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1. Craft of Writing: Viewpoint Selection by Nikki Kelly

Today we welcome to the blog Nikki Kelly, whose first novel, Lailah, was published in October from Feiwel & Friends. Nikki has a most entertaining post for you today on how to choose the point of view of your protagonist.  As fun as those gifs may be, make sure you red until the end as she offers some really apt advice.

Viewpoint Selection by Nikki Kelly

Hi Nikki, I need your help! I have a story that I want to write but I’m a bit confused, I don’t know which point of view I should tell it from. How did you pick? What made you write your story from Lailah’s POV??? Please could you help me! I really want to get started but I don’t know what to do!



I originally posted my debut novel Lailah to wattpad, a community of readers and writers, back in December 2012. I am still very active on the platform and talk to young, aspiring writers every day. The above question hit my inbox a couple of weeks ago, but it’s not the first time I have been asked about viewpoint selection, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.

This question almost, always includes these exact words—‘which point of view is the right one?’

The answer, I say… well, there is no right answer.

I usually begin my reply by breaking down the most common, and simple, viewpoints:

First Person
Writing as if you are the character: I, me, my.

Third Person, limited
Writing with: he, she, they and pronouns such as his, hers, theirs.
Maintaining the narrative to the feelings, and ponderings of only the viewpoint character.

Third Person, omniscient
Still writing with: he, she, they and pronouns such as his, hers, theirs.
This time, however, the narrator is ‘all knowing’ of all the characters thoughts and feelings. Omniscient gives a broader view of the story.

I go on to highlight that there are Pros…



…and Cons



…to writing in each viewpoint:

First Person, the Pros include:
The reader has an immediate connection to the viewpoint character.
Believability due to being ‘inside’ the viewpoint character's head.
Clear, and concise perspective.

First Person, the Cons include:
Your reader can only know what your viewpoint character knows.
Limited perspective.
If your viewpoint character is unlikable, you have to live in his/her head for as long as it takes you to tell the story!

Third Person, limited, the Pros include:
Can add suspense as the thoughts and feelings of the other characters remain unknown (only interpreted through the viewpoint character).
Can still connect closely with the viewpoint character.

Third Person, limited, the Cons include:
As with first person, the perspective is limited and your reader can only know what your viewpoint character knows.

Third Person, omniscient, the Pros include:
Can connect with more characters in the story in a more intimate way.
Easier to manipulate the plot as there are more choices and options available.
Greater flexibility.

Third Person, omniscient, the Cons include:
The reader has more distance from your viewpoint character.
Multiple characters thoughts and feeling to juggle

I check in and ask if that all makes sense…



So then I suggest writing a paragraph from the story using all three viewpoints, and reading each one aloud. This helps to see which viewpoint comes most naturally when writing, and also helps to establish which works best for the story you are trying to tell.

Often, this then leads to…



I chose to write my debut novel Lailah in first person, as it came more naturally, and it worked well for the story itself. Lailah is on a journey of self-discovery, and I wanted the reader to only know what she knew, to learn the truth of Lailah’s undiscovered nature, right along with her. This also worked really well for the reveals (there was, of course, some bread crumb dropping along the way!), and it worked especially well for the plot twists at the end of the book.

About the Author:


Nikki Kelly was born and raised only minutes away from the chocolately scent of Cadbury World in Birmingham, England. Lailah is Nikki's first novel, and the first book in the Styclar Saga. She lives in London with her husband and their dogs, Alfie (a pug) and Goose (a chihuahua).

Visit her online at www.thestyclarsaga.com
Twitter: @Styclar
Goodreads





About the Book:


LAILAH (The Styclar Saga #1)
Nikki Kelly

The girl knows she’s different. She doesn’t age. She has no family. She has visions of a past life, but no clear clues as to what she is, or where she comes from. But there is a face in her dreams – a light that breaks through the darkness. She knows his name is Gabriel.

On her way home from work, the girl encounters an injured stranger whose name is Jonah. Soon, she will understand that Jonah belongs to a generation of Vampires that serve even darker forces. Jonah and the few like him, are fighting with help from an unlikely ally – a rogue Angel, named Gabriel.

In the crossfire between good and evil, love and hate, and life and death, the girl learns her name: Lailah. But when the lines between black and white begin to blur, where in the spectrum will she find her place? And with whom?

Gabriel and Jonah both want to protect her. But Lailah will have to fight her own battle to find out who she truly is.

Amazon  |   Indiebound  |  Goodreads

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2. A poem for Black Friday

Last week I was at the NCTE conference (so fun!) presenting alongside Janet Wong and Eileen and Jerry Spinelli on the topic of kindness. Here's a tiny glimpse of our session-- a video of Eileen reading her original poem, "Get a Life" from The Poetry Friday Anthology (K-5). It's perfect for this crazy Black Friday, too.


And here is the text of the poem:

Get a Life
   by Eileen Spinelli

There are books to read.
And birds to feed.
And awesome facts for learning.
There are yards to weed.
And friends in need.
And dreams to set us yearning.
There are trails to hike.
And films to like.
And stories made for swapping.
What I mean to say in this poem today
is there’s more to life than
shopping!

