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1001. Feedback Request

The query for Keeper of the Woods, most recently seen here, would like feedback on the revision below.

Ana is a monster. She doesn’t have claws, fangs, or even a tail-and that’s the problem. One by one everyone else around her has changed and taken on physical traits of an animal just like they’re supposed to.

Abandoned and feared, Ana has raised herself in the woods for eight years until, one day, a fire breaks out. In the blaze she finds and rescues a coyote-girl named Arella, as well as her dog-brother Rae. The siblings seem kind, and even offer to take a skeptical Ana to someone who might be able to fix her. Ana reluctantly agrees to travel with them, and even stays after she discovers they are wanted criminals. After all, she has nowhere to go and already knows she can’t trust anyone-but if there’s a chance that she can end her nightmare, she’ll take it.

They’ll have to rely on each other as they journey, but the closer they come to their destination, the closer they become to each other. [That makes no more sense than it did last time. You're saying: They'll have to rely on each other, but how can they when they've become close? It's like saying Dorothy needs to rely on the Scarecrow, but she can't because they've bonded. It's like saying when you need someone to rely on it's better to go with a stranger than with your best friend.] In the end, Ana can’t hide from the world anymore and will have to decide who to trust. Keeper of the Woods is a 56,000 word middle grade fantasy novel.

I look forward to hearing from you.


You're not giving us enough specific information about the plot. You have a paragraph telling us who your main character is, a paragraph telling us what her situation is, and a vague paragraph that tells us nothing. If you apply the same format to The Wizard of Oz it will sound like this:

Dorothy is an average girl living on a farm in Kansas. She has a loving family and a cute dog named Toto. Sometimes she stops what she's doing and breaks into song.

One day a tornado threatens the farm. Dorothy is knocked unconscious while trying to find Toto, and when she wakes she's in a wondrous colorful land populated by little people called Munchkins. The Munchkins and a kind witch tell Dorothy about a wizard in the Emerald City who might be able to help her return to Kansas. She has no better idea, and if there’s a chance she can get back home, she’ll take it.

Along the way Dorothy meets interesting characters and encounters some dangers. In the end, she will learn a valuable life lesson. The Wizard of Oz is a 56,000 word middle grade fantasy novel.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Note that my query leaves out all the good stuff. Now, if I condense it into one paragraph:

After 12-year-old Dorothy Gale is knocked unconscious during a tornado on her Kansas farm, she wakes in a wondrous land called Oz. She longs to return to her family, but it seems the only one who might help her is a wizard who lives in the Emerald City. So off she goes, accompanied by her dog Toto, to see the wizard.

. . . I'll have plenty of room to talk about the friends Dorothy makes along the way, and especially about the villain, the wicked witch who's trying to stop them. And then to wrap it up with what Dorothy might learn if she somehow survives.

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1002. Teens and How They Use Technology – What’s Our Role?

This semester I’m enrolled in a Collaborations in Feminism and Technology class. It parallels the larger organization, FemTechNet. During our most recent class, our discussion turned to a frequently talked about: children/teens and technology. What sort of access to technology should they have and how will they use it?

Part of our class veered towards the idea of technocentrism (technology is the center of our world and it controls us. See Seymour Papert’s paper to read more) or technological determinism (essentially get on board with technology’s pace or forever be left behind). We discussed just giving kids and teens technology and counting on them to “just know” how to use it. We discussed restricting access because they aren’t old enough to really know how to use technology. And we discussed that teens simply don’t understand the permanence of putting something online.

However, some of my classmates (myself included) were not quick to jump aboard the technocentrism train of thought. I firmly ground myself in the idea of living in a socio-technical system – where I impact and shape technology just as much as technology is shaping and changing me. People in positions of power and privilege are making decisions on how they design and create technology and that has impacts on how we use and think about technology. So shouldn’t we be having some of these conversations with the teens we interact with?

I think we should take some responsibility for this education and problem posing of technology and its impacts. Because in many ways, the decisions we are making affect how current and future teens will use and think about technology (and the digital footprint that has been involuntarily created for them). Recently I’ve been hooked on WNYC’s podcast, Note to Self with Manoush Zomorodi. The focus of this podcast is our relationship with technology and a recent episode lets us hear first hand from a teen interviewed on her views of technology (and smart phones). Teens are actively using technology and making decisions about it and we should respect and think about those decisions (Manoush also has a great “back to school tech” post with links on [mainly] managing kids and educational apps and technology). These posts and podcasts made me think of participatory action research that people like Rachel Magee and others are doing that digs deeper into the relationships teens have with technology (a field I’m very interested in. Also Rachel is a new faculty member at the University of Illinois so I’ve been learning more about her work).

So how do we do this? How do we have those conversations? How do we talk about our permant identity on the Internet? How do we help teens to see the ways in which we shape and our shaped by technology. My main idea is through dialogue – both informal and formal. Everything from a passing comment to longer workshops (I wrote earlier this year about a week long Twitter workshop that could be led to show how information is distributed, biased, and controlled through Twitter and what users we select to follow). Or…how could we incorporate resources like YALSA’s 2012 Issue Brief on Keeping Teens Safe Online (or revise it for 2015)? How might we incorporate idea of connected learning into these conversations for a greater and long lasting impact? How can we take this Social Media Guide and turn it into an engaging program or informal conversation? Granted, I know these programs or conversations would take time – time to plan, time to think through the ideas, time to get to know the teens, and time to actually implement these ideas (I get a little tired thinking about how I would do that once I enter the working world of Library Land). But, what keeps me going is the idea that we too can impact technology. The sooner we have those conversations with our teens, the sooner we start engaging in that critical dialogue, the sooner we can start changing the world.

How do you do this in your libraries with your teens? How do you not get trapped in the idea of technocentrism and instead, strive to empower teens to think critically about technology and their technological footprint?

