Monday, February 28, 2022

The world is ending. Do I have to tweet about it?

Happy Monday, y'all. Or Unhappy Monday, which might be more accurate. Mary here, and like much of the rest of the world I've spent the weekend obsessing over Russia's illegal, immoral, and utterly ignoble invasion of Ukraine. Explainers, think pieces, live updates, articles, essays... I've read them all.

You wouldn't know it to look at my Twitter feed though. Or Facebook. Or Instagram. Nah, I've been posting the usual nonsense -- circus videos, book promos, pet pictures, snarky comments about the PATH train, blah blah blah. Luckily, I'm no celebrity, and I haven't built a following off my sparkling social media personality, so no one much cares about what I do or do not post. Because if they did, I'd probably be accused of being insensitive, ignorant, and a host of other things for not commenting about world politics during a time of crisis.

Social media has set up the bizarre expectation that everyone should have something to say about everything. Beauty influencers are expected to share their thoughts on international politics. Authors of children's books are expected to have well-informed opinions about systematic injustices. Somehow, everyone is supposed to have the same depth of knowledge and ability to comment on any given issue as a professional journalist who's covered the topic for decades or an academic with several degrees in the matter. And if your hastily written, shallowly informed tweet you dashed off to prove you're paying attention doesn't get it quite right, well, may the odds be ever in your favor.

I understand why there is this expectation, both from the creator and audience perspectives. With social media breaking down the barriers between public and personal lives, individuals want to know that the people to whom they give their time (and money) are worthy. Creators want to meet audience expectations and prove that they are, in fact, worthy.

But I think it's a mistake to assume that everyone has to comment on everything. Sometimes, just because someone is silent on a matter doesn't mean they don't care. Social media is a public space, yet it's expected that we act like we would in a more private setting. It's like expecting someone to get up on a stage in a public square but act the same way they would at a hang-out with their two closest friends. Personally, I simply don't consider myself enough of an expert on... anything, really... to shout my opinions publicly.

There was a time when I tried to jump on the whole "have an opinion about everything" bandwagon. Partly it was because I got swept up in the energy of Twitter (there's something of a rush you get from firing off a string of hot-headed tweets), and partly it was because I saw how people were rewarded for this behavior (with followers, clout, and, perhaps most relevantly for me, book deals). But then I got tired. It was exhausting not only trying to keep up with everything, but trying coming up with things to say that felt right. Perhaps it's the nerd in me, but I feel the constant need to fact-check myself. And I'm not comfortable talking about things I have no expertise in. 

For me to tweet about the war on Ukraine, I feel like I'd need a background in the history, culture, and politics of the region to be able to say something that felt accurate and meaningful - and not like empty awareness signaling - and I simply don't have that. 

Awareness signaling. That's another thing I don't feel like doing. I don't know if it's a real term, but it's what I've come to think of whenever something significant happens in the world and everyone parrots the same generic lines, seemingly just to prove to the rest of the internet that they know what's happening and they're on the "right" side of it.

Anyway, I'll sign off with a plea: Just because you follow someone's social media, don't assume you know everything they're thinking.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

The Critics Were WRONG!!!

Have you seen Encanto? Of course you have! It’s been a streaming phenomenon since Disney put it on their Disney+ platform on Christmas Eve. Perhaps you have young children and are now on your fifteenth viewing. Surely you’ve listened to the soundtrack. You must have, since the Encanto soundtrack (written by LIn-Manuel MIranda) currently has six songs on the Billboard Hot 100. The catchy songs have earwormed their way into playlists across america. The film has a 91% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes, indicating almost universal praise.

Don’t worry. We aren’t going to talk about Bruno. Or turn this site into an Encanto appreciation blog

Oh, did you just get “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” out of your head? I’ll fix that.

We are instead going to talk about some of the 9% of critics who didn’t like Encanto. 

The Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast on NPR did an episode reviewing Encanto when it came out in November. Their consensus was that it was a visually beautiful but pretty slight entry from Disney. Stephen Thompson, their resident music critic, in particular singled out the songs for being forgettable and not at all catchy. He went so far to suggest that Lin-Manuel Miranda should take a break since he obviously was running out of steam. 

Yeah, about that... (Did we mention the six songs from the soundtrack on the Hot 100?)

