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Results 1 - 25 of 120,870
1. Back-to-School Word Scramble Answers

Back to SchoolBack-to-School Word Scramble AnswersCatGymnastics

for an awesome quiz! Would you like to see YOUR quiz in the Ink Splot 26 blog? You can add your ideas here!

Sonja, STACKS Staffer

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2. ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ Gets Banned in Riverside Middle Schools

tfioscoverJohn Green’s The Fault in Our Stars has been banned in the middle schools within the Riverside Unified School District (based in California).

Vanity Fair reports that a parent named Karen Krueger raised a complaint against the popular young adult novel because she “felt the morbid plot, crude language, and sexual content was inappropriate for her children.” Krueger convinced a committee of educators and guardians put it to a vote which resulted in this act of censorship.

Green shared his reaction to this situation on Tumblr. He claims to feel both happy and sad; the sadness comes from a desire “to introduce the idea that human beings die to the children of Riverside, California and thereby crush their dreams of immortality.” What do you think?

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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3. Gender Matters? Swedish Picture Books and Gender Ambiguity

guest bloggerBack in June, Laura Reiko Simeon wrote about how race is handled in Swedish picture books. We’re thrilled to host Laura again as she sheds light on how Swedish picture books handle gender and gender-ambiguous characters.

You sit down with your favorite 4-year-old to read a sweet, wordless picture book featuring a little duck swimming down the river. Quickly, without thinking too hard, what pronoun do you use to describe the duck? Do you say, “Look at him paddle past that shaggy dog!” or “What does she see in the sky?”

If you were like the mothers in a 1985 study, you would use masculine pronouns for 95% of animal characters with no gender-specific characteristics. A follow-up study from 1995 examined children’s use of pronouns and found that by age 7 they had absorbed and were repeating these same gender stereotypes. Listen to those around you: has it changed much since then?For children who may not yet be aware (1)

In the US, Sweden is widely regarded as a leader in gender equality, although many Swedes still see a need for greater progress. Meanwhile, our own biases are apparent, for example when we consider gendered toys. Compare this 1981 Lego ad, with its blue jeans and t-shirt-clad girl to the pink-infused products targeted at girls today. As with other social issues, picture books reflect concerns in society at large – but how they’ve done so is dramatically different in the US as compared to Sweden.

Some American picture books encourage acceptance of kids who break free from gender restrictions: Charlotte Zolotow’s William’s Doll, Cheryl Kilodavis’s My Princess Boy, and Campbell Geeslin’s Elena’s Serenade, among others. The point of these stories is that a character is acting in opposition to gender norms, but for children who may not yet be aware that they’re “not supposed to” do or like certain things, these well-intentioned books could introduce self-consciousness.

What have largely been missing from English-language picture books are deliberately gender-ambiguous characters that are neither being bullied nor defiant. They just are. Rather than focusing on the consequences (good or bad) of pushing against societal restrictions or elevating the rebel as cultural hero, they turn the focus on the reader. Do we feel uncomfortable if we don’t know someone’s gender? Why? Do we make assumptions about gender based on what someone is doing or wearing? Why?

We do have some characters – e.g. the diverse, roly-poly infants in Helen Oxenbury’s delightful baby books – that are non-gender specific, but they tend to be in simple, relatively plot-free books for the very young. They are distinct from the Swedish picture books in which pronouns are cleverly avoided and characters send deliberately contradictory gender signals. My earlier post about

Kivi and the Monster Dog

Kivi and the Monster Dog

Swedish approaches to ethnic diversity introduced the concept of not making difference the problem. There is a similar philosophy at work here.

The Swedish Institute for Children’s Books publishes annual “Book Tastings” that identify trends for the year’s publications. The theme for 2012 was “Borders and Border Crossings,” and one border was gender: not just sexual orientation or gender roles, but the concept of gender as an identifier itself.

The anti-bias publisher OLIKA has published several titles of this nature, but the one that made the biggest splash was Kivi and the Monster Dog by Jesper Lundqvist, the first children’s book to use the gender-neutral pronoun, “hen.” (In Swedish, “hon” means “she” and “han” means “he.” First proposed in the 1960s, “hen” was mostly used in academic research and hipster neighborhoods of Stockholm.) In this funny rhyming story, a small person, Kivi, wishes for a pet dog and ends up instead with a demanding beast that runs amok.

Åsa Mendel-Hartvig and Caroline Röstlund write about Tessla, a preschooler clad in gender-neutral clothes and boasting a mop of brown hair. In Tessla’s Mama Doesn’t Want To! and Tessla’s Papa Doesn’t Want To!, the child, in an amusing role reversal, creatively cajoles badly behaving parents into leaving the park, washing their hair, waking up on time or going to work.

interior page from Pom and Pim

interior page from Pom and Pim

Pom and Pim by Olof and Lena Landström may be the only Swedish gender-neutral book that has been translated into English. The first in a series, it features an adventurous toddler, Pom, who sends mixed gender signals: a boyish-sounding nickname, sparse curls, a long purple sweater, and a little pink toy (Pim). The story is told without pronouns, yet two professional American reviewers assumed Pom was male and referred to the character as “he.”

