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By: Kathy Temean,
Blog: Writing and Illustrating
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Most writers know every story needs a protagonist with a problem, but your MC also needs to be interesting, compelling, and sympathetic to keep the readers wanting more. We want our characters to jump off the page and grab our readers by the throat. Plus, we want our readers to remember and think about our characters and our story long after they close our book.
Here are ten ways to make your protagonist do just that:
1. MC has a problem that needs to be solved
Make sure your protagonist is the one with the problem and no one else can solve this problem (or solve it as well as he or she can. The MC has to be central to the entire issue.
2. MC has the ability to act
Don’t let your protagonists go around just reacting to things when they happen. Your MC should make things happen and move the story along through his or her choices and actions. A protagonist who knows what she wants and makes the story happen is a far more compelling character than one who sits around and waits for the story to happen. Make sure your protagonist is more than just someone in the middle of a mess.
If this is not happening in your book, you need to adjust your story in order to get your protagonist in a position where they can affect the change.
3. MC needs reasons to act
You can always give your MC something to do, but they need to have good reasons for their actions or your story will start to stretch credibility as to why they would get involved in something that clearly don’t care about. If you want to have your protagonist risk their life or happiness, make sure it’s for a reason readers will understand. NOTE: This is where a critique group comes in handy.
4. MC needs a compelling quality
Like I said in the beginning, we want to make our MC interesting. Maybe they’re funny, smart or twisted. Maybe your MC has an unusual talent, skill, or quark. Whatever you choose, there needs to be a quality that makes a reader want to know more. Most times the thing that is compelling is also contradictory, making the reader want to know how these two things work together, thus hooking the reader.
5. MC has something to lose
Just having a reason to act isn’t enough, so think about having your MC lose something that matters. This is a powerful motivating tool that will enable you to force your protagonist to do what he normally wouldn’t. You can have them take risks they would never take if there are consequences hanging over their head. This will make readers worry that your MC might suffer those consequences and lose what matters most to him.
6. MC should have something to gain
An important aspect of the story’s stakes that’s sometimes forgotten or not thought through well enough is giving the MC something to gain. Readers want to see a protagonist rewarded for all their hard work and sacrifice, and a reason for your protagonist to keep going when everything says give up.
7. Give Your MC the capacity to change
The sole of the story is character growth. It’s what turns it from a series of plot scenes to a tale worth writing. Giving your protagonist the ability to learn from his experiences and become a better (though not always) person will deepen your story. Your MC shouldn’t be the same person as they were when the story began.
8. MC needs an interesting flaw
It is the flaws that make your MC interesting. Flaws let you show character growth and give your protagonist a way to improve themselves. Maybe your MC knows about this flaw and is actively trying to fix it, or perhaps he or she hasn’t a clue and change is being forced upon them. This flaw could be the very thing that allows your MC to survive and overcome the problems. Of course, it could also be the cause of the entire mess.
9. MC has a secret
You don’t want your MC to be predictable – boring. A good way to keep your protagonist interesting is to have your MC hide something. Readers will wonder what that secret is and how it affects the story. Having your protagonist be a little cryptic, will keep your readers dying to find out.
10. MC needs someone or something interesting trying to stop him
Don’t forget that your protagonist needs an antagonist standing against him. The stronger the antagonist is that goes up against your MC, the more tension, suspense and victory you will provide for the reader. Give the reader a villain they will love to hate. The payoff will be keeping your readers turning the pages and reading into the wee hours of the morning.
Do you have another tips for juicing up your characters? We’d love to hear it.
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Tagged: Juice Up Your Protagonist
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By Becca @ Pivot Book Reviews
First off, I want to send Andye a HUGE thank you for having me here on Reading Teen! Second, I'm going to be reviewing 100 Sideways Miles a little different than normal. I'll be writing a letter to the book, saying what I did/didn't like, similar to how I normally review on my own blog! Be sure to check out more of my review letters at Pivot Book Reviews!
By: ALSC Institute,
Blog: ALSC Blog
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It’s true: registration for the ALSC Institute has reached maximum capacity and is now closed. We’re very sorry that we weren’t able to accommodate the demand. But not to fear: you can come right here for live blogging during the Institute! And watch for a wrap up post next month, along with an announcement of the location for ALSC Institute 2016.
For those that will be joining us in Oakland, stayed tuned for local information on our website, as well as instructions for how to access online materials. And… would you care to share with your colleagues? We are still recruiting live bloggers; just contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here’s what’s happening in Oakland this week. See you all soon!
Nina Lindsay, ALSC Institute Task Force Chair, Oakland Public Library
Experimenting with color and brush with ambient color. Used photo references to get the look of the leaves. It made a huge difference. The non-main leaves were not drawn with reference. Used Corel Painter X3 Gouache opaque smooth brush and other things I have learned to use previously. Day 6 of 30 of the trial.
More than two years ago I finished the first draft of my 9th novel and handed three chapters over to my agent. She hated it. Picked holes in just about every paragraph. Didn’t think my characters were convincing. Thought some of my research was suspect. And generally couldn’t find anything good to say about it. I put up all sorts of arguments for it being a first draft etc etc but after she had torn it apart, the thought of fixing it was just too daunting. So the story was buried.
I knew it was a good idea and once I could stand back from all the criticism, I felt there was a kernel there that still needed to be told. But I was far too demoralized to dig deep and find the right way of telling it. After a couple of years of being involved with picture books, I recently took it out again. My son, who has had some success with an 'about to be published' first novel and a film deal, asked the burning question: what is the story about?
I rambled on and on. I was floundering.
was the problem! I had no idea. I couldn’t be succinct enough to say what my story was about. So if I couldn’t sell my story to my agent, or even my own son, how was I going to whet the appetite of an editor or more importantly readers out there?
Anyone who listens to a premise, must be able to see the entire book unfolding in his mind. A premise has few words but must hit hard. It has to be emotionally intriguing. It has to mean something to the person hearing the idea for the first time. But it's not just a tool to use to sell a story to an editor, it's for the writer to keep crystalised in his head as he works. The little nugget from which all else springs. Nicola Morgan has written reams about writing premises but I had somehow fallen into the lazy trap of thinking because I write organically (pantster???), my premise could be equally organic.
Wrong! Basically a premise needs a compelling hero, a compelling bad guy and a compelling need or goal we as humans can identify with. Put this in a single sentence or at the most two and make it compelling enough to capture a stranger’s attention and to keep the writer focused on the kernel of the story. What is the story about?
My son’s question drew me up sharp. I couldn’t tell him in a few succinct sentences. But the moment I began to formulate and define the premise, like magic, the conflicts were brought more sharply into focus, my protagonist gained stature and I could make the bad guy just a bit more out of reach of my hero’s ability to defeat him.
