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1. Characters in Action-Driven Novels and Those in Character-Driven Stories

Just as some writers excel at creating believable and intriguing characters and others at creating exciting and meaningful action, some characters are better at opening up and showing emotion in stories while others excel at taking action.


With the belief that we write best when we understand our writing strengths and weaknesses, I include how to determine whether you're an action-driven writer or a character-driven writer or a thematically-driven writer or a combination of all of the above in The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master.

In my work with writers, what I find fascinating is that often character-driven writers who love to delve into the characters' internal landscape often write about characters who before moving on when faced with failure / challenges / obstacles in the middle:
  • Slow down
  • Reflect how they are doing
  • Evaluate their behavior and reactions 
  • Look at what went wrong from all angles
  • Learn from their mistakes
While action-driven writers often develop characters who are more impulsive and when faced with failure / challenges / obstacles in the middle:
  • Don't tend to stop to evaluate what went wrong
  • Think less
  • Act faster 
  • Multi-task
  • Focus on the achieving the goal
In other words, often writers who excel at goal-setting for their characters and love action seem to create characters who move and act quickly and often impulsively to reach the reward at the end.

Writers who excel at creating characters who feel seem to create characters who think and ponder and evaluate on their way to reaching the reward at the end.

Which sort of writer are you?

Uncertain what to write next in a story with a plot? For plot prompts to move your writing to each major turning point and reach the end: The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing

For plot help and resources during NaNoWriMo

1)  The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories
2)  The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master
3)  The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing.
  ~~~~~~~~
To continue writing and revising (and, lots of writers are finding PlotWriMo the exact right resource to help pre-plot for a powerful first draft. Knowing what to look for in a revision helps create a tighter first draft):
  •  
  • PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month
 ~~ View your story in an entirely new light. Recharge your energy and enthusiasm for your writing. 8 videos (5.5 hours)+ 30 exercises

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2. Work Smarter: How To Wrap Up A Unit of Study

This week my colleagues and I are writing posts that we hope will make your life a little easier. We’re sharing some ways to work smarter, not harder.

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3. Work Smarter: How To Wrap Up A Unit of Study

This week my colleagues and I are writing posts that we hope will make your life a little easier. We’re sharing some ways to work smarter, not harder.

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4. What’s Your Writing Tic?

Read about writers' tics, and share your own.

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5. Surviving a Stroke at 33 (and Blogging About It)

Christine Hyung-Oak Lee suffered a stroke when she was 33, and she has written about her experience in an inspiring personal essay for BuzzFeed.

Before that, she was using a pseudonym on WordPress.com to blog about her experiences, share details about her life, and practice her writing. In 2007, shortly after New Year’s Day, Lee wrote the following in a blog post:

something in my brain burped. most of what i want to do is just out of my grasp. i feel like i know how to do them, but then when i go to do them, i just…CAN’T. day by day, i’m regaining my abilities, so i hope this is just temporary.

Lee’s commenters urged her to see a doctor, and the next day, she responded to them from a hospital bed: “I had a stroke! Will be better.”

I spoke with Lee about her experience, and what she has learned about herself and her writing.

* * *

christine-lee-crop

It’s amazing that you could go through something so profound health-wise and chart a new path for yourself coming out of it. What’s the response been to your essay?

I’ve been blown away. As life-changing as my stroke was, the response, too, will probably go down in my life history as a turning point.

I had a blog — and I’ve been blogging since before it was called “blogging,” back when it was called “web journaling,” back in the days when Justin Hall was on links.net and when I wrote my posts in HTML. But before I spun up my anonymous blog, I was asked to stop blogging by a few family members. I was putting them at risk, they said, I was not to make myself so public.

Bottom line, I didn’t want to stop blogging, so I started up a blog under a pseudonym. I never told them about the blog. A few months later, I had my stroke.

