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Results 26 - 50 of 2,596
26. Call for Experimental Writing and Multimedia: Small Po[r]tions

Small Po[r]tions is accepting submissions for Issue 4! We publish work that minimizes, blurs, or exaggerates distinctions between genres and hope to offer a shared space for experimental creative fiction and nonfiction, lyrical fiction, poetry, and multimedia pieces. Small Po[r]tions issues have a print component with a focus on book arts and an online component featuring selections from the print issue along with media work. You can view work from our previous issues at our website. Print copies are available on our website as well.

Please submit up to 1000 words or one multimedia work to:

submissionsATsmallportionsjournalDOTcom (Change AT to @ and DOT to . )

by January 18th to be considered for publication in Issue 4.

For additional information, visit our website 

or find us on Twitter 
or on Facebook  

Direct questions to:

editorsATsmallportionsjournalDOTcom (Change AT to @ and DOT to . )

We look forward to reading/viewing your work!

Small Po[r]tions Editorial Board

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27. Call for Submissions about Israel: Arc-24

Arc-24, the literary journal of The Israel Association of Writers in English (IAWE) is open for submission to writing within the theme: Israel. 

In 1980 the first editor of our journal, the poet Riva Rubin, named the journal “arc.” Like the deep blue sky arced over the land of Israel, open and encompassing all who live there regardless of religion, politics, gender or age, like the arc of a bridge linking Israel to the English speaking world, arc has been a home to the writers in English who live in Israel. 

For arc-24, that policy is changing. We are now open to writers from all over the world, regardless of who you are or where you live so long as the writer has a connection to Israel. The theme of the journal, arc-24 is “Israel.” Entries should fit the topic of Israel, focusing on writing inspired or informed by your personal experiences, observations, and/or cultural and historical events that cover any of the ways Israel has affected you. In your cover letter, please let us know about your connection to Israel. 

We welcome submissions of original, unpublished works of poetry, fiction (either short stories or stand alone sections of a longer work), flash fiction, and creative nonfiction to be considered for publication. Surprise us; inspire us. We would especially like to see more short fiction for the journal. 

Any work submitted, even if critical of Israel or her policies, should be written in a thoughtful manner. Any pieces submitted which contain hatred or violence will be discarded immediately. 

The close date for submissions is January 30, 2015.

· We accept only these file formats for writing: doc, docx, rtf, txt and pdf.
· All submissions should be in font Times New Roman and 11 point.
· All submissions must be made via Submittable, no exceptions.
· We do accept simultaneous submissions. However, kindly drop us a message if your work is accepted elsewhere. 

· We seek previously unpublished (including online) work only.
· For poetry, send a selection of 3-5 poems contained within a single document. For fiction and essays please keep to a maximum limit of 6 pages, no more than 1200 words.
· All submission must be received on or before January 30, 2015.
· Payment for publication is one copy of the journal.

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28. Interesting blog posts about writing: Jon's Pick of 2014

2014 was another great year for finding wisdomous words on the web. As always, I had a hard time narrowing the list down to just twelve, but I finally managed it.

Here's my personal selection of the best writing-related blog posts from 2014:

Spam, self-promotion, and the thin, jellyfish-covered line between (Seanan McGuire)

When What You Don’t Know Trumps What You Do Know
(Larry Brooks)

How to Tell If Your Story Idea Is Mediocre—And How to Improve It
(Laurie Scheer)

Avoiding the Tar Pits of Fiction
(James Scott Bell)

6 Qualities That Make an Agent Say Yes
(Janet Kobobel Grant)

The Crushing Weight of Expectations (Robin LaFevers)

Secrets to a Good Logline (Mary Kole)

Do You Suffer From Fragile Writer Ego? (Judy Mollen Walters)

My Too-Practical Maybe-Blunt Advice To Writers
(Natalie Whipple)

The Top 10 Reasons I May Have Rejected Your Short Story (Susan DeFreitas)

The New Class System (Donald Mass)

Marketing And Readers (Kristine Kathryn Rusch)

How about you?

What were your favorite blog posts from 2014?

If you found these useful, you may also like:

My personal selection of the most interesting blog posts from 2013

My personal selection of the most interesting blog posts from 2012
My personal selection of the most interesting blog posts from 2011.
My personal selection of the most interesting blog posts from 2010

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29. Gone for Good Review

My first Harlan Coben book and will definitely not be my last.Gone for Good

I just love the way Harlan Coben writes. I think most authors struggle to pull of writing in the second person but you feel like Harlan’s having a conversation with you – the Reader – as you read this book.

It’s a story with many twists and turns and jut remember that nothing is ever as it seems.

Our protagonist has struggled to clear his brother’s name for most of his life. His brother has been framed as the killer of a girl he used to love. The police force think his brother’s guilty. The local community thinks his brother is guilty. The deceased’s family think his brother is guilty. Even his parents harbour doubts about his brother’s innocence. Still, Will believes his brother – Kevin Klein – is innocent. His brother goes on the run and for many years, it’d appear his gone for good and never to come back.

Will’s mother whispers something on her deathbed that sets his world upside down and opens a can of worms.

I liked how Harlan made Will Klein so vulnerable. You feel for him and wish him all the best. You wish him well but it seems his best intentions only hurt those around him and lead him to dead ends. Will discovers himself in the end and the truth sets him free.

Gone for Good will be a worthy addition to your library.

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30. Happy New Year

Happy Writing in 2015 and remember ...

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31. Writing Competition: The Journal's Non/Fiction Collection Prize

The Journal's Non/Fiction Collection Prize 

The Ohio State University Press, The OSU MFA Program in Creative Writing, and The Journal are happy to announce that we are now accepting submissions for our annual Non/Fiction Collection Prize (formerly The Short Fiction Prize)! Submit unpublished book-length manuscripts of short prose.  

Each year, The Journal selects one manuscript for publication by The Ohio State University Press. In addition to publication under a standard book contract, the winning author receives a cash prize of $1,500.  

