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1001. Teacher Activities (Mermaid Tales)

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1002. Celebrating National Library Week with The Library Adventure

I have been a contributor to Vicki Arnold’s The Library Adventure for awhile and I am so proud to be a part of such a wonderful site.

Library adventure

The Library Adventure was founded by Vicki Arnold in 2013 when she was faced with the quandary of how to fit her love of the library and books into her already bursting at the seams blogging schedule. She wanted a place for others to share their library finds with other bibliophiles.

As she started brainstorming, the idea kept growing and The Library Adventure was born. The Library Adventure strives to be a go-to resource for both library patrons and librarians. While The Library Adventure is for library fans of all ages, there is a special focus on children. I am not alone as a contributor, there are many wonderful bloggers and writers who contribute and you can get to know them here.

In honor of National Library Week (April 13-19) I thought I would shine the spotlight on Vicki’s amazine site, and recap some of the book jumps and activities I have done on The Library Adventure along with a few of my favorite posts from other contributors.


Having Fun with The Penderwicks!


The Penderwicks: A summer Tale of Four Sisters,Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall is filled with adventure, mystery, suspense, friendships, and villains–all of these ingredients mixed together make the best summer ever for the Penderwick sisters Rosalind, Jane, Skye, and Batty. Rosalind, the oldest, assumes the responsibility of taking care of her younger sisters. Jane just wants to have fun and enjoy the outdoors. Skye wants to finish her novel. And Batty…wants to be a butterfly. When they arrive at Arundel Hall for the summer with their Botanist father and their dog, Hound, the girls had no clue what was awaiting them behind the high walls of the Arundel house. Read article in its entirety HERE.

A Day With Pippi Longstocking {Hands On Activity and bookjump}

Pippi lives all alone in a large yellow and pink house, her mother died when she was a baby and her father is lost at sea somewhere but expected to return. Pippi fills her days with pancakes, games, dancing, and many other antics. Her best friends are a monkey named Nilsson and a white horse she lets in the house and sleep in the living room. She supports herself with her suitcase full of gold coins. Clearly, she needs no one and is very capable of handling every detail of life on her own. Read the rest of the article HERE.

Note: Myself and intern Hannah Rials had SO much fun creating this Hands On Activity! Let’s see if your family can create their own “Long Stockings!”


The Otter, the Spotted Frog and the Great Flood Activity

Over the years my family has enjoyed reading a variety of “great flood” tales from our local Blount County Library. This month found us enjoying the Creek Indian version called, The Otter, the Spotted Frog and the Great Flood by Gerald Hausman and beautifully illustrated by Ramon Shiloh.

In this version, spotted frog announces to the world that a great flood is coming which will destroy all of their homes. All of the animals ignore spotted frog’s warning, except an otter named Listener. Read the rest of the article HERE.


Hands-On Activities for Mama Panya’s Pancakes: A Village Tale from Kenya

We recently picked up a wonderful book from the Blount County library, this wonderful Kenyan Tale called, “Mama Panya’s Pancakes: A Village Tale from Kenya” by Mary and Rich Chamberlin, Illustrated by Julia Cairns.

This beautiful heart warming story shares the great message of “give and you shall receive.“ As Mama Panya and her young son Adika walk to the market, Adika invites every friend he meets to come and eat pancakes with him and his mother. Read the rest of the article HERE.



**Tops Picks from other Library Adventure Contributors**


Hands-On Activity for Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears

Hands-On Activities for Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears at LibraryAdventure.com

Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears tells the tale of the mosquito. This little creature begins the story by attempting to tell his friend iguana about a farmer digging yams. The grumpy iguana doesn’t believe the tall tale his friend is telling so he puts two sticks in his ears and walks away in a huff. As the other animals pass by the iguana they are confused about his actions. Iguana has no idea he sets off a chain of unfortunate events impacting all of the animals in the forest.

Hands-on Activity for Around the World in 80 Days

Hands-on Activity for Around the World in 80 Days

As Jules Verne’s story Around the World in Eighty Days opens we are introduced to the main character – Phileas Fogg:

“Mr. Phileas Fogg lived, in 1872, at No. 7, Saville Row, Burlington Gardens. He was one of the most noticeable members of the Reform Club, though he seemed always to avoid attracting attention; an enigmatical personage, about whom little was known, except that he was a polished man of the world.”  Read the full article HERE.

Be sure and visit The Library Adventure to find even more delightful book reviews and hands-on activities!

The post Celebrating National Library Week with The Library Adventure appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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1003. when we are not writing we are living: the kitchen, five months later, is done

In San Antonio, on the TAYSHAS panel, Susan Schilling asked what we do when we are not writing.

