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The Lilies of the Field. William Edmund Barrett. 1962/1988. Grand Central Publishing. 128 pages. [Source: Gift]
There is a young legend developing on the west side of the mountains. It will, inevitably, grow with the years. Like all legends, it is composed of falsehood and fact. In this case, the truth is more compelling than the trappings of imagination with which it has been invested. The man who has become a legendary figure was, perhaps, of greater stature in simple reality than he ever will be in the oft-repeated, and expanded, tales which commemorate his deeds. Here before the whole matter gets out of hand, is how it was... His name was Homer Smith. He was twenty-four. He stood six foot two and his skin was a deep, warm black.
If you love, love, LOVE the movie--or if you only like it--you should treat yourself and read the book. How does it compare with the movie? Is it as wonderful? as magical? as perfect? I'm not exactly sure it's fair to compare the two. I can easily say it's well worth reading. I loved meeting Homer Smith. I loved meeting all the nuns. I loved seeing Homer at work. I loved his interactions with the sisters, especially seeing him teach them English. There are so many delightful and wonderful things about the book AND the movie. The book isn't better than the movie, in my opinion, but it is at least as good as the movie which is saying something. (My expectations for this one were very high!)
So in case you're unfamiliar with the movie starring Sidney Poitier, here's the basic plot: Homer Smith is a man who likes his independence. He's traveling the country in his station wagon, and, he's a handy man of sorts. He stops when and where he likes and he finds work. He does a few odd jobs for some German nuns. One of them feels that Homer is God's answer to her prayers. She feels that Homer has come specifically to build them a church. Though they don't have enough money or enough resources, they have faith that it will happen and that Homer is the man for the job. Can one man build a chapel?!
So Homer Smith is a delightful character. And the book is a great read.
The Poetry Foundation is opening submissions for poetry fellows on March 1st.
The Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowships will award 5 young U.S. poets with $25,800 each. The fellowship is open to writers between 21 and 31 years of age.
To apply you must share an introduction to your work, ten poems and a publication list. You can apply through April 30th. Finalists will be revealed on August 3rd and winners will be announced on September 1st. Follow this link to apply.
Here is a children's book that you will NOT want to miss! This is a riot that sitting down and sharing with your little ones will not disappoint.
Daredevil Duck by Charlie Alder is nothing but fun - it follows the story of D.D. - Daredevil Duck - as he goes out into the world and is literally afraid of EVERYTHING! He tries so hard to be brave - but his fears always seem to get the best of him. The story is humorous and told in a fun way as the layout of the book leads to some half pages, some foldout, etc. and it all just lends to the lovability of the story! You really must follow his sweet story as D.D. tries to find something that he can do that is BRAVE.
**I was provided a copy of the book by the publisher for an honest review.
Jeff Kinney is the most popular writer among school kids in the UK this year, followed by Roald Dahl and Roderick Hunt.
According to the What Kids Are Reading report, which includes analysis of more than half a million kids, Julia Donaldson and Suzanne Collins remained popular this year. J.K. Rowling, while still quite popular among young readers, only had one book on the top list this year, down from previous years.
John Greene, Dr. Seuss, Eric Carle, David McKee and Michael Rosen joined the list for the first time this year, as JRR Tolkien dropped off.
What's a first page in publishingland? In a properly formatted novel manuscript (double-spaced, 1-inch margins, 12-point type, etc.) there should be about 16 or 17 lines on the first page (first pages of chapters/prologues start about 1/3 of the way down the page). Directions for submissions are below—they include a request to post the rest of the chapter, but that’s optional.
A word about the line-editing in these posts: it’s “one-pass” editing, and I don’t try to address everything, which is why I appreciate the comments from the FtQ tribe. In a paid edit, I go through each manuscript three times.
Before you rip into today’s submission, consider this checklist of first-page ingredients from my book, Mastering the Craft of Compelling Storytelling. While it's not a requirement that all of these elements must be on the first page, they can be, and I think you have the best chance of hooking a reader if they are.
Were I you, I'd examine my first page in the light of this list before submitting to the Flogometer. I use it on my own work.
A First-page Checklist
It begins connecting the reader with the protagonist
Something is happening. On a first page, this does NOT include a character musing about whatever.
What happens is dramatized in an immediate scene with action and description plus, if it works, dialogue.
What happens moves the story forward.
What happens has consequences for the protagonist.
The protagonist desires something.
The protagonist does something.
There’s enough of a setting to orient the reader as to where things are happening.
It happens in the NOW of the story.
Backstory? What backstory? We’re in the NOW of the story.
Set-up? What set-up? We’re in the NOW of the story.
What happens raises a story question—what happens next? or why did that happen?
Caveat: a strong first-person voice with the right content can raise powerful story questions and create page turns without doing all of the above. A recent submission worked wonderfully well and didn't deal with five of the things in the checklist.
Christopher sends a revision of the first chapter of an untitled YA fantasy. The remainder of the chapter is after the break.
The front door crashed open, waking me up way before it was time to get ready for my morning lessons.
“Bring him in,” my mother yelled from outside.
Footfalls rushed into the house and from the handful of hurried voices, I only recognized two: my mother’s and Daylan’s. My parents had been above ground defending two supply shipments from Tormelin. The villages waiting for these supplies had already lost their first wagons of goods to thieves. A group calling themselves the Underground claimed responsibility for the thefts and my parents had gone personally to make sure the supplies safely reached their destinations.
I sat up, listening for my father’s voice, but I couldn’t hear him amongst the others. Since my father didn’t send his generals to defend the shipments, I knew the Underground was a bigger threat than they were telling me.
