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As a writer where do you find inspiration (or motivation) to actually sit down and write?

I sat down this morning intending on writing another slam dunk blog post but I’m having a hard time finding the inspiration. Maybe its, because my Pittsburgh Penguins lost (did we really believe a 3-peat was possible?), or that my lawnmower self-destructed halfway through the first grass cut of the season. (I really should post a picture of my lawn it’s actually kind of funny), or maybe because there are a million things that need to be done around here but I just can’t find the motivation to accomplish any of them.

As a writer where do you find inspiration (or motivation) to actually sit down and write? Whether it be from music, checking out some new art or just catching up on today’s news.

I want to hear from everyone let me know down in the comments section where you draw your inspiration from. I compiled a list of ways you can take a jackhammer to your writer’s block if you’re really stuck and somehow your story has lost its way!

Music. This is definitely my favorite way to gather inspiration. Listen to some new music something you wouldn’t normally you will be surprised how quickly the words start flowing.

Movies. Sometimes you’re just trying too hard. Shut your brain off for a while and dive into a new movie. It could be you just need to relax a while.

Magazines, News Articles. If you subscribe to some of your fav’s or you just pick up one while waiting at the dentist’s office find an article that interests you.

Art Galleries, Museums.  Do something different than your everyday routine. Take the time to check out a new exhibit at your local museum.

Exercise. This may be my least favorite but It has its uses (shhhh I know I have put on a couple pounds over the winter). Other than keeping healthy and our butts in our favorite pair of jeans, exercise can really clear the head and somehow wash away the worries of the day.

Freewriting. I have done this and it really does help. Don’t think just write. Wait! you say that’s my problem I can’t! I don’t mean write a story just write about anything, the grass outside your window, the neighbor’s dog that won’t SHUT THE HELL UP! Or maybe the bird that built a nest outside my kitchen window. (BTW all the eggs hatched we now have 4 baby birds) Don’t stop, don’t edit just let the pen flow.

The point is if you think you are stuck in a rut you’re probably right. Inspiration can strike anywhere anytime and sometimes you will realize you may just have to stop looking for it before it slaps you in the face!  Happy Writing!

Where Do You Find Your Inspiration To Write?

As a writer where do you find inspiration (or motivation) to actually sit down and write?

I sat down this morning intending on writing another slam dunk blog post but I’m having a hard time finding the inspiration. Maybe its, because my Pittsburgh Penguins lost (did we really believe a 3-peat was possible?), or that my lawnmower self-destructed halfway through the first grass cut of the season. (I really should post a picture of my lawn it’s actually kind of funny), or maybe because there are a million things that need to be done around here but I just can’t find the motivation to accomplish any of them.

As a writer where do you find inspiration (or motivation) to actually sit down and write? Whether it be from music, checking out some new art or just catching up on today’s news.

I want to hear from everyone let me know down in the comments section where you draw your inspiration from. I compiled a list of ways you can take a jackhammer to your writer’s block if you’re really stuck and somehow your story has lost its way!

Music. This is definitely my favorite way to gather inspiration. Listen to some new music something you wouldn’t normally you will be surprised how quickly the words start flowing.

Movies. Sometimes you’re just trying too hard. Shut your brain off for a while and dive into a new movie. It could be you just need to relax a while.

Magazines, News Articles. If you subscribe to some of your fav’s or you just pick up one while waiting at the dentist’s office find an article that interests you.

Art Galleries, Museums.  Do something different than your everyday routine. Take the time to check out a new exhibit at your local museum.

Exercise. This may be my least favorite but It has its uses (shhhh I know I have put on a couple pounds over the winter). Other than keeping healthy and our butts in our favorite pair of jeans, exercise can really clear the head and somehow wash away the worries of the day.

Freewriting. I have done this and it really does help. Don’t think just write. Wait! you say that’s my problem I can’t! I don’t mean write a story just write about anything, the grass outside your window, the neighbor’s dog that won’t SHUT THE HELL UP! Or maybe the bird that built a nest outside my kitchen window. (BTW all the eggs hatched we now have 4 baby birds) Don’t stop, don’t edit just let the pen flow.

The point is if you think you are stuck in a rut you’re probably right. Inspiration can strike anywhere anytime and sometimes you will realize you may just have to stop looking for it before it slaps you in the face!  Happy Writing!

Top 10 Self-Publishing and New Author Tips

As a new self-publisher I know you might have thought the bulk of your work was done when you finished writing your book, Right? I’m very sorry to tell you that your work has just begun! You must now switch gears and become the publisher and marketer. Having gone through the process myself and helping others get their work published I have gathered my top ten tips for new self-publishers and new authors.