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1003. Disney Monstober

BUNK'D - Disney Channel's "Bunk'd" stars Karan Brar as Ravi, Skai Jackson as Zuri and Peyton List as Emma.STARS OF BUNK’D HOST DISNEY CHANNEL’S “MONSTOBER!”

The cast of BUNK’D will host “Monstober,” the month-long Halloween celebration on Disney Channel, beginning Thursday, October 1. Here are some of the events happening during Monstober!

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 2 at 8:00 p.m. Jessie
“The Ghostess with the Mostest” – When Jessie makes the Ross kids bring Stuart along for trick-or-treating, he tells them a haunting story about Abigail, a ghost who is out to get them. One by one, the kids mysteriously disappear. Then, Jessie attends a masquerade party and falls for a mysterious boy. Guest starring Austin North and Sarah Gilman from I Didn’t Do It.
8:30 p.m. Girl Meets World
“Girl Meets World of Terror 2″ – Riley and Maya meet the ghost of the bay window, who happens to be a flapper girl from the 1920s. Guest starring Austin & Ally‘s Ross Lynch and Laura Marano.
9:00 p.m. I Didn’t Do It
“Bite Club” – When Logan and Delia go to NY for a Science Presentation as Marie Antoinette and Albert Einstein, they run into Trish and Dez and a crazy fortune teller at the city’s biggest Halloween party. Meanwhile, Betty enlists Garrett to take her nephew Kevin trick-or-treating, and the two turn the tradition into a major candy scam. Guest starring Austin & Ally‘s Raini Rodriguez and Calum Worthy.
9:25 p.m. Mickey Mouse
“Black and White” – Mickey attempts to save face in front of Minnie after he’s scared as white as a ghost.

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 4 at 8:00 p.m. K.C. Undercover
“All Howl’s Eve” – Ernie and Judy must travel to NYC for the Central Park Spooktacular to intercept an evil wolf serum, but their mission is interrupted when they run into Emma and Zuri at the party. Meanwhile, Marisa and K.C. throw their own Halloween bash back at the house, and K.C. decides to dress up as a spy to impress the new boy in school, River. Guest starring Peyton List and Skai Jackson from Jessie and BUNK’D.
8:30 p.m. Best Friends Whenever
“Cyd and Shelby’s Haunted Escape” – Cyd and Shelby use Barry’s new invention to teleport themselves to NYC’s Central Park Spooktacular and wind up getting trapped in a haunted house with Riley and Lucas. Guest starring Rowan Blanchard and Peyton Meyer from Girl Meets World.
9:00 p.m. Austin & Ally
“Scary Spirits & Spooky Stories” – While visiting New York, the group attends the Central Park Spooktacular party, which inspires them to tell their own scary stories. Guest starring K.C. Undercovers Kamil McFadden and Trinitee Stokes.
9:30 p.m. Liv & Maddie
“Haunt-A-Rooney” – Maddie and Willow prepare for “Senior Scare,” a Ridgewood tradition where the high school seniors scare the middle schoolers. Meanwhile, when Joey and Liv are at the Central Park Spooktacular, Liv falls into a precarious predicament with a photographer. In an effort to fix the mishap and create a diversion, Liv enlists her fans, Cyd and Shelby, to help pull off a flash mob. Guest starring Best Friends Whenever‘s Landry Bender & Lauren Taylor.

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 9 at 8:00 p.m. Invisible Sister
This Disney Channel Original Movie follows science prodigy Cleo, whose class experiment turns her popular sister and star athlete, Molly, invisible. With the help of Cleo’s best friend and fellow science enthusiast, George; and her crush, Carter; Molly’s boyfriend, The Coug; and her best friend and teammate, Nikki; the sisters race against the clock on Halloween to find the antidote to reverse Molly’s invisibility before it becomes permanent. Starring Rowan Blanchard (Girl Meets World), Paris Berelc (Mighty Med), Karan Brar (BUNK’D, Jessie), Rachel Crow (X Factor), Will Meyers (Bella and the Bulldogs) and Austin Fryberger (Kirby Buckets).

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 11 at 8:00 p.m. Monsters University

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 23 at 6:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. MAL-OWEEN marathon
Liv & Maddie episodes and encore presentations of Descendants, the Descendants: Set It Off! special and Descendants: Wicked World animated shorts.

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 31 at 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Spooks & Chills marathon featuring encore presentations of Halloween-themed episodes.

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1004. “Eyes on the Stars”

Published on Jan 27, 2013 by StoryCorps “On January 28, 1986, NASA Challenger mission STS-51-L ended in tragedy when the shuttle exploded 73 seconds after takeoff. On board was physicist Ronald E. McNair, who was the second African American to enter space. But first, he was a kid with big dreams in Lake City, South […]

The post “Eyes on the Stars” appeared first on Cathrin Hagey.

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1005. Poetry Friday - Math Storytelling Day and Infinity

Today is Math Storytelling Day. In honor of this auspicious event, I'm sharing a video, a book, and some related poems.

A wonderful book to accompany this video is The Cat In Numberland, written by Ivar Ekeland and illustrated by John O'Brien. David Hilbert, a mathematician interested in how infinity works and different sizes of infinities, first made up the basic story (see video above). In this version of the story, Mr. and Mrs. Hilbert run a hotel called the Hotel Infinity. That cat who lives there becomes confused when the Hilberts are able to find room for new guests, even when the hotel is full.  
To learn more about the book, see this comprehensive review from the American Mathematical Society.

Let's wrap this up today with a few poems about infinity.

by William Blake

To see the world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower;
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.

by Jacob Bernoulli (a 17th century mathematician)

Even as the finite encloses an infinite series
And in the unlimited limits appear,
So the soul of immensity dwells in minutia
And in narrowest limits no limit in here.
What joy to discern the minute in infinity!
The vast to perceive in the small, what divinity!

Revelation At Midnight
by Piet Hein (a Danish mathematician known for writing gruks)

Infinity's taken
by everyone
as a figure-of-eight
written sideways on.
But all of a sudden
I now comprehend
that eight is infinity
standing on end.

