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MY BOOK IS OUT IN THE WORLD TODAY. HOLY GALAXIES.

  Posted by Stephanie Diaz in Stephanie Diaz, 21 July 2014 · 12 views


I spent all of my childhood reading and loving stories, scribbling down my own in the journals that are still stuffed in my closet. Later, I frantically typed them into word documents.

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Ever since I was six, it was my dream to walk into a bookstore and find a story I'd written on the shelf.

And now it's actually coming true. Like. For real.


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It's pretty scary. And awesome. Also I can't quite believe it.

I'm so grateful to all the people who helped me along the way: those who supported me and cheered me on, and those who inspired me even if they didn't know it.

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I hope some of you readers will pick it up and enjoy it, and maybe even love it. I'll never be able to explain how much this book meant to me while I was writing it. It was a promise of better things to come, and it kept me going through a lot of scary moments. I'm so grateful I got to tell this story and continue telling it in the sequels. I hope you'll stick with Clementine to see where she ends up.

If you'd like to buy Extraction, you can find lots of purchase links here.

If you do buy it, or check it out from the library, thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Your support means the world. <3

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Manhwa Review: Goong Vol. #15

  Posted by Sakura Eries in Sakura Eries' Blog: Keeping It In Canon …mostly, 21 July 2014 · 12 views

What if modern Korea was a constitutional monarchy similar to England’s? That’s the backdrop for Goong: the Palace, a manhwa that got turned into a wildly popular drama and musical.

Set in an alternate world where the Korean monarchy still exists, the story follows Chae-Kyung Shin, an strong-willed commoner who attends the same high school as Shin Lee, the crown prince. After accidentally witnessing Shin proposing to his girlfriend Hyo-rin and being rejected, Chae-Kyung unexpectedly learns that she will marry Shin and become crown princess due to a promise between the former king and her grandfather.

Yen Press has just released Volume 15 of the series, and you can read on for the review. (For my review of previous volumes go here.)

Back Cover Blurb

As Shin and Chae-Kyung try to pick up the pieces of their marriage in the wake of learning the truth behind their divorce, Yul is far from content to hang his head in defeat. Postponing his plans to study abroad, he positions himself near Chae-Kyung by taking classes at her school and even resorts to teaming up with the heartbroken Hyo-Rin to blackmail the former crown princess. But when Shin happens upon evidence of his cousin’s newfound treachery, will Yul’s plotting blow up in his face?!

The Review

Those who have been dying to see Yul’s mom get her just deserts will be somewhat gratified in Volume 15. Although Daewang-Daebi retains her position, she’s lost everything else, including the consideration of the King and Queen Mother. She gnashes her teeth so much it’s a miracle she has any left as she’s ousted from the royal inner circle. Of course, like any K-drama villainess, she’s not accepting her fate meekly, and she’s already laying the groundwork for a new scheme to get revenge.

Like mother, like child, and Yul is wreaking his own particular havoc upon the former royal couple. Having lost all chance at winning Chae-Kyung over, he’s out to make everyone miserable, too. Stalking Chae-Kyung isn’t enough; now he’s openly threatening her. With him resorting to extremes and terrorizing Chae-Kyung, it’s difficult to feel sympathy for him any longer. On the other hand, Shin and Chae-Kyung’s separation becomes more poignant, with Chae-Kyung suffering on Shin’s behalf and Shin throwing caution to the wind to bring her back.

In typical K-drama irony, Yul’s scheme to drive the desperate pair apart ends up pushing them together. Shin/Chae-Kyung fans will be gratified by a number of sigh-worthy moments, including one where Chae-Kyung is naked in the tub. However, though Park creates great melodrama, she’s always quick to dispel the pathos. Eunuch Kong’s appearances are fortunately kept to a minimum, but the way Park constantly shatters the romance with her particular brand of bawdy humor gets a bit old.

Included as extras in this volume are Words from the Creator from the Korean Volumes 21 and 22 and a three-page manga about creator Park meeting the Goong actors.

In Summary

Yul and his mother may have gotten caught by the royal family, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to roll over and play dead. Rather, Yul’s resolved to ruin everyone else’s happiness even if it means hurting Chae-Kyung. Ironically, his efforts result in Shin and Chae-Kyung running off together. A romantic getaway it’s not, but the amount of longing and angst should delight any Shin/Chae-Kyung fan.