So that review aged like unpasteurized milk left in the sun. So much so that Thompson felt compelled to rewatch the movie and relisten to the soundtrack to see if he’d missed anything on first listen. 

Now this is surely a fantasy of writers everywhere. The critic who gives a bad review is utterly humbled by the massive sales and adulation of the writer’s adoring throngs and publicly recants before slinking off into a tear-stained exile. (Not everyone? Just me?) 

Wrong! I was wrong! The shame!!!

And it never happens. Never.  

Being a writer means you have to deal with the slings and arrows of critics, both professional and amateur. And since writers are often nitpicky by nature, it of course means we focus on the bad (or weird) reviews rather than the good ones. I’ve written two novels. They’ve gotten a lot of good reviews! Yay! But of course I remember the dumb ones. Like the guy who left a five star rating with the one word review: “meh.” That just lives in my head, rent free. Why did you rate it five stars? WHY? And of course there are the people who have left me a rave review (“Funny! Exciting! Great!”) but have some weird personal rating system where that only merits 3 stars. What lofty book gets gets a five out of five from you, dear reader? (“To Kill A Mockingbird is both a riveting courtroom drama and a tender coming of age story! 3.5 stars!!”)

One of the first things my publisher drilled into my head was DO NOT ENGAGE with readers posting reviews. NO. DO NOT. There is no winning. If you do, you either come across like a whiner or a bully. (That’s why I’m not linking to them.) 

It should go without saying that you don’t actually have to like a particular movie or book, no matter what critics or crowds say.  Absolutely everyone has their own example of a movie they love that everyone else hates and a movie that gets enormous critical acclaim that they can’t figure out why. Personally, I love Death to Smoochy - the Robin Williams comedy about a rivalry between kid’s show performers. I am largely alone in that opinion, since my wife and I were literally the only ones in the theatre when it came out. And for the life of me, I cannot understand the critical appeal of Lars von Trier who seems determined to degrade his actresses in every movie. 

C'mon, how can you hate that rhino?

And honestly, it really doesn’t matter WHY a critic or a reader dislikes something. Sometimes something just rubs you the wrong way, or you weren’t in the right frame of mind. Art can be transformative, but if someone is resistant to change, what can you do? And maybe, upon reflection, you might be more open to something at a later time. All you can ask is that the reviewer clearly articulate their reasons as to why they dislike something.

I should add the caveat: if the reason you dislike something is wildly sexist or racist or otherwise bigoted, then you can get fucked. For example, you’re absolutely free to hate on The Last Jedi (just to pick one eternal example explored on Twitter dot com), but if your reason comes down to “they put wokeness and girls in muh Star Wars” then expect me to mock you relentlessly.

There’s always been this division of audiences vs critics, or the snooty elitists versus the unwashed rabble. And of course, things that are popular aren’t always good and things that are good aren’t always popular. For example, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen made about a billion dollars more than the recent Nightmare Alley, and the Guillermo del Toro noir movie was about a billion times better than the terrible sequel about fighting robots. And sure, sometimes critics are too quick to dismiss genres out of hand, and audiences are too reluctant to try new things. The level of discourse on social media does very little to help nuance. Trying to write something in 240 characters reduces everything to quips and snark, trying to get the most likes and clicks. And sometimes a film or book just can't be reduced to a couple of sentences, and the first impression is incorrect.

Which brings us back to Encanto and Stephen Thompson. Did he reconsider? Did he succumb to pressure and start singing Surface Pressure around the house?


While he liked it more on a second viewing, he was still resistant to the soundtrack's charms. He was as puzzled as ever why the tracks are filling up the BIllboard charts.

Just as puzzled as I am as to why no one else likes Death to Smoochy and anyone thinks Lars von Trier is good.

Everyone's a critic.

Victor Catano lives in New York City with his wonderful wife, Kim, and his adorable pughuaua, Danerys. When not writing, he works in live theater as a stage manager, production manager, and chaos coordinator. His hobbies include coffee, Broadway musicals, and complaining about the NY Mets and Philadelphia Eagles. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @vgcatano and find his books on Amazon

Monday, February 21, 2022

Creativity is Something Other People Do

P.T. Phronk
A post by P.T. Phronk,
of Forest City Pulp fame
There’s a tendency to think of art as something others do. Art is mysterious; it comes from a magical place. It’s not like going to a day job and pumping out widgets or code or happy customers—all the things you and your ordinary friends do, all the things we do.

