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1. Let’s talk about Caldecott: This One Summer

TOSLet’s talk about This One Summer. I know many of you have already talked about it, and I’m sure some of those conversations have been very interesting. As a member of the 2015 Caldecott Committee that chose This One Summer by Mariko & Jillian Tamaki as an honor book, I’ll try to clear up some points that have lead to questions.  According to the Caldecott definitions, “’A picture book for children’ is one for which children are the intended potential audience. “Children are defined as persons of ages up to and including fourteen and picture books for this entire age range are considered.” (Caldecott Manual, page 10) The Expanded Definitions also says, on page 69, “In some instances, award-winning books have been criticized for exceeding the upper age limit of fourteen. If a book is challenging, and suitable for 13-14 year-olds, but not for younger readers, is it eligible? Yes…” Yes, this book is for older readers. Here’s an interesting look at that question in Travis Jonker’s interview with the Tamakis.

This One Summer is a coming-of-age story about a girl entering adolescence and both appeals to and is appropriate for young readers age 12-14. Twelve, thirteen and fourteen year-olds fall well within the scope of audience for the Caldecott Medal and Honor books. Although this book is challenging in many ways, the committee found it to be “so distinguished, in so many ways, that it deserves recognition” as well as “exceptionally fine, for the narrow part of the range to which it appeals, even though it may be eligible for other awards outside this range.” (page 69 – Caldecott Manual). There are many people who do not realize that the Caldecott terms include books for older readers. I see this as an opportunity for us, as ALSC members and librarians, to deepen understanding of the award.

Committee member Tali Balas add sticker to the book. Photo by Angela Reynolds

Committee member Tali Balas add sticker to the book. Photo by Angela Reynolds

According to The Caldecott Manual, a “picture book for children” as distinguished from other books with illustrations, is one that essentially provides the child with a visual experience. A picture book has a “collective unity of storyline, theme, or concept, developed through the series of pictures of which this book is comprised.” (page 10) The committee followed this definition closely, and This One Summer shows, through pictures, a collective unity of all three, with particular strength in storyline and theme. Graphic novels certainly provide us with a visual experience. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has a great article on using This One Summer in a classroom, which you can read here, and a “make your case” article for adding it to your collection here. And for those of you who are graphic novel fans, don’t miss this podcast with Mariko Tamaki. I love how she talks about the images being like paragraphs.

The Caldecott Committee, as directed by the manual, considered each eligible book as a picture book and made our decisions based primarily on illustration. The committee gave This One Summer an honor because of its excellence of pictorial presentation for children, as defined in the manual. If you haven’t seen it, take a look at the amazing use of just one color. Jillian Tamaki creates mood so vividly with her washes of indigo, deepening the shade when the plot gets darker. The story has much to do with water; the monochromatic blues remind us just how changeable a lake (and an adolescent girl) can be. The images in the book intertwine and play with the words, creating an authentic summer experience. I just love the image on pages 70-71 where Windy is dancing around the kitchen. It shows her personality, and Rose’s, perfectly:  setting up the tension of youthful energy and quiet contemplation. There are many images throughout the book that give us this deeper insight. Go looking for them. They will astound you.
*Special thanks to fellow committee member Sharon McKeller for help with this article.

The post Let’s talk about Caldecott: This One Summer appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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2. Listening to "Layla"

Seven decades old today
And years away from Cream,
Eric Clapton, on guitar,
Will always reign supreme.

Listening to “Layla,”
I’m amazed it sounds so fresh,
Like the man himself were standing here
Before me, in the flesh.

A rocker keeps on rocking
Often to the crowd’s lament
But in Clapton’s case, quite clearly,
Time has barely made a dent!

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3. Really, I Shouldn't Be Thinking This Much

I have probably mentioned before that I have an interest in books with some kind of weight-related angle. One branch of my family has been...big...for three generations, probably more. While I've only been borderline heavy at times, myself (though I still have time), I've seen what this issue can do to a lot of people. It's something I think about a lot. If my response to Big Fat Manifesto by Susan Vaught a few years ago is any indication, I over think about it.

All the time I was reading 45 Pounds (More or Less) by K.A. Barson, I was over thinking like mad.

