We have a brand new Book Giveaway for your very own autographed copy of a picture book biography (well, a real-life slice of life) of Golda Meir--just published! Details at the bottom of this post.
Happy Poetry Friday
Thank you, Renee
, of No Water River, for hosting today!The link to Barbara Krasner's poem, "The Circle of Life,"
on a site which invites contributions of poetry and prose, is below ~
Today, we welcome author, teacher, blogger, historian, poet and conference organizer Barbara Krasner
into our cozy cabin for a cuppa java.
I first met Barbara online, as she was single-handedly organizing the Conference on Jewish Story
, held this May in New York. She invited me to be on the children's panel; it was an adventure and an honor to participate.
Barbara’s interests, accomplishments and energies are unending. She began writing short stories when she should have been paying attention in SAT prep classes! She majored in German and spent her junior year in Germany. Then she spent 30 years in corporate America...but the writing bug never left her. (Can anyone relate? Me, me!
She's now the author of four nonfiction books, including Discovering Your Jewish Ancestors
, and more than 200 articles for adults and children that have appeared in Highlights for Children
, and Babaganewz
. Her short fiction and poetry have appeared in many publications and she was the semi-finalist in the 2013 Pablo Neruda Prize
Barbara publishes the popular blog, The Whole Megillah
~ The Writer's Resource for Jewish Story,
she's the recipient of the first-ever Groner-Wikler Scholarship
for dedication to Jewish children's literature, and is a member of the prestigious Sydney Taylor Book Award
Committee of the Association of Jewish Libraries.
Is Barbara a TeachingAuthor
? Most definitely! She earned her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts
, teaches children's literature and creative writing at William Paterson University
, and leads the Highlights Foundation workshop, Writing Jewish-themed Children’s Books
We’ve invited Barbara here today because her first book for children, illustrated by Kelsey Garrity-Riley
, titled Goldie Takes a Stand! Golda Meir's First Crusade
(Kar-Ben, 2014) just came out! (Kar-Ben, by the way, is the Jewish imprint of Lerner Publishing Group.) .
"Even at the age of nine, little Golda Meir Welcome, Barbara! What's a common problem your students have and how do you address it?
was known for being a leader. As the president of
the American Young Sisters Society, she organizes her friends
to raise money to buy textbooks for immigrant classmates.
It’s not easy, and when her initial plan doesn’t work,
she’s forced to dream even bigger to find a way to help her community. A glimpse at the early life of Israel’s first
female Prime Minister, this story is based on
a true episode in the early life of Golda Meir."
A common problem my students have is the fear of digging deep. To compensate, they produce redundant narrative that only skims the surface. I challenge them, as my mentors have challenged me, to take a deep breath and dive in.Thank you--just reading that made me take a deep breath. Would you share a favorite writing exercise with our readers?
I am a certified Amherst Writers & Artists workshop leader and I really believe in the power of writing to timed prompts. A classic prompt is to recall a photograph and begin your writing session with, "In this one..."
Another favorite is to write about something hanging on the wall in a room of your childhood family home.I want to try those! What one piece of advice do you have for teachers?
Look for the strength of each student and build on that.
What's on the horizon for you?
|Barbara Krasner ~ teaching, speaking, inspiring ~|
I'm working on some Holocaust-related short stories and a couple of picture book biographies. In my master's program (Barbara's currently a candidate for an MA in Applied Historical Studies
), I am looking for ways to take my academic requirements and turn them into literary projects. A new history book about my hometown of Kearny, New Jersey
is an example of this. I am promoting my picture books this fall, such as my "What Would Goldie Do?"
program at Jewish community centers (JCCs) and synagogues. I also hope to be teaching Writing Your Family History
at my local JCC.WOW, Barbara! And since it's Poetry Friday in the Kidlitosphere, do you have a poem you'd like to share with our readers?
Here's a link to my poem, The Circle of Life
on The Jewish Writing Project site, which invites contributions of poems and more.