First published at the Fandom Post.



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The Beginning

Posted by MelGrinder89 in Writing woes and wants, 21 July 2014 · 15 views

The last time I was at the beginning, the very beginning of writing a book, was about six years ago when I first started working on Dark Fantasy. (Terrible title I've been told, and others have told me it fits, but only time will tell if it will stick.) I wrote the first draft, then spent weeks, writing down all the ideas that popped in my head. The lore, back stories, outlining, ideas of what I wanted to happen and ideas of what could happen, creating the creatures and the world they lived in. Months I spent doing this, months. However, almost six years later, I have some edits left to do, then I'm done. I will literally be unable to do anything else with the story besides finish it.
Now, I've started something entirely new. Still fantasy, but this is going to require more research than it will thoughts coming directly from my imagination. Dark Fantasy was strictly that, it was dark, and it was fantasy. There was nothing about it that I really needed to do research on. (Though now that I think about it, I might was to do a little research for it. :/)
For this new story, Legends, it's about angels, corrupted priests, and scattered segments of History. So I will HAVE to do research for this story.
Something new for this person right here, never had to do that before. But if I want to get this story right, I will have to.
Okay, now I've vented, I have a long road of research and stuff ahead of me, so I better get to it!

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The Best Mentality to Write With

  Posted by SC_Author in SC Write--Writing, Publishing, and Harry Potter, 21 July 2014 · 18 views

I rarely ever say something is the 'best' way to do something. Quite simply, there are many ways to do anything and one way could work best for one person and another way for another. But what if I told you what I believe to be the best way to write?

It all started when I read the article, "The Secret of Effective Motivation". Read it quickly then come back, to this page.

Basically, the article summarizes a research project studying motivation. The researchers surveyed about 11,000 cadets at West Point, asking them to rank their motives to attend the academy. The motives were split into internal motives like being trained to be an officer (basically, goals that are inherently related to the journey itself) and instrumental motives like finding a job later on (goals that aren't inherently related to the journey).

The researchers expected that the cadets who would become officers, got early promotions, and stayed in the military longer would obviously have strong internal motives but also strong instrumental motives. The most surprising thing was this: the cadets that had strong internal and strong instrumental motives "performed worse on every measure than did those with strong internal motives but weak instrumental ones."

What does this mean for your writing journey?

Obviously, we probably all want to be published, become NYT bestsellers, etc. The idea of winning prizes, holding a physical copy of our books in our hands, etc. drives us to write. We love to write, sure, but we'd love recognition. In fact, what might be best to getting that recognition is not running after it at all.

It's a hard mentality to switch to, but I think it's necessary. Could JK Rowling really have spent nine years simply in planning the Harry Potter series and writing the first book if all she desired was publication? Nine years is a long time to wait for something. What must have driven her was the journey itself; the intrinsic goals of writing the book, being with the characters, discovering her world, and crafting prose.

The funny thing is that there really shouldn't be a balance between intrinsic and instrumental motivations. To be successful, as the study shows, your intrinsic motivations must outweigh your instrumental ones by a lot. Don't try going for the best of both worlds; pick the better world and your world will become better as a result. Don't go for a 50-50 balance unless you're absolutely certain it works for you (I'd be skeptical, because the study proves that weak instrumental motivations and strong intrinsic ones win out every day).

This also helps a lot in keeping your chin up through the rejection-heavy process of writing. If you don't long for winning contests, prizes, even being published, rejections won't hurt nearly as bad. It might be scary to think, I don't need to be published, but think of it as: I need to create the best book possible for myself, as a writer, and publication will come as a side effect.

If you are intrinsically motivated to create the best book possible, publication itself shouldn't be the goal (just think how many bad books are published). If you want publication alone, you might just do the bare minimum to get a book deal instead of pushing your writing the furthest it could go. I highly doubt that writers like Hemingway, Angelou, Hugo, Salinger, Rowling, Tartt, and more just wanted to be published. They pushed writing to a new height, and it couldn't have happened unless they were intrinsically motivated to be the absolute best they could be, instead of just publishable.