  1. Examine your competition. It is very important to look at what else is out there in your genre. Put your self in the bookstore per se. When you are looking at your book, what else is on the shelf right by it? Why would you buy your book before you bought any of the other books on the same shelf? This can give you powerful insight into how to sell your book and make it stand out!
  2. A memorable title is key. Once again in the bookstore. Why would you as the reader grab your book first? Your title should command attention and stick with someone. This is your billboard ad to your readers.
  3. You are Your Own Editor. Mistakes happen its human to err but your work should not read as a 10-year-old wrote it. Most readers can forgive a grammar mistake or two but there does come a point when the readability of your work could be hindered by frequent mistakes. It will always be in your best interests to hire a professional editor. If you are unable to afford such an expense you should be willing to allow as many of your friends and family to read your final drafts to help catch mistakes.
  4. Marketing. Without a publisher or literary agent to market, your book for you the responsibility lies with you. Take advantage of social media and book promo websites. Those are your best bets when it comes to free d.i.y. marketing.
  5. Reviews. Free or paid a good review can make a book. Offer your book to some willing reviewer for free or pay a professional like Kirkus. Its always up to you if you want you to use a review or not in your marketing. One thing to keep in mind fake reviews are easy to spot and will hurt your book.
  6. A Literary Agent isn’t Necessary. Having a Literary Agent can often defeat the purpose of self-publishing. You will lose 100% control and end up paying a percentage of every sale and yearly fees.
  7. Still Eligible for Awards. Even though you are self-published there are many yearly awards you can enter or receive a nomination for. Having a strong readership will help your book receive the recognition it deserves.
  8. Know your Reader. Understanding your reader’s wants and needs can influence your marketing drastically. Do some demographic research on the readers of your particular genre.
  9. Price is Important. Bookstores will not carry books they cannot make any money from. You must price your books right an allow for a 55% wholesale discount.
  10. Sell Yourself. This may sound like you are prostituting yourself but in a way you are! You have to sell yourself and your work to your readers. Offer giveaways, free book signings anything you can to draw attention.

Remember don’t give up. Not every book is a bestseller. Good luck and Happy Writing!!

 

Self Publishing Top Ten Tips!

Top 10 Self-Publishing and New Author Tips

As a new self-publisher I know you might have thought the bulk of your work was done when you finished writing your book, Right? I’m very sorry to tell you that your work has just begun! You must now switch gears and become the publisher and marketer. Having gone through the process myself and helping others get their work published I have gathered my top ten tips for new self-publishers and new authors.

  1. Examine your competition. It is very important to look at what else is out there in your genre. Put your self in the bookstore per se. When you are looking at your book, what else is on the shelf right by it? Why would you buy your book before you bought any of the other books on the same shelf? This can give you powerful insight into how to sell your book and make it stand out!
  2. A memorable title is key. Once again in the bookstore. Why would you as the reader grab your book first? Your title should command attention and stick with someone. This is your billboard ad to your readers.
  3. You are Your Own Editor. Mistakes happen its human to err but your work should not read as a 10-year-old wrote it. Most readers can forgive a grammar mistake or two but there does come a point when the readability of your work could be hindered by frequent mistakes. It will always be in your best interests to hire a professional editor. If you are unable to afford such an expense you should be willing to allow as many of your friends and family to read your final drafts to help catch mistakes.
  4. Marketing. Without a publisher or literary agent to market, your book for you the responsibility lies with you. Take advantage of social media and book promo websites. Those are your best bets when it comes to free d.i.y. marketing.
  5. Reviews. Free or paid a good review can make a book. Offer your book to some willing reviewer for free or pay a professional like Kirkus. Its always up to you if you want you to use a review or not in your marketing. One thing to keep in mind fake reviews are easy to spot and will hurt your book.
  6. A Literary Agent isn’t Necessary. Having a Literary Agent can often defeat the purpose of self-publishing. You will lose 100% control and end up paying a percentage of every sale and yearly fees.
  7. Still Eligible for Awards. Even though you are self-published there are many yearly awards you can enter or receive a nomination for. Having a strong readership will help your book receive the recognition it deserves.
  8. Know your Reader. Understanding your reader’s wants and needs can influence your marketing drastically. Do some demographic research on the readers of your particular genre.
  9. Price is Important. Bookstores will not carry books they cannot make any money from. You must price your books right an allow for a 55% wholesale discount.
  10. Sell Yourself. This may sound like you are prostituting yourself but in a way you are! You have to sell yourself and your work to your readers. Offer giveaways, free book signings anything you can to draw attention.

Remember don’t give up. Not every book is a bestseller. Good luck and Happy Writing!!

 

The greatest characters of all time will vary depending on who you ask but I can guarantee they all have one thing in common. They are distinguishable from most others in the given story. There is always a feature or impediment that makes them unique.

