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1. Last Hurrah

Years ago, on a family trip to Washington, D.C., I told the boys that this trip was going to be the last hurrah of our practice of buying beanie babies on every vacation (and for every Christmas, birthday, Easter, and other occasion). We'd buy ONE more beanie baby in the nation's capitol, as our last hurrah of beanie-baby-buying. Every day on the trip the boys would ask me, "Is this the day we get the hurrah?" The day came when the answer was yes. That little bunny beanie baby was known for years as "the hurrah."

I just returned from my last hurrah as a professor of philosophy, attending my last-ever APA (conference of the American Philosophical Association). Actually, this year I had two last hurrahs, for I attended the Central Division APA in Chicago in February (where I also did a book signing at the Magic Tree Bookstores in Oak Park, reconnected with extended family, and took part in a hilarious trivia contest at the Oak Park Public Library as part of a team of Betsy-Tacy Society friends). This week is the Pacific Division meeting in San Diego. I flew out on an 8:00 am flight yesterday and flew back on an 8 am flight today. So the hurrah lasted just twenty-four hours. But they were a sweet twenty-four hours indeed.

I learned a long time ago that I have little tolerance for listening to papers with titles like "Why the Debate over Composition Is Factually Empty (Or Why There’s No Fact of the Matter Whether Anything Exists)" (an actual title from this year's program). I've always had only half my heart in philosophy, anyway. So as soon as I arrived in San Diego and checked into the lovely Westin Hotel in the Gas Lamp District, I wandered across the street to a French bakery/bistro and treated myself to an hour of writing on my Nora ant farm book revisions over croissants and chocolat. I do so love writing somewhere new.

I spent the afternoon in our APA session where three philosophers, including me, gave commentary on Jana Mohr Lone's wonderful book, The Philosophical Child, her argument for why we should encourage children's philosophical wondering. I loved the book, so I had little direct criticism to offer. My comments focused chiefly on Jana's thought that some of the approach she and other pioneers in the Philosophy-for-Children movement use with children could be illuminating to consider for undergraduate education as well: a focus on actually doing philosophy, living in the space of the questions for their own sake, rather than dutifully imparting knowledge of canonical texts. I shared her regret that so often we discourage our students from the joys of philosophical wondering - but also confessed my discomfort when a student tells me that rather than write his ethical theory paper on Mill or Kant or Aristotle, he wants to come up with his "own" theory.  No, no, no! The discussion that followed all three sets of comments was wonderful: wide-ranging, honest, real.

Of course afterward I had the last hurrah of drinks in the hotel bar with a bunch of people from our session: the San Diego Sea Breeze was my cocktail of choice. Then I wandered through the Gas Lamp District with beloved former grad student Sara (organizer of the afternoon's session) and her family (including her delightful children aged nine and five) for a last hurrah APA dinner.

Now, candor compels me to confess that we did buy other beanie babies after that trip to Washington, DC. The beanie baby bunny hurrah was joined by other hurrahs down the road and across the years. I may go to an APA again sometime. Or not. It's expensive to attend, with registration fees of $120, airfare, hotel tariff running to $200 for a single night. This time I got some support from the university for my expenses (though I was on my own for the San Diego Sea Breeze!). The APA is never held in Denver. So maybe this was the last hurrah, or maybe there are future hurrahs to come. I know enough "never to say never."

But if it was the last hurrah, well, I say hurrah for the last hurrah.





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2. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Errand requiring immediate attention. Come.
The note was on vellum, pierced by the talons of the almost-crow that delivered it. Karou read the message. 'He never says please', she sighed, but she gathered up her things.
When Brimstone called, she always came.
In general, Karou has managed to keep her two lives in balance. On the one hand, she's a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to a monstrous creature who is the closest thing she has to family. Raised half in our world, half in 'Elsewhere', she has never understood Brimstone's dark work - buying teeth from hunters and murderers - nor how she came into his keeping. She is a secret even to herself, plagued by the sensation that she isn't whole.
Now the doors to Elsewhere are closing, and Karou must choose between the safety of her human life and the dangers of a war-ravaged world that may hold the answers she has always sought.
I am late to the party. This has been known to happen. Daughter of Smoke and Bone, if you've not read it already, should be on your to-read list. It evokes a profoundly strange and exotic and surreal world, in which creatures can be made from teeth (super creepy, super awesome) and hidden realms can be accessed through magical doors and holes in the sky. This stuff, you guys? I love this stuff. Not quite as much as I love time travel, coma dreams, and everybody getting killed by zombies, but almost as much. Daughter of Smoke and Bone was so extraordinary that my expectations were impossibly high for Days of Blood and Starlight, and while that contained some astonishingly good twists and more of the vivid imagery of the first book, it's pretty difficult for a middle book of a series to be a stand-out, especially after the amazing world-building and utterly mesmerising first novel.
Another thing that happens with series is that with each subsequent book the characters have experienced more suffering and pain - necessary for a good, exciting plot, but if the characters develop properly (i.e. not in soap operas, where everyone forgets five minutes later) characters get dark and tortured really quickly. I think that can make a book a little too draining - and as Karou discovers more and more about who she was, it gets terribly heavy. What I seek in stories is generally some sort of ultimate hopefulness, and Days of Blood and Starlight did not end on a good note. So I'm certainly looking forward to Dreams of Gods and Monsters, the final instalment of the trilogy.