One of the things I was over thinking about was how difficult it must be to write a book about being overweight. I definitely accept the value of the material. But can you write about the experience of being overweight without writing an issue/problem book? How can you write about being overweight without that situation being a problem? On the most superficial level, to do that the writer would have to find a way to overcome social attitudes toward the overweight in the world she creates, forget about the practical considerations Anne in 45 Pounds deals with or the health considerations my family members have dealt with. It's hard to see how this can go any other way than a problem story.

So 45 Pounds falls into the problem novel category, covering a multitude of reasons for people finding themselves a size 17, as main character Anne does. She really is hammered with far more reasons to comfort and impulse eat than anyone needs. She's very good at recognizing them. Though that probably makes sense because she's been studying weight loss for a big part of her sixteen years. Anne's big turn around comes from her desire to help someone else, not herself. That's something I could over think about with little effort. Is it better to improve yourself for yourself or for someone else? What does it all mean?

45 Pounds is definitely readable. Far more readable, in fact, than my angsting over the weight issue would lead my readers to believe. After I finished the book and while I was working on this blog post, I happened to read an article by Susan Dunne about artist Nathan Lewis. At the very end, he says, "That's the way we learn stories, through fragments. The narrative happens in our own mind." It immediately made me think of 45 Pounds, though not because its story is fragmented. Not at all. It's all there. But readers like myself, who feel they have a connection to that story, can get trapped in a narrative in our own minds.
 

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4. Stoker's writing of Dracula, and an annotator's twist

Modern Vampire
The classic story of Dracula, by Bram Stoker, originally published in 1887, has had a long, and continuing run with readers of fiction--or was it even fiction?  In the 2008 special edition by W. W. Norton, with an introduction by Neil Gaiman, and annotated by Leslie S. Klinger, we read in the preface by Klinger:
My principal aim...has been to restore a sense of wonder, excitement, and sheer fun to this great work.  To that end, perhaps for the first time, I examine Stoker's published compilation of letters, journals, and recordings as Stoker wished: I employ a gentle fiction here, as I did in The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes, that the events described in Dracula "really took place" and that the work presents the recollections of real persons, whom Stoker has renamed and whose papers (termed the "Harker Papers" in my notes) he has recast, ostensibly to conceal their identities.
As Stoker wished.  What did that entire sentence above actually mean?

I have been reading this book as the Feb - April quarterly selection of a Goodreads-Ireland discussion group.   I saw the Bela Lugosi movie many years ago, and have been more than a little surprised by the popular interest in all things 'vampire' over the past decade--Anne Rice's books, TV series like "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," lots of YA novels, etc.  However, I had not previously been drawn to read anything in the genre.  Once I decided to read this volume, I just glossed over the preface and introduction and waded into Stoker's originally published manuscript.  I liked the writing and the story quite well, and at first I mostly ignored the numerous annotations made by Klinger on almost every page.  The story flowed well and was quite mysterious.  However, as the plot unfolded through the Transylvania region, I began referring to the annotations, many of them quite informative, but kept noticing earnest arguments for and against the veracity of certain events and geography.  It began to seem like Klinger was taking care to point out things that did not match some real, but little known history of the vampire, Dracula.  

As the story progresses, and Dracula makes his way to England, his depredations become more ghoulish.  Klinger's notes begin to compare the attacks of the vampire, and the countering strategies employed by the four men and one woman opposing Dracula, contrasted with previously known folklore, or testaments as to the powers and habits of vampires. The reader begins to be seduced into believing there might be a quasi-historical foundation for vampirism.  However, the 'fictional dream' state necessary to sustain good fiction suffers somewhat whenever the reader's attention is drawn from the flow and suspense of the storyline to check on what Klinger has to say about events.  Sometimes what he has to say has a strong rational skepticism--like when Professor Van Helsing makes on-the-spot transfusions of blood to one of Dracula's victims on three separate mornings, using different volunteer donors each time from among the men.  Klinger remarks how fortunate that these transfusions were all successful:

