What is JacketFlap

  • JacketFlap connects you to the work of more than 200,000 authors, illustrators, publishers and other creators of books for Children and Young Adults. The site is updated daily with information about every book, author, illustrator, and publisher in the children's / young adult book industry. Members include published authors and illustrators, librarians, agents, editors, publicists, booksellers, publishers and fans.
    Join now (it's free).

Sort Blog Posts

Sort Posts by:

  • in
    from   

Suggest a Blog

Enter a Blog's Feed URL below and click Submit:

Most Commented Posts

In the past 7 days

Recent Posts

(tagged with 'Writing')

Recent Comments

JacketFlap Sponsors

Spread the word about books.
Put this Widget on your blog!
  • Powered by JacketFlap.com

Are you a book Publisher?
Learn about Widgets now!

Advertise on JacketFlap

MyJacketFlap Blogs

  • Login or Register for free to create your own customized page of blog posts from your favorite blogs. You can also add blogs by clicking the "Add to MyJacketFlap" links next to the blog name in each post.

Blog Posts by Date

Click days in this calendar to see posts by day or month
new posts in all blogs
Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Writing, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 5,830
1. Writing is Seeing

Author Kate DiCamillo tells us writers see and pay attention. 

http://www.katedicamillo.com/onwrit.html

0 Comments on Writing is Seeing as of 4/19/2014 10:27:00 AM
Add a Comment
2. The Midg-its...

From a picture book I'm writing called: "The Invasion"
I'll post the next color soon.


0 Comments on The Midg-its... as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
3. Interesting blog posts about writing – w/e April 18th, 2014



Here’s my selection of interesting (and sometimes amusing) posts about writing from the last week:

Take the Money and Run: Kerry Jacobson, "Book Publicist" (Victoria Strauss)
http://accrispin.blogspot.com/2014/04/take-money-and-run-kerry-jacobson-book.html

The Art of Creating Memorable Villains Whatever Your Genre (Lisa Alber)
http://writerunboxed.com/2014/04/16/the-art-of-creating-memorable-villains-whatever-your-genre/

What FROZEN Teaches Us About Storytelling & Publishing (Stina Lindenblatt)
http://querytracker.blogspot.com/2014/04/what-frozen-teaches-us-about.html

12 Keys to Connecting with Readers (Rachelle Gardner)
http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/connecting-with-readers/

How To Break Up With Your First Draft (Christine J. Schmidt)
http://litreactor.com/columns/how-to-break-up-with-your-first-draft

I Hate Nice (Mary Kole)
http://kidlit.com/2014/04/14/i-hate-nice/

Eight Steps to an Agent, a Publisher, and a Two-Book Deal (Donna Galanti)
http://writershelpingwriters.net/2014/04/eight-steps-agent-publisher-two-book-deal/

A ‘Logic Model’ for Author Success (Sharon Bially)
http://writerunboxed.com/2014/04/14/a-logic-model-for-author-success/

How to Think Like a Businessperson–Even If You Don’t Want to (Janet Kobobel Grant)
www.booksandsuch.com/blog/think-like-businessperson-even-dont-want/

The Ten Worst Pieces of Writing Advice You Will Ever Hear (and Probably Already Have) (Susan DeFreitas)
http://litreactor.com/columns/the-ten-worst-pieces-of-writing-advice-you-will-ever-hear-and-probably-already-have

The Complete Guide to Query Letters That Get Manuscript Requests (Jane Friedman)
http://janefriedman.com/2014/04/11/query-letters/


If you found these useful, you may also like my personal selection of the most interesting blog posts from 2013, and last week’s list.

If you have a particular favorite among these, please let the author know (and me too, if you have time).  Also, if you've a link to a great post that isn't here, feel free to share.

Add a Comment
4. Cape Breton beach.

Cape Breton Glass

 Acadia National Park 8

Walking slowly, touching sometimes

With warm fingers in the early morning breeze.

We look for the magic beneath our feet

And wonder at the colors and shapes

Strewn around us by a greater sculptor.

Glass formed by the strength of pounding and passion

Of the mighty power of western water,

Grinding up onto the French flavored shore.

We come together for warmth

And drift apart again to search for more treasure,

As the slowly rising sun tries to warm the salty air.

To walk here is magic

To be here with you is morning personified

In the great spreading light of green glowing sea glass.

Denis Hearn 2008

Add a Comment
5. Body Language: Lying

The practice of identifying liars has become an art as well as a science. There are multitudes of books, reams of research, and several television shows based on it. Dr. Paul Eckman's work is well worth reading. The show Lie to Me is well worth watching to learn more.


Whether someone is lying or honest is broadly characterized by how expansive or contractive his body language is. There may be master criminals, soulless sociopaths, trained spies, or sage sleuths who can outsmart everyone. For the rest, the normal rules governing behavior apply.

Someone who is telling the truth goes on the offensive. He is forward moving, expansive, broad gesturing, and offers distinct answers with I and me. He meets your gaze full on. His body gravitates toward yours in an attempt to be seen and understood and to connect. He gives the right amount of detail. He discusses the situation until you believe him. His story is explicit and consistent.

He may be angry at being falsely accused, or having his honor questioned, but he does not feel guilty. He mirrors your posture. He talks expansively with his hands, starting the gesture before the words. He is relaxed and his smile engages other facial muscles. He points to himself and places his open hand on his chest. He is not afraid of close scrutiny.