So writing a good premise is a great step in the right direction. Ask yourself is this story about someone:
I can identify with
I can learn from
I have a compelling reason to follow
I believe deserves to win
Has weaknesses that are overcome in the end (the hero's arc)
Has stakes that are primal and ring true?
Now as I’m picking up on my story again, I’m visualizing a short and hugely dramatic first image and then I’m going into the beats of the story like they do in film-scripts. What is the right way to pace this story? I’m even writing out index cards and am putting them up on a cork-board. And having read Lori Don’s recent blogpost
on ABBA where he writes: I know that I’m just discovering the story, not finding the perfect way of telling it first time around. And I know that it takes a lot of work to make that original mess of scribbled ideas into a book,
I’ve realized that keeping track of the beats in a story is far easier if you’ve already written the first draft. Heaven forbid I would ever have to work out the beats in a story I hadn’t drafted first.
Now after the premise and that riveting first image and the initial set-up of time, place and characters, what is the catalyst? The moment of no turning back? Crossing the threshold? The door of no return? Should I go? Dare I go? I’m talking about me
… not my hero! And for those of you who recognise some of the above – yes, I have read Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat
and yes I think both he, my son and my agent have hopefully saved my manuscript.
And finally as an aside, I don’t believe my research is suspect – my notebooks are full of distracting and time-wasting detail that help me 'play' and doodle my way through the story.
Dianne Hofmeyr's most recent picture book Zeraffa Giraffa published by Frances Lincoln, is illustrated by Jane Ray and has been translated into 6 languages other than English. Her previous picture book The Name of the Tree is Bojabi, also published by Frances Lincoln and illustrated by Piet Grobler, was nominated for the 2014 Kate Greenaway.
By: C. C. Gevry,
Hard to believe summer is nearly gone. It was a busy time for me, but an enjoyable one. The family traveled to North Carolina at the beginning of July, and then I went on an all girls trip to visit Laura Ingalls Wilder sites in South Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa. For the Lil’ Diva’s 13th birthday, we took the girls on a surprise trip to Disney. What a blast we had, but it was so HOT! The thermometer didn’t get below 95 degrees during the day while we there. I’m sure you’re all feeling sorry for me right now, huh?
I managed to get some reading done in between jaunts. I’m glad to be home with the girls back in school. Though with my new job I don’t have much free time, at least we’re on a schedule. In July I read, Renewal “Anytime” 10 Day Detox by Lisa Consiglio Ryan, When SHMACK Happens, an inspirational sports biography by international cycling champion Amber Neben, and A Grand Design by Amber Stockton and Miracle in a Dry Season by Sarah Loudin Thomas–both Christian romances. On vacation I finished The Truth: Diary of a Gutsy Teen by Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein. Right now, I’m reading The Red Sheet by Mia Kerick and The Hybrid Author by Dianne Sagan.
Poor Dad is still working on The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman. He works too much, so he’s tired a lot of the time. He rarely gets an entire chapter done before falling asleep.
The Lil’ Diva received two $25 gift cards to Barnes and Noble for her birthday, so she splurged on books. In addition, I bought her America: Imagine the World without Her by Dinesh D’Souza, The Sound by Sara Alderson, and Let it Snow: Three Holiday Romances by John Green, Lauren Myracle, and Maureen Johnson. Then she won Fangirl and Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell from the summer reading program. Also as part of the program, she got to order a free paperback. She chose If I Stay by Gayle Forman. She’s working her way through her new books right now.
The Lil’ Princess managed to read enough to complete her goal for the summer reading program, but then called it quits for the summer. She’ll have a busy fall, so I guess it’s okay that she slacked off. She also won a raffle during the library’s summer reading program. We definitely had a great summer. I hope you did too.
That’s it for this edition of From the Family Bookshelf. Hope you’ll share some of what you’ve been reading. Have a great day and keep reading!
In the middle of the city, In the middle of the street, Where the crossroads meet. Someone plopped some soil Yet those blossoms bloomed, Which just proves the point – Know who’ll flourish where –
Be it man or plant.
THE GARDEN OF LETTERS sounds wonderful. I have this book but have not been able to read it yet.________________________________
Alyson Richman’s previous novel The Lost Wife dazzled on national bestseller lists and was praised by author John Lescroart as being “the Sophie’s Choice of this generation.”
Praise for The Garden of Letters “The Garden of Letters demonstrates artistry of the highest order. Lyrical and compelling, Alyson Richman’s novel of a cellist coming of age in wartime Italy is as layered as a symphony. Exquisite.”
—Erika Robuck, author of Fallen Beauty
“Lyrical and rich…filled with beauty and tragedy, romance and heartbreak.”
—Jillian Cantor, author of Margot
“Bottom line: you should read The Garden of Letters.”
—Jenna Blum, New York Times bestselling author of Those Who Save Us
Best-selling author Alyson Richman has received both national and international praise for her work, including 15 language translations and honorable nominations such as the Book Sense Notable Pick in 2006. Following the success of her first three novels, Richman’s latest book, The Lost Wife, was critically acclaimed, chosen as a Jewish Book Council selection and winning the Long Island Reads Pick in 2012, praised by booksellers, bloggers, and media all around the country.
Now, Alyson Richman explores the life of a young musician swept into the Italian Resistance during World War II in THE GARDEN OF LETTERS (Berkley Trade Paperback; September 2, 2014; $16.00).
Accompanying readers back to the tumultuous times of the 1940’s, THE GARDEN OF LETTERS follows Elodie Bertolotti, a young cello prodigy. When Mussolini’s Fascist regime strikes her family, Elodie is drawn into the burgeoning resistance movement by Luca, a young and impassioned bookseller, and as the occupation looms she discovers that her unique musical talents, and her courage, have the power to save lives.
But forced to escape to the small coastal village of Portofino, Elodie is scared and alone as she steps of the boat. Fortunately, she is rescued by Angelo Rosselli, a young doctor shackled to guilt and haunted by his past. Attempting to escape her own tragedies, Elodie uses her musical talent to mount her courage and help others who suffer in the same way. In doing so, Elodie reawakens a spirit in Angelo he thought he’d lost, which ignites a spark between the two that changes the course of their lives forever.
THE GARDEN OF LETTERS is an incredible story of love, courage, and the power of the human spirit to find hope against the backdrop of war.
Alyson Richman is the bestselling author of The Mask Carver’s Son, The Rhythm of Memory, The Last Van Gogh, and The Lost Wife.