Truly remarkable doctoring.  Although the science of blood transfusing was still in its infancy, there was some understanding that compatibility of donor and recipient was important.  Having transfused Lucy twice successfully (by blind luck), Van Helsing rolls the dice a third time, risking serious problems, rather than fall back on a tested donor.
 Klinger's point seems valid, but it seems unlikely that the "blind luck" aspect would otherwise have jumped out at the reader enough to disrupt a continuity of the 'fictional dream'.  Other critical annotations might question distances traveled in elapsed time periods, conflicting dates of diary entries, etc., unethical legal behavior of the solicitor, Jonathan Harker, credulousness of Professor Van Helsing, criticisms of Helsing's dialect (I disliked it, too) etc.  However, many such items were not likely to cause the reader too much difficulty in staying with the story. There were only a few items pointing out an inconsistency in the powers available to the vampire which might have given me some pause even without the annotation.

I liked the overall story line and wished I'd read it through completely before looking at any annotations.  However, once I had discovered the annotations referring repeatedly to differences or agreements with the "Harker Papers," which I'd been alerted to in Klinger's preface before starting the story, I felt I needed to stay aware of how they fit into the scheme of things.  At the end, however, I realized the "Harker Papers" were a fictional construct of Klinger.  He wanted to suggest that the events of Dracula really took place, and that this was "as Stoker wished."

The actual documentation left by Stoker for his conceptualization and writing of the Dracula novel are a collection of Notes, prepared circa 1890-1896, and held by the Rosenbach Museum and Library in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and an interim manuscript prepared sometime prior to the published version of 1897.  The interim manuscript is currently held by a private owner, Mr. Paul G. Allen.  Klinger had reviewed all of these documents for the annotated volume published by Norton.  It appears the "Harker Papers" are only a terminology used by him for interviews we are to presume were made by Stoker with real people, and who were involved in real events described in Dracula.  Klinger suggests that the existing Notes were subsequently prepared from those interviews, after changing names to protect identities of the real people.  An original set of "Harker Papers" predating Stoker's Notes are thus Klinger's "gentle fiction."

The idea of the interviews suggested by Klinger are not so far-fetched, however. The creative process followed by Bram Stoker employs typical elements that some, if not most, writers might consider in developing such a novel.  The concept is the usual first step, followed perhaps by an outline. Not all writers will employ the outline, preferring to give the first draft free rein without any such constraint. However, before starting a first draft, some writers will conduct a written interview, as if it actually happened, with one or more of their main characters.  Such a process can help a writer find a unique 'voice' and personality for a character, and how they might be disposed to act, given the tensions anticipated in playing out the concept of the story.  Thus, the idea proposed by Klinger that a collection of interviews of real people by Stoker actually fits as a conceivable step in the writing of Dracula.

It is recommended to read the story through at least once without reference to the annotations, to enjoy the full mystery and atmosphere of a compelling story, and then enjoy reading it again with reference to the annotations by Klinger.  Many are rich in content, others perhaps a little carping, but writers will appreciate both Stoker's, and Klinger's, feats of imagination; first in the creation, and secondly in heightening, the mystery of Dracula.

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5. He Eats Teacups


My Favorite Animal 

by Fabian Luna (826 Student) 

What is your favorite animal called? 

Big Paul. 


Describe your favorite animal? What does it look like?
It is round. Its tail is swirly and twirls. Chubby, funny. Its skin color is pink. 

How does your favorite animal act?  What does it do that makes it so cool?  
Strange, wild.  He eats tea cups and bubble gum and he likes talking a lot.  Likes to sing and plays piano.  He likes to jump high walls. 

Tells us a story! In this story, you bring your favorite animal to 826LA. Describe the day!
One day I brought my Big to 826LA. He was really shy at the first time but then he jumped up and landed on the store and he made a big mess up on the front and I had to clean up.

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6. You Never Know Who Is Watching at a Writers’ Conference

by Sally Matheny

You Never Know Who Is Watching
Even though writers' conferences can be physically exhausting, I still feel revived after participating in this year’s Write2ignite Conference. Not only through the reinforcing of my writing skills, but also through the refreshing of my spirit.

