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1. Vermeer-inspired poetry

white2

Vermeer in Hell
by Michael White
2013
http://www.perseabooks.com/detail.php?bookID=114

from publisher’s website:
Through the paintings of Vermeer, Michael White explores new landscapes and transforms familiar ones in this extraordinary new collection of poems. This captivating masterwork transports us across eras and continents, from Confederate lynchings to the bombing of Dresden, through its lyrical inhabitations of some of Vermeer’s most revered paintings, each one magically described and renewed. More than mere ekphrasis, Michael White explores the transformative possibilities of great art in his fourth collection.

reviews:
“Vermeer in Hell is Michael White’s museum of ghosts and shades, of narratives woven masterfully out of the personal and historical alike—out of the lived, the envisioned, the loved, and the terrible. Rarely have I felt the ekphrastic to be as dramatic as in White’s tour through the portraits of Vermeer, with its history of fiery damages, wars and afflictions, but also its own depiction of ‘love’s face as it is.’ Out of Michael White’s vision, each poem achieves for us the delicacy and durability of Vermeer’s own art.”
—David Baker

“Nearly every one of Michael White’s new poems is the equivalent of a quiet stroll through a blazing fire, igniting the reader’s imagination. His insights are frightening and comforting at the same time, his craft allowing for the most surprising and thrilling of associations. Vermeer in Hell is a collection that belongs in the room with all of the traditions of our language’s poetry, but it brings something completely original to us, too. It is not an overstatement to call this poetry Genius.”
—Laura Kasischke

“In these elegant, powerful poems, Michael White pays homage to a great painter while engaging social realities that affect us all. They are brave, beautiful poems linked by authentic vision and a sensitive, educated ear.”
—Sam Hamill

0 Comments on Vermeer-inspired poetry as of 1/31/2015 6:56:00 AM
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2. Talents and Skills Entry: Enhanced Taste Buds

As writers, we want to make our characters as unique and interesting as possible. One way to do this is to give your character a special skill or talent that sets him apart from other people. This might be something small, like having a green thumb or being good with animals, to a larger and more competitive talent like stock car racing or being an award-winning film producer. 

When choosing a talent or skill, think about the personality of your character, his range of experiences and who his role models might have been. Some talents might be genetically imparted while others are created through exposure (such as a character talented at fixing watches from growing up in his father’s watch shop) or grow out of interest (archery, wakeboarding, or magic). Don’t be afraid to be creative and make sure the skill or talent is something that works with the scope of the story. 

Enhanced Taste Buds

eatingDescription: the ability to taste even the most subtle of flavors, and distinctly tell the difference between bitter, sweet, salty, sour and umami.

Beneficial Strengths or Abilities: Enhanced taste buds have a genetic component, but anyone can learn to improve their range of taste. Having a love of food, a keen interest in nutrition, the desire to experiment and try new things are all qualities that will help a person develop their sense of taste.

Character Traits Suited for this Skill or Talent: focused, curious, attentive, unbiased, patient, open-minded, self-controlled

Required Resources and Training: People with a heightened sense of taste need to protect their taste buds through healthy choices. As smell affects taste, avoiding environments that have lots of scents and not wearing body sprays, perfume or aftershave will help keep one’s palette neutral. Avoiding bad habits like smoking, and foods that are overly salty or spicy will keep a character from scarring their palett. Attending a culinary school or apprenticing for a chef will help expose them to new tastes and textures, widening their experience and knowledge. Travel can also provide excellent opportunities to try different types of food and spices, not to mention learnings unique cooking methods if one’s goal is to become a chef.

Associated Stereotypes and Perceptions:

  • that people with sensitive taste buds are picky eaters
  • that people with this talent avoid processed food, fast food and do not eat junk food because they are “snooty” about what they eat

Scenarios Where this Skill Might be Useful:

  • excelling in the culinary industry (chef)
  • the ability to pick up on flavors that should not be present (drugs, poison, etc.)
  • being able to blend flavors and re-imagine food, inventing something new and earning fame

You can brainstorm other possible Skills and Talents your characters might have by checking out our FULL LIST of this Thesaurus Collection. And for more descriptive help for Setting, Symbolism, Character Traits, Physical Attributes, Emotions, Weather and more, check out our Thesaurus Collections page.

 

Image: Artistlike @ pixabay

The post Talents and Skills Entry: Enhanced Taste Buds appeared first on WRITERS HELPING WRITERS™.

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3.

6a010536f21461970c0115701c05ae970b

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4. What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week,Featuring Edwin Fotheringham,Juana Medina, and Stephen Savage


– From Doreen Cronin’s Smick!, illustrated by Juana Medina


 

“Monkey screeched and turned to Duck,
‘Buddy, ol’ pal, are we in luck!'”
– Spread (without text) from Jennifer Hamburg’s
Monkey and Duck Quack Up!,
illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham

(Click to enlarge)


 

– From Stephen Savage’s Supertruck


(Click to enlarge)

 
Today over at Kirkus, I write about the newest picture book from Michael Hall, called Red: A Crayon’s Story (Greenwillow Books, February 2015). That link will be here soon.

* * *

Last week I wrote about three new picture books, geared at very young children — Jennifer Hamburg’s Monkey and Duck Quack Up!, illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham (Scholastic, February 2015); Doreen Cronin’s Smick!, illustrated by Juana Medina (Viking, February 2015); and Stephen Savage’s Supertruck (Neal Porter/Roaring Brook, January 2015).

I’ve got art and preliminary images from these books below.

Enjoy.



 

Spreads from Doreen Cronin’s Smick!,
illustrated by Juana Medina
(click each to enlarge):


 



 



 



 



 

Early Roughs from
Stephen Savage’s Supertruck:


 






Eight images above: Failed covers


 

Final Art from Supertruck:


 


(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 



 

Older iterations of the title pages in
Jennifer Hamburg’s
Monkey and Duck Quack Up!,
illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham
(click each to enlarge):


 






 

Progression of a Spread
from Monkey and Duck Quack Up!
(click each to enlarge):


 

Edwin: The only spread…that was changed fairly dramatically is Monkey on the boat doing activities. This began as a boat elevation cut-away that turned into spots of individual activities. There are four iterations: 1) cut-away view; 2) activities in color blocks (notice water slide and pool in right panels); 3) activities in color blocks, version two (pool becomes food buffet); and 4) final art with activities in bouncy bubbles (water slide becomes disco). In the final version, other characters (in silhouette) were added to make the cruise less like a ghost ship.

 






 

Final Art (Without Text) and Cover from
Monkey and Duck Quack Up!:


 


“Up onstage, when it was time,
they wowed the crowd with one great rhyme …”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 



 

* * * * * * *

Illustrations from Monkey and Duck Quack Up! by Jennifer Hamburg. Illustrations © 2015 by Edwin Fotheringham. Used with permission from Scholastic Press.

SMICK! Copyright © 2015 by Doreen Cronin. Illustrations © 2015 by Juana Medina. Published by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Group, New York. Illustrations reproduced by permission of Juana Medina and the publisher.

SUPERTRUCK. Copyright © 2015 by Stephen Savage. Published by Neal Porter Books, Roaring Brook Press, New York. All images reproduced by permission of Stephen Savage, pictured below.


(Click to enlarge)

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5. ‘Maggie’ Celebrates Her Vault into Kansas History

Wave the Wheat, Jayhawkers! Today is Kansas Day, marking the admission of Kansas as the 34th state in the Union, on January 29, 1861. We’re also celebrating the fact that Maggie Vaults Over the Moon has found its place on … Continue reading

0 Comments on ‘Maggie’ Celebrates Her Vault into Kansas History as of 1/29/2015 1:30:00 PM
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6. Claudette Free Comic Book Day with CBLDF

This May! Claudette and Friends will appear in CBLDF’s FREE COMIC BOOK DAY comic. Pick it up at your local comic book store for Free! CBLDF has been defending our right to read and write comics and even get occasionally flambéed by dragons for over 25 years. Also in the comic, are other creators we love: Andi Watson, Gene Yang, George O’Connor, Dan Parent, Larry Marder, Watson, Sonny Liew, O’Connor, Parent, and Marder. You can even DOWNLOAD a preview.

