YA and the ‘Real World’

The Were Chronicles: “Random”, “Wolf”, “Shifter”

At a certain level, the line between YA and adult literature becomes so fine as to be totally irrelevant.

Yes, there are always some readers whose worlds are so cushioned, so protected, so absolutely walled off from reality that they can can find reading about real problems to be distancing and completely alien. But those readers are very few, And even they, growing up, have to deal with SOME issues in their lives no matter how gilded they are.

There are books which are labelled YA that deal with a lot of subjects which might be considered difficult. Subjects like suicide, like discrimination, like loss, like fear, like helplessness.

The books aren’t there to exacerbate or underline a reader’s own issues. As with all literature, they exist primarily to tell a story. At least, the best of them do. They don’t moralize, they don’t frighten or terrorize, they don’t stroke a love of violence

But they do have real power. It lies in the fact that they let readers know that they are not alone, that they aren’t the only ones to suffer such things or feel such feelings. That can be empowering for the reader. Sometimes it is safer to sublimate such feelings into the pages of a powerful story, to learn how to deal with one’s own situation through the prism of storytelling, than it is to blunder about trying to solve overwhelming problems.

YA literature isn’t sweetness and light. It can be harrowing. Because young people can sometimes live harrowing lives.

When Weres become human

The Were Chronicles logoWhen I set out to write The Were Chronicles books, the whole thing started as a light-hearted thing. The project began as a short story intended for a Were-creatures anthology which wanted something other than the traditional wolves. So I pulled an odd creation out of the story-cauldron, something I’d never seen anyone play with before – a Random Were, a creature which can literally become the last living warm-blooded thing they see just before the Turn comes upon them. The idea had immense comic possibilities. In fact – as I put it in the first book – due to an “unfortunate farmyard accident”, my main protagonist’s mother is a Were-Chicken.

But while I was clucking to myself about that… the story changed under my touch, became bigger and darker. What was originally a short story became abook – and the book became series. It changed into that most amazing thing, a YA story but also a story about what it means to be human.

My Weres became a persecuted minority in society, and themes of discrimination and bullying reared up and demanded to be addressed. What do you do when your peers are bullying and threatening you and making you miserable, because you are “different”? That’s hard enough as and of itself, but what happens if those attitudes are then taken up by people in authority over you, whom you aren’t in a position to question or to fight?

My Weres touched off a nerve – because they explored, in my fantasy setting what it means *in our own world* for people to be a different color, or a different faith, or a different sexual orientation. I wrote about the power of persecution, and the power of spirit necessary to rise against and above that.

And then the themes multiplied. What does it mean to be considered an abject failure at something – by your own peers, your own class? How far would you be willing to go to prove yourself worthy? What things, what people, what ideas in your life are you willing to fight and die for? What happens if you are the only one of your kind, and you don’t know where you came from, or what is going to happen to you because there is no precedent for what you are?

The story unwound in a powerful and explosive way, the same story seen through the POV of three different characters who play a major part in the tale, a story seen through three separate prisms which thus acquires a certain three-dimensionality which was never before so obvious in any of my stories.

This is a work of fiction, a work of FANTASY no less, but its world… is our world, and it matters. It matters deeply. These are some of my most beloved, most astonishing characters, avatars of so many out there who face pain with courage and with knowledge and with earned wisdom.

The power of story

That is part of the power of story – this identification with a protagonist, who somehow arrives out of nowhere ready to completely understand our own innermost feelings and secrets. For adult readers who have had years of living under their belt, who have been working to acquire that necessary wisdom for a long time, stories like this may be memories – a look back into a time when things were difficult for themselves, and a recollection (with or without pain) of how they dealt with those situations.

For young readers, stories like these are part of that acquisition of wisdom and experience. If there is a good reason for a YA label at all then this is it – stories of people LIKE THE YOUNG READER, characters who are potential friends, but also potential role models in how they react and respond to fictional situations that the reader might find something to identify with. The best such stories are not moralizing or didactic or arrive with a knuckle-rapping “lesson” embedded inside – the best such stories are involving, enveloping, enfolding, they are things in which you can wrap yourself, and come out of wearing them as armour against the realities which might be out there waiting to assault you.

