Seymour heard from many of you on Twitter (@SeymourSimon) yesterday about the adorablephotograph of the Western Pygmy Possumthat he posted on his blog.So today, for Writing Wednesday, let’s do some descriptive writing. Look at this photograph and think about everything that you see. Use all your senses. What does this little critter’s fur feel like? Can you feel its little heart beating when you hold it? How does it move? How does it look at you?Of course, since you can’t actually see or touch a real Western Pygmy Possum, you will have to imagine all these things, and that’s ok! You also might want to do some additional research on your own, either in your library or on the Internet, and learn more about this animal. Or you could readyesterday’s blog postto learn more.When you’ve studied the photograph thoroughly, and done whatever reseach you want to do, write a paragraph or two describing this animal with as much detail as you can. Help your reader imagine what it would be like to encounter a pigmy possum in a field.If you would like to post your writing for other students to read, click on the yellow "Comments" link at the bottom of this blog post, copy and paste in your work.Happy writing!Add a Comment
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JacketFlap tags: 2014, ghosts, giveaway, horror, TMG tours, Wendy, Add a tag
Fall is in the air, and we’re celebrating by hosting a Halloween Thrills and Chills event! Some of our favorite blog friends will present fantastic guest posts and interviews by three Disney Hyperion authors with books releasing this year, including Mary: The Summoning‘s Hillary Monahan, Welcome to the Dark House‘s Laurie Faria Stolarz, and The Whispering Skull‘s Jonathan Stroud. Check out the full tour schedule below, and be sure to enter the giveaway at the very end for a box of horror books that will be delivered to you in time for Halloween reading! We’re kicking off the event tour with Jonathan Stroud, author of the The Bartimaeus Sequence and many other novels. His second book in his Lockwood and Co. series just came out, and if you like the idea of coolly competent young British ghosthunters with a Sherlock-type vibe, you’ll certainly enjoy this series. I love how the... Read more »
The post Halloween Thrills & Chills: box of horror giveaway + Jonathan Stroud interview appeared first on The Midnight Garden.Add a Comment
Blog: YALSA - Young Adult Library Services Association (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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Matter is the latest photo app from Pixite, a company that has created a number of other photo apps for iOS devices. This fun app lets you add mysterious and otherworldly images to your photos with a few clicks, changing your snapshots from simple records of where you have been to stunning alien landscapes.
The app comes with four different packages of objects that can be added to your photos, for a total of 64 objects, meaning that there is almost certainly the perfect option for all of your images already included in the app. Once you have selected an object, you can drag and drop it into your desired location, change its shape, and rotate it all with the standard touchscreen motions you would use on other images. You can also style the object, changing its opacity, transparency, color, and how reflective it is to suit your needs. Detailed work, such as modifying the shadow cast by the object and masking specific portions of the object allow you to completely integrate it into your existing image so that it looks as if an alien object crashed into the original setting. Once you are happy with the look of the image, you can export a looping video of the object which can show it stationary or rotating. If you opt to have the object rotate, you can specify which axis you want it to rotate along and the speed at which it should move. The final video can be saved to your device, shared via email or text message, or uploaded to Instagram. If you want to see some examples of what users have created with Matter, check out their gallery on Instagram (or from within the app) or watch the trailer for the app.Add a Comment
Blog: Miss Marple's Musings (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Interview, nonfiction, Black Beauty, Blaze, books, Brave Dogs, Brave Dogs Gentle Dogs: How They Guard Sheep, Cat Urbigkit, children's books, Earth Day, Ferdinand the Bull, Mongolian Eagle Hunters, N.C. Wyeth, nature, Parkers Pastures, pastoralism, photography, Teri Farley, The Yearling, Add a tag
About three years ago I saw Cat’s photos popping up regularly in my friend Terri Farley’s Facebook feed (Terri is a fabulous advocate for wild horses and a children’s author). I quickly friended Cat and look forward daily to her … Continue readingAdd a Comment
Blog: Storywraps-Wrap your mind and heart around a good story (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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Alphabet quotes for you to enjoy:
* The sentence, "The quick brown fox jumps over a lazy dog," uses every letter in the alphabet."
* "If plan "A" didn't work, the alphabet has 25 more letters, stay cool."
* I was good at math before they decided to mix the alphabet in it."
