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A few years ago, in a novel called The Heart Is Not a Size, I wrote of Juarez, of a squatter's village, and of two best friends, Georgia and Riley, each of them navigating this foreign terrain while also navigating secrets. Georgia was privately negotiating anxiety attacks. Riley was declaring to anyone who asked (and Georgia, seemingly unwisely, had begun to ask) that she did not—absolutely did not—have an eating disorder, that she was not starving herself.
I wrote the book and created the characters because I understood both conditions all too well.
This coming spring, Chronicle Books will publish two companion books—true mother-daughter stories—about a young woman's struggle to stop hearing the hectoring internal voices that left her body starving, her heart working too hard, and her future imperiled. Calories were Elena's enemies. A bite of toast was a grave mistake. Numbers were everything. And Elena Dunkle was, in too many terrible ways, dying.
In and out of hospitals. In and out of rehab. In and out of conversations with the family who loved her and the specialists who seemed incapable of hushing the terrible voices. In Elena Vanishing, a memoir written by Elena's mother, Clare Dunkle, and grounded in extraordinary medical records, journals, and conversations, Elena's story gets told in a high-velocity, present-tense voice. We see Elena's world. We hear the voices in her head. We rush headlong into an illness that may have a name but still remains, for every person afflicted, a mystery. Where does anorexia begin? How is it finally controlled? Where is the key that fits the lock, that stops time from running out?
You will read, your heart pounding. You will remember a version of someone you were, or someone you loved, or love still.
Ultimately, as Clare reminds the reader, "this isn't the story of anorexia nervosa. It's the story of a person. It's the story of Elena Dunkle, a remarkable young woman who fights her demons with grit and determination. It's the story of her battle to overcome trauma, to overcome prejudice, but most of all, to overcome that powerful destructive force, the inner critic who whispers to us about our greatest fears."
There is depth, beauty, horror, and beauty again in Elena Vanishing. You'll read it, as I did, in a single day. You will think not just about the story that got made, but the story as it was being made—this mother, this daughter, remembering together, writing together, reaching out to the world together.
And when you are done there is a book called Hope and Other Luxuries to turn to—Clare Dunkle's memoir about loving this vanishing daughter of hers. Both books are being released by Chronicle next May. Both were edited by Ginee Seo, who poured her heart into these true stories and, once again (in Chronicle fashion), broke new ground by deciding to publish both sides of a story about an illness that affects millions of people around the world.
I own, it seems, the first two signed ARCs of both books, for I met Clare and Elena at the Chronicle booth at NCTE yesterday morning. I would like to thank Chronicle, as I close this blog, for including me at this event, for making such a home for me, for extending your friendship so warmly. Ginee Seo, Sally Kim, Jaime Wong—you threw one heck of a party, you look so good surrounded by Chronicle blue, and I am so proud to be a Chronicle author (and a Tamra Tuller writer).
Deepest thanks to those who stopped by to say hello, who stood in line for One Thing Stolen, who came and surprised, who spoke with me over a delicious meal. Twenty-four hours at the National Harbor. Not to be forgotten. Nor are these two books, by a mother and daughter.
The official Nobel Prize site continues to impress with the wealth of information available on it.
Okay, I don't really need to know the contents of each and every of the Menus at the Nobel Banquet 1901-2013 -- but I do like stuff like that catalogue of Alfred Nobel's Private Library
Given the criticism the literature prize gets -- especially for its early choices -- it's interesting to see what Nobel had in his own library -- and revealing that, for example, he had a tidy Tolstoy collection (much of it in Russian, no less) but not a volume by the first Nobel laureate, Sully Prudhomme (a prize Tolstoy could -- and arguably should -- have won).
First off, the Nobel winners -- a mix of the predictable (Nordic) ones and a few of the early stand-outs: Nobel's collection included works by: Henrik Pontoppidan (1917), Carl Gustaf Verner von Heidenstam (1916), Paul Heyse (1910), Selma Lagerlöf (1909), Rudyard Kipling (1907), and Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson (1903).
(It makes me wonder yet again about the now-forgotten Verner von Heidenstam, whose citation reads: "in recognition of his significance as the leading representative of a new era in our literature" -- what era was that ?
But Nobel had a bunch of his work, and he was translated into English back in the day.)
The only surprising missing laureate-name is Knut Hamsun, whose work was already fairly well-known before Nobel's death.
An interesting mix of other titles, too: no Dickens, for example, but Edward Bulwer-Lytton's notorious (for its: "It was a dark and stormy night ..." opening) Paul Clifford, and overall really quite a decent literary collection (in an impressive selection of languages).
(Also good to see: Karl Gutzkow's Die Ritter vom Geiste -- one of those big German books Arno Schmidt introduced me (and so many others) to (as noted also, of course, in my Arno Schmidt: a centennial colloquy).)
Throughout my career, there have been many times when advice, support, and criticism were critical for my own professional development. Sometimes that assistance came from people who were formally tasked with providing advice; a good example is a Ph.D. advisor (in my case, John Aldrich of Duke University, who has been a fantastic advisor and mentor to a long list of very successful students). Sometimes that advice was less formal, coming from senior colleagues, other academics at conferences, and in many cases from peers. The lesson is professional advice and support — or to put it into a single term, mentoring — comes from many different sources and occurs in many different ways.
However, there is growing concern in political science that more mentoring is necessary, that there are scholars who are not getting the professional support and advice that they need to help them with career decisions, teaching, and the publication of their research. There are many good programs that have developed in recent years to help provide more mentoring in political methodology, for example the excellent “Visions in Methodology” program. And the Society for Political Methodology recently approved the foundation of a new professional award, to recognize excellent mentors. But more needs to be done to improve mentoring and mentoring opportunities in academia.
After the conference I sent Leslie, Tiffany, and Ashley some questions about mentoring by email. Their responses are informative and helpful, and should be read by anyone who is interested in mentoring.
R. Michael Alvarez: How have you benefited from being involved in mentoring relationships?
Tiffany D. Barnes: I have benefited in a number of ways from being involved in a mentoring relationship. Mentors have provided me with feedback on research at multiple different stages of the research process. They have provided me with professional advice about a number of things including applying for fellowships and grants, marketing my book manuscript to university presses, and navigating the negotiation process at my university. My mentoring relationships have broadened my network of scholars with similar research interests and/or professional goals, which in turn have resulted in a number of different opportunities (e.g. coauthors, and invitations to participate in conference panels/round tables, mini-conferences, and edited volumes/special journal issues). Equally important, my mentoring relationships have resulted in a number of valuable friendships that make working in the profession more enjoyable.
Leslie A. Schwindt-Bayer: As a mentee, I really benefited from getting guidance, feedback, and research assistance from many different formal and informal mentors over the years. As a mentor, I get to give that back which is a great opportunity.
Brett Ashley Leeds: I believe fundamentally that no one figures everything out on his or her own. I know for sure that I did not, and I have had (and continue to have) a variety of mentors throughout my career. As a mentee, what I really value is knowing that I have people who respect me enough to tell me when I am wrong and to help me improve. As a mentor, I not only learn a lot from thinking intently about my mentees’ work and articulating my opinions for them, but I also get great personal satisfaction from the relationships that evolve and from helping others to succeed. It feels good to pay forward what has been done for me.
R. Michael Alvarez: Why has the issue of mentoring become an important topic of conversation in academia, and in particular, in political science?
