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I was sad to see the First Five Pages January Workshop come to an end. What a talented group! Everyone worked hard on their revisions and gave thoughtful comments. A huge thank you to our guest mentor, workshop co-founder, Lisa Gail Green!SOUL CROSSED, will be published on February 25, 2015. I can’t wait to get my hands on it! And also a big thank you to agent Tracey Adams of Adams Literary! Both provided great feedback.
Our February workshop will open for entries at noon EST on Saturday, February 7, 2015. We'll take the first five Middle Grade, Young Adult, or New Adult entries that meet all guidelines and formatting requirements. In addition to our wonderful permanent mentors, we have the very talented Chelsea Pitcher, author of THE LAST CHANGELING. If that wasn’t enough, in the final week agent Shelby Sampsel will not only review the first five pages, but a query letter too!
Chelsea Pitcher is a native of Portland, OR where she received her BA in English Literature. Fascinated by all things literary, she began gobbling up stories as soon as she could read, and especially enjoys delving into the darker places to see if she can draw out some light.
Chelsea’s paranormal fantasy, THE LAST CHANGELING, is available now!
A Kingdom at War . . .
Elora, the young princess of the Dark Faeries, plans to overthrow her tyrannical mother, the Dark Queen, and bring equality to faeriekind. All she has to do is convince her mother’s loathed enemy, the Bright Queen, to join her cause. But the Bright Queen demands an offering first: a human boy who is a “young leader of men.”
A Dark Princess In Disguise . . .
To steal a mortal, Elora must become a mortal—at least, by all appearances. And infiltrating a high school is surprisingly easy. When Elora meets Taylor, the seventeen-year-old who’s plotting to overthrow a ruthless bully, she thinks she’s found her offering . . . until she starts to fall in love.
We are thrilled to announce that Shelby Sampsel of the Vicy Bijur Agency will be our guest agent for February – and Shelby has agreed to review a query letter, too! See below for Shelby’s bio!
Shelby Sampsel joined the Vicky Bijur Literary Agency after graduating from NYU. She comes to the agency with previous internship experience at Thomas Dunne Books, Simon and Schuster, Tor Books, Penguin Group, the Maria Carvainis Agency, and McIntosh and Otis. She is interested in Young Adult and New Adult Fiction as well as memoirs with a strong voice.
Emma Rios is an Illustrator, art director and set designer based in London. She illustrates with pen and ink and also builds pictures, scenes and sets, using paper and a variety of props. Her clients include Liberty, Cosmopolitan and House of Fraser to name a few. I think the whimsical charm of Emma Rios work is very beautiful.
by We Need Diverse Books The We Need Diverse Books Short Story Contest
We Need Diverse Books (“WNDB”) is a grassroots organization created to address the lack of diverse, non-majority narratives in children’s literature. WNDB is committed to the ideal that embracing diversity will lead to acceptance, empathy, and ultimately equality. We recognize all diverse experiences, including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities. Our mission is to promote or amplify diversification efforts and increase visibility for diverse books and authors, with a goal of empowering a wide range of readers in the process.
WNDB is proud to announce that Phoebe Yeh, VP/Publisher of Crown Books for Young Readers/Random House, has acquired publication rights to the Middle Grade WNDB Anthology, working title “Stories For All Of Us.” Ellen Oh, President of WNDB, will edit the anthology, which will have a January 2017 release date. Contributing authors include: Kwame Alexander, Sherman Alexie, Soman Chainani, Matt de la Pena, Tim Federle, Grace Lin, Meg Medina, Walter Dean Myers, Rachel Renee Russell, and Jacqueline Woodson.
The anthology will be in memory of Walter Dean Myers and it will be inspired by his quote: “Once I began to read, I began to exist.” Every new story contribution to this anthology will be by a diverse author.
WNDB is proud to announce that the anthology will have one story reserved for a previously unpublished diverse author. WNDB will fill that slot via a short story contest. The winner will be included in the anthology and will receive a payment of $1000 US.
Entries will be accepted after 9:00AM EST on April 27th until 5:00PM EST on May 8th, 2015. Any submission made prior to or after the entry period will not be considered.
Entry is free.
Submissions will not be returned.
All applicants must include a 75 word bio and headshot.
Winner will be announced on June 15, 2015.
Short Story Rules
All submissions (short story or illustrated story) must be in English and never before published in any medium, print or digital.
All submissions must also be appropriate for a middle grade audience, ages 8 to 12.
If your submission is illustrated, it must be in a graphic novel format, but no longer than 10 pages.
Illustrations must be submitted electronically. Do NOT mail hard copy submissions to WNDB. They will not be reviewed, nor will they be returned.
Open to diverse writers from all diverse backgrounds (as defined above). Applicants must include this information in their bio.
Open to diverse writers who have not been published in a traditional print fiction book format, including self-pubbed, independents, small and medium publishing houses, in all genres whether for the children’s or adult market.
EXCEPTION – Short story publication credit in a magazine, literary journal, or periodical will not disqualify the applicant.
First prize winner will receive an award of $1000 plus their entry will be published as part of the WNDB Anthology to be released by Crown Books for Young Readers/Random House Children’s Books in January 2017.
Two runner-up winners will receive honorable mentions and awards of $250 each.
Any submissions sent in before the entry period will be deleted, the email address flagged, and the author automatically disqualified.
Who can apply?
We recognize anyone from a diverse background, including but not limited to, LGBTQIA, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities currently marginalized in North America.
What should the story be about?
It can be about anything as long as it relates to the prompt “Once I began to read, I began to exist” and a diverse experience. The story must also be appropriate for a middle grade audience, ages 8 to 12.
What about a submission in verse?
We accept submissions in free verse only.
What about entries that are a combo of both text and graphics? For example, the Diary of a Wimpy Kid format? Are they acceptable?
Do the winners get free copies of the book? How many?
The winner will receive 1 copy of the Anthology when it is published.
Are joint authors for a project okay?
As long as both authors are diverse as defined above. Joint authors will share any prizes given by WNDB.
Is non-fiction acceptable?
Does having a mental illness qualify as having a diverse background?
WNDB recognizes mental illness as a disability and therefore part of our definition of diversity.
What genres are eligible? Fantasy, historical, contemporary, etc?
Submission can be of any genre as long as it is MG (middle-grade).
My self-published book is no longer in print/on the market. Does this disqualify me as an author?
If we can search your name and find a published book online anywhere, you will be disqualified.
Does the exception for a short story publication credit extend to a credit in an anthology series?
The exception only applies to short story credit in a magazine, literary journal, or periodical.
If I’m white am I disqualified?
If you self-identify as a diverse person from one of the definitions stated above, you are still eligible.
If I’m disqualified for this anthology, will I remain eligible for for future opportunities?
We cannot say at this time.
Do authors have to be over 18?
Parental consent will be required upon signing of contract if the winning author is under the age of 18.
What if I’m already published in a language other than English?
Previously published authors in any language are not eligible. The only exception is if the published work is a short story credit in a magazine, literary journal, or periodical.
Can international authors apply?
As long as your submitted work is in English and you are not a previously published author.
What if I have a question not covered in this FAQ?
You can email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. While we can’t answer every email personally, we will post any new and relevant questions directly to this FAQ.
I love children's book author Samantha Berger's enthusiasm and creativity. Have you seen her #ePUNymousPortraitSeries? In addition to writing wonderful picture books like CRANKENSTEIN (illustrated by Dan Santat) and A CRANKENSTEIN VALENTINE (sequel). Samantha has written cartoons and promos for Nickelodeon, comic books and commercials, movie trailers, theme songs, poetry, magazine articles. Not only that, but she's also a voiceover artist!
Samantha's newest picture book is SNOOZEFEST, a hilarious and endearing bedtime story written by Samantha and illustrated by Kristyna Litten, just out from Dial Books For Young Readers. It's perfect for anyone who loves sloths, music festivals and/or the joy of SLEEPING. If you're on FB, check out her hilarious #Snoozefest Countdown pics.
Q: Could you please take a photo of a random object in her office and tell us about it?
