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1. Announcing the Friday Book Club




Most of what I know about painting and art history I learned from old books, and every once in a while I like to reread them, because learning is a lifelong process.

That led to an idea. What if we created a free forum on the blog where we could all compare notes about a favorite book?

What book to start with? It could be a biography, an art history book, or an art instruction book.

And it should be broken up into chapters. We're all busy, so we can read and discuss just one chapter a week. I'd like to suggest we begin with Harold Speed's "The Practice and Science of Drawing."



Harold Speed (1872-1957) was Royal-Academy trained portrait painter. His teaching method focuses on solid principles that have stood the test of time. Check out some of his drawings and paintings at the National Gallery website.



Like Solomon J. Solomon and some of the other great teacher/practitioners of his day, Speed expresses an insightful respect for the old masters. One thing I like about his concept of "mass drawing" is that it offers the student a natural transition between drawing and painting.

Harold Speed, Edward Grey, 1st Viscount Grey of Fallodon
The Practice and Science of Drawing is easy for everyone to acquire, and it's available in many different forms. It is available as an inexpensive softcover edition, which I recommend so that you can jot notes in the margins. You can also get a free Kindle edition. Or you can read it online in a free Archive.org edition.

This isn't going to be a workshop. I'm not the teacher, nor will I be comprehensively summarizing the points of the chapters. I'll just share my basic take-away from each reading, and I may show an example of how those thoughts affect — or have affected—my own practice. I'm expecting to learn from you and from the discussion. I will try to answer a few questions, but I'm hoping that members of the forum can help shoulder some of the Q and A.

We'll discuss a new chapter every Friday. Let's get started a week from today with the Preface and the Introduction. That's your assignment, and mine, too. Those who have time can do practice exercises related to each chapter as we move through the book.

If someone wants to set up a Facebook or Pinterest group for posting artwork, that would be great, and I'll link to it. I may stop by for a quick visit, but I'll probably focus most of my attention and comments on the blog so that the forum and discussion will be archived and searchable.

Let me know in the comments what you all think of the idea.

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2. Regrets… I’ve Had a Few

There’s been a lot of positive feedback on my previous post, and a lot of offers to participate — so I hope to keep bringing you guest posts from writers across the success spectrum about the kind of failure writers experience. I’ll start with my own.

I want to focus on the kind of failure Debbie Reese was talking about when she jumpstarted this — she referred to a game developers conference where developers speak frankly about failures (sometimes with huge losses of investment), and specifically about a game with Native American tropes that missed the mark. She had critiqued it while in progress, and the developer initially reacted to the critique with the defensiveness and defiance, he ultimately saw her point and grew from it.

It’s important to learn from criticism, especially coming from historically marginalized groups. It is also completely natural to be frustrated by it, defensive, defiant, upset, and annoyed. You spend untold hours working on something creative and it only takes a few minutes for someone to shred it. When a book is already published, there’s not even much you can do about the offense it causes, making it that much easier to push back. But it stunts you as an artist not to listen to feedback. Charlie Chaplin said that artists should actively seek out rejection, and abandon the need to be liked. Part of that is listening to criticism and mulling it over, and part of it is learning to critique yourself in a constructive way.

I have three regrets (and I would probably have more if I thought about it).

First, I have some Native American backstory in my first book, Mudville, and feel like those characters are real and vital to the book. Because such legends figure into the fantasy of the midwest, I felt like I was on firm soil. I got mixed reactions from readers, though, and in particularly upset a woman who had helped me with the Dakota language and cultural aspects as I put the book together. I don’t know what I would do differently were I to start over: drop that backstory all together? Make it more essential? As it is, I can see how readers feel it’s tacked on, appropriating a culture in a half-hearted way, without much sensitivity to the terrible treatment Dakota people have had in this region. At best, I see myself like the school bully at a 20-year high school reunion, throwing his arm amiably around old victims and acting like those episodes of bullying were harmless shared capers that we indulged in together. “We’re cool, right?”

Second, I’ve written previously about Binyavanga Wainaina’s essay, “How to Write About Africa,” and how my own book about Africa measures up. I feel like I failed here to know the tropes well enough to avoid them. I patted myself on the back for writing a positive book (and still think those books are necessary), but live with the fact that I fell into the familiar role of white colonist, having the most important African characters be (a) a wild animal, and (b) the sage, magical character. I did a lot right in the book and it’s still my favorite; it is honest about my own experience, but if I had discovered Wainaina’s article before I launched into the book I might have done something even better, something less reliant on cliches.

Third, I think perhaps my biggest regret in any of my books is not making Penny the main character in Winter of the Robots. She’s my favorite character in the book, and both strategically and for the benefit of the girls of the world, I wish I could have said, “this is about a girl who has a knack for programming robots,” and made that the core of the book. If I ever write a sequel, that will be it. As it turned out, even with two girl characters asserting themselves, they take a backseat to the boys when it comes to building and developing the robots and fighting the battles. (OK, one literally drives with the boys in the back seat, but nobody’s going to be fooled by that one scene.)

All of these figure into how I approach books now. More beta readers from other backgrounds is essential, more attention to the way “others” are treated, more challenges to myself to not settle for my instinctive plot lines that are informed by a literary history of white men.

It’s self-serving. I admit to the failures so I can write better books.

 


Filed under: How to Fail Tagged: how to fail, Mamba Point, Mudville, winter of the robots

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3. Free First Five Pages Workshop Opens on April 4!

The First Five Pages March Workshop has come to an end.  This talented group worked so hard on their revisions, and it showed! And they provided great feedback and support to each other, as well. A big thanks to our guest mentor, Patricia Dunn and our guest agent mentor Kimberly Brower, who both gave great comments and suggestions, and of course to all of our fabulous permanent mentors!  

Our April workshop will open for entries at noon, EST, on Saturday April 4, 2015. We'll take the first five Middle Grade, Young Adult, or New Adult entries that meet all guidelines and formatting requirements.  Click here to get the rules. I will post when it opens and closes right here, and on twitter (@etcashman), with the hasthag #1st5pages.

In addition to our talented permanent mentors, we have the wonderful Becca Puglisi as our guest mentor.  Becca has helped countless writers with her books, website and workshops. I always have her books with me when I write and revise, they are so helpful! And we have my agent, the lovely Amaryah Orenstein of GO Literary, as our guest agent mentor. Amaryah is an editorial agent with great insight and suggestions. So get those pages ready!

April Guest Mentor - Becca Puglisi
Becca Puglisi is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others. This is one of her reasons for writing The Emotion ThesaurusThe Positive Trait Thesaurus, and The Negative Trait Thesaurus. Her website, Writers Helping Writers, is a hub for all things description, offering tons of free resources to aid writers in their literary efforts. A member of SCBWI, she leads workshops at regional conferences and teaches webinars online.

April Guest Agent Mentor - Amaryah Orenstein
Amaryah Orenstein is the founder of GO Literary.  Amaryah has always loved to read and provide editorial advice and, as a literary agent, she is thrilled to help writers bring their ideas to life. She is particularly drawn to narrative non-fiction and memoir but enjoys any book that connects the reader to its characters and evokes thought and feeling. Amaryah began her career at the Laura Gross Literary Agency in 2009 and, prior to that, she worked as an Editorial Assistant at various academic research foundations.


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4. Sleep Softly - a bookwrap




"Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high/In a land that I heard of once, in a lullaby./Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue and the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true."