In Maria Nilsson Thore’s Bus and Frö Each on Their Own Island, two gender-ambiguous animals reach out from their lonely islands to become friends. One is shown variously smoking a pipe and knitting. In Jonatan Brännström’s The Lightning Swallower, we never learn the gender of the narrator, who is terrified of thunderstorms.

The Lightning Swallower

The Lightning Swallower

These books make a reader consider what markers are “masculine” or “feminine” – and why. They don’t dictate what you “should” do – rebel or conform – or offer value judgments about those who do either. In English-language books, feisty heroines reject traditionally female pursuits as “boring” (what about those girls who do love sewing and cooking?) and boys are persecuted for their love of pink and dolls (making these preferences seem risky to express). With their gender-ambiguous characters, Swedes have tilted the lens slightly and given us a whole new perspective through which to consider this topic. Can we change the terms of the discussion instead of framing everything in terms of binary gender categories? Where could that small but crucial shift take us?

Laura SimeonThe daughter of an anthropologist, Laura Reiko Simeon’s passion for diversity-related topics stems from her childhood spent living all over the US and the world. She fell in love with Sweden thanks to the Swedish roommate she met in Wales while attending one of the United World Colleges, international high schools dedicated to promoting cross-cultural understanding. Laura has an MA in History from the University of British Columbia, and a Master of Library and Information Science from the University of Washington. She lives near Seattle.


Filed under: Diversity 102, Diversity, Race, and Representation, Educator Resources, Guest Blogger Post Tagged: gender, gender roles, gender stereotypes, picture books around the world, sweden

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4. How I Broke Out of a Freelancing Slump by Breaking all the Rules

Call for you This post is by Deb Mitchell.

I’m definitely more of a “rules are there for a reason” than a “rules were meant to be broken” kind of girl. It just never occurs to me to buck the system, and frankly, that’s served me well all my life.

But when my freelance writing career stalled (despite the fact that I had 5+ years of experience with clips numbering in the triple digits), even playing by the rules top freelance writing experts teach wasn’t getting me anywhere.

“Send pitches to newsstand pubs and LOIs to trade pubs.” Check.

“Email editors – NEVER call them!” Check.

“DO NOT clog an editor’s inbox by attaching your clips.” Check.

“Whatever you do, take time to research each market and NEVER, EVER use a template email.” Check, check.

I was spending loads of time researching markets, ferreting out the appropriate editors’ contact info and meticulously wordsmith-ing every email from scratch. Despite my best rule-following efforts, none of the editors contacted me back. Not. One.

There simply aren’t words to describe how frustrated and discouraged I felt. Giving so much time and effort with nothing to show for it eventually took its toll. On a daily basis I was at best, fighting despair and at worst, sinking in its depths.

In the midst of all this, I started working with a writing mentor (the one-and-only Linda). She calmed me down and gave me a few pieces of advice which I, of course, followed to the letter. I got a few lukewarm responses from editors as a result, and I even sold an article to a new-to-me (but not great paying) market.

Sure, it was progress, which lifted my spirits to a degree. But let’s face it — I was still working long, hard hours for minimal payoff. NOT a sustainable pattern for any small business.

Then Linda gave me a tip that helped me think outside the box – and believe me, it was one I NEVER expected to hear from her or any freelance writing expert.

“Why not try calling some editors?” she said, “And write a great LOI email you can quickly tweak for each market. Ask if they assign to freelancers or if they prefer pitches.”

Um, excuse me, what did you say?? Call editors?? Write one LOI to reuse over and over?? Pitch to trade pubs?? Break rules?!?!

As if that weren’t enough, Linda challenged me to call 25 editors in one day.

The thought of doing things that are widely considered no-no’s freaked me out enough, but seriously, 25?! Believe it or not, the part that scared me the least was the actual cold calling. I have a background in sales and I’m good at talking to people and I like marketing myself. Maybe, just maybe, the reason my by-the-book efforts were flopping was because my approach felt inauthentic. Calling editors seemed much more “me” — I’d just always thought if I did it, they’d view me as unprofessional (and kind of hate my guts for bugging them).

But with Linda, a seasoned pro writer, saying it was OK, I didn’t hesitate.

Armed with a three sentence script Linda wrote for me and a short and sweet LOI template email, I started the challenge.

I didn’t even get to leave voicemails with five editors before my phone rang.

“Deb, I was just delighted to get your message!” Really and truly, an editor was calling me to tell me she was happy I’d called her — not “hacked off” or “appalled” or even just “annoyed.” It seems she’d heard my voicemail right after leaving an editorial meeting where she’d learned an article slated for the next issue had fallen through. I’d also thrown caution to the wind and sent her my LOI email with my resume and a clip attached. She’d seen something in my article that would make a perfect story to fill that empty spot. Could I get something into her within a couple of weeks?

I know, right?!?!

After all my nose-to-the-grindstone work and months of angst over doing things the “right” way, all it took was literally a couple of phone calls and I had a gig that paid more than triple what I’d been getting! Even better, the editor ended our conversation by saying this was “the start of a very beautiful working relationship.” Hello, future high-paying gigs!