I still couldn’t hear him. Something was wrong. Footsteps raced past my door toward my parents’ bedchamber. Guessing he’d been attacked, I jumped out of bed. My clothes from yesterday were still on the floor. I threw them on and ran out.
My mother wrenched her chamber doors open and two people I’d never seen carried my father into the room. His eyes were closed and he wasn’t moving.
This opening cooks up good story questions with a good voice. I’m going to turn the page, but first a few notes—I think the narrative could be a little crisper. We do, however, get a good deal of information woven in with what’s happening in an economical way. Caution, Christopher—there are typos and errors in the chapter such as “firs” instead of “furs” and “you’re” instead of “your” that should not have been sent out.
The front door crashed open, waking me up way before it was time to get ready for my morning lessons.
“Bring him in,” my mother yelled from outside.
Footfalls rushed into the house and,from the handful of the hurried voices, I only recognized two: my mother’s and Daylan’s. My parents had been above ground defending two supply shipments from Tormelin. The villages waiting for these suppliesthem had already lost their first wagons of goods to thieves. A group calling themselves the Underground claimed responsibility for the thefts and my parents had gone personally to make sure the supplies safely reached their destinations.
I sat up, listeninglistened for my father’s voice, but I couldn’t hear him amongst the others. Since hemy father didn’t sendhadn’t sent his generals to defend the shipments, I knew the Underground was a bigger threat than they were telling me.
I still couldn’t hear him. Something was wrong. Footsteps raced past my door toward my parents’ bedchamber. Guessing he’d been attacked, I jumped out of bed. My clothes from yesterday were still on the floor--I threw them on and ran out. You’re doing a little “telling” here (something was wrong). You don’t have to include speculation and getting out of bed, just stay with the action and show the reader that something is wrong—he clearly thinks that or he wouldn’t dress and run out the door.
My mother wrenched her chamber doors open and two people I’d never seen carried my father into the room. His eyes were closed and he wasn’t moving. Good strong hook. Trimming the above will allow more of the action on the first page.
“What’s wrong?” I said racing toward my mother. I scanned my father for wounds, blood on his clothes—any clue that would tell what happened—but I couldn’t find anything. My mother held her hand out in front of me and I stopped.
“Sarella,” she said behind her back to the two carrying my father, “please, lay him on the bed. Daylan,” she called toward the front door, “bring all of the healers in Al’Shar. I don’t care about their reputations, just get them here now!”
So my father was still alive. If she wanted the healers, he was probably poisoned, and if she wanted them all, it must have been bad. I wanted to push past her, but watched and waited.
Daylan bowed and disappeared.
My mother walked into the bedroom and I followed while the two rushed my father into the bed. The woman was tall and muscular like my mother, except she had dark skin like my father and me; her hair was twisted into long, coarse braids. The man had a dark olive complexion, he wasn’t as tall, and had a shaved head. I ran over to pull the firs away. When they laid him on the bed, I covered him.
Once my father was under the furs, I could see him breathe. He started moaning and my mother led us out of the room and closed the door.
“Sarella and Trian, we’re forever in your debt,” she said, hugging them both before taking my hand. “I meant what I said about living in Al’Shar. If you wish, you’re family is welcome.”
The two looked at each other, nodding in unison. “We’re sorry about your husband,” Sarella said, “and we don’t mean to be so happy at a time like this, but we gratefully accept your offer. We only have one daughter,” she looked at me and smiled, “the same age as your son. Thank you.”
The two bowed before my mother and me. I watched quietly, wanting them to leave so my mother could explain what happened.
“I’ll have our Blood-Guard escort you home to collect your daughter. Don’t bring anything that isn’t personal; everything you could possibly want is provided in Al’Shar. By the time you return your home will be ready.”
“Galtoria, thank you,” Sarella said, kissing her on the cheek.
“Thank you,” Trian repeated, shaking my mother’s hand and then mine.
“Your daughter will have the same lessons as my son,” my mother said, squeezing my shoulder. She’ll train alongside him and the children of the oldest, most powerful families in the Kraelmar kingdom. You saved your king and are one of us now. Welcome.” My mother gave them a slight bow, “I would speak to my son alone, and then I’ll send for the guard to take you above ground.”
The two bowed once more and left.
“Fenon,” my mother said wrapping her arm around my shoulder, “come with me.”
We returned to my parents’ bedchamber, a room much larger than anything they’d ever needed—to the left was their bed, large enough to sleep four, was surrounded by tall, wooden posts, and loosely wrapped around those posts was a large draping of white, crystal-silk, the softest fabric in our kingdom. It’s glittering weave hung loosely and at the ends, tassels of sparkling gems glittered on the floor. The rest of the room was sparsely filled for its size: wooden dressers, one for each of them, and a few sitting chairs and sofas never used in my time. Sweat beaded on my father’s head and my mother hurried to the doorway at the back of the chamber, leading to a washroom. I grabbed two the chairs and hurried them over to my father’s bedside while my mother came out with a bowl of cool water and a rag. We sat. She rested the bowl on the bed next to him and placed her hand on his forehead.
“He’s burning up,” she said.
Holding the side of his face with one hand, she squeezed the rag and laid it across his brow. “After getting the wagons safely to Grem and Fedrin,” she said, “your father and I met up with our warriors in Holdingar to reassign them before returning to Al’Shar. On our way home, with only a few guards, we were attacked. Your father and I had to split up because strategically, we’re not to be in the same place during a battle. Your father raced after a group of the Underground deep into the forest and when he caught up with them, but there were more waiting. It was a trap,” My mother gently wiped his sweat away before dipping the rag back into the water. She smiled briefly. “You know your father. They didn’t stand a chance against him.”