We are, in our own ways, living.

Nina LaCour remakes whole rooms, top to bottom. Dana Reinhardt pursues the immediate results—the appreciable outcomes—of cooking. Andrew Smith has not, in fifteen years, missed a day of running—wherever he is, wherever he goes, he heads out into the weather. Blake Nelson learns as much as he can (in sometimes funny ways) about people.

When I am not writing (and most of the time, I am not writing), I do many things that I am not particularly good at. Building objects out of clay. Raising seedlings into buds. Dancing the tango with my husband. And, also, sometimes all-consumingly, turning my nearly 100-year-old house into a home.

This past November, I began a quest to refinish my kitchen. To replace the broken things. To up the ante on the colors. To generate new light and life. It was a fraught proposition from the get-go—famously horrific weather, disappointing contractors, a leaking roof, delays, unforeseen expenses.

This morning she stands. Whole at last, complete.

I am, when I am not writing, living.

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1004. Latest News

My children’s book Living Green: A Turtle’s Quest for a Cleaner Planet began being published as a 5 part series in February, and will run through June in Jabberblabber Magazine. Based in Memphis, Tennessee, Jabberblabber is a print and online Earth Friendly magazine for kids available at all Walgreens in the Tri State area, as well as various other locations throughout the Mid-South. To read part 3/5 in the April issue, please click on the illustration below. Parts 1-3 are covered on pages 31 and 32.

LG Cover

The Southern Newspapers Publishers Association is offering several of my children’s stories to newspapers across the United States. The latest is my story titled The Hummingbird Who Chewed Bubblegum, which was published on March 18th.  To read the stories, please click on the illustration below.

The Hummingbird Who Chewed Bubblegum


Use of any of the content on this website without permission is prohibited by federal law 


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1005. My tweets

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1006. Grandpa's Third Drawer: Unlocking Holocaust Memories written and illustrated by Judy Tal Kopelman

Young Uri loves to visit his grandparents.  He sees his vacations there as a quiet respite from the daily routines and annoyances of life at home, especially his nagging sister.  Grandpa Yuda always has time to play with him, and Grandma Genia loves to pamper him with hot chocolate and homemade cookies.

But Uri's favorite spot in his grandparent's home is Grandpa Yuda's study.  In the study, Uri tells the reader, his Grandpa has a desk with three drawers and he is allowed to keep his pencil case and crayons in the first drawer.   Grandpa  keeps all kinds of little toys he used to play with when he was a boy before the war in the second drawer, and now, he lets Uri play with them.  But the third drawer is always kept locked.  No one, not even Uri, is allowed to open it and Grandpa never talks about what's inside.

Naturally, Uri can't help but wonder about that third drawer - what's in there and why it is a secret.

Then, one cold, rainy winter day, Uri finds himself home alone for a little while and decides to color.  He goes into Grandpa's study to get his crayons, and there in the first drawer is a key, one he is certain would open the third drawer.

Sure enough, when he puts the key into the keyhole and turns it, the drawer opens.  But just then, Grandpa Yuda walks into the room and catches him holding a yellow star with a safety pin, just one of the things Uri found in the drawer.   At first, Grandpa is angry at Uri, but then he decides to tell him about the contents of the locked drawer.

Grandpa tells Uri about being sent to live in a ghetto with his parents and sister Anna, about how hungry he was there, because they were allowed so little food with their ration stamps.  In the drawer, is the doll his mother made for Anna from rags, and the dominoes he made himself from wooden scraps while in the ghetto.

And he tells Uri about the day his family was separated by the Nazis, never to be seen again.   His grandparents were sent to a concentrations camp, while his sister and parents sent somewhere else on trains.  Grandpa Yuda was sent to a labor camp.

Uri tells us they stayed up late that night talking about these events and even afterwards, Uri had lots of questions which Grandpa always took the time to answer while they played with the homemade wooden dominoes.

The Holocaust is a delicate subject and it is hard to know when to talk to young children about it.  For the children, grandchildren and now even the great grandchildren of survivors, that may happen sooner than for other kids, because they may hear things being said, or noticed the number on a grandparent's arm.

Whatever your reasons for starting a conversation about the Holocaust with a younger child, this gentlest of stories would be an ideal way to begin, just as Uri's Grandpa did.  As Grandpa explains what happened to his family, he keeps the focus on his them and not on the Nazis.

The story is told in clear, simple language, and enough details are given for a child to understand what happened to Grandpa's and his family without becoming too graphic to frighten.  This focus on Uri's family history also helps him to feel more connected to them and his Grandfather and is more emotionally age appropriate for a child around Uri's age (which is probably 6 or &).  Details of Nazi atrocities will come later in Uri's life, when he can emotionally handle them better.