Tiffany D. Barnes: Although it is well established that mentoring is an important aspect of professional development, it has recently become an important topic of conversation because academics have become aware that not all scholars have the same opportunities to develop mentorship relationships nor do they derive the same benefits from mentor relationships. In particular, women and minorities may face more challenges when it comes to identifying mentors in the field and they may not reap the same benefits (e.g. opportunities to collaborate, sponsorship) from mentorship relationships as men do. In the long run, this “mentor gap” may have negative repercussions for the retention and career advancement of some otherwise talented scholars.
If a scholar feels they would benefit by mentoring, how can they seek out a mentor? What should they look for in an appropriate mentor?
Leslie A. Schwindt-Bayer: Mentoring relationships can be both informal and formal. Informal relationships often emerge when scholars ask for advice and support from colleagues in their department, subfields, or various disciplinary organizations. Formal relationships sometimes emerge organically or at the initiative of a mentee or mentor, but they also can be entered into through a number of mentoring programs in the discipline. For women, the Visions in Methodology program offers a mentoring program through which mentees can ask to be paired with a mentor. They usually ask the mentee to suggest someone they would like to be paired with and then check with the suggested mentor about interest and availability. The Midwest Women’s Caucus has a mentoring program for women in any subfield. They ask individuals interested in mentoring and being mentored to volunteer to participate and then pair them by interest. Other organizations and groups probably offer similar programs.
In seeking a mentor, either formally or informally, you should think about exactly what you want out of the relationship. Are you looking for someone to provide you with general guidance about the profession or are you seeking someone who is willing to read your work from time to time and talk through research challenges when you come across them? Are you in your first year out, feeling lost, and needing help getting back on track or are you close to tenure and looking for guidance on how to navigate the process? Do you want a mentor whose style is to give “pep talks” or “straight talk?” Knowing what you want out of the relationship will help you identify the right person for the job.
Tiffany D. Barnes: Scholars who want to find a mentor can look for a mentor by signing up for a formal mentor match or by identifying someone in the profession who shares similar research interests or professional goals.
A formal mentor match is good option for identifying someone who is interested in serving in a capacity as a mentor. Typically the mentor program will ask you questions about what you are looking for in a mentor relationship, your research interests, your rank, and your professional interests. The program will try to match you with a mentor based on this information. If you are paired with someone through a program, you can be confident that your mentor wants to help you. These relationships can be very valuable, but, as with all mentor-mentee relationships, it requires initiative on the part of the mentee. It is the mentee’s responsibility to drive the mentor-mentee relationship. Mentees should identify why they want a mentor and reach out to the mentor and ask for help in areas where they can benefit the most. One criticism of formal matching programs is that they may not always result in the best “fit.” Even if you do not think the match is the best fit, there are still a number of benefits you can derive from the relationship. Your research interests do not have to perfectly overlap for you to benefit from the relationship. Indeed, most successful scholars have a wealth of information, advice, and perspective to offer junior colleagues. It is up to the mentee to identify areas where your needs or interests intersect with the mentor’s strengths, experiences, and interests — and to capitalize on these opportunities.
A second option is to develop a more informal mentor relationship. To do this, mentees should identify someone in the field who has similar research interests or professional goals. Mentees should identify different opportunities to get to know scholars with similar interests and try to develop these relationships from there. For example, you may have the opportunity to establish relationships with scholars when you present research on the same panel, when someone shows interest in your work by offering comments or questions about your research (or vice versa), or even when you have the opportunity to bring a guest speaker to your university. By following up with people after the initial meeting and/or taking them up on their offer to read and comment on your research, you can begin to establish relationships with them. These relationships may take time to develop and they may be difficult establish if you are new to the profession or do not know many scholars in your field. Finally, when attempting to establish more informal mentor relationships, it is important to be self-aware. Some people will show interest in you and be eager to get to know and help you, others will not, and no one is obligated to do so. Respect people’s rights to not be interested in you and try not to take it personal.
Brett Ashley Leeds: My view is that it is less important to find one person that can be identified as “a mentor” and instead to focus on finding mentoring, even if it comes from a variety of people. I encourage scholars to identify people who have skills, abilities, and/or information that they think would be useful to them– basically people they would like to emulate in particular areas of their work. Approach these folks politely in person or by email (for instance, asking to have coffee at a conference) and ask questions. Some will not be responsive, but many will be responsive and helpful. Follow up with those who are helpful. In some cases a relationship will develop.
R. Michael Alvarez: What are the most important “dos” and “don’ts” for a scholar who is in a mentoring relationship?
Brett Ashley Leeds: Since below I cover some tips for mentors, here are some tips for mentees: (1) Figure out what it is you want to know/learn. Think of both specific and general questions so you are prepared to ask when the opportunity arises. (2) Recognize the time and costs of what you ask and make things as easy as possible for your mentor by reminding him/her of past interactions and explaining the specific feedback you are looking for. (3) Understand that ultimately you are responsible for your own decisions. Ask your mentor to explain why he/she believes a particular action/approach is best, and for major decisions, seek advice from multiple people. (4) Let your mentors know about the outcomes. For example, if a mentor helps you with a paper, send a note when the paper is accepted for publication.
Leslie A. Schwindt-Bayer: For mentees, be assertive and discuss with your mentor when your relationship begins just what you each want from the relationship and are willing to commit to it. If you need something from your mentor, don’t wait for him/her to reach out to you. Email, call, or arrange to meet with your mentor at a conference. Since the mentee is the one who needs the mentoring relationship the most, the mentee needs to take the initiative to ask for help or guidance from the mentor.
Tiffany D. Barnes: Establish clear expectations and boundaries. Tell your mentor what you are hoping to get out of a mentoring relationship, and don’t be afraid to ask your mentor for help in areas where you could benefit the most. That said, it is important to acknowledge that your mentor may not always be willing or able to help you in the ways you want. Respect these boundaries and do not take them personal.
When establishing boundaries, it is important to respect your mentor’s time and to be cognizant and courteous with the time you ask of your mentor. For example, if your mentor agrees to meet with you for half an hour, pay attention to the time and wrap up your meeting in a timely manner. Your mentor will likely appreciate not having to cut you short, and, if they know you respect their time, it may make them more likely to make time for you in the future.
Don’t expect any single mentor to fulfill all of your mentoring needs. Different people, depending on their experience and expertise, have different things to offer. Try to identify the areas where your mentor is most likely to be of help to you and build on these strengths. Along these same lines, although your mentor likely gives great advice, you cannot expect them to have the answer to all of your questions. It is important to weight their point of view carefully and to seek out a number of different perspectives.
Seek to develop a number of mentoring relationships. It can be useful to have mentors within your own department, in your university (but outside your department), and in the discipline more broadly. Moreover, it is often just as useful to develop relationships with senior mentors, as it is to develop relationships with peer mentors.
R. Michael Alvarez: What are the responsibilities of a mentor?
Brett Ashley Leeds (1) Create an environment in which you can provide effective constructive criticism. This tends to require first establishing an environment of mutual respect. (2) Know what you know and what you don’t, and know that your experience is not universal. (3) Always explain why you are giving the advice you are giving and be willing to consider alternatives. (4) Recognize that in the end, your mentee should make his/her own decisions and may not always take all of your advice. (5) Recognize how important your opinion may be to your mentee; wield this power responsibly.
