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Woodson, Jacqueline. 2014. Brown Girl Dreaming. New York: Penguin.
Despite the title, Brown Girl Dreaming is most certainly not just a book for brown girls or girls. Jacqueline Woodson's memoir-in-verse relates her journey to discover her passion for writing. Her story is framed by her large, loving family within the confines of the turbulent Civil Rights Era.
Sometimes a book is so well-received, so popular, that it seems that enough has been said (and said well); anything else would just be noise. Rather than add another Brown Girl Dreaming review to the hundreds of glowing ones already in print and cyberspace, I offer you links to other sites, interviews and reviews related to Brown Girl Dreaming. And, I'll pose a question on memoirs in children's literature.
First, the links:
And now something to ponder:
As a librarian who often helps students in choosing books for school assignments, I have written many times about the dreaded biography assignment
- excessive page requirements, narrow specifications, etc.
Obviously, a best choice for a children's book is one written by a noted children's author. Sadly, many (by no means all
!) biographies are formula-driven, series-type books that are not nearly as engaging as ones written by the best authors. Rare is the author of young people's literature who writes an autobiography for children
as Ms. Woodson has done. When such books exist, they are usually memoirs focusing only on the author's childhood years. This is perfectly appropriate because the reader can relate to that specified period of a person's lifetime. Jon Sciezska wrote one of my favorite memoirs for children, Knucklehead,
and Gary Paulsen's, How Angel Peterson Got his Name
also comes to mind as a stellar example. These books, however, don't often fit the formula required to answer common student assignment questions, i.e., birth, schooling, employment, marriages, accomplishments, children, death. Students are reluctant to choose a book that will leave them with a blank space(s) on an assignment.
I wonder what teachers, other librarians and parents think about this. Must the biography assignment be a traditional biography, or can a memoir (be it in verse, prose, or graphic format) be just as acceptable? I hate to see students turn away from a great book because it doesn't fit the mold. If we want students to be critical thinkers, it's time to think outside the box and make room for a more varied, more diverse selection of books.
A very nice turnout for THE MISSING PLACE writing contest this weekend. Way too many of you were killing moms...very unsettling!
And many of you really took to the challenge of converting the prompt words! Very nice job on that. I had to go through and bold the words just to make sure they were all there!
Herewith the results
Special recognition for an entry that was not quite a story, but very intriguing
french sojourn 10:06am
Andrea van der Wilt 10:21am
Angela Shortt 2:40am
Special recognition for an entry that was the soul of succinct
Roslyn Reid 10:45
Special recogniton for utilizing this past summer's most entertaining fundraising strategy
I loved this phrase, and think it should appear more often
"three pounds of nickel-plated comfort."
Flying turkeys always make me laugh
Just Jan 8:12am
These stories made the semi-final list
Christine Sarmel 2:31pm
Lisa Armosino-Morris 1:06pm
Here are the six finalists:
(1)Colin Smith 10:29am
Jessica picked up the bottle of baby oil, one of six in a gift box. The card attached read: "From one mother to another. Congratulations! Love, Mom." A flip of her thumb released the top and she inhaled deeply the scent of newborn, flooding her with memories. The heartbeat booming through the ultrasound device. Grainy images on the screen. The kicks.
Jessica wiped her eyes and replaced the bottle with the other shower gifts: diapers, onesies, toys, all carefully arranged on the dining room table. In the middle, a pair of booties. A reminder of the day the kicking stopped.
(2)Alice Witten 1:55pm
"Hurry up," Callie whined as Penny doused her with more fake blood. "It's cold in here."
"The scene's in a goddamn freezer," Steve snapped. "You should be cold."
I adjusted the boom mike, letting it slip and thunk onto Callie's head.
"Ow! I'm telling mother." Any minute Nancy would waltz in to showerpraise on her spoiled, entitled princess. And then rip me a new one. This shoot sucked, but I needed money.
Steve took a drink of his soda, crunching the ice as he handed me a folded note. I opened it.
"Another $100 to hit Nancy."
(3) Christina Seine 2:54pm
I am in the shower when our mother leaves. There are no goodbyes, only the eventual whistle of the teakettle boiling in the kitchen, an alarm we don’t yet know to panic by.
“Turn it off!” my brother yells.
“You do it,” I yell back, stepping onto the mat.
He yells, “Mom. MOM!”
Hair dripping, I come into the kitchen. The TV is on; Schoolhouse Rock tells us three is the magic number. An orange pekoe spice tea bag sits near an empty mug. The keys are missing.
The kettle steams.
Three minus one equals two. Boom, just like that.
(4) Amy Schaefer 3:35pm
I eased back my lid. Dark, and quiet except for the generators. The warehouse was ice-cold after the stuffy heat of the oil-drum.
I whistled. Boomer burst out of his drum.
“Simmer down, motherfucker!” I hissed. God, every time we robbed a place.
“Claustrophobic,” he gasped.
“If you know a better way inside than getting delivered, speak up.” I crept through the gloom. “Freckles said the Rolexes were this way.”
The ground lurched. Soot showered down.
Boomer grabbed me. “Earthquake!”
A long, loud note blared. What the...? Shit. Fucking Freckles.
“We’re on a cargo ship, Boomer. Hope you like Chinese.”
(5) Steve Forti 8:23pm
“No, no.” Betty snickered. “It’s… nice.”
“What can I say? I’m a grower, not a shower. Besides, do you know how cold it is today?”
Betty fidgeted. “I can’t do this.”
“Sure you can. Just give me a minute, and boom! I promise.”
“It’s more than that, Todd. The gifts, the late night texts. It’s too much.”
“I like to spoil my gal.”
“It feels more like smothering.”
As she swam away and out of his life, FWOOMP!
Figures. Now he looked a proper puffer fish.
(6) TheOneWriting 8:06am
“Pass the turkey already!” demanded the figure at the head of the table.
He sliced the turkey, while at the same time he sliced open her throat,showering the table in her blood, soiling the fine linen.
As he passed the slice of turkey along to her, before her irritating voice could boom out another command, he imagined stopping it by pushing her face into the mashed potatoes, smothering her as she flailed wildly.