If you didn’t attend the 2015 Write2Ignite Conference, allow me to share with you a glimpse of some blessings I witnessed. I’m sure there were additional blessings, because you never know who is watching at a writers’ conference.


Here’s my short list:

I witnessed an outstanding director, Jean Hall, who has the amazing gift of staying calm under all circumstances, and keeps things running smoothly. Her faith in God to bring it all together is always apparent. And she also carries a handy-dandy, tiny pair of scissors on her key chain. I’m looking for a miniature roll of duct tape so she’ll have the perfect combo set.

A super, helpful young man named Dylan came to help the team set up for the conference. Dylan maintained a quiet presence during the entire conference and was always there to help whenever called upon. He also had excellent skills for noticing items people misplaced.

I had the pleasure of transporting author, Tim Shoemaker, back and forth to the conference each day. I appreciated his helpful words as I shared with him about my pre-speaking jitters. In addition, he was kind and understanding when I missed our turn-off and when I kept juggling and dropping things once we arrived!

I knew, without a doubt, my family was praying for me back at home. Several friends mentioned they were praying for me. But what a blessing it was to have Kim Peterson and Jenny Cote individually pull me aside and whisper a prayer over me before I spoke. God heard all our prayers and his amazing grace calmed me just before I stepped behind the podium. Thank you, Lord.

I noticed smiling teens enthusiastic about writing. One teen in particular I heard go up to Tim Shoemaker and thank him for speaking. She said she didn’t write for boys but his talk about the topic helped her have a better understanding of her brother!

Tim Shoemaker talks with a teen.

I observed numerous authors and editors taking time to chat with teens and adults outside of the classrooms. Award-winning author of six books, Jenny Cote paused to offer a word of praise to those selling their first published book. Those encouraging words go a long way.

Watching members of the leadership team do their jobs with enthusiasm is always a blessing. It’s like a joyful family reunion whenever we get together and we all love the mission of Write2Ignite. 

During Praise and Worship time, I loved watching Donna Earnhardt take heed of the Holy Spirit prompting her to call on someone to give a testimony. What a tremendous blessing to hear a young teen girl, without prior notice, volunteer. She eagerly shared a vivid description of when the woman with the alabaster box poured perfume on Jesus’ feet. If that wasn't enough, Donna, who had been wiping her tears as she listened to the girl speak, then stepped up to show the audience the song lyrics that were already cued up for the next song, “The Alabaster Box.” How awesome was that?

Later, another woman shared her testimony of how God spared her life in a horrific accident, providing her a second chance to accept His love and eternal salvation. She reminded us of the importance of seizing those opportunities today, not to wait. Even though this woman still experiences tremendous physical pain every day, she is using her written and spoken words to point others in the direction of her Savior.

I watched people volunteer to help others all weekend—with an umbrella, a ride to lunch, and a seat in the auditorium. Smiles, prayers, and encouraging words weaved throughout the crowd.

Even the homeschool mom, who volunteered to help with the snacks in the Green Room, continually checked to make sure everyone had what they needed. She kept asking if the coffee was fresh enough. She cared about those she served and gave full attention to every detail. What a blessing.


There were numerous others who volunteered their time and talents to the conference, some of whose names I do not know. But one was Helen Weigt who designed our resource book and then served at the front desk during the conference. Her talent and friendly smile blessed us all.

I saw God’s blessings overflow this weekend. I can’t help but wonder what others perceived. Surely, in the crowd on campus, there was someone who was struggling with a life issue, someone who was lonely, or someone who is not in a close relationship with Jesus Christ. I hope they saw a glimpse of what I saw.

If you did attend the Write2Ignite Conference this year, what blessings did you see?











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7. The Queen's Caprice review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Jean Echenoz's The Queen's Caprice, forthcoming from The New Press.

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8. My Essay in Best American Travel Writing 2015

Holy Land

I just learned that my Lives essay, “A Doubter in the Holy Land,” will be included in Best American Travel Writing 2015. The guest editor is Andrew McCarthy. Thank you for choosing my essay, Andrew McCarthy!

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9. 30 Days, a Few Stories

The annual April ritual, 30 Days, 30 Stories is in on the verge of disaster. Very few writers have taken up the call to contribute a story. 

