The Write Sisters: Poetry Friday: Falling

October 18, 2012 at 11:02AM

A 29-year-old stewardess fell … to her
death tonight when she was swept
through an emergency door that sud-
denly sprang open … The body …
was found … three hours after the
                              —New York Times
The states when they black out and lie there rolling    when they turn
To something transcontinental    move by    drawing moonlight out of the great
One-sided stone hung off the starboard wingtip    some sleeper next to
An engine is groaning for coffee    and there is faintly coming in
Somewhere the vast beast-whistle of space. In the galley with its racks
Of trays    she rummages for a blanket    and moves in her slim tailored
Uniform to pin it over the cry at the top of the door. As though she blew

The door down with a silent blast from her lungs    frozen    she is black
Out finding herself    with the plane nowhere and her body taking by the throat
The undying cry of the void    falling    living    beginning to be something
That no one has ever been and lived through    screaming without enough air
Still neat    lipsticked    stockinged    girdled by regulation    her hat
Still on    her arms and legs in no world    and yet spaced also strangely
With utter placid rightness on thin air    taking her time    she holds it
In many places    and now, still thousands of feet from her death she seems
To slow    she develops interest    she turns in her maneuverable body 

To watch it. She is hung high up in the overwhelming middle of things in her

Self    in low body-whistling wrapped intensely    in all her dark dance-weight
Coming down from a marvellous leap    with the delaying, dumfounding ease
Of a dream of being drawn    like endless moonlight to the harvest soil
Of a central state of one’s country    with a great gradual warmth coming
Over her    floating    finding more and more breath in what she has been using
For breath    as the levels become more human    seeing clouds placed honestly
Below her left and right    riding slowly toward them    she clasps it all
To her and can hang her hands and feet in it in peculiar ways    and
Her eyes opened wide by wind, can open her mouth as wide    wider and suck
All the heat from the cornfields    can go down on her back with a feeling

Shoshana Flax: Calling all nonfiction fans!

From: Walk the Ridgepole
October 18, 2012 at 08:55AM

Much of the best nonfiction for kids is, in one way or another, interactive. It gives them a chance to do something: breeze past one spread, choose another spread to obsess over, explore this diagram, discover what’s under this flap or that fold-out. Astound their friends and family with their ownership of topic-specific knowledge. Two people who realize this are author Richard Platt and illustrator Stephen Biesty, both of whom will be at the USS Constitution Museum in Charlestown, MA (close to Boston’s North End) this weekend.

Platt, author of books in the Incredible Cross-Section and Eyewitness series and most recently of Plague, Pox and Pestilence, will present “Finding a Voice: Writing Non-Fiction for Children” at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, with a meet-and-mingle reception preceding from 12:00 to 2:30.

 Biesty, illustrator of the Incredible Cross-Section books and other works including the very cool Into the Unknown: How Explorers Found Their Way by Land, Sea, and Air, will present “Illustrating History in Detail” at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, also preceded by a meet-and-mingle reception from 12:00 to 2:30.

While you’re there, check out the museum’s All Hands on Deck: A Sailor’s Life in 1812 exhibit. What was that about nonfiction being interactive?

Kip Wilson Rechea: Non-dusty Historicals

From: Kip Wilson Rechea
October 18, 2012 at 06:00AM

While I personally love all kinds of historical fiction, I also adore the trend people have recently coined “non-dusty historical fiction.” Sounds exciting, right? Thrilling, even!

But what exactly does “non-dusty historical” mean?

A few examples I think fit this term:

  • The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak (YA, WWII, narrated by Death, possibly my favorite book ever. Read it, read it, read it! Oh, and yeah, here’s what the author signed in my copy when I met him at an SCBWI event in Munich.)

  • Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers (YA, medieval French nuns who are also assassins. Um, hello?)
  • Scarlet by A. C. Gaughen (YA, retelling of Robin Hood by a female member of his gang with one amaaaazing voice.)
  • Rules of Civility by Amor Towles (Adult, Fitzgerald-esque portrayal of a twenty-something girl on the rise in New York with some of the most beautiful writing I’ve read this year)

These books are historical but don’t read like traditional historical. In each of these books, the fiction–the story itself–is what draws the readers in, with its voice, characters, or the thrill of an exciting plot that happens to be set in the past because that’s when it would have happened.

If you’re not convinced that there are historicals out there that offer as much of a thrill ride as some of the exciting sci-fi and dystopian stories out there, read this great post by J. Anderson Coats over on the Corsets and Cutlasses blog–btw a great new blog for historical fiction fans:

I think you’ll agree that “non-dusty historical” is definitely a thing, and a thing worth reading. Bonus points for suggesting other must read examples.!

Sarah Albee: What’s Up?

From: Sarah Albee
October 18, 2012 at 04:43AM

After several months of bending backwards and focusing his eyes upward while painting the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo developed severe eyestrain. He could only read or look at drawings at arm’s length, above his head.

Kissing the Earth: What If?

