Monday, February 29, 2016

More About Ageism in PBs & the Great Meme Hop

The reason I started posting about ageism in picture books is not that I write them, but that I love them. And, of course, because my interest has always been in the power of the word. 

The point in the studies I looked into last week wasn't that we see "old" differently as we ourselves age, but that if we present a negative view of aging to our young readers, that sends the very worst message to them. If old equates with sad and lonely, who in the hell can embrace aging? Not me.

Here's a great quote from Lindsey McDivitt's blog. 

"Many books for kids lead them to believe that old=bad. It’s not their natural inclination, it is us socializing them to believe it–by not showing them a more diverse older population."

Here's some good news. 

  • Although children are subjected to stereotypes of older people in their picture books, other mediums such as TV and films  still underrepresent and sometimes portray them in a negative light. So book writers aren't the only culprits here. Yay!
  • There are some excellent PBs out there that depict older adults in a positive light. I'm finding them and buying them. I want the kids in my family to have a positive attitude about growing up and growing old. It's a natural and wonderful process, not something to fear.

My Very Own Meme!
If I can do it you can too.

Hope you're ready to jump on board our Blog Hop and have some MEME fun. If you're not sure how to create a meme, here's a quick and easy--also free--site for you. Imgflip Now go and make something amazing and win books and $$ to buy some.

Quote of the Week: “The thing is, you can’t see people as fully human if all you can feel for them is pity.” Uma Krishnaswami, picture book author.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Teen Bookfest and Unintentional Ageism in PBs

Teen Bookfest

This has been a Wowaful weekend. The Teen Bookfest organizers were fabulous, the readers we met equally so. And then there were the writers. I finally met Yvonne Ventresca, my long-time crit partner. And she's as great in person as she is on paper. Here she is at one of the Panels.

Beth Feldbaum and A. Formento at the book signings.

Our host state! It was delicious.

We read blogs and forums about disliking sexism and racism in literature, but I haven't read too much about ageism there. Did I miss it? Let me know. 

Anyway, I stumbled on an interesting study of picture books (Ansello, 1977) and how they included and depicted old people. Here's a quick summary of that study, which included 549 books.

Characters were classified "older" if they were described physically, verbally or occupationally as older. They had to have at least two of these mentions to be tabulated in the study. What they was that "older characters are only present in 16.03% of those 549 picture book. When "older " characters were included they were most likely White (66.1%). Blacks were  represented at 3.4%, Hispanics 1.7%, Native American's  0.8%. 

The thing that caught my eye in the 1977 data was that 75.5% of "older" characters were described by only three adjectives: old, little and ancient

Well, I thought, by now that's all different, so I searched Mr. Internet and found another study (Hurst 1981). This study included books made up of Caldecott Medal winners.  "Older" characters in this sample of picture books were only shown interacting with children 3% of the sample and 48% of the "older" characters were described as old. Still? Well, one book used nice and in two others wise. The rest of the adjectives were funny, small, little, grumpy, lonely, poor and weak. 

It seems "old" was used so frequently that in another study by Dodson and Hause, they concluded that "no other generation is so completely described by the use of a single word" (qtd. from McGuire, 1993).

Hmm. So I kept looking. There had to be a study that showed an enlightened change somewhere.

And I found one by Dellmann-Jenkins and Yang (1997). This study compared a total of 95 award winning books (1972–1983 and 1984–1995) for the presence of older people in main or secondary roles. They used 11 books and found that "older" characters appeared in 12%; however, the descriptions were now words like "clean, healthy, happy, good, caring and interactive with others." Also the illustrations had a much more positive depiction of these characters. 

Now I'm a bit happier, but I keep digging. I've found another study that was done even more recently. I'll read it carefully and let you know what that one says next week. 

Do you enjoy going to book events? Have you ever paid attention to how the elderly are depicted in young people's literature? 

