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As a new English department chair, I’ve already been faced with decisions about book orders. Our high school opened in 2007, but our middle school just opened with a sixth grade class last year. This means it was time for us to create a seventh grade curriculum.
I believe in leadership through structured freedom, so I decided that I would create a list of texts and let the seventh grade English teacher select the books she wanted to use for her class. My instinct, like usual, was to turn to Google. I searched terms such as “books all middle schoolers should read,” “classic literature for middle school,” and “best seventh grade texts.” I scoured random syllabi and reading lists from all over the country.
Though there was variation, by and large the books I kept coming across could be considered part of the literary canon. You could probably guess several of them, and chances are you read many of them if you attended middle school in this country over the last century.
I know I have a habit of blogging about old questions, but here I am with another: how important is it that our students read canonical works?
Do our West Philly middle and high schoolers really need to study Red Badge of Courage or Call of the Wild? Why not The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang, or Copper Sun by Sharon Draper?
I’m not saying that the newer texts are better. Some are. Some aren’t. However, I do think that many of us—especially those of us in the position to put books in front of kids—need to question our unquestioning allegiance to the “classics.”
I suppose there are two arguments in their defense: 1. These books represent the very best writing in the English language; 2. Students will gain cultural capital from familiarity with these stories.
Yet, neither of these sway me.
I think it’s more accurate to say the canonical works used to represent some the best writing, but times change. Great books are published every year, whether or not they end up on some school’s curriculum or a bestseller list.
As for the cultural capital argument, that seems to me just a straight fallacy. The true value of a book comes not from the power to impress others but from whatever that book impresses upon its reader.
So instead of automatically turning to the canon because of faulty assumptions, let’s trust ourselves to find stories that will speak to our children.
The post Blasting the canon appeared first on The Horn Book.
Lisa here to introduce another amazing agent. But before I do I have some great news to share!
I'm thrilled to announce that I not only have an amazing new agent, Melissa Nasson of RPC,
but also a multi-book publishing deal with Samantha Streger at Full Fathom Five Digital
. And since we have even MORE good news coming up, and we LOVE to share with you, we will be having a contest to celebrate, so stay tuned for details!
Now I'm happy to introduce you to our agent of the week, Whitley Abell of Inklings Literary
Whitley Abell joined Inklings Literary Agency in 2013. Before joining Inklings, she completed successful internships with Carol Mann Agency and P.S. Literary Agency. She is based in St. Louis, MO, where she daylights as a production manager for several medical and S & T journals. She graduated in 2011 BA in English and Creative Writing, and again in 2012 with a MAT in Secondary English Education, which basically means she can tell you anything there is to know about feminist literary theory and the Common Core Standards.
What is on your wish list?
- A strong contemporary with literary leanings. Something along the lines of Nova Ren Suma's IMAGINARY GIRLS, Lauren Oliver's BEFORE I FALL, E. Lockhart's WE ARE LIARS, or Cammie McGovern's SAY WHAT YOU WILL
- YA and Women's Romantic Comedies that make me laugh and swoon while still tackling a bigger topic, a la Stephanie Perkins, Jennifer Castle, Lindsey Leavitt, Jenny Han.
- Historical. These were my favorite growing up, and I'm always craving a new perspective or a fresh voice in history. I'd especially love to a more literary historical (ex: CODE NAME VERITY, THE FORGOTTEN GARDEN, BURIAL RITES) with a powerful story and really strong prose
- Note: I'm not particularly interested in medieval times, which is what I see in my inbox mostly, and I don't really lump RECENT history (re: 1990s / 2000s) in my historical cravings. I get my love of history from my grandpa, so you can always grab my attention with the WWI and the 1920s/1930s, and I'm an absolute sucker for the 1940s.
- A great psychological thriller. Bring on the unreliable narrator and the chills! I'd especially love to see a modern take on Henry James' A TURN OF A SCREW, but that's getting really specific.
Can you define voice for us?
This is so hard because voice is intrinsic and can't be taught. Voice is the author's style of writing, the quality that makes their writing unique, met with the tone with which the author has approached the story. It's the way the story is told. It's the rhythm of the words and the personality of both the author and the narrator showing through. It's the individual way of thinking, what you believe and how you form that thought, unprompted and uncensored. It is so intrinsic and so unteachable that it's difficult to describe and everything I think to say feels overreaching and yet not nearly enough. But to me, just as your "real" speaking voice is natural, and is often toned down or changed in various social situations, the voice in writing is the natural way in which the writer sets about telling the story, and I greatly admire authors who have the courage and the strength to let their natural voice shine through. You can't learn it, and you can't copy it (trust me, I've seen writers try), but you can hone it. Practice peeling all the untrue parts of yourself away and putting yourself, raw and bared, on the page. Listen to the way they sound, feel, taste, and find the rhythm that speaks for you and your characters.
Coffee, tea, wine, chocolate, or any other vices?
- Tea (I drink green tea daily, but I'm absolutely addicted to Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Sunset black tea. Mmm, so good!)
- Also, Bubble Tea... minus the "bubble" boba. Weird, I know. If you haven't tried it, DO IT. NOW. I highly recommend ginger milk tea, but my bff says I'm strange, and Chocolate Coconut tea with boba is the way to go. To each their own, I guess.
- David Tennant. Need I say more?
- Analyzing everything. The curse of a former english major and the bane of family dinners, but a definite plus as an editorial agent.
I'm totally with you on David Tennant! But back to business LOL! What advice do you have for writers getting ready to query you?
- Don't be afraid! I really am a real person, the same as you, and I really want to like you and your work. Definitely don't be afraid to talk to me via social media. Talk to me about books, or Dr. Who, or what you should do while you're in St Louis. Challenge me with Harry Potter riddles or throw in your two cents about that article I shared. This isn't an invitation to spam me with info about what you're writing, but I love connecting with writers and putting a face and personality to a potential future client.
- Keep in mind that the query letter is kind of like a business letter, yes, but it's okay to let your voice shine through. A well-written query can get me really excited for the pages.
- Make sure you read over my submission guidelines, which are up both on my blog (http://whitleyabell.wordpress.com/submissions-2) and on Inklings website (http://www.inklingsliterary.com/Submission_Guidelines.html). For example, I don't open unrequested attachments, and I typically don't hunt down materials that should have been included in the initial query unless I'm completely blown away by your letter. Don't shoot yourself in the foot by forgetting to check. That said, if you forgot to include, say, your sample pages as pasted text, it's totally ok to send them as soon as you realize. Just make it clear that I should disregard the previous e-mail for the new query. I totally understand that we're all human and we all make mistakes.
Which is more crucial: emotional connection or current marketability?
Emotion. Yes, marketability is important, but not as much so. If I recognize a story is marketable but I'm not emotionally invested, then I'm guaranteed to pass. But if I'm in love with a manuscript, I will fight tooth and nail to get it the deal it deserves.
Why did you become an agent?
I became interested in agenting because I love reading, and what could be better than a career spent reading books (because, you know, that's all agents do, right?). But I pursued it after interning because I love connecting with authors, working with them to strengthen their craft and helping them reach their goals. I love editing one-on-one with the authors, and being able to pick and chose and really dig into whatever sparks my interest. I love having the opportunity to champion the writers that I fall in love with in a way that literature classes and book clubs never really allow you to do, and to analyze the market (because, again, I love analyzing) and find clients' works the perfect home.
Thank you, Whitley!!
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Tried immensely to copy moves,
Blown away by blankness
Drowning inside hollow tryst without clue,
Trusting in fishy grooves,
Forgetting my identity,
This is so cool. Thank you, Erdmans!
We thought we should mix Monica Edinger‘s great quote with an image
proving her point that:
“All in all, The Right Word is a
work of art.”
(Thanks for the love, Monica!)
Writing partners can be an important source of inspiration and support for your kids. It’s the rare kid who truly wants to work alone all the time. Writing requires an audience, someone to give… Continue reading
By: James Gurney,
Blog: Gurney Journey
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Yesterday the high school in Dubois, Wyoming sent a group of their art students out to join us on a ranch to learn plein-air painting. They were mentored by the scholarship students attending the SKB Foundation Workshop here.
