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<<October 2016>>
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Results 26 - 50 of 663,443
26. Decision Time

Decision Time“The vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men.” ~Lyndon B. Johnson, 36th President of the United States~Prepare - Use search engines that respect your privacy - For example:—duckduckgo— Startpage—IxquickResearch - Use a…

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27. Canada’s Rainmaker Buys Fred Seibert’s Frederator, Will Form WOW!

The makers of the "Ratchet & Clank" feature and the makers of the online series "Bravest Warriors" are joining forces to create a new company.

The post Canada’s Rainmaker Buys Fred Seibert’s Frederator, Will Form WOW! appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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28. Booktrailers Mashed Up, Re-Done, and Upgraded!

This year, I was fortunate to have a presentation approved for the 2017 Texas Library Association Conference.  What I'm going to present on are different ways book trailers can be made by thinking outside the box.  So, I've been experimenting and one type of video I absolutely LOVE are Common Craft Videos.  And since imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I decided to take something I really enjoy and create a book trailer designed like it.  The process will be part of the presentation, but here is my first attempt at booktrailering alternate ways:

I still have four more different ways to work with!!

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29. World Building

Here are a few practical tips for creating a believable world in your story.


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30. Getting Batty

It is Bat Week! Did you know that bats are needed to control pests, spread seeds, and pollinate plants? Scientists learn a lot about the welfare of bat populations based on the crops that they help grow. And on October 31st we may be spooked out by the nocturnal winged creatures, but did you know that they help make the chocolate in our trick-or-treat bags?

Bat week is all about helping conserve the more than 1,100 species that live on every continent except Antarctica, and Bat Conservation International has many different ways that you can help bats that live in your neighborhood. Check it out!

If you want to get the facts first, here is an Arbordale booklist that will make you go batty!

HomeCaveHome in the Cave  – by Janet Halfmann, illus. by Shennen Bersani

Baby Bat loves his cave home and never wants to leave it. While practicing flapping his wings one night, he falls, and Pluribus Packrat rescues him. They then explore the deepest, darkest corners of the cave where they meet amazing animals—animals that don’t need eyes to see or colors to hide from enemies. Baby Bat learns how important bats are to the cave habitat and how other cave-living critters rely on them for their food. Will Baby Bat finally venture out of the cave to help the other animals?

LittleBat_coverLittle Red Bat – by Carole Gerber, illus. by Christina Wald

Red bats can hibernate or migrate to warmer regions during the winter. Should this solitary little bat stay or should she go? That’s the question the little red bat ponders as the leaves fall and the nights get colder! Some animals, such as the squirrel, tell her to stay. But what about the dangerous creatures that hunt red bats in winter? The sparrow and others urge her to go. But where? Carole Gerber takes young readers on an educational journey through one bat’s seasonal dilemma in Little Red Bat. Imaginative illustrations by Christina Wald give little red bat charm and personality, and children will be waiting and wondering what will happen next. Will the little red bat stay put or migrate south for safety and warmth?

RainforestPAPERBACK with flapsThe Rainforest Grew All Around – by Susan K. Mitchell, illus. by Connie McLennan

Imaginations will soar from the forest floor, up through the canopy and back down again, following the circle of life. The jungle comes alive as children learn about the wide variety of creatures lurking in the lush Amazon rainforest in this clever adaptation of the song “The Green Grass Grew All Around.” Search each page to find unique rainforest bugs and butterflies hiding in the illustrations. Delve even deeper into the jungle using sidebars and the “For Creative Minds” educational section, both filled with fun facts about the plants and animals, how they live in the rainforest and the products we use that come from the rainforest.

DeepDesert_187Deep in the Desert – by Rhonda Lucas Donald, – by Rhonda Lucas Donald, illus. by Sherry Neidigh

Catchy desert twists on traditional children’s songs and poems will have children chiming in about cactuses, camels, and more as they learn about the desert habitat and its flora and fauna. Tarkawara hops on the desert sand instead of a kookaburra sitting in an old gum tree. And teapots aren’t the only things that are short and stout—just look at the javelina’s hooves and snout. Travel the world’s deserts to dig with meerkats, fly with bats, and hiss with Gila monsters! Whether sung or read aloud, Deep in the Desert makes learning about deserts anything but dry.

batcount_187And Coming in spring of 2017 Bat Count: A Citizen Science Story
by Anna Forrester, illus. by Susan Detwiler

Jojo is prepping for an exciting night; it’s time for the bat count! Bats have always been a welcome presence during the summers in the family barn. But over the years, the numbers have dwindled as many bats in the area caught White Nose Syndrome. Jojo and her family count the bats and send the numbers to scientists who study bats, to see if the bat population can recover. On a summer evening, the family quietly makes their way to the lawn to watch the sky and count the visitors to their farm.

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31. छुट्टी का एक दिन – छुट्टी की एप्लीकेशन

छुट्टी का एक दिन – त्योहारो के चलते अक्सर छुट्टी हो जाती है या कई बार लेनी भी पडती है… खास तौर पर दीपावली पर जो सफाई अभियान या सम्पूर्ण स्वच्छता अभियान चलता है उसके चलते घर पर बहुत काम हो जाता है इसलिए अपने कामों से कई बार छुट्टी भी लेनी पडती है… छुट्टी […]

The post छुट्टी का एक दिन – छुट्टी की एप्लीकेशन appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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The Problem With Telling, Not Showing Telling
By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