I know, it's easy to say 'forget about your dream goals'. I still long to be published, win prizes, etc. It's hard to get out of that mentality, but it might be necessary. Don't shut down or ignore your instrumental motivations, that's just dangerous. Just let it flow through your mind like water. Acknowledge them and move on. Obsess over your intrinsic motivations instead: creating the best prose possible, fleshing out your characters, tightening that plot. And, as a result, you'll be on your way to success.

I loved that article - it completely changed the way I think about motivation. What do you think about the study?

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PL Reporter—12thE

  Posted by Professor VJ Duke in The Punchy Lands!, 21 July 2014 · 15 views

PL Reporter

12th Edition
21 2014

~~~

Segment A
Punchy Proverbs

PP's

The following proverb was put (as a question) to three PL’ers:

Was there ever a beginning? If so, how did it begin?

This is how they answered:

Schwarz Tauptinker: So…yeah. I mean…chickit! I can’t remember my beginning, so I pretty much doubt I ever had one.

Merlin: Of course there is a beginning. And it began when it was told to begin. Sort of how it works with me.

Ruber Salami: It’s hard to say. I think so, but…then you have me dad, Daddy Salami. Without thinking of him, I think there’s a beginning. But I can’t imagine that he ever had one. What a togoggin!

PF, whose answer was the best, would you say?

~~~

Segment B
Severe Weather Report

weather

No severe storms this week…except the professor.

Weather tip: Dust storms are fun; just don’t eat the dust.

~~~

Segment C
Featured Story: Interview
by J. Freedwoppen

For today’s featured story, I was able to sit down with Schwarz Tauptinker—for an interview.

J. Freedwoppen: So, Mr. Tauptinker, thanks for agreeing to this…this interview.

Schwarz Tauptinker: Okay.

J. Freedwoppen: Where did you grow up?

Schwarz Tauptinker: In some city, I think. But I don’t remember growing up. Flowers grow up, and I grew flowers.

J. Freedwoppen: Tell us more about the flowers you grew.

Schwarz Tauptinker: Which is weird, since you’re the only one talking to me. I grew tulips, just because. They were…oh so chicly neat… I made a black one.

J. Freedwoppen: Yes! That caused quite a stir, I remember.

Schwarz Tauptinker: Hey, hey: gotta go.

~~~

Segment D
MicP Studios—Behind the Scenes
by Nicholas Warren

VJ and I spoke. And we spoke. And we spoke. And we… You get the point.

Basically, he talked so long that I’m writing this now when I should be eating dinner. And he’s going out to eat dinner. Not very fair. He would have been angry if I told him not now, because what we were talking about was ‘very important’. We were talking about the new Youtube idea we have.

Ripping movies. Yes, we plan on ripping movies just like he used to rip books. We’re hoping and hopping that it will be a big smash, but who knows. I do think we have the devil’s own luck, so…

Anyways, I’m hungry and I’m angry, so I’m going to cut this off right now and go get something to eat. I’m not even sure what I’m going to get…

Ugh.

~~~

Segment E
A Conversation

KING ARTHUR: It’s hard being a king.
RUBER SALAMI: Become a chef, then.
KING ARTHUR: It’s hard to be a chef!
RUBER SALAMI: Try gardening, then.
KING ARTHUR: It’s hard to garden!
RUBER SALAMI: Golly-Joe! Try weeding then.
KING ARTHUR: It’s too hard!
RUBER SALAMI: Hey, Art, is breathing hard for you, too?

~~~

Questions for Nicholas Warren? Comment here!
Need more information on any PL topic? Comment below to J. Freedwoppen!
Copyright 2014



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IN WITH THE NEW Agent Round

  Posted by Michelle4Laughs in Michelle4Laughs: It's in the Details, 21 July 2014 · 28 views






WELCOME AGENTS!


I know many of you thought this day would never arrive! It's here!

We are rolling out the red carpet and shining the spotlight on the best entries for our agents over the next three days.

(Ninja agents are welcome too. Merely leave a request, along with information on how many pages and where to email you.)

There are thirty entries on this blog. Most of them wouldn't fit on the front page so please use the Blog Archive in the sidebar to ensure no entries get missed. Entries are grouped by age category. (Or will be if my scheduling worked.) They are also numbered for ease of keeping track. (Agents may prefer to look at entries and return later for more.)