Defend Comics

Defend Comics


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7. Prince Charming’s 5 Proven Techniques for Finding Love

Manelle Oliphant Illustration - Illustrator and Writer

In my recent story, Cinderella’s Prince, you can read about one Prince Charming’s method for finding love. After I published the story Alabaster mentioned to me Cinderella’s Prince Charming used one of 5 usual methods for finding his love.  I was unaware there were “usual” ways these things were done but was interested in what Alabaster had to say. I imagine you are as well, especially if you are a prince looking for love. Alabaster graciously agreed to write another guest post for us. If you are interested in Alabaster’s other posts they are  5 Tips for Finding True Love and Become a Wicked Stepmother in 4 Easy Steps.

Let me introduce you to our guest blogger Alabaster Daisy.

Alabaster Daisy

Alabaster Daisy

Mrs. Alabaster Daisy has been studying the residents of the enchanted forest for some years now. She has a FTB (Fairy Tale Bachelors) in the Habits of the Fairy Tale World, and has been featured in Forest Fairy Daily sharing her expert tips on life in a magical land. This is her first post at manelleoliphat.com especially for the genlemen among us. Lets here what she has to say.

 

Prince Charming's 5 proven techniques for finding love. #cinderella #fairytale

 

Hello, you wonderful readers!

I’m so excited to share some of my insights on helping all you young Prince Charmings out there find the love you are looking for. If you’re not a prince you can try the techniques but I can’t promise they will work for you. If you are a prince, however, I guarantee one of these methods will bring you the love you seek!

These techniques are listed in no particular order. Each one has been proven successful, so pick the method you think is best for you, and it won’t be long until your dreams come true. (That sentence rhymes like a beautiful poem.)

Alabaster Daisy’s 5 Ways for Prince Charming to Find his True Love

1. Try kissing dead girls

Ok, she’s not really dead just under a sleeping curse. ;) Sleeping curses are famous for being broken by true love’s kiss. This has been a popular technique in the past, however, it’s fallen out of favor in recent years. Probably because it’s sometimes hard to tell if the young women in question is under a curse or actually dead. For some reason the idea of kissing corpses doesn’t appeal to most men. If you’re not faint of heart, however, your chances of finding a girl under a curse are greatly increased these days!

2. Explore a Tower

Beautiful maiden’s in fairy tale lands are famous for hanging out in towers. This could be a castle tower, but if you find a tower in the middle of the woods or other secluded area your chances are very good there is a princess inside. Many times she will be awake and waiting for you, but it’s also possible she could be under a sleeping curse. If the lady is awake you can often find her tower by listening to her lovely singing voice. Tower Maiden’s are one of the most convenient of the five ways to find your lady, but be aware of witches and conniving lady’s maids who will try to keep you from your goal.

3. Be cursed (especially into some kind of animal)

This advice may not appeal to you but, rest assured, given a little time it is %100 effective. When looking to be cursed it is best to be mean to a witch or other magical lady who isn’t fond of men. The nice thing about this method is once you are cursed your work is pretty much done. Your true love will break your curse by falling for you even in your deformed, ugly or disgusting state. Popular animal curses are frogs and bears but I’m sure if were turned into a mongoose or kangaroo you would still be able to find success with this method.

4. Rely on objects to find her

Prince Charming’s the world over have been using this method for generations. There is a %52 chance your royal parents found each other this way.  The most popular objects for finding true love are shoes and rings, but you can use anything this as long as it fit your lady perfectly at some point. Some experts argue this method is unreliable since a shoe or a ring may or may not be enchanted, and could fit on any number of lady’s feet or fingers. Bah! I think the success of the technique speaks for itself.

5. listen to your cat

This method is less popular but like our third technique it has a %100 success rate. It’s also the only method that works if you are a peasant. I personally know of two princes who have not only found their true love by following advice from their cats, but also got their kingdoms this way. This method is different from the others in another way. There are no substitutions. It seems it only works with cats. Men have tried following the advice of pet dogs, birds, and even turtles but they haven’t had success. It’s actually rather dangerous to try with *animals other than our cunning feline friends.

 

Well you handsome princes you, I hope you find this advice useful! Don’t hesitate to contact me by mirror if you have any questions. I’d love to meet your lady loves and hear your success stories as well! Helping people is such a joy! Until next time.

Alabaster Daisy!

 

*Prince Ronaldst Rington Charming tried following the advice of his dog Wilbur and ended up playing fetch for 197 years. It’s a world fetch playing record that’s never been broken. Ronaldst did gain much fame and fortune from his exploits but his body, except for his throwing arm, was too weakened after it was over to be attractive to the ladies. He died a bachelor.

The post Prince Charming’s 5 Proven Techniques for Finding Love appeared first on Manelle Oliphant Illustration.

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8. Critiques 4 U, January Edition

snow-man-555323_1280

Pixabay

 

Happy 2015, everyone! I hope you’re getting your January groove on, making goals or resolutions or whatever it is that gets you going in the New Year. I’m sure that some of you are wanting to rework that opening page or fine-tune those editing skillz. And if that’s the case, you’re in luck. ‘Cause it’s time for Critiques 4 U!

If you’re agonizing over that first page and you wouldn’t mind me chainsawing taking a gander at it, leave a comment that includes: 

1) your email address

2) the working title of your WIP

3) its genre (no erotica, please)

4) the intended audience

ONLY ENTRIES THAT FOLLOW THESE INSTRUCTIONS WILL BE CONSIDERED.

3 commenters’ names will be drawn and posted tomorrow. If you win, you can email me your first page and I’ll offer my feedback. Best of luck!

The post Critiques 4 U, January Edition appeared first on WRITERS HELPING WRITERS™.

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9. Today’s the Day! It’s Multicultural Children’s Book Day!

Are we excited or what!? Today is Multicultural Children’s Book Day and both Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom and I would love it if you’d celebrate with us.

fb collage

This is our second annual event and is bigger than ever before. Along with 17 sponsors , 9 blog co-hosts, and 150+ bloggers, we’re reading our world in many amazing and wonderful ways.

Head on over to www.multiculturalchildresnbookday.com/blog and have a look at our linky party. There you will find many great multicultural and diverse books to read.

Twitter Party! Join us for Multicultural Children’s Book Day Twitter Party on Jan 27th 9:00pm EST.

Use hashtag: #ReadYourWorld to win 10 book packages! This Twitter Party is hosted by myself and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom! View the prize list HERE.

How it all Began

So many times Mia and I are asked how “it all began” with Multicultural Children’s Book Day so we teamed up to make this video that answers that very question:

Let’s get LINKY! Link up your multicultural children’s book review and let’s create an amazing resource for teachers, parents and librarians!

 

 

[inlinkz_linkup id=485122 mode=1]

The post Today’s the Day! It’s Multicultural Children’s Book Day! appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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10. The Importance of Dreaming: Why Diversity Matters in Science Fiction and Fantasy – by C. Taylor-Butler

 

CTB

I’m a dreamer. I grew up in a lower middle class environment where the stretch goal was simply survival. Many of my neighbors had never ventured far from the city. Reading wasn’t a popular hobby. Dreams were for other people.

But my mother introduced me to every free or low cost cultural program she could find. I took art classes at the Museum of Art. Spent days sketching by a replica of The Thinker near the reflecting pond. And my weekends existed living in the stacks of the Public Library and carrying home as many books as I was allowed at the end of the day. Whenever I needed to escape my environment, books were there to guide me. I immersed in Barbar and envisioned myself traveling with the king to a far distant land. I was Madeleine lined up in a row of similarly dressed girls. All the while I doodled designs of futuristic cities while munching popcorn in front of Lost In Space. I imagined being tutored by the magical Mary Poppins. But in those books and movies the characters were animals or they were white. Other than Star Trek, people of various backgrounds didn’t exist in the imagined futures for our world. I loved Uhura, Checkov and Sulu. But I wanted them to be my Captain Kirks.

A few years ago, I spoke at a public library in Arkansas. Over the course of a week I talked about writing to 25 busloads of elementary school children. At the end of the week a teacher returned and said one of her students was perplexed that I had gone to MIT. The teacher, confused by the girl’s question, pressed her. The young girl wanted to know if she could go to a school like that, given that she was Hispanic. She wanted to know if it was allowed. And if so, could she tag along with the teacher who, herself, was studying for her Masters degree at a nearby college. In that child’s neighborhood, college wasn’t in the vocabulary. And in her literature, girls like her didn’t exist at all.