Tiffany D. Barnes: A mentor should establish clear boundaries with their mentee. Be honest and upfront the role you are and are not willing to play as a mentor. Be clear about your time constraints and the amount of time you are willing to commit to your mentee.
Leslie A. Schwindt-Bayer: If it is a formal mentoring relationship, make sure you and your mentee establish ground rules at the beginning about what each of you wants from the relationship and are willing to give to it. Don’t commit to something you aren’t willing to follow through with and be sure to follow through with whatever you commit to do for your mentee. If you can only commit to an hour of time twice a semester, that is fine, but make sure your mentee knows that and agrees that it is sufficient for him/her. If you are willing to provide general guidance but don’t want to read/comment on your mentee’s work, that is fine. But, again, make sure your mentee knows that from the beginning. Keep in mind that your mentee may place very high value on your advice and guidance so give it carefully.
R. Michael Alvarez: What are the personal and professional benefits of being a mentor?
Leslie A. Schwindt-Bayer: Too numerous to list in a short response!
Brett Ashley Leeds: It has often been said that one only really knows something when she can teach it to others. Mentoring gives me an opportunity to clarify and articulate my views on professional issues and research in a way that I otherwise might not. I frequently learn in the act of mentoring. The main benefits, however, are personal, and come from the satisfaction of helping others to achieve their goals and the feeling of paying forward what has been done in the past for me.
R. Michael Alvarez: How can professional organizations (like the Society for Political Methodology) facilitate professional mentoring?
Brett Ashley Leeds: The most important thing that professional organizations can do is provide opportunities that encourage interaction among scholars who don’t already know one another, and particularly between junior and senior scholars. Small conferences, dinners, and receptions help a lot with this. Poster sessions in which junior scholars are matched with senior discussants also help.
Tiffany D. Barnes: In my experience professional organizations play both, an important formal and informal role in facilitating professional mentoring.
Professional organization can formally facilitate mentoring relationship by matching mentors with mentees. I have two different successful mentoring relationships that were products of mentoring matches. This is a great way to help young scholars identify someone in the profession who is willing to serve as a mentor.
Professional organizations can also facilitate mentoring by simply providing both professional and social opportunities for junior scholars to meet likeminded senior (and junior!) colleagues. By becoming involved in professional organizations that align with your professional interests you will establish relationships with colleagues in your field. Most of these relationships will emerge naturally and develop slowly over time. Although you may not formally call the individuals you meet here “mentors,” they will become an important part of your mentoring community.
Leslie A. Schwindt-Bayer: One of many ways is a formal mentoring program. The Visions in Methodology mentoring program is a fantastic example, but it is only for women. This is a very positive feature of the program because women in a field with a small representation of women face different and sometimes more challenging sets of obstacles than men. However, plenty of men in the field would also benefit immensely from mentoring and so offering a similar program for men or a program that is open to both women and men, if it does not already exist, would help to facilitate formal professional mentoring in the methods subfield.
Hey, everyone – this is Becca, with a new post we are doing here on Adventures in YA Publishing, called What's on Reader's Minds?Once a month, I send an email out to bloggers, asking them to tell me what's been on their mind lately. Sometimes they even post a segment from a discussion they've had on their blog recently, and then I post their answers right here! Want to be a part of our book blogger panel? Leave your blog name and contact details in the comments below! We’d love to have you!
"I've been thinking a lot about the publishing industry the past few months. It's so much bigger and more complicated than I'd known as a non-blogging reader! I've also been thinking about the people I've met within the industry and how wonderful they are. So I started a new series called What I Think Of When I Think Of... to help untangle the knot that is publishing companies and their imprints and also to call out some of the fantastic people I've met through my contacts as a blogger."
"What is the worst thing that could happen while you read? Your M.C. make you want to punch walls? You have a weird back and forth narration going on? Or perhaps M.C. has perished and your now trailing their ghost? None of these things are as bad as the dreaded Insta- love triangle!! *duh duh dummmmm*. This is the absolute most common of the hated trend in Y.A. Or in any literature for that matter....but why? What do we have against these 2 cliches? They drive the story well and make things a hell of a lot more interesting. Are we so cynical as readers that we hate to see people In love? What's with all the hate...when it comes down to love?"
Meg on (Shipping) tropes I'm over/can't get enough of:
"Spoiler alert: I am framing this in terms of both YA-focused books and TV (including the 100
because apparently that's all I can talk about now).
I am sick to death of these "nice guy" love interests that put the MC on a pedestal and fall in love with the idealized version of her. (I'm looking at you Finn/Stefan/Angel.) These guys all have created fictionalized ideas of what she is in their heads that they never totally let go of. The problem is, these creations aren't real people. Real people are flawed and surprising. Ideals are set in stone. It's an insidious trope because all of these guys are the good guys and are, arguably, encouraging the MC to become the best version of themselves. It's easy to see why people root for them. Unfortunately that best version isn't based on reality and when the MC fails to live up, the nice guys can't accept that. They often end up holding the reality of the MC against them.
And I'm not saying all nice guys are bad. Levi from Fangirl is probably one of the nicest fictional love interests ever written and he is absolutely fantastic. The difference is he sees Cath. He doesn't come into the relationship with a fortified idea of who she is. He actually gets to know her in real time. Ditto Cricket with Lola in Lola and the Boy Next Door. He grew up with her, he's seen her at her best and her worst. He knows her for who she is from interacting with her and getting to know her. Not following her around like a puppy (at best, a stalker at worst) and observing.
As Spike said to Buffy:
I've seen the best and the worst of you, and I understand, with perfect clarity, exactly what you are.
That is what I ship and why I end up shipping the Bellamys, the Damons and the Spikes. These guys see the MC. They actually hate the pedestal version of the MC. Then when they see who she really is beneath the hype and end up over throwing their preconceived notion, they connect to the real person they've come to know. (Well done) hate to love is such an infinitely more interesting trope to me because there are so many more layers to it. I'd also like to point out that all of these guys encourage the best in their love interest but they do so in a way that recognizes what the love interest's best self actually is, not what they think it should be. They don't tell them who to be, they tell them they know they can be the best of who they are. That is a ship trope I will never get over.
"I've recently discovered a new blog (Notebook Sisters) and Cait wrote a post about how we should stop Apologizing on our blogs. I've actually been in the process of writing the same post. I swear the girl has been shuffling around in my brain! This is something that's been bugging me for a long time, and every time I see a new post where someone is telling the world sorry for their blogging choices, it makes me want to shake someone. NOOOOO!!!! Don't do it! You can read more on my blog here."
To feather or not to feather? I heard in a radio show that more has been learned about dinosaurs -since- the film Jurassic Park than in all the time before the film! The bottom image shows my preliminary studies, mostly from the above mentioned film, and from Walking with Dinosaurs the puppet show. The uppermost image was a test to see what I'd learned from the reference material.
For today’s prompt, write an alone poem. Some people covet “alone time.” Others prefer not to be left alone. Many like a certain balance. But this doesn’t have to just be about people. Maybe a forest wishes to be left alone, or there is a product left alone on a store shelf (how the children’s story “Corduroy” begins).
2015 Poet’s Market
Get your poetry published!
Learn how to get your poetry published with the premiere book on publishing your poetry: the 2015 Poet’s Market, edited by Robert Lee Brewer.