That's it for me on this Friday. I do hope you'll take some time to check out all things poetry being shared and collected today by Janet Wong over at Poetry for Children. Happy poetry Friday friends! 

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1006. Happy Birthday, Mr. Ollivander!

Today we celebrate Garrick Ollivander’s birthday. Though his exact birth year is uncertain, it seems that he is (or would be) roughly 96 years of age today.

Mr. Ollivander is best known as the proprietor of Ollivander’s Wand Shop in Diagon Alley. He descends from a long line of wand-makers, and is widely regarded as the best at his craft. Witches and Wizards flock to his shop from all over the globe to procure wands.

It is no surprise that sage Ollivander was sorted into Ravenclaw house during his time at Hogwarts. Known for his intelligence and remarkable memory, he can recall the details of every wand he has ever sold. He spends his time consumed by wandlore, and to that end he is also known for being rather quirky.

Ollivander’s extensive knowledge of wands and wandlore was coveted by Lord Voldemort, who ordered his kidnapping and subsequent confinement at Malfoy Manor during the Second Wizarding War. There, he was forced to make a wand for Peter Pettigrew, and was interrogated and questioned by Lord Voldemort about the twin cores of Harry’s wand and his own. He was also forced to provide his knowledge about the Elder Wand.

Luna Lovegood was a prisoner at Malfoy Manor at the same time, and she and Ollivander became friends during their imprisonment. After Dobby helped the prisoners escape to Bill and Fleur Weasley’s home, Shell cottage, Ollivander told Luna that she was an “inexpressible comfort” to him during their ordeal. Perhaps Ollivander found in Luna a kindred spirit, as she is also known for her quirkiness. After the war, Ollivander created a new wand for Luna as a token of friendship.

Since we do not know what became of Mr. Ollivander much past the end of the Second Wizarding War, and since magical folk can live remarkably long lives, let us imagine that he is still puttering around his dusty, beloved shop, passing his days with the work he adores.


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1008. E-Books Sales Down 10% in First 5 Months of 2015

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1009. 30 Books Challenged in Oregon

It's one thing to read about censorship in a news article; it's another to become aware of the threat at a nearby library or school. For Banned Books Week this year, we reviewed hundreds of documented appeals to remove materials from a local public library, school library, or course curriculum. Below are 30 books that [...]

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1010. Graveyard Challenge (in case you missed it)

John Singer Sargent, Graveyard in the Tyrol, 1914
In case you missed the announcement, I'm inviting everyone to paint a graveyard on location in a limited palette of colors. Here's the original blog post with all the details.

It's free to enter, and you can post your entries on the Facebook event page (where works are already appearing), and you can also informally share your work on Twitter or Instagram at the hashtag #graveyardpaintingchallenge.

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1011. नेगेटिव


नेगेटिव या पाजिटिव

कुछ देर  पहले एक जानकार का फोन आया बोली बहुत टेंशन हो रही है मैं बिना बात जाने बोली, अरे पाज़िटिव सोच फिर देखना सब ठीक होगा. वो बोली पाज़िटिव ही तो नही चाहिए. उसने बताया कि डेंगू का टेस्ट करवाया है रिपोर्ट आने वाली है और तुम बोल रही हो कि पाजिटिव सोच !!  अरे बाप रे !! मैने तुरंत फोन रखने में ही भलाई समझी.

इतने में एक अन्य रिश्तेदार का फोन आ गया वो बोली कि टेस्ट करवाने के लिए रिपोर्ट भेजी है. मैने कहा चिंता न करना नेग़ेटिव ही आएगी. ( असल में, पहली वाली बात का भूत अभी तक दिमाग में था) वो बोली कि शुभ शुभ बोलो. तीन साल से बहु के बच्चा नही हो रहा अब कुछ आस बंधी और तुम बोल रही हो नेगेटिव रिपोर्ट आएगी. हे भगवान !! आज क्या हो रहा है मेरे साथ. सोच ही रही थी गेट पर घंटी बजी. बाहर गई तो दो लोग खडे थे बोले क्या किसी नेगेटिव को जानती हैं अब दिमाग में फिर वही चल रहा था. मैने कहा कि मैं किसी नेगेटिव व्यक्ति को नही जानती. वो बोले कि हमने सुना था कि आप जरुर मदद करेंगी. नेगेटिव व्यक्ति को जानती होगी. मेरे पूछ्ने पर उन्होनें बताया कि नेगेटिव ब्लड चाहिए मरीज बहुत सीरियस है. अरे बाप रे !! मैने तुरंत फोन घुमाया और नेगेटिव ब्लड का प्रबन्ध करवाया. कुछ देर में एक सहेली आई उसने बताया कि तुमनें एक घर किराए का दिलवाया था पर उसकी मालकिन तो बहुत ही नेगेटिव निकली. दुखी कर दिया उसने हमारा रहना. मैने कहा कि ये तो मैने बता दिया था इस पर वो बोली तभी तो थैक्स करने आई हूं !! मैने कहा वो कैसे ?? इस पर वो बोली कि इतनी नेगेटिव है वो इतनी नेगेटिव है वो हमने सोच लिया अब किराए  के घर  मे नही अपना ही घर बनाएगे और आज हमने जगह देख ली और लोन की बात चल रही है बैंक में.. हे भगवान !! आज तो मैं अच्छी नेगेटिव पाजिटिव के चक्कर मे पडी.


नेगेटिव या पाजिटिव

The post नेगेटिव appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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1012. A.G. Howard Inks Book Deal

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1013. Writers: Do not do a Peter Nabokov! Please respect tribal nations and our protocols.

In several places, I've written about the 1800s, when white ethnographers began going to reservations--uninvited--with the intent of documenting our stories. Those ethnographers were outsiders. Did they understand what they were writing about? Were their informants reliable? There are a lot of questions about those archived stories, and yet, present day storytellers use them to "retell" Native stories that get presented to children in classrooms as authentic. Some of those stories are ones tribes want to protect from outsiders.

