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1. I'm A Rocketman


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2. Glade Watcher

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3. en medias res???

Hello, I first want to say that I appreciate all of your brilliant advice to you give on this site. I find them all extremely helpful. My question this

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4. Groundhog Day - Groundhog Day - Groundhog Day - Groundhog Day - Groundhog Day

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5. Children's Books that Mock Native Names, Paving the Way for Adam Sandler's Satire

On Thursday (April 23, 2015), Vince Shilling, writing at Indian Country Today, broke a news story that was quickly picked up by social media sites (like Gawker) and then news media, too (like CNN, and in the UK, the Guardian).

Shilling's story is about Native actors walking off the set of Adam Sandler's new movie, The Ridiculous Six, because of the ways the script denigrates Native women and mocks Native culture via the names created for Native characters and in the dialogue: Never Wears Bra (in an earlier version of the script, her name was Sits on Face), Strawberry Tits, Stiff In Pants.

People are outraged. I am, too.

Though not as crude as the ones in the script, I've seen that same sort of thing in children's books. Here's some examples:

In Russell Hoban's Soonchild, a couple is expecting their first child. The man's name is "Sixteen Face John" because he has sixteen different faces, all with their own names. They are described in the first chapter. His first face is his (p. 3):

Hi face, the one he said hello with. Face Two was What? Face Three was Really? Face Four was Well, Well. Face Five was Go On! Face Six was You Don't Mean It. Face Seven was You Mean it? Face Eight was That'll Be The Day. Face Nine was What Day Will That Be? Face Ten was It Can't Be That Bad. Face Eleven was Can It Be That Bad? Face Twelve was I Don't Believe It. Face Thirteen was I Believe It. Face Fourteen was This Is Serious. Face Fifteen was What I'm Seeing Is What It Is. Face Sixteen was What It's Seeing Is What I Am.
He's a shaman from a long line of shamans (p. 6):
His mother was Stay With It and his father was Go Anywhere. His mother's mother was Never Give Up and her father was Try Anything. His father's mother was Do It Now and his father's father was Whatever Works. His mother's grandmother was Where Is It? and his father's grandmother was Don't Miss Anything. His mother's grandfather was Everything Matters and his father's grandfather was Go All The Way. 
And... his wife's name is No Problem. Her mother's name is Take It Easy. Her friend is Way To Go. Soonchild was published in 2012 by Candlewick Press.

In Me Oh Maya, Jon Scieszka makes fun of Mayan names. His much-loved Time Warp Trio travels to the midst of a Mayan ball court where an "evil high priest" named Kakapupahed stands over them. They try not to laugh aloud at his name, which they hear as Cacapoopoohead. Me Oh Maya was published in 2003 by Viking.

None of this is new to children's literature. Some of you may recall titles from your childhood like Indian Two Feet and Little Indian and Little Runner of the Longhouse.  

I find these attempts to come up with Native names troubling and problematic in so many ways. Equally troubling are the ways they are described. Hoban's book, for example, got starred reviews from Publisher's Weekly who noted his use of "slapstick" in tackling "the big questions" about life. Booklist, meanwhile, called it profound and offhandedly glib.

Sandler has, thus far, issued no response to Native people regarding his script and reaction to it. The film Sandler is making is slated to air on Netflix. A spokesperson for Netflix did reply (as reported by Vulture) by saying:
"The movie has ridiculous in the title for a reason: because it is ridiculous. It is a broad satire of Western movies and the stereotypes they popularized, featuring a diverse cast that is not only part of — but in on — the joke."

In other words, they're telling the world that Native people are in on the joke. Rather than listen to Native voices, they defend what they're doing.

Sandler's satire is not "ridiculous" at all! 
It is derogatory and offensive. 

I contend that children's books are part of the problem. Things given to young people matter. Giving them books that poke fun of Native names pave the way for the creation and defense of what we see in Sandler's movie.

I'll be back with an update if Sandler or Netflix issue any statements, but carry this with you as you select--or weed--books in your library: Names matter. Nobody's names ought to be fodder for satire or humor, whether it is by Adam Sandler or Jon Sciezka.




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6. Social Media Etiquette

What not to do when using social media.


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7. GJ Book Club: Chapter 4: "Line Drawing"

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8. Lady Ninja!