I’m no expert when it comes to freelancing, but I do think there’s something to this whole “find what feels right for you” idea. Just because the freelance writing books and classes say “Do this” or “Don’t do that” doesn’t necessarily mean those rules are hard and fast. It took me having someone of Linda’s caliber giving me permission to break the rules for me to do something that in the end felt natural and comfortable for me. And it worked.

As long as your approach allows you to both be yourself and to “sell” yourself as a competent professional, it’s worth trying something out of the ordinary — especially if you’re feeling stuck. You can’t predict how editors will react, but if you’re being genuine and gracious to them, no reasonable editor would hate you just for doing something differently. If they do, consider yourself lucky to have been warned about their inner crazy before you got stuck working with them.

So what will you try that’s not in the books? Be brave and take a risk. Go ahead — run with a stick in your mouth! Jump on the good furniture! Call an editor! Take it from me — it’s good to be bad.

How about you? Have you ever broken a rule of freelance writing and benefited as a result? Or have you found a marketing tactic other freelancers would scoff at, but that works for you? Let us know in the Comments below!

Deb Mitchell is a freelance writer in Charlotte, NC specializing in writing about interior design and women’s interest topics. She also works with business clients to make their websites and client communications the best they can be and with students as a general writing and college application essay coach.

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5. Apply for a Free 3D Printer from 3D Systems!

3D Systems, in collaboration with YALSA, is committed to expanding young people’s access to 21st century tools like 3D design, 3D scanning and 3D printing.  The MakerLab Club is a brand new community of thousands of U.S. libraries and museums committed to advancing 3D digital literacy via dedicated equipment, staff training and increased public access.

3D Systems is donating up to 4,000 new 3D printers to libraries and museums across the country who join the MakerLab Club and provide access to 3D printing and design programs and services for their communities.  Libraries can apply to be part of the MakerLab Club via an online application. now until November 17th, 2014. Donated printers will be allocated on a competitive basis.

ELIGIBILITY AND MEMBERSHIP REQUIREMENTS
Membership in the MakerLab Club is available to libraries committed to creating or expanding makerlabs and/or making activities and to providing community access to 3D printers and digital design.

MAKER LAB CLUB BENEFITS
Libraries can receive up to four donated Cube 3D printers, as well as regular access to workshop curricula and content via webinars. Libraries will also receive exclusive equipment discounts and opportunities to win free hardware and software. In addition to resources and training library staff can join and participate in communities of practice in order to exchange ideas and best practices.

LEARN MORE ABOUT MAKING

Learn more about making in libraries via the resources on YALSA’s wiki, including a free webinar and downloadable toolkit.  And be sure to mark your calendar for March 8 – 14, 2015 when we celebrate Teen Tech Week with the theme “Libraries are for Making ____________.”

 

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6. Blog Tour: BATTLING BOY: THE RISE OF AURORA WEST

Attention, residents of Blogosphere-opolis: This is no ordinary review. This is a very special blog tour review, organized by First Second, who kindly supplied me with review copies of the new superhero graphic novels created by Paul Pope: Battling... Read the rest of this post

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7. Gregory Maguire’s Next Book Has An ‘Alice in Wonderland’ Connection

Gregory MaguireWhen we last spoke with author Gregory Maguire, he told us he planned to sit in a “big long white noise period” to coax out his muse. He recently revealed that he has been working on an adult book with “an Alice in Wonderland connection.”

In an interview with School Library Journal, Maguire (pictured, via) mostly talks about fairy tales and his recently released young adult title, Egg and Spoon. At the very end, he offers a teasing snippet about his new project.

In the past, Maguire has written novels inspired by ”Cinderella,” “Snow White,” The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and A Christmas Carol. How do you predict he will remix Lewis Carroll’s beloved fantasy story?

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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8. Caught Pants Down

You wake up feeling refreshed, a new day a new— wait your favorite pair of pants is missing. Darting up from bed you hear a noise outside. A woman is wearing them and looking straight at you. What do you do?

writing-promptsWant more creative writing prompts?

Pick up a copy of A Year of Writing Prompts: 365 Story Ideas for Honing Your Craft and Eliminating Writer’s Block. There’s a prompt for every day of the year and you can start on any day.

Order now from our shop.

 

 

 

 

 

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9. Lena Dunham’s Wild Ride – Reinventing the Book Tour

lena-300x300She’s got ‘Portlandia’ star Carrie Brownstein and novelist Zadie Smith, ‘Prep” and ‘American Wife’ author Curtis Sittenfeld, poetry, live music, and food trucks, plus a set of artists whose videos she screened in bed. The ‘happenings’ sold nearly 8,000 tickets in less than a week. Starting today in New York City, Lena Dunham begins her 11-city ‘traveling circus of sorts that seems more like a roving Burning Man festival’ than a book tour, notes the New York Times. Lena told the Times:

‘I found the idea of a traditional author tour, where you go and stand behind the lectern and talk about yourself, I found it a little bit embarrassing, a little blatantly self-promotional and a little boring. I wanted it to have an arts festival feel, which is why we now have all these remarkable, special weirdos who I found on the Internet.’

