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1. A Little Hump Day Shine

My word this year is ‘shine’. It can be so easy catching myself not shining my brightest. Typically, those are times I don’t allow others to shine. I’m too bright too dull the glow of others! (Repeating 3x daily)

Technology helps me, helps us, shine. I recently updated my iPhone to the new IOS and found that I went back to the same ol’ settings I’ve had. While I appreciate Apple making me aware of some of the new functions, I’ve found my comfort zone. But to shine like a new copper penny, when I go for the trade in, I think I’ll go ahead and make some  real changes. I’ve never really used the Passport app so, I plan to explore that and a few other options. Changing the phone around keeps the brain young!

AND!! I decided to upgrade the Nook! I love playing with new tech toys and finding new ways to locate and share information but I can be frugal, too. If it ain’t broke, why get rid of it? I hate to admit this out loud but I do still have two of the old-fashioned heavy televisions and I drive a 2000 Honda. I was so surprised to hear that cars now tell you when the air is low in your tires! Not only am I saving money by keeping what still works, but it seems like I’m still thinking for myself as well.

René Saldaña Jr. shines brilliantly over at LatinosinKidlit when he firmly states “the books are not hard to find.” I agree, Reñe! It’s old and lame to say you can’t find any Latino books. True, there are not enough, but the ones that are there can be found.

Bringing that real shine to diversity, Kathryn Allan and Djibril al-Ayad discuss their forthcoming anthology Accessing the Future which explores disability and the intersectionality of race, nationality, gender, sexuality and class. They’re raising funds through Indiegogo to get this amazing book published so, check out the interview and shine on them with a little donation to support the cause.

Cyntwe_need_diverse_books_logohia Leitich Smith Shines no matter what! Her recent blog post details the WeNeedDiverseBooks announcement to incorporate as a non-profit and its inaugural advisory board members Grace Lin, Jacqueline Woodson, Matt de la Peña, Cynthia Leitich Smith and Cindy Pon.
“Incorporating will give us the legitimacy and standing we need to move forward with our mission,” says Lamar Giles, VP of Communications. “We have many exciting projects in the works.”

On the BrownBookShelf, Sharon Flake asks about how well you shine. She asks “Are you unstoppable?”unstoppable

On September 30, 2014, my new novel, Unstoppable Octobia May, will hit bookstores nationwide.  On that day I would love you and/or the young people you influence to join me in shouting out to the world that they too are unstoppable by holding up the following sign, words, image:

I AM UNSTOPPABLE

#UNSTOPPABLEOCTOBIAMAY

Shining winners of the 2014 South Asian Book Awards

Elizabeth Suneby

Razia’s Ray of Hope: One Girl’s Dream of an Education
(Kids Can Press, 2013)

Jennifer Bradbury

A Moment Comes
(Atheneum Book, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, 2013)

2014 Honor Winner
Farhana Zia
The Garden of My Imaan
(Peachtree, 2013)

Kudos to Walter Mays, president elect of the Assembly of Literature for Adolescents of the NCTE for his efforts to bring more diversity to the ALAN workshop which will be held this November in Washington DC. Among the many outstanding authors on the roster we’ll find

Jason Reynolds

Jenny Han

Kwame Alexander

Pam Muñoz Ryan

C.J. Farley

Coe Booth

Christopher Paul Curtis

Ying Compestine

Vinson Compestine

Atia Abawi

Tanuja Desai Hidier

Patrick Flores-Scott

Kekla Magoon

G. Neri

WOW!!! W0 W!!!! I will be there! You?

 

 


Filed under: Causes Tagged: #WeNeedDiverseBoosk, ALAN

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2. ALAN pt 2

Warning: I’ve been working on this for hours. While I know I need to give this 2-3 more read-throughs, I just don’t have time. Please forgive the typos!

I went to ALAN this year because Lyn Miller-Lachmann (Rogue; Nancy Paulsen Books) asked me to moderate a panel with her, Kekla Magoon (The Rock and the River; Aladdin) and Rene Saldana Jr (Juventud! Growing up on the Border: Stories and Poems; VAO Publishing). entitled “It’s Complicated: Diverse Authors Revisit the Classics”. We had a nice turnout and it was great working with these talented individuals, although Rene was unfortunately detained in that terrible storm in Texas and unable to join us.

I was truly disappointed in the lack of diversity at the conference. As a new friend stated “I’m tired of the all White world of YA.” I could count on my hands the number of people of color who were present. While there those who are committed to YA and to the teens who read it, most teachers and librarians of color will choose to come if they see people like them somewhere in the program. It makes you feel welcome, you know?

My criticism is more with the industry and how it promotes authors.

I felt quite welcome at ALAN this year as I always do.

Yea, it bothered me that after all I’d gone through to get there, the room was so packed that it seemed I’d spend the first day standing around the back of the room. But this is a conference where people talk to one another! We talk about the books, the authors, programs we’re planning, students we teach and the shoes we wear. We talk to librarians, authors, editors and university students. While this year we celebrated 40 years of ALAN, we listened to authors as they shared about their writing, their readers and their lives.

I hated that I missed hearing Jacqueline Woodson’s (Each Kindness, Nancy Paulsen Books) poem but I had to get Swati Avasthi’s (Chasing Shadows, Random House) autograph and arrange an interview with her!