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3. Manischewitz

Once a year, for one week straight,
A beer I will decline.
Instead, I will indulge in
Manischewitz kosher wine.

If you have never tried it,
Well, your life is not complete,
But you’d sure surprise your taste buds
‘Cause it’s sickeningly sweet.

Since it’s part of my tradition,
It’s a habit I can’t break
And from childhood sips to current times,
I’ve stuck with Concord Grape.

Though I’m not at all religious,
I’m nostalgic for the past
And at Seders* long ago,
The Manischewitz die was cast.

Certain connoisseurs of culture
Call me out and say, “Enough!
Now it’s time to climb the ladder
And reject that sweetened stuff.”

But a creature (me!) of habit
Thinks that Manischewitz wine,
Like the macaroons and matzoh,
Fits the holiday just fine.

*Passover meal

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4. From the short story: The Boy In The Leaves by J.D. Holiday

The Boy In The Leaves


from Short Stories and Other Imaginings for The Reading Spot


by J.D. Holiday


All Rights Reserved


Copyright 2014 by J.D. Holiday
The Boy  In The Leaves B&W FINISHEDFinal 3-25-13  JDHOLIDAY


A small boy laid there, motionless. Unlike the leaves around him he lay undisturbed by the wind gust.


Max stepped away. It was just a little kid. He looked asleep, his dark skinwas a shade of blue and purple, almost translucent. Thin parchment spanning a fragile frame.


The boy wore black jeans and an orange T-shirt with a ‘Save The Oceans’ logo across his chest. A crusted gash was on his forehead. Any time now he’d move, open his eyes and jump up, laughing.


“He’s dead,” Tony said again, this time contemptuously, his eyes wells of tears.


Max’s chest felt crushed like the time he’d fallen on his back from the school yardjungle gym and he couldn’t pull air in. He managed to say, “Maybe he’s not.”


Tony shook his head. “The little piss head. Dumb shit! He didn’t do whathe should have and now he’s dead. Stupid kid!”


Max stared at the kid. For a moment he sawTonylying in the boy’s place.Max choked. “He’s sick or something.” He hedged closer and squatted down, hesitantly touching the boy’s face. The skin was unusually cold, and the cheek dented in easily, like clay. Max jumped back falling on his backside.


“He’s dead. Can’t you see that cut on his head? They smashed him with something.Hard!” Richie loudly told him, his hands clutched at his side.


“No. Maybe it was an accident. Or a car hit him.”


“Grow up, Max. It happens,”Tony said softly now, grabbing Max’s sleeveand jerking him to his feet. “We have to tell.”


On his feet again, Max let Tony continue pulling him toward his own house. At the front door Tony using his key, lead Max inside.


They softly moved through the silent house to the kitchen in back, bright light from the many windows illuminating their way. Nothing was ever out of place there. Alwaysa bleachy smell in the air as if someone wiped off everything to disinfect and kill all the germs before they contaminated the inhabitants of the house. This house gave Max the creeps. There was something missing from it. What it was Max knew well, though things have changed since his stepfather now sucks it all up in their family. There was no love and what was there, felt like old toast taste; brittle, crackly and harsh. Most times Max could get Tony to come over to his house and hang out.When Max was here though, at Tony‘s, he felt it. Something always spooked him, only worse this time. Finding the boy did it, never having seen someone dead before.


He could almost see Tony getting beaten up here. Marus broke Tony‘s leg with thebaseball bat Tony usually kept leaning inside the garage door. Tony said he was batted to short stop, the patio doors calling him out. His parents told people he’d fallen from a backyard tree. Afterwards, Tony put the bat through the lattice work decorating the front porch, out of sight under the stairs so Maris couldn’t use it again.


Copyright by J.D. Holiday 2014

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5.


Have just set up shop at Goodreads and invite you to join me there!