      Writing styles evolve and change, and reader taste changes with them. One of the more obvious ways is how we handle show, don't tell. A hundred years ago, books were filled with told prose and heavy passages of description. Books written as recently as a few decades ago can feel dated and stale to today’s readers. The more visual we’ve become as a society, the more shown we expect our books to be.
      This is why it’s so important to understand what telling is, what it sounds like, and how it affects your writing, so you can best judge how to handle it. The thriller writer who uses omniscient point of view with multiple characters has different needs than the first-person point of view young adult writer. The same sentence can feel told in one passage and shown in another.
      Because of this, there are two sides to the show, don’t tell problem:
     • Problems writers face
     • Problems readers face

Problems Readers Face
      Readers might say, “Tell me a story,” but a great story is more than relaying facts and details in a logical order. Readers want an immersive experience with enough descriptive details to bring a story to life in their heads.
      Telling robs them of that chance. It explains all the reasons why things are as they are, it telegraphs what’s going to happen, and it leaves little to the imagination. It’s the difference between seeing a movie, and having someone tell you all about the movie, describing it scene by scene.
      Half the fun of reading is anticipating what’s going to happen next and how the story will unfold. Readers love to wonder about the characters and try to figure out the plot twists and story secrets ahead of time. If it’s too easy, or all the answers are told to them, there’s really no point in reading.
      What a reader considers good writing also varies. Readers of literary fiction might want as many adjectives and word pictures as they can get, enjoying the wordplay and use of language. Readers of thrillers might prefer a little explanation (telling) to keep the pace moving quickly, while romance readers want the focus on the emotions and how everyone feels more than dramatizing the action.

For example:
     • Monique dashed along the riverbank, sending flowers dancing into the air, only to land softly on the gentle waves before sinking below the surface.
     • Monique raced along the river bank, seconds ahead of the killer.
     • Monique ran along the riverbank, Philippe’s warm hand in hers, soft as the flowers beneath their feet.

Problems Writers Face
      The number-one problem writers face is finding and identifying told prose in their work. It’s hard to be objective, and reading your own words as you “tell” your story feels perfectly normal. Writing, “John was angry about getting fired” is exactly what’s going on in the story. John is angry about getting fired and you’re writing all about his anger and what he does about it. You imagine all the emotions, thoughts, and actions that support John’s anger, but often, those details never make it onto the page.
      Let’s take this sentence and expand it into a typical paragraph that might start a chapter or scene:
     John was angry about getting fired. He yelled at his wife, his kids, even the neighbors. None of his friends wanted to talk to him, and it had gotten so bad they pretended not to see him when they ran into him at the grocery store. Naturally, this pissed him off even more, and it was the poor dog that suffered his wrath.
     Is this paragraph shown or told?
      Some people will say this paragraph is shown, but others will say it’s told—and they’re both right. What the writer intends this paragraph to do will determine whether or not it feels told.
      • If this paragraph was intended as a quick summary and the point of the scene built off John being angry, this paragraph could smoothly set the scene and readers would read right past it.
      • If this paragraph was meant to show how badly John is treating his family and friends, and this is all the reader gets to understand that, then it probably feels told and explanatory.
      • If this is from a omniscient narrator, it probably feels shown, but if this is John’s point of view, it likely feels like a summary of a scene, not an actual scene. Look at what happens when I dramatize this sentence instead:
      John slammed the door behind him. Who did that stuffed shirt think he was anyway? Fire him? That cesspool of an office would wither and die without him.
      “You’re home early,” Maria said, coming in from the kitchen.
      “Am I interrupting your bon-bon eating or something?”
      Her smile faded. “What’s wrong?”
      “I don’t get any damn respect, that’s what’s wrong.”
     When you compare the two pieces now, how do you feel about them? Odds are the first feels much more told and summarized, while this feels shown and in the moment. It’s obvious John is angry and lashing out, it’s clear why, and you’re probably much more curious about what will happen next than you were in the first paragraph—maybe even dreading what John might do.
      This is why it’s hard to spot told prose. Often, told prose stands out when compared to how the rest of the novel is written. A tiny bit of detached, explanatory prose here and there blends in and bothers no one, but use a lot of it, and the entire novel feels flat.
      The second major problem writers face is that both readers and others writers have different opinions on:
• How much telling is acceptable
• What telling sounds like
• What to do about told prose in a manuscript
      The person who prefers distant third-person narrators will have a higher acceptance for told prose than the first-person fan. The point of view styles are handled differently, and readers react differently as well. It’s very subjective.
      Don’t let this discourage you, however. Understanding this annoying fact is what will allow you to really understand what show, don’t tell means. You won’t be following inflexible rules, but looking at your work and determining where it feels weak and how it could be made stronger.
      Do you struggle with show, don't tell?
      Check out my new book, Understanding Show, Don't Tell (And Really Getting it), and learn what show, don't tell means, how to spot told prose in your writing, and why common advice on how to fix it doesn't always work.

      Janice Hardy is the award-winning author of The Healing Wars trilogy and the Foundations of Fiction series, including Planning Your Novel: Ideas and Structure, a self-guided workshop for planning or revising a novel, the companion Planning Your Novel Workbook, and Revising Your Novel: First Draft to Finished Draft. She's also the founder of the writing site, Fiction University. For more advice and helpful writing tips, visit her at www.fiction-university.com or @Janice_Hardy.
Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Indie Bound

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33. Yet Another Game to Play in Class Tomorrow!

If you're looking for a game that students will beg to play every week, this is it. I've used it in classrooms and academic enrichment programs at summer camp with fantastic results. Add this to Bug and The Mysterious Box of Mystery, and you have three solid sure-fire games for your ELA toolbox.

Big Words is an activity which promotes an increase in phonetic awareness, spelling accuracy, and vocabulary development. The game I describe below was inspired by authors Patricia M. Cunningham and Dorothy P. Hall in their book Making Big Words. The copy I purchased over ten years ago encouraged me to turn their ideas into a class-wide game which has been a huge hit ever since.