Who was it during the Coming of Age session when talking about hope in our stories that said “It’s not the despair that gets you, it’s the hope”?

Alan Sitomer (Caged Warrior, Disney Hyperion) on the same panel postulated that “we all live on hope.” With much passion, he proclaimed that “there’s an assault on kids in urban schools today.” They’re not bright enough, not motivated enough… and this is only said about the urban kids!

Upon receiving the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award, Eliot Schrefer (Endangered, Scholastic) reflected on his visit to the Congo where he spoke to teens growing up in this war-torn country and he wondered why he was there talking to these students about books. But then, they began taking examples from his reading and applying them to situations in their country.

Fellow recipient A.S. King (Reality Boy; Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) made even more of a point about why she writes. “I need to write the air. I write because I need to. I believe in compassion and community and I’ve always wanted to live in a world where people really are equals … Writing should make us generous. You have to give up yourself to the book. Writing should change you.”

As someone who has moved over to the academic side and who teaches research to students, I really appreciated what Tanya Lee Stone (Courage has no color, the true story of the Triple Nickles: America’s first Black Paratroopers; Candlewick) had to say about research. She suggested getting young researchers to realize what they are passionate about and then figure out what’s important about that. Passion should drive research.

I loved hearing Beth Kephart (Going Over; Chronicle Books) state that “landscape is character” because it spoke to my passion for geography in literature.

Sharon McKay (Enemy Territory; Annick Press) was amazing as she unfolded her personal story that helps her know how to be an insider when writer. “Outsiders have simple solutions.” They don’t understand life’s complexities.

We are all writing about people in the end. We’re all writing about love in the end.” Kephart.

But readers need to find themselves in what they read. They need to be able to relate to the characters and situations.

Sara Farizan (If you could be mine: a novel; Algonquin) reflected on growing up uncomfortable with her gay identity. She found solace in reading and writing and she sought out books. While she found some with gay and lesbian characters, she couldn’t find any Middle Eastern or Asian characters who were facing obstacles like her.

Authors with so many provocative thoughts! While so many writers urge us to push the envelope and to be edgy (which we need to do because so many teen’s lives are edgy) Another perspective was presented by Carl Deuker (Swagger; Houghton Mifflin). “They grow close to 6 feet tall but they’re still very close to Charlotte’s Web”.

I wish I knew who said it!!!
“Why are books the last racial  barrier where many white kids only read about their own experience”? neighborhoods and schools are integrated. We listen to each other’s music, so what is it about books?

I loved witnessing Paul Rudnick’s (Gorgeous; Scholastic) sheer exuberance about writing; Ann Burg’s (Sarafina’s Promise; Scholastic) commitment to truth, Robert Lipsyte’s plea for literacy over sports (where “character has become less important than characters”); Ken Setterington’s (Branded by the Pink Triangle; Second Story Press) work to preserve the pink triangle of the holocaust and was perplexed by science fiction writings admitting the lack of science in their writing yet  managing to redeem themselves in their use of horror.

I was glad to discover a new author of color, Kendare Blake (Antigodess; Tor), a Korean American author.

As is fitting, my take-a-way came from Walter Mayes, librarian extraordinaire and the face of ALAN. Remember, ALAN is part of NCTE, so the majority of people there are teachers. Walter was part of a panel celebrating librarians and media specialists. I think he’s an incredible librarian. Well over 6 ft tall, he’s still close to Charlotte’s Web, still close to what children hold dear. Walter related a story to us.

In his library, the older students are able to speak their mind if no younger students are around. Walter’s students aren’t those urban students but they’re diverse. His library books represent diversity. He’s figured out how to give students what they’re ready for and he knew this particular 8th grade black girl was ready for pretty much the same thing her white classmates were reading until one day, she came in, looked around and said she was tired of all these books with “rich, white bitches”. Their conversation led him to make a selection for her that had her coming back, and coming back and coming back.

Walter, this tall white guy working in a library in an all girl’s school was aware enough to get that not all Black, Latino or Asian kids are able to recognize or articulate their desire for books with characters like them. I can remember Ari, Kekla and even myself being quite satisfied with reading about “rich white bitches”, but once discovering a book with a character like us, we wanted more! For publishers to want students to articulate their desire for ethnic diversity in literature is absurd: they simply haven’t all reached that level of psychological development. Thankfully, librarians get it.

ALAN was stimulating, thought-provoking and irritating. I made wonderful connections in terms of thoughts, ideas and relationships with other people. I just know that a more diverse presentation would have enriched us all so much more. The authors not being there wasn’t because ALAN didn’t invite them, it has to do with who publishers choose to market.

ALAN is very inexpensive to join. The organization is extremely inclusive. Its journal is quite important to the field of YA literature. Let’s not pull away from ALAN. Only by joining such organizations and working with such allies can we get publishers to realize they’ve got to change how they market their authors of color and how they represent YA lit to readers. Next year’s conference will be in Washington D.C..

ALAN is the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of the National Council of Teachers of English.


Filed under: Programming, publisher Tagged: ALAN, diversity, publishers

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3. ALAN pt. I

Why not go out on a limb? Isn’t that where the fruit is? – Frank Scully

2012-11-22 19.09.03

New Mexican Spice Rubbed Pork Tenderloin

Last year’s ALAN was in Vegas and I was able to stay over for Thanksgiving dinner with my son and DIL at Bob Flay’s Mesa Grill. This year it was in Boston. Although I didn’t stretch my visit into the holiday, I did have some pretty good dining experiences.

