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1. MARSHMALLOW CHICKS: A Poem for Easter

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Here is my poetry selection for the Friday before Easter. It’s about PEEPS©--which I used to love to eat when I was a little kid.



MARSHMALLOW CHICKS
By Elaine Magliaro

I hear them peeping

in their package,

beseeching:

Eat me!

Eat me!

I break open

their plastic shell,

hold soft hatchlings

in my hands.

One by one

I savor

a chattering of chicks,

chubby marshmallow chicks

coated with colored sugar.

I lick their bright yellow down

from my fingertips.

********************

You’ll find the Poetry Friday Roundup over at Life on the Deckle Edge.



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2. 30 Days: "Miss Mazi is Missing" by Lori V Bulloch





Miss Mazi is Missing
by Lori V. Bulloch

Miss Mazi is missing.
Oh, where could she be?
She's never, ever been
Far away from me.

A tortoise so little –
She couldn't be far.
Please, please, Lord, don't let her
Get hit by a car!

Miss Mazi is making
Me worry and wait.
She's making me check each
Nook, cranny and grate.

With neighborhood knocking
And signs taped on post,
Empty hands clasped in prayer
Assure me the most.

Miss Mazi's appearing
(Done all on her own?)
Crawling out from the vines
Of her own backyard home.

How did she do that?
Hide out for so long?
And what does it matter?
I'll sing a glad song...

Miss Mazi is HOME now.
She's safe at long last!
My three weeks of wond'ring
All now in the past.

I've learned this one lesson:
No matter how low,
We are in the Lord's hands
Wherever we go.

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3. Double Book Review: Wild About Bears & Petey and Pru and the Hullabaloo


Since it's been awhile, I'm popping on the PBJs today to post a double book review. I was lucky enough to get the above books signed by the author/illustrator Jeannie Brett and author Ammi-Joan Paquette. Both books are visually beautiful and offer layers of interest and depth for readers.


Wild About Bears is a non-fiction picture book giving an overview of the eight bear species. The artwork is captivating and lush, and the facts are so intriguing. This is a true family book, and I can see us returning to it for years to come. Visit Jeannie's website for loads of information and bonus materials. 


 If you recall, I reviewed Mustache Baby last year, illustrated by Joy Ang. I instantly recognized her bold, expressive style on the cover of Petey and Pru and the Hullabaloo, written by Ammi-Joan Paquette.


True to picture-book form, this book is a fine marriage of words and images. Ammi-Joan has written a big, bold, hilarious tale full of big, bold, hilarious words.


 I love that my near 3 year old walks around saying hullabaloo after reading this book (and knows EXACTLY what it means). The endpapers smartly include definitions - I know I needed to reference it for the word 'defenestration'.


Everything is done with fun and mischief so you might not even realize that you've been hornswoggled into learning a few new words. Thanks, Ammi-Joan!



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4. Focus on Nature XIII Exhibition

Yesterday we attended the preview opening of Focus on Nature XIII, the exhibition of natural science artwork at the New York State Museum in Albany.

The show presents 91 illustrations by 71 illustrators, hailing from 15 different countries. Many of the artists attended the event, some traveling all the way from Australia and Spain.

The art is juried in on the basis of both artistic and scientific merit, and the show includes both digital and hand-painted images.

Artists were invited to share some stories about their work. Dorie Petrochko brought an actual horsehoe crab exoskeleton as she explained the creature's unique biology and how its blood is drawn for the medical industry. "This creature sacrifices a lot for science," she said. It's the oldest living fossil, and has survived twelve mass extinctions.

I was surprised and thrilled that my painting of Kosmoceratops for Scientific American won a jury award. I described how I made a maquette of the dinosaur to study the cast shadows and the dappled light in the forest interior. 

The show also includes my original gouache preliminary study for the Australian dinosaur stamps.

All the attending artists had a wonderful opportunity to visit behind the scenes at the museum, and we had a look at the Native American artifacts in the archaeology collection. 

The New York State Museum also has a very large insect collection well arranged in glass-topped boxes. Any artist or art student who would like to draw a study of a particular insect, plant form, or other biological specimen can make arrangements to visit behind the scenes in the collection. It's good to know in advance exactly what you're looking for because they have so much.
-----
Focus on Nature XIII officially opens to the public tomorrow and will be up through January 4, 2015 at the New York State Museum in Albany, NY. Admission is free.
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Dorie Petrochko is launching a natural science illustration program at the Yale Peabody Museum in New Haven, CT. 
----
There's a detailed making-of video of my painting Kosmoceratops, that you can order on DVD from Kunaki.com (shipped internationally) or from Amazon.com, or you can get the digital download of the video from Gumroad.


