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1. A Free Online Course on Laura Ingalls Wilder

I’m up against a deadline, so this will be brief.

If you’re a Laura fan like I am and you haven’t heard of this amazing opportunity, let me fill you in. Pamela Smith Hill of Missouri State University is teaching a free online course about Laura starting Monday, September 22. Click here to learn more. You might have heard Laura’s long-awaited autobiography has recently released. Pamela Smith Hill is its editor.

This is a class for Laura fans and for those curious about authorship (how much of a role did daughter Rose play in the creation of the Little House series?), the fuzzy lines between historical fiction and memoir, and the complex, sometimes uncomfortable portrayal of pioneers and natives.

I’ve ordered Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer’s Life (South Dakota Biography) and Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography. I’ve got all the others. So looking forward to digging in!

If you’re taking the course, please let me know. I’d love to talk about it.

From the course description page:

Required Materials:

Little House In The Big Woods, Laura Ingalls Wilder, HarperCollins, 0060581808
Farmer Boy, Laura Ingalls Wilder, HarperCollins, 0064400034
Little House On The Prairie, Laura Ingalls Wilder, HarperCollins, 0064400026
On The Banks Of Plum Creek, Laura Ingalls Wilder, HarperCollins, 0064400042
Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer’s Life, Pamela Smith Hill, South Dakota State Historical Society Press, 097779556X

Recommended Reading:

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Edition, Pamela Smith Hill, South Dakota State Historical Society Press
Young Pioneers, Rose Wilder Lane, HarperCollins, 0064406989

 

The post A Free Online Course on Laura Ingalls Wilder appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

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2. Classroom Connections: ALWAYS, ABIGAIL by Nancy J. Cavanaugh + Giveaway

genre: contemporary fiction
setting: middle school
age range: 9 and up
educator’s guide
read an excerpt
Nancy’s website

Please tell us about your book.

Abigail and her two best friends are poised for a life of pom-poms and popularity. But not only does Abigail end up in a different homeroom, the pom squad doesn’t turn out exactly as she planned. Then everyone’s least favorite teacher pairs Abigail up with the school’s biggest outcast, Gabby Marco, for a year-long “Friendly Letter Assignment.” Abigail can hardly believe her bad luck. As her so-called best friends and entire future of popularity seem to be slipping away, Abigail has to choose between the little bit of fame she has left or letting it go to be a true friend.

Could you tell readers a little about your writing process?

My story ideas always come by way of a character.  Usually along with that character there is some type of premise for the story.  The part that is difficult for me is the plot.  As I write my first draft, I discover the “possibilities” for my plot and those discoveries lead to lots of revision.  It’s in the midst of those many revisions where I uncover what the plot of my story is really supposed to be.  This leads to even further revision to make the writing and the plot as strong as they can be.

What are some challenges associated with writing middle grade fiction?

I think resisting the urge to preach to readers is always a challenge.  I’m a former teacher, and I’m used to guiding young people and helping them learn.  Books do teach lessons, but the lessons readers take from books shouldn’t come from a preachy author but rather from the story itself and from the reader’s own discovery.  Young readers will learn a lot from the books they read, as long as we let them learn those things on their own.

What topics does your book touch upon that would make it a perfect fit for the classroom?

One of the themes in AWLAYS, ABIGAIL is bullying.  Abigail has to make some really tough choices in the book, and ultimately, she has to decide if she will sacrifice her own reputation to be a true friend to the school’s biggest outcast.  Young people make choices like that in classrooms all over the country every day, and I think as educators we often spend too much time telling young people what the right choice is, but we don’t spend enough time talking about how difficult it is to make that right choice.  ALWAYS, ABIGAIL is all about finding the kind of courage it takes to make that right choice.

Giveaway:

One advance reader copy of ALWAYS, ABIGAIL is up for grabs. To enter, please leave a comment about why you’d like to read Nancy’s book below. Contest closes Sunday, 9/21. US residents only, please.

The post Classroom Connections: ALWAYS, ABIGAIL by Nancy J. Cavanaugh + Giveaway appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

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3. Short Story Anthology: Fiction River Universe Between


Read on Wattpad - Serialized Novel

From September 11, 2014 - October 30, 2014.
Read one chapter/day. Click on cover to read the first five chapters.

I am excited to report that I have my first science fiction, adult-audience, short story published!

Last year, I attended a retreat in Oregon with Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch as the main instructors. They own WMG Publishing, and one on-going project is a monthly short-story anthology. I was invited to submit, it was accepted and is not in a bookstore near you! Fiction River #8: The Universe Between collects original stories by a wide range of authors. My favorite is the first story by Lee Allred, who writes scripts for DC, Marvel, and Image Comics, among other credits. “Slow Answer” is about an alien race who takes over Earth, providing a near utopia for humans; the twist is WHY they’d taken over Earth, and the answer is why you should read this anthology.

