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Blog: Galley Cat (Mediabistro) (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Adaptation, People, George R. R. Martin, Add a tag
Blog: BookEnds, LLC - A Literary Agency (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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In preparing for death we buy life insurance, longterm care insurance, we make wills and some even choose burial clothes or write out funeral wishes. Sadly, I've yet to experience a situation where an author makes similar arrangements for their literary works. And I've had a number of clients who have passed away.
How will future earnings be distributed? Will they go to one person or set up in a trust?
Who will make decisions regarding the rights to the work? Just because a book is published doesn't mean decisions regarding its rights are finished. There are times when the publisher will ask for revisions (and in this case want to hire someone to do revisions), they might want to change or update the cover or, if its a series, continue the series. Who will be your go-to person for these decisions?
What will happen to other works? Will you allow "found" manuscripts to be published? What if you are in the middle of a contract? Are you okay if the family opts to hire an outsider to see the contract through?Once you've established the legal portion concerning your books, don't overlook the day-to-day business of your publishing career. My suggestion is put together a file and let everyone in your family know where it is and what it's labeled. Maybe label it with the name of your children, spouse, niece or nephew so they won't need to remember what it's called, but it will easily stand out to them when they're searching for it.
In this file you should include a list of all your publications, earned or unearned. I've had situations where a book never earned out, until it did, at that point sending checks became difficult since no one kept me updated with contact information.
Include who handles the statements or sends checks for those books. If they are self-pubbed you'll need to include detailed information for each account from which you receive money. I would suggest including all passwords and how payments and statements are distributed.
If you have an agent you'll need to include the agent's name and her contact information so the family can get in touch about statements and earnings.
I don't think preparing to make your family's life easier is that difficult, but I do suggest it be done. Until I hear from next of kin and am given strict instructions on how to move forward I will continue to send checks in the name of the author. I'm unsure how long that's going to work for the family or how it will play out during tax time.
Blog: OUPblog (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: *Featured, Books, Editor's Picks, EZ Thoughts with Edward Zelinsky, Health & Medicine, Law, Politics, cost of Medicare, Ed Zelinsky, Edward A. Zelinsky, end of life counseling, end of life medical care, healthcare costs, medical counseling for elderly, medical treatment termination, Medicare end of life counseling, obamacare, The Origins of the Ownership Society: How the Defined Contribution Paradigm Changed America, Add a tag
Medicare recently announced that it will pay for end-of-life counseling as a legitimate medical service. This announcement provoked little controversy. Several groups, including the National Right to Life Committee, expressed concern that such counseling could coerce elderly individuals to terminate medical treatment they want. However, Medicare’s statement was largely treated as uncontroversial—indeed, almost routine in nature.Add a Comment
Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina & New Orleans by Don Brown Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015 978-0-544-15777-4 Grades 5 and up The reviewer received a copy of the book from the publisher. This month marks the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Many teens and adults will remember watching the news in horror as citizens struggled to survive squalid conditions in the Superbowl shelter whileAdd a Comment
Blog: Teaching Authors (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: April Halprin Wayland, Bobbi Miller, Carla Killough McClafferty, Esther Hershenhorn, JoAnn Early Macken, summer vacation, summer writing camps, Add a tag
“We are like islands in the sea, separate on the surface but connected in the deep.” ~ William James
I have so enjoyed this unit on summer experiences presented by the Teaching Authors. At the core of these discussions is the importance of making connections. JoAnn connects to nature, offering interesting experiments with monarch butterflies.
Esther , Carla and April explore the important connections to be made at writing conferences that go above and beyond the business of writing.
Mary Ann connects to the next generation of writers in her discussion of summer camp,
“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.” ~ Herman Melville
We know stories are old. Humans have been telling stories for over 100,000 years. Not every culture had developed codified laws, or even a written language, but every culture in the history of the world has had stories. Some research suggests stories predate language, that language came about in order to express story concepts.