“And what are we thankful for this year?” asked his daughter.
He shuddered a little, banishing the thoughts once more, slower every time.
I can't decide who the winner is. How about you weigh in on the choice in the comments section?
Recently, I've been trying to catch up on my Newbery reading. Having taken this test for fun, I was surprised to learn I'd only read 57 out of 93 of the medal winners (I've read far more of the honor books). Sounder by William H. Armstrong (originally published by HarperCollins in 1969; this paperback released 1972)
So I hustled down to my local second-hand book shop and bought what they had. Now my total's up to 60. Not bad, but nowhere near a perfect score. Naturally, I've read more of the recent winners, plus the ones from my childhood, but not as many from the decades before 1960. Still working on that.
Newbery Medal Winner 1970Synopsis
: During the difficult years of the late nineteenth century South, an African-American boy and his poor family rarely have enough to eat. Each night, the boy's father takes their dog, Sounder, out to look for food and the man grows more desperate by the day. When food suddenly appears on the table one morning, it seems like a blessing. But the sheriff and his deputies are not far behind. The ever-loyal Sounder remains determined to help the family he loves as hard times bear down on them.
Why I recommend it: The writing has a lyrical and timeless quality, helped I'm sure by the simplicity of calling the characters "the boy" and "his father" and "his mother". The only character with a name in the entire story is the dog, Sounder. Shadow of a Bull by Maia Wojciechowska (hardcover published in 1964 by Atheneum; this paperback edition from Aladdin, 2007)Newbery Medal Winner 1965Synopsis (from Indiebound)
: Manolo was only three when his father, the great bullfighter Juan Olivar, died. But Juan is never far from Manolo's consciousness -- how could he be, with the entire town of Arcangel waiting for the day Manolo will fulfill his father's legacy?
But Manolo has a secret he dares to share with no one -- he is a coward, without afición, the love of the sport that enables a bullfighter to rise above his fear and face a raging bull. As the day when he must enter the ring approaches, Manolo finds himself questioning which requires more courage: to follow in his father's legendary footsteps or to pursue his own destiny?
Why I recommend it: Despite the dated subject matter, this is a quiet and inspiring little book about courage and facing one's fear. I totally fell in love with Manolo as a character. The Slave Dancer by Paula Fox (hardcover published in 1973 by Bradbury Press; this paperback edition published 2008 by Aladdin)Newbery Medal Winner 1974Synopsis
: One day, thirteen-year-old Jessie Bollier is earning pennies playing his fife on the docks of New Orleans; the next, he is kidnapped and thrown aboard a slave ship, where his job is to provide music while shackled slaves "dance" to keep their muscles strong and their bodies profitable. As the endless voyage continues, Jessie grows increasingly sickened by the greed, brutality, and inhumanity of the slave trade, but nothing prepares him for the ultimate horror he will witness before his nightmare ends -- a horror that will change his life forever.Why I recommend it:
I thought I knew a lot about slavery in the U.S., but then I read The Slave Dancer
and learned a lot more. This book would be excellent for starting classroom discussions.
How many Newbery medal winners have you read?
By: JOANNA MARPLE,
Blog: Miss Marple's Musings
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, Perfect Picture Book Friday
, picture book
, Hazel Mitchell
, Imani's Moon
, JaNay Brown-Wood
, picture books
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One of the fun things of being friends with illustrators is getting sneak-peaks at art spreads before the book is published. I fell in love with this story back last Christmas when Hazel was busy working on the front cover, … Continue reading
I’ve always been a diary and letter person. I have loads of journals from my childhood and post-college years. To this day, I relish letters I saved from my childhood since they’re a… Continue reading
A brief look at ‘grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform. This week we’re looking at ways libraries can use Instagram to market services. As librarians, we know that we provide our communities with so more than books, but how can we show patrons everything we have to offer? From audio books to online materials and wireless printing to smiling faces at the Information Desk, here’s a few ways to get that information out there. The key to this week’s installment is reading the captions — there are many different approaches libraries can take.
Have you come across a related Instagram post this week, or has your library posted something similar? Have a topic you’d like to see in the next installment of Instagram of the Week? Share it in the comments section of this post.
By: Sharon Ledwith,
I began writing my master business plan for publishing my novel series on March 9th, 2011. This was about 1½ years before I had a signed publishing contract under my belt. Since then, there have been many revisions to this plan. I decided to write down a business plan when I took the plunge to learn all I could about starting a blog to help me develop an author platform. After a few months of intense research, my blog launched May 4th, 2011. Publishing my first post was the beginning of putting my plan into action, and it was truly a lift off for me and my writing career. My business plan and strategy spans five pages. I’ve broken down the plan into headings, and what I’d like to see happen. I’ve set short term goals (next 1-5 years) and long term goals (10 plus years). I also have an objective, which helps me keep my feet on the ground and fingers on the keyboard. I review my plan quarterly, and revise it once a year. This helps me keep on track and weed out the things I’m doing that aren’t working for me. So how do you even go about preparing a business plan for your writing career? Every writer is different of course, and I can only give you the benefit of my experience writing MG/YA novel series. But we all have to start somewhere. First:Begin with your objective. Why are you writing in the first place, and what do you hope to accomplish. I want to give readers an experience they’ll never forget, and organize my life around what makes me happy. Figure out your objective, and get it down! Second:List your short term goals. What do you hope to accomplish in 1, 3, 5 years? Don’t go overboard you can only handle so much. Once you figure out what these goals are break them down into headings like ‘Online Presence’, ‘Website’, ‘Novels’, ‘Work in Progress’, ‘Time Management and Commitments’, ‘Sales Plan’, ‘Promotion and Marketing Strategy’, and ‘Financial Goals’.
Third: Now for the fun part! Under your headings list the steps you need to take to accomplish your goals. For example, under my ‘Online Presence’ heading I’ve listed in point form all the tasks I need to do to keep my author name out there in cyberspace. Here are some examples:
- I’ve joined HootSuite to help schedule my shares and tweets.