Saturday evening, I had dinner at the Parker House Restaurant with Kekla Magoon and Lisa J. of Anali’s First Amendment. While none of us really knew one another, we managed to stretch our evening into a four-hour event! Why not? Not only was it a splurge, but it was an over the top (for me!!) event! I was with Kekla and Lisa!! And, we were in the Parker House Restaurant! We knew this was where the Kennedys preferred to dine in Boston and that Malcolm X once worked here We also knew that both Parker House Rolls and Boston Creme Pie were invented here. But, the immensity of this didn’t hit home until Lisa asked if we could take photos. We meant of the food and we didn’t want to disturb others around us. It was suggested that we wait until the crowd thinned and of course to us, this meant waiting until our food (and the opportunity to photograph it) would be  gone. Yet, we complied.

Edi, Kekla and Lisa

Edi, Kekla and Lisa at Table 40

Prior to delivering the dessert, our waitress asked if we were ready for the photo by table 40 where Jack proposed to Jackie. Kennedy to Bouvier. So, yes!!! Realizing that’s what she interpreted our request for a photo to mean, we happily took photos there!

Lisa wrote a much nicer post about our evening, so do go read it. I’m sure you can relate to little evenings that become such special memories.

As incredible as that was, my visit to Boston got even bigger from there.

I went to NCTE. I went to the exhibit hall and got the first books signed that I’ll be adding to Little Bean’s library. Little Bean is myIMG_1474 first grandchild, due in May. Little Bean is the most amazing kid with an über incredible library! Though not pictured, I also got a book signed by Judy Blume for Little Bean!

IMG_1451

Patricia MacLachlin

Patricia MacLachlin

Pat Mora

Pat Mora

IMG_1448

 

 

 

 

 

I went to ALAN.

ALAN… ALAN started on a downward slope for me. As impressive as the Omni Parker is, I was disappointed that NCTE listed it as a nearby hotel. Traveling as a single lady in a new-to-me town with windchills around -5, it was easy to slip into punk mode and get sucked into $10 cab rides. Not close! The conference room was ridiculously cramped and short on seats.

BUT!! This ALAN had complimentary coffee. There has to be a better way to refer to this beverage as is was a nectar of the goddesses! It took away any reason I had to complain. It let me stand in lines and meet new friends. It took my edge off. I’ve since visited the Au Bon Pain website and see that I can order the coffee online and I sure do plan to do that! It’s so very good!

I’ve waited days to decompress and write my ALAN reflections. When I began writing, I had no idea I’d write so much backstory! I’m going to stop here. Rumor is that people don’t like to read long passages online. I’ll finish posting about ALAN tomorrow.

Enjoy your evening!


Filed under: Me Being Me Tagged: ALAN, Au Bon Pain, Boston, Kekla Magoon, Kennedys, Lisa Johnson, Malcolm X, Omni Parker

2 Comments on ALAN pt. I, last added: 11/30/2013
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4. Me, podcasted

In which I am interviewed on the Reading and Writing Podcast.

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5. UpComing

The following are a few good ways to get involved in the dynamic world of YA.

ALAN, the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of NCTE, is seeking applicants for the position of editor of their journal, The ALAN Review.  To apply, interested persons should submit the following: a letter of application detailing qualifications for the position and the applicant’s vision for the journal, a current vita, one sample of published writing, and a letter of general support from appropriate administrators at the applicant’s institution. Classroom teachers are eligible and encouraged to apply. Applications should be sent via email, using the subject line, ALAN Editor, to Teri Lesesne, Executive Director of ALAN (AlanExecutiveSecretary@gmail.com). Please send files as Word attachments. Applications must be received no later than October 1, 2013. Finalist interviews will be conducted at the NCTE conference in Boston.

Note that the TAR editor receives complimentary registration to the ALAN Workshop and a stipend of $2,000 a year.

Click here for further information about the position from ALAN’s Policy & Procedure Manual.

There is still time to register for the United States Board On Books International Conference in St. Louis MO, Oct. 18-20
Speaker highlights: Ashley Bryan, Mem Fox, Gregory Maguire, Pat Mora, Katherine Paterson, Peter Sis, Jacqueline Woodson
Breakout Session highlights (and there are many more):
“Bringing the World to Your Library: Incorporating International Books into Everyday Practice”
“Diverse Voices, Digital Narratives: Connecting Children, Books, and Digital Media  to Promote Bookjoy Around the World”
“PictureBookJoy: Humor in International Picture Books”
“Depictions of African American and Black Culture in Graphic Literature”
“Hair in Children’s Literature around the World”
“BookJoy for Middle School: Poetry in Many Voices”

___________

YALSA is seeking program proposals and paper presentations for its 2014 Young Adult Literature Symposium,Keeping it Real: Finding the True Teen Experience in YA Literature, to be held October 31 – November 2, 2014 in Austin, TX.   YALSA’s 2014 Young Adult Literature Symposium will gather together librarians, educators, researchers, authors and publishers to explore what’s ‘real’ in the world of teen literature.  In what ways is young adult literature reflecting the real and amazing diversity of today’s 42 million teens and it what ways has it fallen short?  Who are today’s teens, really?  What are the ‘real’ issues that they want and need to read about, and how do they want to read about them?  Why are realistic teen experiences in books sometimes controversial when they accurately portray a young person’s life? How are the evolving areas of identity and sex(uality) being explored in YA literature and nonfiction?  Join YALSA as we explore what is ‘real’ in young adult literature.