I want you to think about that a minute.

Decades after the multicultural Star Trek series debuted, contemporary literature and the media still play a large role in the perception that options for children of color are severely limited. Popular fiction and blockbuster movies center around children who are not Hispanic, or Native American or . . . (fill in the blanks). In the rare instance where they are, movie directors make a course correction. For instance, in writing Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula LeGuin created a world in which all of the communities were populated by people who were various shades of brown. No specific ethnicity is delineated. The hero is brown, the villain is blonde and blue eyed. In translating the book into a mini-series for the SyFy channel, Producer Robert Halmi of Hallmark Entertainment cast all the characters using white actors and said he had “improved upon the author’s vision.” Ursula LeGuin responded by saying he had wrecked her books.

In recreating the popular Avatar: The Last Airbender, director M. Knight Shamalayan cast all of the Asian heroes with white actors. The villain who was white in the series, became Asian in the movie. Children of color are tokens in the background of Harry Potter’s universe but not in his inner circle. The olive-skinned girl in Hunger Games becomes Jennifer Lawrence. See the trend? For children of color the message is clear: when it comes to being a hero in a fantastical adventure . . .

Not you.

But it also sends a more dangerous message to society. For people of a majority race it may imbed a subconscious message of “only you,” or worse . . .

“Not them.”

In watching the protests around the country starting with, but not limited to Ferguson Missouri, I found myself wondering if someone like ex-officer Darren Wilson grew up surrounded by images of people like him who were the heroes, the leaders, the enforcers and where people who didn’t look like them were villains to be feared. Police officers who are later assigned to patrol neighborhoods where gifted children are stunted because they were trained by society, and sometimes their own communities, to stop dreaming beyond the end of the street.

In crafting The Lost Tribes I envisioned a world where those children were integral to the story and allowed to take center stage. Children who were very smart, but not perfect. Children who bickered and made mistakes while they worked out solutions and came together as a team out of necessity but remained together out of mutual respect. I envisioned characters informed by their cultural backgrounds but not constrained by them. I wanted to create an environment where the characters faced frightening situations and had to work out the solutions without the use of magic wands or other tricks that would substitute for logic and team work. In a sense – if your world is falling apart what would an ordinary kid do with few skills and no training?

Girl

I had a vision, for instance, of who the character of Serise would be. She’s Navajo and I knew book research wouldn’t substitute for spending time in her environment. So I spent two weeks in Rock Point, Arizona. It is a small town on the reservation where I met two teens who were Goth and quiet. I met another who was quite outspoken. I came armed with books, including a lot of age appropriate fiction. They leaped for the nonfiction, showed me how to log on to a password protected satellite dish so I could check emails, and talked about their lives and dreams with me. And so Serise was reborn as a computer hacker, far from the stereotypes people have about Native American girls.

My protagonist, Ben, thinks basketball is the ticket to success. He eschews his parent’s scientific interests as the stuff of nerds. In working with urban students I learned that many hide being smart. It’s easier to be athletic. It’s expected. It’s often emphasized. So it is fascinating that a friend and librarian forwarded an excerpt of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s book in which he talks about fulfilling society’s expectations of aspiring to be a top athlete until he read a fascinating fact about the speed of light and black holes. He decided science was infinitely more interesting and became an astrophysicist.

Moai of Easter IslandMy characters, like my readers, crave adventure and as an engineer writing science fiction I understood that Earth already held much stranger backdrops than anything I could make up. For example the Moai of Easter Island or the Terra Cotta Army.

I wrote Tribes to say “Yes. You belong in the wider context of the universe.” “Yes. You can be the center of an adventure.” “Yes, children from different backgrounds can and do work together for a common purpose.” “Yes you can dream bigger than the landscape of your own neighborhood.”

 

“Yes.”  Terracotta warriors

“You.”

As we approach February, inevitably children across the country will be introduced to the same ubiquitous fare that adults provide every year. We’ll fill their reading lists with realistic fiction, historical fiction and angst based nonfiction centered around race. But we won’t tell them they can aspire to slay dragons, build castles or venture out into the great unknown. They won’t travel to outer space or even abroad to a foreign land. When they are looking at the stars, we’ll quiz them on books that go no farther than their own environments. And when some children are dreaming of the future, we’ll be drilling into their heads only visions of a painful past.

During Black History Month we’ll ask, “What are you doing to fulfill Dr. King’s dreams?” and therein lies the rub.

Because it’s the wrong question.

We should be asking, “What are you doing to fulfill YOUR dreams?” and then make it our priority to point them toward a path that will get them there.

I’m still a dreamer. I found my path forward in books and used the clues to figure out how to reach for the stars. Perhaps it is time for publishing to provide those clues forward without our readers needing a universal translator to see themselves between the pages. Perhaps it is time for a broader selection of children to be shown leading the way.

Tribe cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

C. Taylor-Butler is the author of more than 70 books for children. A graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with dual degrees in Civil Engineering and Art and Design, she serves as Chair of one of their regional Educational Councils. After traveling the world and speaking to thousands of children with dreams of their own, she has decided children of color shouldn’t have to settle for second place.

The Lost Tribes Series
“Well-written and well-paced: a promising start to what should be an exciting and unusual sci-fi series. (Science fiction. 10-14)” Kirkus Reviews, Jan. 2015

To find more speculative fiction featuring children of color (sci-fi, fantasy, paranormal, time travel, alternate history, dystopia, horror, etc.), see the list compiled by Zetta Elliot.


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11. The Importance of Dreaming: Why Diversity Matters in Science Fiction and Fantasy – by C. Taylor-Butler

CTBI’m a dreamer. I grew up in a lower middle class environment where the stretch goal was simply
survival. Many of my neighbors had never ventured far from the city. Reading wasn’t a popular hobby. Dreams were for other people.
But my mother introduced me to every free or low cost cultural program she could find. I took art classes at the Museum of Art. Spent days sketching by a replica of The Thinker near the
reflecting pond. And my weekends existed living in the stacks of the Public Library and carrying home as many books as I was allowed at the end of the day. Whenever I needed to escape myenvironment, books were there to guide me. I immersed in Barbar and envisioned myself traveling with the king to a far distant land. I was Madeleine lined up in a row of similarlydressed girls.

 

All the while I doodled designs of futuristic cities while munching popcorn in front
of Lost In Space. I imagined being tutored by the magical Mary Poppins. But in those books and movies the characters were animals or they were white. Other than Star Trek, people of various backgrounds didn’t exist in the imagined futures for our world. I loved Uhura, Checkov and
Sulu. But I wanted them to be my Captain Kirks.
A few years ago, I spoke at a public library in Arkansas. Over the course of a week I talked
about writing to 25 busloads of elementary school children. At the end of the week a teacher
returned and said one of her students was perplexed that I had gone to MIT. The teacher,
confused by the girl’s question, pressed her. The young girl wanted to know if she could go to a
school like that, given that she was Hispanic. She wanted to know if it was allowed. And if so,
could she tag along with the teacher who, herself, was studying for her Masters degree at a
nearby college. In that child’s neighborhood, college wasn’t in the vocabulary. And in her
literature, girls like her didn’t exist at all.
I want you to think about that a minute.
Decades after the multicultural Star Trek series debuted, contemporary literature and the media
still play a large role in the perception that options for children of color are severely limited.
Popular fiction and blockbuster movies center around children who are not Hispanic, or Native
American or . . . (fill in the blanks). In the rare instance where they are, movie directors make a
course correction. For instance, in writing Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula LeGuin created a world in
which all of the communities were populated by people who were various shades of brown. No
specific ethnicity is delineated. The hero is brown, the villain is blonde and blue eyed. In
translating the book into a mini-series for the SyFy channel, Producer Robert Halmi of Hallmark
Entertainment cast all the characters using white actors and said he had “improved upon the
author’s vision.” Ursula LeGuin responded by saying he had wrecked her books.

In recreating the popular Avatar: The Last Airbender, director M. Knight Shamalayan cast all of
the Asian heroes with white actors. The villain who was white in the series, became Asian in the
movie. Children of color are tokens in the background of Harry Potter’s universe but not in his
inner circle. The olive-skinned girl in Hunger Games becomes Jennifer Lawrence. See the trend?
For children of color the message is clear: when it comes to being a hero in a fantastical
adventure . . .