From: Kissing the Earth
October 18, 2012 at 12:01AM

Whenever I walk into a library, I take a deep breath; all of those words, all of those ideas! All of the stories, all of that information within four walls, under one roof! I just want to let it soak into my pores. I love the dusty paper smell mixed with the sharp scent of ink—one sniff and I’m ready to sit down, open a book and fall into the images conjured up by the words. 
People often ask writers where they get their ideas. Well, for starters, nothing beats the library. (No, no, I’m not overlooking the Internet—I know its there, but it’s a totally different experience. You know what I mean.)

It doesn’t take much to get me to the library, but last week I had two extra special reasons: two different author visits at two different libraries brought me out with a small ensemble of my Bay Area writer friends.

First, last Tuesday night Lois Lowry spoke at the San Francisco Main library. Author of over forty books and winner of numerous awards, Lois Lowry, (now in her seventies) has just finished the final book in THE GIVER quartet, answering many of the questions she’s received from readers since her original THE GIVER won the Newbery in 1994. She spoke on a number of topics but what especially interested me was how she got her idea for THE GIVER, a story about a dystopian society that had gained enough technology to create a lifestyle that had no memory of sadness or pain. She told us that all her ideas come from asking the question, “What if?” It was the question she asked  after a visit to her elderly father who was slipping into dementia and had lost his most painful memory–that his other daughter, Lois’s sister, had died as a young woman. Lowry first thought that it seemed like a good thing to forget the painful memories in life. She wondered, what if we could offer this to people? What if we could forget all of the sad and painful things that had happened to us? From that questioning came the idea for THE GIVER.
I think all creative endeavors come out of this ‘What if?’ question. What if I paint her face at another angle? What if I add cilantro to the pasta sauce? What if the violins come in on A Minor? What if I have a different character tell this story?
The second author visit was Rita William’s-Garcia at the West Oakland Public Library talking about her multi-prize winning book ONE CRAZY SUMMER, the story of three sisters sent to spend the summer with their estranged mother who is an activist with the Black Panthers in the late 1960’s. Rita spoke to an enraptured room of all ages about where her idea came from—it started with the question, “What would it be like to be a child in this very electric time and place?” It’s another kind of ‘What if?’
I took both of these talks back home with me, like treasures in my pockets. And when I pulled them out to admire them, a little piece of something else fell out with them—a folded piece of paper with ‘dare to fail’ scribbled on it. It’s the unspoken part of ‘What if?’ What if my idea doesn’t work? What if I try and fall on my arse?
The answer to that is simple: you get up and try again because intrinsic in the endeavor, in the desire to create, to the ‘what if?’ question, has to be the willingness to fail. I think it’s an excellent question to ask ourselves at the start of every day. It’s the only way through the door.
 Take Good Care,

Gail Gauthier: I Have ISBNs

From: Original Content
October 17, 2012 at 08:10PM

Last night we bought the ISBNs for the Kindle and Nook versions of  Saving the Planet & Stuff, which should both be available the end of January. Thus, I was very interested to read the following quote from The Road to Discoverability at FutureBook:

“In 1990, there were about 900,000 ISBNs. Today there are 32 million ISBNs and an unknown number of unidentified books.” 

Well, if you’re the kind of person who likes company, I guess that’s a good thing.

If you read The Road to Discoverability, you will find a number of interesting terms. Of the following ones I saw–metadata, SEO, algorithm, and pixie dust–the one I have the best grasp of is pixie dust.

Jeannine Atkins: The Silence In Between

From: Jeannine Atkins
October 17, 2012 at 02:30PM

I spent part of this morning moving some books from piles to shelves, while some were bagged for the next library book sale. But the aloe is still leaning over under the weight of its thick, prickly self, waiting to be repotted. The garden is still waiting for me to appear with clippers and rake. I won’t mention housework. After finishing my novel, I did tend to some chores, but I’m trying to make myself available to the muse, too. And she likes to find me on the window seat, looking unproductive.

There’s a silence before a new work comes that can feel prickly, no matter how I longed for it was while hunching over a hefty stack of pages. There’s been a goal in mind, a sense of how I want this big thing to look. Now my novel has reached that state. Peter has almost finished kindly combing it for errant letters, missing articles, apostrophes doled out too randomly, the occasional if that should be it, or she’s that need a name. He’s put gentle question marks beside too flighty poetic flights. He makes me smile with his sweet manners on my pages: It might be more clear if you had a verb in that sentence. Um, yes. And I’m glad for his occasional praise. “This may be the best description of a color I ever read.” Yay! Anyway, I think we’ll have finished tidying by tomorrow, when I expect the drama of hitting Send. And already I’ve set blank paper before me, which needs to get filled one page at a time.

Empty paper can bring up panic, which I’m trying to ride out with deep breaths, when I’m tending to shallow ones, and a still bottom, when I feel wiggly. The aloe and dried plants can wait just a little longer, while I mull my way to and through false starts, dead ends, ideas not quite interesting enough.  I’ve written a lot of notes about a girl and a place and their particular powers, but I’ve kept myself from opening that file. And my stillness (well, a few more books were re-shelfed) is paying off a bit. I’m catching a few birds that may or may not be important. An older sister. An aunt. Rocks and a clay-bottomed river. These are enough to begin with. I scribble around them, as if they might mean something.