The best “lessons” are not the ones that are forcefully and insistently taught, but those answers which you find within yourself when a story like this helps you ask the right questions. What, then, would you do? In that story, in similar circumstances, what then would you do? How would you overcome?

The story gives you the pieces, the hints, but they don’t add up to anything that is a overweening Answer To Everything. Those pieces are different for every reader. They combine with pieces you bring to the story yourself. And every book connects with every reader in a different way, and the answers are always YOURS, deeply and personally yours, because every reader is unique and there are no two questions out there about people’s identity or their life situation which are exactly alike.

Stories are powerful. And stories aimed at, and read by, young readers are amongst the most powerful stories of all. We may read many books during the course of our lives – but by the time we get to be forty, fifty, sixty years old and half a century has rolled away from underneath us… for all too many of us, it is the books we read when we were sixteen which somehow remain with us, and in which we finds the roots of many things that we grew up to become.

You can find the first book in The Were Chronicles, Random, HERE

Wolf is HERE

Shifter is HERE

~~~~~
About me      My Books      Email me

If you found this blog post interesting, amusing or helpful, then please use the icons below to share it with other writers, readers or the guy next to you on the subway.

How do you build a world?

Part 1: The Five W’s and a H

Before reporting became a dying craft, every newbie was taught that a news story had to answer five fundamental questions:

Who, What, Where, When, Why

… and sometimes, How.

In any piece of fiction, these questions are just as fundamental.

I’m going to talk about The Questions, here, while referencing a particular set of books, my own, The Were Chronicles – “Random”, “Wolf”, and “Shifter”.

Question 1: WHO?

When a squib arrived in my inbox announcing a forthcoming anthology of short stories about Weres, – accompanied by an admonishment of “and let’s see something different than the usual tired old tropes!” – I sat down to write a story that immediately popped into my head.

It was a story about a kind of Were-being that was very definitely not a “tired old trope” – it was something that I’d never seen described before, a wholly crazy out-of-left-field idea…

…the Random Were.

A Random Were was a shape-changer who would change into the last warm-blooded creature they saw just before the moment of their Turn – and if it was their FIRST Turn then that would remain their primary form, the form that they will always turn to if they do not see any other critters cross their path in the crucial moments.

The idea had some wonderful comedic possibilities – and in fact the short story I began for that anthology was very light and humorous. It began by positing an unfortunate farmyard incident which left my protagonist’s mother stuck for the eternity of her existence on this world… as a Were-chicken. And trust me, this still gets a laugh if I read that section of the story in a public reading. A Were chicken is FUNNY.

Except that this story quickly ceased to be mindlessly amusing. The Random Were could not exist without rules, and the more I thought about the rules the more a cohesive Were society began to shape itself – a society consisting of various clans who shift true to their form (the Corvids, the Felids, the folk who turn into dogs or bears or sheep or llamas…), the wild-card Randoms (who were the lowest on the totem pole, for obvious reasons) and another new thing, the New Moon Were, the kindred who shifted at the New Moon and not the Full Moon and who generally found themselves living as bats for the three days and nights of their Turn.

They rose in front of me, these people, these races, this society, and they became as solid and real for me as any (now all too ordinary) human being I happened to cross paths with in the street.

I abandoned the short story. It became clear that “Random” wanted to be a book, a huge book, in concept if not words. It meant creating a whole new world and building it up from its foundations… peopled by characters who quickly became some of the best fictional people I had ever had the privilege to work with.

But quite aside from tackling the big questions this book was also an intensely focused one, dealing with things on a much smaller scale than societal pressures – dealing with family secrets, and very very personal issues. The big picture was the Weres and their society – but within it, etched with a diamond-tipped pen, a sharp storyline emerged, and at the center of it was a girl called Jazz.

Jazz was the youngest in an immigrant family of Randoms who came to a new place looking for safety from persecution in the land in which they had been born. The safety proved to be somewhat illusory, because it was, first of all, bought at the very high price of personal freedom. The Were kindred was just as feared and hated here as they had ever been before except in the new world this was carefully hidden behind “rules” and “laws”.