Today's featured book:
About the author:
Blog: Mattias (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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Blog: Beth Kephart Books (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: 2014 Pennsylvania Library Association Convention, nonfiction, Stephen Fried, Add a tag
But perhaps it was the drive to and from Lancaster that I treasured most—the winding way through farm country, the roadside attractions of Bird-in-Hand, the horses on the roads before us, and the talk, the always talk, about what we do and what we yearn to do, the students we've taught, the questions about what yet lies ahead.
A long-time friend. Treasured.
Thank you, Karl and PaLA, for inviting us. Add a Comment
Blog: cynsations (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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Cynthia Leitich Smith
From the Writers' League of Texas: "The 2013/2014 Writers' League of Texas Book Awards, awarded in 2014 and recognizing outstanding books published in 2013, honor Texas authors across five categories with three distinctions: Winner, Finalist, and Discovery Prize Winner, all of whom will be celebrated at the WLT booth at the Texas Book Festival in October."
Middle Grade/YA Winner
- Daylighters by Rachel Caine (NAL Trade)
- Maximilian the Bingo Rematch by Xavier Garza (Cinco Puntos)
- The Neptune Project by Polly Holyoke (Disney-Hyperion)
- Scorched by Mari Mancusi (Sourcebooks Fire)
Discovery Prize Winner
Picture Book Winner
- Magnificent Sam: The Amazing Adventures of Sam Houston by Laurie Cockerell (Kinderfable)
- Prairie Chicken Little by Jackie Mims Hopkins (Peachtree)
- Lupita's First Dance by Lupe Ruiz-Flores (Pinata)
Discovery Prize Winner
- World on a String by Larry Phifer (Storytime Works)
Blog: 4EYESBOOKS (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Uncategorized, Amazon Kindle, blog, Book review, Children, construction, Family, illustrated children's books, kids, Kindle Unlimited, parenting, poetry, rhyming, writing, Add a tag
We really enjoyed this tale about various construction vehicles and the job they do. Each vehicle describes their function and then happily sings a song set to the tune of “London Bridge” about their work. At the end they all sing together about how they work as a team to get the job done. Great message for young children about having a positive attitude and teamwork. You can purchase this ebook for $2.99 at Amazon or get it for FREE using Kindle Unlimited which is a new subscription service by Amazon to read up to ten books at a time for a monthly fee of $9.99. They are currently offering free 30-day trials if you want to check it out. As always all of our children’s books are available in the Kindle Unlimited program as well.
**We received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.**
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Blog: Elizabeth O. Dulemba (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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Most authors of mid-grade novels get the question at some point, "Why do you write for teens? Why not write for adults?" And within the kidlit community, "Why write mid-grade? Why not Young Adult?"
As a picture book author/illustrator, I'd heard the stories of such conversations, but I thought it was a cliché, a myth of the writing community, until word about my new mid-grade fiction, A BIRD ON WATER STREET, got out, and I started getting the question too. Happily, I have an answer.
Adult and Young Adult novels seem to me to be mostly about solving a problem, or finding that perfect mate, or re-discovering oneself. I skip all that and go back to the beginning, when a main character isn't re-discovering anything - they are discovering who they are for the first time.
To me, it makes for an unpredictable scenario. A young mind is one that isn't yet set in its ways. A young teen doesn't yet know if they are good or bad, if they make good decisions or not yet. It's all new territory and the pendulum could swing either way. Are they a person who stands up for what they believe in, or somebody who goes along with the status quo - with what's expected of them?
And if a first kiss gets thrown in there while we're at it, where's the harm in that? Because no kiss will ever again feel like that first kiss. It's all about firsts really, when the world is still a wonder. When a teen is trying to make sense of it all. Really, it's a sensation we never lose in life, which is why I find it especially profound to explore those emotions when they're happening for the first time. It's why mid-grade may very well be a sweet spot for me. I hope for my readers too!
Blog: Whoiamnotwhatiam (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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Today marks the 1st day of National bullying prevention month. I am often asked at what age should we talk to our kids about bullying and related behaviors. I am pleased to share that many pre-schools and early learning centers have asked me to read my books to their students and talk to parents about pro-social education. It is never too early to teach our kids to be kind. To share with them the importance of caring about others and to try to use practical examples to allow them to work on compassion development. As many of you know I have my own little tot and we are already working on feelings identification exercises. Bookstores and resource stores like Self-esteem shop carry many tools to begin this process. If we can teach young people early how to recognize emotions it is a great step in the process of pro-social learning. Does your center need assistance? Can your family benefit from a personal consultation on emotional understanding and prevention? Please let me know. This Friday I will be at Kindercare centers reading my picture book series to students and beginning the process of pro-social education. If you need an Unbully kit we send great resources through the mail that includes information, tools and resources that aid in prevention. -Read something greatAdd a Comment
Blog: OUPblog (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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I was out of town at the end of this past August and have a sizable backlog of unanswered questions and comments. It may take me two or even three weeks to catch up with them. I am not complaining: on the contrary, I am delighted to have correspondents from Sweden to Taiwan. Today I will deal with the questions only about the two most recent posts.