I did know my father. When he was a few years older than me he took the Rite of Ghem’Rel, a rite everyone in my bloodline takes at the age of thirteen to determine what special trait they’d inherited. When my father passed the rite, he discovered he had hearing more sensitive than any human in these lands. My father sword trains by fighting a small army of our best warriors all at once. He uses his Rite-ability to hear every sword swing, footstep, and breath of a warrior that comes near. He always knew what was going on around him whether he could see it or not. A handful of thieves wouldn’t stand a chance against him. “If they didn’t attack him, how did he get sick?” I asked.
“It was the blight that poisoned your father,” she said. “Until now we thought it only diseased plants, but we were wrong about a lot of things. This blight hasn’t died off on its own as Nordan and The Council predicted. In fact it has spread well beyond the cursed wood of the Velryn and is now sickening the forests outside of Holdingar. During his fight with the Underground, your father touched the blight and succumbed to its poison. Sarella said that although he writhed in terrible pain, he stayed conscious long enough to hold off his attackers until she and Trian found him. Because of your father’s bravery,” she clasped her hand with my father’s, raising it and resting the back of his hand against her cheek, “we were able to capture a few members of the Underground, but your father’s sickness,” she sighed heavily, setting his hand on top of the furs, “was the sacrifice he paid.”
The blight was described to me as a shiny, tar-like ooze that seeped out from the Velryn Forest—a cursed place where evil creatures roamed the twisted branches and spidery brush, where those who walked in never came out—no one dared to go near that forest. Until my father, I hadn’t heard of anyone touching the blight or anything that came from the Velryn. “There’s no cure is there?” I asked my mother.
She shook her head as my father mumbled incoherently, stirring in a poisoned dream. She dipped the rag in the water and blotted the sweat off of his arms. “If I’d had known this was a blight to humans as well, I’d have taken the army and burned the Velryn Forest to the ground myself, Nordan and his Council be damned.”
Although I knew my mother didn’t like Nordan and The Council, I’d never heard her speak out against them like that before. I was in the Hall of Thrones with my parents the day Nordan came to warn us about the blight. It was the first time I’d met him: a short, older man with piercing green eyes and frosted blond hair that looked as if it could turn white at any moment. He told us that nothing like this had ever survived outside of the Velryn before. At that time it hadn’t spread to our outermost farmlands. I remember my mother telling him to burn any diseased plants and the Velryn along with it. She wanted to act swift before the blight had a chance to root itself into our lands. Nordan politely dismissed my mother’s suggestion, telling us The Council believed that the blight would die out on its own. When he spoke however, he only looked at my father and me. He wasn’t outright rude to my mother, but his ignoring her made me uncomfortable. When he’d look at me, I would turn my head to watch her, hoping he would notice and address her as well. He didn’t. I was curious what had happened between the two of them, but finding a way to heal my father was more important at the moment.
“So what are we going to do now? Is he going to die?” I said.
“Just because The Council says there’s no cure doesn’t mean there isn’t one,” my mother said, trying to reassure me. “We just have to find it.”
I didn’t have much hope though. It was The Council’s responsibility to make sure we had enough food and other supplies in our lands, and that included medicines—everything. If they didn’t have a cure for our king, who would?
“I won’t leave your father’s side until every healer in Al’Shar has had their chance to cure him. If that doesn’t work, I’ll go above ground and find it myself. Fenon, look at me,” for the first time she moved away from my father and grabbed my hands, hers were still hot from attending to my father. “I will find his cure.”
I watched my father’s chest rise and fall as he struggled to breathe, a hypnotic movement somewhere between survival and nightmares. I was with him right before he and my mother went above ground. We were in the Emril Caverns. It was just the two of us and we were sparring in the pool beneath the only waterfall in Al’Shar. Waist deep in water, we drew our swords and fought while he told me the great legends of humans fighting for their freedom against Wood Witches. His eyes were so deep and excited; he always smiled when he told those stories. Of course neither one of us believed them, but they made what could have been tedious sparring lessons, fun. The times I’d spent in those caverns with him were the best of my life.
My father erupted into a fit of sleeping cough, waking me out of my daydream. Now, all I could see of my father’s eyes were white slits beneath trembling lids. What if he never woke up? What if this was the way I’d remember him from now on? Sniffing, I looked away, wiping my nose on my shoulder.
I caught my mother watching me and I tried to toughen up, but my eyes burned red from the tears that gave me away.
She set the rag down and reached for my hand. “It’s not time to worry yet,” she said, “We don’t know enough about the blight or its poison. Your father could wake up and be fine tomorrow.”
I nodded, afraid that if I said anything I’d cry. I knew she was trying to keep me hopeful, but she was wrong.There was a lot to worry about. For example, why did the Underground go after my father? What did they want if they left the supplies alone? And the biggest question on my mind: why hadn’t she already told me what they wanted. There was one thing about my mother I could always depend on: like all Kraelmar warriors, she respected acts of strength and bravery. If I could show her that I was strong, that I could handle my father lying there with the possibility of never waking up, she would tell me what she knew. “If my father dies,” I said, forcing myself not to choke on the words, “then I’ll be the last of my line. I need to know what’s going on with the Underground. Why did they attack him instead of stealing the supplies?”
My mother’s face turned grey and ashen. She looked away and I knew there was something she didn’t want me to know.
“Fenon, our ability to divert food and supplies across our lands is what keeps the peace and it’s what makes us so powerful. If a blizzard destroyed the food supplies in the northern lands, we could easily send them grain and livestock from the South. Until now, we’ve been able to keep everyone in our kingdom fed and satiated because of our supply system. Of course not everyone is happy with it, but there’s no such thing as a perfect system.”