Unwrapping...




Sleep Softly - Classical Lullabies By Brahms, Schubert, Satie, Debussy... Performed by L'Ensemble Agora and Illustrated by Élodie Nouhen  (a Storybook & Music CD)




This book will become a treasure as you tuck your little one into bed each night.  Sixteen classical lullabies orchestrated for a wind quintet and harp are performed exquisitely by the critically acclaimed L'Ensemble Agora. Beautiful music will lull your baby into the land of dreams where whimsical, dream-like illustrations from the book will inhabit their minds, calming them and giving them peace.  The author Élodie Nouhen gives brief explanatory notes describing how each song was composed and how it was arranged for this recording.  The CD was recorded in France and will not only soothe a crying infant, but will be enjoyed by the whole family as well.


The playlist is:


* Barcarolle - Jacques Offenbach

*Après un rêve - (After a Dream) - Gabriel Fauré

*Von Fremden Ländern (Of Foreign Lands) - Robert Schumann

*La Boîte  à joujoux (The Toybox) - Claude Debussy

*Gymnopédie No. 1 - Eric Satie

*La Poupée (The Doll) - Georges Bizet

*Sändmannchen (The Little Sandman) - Johannes Brahms

* Wiegenlied (Lullaby) - Johannes Brahams

*Solveig's Song - Edvard Grieg

*Schlafe, mein Prinzchen, schlaf ein (Sleep, My Little Prince, Fall Asleep) - Bernard Flies

*Ständchen (Serenade) - Franz Schubert 

*Gute nacht (Good Night) - Franz Schubert

*Pavane de la Belle au bois dormant (Sleeping Beauty's Pavane) - Maurice Ravel

*Feuillet d'album (Album Leaf) - Emmanuel Chabrier

*Dors, ami (Sleep, My Friend) - Jules Massenet

*Brezairola (Lullaby) - Traditonal





This set is very high quality and very classy.  It would be a perfect gift to give to a new born.  I highly, highly recommend it. 

"The result is a relaxing 34 minutes of sound and visuals for all ages to enjoy together." 



Read on and read always!

It's a wrap.

Contact me: Storywraps@gmail.com


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5. Annual 2015: What To Do There -- And When You Come Home

This is a guest post from Susy Moorhead, a member of the Local Arrangements Committee for Annual 2015 in San Francisco.

You’ve decided to attend the annual conference this year! If you haven’t been before, and even if you have, you must be excited. Attending conference is a lot of fun but it is tiring and it can be overwhelming as well. Here are some tips to help you share what you learned once you get back to your home library.

  1. Pick up handouts from the programs you attend, note the exhibits that catch your eye and get information from those that you can, and ask for business cards from others in the library world that you want to start a network with. Building your professional network is one of the best opportunities of conference. Great ideas come from networking with your colleagues on a national level.
  2. Know that the ALA conference website is your friend. After conference, and sometimes before, you will be able to access slideshows from programs, people who present at programs, and an extensive vendor list.
  3. Be aware that there is no way you can take everything in that interests you at Annual. There will be some things that really excite you and those are the ones you should focus on. If it doesn’t really excite you it will be hard to implement when you get back home. Your excitement will be contagious to your colleagues. That said, if there is a colleague or friend who really wanted to attend but couldn't, it can't hurt to pick up an ARC specifically for him or grab an extra handout for her.
  4. Be ready to fall back in love. One thing I always take back to my library from any conference I attend is a sense of rejuvenation and renewal. I always regain excitement for what I do and I get a greater sense of the importance of libraries, librarianship, and library support positions in the greater world. Just bringing that invigorating feeling back is a wonderful result of attending a national conference.
  5. Once you get home be sure to write up a summary of what you did at Annual. You can share it with your supervisors to justify the time away from the library and to justify the funding that you receive to attend. It will also help to support conference requests you make in the future.
  6. Share what you learned with your colleagues in your library system or if you are a solo librarian with your regional or statewide colleagues. You will inevitably find others who share your passion in implementing what your learned. And you may find others that you didn’t know shared your interests!
  7. Consider writing something up for a regional or statewide organization publication or website. Tweet, Facebook, or get the word out on other social media platforms – you will probably find partners outside of the library too. If you blog, start blogging soon after you get home before you forget things or lose your notes. If you don't blog yet, doing a guest post at a blog you love (cough - YALSA has two) about a conference session is a great way to start!
  8. Know that seeing results of taking action won’t happen immediately. A lot of the programs and vendor wares you will see are the “future of libraries.” Work towards creating similar programs or offering similar services when you get back to your library. Put the seeds in to place and then work them in to your busy summers (and autumns!).

Have fun, and see you in a program or on the exhibit floor!

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6. Schubert Medley (Music box Sound)

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7.

"You don't give up till you get what you want...and if you don't get what you want, you know you have never given up...which is as good is getting what you want." Quote by unknown artist who never got published :)

This gloomy weather is almost over and I am feeling a bit more charged up and ready to tackle the pb biography again after the great feedback and encouragement I received a few weeks ago at the illustrator mentorship. And to tweak the pig dummy and adjust color issues.

And new samples and a smaller portfolio in the works.


And and and....


perhaps work on an art show


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8. Something to celebrate

In my opinion, there is almost always something to celebrate! Just ask my kids who have enjoyed half-birthdays and even "sister of half-birthday boy" occasions! Any excuse for a special meal, cupcakes, song, or a party! Planned or spontaneous, big or little, let's have more fun together. And if you spend any time at all with young children, you know they revel in discovering and celebrating the fun, odd, interesting things they're learning about every day. So, it's no surprise that I have loved being part of producing the latest installment in our POETRY FRIDAY series of anthologies: The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations. It was so fun to research the various occasions that are featured in that book, to work with Janet (Wong, my partner in celebration) to curate the perfect poem for each day, week or month, and to think about how to engage kids in experiencing each poem.  

But you may not know that each of our books (in the Teacher/Librarian edition) also features some front and back matter that we hope will help the adult reader with tips, lists, and guidelines on selecting and sharing poetry with all kinds of kids. For example, we always include a bibliography of OTHER poetry books that are connected to the topic of the book, so we can get kids reading even MORE poetry!

In the back of The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations, you'll find a list of other poetry books full of occasional poems and poems for various holidays and celebrations. Here is that list just for you.

POETRY BOOKS ABOUT CELEBRATIONS
Whether it’s Christmas, Halloween, Mother’s Day, President’s Day, or another occasion, sharing a poem can make for a memorable moment. Here is a selection of books with poetry for children about a variety of celebrations. 