-Dms

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6. Great Presentations



Last Saturday, I attended a terrific conference put on by the Foundation of Children’s Books (FCB) at Lesley University.  It’s a regular event and this year it concentrated upon nonfiction.  The speakers were nonfiction all-stars including Michael Tougias talking about adapting to write for middle grade after being an adult nonfiction author, Kathy Lasky reflecting upon the evolution of the nonfiction part of her career, Jason Chin finding the narrative arc of science through words and illustrations, and Steve Sheinkin being wildly entertaining while discussing books about very serious subjects.

I was especially pleased, however, to listen to fellow I.N.K. contributor Melissa Stewart.  She appeared in the middle of the lineup, and that’s when you could hear pens scratching on notebooks.  Melissa was there to discuss “Nonfiction Books You’ll Love” from 2013 and 2014.

The way that she presented them would do any nonfiction writer proud.  She organized her info into topics that provided context to her audience.  She gave just enough description about each book to inform and create the desire for further research.  Her enthusiasm for her subject/s was infectious.  She even supplied back matter: a takeaway list of 30 books arranged in alphabetical order by title and by year.

I guess what impressed me most besides Melissa’s careful curation was the generosity of her presentation--praise, yes, but also ways we could appreciate and use the books she mentioned.  That’s why authors in the audience were writing down titles as potential mentor texts while teachers and librarians were listing books to add to their collections.  

I remember a post Melissa did a while ago, saying that Common Core is here to stay and one of the best things writers can do (if they have the time and interest) is to give teachers easy ways to use their books to teach these standards.  Then she helped us further by providing 10 ways to help educators, complete with with examples of these ideas.

During her presentation at the FCB, Melissa showed us a new idea she is using, a multimedia revision timeline that chronicles the very long road she took to finally publish her book, No Monkeys, No Chocolate.  It was a fabulous way to show students and beginning authors that effortless writing takes an enormous amount of steps and work.


Now, she has given us 11 ways to help educators.

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7. Two Selkie Stories From Scotland by Kate Forsyth, Ill. by FionaMcDonald, Armidale, NSW, Christmas Press, 2014


This is the second book to be published by Christmas Press, an Australian small press run by a group of writers and artists. The purpose of it is to publish the kind of  illustrated children's books they would have loved to read as children - and now! 

The first book, Two Trickster Tales From Russia, by Sophie Masson, featured Russian folktales with appropriately Russian-style illustrations(though they also reminded me of the art of British fairytale artist Walter Crane). The language was not too difficult for young children to understand, both those who could read independently and those to whom parents might read.

This new book is the same in that respect. I would have loved to read this when I was in Grade 2 or 3. (Admittedly, by the next year I was reading Robert Graves, but that was nerdy me.;-D) 

The two stories are "The Selkie Bride" - a story I have read before - and "In The Kingdom Of The Seals", which I haven't, although the theme of shooting at seals and hitting a Selkie is not unfamiliar. I've come across a much scarier version elsewhere. This one has a positive ending.

If you've been following Australian spec fic in the last year or two, you may have heard of Margo Lanagan's wonderful Selkie-themed Sea Hearts,  known as The Brides Of Rollrock Island outside Australia. It won about a million prizes and got on to the Stella list for women's fiction. 

Selkies are a part of Celtic folklore. The Selkie is a seal that can drop its skin and appear as a human for a while. If you steal the skin and hide it, the poor thing can't get home to the sea. The standard folktale is this: a fisherman or farmer sees a bunch of beautiful young women dancing on the shore. He startles them and they   run off back to the water, grabbing their skins and turning into seals. One poor girl isn't quite fast enough; the young man snatches her sealskin and demands she marries him.  She hasn't much choice. He hides the skin from her. She becomes a good wife and mother, but is always sad. One day, the  husband is out and one of her children finds the skin, either by accident or to make her happy. The woman grabs the skin, kisses the children goodbye - or sometimes doesn't bother - and returns to the sea. There's never a happy ending to these stories; even if the Selkie does go home, she loses her children and they lose her. 

In this book, the man who steals a bride from the sea is a laird, who tries to make his reluctant bride happy with nice clothes and food. Of course, he doesn't, and the story is pretty much the usual one.In the  second tale, "In The Kingdom Of The Seals", a man who makes his living killing seals and selling their pelts finds himself under the sea, facing the results of his actions, with a badly wounded Selkie that can't be healed except by him. But he's not a villain, just a man who has a wife and children to support, and the seals are a lot more forgiving than you'd expect. 

It's very appropriate to have these stories retold by a writer well known for her YA and adult fiction with folktale themes. She doesn't disappoint in this one.

The art is gorgeous and lavish, perfect for the kind of stories it's illustrating.

Another triumph for a wonderful new Australian small press.