We will be accepting submissions for the prize from now until February 14th. Further information about the prize is below. Best of luck!

Entries of original prose must be between 150-350 double-spaced pages in 12-point font. All submissions must include a $20.00 nonrefundable handling fee.

Submit an unpublished manuscript of short stories or essays; two or more novellas or novella-length essays; a combination of one or more novellas/novella-length essays and short stories/essays; a combination of stories and essays. Novellas or novella-length nonfiction are only accepted as part of a larger work.

All manuscripts will be judged anonymously. The author's name must not appear anywhere on the manuscript. 

Prior publication of your manuscript as a whole in any format (including electronic or self-published) makes it ineligible. Individual stories, novellas or essays that have been previously published may be included in the manuscript, but these must be identified in the acknowledgments page. Translations are not eligible. 

Authors may submit more than one manuscript to the competition as long as one manuscript or a portion thereof does not duplicate material submitted in another manuscript and a separate entry fee is paid. If a manuscript is accepted for publication elsewhere, it must be withdrawn from consideration.

The Ohio State University employees, former employees, current OSU MFA students, and those who have been OSU MFA students within the last ten years are not eligible for the award.

See the full guidelines and a list of past winners here.  

Submit online through Submittable.

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32. Call for Submissions: Literature for a Cause Anthology

Literature for a Cause anthology

The Literature for a Cause program at the Miami University regional campuses is seeking submissions of provocative literary fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, and art work for a chapbook anthology focusing on perspectives on mental illness. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to local nonprofits in the mental health field.

With this anthology, the editors hope to inspire discussion and education in the classroom and among broader audiences about mental illness and its related issues. Specifically, the editors seek compelling creative work that addresses mental illness from a variety of perspectives, including patients, doctors and other professionals, and friends, family, or other witnesses. They are especially interested in work that moves beyond self-expression or the purely inspirational, and that can foster meaningful dialogue by exploring mental illness and related issues from unique or underrepresented angles. Questions driving the creative might include how mental illness is conceptualized and understood, and its impact on ways of thinking, speaking, and interacting in everyday life.

Please submit a cover letter and work in ONE of the following categories:

--Poetry: 3-5 poems, traditional or untraditional, any length, (though shorter is better).
--Art: 3-5 pieces of two-dimensional art, black and white preferred but not required.
--Fiction: one story, double-spaced, 12 point font, 4,000 words maximum.
--Creative nonfiction: one essay, double-spaced, 12 point font, 4,000 word maximum. 

The editors prefer unpublished work, but will accept previously published work provided the author owns the rights to the work. Please notify the editors where each piece was originally published in your cover letter.

Email written submissions in a single .doc, .docx, or .rtf attachment, and visual submissions as separate .jpg or .png attachments to:

melbyeeATmiamiohDOTedu (Change AT to @ and DOT to . )

To avoid having your work automatically deleted by an email spam filter, write “L4AC” followed by your last name in the subject line. Deadline for submissions is March 6, 2015.

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33. The Beautiful Screaming of Pigs by Damon Galgut

For years, I've said I like novels to be x, y, or z; often that x, y, or z meant (in some way or another) unsettling, challenging, surprising... But those words feel inadequate, because inevitably there are things that are, for instance, unsettling in unproductive ways — a pulpy, detailed story of child molestation is probably unsettling and disturbing, but also plenty likely to be worthless, exploitative crap that aims primarily for the reader's gag reflex and puts the writer in the obnoxious position of nudging us endlessly with the question, "How much can you take?"

As I thought about why Damon Galgut's 1991 novel The Beautiful Screaming of Pigs worked so well for me where so many other books I've tried to read recently did not, I started to feel like I was finally moving toward some understanding of what the word disturbing, as praise, meant to me. It ties in with something Galgut himself said in an interview with Kianoosh Hashemzadeh for Web Conjunctions a few years ago:
...it seems to me, if you provide answers—the usual forms of literary catharsis are a kind of answer, things tie up and all the elements of the plot are neatly knotted at the end—you might have a good experience when you’re reading that book, but when you close the book you basically have closed any moral problems that the book raised and that’s it. Whereas if people are disturbed and unsettled, things have been raised and not resolved, people have to carry that around and work it out some way.
This is similar to things I've thought for a long time (I am, after all, a devotee of Chekhov, who famously said the job of the artist is to ask questions, not answer them), but Galgut's formulation there feels like it captures many of the qualities I value. The usual forms of literary catharsis is an interesting phrase, for instance, and makes me think of the thousand stories launched by Raymond Carver's example, stories that mistake bathos for epiphany. I think too of what Tom McCarthy called "the default mode dominating mainstream fiction and most culture in general: this kind of sentimental humanism" that wallows in "a certain set of assumptions, certain models of subjectivity – for example, the contemporary cult of the individual, the absolute authentic self who is measured through his or her absolutely authentic feeling."

(What I want in fiction: To push against those assumptions. To seek unusual forms of literary catharsis, or to abjure catharsis altogether. To stay surprising. To disturb, but not exploitatively, not in a way that produces easy emotion or predictable response — to write in a way that frustrates prediction, that lingers because it scratches you. And yet is this any different from those statements by Dickinson and Kafka that get repeated ad nauseam these days among the bookish? Dickinson: "If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can warm me I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry." Kafka: "A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us." We put these on bookmarks and refrigerator magnets, we proclaim them to students, but I am skeptical that most people actually agree with these statements. If they did, they would read and write differently, and such works as Wallace Shawn's plays would be worshipped among the literati.)

The Beautiful Screaming of Pigs tells a simple story, if it can be said to tell a story at all: a young, white South African man named Patrick Winter had some sort of nervous breakdown during mandatory military service; he travels with his divorced mother to Namibia in late 1989 because his mother is dating a former student of hers, a black man involved in Namibia's independence struggle, which was then culminating in the country's first democratic elections. Patrick's mother and Godfrey, her boyfriend, break up because she's not particularly committed to Namibian independence, and she, Patrick, and a "I'm-not-a-racist!" racist white man they met all travel back to South Africa. The end.