THE GARDEN OF LETTERS
by Alyson Richman
Berkley Trade Paperback
On-sale: September 2, 2014
$16; ISBN: 978-0425266250
One of my favorite things in Sylvia Plath’s diaries are the entries that swing from “I need to start having people over for dinner more often! What a pleasure to cook for people!” to “I need to stop having people over for dinner all the time, they’re assholes and I need more time to write.” (Loose paraphrase!)
I think of this whenever I get in a burst of sociability.
From a single doodle of a rhino sleeping and suddenly it burst into this. So, no concept whatsoever....:D
Little changes are made from the original sketch because the composition doesn't feel right...
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They've announced the longlist for the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction -- though, last I checked, they hadn't managed to do that at the official site, because ... well ... who knows ?
But The Telegraph has the list of fifteen titles.
None, I'm afraid, are under review at the complete review -- hey, it's non-fiction; hard to drum interest for that sort of thing hereabouts (though of course there are exceptions).
By: J. S. Watt,
That moment you find out somebody you truly care about went off the deep end because of a tragic circumstance. And it pretty much ruined their entire life. When you wish you had been there for them, but they are far away and you didn't even know they were struggling because they fell off the face of the earth. I need to keep better tabs on some of my "babies".
The one I speak of in particular- please keep them in prayer. Definitely needed...
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Elizabeth Nunez. Not For Everyday Use. NY: Akashic Books, 2014. ISBN: 9781617752339 e-IBSN: 9781617752780
You won’t necessarily take a phone call one day, maybe you’ll be there. You won’t necessarily be 64 like that song, but you’ll be old when you get the news your mother is dead. Not For Everyday Use is Elizabeth Nunez’ memoir of the hours and days following her mother’s passing.
In the course of a few days, the family reunion, funeral and church rituals, sibling expectations, and the author’s own disconnectedness spark reflections upon memories that guide the daughter’s comprehension of the immensity of this change in her family.
While the theme of the matriarch’s death is universal, readers will appreciate the writer’s post-colonial, immigrant, and person-of-color themes that play strongly throughout the memoir. Nunez devotes elaborated discussion to class v. color arguments, fidelity, decolonized mindsets, the isolation and hardship of an immigrant single mother on her own, why her mother pushed her away.
Written with a novelist’s pen, the story flows from incidents and anecdotes juxtaposed in time. In one section, the reader learns that Nunez and Betty Shabazz work in the same academic department. Any sense of solidarity between the Trinidadian and the US Muslim quickly dissipates in another account, Nunez being told off by a U.S.-born black woman that the Trinidadian black woman should know her place. They were competing for a student leadership position. Another tale, in dialect, reflects an attitude that infects and strengthens the Nunez clan, what don bile, don spile
. It's the attitude the old man displays looking upon the corpse of his wife of 65 years. He nods and says before walking away, "Well, that's that."
Mourning often gives way to old resentments and unfinished business. Nunez has some of this, perhaps, in her descriptions of her sisters and brothers. Her sister Karen really gets under her skin. Her father’s cheating and her mother’s pain at it are recurring jabs at the 90 year old demented man. The father’s Carnival dance at the funeral parlor comes as total surprise and author's restrained humor. You’re not supposed to laugh, are you?Not For Everyday Use
is the autobiography of Nunez’ novels Anna In-between
. For practitioners of the craft of memoir writing, the author shares a writer’s insight on using one’s life and family to populate her fiction, and how a moment's recognition winds and unravels skeins of time recorded in the words.
Readers of those two excellent novels will appreciate the connections between the writer’s world and that of the novels. Prior reading won’t be required with Nunez calling attention to key parallels and differences between the novels and the author's life. The writer treads a storyteller's line that leads her familia to accuse the author of getting too honest about private matters. The writer’s defense, “I’m a writer.”
Reading Elizabeth Nunez’ two-novel life of Anna Sinclair, Anna In-Between
introduces readers to a flinty mother, a daughter wanting more affection, a divorced single mother immigrant black woman employed in New York publishing industry. That’s almost Nunez’ profile. She’s an English professor.
In the novels, Anna and Beatrice suffer one another’s needs but maintain an icy distance. Nunez' friends say she's too hard on the fictional mother. That’s also the mother-daughter relationship the author weaves together in Not For Everyday Use
. It’s not a spoiler to say--look for it--Elizabeth and Una have a warm reconciliation when both manage to say, without choking on the emotion, “I love you.”
Readers and writers of US ethnic literatures will find Nunez’ voicing of immigrant sentiments familiar, eloquent, and distinctive. Coming from a newly de-colonized gente--she's first generation--the author’s voice and insight into exigencies in-common will prove vitalizing to readers and writers.
You can order Not For Everday Use
through your local independent bookseller, or directly from the publisher, Akashic Books’ website here.Seven by Five: On-line Floricanto for September 2Gabriel Rosenstock, Francisco X. Alarcón, Jackie Lopez, Frank de Jesus Acosta, Mario Angel Escobar
The Moderators of the Facebook group Poets Responding to SB1070
Poetry of Resistance recommend five poets from two continents writing in three languages for today's La Bloga On-line Floricanto.
"An End to Borders" by Gabriel Rosenstock with his original poem in Gaelic, "Deireadh Le Teorainneacha"
"Frontera / Border" by Francisco X. Alarcón
"Slithering Our Way to Heaven" by Jackie Lopez
"Why I Write?" by Frank de Jesus Acosta
"Brown Chronicles" by Mario Angel EscobarAN END TO BORDERSby Gabriel Rosenstock
An end to borders
An end to flags
An end to barbed wire
An end to towering walls
An end to nations
End the base tinkle of currencies
Let the planet breathe freely
Without barbed wire
Without towering walls
Without the base tinkle of currencies
An end forever to bordersDEIREADH LE TEORAINNEACHAby Gabriel Rosenstock
Deireadh le teorainneacha
Deireadh le bratacha
Deireadh le sreang dheilgneach
Deireadh le fallaí arda
Deireadh le náisiúin
Cuir deireadh le cling shuarach na n-airgeadraí
Deireadh le cogaí
Lig don phláinéad análú gan bhac
Gan sreang dheilgneach
Gan fallaí arda
Gan cling shuarach na n-airgeadraí
Deireadh go deo le teorainneachaGabriel Rosenstock
. Poet, novelist, playwright, haikuist, essayist, author/translator of over 170 books, mostly in Irish (Gaelic). Taught haiku at the Schule für Dichtung (Poetry Academy), Vienna, and Hyderabad Literary Festival, India. Prolific translator of poems, plays, songs, he also writes for children, in prose and verse. Represented in Best European Fiction 2012 (Dalkey Archive Press) and Haiku in English: The First Hundred Years (W. W. Norton & Co. 2013). Books Ireland, Summer 2012, says of his detective novel My Head is Missing: ‘This is a departure for Rosenstock but he is surefooted as he takes on the comic genre and writes a story full of engaging characters and a plot that keeps the reader turning the page.’