Yes indeed I can. I took a picture of this lovely grapefruit, that grew right in the back yard! I am working in a California office for a few weeks, and the owner of the house where I'm staying gave it to me. The idea of fruit growing on trees has always been MAAAAGICAL to me, and I may have missed my calling as a migrant worker. And I really want to eat this one, but I have one reservation.
The yard where it grew contains five dogs, using that tree as a bathroom. This grapefruit reminds me to ask the important question: Am I such a germ phobe I won't eat this grapefruit? Or is that grapefruit some kind of dog poo/citrus hybrid. A "pisstrus" fruit, if you will. Stay tuned.
Q: What advice do you have for young writers?
*I would say, if you wanna write, WRITE. WRITE ALL THE TIME, EVERY DAY. WRITE like a passionate discipline, like something you HAVE to do. No excuses. Write.
*Blather, blurt, and blab. Just keep writing. Do not write and edit at the same time. Write, write, write, then go back and read/edit, at a completely different time.
*Make your decisions, all of them, for a REASON. Make no choices arbitrarily. From dedication to author photo, every choice must be made with intent. That is what separates great writing from mediocre. Be prepared to defend every single word.
*Find your best way (pantomime wall building, pretending to erase, meditation) to block out any negators and nay-sayers. There will always be critics, opinions you don't agree with, and close minded haters. Don't engage, always ignore, keep being you, move on.
*Always find time to PLAY and HAVE FUN when you write. Pretend you're not writing for an audience, a paycheck, a critic, a career, a review, an award, an assignment, or whatever, just WRITING FOR THE SAKE OF WRITING, and go create. For the joy of it!
*Own your truth, speak your truth, and become brave enough to write about the things that terrify you the most to talk about.
*Don't dumb down words or ideas. Respect language. It's incredible.
*All writers, whether it's your first manuscript ever, or you're Judy "Prolifika" Blume, go through a perpetual pendulum swing, between excitedly exclaiming I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS CAME OUT OF MY BRAIN and a depressed disappointed "i can't believe this came out of my brain." There are days where we all feel like untalented hacks. All of us. And it's really important to remember this. If you didn't, you probably wouldn't be a writer. So cut yourself a break, go do something that makes you happy, such as a hot tub, a hot sake, or hot stones.
Photo credit: Leo MoretonQ: What are you excited about these days?
I'm excited for these spectacular Pacific Ocean sunsets every single night! I'm excited to read Kay Yeh's book THE TRUTH ABOUT TWINKIE PIE! I'm excited to be writing on two new preschool animated originals. I'm excited for karaoke, wigs and sunglasses, glitter-toes, oysters, using the word "smidge" more, and sea-frolicking with my dog Polly Pocket.
I'm excited my book Snoozefest came out this week, and that it has an anthem performed by Chubb Rock, and for the Pajama Party Snoozefest Boozefest I intend on throwing to celebrate. I'm excited about a new 2 book co-author deal with the amazing Martha Brockenbrough and the legendary Arthur Levine. I'm excited to see/conference with/laugh with/write with/ and dance with all my beloved book people and SCBWI-ers again, and for all the incredible books everyone has coming out right now (including YOU, Debbie! Cannot wait for WHERE ARE MY BOOKS!).
Thanks so much for asking me these questions 3 on inkygirl.
Book birthday doodle I did in celebration of the Snoozefest launch
In 1971, William Irvin Thompson, a professor at York University in Toronto, wrote an op-ed in the New York Times entitled, “We Become What We Hate,” describing the way in which “thoughts can become inverted when they are reflected in actions.”
He cited several scientific, sociocultural, economic, and political situations where the maxim appeared to be true. The physician who believed he was inventing a pill to help women become pregnant had actually invented the oral contraceptive. Germany and Japan, having lost World War II, had become peaceful consumer societies. The People’s Republic of China had become, at least back in 1971, a puritanical nation.
Today, many of the values that we, as a nation, profess — protection of civil rights and human rights, assistance for the needy, support for international cooperation, and promotion of peace — have become inverted in our actions. As a nation, we say one thing, but often do the opposite.
As a nation, we profess protection of civil rights. But our criminal justice system and our systems for federal, state, and local elections discriminate against people of color and other minorities.
As a nation, we profess protection of human rights. But we have imprisoned “enemy combatants” without charges, stripped them of their rights as prisoners of war, and tortured many of them in violation of the Geneva Conventions.
As a nation, we profess adherence to the late Senator Hubert H. Humphrey’s dictum that the true measure of a government is how it cares for the young, the old, the sick, and the needy. But we set the minimum wage at a level at which working people cannot survive. We inadequately fund human services for those who need them most. And, even after implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, we continue to be the only industrialized country that does not ensure health care for all its citizens.
As a nation, we profess support for international cooperation. But we fail to sign treaties to ban antipersonnel landmines and prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons. And we, as a nation, contribute much less than our fair share of foreign assistance to low-income countries.
As a nation, we profess commitment to world peace. But we lead all other countries, by far, in both arms sales and military expenditures.
In many ways, we, as a nation, have become what we hate.
Image Credit: Dispersed, Occupy Oakland Move In Day. Photo by Glenn Halog. CC by NC 2.0 via Flickr.
Prior to becoming a K-5 school librarian, I taught in the elementary classroom for over twenty years. Throughout this time, I sought to improve my craft both as a teacher and a writer. To accomplish this goal, I engaged in every professional development opportunity that came my way. From books on Writer’s Workshop to local and state conferences on language arts, I learned all I could about literacy instruction. I joined the National Council of Teachers of English, and there, connected with many professionals also dedicated to literacy. As I began to regularly attend NCTE’s national conventions, I knew I’d found a place where I could grow and learn with other readers and writers. This discovery was a pivotal one in my career in education.
Once I became a librarian, I remained a member of NCTE. (By this time I’d already joined ALA and ALSC where I found many meaningful connections and valuable resources that helped me grow in my new field.)
And even though I was no longer a classroom teacher, I knew the benefits of NCTE membership would serve me well in the elementary library. Indeed, I have had the privilege of helping many students in the library with writing strategies and rough drafts as well as book choices!
From their website, I learned that the organization was founded in 1911 and is dedicated to “ improving the teaching and learning of English and the language arts at all levels of education”. With over 35,000 members from the U.S. and around the world, and more than 100 affiliates across the country (NCTE, n.d.), NCTE is comprised of four sections: elementary, middle, secondary, and college and provides resources and support for each level. Members have access to lesson plans, and policy briefs, as well as online communities. Along with the International Reading Association and the Verizon Foundation, NCTE sponsors the learning site Read Write Think which offers language arts lessons plans, interactives and videos for teachers in K-12.
Each November, NCTE holds its annual convention, where workshops are held on topics ranging from digital literacy to using nonfiction in the classroom. NCTE’s most recent convention was centered on the theme “Story As the Landscape of Knowing”.
My experiences at NCTE conventions help me to reflect upon the role of school libraries in shaping literacy in their communities. I have had many conversations with fellow educators about their own experiences with books in their classrooms as well. This dialogue – and these networks – feed my work in the library in so many significant ways.
To find out more about the National Council of Teachers of English visit their website at www.ncte.org.
Cynthia Alaniz is a school librarian at Cottonwood Creek Elementary in Coppell, Texas. She is a member of the ALSC Liaison with National Organizations Committee and was honored to be a 2014 Morris Seminar participant. She has also presented at two NCTE Annual Conventions.
The world has watched as ISIS (ISIL, the “Islamic State”) has moved from being a small but extreme section of the Syrian opposition to a powerful organization in control of a large swath of Iraq and Syria. Even President Obama recently admitted that the US was surprised by the success of ISIS in that region. Why have they been so successful, and why now?
Political Scientist Robert A. Pape and undergraduate research associate Sarah Morell, both from the University of Chicago, share their thoughts.
ISIS has been successful for four primary reasons. First, the group has tapped into the marginalization of the Sunni population in Iraq to gain territory and local support. Second, ISIS fighters are battle-hardened strategists fighting against an unmotivated Iraqi army. Third, the group exploits natural resources to fund their operations. And fourth, ISIS has utilized a brilliant social media strategy to recruit fighters and increase their international recognition. One of the important aspects cutting across these four elements is the unification of anti-American populations across Iraq and Syria — remnants of the Saddam regime, Iraqi civilians driven to militant behavior during the US occupation, transnational jihadists, and the tribes who were hung out to dry following the withdrawal of US forces in 2011.