(Readers, this site is well worth exploring and includes, among other things, a terrific page of questions and writing ideas for kids
)We'll close with a preview of Goldie Takes a Stand! (enter for a chance to win it below):
Thank you so much for coming by today, Barbara!Book GiveawayEnter for a chance to win an autographed copy of Goldie Takes a Stand! This giveaway ends on September 26.Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter via 1, 2, or all 3 options specified. If you choose the "comment" option, share a comment to today's blog post about your experience with writing or teaching historical fiction. And please include your name in your comment, if it's not obvious from your comment "identity." (If you prefer, you may submit your comment via email to: teachingauthors [at] gmail [dot] com.)If you've never entered a Rafflecopter giveaway, here's info on how to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway and the difference between signing in with Facebook vs. with an email address. Email subscribers: if you received this post via email, you can click on the Rafflecopter link at the end of this message to access the entry form.Good luck!a Rafflecopter giveaway
"Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement."
~ Golda Meir
~ there's more! Barbara's Goldie Takes a Stand!
will soon be followed by a Holocaust picture book, Liesl's Ocean Rescue
(Gihon River Press, Fall 2014).posted by April Halprin Wayland
p.s: It's nearly New Year's and my picture book, New Year at the Pier (Dial), winner of the Sidney Taylor Book Award for Younger Readers, celebrates the ritual of Tashlich, a wonderful, seaside gathering during the Jewish New Year (which begins September 24th and ends September 26th this year.)
Howdy, Campers and Happy Poetry Friday!
are discussing handwriting versus keyboard typing--read which Carmela
, and Esther
Me? I'm bi.
When I'm in a boring meeting (or even an interesting meeting), under the hair dryer at the beauty parlor, or the passenger on a long trip, I'm happy to write poems in my little notebooks with my favorite pen
But I became a writer as on one of these:
and my brain and fingers still adore keys.
So I wrote two poems today in honor of both:
by April Halprin Wayland
It’s a sound idea—a muscular,a strong one.
It’s strapping, able-bodied oneit’s beefy—it’s a long one.
It’s a strapping noun,it’s her fingers plunked downwith a most decisive click.
It’s a piece of punctuationthat’s sealed—it sticks.
LONGHAND.by April Halprin Wayland
liquid longhand sometimes flowsor oozes slowit drains from a dream to its place on the page
where it will not linger no, the pen seeps deeperbeneath each linewhere longhand makes its own design
poems (c) 2014 April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved.
And if you haven't already done so, don't forget to enter our current giveaway for a chance to win the historical middle-grade novel Odin's Promise (Crispin Press) by Sandy Brehl. See JoAnn's post for all the details.
(We're supposed to sign our names at the bottom of each post...so hi, it's me--April Halprin Wayland! G'bye!)
I first met Sandy Brehl as the super-efficient contact person for one of the best-planned school visits I've ever experienced. Later, I had opportunities to meet Sandy again through a number of SCBWI-Wisconsin events, also efficiently organized. When I was Regional Advisor, I knew that anything I left in her capable hands could be crossed off my list.
I'm happy to welcome Sandy today as a Guest Teaching Author
. Look below for details about the giveaway of her new middle grade novel, Odin’s Promise
Sandy Brehl retired after forty years of public school teaching in Milwaukee-area schools. Since then, she’s been an active member of SCBWI
, devoting most of her time to writing and reading. Sandy enjoys gardening, art, and travel (to Norway, of course). Visit her website
to learn more about Odin’s Promise
and follow her blog. She also posts reviews and commentary about picture books at Unpacking the POWER of Picture Books
. You can follow her on Twitter: @SandyBrehl and @PBWorkshop.How did you become a Teaching Author?
Teaching came first. I began teaching right out of college and never stopped. For four decades I worked in elementary schools at many grade levels, leading writers throughout those years. The use of mentor text (before it was called that) and the “links to life” approach I used in leading kids to write more successfully, effectively, and with greater engagement meant I was always writing with and for students. This included writing across content areas.
I was always a competent writer, and I wrote often, but I only shared my writing with students and family. It wasn’t until an odd holiday circumstance and my own ignorance of the publishing industry that I gave any thought to submitting my work. I wrote a blog post about this uninformed and inauspicious start to becoming an author
I had some encouraging successes, with poetry appearing in Spider Magazine and articles published in professional journals. I eventually joined SCBWI
(Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators). With the help of workshops, conferences, and critiques, my writing efforts more consistently approached publishable quality.