New and selected poems I OPEN MY POEM …(translated from the Irish) published in 2014 by PoetryWala, Mumbai, India and The Partisan and other stories published by Evertype, 2014.
Rosenstock’s Blog address:roghaghabriel.blogspot.ieFrontera/ Borderby Francisco X. Alarcón
Francisco X. Alarcón, award winning Chicano poet and educator, born in Los Angeles, in 1954, is the author of twelve volumes of poetry, including, From the Other Side of Night: Selected and New Poems (University of Arizona Press 2002), and Snake Poems: An Aztec Invocation (Chronicle Books 1992), Sonetos a la locura y otras penas / Sonnets to Madness and Other Misfortunes (Creative Arts Book Company 2001), De amor oscuro / Of Dark Love (Moving Parts Press 1991, and 2001).
His latest books are Ce•Uno•One: Poems for the New Sun / Poemas para el Nuevo Sol (Swan Scythe Press 2010), and for children, Animal Poems of the Iguazú/Animalario del Iguazú (Children’s Book Press 2008) which was selected as a Notable Book for a Global Society by the International Reading Association, and as an Américas Awards Commended Title by the Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs. His previous bilingual book titled Poems to Dream Together/Poemas para sonar juntos (Lee & Low Books 2005) was awarded the 2006 Jane Addams Honor Book Award.
He teaches at the University of California, Davis, where he directs the Spanish for Native Speakers Program. The issue of eco-poetics and xenophobia are a the core of three upcoming collections of poems, “Poetry of Resistance: A Multicultural Anthology in Response to SB 1070,” “Borderless Butterflies: Earth Haikus and Other Poems / Mariposas sin fronteras: Haikus terrenales y otros poemas.” He is the creator of the Facebook page POETS RESPONDING TO SB 1070 where more than 3,000 poems by poets all over the world have been posted. This is the link to the Facebook page:https://www.facebook.com/PoetryOfResistanceSlithering Our Way to Heavenby Jackie Lopez
I see love, peace, and joy slithering like a snake in the grass up to our spines.
It enables us to see Heaven on Earth when there is plenty of Orisha-orientations.
We sink into Mother Earth for her comfort and strength in our enterprise for survival.
And, we will survive.
every racist, sexist, classist sentiment is thrown out the window for our survival.
Every history book will speak the truth of our organization.
Every Thursday we shall have dinner with wonderful disorganization.
Now and then, we cross the border of discontent and organize an evolution.
We march in the streets.
We picket on the line.
And, we shall nail our edict on the cross.
There is hope in a word.
There is hope in a dance.
There is hope in a march and we go marching on.
We claim the universe complete.
We are anointed and know that the only way to survive is if we take a trip to the truth.
I am not agnostic and esoteric at the same time.
I am survival of the kindest.
I am survival of true love.
We sink or swim in misbehavior.
For our solution is found in the consultation of our souls.
And, where does it all start?
And, where did I come from?
It all started with a misbehavior one evening when I was anointing the masses.
We are organizing an evolution for the promotion of restitution.
We are aghast with philosophy, and we shall anoint whomever washes a dish.
And, the saints are marching in.
We wear mini-skirts and shorts.
We wear an Alaskan mask and we shoot the breeze with the namesayers.
We are closet scientists and we mistake enamorations for flirtations.
So, now I say, Let us rejoice for the world has opened up with dire pollution in order for us to be united as emancipators.
We shall cross the border.
We shall reach the sea.
We have been accosted at every turn with oppression.
And, it is getting thick like molasses.
So, I cling to hope and enamorations.
I cling so that I might see the universe for what it really is and what it does to us.
We are disjointed at the ends, and we are getting the Heaven out of Hell.
So, speak your truth.
I am listening.
Sing, for boyfriends offer patrimony to the lovely creationism that you bring.
And, I dive into the lies and remember that the only thing that can get through my pores is the truth.
We are shamans.
We promote the non-toxicity of the world.
We are crazy with love and emotional control.
We sing in the spirit of a saint.
And we embark on traffic control.
There is not such a thing as hope without despair.
It is now our golden opportunity to live on Earth and say, “We are hope.”
So, little is said about the misogynistic era of enlightenment.
However, I am one to say it.
This is the millennium of Heaven.
There is an ocean of forgiveness somewhere out there.
There is emancipatory proclamations out there as well.
And, we are ones to ride that wave.
Jackie Lopez is a poet and writer from San Diego. She was founding member of the Taco Shop Poets and has always pursued a study of history of which has influenced her writing. She has taught in San Diego City Schools and has been published in several literary journals. She has just finished her Magnum Opus titled “Telepathic Goodbye” described as a uniform poem of 25, 333 words. She is now looking for a publisher for this. You can catch her work on facebook under “Jackie Lopez Lopez” where she shares her work with a daily poem. She has a radio interview that will come out later this year. Her email: email@example.comWhy I write?by Frank de Jesus Acosta
I write to:
Give scope to my growing understanding of truth;
Impart my dreams and visions;
Honor the sacrifice of the ancestors;
Remember the stories, traditions, and history of my people;
Reflect the duality of pain;
Express gratitude for the miracle of creation;
Acknowledge the integrity of all cultures;
Celebrate the expression of my own;
Lament the anathema of hate, greed, egoism, and tyranny;
Witness to justice, compassion, respect, and non-violence;
Incite aspiration to human possibility;
Voice the inspiration of love;
Commune with the presence of God in others;
Leave footprints of my dance to the song of life...
Reflection by: Frank de Jesus Acosta
Frank de Jesus Acosta is principal of Acosta & Associates, a California-based consulting group that specializes in professional support services to public and private social change ventures in the areas of children, youth and family services, violence prevention, community development, and cultural fluency. In 2007, he authored, The History of Barrios Unidos, Cultura Es Cura, Healing Community Violence, published by Arte Publico Press, University of Houston. Acosta is a graduate of University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). His professional experience includes serving in executive leadership positions with The California Wellness Foundation, the Coalition for Humane Immigration Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), Downtown Immigrant Advocates (DIA), the Center for Community Change, and the UCLA Community Programs Office. He is presently focused on completing the writing and publishing a two book series for Arte Publico Press focused on best practices to improve the well-being of Latino young men and boys. Acosta most recently co-authored a published “Brown Paper” with Jerry Tello of the National Latino Fatherhood and Family Institute (NLFFI) entitled, “Lifting Latinos Up by Their Rootstraps: Moving Beyond Trauma Through a Healing-Informed Framework for Latino Boys and Men.” Acosta provides writing and strategic professional support in research, planning, and development to foundations and community-focused institutions on select initiatives focused on advancing social justice, equity, and pluralism. He is also finalizing writing and editing a book of inter-cultural poetry and spiritual reflections.BROWN CHRONICLES by Mario Angel Escobar
If you ever want to walk
the corners of your streets,
Be ready to put your hands up
because the pigmentation of your skin,
Has already made you guilty.