To protect their stories, Native Nations developed protocols that researchers--and that means writers, too--are expected to use.

Dr. Peter Nabokov, a professor and author of several works of nonfiction about Native peoples, chose to violate those protocols with the publication of his newest book. In an interview published by the National Geographic on September 23rd, 2015, he was asked about the project:

You’re a white man yourself. How did the Acoma tribe regard this project?
They didn’t know about it. [Laughs] There was some concern about the republication of the Acoma’s Origin Myth. When it was published in 1942 by the Bureau of American Ethnology, it sat under-appreciated for a number of years. Later on, it appeared in excerpted form in anthologies. With the coming of the Internet, various people put it out in the public domain, including the pictures, the kachina masks, the maps and depictions of sacred altars.
I thought this publication of the Origin Myth deserved a second, more dignified shot. So I didn’t allow any pictures of the sacred altars or kachina masks to be republished, just the text. I feel this story deserves inclusion alongside the Bible, the Koran, and all the other great texts of world literature. 

See that? He knows there are concerns but he laughed that Acoma didn't know he was publishing the book. He tells us he wanted to be "more dignified." What he chose not to include in his book suggests that he is more dignified in his treatment. That he wants the story to be alongside other texts of world literature suggests that he is aware and sensitive to the place of Native story in a global context.

Sounds good, but is it? The short answer is no.

Here's an excerpt from a statement Acoma's Governor, Fred S. Vallo Sr., published in the Santa Fe New Mexican on September 23, 2015 (the same day as the interview at National Geographic). I am using bold text to draw your attention to protocol and Nabokov's disregard of those protocols:

Nabokov agreed to submit the manuscript to the pueblo for review and to appear before the Acoma Tribal Council to discuss possible publication of the book. Virtually every other modern scholar and professional working with the Pueblo of Acoma has sought this permission when seeking to disclose sensitive cultural information. Contrary to popular misconceptions, Acoma has approved of disclosure in the past. Some examples of published work with permission of the Pueblo of Acoma include publications by Dr. Ward Allan Minge, Dr. Alfred Dittert, Dr. Florence Hawley Ellis, Dr. Kurt Anschuetz and others.
While a manuscript of The Origin Myth of Acoma Pueblo was submitted to Acoma Pueblo at the pueblo’s insistence upon discovering Nabokov’s planned publication, and was being reviewed by traditional leaders, Nabokov did not follow through on any of his other promises prior to publication. Nabokov holds himself out as a scholar and “friend” of Indian tribes. His actions suggest otherwise, as he does not exhibit basic respect for tribal beliefs and practices.
I think it is fair to say that Nabokov is exploiting Native people for personal gain. There's no integrity in what he did, none at all. And his treatment of Acoma's wishes gives me pause. What, I wonder, about the rest of his books?

Are you planning to use a Native story in a work of fiction or non-fiction? Find out if it is ok to use it. Do not assume--as the author of a recent children's book did--that those protocols only apply to academic researchers. They apply to anyone. Don't assume a visit to a tribe's museum and a chat with a docent counts as authorization. It doesn't. Don't assume your friendships with people of that tribe are sufficient. They aren't. Do it right. Respect the wishes of the tribal nation from whom the story originates. Not doing so could mean you'll be written up in the news, exposed as someone with no basic respect for tribal peoples and on AICL, too.

Update, 7:30 AM, September 25, 2015
Read Governor Vallo's full statement in The New Mexican
Read the Public Statement issued by the Pueblo of Acoma

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1014. Meet Debbie Dadey, Children's Author

Debbie Dadey biography. Meet Debbie Dadey. Debbie and Marcia Thornton Jones have co-authored the best selling series of childrens books - the Bailey School Kids, Bailey City Monsters, Triplet Trouble, Mermaid Tales and others.

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1015. Poetry Friday: The Lesson by William Wordsworth

There is a flower, the lesser celandine,
That shrinks like many more from cold and rain,
And the first moment that the sun may shine,
Bright as the sun himself, 'tis out again!

- the first stanza of The Lesson by William Wordsworth

View all posts tagged as Poetry Friday at Bildungsroman.

View the roundup schedule at A Year of Reading.

Learn more about Poetry Friday.

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1016. Debbie Dadey, Children's Author - Recommended Websites

Debbie Dadey is the author, with co-author Marcia Thornton Jones, of such best-selling reluctant readers children's series as The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids, The Swamp Monster in Third Grade, Slime Wars, Ghostville Elementary, The Bailey School Kids Junior Chapter Books, the Keyholders series and the Mermaid Tales series from Simon and Schuster.

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1017. Flogometer for Abe—would you pay to turn the page?

Submissions Welcome. If you’d like a fresh look at your opening chapter or prologue, please email your submission to me re the directions at the bottom of this post.

The Flogometer challenge: can you craft a first page that compels me to turn to the next page? Caveat: Please keep in mind that this is entirely subjective.

Note: all the Flogometer posts are here.

What's a first page in publishingland? In a properly formatted novel manuscript (double-spaced, 1-inch margins, 12-point type, etc.) there should be about 16 or 17 lines on the first page (first pages of chapters/prologues start about 1/3 of the way down the page). Directions for submissions are below—they include a request to post the rest of the chapter, but that’s optional.

A word about the line-editing in these posts: it’s “one-pass” editing, and I don’t try to address everything, which is why I appreciate the comments from the FtQ tribe. In a paid edit, I go through each manuscript three times.

Mastering front 100WshadowBefore you rip into today’s submission, consider this checklist of first-page ingredients from my book, Mastering the Craft of Compelling Storytelling. While it's not a requirement that all of these elements must be on the first page, they can be, and I think you have the best chance of hooking a reader if they are.

Download a free PDF copy here.

Were I you, I'd examine my first page in the light of this list before submitting to the Flogometer. I use it on my own work.

