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I spent yesterday at the New England Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators spring conference. A very good day for me. In the past when I've attended professional events, I've reported on the people I knew who I ran into. Well, I seem to know quite a few people now. Reading a list of them wouldn't be that fascinating. So I will go one to other things.
Workshops AttendedCrafting Short Stories
with Trisha Leaver
. I may spend a month later this year revising a number of my short stories because of this program. Show Me the Money
with Chris Eboch
. This workshop dealt with what I've heard called "income streams" for writers. There are a number of options, but they require so much work! I came up with some pitches for someone else I know while I was in the class. And this workshop was a good lead-in to the afternoon workshop I attended, which was on school visits. School visits, you see, are an income stream for writers.Bringing Books Alive During School and Library Visits
with Marcia Wells
and Kwame Alexander
. Interesting story here. When I signed up for this workshop, I'd never heard of either of these people. And then Kwame Alexander won the Newbery Medal
! Marcia and I have already become Twittermates. I'll be doing a separate post early next month on school visit workshops.
The New England SCBWI regional conference is huge in terms of attendance. Computer Guy went with me a few years ago
when we were preparing to republish Saving the Planet & Stuff
so he could take a workshop on making e-books from scratch. He was stunned by the crowd then, and amazed by the lunchtime picture to your left.
That is why it was terrific that Jill Daily, a member of my writers' group, somehow snagged a table for the nine of us. It was great not to have to negotiate a ballroom full of people on my own. I am afraid I was not a great lunch companion, however, because I was seated in such a way that I had to turn my back to everyone to see the lunch speakers. And I also was busy taking notes and pictures.
During lunch Deborah Freedman
received the Crystal Kite Award
for the New England region. This was for her book, The Story of Fish and Snail
Kwayme Alexander spoke during lunch, too. Extremely
charming and charismatic. I actually read a book of poetry
this year, and I think I'm going to ask for one of Kwayme's (I went to his workshop, so I can call him Kwayme, right?) adult books for my birthday.
The lunch panel discussion was a surprise for me. I wasn't looking forward to it, because it was on nontraditional publishing. I've spent a lot of time on my own nontraditional publishing effort, and this past month I've been promoting the living daylights out of it. I wasn't wildly enthusiastic about hearing more on this subject right now.
But I was totally taken with this discussion. I think what made it good was the variety of viewpoints of the panelists. There was a self-published writer who is very encouraging on the process, someone who runs an editing company that also helps authors self-publish who recognized that some people are going to need help, someone who had been involved in some kind of self-publishing company that wasn't successful, and a traditionally published author new to self-publishing. I appreciated that they didn't all speak with one voice.
The panelists: Chris Cheng
, Laura Pauling
, Erica Orloff
, and Steve Mooser
. J. L. Bell
, from the NESCBWI was the moderator. There is a reason for that. He's very good at it.
I'll be doing another couple of Conference-related posts later this week.
I am finishing today with a picture of lunch because Kwayme Alexander used a food slide in his lunch talk. It was terrific. People love looking at pictures of food. It is a universal truth.
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Friends, My shops are closed temporarily.
I am and working on new projects and am
spending time with friends and family.
On Thursday (April 23, 2015), Vince Shilling, writing at Indian Country Today, broke a news story that was quickly picked up by social media sites (like Gawker) and then news media, too (like CNN, and in the UK, the Guardian).
Shilling's story is about Native actors walking off the set of Adam Sandler's new movie, The Ridiculous Six, because of the ways the script denigrates Native women and mocks Native culture via the names created for Native characters and in the dialogue: Never Wears Bra (in an earlier version of the script, her name was Sits on Face), Strawberry Tits, Stiff In Pants.
People are outraged. I am, too.