(more…)

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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10. Jack Gantos and Roni Schotter New Releases!

Don’t Miss These New Releases!

9780374300838

 

 

 

 

THE KEY THAT SWALLOWED JOEY PIGZA by Jack Gantos

The fifth and final book in the groundbreaking Joey Pigza series brings the beloved chronicle of this wired, wacky, and wonderful boy to a crescendo of chaos and craziness, as everything goes topsy-turvy for Joey just as he starts to get his feet on the ground. With his dad MIA in the wake of appearance-altering plastic surgery, Joey must give up school to look after his new baby brother and fill in for his mom, who hospitalizes herself to deal with a bad case of postpartum blues. As his challenges mount, Joey discovers a key that could unlock the secrets to his father’s whereabouts, a mystery that must be solved before Joey can even hope that his broken family might somehow come back together—if only it doesn’t pull him apart first. (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

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HANUKKAH! By Roni Schotter

Winner of the National Jewish Book Award, Hanukkah! follows one family’s celebration of the holiday, from eating latkes and spinning the dreidel, to singing prayers and lighting the menorah. With sweet rhyming text and warm illustrations, this is the perfect way to celebrate the festival of lights. (Little, brown Books For Young Readers)

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11. Program in a Post: Playdough!

With this post, $25 of pantry items and some junk, you can host a delightful Petite Picasso (preschool) program with playdough!

Supplies:

  • Pantry items (flour, salt, etc., see recipe) ($25)
  • Plastic bags or containers for storing the dough ($0-$5)
  • Various junk (cookie cutters, receipt rolls, rulers, craft sticks, etc.)

Use the playdough recipe in MaryAnn Kohl’s First Art: Art Experiences for Toddlers & Twos to turn flour, water, food coloring and a few other items into pliable, shapeable, squeezable, colorful dough before your program.

Room setup: Tables (with the legs folded up, just put the tabletop directly on the floor) each with a variety of junk and one color of dough.

Format: Petite Picasso one hour long open house.

Preschoolers and their grown ups had a great time rolling out, cutting up and building with the brightly colored dough. There was a fair amount of prep work involved to make the stove top dough, but the consistency of the finished product was fantastic. Try this program for some squishy, squashy fun!

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12. Philip Weinstein to Pen Jonathan Franzen Biography

franzenAuthor Philip Weinstein plans to pen a biography profiling writer Jonathan Franzen. Reportedly, Franzen himself has given his “blessing” for this project.

Bloomsbury will publish Jonathan Franzen: The Comedy of Rage in Fall 2015. Weinstein has conducted a two-hour interview with Franzen; he will also source information from Franzen’s autobiographical essays. The book will also include an analysis of the new novel that Franzen has been working on.

In an interview with The New York Times, Weinstein explains the concept of the book: “It doesn’t pretend to be a full-scale biography. It’s too early for that. He’s in full career mode. Someone later, a generation from now, will do that biography. It’s a report on who he is.” (via Gawker)

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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13. How Long Would it Take You to Read the ‘Harry Potter’ Series?: INFOGRAPHIC

blinkboxHow long would it take you to read J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series from start to finish? Blinkbox Books, a digital book retailer, has created an interactive infographic for readers who wish to test their reading speed.

Thus far, more than 100,000 people have taken this quiz. Try it out for yourself—we’ve embedded the entire infographic below.

(more…)

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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14. Eric Schmidt & Margaret Atwood Debut On the Indie Bestseller List

How Google WorksWe’ve collected the books debuting on Indiebound’s Indie Bestseller List for the week ending September 28, 2014–a sneak peek at the books everybody will be talking about next month.

(Debuted at #7 in Hardcover Nonfiction) How Google Works by Eric Schmidt, III & Jonathan Rosenberg: “The authors explain how technology has shifted the balance of power from companies to consumers, and that the only way to succeed in this ever-changing landscape is to create superior products and attract a new breed of multifaceted employees whom Eric and Jonathan dub ‘smart creatives.’” (September 2014)

(more…)

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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15. Setting the scene of New Orleans during Reconstruction

The Reconstruction era was a critical moment in the history of American race relations. Though Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation made great strides towards equality, the aftermath was a not-quited newly integrated society, greatly conflicted and rife with racial tension. At the height of Radical Reconstruction, in June 1870, seventeen-month-old Irish-American Mollie Digby was kidnapped from her home in New Orleans — allegedly by two Afro-Creole women. In The Great New Orleans Kidnapping Case: Race, Law, and Justice in the Reconstruction Era, Michael A. Ross offers the first ever full account of this historic event and subsequent investigation that electrified the South. The following images set the scene of New Orleans during this time period of racial amalgamation, social friction, and tremendous unease.

Featured image: The City of New Orleans, Louisiana, Harper’s Weekly, May 1862. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

The post Setting the scene of New Orleans during Reconstruction appeared first on OUPblog.

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16. Your Story 62: Submit Now!