The annual event, hosted by this blog, is a chance to let the local talent shine. Talent can not shine in the dark, however, and must be brought to the light.

If you were considering sharing, please email me at brueluck@ymail.com to set up a day. Again, writers are encouraged to share their talent. It does not have to be a children’s story nor must it be fiction. Most any genre is encouraged: poetry, prose, memoir, or cartoon. Illustrators can share their work, too.


Utah is blessed with some brilliant writers and April is the month to show it.

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10. We All Looked Up

What would change if you knew an asteroid was going to hit the earth in six weeks? Wallach takes this premise and crafts it into an addictively readable and thought-provoking work that challenges you to really think about what matters to you. Love, high school, and possibly the end of the world: this is going [...]

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11. Social Media Etiquette

What not to do when using social media.


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12. Artist of the Day: Devin Flynn

Discover the work of Devin Flynn, Cartoon Brew's Artist of the Day!

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13. Such a Little Mouse

He's such a little mouse — what could he possibly see? The whole wide world, that's what. With big sweeps of soft color and spare, poetic words, Such a Little Mouse takes us on a sweet journey as our tiny hero gets ready for the winter. Books mentioned in this post

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14. April Fools' Day Trivia Quiz

question marksApril Fools’ Day Trivia Quiz

There’s one day in the year when you can’t get in trouble for playing pranks on people. April Fools’ Day! Who can resist getting a glass of “moldy” milk or a gummy worm in your apple?

Are you prepared for April Fools’ Day? To get you in the mood, take a jab at our April Fools’ Day Trivia Quiz. You might get some good ideas!

  1. What date is April Fools’ Day?
  2. According to one belief, April Fools’ Day is said to have started in which country? (Hint: Eiffel Tower)
  3. In 1998, which restaurant published a fake advertisement for a hamburger for left-handed people? (McDonald’s or Burger King)
  4. Back in 2011, which celebrity teen heartthrob singer pretended to let talk show host Jimmy Kimmel shave off his hair?
  5. TRUE or APRIL FOOL: In 2005, NASA posted on their website that water had been found on Mars. Was water really found on Mars?
  6. What would YOU rather do: put Vaseline on your parents’ toilet seat OR a mustache tattoo on your sister while she’s sleeping?
  7. TRUE or APRIL FOOL: In 1957, Swiss farmers enjoyed a surprise “spaghetti crop” when spaghetti grew on trees.

If you refuse to be fooled, let us know your answers in the Comments below! Then check back on April Fools’ Day for the answers.

-Ratha, STACKS Writer

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15. The Arrow/Flash Spin-off finds a Hawkgirl

ciara-renee

The still yet to be titled spin-off of The Flash and Arrow that will presumably air sometime next year on The CW continues to add to its cast, this time establishing a new character as Broadway star Ciara Renée will take on the role of Kendra Saunders/Hawkgirl.

Here’s how Deadline, who broke the news, describes this version of the character:

In the new series, Saunders is a young woman who is just beginning to learn that she has been repeatedly reincarnated over the centuries. When provoked, her ancient warrior persona manifests itself, along with wings that grow out of her back, earning her the moniker Hawkgirl.

The superhero team-up show, produced by Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg, and Marc Guggenheim has already brought on Brandon Routh, Caity Lotz, Victor Garber, Wentworth Miller, and Dominic Purcell to play their various members of the DC Universe for the series, and it’s expected that more are to join soon, including three characters that have yet to appear on television (which Deadline surmises that Hawkgirl is not one of those reported three).

Hawkgirl hasn’t gotten a lot of attention in the live action side of things, having only briefly appeared on Smallville, but the character was a standout in the DC Animated Universe having been wonderfully played by Maria Canals-Barrera in Justice League and Justice League Unlimited.

Bringing on another female superhero, including one that is a person of color, is a terrific move and my excitement for this new series continues to grow.

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16. Miles Franklin Award longlist

       They've announced the longlist for the 2015 Miles Franklin Literary Award, one of the leading Australian book prizes. It includes Elizabeth Harrower's long unpublished In Certain Circles (which I hope to be getting to soon).
       See also, for example, Stephen Romei's report in The Australian.