While mostly accurate, such a summary pretty much misses everything that's important about the novel.

For instance, the details of Patrick's breakdown in the military: he wasn't as athletically skilled as some of the other soldiers in his unit, and he formed a friendship with another somewhat awkward guy, Lappies. Eventually, one night they had a sexual encounter with each other, something they never talked about — and then Lappies was killed a month later while out on patrol. Patrick comes undone.

The identity that most clearly defines Patrick is that of white South African man, which in many circumstances is (more than) enough. But one of the smartest moves of the book is to tease us toward a desire to pigeonhole Patrick more fully, and then, once revealing it, to frustrate that desire and illuminate its hollowness. Was Patrick's encounter with Lappies purely a matter of the circumstances — a friendship in a difficult place that, after a particularly stressful bit of warfare, blossoms into something physical — or are Patrick and Lappies gay men? We don't know, and Patrick probably doesn't know. His mother asks him, "Have you ever been in love?" and he replies, "Yes. Once. I think. I'm not sure." His mother says he never told her about it. "I don't think I knew at the time," he says. (The context clearly implies he's talking about Lappies here.) We learn no more about his sexual identity for the rest of the book.

This uncertainty of identity is important for the book's specific context, because one of the things Patrick tries to come to grips with is that some identities are social ones, and their reality is outside his ability to affect them without radical change: identities of skin color, of nationality, of gender, of class adhere to him, regardless of whether he wants them to, and their power is especially determining in South Africa and Namibia at the end of the 1980s.

What we learn in the final chapters of the book is the difficulty of escaping not just a white identity, but racist power. Patrick wants to be like a white political leader Godfrey knew who was murdered, but he knows he doesn't have it in him. He encounters both proud racists and people who are vehemently racist but won't admit it to themselves. He watches his mother spiral from anti-racist political commitment back into the comfort of her racial privilege. The last sentence is: "In front of us, empty and cold, the road travelled on toward home." By that point in the book, it is a sad, even horrifying sentence, for it is a sentence filled with a sense that home is a place of wrongness, but there is no escape from it, no hope, even: its gravity shapes and binds you. And yet there is some hope because Patrick is not his parents (his father is a wealthy capitalist in South Africa). He's not a political activist, he's not anyone who should be held up as a model, but he's not quite as bad as his parents, not quite as stuck, it seems, in acceptance of the power his skin color brings him. What will become of him in the last days of the apartheid era? We don't know, nor does Patrick, nor could Galgut when he wrote the novel (it was first published in 1991) because too much in the world, and especially South Africa, was unknown at the time, and so any clear resolution he gave to it would have rung false. He could have given us the comfort of showing Patrick coming to a political awakening, renouncing his parents, staying behind in Namibia to work with Godfrey. He could have had Patrick find a nice boy to settle down with and overcome his trauma, perhaps even a black boy, showing that unlike his mother, he, the enlightened individual, is capable of creating a good interracial romance. Conversely, Galgut could have given us pure nihilism and had Patrick killed somehow in Namibia, maybe a suicide, maybe killed in a political bombing (mistaken for an activist!). But instead, Galgut made what seems to me the right choice, the most resonant choice, to let the book exist with a kind of possibility, even if a pessimistic one. It's not a comforting ending, it's not consoling, but it's also not hopeless, and it lingers, because it forces us to think about what will become of Patrick, and why. We are disturbed, left to our own intense tumult, disorder, chaos.

The Beautiful Screaming of Pigs uses the first-person point of view to move the reader beyond an affirmation of uncomplicated individualism. Galgut could have written a book with multiple viewpoints, allowing us to see the likely very different perceptions of Patrick's mother, of Godfrey, of Dirk Blaauw (the racist who doesn't think he's a racist). That sort of copious social realism has its place, but it is not necessary here, because we can guess it all. Patrick is an observer in most of this story, and every encounter is rich with history behind it. Details are telling. Patrick's mother shows him a little glass bottle she bought in town, but Patrick knows it came from a German shop that also displayed items with swastikas on them. It's a tiny detail, and yet suddenly we know what is happening to Patrick's mother: from someone who said she was committed to anti-racist politics, she has become someone who can buy a trinket at a shop that also sells Nazi kitsch. It was a shocking moment for me, and it made me realize I had held out hope for his mother, hope that for all her messiness and confusion that she would end up okay. We don't need the complex armature of the social novel here. (Which is not to denigrate the 19th century social novel. In the hands of its greatest practitioners — Balzac, Flaubert, Dickens, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, a few others — it could be a remarkably diverse, radical form.) Galgut can unsettle readers' assumptions and desires through the intensity of the book's focus and the power that gives to each sentence and each narrative gesture.

Galgut's prose serves his purposes well: it's bare, efficient, even cold — qualities that not only vividly convey Patrick's sense of disassociation from the world, but also guard against hyperbole and sentimentalism. The danger of such a style is that it can turn into the opposite of sentimentalism, earnest frigidity, but it doesn't feel to me that it does so. Instead, the words and sentences leave room for our own response, our own flows of emotion, whatever those flows may be.