The book will be available at all good bookshops in Australia from May 1. If you live outside Australia and would like a copy, you should be able to buy online. Just check out the web site: http://christmaspresspicturebooks.com/buying-our-books/. 

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8. Emotional Anticipation

Build tension to build your character's emotions. 

http://kidlit.com/2014/03/24/building-emotional-anticipation/

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9. Rounding out characters

Question: I keep coming up with things for my main character like what happened to her and what she's going through but I have like 4 or 5 other characters

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10. Setting the Scene for My Next “Scary Tales”: The Importance of Place

I’ve had a semi-solid idea for the next “Scary Tales” book (number 6, untitled), for a while.

But nothing real specific.

I’ve been fleshing out characters, still debating the introduction of a third character, wondering if she’s necessary or not. Definitely going with twin boys.

As for place, I always thought — without giving it much thought — some kind of swamp. Down south, I assumed. Had to be, right?

Lately that notion of place has gotten more specific. I’m zeroing in on Southeast Texas somewhere. Still have more research to do, more looking at maps, more figuring and fact-checking. And, of course, all that in turn effects my characters. How they talk, how they live.

I recently spent time on Google, looking at images, checking maps, gaining inspiration. It seems to be something I’ve been doing of late, part of my writing process.

Here’s a few you might enjoy . . .

And last but not least . . .

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11. Creative Writing- can it be taught? - Linda Strachan

There has been a lot of debate about whether creative writing can be taught and whether it should be taught.  
I do believe that you can teach certain aspects of creative writing - but then I would say that, having written a book about it!   
Some say writers should be free to find their own way, to experiment. That is fine, but why reinvent the wheel?
I think it is akin to someone who wants to draw buildings or street scenes being told that no one should teach them about perspective, they should find out by trial and error.

There are aspects of any skill, including writing, that can be taught, there is always something new to learn and I think the best teachers in any field will encourage students to go out and experiment, but they give them some kind of board to dive from.
It is important that the people who are teaching have some kind of credibility and publishing credentials. There are so many universities and colleges offering creative writing courses and I often wonder how many of them give their students any insight into the realities of what it takes to survive as a writer in this day and age. Do they tell them how uncertain a career path it is, that even if the book they write on the course gets published (with lots of time, help and support when writing it), that is no guarantee for the future?

I get a real buzz from working with emerging writers of any age. I love encouraging people to explore their creativity, and watching as they discover they have written something that surprises them; seeing ideas blossom into stories and their characters growing into fully fleshed out people.
We all know that writing can be scary, and sharing it with others is sometimes the most difficult thing, which is why creating a sense of trust within a group of students is so important. They should feel safe, and confident that any comments though honest, will not be destructive.  Whether a novice writing in secret, or an experienced writer waiting to hear what people think of your new book, we all feel wary when putting our latest creation out there. People may not like it!  But we keep on writing, because we love it, and hate it, and we just have to do it.
Moniack Mhor



I recently spent a weekend at Scotland's Creative Writing Centre, Moniack Mhor.  I've been there a few times before, tutoring Arvon courses much like those discussed in the post last Sunday The Arvon Habit by Sheena Wilkinson.   

This time I was working with a group of adults both at Moniack Mhor and at the Abriachan Forest Trust, on a short course called Words in the Landscape, and what a landscape it is!
View from my window at Moniack Mhor

We spent one day at Abriachan walking in the forest, being inspired by our surroundings. 

It was wonderful to stand quietly in the middle of the forest and -

LISTEN to the quiet, and the noises we often miss because we are talking or making noise ourselves -
Abriachan Forest Trust cabin classroom





LOOK at everything around us from the great majesty of trees to the smallest insect walking on the water - 

FEEL the wind against your skin, the warmth of the early spring sunshine -

IMAGINE what creatures might have inhabited these woods thousands of years ago, or in an imaginary world far away.  



Artist's Impression of Straw Bale Studio




On the second afternoon at Moniack Mhor some of us were lucky enough to be the first to try out the newly finished Straw Bale Studio, an 'eco friendly tutorial space. It was really exciting to see it finished.

I had watched some of the early stages of the build when I was there in August last year.

The group created some great stories and ideas for further writing.


I always come away inspired and ready to get back to my own writing. 

Running courses in creative writing reminds me to make sure my readers will care about my characters; to make the plot layered, the characters flawed and fascinating; to work harder on dialogue, and at making the plot grab the reader and pull them through the story.  It sharpens my critical senses and reminds me of all the things I have been working on with my students.  

Teaching creative writing is hard work but rewarding in so many ways.