Prompt: Write a short story, of 750 words or fewer, that begins with the following sentence: I knew it was a mistake the moment it was over.

You can be funny, poignant, witty, etc.; it is, after all, your story.

Use the submission form below OR email your submission directly to yourstorycontest@fwmedia.com.

IMPORTANT: If you experience trouble with the submission form, please email your submission directly to yourstorycontest@fwmedia.com within the body of your email (no attachments please).

Unfortunately, we cannot respond to every entry we receive, due to volume. No confirmation emails will be sent out to confirm receipt of submission. But be assured all submissions received before entry deadline are considered carefully. Official Rules

Entry Deadline: November 24, 2014

Your Story Entry Form

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17. Author Interview & Giveaway: T.A. Barron on Writing & the Atlantis Saga

By Greg Leitich Smith
for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

T.A. Barron grew up in Colorado ranch country and traveled widely as a Rhodes Scholar. He is the winner of the 2011 de Grummond Medallion for “lifetime contribution to the field of children’s and young adult literature” and many other awards.

T. A. Barron is the author of more than 25 highly acclaimed books, many of which are international bestsellers.

They include The Lost Years of Merlin (now being developed into a feature film), The Great Tree of Avalon (a New York Times bestselling series), The Ancient One (the tale of a brave girl and a magical tree), and The Hero’s Trail (nonfiction stories of courageous kids).

Though he’d dreamed as a young man of becoming a writer, he couldn’t find anyone to publish his first novel. He joined a business, eventually became president, then decided to try again.

So in 1990, he surprised his business partners by moving back to Colorado to become a writer and conservationist.

His novel Atlantis Rising (Philomel, 2014) was released in paperback last week.

What is your writing process like? Do you outline or just dive in?

Essentially, I write all the time, even when I’m traveling, going for a hike with my kids, baking, etc.

The creative process isn’t limited to the hours I spend in my writing chair in the attic of our house in Colorado. It happens on many levels when I’m immersed in a project.

I always write the first draft with a blue felt pen and a pad of paper, because that is a good creative chemistry for me. And I do lots of rewrites - as many as it takes to get it right!

Like a good stew, novels get better when you boil them down and integrate all the ingredients. Most of my novels take six or seven full rewrites and two years to finish.

What inspired the Atlantis series?

Learn more.
The legend of Atlantis has always intrigued me. No word evokes more of a feeling of tragedy than the word "Atlantis."

The tale of Atlantis is such a beautiful story, and for the 2000 years since Plato first wrote about it, people have wondered and dreamed about it.

But one thing that has never changed is that the island of Atlantis was utterly destroyed.

I started to wonder, though, about something else—how Atlantis began.

How did a place that rose to such a level of near perfection get destroyed by the flaws and weaknesses of its people?

Ultimately, how did that happen?

This big unknown question is what got me to write Atlantis Rising. I wanted to add a new thread to the tapestry of myth about Atlantis—how it all began, the secrets of its origins.

How did research for Atlantis compare with research for Merlin?

Good fantasy must be true.

I know that sounds contradictory, but I’m talking about truth on the deeper emotional and spiritual levels, not just on the factual level. Part of that authenticity is doing research.
Learn more.

For my Merlin Saga, I spent a whole year reading everything I could possibly find about the wizard Merlin – just to get a hint of his true character and voice.

Then came the fun of imagining that character as a young man – and even more basic, as a half-drowned boy who washed ashore with no memory at all.

For Atlantis, I did the same thing to understand the various interpretations of the Atlantean myth (and there are lots of them).

Then I began to re-imagine that myth, especially how it all began – what was at stake, who were the heroes and sources of evil, and what sacrifices and struggles happened to give birth to Atlantis.

What advice would you give aspiring writers?

Here are the essentials: Notice the world around you. Live your life and follow your dreams. Practice writing as often as you can. And importantly, don’t take rejection letters to heart!

Everyone gets them, even established writers. (My first novel got a great reception – 32 rejection letters and no interest whatsoever from any publishers.)

Rejections hurt, but they are just part of life.

The most important thing to remember is this: If you have something to say, and refuse to give up, you absolutely will find a way to say it and share it with others.

T.A. Barron's Writing Room -- Inside & Outside




Cynsational Notes & Screening Room

In 2000, T.A. Barron founded a national award to honor outstanding young people who help their communities or the environment: the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes, which honors 25 highly diverse, public-spirited kids each year. He recently produced a documentary film, "Dream Big," profiling seven winners of the Barron Prize.

When not writing or speaking, T. A. Barron serves on many boards including Princeton University, where he helped to create the Princeton Environmental Institute, and The Wilderness Society, which recently honored him with its highest award for conservation work. His favorite pastime is hiking, camping, or skiing in Colorado with his family.

A native of Chicago, interviewer Greg Leitich Smith now lives in Austin, Texas. His middle grade/tween novels include: the Parents’ Choice Gold Award-winning and Junior Library Guild Selection, Ninjas, Piranhas and Galileo (Little Brown/IntoPrint); its companion Tofu and T.rex (Little Brown/IntoPrint); the Junior Library Guild Selection Chronal Engine (Clarion); and Little Green Men at the Mercury Inn (Roaring Brook). He holds degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois and the University of Texas, and a degree in law from the University of Michigan. Find him @GLeitichSmith and  GregLSBlog.