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17. Time is a concept I do not understand

Just as I am thinking, whew, I can relax a bit and have some meandering reads, the book gods decided to have a big belly laugh. It is now my turn for Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast and The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber. I’ve been looking forward to these for some time and I started the Chast last night and it’s so good.

These of course arrive at the same time I have gotten a review copy of The Architect’s Apprentice by Elif Shafak. I’ve not read Shafak before and I am really looking forward to it. It takes place in the Ottoman Empire starting around 1540 and centers around architecture, jealousy and rivalry.

And because that’s not enough, I’m expecting another review copy in the mail of a book called The Last Bookaneer by Matthew Pearl. Nineteenth century book pirates! Yes, you read that right. They are out to steal Robert Louis Stevenson’s last manuscript. It sounds completely silly but I’m hoping for a good, fun adventure kind of novel. Fingers crossed!

These four books in addition to all the other books that are lined up or already on the go. I am quite probably demented. Also, I am fairly certain that I have no concept of time when it comes to books and how much time is available during my day for me to spend reading.

And then today I found out about a project at the Biodiversity Heritage Library where they are asking people to help transcribe old seed and nursery catalogs. Of course I want in on that!

Since I work at a Catholic University I will be having a four-day Easter holiday weekend. The weather on Friday and Saturday is forecast to be not so very pleasant which means I will have plenty of time to indulge in reading and catalog transcribing. But since I already know I have no concept of time, I no doubt am thinking there will be so much more of it available than there really will be. I wonder if the scientists at the Large Hadron Collider really do make contact with a parallel universe that might mean I can find another me and we can get together and divide and conquer. That’s divide and conquer the reading, though being in charge of a universe or two could be fun. Nah, it would cut into my reading time.


Filed under: Books Tagged: the nature of time

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18. Gone Reading Prize Pack Giveaway!

Gone Reading Prize Pack Giveaway "Banned Books" Coffee Mug from GoneReading.com "Paperback" Body Lotion from GoneReading.com A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab Fall With Me by Jennifer L. Armentrout (release date: March 31, 2015) Hello to all you faithful readers and supporters of Reading Teen. You know we love you all and the support you show for the blog is very

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19. Classroom Slice of Life Story Challenge: Day 31 of 31!!

It's been a wonderful month of reading and writing. We hope that you're inspired to keep on writing. You are all invited to join us every Tuesday for our Slice of Life Story Challenge throughout the year. And, of course, we hope to see you all next year!

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20. Writing in ... Zambia

       In the Times of Zambia Davies M.M. Chanda complains that Zambian Literary Works Below Par.
       Yes, because you probably hadn't noticed:

I am hereby announcing the bad news that Zambia is shamefully entering the other half of the century without producing a Ngugi or Achebe.
       (That's the other half of the century of Zambian independence Chanda is referring to .....)
       Not terribly encouraging -- but not particularly helpful either, I fear. But, hey, at least they aren't yammering about not having won the Nobel yet ..... Read the rest of this post

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21. When the Travel Bug Bites

IMGI was tearing up a Zambian highway on my white Honda “Dream” when it hit me.

I thought it was mud.

A convoy of trucks thundering past in the opposite direction was kicking up debris. Even after the last tanker had passed, the flak was stinging my hands and face.

What the hell—that mud?—bees! I was plastered in bees.

I’m telling you this story because I love the road and the dire straits into which a journey often leads. If you’re like me you love to hop aboard a good road story and be taken for a ride.

Bees! I was riding headlong into a swarm. They were inside my shirt. They were up my nose and in my ears and stinging my skull. How could they be biting my skill? I was wearing a helmet. I yanked the clasp and jettisoned the thing before I came to a stop.

Where they came from, I have no idea, but I was immediately surrounded by children.

They didn’t ask permission to debug me, just began pulling them out of my hair, out of my ears. They pulled one off my eye, which was swelling. These kids swatted bees off my back and off my thighs. They were inside my khaki shorts, for god’s sake. They were inside my mouth. My lips were swelling. I had to do something, and quickly.