-----------------------------------


Linda Strachan is the author of over 60 books for all ages from picture books to teenage novels and the writing handbook Writing For Children  

Her latest YA novel is Don't Judge Me  


Linda  is  Patron of Reading to Liberton High School, Edinburgh 


website:  www.lindastrachan.com
blog:  Bookwords



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12. Call for Poetry Submissions and Poetry Chapbook Contest: Blast Furnace

Blast Furnace: Call for Submissions: Volume 4, Issue 2

As a reminder: we accept a few kinds of submission formats: portable document format (.pdf), rich text format (.rft) and .doc/docx (Microsoft Word) files, OR .mp3/.wav audio files.

That said...please submit no more than three (3) of your BEST poems, or, if you prefer to create an audio recording of yourself reciting your poetry, send ONLY ONE (1) file attachment of NOT MORE THAN 2 MINUTES/120 seconds in total duration here.

For our fourteenth issue, we are entertaining poems with the theme(s) of origins and beginnings, as well as fine original poetry outside of this/these theme(s). We simply ask that individual submissions do NOT exceed more than three (3) poems per poet, and that each individual poem NOT exceed more than three (3) pages.

Please read our Mission/Values, Submission Guidelines and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) posted near the top of our web page, before submitting to review what resonates with us. We love a variety of poetic styles, but we are also picky.

DEADLINE: June 15, 2014


ADDITIONALLY, We are now accepting submissions for our first annual poetry chapbook contest, to be judged by Heather McNaugher!

For contest details, visit our Submittable page.

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13. Mark your calendars: Unstoppable - June 3rd!

The release date for Unstoppable is June 3rd!

At that time it will only be available in print and at Amazon. 

To catch up on the series - Untraceable is currently free and Uncontrollable is $3.99.

You can add Unstoppable to your Goodreads 

If you would like to be a part of the summer blog tour - sign up here.




After everything that has happened, Grace goes to the Everglades to live with her grandmother, Birdee. Even though she is now home-schooled by her bird-obsessed grandmother, the move gives Grace time to relax. She learns to scuba dive and starts boating with old man Rex, Birdee's casual friend/boyfriend. 

One day while out in the marshes of the Everglades, Grace rescues an abused Florida panther, currently on the endangered list. The more she dives into the animal’s horrific condition, the more she ventures into the underground world of the roadside zoos that run rampant in Florida with a total disregard for the law. Eventually, she stumbles upon one large roadside zoo filled with a variety of endangered and illegal animals. 

Before she can gather evidence and report her findings to the authorities, she is kidnapped by the ruthless owner and dragged deep into the Everglades for a hunting challenge. Only this time, Grace is the prey. 

During a sick game of cat and mouse, Grace is offered one chance at survival. With a one-hour head start and very little supplies, time and skill are now all that stands between the hunter and the hunted.



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14. And The Fox Kit Research Begins

Fox kits 4-17

I went to the fox den today, just thinking I’d be collecting the SD card from the trail cam.  But I didn’t get that far.  Once I saw these adorable kits outside the den entrance, I knew I had to keep my distance.

fox kits 4 4-14

I set up my camera and extended the lens. I itched to get closer, but resisted the urge. Two very young kits lay in the opening, curled around each other, soaking up a sunbeam.

I never *sneak* in to see them, quite the opposite in fact.  I let my hiking boots crunch and snap twigs so they know I’m coming and have the opportunity to hide.

These two didn’t scramble away though. They just peeked in my direction through sleepy lids . . .

fox kit 3 4-14

Stumbled around a bit on wobbly legs .  . .

Fox kit 2  4-14

Curled up together again, and fell back asleep.

 

I fox kit 5 4-14

I never did collect that SD card, as I would have had to take another seven giant steps in their direction.  Why disturb their nap in the sunshine?

The card can wait. I got what I needed for today.

 

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15. Essay Competition: Wielding Power

Essay Contest: Is Secession Legitimate?

Wielding Power is a new online magazine that's reviving the political essay, that classic mix of rigorous argument and vigorous prose.

Each issue poses a single question and offers a $1000 reward for the best answer received. Entry is free and open to any resident of the U.S. or Canada (ex. Quebec), 18 and older. Each entry should be between 500 and 2000 words.

The last day to submit an answer to 'Is Secession Legitimate?' is June 1, 2014.
For more information on how to submit and to read the Official Rules, please visit our website.

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16. "Seal Lullaby," by Rudyard Kipling [Poetry Friday]

I hope you've been enjoying our sharing of some of our favorite poems. I've really loved hearing my fellow Teaching Authors read!

I could never choose one favorite poem, but this is definitely one I come back to again and again. It has several elements I adore: rhyme, nature, the ocean, gorgeous language, a melancholy but still comforting tone, and content that acknowledges the dangers in the world but promises safety anyway.