And those first stories are found in paintings buried in prehistoric caves. An ancient man reaches out and across 40,000 years to his descendents, connecting past to present. It is the essence of humankind to connect. As Eric Booth states, in The Everyday Work of Art, “Art is not apart. It is a continuum within which all participate; we all function in art, use the skills of art, and engage in the action of artists every day.”
|Kinza Riza/Courtesy of Nature.com.|
“It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tired into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one destiny, affects all indirectly.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
Thank you for connecting with me and the Teaching Authors!
About the photograph: A stencil of an early human's hand in an Indonesian cave is estimated to be about 39,000 years old. Kinza Riza/Courtesy of Nature.com.
See More about the Cave Art here: Rock (Art) of Ages: Indonesian Cave Paintings Are 40,000 Years Old. Cave paintings of animals and hand stencils in Sulawesi, Indonesia, seem to be as old as similar cave art in Europe. Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/rockart-ages-indonesian-cave-paintings-are-40000-years-old-180952970/#8DR5O3DYTByKccpx.99.
Blog: How to Write a Book Now RSS Blog (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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Question: I'm writing a novel in third person limited on an online site, and while everyone loves the protagonist with all his quirks and awkward nature,Add a Comment
We all know that we need for our work to be copyrighted to protect ourselves from others profiting from our work, but what are the facts? Check out this Writer’s Digest article, “6 Questions Writers Ask about Copyright and the Law” by Chuck Sambuchino.
A good primer. The points that are covered:
- Do I need to register my work with the U.S. Copyright Office to hold a copyright on the work?
- So since I do not need to “super copyright” my work to have basic protection, is there any real incentive to doing so?
- I’ve heard that if I mail a copy of the printed work to myself, that proves copyright. Is that true?
- Does a copyright protect ideas?
- What are the legal ramifications of reproducing song lyrics in a manuscript? Also, can I use a song title as the title of my book? I have personal experience with this—I used song lyrics in my novel The Summer Boy and then either took them out, referred to titles, or otherwise referred to lyrics in ways that didn’t duplicate them exactly.
- In a work of fiction, what restrictions exist on using the names of professional sports teams, TV networks or real people?
© 2015 Ray RhameyAdd a Comment
Blog: The Open Book (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Educator Resources, back to school, book selection, classroom community, classroom culture, Read Alouds, Add a tag
Whether students have a year or more under their belts or are starting school for the first time, a new school year can invoke everything from laughter to tears to giggles and cheers. Teachers face the full spectrum of student feelings about the first day of a new school year: excitement, shyness, doubt, fear, anxiety.
How can we help our students face their feelings and the start of the new school year?
Selecting the right back-to-school read aloud is exciting because of the potential it holds. We can imagine the conversations we will have with our scholars and the connections they will make. We can imagine the safe, welcoming, reading-first space we will inspire.
It may be tempting to concentrate on introducing students to routines and expectations and practicing procedures around sitting on the carpet or signaling for the bathroom. However, building classroom culture is critical to a successful school year. Reading should start on day 1 as part of your strategy for achieving that safe, welcoming, reading-first space.
As you assemble or sort through your read aloud bin for the right mentor texts for the first unit in your scope & sequence, think about which books signal the community and classroom culture you want and your students need.
Pair read alouds that are “elementary school classics” with books that celebrate and recognize your students’ experiences, backgrounds, and interests.
For example, a classic back to school read aloud is Chrysanthemum, by Kevin Henkes, about a young girl’s first day of kindergarten. Henkes captures the feelings of many new students navigating new spaces and friendships.
Now pair that with a text that has characters with identities and experiences that are meaningful to your student population. Yes, first day jitters and excitement are universal, but the additional challenge of being a non-native English speaker or coping with homelessness can tip feelings over from nervous to overwhelmed.
Chrysanthemum, You’re Not Alone!
As part of your preparations for the beginning of the school year, gather a collection of your books related to the first day of school.