The exception is when an honest person grows anxious when he isn’t believed, especially in a situation where he feels unsafe. The situation may trigger anxiety responses just as in someone who isn't honest. He may flush with fury. A character that has an itch somewhere it's inappropriate to scratch isn't necessarily being deceptive. His underwear may not be where it belongs, or he may have a health problem that makes him itch everywhere. There are illnesses that trigger lip biting. Those gestures alone are not proof that someone is lying.

Someone who is lying goes on the defensive. He retracts and caves inward. He forces the gesture after the words. He rambles and mumbles and doesn't give direct answers. His smile never reaches his eyes. He gives shorter answers and changes the topic. He rarely uses I and me. His information is inconsistent. He averts his gaze. He may withhold details or gush with too much detail. It's more in the quality of what he says and what he didn’t say. He answers a question with a question. He wants to escape the interrogation as soon as possible. His voice pitch rises because he is anxious. He blinks, licks his lips, and maintains poor eye contact. He gestures with palms up in a plea.

He may rub or scratch his nose, neck, or jaw. The stress makes him itch, sweat, and flush. He may stammer and mess up his words. He may hold his head still. His limbs feel wooden. He may lean forward, resting his elbows on a table or his knees, anything to make his body smaller. He places a barrier between you. He may slide an object between you or step behind a chair.

Liars often say honestly, believe me, or I'm telling the truth. He may be smiling, but inside he is sweating. His brain races to come up with the details it lacks in answer to your questions. It is said that a liar doesn't memorize the story backwards, so asking him to repeat the information regressively trips him up.

For example, Dick asks Jane where she has been all day. She replies that she went to the hairdressers, the department store, Starbucks for a coffee, to the mall, and finally the grocery store. This answer displays the too much information rule. Most women would say, "I had my hair done and went shopping."

If Dick asks questions like, “So, when did you go to Starbucks?" Jane has to think hard about what she just made up. Did she say she stopped at Starbucks before or after department store? If your teen gives you a list, ask him to repeat it backwards. I bet he can't.

Jane might give Dick a long list if he makes the mistake of saying, "So, what have you done all day?" Those are fighting words and Jane may respond with a laundry list of the household chores, child-centered activities, and errands she accomplished in the space of eight hours punctuated by slamming drawers or cabinet doors, and a tone that drips acid. She isn't lying.

I hope you've enjoyed our lessons on body language. Now, go revise! If you want more hints on how check out Story Building Blocks III: The Revision Layers.

http://www.amazon.com/Story-Building-Blocks-III-Revision/dp/1475011369

http://www.amazon.com/Story-Building-Blocks-III-Revision-ebook/dp/B007SPPL68

0 Comments on Body Language: Lying as of 4/18/2014 12:17:00 PM
Add a Comment
6. Emotional Anticipation

Build tension to build your character's emotions. 

http://kidlit.com/2014/03/24/building-emotional-anticipation/

0 Comments on Emotional Anticipation as of 4/17/2014 5:59:00 PM
Add a Comment
7. Look Who is Moving & Shaking

Bee Movers and Shakers 041614

 

We are so proud of our children’s book, The Bee Bully.  He is being featured currently on Bookbub.com through April 17th and he is being very well received.  He is currently #4 on Amazon’s Movers and Shakers List for kindle and he is #1 in the Children’s Ebook category.  He has been reduced to $.99 during this promotion period and has over 80 five-star reviews.  Be sure to get a copy today and see what all the buzz is about!

 

beecover

 

 


Add a Comment
8. Sharing Ideas with Julia Jarman


Generally speaking, authors and illustrators don't get together to chat through new book projects. I get the text from the publisher, not the author and, as I work on my illustrations, I talk with the art director and designer, not the author, sending my ideas, roughs and eventually my artwork to the publisher, never once having had any contact with the author. It surprises people, but that's quite normal.


It's a bit different though with Julia Jarman. When an author and illustrator team up for several books, they can become friends and often start to work more closely, certainly at the start of a project. Julia and I have done 5 books together now and are a good match - we think alike and we laugh at the same things. Which is why we work so easily together and why we get on so well too.

Julia often emails me stories she is working on and would like me to illustrate, asking for my input. Julia's writing is very visual: as I read one of her texts, I can immediately see illustrations in my head. This gives me a slightly different perspective to Julia and my take on things can help her to fine-tune the wording, before she sends it to the publisher. 


We were working on a new story last week and several drafts of it went back and forth between us by email. I'm not actually drawing anything at this stage, but Julia knows my work so well, it only takes a few words for me to paint a picture for her of what's in my head. 

I can't tell you anything specific, but I think it's going to be a good one and am really crossing my fingers that the publisher takes it. 

0 Comments on Sharing Ideas with Julia Jarman as of 4/16/2014 8:53:00 AM
Add a Comment
9. Mark Twain Humor Contest

mark twain imageThe Mark Twain House & Museum’s Inaugural “Royal Nonesuch” Humor Writing Contest for writers of all ages from all corners of the globe!

Recognizing that Samuel Clemens (aka: Mark Twain) began writing at an early age and to encourage other young authors, we welcome submissions for two categories:

  • Adult (age 18 and over at time of submission) at $22 per submission, and
  • Young Author (age 17 and under at time of submission) at $12 per submission.