Africans have a saying: If the snake bites you within sight of your village rooftops, you will die. The victim dashes home, I guess, pumping the venom to the heart. You get bitten far from home, however, and you have nowhere to run. You will stay put and do the right thing.

Though my heart was racing, I could feasibly ride the motorcycle without making things worse. I thanked the kids and sped back toward the city. At home I slathered calamine lotion over the worst swelling before lying on my bed. Calm down, I told myself, just breathe. I felt no panic, no sense of tragedy at the prospect of dying. No regrets.

Luangwa 2Here I was in Africa living a dream. I worked the rivers, measured their flow when hippos would allow it. For two years I crisscrossed that high dry plateau by Land Rover, camping out most nights lulled to sleep by the sounds of deep nature on the prowl. I earned my pilot’s licence flying a Cessna 172, shot my 8 mm movies, and rode that Honda almost to death. I was 22 years old.

I lay as still as death. Is this what the Sufis advocate—to die before you die?

I’ve been lucky for the “still as death” moments that life has forced upon me. I’ve learned how to cultivate such moments but back then I was dependent upon bad luck to trip me up and pin me down. I hope you know what I’m talking about.

We normally operate from a sense of being a physical-emotional-thinking entity. That’s us, the subject of our everyday lives. Then we’re brought suddenly and against our will to a full stop and an amazing thing happens. I’m lying there fully aware of “myself” in all its physical-emotional-thinking-ness. But if I can see it, then what is this subjectivity that’s aware of it?

Who am “I,” really?

The question creates a vast space in which time seems not to exist, but the clock on the wall showed that an hour had passed while my condition had not worsened, so I checked my physical self in the mirror. I would be okay. I remember starting to laugh.

I’m telling you this story because I have a vault full of road stories that might add up to a travel book one day. I was mentioning this publishing possibility to an old friend and without hesitation he instructed me to begin with the bees. It’s a short story which not only doesn’t get very far but then I hurry home. What kind of travel story is that?

Long or short, the key to a good road story is that it distances the protagonist from who he or she mistakenly thinks they are. That would be the point of a story, wouldn’t it? We leave home in the hope that we might reach closer to who we really are.

I recently riffed on “road stories” for Patrick Ross over on his The Artist’s Road website. “Road Stories—Why We Like to Be Taken for a Ride.” Check it out.

And let me know in the comments below if you’re the kind of reader who is willing to be taken for a ride. I promise you that my next story will take us miles beyond sight of our village rooftops.

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



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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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23. And now the Arrow/Flash Spin-Off adds a Doctor Who alum as Rip Hunter

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We barely had an hour for the just previously announced Hawkgirl casting news to settle in before another superhero has been lined up for the Arrow/Flash superhero team-up spin-off.

Arthur Darvill, known best to some segments of fandom as playing Rory Williams on Doctor Who, has signed on to play Rip Hunter on the new show.

The Wrap, who exclusively reported the news, briefly described Hunter:

The former Doctor’s Companion will play DC comic book character Rip Hunter, a roguish time traveler who hides the strains of being responsible for history itself behind a facade of charm and wit.

The character, created in 1959 by Jack Miller and Ruben Moreira for Showcase, is probably best known for starring in his own series, Time Masters, being a part of the Linear Men just prior to Zero Hour and playing a major role in 52, The Return of Bruce Wayne, and the Geoff Johns’ written Booster Gold series.

The British-born Darvill is a fascinating choice for the role, but given that he was one of the highlights of the recent Doctor Who seasons and a standout on Broadchurch, this may be another casting masterstroke.

The irony of Darvill playing a time-traveler is not lost on me.

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24. Day 31 of the March SOLSC! #SOL15

Congratulations, writers! You completed the 8th Annual Slice of Life Story Challenge! Check back tomorrow for a chance to sign the Participant Pledge.

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25. The Triumph of Seeds

With playful and elegant prose, conservation biologist Hanson takes on something so small but so powerful: the mighty seed. What begins as an exasperated attempt to break open a seemingly impenetrable seed shell leads to an in-depth exploration of the origins, functions, and human exploitations of these incredible little vessels of life. Books mentioned in [...]

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