The first objective of the game is to create as many words as possible from a given set of letters. To play, each student is given an envelope containing a strip of letters in alphabetical order, vowels listed first and then consonants. The student cuts these apart so that the individual letters can be easily manipulated on the desktop. Moving the letters about, students attempt to form as many words as possible. Beginners may only be able to form two-, three-, and four-letter words, but with time and practice will be able to use knowledge of word parts and blends to form much longer words.

The second objective is to spell a single word (the Big Word!) with all the letters. In my class, that Big Word very often relates to an upcoming trip, project, or special event, and thus serves double-duty to build excitement and enthusiasm.

As Big Words is used on a regular basis, the teacher can discuss strategies for increasing word counts. Some of these strategies include rhyming, changing single letters at the beginning or ending of each word, using blends, homophones, etc. Many additional words can also be generated through the use of -s to create plurals, and -e to create long vowel sounds. Some students will discover that reading their words backwards prompts additional ideas. Additionally, the teacher can discuss word parts which can help students to understand what they read (such as how the suffix -tion usually changes a verb to a noun, as in the word relaxation).

While the book emphasizes individual practice, we prefer to play Big Words as a class game. I've outlined our procedures below. You can also access these directions as a printable Google Doc.

  1. Have students cut apart the letters, and then begin forming as many words as possible using those letters. Remind them to not share ideas with partners, and to not call out words as they work (especially the Big Word). 
  2. After about fifteen minutes, have students draw a line under their last word, and then number their list. They cannot add to or change their lists, but new words that they hear from classmates should be added once the game starts.
  3. Divide the class into two teams. Direct students to use their pencil to “star” their four best words which they would like to share. These should be words which the other team might not have discovered.
  4. Determine how the score will be kept (on a chalkboard, interactive whiteboard, etc.). The teacher should also have a way to publicly write words as they're shared so that students can copy them more easily.  Here are links to a PowerPoint scoreboard or an online scoreboard.
  5. Hand a stuffed animal or other object to the first student from each team. This tangible item will help the students, and you, to know whose turn it is to share. Tell students that only the player holding the stuffed animal may speak. Other players who talk out of turn will cost their team one penalty point. These penalty points should be awarded to the opposing team, not subtracted from a score. This will greatly reduce unnecessary noise. 
  6. Play takes place as follows: The first student shares a word, nice and loud. He or she spells it out. If any player on the opposing team has that word, they raise their hand quietly and the teacher checks to see that it is the same word. (It doesn't matter if any student on the speaker's team has the word or not). Every player who has it should check it off, and every player who does not have it should write it into their notebook. 
  7. If no player on the opposing team has the word, then the team scores 3 points. If anyone on the opposing team has the word, then only 1 point is scored. 
  8. If a player shares a word which has already been given aloud, their team is penalized 2 points! This helps everyone to pay better attention to the game. 
  9. Ironically, the Big Word counts for as many points as any other word. Feel free to change that if you prefer, but I discovered that if I make it worth more points, students waste an extraordinary amount of time trying to form the Big Word alone, while ignoring the creation of any smaller words. 
  10. Play until a predetermined time, and then if the Big Word hasn't been formed yet, provide students with the first two or three letters to see who can create it.
Enjoy the game! I know your students will.

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34. Microsoft’s Gorgeous Surface Studio Might Be A Cintiq Killer

Microsoft is edging into Apple and Wacom's territory with its all-in-one touchscreen desktop Surface Studio.

The post Microsoft’s Gorgeous Surface Studio Might Be A Cintiq Killer appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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35. Inktober Day 26: Split Ends

Split Ends. Day 26 of #Inktober2016.

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36. NEW WORK - rachael taylor

 UK based artist Rachael Taylor has recently updated her portfolio to include lots of new designs, some of which I am lucky enough to be able to showcase here, Rachael is open to new licensing opportunities and design commissions and can be found online here.

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37. Duck, Duck, Porcupine

Duck, Duck, Porcupine! Salina Yoon. 2016. Bloomsbury. 64 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: This is the perfect day for a picnic, Porcupine!

Premise/plot: Duck, Duck, Porcupine is the first book in a new early reader series starring Big Duck, Little Duck, and Porcupine. There are three short adventures in this one. The first is "A Perfect Day for a Picnic." Little Duck is the first to notice that it will soon be RAINING. But will a little rain--or a lot of rain--spoil the day completely? It may not be a perfect day to EAT outside, but, it may be a perfect day to PLAY outside. The second is "I Think I Forgot Something." Big Duck is CLUELESS. Little Duck tries to help Big Duck remember what she forgot. (Holding up a present, holding up a birthday invite, bringing out a calendar, etc.) Will she remember in time that it is Porcupine's birthday?! The third is "The Campout." Little Duck may not be ready to WRITE out a list of what is needed on a camping trip. But make no mistake, Little Duck KNOWS that marshmallows are essential. (I have the idea that they'd not be item #100 on *his* list).

My thoughts: Loved this one. I definitely liked the characters. Characterization is brought about by little details. And this one has plenty both in the text and in the illustrations! Definitely worth reading more than once.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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38. You Are So Welcome!


Yesterday I cleaned out one of the bags I use for school visits. It’s surprising what I find in there. Old electric bills, paper scraps with hastily jotted-down ideas, Donald Trump’s taxes, lint-covered cookies (still delicious!), plus random notes and drawings that are handed to me by students mid-flight. As I rush down the hall seeking a bathroom, usually. The shy kid — with a friend, for bravery! — comes up and silently hands a paper to me. I am grateful, I am thankful, but I gotta go, so I stuff it into the bag, shake hands, and hurry to the next thing.