These top 10 tips will help you develop your characters. Good luck and happy writing

  1. Clear Motivations that help develop the story. Characters want and need certain things and are highly motivated to achieve these goals. Having clear motivations help the reader to infer as to what the character is trying to accomplish.
  2. Unique Features or Traits. Could you pick your character out of a police line up? Well, you should be able to very easily by his or her description. Your description of him or her should bring to life vivid images of what the reader thinks they look like.
  3. Love em or Hate em. Develop your character with values or have him be the scum of the earth it’s up to you. Your readers should grow to develop strong feelings for them or be able to relate in one way or another.
  4. Use Secondary Characters as “Foils”  foil is a character who contrasts with another character —usually the protagonist— to highlight particular qualities of the other character.
  5. Create interesting dynamics between characters and environment.  Where does your character live, work or play? Do they love their home and miss it while away on a journey.
  6. Characters shouldn’t know every detail. Most of the time as a writer you need to separate yourself from your characters vision or train of thought.  They don’t need to know every detail of the past present and future of the story and most of the time shouldn’t.
  7. Use Contradictions. This makes characters more complex. For example, most grandmothers are loving and doting, but what if they are also manipulative and self-serving.
  8. Use characters’ names to convey subtle implications. Research baby names for example. That can give you a good idea of the meanings behind names and help you form their traits.
  9. Avoid Lazy Stereotypes. Stereotypes are at best are usually false and at worst offensive. While sometimes a writer may find humor in some. Authors must remain aware how others may view it.
  10.  Build With Dialog. Most dialog happens in scenes involving the plot and it should be used to advance the plot. But dialog can also be used to build characterization  “You should use what your subjects say – and how they say it – to show penchants for jargon, poor grammar and mispronunciation. Or meticulous pronunciation, even eloquent diction. Or pretension, sarcasm, humor, anger, fright, sadness, joy, impatience, frustration.” –http://niemanstoryboard.org/stories/14-tips-for-building-character/

Remember there are many tools a writer can use to help develop your characters. Some more difficult than others but all are very useful.

Source: https://www.nownovel.com/blog/novel-characters-15-tips/

 

Top 10 Character Building Tips.

The greatest characters of all time will vary depending on who you ask but I can guarantee they all have one thing in common. They are distinguishable from most others in the given story. There is always a feature or impediment that makes them unique.

These top 10 tips will help you develop your characters. Good luck and happy writing

  1. Clear Motivations that help develop the story. Characters want and need certain things and are highly motivated to achieve these goals. Having clear motivations help the reader to infer as to what the character is trying to accomplish.
  2. Unique Features or Traits. Could you pick your character out of a police line up? Well, you should be able to very easily by his or her description. Your description of him or her should bring to life vivid images of what the reader thinks they look like.
  3. Love em or Hate em. Develop your character with values or have him be the scum of the earth it’s up to you. Your readers should grow to develop strong feelings for them or be able to relate in one way or another.
  4. Use Secondary Characters as “Foils”  foil is a character who contrasts with another character —usually the protagonist— to highlight particular qualities of the other character.
  5. Create interesting dynamics between characters and environment.  Where does your character live, work or play? Do they love their home and miss it while away on a journey.
  6. Characters shouldn’t know every detail. Most of the time as a writer you need to separate yourself from your characters vision or train of thought.  They don’t need to know every detail of the past present and future of the story and most of the time shouldn’t.
  7. Use Contradictions. This makes characters more complex. For example, most grandmothers are loving and doting, but what if they are also manipulative and self-serving.
  8. Use characters’ names to convey subtle implications. Research baby names for example. That can give you a good idea of the meanings behind names and help you form their traits.
  9. Avoid Lazy Stereotypes. Stereotypes are at best are usually false and at worst offensive. While sometimes a writer may find humor in some. Authors must remain aware how others may view it.
  10.  Build With Dialog. Most dialog happens in scenes involving the plot and it should be used to advance the plot. But dialog can also be used to build characterization  “You should use what your subjects say – and how they say it – to show penchants for jargon, poor grammar and mispronunciation. Or meticulous pronunciation, even eloquent diction. Or pretension, sarcasm, humor, anger, fright, sadness, joy, impatience, frustration.” –http://niemanstoryboard.org/stories/14-tips-for-building-character/

Remember there are many tools a writer can use to help develop your characters. Some more difficult than others but all are very useful.

Source: https://www.nownovel.com/blog/novel-characters-15-tips/

 

There are four main types of writing: expository, descriptive, persuasive, and narrative. Each of these writing styles is used for a specific purpose. A single text may include more than one style.

Expository writing’s main purpose is to explain. It is a subject-oriented writing style, in which authors focus on telling you about a given topic or subject without voicing their personal opinions. This is most commonly used in essays, articles, and textbooks.

