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This is part of a very brief passage in A Drive Into the Gap and I've been thinking about it a lot since I read it last week:
On some level, most novelists write fiction to create order our of chaos. When you shape a fictional story, you can tie every loose end, fit the round pegs comfortably in circular holes. In a novel the author can create a world that makes sense.
The non-fiction writer often does the opposite. He starts with the assumption that the true story he wants to tell conforms to a logical narrative. Instead he discovers that there are always motivations that are incomprehensible. That people act irrationally. That memories are imperfect. The non-fiction writer uncovers the chaos hidden beneath the orderly surface.
There was a very big part of me that desperately wanted to make A Map of My Dead Pilots fictional. I wrote parts of it that way at first, or tried to. but the truth kept beating me down and forcing its way into the narrative. At one point in the final manuscript I do tell readers how I would have rewritten one small story if it is was fiction; how I would have made it a happily ever after.
Truth is so messy. I don't think some novelists realize that. Truth is just impossible to accept sometimes. Guilfoile writes that "...there are always motivations that are incomprehensible". This is the question of why behind every pilot error aircraft accident. I'm still trying to understand some from 1929. I look at accident reports and wonder, "Why did this pilot take this chance that killed him?"
Two weeks ago a pilot crashed in Alaska and died along with three of his passengers. The final Probable Cause report is likely a year away but I know we are never going to understand why he made the final decisions that led to the crash.
Truth is so messy. In a novel I could tell you what he was thinking; what all of them were thinking. As a journalist, as an nonfiction writer, I can only tell you what happened and then lead into the chaos with me so we can both try to find answers together.
“Her mouth parted slightly, waiting for Seth to breathe life into her own body, just like in the story. She wanted him to awaken her senses.”
Their worlds collide in California’s high desert.
The last thing Natara “Natti” Stone wants to do is to start anew at Setemple High School. She wished she had never left London. Yet the brutal murder of her maternal grandmother has made her life very complicated. The only clue related to her murder is an ancient, encrypted necklace Natti discovered after her grandmother’s death. And if trying to adjust to American life is not enough, Natti is being stalked by a mysterious, charming high school senior, Seth O’Keefe, who is annoyingly persistent in his attempts at seduction.
Seth O’Keefe is secretly a member of the Sons of Set, an order that worships the Egyptian god of chaos. Seth’s blessing from Set, his “charm,” never failed, except with one person: Natti Stone. Her ability to elude him infatuates and infuriates him, and he becomes obsessed with the chase. But the closer he gets to her, the more his emotions take a dangerous turn, and he risks breaking one of the most valued covenants of his order. The punishment for which is a fate worse than death.
The adventure this unlikely couple becomes engulfed in could cost them their lives and their souls.
*Note: Content for Upper YA*
My thoughts:First, please see the note above. This is definitely for upper YA. There is sexual content and drug use in this novel, so it's better suited for older teens. Having said that, Natti is new in town and she immediately notices Seth O'Keefe—or more like she runs into him in several situations where he is all over girls at school. Every girl is obsessed with Seth and wants to become his next "play thing". Every girl except Natti. She feels weird when Seth is around and gets a lot of headaches, which (thanks to the third person narration) the reader knows is a result of Seth trying to "charm" Natti. She's not like other girls Seth has met and he can't seem to win her over. Or so he thinks. Despite Natti trying to avoid Seth, she finds herself wanting to be around him just as much as she wants to avoid him. Their relationship is extremely complicated, and as Natti learns more about her grandmother's death and what it means for Natti, her relationship with Seth becomes even more complicated and intense.
I liked the dynamic between Natti and Seth because Ketch does a very good job of showing how Natti tries to resist Seth and how Seth tries to resist his urges to "charm" Natti once he begins to develop real feelings for her. My only negative with this book was the use of exclamation points. There were some points where several sentences in a row ended with exclamation points. This is a personal pet peeve of mine, so I'm sure most people wouldn't even notice this.
Overall, it's a quick read that keep my attention. I'm looking forward to reading the second book in the series.
In the past I’ve done posts about Weirdo Picture Books and others on Out-of-Print Crimes Against Humanity. Today’s featured book could have fallen into both categories, were it not for the fact that there is justice in the universe. Previously out of print, 1997′s A Small Miracle by Peter Collington is back by popular demand and now available from Knopf in paperback. And well it should be. There’s a reason it was featured in the Publishers Weekly 12th Annual Off-the-Cuff Awards as booksellers’ Book We’re Sorriest to See Go Out of Print.
