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1. The Problem with Living Forever

The conversation started one late night (or very early morning) in the summer of 1994. I was unemployed, between my freshmen and sophomore year at Kansas State, stuck between art and English education. My best friend and I spent those long summer nights driving aimlessly through our small, sleepy hometown. We played amatuer philosopher during those drives, questioning God, the universe, everything.

"I don't want to live forever," I said.

"Neither do I. Not on Earth, anyway."

"No," I said, "I don't want to go to heaven either. I mean, that's just nuts. Forever is a long time."

My friend laughed. "It's not like heaven's just clouds and harps and shit. I don't think you understand what it would be like."

No, it's not like that at all. I've seen death in my life--death and a lot of change. I remember every one of my grandparents' funerals, my father's, my first wife's. I remember standing in the basement of the Warren-McElwain mortuary in Lawrence, KS deciding on a casket for my wife at age 37.

The funeral director, a relatively young woman herself, stopped in mid sales pitch/product description, and said, "You're too young for this."

Yes, and no. And maybe. 

Death is a part of life. Our mortality is what binds us together, and to rob anyone of death is to steal the very essence of what it means to be human. Death is not the worst thing to come for us. Death is our oldest friend. Death reminds us to live, to enjoy, to laugh and have fun, and to love well. Death taught me well from a young age. This is what is the end to which we all must go. This is what gives value and rarity to your life.

I've carried those lessons with me. I have no desire to live forever--and I fear immortality in world not built for it much more than my own death. Maybe heaven isn't harps and clouds and "shit." Maybe I can't comphrended immortality. I do know this: on Earth, I'm happy my time is limited.

It's much more valuable this way.

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2. My New Digital Painting Setup - Mac vs PC

In this video I discuss what I think is the best way to get a smoking fast computer at the lowest price possible. Macs are great - no doubt about it - but can a cheaper and faster PC do the trick?

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3. #685 – Juneteenth for Mazie by Floyd Cooper

Juneteenth for Mazie

Written by Floyd Cooper
Illustrated by Floyd Cooper
Capstone Young Readers 2/01/2015
40 pages Age 6—9
“Mazie is ready to celebrate liberty. She is ready to celebrate freedom. She is ready to celebrate a great day in American history—the day her ancestors were no onger slaves. Mazie remembers the struggles and the triumph, as she gets ready to celebrate Juneteenth. This beautiful story by award-winning author and illustrator Floyd Cooper will captivate both children and adults.”

Juneteenth for Mazie made me think. I read it, slowly, three times, enjoying the story more with each read. Being a children’s historical fiction and a diversity book makes Juneteenth for Mazie a picture book that deserves more than a quick glance. Young Mazie is not having one of her better days. She wants to play outside, but it is too late in the day; and eat a cookie, but it is nearly bedtime; and stay up late, but she is too young. Dad asks why his “Sugar Bear” is grumpy.


“I can’t go where I want, have what I want, or do what I want.”

Tomorrow, Dad tells his daughter, is a day of celebrating—Juneteenth. Though not understanding, Mazie’s above frustrations mirror those of her not-so-distant relatives. What is Juneteenth? How is it rooted in early American history? Juneteenth is a celebration, much like the Fourth of July or Independence Day. In fact, another name for this celebration is Juneteenth Independence Day. Most of us know this day as Emancipation Day; some as Freedom Day. On the final page, author/illustrator Floyd Cooper explains what happened.¹

150-years-ago this year, Mazie’s fictional Great, Great, Great Grandpa Mose became a free man. Dad relates Grandpa Mose’s life beginning with working long days in cotton fields as a slave—all the time thinking of and praying for freedom and a better life—to running for the northern United States and freedom, where life would be difficult but his own; to the day Mose’s first heard President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, and then celebrating the first Juneteenth. The newly free never forgot the huge significance of that day, even as they continued to struggle with inequality. My favorite sentences are these:

“They learned and grew . . .
“They forgave . . .
“They excelled and accomplished . . .
“They became heroes . . .”

