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1. Miles Franklin Award longlist

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 It includes Elizabeth Harrower's long unpublished In Certain Circles (which I hope to be getting to soon).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

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2. Writing in ... Zambia

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

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

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3. Social Media Etiquette

What not to do when using social media.

0 Comments on Social Media Etiquette as of 3/17/2015 5:21:00 PM
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4. Beyond immigration detention: The European Court of Human Rights on migrant rights

Over 30,000 migrants, including rape and torture victims, are detained in the UK in the course of a year, a third of them for over 28 days. Some detainees remain incarcerated for years, as Britain does not set a time limit to immigration detention (the only country in the European Union not to do so). No detainee is ever told how long his or her detention will last, for nobody knows. It can be days, it can be years.

The post Beyond immigration detention: The European Court of Human Rights on migrant rights appeared first on OUPblog.

0 Comments on Beyond immigration detention: The European Court of Human Rights on migrant rights as of 3/31/2015 5:15:00 AM
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5. The Queen's Caprice review

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

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6. An Interview with Jeff Anderson About His New Middle Grade Novel

Most of us know Jeff Anderson for his brilliant work as a teacher and writer of professional books. I have learned so much from Jeff through his workshops and books. Mechanically Inclined is a book that I go back to often and his others stretch my thinking about writing.  This year, Jeff's first MG novel is due out and I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy of it.  The book is called  Zack Delacruz:  Me and My Big Mouth and it is due out in August from Sterling. It was a great read and I can think of so many past students that will love this book.  This is probably geared toward the upper end of middle grade--I am thinking grades 5-7 seems perfect.  

I had the opportunity to interview Jeff about his book and his writing.   I learned so much about his writing and this new book! 


Franki:  Why, after focusing on writing professionally for teachers did you decide to write a middle grade novel?

Jeff:  Actually I began trying my hand at writing fiction for middle grade readers almost 20 years ago.  While my first published work was professional writing for teachers, my first love was middle grade and YA fiction. Since my professional writing was fairly successful, I decided to give fiction another shot after letting it wane for five or six years. Instead of revising what I’d done in the past, Zack’s voice came to me and spilled out on the page, and many revisions later that became Zack Delacruz: Me and My Big Mouth (Sterling, August 2015).  I have a blast plotting stories, cracking myself up, going back to certain settings—hamburger joints, school festivals—any of the settings in my books and paying attention in a new way.

Franki:  You mention in your note before the story that Zack Delacruz is a lot like you. Can you talk more about that?

Jeff:  That's the fun of fiction, isn’t it? Bits and pieces and flashes of your life unconsciously work their way into your prose. Zack is short—I am tall. But the way the difference contributed to us standing out is our link. And let’s just say my big mouth had a way of getting me into trouble as well—saying the wrong thing at the wrong time to the wrong person. But all the characters have a bit of me or people that I’ve known—even in embarrassing ways. Like Janie, I sometimes spit when I talk. This was not conscious choice for her character, however. I only realized the connection later. It just happened. That’s the other fun of fiction. As I write characters they become real people to me. They do the things they’d naturally do, which are sometimes things I’d do or I’ve seen people do. There is a power beyond the conscious mind that weaves conflict and humor into my fiction. I love the way the ideas just keep coming.

Franki:  You do such a good job of balance of real middle school issues with humor in the book. How did you do that and was it a conscious decision?

Jeff:  Thank you. I’m glad you think so. There’s that conscious word again.  I’d say no. I didn’t decide to balance tough issues with humor. That’s what came out when I started to write. The reality is I was bullied relentlessly as a middle school student, and I believe the birth of my humor came from these experiences. If I made people laugh, I’d survive. They say a peacock’s feathers are so beautiful because they eat thorns. Through constant bullying I received, I ate a lot of thorns, making humor a feather in my cap.