Time will tell, so that’s what I’m trying to give the process. Saying no to the new yarn, the ever-so-attractive unread books, the sack of flour and cranberries, the spade. I’ll get to them, but for now, I’m trying to be as quiet as the paper and the patient, sprawl of roses that I promise to cut back before winter. 

Anna Boll: F.A.R.T’s and Palm Reading

From: annajboll
October 17, 2012 at 03:24PM

Writers and artists often struggle in isolation. They face self-doubt and fear at their easels and desks. Sometimes the celebrations can be lonely too. That’s why friends who make art, and write must stick together. If you need a reminder of this fact, simply consider the acronym F.A.R.T.


Yes, ladies and gentlemen, just like the noxious fumes that emanate from one’s tuchas, true writing and art friends are hard to get away from. Sometimes they announce themselves loudly with a knock on the door, sometimes it is just the gentle “bing” of the Google chat notification. Even if they seem to disappear for a while, they come back stinkier stronger than ever. They release tension, bring humor, and when your insides are twisted in knots over your current WIP– they make your tummy feel better.

Today I met with the incredibly energetic and optimistic Julie Kingsley. (the very same person who nominated me for the Lovely Blog award.) Julie and I share many talents: we both write, we both teach, we both parent. But the one thing that Julie can do that I can’t–  she can read palms. Perhaps it was her past life as a gypsy wanderer, or a paranormal gift with which she was born but the woman can tell the future.

Okay. Maybe she can tell the future and maybe she can’t.

What a friend can do is look in your eyes and tell you the truth. She can see the positive when your rose colored glasses are foggy. She can wipe the glasses off for you, point you in the right direction and give you a swift kick in the tuchas.

Hopefully, when she does, you don’t fart.

Julie True Kingsley: Art Night Out! Wordless Wednesday

From: Julie True Kingsley’s Blog
October 17, 2012 at 02:46PM

Kristine Carlson Asselin: The Dreaded Synopsis

From: Kristine Carlson Asselin
October 17, 2012 at 08:34AM

I’m over on YA Stands ( today talking about the Dreaded Synopsis.


Michelle Cusolito: Wordless Wednesday: Leaf on Rock

From: Polliwog on Safari
October 17, 2012 at 08:22AM

You might also like:
Fall Leaves- This post suggests fall leaf crafts you can do with kids, including a modern twist on an old placemat activity.

Peter Davis: Round 3

From: The Tech Curmudgeon
October 17, 2012 at 01:00AM

Theresa Milstein: Writer Wednesday

From: Theresa’s Tales of Teaching Tribulations and Typing Teen Texts
October 17, 2012 at 06:11AM

I’m over at


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Sarah Albee: Lion Dogs

From: Sarah Albee
October 17, 2012 at 05:08AM

They really can be pretty silly-looking, especially the ones you see in the dog shows with their hair all fluffed out. But the Pekingese, originally from China, is one of the most ancient breeds of dog, and it has a pretty fascinating history.

There are several Chinese legends about how the dog came to be; according to one, a lion fell in love with a marmoset, and Buddha agreed to shrink it down. They’re also known as “lion dogs.” Another legend is that the lion fell in love with a butterfly, and Buddha created the Pekingese so they could meet in the middle.

Going back thousands of years, the breed was the exclusive playmate of Chinese emperors. Palace eunuchs took care of them, and the dogs had their own luxurious gilded kennels. They were called “sleeve dogs,” because Chinese royalty could carry them in the sleeves of their robes.

In 1860, during the Opium Wars, English and French soldiers were ransacking the Imperial Palace in Beijing. The accounts vary, but according to one source*, an English soldier found five small, flat-faced dogs whose owner, an elderly aunt of the Emperor, had committed suicide. Before the palace was burned, he took them away to safety.

One of these dogs was presented to Queen Victoria, who, (according to the same source) “without apparent irony, christened the dog Looty.” Yeah, Looty. You can’t make this stuff up.

From that point on, Pekingese became a fashionable breed among wealthy people in the U.S. and England.

Meanwhile, in China, the breed fell from favor, and during Mao’s rule, all dogs were condemned as a bourgeois luxury.


* Dennison, Matthew. “Not just for christmas: Matthew Dennison extols the virtues of a rare but distinguished breed.” Spectator 3 Jan. 2009: 38. Gale World History In Context. Web. 14 Oct. 2012.
Other info from: FAMOUS DOG-MOTHER.: The Story of “Looty,” Which Was Brought from China In 1861. New York Times (1857-1922); Feb 25, 1912; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York
Images: Top photo By Pleple2000 (Own work) [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons
Bottom Photo: Pekingese, 1903, via Wikimedia

Sarah Albee: Lights Out

From: Sarah Albee
October 17, 2012 at 04:45AM

The word “curfew” comes from the French term couvre-feu, which means “cover the fire.” The town bell was rung at about 8 pm in medieval England as a signal for everyone to put out their fires and candles and go to bed.

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