The brown and yellow oil painting illustrations are wonderful, but I do not like the grainy-look (more pronounced in print). Cooper’s technique does give the spreads the look and feel of a time long ago that has aged, but never lost its details, despite repeat readings. 


Rooted firmly in history, Juneteenth for Mazie relates the most important details in kid-friendly language. Cooper, while forgoing chunks of detail, keeps the story and history lesson interesting, thoughtful, and accessible to young children. His writing style and story will engage kids in history more than any textbook ever could. Teachers should find no trouble integrating Juneteenth for Mazie into their lesson plans. Juneteenth for Mazie is both heart wrenching and heartwarming.

A side note: 2015 marks not only the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth, but also the 50th anniversary of the the Voting Rights Act of 1965.²

JUNETEENTH FOR MAZIE. Text and Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Floyd Cooper. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Capstone Young Readers, North Mankato, MN.

Purchase Juneteenth for Mazie at AmazonBook DepositoryiTunesCapstone.

Learn more about Juneteenth for Mazie HERE.
Meet award-winning author/illustrator, Floyd Cooper, at his website:  http://www.floydcooper.com/
Find more nonfiction/ historical fiction picture books at the Capstone website:  http://www.capstonepub.com/

Capstone Young Readers is a Capstone imprint.

Review Section: word count = 401³

Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews
¹“On June 19, 1865, soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, announcing the end of the Civil War and the end of slavery in the United States. It was more than two years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Celebrated every year on June 19, Juneteenth commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery and the emancipation of African-American citizens throughout the United States.”

²Thanks to Capstone for mentioning the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in the Juneteenth for Mazie press release.

³Trying to keep the review portion between a 400—600 word count. Hoping that by noting this, it will keep me focused on this goal. Chide me if I miss this range (unless it is a “great review,” of course :))

FTC - Juneteenth for Mazie by Floyd Cooper – Capstone 2015

Filed under: 5stars, Children's Books, Favorites, Historical Fiction, Picture Book Tagged: abolition, Black History Month, Capstone, Capstone Young Readers, celebrations, emancipation proclamation, Floyd Cooper, Freedom Day, Juneteenth for Mazie, Juneteenth Independence Day, President Lincoln, slavery

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4. Review: The Whites by Harry Brandt

It has been seven years since Richard Price last published a novel and it has been worth the wait. Writing under the transparent pseudonym Harry Brandt, Richard Price again demonstrates he truly is a master when it comes to crime and American life. Price delivers a multi-layered, slow-burning portrayal of friendship, justice and revenge and […]

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5. Old School Beardo

A warm-up piece with lots of hot color!

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6. Artist of the Day: Paul Layzell

Discover the work of Paul Layzell, Cartoon Brew's Artist of the Day.

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7. Article … Suicide of a News

एक खबर की खुदकुशी ….


जंतर मंतर पर किसान रैली चल रही थी और मैं अन्य दर्शकों की तरह टीवी पर  खबर देख रही थी. बेशक, बीच बीच में चैनल भी बदल रही थी कि अचानक कुछ ऐसा दिखाया जाने लगा कि रिमोट एक तरफ रख कर मैं नाखून चबाते हुए रैली का प्रसारण लगातार देखने लगी. यकीनन  नजरे मेरी  थी पर मीडिया की आखों से देख रही थी जो दिखाया जा रहा था वही देख रही थी  और देखते देखते मेरे मन मे सिर्फ एक ही बात आ रही थी प्लीज केजरीवाल जी, भाषण बंद कीजिए और उस किसान के साथ अस्तपाल जाईए… और फिर बार बार बार बार कुमार विश्वास का सीन दिखाना लटक गया के बाद उनका इशारा करना … दिमाग खराब हो चुका था कि यह सब आम आदमी पार्टी कर रही है फिर आशुतोष का यह कहना कि अगली बार ऐसा होगा तो … बार बार दिखाए जाने पर मेरा मन आम आदमी पार्टी के प्रति बिल्कुल बदल चुका था. खुद भी पत्रकार रही हूं इसलिए हर बात को गौण करते हुए एक ही बात बार बार मन मे आ रही थी कि केजरीवाल जी को उस समय पेड के पास चले जाना चाहिए था या भाषण रोक कर  मंच से ही अपील करनी चाहिए थी जैसाकि मोदी जी ने एक रैली के दौरान दो युवको से की थी (ये भी मैने एक खबर में देखा था) पर पता नही उस समय मंच पर क्या चल रहा था क्या नही पर जो हुआ ठीक नही हुआ और मन में कडवाहट् भर गई.