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9. If We Were Having Coffee


 Weekend Coffee Share
Don't mind if you prefer decaf or another beverage, would be great to have company. Next week, all being well, my summerhouse should be in the garden, and given the weather, not too hot, not too cold - sounds like the Three Bears - it will be a lovely place to share.  First I'd want to know how your week has been. Then I would tell you that I'm thankful that the A to Z Challenge is almost at an end, and that soon there will be no excuse I can use as a reason for not finishing and publishing River Dark. After that, I would ask you if you would mind listening to to the first chapter of this sequel, as I'd love to hear what you think. 



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10. Regency pig

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11. Revisiting Scarlet (2012)

Scarlet. A.C. Gaughen. 2012. Walker. 292 pages. [Source: Library]

I first read Scarlet last year. I really enjoyed it, but, not as much as I ended up enjoying the second book in the series, Lady Thief.

So. Scarlet is a retelling of Robin Hood. The narrator is "Will Scarlet" a young woman posing as one of Robin's men. All of the gang know her secret, though they didn't all learn at once. But most of the villagers don't. Scarlet is a thief with a past, a past that will catch up with her by the end of the novel. Through Scarlet's perspective, readers get to know Rob (Robin Hood), John Little, Much, and Tuck. Readers also get to know about the dangerous and cruel Guy Gisbourne. He's been hired to find Robin Hood and his gang and kill them...

How did I feel about Scarlet the second time I read it? I enjoyed it so much more! I think one of the reasons I love rereading is because I can relax and enjoy how everything comes together. The first time I was focused on the potential of the premise, on the mystery--who was this Scarlet?--and on the action--will The Hood and his gang be able to save everyone?! The second time I was able to focus on the development of characters and relationships. I already had a connection with the characters, a LOVE for them, so that helped this reading experience tremendously.

I'll be rereading Lady Thief before I read the third in the series, Lion Heart, which releases in May.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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12. Conference Day

I spent yesterday at the New England Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators spring conference. A very good day for me. In the past when I've attended professional events, I've reported on the people I knew who I ran into. Well, I seem to know quite a few people now. Reading a list of them wouldn't be that fascinating. So I will go one to other things.

Workshops Attended


Crafting Short Stories with Trisha Leaver. I may spend a month later this year revising a number of my short stories because of this program.

Show Me the Money with Chris Eboch. This workshop dealt with what I've heard called "income streams" for writers. There are a number of options, but they require so much work! I came up with some pitches for someone else I know while I was in the class. And this workshop was a good lead-in to the afternoon workshop I attended, which was on school visits. School visits, you see, are an income stream for writers.

Bringing Books Alive During School and Library Visits with Marcia Wells and Kwame Alexander. Interesting story here. When I signed up for this workshop, I'd never heard of either of these people. And then Kwame Alexander won the Newbery Medal! Marcia and I have already become Twittermates. I'll be doing a separate post early next month on school visit workshops.

Lunch!


The New England SCBWI regional conference is huge in terms of attendance. Computer Guy went with me a few years ago when we were preparing to republish Saving the Planet & Stuff so he could take a workshop on making e-books from scratch. He was stunned by the crowd then, and amazed by the lunchtime picture to your left.

That is why it was terrific that Jill Daily, a member of my writers' group, somehow snagged a table for the nine of us. It was great not to have to negotiate a ballroom full of people on my own. I am afraid I was not a great lunch companion, however, because I was seated in such a way that I had to turn my back to everyone to see the lunch speakers. And I also was busy taking notes and pictures.


During lunch Deborah Freedman received the Crystal Kite Award for the New England region. This was for her book, The Story of Fish and Snail.




Kwayme Alexander spoke during lunch, too. Extremely charming and charismatic. I actually read a book of poetry this year, and I think I'm going to ask for one of Kwayme's (I went to his workshop, so I can call him Kwayme, right?) adult books for my birthday.

The lunch panel discussion was a surprise for me. I wasn't looking forward to it, because it was on nontraditional publishing. I've spent a lot of time on my own nontraditional publishing effort, and this past month I've been promoting the living daylights out of it. I wasn't wildly enthusiastic about hearing more on this subject right now.

But I was totally taken with this discussion. I think what made it good was the variety of viewpoints of the panelists. There was a self-published writer who is very encouraging on the process, someone who runs an editing company that also helps authors self-publish who recognized that some people are going to need help, someone who had been involved in some kind of self-publishing company that wasn't successful, and a traditionally published author new to self-publishing. I appreciated that they didn't all speak with one voice.

The panelists: Chris Cheng, Laura Pauling, Erica Orloff, and Steve Mooser. J. L. Bell, from the NESCBWI was the moderator. There is a reason for that. He's very good at it.