This essential resource includes hundreds of listings for book publishers, magazines, journals, contests, grants, and so much more. Plus, there are articles on the craft of poetry, business of poetry, and promotion of poetry. Beyond that, there’s an hour-long webinar, a subscription to the poetry slice of WritersMarket.com, original poems, poet interviews, resources galore, and more-more-more!!!
as long as I have my internet connection
& smart phone I have this feeling that I can’t
possibly be alone. I consider going into hiding
until I remember my faith & the fact that even
before the internet I was never alone & ditching
all my gadgets & connections won’t change that.
Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of the poetry collection, Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). He edits Poet’s Market, Writer’s Market, and Guide to Self-Publishing, in addition to writing a free weekly WritersMarket.com newsletter and poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine.
He has moments when he feels alone–like anyone–but then he usually comes to his senses. He’s thankful for the community of poets here that help lift each other up throughout the month and year.
Dates: January - December 2014 Requirements: Golden Card (mysteries published before 1960) Silver Card (mysteries published before 1989) I will be signing up for the GOLDEN CARD level. Required Books: At least six (one bingo); two bingos encouraged (12 books)
First Bingo (Diagonal)
Read One Book With a Color in the Title: Red Mystery by A.A. Milne. 1922. [August]
Sometimes, at the end of the day when it's already dark, I get frustrated that I still didn't get my daily drawing done. So then I just sit down, put something in front of me, place a lamp beside/above it and draw. I made this drawing of a pair of shoes, while sitting on the couch, sipping a cup of herbal tea and watching a movie on tv with one eye. It was wonderful to be absorbed in the hatching. Done with a fountain pen (Lamy safary) filled with carbon ink:
More Hatching! I took out a good old black Bic ballpoint pen, and started drawing the condiments on the table of a Sechuan restaurant in the centre of Amsterdam, while waiting for my dinner companion, who called to say that he was running a little later. That gave me 15 minutes of drawing time. So I got the basics in, took a picture with my phone for reference, and later that night when I got back home, I sat up in bed and did the rest of the hatching. It was late, I was tired, and it was so relaxing, at some point I felt myself actually dozing off while hatching!! The next day, I looked at it again and saw it needed a little bit of background or colour so I added the yellow watercolour:
There is ALWAYS something interesting to draw. And if you really want to - you can find and make time for it. Even a quick 5-minute scribble can be very rewarding.
If you need a little help, making time to do what you love, and to fill your art journal pages every day, you can still join my 4-week online workshop 'Awesome Art Journaling' for only $69. I will guide you through those weeks and give you a kickstart on a daily drawing habit. Join me by clicking here.
So far this month has been jam-packed with insightful education, Booklists, Activities and Resources for Kids and parents interested in raising global citizens. I would like to share them this weekend as my Weekend Links Round-up. Enjoy!
JIAB favorite Marie’s Pastiche and family is in the midst of a virtual travel to West Africa. This sight has delighted me all month with wonderful posts sharing info about this country, their culture, the festivals, cook and eat traditional foods, learn of traditional handicrafts with hands on exploration and many activities. This week she had a wonderful post on Anansi Stories – Trickster Tales from West Africa.
Crystal’s Tiny Treasures offered up a wonderful Native American Book inspired review and giveaway and an excellent link-up!
Feel like learning about The Dances of India? Check out this post at Crafty Moms Share: Dances of India Book Review
Home School Life Journal spent some time this week exploring Western India with a yummy recipe and some breathtaking images.
Award-winning Australian author, Archimede Fusillo delves deep into what it is to be a man in his latest coming-of-age novel for young adults, Dead Dog In The Still Of The Night. The story follows the journey of Primo as he attempts to navigate his way though his final year of school with an emotionally brittle […]
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Margaret Jull Costa's new translation of Benito Pérez Galdós' classic, Tristana -- yes, the basis for the 1970 Luis Buñuel film with Catherine Deneuve in the title-role -- coming out from New York Review Books.
It's apparently Pérez Galdós-revival time -- a (new ?) translation in the Everyman's Library (see the ... cover) of his masterpiece, Fortunata and Jacinta, is one of the big upcoming publications of 2015 -- but much as I'm glad to see these works reworked and him getting attention, it would be neat if some of the still untranslated fiction was (also) made available, given how many huge piles of it still haven't been.
(Not that anyone could easily get their hands on the old translation of Tristana, either .....)
I can see these as the easier sell, but Pérez Galdós is one of the Spanish greats, and it's about time more of his work was available in English (for the first, not -- as in these cases -- the second or third time).
Well, maybe these, if nicely successful, will help open the floodgates.
I am definitely not pro-choice. And I am not here to begin a debate with those who are. What I am upset about this morning is the fact that people have to tone down their wording and offer me a sweet sticker so the debate is not so heated. I am not worried if somebody hates me because I choose life over choice.
What I am concerned about is this. Some of those women/girls who choose life over choice because of our "concerned" words go on to live in poverty because of their choices. And many "sweet" Christians who told them not to kill their unborn child tell them social services will help them with that child. It infuriates me.
If you are holy enough to talk some poor young thing out of abortion, then be holy enough to help her find help from other HOLIES! Just my humble opinion. And also, if that beautiful woman decides to save the baby's life, but not keep the baby, where are you then? Holy person? I know there are plenty of people out there who are willing to literally snatch up those newborn babies and give them a wonderful home. But what about the children who have not been aborted and Mommy thought she could handle being a mommy but then couldn't? And now her four year old FAS is on her last nerve. She can't do it now. And the child goes to foster care- but us HOLIES are too BUSY to take the time and take a child into our own homes.
Oh but Jae, you are being too judgmental. No I'm not. I'm keeping it as real as you folks who carry picket signs and run your mouths about saving that child's life. The invisible child in the picture above is just as invisible if mommy decides to choose life but then can't care for her child. So it's up to us to provide services beyond a sonogram to see her baby has fingernails. There need to be more places like Morning Center in Charlotte, NC.
People need to also care about the kids who are at-risk and have been taken away from the mommies who tried. But that's not my calling, Mama Jae. Bull puckey. Get on your knees and pray.
I love ya'll. I know I sound harsh right now. But when it comes to the fatherless, I have a burning passion. Orphans need good Christian homes where they are safe and loved, and never treated like they are a burden or a label. Even if they have a label.
Not the world's best/sweetest adoption message. I know. But if we sugarcoat it and hand it out in the form of flyers and television ads people say, "Awe." and then accidentally throw away the telephone number.
My final rant, and then I promise I will leave you alone today, if you are going to yell about the rights of the unborn child- make sure you care enough about that unborn life to go the extra mile. Don't just be another holier than thou voice shouting (or even whispering) in those young girls' lives. Be a beacon of light and hope that surrounds and comforts them through whatever decisions they make. Everybody screws up. Pray today and ask God to show you how to help. I promise, it will be a rough road for everyone involved. But it will be the sweetest thing you could ever do for a child. Jesus said when you offer even a glass of water to the littles, you won't lose your reward.
When young Ruthie finds a tattered prayer book in a box of old photographs marked Germany in her grandmother's house, she gets quite a surprise. The prayer book in written in Hebrew and German and had apparently been burned. Even more surprising - her grandmother tells Ruthie that the book came from Germany and it belongs to her father.
When Ruthie asks her dad about it, he tells her that he was born and lived a happy life in Hamburg with his family, and with lots of cousins and friends. But, when the Nazis took over the government in 1933, all that changed. Soon, Jews weren't allowed in restaurants, movie theaters, libraries, schools. Old friends became instant bullies.