The blog was one of the first places to which I turned when I had my stroke, before I knew I’d had a stroke. I wrote in my journal, too — but I turned to my blog in the wake of my stroke, which for me was a largely isolating event. I made some great friends. Got support that way. It was my village, for a time.

Also, my blog has always been a place to do some “low-stakes writing” — writing without the intention of publication, writing that is more therapeutic. That said, blogging has always been a venue for me to refine my writing voice — because after all, it is still a public space with readers.

What are the odds that a person could suffer a stroke at 33?

According to the New York Times, about 10 to 15 percent of strokes happen to people under the age of 45. That’s supposed to be about 1 in 1,000. And oftentimes, young people who have had a stroke are misdiagnosed and sent home.

I was the youngest person in the DCU (aka “stroke unit”) in the hospital by about 30 years during my stay. Most doctors were astonished by my age. They certainly didn’t suspect I’d had a stroke until they saw the MRI and its uncontested results. I could see how I could have been sent home and had to shoulder a mysterious ailment. I was lucky in that they figured it out and I got the care I needed to ensure the recovery I eventually had.

Can you talk about some specific posts that led you on a path both during and after your stroke?

Definitely, the post during which readers told me to go to the hospital!

I’m not sure where I found my voice after the stroke, really. I think there were people out in the internet reading — Carolyn Kellogg, who writes for the LA Times, had a blog called Pinky’s Paperhaus at the time, and she linked to me as a writer recovering from stroke. So there was definitely interest in my story and situation.

I really don’t think I found my voice regarding my stroke until years later. I wasn’t able to write about it until my post for Nova Ren Suma, who did a Turning Point series on her blog, to which I contributed with a reference to my stroke.

Not only has blogging my stroke experience refined my voice, it was also life-saving. And anonymity provided sanctuary.

What is your life like now?

It is as normal as I imagine it to be. It’s, honestly, better than my life pre-stroke. I’m following my dreams and choosing very carefully what it is I want to do each day, each month, each year. While in recovery, I had very limited energy, and had to be particular about my priorities; I decided to keep doing that, go forward.

And what about your writing?

Once you go through something like that, when so many of your abilities are taken away, your life is pared down to what it is you really want to get back.

I went through a very dark place at some point in my recovery — and although I don’t look upon that phase with fondness, I did learn what was most important to me, and what it is I most desired out of my life. And my writing became a front-and-center goal. I’d always known writing was important to me, but after the stroke, I knew I would channel everything I had to get back to writing.

Now that I’m writing again, I’ve more a sense of structure with regard to my writing projects; in fact, I’m obsessed with structure, because recovery is so much about stages and regaining structure. Because my brain was injured, I understood how writing happens, in my brain at least — that stories are modular, that I need quiet, that layers come with each retelling.


Filed under: Community, Reading, WordPress.com

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6. 5 Ideas to Create a Classroom of Writers

How do you help your students establish their identity as writers?

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7. End of year function

Date: 2 December 2014 Time: 10:30 Cost: None (Participants to bring a plate of eats to share for lunch) Venue: Pretoria (Address will be given to respondents) RSVP: By 28 November to Jenny at SCBWI.SA.Gauteng@mweb.co.za Let’s get together for the end of the year and relax among friends and colleagues.

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8. Lunch Indaba

Venue: Emmarentia (Address will be sent to respondents) Date: 22 August 2014 Time: 12:00 - 15:00 Cost: None (Attendees to bring a plate of eats) RSVP: By 21 July to Jenny at SCBWI.SA.Gauteng@mweb.co.za Please join us for an informal gathering / smooze / lekgotla / indaba to network and catch up. All are welcome, members and non-members. There won’t be a formal topic for discussion; we’ll just

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9. Chat with author John Nichols. New Mario Acevedo novel.

Con workshop - writing characters outside your culture


This year's Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers' Colorado Gold Conference will be held Sept. 5-7, in Westminster [Denver]. Among other panels and workshops, author Mario Acevedo and I will be leading one [Sunday, 9:00am] called "Deep-six the Stereotypes: Writing Characters from Another Culture."