Descriptive writing’s main purpose is to describe. It is a style of writing that focuses on describing a character, an event, or a place in great detail.

Persuasive writing’s main purpose is to convince. Unlike expository writing, persuasive writing contains the opinions and biases of the author. To convince others to agree with the author’s point of view, persuasive writing contains justifications and reasons.

Narrative writing’s main purpose is to tell a story. The author will create different characters and tell you what happens to them (sometimes the author writes from the point of view of one of the characters—this is known as first-person narration).

Specific genres can dictate what style is being used in each text. But today in modern writing styles are very often blended to suit the authors’ needs while building his or her story. Every authors’ writing style will develop as the author does. Many authors will try to force style into their writing by being “extra extra” descriptive or artsy. This is where bad habits are formed. Your style should be allowed to develop naturally.

Your writing style is essentially how well you tell your story. Just remember when you are forming your stories keep it as it comes. Don’t force it. Write and re-write it.

Remember to check out JourStarr  FREE New Author’s Writing Guide.

Writing Styles, What are they and Why are they Important

There are four main types of writing: expository, descriptive, persuasive, and narrative. Each of these writing styles is used for a specific purpose. A single text may include more than one style.

Expository writing’s main purpose is to explain. It is a subject-oriented writing style, in which authors focus on telling you about a given topic or subject without voicing their personal opinions. This is most commonly used in essays, articles, and textbooks.

Descriptive writing’s main purpose is to describe. It is a style of writing that focuses on describing a character, an event, or a place in great detail.

Persuasive writing’s main purpose is to convince. Unlike expository writing, persuasive writing contains the opinions and biases of the author. To convince others to agree with the author’s point of view, persuasive writing contains justifications and reasons.

Narrative writing’s main purpose is to tell a story. The author will create different characters and tell you what happens to them (sometimes the author writes from the point of view of one of the characters—this is known as first-person narration).

Specific genres can dictate what style is being used in each text. But today in modern writing styles are very often blended to suit the authors’ needs while building his or her story. Every authors’ writing style will develop as the author does. Many authors will try to force style into their writing by being “extra extra” descriptive or artsy. This is where bad habits are formed. Your style should be allowed to develop naturally.

Your writing style is essentially how well you tell your story. Just remember when you are forming your stories keep it as it comes. Don’t force it. Write and re-write it.

Remember to check out JourStarr  FREE New Author’s Writing Guide.

 

I don’t write as much as I used to. To be honest, I don’t know why that happened. Or how. Don’t you find it frustrating that we live in a world that makes it almost impossible to admit that you don’t know something? I don’t know why I don’t write as much as I used […]

via The Art of Writing — Cristian Mihai

Publishers claim Trump In the Trump era, it feels like book publishing is under siege. But is it really?

Since the November election, the majority of the publishing world ― a mostly white, mostly liberal crowd ― has been reeling, and not just because the Donald Trump presidency goes against the vaunted egalitarian principles of intellectual tastemakers. In The New Republic recently, Morgan Jerkins reported that many authors, editors and booksellers have noticed a significant slump in the market, which many blame on the current administration.

“The disastrous and almost comically incompetent Trump presidency has both frightened the reading market away from popular books and functioned as a kind of mass entertainment with which it is difficult to compete,” she wrote.

But what are readers actually experiencing? Are they reading less and spending more time on activism? According to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll, the answer to that is complicated, but it suggests that Trump’s rise has done little to substantially shift the habits of readers. is affecting book sales. The reality might be more complicated.

Nicolas Rapold, editor of “Film Comment” and organizer of the screening of George Orwell’s “1984” novel, holds the novel before the screening at the Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York, U.S., April 4, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Source: Huffpost https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/is-donald-trump-really-making-us-read-fewer-books_us_599df02ce4b0821444c09106

In A World That’s Stranger Than Fiction, Are Americans Still Reading Books? (via HuffPost)

Publishers claim Trump In the Trump era, it feels like book publishing is under siege. But is it really?

Since the November election, the majority of the publishing world ― a mostly white, mostly liberal crowd ― has been reeling, and not just because the Donald Trump presidency goes against the vaunted egalitarian principles of intellectual tastemakers. In The New Republic recently, Morgan Jerkins reported that many authors, editors and booksellers have noticed a significant slump in the market, which many blame on the current administration.

“The disastrous and almost comically incompetent Trump presidency has both frightened the reading market away from popular books and functioned as a kind of mass entertainment with which it is difficult to compete,” she wrote.

But what are readers actually experiencing? Are they reading less and spending more time on activism? According to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll, the answer to that is complicated, but it suggests that Trump’s rise has done little to substantially shift the habits of readers. is affecting book sales. The reality might be more complicated.