Quote of the Week: "Aging is an extraordinary process whereby you become the person that you always should have been." David Bowie

Monday, February 15, 2016

Corpus Christi and WEP-February Challenge

Check out their Website

I'm off to Corpus Christi, Texas in a few days to be at the Teen Bookfest By the Bay with a lot of other YA authors. Some writers from UnCommonYA. and of course, my fabulous crit partner, Yvonne Ventresca. I always get excited when I'm going to meet other writers, especially those I share my writing process with. Yvonne is the only crit partner I haven't met in person, so this is going to make the event very exciting. I'll post about it.

Now I've decided to jump into Yolanda and Denise's February WEP, Valentine's Lost and Found. This is a bit early, but hope it's okay because I'm still trying to stick with my Post On Mondays Only policy. 

Jolly was my first dog. He is still the dog that has my heart and always will. We grew up together. I remember when I got into serious trouble with my gram and Jolly would stand at my side while she scolded me—her corporal punishment was shaking her finger in my face until my eyes crossed. Then I had to go to my room for decades. Well, not decades, but at eight, the hour of confinement was long enough for world wars to be fought and won or lost. 

Jolly stuck with me during those decades. He’d say things like, “You’re my girl. You’ll be just fine, and all is going to be great in a short time. Besides, I’m here with you. Let’s just cuddle.”

So we did. 

Then when I was thirteen, my mom and gram decided I needed to visit the homeland. They shipped me off to Kansas where their roots were, but where I was the stranger in a strange land. I wrote and called home a lot—mostly about not being a fit for Kansas and missing Jolly. It wasn’t natural being away from home or him. 

In each conversation with Mom and Gram they said all was well, not to worry. 

“He’s a bit mopey, but gram and I are walking him."
”Jolly’s fine, honey. Enjoy your visit.”
“I brushed him today and told him you’ll be home in a couple of weeks.”

When I made my last call, the news wasn’t that cheery. Jolly had some problems. I begged to come home immediately, but my return airline ticket was already purchased. I could come back in a few days, just not that day. 

When I finally set foot on native soil again, I ran up the ramp and to my family. I fully expected they would smuggle Jolly into the airline terminal, but there were only two humans to greet me—two humans with grief all over their faces.

They didn’t have to tell me I’d never hold Jolly again, that he’d never curl up next me with warmth and encouragement. I knew. I also knew they’d done their best to save him, but I had this terrible gash inside me that none of my family could ever stitch up.

All I could think was that his girl hadn’t there when he needed her, and his girl has always regretted that. 

This is for Jolly, the dog I loved and lost. His name suited him. 

Quote of the Week: "A man is only as good as what he loves." Saul Bellow

Monday, February 8, 2016

Winners, Monday Meme, Hats Off Corner Welcomes Anna Simpson and #InkRipples Whew!


Thanks to everyone who took the time to visit on IWSG Wednesday and asked for an eBook of Double Negative. I put your names in the hat and drew Alexa Winters and Bish Denham. They'll have their eBook ASAP.

Monday Meme

Don't forget to join Tara TylerChristine Rains, and me on this easy-peasy HOP. Post a MEME during the week (use your own pic or an easy meme maker app) - and if you can't think of anything, pass on encouraging words from one of your reviews, or an inspiring quote!

Visit others. That's it!

Then the awesome hostesses will hop around and Ooo and Ahh and choose one entry each to win an ebook. AND two lucky random participants will win a $20 GC. Enter and spread some warmth!

Hats Off Corner Welcomes Anna Simpson

About the Mystery: 

Emma never dreamed of being a super-sleuth. In her mind, she’s more Scooby Doo than Nancy Drew and when her nosy neighbor, Mrs. Perkins, drags her to an anniversary party to solve a mystery, she rolls her eyes, buys a box of chocolates and hops in the car.

What’s a party without an attack on its host—or more accurately on the host’s grandson, sparking an allergic reaction and moving the party to the hospital waiting room. Suddenly, everyone is a suspect. Emma and Mrs. Perkins, along with Great Aunt Alice (a spirit with boundary issues who keeps stepping into Emma’s body like a new dress and playing matchmaker), dive into an investigation that almost gets Emma killed along with the man they are trying to protect. With so many reasons to kill him and so much to be gained if he died, Emma and Mrs. Perkins must unravel the tenuous ties that point to every member of his family as potential killers.