Most people were painting old wagons or log cabins or picturesque bends in the stream, but I decided to paint the school bus. I love school buses. This is a beautiful brand new vehicle, built in January of 2014.
I used a ruler to get those windows straight in my little gouache painting. Press the "play" button below for a quick audio greeting from the driver.
(Link to the voice of the driver
) To me, the bus represents the pride of this town and their dedication to getting young people excited about art. That's what the day was all about, as far as I was concerned.
I made friends with the bus driver when I asked her to help me get one of my paint tube caps unstuck. She brought out a pliers, saying, "We western women have a whole tool kit in our purse."
Read about the SKB Foundation
Workshop, a unique week-long gathering of landscape and wildlife painters.
If you're a young artist who wants to be a part of this, check out the SKB scholarship program.
Mix it Up!
by Hervé Tullet
Chronicle Books, September 16, 2014
review copy purchased for my class library
Even fifth graders LOVE Hervé Tullet's Press Here
, a book that seems magically interactive.
In Mix it Up, readers will explore color mixing without ever getting their fingers dirty. By following the directions in the book, colors are made to appear, disappear, smear, drip, blend, lighten and darken.
By: David Chuka,
I stumbled upon a blog post by popular Kiwi Children’s book author – Joy Findlay – who was my special guest on Author Interview Thursday in 2013. Joy has more than 60 published children’s books and I have several of them on the Kindle app on my tablet. A lot of her books have achieved best seller status on the Amazon store.
The children’s book market is evolving and its important children’s book authors and publishers stay close to the grapevine to discover what new trends are pushing this market.
Over summer, I got an email from Amazon asking if I’d be a beta tester for their Kindle Kids’ Book Creator. Sadly, as I was on holiday and then in the middle of a house move, this was not possible. Fast forward to early September, and Amazon announces the launch of the Kindle Kid’s Book Creator. I recently read a book by Deborah Bradley that was formatted really nicely and she said it was created using KDP’s Comic Book Creator. I thought to myself that if she achieved those results with that program, It’d be interesting to see what a program specifically designed for Kids books can produce.
Joy Findlay has done an awesome job giving a step-by-step guide on how to use this new tool by Amazon and ends the post with her opinion on the advantages and disadvantages. It’s a great read and I know you’ll enjoy it. Click the link below and head over to Joy’s blog. Remember to leave a comment or question as I’m sure she’ll be glad to know you stopped by and will gladly entertain your thoughts. Enjoy.
Recommended for ages 4-8
In this laugh-out-loud new picture book from South African writer-illustrator Alex Latimer
, we discover that while it's not always easy to be friends with those who are different from us, the result can be worth the extra effort.
Pig is completely flummoxed when, for no reason at all, his nose begins to squeak.
What could it be? Time to get out the medical book, of course, to look for Squeaky Nose Syndrome. But it's not in the book (although the book includes Squeaky Knee Syndrome and others). Finally, after much observation, Pig discovers there's a tiny bug on the end of his nose, waving and squeaking at him. Pig can tell by the bug's friendly squeaking that he wants to be friends, but the activities they try --a tandem bike ride (with Pig pedaling and Bug holding on for dear life), a game of chess, making matching sweaters--don't work very well.
They are about to give up, when Pig has a sudden inspiration--a movie! Bug doesn't eat much popcorn, and he can sit right on Pig's ear. Soon they can think of all kinds of things they could do together! They even forget that one of them is big and the other little, until, in a surprise twist, an elephant comes along to ask if he can be friends, too.
Alex Latimer's whimsical cartoon-style artwork is distinctive, with speech and thought bubbles taken from traditional cartoons. The illustrations are created first as pencil drawings, then digitized and finished with a bright color palette with orange and turquoise dominating. The colorful artwork meshes perfectly with his witty and engaging text. The theme of the challenges of friendship with someone different is a universal one, perhaps particularly appropriate in Latimer's hometown of Cape Town, South Africa, where the "rainbow nation" of post-apartheid still struggles with issues of equality for all its citizens, as we continue to do in the United States. This book would work well in a preschool or early elementary storytime, and could encourage discussions about how we get along with others. I could easily see a writing prompt about imagining activities Pig, Bug, and elephant could do together, for example. Latimer's earlier work, Lion vs. Rabbit
(Peachtree, 2013), in which a clever trickster rabbit outwits a lion, is also a terrific storytime selection.
For more on Pig and Small
, check out these other blog tour stops:
The Stavanger International Festival of Literature and Freedom of Speech -- Kapittel -- started yesterday and runs through Sunday.
Some pretty decent authors lined up -- and definitely not your usual literary festival, as this year's theme is ... oil.
Hence also panels such as: "Gas and Satire" (hey, it's with Andrei Kurkov, so well worth attending just for that).
A CAT NAMED TIM by John Martz is sort of like Richard Scarry for the more mature set. It's a series of stories of adorable and endearing characters such as "Doug & Mouse, Connie (a girl with big glasses), Mr. and Mrs. Hamhock," and of course, "Tim" - all in one book. It also reminds me a bit of Hello, Mr. Hulot in it's mini-story, yet graphic style approach. John stopped by to tell us more about it...
Q. John, Congratulations on A CAT NAMED TIM! How did the book come to be?
A. Thanks! I have illustrated a handful of picture books for kids, and Annie at Koyama Press told me she was interested in publishing comics for kids and young readers, and asked if I’d be interested in something like that. My kids books up to this point have all been written by someone other than myself, so I jumped at the chance to do a book for kids in which I was both the author and illustrator.
Click the image to see a larger version in a new window.
Q. Koyama Press does funky graphic novels and artsy books for a wide age-range. Some of their work is definitely not for kids, while other works are for the kids at heart - like yours. How did you hook up with Koyama Press?
A. I first met Annie at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival. We had emailed a few times before then, but hadn’t met. She expressed interest in my comics, and we’ve since worked on a few projects together, including The Big Team Society League Book of Answers, which is a collection of jam comics, and certainly not for young children. My style is heavily influenced by picture books and newspaper comic strips and Saturday morning cartoons, and while I don’t always do kid-friendly work, I do think I come somewhat naturally to it, and working with Annie and Ed Kanerva has been a joy.
Q. Who do you consider your target audience?
A. I didn’t have a target audience in mind when I began working on the book. I wanted primarily to take the improvisational process I learned from working on both Team Society League and my comic strip Machine Gum, and apply it to a kid-friendly cast of characters. As the book took shape I saw potential to accommodate children who can’t yet read or are just learning; the scenarios and gags are fairly uncomplicated, and it’s mostly wordless. The minimal dialogue there is is more textural than textual, and I hope that the illustrations and scenes allow children to make up their own stories and explanations for what’s going on.
Click the image to see a larger version in a new window.
Q. There are very few words in A CAT NAMED TIM, mostly series of illustrations with very clever twists. Can you describe your format?
A. The book is primarily a series of double-page spreads, each one an independent gag or scenario. I don’t know if I can easily sum up the format other than to say that I enjoy playing with the formal elements of comics, and trying different panel layouts and different ways of directing the reader through an image or a series of images. I’m particularly drawn to the idea that comics don’t need to be read solely panel-by-panel, and that inviting a reader to examine the page as a whole, and see different moments in time simultaneously, is something unique to comics and illustration, and a fun thing to exploit.
Q. What is your illustration method and how do you conceptualize the stories behind your narratives?
A. Each scenario started in my sketchbook as super-rough barely-legible-to-anyone-but-me thumbnail drawing. A sketchbook allows me to get ideas out my head quickly and with minimal fuss. These thumbnails are often only a starting point, and I like to save some of the final problem-solving, details, and specifics for when I’m working on the finished art.
The illustrations for this book were drawn digitally in Photoshop. The process is similar to the way I learned to draw comics, in which I start with a “pencilled” line drawing of the page that acts as the skeleton of the finished artwork. I put together a palette of colours for the entire book, and I do a quick low-res colour study for each page before starting the final art so that the painting/colouring process itself, which is mostly done on a single layer, involves little to no thinking as all the planning has been taken care of.
Click the image to see a larger version in a new window.
Q. It's truly an unusual book, and yet one that I think will really grow on people. Kids will love studying all the fun things you include in your illustrations. What were your influences with all the little details going on?