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5. Cynsational News & Giveaway

Compiled by Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Christian Slater, Annie Hall, Rejection, and Me (Not Necessarily in That Order) by Shawn K. Stout from the Writing Barn. Peek: "That feeling, right there. Do you know the one? That crushing ache? The one right there in the middle of my chest that tells me in that moment I’m unloved by the universe? That’s what rejection feels like to me. Every. Single. Time."

A Logic Model for Author Success by Sharon Bially from Writer Unboxed. Peek: "Called the 'Logic Model'...its goal is to help writers make the best decisions about where to focus their creative energies and efforts when it’s time to launch their books."

Do I Capitalize "God" in Dialogue and Internal Thoughts? by Deborah Halverson from Dear Editor. Peek: "The only rigid rule for capitalizing 'God' in dialogue and thoughts is that you do so when using it as a pronoun: 'Joe, God won’t like that.' Beyond that..."

Think Before You Write by Ash Krafton from QueryTracker Blog. Peek: "Even if I were to sit down as soon as I can and start banging out the scene, it never feels quite the same as it did during its inception. I feel like I lose little parts of myself every time that happens."

Carol Lynch Williams on The Haven by Adi Rule from wcya The Launch Pad at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Peek: "Treat writing like a job. It's not behind the dishes or taking out the garbage. It's your profession. You write first."

Chukfi Rabbit's Big, Bad Bellyache: A Trickster Tale by Choctaw author Greg Rodgers: a recommendation from Debbie Reese at American Indians in Children's Literature. Peek: "...the illustrations by Leslie Stall Widener are terrific. They provide the visual clues that this is a Choctaw story. The clothes the characters wear accurately depict the sorts of items Choctaw's wear, from tops like the one Chukfi wears to the baseball cap that Kinta wears."

The Emotional Journey of a Novel by Mary Kole from Kidlit.com. Peek: "...what we’re looking at above is the standard three-act structure but instead of tracking how the plot rises and then falls, we are tracking how the character feels during each step of the process."

Editing for Agents by agent Tina Wexler and author Skila Brown from Literary Rambles. Peek: "Maybe the agent’s comments are prescriptive in a way that you don’t really like, but listen hard to what problem s/he is identifying and see if you’ve got another idea on how to fix it."

What "Frozen" Teaches Us About Storytelling & Publishing by Stina Lindenblatt from QueryTracker Blog. Peek: "There are quite a few plot spoilers in this post, so if you’re planning to watch the movie, do so first."

Cynsational Author Tip: You may own the copyright to your book, but not everything written about it.  Keep review quotes short, and as a courtesy, provide a link to the source.

A character on the autism spectrum.
Characters on the Autism Spectrum by Yvonne Ventresca from YA Highway. Peek: "At a time when one in every 68 children in the U.S. is affected by autism, it’s interesting to see how children’s literature portrays autistic characters. ...odds are high that teens will have an autistic family member, or a classmate with Asperger syndrome, or a neighbor on the spectrum."

Keeping Up with the Racing Rules by Emma D. Dryden from Our Stories, Ourselves. Peek: "We can't wish away the fact kids are growing up fast, doing everything fast, wanting everything fast, and getting everything fast."

Shattering the Multicultural Myth of the Market. Let's Go! from Mitali Perkins. Peek: "We are tweeting, texting, status-ing, and insta-ing that book until our friends are convinced they must buy it right now or their quality of life will diminish."

"Ariel" by Katherine Catmull: a new story from The Cabinet of Curiosities. Note: "about a mistreated bird and its shadow."

This Week at Cynsations

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My Week: Travel, Events, Revision! Thank you to TLA, LATFOB, librarians, YA readers, and Candlewick Press for a blurry flurry of bookish fun.

I sent my editor my Feral Pride revision on Wednesday, and she sent notes back on the first half on Thursday. Notes on the second half will come Tuesday. I've been focusing on chapter one, the target of her most substantive suggestions. My goals are to orient the reader, kick off the action, and maintain in the narrative continuity--all of which are more challenging with book 3 in a trilogy and book 9 in a universe. We're almost, but not quite there.