सारे चैनल आप पार्टी को दोष देने लगे और उनका  लगातार  इसी खबर पर फोकस रहा. फिर धीरे धीरे पता चला कि मृतक व्यक्ति आर्थैक रुप से कमजोर नही थे जो उनकी आत्महत्या की वजह बनता. जो पर्ची चैनल वाले को  मिली उस पर यही लिखा था कि उनके पिता ने उन्हें घर से निकाल दिया था. खेती उजड गई है. तीन बच्चे हैं अब वो घर वापिस कैसे जाए.  अब यह बात भी सामने आ रही है कि वो लिखावट उनकी नही थी. तो पत्र किसने लिखा ??? एक अंग्रेजी  अखबार के मुताबिक मरने से कुछ देर पहले तक उन्होने पेड पर से बहुत पोज दिए. पेड पर बैठे बैठे चिल्ला भी रहे थे अपना ध्यान लोगो की तरफ करने के लिए उन्होनें गले मे गमछा  लपेट कर दूसरा सिरा  टहनी से कस दिया ताकि वो फोकस मे आ जाए पर इस बीच उनका दाया पैर फिसल गया. और जो हुआ हमारे सामने है. निसंदेह जो हुआ बहुत दुखद था.

घटना से कुछ देर पहले उन्होनें फोन करके अपने घर यह भी सूचना दी थी कि वो रैली वाली खबर पर टीवी पर आएगें. अब बात आती है मंच पर बैठे लोगो की. जिनके अनुसार पेड पर क्या हो रहा है दिखाई नही दे रहा था पर हलचल जरुर हो रही थी. लगातार मृतक व्यक्ति पोज दे देकर फोटो भी खिंचवा रहा था जोकि हम सभी ने टीवी पर देखा. मेरा प्रश्न आप सभी से ये है कि जो लोग उस समय उस व्यक्ति के पास खडे थे जो उसे देख रहे थे चाहे पब्लिक हो, पुलिस हो क्या उनका कुछ फर्ज नही था. क्या मीडिया वाले  उसे नीचे लाने की अपील नही कर सकते थे … कि सभी को चटपटी खबर मिल रही थी इसलिए मजा ले रहे थे. मेरे विचार से ,मंच पर बैठे लोगो से पहले गुनहगार वो लोग हैं जो उस व्यक्ति को देख कर फोटो ले रहे थे, देख रहे थे  और मसालेदार खबर बना कर पेश करे जा रहे थे.

जाने माने पत्रकार राहुल कंवल ने टवीट किया कि जो पत्रकार नेताओ पर आरोप लगा रहे हैं वो जरा देर रुके और खुद से पूछे कि हममें से कोई उस वक्त कोई मदद के लिए आगे क्यों नही आया.

मात्र एक पार्टी को निशाना बना कर राजनीति करना सही नही है आप पार्टी अपनी गलती मान रही है और रो भी रही है पर इससे भी चैनल वाले संतुष्ट नही. कल फिर एक चैनल वाला साईट पर खडा होकर बता रहा था कि मंच से ये पेड बहुत दूर था. कुछ दिखाई देन असम्भव नही था. क्या ये बात वो पहले दर्शको तक नही पंहुंचा सकते थे इतना ही नही एक चैनल वाले ने बताया कि वो वसुंधरा राजे , भाजपा के खिलाफ नारे बाजी कर रहा था. जिस बात को उछाला नही गया पर वही आज तक पर आशुतोष फफक कर रो पडे और अंजना संवेदनहीन होकर प्रश्न पूछती रही. बार बार बार बार  यही दिखाया गया. वही कांग्रेस और भाजपा की प्रसन्नता मन ही मन छिपाए नही छिप रही क्योकि अब खुले आम उन्हें आप पर ऊंगली उठाने का मौका मिल गया.