- Guest Blog on other author blogs within the same genre, and make sure to share this info on my social media groups.
- Continue to do interviews with other authors, especially when there’s a new release.
- Approach book blog reviewers, especially a month before a new release. Offer a free copy for honest review.
- Offer my blog as a platform for other YA authors—either interviews or guest posts.
Fourth:Depending on the amount of headings and steps you have, make sure you don’t pile on too much as to make this plan unmanageable. Get real with what you can handle, delegate what you can’t. I had to hire a web designer. No shame in that.
Fifth: Now onto the long term goals. Remember to dream big too! Would you like your books translated into movies? How many books do you plan on writing? What about a book series? Or graphic novels? How many books are you planning on writing in your series? Create a master plan for each series too. It will be easier on you in the long run. Intellectual property like video games or apps is also important to think about and write down. After all, you never know what the future holds if you don’t help it along. Sixth:Finally, SIGN the bottom of your master business plan. This makes it real. Commit to it. Revise it when things aren’t working out, or your situation has changed. Be flexible, and ask for help if necessary. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is your writing career.
Here’s a formula that will keep things in perspective and keep you on track of your writing goals: TIME + BACKLIST (4 or more books) = SUSTAINABLE AUTHOR CAREER.
Thank you for reading my blog. Have you created a master business plan for your writing or anything else you’d love to pursue? If so, please comment and share your experiences. Love to hear from you! Cheers!
You’re sitting at your laptop, typing away. You know content is the absolute King of the internet jungle. And, you know inbound marketing is the best way to bring traffic to your website.
But, which of your content efforts are producing the most benefit. In other words, what post or website page or other strategy, or what combination of efforts are the ‘conversion powerhouses?’
Happily Ever Afterlife
Revisit your favorite childhood fairy tales…with a paranormal twist. Eight classic stories rewritten by eight talented authors with one common theme, they all feature the undead. From angels to vampires and ghosts to zombies, you’ll be sure to fall in love with the classics all over again and quickly learn that even the undead can have a happily ever after.
In the Belly of the Wolf by Amanda Carman
Don’t talk to strangers. Don’t stray from the path. If you do, the wolf will eat you. Once swallowed, you will be trapped forever in the dark and musty limbo of the belly of the wolf, a larger and more crowded world than you ever suspected. You can’t blame him, though. After all, wolves will be wolves.
The Glass Coffin by Emmalyn Greyson
When Marianna’s stepmother betrays her by having her turned into a vampire, she must flee home and the love of her life. Darren, her werewolf lover, believes he’s found a cure. Will it lead to heartache or happily ever after?
Hans and the Best Day Ever by G.L. Jackson
After a seven-year apprenticeship with the Boss Lady, Hans decides it’s time to go home. Accompanied by Gabe, the two boys make their way back to the house in the woods where they hope to find Hans’ mother. Gabe is never at a loss for words but Hans is always quick to act on what might either be a fantastic idea…or the worst idea ever.
The Baron and the Firebird by J.A. Campbell
In the depths of the Russian wilderness, Baron Pyotr Vasilyev does his best to care for his people but his long years weigh heavily and he’s beginning to lose his taste for life. The only things that keep him going are his devotion to duty and his magical cherries. When his cherries go missing the thief turns out to be the Firebird. The desire to hear her sing one last time drives him through the centuries.
Clara and the Coon by M.K. Boise
Clara is born the height of a quarter-an abomination to the village of Fankfret. On the outskirts of town, she’s left to die in a hole that’s the size of a teapot. She soon learns her story is far from over though. Getting eaten by a raccoon is just the beginning.
Blood Borne Pathogen by Shoshanah Holl
Javier is too young to be waiting for death, but in the hospital battling late-stage AIDs there isn’t room for much else in his mind. A mysterious woman begins visiting him and they form a strange friendship. Aurora only comes to visit after the sun goes down, leaving long before dawn. On the Day of the Dead, they both face the choice between life, death…and what comes after.
In Spite of Fire by Tilly Boscott
Alice’s husband, Henry, died, leaving her to wander the world alone, searching for a way to bring him back. When she stumbles upon village gossip describing a place where ghosts dwell, she sets off to find her lost love. Instead of her husband, she discovers a ghost with eyes of fire, keen on the contents of a ragged tree. Alice clambers into an adventure of fear, darkness and true love.
The Angel by Troy Lambert
Abel is a poor urchin, trying to survive on the streets with only his wits to protect him and a tiny garden of struggling flowers to bring him pleasure. Zach is a young boy struggling in the fight of his life against the blight of cancer who wants to see the flowers of spring one last time. It seems inevitable that these young souls will soon leave the earth. But what awaits them in the beyond?
** In Support of the Boston Children’s Hospital:
Troy Lambert, author the The Angel, will be donating 50% of his Happily Ever Afterlife royalties to the Boston Children’s Hospital. Untold press has pledged to match his donation. J.A. Campbell, author of The Baron and the Firebird will also be donating 50% of her royalties! Pick up your copy today and support a great cause!**
Enter the pages of the Dragonthology. No single story has ever been great enough to contain the mystical, wondrous creature known as the dragon. We assembled the greatest draconian tales and put them between the covers of a single tome to satisfy your hunger for everything dragon. Seven magnificent stories, ranging from science fiction to mystery, await you within.
The Case of the Bloodstone Dragon by G.L. Jackson
A washed up has been, Private Investigator Clark is down to his last $100. That is, until the night a mysterious femme fatale walks through his door weaving a tale of intrigue in hope of recovering an artifact steeped in mystery and danger. What follows is a raucous ride through a little known human and dragon history, played out on the streets of New York City.
Unto the Breach by Jason Andrew
Jonathan Heller uncovers an unusual secret during one of the bloodiest campaigns of World War One in the middle of horrific trench warfare. Can he convince an ancient dragon that humanity is worthy of life during their darkest hour?
The Dragon of Sullivan Hall by Marian Allen
A dormitory full of fun loving female students, an angry red dragon with a litter full of hungry whelps, and a particular student of Irish descent. This won’t end well for the dragon.
