Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Updates Galore!

Lately, I have been busy. This is a new feeling for me, particularly when I don't have academia breathing down my neck, though I do miss the smell of semi-worn paper in the morning. 

Here's what has been keeping me preoccupied. 

Last month, I wrote a blog post for Teen Librarian Toolbox's #SVYAlit Project (Sexual Violence in Young Adult Literature). I highly recommend you check out this important and necessary endeavor to educate all about sexual abuse/violence. The post was about the excellent novel The S Word by Chelsea Pitcher. It was a pleasure to read this book, and I hope my post gives justice to it and the topics at hand. 

Here's an excerpt: 
Books like The S Word are necessary for dialogue about sexual violence/abuse, particularly for teenagers. It captures the world of high school in such a dynamic and powerful way. There is no sugar coating. There is instead a raw, emotional story about the consequences of assumption and passivity. I left this story feeling more informed, more aware, more human. YA never fails me in this regard.
Secondly, the Reader's Guide for Kerri Majors's This is Not a Writing Manual is finally out for the world to view! Thank you to Kerri, Claudean Wheeler (designer), and Rachel Randall (editor) for giving me the wonderful opportunity to create these questions, and giving them this fantastic presence and look. It once again reminds me that literary pursuits can never simply be solitary ones. 

Finally, from the brilliant mind of Katie Locke and my minimal experience and knowledge of Tumblr HTML code, Shark Week Stories was created.

I will let the Conduct of Code page from the blog give you the lowdown: 
Shark Week Stories is a project devoted to Young Adult literature and stories about menstruation. This project celebrates diversity in all its forms, and invites stories from all storytellers with all our genders, races, religions, sexual orientations, ages, backgrounds, and levels of experiences in sharing stories & writing.
We have posted three amazing nonfiction pieces thus far, but we would love more! So, please consider submitting stories about menstruation, both fiction and nonfiction, and spreading the word.


Writing this has puckered me out.

I will now go and read a book.

I know how to do that.


Post Scriptum:

I just finished reading the AMAZING, BRILLIANT, NO-WORDS-TO-DESCRIBE, To All My Fans, With Love, From Sylvie by Ellen Conford.

All I can say is, READ THIS.

And check out all the other extraordinary books published by Lizzie Skurnick Books. They do not disappoint. 


I had to look up synonyms for "fantastic." I am too excited about EVERYTHING. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Process - How I Create A Readers' Guide

Readers' guides are kind of amazing to create. You have the opportunity to place yourself in the heads of hundreds, thousands of potential readers and attempt to figure out what will intrigue them the most about this book you have the pleasure of reading. 

It's also kind of scary. Because, you don't want to overlook a thing. 

The balance of the two makes the entire experience addictive. 

After I get an electronic version of the book - since shipping overseas is too much of a hassle - I decide if my notes/questions will be handwritten or typed into a Word document. This mostly depends on my mood, but I find that handwriting and then copying this information onto the computer forces me to analyze and question everything an extra time. 

Once I start reading, I write notes about events in the book that catch my attention, copy down quotations that are poignant and have the potential to start interesting conversations, jot down skeletal versions of the more fully fleshed questions that are found in the final version, and I always allow my mind to wander outside of the book and find connections between this book world and the world around me. 

Since I do all this while reading, I try to maintain a balance between critical analysis of the novel, and pure enjoyment of the material. I don't want to lose the pure wonderment, excitement readers will feel when they read the book. I want this feeling to come through in every question. But at the same time, I want these initial feelings to lead to critical, philosophical discussions, debates, and conversations. The best books are the ones that linger not only in the heart, but in the mind. 

I try to conjure up, at the most, thirty questions. I do this in order to allow cutting of questions, more room for editing and conversation between myself and the writer, and as a personal challenge. This challenge forces me to break down what I am reading even further and dig for those golden nuggets of inquiry. My favorites are the ones that come when I think I have nothing left in me - that I have drained this material to the bone. I usually unearth these kinds of questions when I am away from the material: cooking dinner or doing laundry. 

Once I finish reading the novel, I hone and chisel my questions and create new ones from the notes I have taken. I also re-read parts of the book which I feel did not get covered enough. When I am satisfied with my efforts, I send them off to the writer for review. 

I completely expect and welcome further edits and cutting of questions when the writer gets back to me. I kind of love this part of the process the most. It reveals to me where I hit the mark, and where I fell flat. Where I got the essence of a scene, and when I just missed the entire point. I tend to respond quickly to these notes from the writer because I want to maintain the freshness of these questions in our minds. I want the creative juices to keep flowing. 

When we both sign off on the final version of the questions after a few emails back and forth, it becomes an official readers' guide and it is no longer mine. 

It is the reader's. 


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

I Have a Website‽

Why doesn't the interrobang punctuation mark exist on computer keyboards? 

This question has plagued me since I decided on the name of this blog post. 

I am a very deep thinker. 


to my website...

Typing those words is still a bit foreign and off-putting to me, but I have a good reason to start this website. 


I always thought adventure solely meant that you needed to jump on a car, train, plane, boat and leave, physically, whatever place you are inhabiting. But after doing this (on a plane), I have discovered that adventure is both a mental and a physical journey. You can move to Bali tomorrow, but if you are not spiritually, intellectually open, you are only experiencing a small part of the adventure. 

I hope that this website will enable me to take an adventure with fellow bloggers, readers, lovers, and writers of young adult literature.

So, to find out more, take a look at the tabs up top. It took me two days to figure out how to make them. That's commitment. And lack of computer literacy. 

And as they say in my hometown of Nerdfighteria


Don't Forget to Be Awesome.