Laws, of course, have always existed to be broken – and there is a level of both subtle and quite open torment – bullying, discrimination – leveled at the Were from their human peers. Jazz’s older sister Celia, who is central to this story, bore the brunt of this torment, to the point that it led to the fracture at the heart of this family – the silences and the secrets surrounding Celia’s death from an overdose of a Were-specific drug.

“Random” is an exploration of an individual trying to find her place in her world (particularly when her own Random nature leads to a transformation which will leave her in a very uncomfortable position) as well as an exploration of what it means to belong to a family, a clan, a race, a species.

It is, on the surface, a story about Were-kind. It is on a deeper level a story about what it means to be human.

“Random” wanted to be a full length book – but it was obvious very quickly that the story I had begun telling would not fit into a single book. I had a series on my hands.

What The Were Chronicles became is not so much a trilogy as a triptych, with a story arc being approached in three different books by three different POV characters – and in “Wolf”, book 2 of the series, the POV character is Jazz’s brother Mal. Mal is battling his own demons – he is at 17 the oldest unturned Were of his generation, which is destroying him, especially since his younger sister Turns before he does; and also, perhaps far more powerfully, he sees himself as guilty for his sister Celia’s death (because it was he who procured the tablets which she took, which then killed her).

The frustration and the guilt make Mal a dark character, perhaps even an unlikeable one – but it is his strength, his convictions, his ability to grasp a nettle when required and endure the stings which are necessary in order to achieve a particular goal, his growth as a character, his willingness to learn and change and shoulder both love and responsibility when they are both laid upon him, it is all these things that make him unique, and wonderful, and real.

He begins his book, “Wolf” as a whiny and petulant boy. He ends it as a man. This is a coming of age story, and it charts a path which may be thorny but which is always true.

Mal’s friend is the titular character of Book 3, “Shifter”.

Chalky is a young man who has lived by his wits and fended for himself since a very young age. He has acquired self-reliance, and power, and knowledge, and a mastery of his not inconsiderable gifts. He is a talented computer hacker, and he is also, as the book’s title implies, a wild card in the Were universe. 

He can change, as his kind can, into something other than human but for him this is not constrained by the phase of the moon or restricted to three days (neither more nor less). He can Turn into whatever he wants or needs to Turn into, whenever he wants, for however long he wants.

So my characters Jazz in “Random”, Mal in “Wolf”, “Chalky in “Shifter”, and Celia, the eldest sister, who spans all three books – these are the faces of the answer to my “WHO” question.

These are the characters who bear the weight of my story on their shoulders, which sometimes look entirely too fragile to hold up the load. But they are strong, my people. And they have a story to tell of their kind, of their families, of themselves.

Aspiring writers often ask how characters are created – and I have to disappoint them with an answer that, for me, characters aren’t created, they are born. My characters tend to step out of the back of my mind, fully formed, demanding that I sit down and take dictation.

They are real to the point that they will come and sit on my bed at night, kicking the side of the mattress with their heels, and tell me I am “doing it wrong” if they feel that I am. And they are usually right, damn them. To me, the person telling the story is a real companion, someone I know well, someone with whom I can squabble and tussle but whose opinions about their own story I deeply respect and whose suggestions (if I may call them that) I take very seriously indeed.

When it comes to “WHO”, it is very important to me that I know and understand the dramatis personae of my stories. Because without a strong “WHO” everything else can disintegrate fast. Do I begin with character, then? I could answer yes but again every story is different.

Sometimes it’s a situation that the characters are in. Sometimes it’s no more than the whistle of a distant train. Stories go where they will. But in the end, they are anchored by character – by the “WHO” in the equation. Because without a strong answer to that question you have invisible people who never come to life at all, and a story with characters who do not live – for you, the creator, as well as for those who will be reading about their lives when your story is done – is a story which will crumble to ashes at a touch.

Find out more about the Were Chronicles HERE

A candle in the bitter dark

Hold the light illustration

#HoldOnToTheLight is a campaign encompassing blog posts by fantasy and science fiction authors around the world to raise awareness about treatment for depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD initiatives, bullying prevention and other mental health-related issues. My contribution is below.      -0-

~~~~~~

There was this throwaway conversation about a compelling What-If — what happens if the same first-born child is promised to two different witches? There was even a brand new niche subgenre coined for the resulting tale.