A First-page Checklist

  • It begins engaging the reader with the character
  • Something is happening. On a first page, this does NOT include a character musing about whatever.
  • The character desires something.
  • The character does something.
  • There’s enough of a setting to orient the reader as to where things are happening.
  • It happens in the NOW of the story.
  • Backstory? What backstory? We’re in the NOW of the story.
  • Set-up? What set-up? We’re in the NOW of the story.
  • What happens raises a story question.

Caveat: a strong first-person voice with the right content can raise powerful story questions and create page turns without doing all of the above. A recent submission worked wonderfully well and didn't deal with five of the things in the checklist.

Also, if you think about it, the same checklist should apply to the page where you introduce an antagonist.

Abe sends the first chapter of Morgaine. The remainder of the chapter follows the break.

Please vote and comment. It helps the writer.

She twirled around, back straight, head tilted up to the autumn sun, arms stretched as far out as they would go. Once. Twice. The third time, she made sure to stay on the very tips of her toes, her fondest wish firmly planted in mind.

This was not the time to think of cakes and ice cream.

A shrill cry broke the relative silence of the forest clearing. “Morgaine!"

Startled, Morgaine lost her balance and fell on a clump of mushrooms. She rose to her feet, made a modicum of effort at brushing away the dirt that clung to her skirt, then frowned in dismay at the sight of squashed fungi.

There goes another fairy ring. That one was almost a perfect circle too. Now I'll have to find another one.

"Morgaine! Where are you, my little duckling?"


Morgaine sighed, lolling her head back. She silently cursed over-protective nurses and over-protective fathers who persist in hiring over-protective nurses. No matter how many said nurses she sent away crying or screaming.

Preferably both.

It's not like she's a baby anymore. She's twelve years old, for heaven's sake, well past the (snip)

Were you compelled to turn the page?

Delightful voice and just-fine writing promise a skillful telling of the tale ahead . . . but, for this reader, as inviting as they were, there were no compelling story questions raised.

However, later in the chapter there was narrative that I would consider opening with instead. It follows. See what you think and give it a vote. Does it make you want to know what happens next?

Morgaine stared at the upholstered underside of her canopied bed. Teeth, cleaned. Chestnut curls, brushed until they glowed. Comfy cotton jammies, on. Covers, tucked tight. Cheeks, good night-kissed and bedside candle, blown out.

By Nurse.

Daddy was busy. He had to attend a meeting.

Morgaine heaved a sigh and turned over to her side. Squeezing her eyes shut, she resolved to find another fairy ring in the morning and try again.

She was in the twilight realm between wakefulness and dreams when she heard them.

A light, sweet voice, one that made her think of soap bubbles twinkling in the summer breeze, said “Is that her?”

A deeper voice, one that made her think of a plough horse hopelessly mired in muck, responded. “Yes. She made the wish.”

The spell worked!

Morgaine kept her eyes closed, her breathing regular, and relaxed every muscle on her torso. She did not want to scare them, whoever they were. Not if they could take her to see Mother. She sensed rather than heard the two entities circle her bed, coming closer.

They must be very close.

Were you compelled to turn the page with this as the opening?

Comments, please?

For what it’s worth.


Submitting to the Flogometer:

Email the following in an attachment (.doc, .docx, or .rtf preferred, no PDFs):

  1. your title
  2. your complete 1st chapter or prologue plus 1st chapter
  3. Please include in your email permission to post it on FtQ.
  4. Note: I’m adding a copyright notice for the writer at the end of the post. I’ll use just the first name unless I’m told I can use the full name.
  5. Also, please tell me if it’s okay to post the rest of the chapter so people can turn the page.
  6. And, optionally, include your permission to use it as an example in a book on writing craft if that's okay.
  7. If you’re in a hurry, I’ve done “private floggings,” $50 for a first chapter.
  8. If you rewrite while you wait for your turn, it’s okay with me to update the submission.

Were I you, I'd examine my first page in the light of the first-page checklist before submitting to the Flogometer.

Flogging the Quill © 2015 Ray Rhamey, story © 2015 Abe



 . . . age of reason. At least, that's what Mother always said.

She caught a flash of movement from the corner of her eye. An unnatural hush settled in the clearing. Morgaine froze in place. A familiar nursery chant ran through her mind in a continuous loop.

My mother said I never should

Play with pixies in the wood

Morgaine held her breath for a few moments.


 Daddy said pixies stole Mother two years ago. Was that a pixie she saw? Would it steal her also?

Did the spell actually work? I can see Mother again?

A cold sweat broke all over her body as she listened to the stillness. She was waiting for... something. Every muscle in her body tensed, ready for a confrontation with the pixies.

The pixies that dared steal Mother. 

She'd make them take her to Mother. Even if she had to fight every last one of them.

Another shrill cry. This time, tinged with a note of impatience. "Morgaine Lumiere de la Croix!"

The spell was broken.

She cursed again.

# # #

Morgaine stared at the upholstered underside of her canopied bed. Teeth, cleaned. Chestnut curls, brushed until they glowed. Comfy cotton jammies, on. Covers, tucked tight. Cheeks, good night-kissed and bedside candle, blown out.

By Nurse.

Daddy was busy. He had to attend a meeting.

Morgaine heaved a sigh and turned over to her side. Squeezing her eyes shut, she resolved to find another fairy ring in the morning and try again.

She was in the twilight realm between wakefulness and dreams when she heard them.

A light, sweet voice, one that made her think of soap bubbles twinkling in the summer breeze, said “Is that her?”

A deeper voice, one that made her think of a plough horse hopelessly mired in muck, responded. “Yes. She made the wish.”

The spell worked!

Morgaine kept her eyes closed, her breathing regular, and relaxed every muscle on her torso. She did not want to scare them, whoever they were. Not if they could take her to see Mother. She sensed rather than heard the two entities circle her bed, coming closer..

They must be very close.