My own story, “Are We Alone in the Universe?”, is also a science fiction story about first contact with an alien race. I wrote it as back story for the trilogy that I’m working on right now. The story is about the parents of my main character: how they met, how they fell in love, and the fallout of a forbidden love. I was thrilled when the story was accepted because it’s my first short story ever published, my first adult-audience story ever published, and my first science fiction story ever published. That triple-whammy makes it exciting.

FR8UniverseBetween

The Fiction River Anthology is available as an ebook, paperback, or Audible audiobook.

Support the Fiction River Anthology

Even more exciting today, though, is the Fiction River Kickstarter Project. To keep alive a short story collection publication, WMG Publishing established a Kickstarter, or crowd-funding, project. With 17/30 days left, they have already met their $5000 goal, AND their 10,000 Stretch Goal, and are going for gold.

Like many of the other Fiction River authors, I donated books for the Kickstarter project. I urge you to look over the project and think about contributing; even small contributions of $10 are welcome and helpful. However, if you’re really interested in helping, some of the rewards that involve my books are still available:

  • Pledge $60 or more
    E-UNIVERSE BETWEEN AUTHORS PACKAGE: Receive a one-year electronic subscription to Fiction River, plus an electronic edition of Fiction River: Universe Between. You’ll also get electronic copies of books by some of the contributing authors of Universe Between. You’ll receive The Unjust, Dust, and Hope by Rob Vagle; The Haunted Bones by Phaedra Weldon; Body Check by D.H. Hendrickson; Kell, the Alien (a children’s book) by Darcy Pattison; and Love, Venusian Style by Richard Alan Dickson. Plus, your name printed in the acknowledgements section of each Fiction River volume for a year and on the Fiction River website with a special thank you for your kind support. Limited (1 of 1 remaining)
  • Pledge $125 or more
    PRINT UNIVERSE BETWEEN AUTHORS PACKAGE: Receive a one-year print subscription to Fiction River, plus a print edition of Fiction River: Universe Between. You’ll also receive SIGNED print copies of books by some of the contributing authors to Universe Between. You’ll get Body Check by D.H. Hendrickson; Kell, the Alien (a children’s book) by Darcy Pattison; The Unjust, Dust, and Hope by Rob Vagle; and Love, Venusian Style by Richard Alan Dickson. Plus, your name printed in the acknowledgements section of each Fiction River volume for a year and on the Fiction River website with a special thank you for your kind support. Limited (1 of 1 remaining)
  • Pledge $500 or more
    PAPER BANG FOR YOUR BUCK PACKAGE: All the print volumes of Fiction River from Volume 1 through the end of year three! But wait, there’s more! In addition, you will receive a SIGNED print copy of a book from each of the following authors who have contributed a print book to this Kickstarter: Mary Jo Putney, Marcelle Dube´, JC Andrijeski, Laura Resnick, Annie Reed, Kris Nelscott, Leah Cutter, Dean Wesley Smith, M.L. Buchman, Juliet Nordeen, Michele Lang, Melissa Yi, Ryan M. Williams, Sharon Joss, Brian Herbert and Jan Herbert, Jeffrey A. Ballard, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Darcy Pattison, Lisa Silverthorne, Richard Alan Dickson, Brigid Collins, Karen L. Abrahamson, Thomas K. Carpenter, D.H. Hendrickson, Travis Heermann, Scott William Carter, Stephanie Writt, Joe Cron, Barton Grover Howe, Rebecca S.W. Bates, Richard Bowes, Louise Marley, Brendan DuBois, Ray Vukcevich, Carole Nelson Douglas, Julie Hyzy, Libby Fischer Hellmann, Kara Legend, John Helfers, Kerrie L. Hughes, Rob Vagle, Laura Ware, Patrick O’Sullivan, Dayle A. Dermatis, Kevin J. Anderson and David Farland. Plus, your name printed in the acknowledgements section of each Fiction River volume for a year and on the Fiction River website with a special thank you for your kind support. Limited (1 of 1 remaining)

Don’t think that big donations are the only way to go. Every level of support–even $1–is appreciated, and it’s helpful! Read more about the Fiction River Kickstarter Project.
READ the Fiction River Anthology — including my short story!

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4. Celebrating Readers and Writers in Muskoka at the NorthWords Literary Festival…

Something for Readers! Something for Writers! If you haven't visited the NorthWords Literary Festival website, I urge you to check it out to see what's happening Oct 3-5 in the heart of Muskoka:  http://www.northwords.org/. Launching the festival are 17 exciting Canadian Authors gathering for seven events in addition to the full day Writers' Workshop. This is the 4th year for NorthWords and the first time it is held in Bracebridge, Ontario, Canada.

All of the authors will share from their work and experience in ways that will be of interest to both writers and readers. Seventeen published authors in one place is an incredible opportunity to learn about your craft from those who have faced the same struggles I have when I sit down at my computer to weave my tales.

This festival is also designed to entertain book lovers with the opportunity to speak with those whose stories transport readers to other times and places!