Egg Hunt by Jay Wilburn
A lonely smuggler must make decisions he never dreamt possible in the darkness of space to elude capture and protect his precious cargo of dragon eggs. When one of them hatches, it threatens to damage his ship. Can a person change enough to save a ship, a dragon, and himself?
The Clan by Troy Lambert
Dragons return to the earth and humanity enslaves them with the last remnants of technology of their dying race. Now the technology of old is fading. Will the dragons be able to rise again? Will the humans declare war, or will a peaceful solution be found? It all rests in the hands of an ancient dragon, and a lowly shepherd and his clan.
Dragon Seeks a Wife by Sandra Graves
What happens when a dragon falls ill and is told he will die in a year and a day unless he finds his one true love? The only thing a dragon can do. He sets out on a quest to win the hand of the perfect mate for a dragon–the daughter of the king. Aided by a Quetzal bird sorcerer, he begins his quest. An old fashioned fairy tale with a Meso-American twist.
Darkness Taken by J.A. Campbell
In a land where children are warriors and the only adults are mythical creatures, all are called to fight the Darkness. Til and her dragon partner, Heliodor, complete the perfect Welcome Ceremony, but their joy is short lived. The Dark has slain a unicorn and taken her foal back to the Darklands. Can Til and Heliodor venture where none go and rescue the young unicorn?
FLASHY FICTION AND OTHER INSANE TALES
(Volumes 1 & 2)
An anthology of the strange, bizarre, and just plain weird.
Zombies, vampires, ghosts, and …crickets? Try a taste of writing from two very different fantasy authors. Flash stories are super short and perfect for when you ‘just have a minute’. This anthology contains 15 stories from authors Sean Hayden and Jen Wylie. Run the rampart of emotions in this exciting mix of tales. From humor to twisted, there is something for everyone.
Unicorns, zombies, devils, dark whispers, teddy bears, and …fireflies? Try a taste of writing from two very different fantasy authors. Flash fiction stories are super short and perfect for when you ‘just have a minute’. This anthology contains 15 stories (both flash and longer short stories) from authors Sean Hayden and Jen Wylie. Run the rampart of emotions in this exciting mix of tales. From humor to horror, sweet to twisted, there is something for everyone.
Note: Some stories contain adult language.
Where I grew up, on the island of Cyprus, Halloween wasn't something that people celebrated. I had to wait until I moved to the States before I was finally able to enjoy Halloween. Mind you, it wasn't until we moved to Oregon that I really got into the spirit of things and started dressing up. Unlike poor Scaredy Squirrel, I love Halloween, though some of the costumes people around here wear are definitely scary.Scaredy Squirrel prepares for Halloween: A Safety Guide for Scaredies
Kids Can Press, 2013, 978-1-894786-87-4
Scaredy Squirrel is the kind of creature who likes to be ready for every possible event. Really
ready. He loves “lists, plans and safety equipment,” and hates “danger and unpredictability.” Because of these loves and hates, Scaredy Squirrel has put together this guide to help people who are like him. As far as Scaredy is concerned Halloween decorations are “nerve-wracking” and Halloween itself makes him “pass out.” If you have a similar reaction to Halloween then this guide was written for you
. The guide is divided into eight chapters, and it is “designed to help you prepare for and survive Halloween, all in one piece!”
In the first chapter Scaredy shows his readers how to get their living area ready for Halloween. Scaredy provides us with an illustration that shows us how to use garlic, a scarecrow, a blender, bug repellent, caution tape and a doghouse to make our home safe from werewolves, creepy crawlies, ghosts and goblins, black cats and witches, and vampires. Who knew that such everyday items could be so useful!
Next, Scaredy tackles the subject of Halloween decorations. Scaredy appreciates that Halloween jitters might cause you to experience decorating problems, so he shows you how to carve a pumpkin safely, how to decorate your front door so that it is “inviting,” and how to make your living room “ghoulish” but “not too ghoulish.”
Choosing a Halloween costume is not easy, but Scaredy’s ingenious ideas you are sure to help you to find something that suits your personality. He looks at costumes that are classics, some that are fun, and a few that will appeal to people of action. There are also hero and villain costumes, fairy tale and science fiction costumes. He considers the advantages of makeup versus masks, and he shows us how to make three do-it-yourself costumes.
The next four chapters look at “Halloween trick-or-treating,” “Halloween candy,” “Halloween Notes,” and “Halloween Fun.” Then Scaredy wraps up with a chapter titled “If all else fails …” which does not need to be described as the title says it all.
For readers who know Scaredy Squirrel already, this new title is sure to reinforce the connection that they have with this delightful little animal. For readers who have never met Scaredy before, this title will show them what they have been missing!
By: Sally Matheny,
Thanks to all of you who sent in photos via email, facebook, and other venues. I loved seeing all the smiling faces in those trees! Some of you perched low and some perched a little higher. Some were even hanging upside down!
The number of entrants grows every year! We put all the names in a drawing and the winning names drawn were:
Child: Sarah of Caroleen, N.C. (you'll receive your cool, outdoor toy very soon!)
Adult: Donna of Concord, NC ( You should receive your $5.00 Starbucks gift card in time to tackle Monday morning with it.)
Thanks everybody for participating. We'll do it again next year.
Until then, keep climbing.
When 81-year-old Pablo Casals, who was the world’s foremost cellist, was asked whey he continued to practice several hours a day, he answered: “Because I think I am making progress.”
Between the ages of eight and twenty-two, ee cummings wrote a poem a day.
In September, my kung fu school began offering Brazilian jiujitsu classes four times a week. You'll find me in nearly every one of them. Before that, grappling was only offered on Sundays, or for parts of kung fu classes.
I used to be creeped out by the idea of grappling. It seemed to rape-y, or ob-gyn-y. I mean, do you really expect me to believe that one of the better positions I can be in is on my back with my legs wrapped around someone? No thanks.
But then I started doing it more, and realized I actually liked it. It is the most intense exercise I have ever done ever. In the last month, I've seen two guys who were way younger than me and who wrestled in high school try out the class, and both ended up half way through class lying flat on their backs on the mat, spent.