A. You mention Richard Scarry in your introduction, and his books were a huge influence, of course. I loved his books as a kid, and I could spend hours poring over all the little details and miniature dramas in his busy pages. I have so many other influences, but for this book a short list would have to include Richard Scarry, Jim Henson, vintage Sesame Street, Sergio Aragonés, Where’s Waldo? books, Hanna-Barbera, Super Mario games, and Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.
Q. How are you getting the word out about A CAT NAMED TIM?
A. The book debuts/debuted at the Small Press Expo in Bethesda Maryland, and I’m doing a joint launch party with Britt Wilson for her Koyama book Cat Dad, King of the Goblins at the kids comic store Little Island in Toronto on October 26.
I’m grateful to be published by Koyama Press. Annie has fostered a lot of community and good will in the comics world, and that sort of thing (in addition to putting out good books) goes a long way in terms of generating buzz and support.
You can also follow me on Twitter, @johnmartz, which is my social media platform of choice.
Q. I look forward to seeing more from you in the future!
Enjoy this great video about John and his work (or CLICK HERE if the video gives you any issues):
John has also been very active with the TD Summer Reading Club in Canada.
Koyama Press has kindly agreed to send a free copy of A CAT NAMED TIM to one of my lucky followers. Must live in the US or Canada to win. Enter below:
By: Meredith Sneddon,
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, Psychology & Neuroscience
, Science & Medicine
, back to school
, back to uni
, back to university
, Jake McBride
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How do you survive as a psychology student? It might be a daunting prospect, but we here at OUP are here to give you a helping hand through three years of cognitive overload. Here are our top tips:
1. Do some essential reading before you start your degree! Psychology is a very broad subject, so build some strong foundations with a wide reading base, especially if you’re new to the subject. Check out our Essential Book List to get you started (and recommendations welcome in the comments below).
2. Stay up-to-date with current affairs. Psychology is a continually evolving subject, with new ideas and perspectives emerging all the time. Read blogs, journals, and magazines; watch TED talks; listen to podcasts; and scan newspapers for psychology-themed stories.
3. Always keep your eyes and ears open. University is your chance to learn beyond the classroom. Pay attention to life – just watching your favourite TV programme can give you an insight into how a theoretical concept might actually work. Use everyday events and interactions to deepen your understanding of psychological ideas.
4. Learn from everyone around you. Psychology asks questions about how we as humans think – so go and think together with some other humans! Compare and contrast different ideas and approaches, and make the most of group learning or other opportunities, like taking part in other people’s surveys or experiments. Joining your university psychology society is a great way to learn from your peers and to balance work with play.
5. Learn how to study independently. This is your chance to learn what you want, not what you have to. You will have much greater academic freedom than ever before. Wherever you choose to study, you will have to take on your own independent research, and if you see yourself building a career in psychology, then independent investigation is crucial.
6. Hone your note-taking / diagram-making skills. On your laptop, tablet, smartphone — or with paper and pens — you’ll be writing a lot of notes over the course of your degree. Referencing and formatting might not seem like the most exciting aspects of your degree, but good preparation and organisation will make them more bearable (and quicker!). Get to know how best you learn, remember and process information.
7. Get enough sleep. Sitting up late staring at textbooks and computer screens is easy, but it’s not the healthiest habit to get into. Studying well is less about the number of hours you put in, than how effectively you spend those hours. Keep up a balanced diet, stay hydrated, do regular exercise, and find someone to talk to if you’re feeling stressed.
8. Don’t be afraid to admit to your own weaknesses. Psychology is a demanding subject, and questions are more common than neat answers.
9. Try to enjoy your studies. There are many ideas to explore, from behaviour to dreams, memory to psychoanalysis. Keep looking at different topics that interest you to stay motivated. When it does get too much, don’t be afraid to step back and take a break.
10. Finally, remember what psychology is about. You can get lost in surveys and experiments, theories and concepts, but try to always keep in mind what drew you to psychology in the first place. In studying psychology you’re taking part in a great tradition of questioning how the human mind works and behaves – be proud of that.
Heading Image: Student. Photo by CollegeDegrees360, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Flickr
The post 10 ways to survive being a psychology student appeared first on OUPblog.
Does it matter if my roots are showing in my query? Will American agents and/or publishers see my Canadian setting as a drawback? So many agents claim they want fresh settings, but I've been told this might be a bad idea. I can't write a mystery that takes place in America unless it's at Disney World. What say you?They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Here's my four-thousand word essay:
If you haven't read the lovely, luminous novels of Louise Penny, stop reading this drivel, and get to the library RIGHT NOW. And my real point here is that it doesn't matter if your books are set in Canada, Canadia, or Freedonia if you write a novel that grabs me by the throat and doesn't let me draw a full breath until I've read through to The End.
It's your voice and your story that will draw me in. Your setting will be important if it's material to the story, not if it isn't. But no agent rejects a manuscript because it's set in Canadia. That would be rejecting something because it's set in Alaska. I mean, they're practically the same place, right?***
**stop spluttering with outraged geographical hand flailing. I know where Canada is. Up.
As a bookseller and parent, I was always surprised by the lack of Look-and-Find books for kids who weren't quiet ready for the intensity of the Where's Waldo books. Which is why I was so excited when I discovered Marion Billet's Littleland last year! And now we have Littleland: Around the World to add to the growing list of Look-and-Find books for toddlers. Billet's illustrations are bright
Avast, me hearties! International Talk Like a Pirate Day be soon upon us. Aye, very soon. Tomorrow, in fact.Since pirates are some of our favorite people, we've reviewed a fair number of fantastic piratical books. Below are summaries of all of 'em to date. If we've done a full review, clicking the titles will take ye to the full review posts for each one:The Mousehunter Written and illustrated by Alex MilwayAges 10 - 12Twelve-year-old Emiline Orelia is mousekeeper for Isiah Lovelock, Old Town's most famous mouse collector and one of its wealthiest citizens. Emiline cares for her own Grey Mouse, named Portly, as well as all of the mice in Lovelock's vast collection. It's not a glamorous job, but Emiline is very good at it, and hopes one day to become a mousehunter, so she can go out and discover new and interesting mice.
If this oh-so-fun little-known holiday, celebrated annually on September 19th, has taken ye by surprise this year, never fear. We scalawags here at Bugs and Bunnies have some fun and bookish ways for teachers an' kids ta celebrate the day.
In Emiline's world, collecting and trading mice is valued above all else - but these are no ordinary field mice. There is the Sharpclaw Mouse: a sneaky, mischievous mouse with huge, dagger-like claws on its front paws that can slice through even wood and metal with ease. Or the Magnetical Mouse: prized by sailors for their bulletlike nose that always points due north. Or the Howling Moon Mouse: best known of all the howler mice, it howls only on nights with a full moon. And this is only to name a few.
When Mousebeard, the most feared pirate on the Seventeen Seas, sinks Lovelock's merchant ship, Lovelock hires Captain Devlin Drewshank to hunt him down and capture him. Emiline overhears the deal and, seeing this as the chance of a lifetime, runs away and boards Drewshank's ship, excited to be on the adventure. The journey is a dangerous one, filled with pirates, and battles, and even sea monsters. And Emiline soon comes to realize that all is not exactly as she thought it was, and that no one she's met is exactly who she thought they were.
By Gregory MoneAges 8 and up Maurice "Fish" Reidy is eleven years old when Shamrock dies. Without their horse, the family can't afford to feed itself, let alone farm their land. Someone has to go into the city to work and send money home. Since Fish is the worst at farming, it's agreed he should be the one to go.
His father arranges for Fish to work for his uncle as a courier. When Fish is entrusted with a mysterious package of coins, he's robbed before he can make the delivery. He tracks down the thief amongst a bunch of pirates, aboard their ship, the Scurvy Mistress. Determined to get that package back and to its rightful recipient, Fish sneaks aboard and joins the pirate crew. He soon learns the coins are more than what they seem, and some of the crew are not as loyal as they'd have their captain believe.
As the Scurvy Mistress sets sail, Fish finds himself on an adventure he never saw coming, with friends he never imagined making. It's a journey that promises to change his life - and that of his family - forever.