Nicolas Rapold, editor of “Film Comment” and organizer of the screening of George Orwell’s “1984” novel, holds the novel before the screening at the Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York, U.S., April 4, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Source: Huffpost https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/is-donald-trump-really-making-us-read-fewer-books_us_599df02ce4b0821444c09106

by Meg Dowell Are you an easily distracted writer? I could make this post very short and sweet and tell you to get off the internet and just write already, but that doesn’t always solve your problem. I’ve greatly improved my ability to concentrate over the past few months, which has made me […]

via Tips to Help You Concentrate While Writing — A Writer’s Path

Juna F. Nagle

Jacqueline Woodson.

 

Author Jacqueline Woodson, whose professional accolades include a National Book Award, four Newbery Honors, and a stint as the Young People’s Poet Laureate, has been named the sixth National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, for 2018–2019. Her appointment will become official at an inauguration ceremony on Tuesday, January 9 at the Library of Congress, presided over by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. And Woodson will accept the proverbial torch, passed from author-illustrator Gene Luen Yang, who has just completed his two-year term as Ambassador and played a key role in recruiting her.

The National Ambassador for Young People program is sponsored by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, the Children’s Book Council, and CBC’s charitable arm, Every Child a Reader. The Librarian of Congress selects the Ambassador based on the recommendations of an independent committee comprised of various children’s literature experts including educators, librarians, and booksellers. Among the criteria for the Ambassador post are: contributions to young people’s literature, the ability to relate to kids and teens, and dedication to fostering literacy in all forms.

In a statement, Hayden shared her enthusiasm for Woodson’s selection. “We are delighted that Jacqueline Woodson has agreed to be the new National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature,” she said. “I have admired Jacqueline Woodson’s work for years, especially her dedication to children and young-adult literature. The Library of Congress looks forward to Jacqueline’s tenure of encouraging young readers to embrace reading as a means to improve the world.”

Woodson says she never saw herself as Ambassador. In fact, she had contacted Yang, a friend, about a year ago to put forward the name of someone else (who she declines to name) she thought would be a great choice. “I had called Gene to put a name in the hat,” she said from her Brooklyn home during a telephone interview. “He told me, ‘Well, we have someone else in mind.’ I figured he was blowing me off.” And even when talk of the honor came up in passing, years ago, Woodson wasn’t sure she would ever be a good fit. “Earlier on, when the position was first starting to get some traction, and Jon Scieszka was the Ambassador,” she recalled, “people were asking me if I would ever do it, and I said, ‘Heck, no! There’s no way I could do that.’” She was busy with her writing and had just welcomed a new baby at that time. Over time, “I kind of had the sense that I had put the kibosh on it,” she added.

But more recently, Yang called and asked if Woodson would consider taking on the appointment. She continued to champion another author (“someone younger!” she joked), but Yang persisted. “He went through all the ways in which he thought I would bring something to the Ambassadorship that was needed at this time,” Woodson said. “I thought about it, I talked to my partner about it, and I was still a bit reluctant. But then Gene said that Dr. Hayden was really into me taking this position. And I love Dr. Hayden.” Woodson explained that one of the rules in her life has always been, “When it comes to Enoch Pratt Library [Hayden’s former library, in Baltimore], I can never say no to them. I did my first reading there way back when Last Summer with Maizon came out, and I have loved everyone there. I thought, OK, if Carla Hayden is asking me to do this, I’m not saying no to it.” On a more philosophical note, she continued, “I think you are often called to do the work you’re not quite ready to do, or willing to do. And for me that’s a sign that I need to push through and do the work that’s needed.”

Woodson has chosen the phrase “Reading = Hope x Change,” as her platform as Ambassador. “I definitely believe that reading can change us and shape us in so many ways, and through it we can be exposed to people and places and ideas that we might not otherwise come across or confront in real life,” she said. “A platform about the importance of reading and having conversations across the lines of books is really important to me.”

Woodson says she will use her message to address something she has been noticing. “Young people are getting labeled ‘reluctant reader,’ or ‘advanced reader,’ and the labels in front of their names begin to try to tell them who they are,” she lamented. “I would like to see less of that and more of just kids who read.” What they read shouldn’t matter and how they read it shouldn’t matter, she said, “just so long as they can have conversations and have a deep understanding of and a deep love for what they’re reading.”

One of Woodson’s foremost goals as Ambassador is to reach young people in areas of the country that are traditionally underserved. “My family and I are going to the opening of the Equal Justice Initiative’s Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice [acknowledging victims of lynchings] in Alabama this spring. I’m going to stay and try to visit some schools in Alabama and Mississippi in some of the places where they don’t get to meet writers or ambassadors every day,” she said. Additionally, she says she’s looking forward to going into juvenile detention centers and other places “where the underserved can begin to tell their stories.”