कुछ देर पहले एक बहुत छोटी से खबर दिखाई कि मृतक  के परिवार वाले कह रहे थे हमे जबसे ये खबर दिखाई है कि आप पार्टी बार बार पेड पर चढे व्यक्ति कि उतारने की अपील कर रही थी. पुलिस को बोल रही थी. अब हमे लग रहा है कि उनका कसूर नही है…

बताईए … क्या कहेंगें… क्या न्यूज चैंल को दोनो तरफ के पक्ष रख कर खबर नही दिखानी चाहिए क्या खुद ही वकील और जज बन कर सारे फैसले सुनाएगी. एक खबर की असलियत कही दफन हो गई और राजनीति जबरद्स्त रुप से हावी हो गई … अफसोस !!! एक बार फिर एक खबर की आत्महत्या हो गई.


The post Article … Suicide of a News appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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8. Social Media Etiquette

What not to do when using social media.

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9. Story/plot is too boring perhaps

Question: I'm planning on writing a little fiction story revolving around senior high school students. It's basic gist is that a new girl transfers to

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10. The Author and Me review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Éric Chevillard's The Author and Me.

       This is one of the titles on the Best Translated Book Awards longlist -- and next you week you can read me argue 'Why this book should win' at Three Percent ..... Read the rest of this post

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11. Samples: “The Guided Path” Illustration

Below is a sample (in my cartoon-style) of a spot for the “Heartmatters” column I create illustrations for bi-monthly. All of these stories are uplifting and faith-building. I am blessed to be able to read this and then created illustrations to enhance the story.

group-cartoon (april15)

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12. Daytime Emmy Awards Hail King Julien

Animation projects created for Internet television dominated the 42nd annual Daytime Emmy Awards.

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13. Into the Sun

Driving the car when the sun starts to sink
Is blindingly glaringly tough.
You pull down the visor with Ray-Bans in place
But it really is never enough.

The traffic starts crawling and everyone brakes
‘Cause they can’t see the road up ahead,
So you stop and you start as you stare at a stream
Of the brake lights of cars gleaming red.

If you’re lucky a building will block out the rays
Or the sun will eventually set,
But it’s going to take you a much longer time
To arrive where you’re trying to get.

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14. Poetic extinction ?

       Some depressing graphs and charts at The Washington Post's 'Wonkblog', where Christopher Ingraham reports that Poetry is going extinct, government data show [via]
       The statistics certainly do not look good.
       (I struggle to review a reasonable amount of poetry at the complete review -- but, honestly, it's hard to get me interested in anything other than novels. Of course, there are those novels in verse .....)

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15. 50 States Against Bullying: ALASKA

On my journey up to Alaska, I stopped in Oakland, CA to participate in a heartbreaking yet affirming and inspiring fundraiser called "We Are Here: A Benefit to Raise Hope and Awareness for Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Promotion". The event was prompted by Gayle Forman's novel, I Was Here, which was inspired by the events surrounding Suzy Gonzales, who took her life at age 19. Suzy's parents also shared their story with us that evening.

In between our talks, The Bayonettes played beautiful music.

Early the next morning, I flew up to Alaska, the fiftieth stop on my 50 States Against Bullying campaign.

Hold up! The tour is not over yet. Along with the states, I visited a school in Washington, D.C., but 50 States and 1 District Against Bullying was too much of a mouthful. So there's still one to go!

Before officially adding Alaska to the tour, I gave a workshop to the local SCBWI chapter about adding suspense to their novels. If you've seen me give this talk, you know it requires the help of another author who happens to be terrified of specific types of candy. What does that have to do with suspense? A lot! But I can't tell you unless you attend one of my workshops.

Are you in suspense now? That's because I've got this thing mastered!

In Alaska, I used Jolene Perry's irrational fear of M&M's as my example.

Then I went to the Anchorage Museum, which tells the fascinating and changing story of the people who call this home, and how heavily the environment plays a part in their lives. Miniature scenes depicted how Native Alaskans lived in various regions.