Cynsational Giveaway

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18. The past is never dead.

On page 21 of Fourth Down and Inches, author Carla Killough McClafferty quotes an entry from the private diary of the coach of the Harvard University football team. In that entry, the coach, who was the highest second-highest paid employee of the university, recounts minimizing a player's concussion to avoid a PR disaster: "Since football is being severely criticized just at present, a case of concussion on the brain would be very serious.” The year? 1905.

Nothing has changed.

“The normally well-oiled public relations machine at the University of Michigan has been clanking badly in the past four days as the Ann Arbor school deals with the fallout from football coach Brady Hoke's decision to play a concussed player.”

Well, not exactly nothing. Now the coaches are apparently worse at handling the PR and they get paid more than anyone at the university. (Brady Hoke gets $4.6 million.)

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19. NaNoWriMo Prep Work: Find Your Writing Niche

nanowrimoBY OWEN BONDONO In nature, all living things fill a specific role in their ecosystems. This is called their ecological niche, and organisms need this specific combination of factors to survive.

Similarly, every writer needs their own specific combination of factors to thrive creatively. Some people like quiet, while others like noise. Some write first thing in the morning, others write after everyone else has gone to bed. Finding your writing niche is key to upping your productivity.

Lists and charts have always made me happy. Even if you hate charts, taking notes on your writing habits can help clarify what factors work for you and which factors don’t.

Spend a few weeks setting aside writing time as often as you can. Record all the details of your writing session, including:

  • location,
  • the day and time,
  • how much time spent writing,
  • background noise,
  • what else you’re doing (eating, drinking, texting, etc),
  • words written, and
  • anything else you think may impact your writing productivity.

Make sure you switch up these factors during the few weeks you’re recording, so you get as much data as possible.

Sitting back to look at this information will show you trends that are hard to spot on their own, especially when you do the math to figure out how many words you wrote per hour. As the factors change, productivity can vary widely.

Study these numbers for patterns. These patterns of productivity are the factors that will describe your niche. For instance, my niche is in the evening, out of the house, somewhere with some background noise but with my music playing. That’s why you’ll find me in libraries and cafes with too much coffee and headphones that look too big for my head. Everyone has their own niche, and keeping track of your productivity can help you find yours.

T1255Get prepared to write an entire novel in November with
a little help for our October 9 webinar: How to Pre-Plot & Complete
a Novel or Memoir in a Month (comes with a bonus ebook).
Register here
.

Make Your Niche Into A Habitat

Once you’ve found your niche, it’s time to burrow in and make it your home. Habitats provide animals with everything important in their lives. They dictate the habits and routines of nature. As humans, we get to decide what is in our habitat.

Routine helps prevent writer’s block and gives you focus. If you always write after supper, then your brain will start shifting automatically into writing gear as you’re stacking your dishes in the sink.

Don’t think of writing time as stolen moments, but as planned time to give your creativity the room to stretch and play. Putting your writing time on your schedule – and sticking to it – helps you and those around you take it seriously. That’s when your niche becomes a habitat, when you settle down to live in the efficiency of routine.

To do this, lay out your schedule for a typical week. Index cards or sticky notes are great for this because you can move them around easily. On each card or note, write out one thing you must do in your day. Include everything: your job, your commute, your mealtimes, your sleep.

owen bondonoFigure out what you can rearrange. Some things you can’t move, like your commute. But with a little flexibility, many things can be moved. Showers can be taken in the morning or at night; the dishes can be washed any time. Rearrange your tasks so your butt is in  your preferred writing chair during your writing niche as often as possible.

Most of us can’t afford to spend hours every day writing. There are just too many other things that need our attention. By making writing in your niche a routine, we can be more productive in less time. We may not be professional writers who can dedicate hours of the day to writing, but 20 minutes of high efficiency writing is better than spending two hours unfocused.

-
Owen Bondono is a border-crossing educator who teaches in Detroit and lives in Canada. He has served as National Novel Writing Month’s Detroit Municipal Liaison for six years and is currently revising his first novel. To write with him this November, visit his NaNoWriMo author profile.