With authors Laurie Halse Anderson & Cecil Castellucci at The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.
Texas Teens for Libraries at the TLA Annual Conference in San Antonio (that's my back in white).

See also Nikki Loftin and Lupe Ruiz-Flores on the Texas Library Association annual conference.

The post on my mind this week? The Best Bums in Children's Fiction -- Or Why Are So Many Children's Books About Bottoms? by Emma Barnes from An Awfully Big Blog Adventure. Peek: "...for the average five year old, toilet training and bed wetting are still very immediate issues, and getting oneself to the toilet on time can be a source of pride (or sometimes an embarrassing failure)."

Greg models Little Green Men at the Mercury Inn at the Macmillan booth at TLA.
Congratulations to Greg Leitich Smith on a rave review from Publishers Weekly for Little Green Men at the Mercury Inn (Roaring Brook, 2014). Peek: "...an engaging, humorous look at humans learning that they’re not alone in the universe."

Author blurbs also are in:

"Aliens, government coverups, bionic limbs, kooky scientists, luau pigs, conspiracy theories, and mysterious patio furniture—I don't know about you, but these are the things I look for in a great story. Little Green Men at the Mercury Inn has all of them, plus a huge dose of humor. Read it and enjoy, but be warned: You may never want to eat roast pork ever again." —Matthew Holm, co-creator of Babymouse and Squish

“Here is a story for everyone who has ever wondered if that brilliant green light was a UFO. It's for everyone who has ever imagined living on Mars. In short, it's for everyone who has ever asked the question, 'who am I, really?’ Read it, then make your reservations at the Mercury Inn. Just don’t be alarmed if you find an alien in the refrigerator."Kathi Appelt, Newbery Honor author of The Underneath

Don't miss my Q&A interview this week at The Horn Book. Peek: "...of late, I’ve become intrigued by wereorcas and Dolphins. I’ve lived a largely mid- to southwestern, landlocked life, so even though most of our world is covered by water, to me it’s as alien and fantastical as anything we’d find in fiction."

Reminder: E-volt is having a sale on Eternal by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Candlewick) for $1.99 and Feral Nights by Cynthia Leitich Smith, $2.99--discount prices will hold through April! Listen to an audio sample of Feral Nights and read a sample of Eternal.

Cheers to Dr. Sylvia Vardell on receiving the 2014 ALA-Scholastic Library Publishing Award!

Personal Links

Cynsational Events

Join Varian Johnson, Greg Leitich Smith and Jennifer Ziegler in celebrating their new middle grade novels at 2 p.m. June 14 at BookPeople in Austin.

Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers will be held June 16 to June 21 at the Waterford School in Sandy, Utah. Keynote speaker: James Dashner; faculty includes Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith. Learn about the WIFYR Fellowship Award. See also Alison L. Randall on Choosing a Writing Conference

Join Cynthia Leitich Smith in discussing Feral Curse (Candlewick, 2014) with the YA Reading Club at 11 a.m. June 28 at Cedar Park Public Library in Cedar Park, Texas.

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6. The Color of LIght by Helen Maryles Shankman

It is 1992 and postmodernism is the dominent art movement of the moment.  Rafe Sinclair, founder of The American Academy of Classical Art in New York City, is a classicist through and through, but now he is facing grumblings from some of his board member who think other art forms should be introduced, a board that wouldn't mind removing Rafe as head of the Academy.

But his Board isn't the only problem Rafe has.  First, Rafe is a vampire and is trying desperatgely to hold on to his sense of humanity even as he is forced to kill in order to live.  Second, Rafe was an art student in the 1930.  He had met and fallen in love with a young Jewish woman, a fellow artist, just before World War II began, and he is still in love with her, although he believes she had perished in the Holocaust.

Tessa Moss is a young art student at the Academy, talented but naive and involved in an unhealthy relationship with another artist, the very narcissistic Lucian Swain.  Rafe never really noticed Tessa's work until one day when he notices a sketch she has done of a woman with a child by a suitcase that has the name Witzotsky written on it.  The woman is covering the eyes of the child with her hand.  Rafe begins to take a special interest in Tessa and her work.

Witzotsky is a familiar name to Rafe and it turns out that Tessa has sketched a picture depicting a relative of hers named Sofia Witzotsky.  And, in fact, Sofia is the very same woman that Rafe was involved with, the same woman he thought he had lost in the Holocaust.  Or had he?  After all, he never really knew what Sofia's fate had actually been?  Before long, Tessa and Rafe are involved with each other, which is against school rules and just the kind of infraction the board could use to remove Rafe from his position as head of the Academy.  But if Tessa can help Rafe discover what really happened to Sofia, maybe it was worth the risk.