Here is the plot of the book as described in the SLJ review:
“An old woman, living alone in a trailer, spends her days playing an accordion on the street for money. But times are especially difficult, even in this middle-class town. Desperate, she sells her accordion for cash, only to have it stolen by a masked bandit who then pilfers the poor box from the local church and vandalizes its manger scene. Intercepting the thief, the woman is able to return the money and does her best to set the scene to rights. Then, exhausted and hungry, she collapses in the snow. The manger figures come to life and take her home, where they all pitch in to see that she has her accordion back and that she has food. It’s all part of the miracle that none of the merchants or townspeople are at all surprised at the sight of the small figures making deals at the pawn shop or prowling the aisles at the supermarket.”
I’m glad they mentioned the supermarket because that may have been the point in the book when it totally won me over. Stealing from old ladies can be pretty dark stuff, and the elderly collapsing in the snow is worse, but there’s something so ridiculously charming about the tiny creche figures pushing shopping carts down fluorescent lighted lanes that you can’t help but give in to it.
I wish I could find an image of the shopping scene because it really is worth it. The book is just chock full of these small details that make you want to read and reread the story. There is, for example, the fact that Mary is always holding the Baby Jesus, but that doesn’t get in the way of her helping out. Though obviously she’s not able to remove the old woman from the snow with the other guys, note that she’s holding their Three Kings gifts, crooks, etc. while they take care of things. You know what the book really reminded me of? The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. It’s that remarkable combination of humor and affection and an honestly religious tone. This is a straight up Christian Christmas book. Really good ones are out there, but they’re often a bit more difficult to find than you’d think. This is one of the few.
And who is Peter Collington? Well, according to his website he’s an Englishman residing in Dorset. In his picture books he prefers a kind of wordless paneled technique reminiscent of folks like Raymond Briggs. As far as I can ascertain he’s done a lot of other things lately, but not so much in the way of picture books. He seems to have stopped sometime around the late 90s. If anyone knows more about him, I’d love to hear it.
So there you go. Should you feel inclined to locate a weirdly touching little wordless tale for your holiday enjoyment, seek thee this puppy. I guarantee it’s like nothing you’ve read. And should you have other odd holiday books you’d like to give a shout out to, feel free to list them in the comments here.
For the record, someone did turn this book into a short film, but I feel like the weirdness of the book is completely lost in the translation. Still, if you’re curious you can go here.
Thanks to Alison Morris for the introduction to this book!
Blog: Jeanne's Writing Desk
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By: Jeanne Lyet Gassman,
The First Day is now accepting submissions within the following genres:
Personal essays about individual, spiritual journeys
Thought-provoking articles about issues and culture in a non-academic style
Engaging reviews of new movies, music, television, and books
Short fiction (7,000 words or less), flash fiction, and poetry
Original artwork and photography
Interviews with inspiring artists and people making a difference
The theme for our winter issue is water; deadline by the end of December. Submissions can range from stories of birth, baptism, flow, emotion, nature, health, healing, or any other topic you think may be appropriate.
We print four times a year and also consider submissions for our website.
editorATfirstdaypressDOTorg (Change AT to @ and DOT to .)
with submissions or queries. Submissions may be in the text of the email or in an attached Word document (docx., doc., pdf, rtf.). Please include a brief bio in your email.
This post is brought to you by Design Faves. The image above is by Tycho AKA ISO50
As designers, we are constantly seeking new sources of inspiration and often that means looking beyond our discipline. For some of us, this might mean a glance at the latest items in our Pinterest feed, while others will find inspiration in travels or an enlightening book. To add to that list, our friends recently launched Design Faves – a curated collection of art and design work. With frequent updates, the site features posts on architecture, photography, fashion, furniture as well as illustration and graphic design. Included below is a small sampling of what the site has to offer.
Akureyri by Siggi Eggertsson
Soe Cup Series by Hanna Kruse
Sci-fi illustrations by Alphonse de Neuville and Édouard Riou
Futuristic Motorola ads by Charles Schridde
Illustrations by Heisuke Kitazawa
Yugoslavian Monuments photographed by Jan Kempenaers
Pierre Cardin’s Bubble House
Michael Pecirno Billboard project
Lamps by Frederica Bubani
Retro cartoon posters by Tom Whalen
Posters by La Boca
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By: Jeanne Lyet Gassman,
Booth: A Journal is now accepting submissions for Resurrection Tales: New Life for Old Characters.