Another connection to me is my parents were divorced around this age, but I was separated from my Dad by a three-hour drive and three-times-a-year-scheduled visits. In this book, the closeness I have with my father is the one I wished I had. That’s another wonderful thing about fiction. You can change things or experience them in a new way. The way you want. I felt alienated and alone as a child. I had such a wish to disappear. Those thoughts couldn’t help but arise as a theme in this middle grade book. But I hope the humor makes it fun. It wasn’t a message book at all, but still I think one can be found in it if you look. 

Franki:  You’ve taught this age level. Did you notice kids you’ve taught show up in the characters of this book?

Jeff:  I wanted to write a book my students would want to read. In that way they are present as an audience I wanted them to relate to. And in a way everyone I’ve ever known shows up in Zack DelacruzMe and My Big Mouth. But of course none of them are actual people. They are fabricated mixtures of people’s voices and experiences as well as mine.

I’ve taught over twenty years in the classroom and that experience oozes all over these pages. The things my students liked, said, worried about, and wrote about find their way into the fabric of my stories. I don’t often see the students I taught in books: kids that hope and dream and have everyday kid problems, but also happen to be kids of color. I am so honored that I have the chance to give my students and those like them a true reflection of their day-to-day lives. But quite often my experiences work their way in. For example, in high school I was the one who ate all the chocolate bars I was supposed to sell. I, like Zack, turn to a jar of peanut butter when stressed. When I saw the illustrator’s rendering of that scene from the book, I saw me—young and old—all over that picture. 

Franki:  I wasn’t aware there would be illustrations. Tell me about that.

Jeff:  Yes, I absolutely love Andrea Miller’s illustrations that aren’t in the advanced reader copy (ARC) you received. The pictures really add a layer to the book. If you’re interested, sometimes we release sneak peaks of illustrations on twitter. (@writeguyjeff, @andreacecelia, @sterlingbooks) And while I am at it, I am honored to have the fabulous Tad Carpenter, the cover designer of Wonder by RJ Palacio, designing the cover of Zack Delacruz: Me and My Big Mouth.

Franki:  Can you talk a bit about your experience writing a middle grade novel as opposed to the other writing you do?

Jeff:  In some ways, writing both genres are the same. I have to set aside large chunks of time to draft and revise. But fiction comes together in a different way than nonfiction writing for teachers. For teachers, it’s my voice and my actual experiences teaching writing. For my fiction book, my voice is that of a sixth grader. The characters exist only in my mind and the pages. It’s freer.  Organization matters in both cases, but in fiction it’s about the plot and change and connection. In my professional books, it’s how I can best show teachers options and possibilities. And in the end, there is something incredibly healing in fiction writing that isn’t the same in professional nonfiction. The story is all. Fiction is also a more fun to write, though I enjoy writing whatever I work on. With fiction, I feel a new purpose, a new way of reaching readers. That’s a wonderful feeling.

Franki:  Will Zack Delacruz be a series? If not, what future writing for kids do you have in the works?

Jeff:  Yes, Zack Delacruz is slated to be a series of books. I actually have already drafted the second book in the series and am revising it right now. I also have a YA book that I’d love to get out there in the next year or so. It deals with the truth of how our pasts do in fact change us and form us and haunt us.

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7. Zodiac, by Romina Russell | Book Review

Readers looking for tension, angst, fantastical myths, well-rounded characters, and a very human tale of survival will delight in this quick and engrossing page-turner of a story, sure to inspire the inner-Zodiac in everyone.

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8. Margaret A. Edwards Award Committee

This year, I am on the Margaret A. Edwards Award Committee.

What this means for this blog: I will not be reviewing or writing anything about the Committee, books read, or authors considered. I will avoid reviewing or writing about any eligible titles or authors.

Given the scope of the Award, that means that there is still plenty of titles I can write about (especially new and recent titles).

I will also be blogging about the rules and polices for the Edwards Award.

Image from the YALSA Edwards page.

Amazon Affiliate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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9. When it’s too close to home: Writing Q&A with Anne Bustard, author of Anywhere But Paradise

AnneBustard_PhotoIt is my absolute pleasure to welcome Anne Bustard today, in celebration of the release of her new Middle Grade book, which comes out today. Anne, a part of Egmont’s Last List, has graciously agreed to indulge my questions about her writing process with her brilliant answers. So without further ado, welcome, Anne!