Grandpa's Third Drawer was originally published in Israel in 2003, where it won the Ze'ev Prize for Children's Literature.  It is newly translated picture book has now been published for young readers in English.  The artifacts and illustrations used by Kopelman were used courtesy of Beit Theresienstadt Archives, in Givat-Haim Ichud, Israel.

Grandpa's Third Drawer will be available on May 1, 2014.

This book is recommended for readers age 6+
This book was an eARC received from Edelweiss

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1007. Does torture really (still) matter?

By Rebecca Gordon

The US military involvement in Iraq has more or less ended, and the war in Afghanistan is limping to a conclusion. Don’t the problems of torture really belong to the bad old days of an earlier administration? Why bring it up again? Why keep harping on something that is over and done with? Because it’s not over, and it’s not done with.

Torture is still happening. Shortly after his first inauguration in 2009, President Obama issued an executive order forbidding the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation techniques” and closing the CIA’s so-called “black sites.” But the order didn’t end “extraordinary rendition”—the practice of sending prisoners to other countries to be tortured. (This is actually forbidden under the UN Convention against Torture, which the United States signed in 1994.) The president’s order didn’t close the prison at Guantánamo, where to this day, prisoners are held in solitary confinement. Periodic hunger strikes are met with brutal force feeding. Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel described the experience in a New York Times op-ed in April 2013:

I will never forget the first time they passed the feeding tube up my nose. I can’t describe how painful it is to be force-fed this way. As it was thrust in, it made me feel like throwing up. I wanted to vomit, but I couldn’t. There was agony in my chest, throat and stomach. I had never experienced such pain before.

Nor did Obama’s order address the abusive interrogation practices of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) which operates with considerably less oversight than the CIA. Jeremy Scahill has ably documented JSOC’s reign of terror in Iraq in Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield. At JSOC’s Battlefield Interrogation Facility at Camp NAMA (which reportedly stood for “Nasty-Ass Military Area”) the motto—prominently displayed on posters around the camp—was “No blood, no foul.”

Torture also continues daily, hidden in plain sight, in US prisons. It is no accident that the Army reservists responsible for the outrages at Abu Ghraib worked as prison guards in civilian life. As Spec. Charles A. Graner wrote in an email about his work at Abu Ghraib, “The Christian in me says it’s wrong, but the corrections officer in me says, ‘I love to make a grown man piss himself.’” Solitary confinement and the ever-present threat of rape are just two forms of institutionalized torture suffered by the people who make up the world’s largest prison population. In fact, the latter is so common that on TV police procedurals like Law & Order, it is the staple threat interrogators use to prevent a “perp” from “lawyering up.”

We still don’t have a full, official accounting. As yet we have no official government accounting of how the United States has used torture in the “war on terror.” This is partly because so many different agencies, clandestine and otherwise, have been involved in one way or another. The Senate Intelligence Committee has written a 6,000-page report just on the CIA’s involvement, which has never been made public, although recent days have seen moves in this direction. Nor has the Committee been able to shake loose the CIA’s own report on its interrogation program. Most of what we do know is the result of leaks, and the dogged work of dedicated journalists and human rights lawyers. But we have nothing official, on the level, say, of the 1975 Church Committee report on the CIA’s activities in the Vietnam War.

Frustrated because both Congress and the Obama administration seemed unwilling to demand a full accounting, the Constitution Project convened a blue-ribbon bipartisan committee, which produced its own damning report. Members included former DEA head Asa Hutchinson, former FBI chief William Sessions, and former US Ambassador to the United Nations Thomas Pickering. The report reached two important conclusions: (1) “[I]t is indisputable that the United States engaged in the practice of torture,” and (2) “[T]he nation’s highest officials bear some responsibility for allowing and contributing to the spread of torture.”

No high-level officials have been held accountable for US torture. Only enlisted soldiers like Charles Graner and Lynndie England have done jail time for prisoner abuse in the “war on terror.” None of the “highest officials” mentioned in the Detainee Task Force report (people like Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, and George W. Bush) have faced any consequences for their part in a program of institutionalized state torture. Early in his first administration, President Obama argued that “nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past,” but this is not true. Laying blame for the past (and the present) is a precondition for preventing torture in the future, because it would represent a public repudiation of the practice. What “will be gained” is the possibility of developing a public consensus that the United States should not practice torture any longer. Such a consensus about torture does not exist today.