Helen Mayles Shankman has written a long, complicated book encompassing two time periods, and a fair amount of different characters.  It is very well written, engaging, compelling and I actually enjoyed the intricacies of the plot twists and turns.  Rafe and Tessa are believable (well, except for the vampire part), well defined, likable characters, each carrying a lot of baggage that goes back to the Holocaust: Rafe may have lost the love of his life, and Tessa has lost one whole family line on her father's side.

The Color of Light is a novel that will definitely please your romantic sensibilities, and your penchant for historical fiction and has all the elements of a good mystery novel all in one long (574 pages) story.   Shankman has a MFA in painting, so her art/artistic descriptions are pretty spot on and you will have no trouble picturing works of art that don't really exist.

My vampire fan days are long behind me and vampires are certainly not something I expected to read about when I started this blog.  And yet, I have certainly read my share of fantasy and science fiction here, so why not vampires?  But the fact that  Rafe Sinclair is a vampire is only a plot device allowing the narrative its dual time frame with him in both time periods as a man his age and it worked.

And generally the YA/Adult books I review here are of the cozy type, but variety is the spice of life and The Color of Life is a spicy novel that could be classified as New Adult/Adult.  What I mean is that it has more sexual content than most of the YA/Adult I review.

My friend Zohar over at Man of La Book recommended The Color of Light to me and I am so glad he did.  And I am paying it forward.

This book is recommended for mature readers age 15+
This book was sent to me by the author

A Reading Group Guide for The Color of Light is available HERE

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7. Ask an Editor: Villain POVs

Stacy Whitman photo

Stacy Whitman is Editorial Director and Publisher of Tu Books, an imprint of LEE & LOW BOOKS that publishes diverse science fiction and fantasy for middle grade and young adult readers. This blog post was originally posted at her blog, Stacy Whitman’s Grimoire

I have to admit, I really hate reading villain POVs. There are so few villains that have any redeemable qualities, and especially starting a book out with the villain’s point of view when they’re murdering and/or plundering just makes me go, “Why do I want to read this book, again?”

This is actually one of the things I hated most about the famous adult fantasy series Wheel of Time, though I love the series in general: I hated the amount of time spent on this Forsaken’s love of naked mindless servants, and that Forsaken’s love of skinning people, or whatever. Yeah, yeah, I get it, they’re irredeemably evil. Get back to someone I’m actually ROOTING FOR, which is why I’m reading the book!

Vodnik sketch

Vodnik, the villain from Bryce Moore’s novel Vodnik

Sometimes it’s important to briefly show the villain’s point of view to convey to the reader some information that our hero doesn’t have, but I find more and more that my tolerance for even these kinds of scenes is thinning fast. Too often it’s a substitute for more subtle forms of suspense, laying clues that the reader could pick up if they were astute, the kind of clues that the main character should be putting together one by one to the point where when he or she finally figures it out. Then the reader slaps their own forehead and says, “I should have seen that coming!”

It’s a completely different matter, of course, when the whole point is for the “villain” to simply be someone on another side of an ideological or political divide where there are no true “bad guys.” Usually this happens in a book in which your narrators are unreliable, which can be very interesting. Often the villain is the hero in their own story, which is far more interesting than a “pure evil” villain—in Lord of the Rings, Sauron is much less interesting than Saruman. Sauron is the source of pure evil, but Saruman made a choice—he thinks, well, evil will win anyway, I might as well be on top in the new world order. There are complications to his motivations.

Tu Books author Bryce Moore (Vodnikrecently reviewed the first Captain America movie and had this to say about how a character becomes evil, which I think is apropos to this discussion:

Honestly, if writers spent as much time developing the origin and conflicted ethos of the villains of these movies, I think they’d all be doing us a favor. As it is, it’s like they have a bunch of slips of paper with different elements on them, then they draw them at random from a hat and run with it. Ambitious scientist. Misunderstood childhood. Picked on in school.

That’s not how evil works, folks. You don’t become evil because you get hit in the head and go crazy. You become evil by making decisions that seemed good at the time. Justified. Just like you become a hero by doing the same thing. A hero or a villain aren’t born. They’re made. That’s one of the things I really liked about Captain America. He’s heroic, no matter how buff or weak he is.