Then, in November 1938, Nazis began a night of destruction, Kristallnacht, destroying Jewish business and synagogues, setting them on fire. When Ruthie's dad saw what was left of his synagogue, he also saw burnt prayer books all over. He reached for one and hid it in his coat - a reminder of the place where he had once been so happy.
One day, while he and his father were in a shop, Nazis came down the road probably to arrest the men. Ruthie's Grandpa slipped out the back door, while her dad ran home to tell his mother what happened. Days later, Grandpa came back home and told his family he had to leave, sailing for America with his son Fred.
Every night, her dad opened his burnt, tattered prayer book and prayed. Finally, in June 1939, visas arrived for Ruthie's dad, mother and brother Sid. Other friends and family members were leaving Germany, too, for Argentina and Israel. Others, sadly, had to remain in Germany.
On board the ship, after the Sabbath candles were lit, Ruthie's dad showed the prayer book to his mother, expecting her to be angry, but she wanted it to be a reminder of the good life they had had in Germany and a source of strength for the future.
Recalling what happened so long ago in his life in Germany, after making such an effort to forget it all, Ruthie's father realizes how important that burnt, tattered prayer book had been to him and how much what it symbolized is an important part of himself.
The burnt prayer book is a symbol of both the happy, good life Ruthie's dad and his family shared before the Nazis came to power, and at the same time, the terrible years that followed.
Often, when we talk about the Holocaust, it is about the mass roundups of Jews, the death camps they were sent to, and the attempt to systematically destroy an entire race of people. But nothing happens in a vacuum and neither did the Holocaust. Between the years 1933 and 1938, Jews were subject to all kinds of degrading treatment by Hitler's henchman in the SA and the SS, and by ordinary citizens who turned their backs on friends overnight.
In The Tattered Prayer Book, Ellen Bari has written an informative, but gentle picture book for older readers (age 7+) about those deplorable years in a way that kids will definitely understand. It is an ideal book for parents who wish to introduce their children about the Holocaust themselves before they learn about it in school. Teachers, however, will also find it to be an excellent book for teaching the Holocaust, as well.
The illustrations by Avi Katz are done in sepia-tones that are reminiscent of old photographs and burnt paper, again reflecting that balance of good and bad times that the prayer book represents.
This book is recommended for readers age 7+
This book was sent to me by the publisher
Lynn Davidman, author of Becoming Un-Orthodox: Stories of Ex-Hasidic Jews, not only interviewed former Orthodox Jews for her book; she was a former Modern Orthodox herself. Davidman answered some questions for us about her experience leaving Orthodox Judaism and how it informed her research.
Aside from being the topic of your book, you also became un-Orthodox, and in fact were disowned from your family. How did your own experience becoming un-Orthodox inform your writing?
My own experiences of leaving Orthodoxy informed this book every step along the way. I had been reading and learning about self-reflexivity before I began this project, and I tried to be self-reflexive in every stage of the research, beginning with conceiving this study (which came out of my gut, reflecting my desire to learn about people’s similar—although also different—experiences in leaving). I analyzed my stance in relation to this book and wrote about it within the book. I felt strongly that readers needed to know “where I was coming from” to help them better assess the quality of my analysis. I also described some of my experiences throughout the book, I think a bit in each chapter; because I think it is a much more honest approach and because I think readers are interested in learning about the author and her life.
How did your own experience leaving Orthodox Judaism compare to those you write about?
My own experiences leaving Orthodox Judaism were in many ways easier (despite being disowned). Modern Orthodox Jews engage with the secular world; their philosophy is following Torah and being a person in the world. So, as a Modern Orthodox, I grew up knowing about the secular world of movies, television, plays, etc. I went to a university, which helped me leave, and when I left I knew I could manage well in the secular world.
In contrast, the Hasidic defectors did not know much about the secular world. They grew up speaking Yiddish, and newspapers, television, and other forms of secular media were banned from their homes. They grew up in a community in which they were encapsulated physically, socially, and ideologically. They were taught that non-Jews are threatening and that many of them were like animals. So they were terrified of leaving: they did not have the education needed to find jobs to support themselves in the secular world; they had no idea how to find an apartment, or how to finance it; the men spoke Yiddish and poor English. So they had a lot more cultural learning to do in order to leave than I had. Also they had to “disinscribe” the Haredi markers from their bodies—learn to dress differently (putting on pants was a big deal for the women) and comport themselves in a more open way.
Did any interviews surprise you? If so, what was it that surprised you?
One aspect of my interviews that surprised me is that none of the people I spoke to were fully cut off from their families as I had been. I expected I would find other defectors (than me) had been cut off from their families. Some remained quite distant or not in contact with their families for a few years, but usually became reconnected after the passage of time… or when a grandchild was born. Some, though, have very poor and painful relationships with their families, speaking of emotional distance and pain.
I was also surprised by the sheer amount of abuse—physical, sexual, and emotional—I heard in the stories. One woman knew from childhood that her mother simply did not like her and she still does not get along with her; she told me others (such as a doctor or a relative) could clearly tell her mother disliked her intensely. The stories of sexual abuse were so sad to talk about and many exclaimed about the irony of the abusers being part of a very religious community where they are supposed to be pious.
What do you hope readers will take away from the book?
For one, I want them to take away an understanding of the body as central to all social interaction and institutions. I would like them to see how embodiment is not one aspect of a person but the fundamental ground of everyone’s being. I have a fantasy they will come away understanding we need to reverse Descartes: I think therefore I am and instead have it as “I am therefore I think.”
I hope readers will understand both the uniqueness of Haredi life, and the similarities between defectors and others who change their identities through the medium of the body such as LGBTQ people.
I want to complicate the common sense assumption that all Orthodox Jews are alike.
A deeper understanding of how the perspective of the author shapes written work: both books and articles. I would like them to understand there is no “objectivity” in social science research and therefore the more the author reveals about her perspective, the better they are able to judge the quality of the work.
Differentiated, or tiered, assignments provide students opportunities for individual understanding and growth in learning. Activities, projects, and tasks that educators create for their students can be used with flexible groups to address common learning needs.
Based on students’ diverse needs, educators differentiate by manipulating one or more of the following: content (what students learn), process (how students learn it), and product (what students create to demonstrate their learning).
Within those three domains, educators can differentiate based on challenge, complexity, resources, process, and product. We will tackle 5 ways to differentiate assignments using the Adventures Around the World series by Ted and Betsy Lewin.
Differentiate by Challenge Level:
We use Bloom’s Taxonomy as a guide to develop instructional tasks with differing degrees of challenging demands. Based on the rigor and complexity of what is being taught, we can design and categorize assignments using the following classifications from Bloom’s levels of higher thinking: recall, understand, apply, analyze, evaluate, and create.
Recall: List the different types of wildlife that live in northern and southern Australia, and classify them as mammals, reptiles, birds, amphibians, or fish.
Understand: Identify and explain the adaptations of the platypus or echidna in their habitats.
Create: Design a new Australian animal incorporating the characteristics of two animal classifications (mammal, reptile, amphibian, bird, fish) and a written explanation supporting your reasons.
Differentiate by Complexity:
Increasing the complexity of an assigned task involves differentiating the content, or an introductory vs a more advanced activity focus. This involves strategically developing learning objectives and understanding what students should be able to do. Again, Bloom’s Taxonomy can help guide the development of least, more, and most complex tasks for your students.