Helping Hands - Witches story illustrationI said,

That’s almost irresistible.”

So why are you resisting?”

I was asked , and so I stopped.

 

 

To read my version of the newborn “morewitchcentriclesbianfairytaleromcom” literary genre, think about making a small contribution HERE

~~~~~

13 Books About Books for Big Book Nerds

At offtheshelf.com, Kerry Fiallo offers us a meta reading experience. “Here are thirteen great novels in which books play a prominent role—usually instigating the plot.”

First Impressions CoverFirst Impressions, by Charlie Lovett

A Jane Austen superfan takes a job in a London antiquarian bookshop when two different customers request the same obscure book. What should be a simple inquiry turns into a gripping mystery about the true authorship of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. Bibliophiles will love this compelling novel celebrating the love of books.

See the other selections HERE

~~~~~

 

A candle in the bitter dark

No story worth telling – no matter how meticulously planned – has ever survived intact its first encounter with good characters, or the first really unexpected twist in the plot.

That transformation is precisely what happened to me when I set out on the story journey that turned into my YA series, The Were Chronicles.

Let me give you just a little bit of a background snapshot. Someone put out a call for a new anthology which would revolve around the idea of Were-creatures – but “not wolves”, the guidelines said emphatically. “Give me something OTHER than wolves.”

I immediately came up with the idea of the Random Were – a kind of Were-critter hitherto unknown (or at the very least unexplored) in the genre literature. Randoms were Weres who had a primary form, to be sure – and yes, that could really be anything so long as it was a warm-blooded creature (as in, no insects, no fish, no snakes). Without any further stimuli it would be this primary animal form that they would assume when their time of change came – they would Turn at the full moon, like every other Were, and stay in that shape for their three changed days before they return to being themselves.

But if any Random, at the cusp of their transformation,  so much as glimpses something ELSE, another creature, anything warm-blooded that isn’t themselves or their primary form… THAT is the shape they will assume. That happened to a character in my own novel, an unfortunate farmyard accident ensured that she went through  the rest of her life as a Were-chicken.

The comedic potential for all of this is high and the original story I started to write was, well, light. And comic. And possibly laugh-out-loud. But it didn’t stay that way. Much like the Random of the title, my story seemed to catch a glimpse of something very different and much darker, and turned into that instead.

The story that came out of all of this was not simply a light-hearted Were-critter yarn. It changed into a story which was, as one reviewer said, more about what it means to be human than what it means to be a Were. My changeling creatures became avatars, taking on the mantle of everyone who has ever been feared, mistrusted, mistreated, herded, concentration-camped, studiedly annihilated… because they were different from the rest.

And this story turned into a very sharp light that shone starkly into the dark shadows where the bullied and the battered souls lived.

Without spoiling the books, let me just tell you that Celia, one of the pivotal characters of this story, a Random Were by birth, accidentally Turns into an animal shape in front of the eyes of her entire school filled mostly with Normals, not Were, because she was too close to her Turn. From the moment that she is seen changing into a cat, she is marked – as someone with a scarlet letter on her forehead, perhaps, in this instance a large red W.

In Celia’s world, the Were have been marginalized by strict laws which have been promulgated “for their own safety” but which mean that it is impossible to run away from being one in a normal everyday society.

Much like a parallel pattern in our own historical reality, in the manner of, perhaps, the yellow stars forced on Germany’s Jewish population during a period not too long ago, my Were are permitted to live amongst and mingle with the “Normal” human population but only if they carry identity cards which are marked with a paw print. The mark of “shame”. The mark of being different and therefore fair game.

Celia’s life descends into nightmare. Her peers, goaded by the mores and expectations of their society, begin to make her days miserable. And because she is still a child, under control of authority figures who choose to take the side of the bullies, there is literally nobody to whom it is possible to appeal for help.