Tolerating torture corrupts the moral character of the nation. We tend to think of torture as a set of isolated actions—things desperate people do under desperate circumstances. But institutionalized state torture is not an action. It is an ongoing, socially-embedded practice. It requires an infrastructure and training. It has its own history, traditions, and rituals of initiation. And—importantly—it creates particular ethical habits in those who practice it, and in any democratic nation that allows it.

Since the brutal attacks of 9/11/2001, people in this country have been encouraged to be afraid. Knowing that our government has been forced to torture people in order to keep us safe confirms the belief that each of us must be in terrible danger—a danger from which only that same government can protect us. We have been encouraged to accept any cruelty done to others as the price of our personal survival. There is a word for the moral attitude that sets personal safety as its highest value: cowardice. If as a nation we do not act to end torture, if we do not demand a full accounting from and full accountability for those responsible, we ourselves are responsible. And we risk becoming a nation of cowards.

Rebecca Gordon received her B.A. from Reed College and her M.Div. and Ph.D. in Ethics and Social Theory from Graduate Theological Union. She teaches in the Department of Philosophy and for the Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good at the University of San Francisco. She is the author of Letters From NicaraguaCruel and Usual: How Welfare “Reform” Punishes Poor People, and Mainstreaming Torture: Ethical Approaches in the Post-9/11 United States.

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1008. Teacher Activities (Bailey School Kids - Jr. Chapter Books)

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1009. London Doodles



Yes, I'm in London. Which is wonderful, especially as I'm with family, about to go on an amazing trip to celebrate my dad's 80th birthday ... yet a wee bit frustrating as well, as I'm missing two whole weeks of the e-course that I've been so thoroughly enjoying ... But yes, I am definitely counting my blessings.

I did manage to take some time off and doodle. We're having a few internet connectivity problems so I'll keep this short and sweet, and post it before I get cut off. Here's the black and white sketch:




I'm not sure if I'll be able to carry on blogging much till I get back home, but I'll be posting photos and updates over at the Floating Lemons Facebook page so pop by there if you'd like to accompany me to Istanbul ...

Have a wonderful day. Cheers.


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1010. Can three artists work simultaneously on one picture?

This Australian street scene was painted on one giant piece of paper by three master watercolorists: Joseph Zbukvic, Alvaro Castagnet, and Herman Pekel, who call themselves "The Three Caballeros."

Fortunately the fun was captured on 24 minutes of mesmerizing video. (Direct link to video) They switch back and forth between big and little brushes, spritzers, and scrapers. They constantly trade places, with one guy diving into a wet area that another guy started. Their uproarious good humor and utter fearlessness is an inspiration to any painter.

Zbukvic, Mastering Atmosphere & Mood in Watercolor
Castagnet, Watercolor Painting with Passion!
Video: My Vision in Watercolour DVD
Another great YouTube video showing J. Zbukvic painting a rainy street scene.

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1011. The Going Over Blog Tour Reprise: Still time to win a copy of the book

To those who followed the blog tour for Going Over, thank you. To those who lent their time and space to the journey, enormous thanks. To Lara Starr, who set this whole thing up before I even knew there would be a blog tour, you rock, girl.

For the questions that were asked, the reviews that were written, the photos that were shared, the generosity of Chronicle Books—for all of it, I will always be grateful

For any of you who missed the links—and the giveaways—they're all here, below. In many cases, there is still time to win both a signed book and an Audible copy.

Savvy Verse and Wit (Review)

Chronicle Books (The Rocking Soundtrack)

My Friend Amy (Review and The first First page)

The Flyleaf Review (Review and beginnings)

The Book Swarm (East Berlin Escapees)

There's A Book (Interview)

YA Romantics (Interview)

Teenreads Blog (Photo Album)

The 3 R's Blog (Interview)

Forever Young Adult (Interview)

Kid Lit Frenzy (Interview)

Tales of the Ravenous Reader (Truth at the core of the novel)

Addicted 2 Novels (final day)

All books, finally, must stand on their own. That time has come for Going Over.

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1012. Teachers (Books about Bullies)

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1013. Overcoming everyday violence [infographic]

The struggle for food, water, and shelter are problems commonly associated with the poor. Not as widely addressed is the violence that surrounds poor communities. Corrupt law enforcement, rape, and slavery (to name a few), separate families, destroys homes, ruins lives, and imprisons the poor in their current situations. Gary A. Haugen and Victor Boutros, authors of The Locust Effect: Why the End of Poverty Requires the End of Violence, have experience in the slums, back alleys, and streets where violence is a living, breathing being — and the work to turn those situations around. Delve into the infographic below and learn how solutions like media coverage and business intervention have begun to positively change countries like the Congo, Cambodia, Peru, and Brazil.