Anywhere But ParadiseSet in 1960 Hawaii, Anywhere But Paradise is the story of reluctant seventh-grade newcomer Peggy Sue Bennett, who is baffled by local customs, worried about her quarantined cat and targeted by a school bully because she is haole, white. At first, Peggy Sue would rather be anywhere—anywhere but paradise. But a new friend, hula lessons, the beauty of the islands and more, help Peggy Sue find her way. This is a story about fear and guilt. About hope and home. About aloha, love.

I’ve read that Anywhere But Paradise was inspired by your growing up in Hawaii. Can you tell us more about that? Did you do a lot of research on Hawaii in 1960 or mostly rely on your personal experiences?

I was born in Honolulu, moved away when I was a toddler and returned to paradise after fifth grade. I have wonderful memories of hiking to waterfalls with my cousins, aunt and uncle, eating lilikoi (passion fruit) shave ice on the bench outside the Matsumoto storefront on the North Shore, stringing lei from plumeria flowers from our yard and listening to the ocean.

I did not live in the islands in 1960. But even if I had, research would still have been a gigantic part of my process. I couldn’t have written the story without delving deeper and double-triple checking details. I love research, so this part of the writing process was particularly fun! I needed to verify the animal quarantine requirements, when the night-blooming cereus flowered, stories about Madame Pele and dozens of other facets of the novel. I did a lot on my own, but so, so many generous people helped me along the way. I am exceedingly grateful.

Small moments of my personal experience flavor the narrative. I know what it’s like to hear a tsumani warning siren wail and evacuate to higher ground, to be verbally threatened by a bully (though unlike Peggy Sue, it happened to me only once) and to be enchanted by the beauty and rhythms of the islands.

Writing about a character’s problems can unearth a ton of old ghosts of our own. How did you go about navigating your past and finding the inspiration for the character of Peggy Sue? Did you ever find her problems difficult to confront due to them being too close to home?

All writers draw upon some portion of ourselves, no matter how small. Part of my own journey was to recognize that I was holding back. In a pivotal conversation with the wonderful children’s and YA writer, Janet Fox, it occurred to me that Hawaii was the antagonist of the story. I love Hawaii. It is my home. I told Janet that I did not want it to be the antagonist.

“I know,” she said in a soft voice. “But in the end,” Janet said brightly, “Hawaii isn’t the antagonist.”

True. But. I realized not only had I been protecting Peggy Sue, I’d been protecting Hawaii. In the end, both would have to stand up for themselves.

What advice would you give to a writer who is struggling to separate their reality from their fictional character? How can we protect ourselves emotionally if a character reminds us too much of ourselves?

You are not your character. But there may be parts of her that resonate with you.

So my answer may surprise you—don’t separate. This is where you will find the gold.

It’s way scary.

It took me years to get to the point where I could do this. Years.

What was the most useful lesson you learned while writing this book? If you could go back and talk to the you who is about to begin writing, how would you warn or arm her against the difficulties ahead?

My big takeaway? Go there emotionally.

Breathe. Trust the process. It’s going to take as long as it takes. It’s all about revision, going deeper. About finding the heart of the story. About discovering what your characters really want.

Tim Wynne-Jones says, “The answers are in your writing.” He posits that we give ourselves clues to unlocking the mysteries of our own work. It’s our job to look carefully, to look differently, until we discover them.

Amen to that, Anne. Thank you for your wonderfully insightful answers!

To celebrate the release of Anywhere But Paradise, we are giving away a signed copy to a lucky winner! Enter the draw through the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win this beautifully written book!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Anne Bustard is a beach girl at heart. If she could, she would walk in the sand every day, wear flip-flops, and eat nothing but fresh pineapple, macadamia nuts and chocolate. She is the author of the award-winning picture book Buddy: The Story of Buddy Holly (Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers). Her debut middle grade historical novel Anywhere But Paradise (Egmont Publishing) is out on March 31, 2015. She lives in Austin, Texas.