How I Became a Pirate
Written by Melinda Long
Illustrated by David ShannonAges 4 - 8Jeremy Jacob was just a boy building a sandcastle on the beach - until the day the pirates came. The pirates were in need of a digger to help bury their treasure. And the captain couldn't help but notice that "He's a digger, he is, and a good one to boot!" The crew heartily agreed, "A good one to boot!" And that is how Jeremy Jacob became a pirate.Here Be Monsters! The Ratbridge Chronicles, Volume 1
Written and illustrated by Alan SnowAges 9 - 12Young Arthur is a resident of Ratbridge. Or, rather, a resident under Ratbridge. He's not sure why he lives below ground, except that his inventor grandfather says that they must. They share this underground world with curious creatures: boxtrolls, cabbageheads, rabbit women, and the rather fearsome trotting badgers.
One day, Arthur gets caught above-ground on one of his nightly forays to the surface world to gather food. The rather nasty Snatcher, his grandfather's old nemesis, has stolen the machine Arthur's grandfather built for him to be able to fly about, and he doesn't know how to get back home.
But Arthur is not without friends. He is helped by the kindly retired lawyer Willbury Nibble, and the underlings who live with him: the boxtrolls Fish, Egg, and Shoe, and the shy cabbagehead Titus. Then there's the pirates-turned-laundry-workers, talking rats and crows, and oh! we can't forget The Man in the Iron Socks. They are all determined to get Arthur back home safely.
Arthur and his friends soon discover that something stinks in Ratbridge, and it isn't just the cheese: Someone has begun hunting Wild English Cheeses again - an outlawed sport. And mysterious goings-on are afoot at the old Cheese Hall. And all the entrances to the underground world have been sealed up. And the boxtrolls and cabbageheads are all disappearing. And the underlings' tunnels are starting to flood. Grandfather is worried, and they all know Snatcher is the root of this mystery. Somehow. Whatever will they do?
Another Whole Nother StoryAs told by (The Incomparable) Dr. Cuthbert Soup
Ages 8 and up Mr. Ethan Cheeseman and his three smart, polite, and relatively odor-free children are back in another adventure - with all-new names, of course. Now that they've got the LVR working (the supposedly secret, yet relentlessly sought-after time machine introduced in A Whole Nother Story), the family is all set to travel back in time to just before their beloved wife and mother Olivia Cheeseman meets her unfortunate end at the hands of those seeking to "acquire" the LVR.
But all does not go according to plan. First, they wind up not in the relatively recent past, as they'd planned, but way back in 1668. Worse, their crash landing has damaged the LVR, and unless they can find the proper parts to repair it, the family has no way to return to their own time in the 21st century. As if that weren't trouble enough, the family finds themselves facing suspicion of witchcraft, battling pirates, and navigating a haunted castle. Add to that their tangle with a dangerous nemesis from their present whom they believed they'd seen the last of, and things don't look good.
Despite these odds, the likeable Cheesemans are not without friends, meeting several helpful souls along the way. But is it enough to help them get out of the distant past, and into the nearer past, so they can save their beloved Olivia Cheeseman, and get back to their own time?
* * *
Well, land lubbers, that's all we got, and we ain't got no more. But keep a weather eye on the Bugs and Bunnies horizon – we've got our eyes on more'n a few other fantastic pirate-y books we'd love ta be postin' about in future.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Laura! Describe yourself in five words or less.
[Laura Drewry] Happily blessed cheesecake-loving bibliophile
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about your book?
[Laura Drewry] PRIMA DONNA is the second book in my new series which revolves around four women, each of whom has her own struggles she must learn to manage or overcome. Regan’s been so busy dealing with the loss of her business and the emotional and financial stress of her mother’s illness, she just doesn’t have the time, the interest, or the energy it takes to be in a relationship. What she could use, though, is a distraction, and that’s what she thinks she’s getting with Carter. Like her, he’s spent his life dodging any mention of commitment, minivans or picket fences, but it’s New Year’s Eve, they’re both consenting adults, so why shouldn’t they have this one night together?
One night and they’ll both move on with their lives, or so they think, but life has other plans for them.
It’s a story of how two people, who’ve spent their lives keeping everyone at bay, learn that sometimes being strong means letting yourself be vulnerable.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?
[Laura Drewry] Carter and Regan first appeared in PLAIN JAYNE (the first book in this series) and I knew as soon as they presented themselves to me that theirs would be the next story. Carter was the easiest – I knew right from the get-go that he was a play-boy type with a heart of gold. I usually have a picture I base my characters on, not because the character looks like that person, but because there’s something in the expression or the body language in the photo that speaks to me. In Carter’s case, it was a photo of a hot guy who looks like trouble, but there was something about the way his head tipped a little, and the way he’s looking at the camera that made me think there was something behind the façade. He’s more than what most people think, maybe he knows he’s a bit of a dog, that it’s worked for him all these years and he gets what he wants, but maybe he’s tired of all that. Maybe he’s looking for someone who’ll expect more of him, who won’t put up with his crap, who’ll make him want to be a better man.
When we first met Regan in PLAIN JAYNE, the future of her salon was up in the air and we got a glimpse into her mindset about long-term relationships. One thing I knew right away with Regan was that she’d grown up in a difficult family situation, but it took a lot of digging and trying different ideas before the real story came out. And the funny thing is, as many writers will tell you, it doesn’t matter what we think the story should be; it’s the characters who ultimately decide and Regan’s story just wouldn’t work until I figured out what and where she came from. (It sounds crazy, I know! LOL)
Once I understood who each of them were, what they’d lived through, and what their fears were, the story just progressed from there.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
[Laura Drewry] One of my favourite things was the way Regan put Carter in his place. All his life he’s been ‘the golden one’ who gets what he wants, when he wants it, but Regan isn’t having any part of that. Sure Carter’s cute and all, but unlike every other woman he’s been with, she doesn’t cotton to the idea that the sun rises and sets on him – no matter how cute he is. She’s not going to be his flavor of the month, and she has no problem telling him that.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What gave you the most trouble with this story?
[Laura Drewry] Keeping Regan true to her character. It would’ve been very easy to just let her transfer some of her burdens over to Carter or her friends, but that’s not who Regan is and she needed to remain true to that even as her character grew and she learned to trust.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had a theme song, what would it be?
[Laura Drewry] The Beatles “Paperback Writer” of course. LOL
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing you won’t leave home without.
[Laura Drewry] My iPhone. Sad, but true. I hate carrying a purse and my phone case is one of the ones that looks like a book and holds the necessities, and like most people, I have the all-important Kindle app on my phone so I’m never without something to read.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.
[Laura Drewry] My favourite coffee mug, Post-It notes covered in ideas & notes for the book I’m working on, and my niece’s birthday present.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?
[Laura Drewry] That’s a tough one. I’ve got a pretty good gig going on in my life, and I can’t honestly think of one person I’d seriously like to change places with. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t mind job-shadowing Joe Girardi for a game or two if it meant I could be in the dugout and watch my man, Jeter, up close, but would I want to be either one of them? Nope.
Would I want to be one of my favourite authors for a day? No, but I wouldn’t mind being a fly on their wall just to watch how they work and what their process is (okay, that sounds creepy – LOL – but I don’t mean it in a stalker-kind-of-way, just in the ‘I’m completely fascinated by how other people write’ kind of way).
Hmmmm. Oooh, I’ve got it – I’d change places with someone like Michael Phelps or Jamie Oliver because I can’t swim and I hate to cook, so maybe if I spent a little time as one of them, I could change that. I’m sure if you quizzed my husband or boys, they’d unanimously vote for Jamie Oliver. LOL
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?
[Laura Drewry] ‘Dr. Sleep’ – Stephen King
‘PUSH’ – Eve Silver
‘At the Duke’s Wedding’ – a 4-novella anthology by Caroline Linden, Miranda Neville, Katharine Ashe & Maya Rodale.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
[Laura Drewry] I love to read (of course!), watching movies, going on road trips and watching the Yankees play ball. Oh, and my husband has recently taken on bee-keeping, so I’m learning all about that and I’m teaching myself how to make candles.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?