Though she’s not exactly sure how kids will relate to her in a new role, she’s excited to find out. “The thing that always brings me the greatest joy is meeting the young people,” she said. “I’m always surprised when a kid’s in awe of me as an author—I think ‘I’m just Jacqueline Woodson and I wrote a few books.’ But they’ve been studying you so long and you walk into the classroom and you’re like this superstar to them. Then you work yourself back to connecting to them so that they see you as a human being and they see themselves as young people who can do what you do. In this position it’s the same. I would love for young people to see themselves as national ambassadors of many things, today and always.” She cites the example of her own family. “I always tell my kids when we go to other countries, ‘You are ambassadors for this family. When you walk out there people are going to have ideas about this family, and how you represent yourself is going to make a difference in how they think.’ ”

The opportunity to talk about reading is another high point she’s anticipating. “I am excited for the young people’s reactions and the interactions that we’ll have around literature, and really talking about reading,” she said. “In the past mostly I’ve talked about my books and my writing process. Now I can talk much more about my reading process and the reading process, and the conversations that can be had where there isn’t a right or wrong. Did you infer from the book? Who cares? I want to know what you loved about the book and what made you mad and I want you guys to agree and disagree and have real true conversations and make amazing text-to-life connections about the book.”

Asked if there’s anything that might be scary or daunting about her new position, Woodson is reflective. “It is a very scary time to be alive,” she said. “And given that, I think of [poet and activist] Audre Lorde saying ‘we can sit in our safe corners mute as bottles and we will still be no less afraid.’ I do believe this is all I have—my words, I have the words that I write down, I have the words that I speak out, I have the words that I take into classrooms.” Woodson says she accepts that there will be hatred in general, and hatred online questioning why she would be chosen as Ambassador. “Risk of backlash and people not being kind, but that’s been the risk my whole life,” she said. “It’s not going to keep me from what I’ve been called to do.”

Woodson notes that taking on the Ambassadorship is a bit daunting in another way, because she is an introvert—as, she notes, many writers are. “I can go out there and give a great lecture and I can shake hands and sign books, but I’m always hiding behind a book or a podium or something that protects me from my shyness,” she said. “I think this is going to be a lot more extroverted work for me.”

But any trepidation she may have certainly takes a back seat to the honor at hand. “It’s going to be so amazing to be in the Library of Congress with Dr. Hayden, and with Gene, who is one of my son’s favorite writers in the world,” she said. “It’s a little bit surreal. As a kid, I remember imagining getting an award and using the hairbrush as a microphone to accept it. But I never imagined this.”

Source: Publishers Weekly, link

Jacqueline Woodson Named National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature

Juna F. Nagle

Jacqueline Woodson.

 

Author Jacqueline Woodson, whose professional accolades include a National Book Award, four Newbery Honors, and a stint as the Young People’s Poet Laureate, has been named the sixth National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, for 2018–2019. Her appointment will become official at an inauguration ceremony on Tuesday, January 9 at the Library of Congress, presided over by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. And Woodson will accept the proverbial torch, passed from author-illustrator Gene Luen Yang, who has just completed his two-year term as Ambassador and played a key role in recruiting her.

The National Ambassador for Young People program is sponsored by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, the Children’s Book Council, and CBC’s charitable arm, Every Child a Reader. The Librarian of Congress selects the Ambassador based on the recommendations of an independent committee comprised of various children’s literature experts including educators, librarians, and booksellers. Among the criteria for the Ambassador post are: contributions to young people’s literature, the ability to relate to kids and teens, and dedication to fostering literacy in all forms.

In a statement, Hayden shared her enthusiasm for Woodson’s selection. “We are delighted that Jacqueline Woodson has agreed to be the new National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature,” she said. “I have admired Jacqueline Woodson’s work for years, especially her dedication to children and young-adult literature. The Library of Congress looks forward to Jacqueline’s tenure of encouraging young readers to embrace reading as a means to improve the world.”

Woodson says she never saw herself as Ambassador. In fact, she had contacted Yang, a friend, about a year ago to put forward the name of someone else (who she declines to name) she thought would be a great choice. “I had called Gene to put a name in the hat,” she said from her Brooklyn home during a telephone interview. “He told me, ‘Well, we have someone else in mind.’ I figured he was blowing me off.” And even when talk of the honor came up in passing, years ago, Woodson wasn’t sure she would ever be a good fit. “Earlier on, when the position was first starting to get some traction, and Jon Scieszka was the Ambassador,” she recalled, “people were asking me if I would ever do it, and I said, ‘Heck, no! There’s no way I could do that.’” She was busy with her writing and had just welcomed a new baby at that time. Over time, “I kind of had the sense that I had put the kibosh on it,” she added.