YALSA invites interested parties to propose 90-minute programs centering on the theme, as well as paper presentations offering new, unpublished research relating to the theme. Applications for all proposals can be found at http://ala.org/yalitsymposium  (click “Propose a Paper/Program”). Proposals for programs and paper presentations must be completed online by Nov. 1, 2013. Applicants will be notified of their proposals’ status the week of Jan. 12, 2014.

Important news from IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People)

In international children’s book news,  the 2013 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award,  sponsored by the Swedish government and currently the world’s largest award for children’s and young adult literature, has been presented to Isol, the Argentinian writer and illustrator of children’s books.  According to the ALMA website:  ” Isol’s great talent as a picturebook author is apparent in the overall experience created by the dramatic composition, the choice of colours and the intensity of the drawn line.”  (wwww.alma.se)

IBBY has selected the next editor for Bookbird .  Dr. Bjorn Sundmark will edit the journal from 2015- 2018.  He is Associate Professor of English at the Faculty of Education, Malmo University, Sweden, and serves on the board of the Swedish National  Culture Council.


Filed under: professional development Tagged: ALAN, IBBY, USBBY, yalsa

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6. Steampunk K-9


For this year's DragonCon, I built a steampunk K-9 to accompany Jo's Lady Doctor costume in the Masquerade. Together, we won Best in Show in the Youth category!

As a model, I used this tiny scale model K-9 from ThinkGeek, which I got Jo to go with the Barbie-sized TARDIS I built her. Despite being just a couple of inches long, it's all to scale, which allowed me to do the math and extrapolate a larger version.


I started by building a mock-up out of foam core. I got it mostly right from the start, but this allowed me to mess up and not waste wood. (And time!) The foam core is just held together with masking tape and straight pins. I designed it to fit on a remote controlled car base I bought, and ended up making it almost 1:1 scale with the original K-9...




Late in the process, we realized that a key would make a brilliant tail for a steampunk dog. Originally, I was just going to buy an antenna and spray paint it brass. I think the key turned out much cuter.


When I was finished, I cut all the taped joints apart and used my foam core pieces as pattern pieces. I traced them on a very thin plywood, and cut them out with a Skill saw and jigsaw.


I don't have very many pics of me actually building K-9, strangely. I love process pics, but so often I did the building later in the evening while watching TV, and the light was always terrible for taking pics. I always said, "Oh, I'll take a picture tomorrow in the good light." And then I never did. But here's me using a vise to hold together the tricky angles of the face while I screwed it together. In the back of the head, you can see the small square dowel I used in the corners to give my something to screw into besides the thin plywood.


And here's the finished product!


The TV k-9 has colorful buttons on his back. For the steampunk K-9, I used two great brass faucet knobs we found at the Home ReStore in town. I think they were maybe $2 each. The joiner pipe is actually a piece of wood dowel I spray painted brass. The keyboard (in lieu of colorful buttons) is made up of individual wooden keys. I found a person on Etsy who laser cuts them out of wood, then applies pictures of antique keys to them. They look like authentic typewriter keys, but they're fake! They're a lot lighter--and a whole lot cheaper than real typewriter keys, which go for a pretty penny on eBay.


The tail is wood, spray painted to look brass. Again, much lighter! And there was no way I was going to be able to make something like that out of real brass.


The neck is dryer tubing spray painted brass. It took the spray paint really well! And I didn't have to attach it--all I did was bend it around the head, and the angles did all the work. The collar is a brass hand towel ring with the mounting piece cut off of it. The bone tag is wood, again painted to look brass. A rule I've heard that I'm trying to live by is "looks great from six feet away." I think all this looks great close up, but it all passes muster six feet away, which is really the level of detail we want on our costumes.


The nose was a real score at the Home ReStore, which is a Habitat for Humanity store that reclaims old fixtures from torn down houses and renovations and resells them. This faucet was an awesome find. Jo and I spent a very happy couple of hours rooting through the plumbing bins at the store, looking for treasures like this. I hadn't planned on putting a faucet on the nose, but it was too good to pass up--and ended up sort of making the whole thing.


We had a lot of options for K-9's ears. I almost went with another pair of faucets made of wood and brass, but these curtain rod ends won out in the end. They were just too cool looking. They're plastic--about the only plastic thing on the whole dog, except for the remote controlled car underneath him--but they look brass, and they have the added benefit of being lightweight, which was an issue on the head.


K-9's eye bars are wood, painted brass. The eye itself is of course the knob off a garden hose bib. I loved it--particularly as the original K-9's eye is a red circle. I left the maker's ring on there too. It was too awesome.


The big "K-9" on the side are wooden letters from A.C. Moore, again spray painted brass. I screwed them in from behind, so you can's see the screws. You'll see screws everywhere else though. My original plan was to cover those with "brass" trim, which was going to be a brass duct tape I found. In the end, I loved the look of him without all the brass trim. I think going without was a good call. He's already pretty blinged out as it is!