If you see a problem with your entry like missing spacing, let me know on twitter or the contest email address. 

For those writers who didn't make it, please keep trying. The Pyrotechnics and I were limited to four choices each. (Which is why we added group picks.) It was agony to narrow down the choices and leave great entries behind. Contests, like querying, are very subjective. What isn't one person's cup of tea, may be just what someone else wants. 

Please the comments are only for agents, but cheer for your favorites and friends, and thank the agents on twitter under #NewAgent.

I'll be there shouting out when an agent appears!

Congrats to all for entering! Let's hope for tons of requests!







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Double Negative by C. Lee Mckenzie

  Posted by Jemi in Just Jemi, 21 July 2014 · 11 views

The lovely and talented C. Lee McKenzie has a new book coming out!

Double Negative

Hutchison Mc Queen is a sixteen-year-old smart kid who screws up regularly. Hes a member of Larkston Highs loser clique, the boy whos on his way to nowhereunless juvenile hall counts as a destination. He squeaks through classes with his talent for eavesdropping and memorizing what he hears. When that doesnt work, he goes to Fat Nyla, the one some mean girls are out to get and a person whos in on his secrethe can barely read. And then Maggie happens. For twenty-five years shes saved boys from their own bad choices. But she may not have time to save Hutch. Alzheimers disease is steadily stealing her keen mind.

Doesn't that sound awesome? Can't wait!!

Amazon (available this Friday July 25th!!)

If you haven't met Lee yet, here's where you can find her:
Website     Blog      Facebook

Want to enter to win? Of course you do!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Just for fun, I tossed 3 Favourite  questions at Lee

Favorite beverage: That’s a time sensitive question. Coffee AM. Wine PM.

Favorite season: Summer. I get to eat fresh tomatoes.

Favorite high school course: Don’t laugh, but I loved geometry. Something about those theorums

(I totally get the theorum addiction - I love Math!)

How about you? Love Math too? Or those fresh tomatoes? Hoping Maggie can reach Hutch in time?


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Book Serendipity

  Posted by From The Write Angle in From The Write Angle Blog, 20 July 2014 · 15 views

by Charlee Vale

Allow me to tell you a story.

One July evening in 2008, my family is participating in one of our favorite pastimes: hanging out at the bookstore. We are separate, but together. My mother is perusing craft and art magazines in the comfy chairs in the cafe, my father is in the music section with his head buried in a book about classical guitar technique, and I float. I drift from fiction to children's to teen and back again. I swing by science fiction and end up in drama.

Now, this was back when Border's was Border's, and at this local store I knew the sales people, the layout, even the music they would play. Some families had Sunday dinner, we had Sunday bookstore time. And Monday, and Tuesday, and whatever day of the week we felt like going and diving into what seemed like endless stacks of books.

After getting my father to but me a chai tea latte from Border's Cafe (which, to this day, is still the best chai I've ever had), I found myself perusing the stage plays. I had just completed my freshman year as a theatre major and wanted to consume as much theatrical literature as possible. I suddenly stop in my tracks as I see the cover of a play. A black and white photo of a woman. Just a woman, staring out at the camera with immeasurable sadness. I picked it up and turned it over and read these words:

     "This happened on December 30, 2003. 
           That may seem a while ago but it won't when it happens to you..."

Chills ran over my entire body.

I immediately took the play back over to the cafe and began reading. I read a good 30 pages before we left that night. I purchased it, and finished it that night, dumbstruck. That play was the one woman show The Year of Magical Thinking, adapted from Joan Didion's memoir of the same name.

Three years later, I performed that show as my capstone. My Senior Theatre Project. I went on an amazing journey with this play, and it's still something I am so proud of. But what would have happened if I hadn't been at Border's that one night in July?

Looking around, many people get their book recommendations from the internet, social media, friends, as they should. But my life has been so affected by books that I just stumbled upon, possibly more than the books I sought out, that I can't help but try to get other people to try it.

I discovered my all time favorite book--The Scent of Magic by Andre Norton--by running my fingers across the spines in a library. I tripped over Watermark by Joseph Brodsky in that same Border's, and he is now one of my favorite writers.

This will sound cheesy, but books have power. The ones that are meant to change your life will find you if you let them. So why not give it a try? Go to a bookstore, turn off your phone, and just look. Go to a section you normally don't visit. Maybe it will be something in the cover, maybe the first sentence will make you gasp, maybe there's nothing but a feeling, but it's worth a try.

