Tag Archives: authors

On Composition: Writing for Children

13 Jun

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When E.B. White, author of Charlotte’s WebStuart Little, and a host of books for adults, was asked if he had a hard time shifting between writing for adults and writing for children, he said,

“Anyone who writes down to children is simply wasting his time. You have to write up, not down.”

I fully agree. I’m partial to this method as an author of educational fiction. That’s what I like to call my genre, anyway. It’s made up stories with real-life academics. My goal is to sneak some language, some science, some activism, some human decency into an adventure that, to a child, is just fun.

Not every children’s author aims for the educational, but most children’s books come out of the printing press with a moral or a lesson anyway. Books teach children even when they don’t set out to dictate a fully realized lesson–academic or otherwise–because children soak up EVERYTHING.

It is because books create teachable moments that children’s authors, whether aiming to create a book worthy of lesson plans or not, write UP to children. Why not? What’s the purpose in a book that doesn’t challenge its reader in some way?

Don’t say enjoyment, because books that write up and challenge are enjoyable, too. Frankly, books that don’t stretch the mind get boring. Kids are constantly searching for more. More. More. More.

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So, when writing up to a child, are we missing our target audience? Are we mislabeling our age group? Is it bad that a middle-grade fiction book hangs at the upper end of the age range in difficultly while the story and characters are more enticing to the younger end? Is this bad marketing? Do we need to sell our books to the ages who already use the vocabulary it contains? Do we say, “Well, if that book is too easy, they should buy a book for an older child,” and continue on our way?

No to all of those! Because aging up in books in order to get the desired complexity often results in children reading age-inappropriate story-lines simply so they aren’t bored with its delivery. Writing up to children means delivering appropriate challenges.

And to that I say: why wouldn’t you want to teach that eight-year-old something new within an appropriate and amusing context? Make them ask their parents for a definition.  Make them open a dictionary! Make them revisit first grade methods of sounding it out. Make them say the word wrong a few times before someone hears them and corrects them.

How many times have you heard someone mispronounce a complex word? They didn’t say it wrong because they’re unintelligent. They said it oddly because they learned it from READING! Thank a book that challenged that person somewhere along the way!

So go ahead and put that tough word in your kid’s book. Challenge them academically (whether your book is academic or not) by trusting them with a sturdy vocabulary, honest delivery, and creative contexts. They will accept all of it.

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Who Is Nova June? Nova’s Top Role Models in Science

7 Feb

Nova is always learning something. She knows progress means paying attention to the scientists, mathematicians, engineers, and trail-blazers who came before her and that learning from their mistakes and successes is the way to improve. Here are 10 of Nova’s top role models, in order of birth.

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  • Sophia Brahe (1559-1643)
    • Danish genealogist, horticulturist, and astronomer, known for her 900-page genealogy of 90 Dutch noble families, and for assisting her brother, Tycho Brahe (who insisted on educating her when her brilliant scientific mind began to show around age 10), in his astronomy, which included the world’s most accurate astronomical observations pre-telescope.
  • Ada Lovelace (1815-1852)
    • Mathematician and writer widely considered the first computer programmer for her creation and publication of an algorithm that would allow wider applications of a computing machine beyond calculation only.
  • Maria Mitchell (1818-1889)
    • First American woman to work as a professional astronomer, discoverer of a telescopic comet (too small to see with the naked eye) later named “Miss Mitchell’s Comet”
  • Ida Hyde (1857-1945)
    • American physiologist known for her invention of the microelectrode, an intracellular instrument used to monitor physiological parameters in marine animals. She also advocated for childhood health screenings in public schools to help combat tuberculosis and spinal meningitis among other infectious diseases. Because of the sexism and discrimination she faced in the scientific community, she, along with other female scientists and professors, founded the Naples Table Association to help fund and support women in scientific careers.
  • Marie Curie (1867-1934)
    • Physicist and chemist, first woman to win a Nobel Prize, and the first person and woman to win a Nobel Prize twice. Her research in radioactivity led her to create mobile x-ray units, and the vehicles and generators needed to run them, for use during in-the-field medical care for soldiers of World War 1. This is just one of her many accomplishments.
  • Bessie Coleman (1882-1926)
    • First woman of African descent AND first woman of Native American descent to hold a pilot’s license. She went to France to attend flight school because no one in America would teach her because of her race and gender. When she returned to the U.S. with her international pilot’s license, she became a successful air show pilot.
  • Grace Hopper (1906-1992)
    • Computer Scientist and United States Navy Rear Admiral who invented one of the first compiling tools and influenced programming languages still used today. She received the National Medal of Technology in 1991 and was posthumously awarded the National Medal of Freedom in 2016.
  • Chien-Shiung Wu (1912-1997)
    • Chinese-American experimental physicist who worked on the Manhattan Project developing the process to separate Uranium into Uranium-235 and Uranium-238 isotopes by gaseous diffusion. For this and other work, she won the Wolf Prize in Physics in 1978.
  • Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958)
    • Chemist who discovered and published findings on the double helix shape of human DNA. These findings were not widely recognized until after her death, although she was recognized for her work with viruses and coal during her lifetime.
  • Mae Jemison (1956-)
    • Astronaut, engineer, and physician, and the first African-American woman to travel to space.