The Sunni population’s hatred of the Shia-dominated government in Baghdad has allowed ISIS to quickly overtake huge swaths of Iraqi Sunni territory. The Iraq parliamentary elections in 2010 were a critical moment in this story. The Iraqiyya coalition, led by Ayad Allawi, won support of the Sunni population to win the plurality of seats in Iraq’s parliament. Maliki’s party came second by a slim two-seat margin. Despite Allawi’s electoral victory, Maliki and his Shia coalition — backed by the United States — succeeded in forming a government with Maliki as Prime Minister.
In the months following the election, Maliki targeted Sunni leaders in an effort to consolidate Shia domination of Baghdad. Many of these were the same Sunni leaders successfully mobilized by US forces during the occupation — in an operation that became known as the Anbar Awakening — to cripple al-Qa’ida in Iraq strongholds within the Sunni population. When the US withdrew, they directed the aid to the Maliki government with the expectation that Maliki would distribute it fairly. Instead, the day after the US forces withdrew in December 2011, Iraq’s Judicial Council issued an arrest warrant for Iraqi Vice President Hashimi, a key Sunni leader. Arrests of Sunni leaders and their staffs continued, sparking widespread Sunni protests in Anbar province. When ISIS — a Sunni extremist group — rolled into Iraq, many in the Sunni population cooperated, viewing the group as the lesser of two evils.
The second element in the ISIS success story is their military strategy. Their leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, spent four years as a prisoner in the Bucca Camp before assuming control of AQI (ISIS’s predecessor) in 2010. He seized upon the opportunity of the Syrian civil war to fuel a resurgence of the group. As a result, today’s ISIS militants are battle-hardened through their Syrian experience fighting moderate rebels. The Washington Post has described Baghdadi as “a shrewd strategist, a prolific fundraiser, and a ruthless killer.”
In Iraq, ISIS has adopted “an operational form that allows decentralized commanders to use their experienced fighters against the weakest points of its foes,” writes Robert Farley in The National Interest. “At the same time, the center retains enough operational control to conduct medium-to-long term planning on how to allocate forces, logistics, and reinforcements.” Their strategy — hitting their adversaries at their weakest points while avoiding fights they cannot win — has created a narrative of momentum that increases the group’s morale and prestige.
ISIS has also carved out a territory in Iraq that Shia and Kurdish forces will not fight and die to retake, an argument articulated by Kenneth Pollack at Brookings. ISIS has not tried to take Baghdad because they know they would lose; Shia forces would be motivated to expend blood and treasure to defeat ISIS on their home turf. Some experts believe the Kurds, likewise, are unlikely to commit forces to retake Sunni territory. This mentality also plays into the catastrophic performance of the Iraqi Security Forces at Mosul, forces composed disproportionately of Kurds and Sunni Arabs; when confronted with Sunni militants, these soldiers “were never going to fight to the death for Maliki and against Sunni militants looking to stop him,” writes Pollack.
Third, ISIS has also been able to seize key natural resources in Syria to fund their operations, probably making them one of the wealthiest terror groups in history. ISIS is in control of 60% of Syria’s oil assets, including the Al Omar, Tanak, and Shadadi oil fields. According to the US Treasury, the group’s oil sales are pulling in about $1 million a day. This enables ISIS to increasingly become “a hybrid organization, on the model of Hezbollah,” writes Steve Coll in The New Yorker — “part terrorist network, part guerrilla army, part proto-state.”
Finally, ISIS has developed a sophisticated social media campaign to “recruit, radicalize, and raise funds,” according to J. M. Berger in The Atlantic. The piece details ISIS’s Arabic-language Twitter app called The Dawn of Glad Tidings, advertised as a way to keep up on the latest news about the group. On the day ISIS marched into Mosul, the app sent almost 40,000 tweets. The group has displayed a lighter side to the militants, such as videos showing young children breaking their Ramadan fast with ISIS fighters. These strategies “project strength and promote engagement online” while also romanticizing their fight, attracting new recruits from around the world and inspiring lone wolf attacks.
Since June 2014, the United Sates has pursued a policy of offshore balancing — over-the-horizon air and naval power, Special Forces, and empowerment of local allies — to contain and undermine ISIS. The crucial local groups are the Sunni tribes. These leaders were responsible for the near-collapse of AQI during the Anbar Awakening, and could well be able to defeat ISIS in the future.
This is part two of a series of articles discussing ISIS. Part one is by Hanin Ghaddar, Lebanese journalist and editor. Part two is by Shadi Hamid, fellow at the Brookings Institution. Part three is by Charles Kurzman, Professor of Sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Headline image credit: Coalition airstrike on ISIL position in Kobane on 22 October 2014. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.
Sofia, Kealin, Nona, Hannah, Leah and Calista making Valentines for veterans.
On Monday, January 19, the United States honored Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Legislation was passed in 1983 to commemorate King’s birthday and his legacy, turning the 3rd Monday of January into a federal holiday. This holiday is to be observed as a national day of service-- “A day on, not a day off.” According to the government’s site on the MLK Day of Service:
“[The day] calls for Americans from all walks of life to work together to provide solutions to our most pressing national problems. The MLK Day of Service empowers individuals, strengthens communities, bridges barriers, creates solutions to social problems, and moves us closer to Dr. King's vision of a ‘Beloved Community.’”
When I kicked off my teen advisory board meetings for this school year, one of the first items I brought to our group was my desire to have the TAB participate in at least one service project. We brainstormed through a few of our monthly meetings, and in November I introduced the MLK Day of Service as an option. Our local volunteer hub, Volunteer Connect, facilitates service opportunities on this day; everything from light building projects to park cleanup, creating floral arrangements for hospice patients to sewing up dog beds for the pets of the homeless. I presented the variety of options, with the biggest caveat: donating your time on a day off from school. Would the group be willing to do that?
Our conversations about service projects had been so positive up to this point that it shouldn’t have been surprising that each TAB member quickly affirmed they’d be more than willing to use their morning to help others. From there we explored the Volunteer Connect projects that would accept a group our size, and after a bit of surveying I signed us up to help a Campfire group create Valentine’s for veterans.
We met at a local church, the home of the Campfire group we’d be working with. The room was filled with all ages, and bounteous amounts of craft supplies. Campfire had invited a local veteran to come by and give a brief presentation and answer questions from the participants about life as both an active member of the military and as a veteran. His details included the feelings of loneliness and isolation that can often accompany military service, and the value of receiving even the smallest token or letter in the mail. I think this really connected with the audience, as we dove into our card creation with great intent. Within an hour and a half our group had created dozens of Valentine’s. “I love the idea of a veteran, who seems really tough, opening an envelope filled with glitter and hearts,” said one of my TAB members. “I haven’t had time to just sit and make something in a really long time,” said another.
At the end of the event we helped clean up and everyone smiled as they left for the rest of their day. This was such a great way to connect with local organizations and participate in a service project that had essentially been all set up for us—all we had to do was show up. I definitely recommend looking into MLK Day of Service options in your local community, they’d be happy to have you and your teens!
Jenni Desmond is a London-based illustrator who combines wet washed backgrounds with cut and collaged textures to create whimsical characters within evocative settings. Her technique has been used to great effect in her four published children’s books; two more—The Blue Whale and The First Slodge—are due out in spring 2015. In addition to books, Desmond’s work can be found on a range of textiles and stationary as well as adorning maps at the National Portrait Gallery.