Newspapers proclaiming Alaska's entry into the U.S. were displayed, as well as the compelling history of the Alaska pipeline.

In the children's area, always the most fun area of any museum, I took my first infrared selfie.

Finally, it was school time. I spoke at West Anchorage High School, and was welcomed by a large banner and the school librarian, Stacie Cox.

The students, as usual, were wonderful to speak with. But, the entire time, part of me was freaking out on that stage because there aren't many places to perform in Anchorage, so I was giving my anti-bullying talk in the same place Led Zeppelin played!

All around the school, students had filled out and posted cards describing why they matter. Reading their reasons is one of my favorite parts of visiting schools on this tour.

Their words get me right where it counts.

Then I had lunch with several students who won a "Reasons why I want to have lunch with Jay Asher" contest. One of the students, Ariella, did a project on teen suicide that inspired her to create a club on campus called You Are Not Alone. (When I was in high school, I joined the ski club but didn't know how to ski and didn't learn for another ten years.) The room where we ate, the classroom of Temperance Tinker(!), was so cool. She even had a record player next to the classroom toaster(?), and she let me choose the music.

One student, unbeknownst to me, was sketching me as I answered their questions. She then filled the page with things I said during our conversation. For example, "I wanna form a punk band called The Wet Koalas."

After that came a beautiful drive to Girdwood. I mean, it was so beautiful. Everywhere I looked!

Unfortunately, I never got to see any beluga whales. My 4-year-old would have been so impressed by that.

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16. Translations-from-the French shortlists

       The French-American Foundation and Florence Gould Foundation have announced the finalists for their Translation Prizes.
       Only one overlap with the Best Translated Book Award longlist -- Pierre Michon's Winter Mythologies and Abbots -- but several others are under review at the complete review:

       The winners will be announced 9 June.

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17. Haven't I seen you someplace before? Dueling covers of running silhouettes


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18. Snowball by Shel Silverstein

Snowball I made myself a snowball As perfect as could be. I thought I'd keep it as a pet And let it sleep with me. I made it some pajamas And a pillow for its head. Then last night it ran away But first - it wet the bed. - Shel Silverstein (suggested by zoey)

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19. What Did You Do This Week, Gail? April 24 Edition

More whining. It's been a rough month with a lot of prepping for family events, three medical appointments during the work week for an elder, and this Annotated Saving the Planet & Stuff promotion I've been doing. That is exhausting. How exhausting? Last week I didn't do a weekly check in on Friday night. I did my nails instead. I kid you not.  And, for the first time, I understood why women like doing it. It's a very zenny experience. I'll have more about this next month.

Goal 1. Mummy Book. I have been revising early chapters in an excruciatingly slow manner. However, some things are coming together that will...should...I hope...maybe...make later work easier. Or at least possible.

Goal 2. Short Pieces. I finished an essay I actually started this year! And I submitted it! This evening, so I just barely made it into this week. And I think I may write a writerly piece about NOT finishing a draft before you start to revise. Everyone says we should do that, and as you can see from what I said in Goal 1, I can't manage it. I have never managed it.

Goal 5. Community Building. The May Connecticut Children's Lit Calendar is ready to go next week. I also found my registration material for the New England Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators Conference tomorrow and now I know what workshops I registered for! Good work, Gail!

Goal 6. Marketing Saving the Planet & Stuff. Ayup. One week left to go.

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20. STEFG Short Story Award

       They've announced that A Sheltered Woman, a story by Yiyun Li, has won the 2015 Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award.
       At £30,000, it pays out more than most US novel awards ..... Read the rest of this post

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21. Powerhouse Animation Studios Upgrades to New Digs

The growing Austin animation studio is adding more space and employees.

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22. New Adult Fiction Genre - Contemporary Romance - #WriteTip

There is a new genre emerging..."New Adult" fiction for older teens aka college-aged readers. You never stop growing up, but little in the market seems to address the coming-of-age that also happens between the ages of Nineteen to Twenty-six. Life changes drastically once high school is over, you have college, first jobs, first internships, first adult relationships…

Part of the appeal of NA is that the storylines are about characters who are taking on adult responsibilities for the first time without guidance from their parents. And the storylines generally have a heavy romance element. 