But more recently, Yang called and asked if Woodson would consider taking on the appointment. She continued to champion another author (“someone younger!” she joked), but Yang persisted. “He went through all the ways in which he thought I would bring something to the Ambassadorship that was needed at this time,” Woodson said. “I thought about it, I talked to my partner about it, and I was still a bit reluctant. But then Gene said that Dr. Hayden was really into me taking this position. And I love Dr. Hayden.” Woodson explained that one of the rules in her life has always been, “When it comes to Enoch Pratt Library [Hayden’s former library, in Baltimore], I can never say no to them. I did my first reading there way back when Last Summer with Maizon came out, and I have loved everyone there. I thought, OK, if Carla Hayden is asking me to do this, I’m not saying no to it.” On a more philosophical note, she continued, “I think you are often called to do the work you’re not quite ready to do, or willing to do. And for me that’s a sign that I need to push through and do the work that’s needed.”

Woodson has chosen the phrase “Reading = Hope x Change,” as her platform as Ambassador. “I definitely believe that reading can change us and shape us in so many ways, and through it we can be exposed to people and places and ideas that we might not otherwise come across or confront in real life,” she said. “A platform about the importance of reading and having conversations across the lines of books is really important to me.”

Woodson says she will use her message to address something she has been noticing. “Young people are getting labeled ‘reluctant reader,’ or ‘advanced reader,’ and the labels in front of their names begin to try to tell them who they are,” she lamented. “I would like to see less of that and more of just kids who read.” What they read shouldn’t matter and how they read it shouldn’t matter, she said, “just so long as they can have conversations and have a deep understanding of and a deep love for what they’re reading.”

One of Woodson’s foremost goals as Ambassador is to reach young people in areas of the country that are traditionally underserved. “My family and I are going to the opening of the Equal Justice Initiative’s Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice [acknowledging victims of lynchings] in Alabama this spring. I’m going to stay and try to visit some schools in Alabama and Mississippi in some of the places where they don’t get to meet writers or ambassadors every day,” she said. Additionally, she says she’s looking forward to going into juvenile detention centers and other places “where the underserved can begin to tell their stories.”

Though she’s not exactly sure how kids will relate to her in a new role, she’s excited to find out. “The thing that always brings me the greatest joy is meeting the young people,” she said. “I’m always surprised when a kid’s in awe of me as an author—I think ‘I’m just Jacqueline Woodson and I wrote a few books.’ But they’ve been studying you so long and you walk into the classroom and you’re like this superstar to them. Then you work yourself back to connecting to them so that they see you as a human being and they see themselves as young people who can do what you do. In this position it’s the same. I would love for young people to see themselves as national ambassadors of many things, today and always.” She cites the example of her own family. “I always tell my kids when we go to other countries, ‘You are ambassadors for this family. When you walk out there people are going to have ideas about this family, and how you represent yourself is going to make a difference in how they think.’ ”

The opportunity to talk about reading is another high point she’s anticipating. “I am excited for the young people’s reactions and the interactions that we’ll have around literature, and really talking about reading,” she said. “In the past mostly I’ve talked about my books and my writing process. Now I can talk much more about my reading process and the reading process, and the conversations that can be had where there isn’t a right or wrong. Did you infer from the book? Who cares? I want to know what you loved about the book and what made you mad and I want you guys to agree and disagree and have real true conversations and make amazing text-to-life connections about the book.”

Asked if there’s anything that might be scary or daunting about her new position, Woodson is reflective. “It is a very scary time to be alive,” she said. “And given that, I think of [poet and activist] Audre Lorde saying ‘we can sit in our safe corners mute as bottles and we will still be no less afraid.’ I do believe this is all I have—my words, I have the words that I write down, I have the words that I speak out, I have the words that I take into classrooms.” Woodson says she accepts that there will be hatred in general, and hatred online questioning why she would be chosen as Ambassador. “Risk of backlash and people not being kind, but that’s been the risk my whole life,” she said. “It’s not going to keep me from what I’ve been called to do.”

Woodson notes that taking on the Ambassadorship is a bit daunting in another way, because she is an introvert—as, she notes, many writers are. “I can go out there and give a great lecture and I can shake hands and sign books, but I’m always hiding behind a book or a podium or something that protects me from my shyness,” she said. “I think this is going to be a lot more extroverted work for me.”

But any trepidation she may have certainly takes a back seat to the honor at hand. “It’s going to be so amazing to be in the Library of Congress with Dr. Hayden, and with Gene, who is one of my son’s favorite writers in the world,” she said. “It’s a little bit surreal. As a kid, I remember imagining getting an award and using the hairbrush as a microphone to accept it. But I never imagined this.”