“Are you sure?” Soap-bubble said, her voice dripping with disbelief. “Whatever happened to: ‘Skin of alabaster/ Hair of spun gold/ Grace incarnate/ Behold the maiden fair’?”


“I mean, look at her. Why do we always get the ugly ones?”

Morgaine sat bolt upright, the embodiment of wounded outrage. “Hey!” She squinted in the gloom, trying to make out the two entities.

Soap-bubble, somewhere to her left. “She doesn’t even have proper witchy eyes. What self-respecting witch has brown eyes? Should be green. Or violet.”

Plough horse. From the right. “Or electric blue. So she could fry you with a glare.”

Morgaine flapped her arms, trying to catch them. “There’s nothing wrong with brown eyes!” The air whistled as Soap-bubbles and Plough-horse ducked her open palms.

“Or silver even. At least then it’s obvious she’s blind.” Soap-bubbles, from above her head.

Morgaine gritted her teeth. “Am. Not. Blind!” She swiped at where she thought Soap-bubbles was, but caught nothing but crisp autumn air with one hand and a fistful of her own hair with the other.

“It’s not nice to tease the blind, Sledge,” Plough-horse said, somewhere unexpectedly close to her left ear.

Morgaine reared away, instinctively batting at her ear. “For the last time, I’m not blind.”

“Only calling it like I see it, Twinkle. Just look at her flail around.”

 “I’m also not deaf. Are you?”

Twinkle, from somewhere behind her. “Epilepsy.” Morgaine heard a groan from Sledge and the smacking sound of a face-palm. Twinkle continued his sonorous drone. “Epilepsy could explain why she is flailing around.”

“I don’t have epilepsy. Whatever that is.”

Sledge, from her right. “I’d prefer simple stupidity to epilepsy. Or narcolepsy.”

Morgaine clenched her jaws and kept still, waiting for Sledge to get closer.

“Do you remember Sleeping Beauty, Twinkle? She looked the part, but what a nightmare to work with.” Sledge chuckled. Morgaine heard a whir of wings and felt a gentle breeze on her left cheek. “Sleeping Beauty. Nightmare. Get it?”

She weaved her head – fast – and snapped her fingers closed on… something. A set of wings beat a frantic tattoo against her palm.

“Twinkle, help!” Sledge’s soap bubble voice was muffled. “The Hag’s got me!”

Hag? Morgaine growled. She brought her closed fist up to her face. “Who are you calling a hag, you—” Morgaine yelped at an unexpected sharp pain from her side.

“Let. Sledge. Go!” Twinkle roared, punctuating each word with a head butt.

“Yeah,” Sledge said. “Lemme go. We were just teasing. We knew you weren’t asleep.”

“Let. Sledge. Go!” Twinkle roared again, each word highlighted by a blare of pain from Morgaine’s side.

“Can’t grant your wish unless you let me go.”

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1018. Stirring the Plot: Absence and the Return

There are many types of absence: voluntary, forced, temporary, perceived, sporadic, and permanent. Wherever there is absence, there is conflict. Let’s examine ways in which absences can be dramatic, frightening, thrilling, or funny.

The absence of a loved one can create pathos, longing, and sadness. When a loved one leaves temporarily or permanently, it leaves a vacuum that needs to be filled. It may not be filled with healthy endeavors, or the absence can open a door to new opportunities.

Absence can cause a momentary annoyance at scene level. Jane had plans to go somewhere with Sally or Dick, but had to cancel. Dick and Sally choose to go together without her. Jane is then wounded because she is so easily replaced. If Jane cancels frequently, then she is no longer considered trustworthy. Dick and Sally might exclude her from future plans and it will make Jane angry.

Voluntary absence from work creates headaches for coworkers. If Dick calls in sick, his work is not getting done. Someone else has to temporarily pick up the slack. He might go to extravagant lengths to hide the fact that he wasn’t really sick. If Jane sees him in town during her lunch hour, he will have to explain his absence. He will either tell the truth or lie. If Jane has it in for him, she will enjoy exposing him and Dick is forced to come up with a deterrent fast. He may agree to do something for Jane he does not want to do. He may take over an assignment for her. She might make him give up his parking spot.

It keeps the plot moving when a scene is resolved in a way that creates a new and more difficult goal. Once Dick has lied to Jane, he will have to maintain the lie. Lies lead to more lies. Dick might have called off to spend one last day with his dying mother. He might have called off to help someone track down a terrorist cell. He might have called off to go to a job interview for a new job. At the end of the day, he will either succeed at hiding his reason for calling off or admit that he was playing hooky. It could be comedic, thrilling or tragic. The reason he called off can be momentous, silly, or simply that he was tired and needed to recharge his mental battery. His absence can have profound consequences or barely make a ripple in the story overall, depending on what you need it to do.

At the scene level, Dick could leave the room and give Jane an opportunity to replace or remove something. When he returns, he can notice that his desk has been disturbed. He can either mention it or wait until Jane leaves to search his office. He might shrug his suspicion off, leaving the clue to raise its head later in the story. He might keep tearing his desk apart until he finds the bug or realizes an important file is missing.

Dick could leave the scene of an accident and create a story problem, or a complication to solving the story goal that comes back and bites him later. His reasons can be unthinking, an attempt to protect himself, or malicious.

Dick leaves a bad date at a restaurant because it was easier to disappear than tell the girl her laugh made him cringe. When he runs into his hapless date later, it will be awkward. If she turns out to be his boss’s daughter, it gets extremely awkward. If he has to work with her, it becomes horribly uncomfortable. If he finds out she is a werewolf, he is in danger.

A character can be voluntarily absent from a conversation, a room, a building, a job, or a planet. There are multiple outcomes to a voluntary absence, but at some point the person typically returns.

Jane jetting off to Aruba without Dick for a month in an attempt to “find herself” creates an overall story problem. When Jane reappears, Dick can be happy about it, unhappy about it or have mixed emotions. Jane’s return can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how you want to play it and the genre of your story.