In the following example, all of the students are required to write an informational essay, but the lens of their research differs in complexity.
Least complex: Write an informational essay about the tradition of the Naadam horse racing in Mongolia.
More complex: Write an informational essay about the tradition of the Naadam horse racing in Mongolia and evaluate the pros and cons.
Most complex: Write an informational essay about the tradition of the Naadam horse racing in Mongolia and determine your opinion, presenting a convincing argument either for or against the horse races.
Differentiate by Resource:
Differentiating by resource should be approached with thoughtful consideration of students. This requires thinking about their reading strengths and needs, as well as students’ interest in and prior knowledge about a topic. Differentiating by resource may involve selecting supplementary reading materials, such as articles, magazines, and primary documents, and using visual aids, including videos, charts, and graphic organizers. Offering all students opportunities to engage with different resources and assigning age-appropriate materials to groups of students supports collaboration and inclusion of readers of all levels.
Lower-level readers: Provide supplementary informational texts or materials about the endangered mountain gorilla on a lower reading level, such as a pre-reading guide/outline for Gorilla Walk, an audio recording of Gorilla Walk to listen to as students read along, or a graphic organizer to record notes as students read.
Advanced readers: Provide challenging supplementary articles or texts about the endangered mountain gorilla or animal habituation and critical-thinking questions to answer as students read the text.
Differentiate by Process:
When students are expected to achieve similar outcomes, such as understanding new vocabulary words, teachers often differentiate assignments by how students will achieve expected learning objectives. Therefore, how students engage with the content involves considering how challenging and complex the process or strategy is for the student, as well as offering varying and supplementary resources.
When students are all provided with the same materials, educators may decide to differentiate the assignment by outcome, or what students are expected to be able to do in order to demonstrate gained knowledge. Differentation by product is valuable in encouraging student success and practice in other areas of thinking and learning.
Heacox, D. (2012). Differentiating instruction in the regular classroom: How to reach and teach all learners. Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit Publishing, Inc.
Veronicahas a degree from Mount Saint Mary College and joined LEE & LOW in the fall of 2014. She has a background in education and holds a New York State childhood education (1-6) and students with disabilities (1-6) certification. When she’s not wandering around New York City, you can find her hiking with her dog Milo in her hometown in the Hudson Valley, NY.
Oh, that Philadelphia Inquirer. Oh, Kevin Ferris and your design team. You make waking up every fourth Sunday such a pleasure. Thank you for the glorious celebration of the Reading Market in today's Inquirer. I loved writing this piece and taking those photographs. I love being a Philadelphian.
When it comes to teaching writing, we are bound by a painful, formulaic Five Step Process: Prewriting, Drafting, Revising, and Publishing. Does it work? If you teach the writing process, it is crucial for you to experience it at the very same moment you are actually teaching it. Model the behavior. But this isn't a preachy blog post. It's more of an observational type of post because I've had too much coffee and it's 3 A.M. Anyway, back to the question: Does the five step writing process work? To answer this, I must put away my Teacher Hat and put on my lovely, leopard print fedora Writer Hat. When it comes to teaching writing, we are bound by a painful, formulaic Five Step Process: P
Does the formulaic Five Step Process Work? As a writer, I'll answer this a different way: I’ve experienced a difference in the state of mind I have to assume in two types of writing: creative and commercial writing. In literary writing, whether in my poetry, children’s books, or novels, my state of mind is much like experiencing deep house music. Known for its complexities in melodic tunes and use of unrelated chromatic chords underlying most sequences, deep house music is also trance-like and hypnotic. The rhythm of writing feels a lot like a deep house song. Building up layers of rhythm which fades out quickly, then leaving the melody to stand alone for a few seconds only to build up as quickly as it faded. It’s a rush! That’s what that writing process feels like when I'm in my most creative mood.
The images, the metaphors, the rhyme, and the diction are always brought into life from the spontaneous flow of the sentences. No matter how much I plan them ahead, I realize that when it happens, it happens because of that momentar experience. Or it just doesn’t happen. This doesn’t mean I sit and wait for that moment. It just means I have very little control of it, and that there are days when I can work for hours and churn out thousands of words in one day, or work for a mere ten minutes to churn out a weak one hundred words. Many times, I cringe at what I’ve written and delete as much as I can. Voice is important to this process. I have to recognize and feel that voice before I can even begin to turn on my computer. Otherwise, nothing will
The images, metaphors and insights are always born out of the spontaneous flow of the sentences: I can never plan them ahead, or put them in later when I realize that’s where I need an insight. It either happens in the moment or it doesn’t happen at all. That is not to say that I just sit and wait for it to happen. Not! What it means is that I don’t have as much control over a good or a bad day, and that often I’ll work for hours and have to trash most of what I wrote. Also voice is crucial to the process. I have to hear that voice before I can do anything with it, or nothing worth my time will come out. And that’s also tricky, because the voice in my head may change depending on the mood I’m in, what I’ve been reading, and how close I feel to the work in any given moment.
But when I write what I would call a mainstream or commercial piece it’s different. I have to be much more analytical. There’s a lot of planning going on, trying to project the whole thing from beginning to end. It’s much less about the poetry of it, and much more about the story and the moment to moment action of it. I want to clarify: even if I’m writing commercial (whatever that means) I work very hard at making the characters emotionally complex and the narrative intellectually stimulating, but it’s the way that it’s accomplished that’s different. It’s harder in a way, but also easier, because no matter how hard my writing day goes, usually by the end of the day there’s plenty of my work that will be usable at some point. Not so for literary, where it seems more like a good day/bad day either/or proposition with not a whole lot I can do about it.
Ultimately, though, with slight variances, I think the process is what it is: you work hard at it, over and over, and then at some point, if you’re lucky, something will come through. There is a part of it that’s numinous and mysterious, but that is not something I can explain. Everyone who works creatively would know what I’m talking about, I think, because it just comes. If you work at it long enough, it comes.
Where There's A Will. Rex Stout. (Nero Wolfe #8) 1940. Bantam. 258 pages. [Source: Bought]
I always begin Nero Wolfe mysteries wanting to love them. I do love, love, love Archie Goodwin and Nero Wolfe. And I have certainly loved plenty of them in the past. Some more than others, of course. But at the very least, the mysteries generally serve as entertainment or distraction. Where There's A Will is not one of my favorites.
Wolfe and Goodwin are in need of clients, wealthy clients preferably. That isn't exactly unexpected. They almost always are in need of clients according to Goodwin. The book opens with the two meeting a family--dysfunctional family, don't you know?! This high-status family is in mourning. Three sisters (and their lawyers) come to Wolfe upset about their brother's will. Each had been under the assumption that they'd be left a million dollars each. They'd been left nothing, or almost nothing. They were disappointed, perhaps a bit ashamed at how angry they were. But the very fact that their brother's mistress received so very, very much is infuriating. Especially since he was married. The widow is outraged. Will Nero Wolfe go about trying to persuade this mistress woman to share the inheritance? Before that case gets a proper chance to be taken up, there comes a great shock. The brother's death was no accident. Someone murdered him. Now someone else in the family comes to Wolfe and begs him to take the case and solve the murder.
Can Wolfe solve the murder? Will Goodwin reach the same conclusion as Wolfe--in the same amount of time?