Our regular correspondent Mr. John Larsson took issue with my remark that kiss has nothing to do with chew and cited some arguments in favor of the chew connection. We should distinguish between the “institute of kissing” and the word for the action. As could be expected, no one knows when people invented kissing, but, according to one theory, everything began with mothers chewing their food and passing it on to their babies from mouth to mouth. I am not an anthropologist and can have no opinion about such matters. But the oldest form of the Germanic verb for “chew” must have sounded approximately like German kauen (initial t in Old Norse tyggja is hardly original). The distance between kauen and kussjan cannot be bridged.
Also from Scandinavia, Mr. Christer Wallenborg informs me that in Sweden two words compete: kyssa is a general term for kissing, while for informal purposes pussa is used. I know this and will now say more about the verbs used for kissing in the Germanic-speaking world. Last time I did not travel farther than the Netherlands (except for mentioning the extinct Goths). My survey comes from an article by the distinguished philologist Theodor Siebs (1862-1941). It was published in the journal of the society for the promotion of Silesian popular lore (Mitteilungen der Schlesischen Gesellschaft für Volkskunde) for 1903. Modern dialect atlases may contain more synonyms.
Below I will list only some of the words and phrases, without specifying the regions. Germany: küssen, piepen, snüttern (long ü), -snudeln (long u), slabben, flabben, smacken, smukken, smatschen, muschen, bussen, bütsen, pützschen, pupen (some of these words are colloquial, some verge on the vulgar). Many verbs for “kiss” (the verb and the noun) go back to Mund and Maul “mouth,” for example, mundsen, mul ~ mull, müll, mill, and the like. Mäulchen “little mouth” is not uncommon for “a kiss,” and Goethe, who was born in Frankfurt, used it. With regard to their sound shape, most verbs resemble Engl. puss, pipe, smack, flap, and slap.
Friesland (Siebs was an outstanding specialist in the modern dialects and history of Frisian): æpke (æ has the value of German ä) ~ apki, make ~ mæke, klebi, totje, kükken, and a few others, borrowed from German and Dutch. Dutch: zoenen, poenen (both mentioned in my previous blog on kiss), kussen, kissen, smokken, smakken, piper geven, and tysje.
Siebs became aware of Nyrop’s book (see again my previous blog on kiss about it) after his own work had been almost completed and succeeded in obtaining a copy of it only because Nyrop sent him one. He soon realized that his predecessor had covered a good deal of the material he had been collecting, but Nyrop’s book did not make Siebs’s 19-page article redundant, because Nyrop’s focus was on the situations in which people kiss (a friendly kiss, a kiss of peace, an erotic kiss, etc.), while Siebs dealt with the linguistic aspect of his data. It appeared that kiss usually goes back to the words for the mouth and lips; for something sweet (German gib mir ’nen Süssen “give me a sweet [thing]”); for love (so in Greek, in Slavic, and in Old Icelandic minnask, literally “to love one another”), and for embracing (as in French embrasser). Some words for kissing are onomatopoeic, and some developed from various metaphors or expanded their original sense (I mentioned the case of Russian: from “be whole” to “kiss”; Nyrop cited several similar examples). We can see that chewing has not turned up in this small catalog.
Siebs also ventured an etymology of kiss and included this word in his first group. In his opinion, Gothic kukjan “to kiss” retained the original form of Old Engl. kyssan, Old Norse kyssa, and their cognates. In Old Frisian, kokk seems to have meant “speaker” and “mouth” and may thus be related to Old Icelandic kok “throat.” Siebs went on to explain how the protoform guttús yielded kyssan. Specialists know this reconstruction, but everything in it is so uncertain that the origin of kiss cannot be considered solved.