[Laura Drewry] I love hearing from readers! Here are some ways they can reach me:
On my website at www.lauradrewry.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/lauradrewry (@lauradrewry)
By: Laura Drewry
Releasing September 23rd, 2014
In USA Today bestselling author Laura Drewry’s witty, sizzling, and tender romance for readers of Jill Shalvis and Susan Mallery, a woman who can’t slow down discovers that the perfect guy is in hot pursuit.
Even when her hair salon goes under and she’s on the brink of breaking, Regan Burke keeps her “I’m just fine” attitude. She’s had a tough life, coping with a difficult family and keeping her act together . . . barely. Right now, she just needs a job, any job, so she can pay her mother’s medical bills. It’s the exact wrong time for Carter Scott to come into her life—and to be so damn sexy, so distracting, and so determined to get close.
Carter isn’t looking for anything serious—his heart belongs to the kids who depend on his pediatric practice—but something about Regan makes him reconsider. Maybe it’s the scars she hides so well, the secrets she can’t share. Carter knows all about that kind of pain, and he wants to help. But offering Regan a job in his office only makes things worse, even if their chemistry is off the charts. Lucky for them both, Carter isn’t about to let go of love without a fight.
Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/07/prima-donna-by-laura-drewry.html
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20945514-prima-donna?from_search=true
Laura Drewry had been scribbling things for years before she decided to seriously sit down and write. After spending eight years in the Canadian north, Laura now lives back home in southwestern British Columbia with her husband, three sons, a turtle named Sheldon, and an extremely energetic German shepherd. She loves old tattered books, good movies, country music, and the New York Yankees.
Rafflecopter Giveaway ($25.00 Gift Card to Book Retailer of Choice and Copy of PLAIN JAYNE by Laura Drewry )
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The post Interview with Laura Drewry, Author or Prima Donna and Giveaway appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.
They've announced the winner of this year's Frankfurt Book Fair's film prize for Best International Literary Adaptation, which goes to Anton Corbijn for his John Le Carré adaptation, A Most Wanted Man; he gets to pick up the prize on 10 October.
I happened to see this recently, and ... meh, it was okay.
But I don't know what the literary-adaptation-competition was.
And I haven't read the book; maybe it's a particularly successful adaptation .....
Read the rest of this post
Add to GoodreadsAbout the Book:
Do you think you have what it takes to be a changemaker? Laurie Thompson shares stories of young entrepreneurs whose ideas made a difference and shares how readers can be changemakers themselves.GreenBeanTeenQueen Says:
If you're looking for an inspiring book that will get you excited-and give you advice-on how to ignite change, Be a Changemaker
is going to kickstart your ambitions. Laurie Thompson gives readers examples of young entrepreneurs who decided to make a change and start something that mattered and gives practical, easy to follow advice for teens looking to start something in their own community. The result is inspiring and is sure to spark ideas among teens about how they can get involved.
The book covers a wide range of topics and balances real life experiences and stories with ways teens can start now and get involved in their community. The library is the perfect place to get teens involved! I would love to host a library book discussion over this book and see what ideas the teens come up with!Please welcome Laurie Thompson to GreenBeanTeenQueen! She has a great idea for how libraries can encourage changemakers and be at the forefront of the changemaker revolution! I know I can't wait to think about using Makerspaces as a place for reaching out in the community and I hope others will join in as well!
Making Change in Schools and Libraries
As a parent and kidlit author, I try to keep up with trends in education and library services. Two recent trends in these areas that seem to be popping up all over lately are a focus on STEM topics and the emergence of makerspaces. I think there’s great potential in adding the idea of changemaking—solving real-world problems in the community and beyond—to both of those missions, in schools and in libraries.
As technology continues to advance, the world keeps changing faster and faster, and it has been widely accepted that having a solid foundation in the STEM subjects will be necessary for an individual to thrive in that environment. But, rather than contriving exercises and assigning made-up tasks, perhaps we could instead focus on teaching STEM-related skills in the context of how they can be used to solve actual problems that students care about. What better way to learn and practice new STEM-related skills than by applying them to a clear and relevant purpose? Mastering new skills is that much more satisfying when students can immediately use them to help themselves and others in their own communities. Focusing on empowering people to become changemakers naturally leads them to improving their STEM-related skills, thereby teaching those STEM-related skills in direct, hands-on ways with meaningful applications.
Many schools and libraries across the country are now experimenting with offering makerspaces, places where people can go to create and build together using shared technology, equipment, and tools. Typically, the emphasis is making tangible items that can then be taken home. But what if the same concepts of collaboration and shared resources were applied to changemaking, with an emphasis instead on solutions—projects that can be applied to problems in the greater community? Why not take the image of a typical makerspace user—a hobbyist or an entrepreneur—and extend it to a community activist or social entrepreneur? If the purpose of a makerspace is to allow people to be creative with technology, it seems to make sense for us to encourage and empower makers to create solutions to problems they see around them every day.
We know that schools and libraries exist to provide information and opportunities for connection to others, and both of those goals mean so much more when directed toward a higher purpose. Whatever area you’re thinking about—STEM education, the maker culture, humanities, the arts, etc.—everything jumps to the next level when you give it a direction and apply it to a problem that really matters. Plus, whenever anyone in a community is empowered to become a changemaker, it benefits not just the individual but everyone in the community, and not just once but on an ongoing basis. So, can schools and libraries to start making change a priority within their communities? Most already have in place the resources necessary to enable a changemaking mindset, they just need to increase awareness of those resources and the endless possibilities for their application in the realm of changemaking and allow people to form groups around the causes they care out. In this way, schools and libraries plant the seeds of inspiration and give them room to grow, while enabling students and patrons to bloom into active changemakers within their communities. When a school or library makes change accessible, anyone in that community can become a changemaker. And that’s a very good thing—for everyone.
Follow the Be a Changemaker Tour
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Julie Schumacher's Dear Committee Members.
I'm a sucker for epistolary novels, and for campus novels, so this was certainly something I was looking forward to; of course, that sets the bar higher, too, and unfortunately this fell a bit short (and reinforced my anti-MFA-writing prejudices (as any and every creative-writing-program-associated piece of writing seems to manage to do ...)).
I got exciting news this week! Scholastic has bought a bunch of copies of The Body in the Woods, the first in my new series. Girl, Stolen and The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die have been Scholastic bestsellers, so I'm hoping this book meets the same fate.
I got the idea in April 2012 when a friend told us her teen was a volunteer with Multnomah County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue. Our local SAR does what all SARSs do—find people lost in the wilderness—but ours is unique in two respects. First, it is an all teen-led organization. Adults can volunteer, but they can't be elected to leadership positions. Second, about 30% of what these teens do is search for evidence at crime scenes. Evidence they have found has been credited with helping solve dozens of murders. The more I learned, the more I was sure I had found what I had long sought: a realistic hook for a teen mystery series. The teen volunteers receive about 300 hours of training. They meet every Wednesday evening as well as go on weekend outings once a month. I have gone to trainings with them, most recently a unit on "man tracking," which is what they call it when you follow someone's tracks. It's a real art, and the only clue that someone might have been there can be as small as a broken twig or a few grains of sand on top of a leaf. (I told folks at my kung fu school that I was learning to man track and another lady said, "Oh, don't worry, honey, I can set you up with somebody!")
How to write about something you
don't know much about
I stared first where I always start: at the library. I checked out books about Search and Rescue. I even bought a few manuals (which were expensive, even if they weren't that much bigger than a book. I don't understand why textbooks and such always priced so much higher.)
I interviewed the girl who was a volunteer, and she showed me all the things you have to carry in your pack and on your person when you are called out for SAR. After signing a criminal background check, I started going to meetings, including an orientation meeting, where I took notes and talked to people. But the best thing I did was to make the acquintance of Jake K., a guy in his early 20s who had volunteered for SAR since he was a teen. Like many SAR volunteers, SAR is Jake's passion. But he's also willing to answer a million questions by email.
And slowly I found my way to a story. Actually I found my way to ideas for about a dozen stories, but i picked one and worked on that.
First up: the Body in the Woods
Alexis, Nick, and Ruby have very different backgrounds: Alexis has spent her life covering for her mom’s mental illness, Nick’s bravado hides his fear of not being good enough, and Ruby just wants to pursue her eccentric interests in a world that doesn’t understand her. When the three teens join Portland County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue, they are teamed up to search for a autistic man lost in the woods. What they find instead is a dead body. In a friendship that will be forged in danger, fear, and courage, the three team up to find the girl’s killer—before he can strike one of their own.