Be ready to hold your last breath
because eyes with a sense of supremacy
will stalked you
following your foots steps.
Don’t hold anything in your hands
Open them like roses in the spring
accelerating their process
because if you don’t
the law will drop a white blanket
on a puddle of blood
covering a history
that has been deny
over and over again
but why cry
if the tears will continue to blossom
flooding with sadness
Wherever you go
Will stalked you
suffocated your path
with the scent of your
If you ever want to walk
the corners of your streets,
Be ready to put your hands up
because a single phrase
I am not guilty!
I am not guilty!
I am not guilty!
Will not do
and in the vortex
of the hourglass sand
you will find
that the dream
still a dream
in the corners
of your street.
© Mario A. Escobar 2014
Mario A. Escobar (January 19, 1978-) is a US-Salvadoran writer and poet born in 1978. Although he considers himself first and foremost a poet, he is known as the founder and editor of Izote Press. Escobar has stated that his exposure to “poetic sounds” began during his childhood and that his foundation in poetry stemmed from what he witness during the Salvadoran Civil War. Escobar began his writing career by the age of 13 as a poet. He cites Roque Dalton, Tato Laviera and Jaime Sabines as some of his early poetic influences. Escobar’s work has been feature in UCLA’s publication Underground Undergrads which recognizes the poet as an activist for the undocumented Student Movement. In 2004, Escobar was placed under arrest and was scheduled to be deported. In 2006, Escobar won his case for political asylum making him one of the last Salvadorans to win a political case fourteen years after the Salvadoran Peace Accords were signed in 1992. Escobar is a faculty member in the Department of Foreign Languages at LA Mission College. Some of Escobar’s works include Al correr de la horas (Editorial Patria Perdida, 1999) Gritos Interiores (Cuzcatlan Press, 2005), La Nueva Tendencia (Cuzcatlan Press, 2005), Paciente 1980 (Orbis Press, 2012). His bilingual poetry appears in Theatre Under My Skin: Contemporary Salvadoran Poetry by Kalina Press.
The cover for Gary Robinson's SON WHO RETURNS is sure to catch the eye of readers interested in stories about Native peoples. Because it is a photograph, one might assume it is a work of non-fiction, but it isn't. Instead, it is the story of Mark Centeno. He is 15 years old. His dad is Mexican and Filipino; his mother (she died of cancer when he was 10) was Chumash and Crow.
Mark is kind of a surfer dude. He loved hanging with his buddies in California, and is unhappy living in Dallas. He convinces his dad to send him back to California for the summer, to live with his mother's Chumash family on their reservation
Nana (his grandmother) and his aunt meet his plane and he starts to learn a lot about his Chumash heritage. When he was younger, his mom had told him some things, but as the story unfolds, he learns a lot more. As the cover suggests, dancing is part of what Mark is going to learn about. By the end of the story, he's a pretty good Traditional dancer and knows several songs in that category.
Early on, Mark learns that his cousin, Adrian, is actually his half-brother. When Mark first talks with him, Adrian is getting ready for an upcoming pow wow. Mark asks him if a choker is part of his costume. Adrian is incensed that Mark has used the word "costume" rather than regalia. It is moments like that by which Robinson (the author) imparts a lot of solid information to us (the readers)--information that bats down stereotyping and bias that is all-too-rampant in society.
Robinson also introduces readers to some of the identity politics that run through Native communities. Another character in the book is Charley. He's Lakota from Pine Ridge. Mark meets him when he registers to dance for the first time. Charley looks down on Mark, saying (p. 75):
"You know, powwows aren't really meant for California Indians. You're all mostly watered-down mixed breeds. You should leave this stuff to real Indians like me."
I'm glad to see Robinson take up this fraught topic. I think Native kids (like Mark) who are new to powwow dancing, or who are mixed, will like reading how this identity politics will all get sorted out, and many will love seeing references to Gathering of Nations
. Non-Native kids will get a glimpse into the not-monolithic world of Native people.Son Who Returns
was published in 2014 by 7th Generation
. It is in their Pathfinder series of books for reluctant teen readers.
On the basis of Beth Kephart's recommendation in her book Handling the Truth, I ordered a copy of Hiroshima in the Morning through Powells. The author Rahna Reiko Rizzuto received a fellowship to go to Japan in mid-2001 for six months and research her planned novel about the bombing of Hiroshima. What she did not expect was the wrenching difficulty (in a myriad of ways) of parting from her husband and 2 young sons in NYC and how complicated it would be to navigate Japanese culture and gain the insight she wanted on her subject.
This is a really tough book to classify because if I tell you it will resonate strongly with women who feel torn between family life and their work, you will probably immediately think of "Lean In" and not give it a second thought. But that aspect of the book is important and needs to be noted. Rizzuto's personal/professional conflict is so intense and so tied to the unique aspects of researching a book, that any writer who has ever felt similarly torn is going to identify very powerfully with her words. She wonders if she is committed enough to her marriage and motherhood and also worries about her own mother who is suffering from the early stages of dementia. Are there other places where Rizzuto should be? It doesn't help when her husband starts to rethink all of his earlier support for the project after spending one too many nights dealing with sick kids. And all Rizzuto can tell him is that she is talking to people, visiting museums and temples, "soaking up" the culture of Japan.
She might be more convincing if she felt more certain that she was getting done the work she needed.
That's the other impressive aspect of Hiroshima in the Morning--Rizzuto's discovery of how complicated the Hiroshima story is. The book has excerpts from the interviews she conducted with survivors and they are the very definition of gut wrenching. Rizzuto finds herself overwhelmed by the horror of those stories, (you will be too), and transformed by them. Then 9/11 happens and her family arrives for a visit and again her vision of herself and the world goes through another change.
There is a lot about this book that made me think about writing, history, stories, the power of family and so much more. So many times as a writer I have questioned the value of what I choose to do with my life and anyone who has ever been in that position will understand what Rizzuto goes through. But the stories from Hiroshima are what has stayed with me more than anything else and they make me think yet again how much our history is dominated by the way we tell stories, and our collective acceptance of who does the telling.