Not you.

But it also sends a more dangerous message to society. For people of a majority race it may
imbed a subconscious message of “only you,” or worse . . .

“Not them.”

In watching the protests around the country starting with, but not limited to Ferguson Missouri, I
found myself wondering if someone like ex-officer Darren Wilson grew up surrounded by
images of people like him who were the heroes, the leaders, the enforcers and where people who
didn’t look like them were villains to be feared. Police officers who are later assigned to patrol
neighborhoods where gifted children are stunted because they were trained by society, and
sometimes their own communities, to stop dreaming beyond the end of the street.

In crafting The Lost Tribes I envisioned a world where those children were integral to the story
and allowed to take center stage. Children who were very smart, but not perfect. Children who
bickered and made mistakes while they worked out solutions and came together as a team out of
necessity but remained together out of mutual respect. I envisioned characters informed by their
cultural backgrounds but not constrained by them. I wanted to create an environment where the
characters faced frightening situations and had to work out the solutions without the use of magic
wands or other tricks that would substitute for logic and team work. In a sense – if your world is
falling apart what would an ordinary kid do with few skills and no training?

 

Girl

 

 

I had a vision, for instance, of who  the character of Serise would be. She’s Navajo and I knew book

research wouldn’t substitute for spending time in her environment. So I spent two weeks in Rock
Point, Arizona. It is a small town onthe reservation where I met two teens who were Goth and quiet. I met another who was quite outspoken. I came armed with books, including a lot of age appropriate fiction. They leaped for the nonfiction, showed me how to log on to a password protected satellite dish so I could check emails, and talked about their lives and dreams with me. And so Serise was reborn as a computer hacker, far from the stereotypes people have about Native American girls.

My protagonist, Ben, thinks basketball is the ticket to success. He eschews his parent’s scientific interests as the stuff of nerds. In working with urban students I learned that many hide being smart. It’s easier to be athletic. It’s expected. It’s often emphasized. So it is fascinating that a friend and librarian forwarded an excerpt of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s book in which he talks aboutfulfilling society’s expectations of aspiring to be a top athlete until he read a fascinating fact about the speed of light and black holes. He decided science was infinitely more interesting and
became an astrophysicist.

My characters, like my readers, crave adventure and as an engineer
writing science fiction I understood that Earth already held much
stranger backdrops than anything I could make up. For example the
Moai of Easter Island or the Terra Cotta Army.

I wrote Tribes to say “Yes. You belong in the wider context of the
universe.” “Yes. You can be the center of an adventure.” “Yes, children
from different backgrounds can and do work together for a common
purpose.” “Yes you can dream bigger than the landscape of your own
neighborhood.”

“Yes.”

“You.”Terracotta warriors

As we approach February, inevitably children across the

country will be introduced to the same ubiquitous fare that
adults provide every year. We’ll fill their reading lists with
realistic fiction, historical fiction and angst based nonfiction centered around race. But we won’t
tell them they can aspire to slay dragons, build castles or venture out into the great unknown.
They won’t travel to outer space or even abroad to a foreign land. When they are looking at the
stars, we’ll quiz them on books that go no farther than their own environments. And when some
children are dreaming of the future, we’ll be drilling into their heads only visions of a painful
past.
During Black History Month we’ll ask, “What are you doing to fulfill Dr. King’s dreams?” and
therein lies the rub.

Because it’s the wrong question.

We should be asking, “What are you doing to fulfill YOUR dreams?” and then make it our
priority to point them toward a path that will get them there.

Tribe coverI’m still a dreamer. I found my path forward in books and used the clues to figure out how to
reach for the stars. Perhaps it is time for publishing to provide those clues forward without our
readers needing a universal translator to see themselves between the pages. Perhaps it is time for
a broader selection of children to be shown leading the way.

C. Taylor-Butler is the author of more than 70 books for children. A graduate of the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology with dual degrees in Civil Engineering and Art and
Design, she serves as Chair of one of their regional Educational Councils. After traveling the
world and speaking to thousands of children with dreams of their own, she has decided children
of color shouldn’t have to settle for second place.

 

The Lost Tribes Series

“Well-written and well-paced: a promising start to what should be an exciting and unusual sci-fi

series. (Science fiction. 10-14)” Kirkus Reviews, Jan. 2015

To find more speculative fiction featuring children of color (sci-fi, fantasy, paranormal, time
travel, alternate history, dystopia, horror, etc.), see the list compiled by Zetta Elliot’s at

Zetta Elliot’s list

 

Posted by Gwendolyn Hooks


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12. Blitz with Books!

National Book Blitz Month

 

We’re almost through January and maybe the winter doldrums have set in at your house. The holidays are over; the candles and trees are down and the house looks a bit bare, eh? Perfect time for a book blitz!

Did your young readers get BOOKS for Hanukkah or Christmas? Now is the perfect month and opportunity to haul them out and start reading to and with your young readers!

Did you know that reading from infancy to entry into school is “doctor “recommended?” Well it is; by no less than the American Academy of Pediatrics! Please check out a group called “Reach Out and Read”. Begun more that 25 years ago at a Boston hospital, it incorporated READING as part of the annual health exam and gave books to children at their checkups in addition to discussing the importance of reading, singing and rhyming at early ages with children to encourage literacy.

More and more evidence-based research shows there is a small and quickly closing window to give kids a “jumpstart” on reading and from that, success in school, not to mention a lifetime of pleasure ahead with books. That window is from infancy to entry at school.

In the Reach Out and Read program over 4 million children are being served now at nearly 5,000 program sites in all 50 states. Books are put into babies’ and tots’ hands at their checkups, so they can begin developing their own library of books. Perhaps your own pediatrician is a participant, or may be encouraged to become one.

One of the primary reasons for starting Liz’s Book Snuggery was my firm belief, from my own experience as a parent, that it is vital to give young parents the oft repeated message that reading great picture books to our youngest is the portal to chapter books and everything beyond. It BUILDS sustained attention span that is central to learning to read.

My weekly story time is proof enough for me. At the beginning of the school year, the three-year-olds are a bit wiggly squiggly during our half hour together. BUT, come January, a mere 5 months down the road, and their attention span has increased to the full half hour! The four and five-year- olds are better still, and a joy to read and listen to, in their unique responses to a story.

January is the time for setting new goals. That said, I do remember how hectic life can be with young ones. Exponentially, how that must have increased in the time since I had infants and toddlers going 24/7! But it’s a finite amount of time we parents have to “Blitz with Books”, so please make this the month to start! It’s also doctor recommended!    

 

http://www.reachoutandread.org/

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13. GUEST POST: When Friends & Family Read Your Book: Survival Tips

Writing Life Banner

Today, we have a guest post from debut author (and Entangled Publishing editor!) Kate Brauning

Kate headshot AMy debut novel released in November, and while I was nervous about trade reviews and Goodreads reviews and sales numbers, the thing that made me most nervous was knowing my friends and family were going to be reading my book.

I’m proud of my writing, and what friends and family won’t override what I think is best for a story. However, that doesn’t mean it can’t hurt. When people who are close to us disapprove, or object, or think less of us, it’s usually going to hurt.  And they usually want to participate in what’s going on in our lives. While that can take a toll on us, it can also be encouraging and a positive experience. There are a few survival tips we can use to deal with it when it comes up.

 

1. Realize their reaction might have very little to do with your book. Especially with a debut, when friends and family pick up an author’s book, it’s usually because they have a connection to the author—not because they thought the story sounded interesting or because it was a genre they enjoyed. Most of my family that read How We Fall don’t read YA or don’t enjoy romance. Many of them weren’t familiar with the conventions and devices of the category or the genre, and that can make a big difference in the reader’s experience.

2. Recognize that friends and family aren’t your audience. This has never been so clear to me as when some of my grandparents read my debut. They just aren’t the readers I’m speaking to, and so the language I’m using isn’t going to communicate nearly so well to them. It’s not because of a flaw in me or my books. They’re simply not receiving what I’m sending, and that’s okay.

3. Don’t let them affect what you write in the next book, or regret the choices you made in the previous one. Don’t allow fear of disapproval to affect what you write. Be true to the story, or it won’t be a story you love. And without that, we lose a huge part of the reason that we write.