And here are the Take 5! activities that accompany this poem:

1. Prior to sharing the poem, jot numbers on a piece of paper or list on the board (1, 2, 3, etc.) as if you are making a to-do list. Then read the poem aloud, pausing for a moment after each line. 

2. Share the poem again, inviting students to join in on the final two lines (is there’s more to life than / shopping!) while you read the rest aloud.

3. For discussion: What are some of your favorite activities to do during holiday breaks?

4. Lead students in considering how repeating key words and phrases, particularly at the beginning of each line (There are; And), helps build a poem and can add to the distinctive rhythm of the lines. Then read the poem out loud together again, listening for the patterns.

5. Link this poem with another thoughtful poem by Eileen Spinelli, “Today” (4th Grade, Week 29, page 215 in The Poetry Friday Anthology).

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3. Theseus and the Minotaur by Yvan Pommaux, 49 pp, RL: 3

Theseus and the Minotaur is a new book by beloved French author Yvan Pommaux, known for his detailed research and illustration style, who has won many prestigious awards and had three schools named after him! Theseus and the Minotaur is also a new title from TOON Graphics, a new line of graphic novels for kids reading at 3rd grade level and above created by the amazing François Mouly and

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4. Day 28 - kangaroos

drawing studies of kangaroos

drawing studies of kangaroos

drawing studies of kangaroos
Day 28
Topic - kangaroos

Today was another one of those days I wanted to keep my sketchbook to myself. This challenge has been both good and bad. On the one hand it has got me practicing drawing a lot more consistently, but on the other it has obliged me to show drawings I'm not exactly proud of. I do enjoy looking at the unedited sketchbooks of other artists though, so here's to the spirit of openness.

(Ken Hultgren studies are noted, otherwise they were from photo reference.)

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5. 2015 Genre Decades Reading Challenge

I'm excited to host the Genre Decades Reading Challenge. Here's how it works:

1) Choose a decade. I'd recommend starting with one. If you finish you can always come back for another! You will be reading TEN books. One book for each year of the decade you choose. You may choose to sign up for more than one decade from the start. But it's ten books per decade you choose. So it would be committing to twenty books if you choose two.

2) Choose your genre. Or genres. You may choose up to five genres for a single decade. (Two books per genre.) It is up to you if you want a single genre or multiple genres. Genre is different from audience. So if you choose fantasy, you may read fantasy for children, young adults, or adults. But "young adult" is not in and of itself a genre. You can definitely make this challenge your own. For example:
  • sci-fi from the seventies
  • fantasy from the eighties
  • historical fiction from the thirties
  • mysteries from the fifties
  • romances from the forties
  • paranormal from the nineties
3) If you want to make the challenge more difficult, you might consider reading one book per genre per year of your decade. So minimum of ten books, maximum of fifty.

4) Up to five rereads are allowed per decade. I love to reread I do. But part of a challenge is to discover new books and new authors.

5) Reviews are not required. But. They are fun to read! So if you do blog your reviews, you may share links. You may give updates on your progress by leaving comments if you do not have a blog. Definitely let me know when you finish the challenge. I'd love to see your finished list.

6) Sign up in the comments on this post.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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6. What we’re thankful for

Since we’re still recovering from eating way too much yesterday, Managing Editor Troy Reeves and I would like to sit back and just share a few of the things we’re thankful for.

Troy Reeves:

Wow! So many things I’m thankful for, such as family, friends, pie, turkey, cranberries (basically just about every food associated with Thanksgiving). Except the marshmallows on top the yams – don’t get it, don’t like it.

Oh, right, this post should focus on the oral history-related thankful things. Well, it still comes back to friendship. I have been blessed over my now 15 years in the Oral History Association in building a cadre (cabal?) of colleagues who double as friends. And I leaned on these people early on to help us build our presence on OUPblog.

From our first post (thanks Sarah) through our longest podcast (thanks Doug) and several in-between (looking at you Steinhauer – for both postsWettemann, Morse and Corrigan, and Cramer), I feel like Joe Cocker (or Ringo Starr): I “get by with a little help from my friends.” (And I did not mention the law firm of Larson, Moye, and Sloan who helped us tease the 2013 OHA Conference.)

Last but not least, I’m thankful and grateful for the social media work of Caitlin Tyler-Richards. Even though I have full faith in Andrew, your presence will be missed. But I can always return to your last post, when I need my Caitlin fix.

So, there you go. And in case you are wondering: Yes, I turned my part of this into a homage to the Simpson’s cheesy-clip show.

Andrew Shaffer:

As a recent addition to the Oral History Review team, and a recent transplant to Wisconsin, there are a ton of things I’m thankful for.

First, I have to echo Troy in being thankful for Caitlin. She’s been immensely helpful in teaching me the social media ropes. #StillNotSureHowToHashtagProperlyThough

I’d like to name my favorite OHR blog posts, but there are just too many to list. I’m especially thankful, though, for people who are finding innovative ways to fund, record, and think deeply about oral history. It’s a privilege to be part of such an exciting field.