After only reading Cloud Atlas I was already in awe of David Mitchell so I dove straight into his new novel at the first available opportunity. And once again was swept away by the storytelling, the language and the imagination. The book has been described as “his most Cloud Atlas-y novel since the global phenom Cloud Atlas” and I […]
Do good while professing your love of Slice of Life Story writing. All proceeds from the sale of this t-shirt will benefit the Pajama Program.
Among the publications with September issues now available, in part or whole, online are:
School and public libraries across the country are being cut back or worse.
We see the reports almost daily, like this one from NPR and this Indiegogo project started by two kids who want a library in their school.
I’ve heard people comment that “I don’t need no lie-berry ‘cuz I can find everything I need on my smartphone.” Except, perhaps, the proper pronunciation of the word li-BRARY.
It saddens me that professionals once revered and honored (in the case of librarians) have become luxuries to cut from budgets, and necessary public services (in the case of libraries) are considered expendable.
Rod Serling penned an episode of The Twilight Zone which aired in 1961, The Obsolete Man, about a day when librarians would be considered obsolete, expendable, unnecessary.
It’s fifty years later, and look where we are.
It’s up to us — writers, readers, those who care about public access to information and the quality of life for our communities and our nation — to support our libraries and our librarians.
Learning, and equal access to information, should never be considered obsolete.
I made a new facebook page, you can visit it here:
I included some old works that i haven't posted here and the idea is to continue to post here and there.
|Inspiring Blogger Award from|
|Liebster Award from Sandra Cox|
See below the info that comes with
the Inspiring Blogger Award
First the apologies for not blogging.
1.) I've been busy working on my mystery. My goal is to finish this draft by mid-September. There's 24-25 chapters in mind, and I'm on chapter 17 so far.
2.) We've had company and made a couple of out-of-town trips to visit folks we hadn't seen for a long time, due to travels.
And 3.) We are getting ready for another long trip to Spain and Portugal. (I haven't even finished blogging about the last trip, but that's how it goes sometimes. Oh, the stories I'd like to tell!)
Meanwhile, two very nice blog friends gave me awards that you can see at the top of this page and read about below. Thank you so much, ladies!
gave me the Inspiring Blogger Award,
which I find quite an honor. Julia has a marvelous blog called My Writing Life
that I love to read and find inspiring in its own right, and you will too, so do check it out. She's also had many short stories and poems published and is the poetry editor of Southern Pacific Review
As a recipient of the award, I'm supposed to reveal 7 things about myself and then pass the award on to others whose blogs I find inspiring. Hmm. 7 reveals . . . Okay, here we go.
1. In my junior year in college, after finals, I let a girlfriend talk me into bleaching my hair blonde. (She was bleaching her hair, and we were hyper from finals, so I thought, "Why not?") Because I have a lot of red in my hair, it went red instead of blonde. Because I have a few freckles, everyone who met me as a redhead thought I really was a redhead -- to the point that when I got tired of it and decided to dye it back to dark brown, I was told, "No, don't do that, it won't look natural."
2. My favorite dessert is a cookie. Forget pies, cakes, and rich creamy custards. Give me a cookie. Any cookie, although I like sugar, shortbread, oatmeal, or peanutbutter the best.
3. I am a crossword puzzle nut. I love the New York Times crossword puzzle. I can't always finish it (Fridays and Saturdays), but I usually start the day with it. For one thing, it wakes me up and gets the wheels turning for writing later in the day.
4. My husband and I met through a cat named Meathead. That is a ve-r-r-r-y long story, that only some of our friends know and would take up too much space here. But we have very fond feelings for our feline cat-alyst from long ago.
5. I used to write everything in longhand first, but the computer has spoiled me. Cut and paste is so convenient. Even so, I miss that feeling of connection between pen or pencil and heart, and I still write my poetry first in longhand.
6. This is probably a horrible confession for an author to make, particularly one who writes children's books, but . . . I never liked The Wind in the Willows. I know, I know, one of the world's great classics. What's wrong with me! But I never could get into it, no matter how many times I tried.
7. I loved Edith Nesbit and Edgar Eavers, though. And they stand the test of time. I re-read a couple of their books recently and still found them so funny.
And now the nominees:
1. Keith Wynne has a truly inspiring blog called Musings of an Unapologetic Dreamer . He'll also send a little blurb via email called Thought of the Day, if you sign up for it at his site. I bookmark nearly everyone of these blurbs, as they are quite pithy and inspiring. 2. Catherine Ensley is an author of inspirational romance novels and is writing a four-part series. On her blog she "shares her thoughts on country life, simple living, adventure, reading, writing and faith that transforms." I think you will find it very enjoyable. 3. Victoria Lindstrom's Writ of Whimsy blog is rich with Middle Grage book reviews, poetry tidbits, thoughts on writing, and a section I love, "Whimsical Word of the Week." Check out her site; it's great fun. 4. Lynda Young has a wonderful blog called W.I.P. It: an Author's Journey in which she addresses many issues for writers with insights and reminders that are so helpful to all of us on this common journey. 5. Check out Carol Riggs, a published YA author with a personable writing style. Her blog, Artzicarol Ramblings, is full of writing tips, YA book reviews, and shares of her own personal journey with agents and publishers.
6. Renee Hand's The Crypto-Capers Review is a children's book review blog as well as a platform for her radio show, Stories from Unknown Authors. Renee also writes winning interactive mysteries. How cool is that? Check out her site, and you may find yourself being interviewed if you've written a children's book.
7. Mark Noce has a rather eclectic blog, sharing news about his flash fiction publications, gardening, music he likes, and news about other writers. It's always a feel-good experience to read one of his posts.
On to the Liebster Award, which Sandra Cox kindly gave to me. Sandra's blog is called, not surprisingly, Sandra's Blog . Sandra is a prolific blogger as well as a prolific author. Spend a little time at her site. Her pictures will make you smile. Meanwhile, the Liebster Award is given to bloggers with less than 200 followers, ferreting out blogs you think are worthy of more followers. (Thank you, Sandra!) The rules for accepting the award are to share 11 random facts about myself, answer 11 questions posed by the blogger who nominated me, nominate 11 bloggers who qualify, and pose 11 questions to them. Happily, Sandra modified the rules, asking 6 questions, and nominating 5 newbies. So I am following her lead:
The questions she asked:1. If you were an animal, what would you be? Probably a dog. I love animals, but dogs have a special place in my heart. They are so loving and loyal.2. What is your favorite genre? That's a hard one. Mysteries and historical novels are about equal.3. When reading, do you prefer paper or a hand held device? Paper, for sure!4. What's your favorite vacation spot? Galicia, Spain. 5. What's your favorite charity? Another hard one. We contribute to a number. I suppose Southern Poverty Law Center, a remarkable organization that goes after hate groups in this country and prosecutes hate crimes.6. If given the choice, where would you live? Right where we live now. As a runner up, Galicia would be next, but we are quite happy where we are.