Ms. LeGuin wowed the audience at the recent National Book Awards - it's worth your time to watch (click the image to go watch at NPR): CLICK HERE to see PW photos of the night's banquet, including authors with their editors.
When it comes to teaching the writing process, we are bound by a painful, formulaic Five Step Process: Prewriting, Drafting, Revising, and Publishing. Does it work?
"I'm bored because this class is boring."
If you teach the writing process, it is crucial for you to experience it at the very same moment you are actually teaching it. Model the behavior. Impossible? Well of course it is! But you're a teacher, and you do the impossible everyday. So that's nothing new. But this isn't a preachy blog post. It's more of a reflective analysis because I've had too much coffee to ramp up my NaNoWriMo word count, and it's 3 A.M. So now I'm winding down from the high of writing my manuscript with more writing. Anyway, back to the question: Does the five step writing process work? To answer this, I must put away my Teacher Hat and put on my lovely, leopard print fedora Writer Hat.
My Writing Hat is not boring.
As a writer, I'll answer this in a different way: I've experienced a difference in the mindset and mental state I have to assume in two types of writing: creative and journalistic writing. In literary writing, whether it's in my poetry, children's books, or novels, my state of mind is much like experiencing deep house music. Known for its complexities in melodic tunes and use of unrelated chromatic chords underlying most sequences, deep house music is also trance-like and hypnotic. The rhythm of writing feels a lot like a really good deep house song where everyone in the room is dancing without a care in the world. Building up layers of rhythm which fades out quickly, then leaving the melody to stand alone for a few seconds only to build up as quickly as it faded. It's a rush! At the risk of sounding like I'm romanticizing the process, that's what it feels like when I'm in my most creative mood. This month, I've been listening to Everything But the Girl's Driving Remix to get me going with the marathon writing.
"I'm with the DJ, okay?"
The images, metaphors, the rhyme, and the diction are always brought into life from the spontaneous overflow of sentences. No matter how much I plan them ahead, I realize that when it happens, it happens because of that momentary experience. Or it just doesn't happen at all. This doesn't mean that I sit around and wait for that moment, even though much of this month has been about sitting around. It just means I have very little control over it. There are days when I can work for hours and churn out thousands of words in one day, or work for a mere ten minutes painfully slaving away a series of weak words not even worth sentences, but fragments. Many times, I cringe at what I've written and delete as much as I can. Voice is important to the literary writing process. Without that voice, nothing will happen except maybe I'd fall into the rabbit hole of Facebook chatting or worse, the entire Internet and BuzzFeed Quizzes. The voice can be very elusive sometimes because it's schizophrenic. It really just depends on my mood and what I've been reading. I could be reading a YA novel one day, and then an autobiography of a Navy SEAL the next day, so the voice may change according to how close I feel to the work at that moment. But when I write what I would call journalistic writing (which for me is more like PR/marketing, or some other article pieces that get me paid by actual business people who need my skills), the writing process is not like deep house music. Nothing trance-like about this type of writing at all. It's different. I have to be much more methodical. I do a whole lot of planning that looks somewhat like Prewriting (Facebooking and whining), Drafting (sleeping), Revising (writing and simultaneously editing furiously), and Publishing (submitting). The experience isn't about the spontaneity, but I still work very hard at honing my craft. The narrative is still my voice, and I try to make my pieces as intellectually stimulating as possible. The way I've accomplished these pieces are much different from my poetry and stories. I would say that the five step writing process works when you need it to work. It's harder to write in this way, but it's also easier. No matter what mood I'm in that day, the five step process usually guarantees something written and something tangible that can be used at some point. Not so for creative or literary writing. There are no guarantees. Freelance writing jobs are easier to come by when you can work the process. This is what I tell my students to wake them up when I tell them it's time to write: "I've made money from writing essays." (More on that later)
"Why can't I cry money instead of tears?"
Essentially, however, the process is what you make of it. Hone the craft. Repeat. At some point, you can tell your students that they can get lucky that at least an "A" or a perfect score will come through eventually as they practice their expository or narrative essays. There is a part of it that is dreadful and mysterious, but that is not the entire thing. It's not about how hard it is. It's about how much you practice and how much wiser you become. We all need to wise up a bit, so we might as well write. Write with them and believe what you teach about writing like it's the gospel truth because in the end, no matter how painful, it's worth it. Add a Comment
1. Dulled by midlife failures, Homer and Bernice Byrd change their name and become a singing duo. They achieve unexpected fame and fortune, but in the end realize that they were happier when they were nobodies.
2. Each of us is accompanied, from birth to death, by a soul bird that sits on our shoulder, makes sarcastic cracks about us to all the other soul birds, and occasionally takes a crap on our Sunday best. That's about it, really.
3. Often seen as a bad racist joke, the crows from Dumbo have decided to make a comeback, and this time they're out for revenge. Known as the dreaded Soul Birds, this band of buddies will live up to their name as a murder of crows to regain their honor.
4. Okay, they aren't really birds, they're more like butterflies. People use them to send prayers to the gods. It's a pretty cool idea, but lately the system isn't working like it's supposed to, so as usual it's up to one unqualified female to step in and prevent an apocalyptic war.
5. When the dismembered body of former Laker Jeremiah Smitts is discovered in the speakers of his jazz club Soul Birds, homicide detective Zack Martinez knows two things. One, cutting up a body that big had to leave a mess somewhere, and two, he'd better wear his Dwight Howard jersey if he wants them to beat the Trailblazers tomorrow night.
6. When people die, their souls enter the bodies of birds, where they can soar to the heavens. Except for people who've been bad; their souls enter flightless birds, like ostriches and penguins. That's the belief system that has evolved on Earth by the twenty-fourth century. The plot is basically the war between flightless birds and the humans who want to eradicate them.
When Adwen attempts to permeate the home of a waiting girl she is forced away and lands on the sidewalk, momentarily powerless. [For starters, it's not clear whether "she" is Adwen or the waiting girl. By which I mean it's clear you mean Adwen, but "she" should refer to the most recently mentioned female singular entity.] [Also, "waiting girl"? Is that a waitress? Or a lady-in-waiting? Or just a girl who's waiting for something? If the latter, is she waiting for Adwen? If not, what is she waiting for, and if that's irrelevant, why call her a waiting girl?]
Adwen is the Corpreal of physical love and fertility. [The what? I, like Google, assume you misspelled "corporeal." If you made up the word, I recommend not using it in the query. Even if it's inaccurate, use "embodiment" or "goddess" or capitalize a known word like Minister, Custodian, Big Enchilada.] It is her duty to enter the rooms and fantasies of Thea's youth to awaken their sexual desires. [Ah, to have lived in a land where, as a teenage boy, I could look forward to the night Adwen permeated my house and awakened my sexual desires. One question: is she more like Betty or Veronica?] The God of All Things made it so when first man looked at first woman with lust in his eyes and first woman responded with a blush and a smile [and a can of mace].
Confused and scared she rushes to the home of her keeper, Brula, a woman whose magical knowledge is centuries old. [Her keeper? Wait, is this place a zoo?]