Though he’s largely forgotten today, Walter Savage Landor was one of the major authors of his time—of both his times, in fact, for he was long-lived enough to produce major writing during both the Romantic and the Victorian eras. He kept writing and publishing promiscuously through his long life (he died in his ninetieth year) which puts him in a unique category. Maybe the problem is that he outlived his own reputation. Byron, Shelly and Keats all died in their twenties, and this fact somehow seals-in their importance as poets. Landor’s close friend Southey died at the beginning of the 1840s. Landor lived on, writing and publishing poetry, prose, drama, English and Latin. He forged friendships now with men like Robert Browning—who was deeply influenced by Landor’s writing—John Forster and Charles Dickens (Dickens named his second son Walter Savage Landor Dickens in his friend’s honour). His Victorian reputation was higher than his sales; but and if we’re puzzled by how completely his literary reputation was eclipsed during the 20th century in part that may simply be a function of his prolixity. Landor’s Collected Works was published between 1927 and 1936 in sixteen fat volumes; and even that capacious edition doesn’t by any means contain everything Landor published. It omits, for instance, his voluminous Latin writing—for Landor was the last English writer to produce a substantial body of work in that dead language. In late life he once said ‘I am sometimes at a loss for an English word; for a Latin—never!’
His most substantial prose writings were the Imaginary Conversations: dozens and dozens of prose dialogues between famous historical figures, and occasionally between fictionalised versions of living individuals, varying in length from a few pages each to seventy or eighty. The prose is exquisite, balanced, beautifully mannered and expressed and full of potent epigrams and apothegms on art, society, history, morals and religion. Nobody reads the Imaginary Conversations any more. Then there are the epics—his masterpiece, Gebir (1798), an heroic poem of immense ambition, was greeted by bafflement and ridicule on its initial publication. Landor’s experimental epic idiom was simply too obscure for his readers even to understand—though Lamb claimed the poem has ‘lucid interludes’, and Shelley loved it. Critic William Gifford was less kind: he called the poem ‘a jumble of incomprehensible trash; the effusion of a mad and muddy brain.’ Landor decided to address the question of the poem’s obscurity the best way he knew: by translating the entire epic into Latin (Gebirus, 1803). Ah, those were the days!
He wrote shoals of beautiful lyrics and elegies. He wrote volumes-full of plays, all cod-Shakespearian blank-verse dramas. He wrote historical novels, one of which (Pericles and Aspasia, 1836) is very good. He wrote classical idylls, pastoral poetry—he was a passionate gardener—epigrams and epitaphs in English and Latin. The sheer amount of work he produced may explain the decline in his reputation; for looking new readers surveying the cliff-face of text to climb may find it offputting.
It’s worth the ascent, though. Landor was a choleric individual, given to sudden rages, whilst also magnanimous, kind-hearted and loyal to his friends. Dickens wrote him into Bleak House as the character Boythorn; and a Boythorn-ish energy and vitality very often breaks through the classical refinement of the verse. Unhappily married (he and his wife separated in 1835) he lived through a series of towering, unrequired passions for other, married women. This hopelessness, paradoxically, gives force to some of the best poetry Landor ever wrote: love poems in which the impossibility of love only magnifies the intensity of affection. It’s idea Landor understands better almost than any other writer: that the strongest feelings are predicated upon absence rather than presence. Here’s his short lyric ‘Dirce’ (1831):
Stand close around, ye Stygian set,
With Dirce in one boat convey’d,
Or Charon, seeing, may forget
That he is old, and she a shade.
This says that Dirce is so beautiful that, were he to see her, Charon might ‘forget himself’, and presumably ignore the obstacles of his own dotage and the fact that she is ‘a shade’ to make erotic advances. But in fact the ‘forgetting’ in this lyric involves a much more complex mode of amnesia. It’s tempting to read the poem as being about a particular affect: the melancholy, hopeless desire of an old man for the ideal of youthful female beauty. Desire haunted by the sense that, really, it would be better not to feel desire at all—that to desire is in some sense to ‘forget yourself.’ That idiom is an interesting one, actually; as if an old man feeling sexual desire is in some sense ‘forgetting’ not just that he is old, and that young girls aren’t interested in clapped-out old codgers, but more crucially forgetting that he isn’t the sort of person who feels in that way at all. Perhaps we tend to think of desire not as something to be remembered or forgotten, but as something experienced directly. In its compact way this poem suggests otherwise.
Renunciation is another of Landor’s perennial themes. One of his most famous quatrains runs:
I strove with none, for none was worth my strife;
Nature I loved; and next to Nature, Art.
I warmed both hands before the fire of life;
It sinks, and I am ready to depart.
Written in 1849, on the occasion of Landor’s 74th birthday, this has a certain clean dignity, both stylistically and in terms of what it is saying; although it takes part of its force from the knowledge that (as I mention above) Landor actually strove with people all the time, all through his life: personally, cholerically, in law courts, in print and face-to-face. The second line of the poem, by (it seems to me) rather pointedly omitting ‘people’ from the things that Landor has spent his life loving, rather reinforces this notion. One consequence of a man, particularly a large man like Landor, standing in front of the fire to warm his hands is to block off the heat from everybody else in the room. And that seems appropriate too, somehow.
Featured image credit: ‘Inscription from Walter Savage Landor (1775-1864) to Robert Browning (1812-1889)’ by Provenance Online Project. CC-BY-2.0 via Flickr
As anyone knows who has looked at the newspapers over the festive season, 2015 is a bumper year for anniversaries: among them Magna Carta (800 years), Agincourt (600 years), and Waterloo (200 years). But it is January which sees the first of 2015’s major commemorations, for it is fifty years since Sir Winston Churchill died (on the 24th) and received a magnificent state funeral (on the 30th). As Churchill himself had earlier predicted, he died on just the same day as his father, Lord Randolph Churchill, had done, in 1895, exactly seventy years before.
The arrangements for Churchill’s funeral, codenamed ‘Operation Hope Not’, had long been in the planning, which meant that Churchill would receive the grandest obsequies afforded to any commoner since the funerals of Nelson and Wellington. And unlike Magna Carta or Agincourt or Waterloo, there are many of us still alive who can vividly remember those sad yet stirring events of half a century ago. My generation (I was born in 1950) grew up in what were, among other things, the sunset years of Churchillian apotheosis. They may, as Lord Moran’s diary makes searingly plain, have been sad and enfeebled years for Churchill himself, but they were also years of unprecedented acclaim and veneration. During the last decade of his life, he was the most famous man alive. On his ninetieth birthday, thousands of greeting cards were sent, addressed to ‘The Greatest Man in the World, London’, and they were all delivered to Churchill’s home. During his last days, when he lay dying, there were many who found it impossible to contemplate the world without him, just as Queen Victoria had earlier wondered, at the time of his death in 1852, how Britain would manage without the Duke of Wellington.
Like all such great ceremonial occasions, the funeral itself had many meanings, and for those of us who watched it on television, by turns enthralled and tearful, it has also left many memories. In one guise, it was the final act homage to the man who had been described as ‘the saviour of his country’, and who had lived a life so full of years and achievement and honour and controversy that it was impossible to believe anyone in Britain would see his like again. But it was also, and in a rather different emotional and historical register, not only the last rites of the great man himself, but also a requiem for Britain as a great power. While Churchill might have saved his country during the Second World War, he could not preserve its global greatness thereafter. It was this sorrowful realization that had darkened his final years, just as his funeral, attended by so many world leaders and heads of state, was the last time that a British figure could command such global attention and recognition. (The turn out for Margaret Thatcher’s funeral, in 2013, was nothing like as illustrious.) These multiple meanings made the ceremonial the more moving, just as there were many episodes which made it unforgettable: the bearer party struggling and straining to carry the huge, lead-lined coffin up the steps of St Paul’s; Clement Attlee—Churchill’s former political adversary—old and frail, but determined to be there as one of the pallbearers, sitting on a chair outside the west door brought especially for him; the cranes of the London docks dipping in salute, as Churchill’s coffin was born up the Thames from Tower Pier to Waterloo Station; and the funeral train, hauled by a steam engine of the Battle of Britain class, named Winston Churchill, steaming out of the station.
For many of us, the funeral was made the more memorable by Richard Dimbleby’s commentary. Already stricken with cancer, he must have known that this would be the last he would deliver for a great state occasion (he would, indeed, be dead before the year was out), and this awareness of his own impending mortality gave to his commentary a tone of tender resignation that he had never quite achieved before. As his son, Jonathan, would later observe in his biography of his father, ‘Richard Dimbleby’s public was Churchill’s public, and he had spoken their emotions.’