Here’s the weekend line up:

Friday, October 3:
Writers’ Workshop with authors, Anne Lazurko and Michael Wuitchik. Plus an agent panel discussion with Rachel Letofsky (The Cooke Agency), Olga Filina (The Rights Factory), Monica Pacheco (Anne McDermid & Associates Ltd.)!   9 am – 3 pm

Pitch Sessions: Looking to get your work in front of an agent?  Here’s your chance! Register to book a session with one or more of three agents!

Wine & Cheese with the authors, Anthony De Sa and Terry Fallis, 6:30 pm – 9 pm

Saturday, October 4:
The Saturday Morning Funnies - Richard Scrimger and Jim Foster will entertain you over Breakfast, 9 am – 11 am

Conversation with four debut novelistsKrista FossAli Bryan, Janet Turpin-Myers and Anne Lazurko as they share lunch and the excitement of their first novel publications. 12 pm – 2 pm

Mid-Afternoon Chat with non-fiction authors, M.G. Vassanji and Patrick Boyer, 3 pm – 5 pm
  
Gala Dinner with novelists, Michael Wuitchik and Craig Davidson, 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
  
Sunday, October 5:
Breakfast with Novelists, Michelle Berry and Catherine Bush as they share their literary journeys, 9:30am – 11:00 am

After Breakfast with Authors, Claire Cameron, Glad Bryce and Diana Aspin, 11:30 am – 1 pm


If you’re interested in attending this literary event, please see http://www.northwords.org/our-events/event-registration/  for event pricing and registration. So, if you’re in or near the area, please plan to attend. You won’t be sorry to rub elbows with some of Canada’s finest authors! Cheers!


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5. Read a Lost Chapter From ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’

charlieandthechocolateRoald Dahl‘s book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and the new release contains a couple of previously unreleased chapters, which were edited out of an early draft of the original book. Vanity Fair has published one of these chapters entitled, “The Warming-Candy Room.”

Here is more from Vanity Fair:

In “The Warming Candy Room,” three boys neglect to heed Mr. Wonka’s warnings and eat too many of his soft-centered “warming candies,” and end up “bursting with heat.” The boys do not appear elsewhere in the book, betraying a key characteristic of Dahl’s writing process. “One of the things that was quite interesting about Dahl was that he didn’t really look backward over his work,” Sturrock explains. “It’s not as if this was just the one missing chapter; there are many bits and pieces of the book that fell along the wayside. Once he decided that something wasn’t working, he just moved on.”

This isn’t the first new chapter to make the rounds. Last month, The Guardian published another early chapter that was cut called, “The Vanilla Fudge Room.” The new book has also brought out about a controversial new book cover and a golden ticket sweepstakes.

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6. THE COPERNICUS LEGACY: RELIC HUNT IN NEW YORK CITY!

Looking for a fantasy read that’s great for the classroom this fall? One stellar recommendation is The Copernicus Legacy: The Forbidden Stone by bestselling author Tony Abbott – now in paperback!

9780062194473_p0_v2_s260x420

A perfect pick for kids who love Percy Jackson, Kingdom Keepers, or Seven Wonders series, The Copernicus Legacy is a Da Vinci Code-style story for young readers. The book follows four kids who stumble upon a powerful ancient secret of the famous astronomer, Nicolaus Copernicus. Protected by notables throughout history, it now falls to our young heroes to become guardians of Copernicus’s secret, racing across the globe, cracking codes, and unraveling centuries-old mysteries in order to prevent it from falling into the hands of a vast and evil shadow network called the New Teutonic Order.

It’s the worldwide adventure and historical scope that makes the series both page turning and educational, earning it many great reviews including a starred review from Kirkus: “With engaging characters, a globe-trotting plot and dangerous villains, it is hard to find something not to like. Equal parts edge-of-your-seat suspense and heartfelt coming-of-age.”

There’s even a downloadable Common Core-aligned activities guide and star map poster so you can bring the adventure into the classroom.

Veteran children’s book author Tony Abbott is no stranger to epic adventure series having written over a hundred books including The Secrets of Droon. The Copernicus Legacy will include six full-length novels and six shorter novellas, each told from the perspective of one of the kids. The first novella, The Copernicus Archives #1: Wade and the Scorpion’s Claw, is available now and the next full-length novel, The Copernicus Legacy #2: The Serpent’s Curse, will be out on October 7.9780062194466_p0_v1_s260x420

9780062314727_p0_v1_s260x420

To celebrate the launch of the next books in this exciting series, on Saturday, September 13th, Tony Abbott will be leading a scavenger hunt at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, where four lucky winners of a national sweepstakes will work together to find hidden clues amongst the exhibits, crack codes, and earn prizes. You and all readers across the country will have another chance to win a trip to New York for the second Relic Hunt starting October 7 at www.thecopernicuslegacy.com!

After the Relic Hunt, Tony Abbott will be signing copies of The Forbidden Stone at 2:30pm at the Barnes & Noble on 82nd and Broadway in Manhattan.  The Barnes & Noble event is open to the public, and we invite you to join us there for a pizza party! It’s no mystery—the whole family will be in for good food and fun!