In a romance with the typical happy ending, Dick and Jane will overcome the conflicts her voluntary absence and subsequent return create and live happily ever after.

In a literary tale, Jane can return, find out nothing has changed and realize she should have stayed in Aruba with the cabana boy. Dick and Jane can desire to come together again, but realize they really don’t work as a couple, ending on a sad note.

In a mystery or thriller, Jane can return and Dick realizes he preferred life without her. He takes steps to make her absence permanent so he can keep Jane’s inheritance.

Let’s say Jane returned from Aruba after finishing a work assignment that lasted a month or a year. She can return to a spouse, a friend, a child, her parents, a house, a neighborhood, or a job. Her return will affect all of them. Life continued to move on while she was gone. Her return will force her to renegotiate all of her relationships. Friendships and alliances shift over time. Jane’s return can spark jealousy or ignite buried resentment. It can result in renewed love or friendships. The obstacles Jane faces are in trying to fit in again, to redefine her place in the lives she left behind.

Jane might have to move back in with her parents or have her ailing parents move in with her. It can spark a battle of wit and wills. The situation could be comedic, tragic or a sweet literary story of acceptance. This makes a terrific overall story problem or personal dilemma for a protagonist.

Jane might find the balance of power in the company shifted in her absence. She will have to redefine her place in the pecking order. Her coworkers might not appreciate her return, or they might celebrate it because the person who took her place was a jerk.

There are many fun and poignant ways to play with absences.

For more information on using obstacles to create tension, pick up a copy of Story Building Blocks II: Crafting Believable Conflict in print or E-book.

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1019. Sweet as Fruit - a bookwrap

Welcome to the party!

Quotes about fruit...


Authored by Shir Guez

Ages 4-11

Unwrapping some fabulous images from the book...

About the book...

Well I certainly learned a lot by reading this book about eating healthy, nutritious fruits.  

"So...what would you like your food to be?

Tasty? Sweet" Easy to make? Fast so you don't have to wait too long for it to be ready to eat?  Appetizing? And at the same time, would you want it to be healthy?  To help you feel full? To help you fight viruses and diseases?  To make you feel better and stronger?  

Well, fruits have it all! They're both delicious and nutritious!"

The author has compiled a collection of succulent fruits that are colourful, tasty and ripe for the picking.  Her objective is to introduce your children to the delectable and available world of fruits and to encourage them to eat at least one cup of fresh fruit daily. 

She has framed her book around a variety of delicious fruits and highlights their nutritional value and contribution to your good health if eaten often. Consuming seasonal fruit is the by far the best and she recommend that you chose fruits that you love to eat.  

"...every fruit contains important nutrients.  For example, some of the fruits contain large amounts of vitamin C, while others contain large amounts of vitamin K or Lycopene.  Therefore, to get all the nutrients you need, try to diversity the fruits you eat. Try not to eat the exact same fruits every day."

 The illustrations are crisp and clear and will have you salivating ... just one bite please.  Guez has included some "Fun Fact" pages just for pure entertainment and enjoyment.  Here are a few examples:

*  The Apollo 15 astronauts carried apricot food bars for a snack during increasingly long work periods on the moon's surface."

* Dates can be a healthier replacement for chocolate in many recipes.  For example, they can be used as a healthy replacement in chocolate balls, along with nuts and almonds!

*The Guinness World Record set the heaviest mango as 3.435 kg (7.57 lb)! The record was set in the Philippines in August 2009. The mango was harvested from the yard of a couple named Sergio and Maria Socorro Bodiongan.

Children (and adults too) will learn how eating fruit can benefit their health and lifestyle.  A clever add on is presented at the end of the book: a free game for kids to play and for the whole family to enjoy.

This is the second book in the series "Nutrildren - Nutrition for Children", the first being "Nuts about Nuts."

I would highly recommend this book for elementary school aged kids and especially reserve a spot for it in the classroom plus a copy or two for the school library.  

About the author...

Shir Guez is an author of children's books and the editor in chief of a health website.
Her children's books deal with subjects like healthy eating, good nutrition and other healthy habits.
In her books, she helps parents get their kids to develop healthy eating habits. She does that in a fun way and with the help of playful explanations and colorful and fun illustrations while conveying the educational message. 
Her books describe to kids in a simple and enjoyable way how to maintain good nutrition with fascinating explanations and fun activities.
The purpose of these books is to implement good nutrition habits at a young age, without kids feeling like it is something they "have" to do, rather than something they want to do. 
Considering the valuable time of parents, the books' purpose is to help kids to adjust to healthy habits that are easy to keep up every day and don't require any special effort, and at the same time can be fun activities for both kids and parents (also possible for grandparents). 
Her children's books are aimed at kids ages 3-8 (preschoolers).

More about the author:
Shir become an author and the editor in chief of a health website after a lifestyle change. She is now determined to spread the word about the great effects of healthy living. She always keeps in mind the importance of cultivating these habits in at a very young age.
Shir also holds a double major in economics and accounting. 

Read on and read always!

It's a wrap.

Contact me at storywrapsblog@gmail.com

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1020. YALSAblog Tweets of the Week - September 25th

A short list of tweets from the past week of interest to teens and the library staff that work with them.

Do you have a favorite Tweet from the past week? If so add it in the comments for this post. Or, if you read a Twitter post between August 28 and September 4 that you think is a must for the next Tweets of the Week send a direct or @ message to lbraun2000 on Twitter.

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1021. The Most Outstanding Fact of Life and A Fascinatingly Disturbing Thought...

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1022. Emma Review

Title: Emma Genre: Seinen, Romance Publisher: Enterbrain (JP), Yen Press (US) Artist: Kaoru Mori Serialized in: Comic Beam Being an avid reader of Kaoru Mori’s Bride Stories, I expected Emma to be just like its successor: beautifully detailed with sharp and charismatic characters, and great stories. However, by reading the first volume…I saw how it ... Read more

The post Emma Review appeared first on Organization Anti-Social Geniuses.