Celebrity Judges for Adults are: Roy Blount, Jr., Colin McEnroe, and Lucy Ferris.

Celebrity Judges for Young Authors are: Tim Federle, author of Better Nate Than Ever, and Jessica Lawson, author of The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher.

Submit your original humorous essays and stories for a chance at a cash prize, the opportunity to meet bestselling authors at our annual “Mark My Words” event, and best of all - bragging rights!

“If Mark Twain were alive, he’d be happy about this contest, because he’d win it.” – Andy Borowitz

DEADLINE: June 30, 2014

FEE: $22.00 “Adult/18 and over” categories 

FEE: $12.00 “Young Author/17 and under”

Writing Contest: The Guidelines

•  Submit 10,000 words (or fewer) of any original work of humor writing. (Entries longer than 10,000 words will be disqualified.)
•  Submissions must be in English.

•  Submissions are not required to be in the style of Mark Twain or about Mark Twain. We want to hear your voice. And we want you to make us laugh!

•  Submissions will be judged by our award-winning Mark Twain House staff writers and scholars, Trinity College faculty, and celebrity judges: Roy Blount, Jr., Colin McEnroe, and Lucy Ferris. Celebrity judges for the 17 & under contest are Tim Federle and Jessica Lawson.

•  Submissions are due by June 30th, 2014.

•  Winners may be asked to provide age verification regarding submission category.

•  You may submit more than one entry; a separate fee is required for each entry.

•  Winners will be notified by September 5, 2014.

•  Winners will be presented to the public at the 4th Annual “Mark My Words” event at which bestselling authors appear onstage October 21, 2014 to benefit The Mark Twain House & Museum. (Past authors have included John Grisham, David Baldacci, and Sandra Brown.)

•  Winners will retain ownership of their work. The Mark Twain House & Museum reserves the right to publish winning pieces in a public forum with credit to the author. 

PRIZES (winners in both categories):

•      1st Prize: $1,000 (Adult & Young Author)

•      2nd Prize: $500 (Adult& Young Author)

•      3rd Prize: $250 (Adult& Young Author)

•      Three Honorable Mention Prizes: $100 Gift Certificate for the Mark Twain Museum Store (Adult & Young Author).

•  All 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Prize winners in both the “Young Author/17 and under” and “Adult/18 and over” categories will be invited to attend “Mark My Words” and go backstage to meet bestselling authors. (Winners are responsible for their travel and accommodations.)

•  Staff and immediate family members of the Mark Twain House are not eligible.

The mission of The Mark Twain House & Museum is to foster an appreciation of the legacy of Mark Twain as one of our nation’s defining cultural figures, and to demonstrate the continuing relevance of his work, life and times. The Mark Twain House & Museum operates as a non-profit 501(c)(3) foundation. Mark Twain built the house in 1874 and lived here with his wife and children until 1891. This is where he wrote such masterpieces as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and is located at 351 Farmington Avenue in Hartford, CT. We appreciate your participation in this inaugural writing contest as it supports our preservation efforts.

By clicking ‘Submit’ you acknowledge that this is your original work and you agree to all contest rules and guidelines.

Here is the link to submit: https://twainhouse.submittable.com/submit/26632

Good luck!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Contest, opportunity, Places to sumit, Win, writing Tagged: Contest for Audlts and young authors, Humor Contest, Mark Twain, Samel Clemens

1 Comments on Mark Twain Humor Contest, last added: 4/16/2014
Display Comments Add a Comment
10. Writer Wednesday: Beware the Repetition


If you read my Monday Mishmash, then you know I've been busy with my own revisions and editing for clients. Something that came up in both is repetition. Sometimes you want repetition for emphasis or to offer a new insight, like when your MC makes a big revelation. But in most cases, repetition needs to be cut. Here's why.

Repetition just tells the reader what they already know. You're almost insulting the reader's intelligence by assuming they can't remember certain details. Consider if the reminder is necessary or if that space on the page is better spent offering the reader something new. Most of the time, you should be offering new information that moves the story forward.

Repetition slows down the pace of your story. If you want tension to be high, don't backtrack by reminding us of details you've already mentioned. I know it's tough sometimes to hit that delete key because you spent countless hours pouring over those words and they're brilliant. The problem is, those words were brilliant when you said them the first time. After that...you see where I'm going with this.

Most repetition comes from drafting or revising in stages. How many times have you gotten a great idea for something to add during revisions only to find you said the exact same thing (or just about) a few paragraphs later? I do this all the time, and I have to then edit one of those out. My tip is to try to revise in the least sittings possible because that will allow you to catch more instances of repetition.

I challenge you to find repetition in your own work and see if it's really needed.

Add a Comment
11. Author Visits

Mom has two author visits coming up. One this week and one next week. Both are call-backs, so she kind of knows what to expect. One thing she expects is fun! Rejection is the downside of writing. School visits are the upside AND her most favorite thing about being an author. Bar none.

school visit

Fifth graders and college students make for very different visits, which means Mom will pack up her school visit stuff  TWICE. I love when Mom packs up her bag.

bookbag2

Sometimes there are candies in there. Or gum. Or tissues.  And sometimes stuffed toys, depending on where she’s visiting. I ALWAYS check the bag out, just in case.

bookbag

Once I found (and ran with) a smaller bag from inside the bigger bag. It had a fork, a beanie baby, a paintbrush, and a baseball inside. Mom said, “I need them for a game.” and “You wouldn’t understand.” and “Eeeewww. They’re slimy with dog spit!”

gamebag2

Although I love the bag, I hate the leaving. Why does every upside need a downside? When Mom says, “I have to go,” I hear the word GO and head for the door.