Infographic Locust Effect

Download a copy of the infographic.

Gary A. Haugen and Victor Boutros are co-authors of The Locust Effect: Why the End of Poverty Requires the End of Violence. Gary Haugen is the founder and president of International Justice Mission, a global human rights agency that protects the poor from violence. The largest organization of its kind, IJM has partnered with law enforcement to rescue thousands of victims of violence. Victor Boutros is a federal prosecutor who investigates and tries nationally significant cases of police misconduct, hate crimes, and international human trafficking around the country on behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice.

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1014. Books (Books about Elections)

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1015. How to Write a Poem: An Exercise

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” ―William Wordsworth

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1016. Peter Salomon on ALL THOSE BROKEN ANGELS - Guest Post and Giveaway!

I adored Peter Salomon's first novel HENRY FRANKS so am thrilled to have him on today to talk about his latest novel, which has just about the best cover EVAH! Here's Peter...

      In the period of time between the sale of my debut novel, HENRY FRANKS, and the actual release date I had one primary goal: sell my second novel before that release date. So, with that in mind, I got right to work.
      I started writing a YA dystopian novel, because it’s the law: every author is required to write at least one, no? Halfway though, I realized two things: the ending no longer worked and I didn’t really want to write a YA dystopian novel.
      So, I started writing a different book. This one was more YA Action/Adventure, I guess. It was great fun to write but it, too, didn’t sell. By the time I was finished, though, I’d figured out how to end that pesky YA dystopian. That one didn’t sell, either.
      Then, HENRY FRANKS came out in Sept. 2012. One thing quickly became apparent: my genre was definitely YA Horror. With that in mind, I decided my next book had to stay in that genre.
      That, of course, still left me trying to figure out what to write. In the meantime, I continued to interview other authors for my blog to help promote their work. One of the questions I asked horror author C.W. LaSart (www.cwlasart.com) was for her favorite word. Her response was ‘ghastly.’
      Why is that important? Because in talking with her after receiving her answers I responded with this comment:
     I've always loved 'ghastly' by the way, though I ALWAYS wanted 'ghostly' to be far more popular than it actually is, it just feels like 'ghostly' became too watered down (probably by cartoons: Casper for instance) so that it lost the menace and creepiness that it should have had. Oh well…
      Yes, I actually dug up the actual message thread to share this story. So, we discussed the word ‘ghostly’ for a very short while and then she most likely completely forgot about our conversation. On the other hand, I kept thinking that ‘Ghostly’ would make a fun title for a story. If I had ever written a ghost story, which I really hadn’t. So I decided I should.

Peter's writing nook:
      I started brainstorming a ghost story and sent my agent three chapters, totaling about 10 pages (they’re very short chapters). My agent, Ammi-Joan Paquette of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency, then asked me one very troubling question: ‘So, what happens next?’ (I might be paraphrasing there). The only problem was, I didn’t actually have an answer.
      All I had was 3 chapters and a title: GHOSTLY. So, after more brainstorming (which basically consisted of driving my kids around town listening to pop music) I came up with a very brief synopsis and sent that along to my agent. She then sent the proposal to my Editor for HENRY FRANKS.
      And Flux bought GHOSTLY.
      Of course, I hadn’t actually written the book yet. All I had was 3 chapters. Written in a very strong, very unique ‘voice.’ One I was terrified that I’d be unable to sustain for an entire book.

Because for the most part I’d thrown out a lot of the traditional ‘rules’ of fiction writing for those 3 chapters. Whether it was the rule against run on sentences or sentence fragments or repeating words, didn’t matter. For GHOSTLY I relied more on the rules of poetry than fiction. And it was a constant struggle to write the book without losing that voice.
      It’s not written in verse or anything like that. It’s prose, through and through. But it has an internal rhythm of language that owes a tremendous debt to poetry.
      For example, this is the final paragraph of those first chapters that were sent to Flux:
      In the corner of the room the shadow screamed, burning the air around me until I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t move, couldn’t think, and everything went black and everything changed and everything disappeared and all I knew was pain. Unending, unceasing pain. (to read the first chapter, CLICK HERE.)
      So, in one paragraph, there’s a run-on sentence, a sentence fragment, and two different words repeated 3 times each. There’s also a definite rhythm to the voice, and it was an exhausting battle to sustain that for the novel. But I did.
      Unfortunately, I lost the battle to name the book GHOSTLY. Which, truth to tell, I didn’t fight too strenuously. The word has really lost it’s creep, sad to say. So, now, it’s ALL THOSE BROKEN ANGELS, which captures the poetry of the book far better than GHOSTLY ever could.
      And all because CW LaSart loves the word ‘ghastly.’