Source: Publishers Weekly, link

Mrs. Coretta Scott King with staff of King Papers Project, 1986

Mrs. Coretta Scott King with staff of King Papers Project at Stanford, November 1986

Margo Davis

Initiated by The King Center in Atlanta, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project is one of only a few large-scale research ventures focusing on an African American. In 1985, King Center’s founder and president Coretta Scott King invited Stanford University historian Clayborne Carson to become the Project’s director.

Mission of the Papers Project

As a result of Dr. Carson’s selection, the King Papers Project became a cooperative venture of Stanford University, the King Center, and the King Estate. Its principal mission is to publish the definitive fourteen-volume edition of The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr.,a comprehensive collection of King’s most significant correspondence, sermons, speeches, published writings, and unpublished manuscripts. The seven already published volumes have become essential reference works for researchers and have influenced scholarship about King and the movements he inspired. Building upon this research foundation, the Project also engages in other related educational activities. Using internet communications technology to reach a diverse global audience, it has greatly increased popular as well as scholarly awareness of King’s achievements and visionary ideas.

Funding the Papers Project

In addition to core funding from Stanford University, the King Papers Project receives financial support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, and individual donors. As a component of Stanford’s Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute, the Project also benefits from the Institute’s endowment.

Source: Stanford University, link

Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project

Mrs. Coretta Scott King with staff of King Papers Project, 1986

Mrs. Coretta Scott King with staff of King Papers Project at Stanford, November 1986

Margo Davis

Initiated by The King Center in Atlanta, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project is one of only a few large-scale research ventures focusing on an African American. In 1985, King Center’s founder and president Coretta Scott King invited Stanford University historian Clayborne Carson to become the Project’s director.

Mission of the Papers Project

As a result of Dr. Carson’s selection, the King Papers Project became a cooperative venture of Stanford University, the King Center, and the King Estate. Its principal mission is to publish the definitive fourteen-volume edition of The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr.,a comprehensive collection of King’s most significant correspondence, sermons, speeches, published writings, and unpublished manuscripts. The seven already published volumes have become essential reference works for researchers and have influenced scholarship about King and the movements he inspired. Building upon this research foundation, the Project also engages in other related educational activities. Using internet communications technology to reach a diverse global audience, it has greatly increased popular as well as scholarly awareness of King’s achievements and visionary ideas.

Funding the Papers Project

In addition to core funding from Stanford University, the King Papers Project receives financial support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, and individual donors. As a component of Stanford’s Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute, the Project also benefits from the Institute’s endowment.

Source: Stanford University, link

 

25 days of christmas writing

Brrr…it’s cold outside and snow is on it’s way to Virginia.  It’s perfect weather for staying indoors, reading a good book, or (in my case) writing.

Since I’ve decided to hide away from the harsh weather by staying snug and warm indoors, I thought I would take the opportunity to try Susanna Leonard Hill’s Annual Holiday Contest.  This year’s theme is a holiday surprise.  The rules are fairly straight forward.

  • You can write about any holiday you celebrate
  • The story is not to exceed 250 words (not counting title)

Even if you aren’t entering the contest, I encourage you to visit the link above and take a look at some of the wonderful stories that have been submitted.  If you are participating, then I wish you the best of luck!  Leave me a comment below to let me know what you think!

Brrr…it’s cold outside and snow is on it’s way to Virginia. It’s perfect weather for staying indoors, reading a good book, or (in my case) writing. Since I’ve decided to hide away from the harsh weather by staying snug and warm indoors, I thought I would take the opportunity to try Susanna Leonard Hill’s Annual […]

via Holiday Writing Contest — Edutaining

Don’t forget about Jourstarr’s ongoing Flash Fiction contest.  More details here.

Holiday Writing Contest — Edutaining

 

25 days of christmas writing

Brrr…it’s cold outside and snow is on it’s way to Virginia.  It’s perfect weather for staying indoors, reading a good book, or (in my case) writing.

Since I’ve decided to hide away from the harsh weather by staying snug and warm indoors, I thought I would take the opportunity to try Susanna Leonard Hill’s Annual Holiday Contest.  This year’s theme is a holiday surprise.  The rules are fairly straight forward.

  • You can write about any holiday you celebrate
  • The story is not to exceed 250 words (not counting title)

Even if you aren’t entering the contest, I encourage you to visit the link above and take a look at some of the wonderful stories that have been submitted.  If you are participating, then I wish you the best of luck!  Leave me a comment below to let me know what you think!

Brrr…it’s cold outside and snow is on it’s way to Virginia. It’s perfect weather for staying indoors, reading a good book, or (in my case) writing. Since I’ve decided to hide away from the harsh weather by staying snug and warm indoors, I thought I would take the opportunity to try Susanna Leonard Hill’s Annual […]

via Holiday Writing Contest — Edutaining

Don’t forget about Jourstarr’s ongoing Flash Fiction contest.  More details here.