My father started moaning and struggling again; he was sweating so much my mother took the firs off. I got up and grabbed a lightly woven sheet from a wooden shelf. I helped her drape it over him. His sweat soaked it almost instantly and I had to replace it with another. He quieted and my mother grabbed a fresh rag and bowl of water. We both sat down. This time she placed the soaked rag over his lips, hoping he would drink. His mouth remained closed.
I watched my father twisting and turning beneath the sheet as if he were fighting for his life. That’s when I began to understand the complexity and danger of this disease. “If this blight spreads throughout the lands,” I said watching him with focused eyes, “we’ll lose our ability to divert food. Everyone will starve, or end up like...” I couldn’t finish saying the words.
She set the bowl on the bed, and turned, moving closer toward me. “When your father and I first heard about the Underground, we thought they were nothing more than a common group of unorganized thieves. But they’re not. They’re using the blight to create fear throughout the kingdom and are using that fear to recruit our people to their cause.”
She paused for a moment, turning to attend to my father again, but he seemed to be cooling off, calming down. “When we fought against the Underground,” she continued, “I saw some of their weapons. They weren’t just fashioned bows and arrows, or spears made from sharpened rocks and metal. Some of them had Kraelmar swords. They knew when we’d be in Holdingar and they knew that if they attacked the supplies of important cities, cities where families of the Council lived, your father would come to protect those cities personally.Fenon,” she said, grabbing my hands and staring right into my eyes. In that brief moment I forgot my father was in the room. “The Underground wasn’t after the supplies. They wanted to draw your father out of Al’Shar so they could kill him. I’m certain they have spies in Tormelin and maybe even Trel’Nor. They’re not a bunch of disgruntled people using the blight to try and get more supplies. They’re well organized, have Kraelmar warriors joined to their cause, and live in small factions in the forests and even high in the Storgekull Mountains. They’re after the Royal Line and they’re trying to destroy the kingdom. What we don’t know is why.”
I stared at her, my mouth agape. If they were after my line, not only were they trying to kill my father, they wanted me dead too. I felt my chest turn to ice as if my heart had been covered by cold steel. I looked at my father; was this the Underground’s first attempt? Did he really successfully fight them off or was it their intention to poison him with the blight all along? They almost succeeded by the look of him: eyes closed, barely breathing now except for his once in a while gasps.
My mother must have seen the worry on my face. “Right now both you and your father are safe. If the Underground had spies in Al’Shar, they wouldn’t have tried drawing your father to Holdingar, they would have gone after him here. Daylan and the Blood-Guard are from families sworn to die for the Royal Line—It’s a bond more sacred than loyalty. They are trained to protect you wherever you go, and they know about the Underground. You and your father are safer in Al’Shar than the Council members are in Trel’Nor.”
I could tell my mother thought she was reassuring me, but with the Blood-Guard shadowing me all the time, how was I supposed to know who was guarding me and who was trying to kill me? There were more things spinning through my mind than I could handle: My father dying and if he did, what would that mean? Not only would I grow up without him, I’d be expected to become him at the age of thirteen. Would I have to take the Rite of Ghem’Rel? It was the responsibility of the Royal Line to administer the Rite. If my father died, I’d have no one to test me. Would that mean I was no longer the next leader? What if I never figured out what my Rite-Ability was? Some of my ancestors knew their ability before they even took the Rite, so the test didn’t matter for them, but I was already ten years old and I had no clue what I was good at.
And what would happen if I did pass and become the next king? I would be expected to lead a starving and blight-sickened kingdom where an Underground force was trying to kill me just like they tried to, and maybe succeeded, in killing my father? All of a sudden the room felt like it was getting smaller. The ceiling was slowly moving down, the walls were closing in on me. I started breathing faster and faster but couldn’t get enough air. The room was stale and moist, full of sick. “I have to go,” I told my mother. “I’ll be in the Emril.” I jumped up, unable to look at either of them. Right now I couldn’t be in this house of sickness.
Without protest from my mother, I ran out and didn’t stop until I heard the echoing crash of water from the falls in the Emril caverns. I sat at the bank, threw my shoes off and stuck my feet in the cool water. Elbows resting on my thighs and hands cupping my chin, I watched the endless ripples as they tumbled into my shins on their way toward the bank.
I lied back, my feet still in the water. How was I supposed to think about life without my father? What kind of life would that be for me? I stared up at the stalactite ceiling, with a slit of blue light in the center, my only porthole to the outside world. I tried to numb my racing mind by listening to the falls and watching as the small piece of sky turned gold, to purple, and finally black. I tried imagining what it would be like, actually laying on a field of green grass and seeing nothing above me but the sky. Although I couldn’t go above ground, we studied it in our lessons. The sky seemed a lot like a vast ocean, spanning into an endless beyond—nothing but blue, and when the sun went down, both sky and water turned black. The thought of something so open, so reflective, was scary, like I’d fall into it and lose myself, drowning into a vast nothing. It wasn’t until I saw a single star shine through the mouth above that I finally stood up and walked home.
“I’m 22 and I haven’t done anything with my life!”
That was my friend Dwayne, speaking to me in his dorm room in February 1984. Nine years after he got his name in the papers by attending the University of Michigan at age 13 (but only for a year — turns out, even genius kids need to be around their peers). Seven years after the Detroit News named him one of its All State high-school basketball players. A year after a crisis of conscience turned him away from his undergraduate research into the properties of thermocouples — he learned his work had been applied to missile guidance systems — which started his writing career in earnest. And three years before he became the first African-American to create a Marvel comic.
There was only one Dwayne, but his memory lives on with the Dwayne McDuffie Award being presented this weekend at the Lonb Beach Comics Expo. I’m extremely proud to have been associated with this first award, and thrilled with the final list of nominees. We have a long way to go to live in the world that Dwayne may have dreamed of, but that doesn’t mean we should give up.