GIVEAWAYAs soon as he receives his author copies from Flux (which may not be until later this summer) Peter will generously giving away a free, signed copy of ALL THOSE BROKEN ANGELS to one of my lucky commenters in the US or Canada. Enter below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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1017. The Mexican-American War and the making of American identity

By John C. Pinheiro

Few Americans today would have difficulty imagining a United States where the citizens disagree over the wisdom of immigration, question the degree to which Mexicans can be fully American, and dispute about the value of religious pluralism. But what if the America in question was not that of 2014 but rather the 1830s and 1840s? Along with being a high point of anti-Catholic nativism, these two decades witnessed the Texas Revolution, the US annexation of Texas, violence in US cities against Catholic immigrants, and the Mexican-American War. As Americans struggled to negotiate their identity as a people in terms of race, religion, and political culture, the war with Mexico clarified and for one century afterward cemented American identity as a Protestant, Anglo-Saxon republic.

Manifest Destiny held that American Anglo-Saxons, by reason of their cultural and racial superiority, were destined to overtake the western hemisphere. This Anglo-Saxonism was not so much based on attributes like skin color, as it was on unique attitudinal traits that predisposed Anglo-Saxons to be the most effective guardians of liberty. From this innate love of freedom had sprung Protestantism and republicanism—the religion and government for free men.

While the majority of Americans condemned a series of mob attacks against Catholic convents, churches, and schools in Boston and in Philadelphia, they nevertheless agreed with nativists that Catholicism was incompatible with representative—or what they called, “republican”—government. Politically unstable Mexico, they said, was proof of this.

When the United States and Mexico went to war in 1846, doubts quickly surfaced about the patriotic fortitude of foreign-born, Irish-Americans in a war against a Catholic nation. Irish immigrant soldier John Riley fled the US army on 12 April 1846, about two weeks before the first battle of the war. American authorities suspected that in September 1846 he was the leader of a group of mostly Irish and Catholic deserters at the Battle of Monterey. These rumors were true, and in late 1847 the US Army captured the San Patricios, or Saint Patrick Battalion. In the United States, debate ensued over the San Patricios’ motives and goals. At stake was the question of immigrant Catholic loyalty to the United States.

So, what were the factors in the San Patricio desertion? Abuse by nativist American officers was one of them. For a given crime, officers would sometimes merely demote native-born soldiers while imprisoning, whipping, or dishonorably discharging foreign-born men. Atrocities, church looting, and violence against priests by some American troops aggravated the fear that the Protestant United States was attacking not just Mexico but the Catholic faith.

The causes of this desertion, however, were not a one-sided affair. Mexican propaganda enticed Americans to leave their ranks. One broadside was addressed to “Catholic Irishmen” by General Antonio López de Santa Anna but the writer probably was Riley. It beckoned Americans to “Come over to us; you will be received under the laws of that truly Christian hospitality and good faith which Irish guests are entitled to expect and obtain from a Catholic nation.” It then asked, “Is religion no longer the strongest of all human bonds? Can you fight by the side of those who put fire to your temples in Boston and Philadelphia”?

It is most accurate, then, to say that while religion was involved in the defection, most of the San Patricios deserted because of intense abuse by officers, not for love of Mexico or the Catholic Church. This includes Riley. In all, 27 San Patricios were hanged.

Image of the hanging of the San Patricios

Hanging of the San Patricios following the Battle of Chapultepec. Painted in the 1840s by Sam Chamberlain. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

The capture and punishment of the San Patricios may have been dramatic, but the questioning of Catholic loyalty was just one small part of religion’s interplay with the war. Religious rhetoric constituted an integral piece of nearly every major argument for or against the war. This civil religious discourse was so universally understood that recruiters, politicians, diplomats, journalists, soldiers, evangelical activists, abolitionists, and pacifists used it. It helped shape everything from debates over annexation to the treatment of enemy soldiers and civilians. Religion also was the primary tool used by Americans to interpret Mexico’s fascinating but alien culture.

More than any other event during the nineteenth century, the Mexican-American War clarified the anti-Catholic assumptions inherent to American identity. At the same time, from the crucible of war emerged an American civil religion that can only be described as a triumphalist Protestant and white, anti-Catholic republicanism. That civil religion lasted well into the twentieth century. The degree to which it is still alive today in current debates over Latino immigration is debatable, but one can hardly miss the resemblance and connection between the issues of the 1840s and those of 2014.

John C. Pinheiro is Associate Professor of History at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He has written two books on the Mexican-American War. His newest book is Missionaries of Republicanism: A Religious History of the Mexican-American War.