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10. Draw Tip Tuesday: um yeah... Shades Of Grey

Welcome to Draw Tip Tuesday!
Here's a fun tip to show you how many um... yeah, shades of grey you can draw.

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11. Fish spotting for Alaska’s commercial herring fleet

I have an article up at ADN about the history of fish spotting for commercial fishermen in Alaska. It has been, and continues to be to a certain extent, extremely dangerous. Here’s a bit:

In 1984, at the opening of herring season, there was a fatal crash over Togiak, a mid-air collision under a low overcast cloud layer that killed the occupants of both aircraft. According to the NTSB report, witnesses described the flight activity as “frantic,” “chaotic” and “insane.”

In 1991, a mid-air collision near Tatitlek resulted in the death of one of the pilots, while the other was able to land. At the time of the accident, witnesses told the NTSB there were about 50 aircraft circling Boulder Bay waiting for herring season to open.

In 1995 near Naknek a Piper Super Cub and Cessna 172 collided while fish-spotting at about 400 feet over the water and both pilots were killed.

In 1997 the surviving pilot from the Tatitlek accident was involved in another mid-air while flying a Cessna 185 on floats near Galena Bay, along with a spotter, while waiting for the opening of herring season. That plane collided with another pilot and spotter in a Bellanca, which then crashed in the bay, killing both aboard. No one was injured in the Cessna.

In each of these accidents and many others that occurred in the 1980s and ‘90s, the probable cause was determined to be inadequate visual lookout, diverted attention or failure to see and avoid.

[Post pic by Scott Dickerson – see several more fish spotting pics with my article.]

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12. EASTER 2015 - wilko

And we end today with a few Easter greetings card designs snapped in Wilko.

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13. Black and White Ink

cait chock jeans black and white drawing
Black and White Ink

Shadows speaking louder than words.
Night and day lose meaning.
Whispers in the grey.
Hinting a secret.

White. Arresting.
A look.
A crease. A fold.

Casting sweet envelope
for emotion.

Black and white drawing first shared on my Instagram page HERE.

To order a print of this piece, or inquire for other commissions, send an email to: cait@caitchock.com

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14. Review: One Night with Her Bachelor by Kat Latham

May Contain Spoilers


After the smashing success of What a Bachelor Needs, I decided to give One Night with Her Bachelor a spin.  Unfortunately, it didn’t work as well for me, because I didn’t find the hero very appealing.  Yes, Gabriel is going through a rough patch, but, still, Dude, you have to bathe regularly.  He lives in his grandfather’s cabin in the middle of woods, a good hike from civilization, and the thought of living without electricity does absolutely nothing for me.  My idea of camping is checking into a Fairfield Inn, and that’s roughing it.  So a guy without a job, the internet, furniture, or a way to charge a Kindle – yeah, that’s not happening.

We meet Molly Dekker, a single mother working hard to provide a happy home for her exuberant son Josh.  On the weekend Josh is off on a camping trip, Molly decides she’s going to do something for herself.  She’s going to hike into the woods, find Gabriel’s cabin, and proposition the man she’s had the hots for since she was a girl.  Gabriel was her brother’s best friend, and when he was injured in the line of duty, he lost everything after the tragic accident. 

Gabriel is a former Air Force pararescueman, and when he’s sent to rescue the crew of a downed helicopter, he arrives too late to save Molly’s brother.  Worse, he’s terribly wounded, and his injures rob him of his job.  Unable to  remain in the service, he’s now at lose ends.  Suffering from PTSD, he retreats from his family and settles into the cabin in the woods, living like a hermit.  He only goes to town when he needs supplies, and when Molly shows up on his doorstep, he isn’t amused.  He’s not even sure what to think after she makes him an offer she thought he’d be delighted to accept.  All Gabriel wants is to be left alone.