Next in the series: Blood Will Tell
This last weekend, I turned in the final draft of the next book in the series. The working title was Blood Will Tell. The amazing thing is I think the publisher kept it. I think the last time that happened was 10 years ago.
In Blood Will Tell, Nick, Alexis and Ruby are well on their way to being full-fledged members of Portland’s Search and Rescue—and to being friends. When a woman is found stabbed to death, their team is called out to search for evidence. Suspicion begins to fall on a guy who lives nearbyr, an awkward kid who collects knives, loves first-person shooter video games, and doodles violent scenes in his school notebooks: Nick Walker. As the evidence against their friend mounts, Alexis and Ruby must decide where their loyalties lie—even if it puts them in danger.
Awards and honors
- A Junior Library Guild selection.
- Kirkus: "A fast-moving and well-constructed mystery... A quick, thrilling read that doesn’t skimp on characterization."
- Publishers Weekly: "The author’s expertise at plotting a murder mystery and knowledge of police procedure are evident."
- School Library Journal: "A pervading sense of threat and danger."
- VOYA: "Henry has created not only a gripping mystery, but rich and detailed characters as well."
Click here to read the first chapter
For Alexis Frost, Nick Walker, and Ruby McClure, it all started with a phone call and two texts. It ended with fear and courage, love and loathing, screaming and blood. Lots of blood.
* * *
When the classroom phone rang in American history, Alexis Frost straightened up and blinked, trying to will herself awake as the teacher answered it. She managed to yawn without opening her mouth, the cords stretching tight in her neck. Last night had been another hard one.
“Alexis?” Mrs. Fairchild turned toward her.
“Yes?” Her heart sped up. What was it this time? The possibilities were endless. None of them good.
“Could you come up here, please?”
Mrs. Fairchild was looking at Alexis as if she was seeing her in a new light. Had it finally happened, then, the thing she both feared and longed for? Had something happened to her mother?
* * *
Nick Walker’s thumbs were poised over the virtual keyboard of the phone he held on his lap. He was pretending to listen to Mr. Dill, his English teacher, while he was really texting Sasha Madigan, trying this angle and that to persuade her to study with him tonight. Which he hoped would mean lots of copying (on his part) and lots of kissing (on both their parts).
The phone vibrated in his hand. Mr. Dill was busy writing on the board, so Nick lifted it a little closer to his face. It wasn’t a reply from
Sasha but a message from his Portland Search and Rescue team leader.
Search in Forest Park. Missing man. Meet time 1500.
His first SAR call-out! He jumped to his feet.
“Nick?” Mr. Dill turned and looked at him over the top of his glasses. “What is it?” Mr. Dill had a lot of rules. He had already complained about Nick’s habit of drawing—only Mr. Dill called it doodling—in class.
Nick held up his phone while pointing at it with his other hand as if he had been hired to demonstrate it. “I’m with Portland Search and Rescue, and we’ve been mobilized to find a man missing in Forest Park. I have to leave now.”
“Um, okay,” Mr. Dill said uncertainly. Someone in Wilson High’s administration had had to sign off on Nick being allowed to join searches during the school day, but maybe the information hadn’t filtered down to his teachers.
No matter. Nick was already out the door.
He just hoped someone from class would tell Sasha. A text wouldn’t do it justice.
Nick Walker, called out on a lifesaving mission.
* * *
Ruby McClure felt her phone buzz in her jeans pocket. She waited until the end of chemistry to check it.
Fifteen hundred made so much more sense than three P.M. Ruby preferred military time. No questions about whether “nine” meant morning or night. No having to rely on context. No one getting hung up on whether 1200 had an A.M. or a P.M. after it, which was a ridiculous idea because A.M. meant “ante meridiem” and P.M. meant “post meridiem” and meridiem was Latin for “midday,” and twelve noon was midday itself.
It was 1357 now. Which meant she had an hour to get home, change into hiking clothes, pick up her SAR backpack, and meet the rest of the team at the Portland sheriff’s office.
Piece of cake.
Ruby pulled out the keys to her car as she walked to the office to sign herself out. On the way, her phone buzzed again. It was Nick, asking for a ride.
Pablo Picasso said, “Every act of creation is first an act of destruction.” I wasn’t there when he said it, and I have no idea what he meant. He may have been in a bad mood. But I’ve always thought the statement sounded pretty cool. It makes the creative artist seem powerful and iconoclastic, smashing with the hammer of artistic vision the statues of conformity. As writers, we do have that power, if we’re willing to use it.
For our purposes, we’re going to use the quote to begin a discussion of destroying our initial idea. Sometimes the generative idea for a piece is more an avenue to richer ideas than an end in itself. At those times, we must be willing to let go of our initial premise. We have to explode the idea. In some ways, to echo Picasso, this is the first act of creation.
—by Jack Heffron
There are few comments more deflating than when your readers agree that your 25-page story “really begins on page 24.” We’ve worked hard on those first 23 pages. They’re honed and crafted and have a lot of good lines in them. And now we’re supposed to believe they’re a mere prelude to the real story? Sometimes the answer is yes.
At such times, we must remember that we wouldn’t have achieved the real start of the story if we hadn’t written what came before. Our initial premise led us to literary gold, even though now it must be discarded. I had this experience with a story I wrote a few years ago. It concerns a mother and daughter who are lost in Los Angeles, far from their Ohio home. I worked hours on extended dialogues between the characters and took great pains to deliver the exposition in an unobtrusive way. I had conceived the story much like a play, focusing on subtle shifts of character as the mother and daughter conversed. Near the end, two rough-looking guys enter the doughnut shop where the story takes place. My plan was to have a brief encounter with the men and for the foursome to leave together at the end. Several readers said they felt the story spark to life when the two guys enter. But that was at the end! This was a Beckett-like story of tightly woven dialogue, not some tale of women being picked up by truckers. Hel-loo. Tightly woven Beckett-like dialogue here. You folks are missing the point.
I let the story sit for some months. Then I read it with a fresh view. Then I reread the readers’ comments. They were right. My pages of tightly woven, Beckett-like dialogue were cut extensively. I now could see that much of it was self-conscious and tiresome anyway. The tension between the mother and daughter as they sat in a doughnut shop wasn’t enough to carry the story. After five pages or so, the story felt static. In the revised version, the men enter the doughnut shop on the top of page 2. The foursome is out the door by page 7. But those weeks of working the dialogue helped me get to know the mother and daughter, and my knowledge of them led to surprising turns in the revised story—turns I don’t know I’d have imagined if I hadn’t had such a rounded understanding of the characters.
When you find yourself in a similar place, listen to your readers. If only one reader advises to start with the ending, give the piece to a second reader or put it away for a while. Your first reader may be imposing her own vision of your story world and is stating the way she would handle the material. If a second reader offers similar advice, it’s worth considering. If the second reader says something more like, “It seemed kind of slow to me,” ask for specific places where it seemed most interesting. If the reader points to the place the first reader suggested to begin the story, you have a decision to make.
Lopping away a big chunk of story isn’t easy and requires consideration. Put the piece away and move on to a new one for a while. Give the piece at least a month to cool off. Set a date for rereading it. Put it on your calendar. The date will ensure you don’t read it sooner than is helpful, and it also reminds you the piece is waiting. We sometimes forget about our projects for so long that we have trouble bringing them back to life. And so the deadline works in two ways, making sure you don’t return too soon or wait too long.
When you return to the piece, note in the margins where it’s working and where it needs help. Are the readers correct in their assessment of the sections that could be cut or be significantly condensed? Read the piece again, beginning at the place where it might be made to start. Does it make a strong opening? What needs to be pulled from the cut material, and how much can be set free?
It takes a certain amount of courage to cut away pages of a project. Don’t forget to put these pages in an idea file or in a separate document—they may contain the seed of another idea. But when you’ve cut the pages, they’re gone. Don’t agonize over them or rationalize ways of returning them to the story.