67154806_586f06bb2a_o
Thanksgiving feast, by StarMama. CC-BY-2.0 via Flickr.

I met some amazing oral historians at the recent Oral History Association Annual Meeting, and I’m very grateful to all the people who helped to put on such a great conference.

I’m thankful to Troy for giving me a second interview, even after I showed up two hours late to the first one. Protip: When moving from the West Coast to the Midwest, make sure you update your calendar to the correct time zone.

And lastly, I should mention that I’m very thankful for my friends and family, even though most haven’t heard from me in a while!

———————-

Finally, after the recent polar vortex hitting us in Wisconsin, Troy and I are both very happy that next year’s OHA Annual Meeting will be in sunny Florida. Check out the Call For Papers here – we look forward to seeing you there!

We’ll be back with another blog post soon, but in the mean time, visit us on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+ to tell us what you’re thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

The post What we’re thankful for appeared first on OUPblog.

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7. Amanhã é dia de FLI Serrana! E caricaturas!

Amanhã é dia de FLI Serrana!

É um evento literário voltado à literatura infantil e juvenil, com curadoria da escritora Andrea Viviana Taubman, assessoria da professora e cineasta Regina Carmela e produção do professor Marcelo Pellegrino na Região Serrana Fluminense a partir de Teresópolis.
O que será feito:

A II FLI Serrana - Festa Literária da Região Serrana tem como precedente o sucesso do evento ocorrido em 2013, quando recebemos mais de 50 profissionais da cadeia produtiva do livro e um público aproximado de 500 pessoas ao longo do dia.

Na edição deste ano, homenageamos a autora Flávia Savary (na foto, com o copo de brigadeiro na mão!), ganhadora de mais 80 prêmios, moradora de Teresópolis há mais de 30 anos, que completa 40 anos de carreira em 2014.

Quando e onde será realizada:

Em 29 de novembro de 2014, na Casa de Cultura Adolpho Bloch
Atividades previstas:
• Abertura
• Show musical e sarau de poesia
• Oficina de mediação de leitura para docentes
• Contação de histórias com oficina de artesanato para crianças
• Autógrafos/encontro com autores/performances de ilustradores
• Teatro
• Circo
• Debate literário
• Homenagem à autora – mesa de encerramento com convidados de notório reconhecimento na literatura infantil e juvenil, como os agraciados com o Prêmio Jabuti Flávio Carneiro e Rosa Amanda Strausz, entre outros.
Público estimado: 1000 participantes, ao longo do dia.

Para cada apoiador que doasse mais que R$100,00 eu fiz uma caricatura, no estilo dos ilustrautógrafos que desenho nos lançamentos de meus livros.
Foram cinco apoiadores muito lindos que ganharam as artes exclusivas!
 Ei-los!



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8. Expo 58 review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Jonathan Coe's Expo 58, now also out in the US.
       I'm a Coe-enthusiast -- all his fiction is under review at the complete review -- but this one was a bit of a let-down. Still, Penguin seem to have re-issued his backlist over the summer, so you can (and should) dig into that.

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9. Classic MG Readalong: Farmer Boy

Hello, friends! Welcome to this month’s classics readalong discussion, where we’ll be gleefully chatting about Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder. For those new to the series, this is a standalone historical fiction novel based on true people and events, written by the author about her husband’s boyhood on his family’s farm in the late 1800s. A reminder: You have ONE MONTH left to finish your classics readalong challenge for this year! Have you read and reviewed 8 books yet? Are you going to be able to? A little more on that below, plus info on the December/January books. We have so much pie to eat talk about, though, that we should just get started on our discussion! Wendy: I wanted to do this one for our readalong because it’s a nice standalone–plus it’s my favorite of the series! (Followed by The Long Winter, but for very different reasons–this one’s... Read more »

The post Classic MG Readalong: Farmer Boy appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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10. Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold by Joyce Sidman

Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold Poems written by Newbery Honor Award Winner, Joyce Sidman; Illustrations by Rick Allen Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2014 ISBN: 9780547906508 All ages; birth to infinity. To write this review, I borrowed a copy from my local public library. I am writing this review on the morning after a nasty snowstorm that caused massive power outages here in the

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11. Social Media - Should Facebook be Worried About the NEW Kid on the Block, Ello?

As someone who’s not a huge Facebook (FB) fan, it will be interesting to see if this new social media platform gives Facebook a run for its money. According to an article at Forbes, “The platform, which is still in public beta (meaning invite-only), has caused quite a stir; dubbed by some as the ‘hipster social network’, Ello offers a forever ad-free experience and promises to never sell its

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12. Spic-And-Span! Lillian Gilbreth’s Wonder Kitchen – Perfect Picture Book Friday

Title: Spic-And-Span! Lillian Gilbreth’s Wonder Kitchen Written by: Monica Kulling Illustrated by: David Parkins Published by: Tundra Books, 2014 Themes/Topics: women industrial engineers, inventor, psychologist, Lilian Moller Gilbreth Suitable for ages: 7-11 Biography, 32 pages Series: Great Idea Series Opening:  The first page is a beautiful … Continue reading

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13. Book Beginnings - 11/28/2014


*Please join Rose City Reader every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author's name.  *Taken directly from Rose City Reader's Blog Page.