Though not as crude as the ones in the script, I've seen that same sort of thing in children's books. Here's some examples:
In Russell Hoban's Soonchild, a couple is expecting their first child. The man's name is "Sixteen Face John" because he has sixteen different faces, all with their own names. They are described in the first chapter. His first face is his (p. 3):
Hi face, the one he said hello with. Face Two was What? Face Three was Really? Face Four was Well, Well. Face Five was Go On! Face Six was You Don't Mean It. Face Seven was You Mean it? Face Eight was That'll Be The Day. Face Nine was What Day Will That Be? Face Ten was It Can't Be That Bad. Face Eleven was Can It Be That Bad? Face Twelve was I Don't Believe It. Face Thirteen was I Believe It. Face Fourteen was This Is Serious. Face Fifteen was What I'm Seeing Is What It Is. Face Sixteen was What It's Seeing Is What I Am.
He's a shaman from a long line of shamans (p. 6):
His mother was Stay With It and his father was Go Anywhere. His mother's mother was Never Give Up and her father was Try Anything. His father's mother was Do It Now and his father's father was Whatever Works. His mother's grandmother was Where Is It? and his father's grandmother was Don't Miss Anything. His mother's grandfather was Everything Matters and his father's grandfather was Go All The Way.
And... his wife's name is No Problem. Her mother's name is Take It Easy. Her friend is Way To Go. Soonchild
was published in 2012 by Candlewick Press.
In Me Oh Maya
, Jon Scieszka makes fun of Mayan names. His much-loved Time Warp Trio travels to the midst of a Mayan ball court where an "evil high priest" named Kakapupahed stands over them. They try not to laugh aloud at his name, which they hear as Cacapoopoohead. Me Oh Maya
was published in 2003 by Viking.
None of this is new to children's literature. Some of you may recall titles from your childhood like Indian Two Feet
and Little Indian
and Little Runner of the Longhouse.
I find these attempts to come up with Native names troubling and problematic in so many ways. Equally troubling are the ways they are described. Hoban's book, for example, got starred reviews from Publisher's Weekly
who noted his use of "slapstick" in tackling "the big questions" about life. Booklist
, meanwhile, called it profound and offhandedly glib.
Sandler has, thus far, issued no response to Native people regarding his script and reaction to it. The film Sandler is making is slated to air on Netflix. A spokesperson for Netflix did reply
(as reported by Vulture)
"The movie has ridiculous in the title for a reason: because it is ridiculous. It is a broad satire of Western movies and the stereotypes they popularized, featuring a diverse cast that is not only part of — but in on — the joke."
In other words, they're telling the world that Native people are in on the joke. Rather than listen to Native voices, they defend what they're doing.
Sandler's satire is not "ridiculous" at all!
It is derogatory and offensive.
I contend that children's books are part of the problem. Things given to young people matter. Giving them books that poke fun of Native names pave the way for the creation and defense of what we see in Sandler's movie.
I'll be back with an update if Sandler or Netflix issue any statements, but carry this with you as you select--or weed--books in your library: Names matter. Nobody's names ought to be fodder for satire or humor, whether it is by Adam Sandler or Jon Sciezka.
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By: Becky Laney
Blog: Becky's Book Reviews
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Charlotte's Web. E.B. White. Illustrated by Garth Williams. 1952. HarperCollins. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy] "Where's Papa going with that ax?" said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast."Out to the hoghouse," replied Mrs. Arable. "Some pigs were born last night.""I don't see why he needs an ax," continued Fern, who was only eight.
I love rereading Charlotte's Web. I do. It's not one I reread often, it is a sad book after all. Though bittersweet
may be the better word for it. It's a beautifully written book with memorable characters and scenes. I love Wilbur, the runt pig who turns out to be some pig
after all. I love Charlotte, the spider who sees Wilbur's loneliness and becomes the best friend a pig could ever have. I love, love, love Charlotte in fact. I love her wisdom and insight; I love her fierce determination. If I didn't love Charlotte so very, very much, the book wouldn't be nearly as touching. I like the other farm creatures as well--even Templeton--though none as much as Charlotte and Wilbur. I also love Fern who faithfully visits the nearby farm every day just to watch Wilbur. She has a 'true' understanding of things.