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20. Fall for a Good Storytime

You guys. It is October. ALREADY. Which means you’re probably inundated with requests for fall-themed books and storytimes. I’m here to help. There are tons of resources for Fall Storytime available on the internet, whether you’re a storytime newbie or a seasoned storytimer looking to shake things up a bit. Here are some of my favorites:

Books:

  • Bear Has a Story to Tell by Phillip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead (Roaring Brook Press, 2012) – Animals are preparing for winter and Bear has a story to tell before he settles down to sleep.
  • The Busy Little Squirrel by Nancy Tafuri (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2006) – How does a squirrel get ready for winter? This could be a great STEM conversation starter!
  • Fall is Not Easy by Marty Kelley (Zino Press Children’s Books, 1998) – This hilarious book will get kids laughing as a tree tries its hardest to put on proper fall colors.
  • I See Fall by Charles Ghigna, illustrated by Ag Jatkowska (Picture Window Books, 2011) – Make sure you include books featuring diverse children in your fall storytimes!
  • Kitten’s Autumn by Eugenie Fernandes (Kids Can Press, 2010) – Mixed media art and simple rhyming text make this one a great one for sharing.
  • Leaf Jumpers by Carole Gerber, illustrated by Leslie Evans (Charlesbridge, 2004) – Rhyming text describes the different colored leaves we see on different trees in the fall.
  • Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2005) – Illustrations made of fall leaves make this a great one for talking about leaves changing with older preschoolers or early elementary kids.
  • Mouse’s First Fall by Lauren Thompson (Simon & Schuster Books for Children, 2006) – Simple text makes this a winner for sharing with very young children.
  • Poppleton in Fall by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Mark Teague (Blue Sky Press, 1999) – I love to read the story “The Geese” with older preschoolers and early elementary kids.
  • Pumpkins by Ken Robbins (Square Fish, 2006) – The photo illustrations make this a great nonfiction choice for adding some STEM content to your storytime. Don’t be afraid to paraphrase.
  • That Pup! by Lindsay Barrett George (Greenwillow Books, 2011) – A spunky puppy has been digging and finding treasures all over the yard – acorns!
  • Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White, illustrated by Megan Lloyd (Holiday House, 1993) – After a pumpkin went SPLAT! in the garden, Rebecca Estelle has too many pumpkins!
  • We’re Going on a Leaf Hunt by Steve Metzger, illustrated by Miki Sakamoto (Cartwheel Books, 2005) – Using the familiar cadence of “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt”, this trio is off to find some colorful fall leaves.

(Thanks to the following awesome Twitter librarians for suggesting titles for this list: @Jbrary, @MelissaZD, @misskubelik, @pussreboots, @taletrekker)

Flannel Stories/Rhymes/Activities:

Photo by Abby Johnson

Photo by Abby Johnson

The Perfect Pumpkin. A felt pumpkin and a lot of black felt shapes lead to experimenting with jack-o-lantern creation. Use different shapes to create different faces – some scary, sad, or funny – and ask the kids what shapes you should use to create the perfect pumpkin!

Build a Pumpkin Patch. Pass out felt pumpkins and call kids up to put their pumpkins in the patch based on what color they’re wearing (e.g. “If you’re wearing red today, red today, red today, If you’re wearing red today, please bring up your pumpkin!”). An alternative if you have a large crowd would be to make felt pumpkins of different shapes and sizes (large, small, flat, skinny, triangular) and build a pumpkin patch together, asking for the kids’ help in describing the different shapes and colors they see.

Photo by Abby Johnson

Photo by Abby Johnson

Fall is Not Easy. The trim size of the above-mentioned book by Marty Kelley is a bit small for sharing with a big group. We’ve turned it into a felt story for hilarious fun!

IMG_0442

Photo by Abby Johnson

Fall Leaves Felt. You can do a lot with some felt leaf shapes. We hand them out to the kids and call colors to bring up to the board. You can also talk about what colors they are, use them with the above-mentioned story We’re Going on a Leaf Hunt by Steve Metzger, or use them with a “five little leaves” rhyme or song (try Five Little Leaves).

Bring in some real fall leaves to explore! You can make leaf rubbings, arrange the leaves to make pictures (a la Leaf Man), let kids sort by color or size, or put out some magnifying glasses to let kids take a closer look.

Songs: 

More resources!

You can find more Fall Storytime plans at the following sites:

What are your favorite readalouds and activities for Fall Storytime?

— Abby Johnson, Children’s Services Manager
New Albany-Floyd County Public Library
New Albany, IN
http://www.abbythelibrarian.com

0 Comments on Fall for a Good Storytime as of 10/1/2014 12:11:00 AM
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21. Lena Dunham Records Advice Videos to Promote New Book

Actress Lena Dunham has shot a series of “Ask Lena” advice videos in promotion of her forthcoming memoir/advice book. Thus far, twelve videos have been uploaded to YouTube on the “Not That Kind of Girl” channel.

The video embedded above features the “ASK LENA #5: Insecure writer” piece. Random House has scheduled a release date for September 30, 2014. (via Entertainment Weekly)

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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22. WD Poetic Form Challenge: Madrigal Winner

I’m sorry for taking so long to share the winner of the madrigal challenge. I’ve known for a week or two now, but you know what they say about good things coming to those who wait, right? If you don’t, trust me on this one.

Thank you to everyone who submitted a madrigal! They were really fun to read, and I found myself constantly caught up in their musical nature.

My initial short list included 22 poems, but I’m always stuck having to pick one winner. This time around, that winner is Bruce Niedt for his poem “Senior Discount,” which won me over with its humor.

Here’s the winning Madrigal:

Senior Discount, by Bruce Niedt

Apparently I’ve reached a certain age
where I’m forgiven at least ten percent.
I wonder how and when my youth was spent.