Okay, my nominees are:Richard Hughes at Writing and Living by Richard P. Hughes , is an eclectic blogger, sharing thoughts about writing, art, life in general, publishing issues. Right now he's running an interesting series of interviews with other bloggers, called, "Where I Live and Why I Like It.
Rosi Hollinbeck at The Write Stuff reviews children's books, interviews authors, and does a wonderful job of culling and sharing links to help writers in every sphere of writing. I always look forward to her posts, and you will too.Kenda Turner at Words and Such post book reviews, interviews, and shares rich thoughts about the writer's journey. Always a good read.
Loretta Proctor at Books and Other Things blogs about books, art, and music, "and all things creative and beautiful." Her current post is about Seamus Heaney, one of my favorite poets.
Jeanmarie Anaya's delightful blog, Jeanmarie Anaya is definitely worth your while. Humorous, pithy, eloquent. She writes about a number of writing issues, and wrote a lovely tribute to Robin Williams.
And here are my six questions for these worthy recipients:1. Where is your favorite place to read a book?2. When beginning a new W.I.P., do you write by hand or wordprocess?3. What are three of your favorite books? 4. If you could be a character in a novel you've read, who would you be?5. Which author, living or dead, do you wish you had the opportunity to meet?6. When did you begin to write for yourself (as opposed to doing early homework assignments)?
And that's it, folks. I look forward to your comments, (feel free to answer any of the questions I posed for the nominees), and I do hope you check out the blogs in both sections of this post.
Ciao for now . . .
They've announced that this year's FIL Literary Award in Romance Languages will go to Blindly-author Claudio Magris; he will get his US$150,000 and the prize on 29 November, at the opening ceremonies of the Guadalajara International Book Fair.
This prize has a solid list of previous winners, but Magris is certainly a worthy winner -- and good to see the prize look beyond Spanish again (not many Italian-writing winners so far ...).
Blog: Kid Lit Reviews
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Stanley the Builder
by William Bee
Peachtree Publishing 9/01/2014
Age 3 to 8 32 pages
“When Myrtle buys a plot of land, she asks Stanley to build her a new house. He works step-by-step—from clearing the site with a bulldozer, to pouring the foundation, to painting the finished house in Myrtle’s favorite colors. Luckily, Charlie helps out too. Building houses is hard work, but all three friends are happy with a job well done.”
“What are Stanley and Myrtle doing?”
Myrtle the mouse just purchased a plot of land and hires Stanley to build her a house. Stanley is an industrious hamster. After clearing the land with his bulldozer, Stanley and his helper Charlie, build the foundation. The tricky work of laying down the bricks is next. There is not a wolf around who will be able to blow this house down. When the house is finished, Stanley paints it using Myrtle’s favorite colors. All done, Stanley heads home, newspaper in hand, for dinner, a long bath, and bed. He will wake up ready for a new day.
Young boys will love the Stanley the Builder. Stanley uses all kinds of machines to help him build Myrtle’s house. Will kids know what and how these machines are used? Stanley wears a yellow safety hat, possibly just as dad wears. Young boys, and some girls, who enjoy building things just like Stanley, will love a story about building, especially with the cute hamster Stanley. The illustrations are basic with large, easy to recognize shapes, separated by solid black lines, which help deepen the colors and drawing one’s attention. The colors are basic primary and secondary colors. Kids should be able to recognize each color if asked.
I love this clean presentation. The white background helps keep the eyes focused on the main illustration. I also like that Stanley’s friend Charlie helps and Myrtle finds a way to help out, too. These three friends work well together. Young children will enjoy pointing out the equipment Stanley uses—a crane, digger, cement mixer, and bulldozer. A game can be made of finding the machine, the item used to build the house, or a specific color, after reading the story, of course. In this way, Stanley the Builder can be a great way to prepare for kindergarten. Stanley has more adventures on the way. Young children will eagerly await each new addition. Next, Stanley runs a garage.
STANLEY THE BUILDER. Text and illustrations copyright © 2014 by William Bee. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Peachtree Publishing.
Purchase Stanley the Builder at Amazon—B&N—Book Depository—Peachtree—your favorite bookstore.
Learn more about Stanley and his series HERE
Meet the author/illustrator, William Bee, at his website: http://www.williambee.com/
Check out William Bee’s fantastic blog: http://williambee.blogspot.com/
Find all of the Stanley series at the Peachtree Publishing blog: http://peachtreepub.blogspot.com/
Also by William Bee
Worst in Show – 2014
Digger Dog – 2014
Stanley the Farmer – 2015
Stanley’s Garage – 2014
Migloo’s Day – 2015
Copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews
Peachtree Publishing Book Blog Tour
Stanley the Builder
Green Bean Teen Queen
Jean Little Library
Kid Lit Reviews
Chat with Vera
Kiss the Book
The Fourth Musketeer
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Yes, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage just came out in English, but we're in for a Christmas-season treat as well, as Alexandra Alter reports in The New York Times that New 96-Page Murakami Work Coming in December, and Lindesay Irvine reports in The Guardian that UK readers can also look forward to it, as Haruki Murakami to publish new book in English in December.
Knopf will be publishing The Strange Library in the US, and Harvill Secker will in the UK; neither publisher appears to have a publicity page up yet, but you can already pre-order the book at Amazon.com.
(And you can see (parts of) the two covers in the aforementioned newspaper articles.)
Among the points of interest: the short volume is being translated by Ted Goossen -- not entirely new to translating Murakami, but the first stand-alone he's handled.
A new name to add to the Murakami regulars (Jay Rubin, Alfred Birnbaum, Philip Gabriel) ?
Knopf is fleshing out The Strange Library with full-color art throughout in a lavish volume designed by Chip Kidd, Knopf's associate art director.
Mr. Kidd said he drew on his own collection of vintage Japanese graphics as inspiration for the design.
I'm always suspicious of 'lavish' and wish the focus were more on the words; kind of sad that Alter sees fit to make big mention of this -- and none at all of who translated the work .....
Read the rest of this post
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Need covers? They’re on my Pinterest board for this month.
Dork Diaries 8: Tales from a Not-So-Happily Ever After by Rachel Renee Russell; Aladdin Nikki Maxwell’s favorite fairy tales get dork-tastic twists in this entry in the #1 “New York Times”-bestselling series. After a bump on the head in gym class on April Fool’s Day, Nikki dreams that she, her BFFs Chloe and Zoey, her crush Brandon, and mean girl Mackenzie are all familiar classic fairy tale characters.
