to an opium tincture known as laudanum for many years and used the drug heavily right up to the time of his death (by massive stroke).

 

Read the whole story HERE

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Books for a Better Planet!
9 Earth-Friendly Reads for Kids
Earth friendlyIllustration: Elizabeth Graeber

Kids appreciate our planet and her precious resources when they can feel, touch, and see the natural world, Melissa Taylor writes at Brightly.

Even when they’re not outside, kids can still expand their understanding of nature through books that celebrate the wonders of the world around them. Here are some great children’s books that facilitate a love and stewardship of planet Earth.

For example:

Trees for kids

Celebritrees: Historic and Famous Trees of the World, by Margi Preus, illustrated by Rebecca Gibbon:

Did you know there’s a hollow oak tree in France that’s used as a chapel?

Or that Robin Hood and his men used a specific tree in England (an oak tree) as a hiding place?

 

 

Read the whole story HERE

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How to Turn Down a Marriage Proposal Like Charlotte Brontë

At Brain Pickings, Maria Popova tells us about “the bold defiance of oppressive gender ideals, packaged as the ultimate it’s-not-you-it’s-me gentle letdown.”

hell hath no fury

From Hell Hath No Fury: Women’s Letters from the End of the Affair (public library)

Anna Holmes’s magnificent collection spanning centuries of missives, which also gave us Simone de Beauvoir’s exquisite breakup letter and this moving breakup moment from the Vietnam War — comes an outstanding contribution to the genre from none other than Charlotte Brontë (April 21, 1816–March 31, 1855).

 

 

Read the whole story HERE

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QUIZ – How well do you know rewritten classics?

From Shakespeare to Jane Austen, new fiction is often spun off from old stories, Harriet Mallinson reminds us at The Guardian, and asks such questions as:

What was the title of Jane Smiley’s modernisation of King Lear, set on a farm in Iowa in the 20th century?

Take the quiz HERE

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THIS ‘n THAT

18 Literary Maps of the US states

At Mental Floss, Caitlin Schneider reports that The Library of Congress’ Language of the Land exhibit collects bookish state maps that chart the regions and the writers who loved them.
e.g.
indianaSee all the maps HERE

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Quote of the day
QUOTE Nietzche~~~~~
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