4. When someone says, “I read your book!” don’t say “what did you think of it?” That almost never turns out well. If they loved it, they will most likely tell you without you having to ask, and if they didn’t love it, you probably don’t want to know. Instead, say “thank you so much for reading!” and divert the discussion.

Great follow-ups can be asking them if they’ve read anything else lately, mentioning something you’ve read and loved, or talking about the publishing journey instead of the book. Friends and family are often curious about it, and talking about the story you wrote is just one way they might try to connect with you over that topic. If you’re getting the feeling they want to talk not just about books in general but about your writing, turn the discussion toward how exciting it was to get your author copies, or how long it’s been a dream of yours to be published, or any detail like that. And when you can, change the topic. Short and sweet is generally less likely to be awkward.

5. Avoid discussions of your choices—most of the time. The more common advice is just to not discuss them, but that can also mean you miss out. The best and worst moments involving friends and family dealing with my book were discussing those hot-button topics. For example, since I write YA, the things that people close to me were bringing up were questions and comments like “I didn’t think the swearing was necessary.” “There are some pretty high heat make-out scenes for a teen book. Do you think that’s appropriate?” or “I just can’t see why you would write a romance since it has all that angst.” “So you let them drink under age?”

Every one of those issues are things I’m passionate about, and they’re areas where I want the people close to me to understand what I’m doing and not think less of me for making choices I strongly believe are positive ones. And that makes any discussion of those things risky. I don’t want to always divert the conversation, because engaging in conversation about why swearing can belong in YA is a great topic and I want to share my beliefs with people who are close to me.

Some of the discussions I’ve had with family over those topics directly concerning my books have been wonderful. Some were incredibly frustrating and discouraging. If it’s not for you, then by all means avoid it, but if you want to bring your family in a little more, the best way I’ve found to deal with it is to be intentional about picking the place, the time, and the people. The family dinner table with a mixed group is likely not the time. A crowded room where people can mishear and others can jump in without having heard the context is likely not the best place. A special event like a signing or launch party is not the time. And there are some people who are more interested in hearing what you have to say in order to respond, not necessarily in order to understand—and that’s where I usually don’t want to discuss the issue. It won’t be productive. Some of my relatives have different beliefs and no matter what explanation I have, it won’t be a productive conversation there, either. If you have family and friends who are up for a genuine discussion, I think it can be great to go for it, in small pieces. It also may help to discuss those issues in general, and not as they relate to your particular book. Some of the best conversations I’ve had with some of my relatives came from that, and I’m closer to them and more open with them now because of it.

6. Keep in mind friends and family can be a fun and positive part of your career. Some of them dislike my book and disapprove of the content, but some of them love it, and have become wonderful fans. My uncle’s parents, even though I’ve only met them twice and they are definitely not the people I expected to enjoy the story, went out of their way to tell me how much they loved it and that they’re eagerly waiting for the next one—and they’re in their seventies. My brother, not at all the guy to read YA romance, not only read it but bought copies for all of his wife’s family for Christmas. Seeing the people close to me enjoy and participate in the process is encouraging and fulfilling and fun.

Especially with a debut, but also with an author’s following books, friends and family may want to be involved and share their opinions. Authors usually dread it. I still dread it. It’s nerve-wracking and stressful, because we care. Since discouragement from family can take a heavy toll on our creativity and energy, boundaries are important. Ultimately, it’s your career, and giving yourself the space to create freely is necessary. Limits, diverting the discussions when it’s not a good time for you, and taking them a small piece at a time can help manage participation from friends and family.

Kate Brauning is an editor at Entangled Publishing and the author of How We Fall, a YA contemporary about a girl who falls in love with her cousin. She grew up in rural Missouri, lives in Iowa, and pursues her lifelong dream of telling stories she’d want to read. Visit her online at www.katebrauning.com or on Twitter at @KateBrauning.

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14. 3D Printing Programs for Kids

Last weekend as I was changing the spool of plastic on the Makerbot for a boy and his dad to finish printing and I just had to chuckle to myself. With my legs up on the table and the PLA plastic in my mouth, I maneuvered to feed the green string through the extruder. Never in a million years would I have imagined that this could be a daily reality for a children’s librarian. New technologies continue to challenge my preconceived notions of where the library profession would lead me.

Technology continues to revolutionize the way our world functions, and public libraries are in a unique position when it comes to educating kids and families and preparing them for these changes. The American Library Association recently published a paper that tackles 3D Printing technology, public policy, and the role of libraries in this conversation.

When we received our 3D printer a little over a year ago most of the children’s staff had no idea what to make of it. Sure it was cool, and a great addition to our mini-makerspace, but would it be a temporary fixture in the Children’s Library? One brave children’s staff member took the lead and spent time tinkering with the printer and has been a real 3D guru to the rest of the department. She has even provided tutorials and troubleshooting to the IT staff. Of course, we don’t pretend to have all the answers, but almost every weekend we meet a new family inquiring about the Makerbot and amazed that the Library is the one place in town where they can work with one hands on.

As more libraries begin to evaluate whether a 3D printer actually has a place within their institution, there is going to be a growing need for addressing what services and programs the library will provide, and how to tackle challenges such as repair or appropriate use.

Krishna Grady and Amy Laughlin craft dinosaur necklaces from a 3D printer.

Krishna Grady and Amy Laughlin craft dinosaur necklaces from a 3D printer.

Beyond individual patron prints, the Children’s Library has managed to educate families on the concept of 3D Printing and Design while also hosting other classes that are fun and inspiring. Below is a sampling of our current 3D Printing programs for children.

Makerbot 101 – Our guru Amy Laughlin has designed both an introductory session to the concepts and origin of 3D printing and design for eager printers. Not sure what CAD software even means? Amy has done a fantastic job in making the information accessible to both patrons and curious library staff members.

Tinkercad Design – Watching the printer work its magic is simply one element to this new technology. By using Tinkercad, kids can locate pre-designed prints to take home, but the web-based tool also teaches 3D Design in an accessible way.

3D Printing and Crafting – Tech and crafting can come together for a variety of ages. Pull out some glitter and sharpies to decorate 3D prints for the younger set, while discovering applicable ways to craft with older kids using more complex printed objects. In December tweens assembled mini-printed pieces using needle-nose pliers in the Dino-Necklaces program.

Gift Giving 3D Style – As our Makerbot usage amps up during the holidays we wanted to provide gift giving options for crafty kids. Revisiting the Cookie Cutter program from last year we used the website Cookie Caster which uses a drawing board to design a cookie cutter template and makes a 3D model of the design. We also curated a list of ten easy prints which take under one hour to form. This comes in handy when demoing the 3D printer, but also provides potential gifts for kids to give to parents. Ornaments and picture frames have been particularly popular prints this year.

Claire Moore is a member of the Digital Content Task Force. She is also Head of Children’s Services at Darien Library in Connecticut. You can reach Claire at cmoore@darienlibrary.org.

Visit the Digital Media Resources page to find out more about navigating your way through the evolving digital landscape.

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15. Talents and Skills Thesaurus Entry: Lipreading

As writers, we want to make our characters as unique and interesting as possible. One way to do this is to give your character a special skill or talent that sets him apart from other people. This might be something small, like having a green thumb or being good with animals, to a larger and more competitive talent like stock car racing or being an award-winning film producer. 

When choosing a talent or skill, think about the personality of your character, his range of experiences and who his role models might have been. Some talents might be genetically imparted while others are created through exposure (such as a character talented at fixing watches from growing up in his father’s watch shop) or grow out of interest (archery, wakeboarding, or magic). Don’t be afraid to be creative and make sure the skill or talent is something that works with the scope of the story. 

LIPREADING 

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Courtney Rhodes @ Creative Commons

Description: The ability to read other peoples’ lips in order to understand what’s being said

Beneficial Strengths or Abilities: good vision

Character Traits Suited for this Skill or Talent: focused, persistent, determined, observant, discerning

Required Resources and Training: Lipreading is a skill that many hearing impaired individuals are able to do with accuracy. Their ability comes from a lifetime spent practicing. As with any other skill, once must practice reading others’ lips in order to become proficient at it. 