Ready!

Ready!

She says, “Not this time.” and “I’ll be back in a little while.” and “Do you want a treat?” which is EXACTLY what I want. And that’s how the downside becomes the upside again.

milkbone toothbrush

 


10 Comments on Author Visits, last added: 4/15/2014
Display Comments Add a Comment
12. Somewhere out there.

Luminescence

Silent light moves above me

In the shape of mighty orbs,

Hanging, moving, ponderous in the blackened world.

I gaze transfixed within the ethereal sight.

Stunning shapes of circling matter float

Far above me, yet live so deep inside me.

Here within this celestial circus,

I watch the journey. I am the journey.

Craters glow. Rills fill with light

As seas expand above me into

The frozen tides of ancient time.

I look up and peer outside our planet’s watery ways.

Jupiter spends time next to our Moon.

Its banded majesty competes for sight.

Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto make little in the night.

Lunar light is king tonight.

 

Orbital choreography at its best,

Rolls slowly before my straining eyes.

Equinox personifies its presence,

And sets the stage for cosmic fall.

We are all part of this.

We are not voyeurs.

We are part of this orbital majesty.

We kneel in wonder at our planned rotation.

Motion is realized and performed.

We follow every second of the measured plan.

We take time to view the distance spinning above us,

And blend our mind’s matter with magnificence.

Denis Hearn 2010

Add a Comment
13. ebook poll and free Donald Maass book

There’s a poll below regarding your use of ebooks, please respond.

12st century writingBefore that, though, I discovered that Kindle users who are enrolled in Amazon Prime can borrow for free most of literary agent Donald Maass’s highly insightful books on writing—Writing 21st Century Fiction, Writing the Breakout Novel, The Fire in Fiction, and The Breakout Novelist through the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library program. This only works for books read on “Kindle devices,” but it’s a good deal for Amazon Prime members who have them. How to borrow from the program is here.

Now for the poll, please. For my purposes, "ebook reader" includes reading .mobi (Kindle) or .epub (Nook, Kobo, iBook, etc.) ebooks on the devices and/or computer software. Thanks for your help. I may repeat this to sample as many readers as possible.

For what it's worth,

Ray

Do you use an ebook reader (device or computer software) and, if so, which type?

© 2014 Ray Rhamey

Add a Comment
14. I Hate Nice

I know what you’re probably thinking, “But, Mary, I’m nice and you’re nice and nice is so…nice! Why do you hate it, especially now that you live in the state of ‘Minnesota nice’?” Don’t worry, I think you’re perfectly nice, and this isn’t a veiled complaint about moving to Minnesota. As for me being nice, sure, I have my moments. Thanks for falling for my Internet persona. :)

What I really hate, though, is when a manuscript has a lot of nice in it. The character is succeeding. Things are going their way. We end a chapter on a cozy moment when they curl into their reading nook and all is right with the world.

How nice. How abysmally nice for them.

The problem with “nice,” though, is that it doesn’t keep our attention. You know how people sometimes say, when they’re being dismissive of something, “Oh, that’s nice, dear”? Nice doesn’t really force us to sit up and take notice, and nice certainly doesn’t create tension within us, pulling us to the edge of our seats.

Sure, we don’t want a character to be dragged through the wringer. Nice things do have to happen on occasion. But last week I was preparing for a workshop that I gave on Saturday at the Loft, and I was going over a story theory that I cover extensively in my book, which I call the Emotional Plot.

emotional plot

The gist is a little hard to explain in one blog post (thought I try to do it here, in a 2009 blog post that contains the seeds of what I would extrapolate on in the 2012 book). Basically, what we’re looking at above is the standard three-act structure but instead of tracking how the plot rises and then falls, we are tracking how the character feels during each step of the process.

And if you’re seeing this graph, you’ll notice that the “Fall” is a HUGE part of it. And it ends in something called the “Rock Bottom.” That doesn’t exactly sound too nice, now does it. Basically, for the majority of your story, your job is to put your character through internally or externally uncomfortable or dangerous situations to get the most possible tension out of your work.

The “Fall” shouldn’t be a complete slide into misery. Like a good snow tubing hill (Am I from Minnesota now or what?!), it should have a few bumps to keep things exciting before plunging again. Allow your character small victories and moments of contentment, then yank the rug out from under them again.

If your plot seems thick, or your story is lacking momentum, or you feel like wandering away for a nap when reading your revision for the Xth time, think, “Am I being too nice? Are too many nice things happening to this character?” Take an especially close look at your chapter endings. Do they mostly end at the resolution of a scene or problem? If so, there’s too much “nice” and not enough tension to carry the reader across the vast expanse of the white at the end of the page and past the mountain of your next chapter heading.

Not everything can be life-or-death in your story, that’s not sustainable, and your reader will learn to ignore that level of tension like the body ignores a dull pain. But if you find that you’re running into a lot of “more tension, please!” comments, think of the nicest, coziest moments in your story, and really focus on a way to either cut them down or insert an especially shocking twist after then that turns “nice” on its ear.