Anything in the public domain is fair game to be remixed, twisted, fanfic-ed. The basic idea here is to revisit characters we all know and call them back to action. One last labor for Hercules? Cool. A mash-up of the tale of Jonah and Moby Dick? Send it our way. A hard-boiled noir about the murder of the Wicked Witch? We want to read it for this forthcoming series on Booth.
Length: No restrictions
Forms: It should work on paper or a screen. Other than that, no restrictions. Prose, poetry, infographics, origami templates, whatever.
By: sketched out
Blog: sketched out
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(Click for larger view of Santa and his crew gettin’ down with their bad elves.)
Why not hip hop over here and see what the other HoHoDooDa Doodlers are up to!
So, everyone here likes stories about spinsters getting back a bit of their own, right? “The Bachelor’s Christmas” isn’t that, but thematically it’s a cross between that and Colonel Crockett’s Co-operative Christmas. As you can probably imagine, I’m super into it.
Tom Wiggin is the rare Christmas story protagonist who doesn’t have any major problems. I mean, he didn’t get to marry the girl he was in love with, and his servants sometimes break things, but that’s about it. He’s also an incredibly delightful person; when we’re introduced to him it’s Christmas Eve and he’s generously tipping his servants for Christmas preparatory to hand-delivering presents to his married siblings and their families. They’re all booked for dinner with their in-laws, and Tom isn’t invited, which is the problem around which the story is centered, but not an actual problem. And Tom is such a mensch that he’s using his lonely Christmas to provide another, less well-off bachelor with a nice dinner.
And then he expands his plan. He knows a lot of other bachelors who have no Christmas plans, and a lot of spinsters, too — all the members of his social set who never got married, including the girl he wanted to marry. And they’re all in their late twenties and thirties now — old enough to take care of themselves, as he puts it on his invitations — so he throws a Christmas dinner party, with a dance afterwards, and everything is great.
The ending struck a bit of a false note for me, but I still recommend “The Bachelor’s Christmas” unreservedly, because the rest of it is pure Christmas story glee.
Filed under: random stuff
Posted on 12/13/2013
Hey I've been trying to figure this out. I am 16 and completely new to writing but I have an outstanding imagination that I feel is going to waste so i
Filed under: Home Movies
As of November 20, 2012 (that is, Midnight Eastern Time tonight) I am closed to queries. I will reopen to queries January 7, 2013.
If I already have your work, you should hear from me by January 7. (That's the point of taking the break, I have to catch up!)
I'm sorry to say that I cannot respond to new queries sent during this time.
The exceptions will be: work that I've requested -- conference material -- client or editor referrals -- and people I actually know in real life. If this is you, please be sure you've said so, along with the word Query, IN THE SUBJECT LINE of your email. Otherwise, your query will be deleted.
For all other regular queries, please feel free to try any of my colleagues at Andrea Brown Lit, or else try me again in January.
Thanks again for thinking of me in regard to your work.
Wishing you all the best, and Happy Holidays,
Andrea Brown Literary Agency
My long-suffering Facebook Friends heard me go on at length yesterday about the 120 plus or minus cupcakes I had to ice and box up. During a roughly 6-hour period I also made an additional two-dozen cupcakes that didn't need icing as well as some mini-meatloaves and asparagus for dinner.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, Gail. But did you do any writing?
I did some yesterday morning. And that led to something happening yesterday during my cupcake binge.
While I was revising a chapter yesterday morning, I realized that a lot of what I was reading was similar to what I'd read in the chapter before. I felt that the new chapter was necessary because it dealt with the protagonist's parents' response to what he was doing. But this is a mystery, and the details being discussed had all appeared in the chapter before. If I couldn't come up with a new significant step in the story, I might need to eliminate a section. If I eliminated a section, I might be left with a hole in the plot that would need to be filled.
While I was working on cupcakes, the significant step I needed came to me. I had a breakout experience. With breakout experiences it's easy to focus on the breakout, because that idea/thought is so important. But the breakout can't come without some input first. You take in information, work to a point at which nothing more is happening for you, then let your brain relax with a totally different activity. Like icing and fancying up cupcakes.
So the work/input is important, maybe the most important part of the process.The more you work, the more opportunities you have for breakout experiences. Conversely, the less you work, the fewer opportunities you'll have for those breakouts. Writing every day won't insure a daily breakout experience, but it increases your opportunities for having them at some point.
In fact, writing every day helps make it possible for you to keep working when you're not, technically, working because you're relaxed brain is doing something with the material you provided it with earlier in the day.