Ada, Alma Flor and Campoy, Isabel. 2015. Días y Días de Poesía: Developing Literacy through Poetry and Folklore
Andrews, Julie and Hamilton, Emma Walton. Eds. 2012. Julie Andrews’ Treasury for All Seasons: Poems and Songs to Celebrate the Year.
Brown, Calef. 2010. Hallowilloween: Nefarious Silliness
Carlstrom, Nancy White. 2002. Thanksgiving Day at Our House: Poems for the Very Young.
Farrar, Sid. 2012. The Year Comes Round: Haiku through the Seasons
Ghigna, Charles and Ghigna, Debra. 2000. Christmas Is Coming! 
Ghigna, Charles. 2003. Halloween Night: Twenty-One Spooktacular Poems. 
Grimes, Nikki. 2002. Under the Christmas Tree. 
Hopkins, Lee Bennett. Ed. 2004. Christmas Presents: Holiday Poetry
Hopkins, Lee Bennett. Ed. 2004. Hanukkah Lights: Holiday Poetry
Hopkins, Lee Bennett. Ed. 2005. Days to Celebrate: A Full Year of Poetry, People, Holidays, History, Fascinating Facts, and More
Hopkins, Lee Bennett. Ed. 2005. Valentine Hearts: Holiday Poetry.
Hopkins, Lee Bennett. Ed. 2014. Manger. 
Hopkins, Lee. Bennett. Ed. 2010. Sharing the Seasons. 
Janeczko, Paul. Ed. 2014. Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems
Jules, Jacqueline. 2001. Clap and Count! Action Rhymes for the      Jewish Year
Lewis, J.  Patrick. 2007. Under the Kissletoe: Christmastime Poems
Lewis, J. Patrick. 2009. Countdown to Summer: A Poem for Every Day of  of the School Year. 
Lewis, J. Patrick. 2013. World Rat Day: Poems About Real Holidays You've Never Heard Of. 
Mak, Kam. 2001. My Chinatown: One Year in Poems
Mora, Pat. 2001. Ed. Love to Mamá: A Tribute to Mothers
Mora, Pat. 2008. Join Hands: The Ways We Celebrate Life
Muth, Jon. J. 2014. Hi, Koo!: A Year of Seasons
Nesbitt, Kenn & Linda Knaus. 2006. Santa Got Stuck in the Chimney.
Newman, Lesléa. 2014. Here Is the World: A Year of Jewish Holidays. 
Orozco, José Luis. 2004. Fiestas: A Year of Latin American Songs and Celebrations
Prelutsky, Jack. 2007. It’s Thanksgiving!  
Prelutsky, Jack. 2008. It’s Christmas! 
Raczka, Bob. 2010. Guyku: A Year of Haiku for Boys. 
Raczka, Bob. 2014. Santa Clauses: Short Poems from the North Pole.  
Salas, Laura Purdie. 2008. Shrinking Days, Frosty Nights: Poems about Fall.
Sidman, Joyce. 2009. Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors.
Sidman, Joyce. 2013. What the Heart Knows: Chants, Charms & Blessings. 
Singer, Marilyn, 2012. Every Day's a Dog's Day: A Year in Poems.
Sklansky, Amy E. 2004. Skeleton Bones & Goblin Groans: Poems for Halloween
Swaim, Jessica. 2010. Scarum Fair
Vardell, Sylvia and Wong, Janet. Eds. 2011. Gift Tag
Whitehead, Jenny. 2007. Holiday Stew: A Kid’s Portion of Holiday and Seasonal Poems
Yolen, Jane and Peters, Andrew Fusek. Eds. 2007. Here’s a Little Poem: A Very First Book of Poetry.
Yolen, Jane and Peters, Andrew Fusek. Eds. 2010. Switching on the Moon: A Very First Book of Bedtime Poems.  
Ziefert, Harriet. 2008. Hanukkah Haiku. 

For the month of April, I will be featuring short videos of children reading some of the poems from The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations. These were produced by my amazing graduate students and shared with their permission. We even have one BLOOPER reel!  So stop by next week and throughout April for this fun celebration of National Poetry Month. 
In the mean time, if you need more information about the book (and you missed it in the 1000 places I've been tooting that horn), here you go:

It's the FOURTH book in the Poetry Friday Anthology series! It’s The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations (Teacher/Librarian Edition and Student/Children’s Edition). You’ll find poems for 156 holidays in English and Spanish, including: Random Acts of Kindness Week, Children’s Book Week, World Laughter Day, National Camping Month, International Literacy Day, Global Hand Washing Day, and more! 

Poets include: Jack Prelutsky, J. Patrick Lewis, Joyce Sidman, Margarita Engle, Marilyn Singer, Nikki Grimes, Alma Flor Ada, F. Isabel Campoy, Ibtisam Barakat, Uma Krishnaswami, Francisco X. Alarcón, Linda Sue Park, Jane Yolen, Kenn Nesbitt, Jorge Argueta, Grace Lin, Joseph Bruchac, Douglas Florian, Laura Purdie Salas, Carmen T. Bernier-Grand, and 95 others.

Get your copy of the Teacher/Librarian Edition (with mini-lessons) here:
Amazon
QEP Books

Get your copy of the Student/Children's Edition (poems only) here:
Student/Children's Edition
Amazon
QEP Books

You can find more info at:
PomeloBooks.com
PoetryCelebrations.com 

Plus, check out our new boards at Pinterest where we have poem visuals for each of our books. Just look for Pomelobooks (one word) at Pinterest.com.

Speaking of Poetry Friday, head on over to Jone's place for more poetry goodness!

Image credits: pomelobooks.com;churchgoers.com;shorpy.com


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9. Why We Read

ristras

A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say.
—Italo Calvino

The post Why We Read appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

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10. Stacy Henrie's Cozy Reading Corner

My favorite place to read is curled up in bed, in spite of comfy chairs and couches elsewhere in my house. Whether snatching time during the day or at night after my kids are asleep, I love to climb in bed with a good book. Typically that means an inspirational historical romance. And speaking of historical romance, the third and final book in my Of Love and War series A HOPE REMEMBERED releases on March 31. 


--Stacy Henrie

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11. Poetry Friday: A tourist (Sidewalk Poetry)

A tourist
in the cathedral
of your silence
I am reverent
for all the wrong reasons

This is one of many poems imprinted on the sidewalk in St. Paul, Minnesota:



The St. Paul project has inspired a similar Sidewalk Poetry project in Cambridge.

View all posts tagged as Poetry Friday at Bildungsroman.

View the roundup schedule at A Year of Reading.

Learn more about Poetry Friday.

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12. Whatever After #7: Beauty Queen

whatever after Book #7Special STACKS Cover Reveal

We are so excited to introduce the enchanting new book in The New York Times bestselling Whatever After series by Sarah Mlynowski. Are you ready to see the cover of Beauty Queen? Royal drum roll, please . . . Whatever After: Beauty Queen

What do you think? Rather beautiful, right?! Tell us in the Comments below, and for more Whatever After fun, help Abby play dress up as she falls into a fairy tale.

Whatever After follows the adventures of siblings Abby and Jonah, whose magic mirror leads them into different fairy tales, where hijinks and hilarity ensue! This time, the magic mirror sucks Abby and Jonah into the story of Beauty and the Beast. When Jonah picks a rose from the Beast’s garden, he messes up the story. Abby and Jonah better get creative and save this fairy tale, before things get pretty ugly.

Read a sample excerpt here!

Beauty Queen is available wherever books are sold April 28, 2015.

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13. Flogometer for Rachel—are you compelled to turn the page?

Submissions Needed--none in the queue for next week. If you’d like a fresh look at your opening chapter or prologue, please email your submission to me re the directions at the bottom of this post.


The Flogometer challenge: can you craft a first page that compels me to turn to the next page? Caveat: Please keep in mind that this is entirely subjective.

Note: all the Flogometer posts are here.

What's a first page in publishingland? In a properly formatted novel manuscript (double-spaced, 1-inch margins, 12-point type, etc.) there should be about 16 or 17 lines on the first page (first pages of chapters/prologues start about 1/3 of the way down the page). Directions for submissions are below—they include a request to post the rest of the chapter, but that’s optional.