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1023. Ghostlight by Sonia Gensler Blog Tour-Author Guest Post

Please welcome Sonia Gensler to GreenBeanTeenQueen

(photo credit: Eden Wilson Photography)

Writing horror for young readers

Growing up is scary and painful, and violent, and your body is doing weird things and you might, to your great horror, become something beastly and terrible on the other side. 

—Greg Ruth, “Why Horror is Good for You (and Even Better for Your Kids)”

Every day young people deal with horror landscapes, both physical and psychological. They face the gauntlet-like labyrinth of school hallways, and the confinement of overcrowded classrooms. They defend against emotional and/or physical bullying, all while feeling haunted by the “stupid” things they’ve said or done. In fact, young people often feel downright monstrous—their bodies are changing too quickly, or not quickly enough, their emotions are fraught with ups and downs, and the world just doesn’t make sense. 

I know all this from having been a teenager, and also from having taught young people for ten years. These experiences have somehow led me to write a certain kind of horror.

A lot of horror is about gore, grotesquery, and jump scares—and there’s a cathartic benefit to that experience. I try to write the horror of mystery and dread. Gothic horror is all about dealing with extreme transitions, facing the uncanny, and acknowledging repressed emotions that insist on spilling out against your will. I write this sort of horror for the apprehensive teen that still lives inside me. Mostly I just wish to entertain, but I can’t help hoping that teen and tween readers will recognize parts of their own experience, see themselves in the protagonists who overcome their fears, and somehow feel less strange and alone. 

About the BookThings that go bump in the night are just the beginning when a summer film project becomes a real-life ghost story!

Avery is looking forward to another summer at Grandma’s farm, at least until her brother says he’s too old for “Kingdom,” the imaginary world they’d spent years creating. Lucky for her, there’s a new kid staying in the cottage down the road: a city boy with a famous dad, Julian’s more than a little full of himself, but he’s also a storyteller like Avery. So when he announces his plan to film a ghost story, Avery is eager to join in.

Unfortunately, Julian wants to film at Hilliard House, a looming, empty mansion that Grandma has absolutely forbidden her to enter. As terrified as Avery is of Grandma’s wrath, the allure of filmmaking is impossible to resist.

As the kids explore the secrets of Hilliard house, eerie things begin to happen, and the “imaginary” dangers in their movie threaten to become very real. Have Avery and Julian awakened a menacing presence? Can they turn back before they go too far?

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1024. Tucker Bryant Poetry Video Goes Viral

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1025. A Prince Without A Kingdom by Timothée de Fombelle, translated by Sarah Ardizzone

Back in May 2014, I review Vango: Between Sky and Earth, the story of a young man who is trying to solve the mystery of who he is and why there are people who want him arrested or dead.  Set in the early 1930s, I wrote that this was historical fiction at its best and I couldn't wait to read the sequel.

And I am happy to say, the sequel, A Prince Without a Kingdom, is every bit as good as Between Sky and Earth.  The story begins shortly after a brief recap of what happened in Book I, this novel opens in 1936, shortly after the first one left off.  Vango is still trying to solve the mystery of who he is, while he tracks the person he believes had killed his parents back in 1915.  Another question that hangs over this novel - what happened to Vamgo beloved Mademoiselle, who had raised him and cared for him after his parents death on the island of Salina off the coast of Sicily?

Now in New York Vango meets up with his old friend and mentor, Father Zefiro, founder of a hidden monastery located on the island of Arkudah.  Zefiro has been hunting for Voloy Viktor, a Soviet arms dealer and murder, and a master at disguise who also goes by the personas Madame Victoria and Vincent Valpa.  Believing he is now in New York, Zefiro sets up a stakeout in an unfinished building.

Vango is on his own hunt for Giovanni Cafarello, one of the three men who murdered Vango's parents, stealing thier fortune, and who knows the secret of Vango's identity.  But the man incarcerated in Sing Sing prison as Gio Cafarello claims right up to his execution that he is not Cafarello.  Is it possible that Vango came so close to knowing the truth and having his revenge, only to miss it by moments? Or not?

There is just so much to this novel, that it makes it hard to write a fair review without spoilers, and I hope I haven't included any by accident.  A lot of time a sequel doesn't live up to a reader's expectation based on the first book, but I can honestly say that this not only met my expectations, but even surpassed them.  And yet, it is also a stand alone novel.  There is also a helpful list of the cast of characters at the beginning, in case you forgot who is who and why from the first book, or if they are new to you.

And, like the first book, A Prince Without a Kingdom is full of adventure, intrigue, mystery, tension and suspense and coincidence, nail-biting coincidence most times.  The plotting is brilliant, the characters - and there are a lot of them - are well drawn, believable, diverse and global.  In fact, the whole story is global - New York, Moscow, Edinburgh, the Aeolian Island on the coast of Sicily, and New Jersey (yes, Lakehurst, NJ was the landing area for the zeppelins back then and zeppelins are an important part of both novels, including the Hindenburg).  And de Fombelle moves his characters and settings like the most perfect chess game ever.

A Prince Without a Kingdom isn't necessarily told in chronological order, because of its many flashbacks, but though it may sound confusing, isn't at all difficult to follow what is happening.  And the mix of historical figures and events with his fictional characters and events adds to the excitement and interest throughout the novel.  The time frame of the novel begins in 1936 and goes through WWII and the Holocaust.  

I can say that the writing is fast-paced, and beautifully lyrical, yet the story proceeds at a nicely tempered pace, never overwhelming the reader.  Once again, Sarah Ardizoone has given us a flawless translation from the original French and succeeding in carrying forward the flavor and feel of de Fombelle's storytelling.

My only regret is that the story of Vango isn't a trilogy and I have to say good-bye to him.

This book is recommended for readers age 12+
This book was an EARC received from NetGalley

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