Letting a piece go where it wants to go also can be difficult for us. Our initial premise dictates a certain structure, a clear narrative path. And yet, when a piece is well underway, it takes on a will of its own. I don’t talk a lot about characters taking over or telling the writer what to write. I’ve always found such talk a bit fallacious and self-aggrandizing, turning the creative process (and therefore, the creative artist) into an inspired genius in touch with mysterious forces beyond the powers of normal folk.
At the same time, I don’t agree with Nabokov’s famous comment about characters being his “galley slaves.” The creative process isn’t just a mechanized act of will, an application of learned techniques. Our subconscious minds, the mythmaking power of our imaginations, do come into play. Conscious craft and subconscious artistry unite in a piece, granting it a power we can’t always control. I don’t know that it’s a matter of characters taking over. I think it’s that, at some point, the story moves along its own path. It knows what it wants to be, even when we have different ideas about what it should be.
Creative writing is such an intuitive act that it’s tough to make this point in a concrete way. To recognize when you’re forcing a piece away from its natural course, look for places where it begins to sound awkward to your artistic ear. Do you find yourself, at some level, asking whether the character would really do that? Does a scene end with one character having the last word in a way that seems false? Does the analysis of a key event in your personal essay serve more to make you look innocent than to provide an authentic insight? Trust your instincts. Perhaps you’re working against your own piece. You’ve moved beyond your initial premise into territory you may not want to visit, but your uneasiness is suggesting you have to explode that generative idea and move on. Responding to that uneasiness, even consciously feeling it, requires spending enough time on a piece to really hear what it’s telling you.
At first, we may feel uneasy about an aspect of the piece in a faint way. We may feel it sometimes as we read, but at other times, it feels just fine. Sometimes it takes another reader to point it out, causing us to say, “I sort of wondered about that part. It never seemed quite right to me.”
For example, we’re trying to end a scene but nothing works, nothing feels like the natural place to stop. Whatever final lines we write don’t have the ring of finality. If you want to say that the characters have taken over, that they’ve decided they don’t want to stop talking, fine. I would phrase it more along the lines of the story asserting its own course. The falseness enters because we are sticking too closely to our idea of where the story must go. We say to ourselves, “This isn’t an important scene. It’s just a transition, taking me from this event to that event. I can’t spend 10 pages on a transitional scene.” And yet, something about that transitional scene remains unresolved. If we trust our intuition, we allow the scene to find its own resolution. Perhaps a better idea is emerging, but we stick stubbornly to our original concept of the piece, trying not to notice that something about the scene bothers us every time we read it. Something just doesn’t quite feel right.
Try not to see the need to explode your idea, blowing it up and beginning a new course, as a failure. It’s not. It’s another way of perceiving and building upon the possibilities of the original idea. The explosion creates all sorts of wonderful fragments that can be new ideas in themselves.
As in relationships, breaking up with an idea is hard to do. We try one strategy after another, but still the relationship isn’t working. We read books, surf Internet sites, seek counseling. Nothing helps. Something essential is missing, and all the advice and effort in the world won’t bring back the love you once felt. At some point, we need to tell the piece to sit down. We need to summon the courage to say, “Honey, we need to talk.”
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The (American) National Book Awards have been announcing longlists all week -- one category revealed each day -- but the fiction list, due to be unveiled only today was 'leaked' yesterday, so they're now already all up.
[The National Book Foundation foolishly tried to 'embargo' the fiction list, revealing it to some journalists and expecting them not to jump the gun; someone goofed, a popular website missed or misread the memo and posted the information (for a while), and once the cat was out of the bag The New York Times considered it fair game and they and everyone piled on.
To their credit, the NBF handled the situation very well, jumping right on board and reacting philosophically to the leak.]
As usual, I haven't read, much less reviewed any of the titles in any of the categories -- though at least I actually have a copy of ... one of them (Lila, by Marilynne Robinson).
Meanwhile, the Americans can at least lord over the whiny Man Booker judges that they consider a much larger pool of books: while this year's Man Booker longlist was selected from a mere 154 books, the National Book Foundation reports that there were 417 books (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) submitted for the fiction prize, and 494 books (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) submitted for the non-fiction prize.
Disappointingly, however, the National Book Awards, like the Man Booker, don't reveal the titles that were submitted and considered in each category.
I usually blog and promote fellow children's authors through Write What Inspires You and today I am compelled to shift gears a bit. Author, Erin Ireland as she braves the world to share her story…
Please welcome guest author blogger, Erin Ireland! Applause, applause!
A Voice in the Nightwas a long time coming. Many obstacles were fighting me and making me doubt that I would ever be able to express my thoughts in print. Number one action was, for me to get from under the pressures of life. The book rested in the back of my mind with thoughts that reminded me; no matter how difficult these times are, I still have my voice, and someday I will express them to the world and be able to write a book.
Well that time came in 2012. I had been homeless for two long years and finally I found refuge in an apartment. After all of the humiliation, I could now have some dignity. Finally I could be counted among the normal people. I went to the blind center and bought a computer for $100. Whoo! Whoo! I was set. I contacted my publisher and she accepted my books once again. A few years before they had been under contract with her, but unfortunately I was forced to cancel them. The Publisher so kindly gave me new contracts. How blessed was I? I was on top of the world. What more could I want? New contracts, new place to live; I was starting a new life. Then along came Steve Harris and Jack Canfield and they offered a new program titled The Best Seller Blueprint Program. There were lots of new things embracing my life. The program was expensive and I had little money, I pondered the indulgence of taking a course I really couldn’t afford. I thought and thought, my money was precious, but in the end, I signed up. I spent the entire summer, twelve weeks studying with those guys. Every day I was like a kid in a candy shop with all they had to offer. I was floundering with my book of memoirs and how to put it together. I would write an event from my life, but couldn’t get it in order, no matter how I tried. I wasn’t able to pull that emotion out and express it properly. Then Jack and Steve said trying to write your own story before you have given something to others is not going to fly. They are avid believers in giving back first and then going forward with what you desire; giving before you take. That sounded right to me. I thought, maybe I need to back up here and write a book that will help others instead of trying to self-indulge in my experiences. After all, my experiences have probably developed into expertise in the subject of abuse. I could actually save lives if I were to present a self-help book that would open eyes and guide people to a better life. This had to be better than me just telling my personal story. Well, once the idea resonated and permeated my brain, I was off and running. They taught me how to structure the book. How to set up the chapters, and how to bring my expertise to the page. I had finished the first draft in three months. I spent the next year revising and getting two professional edits. They recommended two edits, so I was fortunate enough to be able to get two edits. I thought, wow! I’m going to publish this book before the end of the year, 2013. I was hoping for October because I was told that was National Abuse Month. The plans of mice and men as they say, came to a disastrous crash. I became ill and in November the unexpected happened. To my horror, I was homeless once again. Late at night chemicals came down into my apartment. The smell was like cherries that were mixed with chemicals. It shot my blood pressure up very high. I went to the hospital with a heart event as they call them. That happened three more times in a span of about eight days. Everything I owned was destroyed and I had to throw it all away. I was left with almost nothing. Nowhere to go, living in a hotel. I was off line for nine months and unable to write. I had no computer. Everything had been polluted. Many events took place between these times, but better left for the next book. A short while ago I bought a new computer. I took my files to be transferred on to the new computer. Came home and realized they had lost 50% of my files, including the final edit of my new book. I was beginning to believe I wasn’t to publish this book. Luckily my editor had a copy and my friends had copies. I was back in business.
Writing this book was inspired by Jack Canfied and Steve Harris, but also it was inspired by knowing that I have experiences that are not and should not ever go to waste. Our experiences in life, good and bad, are our tools to inspire and help others. If we throw away our tools we can’t do God’s work. Abuse is a terrible thing and I feel in all of my turmoil that I have been blessed by God to bring enlightenment to all those who wish to listen to my words of down in the trench experience. I have been in the deep and dark, and I do know what it is you need to do to avoid the physical and emotional battered life. I wish for all to know that they are entitled to an abuse free life. For no man/women is happy if they are not free.