And even though you make a lot of physical contact, jiujitsu is impersonal. The person's other body is just an obstacle that you have to deal with. It's only personal in that you like and respect your partner and would not deliberately injure them.
Getting better every day
Today several of my grappling partners made a point of telling me how much better I had gotten at jujitsu.
How did I get better? Practice. Making a lot of mistakes. Trying new things, only some of which worked. But mostly just by showing up.
If you do something a lot, even if only a small percentage of it is excellent, a small percentage of a lot is more than a small percentage of not very much.
Malcolm Gladwell famously said that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to make someone an expert.
Then a study said no, deliberate practice doesn't account for all of it. They said practice explained 26% of the variance in performance for games and 21% for music. I think writing would be in there. Still one-fifth to one-fourth is a big chunk.
And I am a lot better writer working on my 27th book than I was on my first. I know what I'm doing. I feel it in my bones.
Just like I am beginning to with grappling.
I'm also learning to try new things. Can I get a joint lock in this position? I don't know, but it's worth a try. Instead of thinking about it, I try to just do it.
I'm trying to be more like that with my writing too. To turn off my internal editor and let the words flow. I really like Writeordie.com for making it impossible to be critical and forcing me to write (I'll often set it for 500 words in 15 minutes).
Just do it
So if there's something you want to do and be good at, I think the old Nike slogan says it best:
I have carried this keychain or its brother since Nike introduced the slogan (and have backups bought off ebay stashed for when this one breaks).
I would modify it to: JUST DO IT A LOT
So if you want to be a better poet, write four poems a week. Or a poem a day. Lots of photographers do 365 projects, ie, they take a photo every day. Are all those photos great? I'm sure not, but I'm also sure they end up with way more great photos than they would have otherwise.
By: Stacey Shubitz,
Blog: TWO WRITING TEACHERS
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I’ve always been a diary and letter person. I have loads of journals from my childhood and post-college years. To this day, I relish letters I saved from my childhood since they’re a… Continue reading
By: Wendy Darling,
If you enjoy time parallel universe/time travel stories, A Thousand Pieces of You is probably on your TBR list already–and it’s a book that will likely appeal to fans of All Our Yesterdays and Every Day, particularly if you like romance! I’m a big fan of Claudia Gray’s Evernight series so was very excited to hear she had a new book coming out. I was also tickled to find that this story takes Marguerite to many different locations and time periods as she tries to solve the mystery behind her father’s murder, including a visit back to the Romanov empire. There have been several YA books with Russian settings this year, but this one definitely stands out with its scifi elements. As part of the official blog tour hosted by Rock Star Book Tours, the author is with us today to share why she felt absolutely compelled to write this... Read more »
The post A Thousand Pieces of You: guest post + giveaway appeared first on The Midnight Garden.
I have a copy of Compulsion by Martina Boone to giveaway. Here’s a description:
Beautiful Creatures meets The Body Finder in Compulsion, the first novel in a spellbinding new trilogy.
Three plantations. Two wishes. One ancient curse.
All her life, Barrie Watson has been a virtual prisoner in the house where she lived with her shut-in mother. When her mother dies, Barrie promises to put some mileage on her stiletto heels. But she finds a new kind of prison at her aunt’s South Carolina plantation instead–a prison guarded by an ancient spirit who long ago cursed one of the three founding families of Watson Island and gave the others magical gifts that became compulsions.
Stuck with the ghosts of a generations-old feud and hunted by forces she cannot see, Barrie must find a way to break free of the family legacy. With the help of sun-kissed Eight Beaufort, who knows what Barrie wants before she knows herself, the last Watson heir starts to unravel her family’s twisted secrets. What she finds is dangerous: a love she never expected, a river that turns to fire at midnight, a gorgeous cousin who isn’t what she seems, and very real enemies who want both Eight and Barrie dead.
To increase your chance of winning, answer the question below:
?If you could have any “everyday” magical gift, like finding lost things or knowing what people want, what gift would you want and why?
Here’s my answer: I would like the ability to make people happy. Now, that might sound kind of cheesy, but think about it for a second. If your very presence magically made people happier, your own sense of well-being would automatically increase. If you could make people feel joy at the sight of you, their treatment of you would improve, and your relationships with family, friends, and co-workers would always be harmonious. It would be really hard to make anyone angry with you if you always made them happy! Talk about reducing stress!
A finished copy of the book – US addresses only, please
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The post Spotlight and Giveaway: Compulsion by Martina Boone appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.
by Margie Myers-Culver
Some form of picture books have been a part of my life for more than sixty years. We had little extra money for books when I was younger but I still have my copies of The Tall Book of Nursery Tales pictures by F. Rojankovsy, The Tall Book of Make Believe selected by Jane Werner, pictures by Garth Williams, The Tall Book of Christmas selected by Dorothy Hall Smith, pictures by Gertrude Elliott Espenscheid and The Tall Book of Bible Stories retold by Katherine Gibson, illustrated by Ted Chaiko. I took numerous trips to the tiny one room township library in our small community quickly reading through all the books in their children’s section. Our elementary schools had no libraries. In fact when I was in junior high school my mom was the first librarian, library clerk, in the very first library in my elementary school, Sycamore Elementary School, before she moved to Wilcox Elementary School.
She brought in authors and illustrators like Tomie dePaola, Eric Carle and Jose Aruego for her students and staff, staying in touch with them for decades, as well as Pat Hutchins and Dick Gackenbach, who dedicated a book to her. It came as no surprise to me when in college I switched from studying to be an elementary school educator to a K-12 certified librarian. My courses examining picture books increased, as did my affection for this format. Regardless of the level library in which I have served—high, middle or elementary—picture books have always been a part of my collections. I have watched my listeners, no matter their age, sit in total stunned silence. I have seen their eyes fill with tears. I have heard their gasps, giggles and bursts of laughter.