The other side had a door. This served two purposes. One was practical--it gave me a way to reach inside and attach the cotter pins to the posts that connected the K-9 unit to the remote controlled car. The second was part of the show: we put a tea cup and saucer in there, and at a certain part of Jo's performance, K-9 raced over to her and she took out the cup and pretended to pour tea from his nose! It was a real hit. This space also, coincidentally, made a nice storage area for his controller, spare battery, charger, etc.

For the curious, here's the R/C car I used as the base. It's not your cheapo mall-bought R/C car. I got this at HobbyTown USA, where they know their machines. At first, I was worried it wouldn't be strong enough to move the wood and brass K-9 I built--but I ended up having to take it in to the shop to have them help me slow it down! It's a beast of an R/C car, and it worked great.


The steampunk K-9!

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7. Nancy Drew in The Tomb of the Cybermen


I made this.  From an idea by my friend Wes Stitt. Kind of a hack job on GIMP, the Linux freeware Photoshop, but I'm pretty proud of it. The number in the corner is the year the original Doctor Who serial The Tomb of the Cybermen debuted.

That's a mash-up I'd love to read!

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8. Totoro Pics!


Okay! By popular demand, pics of our Totoro and Satsuki costumes! I've been holding off because we don't have too many--I was inside the thing all night, after all!--but people have been asking, so here are a few pics to whet your appetite. First up, a picture of Jo and me (inside Totoro) with Grant Imahara, star of Mythbusters, and host of this year's DragonCon Masquerade! He was really cool--and really appreciated the scale of Totoro! We were too tall for the photographer's set and lighting here, which is why there's a big lamp above Totoro's head. Jo is holding our award for Best Animated Character--our second award in that category. (Our first was for Samurai Jack and Aku.)


Here's a shot I yanked off someone's Tumblr. After the Masquerade, we set up Totoro on one of the floors in the Marriott, where a number of people got their picture made with him. He was so tall (over ten feet) that his head was hitting the ceiling (and a sprinkler!) in the first place we set him up. This place had a bit taller overhead.


Getting Totoro to the con was a bit of a challenge, as you might imagine. We had to rent a mini-van for the purpose, and stuff him in the back. We built him to be collapsible, but we were careful with his face. :-) I had hoped that people would see Totoro peering at them out the back of our van on the highway, but all the van's windows were tinted, so I don't think anyone actually saw him.

That's your teaser! More pics of the construction, and hopefully of Totoro around the con, to come!

(Click the pics to see them bigger and better.)

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9. Letters to Camp

While Jo is off at summer camp for three weeks (!) Wendi and I write her a letter a day, alternating days between us. Wendi's tend to be crafty, while mine tend to be silly. Here's one I sent to Jo with a couple of Mad Libs books during her first week at camp. I was pretty pleased with it. :-)



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10. Where's Waldo? On the US Men's Soccer Team


I think I found Waldo during last night's US v Brazil friendly...

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11. Now in paperback: Fantasy Baseball!

Fantasy BaseballFantasy Baseball is now out in paperback with a new cover, just in time for opening day of the new Major League Baseball season! The new cover is spooky and fun at the same time, just like the story inside. I recommend buying them in batches of nine--one each for every player on your baseball team. That's a totally unbiased recommendation, of course...

Fantasy Baseball is available online or at your favorite local bookstore, and signed copies are in stock at my favorite local bookstore, Malaprop's Bookstore and Cafe! Follow the link to find out how you can get a signed (and personalized!) Fantasy Baseball sent your way.

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12. Naked Came the Leaf Peeper

To help celebrate the 30th anniversary of my favorite indie bookstore, Malaprop's Bookstore and Cafe in Asheville, NC, I was invited to be a part of a collaborative mystery novel called Naked Came the Leaf Peeper. Published by Malaprop's itself, Naked features twelve regional authors each writing a chapter of a madcap mystery, in the tradition of legendary collaborative novels like Naked Came the Stranger and Naked Came the Manatee.

Billed as "a zany Southern Appalachian take on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," Naked is already a best-seller at Malaprop's, and has gotten raves from authors who clearly ought to know better, like Ron Rash (Serena), Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat Pray Love), and Charles Frazier (Cold Mountain).

Now Malaprop's is throwing a Naked Author Jam to celebrate the book. Join me and eleven other Naked* authors at the University of North Carolina-Asheville Humanities Lecture Hall on Friday, March 30, at 7:00 p.m. as we read from, discuss, and laugh about our work. The event is free and open to the public.

Joining me on stage will be Tony Earley, Brian Lee Knopp, Linda Marie Barrett, John P. McAfee, Susan Reinhardt, Vicki Lane, Tommy Hays, Wayne Caldwell, Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle, Gene Cheek, and Charles Price, reading for Fred Chappell. Come on out and get Naked!**

For more information, call Malaprop's bookstore at (828)254-6734.

* "Naked" in a literary sense, not a literal one, of course.
** Again, clothing is not optional.

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13. What I Really Do


Dad sent me this pic today, mostly because I kid him that he thinks I'm doing image number 2 or image number 6 all day. It's all pretty accurate, but to be honest it would be perfect if the last image had Gmail on it.

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14. Tomo: Friendship Through Fiction


I am very pleased to announce that I have a short story in the upcoming Tomo: Friendship Through Fiction--An Anthology of Japan Teen Stories. Sales of Tomo will benefit young people affected by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake that triggered powerful tsunami waves, devastated the area around Sendai, and killed and injured more than 20,000 people. Even today, people throughout Japan are still dealing with the effects of the earthquake.

