In which John Green teaches you how Russia evolved from a loose amalgamation of medieval principalities known as the Kievan Rus into the thriving democracy we know today. As you can imagine, there were a few bumps along the road. It turns out, our old friends the Mongols had quite a lot to do with unifying Russia. In yet another example of how surprisingly organized nomadic raiders can be, the Mongols brought the Kyevan Rus together under a single leadership, and concentrated power in Moscow. This set the stage for the various Ivans (the Great and the Terrible) to throw off the yoke and form a pan-Russian nation ruled by an autocratic leader. More than 500 years later, we still have autocratic leadership in Russia. All this, plus a rundown of some of our favorite atrocities of Ivan the Terrible, and a visit from Putin!
Interview with Lauren M. Hancock also known as Alice Well – Installment 17
By ddateable On December 8, 2019
Today we’re flying all the way to Australia to talk to poet, author, and illustrator Lauren Hancock. Also known on her blog and instagram as Alice Well! I can’t thank Lauren enough for the time and effort she put into collaborating with me. Check out my review of her recent publication here. Now let’s begin!
Where did you get your ideas from for “Our Whimsical World”?
My ideas generally came after drawing the image for the stories. When creating art, I become lost in the process, because it can be such an enjoyable state of mind to be in, being awash with a sense of creativity and joy when creating an image that is fun, lively and bright.
From then my imagination would take over the story point of view: having an image to work from allows me freedom to create. Having words written first is more limiting, because I need the consequently drawn image to adhere to the already-present words. My ideas mainly come spontaneously, either before the drawing was commenced, during, or after. This process speaks of how when I create something “All is well”: Alice Well, the creative name I am also known as.
How important was it for your stories in “Our Whimsical World” to have a moral or a message?
It was important for me to write stories that were not just stories. They needed to have depth; a message, a moral, something for the readers to learn from. It was not enough for me to simply write something cute that entertained. I wanted there to be a reason for reading these stories, and for a message to be quietly presently to sink into the minds of the children or older readers while they felt they were simply being entertained.
Did you consider that some vocabulary used may be too complex for younger readers? If so, why did you make this decision?
Using complex vocabulary that may be out of the scope of some of the readers provides them with the opportunity to learn new words and reach for a greater understanding of language than they had previously grasped. It is like when my former violin teacher would present myself and other students with pieces of music that were slightly out of our level of expertise: – it extended our skillset and encouraged improvement for our musicality and proficiency. The same idea is present here.
I notice on your website that your writing has taken a different direction from the style that your book is written in. Could you explain this a little further?
Yes, my writing has altered from short, generally amusing and light-hearted stories, to more serious and deeper themed poetry. It explores the self, love, acceptance, longing, encouragement for others, and being hurt by the actions of others. I felt it was time to move on from the short story style and begin to create poetry that spoke of my internal being, to show the vulnerability I am willing to display. Hopefully my poetry shows a depth of self and the revelations I speak of can resonate within some of my readers. Knowing or at least hoping that others can or are able to relate to one’s words and/or works is one of the greatest feelings we can hope for as poets, writers, or artists.
At what age did your passion for writing surface?
I was a fervent reader from a very young age. My grandparents and parents provided me with books upon books — Enid Blyton’s tales, Peter Rabbit, and so on, and I read these increasing collections with vigour and excitement. Being immersed with written language and beautiful imagery from such a young age allowed my own vocabulary to develop over time and my imagination grew and grew. I turned to writing to create worlds and stories that lived in my mind, and I still have the collection of writings and illustrations to view.
What did you find that the most difficult thing about self-publishing?
For me, the hardest thing in self-publishing my book was the marketing/promotional side of things. I went into the experience with little idea of what I would need to do or how to prepare myself to introduce my new book to potential readers. I knew, but didn’t completely realise that the responsibility initially fell entirely upon me to generate interest and attention. But, I have been blessed to have my editor who has greatly helped me along the way with advice and support when I most need it, and he has made the marketing side of things clearer for me.
Sometimes I feel like when I do mention my book online that I may be viewed as too pushy, when I am really just wanting to share what I created with others. Being relatively new to this blogging community, I wasn’t aware that people organised ‘blog book tours’, or what ARCs were, or anything like that, but I know that for next time around I can be more organised and prepared in an upcoming launch of a second book.
11.23.19 | Technology is advancing faster than ever, and it’s not slowing down. This decade was the era of smart phones, streaming, and the internet of things. But with 5G and AI on the rise, high-tech executive Jeff Brown believes 2030 will be a new world. Brown is an early-stage tech investor and analyst who’s seen the modern technological revolution firsthand. He describes quantum computing as a moon landing and 5G as game-changing. He predicts a near future full of artificial intelligence, self-driving cars, wireless surgeries, genetic healing, cryptocurrencies, and more! But with equal advances in encryption hacking and the AI tracking abilities of Google, Facebook, and even China, we must control our own data!
Hoover Institution fellow Thomas Sowell discusses poverty around the world and in the United States. Poverty in America, he says, compared to the rest of the world, is not severe. Many poor people in poverty in the United States have one or two cars, central heating, and cell phones. The real problem for the poor is the destruction of the family, which Sowell argues dramatically increased once welfare policies were introduced in the 1960s.