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1018. Why Online Contests Are A Good Thing

Chances are if you have a completed manuscript ready to query you’ve at least heard about one of the many online contests available. Pitchmadness, Pitmas, Sun Vs. Snow, and our own PitchPlus1 are just a few that are out there. Hundreds of people can enter and do. So why should you? 

1. You get some practice. Let’s face it, writing means discipline. Yes, we are self-motivated, but there are those days when other life calls, or maybe the Internet… The point is, if you have a deadline approaching you have added incentive to work. Really work. You know others will see it, and you know the submission window is only open so long, so what better reason to practice writing? 

2. You see what else is out there. Sure you’ve written the best thing since HP? Positive your Dystopian is one of a kind? This let’s you see what else is being shopped right now at least by a handful of others (perspective). The books on the shelves right now were probably purchased around two years ago. What editors are buying presently won’t come out for at least a year and a half or so. What people are pitching now is the future. 

3. You meet people. I asked our Pitch Plus One participants for feedback. One of the biggest common threads was connecting with other writers. It doesn’t surprise me, it’s also the main reason I love doing this! Just look at these quotes: 

“I've met some wonderful writers and I love how supportive the writing community is and how helpful other writers can be. We really mean it when we "pay it forward" and that's awesome.” – Kathleen S. Allen. 

“I've met so many others who are as determined as I am, and it's been a blast getting to know them.” –Rebecca Fields 

4. Feedback. The obvious one, right? The feedback from others is invaluable to writers. A fresh set of eyes, that knows nothing about the manuscript can reveal so much, since that is exactly the situation an agent is going to be in when they see your query! And with these contests you have the opportunity to get feedback not only from other querying writers, but from published authors, bloggers, and even agents and editors! That’s a pretty amazing opportunity. 

5. Empathy. You get it and the other participants get you. But I mean more than that. I mean you now have empathy for the agents and editors who read a never-ending slew of slushpile queries. Does it make you dizzy to think that over 500 people submitted to Pitch Madness? Just imagine that times forever. I loved this post from Eliza West, a contestant from Pitch Plus One, saying much the same thing. We are all in this together, folks. We all do it because we love the craft and we want good books to share with others. And you know what’s awesome about our profession? The more good books, the better!

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1019. Books (Books about Bullies)

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1020. Character Skills and Talents: Survival Skills

As writers, we want to make our characters as unique and interesting as possible. One way to do this is to give your character a special skill or talent that sets him apart from other people. This might be something small, like having a green thumb or being good with animals, to a larger and more competitive talent like stock car racing or being an award-winning film producer. 

When choosing a talent or skill, think about the personality of your character, his range of experiences and who his role models might have been. Some talents might be genetically imparted while others are created through exposure (such as a character talented at fixing watches from growing up in his father’s watch shop) or grow out of interest (archery, wakeboarding, or magic). Don’t be afraid to be creative and make sure the skill or talent is something that works with the scope of the story. 

shelterDescription: It takes skill, intuition and knowledge to be able to survive in less-than-ideal circumstances with few resources. When disaster happens, often there is no warning and little time to prepare, so understanding how to use what is available to provide necessities like food, water and shelter is very important. People skilled in survival can obtain fresh water, forage for food, build a shelter and defend themselves until help arrives. The willingness to protect oneself (be it flight or fight) is a necessity.

Beneficial Strengths or Abilities: Survival is about putting emotion in the backseat so one can think clearly and prioritize what is most important. Being able to read a map, hunt and set traps, start a fire without matches, wield a knife, and build a shelter are all valuable skills. As well, knowing how to find water and filter it in both urban situations and in nature is a must-have skill. Another asset would be a working knowledge of local flora and fauna and how it can be used (food, medicine, protection). Tracking, scouting and the ability to identify potential threats in advance will also greatly improve one’s chances in a survival situation. Being physically strong and healthy, with good endurance, is also important.

Character Traits Suited for this Skill or Talent: observant, adaptable, intelligent, skeptical, inventive, strategic, rational, intrepid, patient and alert

Required Resources and Training: Some form of combat and weapons training can be beneficial, both to gain knowledge of attack and defense and for strategic thinking and self-discipline. Survival situations require rational, calm thinking, which can only be achieved through learning self-control. Exposure to the outdoors, be it through survival camps, scouts, guided excursions, camping, hunting and fishing or having a mentor who knows the outdoors will help a person learn how to live without the myriad of modern resources we take for grated each day. TV “survival preppers” shows, websites, and online videos are an education in itself, providing tips and tricks on using natural and common materials to survive.