Fifty years on, the intensity of those emotions cannot be recovered, but many events have been planned to commemorate Churchill’s passing, and to ponder the nature of his legacy. Two years ago, a committee was put together, consisting of representatives of the many institutions and individuals that constitute the greater Churchill world, both in Britain and around the world, which it has been my privilege to chair. Significant events are planned for 30 January: in Parliament, where a wreath will be laid; on the River Thames, where Havengore, the ship that bore Churchill’s coffin, will retrace its journey; and at Westminster Abbey, where there will be a special evensong. It will be a moving and resonant day, and the prelude to many other events around the country and around the world. Will any other British prime minister be so vividly and gratefully remembered fifty years after his—or her—death?
Headline image credit: Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, New Bond Street, London. Sculpted by Lawrence Holofcener. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.
Last fall, YALSA conducted a survey to get member input on the next strategic plan. The Strategic Planning Taskforce’s official report is now available as part of the YALSA Board’s 2015 Midwinter Meeting Board Documents. You can find it at item #26 on the agenda. If you have any responses to share on the survey, we would love to hear from you!
There are lots of strategic planning activities happening at Midwinter! The Board will be dedicating its Board Planning and Board I meetings to strategic planning sessions with consultant Alan Brickman (item #1 on the agenda). Like all Board meetings, these are open to all conference attendees, and you are welcome to drop in and observe. We’ll also be live tweeting from board meetings, so please follow @yalsa for more details.
Member involvement is a key part of successful strategic planning, so YALSA’s also hosting a member planning session at Midwinter: Moving YALSA Forward on Sunday, February 1, from 1-2:30 pm. This session will be facilitated by Alan Brickman as well. Advocacy emerged as an important theme in our member survey results, and it will be the main topic explored here. We hope you’ll come and participate in this session: we need to hear from as many members as possible to make it a success! Light refreshments will be available.
If you’re not attending Midwinter--or your schedule is already too packed!--YALSA still wants to hear from you on the development of the next strategic plan. One way to be heard will be to attend the virtual town hall that YALSA President Chris Shoemaker will be hosting on February 24, 3-4 pm Eastern, via Adobe Connect. (Mark your calendars now!) Or, please feel free to email us with your comments and concerns. You can reach Chris at email@example.com and Joy Kim, Strategic Planning Chair, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last weekend as I was changing the spool of plastic on the Makerbot for a boy and his dad to finish printing and I just had to chuckle to myself. With my legs up on the table and the PLA plastic in my mouth, I maneuvered to feed the green string through the extruder. Never in a million years would I have imagined that this could be a daily reality for a children’s librarian. New technologies continue to challenge my preconceived notions of where the library profession would lead me.
Technology continues to revolutionize the way our world functions, and public libraries are in a unique position when it comes to educating kids and families and preparing them for these changes. The American Library Association recently published a paper that tackles 3D Printing technology, public policy, and the role of libraries in this conversation.
When we received our 3D printer a little over a year ago most of the children’s staff had no idea what to make of it. Sure it was cool, and a great addition to our mini-makerspace, but would it be a temporary fixture in the Children’s Library? One brave children’s staff member took the lead and spent time tinkering with the printer and has been a real 3D guru to the rest of the department. She has even provided tutorials and troubleshooting to the IT staff. Of course, we don’t pretend to have all the answers, but almost every weekend we meet a new family inquiring about the Makerbot and amazed that the Library is the one place in town where they can work with one hands on.
As more libraries begin to evaluate whether a 3D printer actually has a place within their institution, there is going to be a growing need for addressing what services and programs the library will provide, and how to tackle challenges such as repair or appropriate use.
Krishna Grady and Amy Laughlin craft dinosaur necklaces from a 3D printer.
Beyond individual patron prints, the Children’s Library has managed to educate families on the concept of 3D Printing and Design while also hosting other classes that are fun and inspiring. Below is a sampling of our current 3D Printing programs for children.
Makerbot 101 – Our guru Amy Laughlin has designed both an introductory session to the concepts and origin of 3D printing and design for eager printers. Not sure what CAD software even means? Amy has done a fantastic job in making the information accessible to both patrons and curious library staff members.
Tinkercad Design – Watching the printer work its magic is simply one element to this new technology. By using Tinkercad, kids can locate pre-designed prints to take home, but the web-based tool also teaches 3D Design in an accessible way.
3D Printing and Crafting – Tech and crafting can come together for a variety of ages. Pull out some glitter and sharpies to decorate 3D prints for the younger set, while discovering applicable ways to craft with older kids using more complex printed objects. In December tweens assembled mini-printed pieces using needle-nose pliers in the Dino-Necklaces program.
Gift Giving 3D Style – As our Makerbot usage amps up during the holidays we wanted to provide gift giving options for crafty kids. Revisiting the Cookie Cutter program from last year we used the website Cookie Caster which uses a drawing board to design a cookie cutter template and makes a 3D model of the design. We also curated a list of ten easy prints which take under one hour to form. This comes in handy when demoing the 3D printer, but also provides potential gifts for kids to give to parents. Ornaments and picture frames have been particularly popular prints this year.
Claire Moore is a member of the Digital Content Task Force. She is also Head of Children’s Services at Darien Library in Connecticut. You can reach Claire at email@example.com.
Visit the Digital Media Resources page to find out more about navigating your way through the evolving digital landscape.
What was your inspiration for writing FIGHT FOR POWER?
This is the 2nd in the Rule of Three trilogy. It is my longest and most intricate series and crafting this world and these characters has been an almost obsessive creation. Living in the same neighborhood as my characters - Adam even lives in my house - makes this such a personal novel.
What book or books would most resonate with readers who love your book--or visa versa?
I have another sci-fi book End of Days which was originally going to have a sequel.I just finished the sequel and realized part-way through that the sequel - Regenesis - is only the 2nd in a trilogy!
What do you hope readers will take away from FIGHT FOR POWER?
I hope they will see the very scary possibilities, to realize that we are not above or beyond desperate actions caused by desperate situations, but still, we can try out best to show our humanity.
How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?
I was very fortunate that my first book, Stand Your Ground, was published. I now have written 97 books and all, except one, have been either published or are under contract to come out in the next few years.
What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?
I write everywhere, all the time. While listening to music, in the quiet, on the beach, on the dock, in shopping malls and between presentations at schools. I just love writing.
What are you working on now?
I'm presently writing a book called 60 Days of Different which is a character driven novel with a touch of romance.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Fight for Power by Eric Walters Hardcover Farrar, Straus and Giroux Released 1/20/2015
The world keeps getting darker in this second reality-based survival adventure in the Rule of Three trilogy
After sixty-six days of a catastrophic global blackout, life in the suburbs is not what it used to be for Adam and his fortified neighborhood of Eden Mills. Although an explosive clash has minimized one threat from outside the walls, Adam’s battle-hardened mentor, Herb, continues to make decisions in the name of security that are increasingly wrenching and questionable. Like his police chief mom and others, Adam will follow Herb’s lead. But when the next threat comes from an unexpected direction, nobody is ready for it. And someone is going to pay the price—because of Adam’s mistakes and mistaken trust.
Award-winning author Eric Walters is one of Canada’s best-known and most prolific writers of fiction for children and young adults. He has published over eighty novels, which have won over one hundred awards, including eleven separate children’s choice awards, and have been translated into over eleven languages around the world. He is the only three-time winner of both the Ontario Library Association Silver Birch and Red Maple Awards.
The recent release of The Imitation Game has revealed the important role crosswords played in the recruitment of code-breakers at Bletchley Park. In response to complaints that its crosswords were too easy, The Daily Telegraph organised a contest in which entrants attempted to solve a puzzle in less than 12 minutes. Successful competitors subsequently found themselves being approached by the War Office, and later working as cryptographers at Bletchley Park.
The birth of the crossword
The crossword was the invention of Liverpool émigré Arthur Wynne, whose first puzzle appeared in the New York World in 1913. This initial foray was christened a Word-Cross; the instruction in subsequent issues to ‘Find the missing cross words’ led to the birth of the cross-word. Although Wynne’s invention was initially greeted with scepticism, by the 1920s it had established itself as a popular pastime, entertaining and frustrating generations of solvers, solutionists, puzzle-heads, and cruciverbalists (Latin for ‘crossworders’).