Add a Comment
15. Monday Mishmash 4/14/14


Happy Monday! Here's my mishmash of thoughts:
  1. YA Fest  I'll be at YA Fest this Saturday (April 19th) signing copies of Touch of Death, Stalked by Death, and Face of Death. I'll also have plenty of SWAG including bookmarks, zombie limb candy, and buttons. I'm excited.
  2. Revisions  I'm currently revising three of my novels all on deadlines ranging from tomorrow to May 15th. I love revising. It's when I really get attached to my characters.
  3. Client edits  I'm also editing for clients. I have several edits scheduled through this month and May, which always makes me happy.
  4. Spring pictures  I'm working at my daughter's school on Wednesday for spring pictures. It's always fun to see the kids dressed up.
  5. Happy Holidays!  I wish you all a very happy Easter and Passover. 

That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

Add a Comment
16. Inspired Openings

As the saying goes, you only have one chance to make a good first impression. 

http://www.adventuresinyapublishing.com/2014/03/inspired-openings-make-your-first.html

0 Comments on Inspired Openings as of 4/11/2014 3:53:00 PM
Add a Comment
17. Interesting blog posts about writing – w/e April 11th, 2014



Here’s my selection of interesting (and sometimes amusing) posts about writing from the last week:

Conference Graces (Mary Keeley)
www.booksandsuch.com/blog/conference-graces/

Why the Where Matters (Sarah Callender)
http://writerunboxed.com/2014/04/09/where-am-i-and-why-does-it-matter-part-i/

Confusing Agent Behavior (Rachelle Gardner)
www.booksandsuch.com/blog/confusing-agent-behavior/

Accretion and Your Writing Career (Kerry Gans)
http://authorchronicles.wordpress.com/2014/04/08/accretion-and-your-writing-career/

How to Make Somebody Hate Reading (Keith Cronin)   Jon’s Pick of the Week
http://writerunboxed.com/2014/04/08/how-to-make-somebody-hate-reading/

People Don't Think Alike (Morgan Mandel)
http://bloodredpencil.blogspot.com/2014/04/people-dont-think-alike.html

12 Tips For Increasing Your Book’s Visibility (Even Before You’re Published) (Stina Lindenblatt)
http://querytracker.blogspot.com/2014/03/12-tips-for-increasing-your-books.html

8 ways to know if you have a good agent (Nathan Bransford)
http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2014/04/8-ways-to-know-if-you-have-good-agent.html

Looking for an editor? Check them out very carefully! (Jodie Renner)
http://killzoneauthors.blogspot.com/2014/04/looking-for-editor-check-them-out-very.html

An Editor's List of Novel Shortcomings
(James Scott Bell)
http://killzoneauthors.blogspot.com/2014/04/an-editors-list-of-novel-shortcomings.html

If you found these useful, you may also like my personal selection of the most interesting blog posts from 2013, and last week’s list.

If you have a particular favorite among these, please let the author know (and me too, if you have time).  Also, if you've a link to a great post that isn't here, feel free to share.

Add a Comment
18. Body Language: Eye Contact

The eyes are the windows to the soul. They are one of the most expressive features of the face.

Humans are not the only animal that finds eye contact important.  Staring at a cat conveys aggression. A slow blink conveys love. All the posturing male animals perform is a waste of time unless they have an audience watching their moves.

Especially on first meeting, good eye contact conveys that you are confident, trustworthy, and in control. It can express admiration if accompanied with a smile. Good eye contact is a general indicator of self-esteem. Though, lowering one's eyes can be a sign of respect in some parts of the world.

Eye contact during conversation conveys interest and connection. Engaging in eye contact shows that you are truly interested. Breaking eye contact can signal it is someone else's turn to talk.

A gaze can tantalize, mesmerize, and hypnotize.

Refusing eye contact can mean yourr character is angry, sad, guilty, or embarrassed. Keeping one's head down or averting a gaze can be a signal of insecurity, deceit, or low self-esteem. Widened eyes or narrowed eys convey shock, disbelief, and anger. People blink more when they are uncomfortable.

A person covers his eyes when he does not want to see something or is afraid that someone will see an emotion he does not want to reveal.

Eye blinks, winks, fluttered lashes, etc.can be a flirting game. He looks at her. She looks at him. They both look away. He chances a longer look. Does she look back and hold contact? Should he approach? The answer often lies in this exchange of glances.

Fast blinking can indicate agitation. Slow blinks can indicate shock or exhaustion.

The first part of the body a character looks at can reveal a lot about them. Do a male character's eyes always focus on a woman's chest? Does a female character always look at a man's ring finger?

Staring is generally considered rude or stalker creepy, but could signal surprise, startle,  disbelief, trying to remember where you saw someone, or noting something out of place.

If someone's gaze flits around the room, they are either looking for someone specific, or could be a spy, or cop on the job. Sherlock Holmes is the master of noticing small details others miss. A trained observer can tell a lot about another person with a single glance.

Gazes can convey entire conversations and serve as signals.

Public speakers and performers are taught to look out into the audience, picking specific people or cues, moving from one side of the room to another to make everyone feel included.

Eye contact can become a battle of aggression. He who looks away first, loses.