A word about the line-editing in these posts: it’s “one-pass” editing, and I don’t try to address everything, which is why I appreciate the comments from the FtQ tribe. In a paid edit, I go through each manuscript three times.

Mastering front 100WshadowBefore you rip into today’s submission, consider this checklist of first-page ingredients from my book, Mastering the Craft of Compelling Storytelling. While it's not a requirement that all of these elements must be on the first page, they can be, and I think you have the best chance of hooking a reader if they are.

Download a free PDF copy here.

Were I you, I'd examine my first page in the light of this list before submitting to the Flogometer. I use it on my own work.

A First-page Checklist

  • It begins connecting the reader with the protagonist
  • Something is happening. On a first page, this does NOT include a character musing about whatever.
  • What happens is dramatized in an immediate scene with action and description plus, if it works, dialogue.
  • What happens moves the story forward.
  • What happens has consequences for the protagonist.
  • The protagonist desires something.
  • The protagonist does something.
  • There’s enough of a setting to orient the reader as to where things are happening.
  • It happens in the NOW of the story.
  • Backstory? What backstory? We’re in the NOW of the story.
  • Set-up? What set-up? We’re in the NOW of the story.
  • What happens raises a story question—what happens next? or why did that happen?

Caveat: a strong first-person voice with the right content can raise powerful story questions and create page turns without doing all of the above. A recent submission worked wonderfully well and didn't deal with five of the things in the checklist.


Rachel sends the first chapter for an untitled novel. The rest of the chapter after the break.

Some people thrive under pressure. I’m not one of them.

‘What do you mean, you can’t do it? You’re not stupid.’

Mum pushes me out of the way and stands in front of the door. 

‘Let me do it.’

She glances at the list of numbers on the panel. A perfectly manicured nail (French manicured, anything else is tarty) flies across the buttons. Five seconds later, the intercom buzzes.

Mum fixes me with a must-try-harder frown.

‘Honestly, Martha.’ 

‘Neurology department. How can I help?’ says a voice.

‘You can start by opening the door,’ replies Mum.

‘Do you have an appointment?’

‘Professor Hopkins to see Doctor Randall at 1.30pm.’

Mum checks her watch. It’s now 1.25pm. Mum is the type of person who gets somewhere ten minutes early and waits on the doorstep for nine minutes and 59 seconds before she rings the bell. A buzzer sounds as the metal door springs open. Mum ushers me in with a don’t-dare-dawdle stare.

Were you compelled to turn Rachel's first page?

Lovely writing and voice in this chapter, and at the end the protagonist, Martha, is faced with a terrifying prospect. But will a reader get there? There’s low-level tension between mother and daughter here but, for me, no story questions are raised. What’s going to happen next? They’re going into a building for an appointment. An appointment for what? We have no idea. It turns out that Mum has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's. If there were some sort of hint, perhaps a page turn would be warranted—Here we are, ready to learn if Mum is losing her mind in a most terrible way. That would raise a strong enough story question to get me to the real story question raised at the end of the chapter.

The chapter continues with well-done characterization. I enjoyed Martha—but, for me, the process of getting to the appointment and the description of the waiting room and its occupants, while interesting, do nothing to propel the story forward. Even though Rachel uses the chapter to set up and define the characters, I urge her to get much closer to the inciting events, which are the diagnosis for Mum and the fact that Martha has a fifty-fifty chance of, as she refers to it at chapter end, the time bomb in her brain going off some day. That was a compelling sentence for me, and if the first page could get there I’d be on board. You can characterize Mum and Dad as they deal with this rather than before the big story questions are raised. I’d like to read this novel, I think, but I’m not sure a lot of readers would get to the chapter’s end. See what you think after the rest of the chapter.

Comments, please?

For what it’s worth.

Ray

Submitting to the Flogometer:

Email the following in an attachment (.doc, .docx, or .rtf preferred, no PDFs):

  1. your title
  2. your complete 1st chapter or prologue plus 1st chapter
  3. Please include in your email permission to post it on FtQ.
  4. Note: I’m adding a copyright notice for the writer at the end of the post. I’ll use just the first name unless I’m told I can use the full name.
  5. Also, please tell me if it’s okay to post the rest of the chapter so people can turn the page.
  6. And, optionally, include your permission to use it as an example in a book on writing craft if that's okay.
  7. If you’re in a hurry, I’ve done “private floggings,” $50 for a first chapter.
  8. If you rewrite while you wait for your turn, it’s okay with me to update the submission.

Were I you, I'd examine my first page in the light of the first-page checklist before submitting to the Flogometer.

Flogging the Quill © 2015 Ray Rhamey, story © 2015 Rachel

Continued

I step into the hallway and check the board of names on the wall. Mum likes me to figure things out for myself. I shouldn’t rely on other people, not at my age.

She tugs down her jacket and brushes an invisible fleck from her skirt as we wait for Dad to shuffle across the carpark, a carrier bag in each hand. Mum bought him a leather satchel but he says it’s too nice to use. Not that there’s anything important in the bags. He just likes carrying stuff around.

‘Sorry darling, didn’t have the right change for the meter,’ puffs Dad, wiping at his bald head.

He shakes the plastic bags and a splatter of rain drops flies in every direction. Drying his glasses on the edge of his shirt, he gives me a rueful smile. Mum rolls her eyes. We now have three minutes to find the right department.

‘Which floor, Martha?’ demands Mum.

‘Third,’ I say.

Mum checks the board and runs a laser-focused eye down the names.

‘Lead the way, then.’

Reluctantly, I climb the stairs. Mum knows I don’t like going into a room first. She also knows I don’t like speaking to people I don’t know. The more I do it, the easier it will get, she says. It doesn’t.

When I get to the third floor I crouch down and pretend to do up my laces. Today I’m lucky. Mum has more important things on her mind than my social incompetence and her patent-leather shoes click-clack right past me. She presents herself at the reception desk with a flick of her long black hair. Sometimes I swear her heels actually click together.

The receptionist, a plump woman with eyebrows plucked out of existence, waits a few moments before looking up.

‘If you’d like to take a seat, Doctor Randall will be with you shortly.’

Her lips twitch upwards in a gesture not to be confused with a smile. She’s met Mum’s type before. Full of self-importance, these professor types. Never a please or thank you. She looks at me quizzically. I pat down my hair. Perhaps it’s sticking up from the rain. She turns her attention to Dad who flattens his non-existent hair. Then I see the cause of her curiosity: two brown lines have been drawn on her face just above where her eyebrows should be. The result is a face that’s permanently surprised.

Mum answers with a perfunctory nod and sets trajectory for the seating area. Self-doubt isn’t in Mum’s genetic code. Besides which, her hair wouldn’t dare be out of place.

As I pass, the receptionist flashes me a pity smile - the kind she reserves for teenagers with overbearing mothers. Or ones about to be diagnosed with a brain tumour.   

I keep my head down and follow Mum into the waiting room. With its beige walls and brown carpet it couldn’t be any more dismal. A fish tank bubbles away in the corner: a single clown fish bobbing near the surface. Presumably it’s soothing for the patients. Poor Nemo’s been soothed to a watery grave.