I did not sugar coat it. I wanted it to be stark and brutal and terrifying. And for poor Celia, that’s exactly what it was.

Paraphrasing one of my favorite G K Chesterton quotes, the value of fantasy lies not so much in scaring our children with the idea that dragons exist – but in giving them hope and courage in grasping the thought that they can be defeated.

It is invaluable for someone who feels lonely, isolated, backed into a corner, despised, feared, and cast out by a society to which they desperately want to belong to know that although it might often seem that way *they are not alone*.  And my story grew the dark wings of a brooding and dangerous kind of a guardian angel – the kind that doesn’t necessarily defend you against harm but which arms you against it so that you learn how to stand up to it all by yourself.

When I was young, I was a solitary, bookish child, often by myself, and certainly (given my peripatetic wandering childhood) always somehow *other.* I was lucky in that I was never bullied for it. I was simply left alone. But that doesn’t mean I don’t know what being bullied is like, I’ve seen plenty of it. I can understand what gives it form, strength, power. I can feel the pain visited upon the victims.

Candle in the dark imageWhat all of that does mean is that I found myself writing a story which was vastly more important than the one I thought I was embarking on when I started out. I was holding out a light in a dark place. Perhaps it wasn’t a flaming sword – perhaps it wasn’t making a victim into a warrior, at least not directly – but this story turned into writing on the wall, “You are not alone.”

That is a powerful message, and it resonated with readers. I got feedback about how much it mattered to someone who had either direct or indirect experience with these things. It was a story which may have been hard to read, for some. It might even rate a trigger warning, for some. But the catharsis was very real, too, and this story – this #HoldOntoTheLight story that was born out of a moment of lighthearted whimsy – is perhaps the most important thing I have ever written, or might indeed ever write.

This is a fantasy that is more real than I would have believed possible – and it is at once an indictment of what people do to other people who are deemed to be “not-us” and therefore ripe for being dehumanized and called enemies, and a shining story about how at least one of those marginalized people stood up and took matters into her own hands and said “No more”.

Everyone matters. It is sometimes hard to get people who have been downtrodden or hated for a long time to believe that truth about themselves. That’s why a story which shows them that they own their own place in the universe can be so important. Sometimes it’s very dark out there, when you’re the only one holding a tiny flickering candle – and sometimes it just helps when someone else steps up beside you holding another.

You still have to wait for the sunrise to see things in the bright light of another day – but sometimes, truly, all it takes to drive away a sense of darkness and keep your spirits up through the remainder of the night is knowing that you aren’t out there in the shadows all by yourself.
~~~

#HoldOnToTheLight believes fandom should be supportive, welcoming and inclusive, in the long tradition of fandom taking care of its own. We encourage readers and fans to seek the help they or their loved ones need without shame or embarrassment. Please consider donating to or volunteering for organizations dedicated to treatment and prevention such as: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Home for the Warriors (PTSD), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Canadian Mental Health Association, MIND (UK), SANE (UK), BeyondBlue (Australia), To Write Love On Her Arms and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

To find out more about #HoldOnToTheLight, find a list of participating authors, or reach a media contact, go HERE

~~~~~
Quote of the Day
Quote Jodi Picoult poster~~~~~
About me    My books    Email me 

If you found this blog post interesting, amusing or helpful, then please use the icons below to share it with other writers, readers or the guy next to you on the subway.

Adult Coloring Books Craze

Adult Coloring BooksColoring books for adults are this year’s surprise smash hit category, and they’re gaining steam heading into the gift-buying season, Jim Milliot writes at Publishers Weekly.

The craze that started at the beginning of 2015 shows no sign of slowing down. ‘Lost Ocean’, Johanna Basford’s newest book sold more than 55,000 copies in the first week after its release, according to Nielsen BookScan. Her first two books were published by Laurence King: Secret Garden and Enchanted Forest have sold more than 453,000 copies and 350,000 copies, respectively, so far this year.