Tomo will debut almost exactly one year to the day of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. Here's a bit more about it from the Tomo website:

Tomo (meaning “friend” in Japanese) is an anthology of young adult short fiction in prose, verse and graphic art set in or related to Japan. This collection for readers age 12 and up features thirty-six stories—including ten in translation and two graphic narratives—contributed by authors and artists from around the world, all of whom share a connection to Japan. English-language readers will be able to connect with Japan through a wide variety of unique stories, including tales of friendship, mystery, fantasy, science fiction and history.

By sharing “friendship through fiction,” Tomo aims to bring Japan stories to readers worldwide, and in doing so, to help support young people affected or displaced by the March 11, 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami disasters. Proceeds from the sales of this book will go directly toward long-term relief efforts for teens in Tohoku, the area most affected by the disasters, in the northeast region of Japan’s main island, Honshu.

Edited and with a Foreword by Holly Thompson, Tomo contributing authors and artists include Andrew Fukuda (Crossing), Liza Dalby (The Tale of Murasaki), Tak Toyoshima (Secret Asian Man syndicated comic), Alan Gratz (The Brooklyn Nine), Wendy Nelson Tokunaga (Love in Translation), Deni Y.  Béchard (Vandal Love), Debbie Ridpath Ohi (illustrator of I’m Bored), Graham Salisbury (Under the Blood-Red Sun), Naoko Awa (The Fox’s Window and Other

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15. Me, in third grade


Can you find the future kids book writer in this picture? (Click to see the image larger.) Here's a hint: he's rocking some awesome pants.

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16. Alan Moore joins David Lloyd on Occupy Comics project

godkiller occupycomics blackflag 600 Alan Moore joins David Lloyd on Occupy Comics project
Alan Moore will contribute a prose essay to the Occupy Comics project currently running on Kickstarter. He joins David Lloyd on the roster of the project which will record the Occupy Movement in comics — their V FOR VENDETTA comic has been an inspiration for the protesters with the Guy Fawkes mask from the comics showing up around the globe.

Moore’s contribution will be a longform prose piece (possibly with spot illustrations) the content of which is still to be determined, but Moore has indicated he intends to touch on the principles of the Occupy movement and how those principles compare and contrast with the comics business in terms of corporate control of creative arts and also in terms of the superhero paradigm itself.

The project now reunites Moore with his V FOR VENDETTA collaborator David Lloyd, who joined the roster last week.

“Alan Moore and David Lloyd joining the project is really incredible not just because their creation from 30 years ago continues to inspire activists today, but because they themselves are inspired by the activists they helped influence,” said Matt Pizzolo, who spearheaded the organization of Occupy Comics. “It’s also impressive how careful they both are to join the coalition as part of the team, they want to support the movement and the project without being treated as de facto leaders.”

Uniquely, Occupy Comics is more than just a show of solidarity with the protesters: the collaborators are creating new art & stories inspired by the protesters and are actively fundraising for them – having already raised nearly $15,000 on Kickstarter with just days left to go.

This is the first project of its kind to bring together artists and writers inspired to create change by making art together and utilizing that art to financially support a social protest movement in an organized, sustainable way.

Updated Complete Roster
(in alphabetical order)
Charlie Adlard (The Walking Dead)
Mike Allred (Madman)
Marc Andreyko (Manhunter)
Susie Cagle (Notes on Conflict, arrested at Occupy Oakland)
Mike Cavallaro (Parade (with fireworks), Life & Times of Savior 28)
Kevin Colden (I Rule the Night, Grimm’s Fairy Tales)
Molly Crabapple (Dr. Sketchy’s)
Tyler Crook (Petrograd, B.P.R.D.)
Vito Delsante (Superman, FCHS)
J.M. DeMatteis (Justice League, Spider-Man, Imaginalis)
Guy Denning (painter)
Eric Drooker (Flood!)
Troy Dye (Shrek, Puss in Boots, The Goblin Chronicles)
Joshua Dysart (Swamp Thing, The Unknown Soldier)
Zoetica Ebb (Biorequiem.com)
Joshua Hale Fialkov (I Vampire, Tumor)
Dan Goldman (Shooting War, 08: A Graphic Diary of the Campaign Trail)
Jenny “Devildoll” Gonzalez-Blitz (Coffin Factory art collective)
Brea Grant (We Will Bury You, Suicide Girls)
Zane Grant (We Will Bury You, Suicide Girls)
Joe Harris (Ghost Projekt, Spontaneous)
Dean Haspiel (American Splendor)
Joe Keatinge (Hell Yeah, Glory, Brutal)
Tom Kelesides (Shrek, Puss in Boots, The Goblin Chronicles)
Ales Kot (upcoming projects w/ Image Comics & DC Ent)
G

4 Comments on Alan Moore joins David Lloyd on Occupy Comics project, last added: 12/7/2011
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17. What’s up with Andy Kubert on WATCHMEN 2?

2011120116291 Whats up with Andy Kubert on WATCHMEN 2?

There have been frequent sightings of the fabled “WATCHMEN sequel” over the years, but no photographic evidence, if you will. Now, Bleeding Cool claims to have a solid source that a series of four prequels are under way, and Andy Kubert is slated to draw at least one of them. Also believed to be involved: J. Michael Straczynski, JG Jones, and original WATCHMEN collaborators John Higgins and Dave Gibbons. Darwyn Cooke is said to be masterminding the whole thing.