I'll be doing another couple of Conference-related posts later this week.

I am finishing today with a picture of lunch because Kwayme Alexander used a food slide in his lunch talk. It was terrific. People love looking at pictures of food. It is a universal truth.





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13. Revisiting Charlotte's Web

Charlotte's Web. E.B. White. Illustrated by Garth Williams. 1952. HarperCollins. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]

 "Where's Papa going with that ax?" said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast.
"Out to the hoghouse," replied Mrs. Arable. "Some pigs were born last night."
"I don't see why he needs an ax," continued Fern, who was only eight.

 I love rereading Charlotte's Web. I do. It's not one I reread often, it is a sad book after all. Though bittersweet may be the better word for it. It's a beautifully written book with memorable characters and scenes. I love Wilbur, the runt pig who turns out to be some pig after all. I love Charlotte, the spider who sees Wilbur's loneliness and becomes the best friend a pig could ever have. I love, love, love Charlotte in fact. I love her wisdom and insight; I love her fierce determination. If I didn't love Charlotte so very, very much, the book wouldn't be nearly as touching. I like the other farm creatures as well--even Templeton--though none as much as Charlotte and Wilbur. I also love Fern who faithfully visits the nearby farm every day just to watch Wilbur. She has a 'true' understanding of things.

Quotes:
Mr. Zuckerman had the best swing in the county. It was a single long piece of heavy rope tied to the beam over the north doorway. At the bottom end of the rope was a fat knot to sit on. It was arranged so that you could swing without being pushed. You climbed a ladder to the hayloft. Then, holding the rope, you stood at the edge and looked down, and were scared and dizzy. Then you straddled the knot, so that it acted as a seat. Then you got up all your nerve, took a deep breath, and jumped. For a second you seemed to be falling to the barn floor far below, but then suddenly the rope would begin to catch you, and you would sail through the barn door going a mile a minute, with the wind whistling in your eyes and ears and hair. Then you would zoom upward into the sky, and look up at the clouds, and the rope would twist and you would twist and turn with the rope. Then you would drop down, down, down out of the sky and come sailing back into the barn almost into the hayloft, then sail out again (not quite so far this time), then in again (not quite so high), then out again, then in again, then out, then in; and then you'd jump off and fall down and let somebody else try it. Mothers for miles around worried about Zuckerman's swing. They feared some child would fall off. But no child ever did. Children almost always hang onto things tighter than their parents think they will. (68-9)

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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14. Cactus Hotel Project Finished

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15. Exhibition: William Joyce

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16. V is for Village

...from Little Boy Good-for-Nothing and the Shongololo - my original African folktale for the very young, illustrated by me and six year old children from a local school


Chapter One - Where is the Rain-Cloud?
In a small thatched hut, in a far away village in Africa, there lived Little Boy Dakarai and his Grandmother.
Grandmother was worried. There had been no rain for days and days. She looked for the Rain-Cloud across the far Chizarira Hills. But all Grandmother could see was the hot scarlet sun digging his fingers in the dry, sandy soil.
‘If the rain does not hiss and burst on the Mealy-Meal-Pods in the vegetable patch, we shall go hungry,’ Grandmother said. ‘Dakarai,’ she said to Little Boy. ‘Go down to the vegetable patch and see if the Mealy-Meal-Pods are ready to eat.’
So Dakarai trotted along the sandy path to the vegetable patch. On the way he met some bigger boys carrying their hunting spears.

‘Hello, Dakarai,’ they said. ‘We’re going hunting, but you can’t come. You’re too small.  You must look after the vegetable patch. Little Boy Good-For-Nothing! Little Boy Good-For-Nothing!’ they shouted. They laughed at him and ran away.
‘I am not Good-For-Nothing,’ Dakarai said fiercely. ‘I sweep the floor and wash the food bowls for Grandmother.’
But he wished he could go hunting too.
      When he reached the vegetable patch, he heard a gruff voice.
‘‘One…two…three….four….that’s right….five…six….bother!’
It was his friend the Shongololo, the millipede with seed bright eyes. He was busy trying to count his feet, but he could never remember what number came after six.
He was so busy counting that he didn’t see Chapungu the eagle, high up in the sky, hunting for his dinner. Chapungu swooped down and snapped up the Shongololo in his beak.
‘Put me down!’ shouted the Shongololo.
‘Let go, let go!’ shouted brave Little Boy Dakarai. He clapped his hands and ran towards
the eagle with the cruel beak.
Chapungu dropped the Shongololo and flew away. The Shongololo fell onto his back in the soft sand, wriggling his feet in the air. Then he turned himself the right way up. ‘Yo
u saved my life, Dakarai, so I shall help you. Ugh! The Mealy-Meal-Pods are too tough to eat. Go to the Rain-Keeper, who lives beyond the Chizarira Hills,’ he said.
‘What must I do when I get there?’ asked Little Boy Dakarai.
‘You must ask the Rain-Keeper to bring the Rain-Cloud. Look for the Rain-Keeper’s hut beside the Zambezi River. Oh, and watch out for the Crocodiles!’ Then the Shongololo scuttled under a stone.