Book Pairing Recommendation:
Ideal read-alouds for the start of school should:
- Allow you to introduce and discuss the roles of students and teachers, the classroom, and school in general
- Show young learners that it is normal to have a mixture of feelings during this time of change
- Include a variety of themes and topics: the first day of school, making friends, families and communities, dealing with new situations and separation, helping each other process our emotions/overcome fears, and growing up
Getting students to start talking about how a character grapples with new classmates and the school setting can help them express how they are feeling as well as recognize that others in the room feel exactly the same way. (It also gives you the opportunity to start reading to kids! And show how book-centric your classroom is.)
- In the first few days, read more than one character’s first day of school. Ask children to make connections between these stories. Also encourage them to connect their own school experiences to those of characters in the books.
- If students are writing, have children write about something in school that made them feel happy. It may be one or two sentences. For students who are not writing yet, encourage them to dictate their experience for their drawings to an adult who will record their words. Include a space for students to sketch their answer.
- Have students turn to the last page in the book. Then ask them to draw a dream that the character might have that night or imagine what her second day will be like.
- As a whole group, write a class letter as Chrysanthemum to Moony Luna. What advice would she have for Luna about school?
- Finally, create a bin of other back-to-school books (it’s quite a genre!) for students to explore in and outside of class.
Additionally, consider reading your favorite must-read back-to-school book in the students’ first language (or inviting a parent to join alongside you in the reading) if they are English Language Learners. Many of the most popular “classics” are available in other languages as well as authentic literature written as bilingual texts.
Recognizing children’s cultures and their languages is a BIG deal. Too many schools get students’ names wrong from the beginning. More and more schools have English Language Learner populations and multiple languages spoken within one school and classroom. Reading in students’ language or selecting a text that portrays a character your students identify with communicates to them that they matter, their lives matter, and they are going to learn a ton with you this year.
Culturally responsive books with characters and themes about navigating a new school/grade/year:
A Shelter in Our Car: Zettie and her Mama left their warm and comfortable home in Jamaica for an uncertain life in the United Sates, and they are forced to live in Mama’s car.
David’s Drawings and Los dibujos de David: Available in Spanish and English, a shy young African American boy makes friends in school by letting his classmates help with his drawing of a bare winter tree. A shy young African American boy makes friends in school by letting his classmates help with his drawing of a bare winter tree.
Elizabeti’s School and La escuela de Elizabeti: In this contempory Tanzanian story available in English and Spanish, author Stephanie StuveBodeen and artist Christy Hale once again bring the sweet innocence of Elizabeti to life. Readers are sure to recognize this young child’s emotions as she copes with her first day of school and discovers the wonder and joy of learning.
First Day in Grapes and Primer día en las uvas: Available in Spanish and English, the powerful story of a migrant boy who grows in selfconfidence when he uses his math prowess to stand up to the school bullies.
Moony Luna/ Luna, Lunita Lunera: Bilingual English/Spanish. A bilingual tale about a young girl afraid to go to school for the first time.
The Closet Ghosts: Moving to a new place is hard enough without finding a bunch of mean, nasty ghosts in your closet. When Hanuman, the Hindu monkey god, answers Anu’s plea for help, Anu rejoicesuntil she realizes that those pesky ghosts don’t seem to be going anywhere.
The Upside Down Boy/ El niño de cabeza: Bilingual English/Spanish. Awardwinning poet Juan Felipe Herrera’s engaging memoir of the year his migrant family settled down so that he could go to school for the first time.
Willie Wins: In this heart-warming story, a boy gets beyond peer pressure and comes to appreciate the depth of his father’s love.
For further reading on starting the school year:Add a Comment
Blog: Galley Cat (Mediabistro) (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Trends, Videos, grammar, parody, Add a tag
Blog: Beth Kephart Books (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Alice McDermott, Amy, Amy Winehouse, fame, Marilynne Robinson, Michael Ondaatje, Add a tag
Every representation of a person's life is just that—a representation. A curation. A summary. An interpretation.
I know that. I off went to see "Amy," the deeply moving documentary about the great singer, Amy Winehouse, fully aware that what I was about to witness was a life encoded by footage and recall, and not a life itself.