***************
This week's book beginnings comes from THE SILENT SISTER.

"I never expected to lose nearly everyone I loved by the time I was twenty-five.  I felt the grief rise again as I parked in front of the small, nondescript post office in Pollocksville."




THE SILENT SISTER is another excellent read by Diane Chamberlain.

I just finished it but left it as my book beginning.

*************** 
This review is from a book I finished last week and wanted to share.
 
THE BRACELET by Dorothy Love.


"At the sound of male voices in the entry hall below, Celia Browning left her window overlooking the garden and the redbrick carriage house.  She set aside her book and opened her bedroom door just wide enough to afford a view of the door the  her father's study down below."

THE BRACELET is set in Savannah during the 1800's and is a mystery.  You also get to share in the Southern charm of that time and see how the wealthy lived.

I finished THE BRACELET last night.  I always write my reviews as I read so my review was ready to go, and the link to my review is in the book's title above and at the top of the post.
***************

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14. Thanks, teacher: musicians reflect on special ways a teacher helped them learn their craft

“I was lucky all the time in having great teachers,” says clarinetist Richard Stoltzman. When I asked him about special ways his early teachers helped him, he mentioned his elementary school band director who was “enthusiastic and cheerful, no matter what,” and also a private teacher he had in high school who taught him how to practice with purpose. But the teacher who seems to have had a life-changing impact was his first private teacher, with whom he studied for about a year during junior high at a music store in San Francisco. That teacher instilled in young Mr. Stoltzman the idea that he could indeed become a musician.

Other musicians have cited similar confidence boosters when asked about the especially helpful things a teacher did for them. Here are teacher reminiscences from Mr. Stoltzman and other professional musicians.

Richard Stoltzman — “He taught me both saxophone and clarinet,” says Mr. Stoltzman of his first private teacher at that San Francisco music store. “He didn’t see any reason why I couldn’t play classical music and improvised music.” At this store, young Mr. Stoltzman played his first “crossover recital,” performing Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust” as well as a classical piece. “This was a big moment for me, that my teacher allowed me to do those things and encouraged them.” Then the Stoltzmans moved to Ohio. “I was so sad to leave that teacher. At my last lesson, he looked me in the eye and said something like, ‘You can do it. You can play music. Don’t stop.’ If somebody believes in you, that makes you say to yourself, ‘Well, this person believes in me. So even if I don’t think I can do it, I guess somehow I better keep doing it.’”

Isabel Trautwein — “My confidence was very low at the end of my undergraduate years. I was close to quitting because I was so uptight and just couldn’t stop worrying that I might play out of tune,” says Isabel Trautwein, violinist with the Cleveland Orchestra. “Then I went to Cleveland to study with Donald Weilerstein. He used the ultimate non-judgmental approach. He never used criticism. He would go through a piece line by line and wanted to know what I was trying to say, as a person. He would say, ‘In this phrase, where are you going?’ My eyes would open wide. I would think, ‘I don’t know. I’m just trying to play it in tune. I’m trying to play it well.’ But that’s a terrible goal. So he would say, ‘OK, but do you want it to be gutsy? Or dark? Are you going for the gypsy approach? Are you going for fantasy? ’ He had all these great words. He’d also say specific things like, ‘Feel your index finger when you play.’ It was a mixture of musical cues that have to do with the character and musical feel, and then physical cues that had the ability to take your mind away from that voice that says, ‘Oh, that wasn’t good,’ the critical voice. If I’m thinking about my fingertips, I’m not going to be able to judge myself on what just went wrong. Weilerstein’s lessons were only about the violin. Never psychoanalytical. It helped a lot.”

Paula Robison teaching at New England Conservatory.  Courtesy New England Conservatory and Andrew Hurlbut
Paula Robison teaching at New England Conservatory. Courtesy, New England Conservatory and Andrew Hurlbut.

Paula Robison — “I had been studying with Marcel Moyse for about five years, and was already in the professional world of music as well as the artistic one, but I still had many questions,” says flutist Paula Robison, who studied with this renowned teacher at the Marlboro Music School. “One day I came to a lesson with the Concerto in D of Mozart. I played the first movement. Mr. Moyse was silent. He puffed on his pipe, in deep thought. Minutes passed. I waited. Then he slowly said (in his wonderful French accent) ‘Paula, I have teach you many theeng, but now you MUST GO YOUR OWN WAY.’ I was shocked. I felt like a bird kicked out of the nest. But he was right. It was time for me to fly. And I did.”

Jennifer Undercofler — “I am so thankful to all my teachers for their tireless commitment and dedication, but the one lesson that stands out was the lesson I learned from the great Dorothy DeLay,” says violinist Anne Akiko Meyers, who studied with Ms. DeLay at Juilliard. “She told me to go to the library and listen to all the recordings I could get my hands on and attend concerts as much as possible, to listen and learn as much as possible. She thought it would be incredibly helpful to study the phrasing, tempi, sound, and technique of all performers so that I could imbue my own sound with this insightful study and thoughtfulness. This purpose of being able to teach oneself with the right tools, so as to ‘own’ your sound, was the greatest lesson of all.”