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17. Erich Wolfsfeld (1884-1956)

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18. Uncanny Magazine Cover

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19. Sand & Shore Scenes from Dieppe

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20. April Short Stories

    April Short Stories (original sign-up post) (my list of 52) (challenge hosted by Bibliophilopolis)
    • King Diamonds "The Child's Story" by Charles Dickens 
    • 2 Diamonds "Curious if True" by Elizabeth Gaskell from The Grey Woman and Other Stories
    • Ace Clubs "Death Ship" by Richard Matheson from The Time Traveler's Almanac
    • Ace Hearts "A Correspondence and A Climax" by L.M. Montgomery from Short Stories 1905-1906
    "The Child's Story" by Charles Dickens
    • I loved reading "The Child's Story" by Charles Dickens. Here's how it begins, "Once upon a time, a good many years ago, there was a traveller, and he set out upon a journey. It was a magic journey, and was to seem very long when he began it, and very short when he got half way through." I thought it was beautiful in its imagery. It is about a "traveler" who first meets a young child, then a boy, then a young man, then a middle-aged gentleman with a family, then an old man. It was an incredible read.
    "Curious if True" by Elizabeth Gaskell
    • I persevered through it, and, it could have just been a case of bad timing, but, I couldn't make any sense out of this short story at all. Other than it was set in France. And the narrator was someone--a man? a woman? probably a man? doing genealogical research and hoping to find out how he was related--if he was related--to John Calvin. And half of it was probably a dream of sorts. Probably. It's not that I love first person narrative to begin with, but, in a short story it can be even more disorienting. I wasn't impressed with this one.
    "Death Ship" by Richard Matheson (1953)
    • Premise/Plot: "Death Ship" was adapted into a Twilight Zone episode in 1963. The story introduces three astronauts to readers. (Mason, Ross, and Carter). Their mission, I believe, is to scout out other planets to see if they are suitable for colonization. But their mission is fated to fail, in a way. It begins with them exploring a 'flash' or sorts. It ends up they're investigating the crash of what appears to be an earth spaceship very much like their own. What they find inside the ship, well, let's just say that they have a very hard time making sense of it. Will readers do a better job?! Perhaps, especially if they've seen the Twilight Zone episode a few times.
     "A Correspondence and A Climax" by L.M. Montgomery from Short Stories 1905-1906
    •  Premise/Plot: Readers meet Sidney a young woman who has been swept up into a fantasy world of her own creation. She writes a young man all about how wonderful and glorious and full her life is--a real social whirl. In reality, she's a poor, hardworking country girl. When she learns that he's on his way to visit her, she's in for quite a shock. As is he. But it's a pleasant one for the most part. He doesn't mind her lies. He loves her as is.

    © 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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    21. Rising Star Award

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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
    http://www.wattpad.com/story/29486760-irresistible-mistake-new-adult-romantic-suspense


    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. Death If This Be My Day...

    I shoulda been writing comics.

    Anyhow, not able to do much of anything today but a CBO policy decision was made as I clashed with death above the planet Earth (I really aint all here).

    I am going back through all the events I publicised in 2014/2015 and those I never got a follow up press release or event photos from -blacklisted.

    Seriously, I give up hours of my time and lots of CBO space to these events and NEVER get any follow ups, even when I ask, so let the cull begin (drawn by Erik Larsen).

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    24. Sketching daily keeps the hand agile

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    25. Good and Bad News: Your Work Is Never Done

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    Newsflash! You’re just getting started.

    Whether you think this is good news or bad news depends on your disposition.

    Some people feel fulfilled and complete every day. I envy them.

    I want more. Not more "stuff," but more out of life. More experiences, more love, more friends, more cats. (Only kidding about that last one!)

    I know it’s not fashionable these days to want more. They say I should be content where I am and live in the moment. Can’t I want more and appreciate the present?

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