Still. There are some incontestable things about this British singer with a genius touch and a tortured relationship with her own talent. First (incontestable): she could sing. Second (I think it's clear): she wasn't always sure of who to trust. Third: she died too young of alcohol poisoning in a body winnowed to near nothing by too many drugs and an eating disorder.
Fourth: Winehouse never originally wanted to be famous, never thought she would be famous, never imagined herself capable of fame. She is there, in the footage, saying so. But fame became hers, fame became her, and she had to live, and die, with the consequences.
There is a dividing line between those who make things in order to be known or seen, and those whose loyalties lie with the things themselves—the songs, the films, the stories. There are those who craft themselves into a brand—who orchestrate aggrandizements, who leverage opportunities, who seek out "friendships" that will advance them, who overstay their welcome, who build cliques that further not their art but their careers, who ricochet with gossip. And there are those who (I think, in the book world, of Alice McDermott, Marilynne Robinson, and Michael Ondaatje) seek out private quiet. Yes, they cede to interviews and talks and touring when their books are released. But they also vanish from public view, and consumption, just as soon as they're able.
Fame—a seething hope for it—is not what propels them.
Watching "Amy," one wants to turn back time. To give the artist her creative space. To let her walk the streets without the blinding pop of cameras. One wants to give her what matters most—room for the everyday and the ordinary. Supremely talented, unwittingly destined, Amy Winehouse suffered. She made choices, certainly. She faced a wall of personal demons. But the media that stalked her and the fans who turned hold some responsibility for what happened.
Artists have the responsibility to do their work for the right reasons. They have responsibility to the work itself—to not sell out, to not write to trends, to not step on others in their quest for something.
But fans have responsibilities, too. To give the artists room to make, to risk, to sometimes fail. To love artists for who they are and what they do and not for whether or not, in this bracket of time, they appear to be potentially famous. To see artists as people who would be better off, who would be healthier, given some time to live with dignity instead of trailing endless glitter.
Blog: Gurney Journey (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Academic Painters, Pencil Sketching, Add a tag
|Albert Edelfelt, Boys Playing on the Shore, courtesy Google Art Project|
Blog: The Renegade Writer (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Advice, Motivation, Writing, freelance writing, Writers, writing classes, writing gigs, writing trivia, Add a tag
We writers can spend hours every day thinking, dreaming, talking, and ruminating about writing. We love what we do!
But when we use these activities (and I’m loathe to even call them “activities”) as substitutes for actually writing…that’s a problem. We leave the realm of serious writer and enter the realm of — fanfolk.
And it’s a sneaky problem, because geeking out over all things writing feels like we’re being productive. We call it brainstorming, networking, getting motivated, whatever. But what it is not, is WRITING. Oh yeah, and MARKETING. And otherwise getting off our butts and going after, and completing, paying writing assignments.
(Caveat: I’m not saying we’re not allowed to have fun, kill time, and kibitz on writers’ forums. It’s when these time-wasters placate us into feeling productive — or we’re more interested in the trappings of a writer than in writing itself — that there’s a problem. )
Seven Signs You’re a Writing Fanboy/Girl:
1. You wear your Grammar Police badge with pride.
Writing forums, email discussion boards for writers, and blog comments are full of posts like these:
- My client just sent me an email where he used ‘their’ instead of ‘they’re’! *headdesk*
- Look at the typo in this newspaper headline! What is journalism coming to these days?
- Hey, blogger…you call yourself a writer? There’s a word missing in the second paragraph.
Pointing out/kvetching about other writers’ grammar mistakes make you FEEL good because hey, you don’t make mistakes like that so clearly you’re a superior writer. But is it getting you more gigs? Is it getting more writing out of you? Or is it simply wasting energy you could be using to get more assignments?
The person who made the typo is writing. What are YOU doing?
I have a guest post on the MakeaLivingWriting.com blog that goes into much, much more details on why you want to pit away your Grammar Police badge. (With 177 comments…clearly a hot button topic!)