I've been reading Steven Shaviro's new book, The Universe of Things: On Speculative Realism, and I was especially taken with this passage (if you want the context, the chapter it's from originally appeared as the article "Self-Enjoyment and Concern: On Whitehead and Levinas"):
A philosophy of processes and events explores manners of being rather than states of being, "modes of thought" rather than any supposed essence of thought, and contingent interactions rather than unchanging substances. It focuses, you might say, on adverbs instead of nouns. It is as concerned with the way that one says things as it is with the ostensible content of what is said. Even if the facts, or data, have not themselves changed, the manner in which we entertain those facts or data may well change... (p. 18)
Shaviro goes on to explore these ideas within philosophical contexts, but I think there's something to them for fiction, too, in what such ideas suggest about fictive consciousness, identity, and subjectivity. If we want to overcome the banalities inherent in the usual forms of literary catharsis, the default mode of sentimental humanism, etc., then perhaps we need a fiction of processes, modes of thought, and contingent interactions. That's what it seems to me Galgut gives us with The Beautiful Screaming of Pigs, a novel in which perceptions are in process up to the final sentence, and which, when its last page is turned, leaves readers to their own modes of thought — modes of thought that are themselves processes, and which now become processes inflected by interaction with the novel. Kafka's axe chops the frozen sea within us, but it isn't "real" ice that it is chopping, merely our perception of frozenness. The sea was never frozen; it was what it always was, despite our failed perception: in flux, like Heraclitus's river, on the banks of which stands a sign reading: Watch your step!

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34. Call for Submissions: The Los Angeles Review

The Los Angeles Review is a semiannual journal of divergent literature with a West Coast emphasis. Established in 2003, LAR publishes both the stories of Los Angeles, endlessly varied, and those that grow outside our world of smog and glitter. LAR seeks voices with something wild in them, voices that know what it means to be alive, to be fallible, to be human.

Check out the submissions guidelines for more info. The LA Review accepts online submissions via Submittable here.

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35. Call for Submissions: Prairie Schooner

Writers, use some of your free time this holiday season to give us the gift of reading and considering your work! Prairie Schooner is always on the lookout for poetry, fiction, essays, and reviews. Click here to visit our Submittable page. 

The Prairie Schooner blog is currently looking for special submissions on the theme of Women and the Global Imagination to be featured online in January and February. Deadline for submissions is January 15. Click here for more info. 

Finally, if you've been working on a fiction or poetry manuscript, get it ready, because the Prairie Schooner Book Prize begins accepting submissions on January 15, 2015. Winners receive $3,000 and publication through the University of Nebraska Press. Click here for all the details.

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36. Weekend Links: Holiday Festive Books and Fun Milestones

weekend links

As I sit as my laptop happily typing away and I can’t help reflecting on what a joyous holiday season it has been this year.  There have been so many positive strides and monumental victories this year for me, both personally and as a writer. The weeks leading up to Christmas have been particularly busy so I wanted to share some of my top picks with me readers.

BOOKS! Of course there would be favorite books in my line-up of favs! The Astrid Lindgren’s book The Tomten was inspired by this very famous Swedish poem called The Tomte by Victor Rydberg.  Originally in Swedish, I share it with you here in English so you can be inspired by these little gnome elves. Buzzfeed shared The 23 Best Picture Books Of 2014 and there were some dandies in their list. Readers not only LOVED this review I did of Christmas Wish, the hat craft was quite a hit as well :)


One of my favorite young authors/writers/bloggers/kidlit book reviewers has to be Erik from This Kid Reviews Books. Erik is not only an inspiration, he just turned 13! Happy Birthday, Erik!

Saturday marked Day One for my week-long Snow Festival here on Jump Into a Book! Snow Festival Day 1: The Blizzard by John Rocco

blizzard snow fort

Enjoy reviews from my favorite winter/snow-themed kidlit along with some yummy activities :)

hot chocolate

On December 21st, our non-profit event to raise awareness for multicultural books for kids was showcased in Publishers Weekly!!!

Publisher's Weekly

Next month, more than 100 bloggers affiliated with parenting, education, and children’s blogs will review a selection of diverse and multicultural books on their respective blogs. The reviews will be promoted and shared by Jump Into a Book and the day’s nine “powerhouse” co-[hosts] with more than two million followers total across social media: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+. The participating bloggers will also share reviews with their respective followers. There will be giveaways and children’s activities as well throughout the day.

This is the second year January 27 has been designated as MCCBD; it debuted on January 27, 2014. Read the rest of the article HERE.

Here’s to looking forward to a fun and book-filled New Year!

The post Weekend Links: Holiday Festive Books and Fun Milestones appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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37. Petty Theft: Review Haiku

Weirdo novel about
weirdo people stealing books
and being French.

Petty Theft by Pascal Girard. Drawn & Quarterly, 2014, 104 pages.

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38. Find and Replace Tool

One of the most useful tools to utilize during the revision phase of your first draft is the Find and Replace tool. The instructions here are for Word for Windows, but a similar function should be available for other word processing programs.

Within Word, you turn it on by simply clicking on [Control] and [F] at the same time (the letter F not the function key).

When revising, it is a good idea to save the draft as a new version each time in case you make a major mistake and need to go back to the previous version. You do this by selecting [Save As] and entering the Your Title Rev 1 (2,3,4,5,6,7, etc). When you have completely finished all editing and revising, save it as Your Title Final File.

1. If you do a quick rough draft you may have lots of blanks with placeholders **fill in here** or other placeholders (XXX) (#) for names, places, dates, locations, etc. Searching for ** or your placeholder cues will quickly take you from one placeholder to the next.

2. Develop a list of repetitive words. It may change and/or grow with every book you write.

3. Develop a list of adjectives. We all have personal favorites. You can use the starter list in Story Building Blocks III and add to it as you go.

4. Develop a list of adverbs or search for *.ly. This might take a while. 

5. Develop a list of body language words and emotion words. Fill in your placeholders or make certain that your characters aren't yawning, grimacing, frowning, or sighing on every other page.

6. Search for passive language by looking for the word was. I guarantee this will take a long time. Make certain to enter a space before the word was followed by another space: [ was ], otherwise every word containing the letters was together (wash, swash, twas) will be highlighted.

7. Use [Find] and [Replace] to change the name of a place or character. Use [Find Next] rather than [Replace All]. Why? Here's an example.

Let's say you want to replace the word format with method. The program searches for all the places the combination of letters appears. It may change words you never intended: information becomes inmethodion.

If your character's name is May and you decide to change her name to Sally, you end up with, “I sally not want to,” instead of “I may not want to.” The word maybe becomes sallybe. You see the problem.