Keep this in mind as you revise your wonderful story, New Adult books are mostly about that specific time in every person's life—the time when the apron strings are cut from your parents, you no longer have a curfew, you're experiencing the world for the very first time, in most cases, with innocent eyes. New Adult is this section of your life where you discover who you want to be, what you want to be, and what type of person you will become. This time defines you. This is the time of firsts, the time where you can't blame your parents for your own bad choices. 

An NA character has to take responsibility for their own choices and live with the consequences. Most storylines are about twenty-something (18 to 26) characters living their own lives without any parents breathing down their necks, and learning to solve things on their own as they would in real life. New Adult fiction focuses on switching gears, from depending on our parents to becoming full-fledged, independent adults.

I am a firm believer that if you’re going to write a certain genre that you should read it, too. So I’m going to recommend that you start devouring NA novels to get a real sense and understanding of the genre before you write one.

Here are some great recommendations: https://www.goodreads.com/genres/new-adult-romance and http://www.goodreads.com/genres/new-adult and https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/new-adult-romance

Just as YA is fiction about teens discovering who they are as a person, New Adult (NA) is fiction about building your own life as an actual adult. As older teen readers discover the joy of the Young Adult genres, the New Adult—demand may increase. This, in turn, would give writers the chance to explore the freedom of a slightly older protagonist (over the age of 18 and out of high school, like the brilliant novel, "BEAUTIFUL DISASTER" by the amazing talents of author, Jamie McGuire) while addressing more adult issues that early 20-year-olds must face.

Older protagonists (basically, college students) are surprisingly rare; in a panel on YA literature at Harvard’s 2008 Vericon, City of Bones author talked about pitching her novel, then about twenty-somethings, as adult fiction. After several conversations, Clare realized she had to choose between adults and teens. She went with teens.

Quote from the publisher, St. Martin’s Press: We are actively looking for great, new, cutting edge fiction with protagonists who are slightly older than YA and can appeal to an adult audience. Since twenty-somethings are devouring YA, St. Martin’s Press is seeking fiction similar to YA that can be published and marketed as adult—a sort of an “older YA” or “new adult.” In this category, they are looking for spunky but not stupid, serious but not dull, cutting-edge, supernatural stories.

Quote from Georgia McBride, author (Praefatio) and founder of #YALitChat and publisher at Month9Books: "New Adult is a fabulous idea in theory, and authors seem to be excited about it. But in a world where bookstores shelf by category, to them, it is either  Adult or Young Adult. Some booksellers even call their YA section “teen.” And when you have a character who is over a certain age (19 seems to be the age most consider the start of New Adult), it is received as Adult. In some cases, the designation by publishers causes more confusion than not.
Let’s face it, YA is associated with teens, and at 19, most no longer consider themselves teens. So, it would support the theory of placing these “New Adult” titles in the Adult section. However, with the prevalence of eBook content, it would seem that the powers that be could easily create a New Adult category if they really wanted to...."

There’s also a list on goodreads of New Adult book titles. These books focus on college age characters, late teens to early twenties, transitioning into the adult world.

Some popular authors of the NA category include:
  • Jamie McGuire
  • Jessica Park
  • Tammara Webber
  • Steph Campbell
  • Liz Reinhardt
  • Abbi Glines
  • Colleen Hoover 
  • Sherry Soule

Would you buy New Adult books? 
Does the genre appeal to you? 

Does it sound better than YA (teen novels)? 
Or are you happy with YA as it stands?

Do you consider YA to include characters that are over the age of eighteen? 

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23. NPM Project: Jumping Into Form - Interview with Joyce Sidman

In preparation for sharing forms this month, I wrote to a number of poets and asked if they would respond to a short list of questions on poetry, writing, and form. I'm thrilled every time one responds positively and find they have all been extremely generous with their time.