Its description: "How can writers diversify their fiction with vibrant characters from a different culture or background so their writing attracts 21st Century readers? Insights into what hooks / turns off agents when authors write outside their cultural experience."

We envision our audience largely being Anglos wanting to hear about writing non-Anglo characters. Not that I'm an expert, but why is this Chicano author willing to help Anglo writers write about Chicano, Latino, etc. characters? (I haven't asked Mario the same.) There are other questions that could be asked.

Do Chicano authors have a "responsibility" to help Anglo writers--already published more than we are--so that they can succeed even more? Can Anglo writers do a decent portrayal, from their non-PoC perspective and worldview? Questions could go on and on.

They remind me of two hours I spent in the Taos Plaza last month, during the Fiestas. I'd been there before, seen the sites, the festivities, the shops and artwork. That part of our--wife Carmen also went--trip was el mismo. The two hours were totally new.
 
I had a first edition of Milagro Beanfield War I'd wanted autographed and author John Nichols did that earlier this year. We exchanged surface-mail letters, I sent him my novel, he invited me down and I was to meet him in a café near the Moby Dickens Bookshop.

The Nichols website states, "As of July, I’m 73 years old, my heart is locked in permanent atrial fibrillation, congestive heart failure. I'm a walking time bomb ready to have a stroke." So, initially my intention was to do a La Bloga interview of the man who'd authored one of my favorite books about Chicanos, written by an Anglo. Maybe even his last interview.

When I was in the graphic/ad business, my company had produced the artwork for the movie's Denver premier, so besides a reader-author connection, I had remote connection to Nichols' work. The movie starred Rubén Blades, Sonia Braga, Melanie Griffith, Christopher Walken, et al; director Robert Redford; producers Moctesuma Esparza and Redford; Nichols did the screenplay.

If you've never seen the movie, you should. Not only for its humor and its background on New Mexican land/water struggles, but because it's good. For it's time, it was great. A major motion picture laced with Anglo/Latino talent.

After attempting to come up with insightful interview questions to ask Nichols, at some point I gave up. It felt artificial, irrelevant and not what I wanted to do. [Never even took a selfie of us.] I decided to simply meet the man who wrote the novel. Chat. Discuss, exchange stories, maybe laugh a little. Eat and drink (not that Nichols was/is in a condition to down traguitos with me).

At the appointed hour, I expected an old guy with a cane maybe made out of an agave stalk, hobbling or leaping like in the movie poster. The cane was simple and plastic. The man didn't jump around much. We ordered a bite, I'd have a couple of Negras, Nichols, some non-alcoholic drinks. And we began.

Another writer asked me, "What did you learn?" He meant, what great writing knowledge did I take away from the talk. I don't know that I have anything literary to answer to that and am not sure that I should.

In the two hours, I saw/experienced/shared in small ways several things. That Nichols, like on his website, holds family high on his list of achievements and experiences. That he holds Nature and being alone in Nature--something I've written about--high on his list of how we should spend our time on the planet, not only near the end of it.

Then there was his smile. And eyes. Nothing that you'd expect from a casi-muerto. What you'd expect from a twenty-year-old. What you'd expect from a kid starting out in life with crazy expectations and hopes and decades in front of him to accomplish anything he wanted.

I didn't expect his Spanish accent to be so gringoly obvious. My grammar is unschooled; his is in nascent stages of Span. 201, to be kind. But he was unashamed about using it. He didn't blush whenever his fluency fell or vocab was a bit off; he just talked on like a mexicano drinking unas, outside a Texas beer joint. I got over noticing it and just went with our exchange. Of course, I wonder what he heard in my Spanish that might've made him cringe.