Even if it means going back to the psych ward, Emma will protect her friend and this innocent man. What good is freedom if it’s haunted with guilt?

What Some Are Saying:

Sherry from fundinmental says:
“I love writing that can pull emotions from me and White Light does that.”

“There’s lots to laugh at and some serious business to draw you deeper into the story.”

Mary from Goodreads says:
“This is a great beach read with mystical elements. Simpson creates colorful characters, intriguing plot, and with her use of dialogue keeps the story moving along.”

About Anna: 

Anna Simpson lives near the Canadian-US border with her family. Even though she’s lived in several places in British Columbia, her free spirit wasn’t able to settle down until she moved back to her hometown.
She is easy to find though, if you know the magic word — emaginette. Do an internet search using it and you’ll see what I mean. :-)

 You can connect with Anna here: Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

Want to see for yourself? Here’s an Excerpt: 

In a half acre of green sits one flowerbed, brimming with Lily of the Valley. I remember the first time I saw them over fifteen years ago. The delicate white bells could only be fairy hats. Today, the round base of cemented river stone is still full of waxy green spear tips. I don’t see fairy hats anymore. No, now I enjoy the effects of nature—its simple perfection.

Mrs. Perkins does it best. In fact, everything around Mrs. Perkins is perfectly cared for—her home, her yard, her car—all perfect.

But not today. A dark line sits between the jamb and the edge of the door.
A few inches of shadow drives my calm away and prickles the long blonde hairs at the nape of my neck. Butterflies in my stomach tell, no scratch that, demand I find my phone and go next door.

Available Now

AmazonChapters/IndigoB&NiTunesGoogle Play or Goodreads

Hope you'll check out Anna's book. 

And because I'm now MEME-CRAZED (Thank you Tara and Christine), I've joined these three other lovely peeps in #InkRipples. It's a monthly meme created by Kai Strand, Mary Waibel, and Katie L. Carroll. They post on the first Monday of every month (I know I'm late. Don't nag me, okay?) with a new topic. They're all authors, but you don’t have to be to participate.

The idea of #InkRipples is to toss a word, idea, image, whatever into the inkwell and see what kind of ripples it makes. They provide the topics and will be blogging about them on the first Monday of the month. You can spread your own ripples by blogging about the topic any day of the month that fits your schedule, just be sure to include links back to Katie, Kai, and Mary.

February--Chocolate (How could I not weigh in on this topic?)
March – Feminism
April – Poetry
May – Memories
June – Movies
July – Inspiration
August – Guilty Pleasures
September – Banned Books
October – Masks
November – Heritage
December – Cookies

Or you can simply share your thoughts on social media using the hashtag #InkRipples. You might simply comment on one of their posts to play along. Tag them and they’re always happy to share your posts and thoughts to keep those ripples going and intersecting.

There is no wrong way to do #InkRipples (with the exception of following basic human decency!). It’s about having a conversation, sharing ideas, and connecting. So if this sounds at all interesting, please do participate in whatever way you can. And feel free to use any of the meme’s images (created by the wonderful Mary Waibel).

Today my contribution to the #InkRipples topic is simply this! Babies Wearing Chocolate! How much fun is this? I want to play smash the chocolate cake, too. How about you? Don't you want to wear your food once in a while like you did when you were a baby? Read the quote of the week and then answer the question. 

Quote of the Week: "Normal is just a cycle on the washing machine." Whoopie Goldberg.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Four Uses for an Insecure Writer & Evernight Teen Giveaway

Alex Cavanaugh's Brain Child

Awesome co-hosts today are Allison Gammons, Tamara Narayan, Eva E. Solar, Rachel Pattison, and Ann V. Friend!

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

  • You're washed up before you begin. 
  • Nobody wants to read your stuff. 
  • The rejections come back before the send key is cool. 

What's so strange then about being just a little INSECURE? 