Crosswords consist of a grid made up of black and white boxes, in which the answers, also known as lights, are to be written. The term light derives from the word’s wider use to refer to facts or suggestions which help to explain, or ‘cast light upon’, a problem. The puzzle consists of a series of clues, a word that derives from Old English cleowen ‘ball of thread’. Since a ball of thread could be used to help guide someone out of a maze – just as Ariadne’s thread came to Theseus’s aid in the Minotaur’s labyrinth – it developed the figurative sense of a piece of evidence leading to a solution, especially in the investigation of a crime. The spelling changed from clew to clue under the influence of French in the seventeenth century; the same shift affected words like blew, glew, rew, and trew.
Anagrams, homophones, and Spoonerisms: clues in crosswords
In the earliest crosswords the clue consisted of a straightforward synonym (Greek ‘with name’) – this type is still popular in concise or so-called quick crosswords. A later development saw the emergence of the cryptic clue (from a Greek word meaning ‘hidden’), where, in addition to a definition, another route to the answer is concealed within a form of wordplay. Wordplay devices include the anagram, from a Greek word meaning ‘transposition of letters’, and the charade, from a French word referring to a type of riddle in which each syllable of a word, or a complete word, is described, or acted out – as in the game charades. A well-known example, by prolific Guardian setter Rufus, is ‘Two girls, one on each knee’ (7). Combining two girls’ names, Pat and Ella, gives you a word for the kneecap: PATELLA.
Punning on similar-sounding words, or homophones (Greek ‘same sound’), is a common trick. A reference to Spooner requires a solver to transpose the initial sounds of two or more words; this derives from a supposed predisposition to such slips of the tongue in the speech of Reverend William Archibald Spooner (1844–1930), Warden of New College Oxford, whose alleged Spoonerisms include a toast to ‘our queer dean’ and upbraiding a student who ‘hissed all his mystery lectures’. Other devious devices of misdirection include reversals, double definitions, containers (where all or part of word must be placed within another), and words hidden inside others, or between two or more words. In the type known as &lit. (short for ‘& literally so’), the whole clue serves as both definition and wordplay, as in this clue by Rufus: ‘I’m a leader of Muslims”. Here the word play gives IMA+M (the leader, i.e. first letter, of Muslims), while the whole clue stands as the definition.
Crossword compilers and setters
Crossword compilers, or setters, traditionally remain anonymous (Greek ‘without name’), or assume pseudonyms (Greek ‘false name’). Famous exponents of the art include Torquemada and Ximenes, who assumed the names of Spanish inquisitors, Afrit, the name of a mythological Arabic demon hidden in that of the setter A.F.Ritchie, and Araucaria, the Latin name for the monkey puzzle tree. Some crosswords conceal a name or message within the grid, perhaps along the diagonal, or using the unchecked letters (or unches), which do not cross with other words in the grid. This is known as a nina, a term deriving from the practice of the American cartoonist Al Hirschfield of hiding the name of his daughter Nina in his illustrations.
If you’re a budding code-cracker and fancy pitting your wits against the cryptographers of Bletchley Park, you can find the original Telegraph puzzle here.
But remember, you only have 12 minutes to solve it.
Title: Carter Finally Gets It
Author: Brent Crawford
Narrated by: Nick Podehl
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Publication Date: April 7, 2009
I listened to this as part of Sync's audio summer promotion (yeah, it took me awhile to get to it). But it was pretty damn funny.
Carter is a freshman with ADD and a stutter, especially around girls. He, like just about any other 14 year old, thinks about
What scene was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud? Or is there another scene you particularly love?
There’s a scene in The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley where Drew is in the emergency room when a little boy who drowned in the bathtub is brought in. After the doctor pronounces the little boy dead, Drew convinces the nurses to allow him to practice CPR on him. That scene was particularly difficult to write because I drew on a real event that happened when I was training to be an EMT. We showed up at the house of a young boy who had drowned in his pool. The boy was on the front lawn, and it was obvious that too much time had passed to save him. But the paramedics I was riding with tried anyway because they wanted the parents to know they’d done everything they could. They asked me to start CPR. It was the first time I’d ever performed CPR on a real person and the first time I’d ever seen a dead body. That was almost 8 years ago, but the experience still haunts me.
While I am proud of that scene, the scene I’m most proud of involves a very special dinner and a disco ball. I don’t want to spoil it, but it’s probably my favorite scene in the entire book.
What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
Write fearlessly. Dig for the thing that frightens you the most, that causes you the most pain, and put it on the page. If you’re not afraid for others to read what you’ve written, you haven’t dug deeply enough.
What are you working on now?
Right at this moment, I’m editing an anthology about a school shooting called VIOLENT ENDS. It’s out at the end of 2015 and features the most amazing group of writers (Hannah Moskowitz, Beth Revis, Neal Shusterman, Courtney Summers...just to name a few). I’ve also recently sold two more books to Simon Pulse. One is called WE ARE THE ANTS, and is a story about lost love, bullying, families, alien abductions, and the end of the world. The second book is, as of yet, unwritten, but I’ve got a few ideas I’m tinkering with, one of which may involve a pirate radio station or time travel…or not. Writing is a very roundabout process for me. I hardly ever know where I’m going to end up when I start a new manuscript.
ABOUT THE BOOK
The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson Hardcover Simon Pulse Released 1/20/2015
Andrew Brawley was supposed to die that night. His parents did, and so did his sister, but he survived.
Now he lives in the hospital. He serves food in the cafeteria, he hangs out with the nurses, and he sleeps in a forgotten supply closet. Drew blends in to near invisibility, hiding from his past, his guilt, and those who are trying to find him.
Then one night Rusty is wheeled into the ER, burned on half his body by hateful classmates. His agony calls out to Drew like a beacon, pulling them both together through all their pain and grief. In Rusty, Drew sees hope, happiness, and a future for both of them. A future outside the hospital, and away from their pasts.
But Drew knows that life is never that simple. Death roams the hospital, searching for Drew, and now Rusty. Drew lost his family, but he refuses to lose Rusty, too, so he’s determined to make things right. He’s determined to bargain, and to settle his debts once and for all.
But Death is not easily placated, and Drew’s life will have to get worse before there is any chance for things to get better.
John Fuller, in response to a competition challenge, set out to write a poem consisting only of three-letter words. And in order to add to the interest, he decided on a form in which there were three three-letter words per line, and the lines came in groups of three.
What an interesting idea! Here is how the resulting poem begins.
What did this book teach you about writing or about yourself?
With POLARIS I learned two critical things, both of them more affirmations than revelations. The first is that even when the writing is hard you have to push through it. That might seem self-evident, but it’s one of those things where you don’t really know what “hard” is until you’ve run smack into. The affirmation aspect of this is that I learned that I can push through it. I was in a very hard place emotionally when I started work on POLARIS, and it didn’t go away throughout the whole process. Some of it was struggles in my personal life and some of it is what I call the post publication blues. All writers get them and they are awful—the mean reds times a thousand. But the great thing is that even when it’s hard, the writing is always worth it. I’m proud of POLARIS, despite all the struggle or maybe because of it.
Secondly, I learned that it’s okay to channel your own emotions into a story. Like I said, I was in a very dark place when I wrote this book, and a lot of that darkness translates to the page. The main character Jeth struggles a lot in this book. I’m downright awful to him at times. But ultimately, I think that emotional struggle has a big payoff in the end, both for me personally and for the reader, I hope.
What do you hope readers will take away from POLARIS?
Like I mentioned above, POLARIS is a dark book, way darker than AVALON. The characters get hit with a lot. I don’t pull any punches. But my hope is that readers will tough out the hard parts and decide that the end was worth it.
How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?
My road to publication was both long and hard, but also fairly typical for most writers, I think. Over a period of about seven years, I wrote four complete novels (complete = beginning, middle, end and some revising, although not nearly enough), all of which did not sell. They still haven’t sold. They’re not worth going back to, they’re so bad. I also wrote dozens of short stories, some of which were published and many that never were. For those first four books I sent out a bunch of queries and received a bunch of rejections. But once I wrote my fifth novel – The Nightmare Affair – everything started to move fast. I sent out about 10 queries, and I found my agent in that first round. Less than two months later, I had a book deal.