 

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7. R.L. Stine Reveals ‘Fear Street’ Origins in a Wattpad Essay

Fear StreetR.L. Stine has revealed the back story for Fear Street on Wattpad. The two-page essay, entitled “How did FEAR STREET become the street where your worst nightmares live?“, reveals the origins of this popular young adult series. What do you think?

Stine also posted a three-part excerpt from the forthcoming book, Party Games. This project marks Stine’s return to Fear Street after an extended hiatus. St. Martin’s Press will release the book on September 30, 2014.

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8. Elizabeth Gilbert Shares Weird Advice on Passion

Elizabeth GilbertEat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert appeared at the Atlanta stop for Oprah Winfrey’s The Life You Want Weekend. Gilbert revealed on Facebook that she gave a presentation urging attendees to be “the hero of your own life’s story.”

During a Q&A with Winfrey and other guest speakers, Gilbert shared some odd advice on passion. For those who do not have a defined passion, Gilbert thinks it would be best to “follow your curiosity” because “it might lead you to your passion or it might not.”

Follow this link to check out an album of pictures on Facebook. The Huffington Post has uploaded a video clip that features Gilbert doling out this advice. Do you agree with Gilbert’s recommendation?

(more…)

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9. BFG Movie News for Roald Dahl Day

The BFG by Roald Dahl book coverThe BFGSteven Spielberg,

the super-famous guy who directed The Adventures of Tintin and E.T. (rated PG). The BFG movie is scheduled to be in theaters in 2016. If it’s anything like the book, it will be funny, fantastical, and phenomenal!

The BFG goes like this: In Sophie’s world, most of the giants who come around only want to find children to eat for breakfast. But the Big, Friendly Giant is different. He would never eat “uckyslush human beans.” He only eats “snozzcumbers.” When he carries Sophie off one night, she becomes his friend, not his next meal. Sophie is a tough cookie, so she decides to stop the other kid-munching giants, and the BFG is going to help her.

Let’s hear your casting ideas. Which young actress do you think should play Sophie? What about the BFG? Which actors do you think would fit the roles of the other giants in the story? Post your predictions in the Comments below. I can’t wait to see if the on-screen BFG looks anything like the giants I imagined from the book.

Marisa, STACKS Intern

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10. Leo Tolstoy Gets a Google Doodle For His Birthday

Tolstoy Doodle
Google has created a Doodle to celebrate Leo Tolstoy’s 186th birthday. The image pays homage to three works by the famed Russian novelist: War & Peace, Anna Karenina, and The Death of Ivan Ilyich.

Artist Roman Muradov designed the piece. Google has posted an essay Muradov wrote explaining his creative process: ”The language of cartooning, likewise, is the language of reduction; it’s less descriptive than realistic artwork or film, and is less likely to replace the reader’s vision. It seemed fitting to focus on Tolstoy’s central theme of dualism and to highlight his stylistic nuances through the rhythm of the sequences – the almost full moon against the almost starless night, the red of Anna’s handbag, Ivan’s fatal curtains that stand between him and the light of his spiritual awakening.”

(more…)

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11. Russell Edwards Pens Book Called ‘Naming Jack the Ripper’

Naming Jack the RipperRussell Edwards, a man who calls himself an “armchair detective,” has allegedly identified the serial killer known as Jack the Ripper.

In an article published in The Daily Mail, Edwards recounts how he teamed up with Jari Louhelainen, a molecular biology expert, and conducted DNA testing on a shawl that was found nearby one of the victim’s bodies. With the results, Edwards claims that a polish immigrant named Aaron Kosminski was the infamous murderer.

According to IFLScience, DNA evidence is not perfect and Edwards’ claims have not been published in a scientific journal. Instead, has has written a book called Naming Jack the Ripper. The nonfiction title will be released on September 9th.

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12. Gene Luen Yang Shares Advice For Writing Outside of Your Culture

Gene Luen YangGraphic novelist Gene Luen Yang appeared at the Library of Congress’ 14th annual National Book Festival. During his time in Washington D.C., Yang delivered a presentation called “Asian-Americans in Comics” and gave a speech at the gala.

With his gala talk, Yang focused on the literary community’s ongoing conversation about diversity. Yang shared stories about Dwayne McDuffie, an African-American legend in comics, and encouraged all writers to add to the world’s collection of diversity literature.

The Nerds of Color blog has posted the entirety of Yang’s speech. Here’s an excerpt from the moving piece:

“We have to allow ourselves the freedom to make mistakes, including cultural mistakes, in our first drafts. I believe it’s okay to get cultural details wrong in your first draft. It’s okay if stereotypes emerge. It just means that your experience is limited, that you’re human.”

Yang advised that as long as authors do their homework and make sure to address all errors in the final draft, it’s okay to write about a culture outside of your own. He emphasized that fear should be viewed as motivation to work hard and not a blockade. What do you think?

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13. Jason Segel Gets Into New Fiction With New Kids Book Series

UnknownRandom House Children’s Books has published the first installment in a series of middle-grade fiction books by actor Jason Segel and bestselling author Kirsten Miller.

Nightmares!, the first in a trilogy by The Muppets star, is about a boy named Charlie and his kids who must face their nightmares in order to save their town. It’s a kind of children’s version of Nightmare on Elm Street.

Check it out: “What Charlie doesn’t know is that his problems are about to get a whole lot more real. Nightmares can ruin a good night’s sleep, but when they start slipping out of your dreams and into the waking world—that’s a line that should never be crossed.”

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14. Authors United Plans Next Move Against Amazon

authorsunitedLast month more than 900 authors including Stephen KingMalcolm Gladwell and Suzanne Collins signed a letter  which ran as a full page ad in The New York Times, calling readers to email Amazon chief Jeff Bezos and ask him to end the company’s dispute with Hachette. Now the group is planning its next move.

Author Doug Preston, who is leading the group, sent out an email this week to authors that signed the petition letting them know that the group is planning their next move. In the email, he also warns that  Simon & Schuster authors could suffer the same fate as Hachette authors, as the publisher is reportedly in negotiations with Amazon.

Publishers Weekly has republished the email. Here is an excerpt: (more…)

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15. Margaret Atwood is Writing a Novel to be Published in 2114

margaretMargaret Atwood is working on a new novel, but don’t expect to read it any time soon. In fact, you will probably never read it, as she doesn’t plan to publish it for 100 years.

The novel is part of The Future Library project, spearheaded by Scottish artist Katie Paterson. The project organizers planted 1,000 trees in Norway to supply the paper to print a collection of books in 2114. They plan to invite one writer a year to contribute a new text and print all of the books in 100 years.

The Guardian has more: “The award-winning author said she was unbothered by the fact that, during her lifetime at least, no one but her will ever read the story she has already started writing. ‘What a pleasure,’ she said. ‘You don’t have to be around for the part when if it’s a good review the publisher takes credit for it and if it’s a bad review it’s all your fault. And why would I believe them anyway?’”

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16. Maya Angelou’s Writings to Be Featured On a Hip-Hop CD

Maya AngelouMaya Angelou’s writings have inspired a new hip-hop CD called “Caged Bird Sings.” The title comes from Angelou’s 1969 autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

Angelou took an active role in the creation of this project and was able to complete it prior to her passing. Her words serve as the lyrics for the thirteen songs on this album. In an interview with The Associated Press, Angelou’s grandson Colin A. Johnson revealed that the famed poet was a fan of hip-hop music.

(more…)

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17. Diversity Defined

Diversity is a really hot topic in the Kid Lit world these days. At the recent SCBWI International Conference in LA, hundreds of people attended a panel about diversity and a chat afterward. You hear the word being tossed around all over the place, and sometimes I wonder if everyone is talking about the same thing.

Blame it on my days in high school debate, but I always like to define our terms when talking about something that could mean many things. When I think about children's books/literature, I think of diversity coming in three ways.

First, there is a diversity in authors and illustrators. From what I've seen, the Kid Litverse is full of a diverse cross section of authors and illustrators. Dozens of various ethnic and racial origins are represented. Just off the top of my head I can think of Asian, Hispanic, African-American, Native American artists in every age level of our industry. I know many LBGTQ authors and illustrators, men and women. I know some of almost any religious affiliation. Sure it could always be a higher number, which is I think where the discussion starts. It's not that publishers don't want diverse authors and illustrators, nor do they discriminate. Talent is talent. It seems to me the challenge is encouraging, mentoring, and training more people, letting them know their voices are necessary and welcomed. There are many ways we could do this--scholarships for under-represented groups to attend conferences/schools/events, mentoring programs, and contests. SCBWI is on the forefront of this, offering a wide variety of opportunities for everyone, and some special programs for under-represented groups.

Second, there's diversity in the publishing industry. As we all know, the publishing industry does not always embrace change very fast. But there are publishers out there--Lee and Low comes immediately to mind--that particularly focus on diversity in their publishing program. Plus, with the rise of self-publishing, access is there for anyone of any age, gender, ethnic or religious background. The discussion continues into the blogosphere, where there are numerous blogs and other resources where diversity in literature is the frequent topic.

Third, we're talking about diversity in the characters portrayed in children's books, and this is where the discussion can get heated, but I also find it the most interesting. White, middle-class characters have dominated children's literature for decades. But, as we all know, kids come from all sorts of diverse backgrounds, skin colors, religions, genders, sexual identities, and economic status. In the last few decades, we've seen a few more characters of color, particularly in picture books, which is terrific. And in the last decade, we seem to be getting more ethnic backgrounds represented in novels, too. I think we need more LBGTQ characters.  I'd love to see more characters with metal illness, handicaps, autism spectrum syndrome, ADHD. More characters from around the world. Not just Americans with different colors of skin, but different cultures from all over.

Here's where I think things get challenging when we talk about diversity. Who's writing or illustrating these characters? Some people feel strongly that the author/illustrator come from an authentic place in presenting these characters, by which they mean, I think, that only a Native American can authentically write or illustrate a Native American character, for example. I would love to see more people writing characters from their authentic experience, but I also don't think we need to limit ourselves.

Writers and illustrators have always portrayed characters outside of our own experience. We write about historical figures, when we never lived in that time period. We write fantasy, when we've never fought a dragon. It is possible to write characters that are outside your own personal realm of experience. That's why research is so useful and important. I am currently writing a book set during WWII in which one of the main characters is a Japanese American girl. I am Caucasian, so how can my character be authentic? Lots and lots of research. I have another WIP that includes a Native American character. I may not be Native American, but I grew up in a town just outside one of the nation's poorest reservations, and I had daily interactions with Indians both on and off the reservation, so I think I have a fairly authentic grasp of their struggles and issues, even though they are not my personal struggles and issues. I am a female, but one of my latest books is in first person from the point of view of a teenage boy. Again, I live with my teenage son, so I have a pretty good picture of his male voice and viewpoint. I have written gay characters, lesbian characters, and more. Because, basically, I think there are some universalities about our human experience that allow us to imagine and put ourselves into the shoes of people who might be different from ourselves by focusing on what unites us.

To me, this stance isn't a cop out. It's an acknowledgement that an African-American author, for example, is in the best position to authentically portray an African-American character. However, if that author wants to write about a white, middle-class character, I have no problem with that. If he is a good writer, he should be able to manage it. And I think if I do my homework, I can manage to portray an African-American character if I want to. And I want to portray diverse characters. I hope we all do.

I'd love to hear what others think about this.

For more information about diversity in children's literature, check out the We Need Diverse Books campaign, which just recently announced its inception as a 501-c3 non-profit organization.

And look for our Boise SCBWI conference next April, where we plan to focus on diversity in children's literature.


by Neysa CM Jensen
Boise, Idaho

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18. Oprah’s New Book is Out

whatiknowforsureOprah Winfreys new book What I Know For Sure hit bookshelves this week.

The book from from Flatiron Books is based on the column in O, The Oprah Magazine which spawned from an interview with  film critic Gene Siskel, who asked her, “What do you know for sure?” The book is a collection of her best reflections from this column which have been edited and revised for the book.

Check it out: “Organized by theme—joy, resilience, connection, gratitude, possibility, awe, clarity, and power—these essays offer a rare, powerful and intimate glimpse into the heart and mind of one of the world’s most extraordinary women—while providing readers a guide to becoming their best selves.”

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19. Why Word Count Doesn’t Always Tell the Whole Story

word count

I’ve written here before about word count goals and how tricky they can be for a verse novelist like me. While my friends are cranking out 2,000 words on a bad day, I’m often lucky if I can hit 300 on a good one. Usually I don’t keep record of these sorts of things.

Unless I am, like when I tried my own version of National Novel Writing Month last year. The draft was absolutely awful, but the experience was a good one. It helped me realize fast and furious can sometimes be as beneficial in my writing life as slow and steady.

I’m working on that messy NaNo manuscript now. It’s due to my editor at the end of the month. The book is prose, and while it’s my third novel written this way, it’s the first non-verse novel I’ve ever sold. That’s made me fret a bit. I’m not sure if I know how to do what I’m doing. But isn’t that a hallmark of the writing life?

When I started back with the story, I thought it might be wise to keep a record of my progress. I set up a chart, all ready to watch my word-count numbers grow. But they didn’t, not really. Even as I moved forward, sometimes those numbers stood still or even found a way to travel on a backward path. So it was interesting to read at Project Mayhem a few weeks ago that many writers aren’t fans of using word count as a way of marking progress, either.

What do you writers out there think of word count goals?

PS – Those aren’t tears on my chart — just water that dripped off my cup. Promise!

The post Why Word Count Doesn’t Always Tell the Whole Story appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

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20. 3 Writing Tips From Authors at the 2014 National Book Festival

Over the weekend, dozens of authors and illustrators appeared at the Library of Congress’ 14th annual National Book Festival. Children’s books creator Bob Staake designed this year’s official poster. We’ve collected three writing tips that some of the writers shared during their panels.

Joey Pigza book series author Jack Gantos suggests that one “stay as organized as possible.” He thinks that one should keep several notebooks. This helps to categorize different thoughts because one idea might be a good fit for the beginning a story and another could work for the middle.

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21. R.L. Stine to Re-Boot ‘Fear Street’ YA Series

Writer R.L. Stine plans to re-boot his popular Fear Street book series. The last Fear Street title was published back in 1999.

St Martin’s Griffin will release Party Games on September 30th. In an interview with MartiniProductionsNY, Stine revealed that he has 6 more Fear Street books planned for the future. We’ve embedded his announcement on Twitter below.

Here’s more from Bustle: “Stine’s Fear Street series was the YA equivalent to his middle grade series Goosebumps. It was ‘sleep with the lights on’ spooky, and occasionally just skewed the right amount toward silly. (Can I direct your attention to Cat?) The series was a commercial smash, and now it has acquired a cult following from twenty- and thirtysomethings across the country.”

(more…)

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22. Haruki Murakami’s New Novella is Coming From Knopf in December

Japanese author Haruki Murakami has a new novella in the works which will be published by Knopf on December 2nd.

The Strange Library, a 96-page story, is about a young man’s strange trip to the library. Check it out:

On his way home from school, the young narrator of The Strange Library finds himself wondering how taxes were collected in the Ottoman Empire. He pops into the local library to see if it has a book on the subject. Once there, he is led to a special ‘reading room’ by a strange old man. The boy is imprisoned at the library and forced to memorize massive volumes of books. What will the boy do when he realizes that his captor intends to absorb his knowledge by eating his brain? With the help of a mysterious girl and a man dressed as a sheep, he hatches a plan to escape.

Murakami is on a roll. The novelist released a new novel, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, last month.

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23. From the Heartland: Kekla Magoon

Indiana has proven to be such a rich state for authors who address ethnically diverse characters that I cannot image what I’d find if I looked for authors in Florida, Ohio, Texas or Rhode Island. These authors are among our hometown heroes because they document our local lives. When brought into classrooms and libraries, they prove that someone right here, right in this town can be a successful writer.

I actually first met Kekla Magoon in Philadelphia. I was excited that she had lived in Cameroon for a while and I’d visited there several years ago but could not believe that she has also lived right here in Indiana. What a small world!

Kekla is the author of the award-winning The Rock and the River; Camo Girl, Fire in the Streets, 37 Things I Love middle(in no particular order) and the nonfiction book, Today the World is Watching You: The Little Rock Nine and the Fight for School Integration 1957. Her forthcoming How It Went Down has received a starred review from Kirkus. “This sobering yet satisfying novel leaves readers to ponder the complex questions it raises.”

In January look forward to X:A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz with Kekla Magoon.

I’m glad this busy lady had time for an interview!

 

Do you have any pets?

I have a pet turtle, named Tiffany.

What were some of the first books you found as a child that turned you into a reader?

I don’t know if it was the very first books that turned me into a reader. My parents read to me as a child, and there were many picture books that I loved. Some of the ones that jump to mind are Where the Wild Things Are, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day, and The Snowy Day. I loved the wordplay in Amelia Bedelia. My mom took us to the library every week, and I could get as many books as I could carry. I think it was the repetition of experience that turned me into a reader, along with the escapism and adventure I always found in stories. As a mid-grader, I mostly read series books like The Babysitter’s Club and Sweet Valley. I liked the episodic nature of those stories, and returning to familiar characters. The first stand-alone book I remember feeling really “Whoa!” about was Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor.

Meat or vegetables?

Meat, with a side of vegetables. I want it all. If I can’t have it all: MEAT!

Which writers have most influence you?

Ooh, I feel most influenced at this point in life by my close writer friends. Not only are they talented authors whose work I enjoy diving into, but they also provide a lot of support and inspiration to me in the real world. I constantly recommend books by Laurie Calkhoven, Josanne La Valley, Bethany Hegedus, Wiley Blevins, Rita Williams-Garcia, Coe Booth, Tami Lewis Brown, Pablo Cartaya, Sharon Darrow, Helen Frost….and many other amazing writers and books out there who inspire me both on and off the page. As far as influences from books I read, though, I learned a lot from Stephen King’s memoir of his writing life: On Writing. When I read Jennifer Egan or Benjamin Alire Saenz I am torn between being sucked into the vivid worlds they create, and wanting to rush to the computer to write something myself!

What three things would you like to add to a list of national treasures?

1: All the libraries!!!!

2: All the independent bookstores!

3: The voices of our young people, thereby empowering them to begin sharing their own stories with the world in whatever medium feels right to them.

Why would you be up at 3am?

I am usually up at 3am. I write, or I watch TV, or I read. I might also be eating potato chips or ice cream.

 

What book(s) are you currently in the middle of reading?

In fiction, I am reading Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King. Next up is If You’re Reading This by Trent Reedy. In non-fiction, I am reading Courage Has No Color by Tanya Lee Stone and essays from Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay.

What obstacles did you face when you began your writing career?

Interestingly enough, being a relatively young writer was a bit of an obstacle, even in the children’s literature market. It is happening a little bit less now that I am in my thirties, but when my first book was published, I was mid-twenties, and I heard a lot of “Oh, what a special achievement for someone so young.” Which it was, in a way, but it tended to be said in a patronizing tone. People might as well have been patting me on the head, which is somewhere short of a backhanded compliment, but it is not exactly uplifting either. The sentiment often seemed less than genuine, as if the person was pointing out that I was actually TOO young to make a meaningful contribution. The fact of the matter is, publishing a book is a special achievement at any age, and I never thought it should be considered more or less significant because of my age.

Why write for young people?

I write about young characters. Probably partly because that is what I knew best at the time I started writing. My first book was published when I was 25, and so the natural things for me to write about were teenage things because that was my experience. I do intend to keep writing for teens, and I hope to retain the connection that I feel to that time period in my own life. I don’t think it will be hard to retain, especially since even in my thirties I have yet to reach an age where there isn’t someone older than me looking down on my relative youth. That feeling of being underappreciated helps drive my work. Young people have a lot to learn, sure, but we also have a lot to contribute. There is always plenty of talk about “when you’re older…” and “what do you want to be when you grow up?” but who is asking kids and teens, “what do you want to be right now, today?” As a writer for teens I get to ask those questions, of my characters and of my readers.

Where is your favorite place to write?

On my laptop. (Haha!) Honestly, I can write pretty much anywhere. I prefer coffee shops, where there is a low-grade hustle and bustle in the background, and maybe some soft jazz or indie rock playing. Some place with just enough sound that my mind has to do a little bit of work to tune it out, but not enough to actually distract me from working. The result is a special kind of focus that works well for my writing.

Your books have required a lot of research! Are you an Internet researcher or hands on?

I do both internet research and “hands on” hunting for more information. I typically use the internet to get an overview of what material is out there, and I look for articles in reputable magazines, newspapers, and journals published online. There are plenty of library databases online, too, and I use those to find resources in other cities that I might not be able to access otherwise. But for my type of historical research, the best resource is books! I use the library or I special order and purchase the things I need. I have also spent a fair amount of time traveling to visit museums and library archives around the country. Many institutions preserve archival materials from the time periods I study, and you can make an appointment to go in and view the objects. I have looked at old newspapers in hard copy, flyers and posters, hand-written journals and letters, photographs, personal items that belonged to historical people, and much more.

HowItWentDown5-206x300What can you tell us about How It Went Down?

How It Went Down is my newest novel, which centers around the controversial shooting of a young black teen by a white man passing through his neighborhood. The novel comprises multiple viewpoints, through which members of the community react and respond in the days after Tariq Johnson is gunned down. Amid the media firestorm that descends, a family has lost a son and brother, friends grieve, and an entire community reels from the personal loss of one of their number. These characters share their struggles to cope with the loss and the decisions they each face over how to move forward.

I began working on this book in the spring of 2012, when the Trayvon Martin shooting was big in the news. I was interested in pushing beyond the headlines and soundbites dominating the national media in order to confront the experiences of people closest to this type of tragedy. Now, two years later, the conversation remains relevant and high-profile after the shooting of Michael Brown and the resulting riots and violence in Ferguson, Missouri. It is my hope that this novel and other YA literature can be used to start conversations between teens and adults about the prevalence of these incidents, and how we as a nation can begin to respond and heal from these tragedies, and hopefully minimize or wholly prevent similar things from occurring in the future. How It Went Down hits bookstores on October 21, and my website has links to pre-order from IndieBound or Barnes & Noble: http://www.keklamagoon.com/books/how-it-went-down/

I really enjoy the historical and fact based fiction that you write. What limits do you feel in writing these stories?

ROCK-w-CSK-hi-res1One of the great things about fiction is that it has no limits! I do impose some limitations on myself as a writer of historical fiction, but these are individual choices about which many writers would (and do) choose differently. It’s important to me that readers come away from my books feeling like they really *could* have happened. For example, I carefully research the events surrounding my books and try to stick as closely as possible to the real facts and timelines. I don’t move around real historical events, or make up facts about real historical figures. Generally I choose not to even include real historical figures as actors in my novels. For example, in The Rock and the River, I mention people like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Chicago Black Panther leader Fred Hampton, but neither of them appear in the book with action scenes or actual dialogue. I made my first really big exception to this last rule this past year, though. I’ve been working with Ilyasah Shabazz on a YA novel about her father, Malcolm X. The book is about Malcolm living through his difficult teen 9780763669676years, before he became the powerful speaker, faith leader, and international human rights activist he is remembered for being. It was exciting and challenging to work on that project with her, and I’m so thrilled that X: A Novel is about to debut in January 2015.

 

 


Filed under: Authors, Interview Tagged: Indiana YA author, Kekla Magoon

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24. Thomas Pynchon Edited the Script When He Was on The Simpsons

homersimpsonWhen author Thomas Pynchon appeared on The Simpsons, he edited his own dialog so as not to insult to Homer Simpson.

Matt Selman, Executive Producer of The Simpsons, revealed this detail on Twitter last week during Fox’s #EverySimpsonsEver marathon of the TV show.

In crossing out “No wonder Homer is such a fat ass.” Pynchon writes: “Sorry, guys. Homer is my role model and I won’t speak ill of him.”

— Matt Selman (@mattselman) August 28, 2014

The fax sent to us by Thomas Pynchon with his jokes written on the script page pic.twitter.com/wL8Nm6R92I

— Matt Selman (@mattselman) August 28, 2014

(Via The Wall Street Journal).

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25. Haruki Murakami’s First Two Novels Are Coming in New English Translation

file.ashxHear the Wind Sing and Pinball, 1973, the first two novels written by acclaimed Japanese author Haruki Murakami, are getting being published in English. The two novellas were first published in English by Kodansha International in 1987, but are currently out of print.

Knopf will publish these two novellas in one volume in the fall 2015. The works will feature a new English translation by Ted Goosen.

Knopf recently released Murakami’s latest novel Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage last month and will publish his upcoming novella The Strange Library in December.

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