In the picture, chosen to illustrate this post, you will see the moment when Tristan and Isolde drink the fateful love potion. Two quotations from Gottfried’s poem in A. T. Hatto’s translation will serve us well: “He kissed her and she kissed him, lovingly and tenderly. Here was a blissful beginning for Love’s remedy: each poured and quaffed the sweetness that welled up from their hearts” (p. 200), and “One kiss from one’s darling’s lips that comes stealing from the depths of her heart—how it banished love’s cares!” (p. 204).
The protoform of beaver must have been bhebrús or bhibhrús. This looks like an old formation because it has reduplication (bh-bh) and is a -u stem. The form does not contain the combination bher-bher “carry-carry.” Beavers are famous for building dams rather than for carrying logs from place to place. Francis A. Wood, apparently, the only scholar who offered an etymology of beaver different from the current one, connected the word with the Indo-European root bheruo- ~ bhreu- “press, gnaw, cut,” as in Sanskrit bhárvati “to gnaw; chew” (note our fixation on chewing in this post!). His idea has been ignored, rather than refuted (a usual case in etymological studies). Be that as it may, “brown” underlies many names of animals (earlier I mentioned the bear and the toad; I still think that the brown etymology of the bear is the best there is) and plants. Among the plants are, most probably, the Slavic name of the mountain ash (rowan tree) and the Scandinavian name of the partridge.
And of course I am fully aware of the trouble with the Greek word for “toad.” I have read multiple works by Dutch scholars that purport to show how many Dutch and English words go back to the substrate (the enigmatic initial a, nontraditional ablaut, and so forth). It is hard for me to imagine that in prehistoric times the bird ouzel (German Amsel), the lark, the toad, and many other extremely common creatures retained their indigenous names. According to this interpretation, the invading Indo-Europeans seem to have arrived from places almost devoid of animal life and vegetation. It is easier to imagine all kinds of “derailments” (Entgleisungen) in the spirit of Noreen and Levitsky than this scenario. Words for “toad” and “frog” are subject to taboo all over the world (some references can be found in the entry toad in my dictionary), which further complicates a search for their etymology. But this is no place to engage in a serious discussion on the pre-Indo-European substrate. I said what I could on the subject in my review of Dirk Boutkan’s etymological dictionary of Frisian. Professor Beekes wrote a brief comment on my review.
Anticlimax: English grammar (Mr. Twitter, a comedian)
I have once commented on the abuse of as clauses unconnected with the rest of the sentence. These quasi-absolute constructions often sound silly. In a letter to a newspaper, a woman defends the use of Twitter: “As someone who aspires to go into comedy, Twitter is an incredible creative outlet.” Beware of unconscious humor: the conjunction as is not a synonym of the preposition for.
The post Bimonthly etymology gleanings for August and September 2014. Part 1 appeared first on OUPblog.
Blog: Tara Lazar (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: PiBoIdMo, PiBoIdMo 2014, Picture Books, Maddi's Fridge, Vin Vogel, Add a tag
Who can believe it’s almost November? I know, it was just November last year, right? And we had a whole buncha fun creating new picture book story concepts! (Need a recap? Look here.)
I’m still firming up the festivities for 2014 and will post the guest blogger line-up soon. But while you wait for that and for registration to begin (on October 25th, right here), here’s a peek at this year’s logo, created by the talented Vin Vogel, whose new picture book MADDI’S FRIDGE is out now from Flashlight Press, with author Lois Brandt.
Each year I ask the logo illustrator to include an important detail—a lightbulb, to represent ideas being created. This year, Vin had a delicious idea! (Was it from the FRIDGE? Sure seems like it. Well, maybe it was from the FREEZER.)
Registration for the November PiBoIdMo online event will commence October 25th. Individuals AND classes are invited to register. All registration requires is your name (or teacher’s name in the case of a class) on the registration post’s comment thread, plus you must also follow my blog (handy-dandy button in the left column). The “Official Participant” logo will also be available at that time for you to download and display on your website or social media platform.
Registration entitles you to PRIZES along the way, from signed books, critiques and author/illustrator Skype visits, to the grand prize–an idea consultation with a picture book agent. Last year we offered nine grand prizes!
Need somewhere to record your brilliance? The PiBoIdMo Cafe Press shop is open, featuring this year’s Official Journal of Ideas. Remember that all proceeds ($3 per sale) are donated to RIF, Reading is Fundamental. So your purchase benefits an excellent cause!
If you want to discuss the event with kindred spirits, please join our PiBoIdMo Facebook Group. (Please note it *is* the current group although the name on Facebook, which cannot be changed, says 2011.)