What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
The only advice I ever have to give is always self-directed first. And the most important advice I ever gave myself was that you must learn to treat writing more like a craft than an art. Don’t get me wrong—it is an art, and no amount of technical skill will a good novel make—but if you don’t actually study the craft, attempt to learn some of the why/how/what behind the creation of your art, you’re going to have a very hard time getting better at it. You know? Without skill and study you end up trying to do the same thing over and over again, expecting a different outcome each time. This is basically what happened with my first four unpublished novels.
For me, this turn from regarding my writing as pure “art” to treating it like a skill made all the difference in breaking through. And the thing is, I’m still studying and trying new things even now. For example, I’ve always been more of a pantser, but within the last few months I’ve written two different outlines, one of them 15 pages long! If you’d asked me last year if I could write an outline of that length and detail I would’ve told you no way. But then my agent and I decided to send out my next projects as proposals and I had no choice but to learn how to do it. And you know what? It’s completely awesome. I’m so glad I’ve developed this skill. Everything new you learn is going to make you a better writer. It’s always a win.
What are you working on now?
I have two projects in the development stage. The first is a young adult high fantasy. The other is another sci-fi. It’s a post-apocalyptic story about a world where every human being is a carrier of a deadly virus. In 1 out of 5 people this dormant virus activates, turning the hosts into homicidal maniacs before it kills them. Of course, activation is most likely to occur during teenage years. So, you know, lots and lots of trouble for my young characters.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Polaris by Mindee Arnett Hardcover Balzer + Bray Released 1/20/2015
Following the events of Avalon, Jeth Seagrave and his crew are on the run. Jeth is desperate to find the resources and funding he needs to rescue his mother from an ITA’s research lab and leave this whole galaxy behind for a new life somewhere else. But the ITA is just as desperate, and soon Jeth finds himself pursued by a mysterious figure hell-bent on capturing Jeth and his crew—dead or alive. In a last-ditch effort to save everyone he holds dear, Jeth enters into a bargain with the last person he ever thought he'd see again: Dax Shepherd, the galaxy’s newest and most fearsome crime lord. And he’s not the only one: upon arriving back at Peltraz spaceport for the first time since he witnessed the death of his old employer, Jeth discovers Dax has a new partner: Jeth’s mother, Marian.
This shocking turn of events is only the first in another breathless, action-packed sci-fi adventure rife with danger, love, and betrayal, as Jeth has to once again ask himself how much he’s willing to invest in a morally bankrupt galaxy in the hopes of saving those he cares for.
Mindee Arnett is the author of two forthcoming young adult series. The first book in her contemporary fantasy series, The Nightmare Affair is forthcoming March 2013 from Tor Teen (Macmillan) while her YA sci-fi thriller, Finding Eden (tentative title) will debut Winter 2014 from Balzer+Bray (HarperCollins). She lives on a horse farm in Ohio with her husband, two kids, a couple of dogs, and an inappropriate number of cats. She's addicted to jumping horses and telling tales of magic, the macabre, and outer space.
Her short stories have appeared in various magazines, including Happy, and she has received an honorable mention in The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 2008. She has a Master of Arts in English literature with an emphasis in Creative Writing. She is represented by Suzie Townsend of New Leaf Literary and Media. She also blogs and tweets. Find her online at www.mindeearnett.com.
‘Oh, that this too, too solid flesh would melt,’ so wrote the other bard, Shakespeare.
Scotland’s bard, Robert Burns, has had a surfeit of biographical attention: upwards of three hundred biographical treatments, and as if many of these were not fanciful enough hundreds of novels, short stories, theatrical, television, and film treatments that often strain well beyond credulity.
Burns has been pursued beyond (or properly in) the grave in even more extreme ways. His remains have been disinterred twice, the second time so that his skull might be examined for the purposes of phrenology. In death he has been bothered again very recently in the run up to Scotland’s referendum in October 2014. Would Burns have been a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ voter, a Nationalist or a Unionist, was often posed and answered across media outlets.
This de-historicised Burns, someone who never actually had any kind of political vote in life, who had no access to nationalist, or indeed, unionist ideology, in the modern senses is nothing new. During World War I, the minute book of the Dumfries Volunteer Militia, in which Burns had enlisted in 1795 in the face of threatened French invasion, was rediscovered. It was published in 1919 by William Will of the London Burns Club with a rather emotional introduction claiming that the minute-book’s records showing Burns’s impeccable conduct as a militiaman was proof of the poet’s sound British patriotism and how he might be compared to the many brave British soldiers who had just taken on the Kaiser. In response, those who had been recently constructing a pacifist Burns spluttered with indignation. Wasn’t the Scottish Bard the man who had written ‘Why Shouldna Poor Folk Mowe [make love]’ during the 1790s:
When Princes and Prelates and het-headed zealots
All Europe hae set in a lowe [noisy turmoil]
The poor man lies down, nor envies a crown,
And comforts himself with a mowe.
This is an increasingly obscene song, an anti-war text saying, ‘a plague on all your houses’ (to paraphrase the other bard again): the poor should choose love, and not war – the latter being the result of much more shameful shenanigans by their supposed lords and masters.
O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us
To see oursels as others see us! It wad frae monie a blunder free us
An’ foolish notion
The problem is that Burns would be dizzy with the multifarious contradictoriness of it all if he could truly emerge from the grave and attempt to see himself as others have seen him. Ultimately, what we have with Burns is the man who may or may not have been Scotland’s greatest poet, but who is certainly Scotland’s greatest song-writer (with the production of twice as many songs as poems) — the nearest Scotland has, a bit cheesy though the comparison is, to Lennon and McCartney. These songs and poems express indeed many different ideas, moods, emotions, and characters. They sympathise with radically different viewpoints (for instance, Burns can write empathetically on occasion about both Mary Queen of Scots (Catholic Stuart tyrant) and the Covenanters (Calvinist fanatics, according to their respective detractors)). Burns’s work is both his living achievement and the real remains over which we ought to pore. In the end there is no real Burns, but instead a fictional one and the important fictions are of his making.
Image Credit: Scottish Highlands by Gustave Doré (1875). Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.
Tomorrow is the first annual National Readathon. Book lovers across the country will be cracking open the books and reading in solidarity from noon to 4 pm to promote literacy. How are you celebrating?
The National Book Foundation, Penguin Random House, Goodreads and Mashable have teamed up for the event and are calling all readers to share how they will spend the day with the hashtag #timetoread and post a photo of them reading along with the post.
If you don’t feel like reading alone at home, you can join others at a bookstore or library near you. Check out this map to find a participating location in your area.
I call myself a moral philosopher. However, I sometimes worry that I might actually be an immoral philosopher. I worry that there might be something morally wrong with making the arguments I make. Let me explain.
When it comes to preventing poverty related deaths, it is almost universally agreed that Peter Singer is one of the good guys. His landmark 1971 article, “Famine, Affluence and Morality” (FAM), not only launched a rich new area of philosophical discussion, but also led to millions in donations to famine relief. In the month after Singer restated the argument from FAM in a piece in the New York Times, UNICEF and OXFAM claimed to have received about $660, 000 more than they usually took in from the phone numbers given in the piece. His organisation, “The Life You Can Save”, used to keep a running estimate of total donations generated. When I last checked the website on 13th February 2012, this figure stood at $62, 741, 848.
Singer argues that the typical person living in an affluent country is morally required to give most of his or her money away to prevent poverty related deaths. To fail to give as much as you can to charities that save children dying of poverty is every bit as bad as walking past a child drowning in a pond because you don’t want to ruin your new shoes. Singer argues that any difference between the child in the pond and the child dying of poverty is morally irrelevant, so failure to help must be morally equivalent. For an approachable version of his argument see Peter Unger, who developed and refined Singer’s arguments in his 1996 book, Living High and Letting Die.
I’ve argued that Singer and Unger are wrong: failing to donate to charity is not equivalent to walking past a drowning child. Morality does – and must – pay attention to features such as distance, personal connection and how many other people are in a position to help. I defend what seems to me to be the commonsense position that while most people are required to give much more than they currently do to charities such as Oxfam, they are not required to give the extreme proportions suggested by Singer and Unger.