In August a tweet appeared in my feed where another supporter of children’s literature, educator Terry Shay, commented that my blog posts were like love notes. In my way of thinking if an author or illustrator spends years bringing their work to readers, if they are willing to put bits and pieces of themselves on a printed page, the very least I can do is thank them for their marvelous efforts. Your books change lives, book by book, reader by reader. Here are three of many reasons why.
1. Picture books are an entire world you can hold in your hands.
Whether a picture book is a work of fiction or nonfiction for the minutes it is read, readers step into another place, another time, with characters they may or may not know. Your stories bridge the generation gap, break our hearts and heal them again, make us laugh ourselves silly, empathize with sibling problems, make the smallest everyday things beautiful, enlarge our understanding of other cultures, and acquaint us with specific people and the most intricate phenomenon in our natural world. Your works make us truly feel the wonder of a sunrise, believe we can dance with a flamingo, think we can sneeze so hard the shock will be felt miles away, want to shop in a store filled with monsters, and understand a boy and a robot, a bear and a bee, a duck and a goose, or a zebra and a moose can be friends. We want to be like an intrepid tractor, a chicken with arms, a whale finding serenity, a penguin who knows his heart, a protective mama squirrel, a brave mermaid, a boy who tames Toads, lots of dogs and a very special imaginary friend. Your pages make us want to learn more about artists like Horace Pippin, Henry Matisse or Edward Hopper, religious holidays like Passover, significant events in the Revolutionary War, the changed status of bald eagles, the Japanese internment camps, baseball and prominent figures in the game, songs like Sing, Yankee Doodle, America The Beautiful and The Star-Spangled Banner, miraculous days like the Christmas Truce in World War I, rain forests and chocolate, dinosaurs, frogs, trains, butterflies and bees.
2. Picture books contain power.
Those words you choose, selected with care, connect with readers on an emotional level you may or may not fully understand. We know each reader brings to a book their own personal experiences, but I don’t think we can ever fully predict how they will react to a story. Therein lies the power.
When illustrations become part of the story, or perhaps they tell the entire story, each one, no matter its size, is a piece of art to be enjoyed. I simply marvel at the combined use of color, various techniques and styles, layout and design. How can we not feel sadness when a small dog gets lost, the outrage of cranky crayons, the plight of parrots, the delight of a small girl wearing a red knit cap, the frustration of a days gone wrong, the panic of swallowing a seed, the comedy of a fractured fairy tale, the pure pleasure of discoveries during a nighttime walk, the security of having an alligator, the joy of finding a friend and cupcakes, the fearlessness of a ninja, the promise that comes with wearing a hat, the despair of moving, the love of a grandfather or grandmother, the warmth of family, the purpose of gravity, roots and so many wonders in our world, or the passion of pursuing art.
3. Picture books transcend their intended audience.
The truth of this was never more apparent than the last two months of my ninety-four-year-old mom’s life. Every day I would read her at least one picture book I had recently read or was planning to use for a blog post. On the last evening I spent with her, when I arrived in her room, she was lightly sleeping with her head to the side of her raised bed. When she saw I had three picture books with me, her entire demeanor changed. For the time I spent reading those stories with her, she was lively, filled with smiles and laughter. We chatted about how children would feel about these books. As I was leaving her room with my hand on the door knob, I suddenly stopped. Mom had not told me she loved me like she always did. Her bed was around the corner so I called out to her, “I love you, Mom.” She replied with her favorite phrase, “I love you a bushel and a peck.”
So to all you authors and illustrators who create the magic we will always need, who take “what-if” and boldly go forth: “I love you a bushel and a peck.”
I will champion you and your work for as long as I can to anyone who will listen.
Margaret M. Myers-Culver, Margie Culver, has been a teacher librarian for thirty-four years. She did her major course work at Central Michigan University and Western Michigan University. She is head-over-heels in love with talking about books at Librarian’s Quest. For picture books reviewed in 2013 and 2014 you can follow her Pinterest boards. She maintains two Scoop.it! magazines, All Things Caldecott and Gone To The Dogs. Links to her current Goodreads challenge and Learnist board for this year’s Mock Caldecott can be accessed from her blog. She has read so many books her students frequently ask her if she’s read everything in the library. They really enjoy coming to her house on Halloween when she hands out books instead of candy. When not reading or writing she shares the great landscape surrounding Charlevoix, Michigan with her sweet dog, Xena.
Margie is generously giving away four picture books to four winners: Louise Loves Art by Kelly Light, The Troublemaker by Lauren Castillo, Shooting at the Stars: The Christmas Truce of 1914 by John Hendrix, and The Adventures of Beekle, the Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat.
Comment below ONCE to enter. Four random winners will be selected at the conclusion of Pre-PiBo!
Well, we are now 8 days from the release of EVERBLAZE (7 days from the launch party!!)
THIS IS NOT A DRILL, PEOPLE!
I've compiled all the recent updates into one handy post you can find HERE
. And thank you all for bearing with me--and sharing my excitement--during these crazy days!
Okay, onto the MMGM
- Jess at the Reading Nook is gushing about THE FOURTEENTH GOLDFISH--with a giveaway! Click HERE to see what she thought.
- Reader Noir has chills for NIGHTMARES. Click HERE to see their review.
- Mark Baker has a double feature this week. Click HERE to see what he thought of THE MYSTERY OF THE HEADLESS HORSEMAN. And click HERE to see his review of THE MYSTERY OF THE GHOSTLY GALLEON.
- Katie Fitzgerald is cheering for RAIN REIGN. Click HERE to see what she thought.
- Suzanne Warr is haunted by THE WITCH OF BLACKBIRD POND. Click HERE to see why.
- Susan Olson has found magic in ABRACADABRA, TUT. Click HERE to see what she thought.
- Rosi Hollinbeck is reviewing--and GIVING AWAY--a hardcover copy of COURAGE FOR BEGINNERS. Click HERE for details.
- Sue Heavenrich is rooting for FLEABRAIN LOVES FRANNY, along with an author interview. Click HERE for all the fun.
- Amara Jabber thinks everyone must BEWARE OF THE HAUNTED TOILET. Click HERE to see why.