Today is the next to last day of Black History Month. I don’t always mark it with content here at the Beat because I think there should be 12 months a year of black history and women’s history and queer history and Asian history and every kind of history. Confining any minority to their own month is ultimately counter productive. I don’t always succeed but at the Beat I try to create an atmosphere that invites diversity….and NOT just women writing about women or writers of color writing about those issues. I think that’s confining too.
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails...But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7,13
Love is patient, True love is unconditional, that is, it does not depend on the attributes or lack thereof of the person loved, therefore, it is willing to give as much time necessary, and as much space as necessary for that person to grow Love is kind and is not jealous; Love seeks to give others something of benefit for their welfare, and consequently, rejoices when they do benefit.
Love does not brag and is not arrogant, To lift one's self up in reference to others leaves no room for unconditional, graceful love. does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, To act inappropriately, shamefully (morally, especially in the area of sexual purity) is not in accordance with true love. Love never seeks it's own gratificaiton but rather the interests of others. is not provoked, Selfishness seeks to manipulate others by stimulating certain selfish emotions. Love will not do this to others, nor will it let it happen to itself. does not take into account a wrong suffered, Forgivenss. Let it go. Bitterness is the acid. You are the container. Get rid of it or it will kill you. does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;
Love does not somehow gloss over things that are going to be hurtful. True love originates from the truth. bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. If love really is unconditional, it will hold any weight, face any doubt, persist through hopelessness, and last any trial Love never fails... If it did, would it be love? But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love. Someday, faith will not be needed, for we will see God. Hope will not be needed, for when everything is fulfilled, there is no need for hope. But love, yes, to it there will be no end. If it did, it wouldn't be love. If you like what you are learning, please send comments to email@example.com
So here's my latest update on the #PicturesMeanBusiness campaign. Like most illustrators, I still don't know very much about why we regularly get left out of being credited for the books we illustrate, but I'm discovering more and more that it's not a complete lack of respect from people in the publishing industry. It all keeps coming back to two things:
1. Tediously faulty data systems, or 'meta data' 2. People who don't think to question this faulty data
That's why we had an article in The Bookseller quoting Axel Scheffler feeling undervalued for his work, right above a listing where he's not mentioned with the picture book he illustrated (Superworm). It wasn't deliberate, someone just didn't put two-and-two together:
It happened again today: the Red House Children's Book Awards were announced and when I clicked over to their award page of their website, only the writers of the books were listed. Which is odd, because you can see a little picture of illustrator Oliver Jeffers on their home page. So they were obviously thinking about him, they just forgot to put his name into the listing.
Now anyone who looks at Drew and Oliver's book sees it's highly dependent on illustrations and Oliver's hand-drawn lettering. And you may think, does this even matter? Everyone knows Oliver illustrated that book. ...Well, yes, it does. That press release will have gone out to the media and there's a good chance many of them will plug the data into their articles without even checking to see the illustrator's been left out. Illustrators rely heavily on brand identity for ongoing sales, and this doesn't help.
I (rather nervously) brought it up with the award's hosts, The Book People, on Twitter, and they're like most of us, they're people who love books and want to get things right, they're just rushing a bit and don't have the latest software.
It wasn't just illustrators; even a co-writer (Amanda Swift) got left out because they couldn't fit two names on the date entry line.
But the whole point of these awards is publicity and raising the profile of children's books, so it would make sense for awards people to stop and think how they're presenting this information ('after careful consideration') to the public. I'm sure the judges put a lot of thought into the selection, and the website people are separate from the judging process, but it makes the awards look slapdash, like the people involved haven't actually sat down and looked at the physical books, to notice that they're illustrated. I'm sure this isn't true, but it's not a clever way to present the public face of the award.
I was happy to see a few hours later that the website had already been updated to include Oliver's name. Hurrah! So it IS possible, it's not too much of a programming nightmare. But there are several other illustrators who need added - David Tazzyman (illustrator of Demon Dentist), Thomas Flintham (Baby Aliens Got my Teacher), and Bruce Ingman (Let Loose the Leopard). And throughout the website, there are lots of other illustrators left unlisted (for example, David Tazzyman and Sarah Horne in their Pick of the Year list). Here's the fixed entry:
Kudos to the rep at The Book People for replying so quickly and starting to get on the case! I realise they honestly do mean well.
But it's a call for people to think when they get book data. I'm hoping very much we can fix some of the most cumbersome systems (Nielsen - and Biblio/Virtusales, which I only just heard about) and encourage publishers enter all the right information. (Good ol' Nosy Crow...)
But until then, publishing world and media, if you love book illustration, please stand by us and fix this faulty data manually.
. . . NOOOOOOOO!!!! Just as a saved this blog post, I saw a tweet from wonderful writer Caryl Hart. And I love The Reading Agency, they hosted me as last year's Summer Reading Challenge illustrator, but guess what, they've forgotten to credit a lot of illustrators on their book list. And again, it's most likely a data problem. And people not paying attention. ARGHHHHHHH. Please, someone just make it stop...!
Inadvertently or not, ALA heeded the call of the zeitgeist when it honored six books (out of ten in toto) by people of color in the 2015 Newbery and Caldecott medals and honors, announced last month at the Midwinter conference in Chicago. The winners were Kwame Alexander (African American) for Newbery and Dan Santat (Asian American) for Caldecott; the honor recipients included women of color Jacqueline Woodson for the Newbery and Yuyi Morales, Jillian Tamaki, and Lauren Castillo for the Caldecott. This is all wonderful news.