This is, perhaps, the best description of why villain POVs bug me so much: because they’re oversimplified, villainized. And for some stories, I think villainization works, but I don’t want to see that point of view, because it’s oversimplified and uninteresting. When it’s actually complicated and interesting, then it becomes less “the villain” and more nuanced—sometimes resulting in real evil (after all, I doubt Hitler was an evil baby; he made choices to become the monster he became) and sometimes resulting in a Democrat instead of a Republican or vice versa—ideological, political differences between (usually) relatively good people.

But there’s a line for me, generally the pillaging/raping/murdering/all manner of human rights abuses line, at which I’m sorry, I just don’t care about this guy’s point of view. The equivalent of this in middle grade books—where pillages/murders/rapes are (hopefully) fewer—or young adult books is the pure evil villain who’s just out to get the main character because the villain is black-hearted, mean, vile, what-have-you. Evil through and through, with no threads of humanity. (Though honestly if he’s killing people “for their own good” to protect a certain more nuanced human viewpoint, I generally still don’t want to see that from his POV.)

What’s the line for you? Do you like villain points of view? Do you feel they add depth to a story? At what point do you think a villain POV goes from adding nuance or advancing the plot to annoying?

Filed under: Publishing 101, Tu Books Tagged: ask an editor, fantasy writing, Notes from the Editors, writing advice, writing resources, writing tips

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8. School Presentations

Tips to get you invited back to schools. 

http://writerunboxed.com/2014/04/03/presenting-to-school-students-top-tips/

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9. COVER REVEAL: Emperor Pickletine Rides the Bus: An Origami Yoda Book



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10. Barry Buggles, Gina Lamm, & Gail Mencini: Coming Attractions

tuscanyHere are some handpicked titles from our Coming Attractions page. Want to include your book? Just read our Share Your New Book with GalleyCat Readers post for all the details.

Humphrey the Bug Eyed Alien: Adventures in France by Barry Buggles: ”Humphrey The Bug Eyed Alien, finds himself high above the French Alps mountain range. He goes on to discover many wonderful sights and facts about France in Europe.” (January 2013)

continued…

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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11. Multiple main characters

Question: In my book I have like 5 or main characters depending on how you look at it because there's always at least 5 but for one book I'll introduce

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12. The View from my Desk - Easter 2014

Beverley Birch is friend and mentor to many slushpilers and published authors alike. She was a senior commissioning editor for Hodder Children's Books and three times shortlisted for the Brandford Boase Award in recognition of the editor’s role in nurturing new talent. She is a writer of more than 40 books including novels, picture books, biographies and retellings of classic works and folk

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13. 2014 International Book Industry Excellence Awards

Logo-510x337

Last week, we were humbled to learn that we received the inaugural International Academic and Professional Publisher Award from the London Book Fair, among a ridiculously esteemed group of nominees across multiple categories. The award, part of a new industry-wide pool of honors, furthers the LBF’s mission to “celebrate the role of the book and the written word at the heart of creative content across all formats.”

More from the press release:

These unique new awards, celebrating achievement across the entire business of publishing, will provide a truly global industry vision.  They represent the UK’s recognition of international publishing industry excellence, and take place within the calendar’s most important global publishing event.

LBF and The Publishers Association have selected an group of UK  judges, working at the heart of each category, whose international or discipline-specific expertise qualifies them to judge their peers’ work.

For a full list of winners, visit Publishing Perspectiveswho mention in their write-up of the awards ceremony:

The global book industry saw the birth of something new on Tuesday night, something that will surely grow to become a fixture on the international publishing calendar, something that seemed so right one wondered why it had never existed before.

Again, we’re humbled and honored—congrats to the other winners and all the nominees (excitedly: a truly global list).

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14. FOODFIC: The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9361589-the-night-circus



I love carnival food. Who doesn’t? My favorite is the fries; they have that inexplicable something* that is somehow conjured up by every unique traveling show, yet can be found nowhere else on Earth.

Maybe it’s magic.

Now don’t tell me don’t believe; real magic is in fact the heart (if not the stomach) of this story. Magic that hides in plain sight by masquerading as trickery.

There is Celia, billed by the night circus as an illusionist, but who actually can alter reality; her show might involve tossing a coat into the air only to have the silk fold in on itself to form the shape of a raven and then fly away.

Marco’s similar, if arguably lesser, ability enables him to manipulate perception – closer to what we think of as stage magic, yet he needs no diversionary tactics since he can truly manipulate what one sees.