Seal Lullaby

Oh! Hush thee, my baby, the night is behind us,
  And black are the waters that sparkled so green.
The moon, o’er the combers, looks downward to find us,
  At rest in the hollows that rustle between.


Where billow meets billow, then soft be thy pillow,
  Oh weary wee flipperling, curl at thy ease!
The storm shall not wake thee, nor shark overtake thee,
  Asleep in the arms of the slow swinging seas.


—Rudyard Kipling

And here I am reading the poem:



I hope you're having a terrific National Poetry Month! There's so much amazing stuff being shared in our kidlitosphere--it's hard to keep up, isn't it? I do hope you'll take a couple of minutes to go to our Blogiversary Post and enter our giveaway. You could win one of five book bundles from one of the Teaching Authors:>)

Artist/writer/blogger/poet and all-around lovely person Robyn Hood Black has the Poetry Friday Roundup today at Life on the Deckle Edge. Have fun!

[posted by Laura Purdie Salas]

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17. Creative Nonfiction and Short Fiction Contests: Sonoran Review

Sonora Review 2014 Nonfiction Contest Submissions Now Open

Online submissions link

DEADLINE: May 15, 2014

JUDGE: Jenny Boully, author of The Body: An Essay and not merely because of the unknown that was stalking toward them.

WHAT WE WANT: Essays and nonfiction up to 6,000 words. Hybrid projects warmly welcomed. Submissions should be typed and double-spaced. Include a cover letter with a brief biography, your contact information and any other pertinent information about your submission. Simultaneous submissions are fine but please let us know as soon as possible if the work is accepted elsewhere; multiple submissions are also fine, although you will have to pay the contest fee again. Please remove your name or any other identifying marks from your manuscript before submitting.
 
HOW TO DO IT: Submit online or send an SASE to:

Mike Coakley and Laura Miller, Editors-in-Chief 
(c/o Nonfiction Editorial Board) Sonora Review
Dept. of English 
University of Arizona 
Tucson, AZ 85719.

WINNER RECEIVES: 1,000 dollar cash prize and publication, finalists will be considered for publication in Issue 66 of Sonora Review.


Sonora Review 2014 Short-Fiction Contest Submissions Now Open

Online submissions link

DEADLINE: June 1, 2014
 
JUDGE: Matt Bell, author of In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods.

WHAT WE WANT: Your absolute best, most imaginative fiction up to 1,000 words. Submissions should be typed and double-spaced. Include a cover letter with a brief biography, your contact information and any other pertinent information about your submission. Simultaneous submissions are fine but please let us know as soon as possible if the work is accepted elsewhere; multiple submissions are also fine, although you will have to pay the contest fee again. Please remove your name or any other identifying marks from your manuscript before submitting.

HOW TO DO IT: Submit online or send an SASE to:

Mike Coakley and Laura Miller, Editors-in-Chief 
(c/o Fiction Editorial Board) Sonora Review
Dept. of English 
University of Arizona
Tucson, AZ 85719

WINNER RECEIVES: 1,000 dollar cash prize and publication, finalists will be considered for publication in Issue 66 of Sonora Review.

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18. Rock the Drop: Recap #1

We cannot express how grateful we are about the amount YA love that you showed today! Here are just a few screen grabs of tweeted photos. More recap to come! If you have a story you'd like to share, email us at readergirlz AT gmail and we'll post it here. THANK YOU FOR ROCKING THE DROP!




























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19. Call for Submissions: The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts

The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts is looking for, as you might guess, "compressed creative arts." We accept fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, mixed media, visual arts, and even kitchen sinks, if they are compressed in some way. Work is published weekly, without labels, and the labels here only exist to help us determine its best readers. We also have a brand new category: triptychs!

Our response time is generally 1-3 days. Also, our acceptance rate is currently about 1% of submissions. We pay writers $50 per accepted piece and signed contract.

We are currently open for compressed poetry, compressed prose fiction (including prose poetry), and compressed creative nonfiction. We will close submissions on June 15, 2014.

The reader for your submission is, during this round of spring submissions, the managing editor.

Please be sure to submit in the correct category; we've been receiving several fiction submissions in the creative nonfiction category. Word count alone doesn't create compression, so we ask that you also consider why this piece works for a journal obsessed with what's compressed.

For all submitters, we aren't as concerned with labels—hint fiction, prose poetry, micro fiction, flash fiction, and so on—as we are with what compression means to you. In other words, what form "compression" takes in each artist's work will be up to each individual. However, we don't publish erotica or work with strong, graphic sexual content.

In short, we want to fall in love with your work. That might happen in the way we've fallen in love with work we've previously published, or it might happen in a way we have yet to experience. Maybe reading that other work will help in knowing whether you should send your work to us, but in truth, such a thing might not be discoverable.