8. Don't mass delete.

A quick way of deleting a word is to use [Find], but never [Delete All] or you could end up with gibberish. Let's say you want to remove all the "could have"s.  Go to each one individually. You may have to reword the sentence so it still makes sense.

9. If you make a mistake, [Control] [Z] or [Undo] is your best friend. It can, however, take you back further than intended. Which leads us to ...

10. Save frequently with [Control] [S].

Saving after every change slows you down too much, so I don't advise it. You should save the file frequently enough, perhaps at the end of each page, to mitigate heartache if your computer goes haywire, turns off in the middle, or you unintentionally select [Undo] and an entire paragraph disappears. Weird things happen.

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39. Review of My True Love Gave to Me

perkins_my true love gave to meMy True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories
edited by Stephanie Perkins
High School   St. Martin’s Griffin   323 pp.
10/14   978-1-250-05930-7   $18.99   g
e-book ed. 978-1-4668-6389-7   $9.99

Holiday romance is the connecting link for the twelve tales included in this highly enjoyable anthology by a dozen well-known young adult authors, including Rainbow Rowell, Matt de la Peña, David Levithan, Gayle Forman, Laini Taylor, and Stephanie Perkins. 
The short stories feature teen protagonists of different races, sexual identities, and ethnicities confronting various obstacles and insecurities in their pursuit of new love amidst celebrations of Hanukkah, Christmas, Winter Solstice, New Year’s, and even Krampuslauf. And in keeping with the spirit of the season, the eclectic collection of stories — some fantastical, some realistic — all end with hopeful, if not always happy, endings.

From the November/December 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.


The post Review of My True Love Gave to Me appeared first on The Horn Book.

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40. Do You Know How to Enchant a Child? The Little Fir Tree Does.

 The Little Fir Tree by Margaret Wise Brown is a heart grabber. The book has the most beautiful paintings which really remind me of my sweet boy “O”. Jim Lamarche, the illustrator, has contributed to the magic of this great story.

They put golden tinsel

 on his branches

And golden bells

And green icicles

And silver stars

And red and green and blue

And purple chains of shining Christmas balls.

All alone in an empty field grew a little fir tree. It dreamed of being part of a forest, or part of anything at all. Then one winter day, a man takes the little fir tree away and it finds itself at the center of a little boy’s very special celebration. This sweet little boy is special, he has a lame leg and he has never been to the forest and so his father brings the forest to him. This little tree gets planted in a wooden tub. “You have come to me from the wild green forest, and you are a part of my very own world.” said the little boy.


snow cream


Something To Do

You can bring the magic of a fir tree into your very own home. Though some of us may have big trees decorated in our houses, making a little fir tree to go into a child’s room is something truly special of their very own.

firtree 3


  • One small fir tree, fake or real. Both work.
  • A string of 35 lights. Color your choice.
  • small cinnamon sticks
  • Cranberries
  • Small pinecones
  • String
  • Large long needle
  • Thick Thread
  • A collection of small decorations
  • Small hooks
  • Tree topper

firtree 1


  1. Thread your needle. Knot it at one end.
  2. Put the needle through a cranberry and move it to the end. Then move the needled through a small pinecone and move it to the end. Add a cranberry and move it to the end, and then a cinnamon stick, moving it to the end. Continue in this pattern until you have a string long enough to wrap around your little tree.
  3. String the lights around the tree.
  4. Add your cinnamon garland.
  5. Place hooks on your decorations and hang them on the tree.
  6. Put on your tree topper.

Place your tree in your child’s room on a table top, or bookshelf. This is a beautiful way to bring light during the darkest time of the year into a child’s room. They will be thrilled and find it quite magical and spectacular. I have it from very good opinion that this one is a winner. Enjoy !!!

firtree 3

Special Note!

Many of you also may know that I am Co-founder of the wildly successful Multicultural Children’s Book Day. Our second celebration is coming January 27th, 2015 and so many amazing things are happening! We now have fourteen Sponsors for this event, 9 amazing Co-Hosts, a brand new Facebook page, a brand new Twitter page and we were featured in Publisher’s Weekly this week!
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We also rolled out our Diversity Book Lists & Resources for Teachers and Parents on the site and we’d like to remind everyone to watch for the event’s hashtag; #ReadYourWorld. Please retweet and share when you see it!

The post Do You Know How to Enchant a Child? The Little Fir Tree Does. appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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41. Looking Ahead

So, I thought I'd start a new feature here where I talk about upcoming adult fiction I'm interested in. I'm not a collection development librarian, but I am on the adult fiction selection committee at work, and here are some of the titles that I marked because I want to check them out when they publish:

Holy Cow: A Modern-Day Dairy Tale by David Duchovny. Remember this summer when news broke that Duchovny wrote a children's book about a cow, pig, and turkey who somehow bring peace to the Middle East and even then it was a hot mess? Turns out, it's a 224 illustrated book FOR ADULTS. Obviously, this is going to be so terrible it will be amazing. Pubs. February 3.

The Price of Blood: A Novel by Patricia Bracewell. This is a sequel to Shadow on the Crown: A Novel, which I haven't read (yet) but historical fiction about Emma of Normandy and English royalty in the half-century before the Norman Conquest? Yes, please! Pubs February 5

The Unfortunate Importance of Beauty: A Novel by Amanda Filipacchi. A group of friends struggles with the role beauty plays in their quest for love (one struggles with being too beautiful, the other with no being beautiful at all) and then it turns out one of them is a murderer. Sounds intriguing. Pubs February 16

Prudence: A Novel by David Treuer. Here's what I know about this book (the description's rather vague) WWII, Northern Minnesota, an escaped POW, an act of violence with long-range repercussions, a Native writer. Pubs on February 5.