- Dorine White has a very special tribute to the students at Marysville Pilchuck high school, where her daughter actually attends. Not middle grade related, per se, but definitely worth a read. Click HERE for more.
- Greg Pattridge is digging WRITTEN IN STONE. Click HERE to read his review.
- Jenny Enzor is featuring THE WATSONS GO TO BIRMINGHAM--1963. Click HERE to see what she thought.
- The Mundie Moms are always part of the MMGM fun (YAY!). Click HERE to see their newest recommendations. And if you aren't also following their Mundie Kids site, get thee over THERE and check out all the awesome!
- The lovely Shannon O'Donnell always has an MMGM ready for you! Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week.
- Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time! - Jennifer Rumberger always has an awesome MMGM feature on her blog. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week.
- Pam Torres always has an MMGM up on her blog. Click HERE to see what she's spotlighting this week.
- Deb Marshall is a MMGM regular. Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week.
- Joanne Fritz always has an MMGM for you. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week.
*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen reviews ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me.
If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love (contests, author interviews and whatnot also count--but are most definitely not required) and email me the title of the book you're featuring and a link to your blog at SWMessenger (at) hotmail (dot) com. (Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so it gets sorted accurately) You MUST email me your link by Sunday evening in order to be included in the list of links. (usually before 11pm PST is safe--but if I'm traveling it can vary. When in doubt, send early!)
If you miss the cutoff, you are welcome to add your link in the comments on this post so people can find you, but I will not have time to update the post. Same goes for typos/errors on my part. I do my best to build the links correctly, but sometimes deadline-brain gets the best of me, and I'm sorry if it does. For those wondering why I don't use a Linky-widget instead, it's a simple matter of internet safety. The only way I can ensure that all the links lead to safe, appropriate places for someone of any age is if I build them myself. It's not a perfect system, but it allows me to keep better control.
Thank you so much for being a part of this awesome meme, and spreading the middle grade love!
Our mission is to not only raise awareness for the kid’s books that celebrate diversity, but to get more of these of books into classrooms and libraries.
The prep of the upcoming (1/27/15) Multicultural Children’s Book day is humming right along! In case you’ve missed all the details, Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom
and I are teaming up once again to bring awareness and shine the spotlight on all of the amazing multicultural children’s books that are available to readers, parents, teachers and libraries.
Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day, Mia and I are on a mission to change that; it’s a mission to raise awareness for the kid’s books that celebrate diversity, and to get more of these types of books into classrooms and libraries. This event also provides an excellent way for us to compile a list of book titles and blog reviews for everyone to use to expand their bookshelves.
This is an official call out to all multicultural children’s book authors! There are huge benefits for authors who participate in Multicultural Children’s Book Day by either sponsoring the event, or donating copies of their books to our vast pool of children’s book review bloggers who are standing by and ready to review books all month long leading up to the event. For those authors who are interested in purchasing an Author Sponsorship here are some benefits and perks:
- Mia and I are providing an “in” with their readership and demographic and will be promoting sponsors via name mention, products or service in a new and fresh way. These P.R methods include guest blogging, social media and press releases; sponsors will be mentioned in all P.R methods whenever possible. We will be doing countless blog posts on the new MCCBD site before and during the event and all sponsors will be mentioned as part of the posts as well.
- We are collaborating with The Children’s Book Council and First Book in various ways and will be tapping into their reach and readership to spread the word about the 1/27/15 event.
- For MCCBD 2015 we will also be implementing advanced tracking and social media analytics for more defined information and feedback for our sponsors. For our 2015 event, Multicultural Children’s Book Day site has a brand new, stand-alone site allowing the MCCBD Team to give deeper details and easier to find information about our sponsors, our mission and other valuable information for multicultural book lovers. All sponsors will be listed either on the sidebar of the site, or on a specific Sponsor page. You can view the new site HERE.
- Another effective way for you to participate as an author is to donate review copies of your multicultural children’s book to our pool of review bloggers. NOTE: All books provided to our review bloggers for the event need to be approved by our Book Review Panel. For a more specific description of a “multicultural children’s book,” go HERE.
- Currently we have over 70 established bloggers who will be matched with authors and publishers to provide a review of your book. All book review blog posts will be compiled the day of the event in a huge Linky Party that doubles as a reading list for parents, teachers, caregivers and libraries that can be viewed and pulled from all year long.
Providing copies of your multicultural book to be reviewed is an excellent way to gain visibility and recognition for your work! If you are an author with a multicultural children’s book to share, we want to hear from you! Email MCCBD Project Manager Becky F. at Becky (at) AudreyPress (dot) com to get the ball rolling. We hope to hear from you soon!
NOW…..ON TO THE BLOGGERS!
We are still very interested in connecting with established bloggers who are willing to review books for the MCCBD event. Sign-up will be closing very soon (November 30th) so we can begin the matching process and start getting books into the hands of reviewers the first week of December. To view more details or sign up to be one of our children’s book reviewers, go HERE.
Thank you for your continued support of this important event!
The post Calling All Bloggers and Children’s Book Authors! MCCBD Needs YOU! appeared first on Jump Into A Book.
By: Connie Ngo,
(Login to Add to MyJacketFlap
, Food & Drink
, alan davidson
, Companion to Food
, food and drink
, oxford companion
, Oxford Companion to Food
, tom jaine
, Add a tag
With nearly 200 countries in the world, the vast number and variety of dishes is staggering, which goes to show just how diverse your food can get. Which countries’ foods do you enjoy the most? Is there a particular characteristic of your favorite food that can’t be found anywhere else in the world? Do you know how national dishes vary by region? Explore (just some) of the world’s different cuisines discussed in The Oxford Companion to Food, from Afghanistan to Yemen, with our interactive map below:
Feeling hungry for more facts about food? Why not discover some less common types of meat, or test your knowledge in our food quiz? Bon appétit!
Featured image credit: Olives, photo by Dominique Godbout. CC-BY-2.0 via Flickr.
The post A map of the world’s cuisine appeared first on OUPblog.