Thankfully Mum sits a safe distance from the other nine people waiting. (I always count how many people are in a room.) I take a seat next to Mum and pull Dad down next to me. I’ve always been a stranger-magnet. And they nearly always smell weird and want to tell me their life story.
Aside from the hum of the fish tank, the occasional cough and the ticking of the clock, the room is quiet.
Tick tock. Tick tock.

The longer we wait, the louder it gets.

Do they make clocks with extra loud ticks just for waiting rooms? I bet someone did a study and found that hospitals with loudly-ticking clocks have the shortest waiting times. People would rather stick their head in a fish tank than be driven slowly mad. 

I glance at Mum. Sitting bolt upright with her eyes wide open, anyone would think she is daydreaming. Anyone who doesn’t know her, that is. Mum never switches off. She’s always analysing, judging, problem solving. Right now, she’s probably working on a cure for cancer. Or about to give the receptionist something to really be surprised about.         

Tap. Tap. Tap.

Just when the ticking can’t get any more annoying, Dad takes waiting-room torture to Jack Bauer level. It’s called Emotional Freedom Therapy and is meant to help with his nerves. Basically, he taps two fingers of one hand on the wrist of the other. If he’s not tapping, Dad is tuning into the mother ship: twiddling with a tiny needle sticking out of his earlobe. It’s an acupuncture thing. For anxiety. Jumpy Joe Mum calls him, on account of his fidgeting. Right now Jumpy Joe could out-run the Duracell bunny.

I pick up a copy of Celebrity Sizzle and am about to find out what happens When boob jobs go bad when Mum snatches it off me and shoves National Geographic in my hand.

Every day you don’t learn something new is an opportunity wasted,’ she whispers. 

Mum turns her attention to Dad next. I can almost see the red dot hovering between his eyes. An Aviation magazine almost lands on his lap, until Mum spots: Worst air disasters in history, and sends it flying back to the table.

Bereft of reading material, Dad’s eyes jump from one public information poster to the next. He wraps a hand around his throat and feels for an imaginary lump under his armpit as he reads: ‘Influenza can kill’ and ‘Don’t ignore the lump in your breast, it could be cancer.’ You know it’s bad when he cracks open the Rescue Remedy. It’s a wonder his ears don’t spring a leak.

Luckily, I don’t have to feign interest in the ancient civilizations of Antarctica for long, as just then the receptionist appears. Twelve pairs of desperate eyes swivel in her direction, hoping that she will utter the winning syllables of their name. When she calls Petra Hopkins, it feels as if we’ve won a prize. I’m not sure who looks more surprised – us or her.

*

Mum pushes open the door to the consultant’s office. Doctor Randall is young with a soft face and dimples. He stands and smiles hopefully. I don’t have to look at Mum to know what she’s thinking. The boy is barely old enough to shave, how can he be: driving a car/getting married/a brain surgeon [insert as appropriate]. Perhaps that’s why he keeps his credentials on the wall.

‘Hello Petra,’ says Doctor Randall, stretching out a hand to my mother.

The way she glares at it, you would think she’d been offered a snake to hold.

‘Professor Hopkins to you.’ 

A patch of red flushes across the doctor’s face. Apologising, he blusters swiftly on. 

‘And you must be Mister Hopkins.’

‘Joe, please,’ replies Dad, shaking the doctor’s hand. 

I stare at the floor. Thankfully, the doctor’s hand snakes its way back to his hip. 

‘Please, do take a seat.’

The three of us sit in unison, like performers in a well-rehearsed play.

The doctor pauses a moment and clears his throat before launching into the speech. He’s reviewed the scans, read the notes and conferred with a senior specialist, and there is no doubt in his mind. Mum is presenting with early onset dementia. He realises that this must come as quite a shock and we must have questions and he will do his best to answer them.

The three of us stare at him blankly.

Early onset dementia.

He must be talking to the wrong family. Mum is 45. Old, but not old enough for dementia.

Dementia.

The word rolls around my head like a marble – perhaps I am losing mine too?

‘Familial Alzheimer's disease is called that because it’s passed down the family via a faulty gene,’ explains the doctor, as if using small words is going to make the monster he’s just unleashed into the room any easier to wrestle into a corner.

Mum frowns and says: ‘Mutations to the amyloid beta A4 precursor protein located on the long arm of chromosome 21.’

‘Yes,’ says Doctor Randall in surprise.

He scans his notes. Obviously they don’t mention the fact that Mum is a world-leading geneticist who won the Nobel Peace Prize in Medicine five years ago. And anyway, surely statements like this prove that Mum can’t be losing her mind? 

Finally, the jigsaw piece falls into place on his face.

‘You’re not the Professor Hopkins?’

Dad nods wearily. He’s been the husband of the Professor Hopkins for twenty years but still hasn’t got used to it. Professor Hopkins casts a long shadow, and I should know. Next to her, I’m a pale imitation. Mum is as beautiful as she is smart: tall and slender with olive skin, almond-shaped eyes and long, black hair. As luck would have it, I didn’t inherited her brains or her beauty. 

Doctor Randall sits a little straighter in his chair before continuing: ‘It usually strikes between the ages of 30 and 60 years of age but can be earlier. Even as young as 16.’

He looks at me with this last bit. 

Dad glances nervously at Mum, who is now standing up and peering at the doctor’s framed certificates on the wall.

‘What can we expect to happen?’ asks Dad.

‘Rates of deterioration are usually slow. In your wife’s case, however, it’s occurring very quickly. It’s like nothing we’ve seen before.’

Mum turns around and looks bizarrely pleased. Even when it comes to losing her mind, she has to do it better than anyone else. 

‘It really is quite remarkable,’ says Doctor Randall, shuffling through some MRI scans on his desk and waving one in our direction.

Dad looks like a man who’s just been offered a dirty magazine in church. No, he does not want to see his wife’s remarkably diseased brain, thank you very much. Mum takes the scan and sits back down. Whatever she sees, her face is a blank.

Dad groans and twiddles with the needle in his ear. If he were the one with the rare brain disease, Mum would develop a new drug to slow down its progress. Mum has a brilliant mind – which is why it’s inconceivable to think she might be losing it.

‘What can we expect to happen?’ asks Dad, leaning forward and pinching the bridge of his nose.

He’s way beyond Rescue Remedy. We’re across the border and heading for panic attack city. 

‘Breathe slowly, Dad,’ I say, resting a hand on his back.
Before the doctor can explain, Mum cuts in.

‘Patients with Alzheimer’s experience memory loss, have difficulty concentrating and take much longer to do things than they did before. They lose track of dates, seasons and the passage of time. They may forget where they are or how they got there. They forget words they once knew and –.’

The three of us watch her in amazement. The way she lists things so matter-of-factly, she could be describing things that are going to happen to someone else, not her.

‘Why are you looking at me like that?’ asks Mum. ‘I was just answering the question.’

Mum goes back to staring at the doctor’s certificates. She’s often distracted when she’s focused on her work but there’s something different about the way she looks lately. Vacant almost. A shiver runs down my back. I can’t believe she has dementia but I can’t pretend everything is normal either. 

Doctor Randall interrupts the silence: ‘There’s something else. I’m sorry to have to tell you that most people with the disease have a life expectancy that is - .’

‘How long?’ asks Dad.

‘Five, eight years at most.’

The doctor pauses for us to absorb this latest body blow.

‘We have a specialist nurse who can run through what to expect and the support options available. Though, as I say, the speed of deterioration is unusual, so it’s difficult to put a timeline on things.’