Normal eye contact for one culture could be considered rude to another. In Muslim countries, eye contact with women is discouraged. Intense eye contact between people of the same sex can mean the person is sincere and telling the truth.

In the hierarchy of Asian cultures, subordinates should not make eye contact with superiors. Lowered eyes can be a sign of respect.

In some African cultures, prolonged eye contact is considered aggressive.

Utilize gestures appropriately, particularly when writing about specific geographic locations. Do your research. If you are making up a completely new word, decide what the normal parameters are and keep it consistent.

The eye roll, while it is physically impossible, is a term that is generally accepted in American culture. Technically the orbit rotates within the eye socket. However, that is akward. Most people don't care if it is technically correct. They know what it means. Just don't use eye rolls in every chapter.

Eyes close, fill with tears, open wide, blink, wink, and scrunch. Eyes cannot travel, roll, graze, skewer, etc. It is one's gaze that moves. Make sure you do a search and kill for the word eye and replace it with gaze when appropriate. Make sure the eye movement is essential to the scene and is not overused.

Next time, we discuss lying.

0 Comments on Body Language: Eye Contact as of 4/11/2014 1:37:00 PM
Add a Comment
19. Super Quick Italian Bean Salad

Italian Bean Salad

This is my weeknightified version of a Foster’s Market recipe. It’s super simple and really hits the spot when I want a tasty deli-style salad with next to no work. You could dress it up as much as you like with fresh veggie add-ins. The original recipe is lovely, though not super fast (you cook the beans yourself and make their delicious dressing from scratch, among other things). Again, this is more a list of ideas than a real recipe, but it’s not hard to eye the proportions.

Ingredients:

Rinsed and drained canned white beans (I like navy beans)

Italian dressing—-I like the Penzey’s mix

Capers

Sundried tomatoes

Chopped fresh parsley

Mix beans with enough dressing to coat and enough capers and tomatoes to give it a little color. Let marinate a few hours if you have time. Add parsley. Enjoy!

Got some more feedback on my nonfiction manuscript this week. Things are finally moving forward. So excited.

Still working on the last few chapters of my young adult novel. It’s slow-going, but I do think I’m getting somewhere.

And in other news this week, I’ve been talking to 4th and 5th graders about writing an early reader (i.e. Slowpoke). Fun times! Love getting their questions.

For more food-related posts, click here. Have a great rest of your week.

 


2 Comments on Super Quick Italian Bean Salad, last added: 4/10/2014
Display Comments Add a Comment
20. Almost…

April-Calendar-2014-PDF

Spring is almost here. I mean it’s here on the calendar, but in real life, not so much. Mom and I look for flowers outside, but we’re not seeing a whole lot.

daffodil1

Almost there…not quite…

The grass is still kind of brownish and slime-ish in spots. And the wind still turns my ears upside down.

daffodil4

Also, the rain has Mom bringing out my raincoat every couple of days. April showers and all that….

rainy

Real, actual spring – street nap spring – takes longer to happen, I guess.

street rest

Chilly tummy.

Stories take longer than expected sometimes, too. The calendar says we’re 10 days into the month, but we’re not seeing much of Mom’s April manuscript. The idea is still brownish and slime-ish, and wind and rain in Mom’s head are slowing down the progress. Her ears aren’t upside down or anything, but I’m hearing an awful lot of “Here we go.” and not an awful lot of, “Yay. I’m finished.”

I think the rain wetting the soil and the wind flying the seeds all around are putting down the groundwork for the real season.

This is definitely a sign of spring...

This is definitely a sign of spring…

Like the rain and the wind, mind-writing and planning are putting down the groundwork for Mom’s story. The daffodils are starting to pop. I hope Mom’s story will pop soon, too.

daffodils bloom

 

 


10 Comments on Almost…, last added: 4/10/2014
Display Comments Add a Comment
21. Sharing Some Exciting News

I'm proud to announce my second professional book with Stenhouse Publishers will be coming to you in the winter of 2016.

Add a Comment
22. The Funny Thing about Mice



It's a little bit scary to tell you things I'm happy about. 
Things that feel like little green tips at the edges of my wintered-over branches.
 
Not that it's wrong to feel pleased with good things,
but when I remember the gravity of last year
I wonder -
is this okay?
this joy? these painted things?
Will I jinx it somehow?

 
Over the last year, I convinced myself I have permanent writer's block.
But then this week, a few words eeked out, and I wondered.

Maybe it's not writer's block.
Maybe it's just fear.

Fear is something we all have, isn't it?

Fear of failure. of something bad happening.
of shadows. heights. the dark.
Scratchy things. fish. being alone.

What are your crazy fears?



You know what's funny?
All that health craziness last year - that was like facing off against a lion.
I borrowed as much courage as possible.

Now I'm standing on a chair shrieking about a bug -
worried about putting stories on paper!
worried someone won't like them!
 

Oh, for a good gulp of perspective!

I just read "The Tale of Despereaux" by Kate DiCamillo.
It's about a mouse who battles darkness with courageous love.
It's beautiful.


Despereaux strapped on a belt of red thread,
a sewing needle sword,
and plunged into the dungeons to save a princess.

While I don't have dungeons, or a sword,
I want to have courageous love like that mouse,
not concerned about what people will think.
brave.
true.
every day.
not just on heart surgery days. 
in the daily dirt.
in being a writer and artist, too.