So, Singer and Unger are the good guys when it comes to debates on poverty-related death. I’m arguing that Singer and Unger are wrong. I’m arguing against the good guys. Does that make me one of the bad guys? It is true that my own position is that most people are required to give more than they do. But isn’t there still something morally dubious about arguing for weaker moral requirements to save lives? Singer and Unger’s position is clear and easy to understand. It offers a strong call to action that seems to actually work – to make people put their hands in their pockets. Isn’t it wrong to risk jeopardising that given the possibility that people will focus only on the arguments I give against extreme requirements to aid?
On reflection, I don’t think what I do is immoral philosophy. The job of moral philosophers is to help people to decide what to believe about moral issues on the basis of reasoned reflection. Moral philosophers provide arguments and critique the arguments of others. We won’t be able to do this properly if we shy away from attacking some arguments because it is good for people to believe them.
In addition, the Singer/Unger position doesn’t really offer a clear, simple conclusion about what to do. For Singer and Unger, there is a nice simple answer about what morality requires us to do: keep giving until giving more would cost us something more morally significant than the harm we could prevent; in other words, keep giving till you have given most of your money away. However, this doesn’t translate into a simple answer about what we should do, overall. For, on Singer’s view, we might not be rationally required or overall required to do what we are morally required to.
This need to separate moral requirements from overall requirements is a result of the extreme, impersonal view of morality espoused by Singer. The demands of Singer’s morality are so extreme it must sometimes be reasonable to ignore them. A more modest understanding of morality, which takes into account the agent’s special concern with what is near and dear to her, avoids this problem. Its demands are reasonable so cannot be reasonably ignored. Looked at in this way, my position gives a clearer and simpler answer to the question of what we should do in response to global poverty. It tells us both what is morally and rationally required. Providing such an answer surely can’t be immoral philosophy.
Headline image credit: Devil gate, Paris, by PHGCOM (Own work). CC-BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
The Academy of American Poets has unveiled the official poster design for National Poetry Month, which takes place in April.
National Book Award finalist Roz Chast designed this year’s poster. The poster includes a line of poetry by the poet Mark Strand, who died last year. “Ink runs from the corner of my mouth,” reads the poster. “There is no happiness like mine. I have been eating poetry.” The poster will be handed out to more than 120,000 people in schools, libraries and bookstores during National Poetry Month. We’ve got the whole poster for you to view after the jump.
To get students excited about poetry this year, The Academy of American Poets has created the Dear Poet project. The project encourages students to write letters in response to poems written by award winning poets.
When patients are discharged from the intensive care unit it’s great news for everyone. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean the road to recovery is straight. As breakthroughs and new technology increase the survival rate for highly critical patients, the number of possible further complications rises, meaning life after the ICU can be complex. Joe Hitchcock from Oxford University Press’s medical publishing team spoke to Dr. Robert D. Stevens, Associate Professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, to find out more.
Can you tell us a little about your career?
As a junior doctor in the intensive care unit, I observed that prowess in resuscitation is a double edged sword. We were getting better and better at promoting survival, but at what cost in the long term? I decided I would dedicate my career to the recovery process that follows severe illnesses and injuries. Currently, my team has several cohort studies under way in human subjects with head injury, stroke and sepsis. We’re looking at their long term outcomes and also imaging their brains. I have a laboratory in which we are studying a range of neurologic readouts in mice following brain injury. We’re looking at the biology of neuronal plasticity and studying stem cells as a treatment to promote recovery of function.
What is Post-ICU medicine and what does it aim to achieve?
Medicine is increasingly a victim of its own successes. People are surviving complex and terrifying illnesses, which only years ago would almost certainly have been fatal. This means there is an ever-growing population of “survivors”. Like survivors of cancer, survivors of intensive care bring with them an entirely new set of clinical problems, demanding new approaches. We propose Post-ICU Medicine as an umbrella term for this new domain of medical practice and research, which is specifically concerned with the biology, diagnosis and treatment of illnesses and disabilities resulting from critical illness.
What do you mean by the “legacy” of critical illnesses?
The “legacy” of critical illness refers to what people “carry with them” after living through a life threatening illness in the intensive care unit (ICU). It is the sum of consequences, both physical and mental, some temporary others permanent, which unfold in the weeks, months and years after someone is discharged from the ICU.
In what ways might a patient’s post-ICU experience differ from public/idealized expectations?
There is a widely held perception, or perhaps an anticipation, that acute and severe illnesses, such as sepsis or respiratory failure, are a zero-sum game: You may die from this illness, but if you survive you have a good chance of recovering completely and of going on with your life as if nothing had happened. This notion has been turned on its head. We know now that the post-ICU experience presents physical and psychological challenges for a high proportion of patients. Even the most fortunate, those we might regard as having recovered successfully, often acknowledge problems months after they have left the hospital. They report that they feel weak, have difficulties concentrating, are impulsive, anxious or depressed. When tested formally, they are often score below population means on tests of memory, attention, and functional status.
Have you observed patterns in the way patients recover?
I do not know that there are any easily classifiable patterns. There are countless possible trajectories of recovery which we are only beginning to characterize with some degree of scientific rigor. In reality, just as each patient is biologically unique, so too is his or her recovery. One of the main tasks of Post-ICU Medicine is to identify and validate markers (e.g. genetic variants, protein expression) that allow us to predict and track recovery patterns with a much higher level of confidence and reliability.
How do you assess and treat patients who have a multitude of Post-ICU conditions, psychological and physical?
Ideally, a single provider would be able to follow and treat patients in the post-ICU period. However, the range of different problems — neurologic, cognitive, psychological, cardiac, pulmonary, renal, musculoskeletal, digestive, nutritional, endocrine, social, economic — which these patients present with, are beyond the scope of even a very knowledgeable practitioner. Some groups that specialize in post-ICU follow up care have adopted a different approach, in which patients are evaluated by a multi-disciplinary “Recovery Team” with a wide array of minimally-overlapping knowledge and skills. The latter may include internists, specialists in rehabilitation, psychiatrists, neuropsychologists, neurologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, orthopaedic surgeons, rheumatologists, and social workers. Patients recovering from critical illness are evaluated periodically and referred to the different members of the Recovery Team depending on clinical symptoms and signs. While evidence is mounting regarding the benefits of integrated post-ICU Recovery Team approach, such interventions area resource intensive and costly and are not currently available to the vast majority of recovering post-ICU patients.
Is it possible to accurately predict patient rehabilitation and recovery trajectories?
This is the “holy grail” of post-ICU medicine, and even of critical care medicine more generally. We desperately need discriminative methods to predict recovery trajectories. Current predictive approaches rely on multiple logistic regression models often using a mix of demographic and clinical severity variables. These models are terribly inaccurate, to the point of being quite useless in the clinical setting. New approaches are needed which analyse large biological datasets – patterns of gene and protein expression, changes in the microbiome, changes in carbohydrate and lipid metabolism, alterations in brain functional and metabolic activity. The great hope is that models emerging from these more sophisticated data sets will allow individualized or personalized approaches to outcome prediction and treatment.
If recovery is considered a gradated process, when is a patient “cured”?
The World Health Organization states that physical and mental well-being are a right of all human beings. It is likely that the insults and injuries suffered in the ICU can never be completely healed or cured. However, the good news is that some ICU survivors achieve astonishing levels of recovery. We need to study these individuals – the ones who do very well and surpass all expectations for recovery– as they seem to have biological or psychological characteristics (e.g. resilience factors, motivation) which set them apart. Knowing more about these characteristics may help us treat those with less favorable recovery profiles.
What might the post-ICU medicine look like in the distant future?
I believe that mortality will continue to decline for a range of illnesses an injuries encountered in the ICU. The key task will be to maximize health status in those who survive. I expect that major discoveries will be made regarding organ-specific patterns of gene and protein expression and molecular signalling which drive post-injury recovery versus failure — and that this knowledge will enable novel treatment strategies. I anticipate that important advances will be made in the regeneration tissues and organs using stem cell and tissue engineering approaches.