The Swimmer: A Novel by Joakim Zander. Already an international best-seller, this is about a deep-undercover CIA agent who had to give up his infant daughter to maintain his cover. Now she's grown and an EU aide who's seen something she shouldn't have. She's in grave danger and the only person who can save her is the father she never knew. Pubs on February 10

A Price to Pay by Alex Capus looks at 3 historical figures (Felix Bloch who worked on the Manhattan project, Laura D'Oriano who was a spy, and Emile Gillieron who was an art forger) starting in Zurich in 1924 through WWII. Out now.

The Firebird's Feather by Marjorie Eccles. Debutantes! Murder! Suffragettes! Russians! Family Secrets! What more do you need to know? Pubs tomorrow.

The Orphan Sky by Ella Leya. I'm a fan of her songwriting, and now she's written a book about growing up in the 70s in Soviet Azerbaijan and becoming disillusioned with the Party? Can't wait! Pubs on February 3.

Our Lady of Infidelity: A Novel of Miracles by Jackie Parker Magical Realism in the southwest when a window installation turns into religious vision--everyone sees a vision in the window, but they all see something different. Meanwhile, 7-year-old Luz needs a real miracle--her mother, her only surviving family member is dying of kidney disease. Out now.


Fatal Feast (A Merlin Mystery) by Jay Rudd. Camelot in the Middle Ages. A knight is poisoned at dinner and Guenivere is blamed. Will Merlin come out of seclusion to prove her innocence? Pubs on January 21.

Above Us Only Sky: A Novel by Michele Young-Stone. A young girl was born with wings that were then removed. As a teen she tries to find herself and discovers her Lithuanian routes, and a long line of bird women. And it also some how covers over a century of Lithuanian history. Pubs on March 3.

And a bonus nonfiction title! (This one just caught my eye as I was flipping past)

In Manchuria: A Village Called Wasteland and the Transformation of Rural China by Michael Meyers. I *loved* his The Last Days of Old Beijing: Life in the Vanishing Backstreets of a City Transformed, which covered the destruction of Beijing's hutongs, of which Meyers was a resident. Turns out, he then moved to a small village in Manchuria and this new one covers the changes (and his life) there. Very exciting! Pubs on February 17

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

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42. Interesting blog posts about writing – w/e December 19th 2014

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

What Traditional Publishing Learned in 2014 (Kristine Kathryn Rusch)

Resist the Urge to Explain (Terry Odell)

The Ethical Author (Dean Fetzer)

Requesting Permissions + Sample Permissions Letter (Jane Friedman)

Rights Grab: Transferring Copyright (Victoria Strauss)

Ten Things I Hate About Your Holiday Story (Lynn Viehl)

Great Quotes about Writing (Jodie Renner)

Writing a Convincing Culprit (Harrison Demchick)

How Facebook Changes for 2015 Could Affect Authors (Edie Melson)
by way of Keith Keffer

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

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

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43. The Case of the Weird Blue Chicken: Review Haiku

Come for the wordplay,
stay for the illustrations.
Chickens are funny.

The Case of the Weird Blue Chicken (Chicken Squad #2) by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Kevin Cornell. Atheneum, 2014, 112 pages.

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44. Fiction and Poetry Competition: Mississippi Review Prize

Our annual contest awards prizes of $1,000 in fiction and in poetry. Winners and finalists will make up next summer's print issue of the national literary magazine Mississippi Review. Contest is open to all writers in English except current or former students or employees of The University of Southern Mississippi. 

Fiction entries should be 1000-8000 words, poetry entries should be three to five poems totaling 10 pages or less. Please attach as one document. There is no limit on the number of entries you may submit.

Online entry fee is $16 per entry. Each entrant will receive a copy of the prize issue. 

Submit online here.

No manuscripts will be returned. Previously published work is ineligible. Simultaneous submissions are welcomed and encouraged as long as you notify us immediately of acceptance elsewhere. Contest opens August 1. Deadline is January 1st, 2015. Winners will be announced in early March and publication is scheduled for June next year. Entries should have "MR Prize," author name, address, phone, e-mail and title of work on page one.

Key dates:

Contest opens: August 1, 2014
Postmark deadline: January 1st, 2015

Winners and finalists announced: March 2015
Issue publication: June 2015

Paper entries will still be accepted.
Send entries and a check for $15 to:

Mississippi Review Prize
118 College Drive #5144
Hattiesburg, Mississippi 39406-0001

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45. Fiction Competition: The Albert Camus Award for Short Fiction

The Albert Camus Award for Short Fiction created by Red Savina Review to champion writers whose short fiction explores and challenges the notion of human being in the twenty-first century. 
First prize $300; Second $100; Third $50; One Honorable mention plus publication in RSR’s in Spring Issue Online. 
The award will be given to writers whose fiction strips away the conceits of being human in an attempt to clear the way for human being. Entries judged by Guest Editor Khanh Ha recipient of Greensboro Review’s Robert Watson Literary Prize in Fiction. 
Fee: $15.00 entry 
Deadline: February 1, 2015
Guidelines here.

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46. Kate the Great: Review Haiku

A little trite, but
SO true to the modern
fifth-grade experience.

Kate the Great, Except When She's Not by Suzy Becker. Crown, 2014, 272 pages.

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47. Examples of Tone

Last week we talked about what tone is, and isn't. This week we'll try to define it with examples.

You are writing a Romance.

Let's say Dick, your narrator, is at a company picnic in a park. The sky is clear. The grill is smoking. His coworkers are drinking beer and it is mid afternoon. How does Dick feel about being there? If he is an extrovert and happy with his job, he is lightheartedly milling around, joking, laughing, and downing brews with the best of them. He has a great time, until he learns something that turns his happy place into a not so happy place. Like the fact that his rival, Ted, got the promotion instead of him. Dick worries that Ted’s promotion gives him a leg up with the girl of both men’s dreams. Dick leaves feeling determined. He rushes to call Sally before Ted can. The tone in this story should reflect Dick's upbeat point of view and competitive attitude toward the situation. If your romance is light and breezy, Dick views this obstacle as a fun challenge. He finds a way to woo Sally, no matter what comical lengths he must go to. There is tension, but it is a funny situation. If your romance is a tragedy, Dick views this scene as one more nail in his coffin. There is tension, but it is bleak, foreshadowing inevitable demise, and somber.