Nothing, but to ease any tension--should any of these be nagging at you--I've come up with some alternative uses for you... and me. Don't thank me, please. I'm preparing for all of these after this post goes live.

Inspect Keyboards

Do Line Edits

Generate Memes

Function as a Door Stop

Any other uses for Insecure Writers that you can think of? For heaven sakes share! But call me first because this was my idea. And read on because there's some free books and a $100 dollar gift certificate waiting for you below.

Visit EVERNIGHT TEEN to see all of their books.

EVERNIGHT TEEN is celebrating their anniversary this month with a 3rd Birthday Blog Hop. It’s EVERNIGHT TEEN’s birthday but we're giving out the presents with a Grand Prize of a $100 Amazon gift certificate!

EVERNIGHT TEEN books feature fresh teen fiction that is raw, gritty and real. Whether paranormal, contemporary, sci-fi or suspense, our books are about real issues and pack a strong emotional punch. You’ll find cutting edge fiction that today’s young adults can relate to and will keep you turning the pages long into the night.

Here are some excerpts of some reviews.

By Carla Davis

I decided to give Double Negative a try because the sample dragged me in from the first paragraph until I had to read the whole thing! It's so rare to see well done first person, but this book does it masterfully. Hutch has a real voice that must be rendered in the way the author has chosen. No lazy writing here!

By ltg584

I could tell within pages that this book was pure genius and it only became more apparent the deeper I was pulled into the story. I devoured it as quickly as I could… and now it’s over! :( I wish there was some way that it could be a series, just so I could have more! I have already been perusing the author’s other works, debating over which one to read next.

By Night Owl Reviews

Double Negative is just amazing. Reading it felt like being on emotional roller-coaster.

I’m proud to be an EVERNIGHT TEEN author. Enjoy this tease from my book, Double Negative.
"My life was going, going, gone, and I hadn't been laid yet. I couldn't go into the slammer before that happened." Hutch McQueen

TEASE: This is a short bit of a scene between Hutch and Fat Nyla. They get along most of the time, but not today. Nyla's one of my favorite characters in this book because she's often fragile and under attack by the "in-group" of girls, especially on a website called Mona Knows. Yet Nyla refuses to be beaten. 

I see her before she sees me, but when she does, man, does she shoot lasers at me with her eyes. I walk fast and stop her at the edge of the lawn. “Look, I’m a sleaze, okay? I’m sorry, but that’s just the way I was made.”

“What do you need?” 

“Nothing.” That’s pretty much the truth at the moment. By using one eye to read I’m doing more of the homework. If I hold one of them magnifying glasses over a page I can even look up words in the dictionary, so while it takes a lot of time, I can almost get through Deek’s assignments. Still I don’t want to take any chances. Nyla’s brain could be the difference between me staying a junior for a long time or making it to my senior year. I need to be on her good side.

She passes me and starts toward Larkston High.

“I said I’m sorry. Liz and me . . . well we kind of—”

“Just shut up.” She keeps walking, her eyes down.

“I came to try and—”

She wheels around so fast I run smack into her and have to back up.

“You’re a creep.” Nyla pokes me in the chest with her finger, and I back up some more. “I know what you call me. Not to my face, but when you talk about me to other kids.”

I try for one of those neutral looks, like I don’t know what she’s talking about.

“Let me refresh your memory.” She’s squared off in front of me with her hands on her hips. “Fat Nyla! That’s what you call me. That’s what Mona Knows calls me, and she got it from you.”

“Mona who?”

I don’t expect her to sock me, so when her fist comes at me I take the full wallop on the left side of my jaw. One minute I’m there with the sidewalk under my feet and the next that sidewalk is pressed against my cheek. 

I'm offering two eBooks of Double Negative during Evernight Teen's super celebration.  All you have to do is say you'd like a copy and leave your email in a comment. I'll put your name in the "hat".

Be sure visit each stop on the BLOG HOP for more chances to WIN the GRAND PRIZE of a $100 Amazon Gift Card. You’ll receive bonus entries for commenting on each blog!
a Rafflecopter giveaway