Jennifer Undercofler — “I’m probably most grateful to my first piano teacher, a graduate of the Paris Conservatoire, who was deeply creative, with a wonderful, wry sense of humor. She always expected more out of me than I thought I could give. I remember her assigning me an Ives etude (I must have been 10 or 11 years old), declaring that she hated it, but knew that I would probably love it. She proceeded to break it down with me over the coming weeks, with considerable gusto. She was right, of course—I did love it. I don’t know many teachers, even now, who would have taken that particular plunge with an elementary school student,” says pianist and music educator Jenny Undercofler, whose fascination with ‘new music’ has continued ever since. “In a similar vein, I remember Jerry Lowenthal calling me when I was a masters student at Juilliard, to tell me to make time to play ‘new music’ on the Focus Festival. I was so surprised and flattered by the call, and of course I then played in the festival, which further opened the ‘new music’ door. I think of this when I encourage private teachers to have their students play with Face the Music. Their ‘endorsement’ can make a world of difference.” Face the Music is a ‘new music’ ensemble for teenagers that she started as an outgrowth of her work as music director of the Special Music School, a New York City public school.

Toyin Spellman-Diaz — “The impetus for my interest in music came from my first public school music teacher in fifth grade,” says the Imani Winds oboist, Toyin Spellman-Diaz. “She inspired in me a love of seeing a project come to fruition. She put on musical productions. She would play the piano, rehearse the choir, have kids get costumes. She had crazy ideas and somehow made them come to life and did it with determination and joy. I remember watching her as a young child and thinking that even though it was a lot of work, she enjoyed what she was doing. I remember thinking, ‘I would really like to do something like this when I grow up.’ I sang in the choir. She introduced me to the flute and I played in the school band. I wanted to follow in her footsteps and be a music teacher,” says Ms. Spellman-Diaz, who has a studio of pupils now. She also serves as another kind of teacher during Imani Winds concerts, with the informative comments that she and others in the quintet share with the audience before each piece.

Headline Image: Sheet Music, Piano. Public domain via Pixabay.

The post Thanks, teacher: musicians reflect on special ways a teacher helped them learn their craft appeared first on OUPblog.

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15. PAPERCHASE WEEK - round up

It is the last day of looking at Paperchase's current range of designs and I have pieced together a final round-up of cards, wrap, and stationery. I really loved this Ponies design on wrapping paper, floral tulip style pattern and the geometric and wood eco pads.

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16. Three Weeks of Thanks-Giving Wrap-up


Today closes out our Three Weeks of Thanks-Giving. See below for my round-up of posts and thank-you notes. If you haven't shared your link/comment yet, you can still do so. I'll update this post later with any additional links/emails we receive. And don't forget--today's the last day to enter for a chance to win a copy of the 2015 Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market (CWIM) containing my interview roundup article, "Writing for Boys (and other 'Reluctant Readers')." See my November 7 post for all the details.


Thanksgiving is over for most people (and many are busy celebrating the more recent American ritual of "Black Friday"). However, I'm getting ready to celebrate our second Thanksgiving this week, this one with my husband's family gathering here in our home. This two-Thanksgivings-in-one-week tradition started years ago when my son was young. When my husband and I were first married, we actually spent Thanksgiving day with both our families, eating an early meal at one home and then driving to eat a second Thanksgiving dinner at another. After our son was born, we realized that was no longer practical. My in-laws came up with a simple solution: scheduling their family gathering on a different day, usually the weekend before or after Thanksgiving. Over the years, I've been very grateful to be able to celebrate fully with both sides of the family. So, while some of you may be gearing up for the December holidays, I'll be cleaning and cooking in preparation for Thanksgiving #2. That's why I'm keeping this post short. J     

Here are the links to the Three Weeks of Thanks-Giving blog posts:
Also, I want to thank the two readers who were unable to post their Thanks-Giving comments but took the time to email them to us:
  1. Wendy, who blogs at An Education in Books, who wrote: "I am thankful for my family and for the unexpected snow!"
  2. And Julie Phend, who said, "I am grateful for: 
A wonderful network of writers through SCBWI.
My two challenging, supportive writers groups: one in Illinois and one in Virginia.
My family, who provide inspiration, encouragement, ideas, and yes--distractions."
Don't forget to check out today's Poetry Friday round-up over at Carol's Corner.

Happy writing!
Carmela

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17. P.D.James (1920-2014)

       P.D.James has passed away -- so, lots of coverage; see, for example, obituaries in The Guardian (Richard Lea) and The New York Times (Marilyn Stasio)
       She was very good, and I've read almost all her books; four are under review at the complete review:

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18. Navigating Sharque Infested Waters: gifts to agents and editors


I am extremely fortunate to have an agent I love (yea!) and, recently, a brand-spanking new editor (new to me; not new to the business)! So excited that my novel will—after lots more work—see the light of day. Here’s the question: the holidays are approaching. What is an appropriate token of appreciation from an author to an agent and to an editor? I feel like especially now I should be sending a holiday/thank you gift, but don’t know what is considered nice and what is considered too much. Is there something I should definitely NOT send (like teachers who have cabinets full of “Greatest Teacher Ever” mugs)?