2. You give a crap that The Comedy of Errors is Shakespeare’s shortest play. (And you know that it has 1,787 words.)
Look on almost any writers’ forum and you’ll see long threads where writers discuss their favorite pen (who writes in pen anymore?), post interesting factoids about Shakespeare, share motivational quotes from Hemingway, and hash out the details of the latest plagiarism/book banning/angry-author-screwed-by-publisher case.
I call these “fanboy writer posts.” These writer trivia posts show you’re a big fan of all things writing…but do they actually count as writing?
3. You’re a member of 10 writing organizations.
Here’s your email sig line:
Jane Smith, Wordsmith Extraordinaire
National Writers Union
Science Writers of America
Mystery Writers Association
Medial Journalists’ Society
East Podunk Stitch & Bitch Writing Club
Romance Writers of America
[Add five more here]
Guess what? Editors and potential clients do not look at this list and say, “Wow. She must be a serious writer. Let’s hire her!”
Being a member of (most) writers’ associations does not prove that you are a writer. If you shell out your $150, you can get in. Even if you’ve never written a word in your life!
Join the organizations that pertain to the exact type of writing you’re actually doing. Not the genres you wish you were in, or the ones you think will impress people. And only join if you plan to be active in the group (which includes — wait for it — writing.)
4. You are the proud owner of a vast collection of quill pens.
Many writers love the trappings of writing more than the actual act of writing itself. So we see aspiring writers posting photos of their collection of mugs with writerly sayings; getting/talking about/comparing/sharing on social media their tattoos of Remington typewriters; collecting recycled-paper, leather-bound journals (just for looking at, natch); and strolling the aisles of Office Depot coveting the fancy pens.
Anyone looking at you, with your exclamation point tattoo and “Writer at Work” doorknob hanger, would think you are a writer. But…are you actually writing? Don’t delude yourself: A collection of quill pens does not a writer make.
5. You take writing classes you don’t need.
Wait a minute…did I just say that? Maybe I’m shooting myself in the foot because I teach a ton of classes for writers here—but seen too many writers take class after class in order to avoid having to actually pitch and write.
(Many instructors LOVE students like that…they pay good money, don’t do the work, and the instructor gets something for nothing.)
A multitude of certificates from writing classes is the sign of an insecure writer who always thinks she needs to know more before getting started — or the sign of fanfolk who love showing off their creds more than they do actually writing.
Yes, take a class to learn the skills you’re lacking, whether it’s writing the perfect pitch, running a writing business, or crafting an article that will sell. Then…go out and do that thing. That’s what makes you a real writer. If you come to a a roadblock because you need more skills, THEN you can take more classes.
This goes for free classes, too. Just about everyone with something to sell online offers a free class/instructional webinar/training call to get people on their email lists. It’s tempting to try them all! But unless you need that exact skill right now, you can hold off until you do.
6. You love books.
Writers love spending lots of time on Goodreads reviewing books. And weighing in on the latest literary controversies (is The Goldfinch crap or not?) And discussing On Writing and Writing Down the Bones and The Artist’s Way. And bragging about how many books they have in their homes. (I have over 1,000 books! Oh yeah? Well, I have 1,500. Here’s a photo to prove it!)
But the fact that you have a library overflowing with books, a shelf full of writing manuals, and 500 Goodreads reviews (especially of those writing manuals!) does not show you’re a writer. You talk a good game, but do you have the ass-in-seat-time to prove it? Serious writers with limited time use their time to — write.
7. You call yourself a “scribe” or “wordsmith” on your business card.
You are not a scribe, and you’re not a wordsmith. These terms bring to mind unpaid writers jotting down poems for the love of it — or monks copying Bible passages. (My editor at a writing magazine kept changing the word “writer” to “scribe” in my articles and it drove me batshit crazy…as much as I loved this editor!)
You are a serious, well-paid businessperson who offers writing as a valuable service. Right?