Erin Ireland writes for those who feel they have no voice. She is a woman who has spent many years observing the abuse of others. Her experiences have been many in the direction of others who suffer in silence with isolation, controlled obsessions, verbal abuse, Superior attitudes, deceit, jealousy, physical, and sexual assaults, and many more indignities suffered everyday by beautiful people. Erin Ireland has suffered a great deal of abuse in her own life, and writes from her heart when explaining what she feels is an inappropriate act against another. Her passion for the subject of abuse runs deep, and reflects in her sometimes overpowering expressions of what she would like to change in life for you. She wishes for all to come to her website, feel welcome, and hopes that all will find some refuge and comfort here. www.erinirelandwrites.com Erin Ireland is a nom de plume, in order to protect the innocent. She will always speak her mind and the truth for the betterment of all those who seek answers and comfort. She has written a book Titled, A Voice in the Night: Silent Abuse, The Early Warning Signs That Could Save Your Life. This is a book to help others bypass the long suffering that can be eliminated if they can learn to view the traits of an abuser early on. She is writing for others to see the light. Erin hopes for them be a lamp unto themselves. She wishes for them to find there safe ground to stand on, before they have spent their entire lives wondering: what it is that they have done to deserve such demeaning treatment? Abuse is a conditioning that can be unlearned. Every human being is entitled to an abuse free life.
Erin, it's been my pleasure to host you today. Best wishes to your success!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Best wishes,Donna M. McDineMulti Award-winning Children's AuthorIgnite curiosity in your child through reading!Connect with Donna McDine on Google+
A Sandy Grave ~ January 2014 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ 2014 Purple Dragonfly 1st Place Picture Books 6+, Story Monster Approved, Beach Book Festival Honorable Mention 2014, Reader's Favorite Five Star Review
Powder Monkey ~ May 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Story Monster Approved and Reader's Favorite Five Star Review
Hockey Agony ~ January 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Story Monster Approved and Reader's Farvorite Five Star Review
The Golden Pathway ~ August 2010 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.~ Literary Classics Silver Award and Seal of Approval, Readers Favorite 2012 International Book Awards Honorable Mention and Dan Poynter's Global e-Book Awards Finalist
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[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Lynna! Describe yourself in five words or less.
[Lynna Banning] Shy, smart, determined, and hard-working
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The Lone Sheriff?
[Lynna Banning] I am partial to “wounded warriors,” and was drawn to an orphan of undetermined heritage (maybe part Indian, maybe part Mexican, but he doesn’t really know) who pulled himself up by his bootstraps and in adulthood worked his way up to being sheriff. I saddled him with a privileged back-East girl whom he sees as a “piece of rich fluff” but who earns his respect, then his admiration, and then his love based on her wit and strength of character.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you share your favorite scene?
[Lynna Banning] My favorite scene is the opening one, where Jericho meets the train from Chicago, expecting a male Pinkerton agent, and instead finds himself looking at Madison O’Donnell, who turns out to be a very beautiful lady Pinkerton detective with a feathered hat and a mint-green parasol.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
[Lynna Banning] Working out the push-pull dialogue and interaction between Jericho and Maddie, with his stubborn streak and her very smart one-ups-manship capabilities.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?
[Lynna Banning] A book, whatever I’m reading at the moment.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.
[Lynna Banning] A photograph of my husband; a straw-basket bed for my cat; and a fluffy feather duster for my computer keyboard.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s your favorite snack when you’re working on a deadline?
[Lynna Banning] Anything chocolate. Sometimes if I’m out of peanut butter cups I pour out a handful of chocolate chips and nibble on those.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?
[Lynna Banning] A reporter on 60 Minutes, interviewing women historical romance writers.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] You have been granted the use of one superpower for one week. Which power would you choose, and what would you do with it?
[Lynna Banning] My superpower would be the ability to bring clarity of thinking and humanitarian regard to people who are abusing other people, whether in the home, the community, or the nation—any nation.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?
[Lynna Banning] Tracy Chevalier’s “The Last Runaway”; Christina Dodd’s “Candle in the Window”; “Duty” by Robert Gates; and my annual re-reading of “Anne of Green Gables,” by Lucy Montgomery.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?
[Lynna Banning] I love to hear from readers! Write me at P.O. Box 324, Felton, California 95018. Email me at email@example.com. My web page is www.lynnabanning.net.
THE LONE SHERIFF
Harlequin Western historical ~ 75k words
As if tracking down train robbers isn’t enough, now Sheriff Jericho Silver’s backup detective is a gun-toting, head-turning beauty who sure spells trouble.
Madison O’Donnell had the perfect life—a beautiful home and all the ladies
luncheons she could stomach—but it left her bored to tears. Now the determined widow fills her days with daring deeds and wild adventures, including working with Jericho. But he insists on her returning to the city where she belongs and finds she is one lady who refuses to take no for an answer.
Buy links: Amazon B&N Harlequin Romance
None of them looked remotely like a Pinkerton man. A Pinkerton agent would no doubt be wearing a proper suit. But the only male who looked the least bit citified was Ike Bruhn, home from his honeymoon with his new bride.
Sandy jiggled at his side. “Ya see ’im?”
“Nope,” Jerico grunted.
“Maybe he missed the train,” his deputy suggested.
“Naw, must be here somewhere. Look for a gent in a gray suit.” Pinkerton men always wore grey to blend in with crowds. He scanned the thronged station platform again.
“Check inside, Sandy. Maybe he slipped past me.”
His deputy jogged off and Jericho perused the crowd a third time. Nothing. Maybe Mr. Detective had chickened out at the prospect of fingering an elusive outlaw gang that was robbing trains. He narrowed his eyes and turned to check the station once more when someone stumbled smack into him.
“Oh, I am terribly sorry.” An extremely pretty young woman carrying a green-striped parasol gazed up at him. Her voice sounded like rich whiskey sliding over smooth river stones and for a moment Jericho forgot what he’d come for. She only came up to his shoulder and on her dark, piled-up hair sat the most ridiculous concoction of feathers and stuffed birds he’d ever laid eyes on.
He sucked in a breath to apologize, then wished he hadn’t. Goddam she smelled good. Soap and something flowery.
Made his head swim.
He stepped back. “’Scuse me, ma’am.”
She waved a gloved hand and peered at his chest. “Oh, you are the sheriff.”
“Yeah, I am.”
She smiled and his mouth went dry. “You are just the man I want to see.”
Jericho swallowed. “You have a problem?”
“Oh, no.” She twirled her parasol. “You have the problem. I have come to help.” She waited, an expectant look on her face.
“Help?” Jerico echoed.
“Of course.” The whiskey in her voice was now sliding over some pointy rocks. “I am Madison O’Donnell. The Smoke River Bank hired me to help catch the gang robbing their gold shipments.”
Jericho stared at her.
“I believe you were expecting me?”
He snapped his jaw shut. He sure as hell wasn’t expecting her. The last thing he’d expected was this frilly-looking female with her ridiculous hat. In her green-striped dress and twirling her parasol like that she made him think of a dish of cool mint ice cream.
“Whatever is the matter, Sheriff? You have gone quite pale? Are you ill?”
He jerked at the question. Not ill, just gutshot. “Uh, yeah. I mean No, I’m not ill. Just . . . surprised.”
She lowered her voice. “Most Pinkerton clients are surprised when they meet me. It will pass.”
Hell no, it won’t.
Madison O’Donnell picked up her travel bag. “Shall we go?”
Not on your life. “Uh, my deputy’s inside the station house. ’Scuse me, ma’am.” He strode past her without looking back. Inside, he found Sandy talking to the ticket seller.
“Charlie says nobody’s come in except the two Weatherby women. You want me to hang around and – ?”
Biography for Lynna Banning:
Lynna Banning combines a lifelong love of history and literature into a satisfying career as a writer. Born in Oregon, she has lived in Northern California most of her life. After graduating from Scripps College she embarked on a career as an editor and technical writer, and later as a high school English teacher.
An amateur pianist and harpsichordist, Lynna performs on psaltery and harp in a medieval music ensemble, and she also plays cortholt, recorders, and tar (drum). She enjoys hearing from her readers. You may write to her directly at P.O. Box 324, Felton, CA 95018, USA, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit Lynna’s website at www.lynnabanning.net.
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Giveaway: Seven(7) copies of The Lone Sheriff…Seven(7) lucky winners
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The post Interview with Lynna Banning, Author of The Lone Sheriff and Giveaway appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.