So that's my story. I believe in book serendipity. Do you?

Charlee Vale is a Young Adult writer, bookseller, photographer, and tea lover living in New York City. You can also find her at her website, and on Twitter, and randomly picking up books of of shelves. 

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Big Announcement!

  Posted by mlebleek in Bleeker Street, 20 July 2014 · 23 views

If you haven’t heard my news already then get ready to put on your happy face! My women’s fiction, FRAGMENTS, has been picked up by Lake Union Publishing and will be published in February of 2015! Lake Union is an imprint of Amazon Publishing and here is the link to their web site because I know you all want to check them out and see how cool they are: http://www.apub.com/imprint-detail?imprint=13

Signing my contract electronically. What will they think of next??

Signing my contract electronically. What will they think of next??

If you would like to read the whole story then pull up a chair. I couldn’t talk about it for almost six weeks so now I’m ready to spill.

So lets start at the beginning. Well, maybe not the beginning. Let’s start the day after I signed with my super agent, Marlene Stringer (http://www.stringerlit.com) back in February. We spend two months getting FRAGMENTS ready to be submitted to publishers. This included some editing and a lot of changes to the title (I think we went through 20 or 30 possibilities before settling on FRAGMENTS which I LOVE). There were a few other timing issues in there but the submission packet was finally ready by the second week in April and went out to a hand full of editors for a first round of submissions.

I can be a pretty patient person (when I try very very hard). When the kids flushed a rock the size of my fist down the toilet, I learned how to remove the toilet and reinstall it as well as what a “wax ring” does in that whole situation. But waiting to hear back from editors was a kind of nervousness I’ve never really experienced before. There was no googling a diagram of this situation so I could learn how to fix it. All I could DO was wait.

After three weeks Marlene emailed me to say that one of the publishers had “shown interest” and she’d update the other publishers. Then there was more waiting…and a lot of  questioning everything I’d ever written. It took a little while for me to stop obsessing about submissions and start focusing that nervous energy on my new project. Once I started writing my new WIP I almost forgot how nervous I was about everything else.

Nearly five weeks later I received the email I’d been dreaming about. I was at scout camp with my boys doing fun stuff like this:

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I’d stopped checking my email obsessively two weeks earlier so it wasn’t until some time after lunch that I happened to glance at my email. My heart jumped. It was an email from Marlene with a subject line of: Need to speak–news

I didn’t want to jump to conclusions, completely aware that news is just as often bad as it is good, but when we finally got in touch Marlene told me that I had an offer from Lake Union Publishing!! We had a few other details to go over but before we hung up Marlene said something that will stick with me forever. She said, “Emily, you know what this means don’t you? This means you are going to be a published author.”

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So, while Marlene worked out some of the details of the deal I was a good little author and kept my mouth shut. It took five weeks to get a deal finalized but now I can yell it from the rooftops! It’s super liberating but more than anything I’m ready to get to work. It will be a busy few months but with the guidance of an amazing editor and a team of professionals from Amazon I know we are going to put out a the best book possible and I’m so excited to share it with you all!



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CROWN OF ICE COUNTDOWN — B is for BLIZZARD

  Posted by LucidDreamer in LucidDreamer's Blog, 20 July 2014 · 19 views

Continuing the countdown to the publication for CROWN OF ICE (Sept. 9th!) – Day 52 — “B” is for Blizzard! Of course, snow and ice play a major role in CROWN OF ICE. My 17yo Snow Queen, Thyra Winther, has the power to summon and control snow and ice, and uses this to her advantage. […]

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Readercon Recap

  Posted by TBruce in Terri Bruce's Blog, 19 July 2014 · 22 views


Back from Readercon (July 10-13 in Burlington, MA), trailing swag and books from my suitcase, my brain bubbling with story ideas, as usual (this post is a bit late - it should have gone up Monday).

The Readercon name badges were super fancy this year (usually they're just plain white).