If Nichols and I live long enough, perhaps there will be an interview, not necessarily his, or my, last. I don't know that that's that important. [yeah, 3 "that’s" and maybe English isn't my 1st language]

How does my short time with Nichols relate to our upcoming workshop? Mario and I could hope that out of it came some new awareness that in the future could produce the kind of gringos' share of the work that went into the Milagro movie. [No, I don't know what pinche petho developed during its production.] Or encourage a little of the multi-national, multi-talented camaraderie that this country direly needs, not only literarily. If Mario and I reach some in the audience who are/can be such gente, then we'll have done, no milagro, but at least a little progress in lifelike lit.

It took me two hours to shed the nervousness of being one-on-one with a great gringo writer. Should the two of us endure until another meet, I'll have reached the stage of bouncing some of my crazy ideas off him, especially, about death. And what it's probably not. Or story ideas. Or poor jokes. Or introduce my dog to him. Yeah, maybe a little interviewing, por pendejo.


More vampiros

From Mario Acevedo's website, about the upcoming book release of Rescue from Planet Pleasure:
"If you're a fan of Felix Gomez, you know he's got a lot hanging out there. For one, the most bodacious vampiress of all time, his buddy Carmen Arellano, was kidnapped by aliens and she's being held prisoner in deep space. And Phaedra, the ruthless bloodsucking ingenue--now with extra-superpowers--is making good on her threat to destroy the Araneum and take over the undead underworld.

"Felix is not alone in his quest to save Carmen and stop Phaedra. That red-headed whirlwind with a gun, Jolie, has got his back. Also appearing is everyone's favorite down-and-out trickster sage, Coyote, and he's brought along his mom...la Malinche...aka La Llorona! Here it comes, a big, hairy story bristling with action, intergalactic adventure, skin-walkers, Hopi magic...all told in tumescent PervoVision. Exactly what you'd expect from Felix Gomez. [La Bloga note: and what you'd expect from Mario]

Es todo, hoy,
RudyG, aka Chicano spec lit author, Rudy Ch. Garcia, Taos tourist and Nichols fan

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10. Visual Writer Introductions

Fostering a nurturing writing community at the beginning of the school year means taking the time to build a community of writers. Here's an artistic way you can have students introduce themselves, and their quirks, to their peers.

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11. A comic for those who think it's easy to write children's books

Originally posted for PiBoIdMo.

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12. The Ideal Literary Life


I've never seen the life of the writer Raymond Roussel condensed so marvelously as in David Macey's The Lives of Michel Foucault (Foucault wrote a book on Roussel), where it becomes a kind of perfect literary life: a life of weirdness, alienation, mental illness, addiction, and suffering, all capped with a mysterious death:
Enormously rich, [Roussel] travelled the world but rarely left his hotel room or his cabin. He financed the publication of his own writings and the staging of his own plays, which were invariably expensive failures accompanied by riots among the audience. His writings excited little interest in his lifetime, though some of the surrealists — notably Breton in his Anthologie de l'humour noir — appreciated them. For much of his life Roussel suffered from serious neurotic illnesses provoked (or at least triggered), it is thought, by the spectacular failure of La Doublure (1897), a long verse-novel, written in alexandrines, about a stand-in actor. He was treated by Pierre Janet, who failed to see any literary talent in him and described him as un pauvre petit malade; Roussel is the "Martial" whose case is discussed in the first volume of De l'Angoisse à l'extase (1926). Roussel was a homosexual, though little is known about his sexual tastes and activities, and became totally dependent on barbituates in his later years. He died in Palermo, where his body was found in his hotel room, lying on a mattress which he had — presumably with great difficulty, given his physical state — pushed up against the door connecting his room to that of his travelling companion. The door, habitually left unlocked, was locked. Whether Roussel was murdered or committed suicide has never been determined. (125)
You have succeeded as a writer if someone can describe your work as "invariably expensive failures accompanied by riots among the audience".

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13. Nadine Gordimer (1923-2014)

via The Paris Review

Nadine Gordimer has died at the age of 90, a significant age to reach, and yet, as always with the loss of a major figure (particularly one who stayed active and known) it feels like a robbery. We are greedy, we living people.