Read the whole story HERE

~~~~~
“Required Reading”

I just got a delightful email from Shanan Winters, someone I used to know back in the days of Usenet and misc.writing, about a book I co-wrote with a man later to become my husband. The novel, ‘Letters from the Fire’, was written in the form of emails exchanged between an American man and a Serb woman living under US/NATO bombs during the war against Serbia.

“With all the events going on in the world right now,” Shanan wrote, “I thought of your book. I remember …just how much it affected me. I was delighted to see that you have a Kindle version available so I could recommend it to the world.”

She did just that.

Letters from the Fire

 

“I try not to wax political on my blog. It’s my safe space where I express my art. Just know that at my core, I’m a peace-loving, granola-munching, forest-attuned, nature girl. That’s pretty evident from my books.

But… in light of recent world events, I’m going to put this out there as required reading material for… well… basically everyone… This (book) is a very real, very poignant look at how we view the world though ‘me-colored’ glasses, and it resolves in such a manner than it brings hope that we can, and will, survive, even through our differences.”

 

Read Shanan’s blog HERE

Shanan’s own novel, ‘Rising’, can be found HERE

~~~~~
Three Free Books

It’s Anti-Bullying Week, an event intended to raise awareness of bullying of children and to highlight ways of preventing and responding to it. It’s essentially a UK event but bullying is a huge problem everywhere, and it is a major part of the story arc in my YA series, The Were Chronicles, particularly the first book, Random’.

Because of that anti-bullying aspect, I’m offering three free signed copies of ‘Wolf’, the second book in the series, randomly selected from people who post a picture of themselves or their cat holding a copy of ‘Random’ in social media – blog it, tweet it, Facebook it, etc. — and then send me a copy for this blog.

~~~~~
The perils of research

I am in the midst of doing the required research for the new story that is coiling and uncoiling itself restlessly in my mind. Twist, twist, twist, it needs to be told and it will be.

But there are many aspects to this thing. And although I am not writing about the twilight of the Plains Indians, that is a large part of the background to the era in which my story is set – it is in fact in the very heart of of those years.

Plains Indiansdavidpaulkirkpatrick.com

It was the beginning of the beginning of the end, and I am reading about the history of it all, about the clear line that leads me through years, relentlessly, through the bullying and the lies, through the making and then breaking of treaties, on through terror and hunger and resentment and rivers of blood (bison and human…) on to the Trail of Tears, Little Bighorn, Wounded Knee.

I actually have to stop reading every so often and go away from my books and look outside into the green trees and the rain and try to catch my breath, to stop my racing heart, to calm my spirit, to make myself strong enough to continue with the thing I need to do, with learning the things I need to know.

My story is not primarily concerned about what had been done to the Indians – but that is a huge part of how the story is shaped, and I need to know these things. I need to. And yet, it’s a black arrow in my heart, and I am horrified, and angry, and mourning.

It all happened, you might say, a long time ago. And some might say that the ends justified the means, that the old had to give way before the new could be. But how do we all live with this history like a black cloud above the present? How can we insist that we deserve the sunlight? How, when so much bitter betrayal has been piled like bleaching bones on the American Plains? How?

No, I am not going to make my book into a soapbox from which I am going to be preaching a personal gospel of guilt and attempted redemption. But I AM going to make as much of an effort as I can to tell a forgotten and inconvenient truth, as a grim and solid backdrop to the story which I am on my way to writing. I offer it all up – my need to give voice to all of this, to shine a light into an impenetrable darkness, and all that I will do right and probably do wrong on the way there – on this altar. I promise to tell as much of the truth as I know, as I can find out.

And on that… it’s back to the books, and the heartache, and the tears.

And that’s only the research. What comes when I start writing… the old gods alone know. And they aren’t telling yet.

~~~~~
THIS ‘n THAT

Dressing the part
Name's BondPhotographs by Maxine Helfman

Emily St. John Mandel as James Bond:
“Who hasn’t fantasized about being utterly competent, impeccably dressed, supremely unflappable, and in possession of multiple passports?”

Five novelists share their favorite characters HERE

~~~~~
Quote of the Day6 WordsA story that if it isn’t true, it ought to be.

~~~~~
Alma Alexander      My books     Email me

If you found this blog post interesting, amusing or helpful, then please use the icons below to share it with other writers, readers or the guy next to you on the subway.