Since retiring from full time teaching, I conduct workshops for educators, sharing ways to use the highest quality children’s literature to improve reading and writing instruction.Odin’s Promise is compelling historical fiction for middle-grade readers. How did you balance the fiction and nonfiction aspects of your story?
I love reading historical fiction, and now writing it, too. Fact and fiction are like the opposite sides of a strip of paper, but they can be skillfully connected, like a mobius strip, making it hard to distinguish where each begins and ends. The story should be so compelling that readers aren’t distracted by the fact/fiction question – until the story ends. That’s when they start asking questions (and pursuing answers) about how much of the story is real.
A secondary plot in this book was inspired by actual events I heard about while visiting in Norway many years ago, told to me by the people who lived them. From the moment I heard their story, I was certain it should be in a book. I knew even then that it would be fictionalized, but wanted to tell it as authentically as possible. It turns out there was a very stubborn part of my brain that was unwilling to move more than a smidgeon away from the actual events and characters.
This story has a history nearly as long as my writing life does. It’s the cumulative result of years and years of continuing research and revisions guided by increasingly knowledgeable sources on a story that wouldn’t let me go. The more research I did, the more fictionalized but credible my story became.
Eventually a particular piece of research opened my mind to an entirely new approach. By then the factual content was as real to me as the characters who emerged.How can teachers use your book in the classroom?
In a guest post for Alyson Beecher’s blog, Kid Lit Frenzy
, I used the mobius strip comparison and suggested the benefits of historical fiction as a tool for launching research to answer personal questions. Typically research is used in a linear approach: start with a topic or other prompt, do research, organize results, then produce expository writing or answer factual questions.
Historical fiction often provides an author’s note addressing the fact/fiction elements. Many books, including mine, provide a list of resources for further investigation and related titles. Websites and digital resources allow students to examine maps, read and create timelines, and access guided questions.
I recommend that teachers introduce historical fiction as a genre and suggest using picture books for a model lesson. The interweaving of fact and fiction, which is the nature of this genre, can be examined in these shorter examples. Encourage readers to use sticky notes or notebooks to actively raise their questions while reading. After the book is complete, readers can pursue and compare their questions. They might offer and justify personal opinions as to the fact/fiction status of the content marked. Back matter and other resources can then be used to seek and share reliable answers to those questions.
Once students develop understanding of the interplay of fact and fiction in this genre, teachers might read aloud the timeless Number the Stars
, by Lois Lowry, to develop background knowledge. Then Odin’s Promise
can be offered to literature study groups along with other titles about Norway’s occupation: Shadow on the Mountain
, by Margi Preuss, Snow Treasure
, by Marie McSwigan, and The Klipfish Code
, by Mary Casanova.Could you describe your research process?
My research started pre-internet. That meant pursuing hard-to-find sources through the library, then noting the references used to create them. Those served as launching points for further searches. Of course, my notes were all hand-written, the books were often out-of-print (making them expensive or unavailable), and my dedicated research and writing times were limited to summers.
Once I began using online sources to expand my searches, technology made it possible to store and revisit my notes and writing attempts across all those years.
Each time I made a new run at the story or received another critique, I’d dive into further research. Along the way it became clear (to everyone but me) that my ideal audience would be middle-grade readers. I just couldn’t loosen my mental grip on the original inspirational story, which centered on older characters. Only when research led me to a scholarly work that incorporated journal entries, some written by younger people, was I able to see a middle-grade story.
As I read those passages, the fictional voice of Mari, my main character, helped me release my older approach. She shared her thoughts and views of the occupation. As she led me through her own concerns, fears, courage, love, and loyalty, she introduced me to her family and community. She was even generous enough to make space for portions of my original story in her life.Could you share a story about a funny, moving, or interesting writing or speaking experience?
The most surprising thing to me is that this story includes a dog. I am an animal lover, and I even worked for some years in wildlife rehabilitation. I avoid reading realistic stories about animals, particularly dogs, because I may find myself deeply invested in a story but unwilling to finish reading for fear of injury to the animal. I might not even pick up and read this book if someone else had written it.