So here's what I'm doing.
All fueled up from my Illustrating Picture Books class,
I'm going to the SCBWI conference this weekend.
And I'm entering my art in a portfolio show.


To go with it, I did a little spring cleaning on the blog,
redesigned The Portfolio.
I hope you like the new look around here.
I hope it's good dirt.
And if you're coming to the conference, let's hang out!
I'll be the small mouse in the corner.

 


The Tale of Despereaux
The Tale of Despereaux, by Kate DiCamillo









0 Comments on The Funny Thing about Mice as of 4/10/2014 11:31:00 AM
Add a Comment
23. Andrea Cheng on Writing Biography in Verse

Andrea Cheng image

Andrea Cheng is the author of several critically-acclaimed books for young readers. Her most Guest bloggerrecent novel, Etched in Clay, tells the story in verse of Dave the Potter, an enslaved man, poet, and master craftsperson whose jars (many of which are inscribed with his poetry and writings) are among the most sought-after pieces of Edgefield pottery. Etched in Clay recently won the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award.

When I heard an NPR review of Leonard Todd’s book, Carolina Clay, I knew that Dave’s was a story I wanted to Etched in Claytell.  And from the start, I knew that I wanted to tell it in verse.   Readers often ask me why.  I didn’t make this decision consciously, but subconsciously, I think there were reasons.

The evidence of Dave’s life is fragmentary: pots and shards and bills of sale.    This means that each small piece of evidence stands for something more, something much larger than the object itself.  For example, the first bill of sale shows that Harvey Drake purchased a teenage boy for six hundred dollars.  He was “country born” with “good teeth” and “a straight back. “ (Etched in Clay, p. 7) There is so much sorrow in these few words.  A person is being evaluated and then sold like an animal.  After a quick transaction, he becomes the property of someone else.  The only way I know to allow a reader to feel this sorrow is through the intensity of a poem.

And of course, Dave was a poet, so it seems fitting to tell his life in verse.  Sometimes he had fun with words and puns and tongue twisters like mag-nan-i-mous and se-ver-it-y. Other times he expressed the sorrow of his life in cryptic couplets:

I wonder where is all my relation

friendship to all—and every nation.

Poetry is intense and versatile.  Each word and each phrase is loaded and can hold multiple meanings.  This is the way that Dave wrote, and it is the only way that I could attempt to represent his life.

The other question people often ask is why I chose to tell the story in multiple voices.

The first poems I wrote were from Dave’s point of view.  I started with:

Another Name

Illustration from Etched in Clay

Illustration from Etched in Clay

            Dave, 1815

Master says ”Dave—

That suits you.

That’s your name.”

He can call me

Whatever he pleases,

Tom or John or Will or Dave,

No matter.

 

I had another name once.

I can’t remember the sound of it;

But I know the voice,

smooth and soft,

that whispered it

close to my ear

in the still night.

And then

my mother was gone.

After writing several poems in Dave’s voice, I wanted to explore the other people in Dave’s life.  What did they say?  How did they feel?  How did they relate to Dave?  What about Harvey Drake, a young man sent by his uncle to purchase a slave?  Was he confident in making this purchase?  Did he have doubts?   What about Eliza, a house slave thought to be Dave’s first wife?  I cannot imagine the sorrow of their separation when she was sold and taken to Alabama.  I wanted to hear from Dave’s subsequent owners: Abner Landrum, John Landrum,  Reuben Drake, Lewis Miles, and BF Landrum.  Lewis Miles and Dave seemed to have become friends of sorts, even joking about the way to place a handle on a clay pot.  And then there was the despicable Benjamin Franklin Landrum who  says “It takes a strong whip/to  control these slaves.” (EIC p. 101.)  After a terrible beating, Dave finds one of the slaves “…hanging limp/and her pulse is gone.”

Illustration from Etched in Clay

Illustration from Etched in Clay

Multiple voices can allow the readers a glimpse into the minds of various characters.  Why do they do what they do?  How do they rationalize their actions to themselves and others?  How do they relate to other characters?  With multiple voices, the writer can create a world.

While doing the research for Etched in Clay, I read articles about Dave’s pottery and viewed photographs of his jugs.   I read about the history of South Carolina and the Landrum Family that owned Dave through much of his life.  I read hundreds of slave narratives.  And then I drove 11 hours from Ohio to South Carolina.

While traipsing across the Carolina fields where Dave once lived and worked, it started drizzling.  After a short storm, the sun came out, and I saw that the field was littered with shards of pottery, glistening in the morning light.  I picked up a few shards and wondered if perhaps they were Dave’s.  Then I walked downhill to the creek where Dave and others dug the clay.  The water was cold and running fast.  The banks were steep.  I held a handful of wet clay in my hand.  In the evening, at the Edgefield Inn, near Dave’s home, I wrote many of the poems in Etched in Clay.  Like the shards I had seen, I hope that they create a whole.

Further Reading:

An interview with Andrea Cheng about Etched in Clay in School Library Journal

A look at how Andrea Cheng made the woodcut illustrations for Etched in Clay


Filed under: Curriculum Corner Tagged: Etched in Clay, National Poetry Month, Nonfiction poetry, poetry, teaching resources, writing, writing resources

2 Comments on Andrea Cheng on Writing Biography in Verse, last added: 4/11/2014
Display Comments Add a Comment
24. Creating mini-units of study in writing workshop: writing to bear witness.