Mr. Zuckerman had the best swing in the county. It was a single long piece of heavy rope tied to the beam over the north doorway. At the bottom end of the rope was a fat knot to sit on. It was arranged so that you could swing without being pushed. You climbed a ladder to the hayloft. Then, holding the rope, you stood at the edge and looked down, and were scared and dizzy. Then you straddled the knot, so that it acted as a seat. Then you got up all your nerve, took a deep breath, and jumped. For a second you seemed to be falling to the barn floor far below, but then suddenly the rope would begin to catch you, and you would sail through the barn door going a mile a minute, with the wind whistling in your eyes and ears and hair. Then you would zoom upward into the sky, and look up at the clouds, and the rope would twist and you would twist and turn with the rope. Then you would drop down, down, down out of the sky and come sailing back into the barn almost into the hayloft, then sail out again (not quite so far this time), then in again (not quite so high), then out again, then in again, then out, then in; and then you'd jump off and fall down and let somebody else try it. Mothers for miles around worried about Zuckerman's swing. They feared some child would fall off. But no child ever did. Children almost always hang onto things tighter than their parents think they will. (68-9)
© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
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When we plan programs for teens, how do we create programs that will teach them something useful, but still fun and exciting? We can search the web, ask our colleagues for ideas, and look in old library school textbooks, but, ultimately, our journey begins with the Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets for Adolescents.
When we look closely at the 40 Developmental Assets for Adolescents, the general framework focuses on the external and internal assets that can be found in a teen’s environment, which helps them develop. According to the Search Institute:
“The 40 Developmental Assets follow “building blocks of healthy development—known as Developmental Assets—that help young children grow up healthy, caring, and responsible”
What’s great about these developmental assets is that we already offer programs that support one or more of these assets. Although we can’t hit every single asset (much to our chagrin), we can cover many of these building blocks by creating programs that ensure our teens are getting the support, encouragement, and opportunity to grow and learn in the library; by incorporating several developmental assets within our programs, we can help teens discover new things, which will inspire and entice them to come into the library with their friends to learn more. If we want to lure new teens, and current teens, I highly recommend introducing these programs during the annual summer reading program.
The best part of summer reading programs are that they are themed; it definitely makes programming a little easier, or challenging, depending on the theme, but it forces us to get creative with how we craft and present our programs. As teen librarians, we always have to be on our feet so why not plan our summer reading programs around lessons that revolve around life skills using ideas such zombies, crafts, food, and robots. Here are a couple of programs that I have been able to implement, which utilize several of the 40 Developmental Assets for Adolescents to teach basic life skills:
Making a Difference @ Your Library Teen Summer Reading Program
Focus: Giving back to the community
Developmental Asset(s): Support, Empowerment, Constructive Use of Time, Positive Values, Social Competencies, and Positive Identity
- SRP Closing Party & Care Packages
- Teens came to the library to celebrate the end of the summer reading program by making care packages for them men and women overseas; they also made greeting cards expressing their appreciation for all our military men and women.
- Making and Donating No Sew Blankets
- This program I cannot to credit for because my colleague learned about Project Linus and it was a hit with the teens; they spent 2.5 hours making blankets to provide a child in need with a security blanket.
Zombie vs. Ninjas Teen Summer Reading Program
Focus: Learning how to care/defend one’s self and work in teams
Developmental Asset(s): Support, Empowerment, Constructive Use of Time, and Positive Identity
- Zombie vs. Ninjas Food Fest
- Teens literally ate their way through this program by eating ramen and zombie brains and hearts out of Jello by strategically teaming up with other teens with very, very large appetites. It was hysterical and a lot of fun because we were able to motivate teens to read this summer since we had the chance to talk about the program and prizes.
- Zombie Combat Training
- Teens learned how to defend themselves from attackers with the help a self-defense instructor. This program did require a waiver since it was a physical activity, but teens enjoyed the program (especially the young ladies) since some of them were going off to college.