Half a World Away by Cynthia Kadohata; Atheneum MG The new novel from a Newbery Medalist and National Book Award winner. Eleven-year-old Jaden, an emotionally damaged adopted boy, feels a connection to a small, weak toddler with special needs in Kazakhstan, where Jaden’s family is trying to adopt a “normal” baby.
The Only Thing to Fear by Caroline Tung Richmond; Scholastic In a stunning reimagining of history, debut author Richmond weaves an incredible story of secrets and honor in a world where Hitler won World War II. In this action-packed, heart-stopping novel of a terrifying reality that could have been, a teenage girl must decide just how far she’ll go for freedom.
On A Clear Day by Walter Dean Myers; Crown Books for Young Readers It is 2035. Teens, armed only with their ideals, must wage war on the power elite. Dahlia is a Low Gater: a sheep in a storm, struggling to survive completely on her own. The Gaters live in closed safe communities, protected from the Sturmers, mercenary thugs. And the C-8, a consortium of giant companies, control global access to finance, media, food, water, and energy resources—and they are only getting bigger and even more cutthroat. Dahlia, a computer whiz, joins forces with an ex-rocker, an ex-con, a chess prodigy, an ex-athlete, and a soldier wannabe. Their goal: to sabotage the C-8. But how will Sayeed, warlord and terrorist, fit into the equation?
The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney; Scholastic Press “Amira, look at me,” Muma insists.She collects both my hands in hers.“The Janjaweed attack without warning.Ifever they come– run.”
Finally, Amira is twelve. Old enough to wear a toob, old enough for new responsibilities. And maybe old enough to go to school in Nyala– Amira’s one true dream.
But life in her peaceful Sudanese village is shattered when the Janjaweed arrive. The terrifying attackers ravage the town and unleash unspeakable horrors. After she loses nearly everything, Amira needs to dig deep within herself to find the strength to make the long journey– on foot– to safety at a refugee camp. Her days are tough at the camp, until the gift of a simple red pencil opens her mind– and all kinds of possibilities.
New York Times bestselling and Coretta Scott King Award-winning author Andrea Davis Pinkney’s powerful verse and Coretta Scott King Award-winning artist Shane W. Evans’s breathtaking illustrations combine to tell an inspiring tale of one girl’s triumph against all odds.
The Madman of Piney Woods by Christopher Paul Curtis; Scholastic A bestselling Newbery Medalist delivers a powerful companion to “Elijah of Buxton.” Benji and Red aren’t friends, but their fates are entwined. The boys discover that they have more in common than meets the eye. Both of them have encountered a strange presence in the forest. Could the Madman of Piney Woods be real?
The Unstoppable Octobia May by Sharon G. Flake It’s 1953, and 10-year-old Octobia May lives in her aunt’s boarding house in a southern African-American community. When Octobia starts to question the folks in her world, an adventure and a mystery unfold that beg some troubling questions: Who is black and who is “passing” for white? What happens when their vibrant community must face its own racism?
Billy Buckhorn Abnormal by Gary Robinson Book one of the Billy Buckhorn series introduces a Cherokee teen who uses his supernatural abilities to solve mysteries. In this first installment, “Abnormal,” Billy is struck by lightning while fishing with his friend Chigger. He survives the lightning strike but begins to experience an enhanced level of esp. Billy is labeled “abnormal” by one of his teachers after he uncovers an unsavory secret from the teacher’s past. What no one suspects is that the teacher is a shape-shifter who becomes an evil raven that gains strength from his victims’ fear. When Billy confronts the teacher, he must channel his own fear into anger in order to defeat the evil birdman.
Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang; Greenwillow One cold fall day, high school junior Liz Emerson steers her car into a tree. This haunting and heartbreaking story is told by a surprising and unexpected narrator and unfolds in nonlinear flashbacks even as Liz’s friends, foes, and family gather at the hospital and Liz clings to life. This riveting debut will appeal to fans of Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver, and 13 Reasons Why, by Jay Asher.
“On the day Liz Emerson tries to die, they had reviewed Newton’s laws of motion in physics class. Then, after school, she put them into practice by running her Mercedes off the road.” Why did Liz Emerson decide that the world would be better off without her? Why did she give up? The nonlinear novel pieces together the short and devastating life of Meridian High’s most popular junior girl. Mass, acceleration, momentum, force–Liz didn’t understand it in physics, and even as her Mercedes hurtles toward the tree, she doesn’t understand it now. How do we impact one another? How do our actions reverberate? What does it mean to be a friend? To love someone? To be a daughter? Or a mother? Is life truly more than cause and effect? Amy Zhang’s haunting and universal story will appeal to fans of Lauren Oliver, Gayle Forman, and Jay Asher.
Love is the Drug by Alaya Dawn Johnson; Arthur A. Levine The privileged daughter of research scientists, Emily Bird attends a party for Washington D.C.’s elite. Days later, she wakes up in a hospital with no memory of that night. Meanwhile, a deadly flu virus has caused a worldwide crisis. Homeland security agent Roosevelt David is certain that Bird knows something about the virus, something she shouldn’t.
The Secret Sky: A Novel of Forbidden Love in Afghanistan by Atia Abawi; Philomel Fatima is a Hazara girl, raised to be obedient and dutiful. Samiullah is a Pashtun boy raised to defend the traditions of his tribe. They were not meant to fall in love. But they do. And the story that follows shows both the beauty and the violence in current-day Afghanistan as Fatima and Samiullah fight their families, their cultures and the Taliban to stay together. Based on the people Atia Abawi met and the events she covered during her nearly five years in Afghanistan, this stunning novel is a must-read for anyone who has lived during America’s War in Afghanistan.
No Name by Tim Tingle; 7th Generation nspired by the traditional Choctaw story “No Name,” this modern adaptation features a present-day Choctaw teenager surviving tough family times–his mother left home and he is living with a mean-spirited, abusive father. The one place the teen can find peace is on the neighborhood basketball court. But after a violent confrontation with his father, the teen runs away, only to return home to find an unexpected hiding spot in his own backyard. His hiding spot becomes his home for weeks until the help and encouragement from a basketball coach, a Cherokee buddy and a quiet new next-door girlfriend help him face his father.
Gabi, a Girl in Pieces byIsabel Quintero; Cinco Puntos Press Gabi Hernandez chronicles her last year in high school in her diary: Cindy’s pregnancy, Sebastian’s coming out, the cute boys, her father’s meth habit, and the food she craves. And best of all, the poetry that helps forge her identity. Isabel Quintero is a library technician in the Inland Empire. She is also the events coordinator for Orange Monkey and helps edit the poetry journal Tin Cannon. Gabi is her debut novel.
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