Submit your work here.

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20. How to write just enough but not too much

Question: When I asked a similar question you said sometimes less is more like with torture or sex scenes. Well in my book I have a sex scene and I was

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21. O is for Overtaken--and a Free Giveaway

My recent novel, Overtaken, is a keeper because--I wrote it! Better yet, I want you to have a copy too! 

From now until the end of the 2014 A-Z Challenge on April 30, all you have to do is leave a comment on any of my posts and you'll be entered into a random drawing on May 1, 2014 to win your very own copy. This goes for everyone who's already commented on earlier posts as well. And if you're a follower of my blog who leaves a comment, it gets even better--I'll throw in a bonus prize! This is to thank all of you wonderful people for taking the time to visit, comment, and join. "O" is for overjoyed to meet you!

In the meantime, here's a little more about the book: Published in 2012, Overtaken is a literary Gothic fairy tale centering on Sara Elliott Bergsen, a portrait artist living in London. You can watch the book trailer here, and get some idea of the story settings from my Pinterest board here. 

I started writing the book as part of an exercise in a workshop I took at the International Women's Writing Guild Summer Conference at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY. We were meant to try a visualization process to invite a story in that we could write about. We closed our eyes, sat in deep silence and meditation, and asked a character to visit us. That's when Sara appeared, climbing the stone steps to a mysterious mansion, on her way to being . . . Overtaken. I was equally overtaken, and for the next several years I wrote every day in my spare time to find out what happened to Sara and why she was at the mansion in the first place. I was as surprised at what I found as she was.

Now Sara and her story are so much a part of my life I can't think of what my world would be without her. One of the strangest things about writing, to me, is how our characters become real--imaginary friends that change our lives as much as we create theirs. What is real, what is illusion?, the exact dilemma Sara faces throughout the book, and questions I still love to explore.

How about you? Looking forward to hearing from you so we can discuss these questions together! See you tomorrow with the letter "P."





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22. Friday Feature: A Whisper in Time by Elizabeth Langston




"I have never been useless in my life…"

Rescued from a life of servitude by the boy she loves, Susanna Marsh escapes across two centuries, only to be plunged into a world she's ill-prepared to face. Unable to work or go to school, Susanna finds herself dependent on others to survive.

Immersed in the fun and demands of his senior year of high school, Mark Lewis longs to share his world with the girl who's captured his heart. But first he must tackle government bureaucracy to prove Susanna's identity.

Overwhelmed by her new home, Susanna seeks refuge in history and in news of the people she left behind. But when she learns that danger stalks her sister, Susanna must weigh whether to risk her own future in order to save Phoebe's happiness.


If you haven't read Whisper Falls yet, the first book in this series, you should. I loved it. Mark and Susanna are from different times, yet that doesn't stop them from falling for each other and their story is both touching and exciting to read. Elizabeth was nice enough to share a scene from A Whisper In Time, which releases April 8, 2014 through Spencer Hill Press. I'm really looking forward to it.


Excerpt:
Setting up the scene: A Whisper In Time begins five weeks after Whisper Falls ends.  Susanna has immigrated across two centuries and doesn't understand how modern America works. One weekday, left alone at Mark's house, she finds herself locked out.


It took very few moments to discover that every door at Mark's house was locked.

I tried the garage last. It had a keypad that could raise the garage door, if only I could remember the correct numbers.

Mark said that the numbers changed each month and reflected a special occasion. What was the holiday for September? Had it not occurred this Sunday?

9-1-1. Yes, that had to be it. I pressed the three buttons.

Nothing happened. 

I tried again. There was no difference. Perhaps I should abandon the keypad and seek an open window instead.

I walked to the driveway and then assessed the distance from the ground to the window of the studio apartment over the garage.

A vehicle rolled behind me on the lane and stopped. A car door shut slowly with a deep ker-thunk. I glanced over my shoulder. A man in a dark uniform approached. He must be a member of law enforcement. An unfortunate circumstance.

"Hello," I said, clasping my hands before me. "Are you a police officer?"

"I am," he said, his voice clipped. "Who are you?"

"Susanna. How may I help you?"

"I was about to ask you the same thing."

Were there not crimes to manage in this city? My problem seemed entirely too mundane to concern the police. "I cannot get into the house."

"Why not?"

"It ís locked, and the keypad doesn't work."

"Ah. Do you know the combination?"

"Apparently not, else I should be inside now."

His eyes narrowed. "Is this your house?"

"No, indeed. It belongs to the Lewis family, but I do sleep here."

"Where do you sleep?"

"In the space over the garage."

"Miss, Iíll need to see some ID."

"I do not have any."