Scenarios Where this Skill Might be Useful:

  • Governmental breakdowns or war
  • an apocalypse type situation (caused by a natural disaster, nuclear fallout, aliens, zombies, killer unicorns, you name it)
  • if one is lost in the woods
  • a car breaking down miles from any sort of help
  • if one must flee one’s home and stay off the grid

Resources for Further Information:

14 Steps To Surviving in the Woods

3 Ways To Make A Water Filter

Survival 101

9 Ways To Star A Fire Without Matches

Survive The Apocalypse Site

You can brainstorm other possible Skills and Talents your characters might have by checking out our FULL LIST of this Thesaurus Collection. And for more descriptive help for Setting, Symbolism, Character Traits, Physical Attributes, Emotions, Weather and more, check out our Thesaurus Collections page.

photo credit: Martin Staviar via photopin cc

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1021. Teachers (Book Themes)

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1022. 2014 April PAD Challenge: Day 12

Wow! What a turnout this year for the poetry challenge! Chances are pretty good that by the end of the weekend, we’ll have more than 10,000 comments on the prompts–with a chance at surpassing 20,000 for the month. That’s a lot! And if you’re trying to follow a specific poet (even yourself), it can turn into a challenge (within the challenge).

That’s why I’d like to thank Anders Bylund for continuing to make his poetry challenge search tool available to everyone. Go to http://gowrite.me/pad.pl?writer=&day=year_2014

, find the name you want in the dropdown list (contains all the usernames) and click the “Search!” button. There’s even an option to get the results in pure text–in case you haven’t been saving your poems on your computer. Thanks, Anders!

For today’s prompt, write a city poem. The poem can take place in a city, can remember the city (in a general sense), be an ode to a specific city, or well, you should know the drill by now. City poem: Write it!



Publish Your Poetry!

Learn how to get your poetry published with the assistance of the 2014 Poet’s Market

, edited by Robert Lee Brewer. This book is filled with listings for poetry book publishers, chapbook publishers, magazines, journals, online publications, contests, grants, and more!

Plus, it contains articles on the craft, business, and promotion of poetry. There are interviews with poets, original poems, and so much more!

Click to continue



Here’s my attempt at a City Poem:


shattered glass & cigarette butts
she doesn’t need him anymore

& he knows he’s a no parking sign
every fire hydrant a marker

keeper of unspoken secrets
shoes hanging from phone wires

they exist together but travel
separately when trains pass

they both think of escape


Today’s guest judge is…

Victoria Chang

Victoria Chang

Victoria Chang

Victoria’s third book of poems, The Boss

, was published by McSweeney’s Poetry Series in 2013.  Her other books are Salvinia Molesta and Circle.

Her poems have been published in Kenyon Review, POETRY, American Poetry Review, Colorado Review, The Washington Post, Best American Poetry, and other places.

You can find her at www.victoriachangpoet.com

or @VChangpoet.



Poem Your Heart Out

Poems, Prompts & Room to Add Your Own for the 2014 April PAD Challenge!

Words Dance Publishing is offering 20% off pre-orders for the Poem Your Heart Out anthology until May 1st! If you’d like to learn a bit more about our vision for the book, when it will be published, among other details.

Click to continue



Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems

. He grew up in the suburbs but spent a few years going to college in Cincinnati. Learn more about him here: http://www.robertleebrewer.com/.


Peruse “The Street” of the Poetry Blogosphere:

  • 2014 April PAD Challenge: Guest Judges
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  • Assembling and Submitting a Poetry Manuscript
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    1023. Books (Book Themes)

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    1024. Our Wonderful World.12

    Details of my Poetry Month Project can be found here.


    The Empire State Building

    A peach kabob1
    A home for gods2
    At the very tip
    Kong loses his grip3

    Fourth in height4
    Icon of might5
    Symmetrically planned
    Art deco-ly grand6

    ©Mary Lee Hahn, 2014

    1 In the book James and the Giant Peach, the peach ends its journey with a great squelch atop the pinnacle of the Empire State Building.

    2 In Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series, Mount Olympus is the Empire State Building.

    3 King Kong tried to escape his captors by climbing the Empire State Building, but it didn't work out the way he planned.

    4 In North America...for the time being.

    5 The nickname of the state of New York is "The Empire State," a reference to its wealth and resources.

    The Empire State Building's art deco style is typical of pre-WWII architecture in New York City.

    Carol's "Edgewalk" from yesterday's CN Tower is a must-read at Carol's Corner.

    Kevin annotated his poem for today, "Empires Rise and Fall," on Poetry Genius. (He is one, by the way.)

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    1025. Books (Mermaid Tales)

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