So: Are you a fanboy/girl or REAL writer? And if you say you’re a real writer: Prove it today by shutting down the forums, putting away the writing manuals, resisting the urge for one more class or one more writing group membership…and writing.Add a Comment
Blog: Koosje Koene (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: bic-pen, journal, justdrawit, Add a tag
In case you missed it: I am offering my online drawing course 'Just Draw It' again in October. It seems like a long time before it starts, and you may be wondering why I am blogging about this right now.
Well... it's because today is the very last day for you to take advantage of the early bird fee. For 6 weeks full of drawing fun, instead of $99, you pay $89!
So what are you waiting for?
Blog: The Miss Rumphius Effect (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Monday Poetry Stretch, Add a tag
Blog: GreenBeanTeenQueen (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Library Programs, librarycon, storytime, Add a tag
Fandom Starts Early Storytime Number 1
Fandom Starts Early Storytime Number 2
I've hosted two Fandom Starts Early Geeky Storytimes for kids and I knew it would be the perfect fit for LibraryCon. My previous Fandom storytimes have been OK, but I held them on Friday evenings, which are always a tough time to draw a crowd. Plus, I didn't get the true geeky families I was hoping for and I knew my audience at LibraryCon would appreciate and love a storytime based on fandoms.
I took some things that I've used before and added a few new things for the LibraryCon version. I actually had to adapt and change my plan at the last minute because my crowd ended up being much younger than I anticipated. So here's what we did for Fandom Starts Early LibraryCon!
Opening Song: Hedwig's Theme-I opened the doors had the kids walk in to Hedwig's Theme and welcomed everyone to Fandom Starts Early Storytime. I told the parents that it's fun to introduce their favorite fandoms to their kids and we have lots of great books to help do so. Plus, being a geek is awesome!
Blog: Geoffrey Philp's Blog (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Civil Rights, Education, Liberties, Urban Policy, Add a tag
WE PETITION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO:
Light the White House Red, Black and Green on August 13 to honor Black people "held to serve or labor" who built it.
Blog: Becky's Book Reviews (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: 2015, adult nonfiction, books reviewed in 2015, international literature, library book, Nonfiction, Add a tag
Words to describe this one: Thrilling, Fascinating, Informative, Fascinating.
Gut by Giulia Enders is a compelling, action-packed nonfiction read that I found almost impossible to put down. I read it in two sittings. And I found myself stopping only to share little bits of information with others. My goal: to try to get everyone to read this one! Why? Because I think people NEED to know how the body works, and how ESSENTIAL gut-health is for HEALTH.
Yes, primarily, the book is about "the gut" (digestion from start to finish), but, it is also about how the whole body functions or malfunctions.
The last third of the book focuses on microbes, or gut flora. This section of the book is so absorbing and enlightening. And part of what makes it so exciting is how much is still not known, how NEW this research still is, and how promising it looks to be. There is still so much we don't know, don't understand, about how our bodies function, and what causes things like diseases and obesity. The link between gut microbes and obesity is certainly attention-grabbing.
From start to finish, I found Gut to be a great read. The jacket copy says that the narrative has "quirky charm" and I quite agree. You can watch this video as well.
Table of Contents:
- How Does Pooping Work? And Why That's An Important Question
- The Gateway to the Gut
- The Structure of the Gut
- What We Really Eat
- Allergies and Intolerances
- How Our Organs Transport Food
- The Brain and the Gut
- I Am An Ecosystem
- The Immune System and Our Bacteria
- The Development of the Gut Flora
- The Adult Gut Population
- The Role of the Gut Flora
- The Bad Guys--Harmful Bacteria and Parasites
- Of Cleanliness and Good Bacteria
© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews Add a Comment
Blog: Carrie Jones (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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- Mon, 11:30: It's membership month! Would you like to come learn about Rotary and how we make a difference? Come to our... http://t.co/oLrp2HWgmJ
Blog: Storywraps-Wrap your mind and heart around a good story (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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About the book...
"1. Check first before you borrow something that isn't yours. You don't want to get into trouble.
2. In busy places always stay with the grown up in charge."
I know you will love this book and series.