Earlier versions didn’t have a dog. I realized some potential readers might feel the same as I do about stories with animals. Mari gave me no choice. She needed Odin in her life, and the events that unfold were essential to her own growth and change.
Another surprising aspect to this book is that it was a “work-in-progress” for more than three decades. Once Mari’s voice came to me the story went from draft and revision to contract, further revision, and release in only two years.Thank you, Sandy!
Readers, you can hear Sandy talk about Odin's Promise
in a Milwaukee Public Radio interview
Enter for a chance to win an autographed copy of Odin's Promise
! The book giveaway ends on August 23.
Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter via 1, 2, or all 3 options specified. If you choose the "comment" option, share a comment to today's blog post about your experience with writing or teaching historical fiction. And please include your name in your comment, if it's not obvious from your comment "identity." (If you prefer, you may submit your comment via email to: teachingauthors [at] gmail [dot] com.)
If you've never entered a Rafflecopter giveaway, here's info on how to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway
and the difference between signing in with Facebook vs. with an email address
. Email subscribers: if you received this post via email, you can click on the Rafflecopter link at the end of this message to access the entry form.
JoAnn Early Macken a Rafflecopter giveaway
Minnesota: The Birth of Old Man River
A lake creates a lazy stream
That flows through pines and slips away,
Then picks up barges, logs and steam,
Becomes a mighty waterway.
Walk on rocks across this sliver,
Cross the current, slow and mild.
It will grow to Old Man River
Though for now it’s still a child.
--Laura Purdie Salas, all rights reserved
The headwaters of the Mississippi River are in Lake Itasca, Minnesota. At its start, the river is narrow and shallow, and you can cross the Mighty Mississippi by walking across some rather slippery rocks.
|The water is high this year, so that rock path across the beginning of the Mississippi River is a bit underwater! Photo: Laura Purdie Salas|
Here I am reading the poem:
Happy Poetry Friday! And welcome to my musings on our current topic, marketability of our manuscripts, and what we do with our unmarketable work.
Ah, this is such a touchy topic! As a poet, marketability is even MORE of a challenge than most other formats/genres. And as my career progresses, I am even more aware of this, always, because I need to make a certain income and want to earn that income by creating books I love. So, do I think about whether a project is marketable before I start it? Absolutely. If I decide it is not, what do I do? I might still write it, if it's something I feel like I just HAVE to write. But if it's not something I have to write, then I might skip it. I have way more ideas than I have time to write, so it's a matter of prioritizing. What project am I excited about writing that I think has at least a decent chance of selling to a publisher? That's what I take on.
Unfortunately, I usually don't realize a project is unmarketable until it's too late! Take my 50 state poems (please, publisher, take it!). Above is the Minnesota poem from that collection, plus a photo I took Tuesday at the headwaters. So, what's my solution? Well, I have 6 poetry collections that I want to get out there. Four of them got lovely, wonderful responses from editors--some even went to acquisitions--but were deemed too hard to sell. Another one never went out because my agent felt it wasn't strongly marketable, and the final one I wrote for my blog in April. I am having trouble moving on from these unpublished collections. So...I've decided to e-publish them. I've got wonderful educators writing some teaching activities, and I'm going to try to market them TO educators, primarily.
I am fairly certain I won't recoup the monetary cost of producing the books (I'm estimating about $2,000 for the six books together), because self-published e-books typically DON'T sell well at all. At. All. Not to mention the many hours of work it will take. But my big hope is that I will connect with more teachers and librarians, spread some poetry love, and, ultimately, share my name and work. And that I can get some closure and put all my creative energy into new projects instead of constantly looking backward at what feels like unfinished business.
P.S. Don't get me wrong. I have LOADS of unpublished, unmarketable manuscripts that I would not consider putting out there. Some manuscripts are unmarketable for good reason:>)P.P.S. Jone at Check It Out (who does the wonderful April poetry postcards!) has the Poetry Friday Roundup. Enjoy!P.P.P.S. It's almost the end of our Rafflecopter Giveaway for Joan Bransfield Graham's THE POEM THAT WILL NOT END. Just go here and click on the link at the very end of the post. Good luck!--posted by Laura Purdie Salas