Associated Stereotypes: those with impaired hearing

Associated Perceptions: When portrayed in fiction, lipreading is often 100% accurate. But there are many factors that can make lipreading difficult: the position of the person being read, the person moving around and making it difficult to see their lips, an obstruction that blocks the lips (a raised hand, food being brought to the mouth, someone with a cold who is always covering a cough or blowing their nose, etc.), a speech impediment that causes a person to form words in an unconventional way, a person speaking with a strong accent or dialect, etc.. These are things that can make lipreading difficult; keep them in mind for ways to frustrate your hero and make it more difficult for him to attain his goal.

Scenarios Where this Skill Might be Useful: For most story purposes, the lipreader would want to be able to use his skill without being noticed, so it would be necessary for him to be able to do so from a distance. To meet this need, he might have excellent vision or utilize binoculars or a scope.

  • When a spy needs to gain information while remaining unnoticed
  • When someone wants to know what a peer or love interest thinks about her
  • When a coach wants to know what plays an opposing team will be running
  • When two people need to communicate without being seen or overheard
  • When a detective or police officer is watching a suspect and wants know what is being said

Resources for Further Information:

Lipreading Training Course and Games

Beginner’s Guide to Lip Reading

You can brainstorm other possible Skills and Talents your characters might have by checking out our FULL LIST of this Thesaurus Collection. And for more descriptive help for Setting, Symbolism, Character Traits, Physical Attributes, Emotions, Weather and more, check out our Thesaurus Collections page.

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16. NCTE: Literacy Support and Community

Prior to becoming a K-5 school librarian, I taught in the elementary classroom for over twenty years. Throughout this time, I sought to improve my craft both as a teacher and a writer. To accomplish this goal, I engaged in every professional development opportunity that came my way. From books on Writer’s Workshop to local and state conferences on language arts, I learned all I could about literacy instruction. I joined the National Council of Teachers of English, and there, connected with many professionals also dedicated to literacy. As I began to regularly attend NCTE’s national conventions, I knew I’d found a place where I could grow and learn with other readers and writers. This discovery was a pivotal one in my career in education.

Once I became a librarian, I remained a member of NCTE. (By this time I’d already joined ALA and ALSC where I found many meaningful connections and valuable resources that helped me grow in my new field.)

And even though I was no longer a classroom teacher, I knew the benefits of NCTE membership would serve me well in the elementary library. Indeed, I have had the privilege of helping many students in the library with writing strategies and rough drafts as well as book choices!

From their website, I learned that the organization was founded in 1911 and is dedicated to “ improving the teaching and learning of English and the language arts at all levels of education”. With over 35,000 members from the U.S. and around the world, and more than 100 affiliates across the country (NCTE, n.d.), NCTE is comprised of four sections: elementary, middle, secondary, and college and provides resources and support for each level. Members have access to lesson plans, and policy briefs, as well as online communities. Along with the International Reading Association and the Verizon Foundation, NCTE sponsors the learning site Read Write Think which offers language arts lessons plans, interactives and videos for teachers in K-12.

Each November, NCTE holds its annual convention, where workshops are held on topics ranging from digital literacy to using nonfiction in the classroom. NCTE’s most recent convention was centered on the theme “Story As the Landscape of Knowing”.

Image courtesy of the author

Image courtesy of the author

NCTE also sponsors the annual National African American Read-In held each February in celebration of Black History Month. (This year marks the 25th anniversary of this event.) In recognition of quality literature, NCTE administers several awards programs including the Orbis Pictus Award for Nonfiction, the Notable Children’s Books in the English Language Arts, the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children, and the newly established NCTE Charlotte Huck Award for Outstanding Fiction for Children.

My experiences at NCTE conventions help me to reflect upon the role of school libraries in shaping literacy in their communities. I have had many conversations with fellow educators about their own experiences with books in their classrooms as well. This dialogue – and these networks – feed my work in the library in so many significant ways.

To find out more about the National Council of Teachers of English visit their website at www.ncte.org.

References:

NCTE Home Page. (n.d.). Retrieved January 20, 2015, from http://www.ncte.org

Cynthia Alaniz is a school librarian at Cottonwood Creek Elementary in Coppell, Texas. She is a member of the ALSC Liaison with National Organizations Committee and was honored to be a 2014 Morris Seminar participant. She has also presented at two NCTE Annual Conventions.

 

 

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17. The Cursive Crisis

National Handwriting Day

 

Ah! A subject and day so dear to the heart of a former English teacher has come. Where to begin? We are in a crisis my friends. Yes, I call it the “cursive crisis!” And it is born of the indifference to the teaching of what you may refer to as Palmer Method, longhand or cursive writing. Yes, we are raising a nation of PRINTERS that do not know how to form letters cursively.

The arguments against are many, and for me, meaningless.The same arguments have been put forward for the teaching of spelling. We have SpellCheck, right?

Children use computers today. Does Spell Check know the difference in context of “hair” and “hare” when your child is writing an essay? No, It will blithely allow your child to write the following, “ I brushed my hare before I came to school.” And no, this child does not own a rabbit! The computer will care not a wit, but the teacher will, and should!

Think about it. If our children can not write cursively, how do they READ cursive writing. Example: A treasure trove of great grandma’s, or even grandma’s letters to her children are discovered in the attic. How will the current crop of students be able to decipher these treasures? Might as well be written in hieroglyphics. In addition, how do they sign their names to official documents in the future? It might seem laughable, if it were not so serious a deficit in their learning process.

Cursive writing, I believe, may hard wire the brain in certain ways with its attention to detail in its concentration on the formation of letters. Did you know that there are now medical schools across this country that have commenced REQUIRING cursive writing classes as part of their curricula?

Perhaps the heads of these schools realize in the teaching of cursive, there is more being taught to future doctors than just the formation of letters. It has long been a private joke in our culture about doctor’s penmanship in general.

Whew! Feel a lot better now!

Seriously though, if you as a parent are concerned about your student having the sole ability to PRINT their letters, and hear that in the age of the computer, cursive should be a cast off, please show them this blog! You can make a difference in their learning or not learning cursive.

Future generations of readers and writers will thank you.

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18. new post

this is a new post demo

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19. You Tell Us: What Do You Want to See?

by

Alex Bracken

Alex

Hello, PubCrawlers!

Today’s post is a little different than what you’ve been seeing from us… in fact, it’s all about you!

As you guys know, we do our absolute best to bring you fresh content about writing and the industry, and we’re generally careful to avoid repeating topics. As the new year hit, we started asking ourselves what we could do to make your reading experience even better–after all, a little change is a good thing, especially if it means we continue to grow (always a good goal)! With that in mind, we’d like to ask you guys the following questions to better help us tailor our posts going forward.

Please feel free to leave us a comment with answers to any/all of the following:

1) Are there any current features/types of posts on the blog that you would like to see turn into monthly, or even weekly, feature?

2) What writing snags have you run into recently? Are your characters giving you any trouble?

3) Is there an element of storytelling on your mind that we haven’t addressed recently, or at all?

4) Do you have any specific questions about the inner workings of the publishing industry? Are you interested in hearing from more publishing professionals through guests posts?

5) Are there any particular resources you would like to see more of? (For instance, printable guides or open threads through which you could connect with potential critique partners?)

If you have a very specific question you’d like us to address, go ahead and drop us a line. Remember–there is absolutely no such thing as a dumb question! We want to be a resource for writers of all stages, whether they’re just sitting down to work on their first story or they’ve published five novels.

Alex lives in New York City where she writes like a fiend and lives in a charming apartment overflowing with books. She is the New York Times bestselling author of The Darkest Minds series. You can visit her online at her website, Tumblr, or Twitter.

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20. December 2014 Sketchbook

Manelle Oliphant Illustration - Illustrator and Writer

At the beginning of December I wrote this post about sketchbook inspiration.  In December I committed to draw a sketch every day, and I sketched with a theme. This is me checking in to tell you how it went.

December Sketchbook Favorites

December Sketchbook Favorites

First of all I have to give a shoutout to my friends Jen and Shawna. They were my accountability partners for this project. We texted or email every day to make sure we were all sketching. This was really helpful for me. I hope it was for them as well. If you take on a project like this I recommend getting some friends involved to keep you on track.