‘And what about me?’ I whisper, feeling instantly selfish for asking.

The doctor shoots a worried look at Dad.

‘There is a fifty-fifty chance that you carry the same gene. Genetic counselling can be made available to you once you’re eighteen,’ says the doctor.

I stare at him blankly.

‘Genetic counselling is a chance for you to decide whether or not you want to take the test. It’s a big decision to make.’

Dad and I instinctively look at Mum. Professor Hopkins makes the big decisions in our house - but right now Professor Hopkins is lost in another dimension.

‘And if Martha has the same gene?’ asks Dad.

‘I’m afraid there are no treatment options available.’

‘There must be something?’ asks Dad. ‘A research programme, a new drugs trial, something?’

‘I don’t want to give you false hope,’ says Doctor Randall, glancing at the framed certificates on his wall.

Dad, who doesn’t have any certificates on his wall, looks as if he would happily shake the hand of false hope right now. He’d hug it to him like a drowning man clings to a life buoy.

‘Martha will take the test as soon as she turns eighteen,’ says Mum, snapping back into wakefulness.

I listen in amazement as I’m relegated to the spectator bench of my own life. It’s better to know so that I can prepare. Apparently. How do you prepare for losing your mind? Write Post It notes to remind yourself where you left your keys? Write a memoir while you still can?

It’s my life! I want to shout but I know there’s no point. I am sixteen-and-a-half. Eighteen months is plenty of time for Mum to change her mind. Or for me to write a million Post It notes.

‘That’s something for Martha to think about,’ says Doctor Randall, closing the notes on his desk with an air of that-concludes-business-for-the-day.

The three of us stare at him. This man with a soft, cheerful face, who has turned our world inside out.

‘I am available if you have any further questions.’

I take Dad’s hand, then reach out a hand to Mum. They look as vacant as each other. I stand up slowly, my legs heavy as if they belong to someone else. Slowly, we make our way back into the waiting room. 

Tick. Tock. Tick Tock.

The ticking is louder than ever, only this time it’s not the clock. It’s the time bomb in my brain.

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14. Friday Linky List - March 27, 2015

From PW: Patreon Acquires Subbable, John and Hank Green's Crowdfunding Venture - anybody doing this? I'd love to hear more!

From The Nib - #Lighten Up - an interesting commentary on race in comics

Penguin Random House has a new resource for parents called Brightly

From Terribleminds: An Open Letter to That Ex-MFA Creative Writing Teacher Dude - Love it! (NSFW)

From The Guardian (via PW): The eight best young adult books - and why grownups should read them, too

From Salon (via PW): A Writer walks into a bank: Facing the financial fallout from a life dedicated to art

From the Children's Book Council: Half a Million New Children's Books Will Be Distributed through Pediatric Clinics to Help Close the Word Gap

From The Guardian (via PW): Harlan Coben: 'Every successful author still has to treat it as a job'

From The New York Times (via PW): A New Documentary Shines a Light on the Artist Who Gave Shape to Eloise

From The Telegraph (via PW): How to write a dystopian YA novel in 10 easy steps

From School Library Journal: Critics Sound off on "Clean Reader" App | Storify - I choose the words I use very carefully when I write. I'd be horrified to have my books read through this app!

From Deadline Hollywood: Steven Spielberg To Direct Sci-Fi Cult Favorite 'Ready Player One' - woohoo!!

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15. An Interview with Amazon Best Selling Author Inger Iversen

BookBuzzr author Inger Iversen’s book – Inevitable: Love and War – recently hit the #1 spot on the Amazon. We reached out to Inger to learn more about her story.

The screenshot below was taken on Mar 05, 2015.

Inger Iversen's Amazon Book Rank

Tell us about your journey as an author so far.
When I started I didn’t think I would make a career out of being an author. Inger IversenI’d planned to write a book or two to supplement my income and have a hobby that would be a stress reliever after a hard days work. However, I soon realized that while I loved to write, it was also hard work and very rewarding. I started in 2011 when I wrote a very short prequel called, Goodnight Sam. I didn’t know much about the indie business back then, but I’d like to think that I have grown and come a long way. I went from writing a book in eighteen months to being able to write one in two weeks, I’ve learned how to brand and market myself, and I am doing much more than just supplementing my income these days.

What is the storyline of Inevitable?
Inevitable follows Teal and Trent to Maine for Katie and Logan’s wedding. Teal is a workaholic, a loudmouthed, takes no prisoners type who actually works in a prison. Trent is the proverbial boy from the wrong side of the tracks with a bad attitude and a good reason behind it.
Place these two in a stranded in a cabin for a few days and let the games begin…

Walk us through a typical day in your life.


Ha! I have a boring life! I only work six hours a night at my “day” job, so when I arrive at home at 6 a.m. I write. On a normal day I write from 7 a.m. to about 10 a.m. and then I sleep. I have such an odd schedule, but that makes for easy writing time. I wake up around 4 p.m. and write again until about 8 p.m. On this schedule I can write a novel in 14 days!

How do you divide your time between writing and promotion?
Dividing my time between writing and promotion one of the hardest aspects of the job. While I want to promote and get my work out to new readers, I have to write in order to make current readers happy and not waiting too long between novels. That is where BookBuzzr comes in. I use the Twitter Scheduler and Freado giveaways to promote and tweet about my novels. I use Facebook and Instagram on a daily basis. Actually, I feel like I spend 90% of my time on Facebook and about 10% writing!

What are some of the things that you do to promote your book?
To promote my book I use Amazon giveaways, Freado giveaways and I use Bookbub, the Midlist and OHFB to promote. Those sites email my sales and deals out to their subscribers who are interested in receiving notifications about books and sales. I also hired a production company to create a trailed for my novel, Incarcerated. The biggest tool I use is Facebook. It is where the readers seems to be so it is where you will always find me!

How does BookBuzzr tie in to your overall marketing plan?
BookBuzzr is really helpful. I love the Tweet scheduler function and it is one of the reasons I choose BookBuzzr over other sites. I learned about BookBuzzr last year from Rachel Thompson of Bad Redhead Media and I have been using it every since.

Your book trailer for your other book Few Are Angels is of a very high quality. How did you get this book trailer made? What was its impact on book sales?
The book trailer for Few Are Angels has made a BIG impact on my career, boosted sales and reviews. Last year I attended a conference called, UtopYacon. This was a big step for my career. I attended a Marketing class and a ‘How to Utilize Facebook’ class. While there, I screened a short movie called, Avarice created by Timid Monster. Timid Monster is producer Dan Baker and director Rachel Taylor. They agreed to shoot a trailer for me and the experience was amazing. I picked actors and even co-wrote a script.

What’s the best part of your job as an author?
Hands down the best part about being an author is receiving emails and messages from readers about how my stories have touched their hearts. There is no greater reward.

In your role as an author, what are some of the activities that you need to do but dislike doing?
Ugh…research! I hate research! I just want to write and write, but there are those few times when I need to fact check. A recent example is in the final book of the Few Are Angels series, Eternal Light. I have to research medical techniques from 1666. I cannot tell you how boring it is to read over information about the crude and crazy medical techniques of that period.