Writers satiate some of our greed against death by leaving us with their words. Gordimer's oeuvre is large (she began publishing fiction in South Africa in the late 1940s), and her fiction in particular will live long past this moment of her body's death.

Because Gordimer was so active in the anti-apartheid struggle, and her writing so often addresses the situation in South Africa at the time of its writing, it is easy to fall into the trap of reducing her to a political writer and to ignore or downplay the artistry of her work. She sometimes encouraged this view in her essays and interviews, but she also understood that she was not a propagandist, telling Jannika Hurwitt in 1979, "I am not by nature a political creature, and even now there is so much I don’t like in politics, and in political people—though I admire tremendously people who are politically active—there’s so much lying to oneself, self-deception, there has to be—you don’t make a good political fighter unless you can pretend the warts aren’t there."



Gordimer is often contrasted (sometimes by she herself) with the other white South African Nobel laureate, J.M. Coetzee. In that frame, Gordimer is the engaged realist, Coetzee the disengaged postmodernist. Like any caricature, this one contains some elements of truth, but it hides as much as it reveals. Though Gordimer had a bit more faith in the ability of words to represent immediate reality than Coetzee does, and was more comfortable participating in political arenas and writing about the recognizable here-and-now, both writers are strongly influenced by European high culture, particularly European Modernism — Kafka is a key influence for both, though Coetzee tends to wear that influence more obviously.

One of the qualities I value in Gordimer's work is her ability to show how people of different backgrounds and ideologies grapple with political ideas in their lives. She's often portrayed as an explicitly political writer because she writes about people embroiled in politics. In her best writing, she understood quite powerfully the difference between showing people engaged in politics and making her work into propaganda for a particular political line.

That's a wonder for me of a novel like Burger's Daughter, which I wrote about here in 2009. It shows politics in life, politics as life. It is at times merciless toward characters who could be considered the ones a nice, liberal reader is supposed to feel sympathy and affection for. It never forgets Renoir's great line from The Rules of the Game:  "The awful thing about life is this: everyone has their reasons."

Gordimer's range is best demonstrated by her short stories, such as the parable-like "Loot", which I wrote about in 2010. Especially in the later decades of her career, her stories frequently experimented with form, perspective, and subjectivity — which is not to discount the powerful effect of her many rich, detailed, fiercely realistic stories (her Selected Stories from the mid-'70s remains a high point to me of her work).


The view of Gordimer as a writer of her times, for her times, limited to her times might try to prevail. That would be a shame. Though she certainly chronicled ways of living in South Africa throughout the last 60+ years, that specificity does not in any way make her work less important for us now. It is, rather, differently important — and as necessary as ever.

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14. Office Work

I love the idea of spending the first several days of school learning how to be a writer. By studying other writers’ processes, we can begin to demystify the act of writing.

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15. Noel Coward on being professional

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16. Cleaning Leads To Writing

As those of you who follow me on Facebook know, I spent 11 days doing an epic clean of my office.

Which had the delightful, and I must admit unexpected, result of making me ready to write a book.

So I will be back. But for now, writing writing writing.

Stay tuned!

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17. Comic: Writers On Vacation

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18. IT’S THE KIDS AUTHOR CARNIVAL!

Anyone in the NYC area, or if you’re in town for Book Expo America, this is your chance to party like it’s 2014! Saturday May 31st I’ll be joining a whole bunch of other authors for an evening of games, signings and general book zaniness. It’s the first ever Kids Author Carnival!

This is a new endeavor, so I hope you all can come out and help us make it a success! And I’ll be giving out free high-fives. Free high fives!!

Hope to see you there!

Image

 

 


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19. Writing opp. Texas Mexican-American studies. Stop Keystone. Denver event.


Writer Submissions open

BorderSenses Literary and Arts Journal seeks to provide a venue for emerging and established writers/artists from the U.S.-Mexico border area and beyond to share their words and images.

We seek poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and book reviews in both Spanish and English from every corner of the world. We also cherish a diversity of visual artists. Translations can be accepted provided the original author has consented to publication rights and to reprinting.