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I Love a Rainy Day

  Posted by Joe Stephens in My Train of Thought, 19 July 2014 · 18 views



If you know me well enough, you know I'm a runner. Yes, I'm fat, but not as fat as I would be if I didn't run. Because I run, I try to control what I eat so that the benefits of running won't go to waste. I'm struggling mightily at the moment to train for the News and Sentinel Half Marathon, the highlight of the running calendar in these parts. My long runs are usually Saturday mornings. But I'm not one of those bada** runners who are out on the road no matter the weather. To those who say I should be, I have four words: fat people chafe easily. So this morning, I'm snuggled up in my office, enjoying the cool, damp air wafting through a window I can't believe I get to have open in the middle of July. I'm reading, writing, puttering around, and waiting for the weather to break.

I love rainy days in summer. I especially love rainy Saturdays. Because my job-I-do-so-I-can-afford-to-be-a-writer is Monday through Friday, Saturday is my day to get work done around the house, like mowing, repairing, weeding, etc. In other words, stuff I really don't prefer doing but do as my part in the social contract. I live in a decent neighborhood and if I expect my neighbors' houses not to look like trash, then I have to allow them to expect the same from me.

But when it rains, I see myself as exempt from all that outside work. I don't want to chafe and ruin my running shoes, so I can't go running until it stops. It's just too soggy to mow or get in the garden, so I can't do that. So what does that leave me? What I really wanted to do anyway.

So here I am, listening to many sounds that nourish my soul: the patter of rain dripping off my roof, birds singing quietly as they shelter from in the trees, soft contemplative music, the clacking of my keyboard, and the occasional sizzle of a car as it drives through the wet street outside my open window. From my seat, I can see Van Gogh's Starry Night (not the real thing, of course, though I have had the privilege of seeing that, but that's another post for another day). On the table beside me are my trusty water bottle and Khaled Hosseini's And The Mountains Echoed for when my fingers grow tired. So, to sum it all up, I'm deeply thankful for this gift from God of a cool, rainy Saturday.

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The Saturday Slash

  Posted by bigblackcat97 in Writer, Writer Pants on Fire, 19 July 2014 · 5 views

Meet my Hatchet of Death (or, some other colorful description&nbsp;<a href="http://www.rclewisbo...e agent.</span>

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QUERY 101 SERIES : Handling the “Call” – Guest Post from Literary Agent Pooja Menon

  Posted by Amy Trueblood in Chasing The Crazies , 18 July 2014 · 41 views

  Finally, the queries are sent. You wait and wait for replies, and then one day your email pings with a request. You shoot the full manuscript out to the requesting agent, and then you wait (and sometimes wait and wait again) until you get the dreaded rejection OR the lovely email titled, “Can we talk?”   […]

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Friday Freeday: Don't Mope. HOPE!

  Posted by DebsBlueRoses in The Writer Ambitious, 18 July 2014 · 24 views

Happy Friday!

I went to bed in a weird mood after watching a Youtube series that made me emotional about my own weird relationship (I waited til 30 to have 20-something issues), but I woke up pretty charged up for today. An hour before my alarm, too, but that's fine. I get off work at Noon! Whoo!

Last night, writer guru @Michelle4Laughs tweeted that one of the New Agent Contestants withdrew because they received an offer on their manuscript!

And this morning I read that @lararectenwald, whose story Lavender Marriage won the Adult Fiction award during this year's Query Kombat, received an offer of representation!

That's some exciting news, and a year ago, I would've been a little bitter wondering, "Why not me?" and not even read a blog post about someone else getting The Call. This year, I declared that it would be my year, changed my attitude (making into QK Round 1 helped immensely), started being happy for others, and also, instead of moping, hoping!

With query critiques finally beaten into my head to the point where I've finally gotten it (you don't know how to get it until you get it lol) and with a few final cuts and tweaks to my manuscript, I think I can say if not 2014, then 30 will be my year for finally saying, "Mom, I've got a book deal!"

Yes, she should probably be the first person I call. lol

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But as Li Ning in the same phrase slogan

Posted by teardieti3292 in teardieti3292's Blog, 17 July 2014 · 29 views

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Embellish Your look Along with Official Footwear

Posted by jodrdans in jodrdans' Blog, 16 July 2014 · 34 views
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Bathing in Greens

  Posted by Rick Pieters in Room to Wonder, 15 July 2014 · 17 views

What do you do when, despite your best efforts to stay above the fray, someone manages to get to the part of you that makes you want to tear flesh (and not your own)? When you've done well for someone who, in turn, questions your intention and integrity? It happens, right?

