Wednesday, May 15, 2019

One-Word Book Titles

Merriam-Webster asked 11 authors how they came up with their single-word book titles.
Here is Malinda Lo, talking about Ash:
My novel Ash is a retelling of “Cinderella.” In many versions of the story, the main character sits in the hearth to keep warm, and thus is covered in ashes. This is why she’s named Cinderella (Cendrillon in French and Aschenputtel in German), implying a girl covered in cinders or ashes. In From the Beast to the Blonde: On Fairy Tales and Their Tellers, Marina Warner called attention to the significance of ashes in the story, explaining that it was a sign of bereavement. Warner wrote: “Cinderella, in her rags, in her sackcloth and ashes, is a daughter who continues to grieve.”

Many people know “Cinderella” as the story of a poor servant girl who grows up to marry a prince, but the story begins when a young girl loses both of her parents. Grief and loss are the underpinnings of this tale, given symbolic expression by the way she sleeps in the ashes of the kitchen fire. Without this darker beginning, the true love that sets her free at the end wouldn’t have nearly as much impact.

I’m not sure when I chose to name my Cinderella character Ash, but it seemed crystal clear to me that it was the only name she could have. Her story might begin in darkness, but she rises out of the ashes of her grief like a phoenix.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Get To The Point!

“Once exclamation points were scary and loud; they made you jump,” Heidi Julavits wrote in her 2015 memoir The Folded Clock. “You were in trouble when the exclamation points came out. They were the nunchucks of punctuation. They were a bark, a scold, a gallows sentence. Not any longer. The exclamation point is lighthearted, even whimsical.” The Atlantic 
Similarly, omitting an exclamation point also transfers whatever you're writing, by making it sound like you hate your co-worker's guts. 
“Thanks!” reads as: Thank you.
“Thanks” reads as: Whatever. 
“Good job!” reads as: Good job.
“Good job” reads as: Congratulations, you’ve accomplished the bare minimum of what we pay you for. The Cut
Don't Use It.
There is really only one rule when it comes to the exclamation mark: don’t use it. This is an exaggeration of course! In fact, rare usage is the point: the Chicago Manual of Style says the exclamation mark ‘should be used sparingly to be effective.’ BBC
  1. If you are writing a highly professional email, or even if you’re writing to a college professor about missing class, don’t use an exclamation point.
  2. Never use an exclamation point in your term paper—it could knock a few points off your overall grade.
  3. If you’re writing a blog post or something that isn’t highly professional, then you can use an exclamation point. Read through and see if you’ve already used one—if you have, then you don’t need more. Write Exciting Information. You Won’t Need a Billion Exclamation Points. grammarly blog

Monday, April 15, 2019

Poem in Your Pocket Day is April 18, 2019

Every April, on Poem in Your Pocket Day, people celebrate by selecting a poem, carrying it with them, and sharing it with others throughout the day at schools, bookstores, libraries, parks, workplaces, and on social media using the hashtag #pocketpoem. Celebrate Poem in Your Pocket Day this year!

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Create Your Own Blackout Poetry

Chances are you’ve seen it before: a full page of text that looks like the world’s most hard-to-please editor went after it with a thick, black permanent marker, leaving only a smattering of visible words scattered across the page. Or, more simply put, something resembling a heavily-redacted document belonging to the United States government. Sound familiar? It’s called blackout poetry and it’s been popping up with ever-increasing frequency on Instagram and Snapchat, in traditionally-published poetry collections, and even as street art.

The library has pages available for you to create your own blackout poetry. (See photo above.) The New York Times even got in on the action, creating a section of their digital newspaper where readers can create their own blackout poetry from New York Times articles, just by clicking.

Friday, April 5, 2019

A Delicious Start to National Poetry Month

Emily Dickinson wrote many poems in the kitchen—often on the backs of labels, recipes and other papers, and these reveal that the kitchen “was a space of creative ferment for her, and that the writing of poetry mixed in her life with the making of delicate treats.” After all, what better way to fill the long interval between putting something good in the oven and getting to eat it?

...whenever Dickinson saw children playing in her family gardens, “she headed for the pantry, filled a basket with cookies or slices of cake—often gingerbread—carried it upstairs to a window in the rear of the house (so their mothers wouldn’t see), and attached the basket to a rope to slowly lower it to the “storm-tossed, starving pirates” or the “lost, roaming circus performers” eagerly waiting below.”

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

The Journey to "Young Adult" Literature

Young adult literature, as we know it today, has been an exercise in evolution consonant with the evolution of the concept of the young adult itself. It hinges on the obvious fact that there could not be a young adult literature until there were “young adults,” something that didn’t happen until the late 1930s and early 1940s, when there emerged an American youth culture populated by kids newly called “teenagers.”

The word first appeared in print in the September 1941 issue of the magazine Popular Science Monthly. In earlier times, there had been—generally speaking—only two population segments in America: adults and children (the latter becoming adults when they entered the workforce, sometimes at as young as age 10). But in the 1930s and 1940s, driven by a drying-up of the job market during the Great Depression, record numbers of adolescents started attending high school. In 1939, 75 percent of 14- to 17-year-olds were enrolled in high school. A decade earlier only 50 percent had been.

It wasn’t until 1970—three years after the formative publications of The Outsiders and The Contender—that a newly emergent, serious young adult literature was recognized. For the first time ever, an actual YA novel, written specifically for readers in that new, in-between segment of the population—Barbara Wersba’s Run Softly, Go Fast, about a teenage boy’s love-hate relationship with his father—was first admitted to the list.
Art courtesy of Jane Mount/