By: Chris Barton
(Login to Add to MyJacketFlap
, Cathy Gendron
, Christensen brothers
, Harold Christensen
, Lew Christensen
, Pioneers & Pirouettes
, The Nutcracker
, The Nutcracker Comes to America
, Willam Christensen
, Add a tag
For a decade now, I’ve had a book in the works about Willam, Harold, and Lew Christensen, the Utah-born brothers who had a huge influence in the development of ballet in the United States. Among their many contributions are the first full-length production of The Nutcracker in the US, in 1944.
And for pretty much all that time, this project — which will be published by Millbrook in fall 2015, with illustrations by Cathy Gendron — has gone by the name Pioneers & Pirouettes.
But no more.
As of this week, my Christensen brothers book is called…
The Nutcracker Comes to America: How Three Ballet-Loving Brothers Created a Holiday Tradition
You would think that, after knowing the book by one title for so long, it would be hard to switch to a new moniker. But in this case, nope.
I love this new title — the book itself has changed over the years, the story it tells has shifted, and this new title fits perfectly what this book has become.
RIP, Pioneers & Pirouettes. And long live The Nutcracker Comes to America: How Three Ballet-Loving Brothers Created a Holiday Tradition!
*As opposed to my next book, which is still called The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch, the picture book biography of a young man who in ten years transformed from teenage field slave to US congressman. The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch will be published this coming April by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, with illustrations by Don Tate.
effective take on
Two Girls Staring at the Ceiling by Lucy Frank. Schwartz + Wade, 2014, 272 pages.
Thinking, thinking after the LMM journals and the Laura Ingalls Wilder class* just what it means to capture a life on the page.
- Is it ever really possible to get distance and perspective?
- Are memoir and autobiography ever fully “true”?
- How much can a writer truly reveal in public or even private writings?
- Are these things fully known to the author herself?
- How much do emotion and distance color things?
- In the shaping of a life story, should a reader “listen in” on what is omitted?
- Where is the moment autobiography shifts to autobiographical fiction?
- What does it matter in the end?
I keep circling back to the ideas infallibility and omniscience — two things no one has, but two things that would be needed to fully recored a “true” life. I don’t write memoir or autobiography so I am no expert, but I can’t help thinking what a challenge both formats would be. Memoir allows for more artistic license, (focusing on portions of a life rather than a whole life, for example, or in arranging events for thematic purposes), but both genres are expected to speak truth.
Perhaps the windows autobiography and memoir afford us are enough to catch a glimpse of a true life. Perhaps journals, though they don’t tell the whole story, remove the public filter enough for a reader to know the author intimately. Maybe fictionalized accounts like the Little House books can give readers as strong a sense of a life as non-fiction.
Thinking, thinking, thinking.
* Laura Ingalls Wilder herself used fictionalized accounts of her childhood to get at greater truths. She said about her book, BY THE SHORES OF SILVER LAKE “All I have told is true, but it’s not the whole truth.”
The post Writing A Life appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.
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30 Days to a Stronger Novel Online Video Course
The book is now available for Pre-Order!
It officially goes on sale on November 14.
Do you speak for organization as a way to advertise your books? Maybe you do school visits, or talk to a Kiwanis club, or even do Keynote Speeches for various organizations as a way to supplement your writing income.
If so, I’ve got a great book for you.
I am inspired by the TED Talks. TED, or Technology, Entertainment and Design, a nonprofit organization, invites people to give “the speech of their lives” in 18 minutes or less. Each speech should focus on one “idea worth sharing.”
The video archive includes some of the best public speaking you’ll ever see.
If you want to give better speeches, it makes sense to study the TED talks.
And that’s exactly what Jeremey Donovan has done in his book, HOW TO DELIVER A TED TALK: SECRETS OF THE WORLD’S MOST INSPIRING PRESENTATIONS. As you read this post on October 27, 2014, I’ll be at a Reading Recovery conference speaking about my work. The last time I went out, I bombed.
Now, I do a lot of speaking and it comes pretty easy for me. But last time, I really wasn’t prepared the way I should’ve been, and it showed. I vowed THAT would never happen again. In fact, that failure has spurred me to aspire to do better than ever before. Whatever level I was before, I’d like to up the game and improve.
Focus. When I taught freshman composition, the hardest thing was to get students to focus on something important enough, but manageable within the five pages of the assignment. Focus is difficult because we have so much we want to say. But not everything needs to go into THIS speech. TED talks ask you to find that one “idea worth spreading.”
It took me a long time to focus this speech! In some ways, the question is a philosophical one: what do you care about passionately? That’s what will connect with people.
Structure. Like any good writer or speechwriter, Donovan spends a lot of time on organization. There’s nothing particularly new or innovative in this section; however, his analysis of speech after speech is helpful, because you’ll see exactly how other TED talks were organized. He covers both inductive and deductive reasoning in detail.
Storytelling. The use of stories to enliven a speech is a time-tested technique. But Donovan explains the WHY and WHICH ONE. For me, the emphasis on a personal story was important. I am an ambivert, able to be extroverted when necessary, but in my everyday life, I’m an introvert. I don’t like sharing personal stories. And yet, for others to connect with you, it’s necessary. My new speech includes several new personal stories.
Powerpoint. Donovan says that about 60% of TED talks have no Powerpoint. Hurrah! It’s not my favorite method of giving information to a crowd. However–this time, I realized that I needed to do one. My normal approach would be to blow it off till the last minute–but that didn’t work last time and I was determined to do it right this time. I created a 55 slide pack.
Practice. Really? You want me to practice this 70 minute presentation? Yes. If I was doing a TED talk–with all the prestige of that organization, you can bet I would practice. I’m planning to do a run through a couple times this weekend. Realistically–one really good run-through is likely, but that’s better than the last time!
The benefits of taking the time to focus on the speech should be great. I know that I’ll relax more because I’m prepared. The connection with the audience should be much better than last time when I truly bombed. And who knows where it will go from there.
Slideshare From Jeremey Donovan
You should watch a 100 of these videos before you go out to do your next presentation! Here are some TED Talk Playlists to get you started.
As you read this, I’ll be about to speak. So send me the traditional on-stage blessing: Break a Leg!