Groundbreaking Reads Teen Summer Reading Program
Focus: Getting ready for college and adulthood
Developmental Asset(s): Support, Empowerment, Constructive Use of Time, and Social Competence
- Sewing for Survival
- Teens continued to practice their sewing skills while making a super cute doll with the help of local artist, Liane Shih. This program allowed teens to have fun in an incredibly constructive way where they learned different types of stitches and techniques.
- Cooking for Survival
- Teens learned how to make nutritious meals using items they can buy at the grocery store and make in their dorms/apartments using a microwave or rice cooker. Teens really, really loved the idea of making staples such as burritos, pasta, and other dishes so they wouldn’t have to rely on sodium-laden foods that were cheap and low in nutritional value.
- Wilderness Survival Training
- Teens must work in groups to build a tent, or shelter, without any instructions or help from staff, make a proper first aid kit, and cooking with a toaster oven. After setting up each tent, we made basic first aid kits, which teens got take home with a list of supplies.
Spark a Reaction Teen Summer Reading Program
Focus: STEM and teamwork
Developmental Asset(s): Support, Empowerment, Constructive Use of Time, and Social Competence
- Robot Building Workshop
- Teens had to team up and build a robot using a pre-fabricated kit and tools. This program took almost 2.5 for teens since they had to work together to make a robot (we had several options) and the results were awesome!
- Food Science
- Teens came together to make food of all kinds (chewing gum, chocolate candies, gummy candies, and ice cream) with the help of science kits from Mindware.com. This program was a lot of fun because teens got enjoy the fruits of their labor and lots and lots of ice cream made from a ball.
What not to do when using social media.
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Announced at C2E2, former wrestler turned UFC fighter turned author, CM Punk will write a new Drax the Destroyer ongoing comic for Marvel. The series will launch in Winter 2015. No co-writer or series artist was named, but the cover for the first issue will be drawn by Ed McGuinness.
Punk recently did a short story for Thor Annual alongside Chew artist Rob Guillory. His next story that will see print is part of DC/Vertigo’s Strange Sports Stories. This also marks Drax’s first solo ongoing comic joining the fellow Guardian ranks of Rocket Raccoon and Legendary Star-Lord.
As the book is still aways away, more details are to be revealed soon. Teasing the book was a good move on both parties parts. Punk being a Chicago native, a big announcement about his future in comics during one of the biggest shows made all the sense in the world.
By: Terry Hooper-Scharf,
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I shoulda been writing comics.
Anyhow, not able to do much of anything today but a CBO policy decision was made as I clashed with death above the planet Earth (I really aint all here).
I am going back through all the events I publicised in 2014/2015 and those I never got a follow up press release or event photos from -blacklisted.
Seriously, I give up hours of my time and lots of CBO space to these events and NEVER get any follow ups, even when I ask, so let the cull begin (drawn by Erik Larsen).
Today I went to the art supply shop (Atlantis, off Brick Lane) and bought some new pencils.
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This announcement is somewhat confusing, but so is the entire legacy of Miracleman, one of the most interesting heroes that Marvel has ever published. First off, the run with The Original Writer (Alan Moore) has come to an end with issue #16 that Marvel started printing after they acquired the rights to the character again. Instead of just continuing the book, the publisher has decided to renumber the title starting with Neil Gaiman’s first issue #17 and changing it to Miracleman by Gaiman & Buckingham #1.
However, the news does not stop yet, at C2E2’s Marvel Next Big Thing panel, the run with Gaiman (drawn by Fables artist Mark Buckingham) was announced to debut September 2015. The original comic ended before the run came to an end with Miracleman #24. There were originally only seven issues of the tale, but Marvel is now attempting to publish the rest of the saga written by Gaiman.
Unfortunately, it’s unclear whether there are any issues done, or whether Gaiman and Buckingham could perhaps start creating material with the character? Marvel already scraped Grant Morrison material from the vault with All-New Miracleman #1. Who’s to say they can’t publish more? Thanks to CBR for originally reporting on the news — and thanks to Miracleman for being one of the most interesting and convoluted characters in comics both in front of and behind-the-scenes of comics history.