Thank you, sorry, gotta go.

Here’s one I wanted to share, because it’s all any of us ever really want. To feel noticed. To feel appreciated, recognized for our worth and our work. I am fortunate to enjoy a career where I am given notes like this one. Everyone should have that experience.


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39. Subway Salsa

A subway musician with salsa-like beat
In the sea of commuters, all surging,
Made some do a double-take at such a treat,
While out of the crowd was emerging…

A couple who dropped both their bags and their coats
To grasp shoulders and waists to start dancing.
They swiveled their hips as if sowing their oats
In a ballroom, their minds on romancing.

We stood on the platform, admired their moves
And thought, what a fabulous city,
Where people are able to practice their grooves
And where beauty eclipses the gritty.

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40. Why so quiet? Formative Reviews Time!

Have you wondered why I've not shared a big outing, meal or adventure of late? It's because it's time for formative reviews. We're already half way through our fall semester (can you believe it!?) and this is a marker for how we students are doing.
     Monday I turned in what I have so far of my dissertation. Must admit, I geeked out and overwrote my topic. But this will be the only opportunity I have for my tutor to actually see and comment on my work specifically before the actual deadline. Academic writing is new to me, so I'm trying to learn as much as I can at this stage.
     The other formative review is for my studio course. Here's what my desk looks like as I type.

     We aren't allowed in the studio as our tutors go over our projects to see what we've been up to. Here, I'm showing five projects along with some outside projects. (I have two volunteer positions going on - one for Authors for Refugees and I'm also the class rep this year.)
     None of my projects are complete at this stage, but they're all coming along quite well. I'm pleased.
     But I'm also antsy. I have so much to do! I need back in my studio with all my stuff so that I can keep working!

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41. Back From The YABBAs 2016

Yet again the YABBAs(Young Australian Best Book Awards) were held somewhere I couldn't get to by public transport, but this time, I had a lift, from my friend George Ivanoff, who had a shortlisted book. I would have loved to take my students, but the one time I was able to take them, I could only take my Year 10 book club members because they were the only ones who could meet me at the station. You have to be early and that would have meant going to work, picking up the younger students and going out again. We barely made it to the city on time fir the Melbourne Writers' Fesrival this year, let alone travelling out to somewhere far off. That year, it was at Trinity Grammar, which we could reach by tram, although it was still a long way off. But really, it's not meant for Year 10 students and they looked like Gullivers in Lilliput. Still, they had a good time and one of them even made it into a video on the web site. I told them that time, "I'm signing. Meet me back here in an hour," and they went around to get autographs from their favourite writers. Then we all went back to the city and had lunch together.

This time the event was held at St Thomas More Primary School in Hadfield. The kids were utterly adorable cherubs, as primary kids tend to be - well, not all, but for an event like this you only choose kids who will enjoy it.

There was a nicely set up library, with pictures of the authors on top of the shelves. The library was run by a library technician, who had been involved in setting up the event for the day and wore a YABBA t-shirt. When the session was over, I donated a copy of Crime Time to the school library. I'd brought some copies in hopes of asking the booksellers to put them on their stall, but there wasn't time. The booksellers didn't arrive till after morning tea, because the first session filled the hall with chairs. The school put together a delightful performance with little ones reading poems about the books, singing a song and others in a costume parade, dressed as characters from various books. Very sweet! The illustrators did the usual "Mr Squiggle" act, inviting kids to come up and do a doodle, to be turned into a cartoon. The awards were presented - as usual, Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton won the junior section, for The 65 Storey Treehouse. The two of them did an act to amuse the kids, including Andy pretend-kicking Terry, who had promised to do the speech and burbled, before saying, "Thank you."

Two prizes were won by Aaron Blaby, who couldn't be there. Also not there was Morris Gleitzman, who was overseas, but his wonderful book Soon won the YABBA for older readers. 

I had wanted to buy a copy of the new Treehouse book for a book club member, Priyanka, who was having a birthday, but the new one was sold out, as was the Treehouse diary, so I figured she would settle for an earlier one, if signed (She did. When I gave it to her at her party today, she hugged it in delight).

It was going to be hard to get it signed, though. The queue was so long that I gave up and went to lunch - and at that, I was signing for quite a while after the others went, because kids who had had their Treehouse books signed came over to me before I could get up and leave myself! I mostly signed the official autograph cards, but also gave away mini-posters and bookmarks. And those kids who had helped out with the day came up to get their t-shirts signed! One young man tried to persuade me to sign his school cap. I didn't think his teachers would be happy and I wasn't sucked in by, "Oh, my teacher says it's okay." But he did settle for a signed mini-poster.

When I finally was ready to go to lunch, poor Andy and Terry were still signing, with a mile-long queue. I left anyway and thought they might come soon, but as George told me he needed to go, to drop off his daughter at gymnastics, I returned to the hall, where they were still busy. Someone explained tothe kids at the front of the line that I had to go and they courteously waved me ahead of them, so I could get Priyanka's book signed, "Happy birthday, Priyanka!" from Andy and a drawing from Terry.

On the whole, a pleasant day and the school was lovely. They fed us three times - the start of the day, morning tea and lunch - and treated us as welcome guests. The kids had a great time and so did I, especially as, when I was leaving the hall with my signed book, a small girl ran up and hugged me. Nice!

Thanks, YABBA committee, for inviting me, and thanks, school, for hosting us all!

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42. Franklyn


Franklyn in a Brooklyn-based creative studio founded by Michael Freimuth and Patrick Richardson. While designing for a wide range of clients, they strive to “stay trill” and create eye-catching designs that genuinely represent the companies they work with.