What advice would you give to a new author?
I get asked this a lot and I have two gems that I love to share.
1. Never, ever and I mean never give up. You are your own worst critic, but you are also the only person who can tell your stories and readers want to hear them—trust me.
2. This isn’t a hobby. This is your business, your brand and your name. Readers will only respect it as much as you do. Treat it as if you love it because I know you do or you wouldn’t be here. I know it can be expensive, but always get professional editing, covers and formatting. Yes, some of use are multi-talented and can do some of these things, but if you can’t just let the professionals do it.

Note to Reviewers:
For a limited time, a free review copy (paperback) of Inger’s book Inevitable is available on Freado.com – http://www.freado.com/auction/4485/6666/inevitable-love-and-war
 

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16. Spoiler alert ....



Tomorrow is the grand opening of "The Book Bar".  It is a new feature on Storywraps.  Authors, Illustrators, Musicians and anyone, anywhere, anyhow connected to books will be featured here.  

 Tomorrow I feature Perrin Brair and his book, "Keeping Mom".  I will tell you about his book and his interview with me.  Please come ready to relax, sip some beverage of your choice, and hang out with like-minded "bookies".  (the legal kind) :-)

I will be bartending, "The Book Bar" will be open once a month, (the last Saturday of the month) and adult content will be highlighted.  It will be fun to pass on good adult books for you to read and enjoy.  I am building a virtual bar here and you are invited to join me.

I will post as usual in the mornings so it can be a breakfast bar, a brunch bar, a dinner bar, an evening bar...depending where in the world you live and your time zone.  See you here tomorrow as the doors open for the first time.  I am excited to launch this and see how it goes and grows.....

Raising the Bar on reading!

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17. Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. -Tonight on C4 (UK)

Just so you do not forget -I did- the "mid season break" crock of crap is over.  Tonight, 20:00 hrs on Channel 4 TV (UK) Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. is back.

Odd how the series improved -possibly due to the fact that from series 1 they have been "filling in" the backdrop to the Marvel movie universe.

Oh, DC, you could learn so much!
http://www.gstatic.com/tv/thumb/tvbanners/9975633/p9975633_b_v7_ae.jpg

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18. Social Media Etiquette

What not to do when using social media.


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19. Fatherhood and mental health

When people think about depressed parents, it’s almost instinctive to think about post-partum moms. Certainly, post-partum depression is a serious issue, but my co-author Garrett Pace and I wanted to go one step further. We asked if moms and dads are at similar risk for depression based on the kinds of parental roles they take on (like a step-parent or residential biological parent).

The post Fatherhood and mental health appeared first on OUPblog.

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20. Jack & Louisa Act 1, by Andrew Keenan-Bolger and Kate Weterhead

Jack can't believe that he is moving from New York City to a suburb of Cleveland!  He knows that it's where his dad is from, and that work is bringing him there, but for a kid city born and raised, the suburb and its stand alone houses aren't exactly familiar territory for him.  His parents know he's feeling down when an offer of listening to the Into The Woods soundtrack is turned down.

Louisa is just coming down from being at Camp Curtain Up (theater camp if you can't tell) with the other MTNs (musical theater nerds).  As she and her parents pull into their driveway, they notice that the new family is moving in two doors down.  Louisa notices that the kid looks about her age, and then suddenly she notices his tshirt.  It's from the musical Mary Poppins! This is a very interesting development. After all, up until now, Louisa was the only MTN in her grade!

If Louisa only knew! Jack's dad's job wasn't the only reason they were moving to Cleveland.  Jack had lost a job himself. He is a theater kid, and not too long ago he was cast in the musical The Big Apple.  And not in a bit part either.  He was super excited to be part of the cast...until the first rehearsal.  Jack is going into 7th grade, and his voice was changing. The notes no longer came easily...and sometimes they didn't come at all.  So Jack was no longer first choice for the role.  Which obviously made leaving NYC a heck of a lot easier.

In this age of google, Louisa finds out about Jack pretty quickly.  And seeing as they are in the same class at school, she figures they are pretty much meant to be friends since they have so much in common.  But Jack is thinking about reinvention.  It's pretty easy to be a theater kid and be a boy in NYC, but in Cleveland he figures his soccer skills will make his life easier than his singing and dancing skills.

Sometimes, however, it's hard to turn off what you really love.  And when the community theater announces it's putting on one of Jack's favorite shows of all time, will he be able to resist the call of the stage (let alone Louisa's influence)?

This is a pitch perfect middle school story that's not simply about theater, but drills down into issues of family, friendship and being true to oneself.  Keenan-Bolger and Wetherhead get the voices spot on without ever venturing into over-the-top Glee caricatures.  The alternating voices go back and forth in time, but are never confusing, rather a great device for giving the back story in pieces instead of one big chunk.  Fans of Federle will eat this up, as will fans of realistic fiction and musical theater.

Super fun.

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21. forward...quenCH!

Happy Poetry Friday to all, but most especially to me:
--happy because I am about to meet my modest but important goal of writing 4 new poems (and posting 5) each week this month using some interesting, muscular words;
--happy because some of my favorite poetry friends have joined in tackling this challenge with me;
--happy because I've gotten to know some new poetry friends quite well through the four weeks; and
--happy because, well, words and poems and goals and friends!

I CHose the word "quenCH" for this last day of the CHallenge because I actually thought my desire to write very regularly might be quenched by the end of four weeks.  More fool me.

Whetted (a jump rope rhyme for poets)

I like coffee
I like tea
I like a word
that tickles me

I like soda
I like juice
I like to rhyme
like Dr. Seuss.

I like lemonade
I like milk
I like people of the
poetry ilk

I like cocoa
I like pop
I'm still thirsty
I can't stop

I like water
drink and drink
Am I quenched?

Well, what do YOU think?

HM 2015
all rights reserved

I'm so excited to share all the last poems from this just-about-a-month of challenge, and I'll spend some time this weekend sorting and analyzing all our work from the month (to use Ed DeCaria's word, "poemetrics").  And of course I'll try to determine if there is one "StretCHiest MarCHer" who contributed the most poems, since I have promised a prize to that person.  But I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to draw a name, or send out several prizes, because there have been some thoroughly faithful MarCHers along with me.

In the meantime, I'm thrilled to say that I need not go thirsty into April, because I'll be participating in two National Poetry Month projects this year.  First, I'll follow MarCHers Jone and Joy by adding the 3rd line next Friday of this year's Progressive Poem, curated by Irene Latham.  This project is always an interesting experiment in collective composition.


And second, I'll contribute a guest post to Laura Shovan's April Project, "What Are You Wearing to National Poetry Month?"  My piece on clothing and its meanings will go up on Monday, April 13, and as a true student of what we wear and when and why, I am inexpressibly excited about this series.

And now, without further ado, the final contributions to my Happy Birthday Forward...MarCH Poetry CHallenge!

****************************
Mary Lee is drinking up someone special today.  Is her Po-emotion "relief"?

YOU

Like the relief of water
after salty popcorn
your smile
quenches
my thirsty spirit.

Like a bucket of water
on the campfire embers
your calm
quenches
my spicy temper.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2015

Charles is doing his drinking in the library (and wherever reading is possible):

BOOKS

I quench my restlessness by breaking
Open published documents of what
It means to be alive, then watering
My curiosity with images and words.

(c) Charles Waters 2015 all rights reserved.