Yet another honoree represents diversity of a different kind: Cece Bell, who won a Newbery Honor for the graphic-novel memoir El Deafo, is deaf. At that same ALA conference, ALSC held a day-long institute about diversity in books for young people. While speakers were careful to note that diversity included identifiers beyond ethnic group, more than one opined that what we were “really” talking about on this day was the depiction of people of color in children’s and YA literature. While that topic is more than enough for a day’s work, is it, “really,” all we are talking about?
Cece Bell presents one valuable exception; the five men whose work is profiled by Barbara Bader beginning on page 24 present another. No one would claim that these men were invisible; among them, they have fifteen Caldecott or Newbery citations and three Laura Ingalls Wilder medals. (Sendak takes the lion’s share while Remy Charlip, always ahead of the curve, has none.) And coming of artistic age at a time when such things were secret — or at least private — they all were gay. Tomie dePaola, God bless him, alone among them is still alive and flourishing: witness his glorious cover portrait of himself among brothers, convened in a party by noted hostess and self-proclaimed genius Gertrude Stein. (Who wouldn’t pay to see Jim Marshall try to make Gertrude Stein laugh? I bet he could and she would.)
Jokes about Frog and Toad being more than friends aside, none of these men ever wrote explicitly about being gay — first, one assumes, because of the strictures of the times and, second, because they created books for very young children. What enabled them to do so with such heart and intelligence? Only Arnold Lobel had children, but they all could, as Bader writes, “think big on a small child’s level.” Does their being gay have anything to do with this? I think yes.
Much is made by diversity advocates of the need to have cultural insiders create books that convey a culture with empathy, authenticity, and respect. True enough. But don’t outsiders have something to offer as well? The five artists Bader profiles grew up in an era in which gays and lesbians could not even look to their own families, never mind the wider community, for affirmation. Gay kids grew up alone, attentive to all the ways in which they did not belong. It tends to make one an extremely good observer, the first step in becoming an artist. Never underestimate the payoff of a lonely childhood.
I am certainly glad times are different now. Out gay artists, along with all those represented in the alphabet soup that is queer identity today, create picture books and novels and nonfiction for young people that forthrightly address a spectrum of sexuality and gender identity, and fewer people blink every day. But may these same artists also remember their rich legacy and continue to create wild things and clowns of God, friendly frogs and hippos, arm in arm in arm in arm to touch the imaginations of our children all.
The name AJ Preller been in the news quite a bit lately, ever since he was named General Manager of the San Diego Padres. I’ve gotten a kick out of that, since AJ Preller was also my father’s name. Doing a bit of research, I learned that both of our families lived in Long Island. I thought about and decided, why not? So I sent him this letter:
Dear AJ Preller,
I’m writing because I think we may have a connection. Don’t worry, I’m not seeking anything (I’m a diehard Mets fan). We both love baseball and we might be related.
Fred W. Preller
My family, like yours, came from Long Island. My father’s name was Alan Jay Preller. His father was Fred W. Preller, from Queens Village, NY, where he was a NY State Assemblyman for 22 years. He briefly ascended to Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. I think if there’s a gossamer-thread connection between us, it might be there, since it’s my understanding that Fred was part of a large family. In later life, Grandpa had a summer place in Smithtown, Long Island. I don’t know; I’m not a student of family ancestry. The first time I saw a color television was in Grandpa’s Queens Village home. He was watching the Yankees and the grass was sooo green.
Through his political work, Grandpa even had a baseball field named after him –- Preller Fields (later named the “Padavan-Preller Complex” sometime after Grandpa passed away) -– which is on Hillside Avenue in Jamaica, NY. Photo, above.
Anyway, I’m a children’s book author and my deep love for the game led me to write this book, SIX INNINGS, an ALA Notable, which I now send along to you.
As you know, Preller is not a common name here in the United States – though it pops up in Argentina and South Africa, curiously. I always get a kick out of reading my father’s name -– your name -– in the sports pages. AJ Preller! My long-lost cuz!
Carry on and good luck with your Padres. I think you’ve done a great job so far, similar to what Omar Minaya accomplished in his first year with the Mets, seeking to make a moribund franchise newly relevant.
From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Tessa Bailey, comes the next fun and sexy novel in her Broke and Beautiful trilogy!
On Sale 4/21/15
“How did this tweed-wearing English professor turn out to be my dirtiest hero ever? Cause he really is.”--Tessa Bailey
When Honey Perribow traded in her cowboy boots for stilettos and left her small Kentucky town to attend Columbia University, she never expected to find a dirt-cheap apartment or two new best friends. No stranger to hard work, Honey’s sole focus is a medical degree...until she sees newly-minted Professor, Ben Dawson, and her concentration is hijacked. Honey is fascinated by her gorgeous, young English professor and vows to find a crack his tweed-wearing, glasses-clad exterior.
While at an off campus party, an accident lands Ben in a dark, locked closet with a sexy-sounding southern belle...and their chemistry is explosive. But when he discovers that the girl in his arms is the same beautiful student he can’t stop thinking about, he is stunned. Student-teacher relationships are strictly forbidden…yet no matter how hard he tries, Ben can’t stay away from Honey.
And when his attempts to fight their attraction nearly ruin the best thing that ever happened to him, Ben will do anything to prove how much he needs her.
About Tessa Bailey
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Tessa Bailey lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband and young daughter. When she isn’t writing or reading romance, Tessa enjoys a good argument and thirty-minute recipes.
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"Have you ever had the feeling that you aren't the main character in the story of your life? That you fill a more minor role - supporting cast, maybe, comic relief, or even antagonist? If that is true - if you aren't the big deal in the story of... Read the rest of this post
We all do it, even though we know we shouldn't. Every major religion condemns lying; you can see for yourself if you click on the link above. If it's so universally frowned upon in practically every culture on Earth, then why is it so common?