Being a Scorpio, my baser instincts put my stinger at the ready. Luckily, Scorpio is also characterized by the eagle. So, breathe deeply, absorb the harmony in shades of green, a tapestry of peace. As all things do, it passes. Meanwhile, try to fly above it. Yeah, that's it. And bathe in greens.








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2014 Ford Transit Connect Wagon in review

  Posted by dclabs in dan.croutch.ca, 15 July 2014 · 26 views

Family transport is the new black.

Family transport is the new black

Pros:

  • All the minivan, well at least 80% of it
  • No minivan mileage
  • Head turning, people gawking, conversation starting European style

Cons:

  • Limited towing (2,000 lbs)
  • No passenger seat adjustability (except with top seating package)
  • “Torpedo tube” styling around dials limits some driver’s visibility

Summary

Firstoff, let’s get one thing out of the way.  The name says “Wagon” but that’s a very European thing to say.  It is not, in any measurable sense, a wagon.  Dash the comparisons out of your head right now.  Look at that photo, does that look like a wagon to you?  Good, now onto the crux of the matter.  Hello, my name is Dan and I would like to introduce you to the 2014 Ford Transit Connect Wagon.  I am, it seems, one of the first few to give this new take on an old idea a real family run through.  Transit Connect Wagons are still fresh in the Canadian market and very hard to come by at your local dealership.  Ford markets this as the “unminivan” and it very much is.  Based on the Escape/Focus platform this vehicle is skinnier than most minivans.  It also performs and feels a lot like driving a small car as well.  It does so, however, still feeling like you’re piloting a vehicle of some substantial nature.  It’s a bit of an odd feeling really.

Interior headroom is ginormous, passenger cabin space is, well, spacious.  There is lots of space for luggage with and without the third row up.  Ford’s peppy little 1.6L turbo EcoBoost engine powers the Transit Connect Wagon and does a really, really good job.  Mated to a six speed transmission which provides smooth shifts in city driving and aggressive shifting during passing.  Again, you’ll feel like you’re driving a small car; this is a high revving engine.  Still, our test averaged 8.8L/100km despite city driving – my minivan can’t even touch that.  What it does have, though, is minivan pricing.  Ranging in price from $28,000 up to $38,000 full spec, ours is the XLT model at a mid range $33,000.

Exterior

Ford has brought the 2014 Transit Connect from our friends in Europe.  It comes in both the standard commercial version and the Wagon passenger version.  Both feature the same unique styling.  Our tester looked great all around.  The nose is very unique in the market.  Design and build quality were excellent.  Doors closed very easily and there is no deviations in the fit and finish.  Dual barn doors on the rear are a much better option than a solid gate, particularly on a vehicle this high.  Power folding mirrors are large and include blind spot visibility.  There’s a lot of interesting crossover from the commercial version into the passenger version here.  Large wipers cover a lot of ground on a very large windshield.  There are some cool Canadian winter friendly options on the Transit Connect, one being the quick defrost/defogger on the front windshield.  Though ours didn’t feature this option, at $240 it’s a must buy.  Invisible netting sandwiched between the two panes of glass quickly melts frost and removes fog at the push of a button.  No more scraping or waiting for the car to heat up!  It also heats the windshield washer spray nozzles.  In this country, you can’t NOT have this option.

Ford Transit Connect interiorInterior

A very high roof-line is a unique feature of this van, one of many thanks to its commercial cousin.  In fact, the utilitarian DNA of the Transit Connect is obvious in the Wagon version.  Minivans like this are often used for a plethora of tasks, transporting families not withstanding, and this foundation makes the Transit Connect very good at its job.  Because of the roof’s height the interior feels much larger than it should.  Despite its small width, we still fit three kid’s seats side by side in the middle row, only just.  This does render the third row inaccessible, however, but we didn’t really find a need to use that row.  Putting the rear seats flat is a fairly quick process (with some instruction) and leaves you with a very large amount of space.  Its square, tall nature makes the Transit Connect Wagon ideal for stacking luggage and other travel items.  Third row seats do slide forward and back meaning you’re not restricted in your rear trunk space when they’re up.  In fact, as a test I put the rear seats up behind the kids.  The result, with the seats full forward, was a surprising amount of space thanks to the shape of the Transit Connect.