While she’s trying to talk Gabriel into bed, she discovers her son has gone missing from his campsite.  Fearing the worst, she and Gabriel rush off in search of him.  When they find him, he’s been seriously injured, and Gabriel quickly takes matters into his own hands.  He rescues Josh, saving his life, but the boy is left paralyzed.

With Josh’s medical bills, Molly is now struggling to make ends meet.  She blames herself for Josh’s condition, and regrets ever going to Gabriel’s cabin.  She’s afraid to leave her son alone now, stifling his efforts at independence.  When her friend discovers how poorly she’s doing financially, she organizes a charity auction to help her raise money, despite Molly’s protests. 

As you have probably already guessed, Molly ends up with Gabriel as her bachelor.  While there were sparks between them and some of the dialog was very fun, I don’t have a whole lot of confidence in their HEA.  They struggled to communicate, and their conflict resolution skills left a lot to be desired.  They are both still so emotionally raw from the enormous potholes in their lives that it was hard for me to believe they were up to the complications that go hand in hand with a relationship.  Gabriel can’t even confide to Molly about his accident, because he still hasn’t come to terms with it himself.  When he finally does, Molly was justifiably irked at his lack of trust in her.

So, bottom line –  while I liked getting the scoop on the backstory for the series, aspects of One Night with Her Bachelor just did not work for me.  The hero wasn’t my cuppa, and the couple’s inability to communicate didn’t give me a sense that they’ll enjoy their HEA.

Grade:  C

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

Bid on a date with this wounded warrior for an unforgettable night of adventure. Aim high—and bid higher!—because no one comes close to local hero Gabriel Morales.

Molly Dekker hates being the town charity case, but when her son Josh is seriously injured she has no choice. She lets her best friend organize a bachelor auction to help pay her massive bills and make Josh’s life more comfortable. She can’t bid on any of the men, but a surprise bidder gives her a gift she never expected: a date with the man who saved her son’s life—the only one she’s in danger of losing her heart to.

Former Air Force pararescueman Gabriel Morales made a career of flying to the rescue, until a tragic helicopter crash stole more than his livelihood. Being auctioned off like a slab of beef isn’t in his recovery plan. But one look, one touch and one night unlocking Molly’s pent-up passion make him realize how badly he needs to be rescued…and how badly he wants to rescue Molly right back.

Will Molly and Gabriel’s never-quit attitude have them rushing head-first into love? Or will Gabriel’s secret pain stall their relationship before it can get off the ground?

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15. Music Monday - Agony

The scene that made me forgive them a little for making this play into a movie - 

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16. Cold War dance diplomacy

Why did the US State Department sponsor international dance tours during the Cold War? An official government narrative was sanctioned and framed by the US State Department and its partner organization, the United States Information Agency (USIA—and USIS abroad). However, the tours countered that narrative.

The post Cold War dance diplomacy appeared first on OUPblog.

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17. ECCC’15: Marvel Animated “One Man, Several Clips”


Over the weekend at Emerald City Comic Con , Marvel’s Vp of animation Cort Lane threw a one man panel with lots of teases for most of the Marvel animated shows and a preview of Avengers Assemble returning only to  ‘Disassemble” .

Ultimate Spider-Man will return to finish its season in July with a new storyline titled S.H.I.E.L.D ACADEMY. Many of the characters Spider-Man recruited at the beginning of Web-Warriors will be joining him again. Even Trition from the Inhumans and Squirrel Girl are coming back. Fans can also look forward to the threat of Arnim Zola, voiced by Mark Hamill, in a look that can only be described as Kang from Ninja Turtles meets Apple Computers. In addition Robert Patrick will be voicing The Whizzer, yep that guy.


Fans also got a look at the entire first episode of the “Disassembled” arc. If you want the spoiler run then highlight this blank space.

Episode begins with a Captain America-less Avengers battling the Adaptoid. Spider-Man joins the team in order to combat the robot who can mimic all the powers of the Avengers. Cap joins the fray alongside S.H.I.E.L.D as he’s been working for them since leaving the team an episode before. He’s even in his Winter Soldier film based costume.