Let's be honest. (Ha.) Who hasn't made their lives a little bit easier with the occasional untruth? "I love your new haircut!" "My cell phone was dead." "Oh I didn't know you were coming into town!" Or, my favorite: "No. I'm not mad." Lies make our day to day existence a little easier. They can smooth over hurt feelings. They allow us to better get along with each other. So how can they be so bad?
I was raised a very strict Catholic, and I took the whole "Ten Commandments" thing seriously. Thou Shalt Not Lie? Okay. From God's lips to my ears! Even if a lie could have gotten me out of a tight spot, I refrained. I softened the truth, perhaps, but I always told it. Almost always, anyway. And if I was weak in the moment, and I did tell a lie, I would later confess it and explain myself, hoping for forgiveness. But to my parents, and I'm being honest here, I hardly ever lied. I'm sitting here trying to remember a single lie I told them, and I cannot. I was a very truthful kid. I took truthfulness so seriously that my honesty became widely known and appreciated about me. Guys in my college told other girls they liked me because I seemed like I'd always be straight with them, (which I was.) And my boss was fond of exclaiming about me: "Amy is the most HONEST person you'll ever meet!" I liked being known for that. It made me feel really good.
Then, shortly after I graduated from college, my parents began divorce proceedings. My brother and I were both young adults living on our own so there was no custody battle, and our parents had been separated for years, so it ought to have been a somewhat amicable negotiation, but it was NOT. Nasty secrets were dragged from the war-chest; accusations and denials flew through the air like ballistic missiles. Two people I'd have sworn were fairly mature individuals turned into spitting screaming toddlers. I was shocked, and then I was numb, and then I was confused. There were so many accusations flying around that I realized at one point: One or both of my parents are lying to me.
I realize this is common behavior during a divorce. Legal lawsuits rarely bring out the best in people, but when the plaintiffs used to sleep together and know each other's secrets, things can get evil. Even knowing this truth didn't help me cope with the idea that my parents, whom I'd struggled my entire life to be completely honest with, were telling me lies, and about really big important things too.
Then I began to realize that all the adults around me lied, a LOT. My coworkers lied, my friends lied, the frigging President of the United States was telling some whoppers... It seemed like I was the ONLY person in the world who really cared about telling the truth. I was fed up, and I started trying it out. I started lying.
It was about little things at first. "Sorry I'm late but my car broke down." "I can't come to your wedding because I have to work." "Yeah, I've got a cold. Can't come to work today." THEN, the party fund happened.
The party fund.
I worked in a jewelry store for that same boss who was always proclaiming my honesty. Sometimes women would bring their diamond rings in to be steam cleaned. It was kind of fun putting on the safety gloves and getting out the rubber-grip pliers to hold the ring under the vapor that jetted through a tiny spigot, blowing all the dirt and crud off someone's shiny diamond. I loved doing it. It cost the person a couple bucks, but instead of keeping track of such a tiny sale in the register our boss had us put the cash in a coffee can for later use as a party fund. WELL, one day I rushed in to work at the last second and discovered I had no money for a cup of coffee at the nearby coffee stand. I didn't want a caffeine headache, so I borrowed a couple bucks from the party fund to be paid back later. Only... did I pay it back? I couldn't remember. And I was late a few more times, and borrowed a little more, until I lost track of how much money I'd borrowed in the first place. Basically, I was stealing. Little Miss Honesty had graduated to the big time. Yep. That's right. I had become a petty thief.
Little did I know that one of my coworkers was keeping close track of the party fund, and she brought it to my boss's attention that something like twenty bucks was missing, and it came out at an employee meeting. My face went cold, and I sat there embarrassed and feeling like a jerk, but did I own up to it? I should have. I really should have explained I'd just needed some coffee and I'd always meant to pay it back. I didn't, though, and the mystery remained unsolved. Ever after, I had a hard time holding my head up at work. I felt miserable about it. You know what? I still do.
I'd gone from being painstakingly honest to a thief in a few short months.
If I hadn't told those little lies, would I have worked my way up to wholesale thievery? Who can say? Now that I'm older I can recognize how young and confused I was, and I can see that I was acting out. I felt disillusioned with the world, disappointed and let down by people who were very close to me, and I wanted to lash out. I wanted to take advantage of other people's trust the way I felt I'd been taken advantage of. It might've felt good in the moment, but in the long term it feels bad. It's one of my more painful memories.
After that, my boss stopped proclaiming my honesty because, of course, she figured it out. I think all my coworkers kind of realized it must be me. I lost face with them. I lost their respect. I felt degraded, and then I started feeling left out of conversations, and not really "in" with people anymore. Of course the stealing didn't help my image, but if I'd owned up to it, if I'd just been honest in the moment and said, "Oh, that was me. I needed some quick cash and I was going to pay it back on payday. Sorry." People might've been weirded out by it, but I would have been redeemable after that. Because I lied, no redemption for me.
My parents' divorce went through, they settled out of court, the dust settled, and then... There I was. Somehow not the same person I'd been when the whole thing began, but I don't think it was my parents' actions that changed me. My actions, my decision to experiment with being a liar, put a mark on me, and it was a mark that I thought everyone around me could see, and I was ashamed.
So now I'm back to being painstakingly honest, or at least I try to be. Somehow I don't have the same discipline that I did as a kid, maybe because I woke up to how much I was being lied to on a daily basis, because we all do it, right? Ever since I had a taste of how much easier it is to lie, though, it's harder. I struggle more with the temptation. The big one for me is being honest with friends when I'm mad at them. I'm too afraid of losing the friendship. But I try to always tell the truth to everyone. And if the truth is too painful? I try to say nothing at all.