You are writing a Thriller.

Dick is at the company picnic in the park. The sky is overcast and threatening rain. The barbecue smoke makes his eyes water and nose run. He hates hotdogs. He hates his co-workers. He wishes he never had to see those drunken slobs ever again; but he grins and bears it until he can steal the research documents. So, he sips water. He smiles, nods, and bides his time. When he feels everyone is drunk enough, he goes back to the office and begins the search. In this example, Dick views the situation as dark and bleak. He focuses on the negative. The picnic is something to be endured to meet his goal. The overall tone of the story focuses on the tension, the hurry, the risk. There may be light moments, but there is no doubt that the situation is serious and the consequences are high.

You are writing a Literary novel.

Dick is at the company picnic in the park. He desperately needs the promotion. He has child support and outrageous alimony to pay. He can't afford to be unemployed. The sun burns. He sweats profusely. The smoke is suffocating and the stench of roasting steak makes his stomach churn. Dick circulates. He shakes hands and fake smiles at his coworkers until his jaws hurt. He finds out Ted got the promotion. In fact, Dick’s department is being cut. Dick is grateful when it starts raining so he can leave and drown his sorrows in a bottle of Scotch. In this example, the tone could be comic or tragic. The reader walks away, wryly acknowledging that bad things happen to good people, or walks away ruminating on the evils of cruel corporations. There is tension. It is either released by continual humor, or you emphasize the pathos of modern living along the way.

Revision Tips
As you read through your manuscript, consider the narrator's tone. Can you identify it? Do you want the story to be breezy, syrupy, gripping, horrifying, or funny?

What is your genre? Does the tone correlate?

Look at your descriptions and setting. How does the point of view character view the situation? Is it consistent with the tone you have adopted?

Do the details that your character focuses on and the words he uses to relate them support the tone?

Is your tone consistent? Do you find yourself handling the material as dramatic in one scene and slapstick in another?

For these and other tips on revision, pick up a copy of: 



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48. Review of Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel

farizan tell me again how a crush should feel Review of Tell Me Again How a Crush Should FeelTell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel
by Sara Farizan
High School    Algonquin    296 pp.
10/14    978-1-61620-284-2    $16.95    g
e-book ed.  978-1-61620-435-8    $16.95

Sixteen-year-old Iranian American Leila Azadi is, in her own words, a “Persian scaredy-cat.” Afraid to tell her best friends and her conservative family that she is gay, Leila finds herself in a secret relationship with Saskia, a gorgeous, sophisticated new girl with a decidedly wicked side. As Saskia reveals herself to be a master manipulator, Leila turns to an unexpected ally, Lisa, an old friend who recently lost her brother in a car accident. When Lisa and Leila’s friendship turns romantic, a spurned Saskia threatens the couple as well as their friends, who rally in support of the girls. The humor and cleverness of Leila’s first-person narrative lightens what, in less capable hands, could be an angsty story, while well-drawn secondary characters balance the novel’s more extremely rendered villain. While Leila’s coming-out process provides narrative tension, this is not a problem novel. Instead, Farizan’s second book (If You Could Be Mine, rev. 11/13) is more of a David Levithan–style romance in which a character’s sexual identity is neither problematic nor in question, and coming out is just one of many obstacles affecting the course of true love.

From the November/December 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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49. Three Months of Kidlit Book Giveaways! Awesome Books for Teens


Can you believe that Christmas is only a hop-skip-n-a-jump away???

With the winter months upon us, I feel this is a great time for readers of all ages to snuggle in with a good book. I have been blessed with tons of amazing books titles for kids over these last few months and I want to get these books into the hands of young readers. SO, for the next three months Jump Into a Book will be hosting a book giveaway every Wednesday! Some giveaways will be a single title, some will be a “Book Bundle,” but all will be books that your readers will love and cherish. I think these books will also make great gifts as well! Here’s what we are giving away this week (NOTE: All of these books are physical books, not Kindle versions).

This week I am giving away some wonderful book that will appeal to our teen and YA readers. Enjoy!

Briar Rose by Jane Yolen

Briar Rose

Ever since she was a child, Rebecca has been enchanted by her grandmother Gemma’s stories about Briar Rose. But a promise Rebecca makes to her dying grandmother will lead her on a remarkable journey to uncover the truth of Gemma’s astonishing claim: I am Briar Rose. A journey that will lead her to unspeakable brutality and horror. But also to redemption and hope.


Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu


The winner of numerous awards and recipient of four starred reviews, Anne Ursu’s Breadcrumbs is a stunning and heartbreaking story of growing up, wrapped in a modern-day fairy tale. Read my extended review and bookjump HERE.

The Girl from Felony Bay by J.E. Thompson
The Girl from Felony Bay

Abbie Force has a mission: solve the mystery of her father’s accident and alleged theft. Since he has been in a coma for nine months and cannot defend himself, it is Abbie’s job to put the pieces together. Her life has been uprooted—her father’s unavailable; her home has been sold to a new family; she has to leave her beloved school; and now she has to live with her mean aunt and uncle that don’t give one lick about her. Her summer is starting off horribly. That is until she meets the new family that has moved into her old house with the same last name and a daughter near her age—Bee. These two adventurous girls become fast friends and on their many adventures through the plantation, discover a plot afoot right under their very noses. Read my extended book review and bookjump HERE.