Although unverified, Cooke and Kubert have been hinting at working on Top Secret projects for a while. WATCHMEN II supposedly got the nod after Paul Levitz left DC — he had personally blocked it for nearly 20 years, kind of like that dude guarding the one true Chalice in INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE. But like that dude, Levitz couldn’t hold on forever. With him gone, the story goes, Dan DiDio hopped all over it. But a lot of people at DC also thought the idea was blasphemy, and it kind of petered out — or at least leaks about it to Bleeding Cool did.

Alan Moore confirmed the story in an interview with Wired:
“They offered me the rights to Watchmen back, if I would agree to some dopey prequels and sequels,” the influential comics legend told Wired.com. …“So

I just told them that if they said that 10 years ago, when I asked them for that, then yeah it might have worked,” he said. “But these days I don’t want Watchmen back. Certainly, I don’t want it back under those kinds of terms.”


Although getting Moore on board would obviously have been a coup — and about as likely as getting Jack Kirby to endorse the next Captain America movie with the one extenuating circumstance being that Alan Moore is still alive — contracts being contracts, it isn’t necessary to continuing with the project. The whole thing led to some hurt feelings with Dave Gibbons over his becoming a middle man for the project:

Yeah, sometime in June. I received a phone call from Dave Gibbons in which I probably did sound a little bit unfriendly on the phone, because it was very clear that he wasn’t phoning up to thank me for the WATCHMEN film money and I figured that he was probably phoning up to talk to me about something else to do with WATCHMEN. I was busy at the time, I told him to call me back on the Monday. Sure enough, he said, “Alan, got a few minutes? I just want to talk to you about WATCHMEN.” So I said, “As long as it was a few minutes only, Dave, and if that is the end to it.” He then went forward — I didn’t let him get very far — but he said, and I knew, that he had always been opposed to the prequels and sequels of WATCHMEN and had always had the assurances of people like Paul Levitz at DC that that would never be done. But of course, those people aren’t there anymore and it was a different regime, and I had heard that the new Head of DC had announced that she really wan

16 Comments on What’s up with Andy Kubert on WATCHMEN 2?, last added: 12/1/2011
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18. Thanks, ALAN11!!!

Between work and preparing for the ALAN conference, I’ve not been blogging much. I’ve been back  home for a couple of

Ari opening her wonderful box of books

days now and have processed much of my experience, so I think it’s time to try to write about it.

Simply put ALAN is incredibly awesome!!!!!

Rita Williams Garcia signs One Crazy Summer which will have a sequel "P.S. Be 11"

ALAN, the Assembly of Literature for Adolescents, meets annually as part of the National Council of Teachers of English conference. This was the first year I attended and between its proximity (Chicago) and an invitation from Lyn Miller Lachmann to be part of a panel, I couldn’t miss it this year. Lyn moderated a panel entitled “ Teen book bloggers forge a new reviewing model” which also included teen bloggers Ari (Reading in Color) and Maggie (Maggie’s Bookshelf-Bibliophilia). If you don’t know these blogs, you really need to start visiting. These teens are doing amazing things on their blogs, not just as teen bloggers but as bloggers. I’m extremely grateful to Lyn, Ari and Maggie for asking me to present with them and am awed by the fantastic work they do.

I liked being made to feel a part of the young adult literary community, having in-depth conversations with professors, authors, teachers, bloggers (BrainLair!!), and literacy coaches about media literacy, schools in Florida, storytelling and what our students read.

And then there was Laurie Halse Anderson. She says  ”Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes.”. And then, her voice, her body shakes and she lies on the floor before she falls. I don’t know that she ever put the microphone down,. She delivered her entire speech, most of it while lying on the floor. Talk about walking the walk!

Authors spoke, of course some promoted their books, but many promoted causes like the rights of children whether they be gay or straight or Asian, smart or athletes; about protection from bullies and abusers; the requisite for fair and decent education and more. And they talked about equality, promoted diversity and championed literacy.

“We have to talk about things that make us uncomfortable.” Megan McCafferty

“There’s not a lot of curiosity in anything labeled standardized” Dom Testa

I got Paul Yee's autograph twice, on two different books!

Chris Crutcher “No act of heroism doesn’t include standing up for yourself”.

Sarah Dessen: “Stories are as vast and as diverse as teens themselves. There is no single teen story”.

“YA is not adult-lite. It’s teen extra-strength”. Kristen Chandler

M.T. Anderson spoke of a new, non-linear narrative, one in which place rather that character drives the story which has no beginning and no end. Check out inform7.com or the Fry C

3 Comments on Thanks, ALAN11!!!, last added: 11/24/2011
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19. Google Alerts Round-up


Time for some last-gasp winter Google Alerts from the interweb!

Southwest Middle School won the Gaston County, NC Battle of the Books competition. They had to answer questions about 27 different books--including The Brooklyn Nine! Congrats, guys!

And The Brooklyn Nine has made another state list! B9 was selected for the 2012 Oklahoma Sequoyah Master List! Thanks, Oklahoma. You're OK with me! (Yes, that's a postal abbreviation joke.)

I recently did a Skype visit with students at Upper Dauphin Area High School in Elizabethville, PA, and the local paper wrote up a great article about it. You can read it here.