Maybe that’s why it’s slightly uncomfortable when good friends create good things. When watching a friend’s band, or play, or art show, it may be objectively fantastic, but that can’t be right, because fantastic acts of creation shouldn’t come from a real person you’ve known for years. They should come from an other.

We’ve even invented the concept of a muse: an other—real or imaginary—who provides the source of artistic inspiration. No way, it couldn’t be a regular person’s brain coming up with this stuff. It must originate somewhere else.

It’s all bullshit, of course. Art is a result of regular brains and regular hands put to hard work. But the belief persists, for some reason.

I try to be aware of this. As a writer, and a writer of horror, the most uncomfortable art of all, I am conscious of how strange it can be for people around me. Self promotion is a challenge, partially for that reason. I’d almost prefer to stand up on a stage and talk about my writing to a crowd of strangers—to whom I am an other—than to answer a friend asking what are you working on now?

So buy my books, stranger.

I'm busy and took the lazy way out for this month's post. Creativity is Something Other People Do was originally posted, in slightly different form, on

Thursday, February 17, 2022

The Female Power Fantasy

Have you seen Encanto yet? If not, go see it. I'll wait. 

No, just kidding. 

Do go see it, if you haven't, but I'm not going to wait for you. This post will be here when you get back.

This post isn't really about Encanto, but it's inspired, in part, by the popularity of one of the characters: Luisa Madrigal. Without giving too much away, Luisa (who is not the main character, mind you) is a loveable, big, brawny, and beautiful girl who has amazing, super-human strength.

I recently learned that the artists who created her had to fight to draw Luisa with the muscular frame rather than the petite princess build Disney so-often prefers for its female characters. Here's the (very brief) article about the fight to draw a brawny Luisa:

Luisa Madrigal from Disney's Encanto

I also learned that apparently Luisa is so popular with girls that Disney is rushing to make more Luisa merchandise, something they totally hadn't anticipated. Girls love the big brawny female character? What gives?

Luisa's popularity does not surprise me AT ALL. The first thing I thought of when I read that article, and this has been on my mind a lot lately, is a pivotal moment from Season 2 of Jessica Jones, when Jessica's best friend, Trish Walker, breaks off her engagement to her fiancĂ©. Trish is an ambitious radio journalist who dreams of a bigger career. Her fiancĂ© has the kind of successful job she envies--he's like Anderson Cooper, perhaps--and she wants what he's got. In that scene she says, “I don’t want to be with Griffin—I want to be him. I want to do what he does. And that’s not love, and it’s not fair to either one of us.”

To that I say, girl... I feel you!

Trish Walker (From Marvel/Netflix's Jessica Jones) realizing she doesn't want to be Griffin's wife.

I've been thinking a lot about why I'm so drawn, especially lately, to characters like Jack Reacher and even the Punisher. Inspired by the new series (Reacher) on Amazon Prime, I have been gobbling Jack Reacher books as fast as I can get my hands on them. My current manuscript work-in-progress is kind of a gender-flipped version of The Punisher. When I was younger I would have thought my attraction was because I had romantic inclinations toward Jack Reacher and Frank Castle. Now I know that's not really the case. I realize that it's more like...envy. I don't want to be with them, I want to BE them. I don't mean literally so much as figuratively. Women want equity--the possibility and options of being able to achieve the same things as those guys. Sometimes it's careers. Sometimes it's social power. Sometimes it's muscles and physical strength. Sometimes it's a bit of all those things combined.

I do not fantasize about violence (to be clear!) but I do think a lot about being that strong and that invincible. And I don't think media does enough to acknowledge women have those tough-guy fantasies too, so it makes sense that Luisa is so popular. She's the embodiment of an ideal so few of us ever get to see!

This is not to say there has been a dearth of strong women in media, but that's not my point. I was talking about this with fellow ATB contributor, Mary Fan, and she brought up Gal Gadot's portrayal of Wonder Woman, and action stars like Scarlet Johansson (Black Widow). In the same vein I think of Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor, Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa; Andy in The Old Guard; and Lorraine in Atomic Blond. I think of Kate Beckinsale as Selene in Underworld. These women are tiny. Or even if they're tall like Gadot and Theron, they're slim. Like, runway supermodel slim. 