Unfortunately, their magical prowess doesn’t equate to psychic ability and the two don’t know that they’re actually being pitted against each other in a contest to the death – the arena for which being the circus that they travel within.

So there’s magic andmystery and romance, yet I can’t help but circle back to my favorite question: What are they serving at this magically real venue? More magic hidden in plain sight, of course! There are fantastically delicious cinnamon things – layers of pastry and cinnamon and sugar all rolled into a twist and covered in icing, as well as spiced cocoa with clouds of extra whipped cream on top. Completely expected carnival foods made exceptional with magic, but still believably real. The only hints at the unusual are the chocolate mice (not at all like the Harry Potter frogs) and the edible paper featuring detailed illustrations that match their respective flavors, which frankly doesn’t sound at all appetizing to me.

And therein lies perhaps the truth of it all: we think we want the bizarre, but we really just want the best-ever version of the usual. We have to be able to relate to it in order to accept it; we need to believe that we are seeing and tasting the exceptional but normal, because admitting that it’s supernatural, might make it suddenly untrue. As in, It can’t be magic, because then it wouldn’t be really happening. Since nobody wants that, we have to deny the magic in order to enjoy it. See? I need them to serve me magical food out of a real-looking fake kitchen cart so that I can savor the flavors without letting doubt and disbelief sour the taste. ;)


*Probably oil that’s been sitting in a fryer for 50 years and would be labeled toxic by a health inspector if one could ever catch up with the show. But I wouldn’t have it any other way; some secrets are better left unexamined. ;)

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15. What I’m Up to at Kirkus This Week

This morning over at Kirkus, I take a look at Maira Kalman and Daniel Handler’s Girls Standing on Lawns, to be published by the Museum of Modern Art in early May. It made me want to find my own family photos of girls or women standing on lawns, which are in that piece over at Kirkus. Pictured above is my maternal grandmother.

That Q&A will be here today.

* * *

Pictured above is Dr. Alan Rabinowitz. I chatted with him at Kirkus yesterday about his picture book, A Boy and a Jaguar (Houghton Mifflin), illustrated by Catia Chen and also set to be released in early May. “This story,” Rabinowitz tells me, “is not just about a stuttering boy who studied jaguars, but about all children who feel sad, abused, or misunderstood by the world at large ….” It’s a remarkable story. That Q&A is here.

Until Sunday …

* * * * * * *

Photo of Alan Raboniwitz by Steve Winter and used with permission.

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16. My tweets

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17. Top five hip hop references in poetry

By David Caplan


Hip hop has influenced a generation of poets coming to prominence, poets I call “The Inheritors of Hip Hop.” Signaling how the music serves as a shared experience and inspiration, they  mention performers and songs as well as anecdotes from the genre’s development and the artists’ lives, while epigraphs and titles quote songs. The influence of hip hop can be heard in the work of many poets including (but certainly not limited to): Kevin Coval, Erica Dawson, LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs, Matthew Dickman, Major Jackson, Terrance Hayes, Dorothea Lasky, John Murillo, Eugene Ostashevsky, D.A. Powell, Roger Reeves, and Michael Robbins.

640px-Turntable_spinning

In no particular order, here are my five favorite hip hop references in poetry:

(1)   Kevin Young, “Expecting”
To capture the experience of first hearing his child’s heartbeat during a sonogram exam, Young develops a wildly inventive simile followed by metaphors borrowed from hip hop:

And there
it is: faint, an echo, faster and further

away than mother’s, all beat box
and fuzzy feedback. You are like hearing
hip-hop for the first time–power

hijacked from the lamppost–all promise.
You couldn’t sound better, break-
dancer, my favorite song bumping

from a passing car. You’ve snuck
into the club underage and stayed!

(2)   Rowan Ricardo Phillips, “Mappa Mundi
Describing his hometown of the Bronx, Phillips combines Wu Tang Clan’s Raekwon’s verse in “Triumph,” “Aiyyo, that’s amazing gun-in-your-mouth talk,” and Samuel Coleridge’s “Frost at Midnight,” “the redbreast sit and sing”:

Whether red birds sit and sing from rooftops

Or rappers cypher deep into the night,
The gun-in-your-mouth talk of a ransomed
God, nature is a lapse in city life.