Any advice you have for the holiday season would be most appreciated. We writers do tend to stress over the little things. :-)

First, congrats on your pending publication. This is a terrific achievement!

Gifts, even at the holidays, are not needed or required. It is NOT rude, forgetful, impolite or socially unacceptable to not give gifts to business associates.

If you are moved to send something, a lovely card with your own words of appreciation would be very nice.  {I save those.}

What you don't want to send is food or perishables of any kind. Deliveries slow down in NYC due to weather and volume.  Agents aren't in the office every day of the week, and particularly not during the holidays.  For example, this holiday week, I was out of the office the entire week.  Most people didn't know it because I was still "working" but if you'd sent something fresh or perishable, well, my minion would have enjoyed it very much but I would not have seen it.

I can't tell you how awful it is to get lovely boxes of what had been fresh fruit on January 3rd.  That happens more than you think.

If you absolutely must send something to say thank you, it's really hard to go wrong with a gift card. Starbucks, Barnes and Noble, all good things.

But I strongly encourage you to not send gifts. Save that for when we do something above and beyond the call of duty like bail you out of the hoosegow after you and Jeff Somers decided to re-enact the bathtub scene from We Are Not Good People.



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19. Slavery, rooted in America’s early history

No one can discuss American history without talking about the prevalence of slavery. When the Europeans attempted to colonize America in its early days, Indians and Africans were enslaved because they were “different from them”. The excerpt below from American Slavery: A Very Short Introduction follows the dark past of colonial America and how slavery proceeded to root itself deeply into history:

America held promises of wealth and freedom for Europeans; in time, slavery became the key to the fulfillment of both. Those who ventured to the lands that became the United States of America arrived determined to extract wealth from the soil, and they soon began to rely on systems of unpaid labor to accomplish these goals. Some also came with dreams of acquiring freedoms denied them in Europe, and paradoxically slavery helped to make those freedoms possible as well. As European immigrants to the colonies initiated a system of slavery, they chose to enslave only those who were different from them—Indians and Africans. A developing racist ideology marked both Indians and Africans as heathens or savages, inferior to white Europeans and therefore suited for enslavement. When continued enslavement of Indians proved difficult or against colonists’ self-interest, Africans and their descendants alone constituted the category of slave, and their ancestry and color came to be virtually synonymous with slave.

Although Europeans primarily enslaved Africans and their descendants, in the early 1600s in both northern and southern colonies, Africans were not locked into the same sort of lifetime slavery that they later occupied. Their status in some of the early colonies was sometimes ambiguous, but by the time of the American Revolution, every English colony in America—from Virginia, where the English began their colonization project, to Massachusetts, where Puritans made claims for religious freedom—had people who were considered lifetime slaves. To understand how the enslavement of Africans came about, it is necessary to know something of the broader context of European settlement in America.

In the winter of 1606, the Virginia Company, owned by a group of merchants and wealthy gentry, sent 144 English men and boys on three ships to the East Coast of the North American continent. English explorers had established the colony of Roanoke in Carolina in 1585, but when a ship arrived to replenish supplies two years later, the colony was nowhere to be found. The would-be colonists had either died or become incorporated into Indian groups. The English failed in their first attempt to establish a permanent colony in North America. Now they were trying again, searching for a place that would sustain and enrich them.

By the time the English ships got to the site of the new colony in April 1607, only 105 men and boys were left. Despite the presence of thousands of Algonquian-speaking Indians in the area, the leader of the English group planted a cross and named the territory on behalf of James, the new king of England. They established the Jamestown Settlement as a profit-making venture of the Virginia Company, but the colony got off to a bad start. The settlers were poorly suited to the rigors of colonization. To add to their troubles, the colony was located in an unhealthy site on the edge of a swamp. The new arrivals were often ill, plagued by typhoid and dysentery from lack of proper hygiene. Human waste spilled into the water supply, the water was too salty for consumption at times, and mosquitoes and bugs were rampant. No one planted foodstuffs. The colonists entered winter unprepared and only gifts of food from the Powhatan Indians saved them.

In the winter of 1609/10, a period that colonist John Smith called the “starving time,” several of the colonists resorted to cannibalism. According to Smith, some of the colonists dug up the body of an Indian man they had killed, boiled him with roots and herbs, and ate him. One man chopped up his wife and ate her. John Smith feared that the colony would disappear much as Roanoke had, so he established a militarized regime, divided the men into work gangs with threats of severe discipline, and told them that they would either work or starve. Smith’s dramatic strategy worked. The original settlers did not all die, and more colonists, including women and children, arrived from England to help build the struggling colony.

Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons. (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lg_ph1444tobaccowharves.jpg)
Tobacco Wharf in Colonial America. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

The first dozen years of the Jamestown Colony saw hunger, disease, and violent conflicts with the Native People, but it also saw the beginnings of a cash crop that could generate wealth for the investors in the Virginia Company back in England, as well as for planters within the colony. In 1617, the colonist John Rolfe brought a new variety of tobacco from the West Indies to Jamestown. In tobacco the colonists found the saleable commodity for which they had been searching, and they shipped their first cargo to England later that year. The crop, however, made huge demands on the soil. Cultivation required large amounts of land because it quickly drained soil of its nutrients. This meant that colonists kept spreading out generating immense friction with the Powhatan Indians who had long occupied and used the land. Tobacco was also a labor-intensive crop, and clearing land for new fields every few years required a great deal of labor. The colony needed people who would do the work.

Into this unsettled situation came twenty Africans in 1619. According to one census there were already some Africans in the Jamestown colony, but August 1619, when a Dutch warship moored at Point Comfort on the James River, marks the first documented arrival of Africans in the colony. John Rolfe wrote, “About the last of August came in a dutch man of warre that sold us twenty Negars.” According to Rolfe, “the Governor and Cape Marchant bought [them] for victuals at the easiest rates they could.” Colonists who did not have much excess food thought it worthwhile to trade food for laborers.

The Africans occupied a status of “unfreeness”; officials of the colony had purchased them, yet they were not perpetual slaves in the way that Africans would later be in the colony. For the most part, they worked alongside the Europeans who had been brought into the colony as indentured servants, and who were expected to work usually for a period of seven years to pay off the cost of their passage from England, Scotland, Wales, the Netherlands, or elsewhere in Europe. For the first several decades of its existence, European indentured servants constituted the majority of workers in the Jamestown Colony. Living conditions were as harsh for them as it was for the Africans as noted in the desperate pleas of a young English indentured servant who begged his parents to get him back to England.

In March 1623, Richard Frethorne wrote from near Jamestown to his mother and father in England begging them to find a way to get him back to England. He was hungry, feared coming down with scurvy or the bloody flux, and described graphically the poor conditions under which he and others in the colony lived. He was worse off, he said, than the beggars who came to his family’s door in England. Frethorne’s letter is a rare document from either white or black servants in seventeenth-century Virginia, but it certainly reflects the conditions under which most of them lived. The Africans, captured inland, taken to the coast, put on ships, taken to the Caribbean, and captured again by another nation’s ships, were even farther removed from any hope of redemption than Frethorne. Even if they could have written, they would have had no way of sending an appeal for help. As it happens, Frethorne was not successful either. His letter made it to London but remained in the offices of the Virginia Company. His parents probably never heard his appeal.

Featured headline image: Cotton gin harpers. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

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20. Poetry Friday -- First Snow




FIRST SNOW

Not satisfied to trace
bare branches
and 
remaining leaves 
into lace,
this first snow
tries to fill the place
between 
my glasses
and 
my face.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2014



Our first snow was a playful, fluffy couple of inches, not a destructive, multi-foot dump like Buffalo got, or a plan-changing Nor'easter like the one this week. One more thing to add to the list of my "Thankful For"s.

Today we're also thankful for Carol, at Carol's Corner, who is hosting the Poetry Friday roundup!



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21. Guest Post By G.K Holloway, Author of 1066:What Fates Impose


Today's guest post is by Glynn(G.K) Holloway, whose novel 1066: What Fates Impose I won some months ago on the English Historical Fiction Authors blog. 

                                                    
  
Glynn has kindly agreed to tell us about how he researched his book and why the period fascinates him so much. It's an era that fascinates me too; the entire history of Europe could have been very different if only a few things had gone differently in 1066. The very English language would have been different! 
But I'll let the author tell you all about it. Take it away, Glynn!