No women or girls

At The Huffington Post, Claire Fallon notes that books about women don’t win major prizes, and asks:

“How Can We Change That?”

Man, woman, cyborg — no matter what kind of writer you are, Fallon says, if you want to win a major literary award, there’s just one thing you have to do: Make sure your main character is a man.

Okay, it still helps to be a man, writing about men, but a woman writing about men will fare far better than a woman writing about women, at least if she wants to be a contender for awards such as the Pulitzer for fiction or the Man Booker Prize.

Nicola Griffith, the acclaimed author of Hild and Ammonite, recently broke down the last 15 years of major fiction prize-winners by the gender of the author and the main character, and the resulting pie charts are pretty startling.Pulitzer Prize chart
Read the whole story HERE

~~~~~
How White and Male is the Media?

The media has long been a white boys club, my husband, a former newsman, often pontificates…errr, says. A new Women’s Media Center report on gender in media — film, TV, and print — backs him up.

The report notes, for example, that newspaper editorial boards of the ten largest newspapers on average, were comprised of seven men and four women, and newsroom staffs are incredibly white.Media gender biasAt Flavorwire, Sarah Seltzer takes a detailed look at the situation.

Read the whole story HERE

~~~~~
Elementary School Boys Fight BullyingKids on bullyingThere is a particular joy in reading a story of kids banding together to help and support a weaker member of the herd rather than taking the path of lesser resistance and ganging up to ridicule that poor victim’s inadequacies. These five boys give me hope for humanity.

As someone who wrote a book in which issues such as bullying and discrimination play a major part (RANDOM, in The Were Chronicles), I was drawn to this story – and then I just sat there and grinned and cheered as I watched that video, those kids. The kids who chose the power of love over love of power. Well, DONE, all of you. I am sitting here and applauding.

At littlethings.com, Catie Keck gives us a full report.

Story and video HERE

~~~~~
My recent appearance on John Scalzi’s Big Idea slot on his very popular blog really showed the power of a following. For a couple of days I basked in the reflected glory, as visits to my own blog quadrupled from that one posting I guest-made on Scalzi’s – and even now there’s a trickle down and I keep on seeing visitors who come to me through him.

For the sake of the books which have been the recipients of this spike in attention, I am very happy. For my blog – hey – Scalzi folk who might have moseyed by – do stick around 🙂

ICYMI, That post on Scalzi’s site HERE

~~~~~
21 Famous Authors’ Favorite Books

At Mental Floss, Sonia Weiser notes that one key to being a good writer is to always keep reading—and that doesn’t stop after you’ve been published. Here are 21 authors’ favorite reads. Who knows, one of these books might become your new favorite.

Not suprisingly, I was intrigued by Ray Bradury’s choice(s):

Ray Bradbury

US science fiction writer Ray Bradbury. (Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images)

Bradbury discussed his favorite books in a 2003 interview when he was 83. Among them, he said, were “The collected essays of George Bernard Shaw, which contain all of the intelligence of humanity during the last hundred years and perhaps more,” books written by Loren Eisley, “who is our greatest poet/essayist of the last 40 years,” and Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.

The books that most influenced his career—and are presumably favorites as well—were those in Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter, Warlord of Mars series. “[They] entered my life when I was 10 and caused me to go out on the lawns of summer, put up my hands, and ask for Mars to take me home,” Bradbury said. “Within a short time I began to write and have continued that process ever since, all because of Mr. Burroughs.”

Read the whole story HERE

~~~~~
THIS ‘n THAT

In the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane…it’s Spock!

Asteroid Named in Tribute to Leonard Nimoy

~~~
Bookindy Allows Users To Browse Amazon, Buy Indie

Read the whole story HERE

~~~
Seattle Tops Amazon’s ‘Most Well-Read Cities’ List’

~~~~~
Quote of the dayQUOTE Vincent van Gogh~~~~~
Alma Alexander      My books      Email me

If you found this blog post interesting, amusing or helpful, then please use the icons below to share it with other writers, readers or the guy next to you on the subway.