(3)   Harryette Mullen, “Dim Lady”
Hip hop is nearly everywhere in Mullen’s earlier collection, Muse and Drudge, but my single favorite reference in her work to hip hop appears in “Dim Lady,” collected in Sleeping with the Dictionary. The prose poem rewrites and updates Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130. In the place of Shakespeare’s lines,

“I love to hear her speak, yet well I know / That music hath a far more pleasing sound,”

Mullen offers,

“I love to hear her rap, yet I’m aware that Muzak has a hipper beat.” 

(The poem’s ending always makes me laugh, “And yet, by gosh, my scrumptious Twinkie has as much sex appeal for me as any lanky model or platinum movie idol who’s hyped beyond belief.”

(4)   A. Van Jordan, “R&B
A subgenre of poems about hip hop criticizes the music. A rare exception to the ignorance such work typically show (see, for instance, Tony Hoagland’s “Rap Music”), “R & B” offers a well-informed, thoughtful critique. “Listen long enough to the radio, and you’ll think / maybe C. Dolores Tucker was right,” the poem opens and an endnote reminds readers of Tucker’s significant contributions to the black civil rights movement.

(5)   Michael Cirelli, “Dead Ass”
“I am not afraid of dope lyrics,” Michael Cirelli writes in “Dead Ass.” Several poems in Lobster with Ol’ Dirty Bastard retell moments from hip hop history. To describe teens grooving to the music, “Dead Ass” borrows from Oakland slang, “hyphy,” meaning “crazy” in a good sense, “hyphy / music makes their bodies dip up and down / like oil drills.” (My favorite line in the book, though, describes eighties pop, not hip hop, “We danced incestuously to Michael and Janet that night.”)

Bonus Tracks


(6)   Adrien Matejka, “Wheels of Steel
“I got me two songs instead of eyes,” the poem opens then swaggering quotes five songs in twenty-seven lines.

(7)   Marcus Wicker, “Love Letter to Flavor Flav” tries to make sense of Public Enemy’s most puzzling member:

How you’ve lived saying nothing
save the same words each day
is a kind of freedom or beauty.
Please, tell me I’m not lying to us.

David Caplan is Charles M. Weis Chair in English and Associate Director of Creative Writing at Ohio Wesleyan University. He is the author of Rhyme’s Challenge: Hip Hop, Poetry, and Contemporary Rhyming Culture. His previous books include Questions of Possibility: Contemporary Poetry and Poetic Form and the poetry collection In the World He Created According to His Will.

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Image credit: turntable spinning. Photo by Tengilorg, 2005. CC-BY-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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18. Book Beginnings - 4/18/14


*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.

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This week's Book Beginnings is taken from Ember Island by Kimberley Freeman.

"June sunshine blessed Tilly Kirkland's wedding.  Only the luckiest brides married in June, and Tilly could not believe how lucky she had been."


Even though it sounds like a romance novel, it is a book about finding secrets hidden in an old homestead.  I love books like that.  :)  


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THE FORGOTTEN SEAMSTRESS is a book I finished last week.  



It was wonderful.   

My full review can't be posted until May 30, but here are the last few lines from my review.

"If you enjoy reading family history and the history of family heirlooms created by a past generation and found by the present generation, you will definitely enjoy THE FORGOTTEN SEAMSTRESS.

The writing is flawless, the characters are lovable and unforgettable, the storyline will definitely hold your interest until the last page.  And...the last few pages will have you glued to each word.​ 5/5"


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19. The Hybrid Author" by Dianne G. Sagan

The Hybrid Author defines what everyone has struggled to put a label on.

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20. Netflix Releases Trailer For ‘Orange is the New Black’ Season 2

Netflix has released the trailer for the second season of Orange is the New Black.

The video embedded above features scenes with Taylor Schilling as Piper ChapmanKate Mulgrew as Galina “Red” Reznikov, and Uzo Aduba as Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” WarrenFollow this link to hear the cast describe the forthcoming season in three words.

According to Time, “the series premiered to critical acclaim last summer, and though Netflix does not release its audience data, it was rumored to have outpaced Netflix’s other popular originals, including House of Cards and the Arrested Development reboot, in viewership.” All 13 episodes of season two will come out on June 06, 2014.

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21. What’s your major?

by

Alex Bracken

Alexandra Bracken

During my brief stint as an editorial assistant, I received a ton of really random calls. My theory is that the company’s operators just went to the first editorial assistant listed alphabetically in the staff directory with general editorial queries. My absolute favorite call I ever received came from a girl, maybe twelve or thirteen at the most, who flat-out asked, “Do you need to know French to work at your job?”