The open submission period for volume 20 is:  March 5th to June 30th, 2014. Check our submission guidelines.


Mexican American Studies for Texas Children & Schools
Day of Action - Monday, April 7, 2014

1) E-mail all of the Texas State Board of Education at sboesupport@tea.state.tx.us and in the body of the e-mail put: To All Texas State Board of Education members (insures all 15 board members receive it) and simply tell  them you support the implementation of Mexican American Studies in Texas schools, and that this is important for the success of all Texas children and the State of Texas. 

2) Sign the petition for Mexican American Studies.

3) You can also call Texas State Board of Education representatives and tell them you support Mexican American Studies in Texas schools.
(SBOE members, districts they represent and contact numbers)
Martha M. Dominguez - D, El Paso 915-373-3563  sboesupport@tea.state.tx.us
Ruben Cortez, Jr - D, Brownsville (956) 639-9171  sboesupport@tea.state.tx.us
Marisa B. Perez - D, San Antonio (210) 317-4651  sboesupport@tea.state.tx.us
Lawrence A. Allen, Jr. - D, Fresno (713) 203-1355  sboesupport@tea.state.tx.us
Ken Mercer - R, San Antonio (512) 463-9007             sboesupport@tea.state.tx.us
Donna Bahorich - R, Houston (832) 303-9091            sboesupport@tea.state.tx.us
David Bradley - R, Beaumont (409) 835-3808             sboesupport@tea.state.tx.us
Barbara Cargill - R, The Woodlands (512) 463-9007 sboesupport@tea.state.tx.us
Thomas Ratliff - R, Mount Pleasant (903) 717-1190  thomas@thomasratliff.com
Tom Maynard - R, Florence (512) 763-2801               sboesupport@tea.state.tx.us
Patricia Hardy - R, Ft Worth (817) 598-2968               sboesupport@tea.state.tx.us
Geraldine Miller - R, Dallas (972) 419-4000             qtince@aol.com
Mavis B. Knight - D, Dallas (214) 333-9575     sboesupport@tea.state.tx.us
Sue Melton-Malone - R, Waco (254) 749-041            smelton51@gmail.com
Marty Rowley - R, Amarillo (806) 373-6278                 martyforeducation@gmail.com

We ask all of colleagues and friends from across the state and the nation to E-mail and call into the Texas State Board of Education this coming Monday, April 7, "Day of Action," and to spread the word on this initiative. This is in preparation for the SBOE meeting on April 8-9 in Austin where a vote is anticipated. There will also be a march and press conference from Cesar Chavez Blvd. to the Texas State Capitol on Tuesday, April 8 beginning at 9am. 

If you want to testify at the April 8-9 SBOE meeting in Austin, you may register on the website or by fax between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. this coming Monday; or, in person or by telephone with the appropriate agency office. You can also register for this.

See additional information from our friends at Librotraficante and MASTexas. Gracias for your support and action on Monday. 

Juan Tejeda
Chair/National Assoc. for Chicana & Chicano Studies Tejas Foco Committee on MAS Pre-K-12           


Recognition for a Chicana advocate

Next Saturday you can throw some chanclas around to the sound of some of the best Tex-Mex in Denver, and join in celebrating the good works of Flo Hernandez, chingona advocate of bilingual radio in the Southwest. 

Go to KUVO.org or RickGarciaBand.com for tickets and more info.


Stopping XL Pipeline
From 350.org comes this:

We’ve gone to DC to stand against the Keystone XL pipeline before -- but never like this. In the last week in April, a powerful alliance of ranchers, farmers and tribal communities will converge in Washington for a demonstration called “Reject & Protect,” and it’s shaping up to be the most beautiful demonstration against Keystone XL yet. We have the ingredients we need to make this action unignorable — what we need is your help to bring it all together. Can you pitch in to make a BIG impression on the President and help stop this pipeline once and for all?