And I'm starting to get alerts on Fantasy Baseball!

Mr. H at the SMS Guys Read blog loves the Fantasy Baseball poster I sent him...

Zoe posted a great summary/review of Fantasy Baseball at NextHub.com...

...and Ms. Certo at Hope Middle School recommends Fantasy Baseball as an independent reading selection for classrooms.

Thanks, everyone!

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20. I'm interviewed at From the Mixed-Up Files...of Middle Grade Authors

Head over to the "From the Mixed-Up Files..." blog to read an interview with me about Fantasy Baseball, writing middle-grade fiction, and my former life as a play-by-play basketball announcer...

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21. Check out my new R2-D2 beanie!


Check out this awesome R2-D2 beanie Wendi made for me! I love it so much I've been wearing it around the house even when there's no one here to see it.


It's far too time-intensive for her to sell them affordably, but Wendi is selling the pattern as an add-on to her basic beanie pattern. To learn more, click here to go to her craft blog, Shiny Happy World!

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22. Brooklyn Nine makes Garden State Teen Book Award list

Some good news to share: The Brooklyn Nine has been nominated for the 2012 Garden State Teen Book Award for Grades 6-8. All right! Thanks, New Jersey. Once again, I'm in great company--and once again, students will read B9 along with a lot of other books and vote on their favorite.

The Brooklyn Nine has now been nominated for eight state lists. Thanks everyone, and don't forget to keep reading over the summer!

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23. My Favorite Summer Day Trip


I was asked to write a short piece about a favorite North Carolina summer day trip for Artful Living, a regular newsletter from the North Carolina Arts Council. I picked something right in my back yard: Penland School of Crafts! Check out my suggestion and more from other NC artists here.

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24. Asheville to Nashville with three fab authors!


This August, I'm pleased as punch to be part of the Asheville to Nashville tour with Myra McEntire, Victoria Schwab, and Beth Revis! They'll be stopping in eight cities in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee, and I'll be joining them Sunday, August 7th from 3-5 p.m. for their event in Knoxville, Tennessee at Union Ave Books.

Here's the scoop from the o-fficial announcement!

---

Myra, Victoria, and Beth are thrilled about bringing a tour to their local areas--from Asheville, NC, to Nashville, TN. We'd love it if you came out to see us, and we want to make sure that everyone in the area knows about it!

But we know that not everyone gets to have a tour stop in their backyard. So, we're going to bring the tour to YOU. With signed books, straight from the tour, mailed straight to YOU.

We're going to be adding to the prize pack as we go, but so far we're happy to say that these will be included, all of which will be SIGNED by the author!


SIGNED hardback copy

SIGNED hardback copy


SIGNED hardback copy


SIGNED hardback copy


25. My personal highlights from ALAN (and being on a panel)

So…after two months of worrying about me being on a panel speaking about challenged books in front of 500 people, and then two weeks of anxiety, and then a day of absolute fear right up to (and during) the panel…I “did good”! I knew I had a lot to say–Scars has been challenged at least once formally that I know of, and informally in Meghan cox Gurden’s op-ed. My abusers tried to silence me most of my life; I don’t want to be silenced any more. But actually speaking about it all in front of 500 people live felt pretty scary. I think I spoke well, though–honestly, emotionally, passionately, and intelligently. I still can’t believe I spoke well! It took a while for me to know it–but I started taking it in afterward from the many responses and from people telling me that in so many ways.

I know public speaking is hard for many people, at least at first. It is for me, too. But for me there’s also the added layers of all the abuse training–my abusers repeatedly telling me they’d kill me if I talked (and since they’d murdered other children in front of me I knew they could), and abuse that happened on raised stages (like child porn), and all the years I learned to be silent, quiet, and not speak out, except through my writing and my art. But yesterday I learned that I CAN speak publicly, even to a large group, and it can be okay and even a good experience.

Me speaking, photo taken by Sandi Walden

Some of the time before my panel I felt alone and scared and insecure as the hours stretched on, so I took a breather, and sat in the hallway against the wall. But doing that I felt like I was socially awkward and sticking out, the way I had as a teen. And then who should come by but A.S. King (Everybody Sees the Ants, Please Ignore Vera Dietz)! She sat herself down beside me so easily, and we sat, backs against the wall, talking. Amy was reassuring and understanding, and so down-to-earth. I loved hearing about her own experiences, and just…spending time. Hearing Amy talk about ALAN so enthusiastically made me want to join.

I also got to meet C.J. Bott in person–she recognized me as I passed by, and we talked briefly, and then she sat down for a bit with A.S. King and me. C. J. Bott did a lovely review of Scars, and we’d talked back and forth via email a bit, so it was cool to meet her in person. She’ll be vice president of ALAN next year!

I also talked a bit with Professor Melanie Hundley, who was an incredibly friendly, bright spot in the day, introducing me to other authors and to teachers, pointing out my handouts to others, and just being lovely.

It helped to have such friendly, caring people around!

The whole experience was also made better by my wonderful book publicist Julie Schoerke, picking me up at the airport, taking me to dinner, and then coming the next day to be with me for my panel. I was getting more and more scared the closer it got to my panel, and thankfully Julie arrived about an hour before. She sat on the floor with me i

10 Comments on My personal highlights from ALAN (and being on a panel), last added: 11/23/2011
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