The audience finds out Adaptoid is actually Ultron in disguise and he’s been after Starks tech the entire time. In a desperation move, Stark enacts his “final protocol,” destroying his labs and Avengers Tower to stop Ultron.

Cap and Stark are clearly building towards a mini inner Avengers civil war. Spider-Man is trying to hold things together, but ditched the Avengers. Cap has called for a new Avengers team, seeing Falcon, Black Widow and Hulk join his team, while Tony, Hawkeye, and Thor ban together.
The Avengers have officially disassembled, giving Ultron exactly what he wanted.

During the fan Q&A we got a few teases about the animated Marvel U:

-No kid Avengers plans.

-Plans are in the works to have animation produce something that takes place in the Marvel cinematic universe.

-No X-Men plans since those rights are still controlled by Fox, which include animation. They’ve only been able to get away with using Wolverine in his solo character costume incarnations with no X-Men ties.

To close things out, Cort showed the Guardians of the Galaxy prequel shorts leading up to the premiere of the animated series. First was Star-Lord part I. It takes most of its cues from the film version of the team, even going so far to say it may be a fill in for missing information. What we saw deals with what happened when Peter Quill was beamed aboard the alien ship as a child. In this version he’s had the Element Guns all along but is just now discovering their power.

A preview was show of Rocket Raccoon’s short. We see the moment he escapes the lab and becomes partners with Groot. You’ll hear the famous “Ain’t no thing like me…” line and it’s even got mature tones of his acceptance that he’s lost anything that will connect him to his species.

Marvel’s animation presentation was the most informative of all their ECCC panels. Cort’s division has made the Disney merger benefit Marvel without having to sacrifice much in the way of character voice.

Hopefully during Wondercon we’ll get answers to when fans will see the Guardians prequel shorts, what’s coming up in Agents of S.M.A.S.H and what the future holds for Ultimate Spider-Man once its third season ends since typically most Marvel animated series after 1997 only last between 3-5 years.

Would you want to see Marvel animated do something in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

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18. cartoon … Good Bye Broom

जिस तरह से आप यानि आम  आदमी पार्टी की झाडू बिखरती जा रही है संकेत अच्छे नही है .. जब अपने ही बोल रहे हैं तो विपक्ष क्यो चूके !!! अफसोस !!

The post cartoon … Good Bye Broom appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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19. EASTER 2015 - marks & spencer

More Easter designs with a selection from Marks & Spencer on greetings cards wrap and packaging. There are some fresh designs in yellow and turquoise on Kraft card, some interesting hand drawn type, and last years food packaging designs by Darling Clementine make a reappearance. Most of their cards have sold out online but there are still a selection available in stores.

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20. NPM Project: Jumping Into Form - At the Starting Gate!

I've been looking for a good way to describe my choice of project this year and why I'm so passionate about poetic forms. After listening to this fabulous PBS NewsHour piece on Kwame Alexander​ and poetry, I can say it no better.
"See, I’m in love with poetry. And there are so many different forms of poetry. And I believe I wanted to have that sort of variety, that sort of diversity of verse, so that kids could sort of figure out what they were interested in and what they could latch on to and perhaps mimic some of these poems themselves."
Ditto and Amen.

See you tomorrow for the launch of my 2015 project, Jumping Into Form. Up first is the sijo.

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21. EASTER - nastja holtfreter

Our Easter coverage continues today with some brand new artwork which is available for licensing. These cute seasonal patterns were created by Berlin based freelance illustrator and surface pattern designer Nastja Holtfreter. To see more from Nastja or to make inquiries go online here.

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22. Guest Post: Switching Gears with Karen Akins

Amie here first: Today we have a guest post from the lovely Karen Akins, whose new book, Twist is out on April 7th! It’s the sequel to Loop, and today she’s talking to us about the journey from her series start to finish, and the changes along the way.

Akins - Publicity Shot 1bWhen Amie invited me to contribute this guest post, my first question was, “Is there a particular topic you’d like me to write about?” She said it could be anything publishing-related…maybe the challenges of writing time travel.