How does a poem begin for you--with an idea, a form, an image, or something else?
Joyce: For me, a poem begins with a need to express something I have noticed or felt about the world. But often I cannot start writing until I hear a line, or capture a voice, or experiment with a format. Once I have some structural direction, the need and the emotion and the language begin to come together in a kind of dance.

How do you choose the form of your poems?
Joyce: Hmmm . . . depends on subject matter, maybe? More playful poems might demand rhyme (although not always). I think it is a mysterious process. Sometimes I choose the wrong form, and have to start over again when nothing is working. I'll try another structure, which will give me a different tone.

What surprising things have you learned by accepting the challenge of fitting meaning into a structured form? What are the benefits of accepting these disciplined restrictions?
Joyce: Structure can lead you in unexpected ways. The poem sometimes becomes something it did not start out to be—which can be thrilling but also confusing. You have to constantly monitor meaning vs. impact. I weigh each word, asking myself: Does this add to the meaning, or is it merely a concession to the form? A formal structure can fail miserably, but if it works, it can be a knockout! Helen Frost is a master at this: her poems convey emotion and meaning, but often have some sort of fascinating structure to them as well, that adds a double punch.

What tools (rhyming dictionary, book of forms, etc.) do you use in writing poetry (if any)?  
Joyce: I always have my thesaurus and rhyming dictionary at hand, plus several literary manuals I picked up in college and still use. Also, my bookshelves are full of lots and lots of excellent poetry books, which I use for reference and inspiration.

What would you like students or children to know about poetry?
Joyce: That it is as much fun to write as it is to read. That everyone has poems inside them: interesting thoughts, secret observations, unexpected emotions. And there are many, many ways to write poems. Here are some ideas--try them out!  

Finally, one of your esteemed colleagues suggested I ask for a poem in a foreign verse form. Would you be willing to share a poem for this project?
Joyce: Tricia, here is a pantoum that has not yet been published, though I use it as a model poem on my website. A pantoum is one of my favorite poem forms, because it repeats lines, shedding new light on them.

Poets.org has a great explanation of the pantoum form. My favorite quote from this explanation is: "An incantation is created by a pantoum’s interlocking pattern of rhyme and repetition; as lines reverberate between stanzas, they fill the poem with echoes."

Spring is the Time

Spring is the time for eggs:
soft air and sprigs of green.
Bright lemon sun,
wet nights singing.

Soft air and sprigs of green,
snug nests and puddles.
Wet nights singing,
feathery days.

Snug nests and puddles—
new life, new hope.
Feathery days,
yellow as yolk.

New life, new hope!
Bright lemon sun,
yellow as yolk.
Spring is the time for eggs.

Poem ©Joyce Sidman, 2009. All rights reserved.

A million thanks to Joyce for participating in my Jumping Into Form project this month.

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24. Monster Day at Work, by Sarah Dyer| Book Giveaway

Enter to win a copy of Monster Day at Work, written and illustrated by Sarah Dyer. Giveaway begins April 25, 2015, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends May 24, 2015, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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25. Let Jared Leto’s Joker wish you a happy Friday night!

For weeks and weeks, we kept getting teases about Jared Leto‘s hair, his voice, and any other scrap of information that the internet could pull together about what his Joker looks like in David Ayer‘s upcoming Suicide Squad.

The wait is over folks, as Ayer has tweeted out the first official Joker photo in honor of the Joker’s 75th anniversary:

Jared Leto Joker

Not sure how I feel about the grille, and some of the tattoos (though they line up pretty well with the rumors that this Joker would look a bit like Jim Lee‘s from All Star Batman and Robin), but there’s something really unsettling about Leto’s appearance here…dare I say, it captures the kind of manic energy I was hoping we’d see in our next on-screen Joker. I’m rather creeped out looking at him, and that may be just the desired effect that Ayer and his team are going for.

Also, while I know that’s a riff on the whole “tear on the face” prison tattoo bit he has going on there…is that maybe a “J” for Jason Todd? Possibly a stretch, but we did apparently see a Robin costume in that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer.

I’m sure this totally won’t dominate the weekend at all.

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