Diane's offering today is one of my favorites of her consistently fine work this month:

Pushing Buttons

Alone and stuck for
hours in a bus station.
Pushing buttons on
the only vending machine
that is still plugged in.
Pushing buttons to dispense
cloyingly sweet root beer
that doesn't quench thirst.
Pushing buttons on the
coin return that refuses
to return my change.
Pushing buttons to clear
the memory of the buttons
we both pushed last night.


Carol returns us to winter for some last whisperings of that which, although we may resist, only winter can bring:

Majestic Winter, you have quenched my thirst for stillness,
filled my space with peaceful white drapings
and satisfied my unquenchable desire for positivity.
Amidst your frequent flurries, dusty landscapes,
and howling winds, you illuminated the night
with sparkling snow and surprised many daylight hours.
I nod my head in gratitude for your sweep of grandeur
over the land and your sense of  wonderment  from
tempest storms to the gentle cascading of snowflakes.
With joyful exuberance, I dedicate a visual gallery of 
unique artistic expressions, Winter Whisperings,
soon to be unveiled to all who recall your beauty. 

It's greedy to ask for more, but you Poetry Friday visitors are very welcome to add your "quenCH" poem today too!  Jone herself has the round-up this week at Check It Out.  Do check it out--Jone announces her own April chaLLenge using words with double L's (oh glory), and she also has a post rounding up all the NPM projects going on in the Kidlitosphere.  A person could easily drink themself* above the legal limit for poetry consumption by the first day of Spring Break.  Bottoms up!

(*trying out the new nongenderspecific pronoun use)

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22. New Adult Fiction Genre - Contemporary Romance - #WriteTip



There is a new genre emerging..."New Adult" fiction for older teens aka college-aged readers. You never stop growing up, but little in the market seems to address the coming-of-age that also happens between the ages of Nineteen to Twenty-six. Life changes drastically once high school is over, you have college, first jobs, first internships, first adult relationships…

Part of the appeal of NA is that the storylines are about characters who are taking on adult responsibilities for the first time without guidance from their parents. And the storylines generally have a heavy romance element. 

Keep this in mind as you revise your wonderful story, New Adult books are mostly about that specific time in every person's life—the time when the apron strings are cut from your parents, you no longer have a curfew, you're experiencing the world for the very first time, in most cases, with innocent eyes. New Adult is this section of your life where you discover who you want to be, what you want to be, and what type of person you will become. This time defines you. This is the time of firsts, the time where you can't blame your parents for your own bad choices. 


An NA character has to take responsibility for their own choices and live with the consequences. Most storylines are about twenty-something (18 to 26) characters living their own lives without any parents breathing down their necks, and learning to solve things on their own as they would in real life. New Adult fiction focuses on switching gears, from depending on our parents to becoming full-fledged, independent adults.

I am a firm believer that if you’re going to write a certain genre that you should read it, too. So I’m going to recommend that you start devouring NA novels to get a real sense and understanding of the genre before you write one.

Here are some great recommendations: https://www.goodreads.com/genres/new-adult-romance and http://www.goodreads.com/genres/new-adult and https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/new-adult-romance
 

Just as YA is fiction about teens discovering who they are as a person, New Adult (NA) is fiction about building your own life as an actual adult. As older teen readers discover the joy of the Young Adult genres, the New Adult—demand may increase. This, in turn, would give writers the chance to explore the freedom of a slightly older protagonist (over the age of 18 and out of high school, like the brilliant novel, "BEAUTIFUL DISASTER" by the amazing talents of author, Jamie McGuire) while addressing more adult issues that early 20-year-olds must face.

Older protagonists (basically, college students) are surprisingly rare; in a panel on YA literature at Harvard’s 2008 Vericon, City of Bones author talked about pitching her novel, then about twenty-somethings, as adult fiction. After several conversations, Clare realized she had to choose between adults and teens. She went with teens.

Quote from the publisher, St. Martin’s Press: We are actively looking for great, new, cutting edge fiction with protagonists who are slightly older than YA and can appeal to an adult audience. Since twenty-somethings are devouring YA, St. Martin’s Press is seeking fiction similar to YA that can be published and marketed as adult—a sort of an “older YA” or “new adult.” In this category, they are looking for spunky but not stupid, serious but not dull, cutting-edge, supernatural stories.

Quote from Georgia McBride, author (Praefatio) and founder of #YALitChat and publisher at Month9Books: "New Adult is a fabulous idea in theory, and authors seem to be excited about it. But in a world where bookstores shelf by category, to them, it is either  Adult or Young Adult. Some booksellers even call their YA section “teen.” And when you have a character who is over a certain age (19 seems to be the age most consider the start of New Adult), it is received as Adult. In some cases, the designation by publishers causes more confusion than not.
Let’s face it, YA is associated with teens, and at 19, most no longer consider themselves teens. So, it would support the theory of placing these “New Adult” titles in the Adult section. However, with the prevalence of eBook content, it would seem that the powers that be could easily create a New Adult category if they really wanted to...."

There’s also a list on goodreads of New Adult book titles. These books focus on college age characters, late teens to early twenties, transitioning into the adult world.

Some popular authors of the NA category include:
  • Jamie McGuire
  • Jessica Park
  • Tammara Webber
  • Steph Campbell
  • Liz Reinhardt
  • Abbi Glines
  • Colleen Hoover 
  • Sherry Soule
http://www.wattpad.com/story/29486760-irresistible-mistake-new-adult-romantic-suspense


Would you buy New Adult books? 
Does the genre appeal to you? 

Does it sound better than YA (teen novels)? 
 
Or are you happy with YA as it stands?

Do you consider YA to include characters that are over the age of eighteen? 
 

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23. Brahms Lullaby | Cradle song

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24.

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25. after being in the company of the rock stars of YA, I have a dream

Above? That's Libba Bray reading from her forthcoming novel (Lair of Dreams, due out in August) at Children's Book World in Haverford, PA—a scary little ditty that has Amy Sarig King and Gayle Forman shaking in their respective (albeit from opposing sides of the fashion world) boots.

Before them sit many of my neighborhood's finest writers. Also Sister Kim and her Little Flower students. Also bloggers and readers and enthusiasts and at least one bookseller from down the road and shall we go no further before we mention Heather Hebert, who makes it all happen, and with enthusiasm, and while I am at this, because heck, why not, can we locals all just pause for a minute and welcome Margo Rabb to our neighborhood, because she's here now, newly arrived from Austin, with her second YA novel (Kissing in America) due out in May.

(Seems like I might be reading with Margo and two other fabs from Round Here soon, but more on that to come.)

What a performance these three gave—Amy and Libba gamely (respectively) playing the parts of a stoner and a slick boy in a choral reading from Gayle's new bestselling book, I Was Here. Amy giving a thrilling preview of I Crawl Through It. Libba forcing everyone else into scare mode, then zapping the conversation with four parts hysterical ad lib and one part Barbara Waters. And then plenty of talk about the F word, by which I mean (of course) Feminism.

The doors were open at Children's Book World, to dispel all that animal heat. The skies were ripped apart with rain. I headed home among storm-imperiled drivers and then I fell asleep. At which point I dreamed I was still with the gang, only we had moved onto a Friendly's Restaurant (note: Friendly's, I lie not) and we were having high-calorie ice cream and nobody would speak to me. My offense, in my dream, was that I been me—asking too much, pressing too hard.

I woke just after I'd leaned over somebody's shoulder and read the texts that were circulating about me.

"Beth Kephart," it said, "is so annoying."

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