I think that lying is considered a sin in every religion because of this effect it has on the human spirit. There is no dignity in lying, and that's the truth. When you lie you are skirting responsibility, trying to avoid the consequences of your actions, or you're trying to manipulate the people around you, using them as pawns. Lying never comes from a place of strength. It's a sniveling, crawling, sneaking way of wriggling out of the difficulties in relating to other people. Lying is weak. It takes strength and courage to be honest, it really does. That's why so many people lie so much of the time. Honesty is hard. But the person who is honest can always hold their head up. They can always be proud of who they are. And other people usually respect that integrity. In fact, I believe honesty is the only way to deserve the respect of others, but perhaps more important, it ensures the respect of self. Believe me, solid self-respect is worth suffering through those uncomfortable moments of truth telling.
Whether you believe in God or not, whether you believe in the existence of sin, honesty is the more practical route. In the long run, owning the truth is safer, and much more dignified. Honesty is the path to good social standing. Lying is a certain path to disrepute.
A friend of mine talked about LUA for game programming, so I got curious and looked some stuff up and happen to stumble on a IOS app that allows you to program using LUA for an IOS app. It is called Codea. I was skeptical at first due to the major limitations and constraints this […]
We’ve collected the books debuting on Indiebound’s Indie Bestseller List for the week ending February 22, 2015–a sneak peek at the books everybody will be talking about next month.
(Debuted at #4 in Hardcover Fiction) The Whites by Richard Price (writing as Harry Brandt): “Back in the run-and-gun days of the mid-90s, when Billy Graves worked in the South Bronx as part of an anti-crime unit known as the Wild Geese, he made headlines by accidentally shooting a 10-year-old boy while stopping an angel-dusted berserker in the street. Branded as a cowboy by his higher-ups, for the next eighteen years Billy endured one dead-end posting after another. Now in his early forties, he has somehow survived and become a sergeant in Manhattan Night Watch, a small team of detectives charged with responding to all night-time felonies from Wall Street to Harlem.” (February 2015)
(Debuted at #7 in Hardcover Nonfiction) H Is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald: “When Helen Macdonald’s father died suddenly on a London street, she was devastated. An experienced falconer—Helen had been captivated by hawks since childhood—she’d never before been tempted to train one of the most vicious predators, the goshawk. But in her grief, she saw that the goshawk’s fierce and feral temperament mirrored her own.” (March 2015)
(Debuted at #10 in Hardcover Fiction) Dreaming Spies by Laurie R. King: “Aboard the ship, intrigue stirs almost immediately. Holmes recognizes the famous clubman the Earl of Darley, whom he suspects of being an occasional blackmailer: not an unlikely career choice for a man richer in social connections than in pounds sterling. And then there’s the lithe young Japanese woman who befriends Russell and quotes haiku. Haruki Sato agrees to tutor the couple in Japanese language and customs, but Russell can’t shake the feeling that the young woman is not who she claims to be.” (February 2015)
Sadly I can’t embed the local news scare quotes story here but the transcript is almost as good. A mother in Rio Rancho, NM found her son had checked out Gilbert Hernandez’ PALOMAR from the school library, and then things got dangerous!
She said her son checked out the book “Palomar” from the Rio Rancho High School library Wednesday.
The 14-year-old thought it might be a Magna, or Japanese-style comic book. There are cartoon-like characters, but Lopez said she found 30 disturbing images in the book.
“I started to find child pornography pictures and child abuse pictures and I was like, ‘No. That’s not going to happen in my house,’” she said.
Online, “Palomar” is described as a graphic novel written by Gilbert Hernandez.
Even more incredibly the book—which reprints Hernandez’s acclaimed stories set in a small Mexican town from the first 10 issues or so of Love and Rockets—had been in the library since 2006! And no one noticed! The school library is investigating to find out HOW THIS HAPPENED?
How did it happen? Palomar is an acclaimed book by an acclaimed author, probably.
That said, the Palomar tales are definitely full of pee-pees, woo-woos and lots and lots of bazingas. It is a haunting, adult story of love, sex, betrayal, memory and loss. No one in comics draws guys with their dinguses hanging out quite the way Beto does. That said, as wonderful as this material is, school libraries are under a lot of pressure over standards, and Palomar is definitely rather adventurous material.
Anyway, this seems like a tempest in a teapot with some deliberately misleading scary inaccurate quotes. Will it blow over as virtually every similar scandal—PARENT led protests, that is, not government led ones like the removal of Persepolis from Chicago schools—in recent years has? We’ll see.
Needless to say, Palomar is not actually a collection of child porn — Publishers Weekly called it “a superb introduction to the work of an extraordinary, eccentric and very literary cartoonist” and it often draws comparisons to the magic realism of novelists such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The book collects Hernandez’s “Heartbreak Soup” stories which originally appeared in the Love and Rockets series, a collaboration with his brothers Jaime and Mario. Gilbert Hernandez’s stories focus on the interconnected lives of characters from one family in the fictional South American town of Palomar.
Although filtered by KOAT’s biased reporting Rio Rancho Public Schools officials’ characterization of the book as “clearly inappropriate” is worrisome. We certainly hope that the said officials are up to speed on their district’s policy on Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials, which says in part:
Review of questioned (“challenged”) materials will be treated objectively, unemotionally, and as a routine matter. Criticisms of print and non-print materials must be submitted in writing on a Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials form obtained from the librarian at the library/media center where the material is housed and submitted to the Superintendent of schools. The Request must be signed and include specific information as to author, title, publisher, and definite citation of objection.