Blog: Jo Knowles (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: teachers write, monday morning warm-up, Add a tag
Several of you know, I spent a week on a "Mission Trip" with 21 youth and five other adults doing volunteer work for three organizations: Habitat for Humanity (www.habitat.org), New Reach (www.newreach.org), And CCA (ccahelps.org). All three organizations help provide housing for those in need, many for women in crisis, along with their children. At the end of the day, I tried to jot down a few of the many powerful moments I witnessed on this trip because I knew I was experiencing something I never wanted to forget. Here it is...
"Love Big: A Reflection"
I climb into a Big White Van
And Dave blasts Paradise by The Dashboard Light
as we circle the parking lot and wave good-bye.
Driving down the highway,
"That part in the song" comes on and I wonder, "Do they know what this is about?"
Answer: Yes. Yes they do.
By the time we cross the border into Connecticut
The Playlist has run through three times.
We joke that whoever made this mix
Must have stopped listening to music
Someone says, "This time we ALL have to sing."
We turn up the volume and do our best,
singing loud and proud and slightly off-key,
ready to start bonding before we even arrive.
That night at vespers
Eli says, "At the end of the week,
We'll say this was hardest we've ever worked.
We'll go home and need a day to recover.
But the volunteers here who guided us
Will start again on Monday.
And they'll do it again the Monday after that."
We all let that sink in.
"This is a time to be your best selves,"
Paul told us in the parking lot back home before we left.
I get the sense we're all silently committing to that now.
In the morning
We stagger out of our beds and grumble about
Who got cream cheese on the knife handle,
Then circle up in the parking lot, hold hands
And pray together for a day of good work.
In the vans, we count numbers.
Turn on the play list.
Sing a little shyly with our new group.
Watch as one side of town
Transforms to another.
Manicured lawns of bright green grass
Turn overgrown and weedy.
Freshly painted houses
Turn paint chipped and dirty.
Loved and cared for neighborhoods
Turn to ones of neglect.
At the work site, we huddle together in a shed while we wait for the rain to pass.
Our hosts share breakfast and tell us about the women living in the shelter.
I feel guilty as I eat my jelly doughnut,
Looking at the building and thinking about the stories inside.
When the work starts
We pull weeds entangled with garbage,
Grown together as if they're the same thing.
We discover someone's shelter under a truck bed liner:
There's a sleeping bag
Some personal belongings.
Bottles filled with a liquid none of us want to identify.
The teens handle these things tenderly.
They worry out loud about what will happen
when the owner returns to find everything gone.
I try not to cry because
I'm the adult.
But this first morning is already hurting my heart
In unexpected ways.
All day we sweat and pull weeds
Paint in the blasting sun.
At the end of the day, we collapse in the van
and count down the number of times we have to do it all again.
But then I think of Eli's words,
And put the blister on my toe out of my mind.
Breakfast is quiet as we wander out one by one
and compare predictions for how hot it will get today.
On the highway there's a billboard that says "Love Big,"
And I tell myself, that's my motto for the week.
At the site, we start sweating as soon as we unload.
We shovel more rocks.
Pull more weeds.
Pick up trash.
And compare sweat stains.
As we pour the cement,
I see a little girl watching from an open window.
She's eating cereal out of a tall glass.
I smile and say hi.
She says hi back.
I wonder "What's your story?"
I bet she wonders the same thing.
Tonight, we drive to the shore,
Swim in the cool salt water and watch the sunset.
We talk about grief,
And how important it is
To cause a stir of change.
I feel an overwhelming sense of privilege
Looking out at the ocean,
Wondering if any of the residents we helped today
Have ever shared this view.
The irony of our troubled waters discussion hits me,
while the quiet, calm water laps the sand.
Today we work on the second floor balcony
Staining a porch railing.
To get there, we have to use the stairs inside.
Now, we catch glimpses of who we're doing this for.
We hear them behind thin walls.
A baby crying.
A mother comforting.
It goes on and on as we paint a second coat,
And I'm sure we're all wondering again:
What's your story?
When we all reunite back at church,
We share survival stories
And agree we all worked hard,
Just in different ways.