Dashboard and console design is very car-ish yet you don’t feel tight in the driver or passenger compartment at all.  Seats in front and second row are very comfortable for short and long trips.  Large dash buttons make the small SYNC screen feel even smaller, but they would be very friendly to cold, gloved hands.  Torpedo tube style dial tunnels made for a very specific field of visibility.  Some of the drivers complained of difficulty reading the speedometer from their positions – though my personal visibility of the dashboard was great.  Thankfully the LCD center screen gives drivers some basic information including current speed.  I enjoyed the little “economy driving” game, but I digress.  Climate controls were simple with vents intelligently placed in the front and rear cabin.  There wasn’t any way to control the rear climate from the front, however, and you had to reach behind the center console to control them yourself.  Not an issue if you have older kids or adult passengers.  On the whole, however, the Transit Connect has a very practical and functional interior.  Interior plastics are hard but of good quality and excellent finish.  They feel like they would last the beating a family minivan will no doubt endure.

Engine and Performance

European styling meets Canadian beaches.  They're both pretty cool.

European styling meets Canadian beaches. They’re both pretty cool.

Here is where the Transit Connect differs very much from the minivans it’s trying to challenge.  Ford offers two options to buyers, a 2.5L and 1.6L turbo four cylinder.  I’ll admit one of my biggest concerns going into the test was the lack of a V6 option.  I’ve experienced small L4 engines in vehicles like this and the performance has always been underwhelming.  The Transit Connect Wagon is larger and takes more people/stuff than most similar vehicles as well.  Under load I was expecting a tired and overworked little engine that burned fuel quickly.  What I found instead was a very responsive, smooth and – admittedly – fun to drive engine.  Ford’s 1.6L EcoBoost engine produces 178hp thanks to its turbo.  It’s mated to a good six speed transmission which keeps the engine within its power curve.  We averaged a respectable 8.8L/100km during our test, including a lot of around town driving.  On the highway it cruises very well and easily flirts with 6.8L/100km mileage – with 5 passengers and a day trip to the beach worth of luggage.  Minivans can’t touch that.

Ride is definitely not as smooth as compared to a larger minivan.  It very much feels like you’re driving a small car.  That said, it’s not uncomfortable or rough by any means.  Even on our torn up roads around town it was a pleasant drive.  Many people prefer the “car like” feel of minivans, the Transit Connect Wagon has that in spades.  Turning and driving at speed the Transit was nimble and responsive.  All around the driving experience was very nice, very sporty.  I liked it – and that’s huge coming from a “truck guy”.

The Unminivan

Ford coined this term, not me.  In fact it’s their marketing catch phrase for the Transit Connect Wagon.  It couldn’t be more accurate.  Ford’s Transit Connect Wagon gives you a lot of the minivan functionality while breaking a lot of the stereotypes that surround them.  You have the passenger capacity, most of the cargo and luggage capacity.  You have the versatility and the family friendliness, cup holders too.  But what you don’t get is typical minivan styling or mileage.  Ford’s EcoBoost engine also gives you way more sporty feel and big kid fun than you get in a typical minivan.  While not everything a minivan is, it’s 80% of it easily.  With the sum of all the parts, that’s MORE than enough.

Conclusion

If you tow an RV with your minivan, the Transit Connect isn’t for you.  Beyond that, if your young family needs a new minivan or you’re looking to move into the dreaded minivan market, the Transit Connect Wagon should be at the top of your check-out list.  It’ll do all your road trips and sporting events in style and with great fuel economy.  As far as family haulers go, this is the rare few occasions where you can have your cake AND eat it too.  Be a trend setter, think outside the box and get yourself unminivaned.

A special thanks to the good folks at Leslie Motors for giving us the tester for the weekend.  This tester and others are for sale on their website.  Be sure to visit them on Facebook and Twitter.


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Small Towns, Small News, Small Fish

  Posted by Deb Borys in Debra R. Borys, 15 July 2014 · 18 views

Hello?  Is anybody there?  Am I here? Or am I, maybe, invisible? I get that I live in a small town now.  A small pond, as they say.  And it’s not like I moved back here because I want to … Continue reading

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