It’s going to be a sight to behold. There will be dozens of riders on horseback. And Native Americans raising 30 tipis ready to go up on the National Mall. There will be demonstrations and ceremonies to tell President Obama that the risk to our land, water and climate from Keystone XL is too great to allow. And all of this will be led by an unprecedented alliance that won't back down.

The goal is to be the talk of the town during the crucial last week of April when President Obama will be making up his mind about the pipeline. This is our exclamation point on two years of powerful action against Keystone XL.

It’s a bold vision, and we don’t have much time to pull it off. If it’s going to work, it’ll take all of us. So please pitch in whatever you can, and let’s make this happen together.
Onwards!
P.S. If you can join the big “Reject and Protect” rally in DC on Sat., April 26th (date changed from April 27th due to permitting issues) please sign up to stay in the loop.

http://act.350.org/signup/rejectandprotect/?akid=4377.851902.hdKJVd&rd=1&source=350&t=3

Es todo, hoy,
RudyG

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20. Writing honestly from your true passions

The myth that publishers have stacks of manuscripts  and that writers have to line up in a long queue was deflated by Jennifer Bacia during her talk at the Gold Coast Writers Association meeting . ‘Actually, that is not the case’ she stated. According to Jennifer, publishers are always looking for something that will make […]

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21. 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

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22. Connecting with Other Writers

I had the pleasure of speaking about "Curating and Cultivating a Virtual Community of Writers" with the members of the Chester County Reading Association this afternoon. I talked about the ways blogging, microblogging, other digital technologies allow teacher-writers to interact with each other worldwide.

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23. Connecting with Other Writers

I had the pleasure of speaking about "Curating and Cultivating a Virtual Community of Writers" with the members of the Chester County Reading Association this afternoon. I talked about the ways blogging, microblogging, other digital technologies allow teacher-writers to interact with each other worldwide.

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24. Embracing the Incomplete

Back when I was practicing law, I had a sign hanging in my office that said: Perfectionism is an elegant defense against real life.

I kept a separate note inside my desk that read:  If I don’t win your case, I’ll eat a bug. I leave it to you to decide how those two things matched up.

(And for more adventures of being a law student and lawyer, you can read my lawyer romance LOVE PROOF. It’s lots of fun.)

The issue of perfectionism haunts a lot of us. We’re never quite there. Wherever “there” is. And sometimes that feels like a moving target.

It’s why I was interested in this TED talk by Sarah Lewis about success versus the “near win.” About success versus mastery. I loved her stories of artists and writers who knew their work was never complete, but who put it out there anyway. (Or who ordered their friends to burn everything after the artist died, but too bad–friends hardly ever obey those crazy wishes.)

It’s why even though I know some of my novels aren’t perfect, I still let you read them. Because I like the stories and want to share them with you, even though sometimes when I look back at them I might wince at this line of dialogue, that awkward scene, some weird way of putting something that at the time I thought was cool. Oh well. I did my best. And I’m going to keep moving forward and write the next one, rather than constantly mess around with one I’ve already “finished.”

Which is my way of saying that if you don’t love every single word I write, that’s okay–I probably don’t, either. But overall I’m happy with the idea that you and I sat around a campfire one night and I told you this story from start to finish. And we had fun. There were marshmallows. And then the next night we moved on to some new story instead of me saying, “You know last night when I told you the girl in the story’s name is Rose? It’s Giselle instead. And that part about her hating her mother? Forget it–her mom died.” Etc. Etc. BORING. Move on. We already got to The End on that one–give me something new.

With that, I give you Sarah Lewis and her talk “Embracing the Near Win”:

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25. This Is What Is Possible (Part 3)

This commencement speech by Neil Gaiman about carving out a life of creativity is one of those things I’ve been meaning to watch for a long time, but never seemed to get around to.

Which is why we need people who say, “Here! Look!” and send you the link. Thank you to author and illustrator Guy Porfirio for being that person for me today.

And now I get to be that person for all of you. Here! Look!

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