We joke that there are teams,
But we are One.
We visit a quarry and jump off cliffs.
Swing down ziplines
And have a picnic dinner.
We sing happy birthday to Eli as the sun sets.
At vespers we talk about joy instead of grief,
But circle back again to acknowledge
How connected the two tend to be.
As we drive to our site, Paul inspires us with an Elvis song.
We plant trees.
Dig up mulch.
Sweat. So much.
I think about the billboard sign from earlier in the week:
Logan and I name our tree Buttercup.
We put flowers in our hair and say we have Flower Power,
And power through the afternoon with new energy.
Every day, I have seen our youth rediscover their best selves.
Pushing harder, singing louder, embracing their work with
"lovely energy" that astonishes and lifts me up.
On our last morning of work,
we listen to our usual playlist,
And Molly says,
"If you change the subject of this song from romance to the mission trip,
This is exactly how I feel about all of you."
We sing "Hooked on a feeling" a little bit louder after that.
There are tears on our way home that day.
We sing "Country Road, Take Me Home"
But I get the sense none of us really wants to go yet.
That night, we share thank you's.
We talk about how much our lives have changed this week,
And whether we've caused a big enough change
in the troubled waters we've witnessed.
There are more tears. More hugs.
I look at this circle and see a new community.
I see Loving Companionship.
I see Family.
I think of the Love Big billboard.
It's a motto that sticks.
We caravan home. Some sleep. Some sing.
I keep turning around, looking at the faces in our van.
They were mostly just acquaintances on the ride down 7 days ago.
Now, they are "loving companions." Family.
I know all year I will hear a song
Or a phrase
Or see a pink flower
Or a newly planted tree
And think of these inspiring youth.
I'll wonder where they are and how they're doing.
They're part of my deep well now.
Part of my heart.
They have helped me be my best self.
And I'm forever grateful.
I will always love them big.
Monday Morning Warm-Up:
As you can see, this isn't necessarily a poem, but a list of moments. My challenge to you is to find the things in your day this week (and later the firs week of school) that you could do something similar with. Turn meaning into the mundane. Reflect on what inspired. Give purpose to what angered. Show gratitude for a moment of joy or comfort. And as always, try to have fun.
Blog: Monica Gupta (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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कई बार खबरों की वजह से विचारो की गहमा गहमा इतनी ज्यादा हो जाती है कि मौन रहना ही सर्वोतम हैAdd a Comment
Blog: Caroline by line (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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Instead of a launch party for Over in the Wetlands, I lead story time at the Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Library‘s Cherry Hills branch. Think stories, games, coloring pages, and gator cookies.
Reading Wetlands by Cathryn Sill.
Explaining the three things we needed to “make” a hurricane: wind, waves, and rain. Look at that handsome boy of mine on the right!
And the other handsome one! (Incidentally, this is what happens when the Rose boys take over the camera).
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Blog: Galley Cat (Mediabistro) (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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Well, I've waited around a long time for this, and I couldn't be more thrilled... Zero Books have announced the forthcoming publication of my wonderfully talented friend Stephen Mitchelmore's This Space of Writing:
What does 'literature' mean in our time? While names like Proust, Kafka and Woolf still stand for something, what that something actually is has become obscured by the claims of commerce and journalism. Perhaps a new form of attention is required. Stephen Mitchelmore began writing online in 1996 and became Britain's first book blogger soon after, developing the form so that it can respond in kind to the singular space opened by writing. Across 44 essays, he discusses among many others the novels of Richard Ford, Jeanette Winterson and Karl Ove Knausgaard, the significance for modern writers of cave paintings and the moai of Easter Island, and the enduring fallacy of 'Reality Hunger', all the while maintaining a focus on the strange nature of literary space. By listening to the echoes and resonances of writing, this book enables a unique encounter with literature that many critics habitually ignore. With an introduction by the acclaimed novelist Lars Iyer, This Space of Writing offers a renewed appreciation of the mystery and promise of writing.Add a Comment
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