Well, that’s all for now, PiBoIdMo’ers. Except, can we think of a better name for y’all?
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Blog: Write What Inspires You (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Donna McDine, Insecure Writer's Support Group, keywords, The Importance of Keywords in Your Marketing Toolbox, Add a tag
Bio: Multi award-winning children's author, Donna McDine, ignites curiosity in children through reading.
Donna M. McDine
Multi Award-winning Children's Author
Ignite curiosity in your child through reading!
Connect with Donna McDine on Google+
A Sandy Grave ~ January 2014 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ 2014 Purple Dragonfly 1st Place Picture Books 6+, Story Monster Approved, Beach Book Festival Honorable Mention 2014, Reader's Favorite Five Star Review
Powder Monkey ~ May 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Story Monster Approved and Reader's Favorite Five Star Review
Hockey Agony ~ January 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Story Monster Approved and Reader's Farvorite Five Star Review
The Golden Pathway ~ August 2010 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.
~ Literary Classics Silver Award and Seal of Approval, Readers Favorite 2012 International Book Awards Honorable Mention and Dan Poynter's Global e-Book Awards Finalist Add a Comment
Fall is here! Don’t feel like carving up a traditional jack-o’-lantern from a pumpkin? YouTuber Lacey Keith shares an alternative idea with DIY book-themed pumpkins.
If you want to make a pumpkin statue out of your own, watch the video tutorial embedded above. For those who wish to play with a gourd, follow this link to view Nan Nethery’s “Pumpkin Book Characters” pinterest board. What book-themed Autumn decorations do you enjoy making?
New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.Add a Comment
We are thrilled to report that the number in this blog's title—5425, but it looks bigger written out, don't you think?—is how many times people have looked at a page on our blog. We don't know who you are, but....
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Blog: andrea joseph's sketchblog (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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My feelings about it change like the weather. One minute I'm really looking forward to it. Excited about the break. No alcohol for a month. I know I'll be more productive, I know I'll feel so much better, I hope the house will get cleaned.
Then it comes over me like a wave, a tsunami actually; NO WINE FOR A MONTH. And, it terrifies me. What will I do? It's those moments, those routines; Thursday after finishing work for the week; Friday night; chatting on the phone with Tim; early Sunday evening; whilst cooking; chatting on the phone with Mark. FRIDAY NIGHT!!!
From the far blurry corners of my mind I remembered something that I saw in one of Danny Gregory's books. I can't remember which, unfortunately, an Illustrated Journey maybe. In it, he gives tips on journaling and one of the ideas he shares is to go without something for a day (chocolate, alcohol, smoking, tv, the internet, etc) and journal about it. I think I may try this over the next 31 days. It would be the most fitting way of me to document the month ahead.
Blog: Gurney Journey (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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In this brand new episode of CLEMENTOONS, Clement makes a sled out of a crushed soda can and embarks on a wild ride. (Direct link to video)
The animation is painstakingly shot frame by frame and then compiled into a movie. In this shot, a geared-down Lego motor pulls the sleds at a constant but very slow rate, while a still camera shoots at five second intervals.
There's no green-screen and no digital effects. When Clement goes through the brambles, he's really going through them.
The episodes will be released out of order. Each one begins with an escape and ends with a cliffhanger.
Clement Meets Miss Bubbles
Clementoons: Behind the Scenes
Song by Frankie Trumbauer "There'll Come a Time," 1927,
Clementoons theme music by The Yanks, "If There Weren't Any Women in the World" Add a Comment
Blog: PW -The Beat (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Crowdfunding, Top News, elijah brubaker, kickstarter, reich, sparkplug, virginia paine, vortex, william cardini, Add a tag
Actually $440 since I just pledged $10 for a copy of Elijah Brubaker’s Reich #12. If there is any company which deserves the preordering help that Kickstarter uses its Sparkplug, now run by Virginia Paine following the tragic death of founder Dylan Williams. The Kickstarter covers Reich #12 and a collection of William Cardini’s Vortex.
Hi all! This is Virginia, owner/showrunner of Sparkplug Books. I’ve been managing Sparkplug since I took over ownership a year and a half ago. It’s been fun/busy/hard but I’ve had a lot of help. And now we need YOUR help. Sparkplug needs funds to publish our next two books I’ll get to those later and so, we are kickstartering our fall publications. If it goes well, we may even be able to fund a third!