Horn’s and Wrinkles by Joseph Helgerson

Horns and Wrinkles

How can you tell if a river’s under a spell? River trolls, rock trolls, blue-wing fairies—the usual suspects. The stretch of the Mississippi where Claire lives has rumors of them all, not that she’s ever spotted any. But then Claire’s cousin Duke takes a swim and sprouts a horn—a long, pointy, handsome thing. After that, Claire doesn’t have much choice but to believe that something rivery is going on, especially since she’s the only one who can help Duke lose his new addition.
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50. Heart-stopped: Fiction and the rewards of discomfort

Recently I was talking to a younger colleague, a recent PhD, about what we and our peers read for pleasure. He noted that the only fiction that most of his friends read is young adult fiction: The Hunger Games, Twilight, that kind of thing. Although the subject matter of these series is often dark, the appeal, hypothesized my colleague, lies elsewhere: in the reassuringly formulaic and predictable narrative arc of the plots. If his friends have a taste for something genuinely edgy, he went on, then they’ll read non-fiction instead.

When did we develop this idea that fiction, to be enjoyable, must be comforting nursery food? I’d argue that it’s not only in our recreational reading but also, increasingly, in the classroom, that we shun what seems too chewy or bitter, or, rather; we tolerate bitterness only if it comes in a familiar form, like an over-cooked Brussels sprout. And yet, in protecting ourselves from anticipated frictions and discomforts, we also deprive ourselves of one of fiction’s richest rewards.

One of the ideas my research explores is the belief, in the eighteenth-century, that fiction commands attention by soliciting wonder. Wonder might sound like a nice, calm, placid emotion, but that was not how eighteenth-century century thinkers conceived it. In an essay published in 1795 but probably written in the 1750s, Adam Smith describes wonder as a sentiment induced by a novel object, a sentiment that may be recognized by the wonderstruck subject’s “staring, and sometimes that rolling of the eyes, that suspension of the breath, and that swelling of the heart” (‘The Principles Which Lead and Direct Philosophical Enquiries’). And that was just the beginning. As Smith describes:

“when the object is unexpected; the passion is then poured in all at once upon the heart which is thrown, if it is a strong passion, into the most violent and convulsive emotions, such as sometimes cause immediate death; sometimes, by the suddenness of the extacy, so entirely disjoint the whole frame of the imagination, that it never after returns to its former tone and composure, but falls either into a frenzy or habitual lunacy.” (‘The Principles Which Lead and Direct Philosophical Enquiries’)

It doesn’t sound very comfortable, does it? Eighteenth-century novels risked provoking such extreme reactions in their tales of people in extremis; cast out; marooned; kidnapped. Such tales were not gory, necessarily, in the manner of The Hunger Games, and the response they invited was not necessarily horror or terror. More radically, in shape and form as well as content, eighteenth-century writers related stories that were strange, unpredictable, unsettling, and, as such, productive of wonder. Why risk discomforting your reader so profoundly? Because, Henry Home, Lord Kames argued in his Elements of Criticism (1762), wonder also fixes the attention: in convulsing the reader, you also impress a representation deeply upon her mind.

Spooky Moon by Ray Bodden. CC-BY-2.0 via Flickr

One of the works I find particularly interesting to think about in relation to this idea of wonder is Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein. Frankenstein is a deeply pleasurable book to read, but I wouldn’t describe it as comfortable. Perhaps I felt this more acutely than some when I first read it, as a first year undergraduate. The year before I had witnessed my father experience a fatal heart attack. Ever since then, any description or representation that evoked the body’s motion in defibrillation would viscerally call up the memory of that night. One description that falls under that heading is the climactic moment in Shelley’s novel in which Victor Frankenstein brings his creature to life: “I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open; it breathed hard, and a convulsive motion agitated its limbs.” If the unexpected, in Smith’s account, triggers convulsive motions, then it seems fitting that a newly created being’s experience of its own first breath would indeed be felt as a moment of wonder.

When I was a nineteen year-old reading Frankenstein, there was no discussion about the desirability of providing “trigger warnings” when teaching particular texts; and even if there had been, it seems unlikely that this particular text would have been flagged as potentially traumatic (a fact that speaks to the inherent difficulty of labeling certain texts as more likely to serve as triggers than others, given the variety of people’s experience). I found reading Shelley’s novel to be a deeply, uncomfortably, wonder-provoking experience, in Smith’s terms, but it did not, clearly, result in my “immediate death.” What it did produce, rather, was a deep and lasting impression. Indeed, perhaps that is why, more than twenty years later, I felt compelled to revisit this novel in my research, and why I found myself taking seriously Percy Shelley’s characterization of the experience of reading Frankenstein as one in which we feel our “heart suspend its pulsations with wonder” at its content, even as we “debate with ourselves in wonder,” as to how the work was produced. High affect can be all consuming, but we may also revisit and observe, in more serene moments, the workings of the mechanisms which wring such high affect from us.

In Minneapolis for a conference a few weeks ago, I mentioned to my panel’s chair that I had run around Lake Calhoun. He asked if I had stopped at the Bakken Museum (I had not), which is on the lake’s west shore. He proceeded to explain that it was a museum about Earl Bakken, developer of the pacemaker, whose invention was supposedly inspired by seeing the Boris Karloff 1931 film of Frankenstein, and in particular the scene in which the creature is brought to life with the convulsive electric charge.

As Bakken’s experience suggests, the images that disturb us can also inspire us. Mary Shelley affirms as much in her Introduction to the 1831 edition of the novel, which suggests that the novel had its source in a nightmarish reverie. Shelley assumes that Frankenstein’s power depends upon the reproducible nature of her affect: “What terrified me will terrify others,” she predicts. Haunting images, whether conjured by fantasies, novels, or films, can be generative, although certainly not always in such direct and instrumental ways. Most of us won’t develop a life-saving piece of technology, like Earl Bakken (my father, in fact, had a pacemaker, and, although it didn’t save his life, it did prolong it) or write an iconic novel, like Mary Shelley. But that is not to say that the impressions that fiction can etch into our minds are not generative. If comfort has its place and its pleasures, so too does discomfort: experiencing “bad feelings” enables us to notice, in our re-tracings of them, the unexpected connections that emerge between profoundly different experiences—death; life; reading—all of them heart-stopping in their own ways.

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