For an incredible history lesson on the birth and death of Miracleman, take a look at our own Poison Chalice pieces.
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Yesterday I had the fun of attending an awards breakfast hosted by the Greater San Diego Reading Association, a branch of the International Literacy Association (formerly the International Reading Association). Along with fellow children’s authors Suzanne Santillan, Lori Mitchell, Virginia Loh Hagen, and Joy Raab, I received a Celebrate Literacy Award for my contributions to literacy in San Diego. Such an honor!
From left to right: Suzanne Santillan, me, Edith Hope Fine, Joy Raab, Virginia Loh Hagen, and Lori Mitchell at Pacific Beach Elementary, March 2014
The GSRDA are the folks who host the annual Authors Fair I have participated in these past two years—hands-down some of the best events I’ve ever attended. These were the schools (Pacific Beach Elementary in 2014 and Kimball Elementary in National City this year) where the teachers had spent weeks preparing their students for my visit—reading The Prairie Thief aloud (and saving the last chapter for me!) and doing some amazing writing and art projects. There is nothing, nothing like seeing kids’ art and poetry inspired by your books, let me tell you.
Student art and writing at Kimball Elementary
Prairie Thief project by 5th-grader Isabella D.
Hello, I first want to say that I appreciate all of your brilliant advice to you give on this site. I find them all extremely helpful. My question this
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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View Next 25 Posts
April Short Stories (original sign-up post
) (my list of 52
) (challenge hosted by Bibliophilopolis
- King Diamonds "The Child's Story" by Charles Dickens
- 2 Diamonds "Curious if True" by Elizabeth Gaskell from The Grey Woman and Other Stories
- Ace Clubs "Death Ship" by Richard Matheson from The Time Traveler's Almanac
- Ace Hearts "A Correspondence and A Climax" by L.M. Montgomery from Short Stories 1905-1906
"The Child's Story" by Charles Dickens
- I loved reading "The Child's Story" by Charles Dickens. Here's how it begins, "Once upon a time, a good many years ago, there was a traveller, and he set out upon a journey. It was a magic journey, and was to seem very long when he began it, and very short when he got half way through." I thought it was beautiful in its imagery. It is about a "traveler" who first meets a young child, then a boy, then a young man, then a middle-aged gentleman with a family, then an old man. It was an incredible read.
"Curious if True" by Elizabeth Gaskell
- I persevered through it, and, it could have just been a case of bad timing, but, I couldn't make any sense out of this short story at all. Other than it was set in France. And the narrator was someone--a man? a woman? probably a man? doing genealogical research and hoping to find out how he was related--if he was related--to John Calvin. And half of it was probably a dream of sorts. Probably. It's not that I love first person narrative to begin with, but, in a short story it can be even more disorienting. I wasn't impressed with this one.
"Death Ship" by Richard Matheson (1953)
- Premise/Plot: "Death Ship" was adapted into a Twilight Zone episode in 1963. The story introduces three astronauts to readers. (Mason, Ross, and Carter). Their mission, I believe, is to scout out other planets to see if they are suitable for colonization. But their mission is fated to fail, in a way. It begins with them exploring a 'flash' or sorts. It ends up they're investigating the crash of what appears to be an earth spaceship very much like their own. What they find inside the ship, well, let's just say that they have a very hard time making sense of it. Will readers do a better job?! Perhaps, especially if they've seen the Twilight Zone episode a few times.
"A Correspondence and A Climax" by L.M. Montgomery from Short Stories 1905-1906
- Premise/Plot: Readers meet Sidney a young woman who has been swept up into a fantasy world of her own creation. She writes a young man all about how wonderful and glorious and full her life is--a real social whirl. In reality, she's a poor, hardworking country girl. When she learns that he's on his way to visit her, she's in for quite a shock. As is he. But it's a pleasant one for the most part. He doesn't mind her lies. He loves her as is.
© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews