“My Son Went to Heaven, and All I Got Was a No. 1 Best Seller,” my essay about Heaven is For Real, my own fundamentalist background, and my lifelong doubt, appeared in yesterday’s New York Times Magazine, underneath this illustration by Tom Gauld.
Just available in paperpack, John Agard's reimagining and modernisation of Dante's Inferno, fabulously illustrated by Satoshi Kitamura.
Extracted from the poet's Introduction:
... it struck me that since Dante was interested in the everyday Italian heard in the street, and since teenagers are so wired to the world of horrror movies, science fiction and video games, then they would feel quite at home with the virtual reality of Hell described by Dante with such magisterial and architectural precision. There you'll find your ascents and descents, your walkways and fortified gates, your spiralling levels not unlike a multi-storey car park....
... though The Young Inferno is told in 13 cantos IDante's Inferno has 34) I hope that 13 sounds about right for a teenager and is in keeping with Dante's regard for the magic of numbers.
In one of my recurring nightmares, I'm ascending the golden staircase that leads up to the pearly gates, and there stands St Peter in his robes and spectacles, frowning.
I clutch my bundle of documents, all 12 point Times New Roman double-spaced (or should that be single-spaced, where the synopsis is concerned? Or 1.5? I've consulted a bunch of archbishops on the matter - no one seems to know. Not that it matters to them, they're already in the system...)
I've counted my words, headed my headers and footed my footers. My printer's been well fed with the choicest cartridges and the smoothest, whitest paper money can buy. I've define my genre and 'placed' myself with respect to other authors, though I haven't mentioned Charles Dickens, George Eliot or JKR. My pages are pristine, my sentences grammatical, my metaphors well-chosen, poignant and surprising (though no longer so surprising, after nine revisions, to me).
I hand over my submission with trepidation.
St Peter casts an eye over Chapters 1-3 of my life. Shakes his head, tuttting solemnly. 'Typo on page 2,' he intones. 'I'm afraid this is completely unacceptable. We can't consider anyone who has a typo on page 2 of their life story. And this is even worse - an exclamation mark on page 4!'
Chapters 1-3 are dropped (passive alert!) carelessly to the ground, which I notice is soggy and slush-like, consisting as it does of a thick layer of decaying manuscripts. St Peter glances at my letter and gives another frown.
'I didn't mention that my children love my work,' I venture (no, sorry, I say. One must never use a different word for 'say'). 'Nor did I tell you anything about my garden, my goldfish or my penchant for golden syrup sandwiches.'
'Adverbs...' intones St P. 'Three of them. To say nothing of four adjectives in the first two paragraphs of your synopsis.'
I bristle. 'There may be the occasional adverb, but only where strictly needed to make my meaning clear.'
'Strictly?' bellows St Peter. 'That's an adverb if I ever heard one. Save it for those dancing programmes on TV. I've sent devoted believers to hell for less.'
'But surely...' I adopt a pleading tone. No, make that a wheedling tone. 'St Peter, please. I've spent a lifetime honing and polishing my life story. Is there nothing I can do to get you to read it - so you can actually judge my life on its merit
My family of bunnies is in the May High 5
(story by Radha HS). "They were about to start dinner when...The lights went out!"
Speaking of carrot soup, I've been meaning to link to John Segal's site
As I've mentioned before, I'm in the midst of revising my YA ms and it's been an interesting process -- read what you will into the word interesting. So last week, I came across an amazing checklist for each phase of the revision process on Natalie Whipple's blog. On one hand, it was great to recognize that I'm in that final, third phase -- what I call the "tweaking" stage. On the other hand, I was under the assumption that this last stage would be a piece of cake. I thought if major things like plot, story arc, and characterization were good to go, how long could it possibly take to tweak? Right. Can you tell this is my first YA ms? Now I know why something that takes 6 weeks to write can take 6 months to revise.
Here's what I've learned thus far about the revision process:
1) Revisions are like rabbits. You think you take care of one -- then you
turn around and there are 20 more staring at you, and not in a cute bunny
kind of way.
2) Don't use chocolate as a revision reward. Or if you do reward yourself
with chocolate, such as after revising each chapter, write fewer chapters.
Your waistline will thank you. NOTE: I'm totally kidding -- I sometimes
reward myself after each page! Chocolate rocks.
3) It's better to mark revisions on your manuscript with a purple pen.
Some red pen purists out there will disagree here, but corrections don't
seem quite so harsh when written in pretty colors.
4) Tweaking takes FOREVER. I'm at the stage of agonizing over every word
choice, verb, sentence structure, etc. and my eyes are crossing. I flew
through the first few revisions and this one is killing me -- I'm lucky if I
get through 10 pages a night. Please tell me this part gets easier/faster
with each completed novel. Even if it's not true, somebody please lie to me.
5) Revisions make your book better. Okay, this seems obvious. Like
when the NFL announcer says the key to winning the game is scoring the
most points. However, this last one if the reason I don't hate this process.
Yes, it's painful at times. Yes, there are nights I want to pull my hair out.
However, now I can see the light at the end of the tunnel -- just barely,
mind you -- it's still dim and looks like it's miles away. Yet, just knowing
it's there gives me the rush I need to get to the finish line.
What stage of the revision process do you find most challenging? How do you reward yourself? Note: if your answer to this one is that the process itself is its own reward, I don't want to hear from you.
Agent Mary Kole also has some fabulous revision posts such as this one. They can all be found on her Kidlit blog. Any other great revision posts you'd like to share?
While walking down the street one day a Corrupt Senator wastragically hit
by a car and died. His soul arrives in heaven and is met by St. Peterat the entrance.
"Welcome to heaven," says St. Peter."Before you settle in, it seems there
is a problem. We seldom see a high official aroundthese parts, you see, so
we're not sure what to do with you."
"No problem, just let me in," says theSenator.
"Well, I'd like to, but I have orders fromthe higher ups. What we'll do is
have you spend one day in hell and one in heaven.Then you can choose where
to spend eternity."
"Really? I've made up my mind. I want to bein heaven," says the Senator.
"I'm sorry, but we have our rules."
And with that, St. Peter escorts him to theelevator and he goes down to hell.
The doors open and he finds himself in the middleof a green golf course. In
the distance is a clubhouse and standing in frontof it are all his friends
and other politicians who had worked with him.
Everyone is very happy and in evening dress. Theyrun to greet him, shake his hand, and reminisce about the good times theyhad while getting rich at the expense of the people. They played a friendly game of golf and then dineon lobster, caviar and the finest champagne. Also present is the devil, who really is a veryfriendly guy who is having a good time dancing and telling jokes. They are all having such a good time that beforethe Senator realizes it, it is time to go. Everyone gives him a hearty farewell and waveswhile the elevator rises.
The elevator goes up, up, up and the door reopensin heaven where St. Peter
By: Paula Becker
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Cartoons & Comics
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, christmas in hell
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…And THIS came out. Hmmm… I’m not sure about posting this as it doesn’t fit into the over-all cutesy-ness of my posted work as of late, but c’est la vie. I was playing around with line and color and sort of just wanted to do a devil decorating a Christmas tree. Not so clever, I know. I didn’t work at this all that much so it is what it is: a/the devil decorating a pine tree. But while working on it, this question was in my head as far as a cartoon idea, and I will ask you all: What would Christmas in hell look like? Got a clever cartoon idea for that anyone…? Feel free to share!