Often magic, rather than muscle, accounts for their superior strength. I love many of these actresses and the characters they portray, but I'm not critiquing their plentiful existence so much as I'm critiquing the lack of representation of other types of physical shapes in media and culture. Comparatively speaking, male characters who are strong because of magic or because they are an action hero (Thor, Captain America, Geralt of Rivia, Superman, Reacher) get to have the accompanying brawn and muscle. Spiderman/Peter Parker is one of the few exceptions I can think of off the top of my head. 

On that topic, Mary Fan says:

You know what’s interesting — early superhero looks were based on circus strongmen… hence Superman’s red briefs. But there were also strongwomen in those same circuses and they didn’t get superhero-ized.

Even the Terminator, who was all robot inside, got to have big muscles to power his frame. Compare him to a long list of sexy fem-bots who have superior strength but not much muscle and are clearly expected make people think of sex. It's all about the male gaze.

Number Six a Cylon (artificially-intelligent race of machines) from Battlestar Galactica

Luisa Madrigal was not drawn for the male gaze. Instead, she's the rare embodiment of how femme strength can look when freed from sexist constraints. It broke my heart when Gina Carano (a former professional MMA fighter) turned out to be an absolute buffoon and Disney/Star Wars parted ways with her because I adored her portrayal of Cara Dune. In every heist-type group, there's always one character who plays the muscle, the heavy, the bruiser. It's usually a man, and often one who is short on brains. But in The Mandalorian, Cara Dune was not only big, muscly, strong, and fierce, but she was clever too. And beautiful! When she landed a punch, and the bad guy fell, you believed it! You believed she was strong enough to break jaws and ribs and noses. Women are so rarely portrayed that way, and I realized I had been starving to see it!

Cara Dune played by Gina Carano on Disney's The Mandalorian

When I was a little girl, I was obsessed with Adora, She-Ra, the Princess of Power. I had her action figures, all of her friends, and her flying swan, Enchanta. It didn't bother me that she looked like Barbie. ALL female dolls and action figures looked like Barbie and that seemed normal to me. Again, magic explained her strength. Never mind how her cousin, Adam (He-Man), was super strong and had the muscles to go with it. That was just the norm in the early eighties, I suppose, and I wasn't self-aware enough back then to question it. Fast forward to the Twenty-Teens and, like so many other older properties, She-Ra announced she was getting a reboot AND a facelift. She was redrawn to look how a girl who fights and swings swords might look. And naturally a lot of dudes lost their minds about it.

I, an elementary-school aged girl, was the original target market for She-Ra, and I didn't care if she had lipstick and perky boobs or not. So, why was she ever drawn that way in the first place? Sell a Barbie to a little girl to get her to start thinking that's how she had to look when she grew up. Who does that benefit? Surely not the little girl. The answer to that one starts with a "P" and rhymes with hatriarchy. The new She-Ra might still not be as big and muscly as someone like Cara Dune, but when she wields a sword, now, it's believable. There's more than just magic there to explain her physicality.

 I'm not ranting against looking femme or to argue that one cannot be both femme and strong and/or muscular. I'm actually arguing the opposite and highlighting the evolving shapes of women and femininity and spotlighting the fact that characters like Luisa are hopefully signs that the spectrum of gender representation in media is broadening to allow more variety and positivity about that variety.

2018 vs 1985

Women often live with a certain level of fear--we've somewhat come to accept that this is the way the world is. We often feel like prey, and why not? In real life, we're more likely to be the targets of violence rather than the purveyors of it. On top of that, over and over, we've been portrayed as victims in media and in history (The complicated and nuanced truth of women's roles in history is another entire blog post of it's own, but I'll save my time and simply refer you to the mandatory-reading essay by Kameron Hurley, "We Have Always Fought". I feel like an alternate title to that essay could be, "We Have Always Been Strong") . Who is surprised when our fantasies are to be stronger, more able to hold our own in a world historically dominated by the whims of men?