The movies, the museum and the stage
all offer handsome discounts for this gent.
Apparently I’ve reached a certain age
where I’m forgiven at least ten percent.

Nobody checks ID, they simply gauge
me by my face and how my spine is bent.
Free coffee doesn’t ease my discontent.
Apparently I’ve reached a certain age
where I’m forgiven at least ten percent.
I wonder how and when my youth was spent.

*****

Win $1,000 for Your Poetry!

Writer’s Digest is offering a contest strictly for poets with a top prize of $1,000, publication in Writer’s Digest magazine, and a copy of the 2015 Poet’s Market. There are cash prizes for Second ($250) and Third ($100) Prizes, as well as prizes for the Top 25.

The early bird deadline is October 1 and costs $15 for the first poem, $10 for each additional poem. Enter as often as you’d like.

Click here to learn more.

*****

Here is the Top 10 list:

  1. “Senior Discount,” by Bruce Niedt
  2. “A Tree in an English Garden,” by William Preston
  3. “Christina’s World,” by RJ Clarken
  4. “What She Needs,” by Taylor Graham
  5. “A Conversation with Nana,” by Nancy Posey
  6. “Windthrift,” by Jane Shlensky
  7. “The Unneeded Weed,” by Susan Schoeffield
  8. “Passion Play,” by James Von Hendy
  9. “Midsummer Night,” by Daniel Ari
  10. “Barbecue,” by Andrew Kreider

Congratulations to Bruce and everyone in the Top 10! And thank you to everyone who took the time to participate and comment on each others’ poems.

The next WD Poetic Form Challenge is already in motion for the terzanelle. Click here for the guidelines and to participate.

Also, be sure to read through the 450+ comments from the madrigal challenge. Click to continue.

*****

roberttwitterimageRobert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of the poetry collection, Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). He edits Poet’s Market, Writer’s Market, and Guide to Self-Publishing, in addition to writing a free weekly WritersMarket.com newsletter and poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine.

He loves hosting, reading, and judging these challenges.

Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.

*****

More poetic good stuff here:

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23. How to Make a Living as a Writer – Introduction

It’s true—you CAN make a living as a writer! AWAI has been teaching people how to do it since 1997.

And I’m happy to announce we’re now able to share our tips, techniques and strategies directly with Writer’s Digest readers through our new blog – How to Make a Living as a Writer.

rebecca_matter-150My name is Rebecca Matter. I’m the President of AWAI, and have personally worked with and trained hundreds of writers over the last 15 years. I have a lot of experience helping writers cross over from dreaming about the writer’s life—to actually living it. And I’m going to share what I know works with you each week, so that you too can start living the life of your dreams.

I won’t be alone …

Along the way I’m going to invite many of the AWAI-trained writers I know who have successfully made the leap and are living the writer’s life too. People like:

  • Pat McCord, a once struggling novelist who learned to support herself and her creative passion doing what she loves …
  • Starr Daubenmire, who fulfilled a life-long dream by moving to Lucca, Italy for 3 months, and spent her mornings writing and her afternoons painting …
  • Joshua Boswell, a father of 11, who put his nose to the grindstone and earned a six-figure income 11 months after he started out …
  • Mindy McHorse, a young stay-at-home mom who spends her days with her kids in the Albuquerque sunshine while writing on the side …
  • Henry Bingaman, an ex-flight attendant who ditched his crazy work hours to write — and like Joshua, quickly set up shop and skyrocketed his income to six figures …
  • And Rae Robinson – a writer who found us through Writer’s Digest when she was in college and has doubled her income every year since she graduated just 3 years ago.

They’ll participate in this blog to bring you different perspectives, and share their “life in the trenches” as successful working writers.

We’ll talk about the best paying opportunities for writers, skills and techniques for writing winning copy and online content, best practices for landing clients who value writers and are willing to pay them well, and how to successfully work with clients to ensure long-term relationships with more and more opportunities.

So check in weekly, and let my team of experts and me help you live the writer’s life of your dreams.

In the meantime, I encourage you to spend some time today thinking about what your version of the writer’s life looks like. What would it mean to make a very good living as a writer? How would your life be different? How would you spend your free time and extra money?

Give it some thought and write it down. It will become your goal as you participate in this weekly blog.

And if you have any questions for me in the meantime, I invite you to post comments or connect with me on Facebook.

Talk to you next week!

Rebecca

 

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24. Halloween Book Challenge

Happy HalloweenJoin Us for a Month-Long Reading Challenge!

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25. Simon & Schuster Forms Partnership With Mofibo

simon-and-shusterSimon & Schuster has formed a partnership with a European eBook subscription service called Mofibo.

Mofibo users, who hail from Denmark and Sweden, now have access to Simon & Schuster’s backlist. This formidable collection contains more than 20,000 English and local language titles.

Simon & Schuster UK publisher Ian Chapman had this statement in the press release: “Scandinavia has long been an important international market for English language authors, and Mofibo’s early success makes evident the strong appetite for content in electronic form. A continental-based subscription service is a wonderful opportunity for reader, author, and publisher alike.”

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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