I know Sparkplug has meant a lot to a lot of people over the years. I’ve done my best to keep Dylan William’s vision alive and publish underappreciated, idiosyncratic comics by really awesome folks. We’ve been struggling financially since Dylan passed, but I think it’s important to keep going and finish at least one of his projects, and create another that he would approve of. With your contribution, you can be a part of this legacy of amazing comics.
The two books offer something for everyone.
Brubaker’s Reich is a meticulously drawn and researched biography of psychologist Wilhelm Reich, inventor of Orgone and many other crazier than fiction theories.
Vortex, by contrast is a crazier than life fantasy epic told in the Fort Thunder style. They’re both the kind of bold projects Sprakplug has always been known for. And some good rewards, like an acrylic painting by Cardini:
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Blog: Theodesign.com (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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Blog: A Totally Random Romp (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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When I read Conrad Wesselhoeft's DIRT BIKES, DRONES AND OTHER WAYS TO FLY - if you haven't read it, do it NOW - I had to know how my friend, fellow author, and Seattle dweller was able to pull off a New Mexico setting so spectacular, I felt like I was riding on the back of his bike racing over those dusty trails. So I asked. His answer inspired me and taught me a great lesson on what makes a setting work. It's sure to inspire you. Thank you, Conrad! Got an extra helmet? Let's go for a ride.
In Praise of Place: Why fiction writers should light out for personal territory
By Conrad Wesselhoeft
In my mid-twenties, I fell in love with northeast New Mexico—the high plains, broken mesas, torn shadows, and rich, drifting light. I lived for two years in the town of Raton, working as a journalist for the local newspaper.
Working for a small-town paper meant doing every job in the newsroom: writing and editing stories; laying out the paper on a composing table; and taking and developing photos.
I took thousands of photos, criss-crossing the county with my sturdy Pentax K1000 camera—later moving on to a more nimble Canon AE-1.
The vistas of northeast New Mexico enthralled me. Much of the time, they looked flat and dull, but at certain times of day, under certain light, they exploded with beauty.
I’d reach for my camera, and all would go quiet.
Several years ago, when I started writing my young-adult novel Dirt Bikes, Drones, and Other Ways to Fly, I wanted to re-capture that special landscape—both the look and feel.
I started by creating a fictional town and calling it Clay Allison, after the 19th Century gunfighter who had lived in that area. I jotted these notes:
“Clay Allison is a town in northeast New Mexico located in the high desert snug up against Colorado’s mountainous ass. ‘Clay’ has a rusty, shoddy, past-its-prime look and feel. In reality, it has never experienced a prime.”
The surrounding landscape, I noted, “is a hundred muted shades. Nearby are Eagle Tail and Burro mesas, and to the north, the Sangre de Cristo (Blood of Christ) Mountains. Many small mesas are carved with dirt-bike tracks, an insult to Mother Nature, but a playground for Arlo Santiago and his friends.”
Arlo is the novel’s 17-year-old adrenaline-junkie narrator. He loves to blast across the mesas on his Yamaha 250 dirt bike, hitting the bumps and flying high.
I stretched my vocabulary when I wrote:
“The story unfolds under the cerulean emptiness of New Mexico’s slow-fuse sky.”
My goal was to have Arlo fit organically into this landscape. I wanted him to respond—consciously and otherwise—to the monotonous-one-minute, staggering-the-next horizons, just as I had. If he could do this, then maybe readers could, too. That was my hope anyway.
Whether I pulled it off is not for me to say. What I did learn, however, is how important setting can be to a story—so important, in fact, that it can become a galvanizing character in its own right, one filled with moods and fancies, passions and mysteries.
Writers often overlook setting in favor of more obvious characterization tools— for example, action or dialogue.
The result is that New York City appears no different in the mind’s eye than Portland, Oregon, and the Grand Canyon exudes all the gravitas of a touched-up postcard. Hasty writers like to locate Denver in the Rocky Mountains when, in fact, “the Queen City of the Plains” is located just east of the Rockies.
It’s as if the writer had carelessly stuck a pin on a map and said, “I think I’ll set my story here.”
But when setting works—when a writer taps into emotions associated with a place—it can be glorious, as in Huckleberry Finn (the Mississippi River), The Old Man and the Sea (the Caribbean), or To Kill a Mockingbird (small-town Alabama).
It’s no coincidence that Twain, Hemingway, and Harper Lee lived and worked where they set their stories, or that they acquired far more than an eyeful of land or water. By the time they embarked on writing their novels, they had mingled their souls with those places.
And therein lies the beauty of “place” or “setting” in fiction.
When a writer dips into his or her own life and bares emotions connected with a place the result can exalt a story and illuminate the characters.
Scott O’Dell’s love for California’s coastal islands shimmers on every page of Island of the Blue Dolphins, his 1960 young-adult novel about a girl left on a remote island to fend for herself. You more than hear the gulls cry, waves crash, and wind blow. The island on which Karana lives seems alive. You hear it mourn for all that is missing from her life, just as it rejoices in her victories over storms, hunger, and wild dogs.
Lois Lowry’s ambivalent memories of growing up on military bases darken the stark, regimented world of her 1993 dystopian novel The Giver.
C.S. Lewis based his sweeping Narnia vistas on the Mountains of Mourne in Northern Ireland. About them, he wrote: "I have seen landscapes . . . which, under a particular light, make me feel that at any moment a giant might raise his head over the next ridge.”
In every case the writer traversed a personal geography to inform a fictional one. His or her emotional connection to a real place grounded the reader in an imagined place.
Contemporary young-adult fiction writers traversing this personal geography include Molly Blaisdell, whose Plumb Crazy makes small-town Texas taste like a sweet-potato pie glazed with dust and peppered with grit; Louise Spiegler, whose historical novels capture the damp majesty of Puget Sound country; and Holly Cupala, whose Don’t Breathe a Word gives the midnight alleys of homeless America a heartbeat.
When a writer soaks up the spirit of a place—whether it’s a town, city, mesa, or just about anywhere else—that place can inspire a profound fictional setting.
A great story puts you there, so that you see and feel the landscape around you. Writers get there by digging into their personal geography—and listening for the heartbeat.
Conrad Wesselhoeft worked as a tugboat hand in Singapore and Peace Corps Volunteer in Polynesia before embarking on a career in journalism. He has served on the editorial staffs of five newspapers, including The New York Times. He is the author of the young adult novels ADIOS, NIRVANA (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010) and DIRT BIKES, DRONES, AND OTHER WAYS TO FLY (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014). His ancestors were doctors to Emily Dickinson, Louisa May Alcott, and Harriet Beecher Stowe. His three children are in various stages of university study or job searching. He lives in West Seattle with a poodle named Django (the "D" is silent). Druid Circle cookies (from Trader Joe’s) are his weakness.
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This project is picking up speed and gaining momentum!
We are so excited to announce our 2nd Multicultural Children’s Book Day January 27th, 2015 because we’ve added …
Multicultural Children’s Book Day Blogger Co-Hosts
These Amazing Co-Hosts to help us spread the word about diversity books for kids on Multicultural Children’s Book Day:
Multicultural Children’s Book Day Non-Profit Collaborators
We’re also partnering with First Book to be able to offer a Virtual Book Drive that will help donate multicultural children’s books through their channels during the week of the event. We want to help get diversity books into the hands of kids who most need it and now we have a way to do it!
We are also collaborating with Children’s Book Council to highlight wonderful diversity books and authors on an ongoing basis all year.
Multicultural Children’s Book Day Sponsors
Our Platinum sponsor is back from last year, Wisdom Tales Press!
We have a new Gold sponsor: Satya House!
We have a new Bronze sponsor: Rainbow Books
Multicultural Children’s Book Day New Website
And did I mention that we have a new Multicultural Children’s Book Day website as a year round resource to help parents, teachers, librarians and kids find the perfect diversity books they are seeking?!
So what’s next?
We need YOU! Sign up to receive a multicultural children’s book to review and blog on here! As with our last event, we need a list of bloggers who are willing to receive multicultural books from our sponsors to review. These books will be shipped to our participants, and as a part of this national event, participants are asked to create reviews and activities around these books on their blogs. The week of the celebration (1/27/15) these same bloggers will be invited to link up their blog posts for a huge MCCBD Linky Party that will help parents, teachers, librarians and readers discover new multicultural children’s book titles.
To download a copy of our Multicultural Children’s Book Day: Read Your World Book Review Blogger Guidelines go HERE.
Bloggers: Sign Up To Review Book for Multicultural Children’s Book Day
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Blog: Caroline by line (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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The discipline of creation, be it to paint, composite, write, is an effort toward wholeness.
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