 

If you’d like to learn more about these and others who’ve done great things, follow the links above or visit A Mighty Girl (my personal favorite source for inspiration), the Association for Women in Science, or read this article by Jan Sloan about the founding of the Naples Table Association published by University of Chicago Press.

New Release: Fairy Tales and Folklore Re-Imagined

24 Jan
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An anthology of short stories and poems published by Between The Lines Publishing of Saint Paul, MN, Copyright 2017.

It was a pleasure to write another short story for Between The Lines’ yearly anthology. Last year, contributions like my short story “Family Phoenix” focused on the theme Liminal Time Liminal Space–a cerebral topic which challenged authors to consider worlds between.

This year, our theme was more mainstream, but the contents of the completed anthology are anything but. The authors I had the privilege of joining in this publication are talented word-workers. They do not rest on the familiarity of their respective fairy tales and folklore to evoke emotion, set scenes, or build character. My short story, “Grey Man” (Marsico 246), and those in its company are true re-imaginations.

Check out Fairy Tales and Folklore Re-imagined for yourself.

 

 

Just Checking In

23 Jan

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The holidays are over and life is settling back into its normal rhythm. For me, that means lots of reading and writing.

Using the GoodReads Reading Challenge tool, I’ve resolved to read at least 24 books this year. So far, so good; I’m already on book 4. The best method to succeed, I figured, was to read as many books as possible while my schedule is relatively calm. It will set me up with a cushion for travel days and events later in the year when I’m unable to devote time to reading for pleasure.

I’ve also been polishing my manuscript of Acephalous Book 2. I finished the draft during NaNoWriMo 2017, and judging by my current rate of progress, I’m thinking it might publish by the end of Summer 2018 rather than Winter. That is, if the beta readings go swiftly.

Regardless, I’m thrilled with Acephalous Book 2 so far. It’s better than book 1 in a number of ways, and I’m excited to share it with readers. I plan to do a finalized title and cover reveal in March. If all goes well until then, the book might release in time for my first event in April: Roanoke Author’s Invasion. That’s pushing it, though, and I don’t plan to rush it.

In other news, I’ve got a new project in the works that I will be announcing right here on February 1 that I’m also aiming to complete by April!

AND Humans In My House 3 will be out by Christmas.

(If this is what my life looks like when things are settled, imagine what it’s like when I’m busy!)

I realize I’m just throwing random titles, dates, and vague entreaties to you, but trust me. You’ll want to stick around and keep checking back to find out what all the suspense is about. In the meantime, sign up for my newsletter to get less cryptic updates about my projects and event schedule, plus exclusive writing tips that I don’t post here. To sign up, click here. I’ll also post the Red Ink News sign-up on the navigation bar.

In the meantime, happy reading!

 

Convention Schedule 2018

17 Feb

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Want a signed copy of Humans In My House or Acephalous? Want to talk writing? Want to adopt a #pocketkitty and join in #Kepler’s fun? Come see me at my upcoming appearances. Check here for updates or join my mailing list!

2018

FEBRUARY

  • February 24, 2018: Multi-Author Book Signing @ Sugar Island, 206 N Topsail Dr, Surf City, NC 28445
    • 12:30pm, free event

MARCH

  • March 10, 2018: Surfside Beach BBQ Festival, Town of Surfside Beach, SC
  • March 17, 2018: Adoptapalooza 2018, Palmetto Ace Home Center, 8317 Ocean Hwy,
    Pawleys Island, South Carolina 29585-8438

    • This is a pet adoption event held yearly to help clear the shelters. All adoption fees have been sponsored by the businesses participating. Come get a furry family member!
    • Event details here

APRIL

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  • April 7, 2018: Roanoke Author Invasion 2018, Holiday Inn Tanglewood-Roanoke
  • April 28, 2018: The Crate Escape Adoption Event, PetSmart 1391 S Commons Dr., Myrtle Beach, South Carolina 29588
    • This is a clear the shelters pet adoption event. I’ll be there selling Humans In My House (cat books) and others, plus other handmade cat merch!
    • FREE event, info here

JULY

Raleigh Supercon

  • July 27-29, 2018: Raleigh SuperCon, Raleigh Convention Center

 

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