"Is your ID in the space over the garage too?"

Had he not heard me? "I have no identification card. The government will not give me one." I shook my head. America was far too concerned with identification.

"Miss, why don't you come with me?" He caught my elbow and tried to tug me down the driveway.

"Pardon me, sir," I said, pulling my arm from his grasp. "It isn't proper for you to touch me so."

He reached for me again. "Okay, that ís enough."


Have you read Whisper Falls yet? What do you think of this excerpt?

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23. Shattering the Multicultural Myth of the Market. Let's go.

"A young adult book featuring a protagonist who isn't of European descent will never become a bestseller."

"The majority of readers won't read a young adult novel featuring a protagonist who isn't of European descent."

We imagine these kinds of comments, spoken or unspoken, governing the publishing industry. In our guts, we know they're not true. We gripe about this issue. We try to disprove such claims through social media and conferences, panels and articles, speeches and radio shows. Unfortunately, nothing so far has resulted in such a young adult novel breaking through into widespread success.

The truth is that, for all of our good intentions, publishing is a for-profit industry.

Money changes minds.

"Adults don't read books for young readers." Harry Potter shattered that one, didn't it?

"Boys don't read girl books." Along came Suzanne Collins with Katniss, and middle-aged men were tearing through The Hunger Games trilogy.

Yesterday I tweeted this:

I got several suggestions including books like Joseph Bruchac's Killer of Enemies, The Living by Matt De La Peña, Fake ID by Lamar Giles, and Prophecy by Ellen Oh.

But Ellen raised a good question:
I do think that film can take a book to the next level, but it must achieve some widespread market success before moviemakers begin to pay attention. There are two necessities to achieve this kind of success.

First, storytellers — RISE UP! Write a great story that rings with authenticity featuring a protagonist we love who is not of European descent (I know the label stinks, but you get my drift.) It must be a page-turner. It must knock our story-hungry socks off.  By the last page, not only are we are ready to read it again,  we are reaching into our wallets to pre-order the sequel. We are tweeting, texting, status-ing, and insta-ing that book until our friends are convinced they must buy it right now or their quality of life will diminish.

I may complain about the market and choose to blame my lack of breakthrough success on the r-word, but let's get real—I need to write an AMAZING STORY. Once I've achieved this (and the veracity of such a claim has been thoroughly verified by countless words and reviews of readers who don't know me), I might be able to question why it didn't become a blockbuster.

I know that one part of us believes our mothers and thinks our books are beyond incredible, but another part says, "Maybe it was good, but get better, get better." Let's listen to that—time is short.

Second, readers, be on the hunt for such a story. In the old days, we relied solely on publishing houses to put publicity and marketing big bucks behind fiction. These days, social media and virality are increasingly key to launching a novel into bestseller status, which feels like the collective "we" have a bit more power.  How can we use that power to get behind a title? Maybe we can add our small voice of influence to help it sell like crazy.

Who is likely to discover a young adult novel with blockbuster potential featuring culturally marginalized protagonists (gosh, I hate race labels—what do you think of that one)? I trust indie booksellers and librarians. That's why I tune into their voices on twitter (feel free to follow my lists of 197 booksellers and 359 librarians.) If booksellers like Elizabeth Bluemle and librarians like Betsy Bird, champions of "add-your-own-label-here" books for years, don't discover this myth-shattering story, nobody will.

I believe that changing the market can and will happen. And when it does, I promise you I'll say I told you so.

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24. Environmental Book Club

Check out Literacy, Families and Learning's Literature and Environmental Issues: 18 Challenging Picture Books. The blog breaks the eighteen titles into four groups:

  • The relationship of people to the environment
  • The negative impact of humanity on the environment
  • A celebration of the environment, its beauty and wonder
  • Environment as creation and the metaphysical experience of our world
Graeme Base makes the list twice.
_____________________

Make your comment in order to be considered for the Saving the Planet & Stuff giveaway.



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25. Prose and Poetry Competitions for Women: A Room of Her Own

$1000 Poetry and Prose Publication Prizes for women
 

A Room of Her Own Foundation (AROHO), a transformational community for women writers and artists, is seeking submissions from women writers for the $1,000 To the Lighthouse Poetry Publication Prize (previously unpublished collection of poetry 48 to 96 pages in length) and $1000 Clarissa Dalloway “everything but poetry” Book Prize (previously unpublished, 50,000 to 150,000 words)

There is a $20 submission fee for each manuscript. Our 2014 deadline has been extended to July 31st. Winning manuscripts will be published by Red Hen Press.

Read more here on how to apply.

Please address all inquiries to:


infoATaroomofherownfoundationDOTorg (Change AT to @ and DOT to . )


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