In my sixth grade class, we cycle through a set of genres every Writing Workshop year: personal narrative, memoir, feature article, poetry, profiles, and persuasive letters and research based essays.  Taken together, these… Continue reading

Add a Comment
25. Writing as technology

vsi banner

In honor of the beginning of National Library Week this Sunday, 13 April 2014, we’re sharing this interesting excerpt from Contemporary Fiction: A Very Short Introduction. As technology continues to evolve, the way we access books and information is changing, and libraries are continuously working to keep up-to-date with the latest resources available. Here, Robert Eaglestone presents the idea of the seemingly simple act of writing as a form of technology.

The essential thing about technology is that, despite our iPhones and computers and digital cameras and constant change, it is not new at all. In fact, human civilization over the longest possible time grew up not just hand in hand with technology but because of technology. Technology isn’t just something added to ‘being human’ the way we might acquire another gadget: the essence of technology is in the creation of tools, technology in the creation of farming and in buildings, cities, roads, and machines. (p. 87) And perhaps the most important form of technology is right here in front of you, you’re looking at it right now, this second: writing. It too—these very letters here, now—is, of course, a technology. Writing is a ‘machine’ to supplement both the fallible and limited nature of our memory (it stores information over time) and our bodies over space (it carries information over distances). So it’s not so much that we humans made technology: technology also made us. As we write, so writing makes us. It is technology that allows us history, as a recorded past and so a present, and so, perhaps a future. So to think about technology, and changes in technology, is to think about the very core of what we, as a species, are and about how we are changing. As we change technology, we change ourselves. And all novels, because they are a form of technology, implicitly or explicitly, do this.

The word ‘technology’ comes from the Greek word ‘techne’: techne is the skill of the craftsman or woman at building things (ships, tables, tapestries) but also, interestingly, the skill of crafting art and poetry. ‘Techne’ is the skill of seeing how, say, these pieces of wood would make a good table if sanded and used in just that way, or seeing the shape of David in the block of marble, or in hearing how these phrases will best represent the sadness you imagine Queen Hecuba feels in mourning her husband and sons. It’s also the skill, in our age, of working out how best to use resources to eliminate a disease globally, or to deliver high-quality education. But ‘techne’ has become more than just skill: it is a whole way of thinking about the world. In this ‘technological thinking’, everything in the world is turned into a potential resource for use, everything is a tool for doing something. Rocks become sources of ore; trees become potential timber for carpentry or pulp for paper; the wind itself is captured by a windmill or, in a more contemporary idiom, ‘farmed’ in a wind farm. Companies have departments of ‘human resources’. Even an undeveloped piece of natural land, purposely left undisturbed by buildings and agriculture, becomes a ‘wilderness park’, a ‘machine’ in which to relax and recharge (p. 88) oneself from the strains of everyday life. Great works of literature are turned into a resource through which to measure people, by exams or in quizzes. This is the point of the old saw, ‘To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail’: to a technological way of thinking, everything looks like a resource to be used (just as to a carpenter, all trees look like potential timber; to a university academic, all fiction is a source of exam questions). More than this, the modern networks which use these resources are bigger and more complex. Where once the windmill ground the miller’s corn to make bread, now a huge global food system moves food resources about internationally: understanding and using these networks are a career in themselves. This technological thinking, rather than the tools it produces, is a taken-for-granted ‘framework’ in which we come to see and understand everything. Although many people have made this sort of observation about the world, the influential and contentious German philosopher Martin Heidegger, from whom much of the above is drawn, made it most keenly.

Is this a bad thing? It certainly sounds as if it might be. Who wants, after all, to be seen only as a ‘human resource’? It’s precisely technological thinking that has put the world at risk of total destruction. On the other hand, technology has offered so much to so many: in curing illness and alleviating pain, for example. The question is too big to answer in these simple terms of ‘bad’ or ‘good’. However, contemporary fiction seems very negative about technology, positing dystopias and awful ends for humanity. However, I want to suggest that contemporary fiction doesn’t find the world utterly without hope, precisely because of technology.

Robert Eaglestone is Professor of Contemporary Literature and Thought at Royal Holloway, University of London. He is Deputy Director (and formerly Director) of the Holocaust Research Centre. His research interests are in contemporary literature and literary theory, contemporary philosophy, and on Holocaust and genocide studies. He is the author of Contemporary Fiction: A Very Short Introduction and Doing English: A Guide for Literature Students (third revised edition) (Routledge, 2009).

The Very Short Introductions (VSI) series combines a small format with authoritative analysis and big ideas for hundreds of topic areas. Written by our expert authors, these books can change the way you think about the things that interest you and are the perfect introduction to subjects you previously knew nothing about. Grow your knowledge with OUPblog and the VSI series every Friday, subscribe to Very Short Introductions articles on the OUPblog via email or RSS, and like Very Short Introductions on Facebook.

Subscribe to the OUPblog via email or RSS.
Subscribe to only literature articles on the OUPblog via email or RSS.

The post Writing as technology appeared first on OUPblog.

0 Comments on Writing as technology as of 4/11/2014 5:25:00 AM
Add a Comment

View Next 25 Posts