Posted on 12/13/2013
Question: What exactly does the Main Character Resolve mean? Can you give examples? Answer: Main Characte Resolve refers to how the main character resolves
When it’s our turn to host Thanksgiving dinner, we do more than eat … we play.
And get loud.
Filed under: Home Movies
Sorry, Ariel, nothing quite compares to running.
Nope, nothing like the special kind of endorphins only running can supply!! Motivation lulls happen to the best of us so in those times, take these thoughts as reason to put those two legs of your to work think of this:
1) I ALWAYS feel better when I’m done.
2) Is the runner guilt of skipping my run worth it?
3) I’ve got goals I’m working towards…consistency is the ‘secret’ to getting better and faster!
4) I’m lucky I’m not injured and ABLE to run!! Don’t take your running for granted.
5) If I start, I can dream about the cake and chocolate chip pancakes I’ll come back to.
Now, if you’re injured and need some motivation to plug away at your rehab and cross-training:
* I WILL heal. And when I do I won’t take my running for granted. I’m going to do the work now so my transition back to running will that much better!
Unless you are stuck with fins, My Friends, take advantage of those runner legs!
1) What is something you tell yourself to give you a kick of motivation when you need it?
2) What is your go-to cross-training when you cant run?
3) Do you like to swim?
Nope, hate the water. If I’m injured and in the pool it’s like the double-dipping of p*ssed-off runner ‘tude.
By: Jen Robinson
Blog: Jen Robinson
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Author: Randi Zuckerberg (@randizuckerberg)
Illustrator: Joe Berger
Age Range: 4-8
Full disclosure. Yes, Dot. is one of those picture books written by a celebrity (business maven Randi Zuckerberg) to convey a particular lesson. I am not generally a fan of such books. This one is even kind of a spin-off of an adult title by the same author (Dot Complicated: Untangling Our Wired Lives), with the same release date. And yet, Dot. worked for me.
Dot. is a simple story. We learn that a little girl named Dot is quite skilled in the use of digital devices. "She knows how to tap ... to touch ... to tweet ... and to tag." And she talks and talks on phones and devices and webcams. But when Dot's brain becomes a bit fried from too much device-time, her mother sends the zombie-like child outside to "reboot." Outside, among friends, Dot learns different meanings of tap (tap dancing), touch (touching a sunflower), tweet (like a bird), and tag (you can guess that one). And at the end, she and her friends embrace both the outdoors and real togetherness AND devices.
I think that ending is a big part of what made the book work for me. If the story had ended with Dot realizing the error of her device-prone ways, and spending all of her time playing outside, well, it just wouldn't have been realistic. But it IS realistic to think that a child could get caught up sitting around inside, tapping away on the computer, only to be reminded that playing outside is fun also. Only to be reminded that it's more fun to do whatever you're doing with other kids than to do it alone.
By keeping the focus entirely on Dot, and finding a solution to her specific problem of tech burnout, Zuckerberg avoids making Dot. feel didactic. It helps, I think that Mom is only shown as a pair of hands shooing Dot outside. Otherwise, there are only kids, dogs, and butterflies.
I also quite liked the parallelism that Zuckerberg uses, between actions we do on devices, like "surfing", and actions that can be done in real life, like "surfing." Some of the examples work better than others ("swiping" paint seems a bit of a reach), but the idea of focusing on these dual meanings works.
Joe Berger's illustrations help, too. When Dot, in dotted dress, is "surfing" on the computer, she lies across the back of the couch with one leg up, reaching down to the computer. This is a nice visual clue to what is to follow later. The indoor illustrations are fun, but all set against plain backgrounds, white walls, etc. This provides a nice contrast when Dot goes outside, and is surrounded by birds, flowers, trees, and so on. I'm not quite sure why Dot has gray hair, but she also has an impish smile, a swirly skirt, and a cute dog.
I think that kids will like her. And if they like Dot, hopefully they won't feel dictated to by the point that this book is making. And let's face it. There are an awful lot of kids out there who could benefit from spending a few hours outside, where the only screen is the screen door. Mary Lee from A Year of Reading liked it, too, calling Dot."the perfect antidote to BYOD" (bring your own device).
I suspect this one will work better with five to seven year olds, kids who spend a bit of time using keyboards, and talking on the phone to friends or family members. My three year old was unimpressed. I think you'll find that Dot. is worth a look, particularly for libraries and classrooms. Perhaps one could pair it under the Christmas tree with a jumprope and some sneakers.