This tough-guy fascination is something that I'm experiencing more and more as I age. Maybe I'm feeling my vulnerability (achy joints, lower endurance, biological systems going wonky). Like I said, I'd love to be less vulnerable and more physically capable. When I was younger, I probably felt stronger and more invincible. Perhaps it's also that I hadn't lived in the world long enough to be weary of sexism, or I was better at ignoring it. Now, I think the appeal of the tough-guy aesthetic has something to do with me being middle aged and having lost my patience and tolerance for the B.S. that comes with being being a woman. 

What kind of B.S.? I'm talking about stuff like this:

I'm not including identifying information on these tweets because I don't want to bring more clicks or views to this jerk.

"That...pressure song she sings & [sic] is just stuff a guy would sing, too," he says. It's like he almost gets the whole point of the song, and Luisa's character, but then misses it by a mile. Instead of considering that women, on an even playing field, could have both equitable success and equitable problems to men, he dismisses Luisa femininity altogether and accuses her of "just being a dude in a dress."  I find it highly unlikely that men in his fundamental and conservative social circle would sing a song like "Surface Pressure." In his world men can't be both physically strong and emotionally vulnerable. It's not allowed. But take away his argument of "God's plan" for what women and men are supposed to be, and all that's left is a bunch of artificial, man-made goop. By the way, dude, Proverbs 31:17 says, "She girds herself with strength, And strengthens her arms." You know how she strengthens her arms? She plants a whole damned vineyard! No matter how much he rails against it, gender evolution will eventually leave him behind. It already has.

William Moulton Marston, a Harvard educated, feminist psychologist and the creator of Wonder Woman predicted that a matriarchy was inevitable and said, "The next 100 years will see the beginning of an American matriarchy—a nation of amazons in the psychological rather than the physical sense.” I'm hopeful that Marston is right and that masculinity, in the toxic patriarchal sense, is on the decline. This sentiment isn't about wanting men to disappear or women wanting to take the place of men in the world, but about the world becoming a place where equality for the full spectrum of gender expression is more fully realized and respected.

So bring on the Luisas and the Cara Dunes and the Xenas. Give us some Jaqueline Reachers and Francine Castles. We would love them. We'd embrace them. We'd buy their merchandise!

Monday, February 14, 2022

The Life Audio-quatic (Interview with Matt Wildasin)

Another quality post brought to you by Steve!

Hey, everybody!  Hope you're having a fine Valentines Day or Galentines Day or maybe just Monday.  In any case, planning in advance for once (I know, right?) I set up an interview with my good friend and author/audio engineer/illustrator extraordinaire Matt Wildasin.  We talk primarily about audiobooks, but also a lot of other inexplicable nonsense, so you're sure to enjoy it!

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Google Search: Where Is Boba Fett?

Christian here ready to bring you another gem of a post for ATB Writers. I was told to do my first ever google search post. A time-old tradition here at ATB where we google search a topic of choice and then blog about the results. 

Seeing as to how this post is due to come out the day after the end of the Book of Boba Fett, and the fact that I watch the show online with fellow writers Mary, Karissa, and Victor, I figured, why not have a bit of fun and answer these questions to the best of my ability as the group’s resident entertainment journalist who gets the scoop on things sometimes.

So here I am to answer the question we’ve all been dying to know regarding Where is Boba Fett:

Where is Boba Fett in The Timeline? 

Somewhere between A Long Time Ago and A Galaxy Far Far Away. 

Where is Boba Fett Filmed?

Tatooine, New Mexico, given that it’s Robert Rodriguez directing. The Latin guitar and biker gang was the dead giveaway. If not, then definitely, Texas, or wherever a sleeping Danny Trejo lay before his next Robert Rodriguez movie cameo.

Where is Boba Fett Actor From?

New Zealand? I believe given Temeura’s accent? I like to pretend Boba spent his youth working for a different evil one, claiming bounties for Sauron, on the isles of Hobbits and Kings.

Where is Boba Fett in The Force Awakens?

Force asleep, apparently. He’s no Chirrut. No ‘One with the force and the force is with me,’ over here. If force sensitivity was a thing -- Boba would be insensitive.

Where is Boba Fett’s Ship?

Filing paperwork to change its name from Slave One. Look, if the Millenium Falcon can get an unwarranted personality origins story in Solo, the ‘Firespray’ formerly known as Slave One, can get its own personality redemption story in The Book of Boba Fett. 

Where is Boba Fett Going?

Off to the side to passively stand there and do anything else besides take part in his own story. Like the original trilogy, he's been standing there with barely any lines. But just when you forget about him and things come blasting? Pew, Pew, Pew.

Where is Boba Fett Now?

Asking the republic if Rancor King can indeed be considered a legitimate profession.

Where is Boba Fett Streaming?

On his Jetpack. Up in the air.

Where is Boba Fett Set?

Tatooine. Before Star Wars Episode 12: The Search For More Money (The Spaceballs Edition). 

Well, that was fun! That said, I think buzzwords and hype for a story really generate a lot of fun related questions regarding an intellectual property, and if you can get people asking things like, ‘Where is Boba Fett?”, “What If Marvel…”, or “What's going on in WandaVision?” – you can generate a lot of organic search traffic. Including, for your story *hint hint*.

Monday, February 7, 2022

Back-Jacket hack-Job - The Shining

Hey everybody, it's me again - Kayleigh. I'm here to offer up my very first back-jacket hack-job, and for my grand entrance into this theme I thought I'd start with a story that everyone's heard of... The Shining, by Stephen King.

Now, many people think of this story as a haunted hotel horror, a location that corrupts Jack and terrorises his wife and child, and destroys his family. I have a different take.

The Overlook Hotel, a beautiful place that suffers total isolation every winter due to sitting in the heart of nowhere-up-a-mountain, eagerly awaits the caretaker that will keep it company for those long, dark months. Jack, a writer, a sensitive type, is just the companion the hotel and its formerly-living residents need to beat off those winter blues.

But Wendy, Jack's wife, has other plans...

Fuelled by unreasonable jealousy of her husband's purely platonic love of The Overlook, she sets about sabotaging his relationship with it. When he says the hotel is fine, she says it is "evil", and attempts to gaslight him into questioning his own judgment. When he makes new friends, she automatically thinks they're bad news. She overreacts every time she encounters one of the hotel's residents due to her prejudice of ghosts, and she manipulates her son into fearing them. It all comes to a head when she reads Jack's work-in-progress (without his permission), and isn't impressed with it. The book clearly doesn't live up to her impossible standards, and the altercation that follows ends in her attacking him with a bat.

Nothing is ever good enough for Wendy, their son Danny, or Danny's creepy imaginary friend - not the beautiful setting, nor Jack slaving away on his writing day and night because he's the family's breadwinner.

Will Jack free himself of his wretched life, with the help of his new friends at The Overlook Hotel, or will Wendy finally succeed in alienating them?

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Tactics for Writer's Block



We've all been there. Whether you're trying to write the world's next epic novel, or just trying to finish your final project for college, writer's block is a demon that has infested us all at some point. I've gone through it many times. In fact, I've been struggling with it ever since Covid hit. I'd like to say that I follow my own advice here, but sometimes it's hard to muster up the motivation, and that's okay. If you need a break, then don't be hard on yourself. If you want to bust through your writer's block, here are a few things I do that help me.

Keep thinking about it

 Even when I'm not actively putting the fingers to the keyboard, I find that just sitting around going over my stories in my head sometimes work to give me the next idea. Daydream before bed. Think about it at work. Always try to devote a little time each day to just acknowledge your project in your head. That in and of itself counts as an act of progress, and it could lead to a eureka moment later on.


Write yourself notes.

Often times, while I'm thinking about my writing, a sudden idea will ring positively in my brain. Rather than risk forgetting about, write yourself a note. Use a pad and paper, use the note function on your phone, email it to yourself. You may look at it later and go "meh", or you may find you can begin to build on it. Don't let any idea go away completely. Keep notes and refer to them later. You may find that something you thought of won't work in your current project, but may work for a future one.


Read over your old stuff

Yes, turn to yourself for inspiration. Read old stuff you've written to remind yourself you're a good writer. Get yourself interested in it again by remembering the stuff that interested you before. 


Read someone else's work

Now, I am not suggesting plagiarism here, but sometimes simply reading another author's work for enjoyment can bring back the spark and renew your own writing energy. Keep the brain muscles strong, and keep reading. Eventually, you should find that spark again and want to work more on your own stuff. The worst case scenario here, is you've read a good book.

Blogger Template by Designer Blogs