Brula discovered a force that can compete with the God of All Things and someone is selling it to the humans. Brula thinks this new power is coming from The Fringe and Adwen should investigate. [Since when do Corpreals investigate anything? That's like if a powerful force were disrupting life as we know it on Earth, and we assigned the investigation to Kim Kardashian. Why doesn't the God of All Things send in a diplomat or a SEAL team or just make The Fringe evaporate? ]
The Fringe is a desolate place, devoid of magic. [Think Manitoba.] The people live there to escape the rule of the God of All Things and they don't welcome intruders, especially divine ones. Adwen's magic won't work and she won't be able to protect herself from their wrath. [So she has magical powers besides that of awakening sexual desires in youth?]
If Adwen chooses to go, she will be stripped of her powers but if she chooses not to, a war between humans and gods could erupt. [Are you declaring that if she chooses to go, the war won't erupt? Why is war any less likely to erupt if a powerless, unwelcome Corpreal enters The Fringe?] The God of All Things won't turn a blind eye to other forms of magic for long.
SOUL BIRDS is 80,000 words and is my first novel to see more then just the hard drive on my old laptop. [This one has seen the hard drive on my new laptop.] Thank you for your time and consideration.
[Note from author to EE: The title comes from butterfly like creatures the gods and goddesses of Thea use to send messages to one another. When they land on someone the person is filled with a vision of the messenger. The soul birds are also used by humans to send prayers to the gods.]
Is this Fringe the same place as on the TV show, The Fringe?
Why would anyone suspect that the power great enough to compete with the God of All Things is coming from Manitoba?
What is Thea? A planet? Heaven? A place on Earth? These humans buying the powerful force: are they from Earth?
You spend so much time explaining what stuff like Corpreals and The Fringe are, there's not enough room to tell the story.
Your setup seems to be: When humans acquire power that can compete with the God of All Things, war seems inevitable. It's up to Adwen, the goddess of fertility, to find out how the humans are getting their power, and to prevent the war. But to do so, she'll have to enter the bleakest place on the planet, Manitoba, where no fertility goddess has ever been welcome. That leaves plenty of room to tell us what she discovers in Manitoba and what she plans to do about it, and who wants to stop her.
BuffySquirrel said...So both girls and boys have their sexual desires awoken by a female embodiment of desire? And that seems reasonable to you?
Evil Editor said... It seems both reasonable and preferable to me.
TwiggyBUMPkins said...It almost seems to me like you are trying to write an excerpt (or several) from your book and cram as much information about the world as you can into it in the process. A query is not an excerpt, it is a description of the basics of the plot. The world itself is not necessarily important, though it does need to be clear whether this takes place in a fantasy land, on earth, or in the past/future. What a query needs to have is the plot laid out simply and in a way that makes the reader want to read more.
AlaskaRavenclaw said...In the penultimate sentence you want "than", not "then", but really you don't want that detail at all. Leave out anything not to your advantage.
The first sentence seems detached from the rest of the story and just adds to the confusion. And I'm feeling quite a bit of confusion. It wasn't till the third read-through that I realized Thea was a place, not a person. And is the God of All Things just plain God?
You're spending most of your time in this query trying to explain the rules of your world to us. I'd give that a sentence at most --if it can't be explained in a sentence leave it out-- and focus instead on your protagonist, what she wants to accomplish, and what obstacle prevents her from accomplishing it.
Kelsey said...As someone from Manitoba, touche! Just remember, we claim Neil Young.
khazar-khum said...Your author's note to EE sounds fascinating, a story I'd like to read. The confusing series of actions presented as a query are nowhere near as intriguing as that little blurb.
Jo Antareau said...The embodiment of desire sounds like she would have a pretty full diary, and possibly grateful for stumbling across one person whom she could not permeate. And I'm not quite sure what permeate means..
Start over. Read the query aloud. A few times.
BTW, all the GTPs featuring Zack Martinez make me smile. Does anybody have plans to give this guy his own book or series?
Evil Editor said...Some of the better Zack Martinez GTPs were collected in a post here: http://evileditor.blogspot.com/2009/08/zack-martinez-chronicles.html.
For longer Zack Martinez material, find your way in the archives to August 23, 2009 for 11 ZM stories, the result of a writing exercise.
Let me say one thing straight out: My picture book, GHOST IN THE HOUSE, is very close to my heart. Of my published picture books, it’s the one that’s gotten the most visibility so far, including a fabulous review in the New York Times, several “Best of the Year” roundups, and a pickup by the Scholastic Clubs and Fairs. Needless to say, these small joys absolutely thrilled me.
But also? I have to be honest: They surprised me a little. Those of you who have heard me speak about GHOST IN THE HOUSE will have heard how it came about: Following the rejection of another Halloween manuscript, an editor asked if I “had any other spooky rhyming picture books.” At that moment, I did not. Several weeks, much brainstorming, and a torrent of writing later, I did.
Don’t get me wrong. I worked hard on GHOST IN THE HOUSE. But compared to many of my picture book texts, over which I toiled ad infinitum, this text came relatively easy. The end result also felt, well, simple. It was a sweet, zippy rhyming story. Short and to the point. Fun characters, neat twist. But when lined up against my other laboriously crafted stories—and, in particular, the one it had originally supplanted—it felt uncomfortably ordinary.
Still, someone wanted to publish my picture book! Joy!
In the months following publication, I gained more respect for my modest little manuscript. But it took one final thing to bring me fully around. And that was this: One day I received an email from my editor at Candlewick, asking what I would think about writing a companion book. It might, she suggested, be called ELF IN THE HOUSE.
Well! Ask no further—I was on it. GHOST was just a simple, puny little story, right? I could crank out another one of those in a flash. No worries!
Instead? I hit the blank page. Hard.
Frustrated at my false starts, I sat down and listed the elements that made up GHOST IN THE HOUSE, so I could attempt to replicate them (in a perfectly organic, all-new-and-fresh way, with a Christmas spin) in the sequel. Here’s what I needed:
a reason for the creatures to accumulate
tension—what’s keeping the reader turning the pages?
perfect fit to the rhyming scheme
satisfying, feel-good ending
Let’s just say (if that list wasn’t clear enough), that this exercise made me look at GHOST in a whole new light. Short? Yes. Simple-easy-basic-ordinary? Not so much.
Astute readers will likely have seen this coming, but ELF IN THE HOUSE did not come in a flash. More than once I doubted if I could pull it off at all. It took writing, and rewriting, and re-rewriting. Forget inspiration: This was deliberate, backbreaking effort: Lists and brainstorming and trial-and-error and throw-it-all-out-and-start-over. Time after time after time. I’d almost have it… but not quite. This angle might work… only not.
It did not come easy. Not even close.
But finally, in the end, it did come. And great was my delight when my editor received my final manuscript, and made a publication offer. (Woohoo!)
Once ELF IN THE HOUSE is published, I imagine most readers won’t see much difference in tone between the two stories. From the outside, it’s likely that they’ll both appear effortless and breezy. But what this experience crystalized for me was that stories can be born in all sorts of ways. Some arrive on the magical wings of inspiration, landing lightly on your shoulder and seeping onto the screen with the greatest of ease. Others bare their bloody fangs and force you to wrestle them into submission.
One method, one origin, one final story is not necessarily greater than any other. We are authors: we take what we can get, and we make it our own. It’s the making—however long or short, easy or gut-hard—that brings the magic.
Ammi-Joan Paquette is an author and a literary agent with Erin Murphy Literary Agency. She’s a mother, friend, reader, traveler, food-lover, chocolate connoisseur. She is not especially tidy, a fan of mushy vegetables, or good at coming up with spur-of-the-moment self-portraits.