Which makes sense. The first book in my time travel duology, LOOP is already out in the world, and its sequel TWIST releases on April 7th. I began writing LOOP in 2010. It’s 2015. That’s five years of writing time travel.

That’s a lot of time travel.

Please don’t get me wrong. I love the subject. If Marty McFly pulled up outside in the DeLorean right now, I’d nab those keys and take off without blinking an eye.

But…I finished my final polishes on TWIST several months ago. I wrote it over a year ago. I started writing LOOP half a decade ago. Talking about the process of writing time travel feels a bit like time traveling in and of itself.

Instead, I thought I’d write about my here and now.

And my here and now can be summed up in a single word: Change. One might say I’m in a state of high flux capacity. (I know…terrible.)

change gif bttf

Change is common in the publishing industry. I’ve witnessed a lot of it since I sold LOOP and TWIST. Some of it is in a writer’s control. Most of it isn’t.

Editors move. Release dates get bumped. Covers are switched. Hot trends die. Dead trends rise from the coffin like sparkly vampires.

Series end.

Which is where I am right now. My active, creative role in the life of my series is finished. Like it or not, it’s change time.

change gif 1

As a writer (and as a human being), I have two choices before me. Change, whether it’s the result of an unexpected occurrence or the natural course of things, demands one of two responses. You can fight it. Or you can roll with it.

One of my good friends was at a writerly crossroads not too long ago. We’ve been crit partners for several years. When we met, she was already agented and wrote gritty contemporary YA. She had undeniable talent, but for whatever reasons (timing, the market, a butterfly pooping over the Atlantic…it’s publishing, who knows?) her stories hadn’t sold.

She was faced with a moment that required change, and she didn’t fight it. Or hide under her fuzzy green blanket and eat a copious amount of Cadbury crème eggs (oh, wait—that’s me). No. She rolled with it.

She wrote something completely new and completely different. And, you guys, it is magical. If you don’t know Evelyn Skye yet, don’t worry. You will. (Click for a bigger version.)

change 2

Was it easy? No. Change is rarely easy. Or pain-free. But I think she’d be the first to say it was worth it.

So here I am at this new old place. My release date is so close I could smack it. A strange mix of emotions swirls around in me. Excitement, fear, pride, doubt, joy, nostalgia. It’s very loud in my head.

change gif sheldon

But when I stop trying to fight it, when I roll with it, that’s when everything quiets down. Only then can I hear a new character speak to me. Her voice is fun. Her story is unlike anything I’ve written before. I think it might be a story worth sharing.

I sit down.

And I write.

Loop Twist

How about you guys? What points have you hit in your writing journey when change was necessary?

Karen Akins writes humorous, light sci-fi for young adults and the young in spirit. When not writing or reading, she loves lightsaber dueling with her two sons and forcing her husband to watch BBC shows with her. You can keep up with her at karenakins.com or on twitter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some popular authors of the NA category include:
  • Jamie McGuire
  • Jessica Park
  • Tammara Webber
  • Steph Campbell
  • Liz Reinhardt
  • Abbi Glines
  • Colleen Hoover 
  • Sherry Soule

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

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

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

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24. The Babies & Doggies book by John & Molly

Honestly, I should just type the name of this superb new book by John & Molly and leave it at that. The Babies & Doggies Book - it says it all. But there is an added brilliance to The Babies & Doggies Book that must be noted. As a parent and a bookseller, I have long known that babies LOVE looking at pictures of other babies. I have also long bemoaned the lack of quality board books with

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25. APA Pacific 2015: A conference guide

We hope to see you in Vancouver, British Columbia for the 2015 American Philosophical Association – Pacific meeting! OUP staff members have gathered together to discuss what we’re interested in seeing at the upcoming conference, as well as fun sights around Vancouver. Take time to visit the Oxford University Press Booth. Browse new and featured books which will include an exclusive 30% conference discount. Pick up complimentary copies of our philosophy journals which include Mind, Monist, Philosophical Quarterly, and more.

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