The inspiration for my novel, 1066: What Fates Impose, came from reading a biography of Harold Godwinson. I’ve always been an avid reader and a history fan and I like to mix up my reading with biographies and novels. I knew something about King Harold from my school days and stories my Dad had told me, so when I found a biography about him by Ian Walker, I was intrigued enough to buy it. I found the book really opened my eyes to the era. Once I’d finished it I wanted to know more, so I read books about William the Conqueror, the Godwin family and then more and more about Anglo Saxon England. I found the history fascinating, full of marauding Vikings, papal plots, blood feuds, court intrigues, assassinations, so much so, I couldn’t believe the story of the era hadn’t been covered more in films, TV and, of course, books. So, I decided to do something myself. I researched everything I could about the period, including court etiquette, sword manufacturing techniques - everything. I also visited many of the locations that appear in the book, usually on family holidays and once I’d done all that - and it took quite some time - I wove together facts and fiction to produce the novel.  
The more I researched the more amazed I became about how events played out. For Harold, everything that could go wrong did go wrong, and I’m not just thinking of the power struggles in the north of England. For instance, Edward couldn’t have died at a worse time. For William the opposite is true; even when he has what appears to be bad luck, things works out for him or he makes them work. One of the times I’m thinking about is when William first sets foot on English soil and falls flat on his face. He stands up with two hands full of soil and says, ‘By the splendour of the Almighty, I have seized my kingdom; the soil of England is in my own two hands.’ You have to admire his quick thinking. But it’s not just one or two things, there’s a long, long list of things both in England and on the European continent that fell into place for William. To top it all, a comet even puts in an appearance!
When writing the book I decided to stick as close as possible to the events and be as true to the characters as possible. For me, it’s important to get the research right, so the reader has confidence in the story, knowing what they’re reading is the real thing. This is why Lady Godiva doesn’t ride naked through the streets of Coventry. It never happened. Besides, there was enough going on at that time for me not to have to add any additional spice to the story. Most of the events depicted in my book really happened with perhaps, one or two exceptions or manipulations.
How to present the story was another matter. I wanted the story to be as accessible as possible,  so the idea of writing in some sort of pseudo Shakespeare didn’t appeal. It was no use writing in Old English because for one thing I don’t speak it and for another neither do many other people. Those who do are already familiar with the events. So, I thought I’d use modern plain English and keep out as many anachronisms as possible. No one says, ‘OK’ or ‘Hi there’.
I’m very fortunate in having a wife who is so supportive and in a position to help as our children were still quite young and they were going to a child minder in the holidays and after school. When I left my full time job I was able to look after them at home. My wife has her own business; she is a tax consultant. This enabled me to work part time in her business and part time on my book. The money we saved on child care and employing someone in the business balanced out favourably. When the novel was completed, it ran for 297,000 words. An editor suggested cuts – a lot. So, many months later, I had a finished novel that ran to a mere 160,000 – almost a short story. I’m now working on a sequel.
I’ve explained briefly, what made me write the book but why would anyone want to read it? Well, the era is, I think, very exciting and the Battle of Hastings was such a close run thing - so close that if it had rained that day, William would probably have lost the battle. Some people might think, ‘So what? A fight in a field a thousand years ago on the other side of the planet; what difference does that make now?’
Well the answer is, think how much the outcome changed England’s history. In the mid eleventh century England had been just one of the kingdoms in Cnut’s Empire, which included Denmark and Norway. England looked to the north and was part of the north. The language and culture were very similar. England did not look south for ideas or inspiration and did not get involved with southern European affairs. After Hastings all that changed and for centuries England and France were at each other’s throats.
Some say that if it hadn’t been for the Normans, England would never have risen to prominence. If that’s true, there may never have been a British Empire. If it isn’t true, there might have been some sort of Nordic Empire that spanned even more of the world than the British ever did. 'What if the Normans had lost?'  is a very big question and that’s why I’m writing a follow-up. A Norman victory changed England for ever and consequently had ramifications that echo on through the centuries. It has to be an interesting story.

Bio
G K Holloway was born in a small anonymous town in the north of England. On leaving school he worked in a variety of jobs until he arrived at his mid twenties and decided it was time for a change.
Having always liked history, he thought he'd enjoy studying the subject for a degree, so enrolling in evening classes at his local college to take O Level and A Level courses, seemed the obvious thing to do.
After graduating from Coventry,  he spent nearly a year in Canada before returning to England to train as a Careers Advisor. After qualifying, he worked in secondary education before moving onto further education, adult education and eventually higher education.
You can buy 1066: What Fates Impose at Amazon, in either paperback or ebook , here. http://www.amazon.com/1066-Impose-G-K-Holloway/dp/1783062207


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22. 5 Fears of Buying Manga From US Manga Publishers

There’s generally been a reason, a few reasons, or many reasons, why people don’t buy manga. What exactly are those reasons? Aside from potential translation/editing/product issues (which, well, IS a possibility), we’ve come up with 5 “fears” of buying manga from manga publishers, which takes into account the present and the future. Of course, this ... Read more

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23. To The Insane Magic is Bestowed

nicole richie candidly nicole
Magic doesn’t come out of thin air, the moments that ARE magical are born from will, work, determination, and often times a bit of absurd belief that you’re capable of goals far greater than anyone sane would believe. Magic exists, it’s just only the insane are lucky enough to find it.

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24. Friday Feature: Wickedly They Dream


How far will Jordan go to save her mother? Will her deception cost her everything--Even her guardian angel, Markus?
After Seeley is possessed by an evil wraith, Jordan must dig deeper into the Satanic realm. Against Markus's direct orders, she offers herself, body and soul in a blood covenant to rescue Seeley from the clutches of hell. Jordan assumes her guardian angel will not leave her to fight alone. But there's trouble in paradise, and Markus has been reassigned. Can Jordan defeat both her internal and external demons to win him back. Or is he gone for good this time?


Title: Wickedly They Dream
Release Date: November 5, 2014
Genre: Paranormal Thriller/Fantasy

Buy it on Amazon.

Find Cathy online:
Want your YA, NA, or MG book featured on my blog? Contact me here and we'll set it up.

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25. TURNING PAGES: WAR BROTHERS, by SHARON E. MCKAY

This is a story about child soldiers in Uganda, in Africa, and about Kony Joseph. It's fictional, but based on a true account. Despite the boatload of honors and awards (Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults 2014, YALSA Great Graphic Novels for Teens... Read the rest of this post

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