I picked the theme fantasy land creatures and wanted to work on my gestures and expressions. I also ended up making some of my sketches into watercolors. It was a fun way to practice keeping my watercolors loose and free. I goal I also had when I was making my Six Swans illustration. 

Mostly though, I just kept to old fashion sketching. The image above has a few of my favorite sketches from the month.

I put all of my December sketches plus a few bonus images which fit the theme into a downloadable 15 page PDF. It’s $1.99 to download in my store. If you are one of my patrons you can download it for free by following this link. Just a small way for me to say thanks for your support.

December 2014 Sketchbook Cover

Dragon walk and Napping Fawn are some of the watercolors I did during the month. They are available as a prints. If you’d like to hang one on your wall you can order one by clicking on the image.

napping-fawn-print dragon-walk-print

Overall I think the project was a success.

 

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21. Trudy

I tend not to blog much these days but am trying to get back to it and write more than what I would put on Facebook. If you’ve read by blog for a while, you know how much I love family history and keeping connected with memories. This is one of those posts.



Yesterday my Great Aunt Trudy passed away and she was the last one of my “Greats.” I always loved this Dorthea Lange-ish photo of her. Taken around 1940 would be my guess.

She was my grandmother’s sister and it was fun to listen to what sisters in their 80′s would talk about. She was such a sweet lady and for whatever reason, when I think of her, I think of pastel colors, pinks and peaches. I don’t really associate colors with people, but I always have with her. Maybe I only saw her in the spring and summertime and those were the colors she would wear. Not sure.

She was 95 years old and had a small and crackly voice that complimented her shrinking stature as she got older. I was actually just telling my kids about her little voice a few days ago. She retired from Walgreens years ago, and today I always prefer to shop there over any other drug store just because of the kindness and generosity the company showed her, especially when her husband passed away. She was a real sweet lady and by her passing, today she gave me the gift of looking through old family pictures and remembering the sweet and kind legacy I have.

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22. Show, Don’t Tell: Revealing True Emotion In Dialogue

Very few things pull people in like conversation. After all, when someone speaks, they are making themselves vulnerable to others. How? Because words are steeped in thoughts, beliefs and emotions. They have meaning. Power.

When we talk to someone, what we’re really doing is sharing a piece of ourselves with them. And they in turn listen, weigh our words, and then judge us on some level by what we say. It’s a bit intimidating when you break it down like that, which is why most people think carefully about what to share, and what to hold back. Protecting ourselves from feeling exposed is an immediate response because it ties into our survival instincts.

This creates a big problem for writers trying to form realistic dialogue scenes. Our goal is for readers to pick up on the thought process and emotions of a character so they can better understand their motives and gain insight into who they are. But if dialogue is too honest, and characters share too much about what they feel, the conversation will ring false. Add this to the complication of Point of View (where the reader is not always privy to a character’s direct thoughts) and suddenly showing emotion becomes extra challenging!

So how do we show readers what a character is really feeling when they don’t say it in dialogue?

The answer of course, is body language.

talkingUnlike this picture, conversation doesn’t happen in a vacuum. People move, gesture, shift and pose. In fact, over 93% of communication is nonverbal. Think about that for a second–those conversations you have with friends, the heart-to-hearts with loved ones. All the things you have told to your spouse, the emotions you have verbally shared. This is but a tiny fraction of actual communication.

Our bodies are speaking for us constantly, even though we don’t realize it. When we are trying to hide how we feel, our body language provides ‘cues’ that others will pick up on. We might become less animate. Our voices may lower or tighten. Our posture may shift, our attention might stray or maybe we’ll start fiddling with a button or loose string. Each of these is a clue that something is amiss.

Adding body language to your dialogue scenes will help you get across a character’s emotions even when they are determined to hide what they feel.

Here are 5 ways to reveal a character’s true emotions during dialogue:

Opposites Attract. When a character is speaking without conviction, agreeing for the sake of it or even passing off a lie, show how what he says does not mesh with what his body does. For example, if he’s agreeing with another person’s suggestion, show his affirmative response: “Sure, sounds good,” but his tone is flat, or his shoulders are bowed or his arm movements and hand gestures lack strength.

Facial Expressions.  Normally, the face does not offer a lot of options as far as emotional expression goes, but I believe the exception to that is in dialogue. A well placed grimace, eyes that go wide or a tugging of the ear can go a long way.  Facial expressions are often the body’s first reaction to another person’s dialogue. They can reveal how characters feel about what they are hearing or seeing. Just remember, less is more. Facial expressions cannot support the emotional weight of an exchange alone, and should be used with care.

Personal Distance. Everyone has an amount of personal space that feels comfortable to them. When we feel at ease, the space shrinks, but when we grow tense, the need to create more space is strong. Show this need, and what a character does to increase or erase space as they take part in a conversation.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000046_00058]Bearing, Posture and Movement. How a character stands, sits, their posture, bearing and how their body moves within their environment is an important indicator as to how they feel. Confidence is a stiff back, exposed neck and eye contact. Doubt is a bent neck, hesitating movements, a slow stride and dropped glances. What a body does is a mirror to how a person feels, so describe your character’s actions as they engage in the conversation.

Voice! Sometimes what is said is not as revealing as how a character says it. Does their voice rise or lower in pitch? Do they rush through their words, or offer them only a few at a time? Do they employ sarcasm to mask a deeper emotion? Is there a hesitation or warble present? Most of us do not have as much control over our voices as we would like, so it is an effective and realistic way to reveal shifting emotions with our characters.

Additional links to explore:

Hidden Emotions: How to Tell Readers What Characters Don’t Want to Show

Talk Amongst Yourselves: Writing Realistic Dialogue

How about you? What techniques do you use to show your characters’ emotions during dialogue scenes? Let us know in the comments!

~ Angela

Image by Efraimstochter via Pixabay

The post Show, Don’t Tell: Revealing True Emotion In Dialogue appeared first on WRITERS HELPING WRITERS™.

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23. Valiant Previews for the Ages: Quantum and Woody, X-O Manowar, and Unity!

Unity 014 CoverA Larosa 195x300 Valiant Previews for the Ages: Quantum and Woody, X O Manowar, and Unity!Ever since the relaunch of the publisher, Valiant Entertainment has always been up to something new. This morning, fresh previews of ongoing series from the publisher were scattered across the internet.

Unity is in the middle of a great story-arc featuring a cast of characters called The United. The team of villains have been expertly hand crafted by author Matt Kindt to go up against the current Unity roster. After taking a break around the big Armor Hunters storyline and getting the chance to pick up the pieces, it’s been excellent to get some added characterization with these heroes. The addition of Faith is a strong new aspect that will likely to add something new to the team dynamic. Excluding on-again off-again Unity member X-O Manowar, this comic now has a direct male to female split in the cast.

UNITY #14
Written by MATT KINDT
Art by CAFU
Cover by LEWIS LAROSA (NOV141693)
Handbook Variant by FRANCIS PORTELA (NOV141694)
Variant Cover by RYAN LEE (NOV141695)

A world on fire! Unity vs. The United!
A dark secret at the heart of the Unity team has led the world to the brink of global war. Only Unity and their international counterparts, The United, can broker a peace…but that might not work, seeing as how they’re trying to kill each other. All hope lies with Unity’s newest team member, who may not be able to shoulder the weight of the world!

$3.99 | 32 pgs. | T+ | On sale JANUARY 28

 Unity 014 Variant Lee 195x300 Valiant Previews for the Ages: Quantum and Woody, X O Manowar, and Unity! Unity 014 001jpg 195x300 Valiant Previews for the Ages: Quantum and Woody, X O Manowar, and Unity! Unity 014 002jpg 195x300 Valiant Previews for the Ages: Quantum and Woody, X O Manowar, and Unity! Unity 014 003 300x230 Valiant Previews for the Ages: Quantum and Woody, X O Manowar, and Unity! Unity 014 004 195x300 Valiant Previews for the Ages: Quantum and Woody, X O Manowar, and Unity! Unity 014 005 195x300 Valiant Previews for the Ages: Quantum and Woody, X O Manowar, and Unity!

Next up, Valiant shared a few pages of Quantum and Woody Must Die! The title is a four-issue mini-series written by author James Asmus with art from Superior Foes of Spider-Man alumni Steve Lieber. The comic continues it’s irreverent tone with this solicitation text also provided by the publisher, where it seems that Quantum and Woody are trying to beat Sex Criminals at their own game.