Publisher: HarperCollins (@HarperChildrens)
Publication Date: November 5, 2013
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
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© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook.
How does sharing fit into your writing workshop routine? Find tools and ideas to put sharing on your priority list of daily rituals.
Stories go a long way from start to (hopefully) finish.
Mom’s first book went from this…
December 12 is my Gotcha Day. You can read my Gotcha story here . We celebrated with ice cream. Mom made me a doggie yogurt ice cream pop with a cookie handle.
I went from this…
Change is good.
This Fun Friday The Society of YA Storyteller authors are all interviewing fellow authors! I’m the lucky one who hosts KC Blake today. Interested in stories that will keep you up long into the night? Just read one of KC’s books and you’ll see why you’ll want to read them all. When you get to the end of the interview and want to read more, there’s links to all the author interviews. Stop by each of the blogs and read about one of your favorite or future favorite authors. Click here to check out the The YA Society of Storytellers website and check out the game zone, online book club, trailers and giveaways too.
Any works in process that you are passionate about? I am working on Warrior right now. It is the third in the Order of the Spirit Realm Series, and I’m having a blast because I know these characters so well. It will be hard when I finish and have to say goodbye.
Werewolf or Vampire? Vampire or Zombie? Aliens or Mole People? Werewolf (pasty white boys don’t do it for me). Vampire (easier to kill). Aliens (the other is too weird).
Which of your characters is most like you? Bay-Lee Van Helsing from Bait. I don’t give up no matter what (I’m just stubborn that way), and I keep going no matter what life throws at me. I’m also driven (to write, not to kill werewolves).
Which of your characters is least like you? Lily from Witch Hunt. The girl never knows when to shut her mouth. She is constantly talking about stupid things and doesn’t notice when her friends want to slap her.
Which of your characters would you like to be friends with? Kristen from Crushed because she is a witch with crazy powers, but she isn’t irresponsible so I don’t have to worry about her turning me into anything weird. She would use her magic to help me out.
Which of your characters do you like writing about most? Nick Gallos from Bait because he was an undercover rock star slash vampire slayer. He’s angry and bitter, until he falls for Bay-Lee. Definitely my favorite.
Tell us about your favorite Christmas tradition. On Christmas Eve we drink hot cocoa and open up one present. We also watch a Christmas movie. Then on Christmas morning we eat breakfast before opening presents. The rest of the day is spent visiting family, maybe watching another Christmas movie, and playing in the snow if we are lucky enough to have some.
Paperback or eBook? Depends. I love my Kindle, but I want my books in print if they are keepers.
Future plans? After I finish up the Order of the Spirit Realm series, I am going to finish my vampire series. Then I would like to move on to a series about other worlds and dragons.
Check out the other YA Storyteller interviews:
By: Alan Dapré,
Blog: Alan Dapré - Children's Author
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Further to my blog about Lumos – the charity chaired by J.K. Rowling – I thought I’d share more about what it is trying to do. ‘Across the globe 8 million children are living in institutions that deny them individual … Continue reading
I'm so excited I might barf.
It is the eternal battle for storytime librarians. I see it on Twitter and listservs, I hear it from co-workers and neighboring libraries — how and when do you schedule your storytimes?
In an ideal world, there would be a storytime that began every fifteen minutes in every library so that any child would be able to attend regardless of their never-ending schedule of naps and feedings and preschool and Mommy & Me classes and doctor’s appointments. But we don’t live in an ideal world.
We do the very best that we can to provide for our patrons.
This past year, I added a monthly evening storytime for my patrons to work around their busy schedules. And for the first time since I started at my job, evening storytime is flourishing and gaining numbers while morning storytime is lagging.
I’ve decided to take the months of December and January off from morning storytime to try and figure out what I need to do to increase my morning attendance again.
Previously, we’ve done Tuesday or Thursday mornings at 10:00 a.m. since 2006. Should we be having storytime at 9:30 or wait until 11:00? Do I need to change my day? Is it finally time to start doing a babies/toddlers storytime in the morning and save preschool for immediately after-school?
I wish I could say that I have the answers that I know many of us are seeking. But all I can say is that I have the willingness and chance to change my habits to try and better serve my patrons.
So, tell me, have you radically changed when you schedule your storytimes? What worked? What flopped? Let me know!
- Katie Salo
Youth Services Manager
Melrose Park Library
Posted on 12/12/2013
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Question: I'm writing a book about my family history and want to start each chapter with a date of importance or life changing event for each. Most of