Their talent for creating alluring and authentic brands can be seen within their work for Marz Brewing, a collective of brewers and artists. The studio created a flexible branding system in order to easily collaborate with the artists to craft distinctly different labels for each flavor of beer. This innovative approach to branding has led to an alluring packaging system that beautifully symbolizes the diverse personalities of each brewer.

Having a passion for expanding their imaginations and showcasing the creativity of others has led to charming self-initiated projects. They create official Franklyn swag, like toothbrushes and skateboards, and collaborate with designer Kyle Poff to create Matérial Magazine.








Franklyn 7



Also worth viewing:

Keith Shore
Made You Look
Brad Woodard Interview

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43. Resources for #NoDAPL

It is October 26, 2016. There is so much going on. 


Very few news outlets are covering Native people who are taking action to protect water from Big Oil. #NoDAPL is a hashtag people are using to write and share news and support of the Standing Rock Nation in its resistance to a pipeline. Early in that pipeline's development, it was supposed to go into the ground near Bismark, but the people of Bismark said no. They didn't want the risks it posed to their water. It was subsequently moved to a location where it is near Native people. Their objections were dismissed. The outcome is a gathering of thousands of Native people from hundreds of different tribal nations, and non-Native allies who are moving there, setting up camp, and using their bodies and presence to say no to that pipeline.

Did you know people who have been arrested are being strip searched

Did you know journalists are being arrested

Did you know that, early on, a security team hired by the pipeline unleashed attack dogs on people there? Amy Goodman of Democracy Now was there when that happened. Have you seen her news casts? There's a segment in one about a dog whose mouth is dripping with blood of someone it bit. 

Did you know that people gathered there were using drones with cameras to document what is happening there, but that the Federal Aviation Administration has now determined that area is a No Fly Zone

You must inform yourself! 

In addition to the Standing Rock website and their page on Facebook, I use two sites that are putting forth information that provides Native points of views, and historical context:

You can also get information by using the #NoDAPL hashtag on Twitter. Follow @DemocracyNow and @UnicornRiot

Be wary! Don't get duped! There are a lot of pages online where you are invited to purchase items related to #NoDAPL. Those sites say that proceeds will go to #NoDAPL but there's no evidence of that happening. I'm sending my donations directly Standing Rock. They set up a PayPal page. I'm also sending donations to the site raising funds for the Mní Wičhóni Nakíčižiŋ Owáyawa school. On their Facebook page, they tell you how to donate. I know it is tempting to send items but I believe the teachers know best what they need. Sending them funds lets them get what they need.  


Across the country, baseball fans are watching and following news about the World Series. One of the teams uses a racist mascot. That mascot is everywhere, doing damage to those who view it. Research studies on the harm of such imagery actually used the one from Cleveland as part of the study. The outcome? Images like that have negative consequences on the self esteem, self efficacy, and "possible self" (what someone imagines they can be as an adult) of Native youth who see them. The study, Of Warrior Chiefs and Indian Princesses, is available for download on line. It was published in a psychological research journal, Basic and Applied Social Psychology. Get it. Read it. Study it. Share it. And, act on what you read! Native people have been objecting to mascots for decades. And yet, many remain. Clearly, there isn't enough of a critical mass to effect change in those mascots. 

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44. लेखन के बारे में – लेखन कौशल को निखारने का सुनहरा अवसर

लेखन के बारे में – लेखन कौशल को निखारने का सुनहरा अवसर – लेखको के लिए खुश खबरी  से कम नही  ये खबर… एक समय था जब लेखको की रचनाए धन्यवाद सहित सम्पादक से वापिस आ जाती और मनोबल समाप्त हो जाता  या फिर अपनी किताब  प्रकाशित करवाने के लिए प्रकाशक के नखरे उठाने पडते […]

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45. Writing Across Identity Elements: Why Kayla, Not Eartha & Other Stuff I Think About

By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

The third of a four-installment dialogue with Ambelin and Cynthia.

Our focus is on the creative life and process, speculative fiction, diversity, privilege, indigenous literature, and books for young readers.

Don't miss Ambelin on Ethics, the Writing Process & Own Voices or an Interview with Ambelin on Justice, Hope & Her Creative Family.

Spoiler alert for Feral Curse (Candlewick, 2013).

Lately, I’ve been talking to Ambelin Kwaymullina, “an Aboriginal writer and illustrator from the Palyku people” of Australia, about own voices, representation, appropriation and writing across identity elements.

At first glance, when it comes to protagonists and point of view, we may seem to be on opposite ends of a spectrum--her advocating against writing as an outsider and me in favor.

It’s more complicated than that. As we compared notes, we found ourselves agreeing or at least empathizing more than you might assume.

I’m a Muscogee Nation citizen, and I’ve written protagonists who share that identity as well as those who, unlike me, are respectively Chinese American, Mexican American, Italian American, English American, Seminole, and Cherokee. The non-Indians appear in alternating point-of-view novels.

(I’m a Cherokee descendant, not a Cherokee Nation citizen. That translates to shared ancestry and cultural touchstones, but there's a difference. To clarify: I'm likewise Irish American. However, I am not a citizen of Ireland. I am Muscogee and American, a citizen of both Muscogee Nation and the United States of America. Native identity is about culture and heritage, but it's also about law and political status.)

More broadly, when it comes to race, religion, culture, gender, age, orientation, body type, and socio-economics, I write inside my personal experience.

Likewise, I write outside my personal experience. I speak on and teach the subject of writing, including writing across identity elements, on a regular basis.

As I’ve mentioned before, the question of writing outside one’s lived knowledge and most immediate stakes with regard to protagonists (or, in the case of nonfiction, focal subjects) is a very personal one.

Today I’m going to share a glimpse into my own, nuanced process for deciding who and what to write and why. Yes, of course your mileage may vary. It may evolve. Mine has evolved.

Michigan Law School Reading Room
Two points to address first:

(1) I’m well aware of my First Amendment rights. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree from The William Allen White School of Journalism at The University of Kansas, which included coursework in Media Law. I also hold a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School, where my studies largely focused on Constitutional Law and the First Amendment in particular (it was the topic of my third-year independent study with Lee Bollinger).

I’ve committed quality time, scholarship and tuition dollars to Freedom of Speech.

I’m well aware that rights come with opportunities, costs and responsibilities. And I'm well aware that restrictions on speech tend to hit disempowered people first and the hardest.

I'll restate that:

Restricts on speech tend to hit disempowered people first and the hardest.

Sometimes I exercise my right to speak. Sometimes I exercise my right not to speak.

As a one-time Native child who couldn’t watch “Super Friends” every Saturday morning without also seeing “Elbow Room” every Saturday morning, I fret the impact of erasure (to a cheery tune) and of the single story (in that case, the “helpful Indian”).

Watch this and, if it's not your inherent perspective, try to do so--with your writing cap on--from a Native or POC point of view.

(2) The vast majority of children’s-YA authors must, to varying degrees, write outside our own experience—at least with regard to secondary characters and major historical events or societal topics. This is necessary to reflect the full range of our humanity in the past, present and future.

In a sweeping book about the U.S. Civil War or The Great Depression or the Industrial Revolution, I’m looking for inclusion when it comes to the participation of and impact on Native people, people of color, women, etc. Ditto that contemporary realistic chapter book set in a minority-majority nation or that YA dystopian novel.

Ducking that content isn't a neutral decision. Again, effectively writing Native people off the continent--out of the past, present, and future--isn’t a neutral decision. Over the body of literature, it’s a minimizing one. An erasing one. Silence speaks. It contributes to adverse real-world impact.

After every U.S. election, we actually have to educate the new Congress about our continued existence. Please don't make it harder for us to protect our nations, our land, our children. Remember, we are still here. And we should be reflected in the pages of children's-YA literature.

So, to recap: (1) I'm well versed in freedom of speech. (2) Every children's-YA writer must, to some degree, write outside our immediate frame of reference. Still with me?

Back to protagonists and nonfiction topics. Bookstores vary the titles they stock. Libraries vary their collections. Publishers vary their manuscript acquisitions, and agents vary their clients.

Otherwise their books would compete with each other, and they wouldn’t be able to offer the selection necessary to stay in business.

Choices that heavily favor slender, straight, able-bodied white kids are the norm. Those books are viewed as standard. Viewed as universal. There’s no industry predisposition to limit them.

But every day, other well-written stories are rejected for being “too similar” to an already stocked, purchased, acquired or signed project that’s perceived as similar enough to compete.

Let’s say there’s already one middle grade with an Asian boy protagonist. Will another one be turned down for potentially competing?

Quite possibly.

“I just acquired an Asian boy middle-grade novel, and, unfortunately….”

Writers get rejection letters to that effect all the time. I’ve read them. Quite a few of them because I teach and mentor and so other writers come to me to discuss such things.

And, granted, stories won’t be rejected just because of common identity elements. It could happen because they’re deemed “too similar” in other ways.

My kitty, Gali-Leo
“I just acquired a novel about soccer, and, unfortunately....”

Now, consider:

What is the societal impact of limiting to one book about soccer?

What is the societal impact to limiting to one book about Asian-American boys?

Or one book about Asian Americans--period? Especially since "Asian American" is an umbrella term.

Heaven forbid two Asian-American boy characters in two different stories both happen to play soccer.

Sure, even with mainstream heroes, there are limits:

"Unfortunately, we're already publishing a half dozen dystopians..."

Here's the thing: Writers often panic over new releases that might be "too similar" to our own works in progress, particularly if our own manuscript is well along. We anguish over whether to read the competing title to gauge whether our project is in the clear or not. With nonfiction writers, you'll often hear talk of "getting there first" in the marketplace.

Remember when I mentioned the right to speak and the right not to?

This is what I personally do with that reality:

Halloween decoration that inspired my novel, Feral Curse
I love cats. I love carousels. I’m intrigued by cryptids.

In the Feral series (Candlewick/Walker), I write about werecats, demons, magic and furry cryptid hominids.

The stories take place in Austin, in a nearby small town, in the suburbs, at a resort, and on a tropical island.

These YA books are heartfelt, funny, action packed and teeny bit sexy (if I do say so myself).

The trilogy metaphorically tackles diversity, social justice, and what it means to be human.

No way would the entire cast look like it had been raised by Carol and Mike Brady. Or be depicted simply as white kids from different social groups a' la "The Breakfast Club" (remember when that was a diversity ground-breaker?).

The Feral series' question is: "What does it mean to be human?" My answer isn't: "Let's check in with the all-white heroes to find out." (Although white co-protagonists are certainly included in the mix.)

The series is told in alternating points of view by four co-protagonists, including Kayla, a werecheetah, who presents as Black American, and Yoshi, a werecougar, who presents as a biracial (Japanese-white) American. They’re homo shifters rather than homo sapiens, and they live among us. Within the genre bending, it's a sci-fi-ish fantastical construct.

Now imagine this. An editor reads my manuscript and says: “Too bad! I just signed a story about a smart, small-town, Black Texas teen--the daughter of the mayor--who’s able to turn into a werecheetah, and is being haunted by her ex-boyfriend’s ghost, which is trapped in a carousel. And, wouldn’t you just know it? Both stories feature a Eurasian co-protagonist/love interest, raised in an antique mall by his homicidal grandmother.…”

Really? If another author also independently came up with that specific idea, we are soulmates.

But only one of us is probably going to sell that oh-so-similar book to that one YA fantasy editor at that house. Or sign with that manuscript to that one genre-bendy and cryptid-loving agent.

Libraries and bookstores will stock one or the other. (Unless there’s a major motion picture involved.)

We’re safe to say the Feral series (Candlewick) is an idiosyncratic, diverse spec-fic YA adventure. This is a benefit of a quirky writing nature (Werearmadillos, for example. I may have invented them. That level of quirky.)

Kayla, as one of four co-protagonists, isn’t going to knock a book with another Black girl hero out of contention for anything. And the lived experience that’s most on point is what it’s like to “pass” or not. On that point, I do have lived experience to bring.

Nifty. Green light.

Now consider this: I love the music of Eartha Kitt. I am fascinated by Eartha Kitt.

I believe that Eartha Kitt was the best Catwoman.

The. Best. Catwoman.

Nobody could purr like Eartha Kitt.

She was inspiring, talented, formidable. For years, I’ve longed to write a biography about Eartha.

But Eartha wasn’t Martin Luther King, Jr. or Ella Fitzgerald.

She’s not a household name or an automatic tie-in to the Black History Month curriculum.

There might be room for one Earth Kitt biography for kids (or teens). I could see that getting published. I can imagine some bookstores and libraries stocking it.

As much as I love Eartha, I can’t imagine them embracing two or more.

So I’m not writing it. But if I weighed all that and moved forward, I would talk to Eartha’s family first for permission and consult with Black author friends, too.

Magazine cover of Eartha in my dining nook
All the while owning that my book could be blocking one by a member of Eartha’s own community.

Would I love that reality? No, but I couldn’t ignore it or dismiss it or explain it away either. And I couldn't wrap myself in the First Amendment and leave it at that because I have the right not to speak, too.

I would have to hold myself to the highest possible writing standard and expect others, especially those with a closer kinship, to do the same.

What's more, I'd have to acknowledge that I was starting at a serious deficit. There are writers with so much more to bring to that manuscript--Black writers, especially those with a strong background in singing and acting, who'd have knowledge and insights to illuminate the awesomeness that was Eartha in important ways that I'd never imagine.

I'm not planning to write that biography of Eartha. But up until a year or so ago, I was seriously considering it.

Now, what about a subject closer to home?

I’ve also considered writing a biography of Chickasaw astronaut John B. Herrington.

He and I have more in common. We're both mixed-blood citizens of southeastern Native Nations now based in Oklahoma. I want Native kids to learn about him, to be inspired by his story. I want non-Indian kids to learn about him and rethink the “primitive savage” stereotypes they’re fed.

Still, writing about John would’ve required me to write as an outsider.
I've met him in person in Oklahoma!

I’m not Chickasaw. “Native American” and “American Indian” are umbrella terms. Again, being Muscogee doesn't make me Chickasaw.

Are there shared ties and history between some Native/First Nations people and nations? Yes, more so within regions. But we're not not one in the same.

I hate to say it, but, as with Eartha, there’s probably not room in the market for more than one nonfiction picture book about John Herrington.

Native people are not meaningfully included in the U.S. curriculum. To the extent we're mentioned, the focus isn't on our achievements in space exploration. (Cough.)

There’s no way I would've put down a word of John’s story without his permission. As a First Amendment student, I know that I have the right to do so. As a Native woman, I believe in cultural property but, more to the point, as a human being, I believe in respect and courtesy.

John’s story is not my mine to take. It’s certainly not mine to take for profit.

Besides, to do a good job with it, I would’ve needed not only John’s blessing but also his assistance because the greatest living authority on John is of course John himself.

And if John thought it was a wonderful idea for me to write the story, I would’ve been honored and proceeded from there. (Yes, I would touch base with Chickasaw children’s writers, too.)

Many of the best books written by outsiders come from a place of deep connection and respect, prioritizing impact on young readers--both those directly reflected by the book and those who're not.

Consider, for example, Bethany Hegedus's excellent Grandfather Gandhi picture books, written with Arun Gandhi, illustrated by Even Turk (Atheneum).

These titles were born in the wake of the September 11 attacks after Bethany, a 911 survivor, heard Arun give a speech and found personal solace and healing in it. Later, they worked together to share Arun's stories with kids.

As writers, we succeed when we set aside the self-absorption of intent and entitlement in favor of respect and commitment.

We succeed when we come from a deeply felt place, like Bethany did after 911 and like she does every day when she cradles her own Indian-American baby son.

Bottom line: I never actively began writing the manuscript about John Herrington. It was merely an idea. I had other projects to finish first. I hadn’t yet contacted John to discuss it.

I was thinking I’d do that early next year.

Click this link to watch the book trailer!
But now I’m absolutely delighted that John’s children’s book, Mission to Space, was recently published by Chickasaw Press.

Imagine if bookstores and libraries didn’t pick it up because another children’s writer (like me) had already gotten there first and with a publisher that has a larger, more powerful industry presence.

Ambelin mentioned that she doesn’t want to see outsiders writing first- or deep third-person point of view. She’s told me that she feels that way in part because she hasn’t seen it done well and in part because of the systematic exclusion of Indigenous voices, own voices.

She doesn’t “want anyone occupying that space until there's something resembling parity of representation of Indigenous writers (and other own voices).”

I’m deeply sympathetic to her perspective and a strong  own voices advocate myself.

At the same time, when it comes to Native content, I’m more open to outside voices than Ambelin.

I suspect that’s because—despite far too many problematic books by outsiders—I have seen it done well. I appreciate high-quality titles like Debby Dahl Edwardson’s My Name Is Not Easy (Marshall Cavendish, 2011) and Rita Williams-Garcia’s Gone Crazy in Alabama (Amistad/HarperChildren’s, 2015).

It’s a blessing for Native kids, all kids, that books like those are published, and I’m thrilled to champion them whenever I can.

Moreover, as a southeastern American Indian, considering our history and current ties with Black Americans, I particularly long for more of their voices in the related conversation of books, especially with regard to the intersection of Black Indian tribal citizens. 

Big picture, being open to outside writers is no small or unqualified leap of faith.

There is a long and damaging history of outsiders telling "Native" stories, having approached us in the guise of ethnographer, of anthropologist, of writer, of friend. A long and damaging and ongoing effort to mislead, gain trust, and then misrepresent Native lives and narratives. Usually for profit, power or both.

When I  say "damaging," that’s not hyperbole. I’m talking about real-world legislation, persecution, and impact on the daily life of every Native person. We are peoples of Nations defined by sometimes hostile law and profoundly affected by that law. Public opinion, education and miseducation affects the making and enforcement of those laws. And then there's the psychological impact on citizens of our Nations, especially on our children and teens.

If you don’t know enough to understand why we’re skittish, suspicious and/or non-responsive, please step back and do more homework before starting that manuscript. Our feelings, actions and sometimes silence are based on real-world experience and concerns.

Begin by reading 100 books by Native American children's-YA authors. Do your homework with regard to each community your writing might reflect like you did your homework to enter the field more globally.

Of late, I’ve heard a lot of folks speaking in broad terms about the question of who writes what. We talk too often in broad strokes when brushstrokes apply.

It's a much bigger, broader conversation than race, though of course that's a critical component. It's also persistently framed as primarily about white writers' fear and failures.

As if no white writers weigh the responsibilities and costs of appropriation and respectfully seek the appropriate permissions and insights like Debby, working with her husband to share his story.

As if diverse writers can't stretch to successfully write across identity markers like Rita, who can certainly be trusted to respectfully conceptualize, research, frame and integrate story elements and, for that matter, feedback as needed to revise. 

As if diversity conversations should default to focus on white, able-bodied, cis-gender, straight folks. That's taking the idea that this isn't all about them and responding with, "But wait, what about them?"

Of course all writers belong in this conversation, but own voices must be prioritized and centered. Meanwhile, the question of "which ideas are right for me?" is something every writer must consider.

By the way, even when you're writing within identity elements, you still need to do research and engage in thoughtful related conversation. My work in progress is quasi-autobiographical, and I have a three-inch thick (and building) research binder. I've consulted with several friends and colleagues about the content and how it rolls out within the context of the story.

When I’ve cited, say, Rita and Debby among my go-to examples with regard to Native content, often the reply is something to the effect that I’m setting the bar sky high. And, yes, that’s true.

The bar is and should be sky high. Maybe we’re not all at Rita and Debby’s level of craft (yet), but we must emulate their gracious humility, their conscientiousness.

We must strive to create the best books for all kids.

Cynsational Notes

Writing, Tonto & The Wise-Cracking Minority Sidekick Who is the First to Die by Cynthia Leitich Smith from Cynsations. Peek: "For those who write within and/or outside personal experience, how do we honor and craft stories for the young readers of today and beyond?"

Native American Children's Literature Recommended Reading List from First Nations Development Institute. #NativeReads See also Debbie Reese at American Indians in Children's Literature and American Indian Graduation Rates: Stereotypical Images On and Off the Field from The Good Men Project.

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46. DESIGNER - sonje reyle

Sonja Reyle is a designer based in Germany. She studied textile design at the UDK in Berlin and went on to run her own silk screen studio for many years. Sonja has just recently gone back to freelance design and last year sold a few of her pattern designs to the German fabric company, Westfalenstoffe. Here are some examples of Sonja's pattern design and you can see more or get in touch via her

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47. all ready for the sea (Juncture Workshops)

What a time it has been. What lessons still rush in, at any age.

In the deep mist and midst, we prepare for our nine writers, soon to join us by the sea for the second Juncture Memoir Workshop. I have read their beautiful early essays. I have learned about their hopes as writers. I have added Springsteen and White and a Nest to a reading list, transformed assignments, reassigned hours of the day, and now we look ahead to waves and weather and community, eager for all the good that will come.

And good shall come.

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48. स्वच्छता अभियान पर निबंध – स्वच्छ भारत स्वस्थ भारत निबंध

स्वच्छता अभियान पर निबंध – कैसे बने स्वच्छ भारत स्वस्थ भारत निबंध लिखने के लिए कुछ बच्चे मेरे पास आए और बोले कि स्कूल में देना हैं और कुछ अलग हट कर होना चाहिए समझ नही आ रहा आप बता दीजिए… स्वच्छता अभियान पर निबंध – स्वच्छ भारत स्वस्थ भारत निबंध स्वच्छता में बहुत काम […]

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49. Conferring Tip: Listening Closely

A wise person once told me, conferring is the heart of the writing workshop. And much has been written about how to go about conferring effectively. Guides and professional books abound, videos, websites… Continue reading

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50. Book Release--LIKE MAGIC!

Over at EMUS Debuts this week, we're celebrating the launch of Elaine Vickers's middle-grade novel, LIKE MAGIC! Author Jason Gallaher asked the EMUS if we had any significant friendships that had changed our lives. Of course, I just had to talk about my husband, Mark.

Read Jason's piece here (and get to laugh at my high school homecoming dance picture!)

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