QUANTUM AND WOODY MUST DIE! #1 (of 4)
Written by JAMES ASMUS
Art by STEVE LIEBER
Cover by MIKE HAWTHORNE (NOV141684)
Variant Cover by JOHNNIE CHRISTMAS (NOV141685)
Variant Cover by CHIP ZDARSKY (NOV141686)

They came. They saw. They pissed off a whole lotta folks. And now a team of mystery vigilantes has singled out the world’s worst superhero team for complete and utter destruction. Their first target: their minds! But who are these all-new enemies? Are Quantum and Woody hitting it off with a sexy duo of cat burglars? And, dear god, what have they done to the goat? Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? Sex Criminals isn’t the only comic that can quote Queen, comics fans – here come Quantum and Woody! (Or so they think! [Trippy, right?!])

$3.99 | 32 pgs. | T+ | On sale JANUARY 28

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X-O Manowar is in the middle of a brand new arc focusing on The Armorines as the title makes way for the upcoming Dead Hand story-arc. The creative team has been in constant stride on this comic with Robert Venditti writing the narrative, and Diego Bernard on pencils. In the solicitation text, something new is teased regarding a fail-safe melded into place by a mysterious figure.

X-O MANOWAR #32
Written by ROBERT VENDITTI
Art by DIEGO BERNARD
Interlocking A & B Covers by RAUL ALLEN (NOV141696/NOV141697)
Variant Cover by RYAN LEE (NOV141698)

The bleeding-edge commando unit codenamed: ARMORINES has finally undermined the X-O Manowar armor and the man inside it – Aric of Dacia, one of the most feared men alive. But who are these hardened men and women, and just who orchestrated their lethal combination of technology and cunning? The new generation of ARMORINES are more than just mercenaries…and the figure pulling their strings is about to activate a fail-safe that will leave the world reeling.

$3.99 | 32 pgs. | T+ | On sale JANUARY 28

XO 032 001 195x300 Valiant Previews for the Ages: Quantum and Woody, X O Manowar, and Unity! XO 032 002 195x300 Valiant Previews for the Ages: Quantum and Woody, X O Manowar, and Unity! XO 032 003 195x300 Valiant Previews for the Ages: Quantum and Woody, X O Manowar, and Unity! XO 032 004 195x300 Valiant Previews for the Ages: Quantum and Woody, X O Manowar, and Unity! XO 032 005 195x300 Valiant Previews for the Ages: Quantum and Woody, X O Manowar, and Unity! XO 032 006 195x300 Valiant Previews for the Ages: Quantum and Woody, X O Manowar, and Unity! XO 032 CoverA Allen 195x300 Valiant Previews for the Ages: Quantum and Woody, X O Manowar, and Unity! XO 032 CoverB Allen 195x300 Valiant Previews for the Ages: Quantum and Woody, X O Manowar, and Unity!

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24. Morning Mailbag: Trinkets, Treasures, and Apples

We’re experiencing that time of the year when the mail comes fast and loose and continual. Every day it seems like there’s something interesting to see. So while it lasts, let’s have another round of Morning Mailbag where I highlight some of the more interesting items that have cropped up in my office this week.

First up, Circles by Yusuke Yonezu (ISBN: 978-9888240678) which is a minedition book.  If you’ve seen Yonezu’s other board books you’ll know what to expect.  Good thick lines and bright colors.  This one has loads of cut outs as well.  Plus it’s hard to resist the back of the book.

See?

Moving on, the publisher Little Bigfoot’s been upping the ante lately.  I don’t know why but their books have been getting increasingly lovely on the eye.  Sure they’re all about the Pacific Northwest in some way, but why should that stop me from enjoying them?  One of the latest is My Wilderness: An Alaskan Adventure by Claudia McGehee (ISBN: 978-1570619502).  It’s sort of a memoir with the dimensions of a picture book.

Plus the interiors are drop dead gorgeous.

In other news, any book from Emily Gravett is cause for celebration.  Bear and Hare Go Fishing feels like a no-brainer.

This next book took me totally by surprise.  It’s In the New World: A Family in Two Centuries by Gerda Raidt (ISBN: 978-1580896306).  As someone who has to deal with the continual Ellis Island assignments given kids in NYC, it’s a relief to see a book that actually attempts to systematically remove the veil of confusion surrounding historical immigration and to show what it would have typically consisted of for European immigrants.

Note how it shows the different parts of the ship and what the sleeping arrangements would have resembled.

And in an interesting twist it shows a farmhouse when it was first built . . .

. . .  and what it looks like today!

Then there’s poetry.  Or the lack thereof.  In the past I had a hard time finding good fairytales and folktales in a given year.  Now?  Good poetry can be difficult.  Fortunately there are times when something like this comes along:

Curious?  It’s Beastly Verse by debut author/illustrator Joohee Yoon (ISBN: 978-1592701667).  I’d tell you more but I’ll be doing a little Enchanted Lion Press roundup soon and I don’t want to give too much away.

Finally, today we’re going to look at one of the more peculiar bits of advertising swag I’ve received in a long time.  I received a box of a peculiar size and weight.  Oh ho, thinks I.  Weirdo swag!  I’m fond of weirdo swag, particularly when it’s edible.  At first, though, I couldn’t quite figure out what to make of this.

On the one hand you had this little booklet for The Isle of Lost written for Disney by none other than Melissa De La Cruz (ISBN: 978-1484720974).  This appears to be a little novel to accompany the made-for-TV movie about the adventures of the Disney villains’ kids.  Yes, they all had kids.  Jafar, Cruella, Maleficent, the works.  I read an Entertainment Weekly piece on the film a couple months ago.  I had no idea a book would accompany it as well.

So there was the booklet.  Then there was this odd looking wooden box.  Open it up . . .

Nope.  They’re not real apples.  More like stress balls.  And that little purple piece there screams like a banshee if you open it. Me oh my.

Now to see what next week may bring!

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25. Why I’ve Stopped Tweeting #AmWriting


by Adam Silvera

AdamHAPPYFACELIFE REMINDER: The writing routines that work for me may not work for you. If you’re a morning writer, I want to be you so badly it’s reminding me of that time as a kid where I wanted to be Mary Poppins and would jump off the living room couch in my mother’s heels and a toy umbrella. (Yes, there are pictures of this. No, you can’t see them.) But the only time I’m ever awake at 6AM is when I’m finally shutting down my laptop for the night. (Read: When I’m falling asleep to episodes of my latest Hulu/Netflix binge after writing from 9:00PM to 5:00 AM.) There are too many distractions we all experience during the day like pets, an episode of The 100, children, another episode of The 100, etc. But the greatest distraction for probably any writer is Twitter, which can turn that little adorable blue bird into your greatest enemy.

When I was drafting my book for the first time, I was a big fan of the #amwriting hashtag. It was a great way to announce to friends (and even agents) that I was actively working on a project. But here’s what proved to be my downfall of tweeting about writing: it would prevent me from actually writing.

When you tweet, people sometimes respond, which is the beauty of Twitter – the conversation factor. But when I tweeted out #amwriting, I was supposed to be talking about writing my manuscript, not tweets. My suggestion? Tweet AFTER you’re done with a writing session, not before. Your friends love celebrating your accomplishments, whether you hit 20,000 words on your latest manuscript, or even wrote 400 words that day. All levels of productivity all great! And you should absolutely turn to your friends if you’re having a brutal writing day, obviously, but be honest with yourself about how badly you need the moral support because your writing time is so limited and sacred as it is you’re potentially doing you and your manuscript a disservice engaging in a conversation about last night’s episode of The 100. I know, I know, it’s so good! But go write!

To sum up: 
1) Writing comes first.
2) Social media comes second.
3) Jumping off the couch in your mom’s high heels is dangerous.
4) The 100 is addictive.

Adam was born and raised in New York and is tall for no reason. In the past he worked as a marketing assistant for a literary development company. He’s currently a children’s bookseller and reviews children’s and young adult novels for Shelf Awareness. His debut novel, More Happy Than Not, about a boy who wants to undergo a memory-alteration procedure to forget he’s gay, will be coming out on June 16th, 2015 from Soho Teen. Go say stuff to him on Twitter.

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