“No. Why do you ask?” was the obvious response.

“My parents said that if I want to be an editor I have to learn French.” And then she asked me to repeat the answer, this time on speaker so her parents could hear me.

First of all, I love that she called an actual publishing house to prove her folks wrong. That is a girl after my own heart! It’s a nice way to launch into something that seems to be a lot of soon-to-be grads’s minds: What do you need to major in to work in publishing? 

I double majored in English and History in college, but the truth is… I could have majored in just about anything and still found a job in publishing. English is the most popular major/minor for publishing employees, but short survey of coworkers and friends turned up majors in marketing, communications, biology, psychology, history, education, and, yes, even French!

The one thing I can’t stress enough is that there’s no one route into publishing–no major is the key to finding a job. I’ve mentioned this here before, but the industry is what you’d call an apprenticeship industry. While having a degree in communications might help in trying to snag a publicity gig, the hiring manager is likely to be far more focused on what work experience you’re bringing with you–that is, what skill set you have to offer your potential team and the company as a whole. This can be anything from general office/administrative experience (let’s be honest, this comprises 75% of most assistant jobs in the industry) to working in your college’s public relations department to spending a summer interning at a major corporation. While it certainly helps to have some background knowledge of the industry, no one will expect that you, fresh out of school, will know what “point of sales” means or what GLB stands for–these things will, in time, be taught to you as part of your training.

More than anything, hiring managers want to see that you can read critically and write well (hence why you often have to submit a sample press release or editorial letter after interviewing), that you have some experience working in a corporate environment or as part of a team, and that you’re enthusiastic about publishing and the books the company publishes. And who knows? An “oddball” major like Folklore and Mythology, or even Neuroscience could make you stand out and provide fodder for an interesting interview conversation!

Alex lives in New York City, where she works in children’s publishing, writes like a fiend, and lives in a charming apartment overflowing with books. She is the New York Times bestselling author of The Darkest Minds and Never Fade. You can visit her online at her website or Twitter.

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22. Jot Down Writing Ideas With Six Word’s New iPhone App

allsixwordsYou are walking down the street and have a great idea, but as soon as you get back to your computer it’s gone. All writers have experienced it.

Lawrence Smith, the founder of the storytelling community SMITH Magazine, has created an iPhone app to help solve this challenge. Six Words is designed to help you quickly write down ideas in six words. Users can write six words on any topic and include a photo to help keep track of their ideas on-the-go.

There is a social component as well, for users that want to engage their ideas with the community. Writers can share their six words to get comments from the group and comment on others’ ideas. There is even “The Daily Six” and “Editor’s Note,” both of which highlight popular ideas.

 

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23. Reread #16: A Year Down Yonder

A Year Down Yonder. Richard Peck. 2000. Penguin. 144 pages. [Source: Library]

I loved A Year Down Yonder so much more than Richard Peck's A Long Way From Chicago. And I definitely enjoyed A Long Way From Chicago! While A Long Way From Chicago was told from Joey's point of view, A Year Down Yonder is told from Mary Alice's point of view. Because of the Depression, Mary Alice has been sent by her parents to live with Grandma Dowdel. Mary Alice has spent more than a few summers with her Grandma, alongside her brother, but this time she'll be there all year long, and without her brother.

While A Long Way From Chicago is fun, in many ways, it is a bit disjointed as well. Each chapter tells the story of a summer vacation. In A Year Down Yonder, the plot is more traditional. The book follows the course of an entire year. Readers get a better chance to KNOW the characters, to appreciate the characters and the small town setting. And Mary Alice is a great narrator!!! I loved her story. My favorite chapters were "Rich Chicago Girl," "Vittles and Vengeance," "Heart and Flour," and "A Dangerous Man." I loved the slight traces of romance. 


I would definitely recommend both A Long Way From Chicago and A Year Down Yonder. Both books do stand alone, but, they do go together well.

I first reviewed A Year Down Yonder in May 2008.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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24. Interactive Game of Thrones Map

gameofthronesGame of Thrones fans, listen up! There is an interactive Game of Thrones map available that lets readers track the paths of each character from Song of Ice and Fire.

The tool lets readers explore the map based on how far they into the book they are so far. Readers can set their chapter level so as to avoid spoilers. Readers can explore the paths of multiple characters at a time, to show how those characters have crossed paths.

Follow this link to explore the tool further.

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25. My tweets

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