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Doing the DNA Dissection (63)

GENETICS: BREAKING THE CODE OF YOUR DNA by Carla Mooney & Illustrated by Samuel Carbaugh
Who discovered DNA and what do we know about it now? Find out in this non-fiction volume complete with side-bars, comics, and experiments you can do at home. This book provides extensive coverage on the topic of DNA, RNA, and how cells divide to pass down genetic information. It is a great addition to a biology or life science class curriculum, or for anyone interested in a comprehensive overview of the topic. (Nomad Press, 2014)

Body Language Lessons (62)

EVERY BODY'S TALKING: WHAT WE SAY WITHOUT WORDS by Donna M. Jackson with Carol Kinsey Goman, PhD
Body language can speak the seven cross-culture expressions and more, and learning to control one's ticks and movements can help to portray you in the best light. Easy to read lists, call-outs, and examples make this an ideal non-fiction book for those looking to learn more about body language, or to help improve one's public speaking or professional interaction skills. (Twenty-First Century Books, 2014)

WWII Women Survivors, Nurse Style (61)

PURE GRIT: HOW AMERICAN WORLD WAR II NURSES SURVIVED BATTLE AND PRISON CAMP IN THE PACIFIC by Mary Cronk Farrell
Over one hundred women were stationed in the Philippines in the late 1930s as nurses with the U. S. Army and Navy, but when war came to the Pacific, they were taken as POWs and continued their brave service through terrible conditions. With lots of photos, captions, and quotes, this non-fiction volume is a great addition to the World War II staples and a look at the war in the Pacific. (Abrams, 2014)

The winds of change consume the land

YOU GUYS. The Graphic Audio production of Boneshaker dropped today! And it is UTTERLY BADASS.

Now you may be asking yourself, "Is this an audio book?" NOT EXACTLY. It's more like a full-scale auditory production ASSAULT OF AWESOMENESS with all the literal bells and whistles - and you should ABSOLUTELY go check it out.

Click here to check out the press release, in all its glory...OR click the shiny graphic below to visit the listing, hear a sample, and see for yourself. Or hear for yourself. YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN.




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Otherwise, today's been a mish-mash of errand-running and message-answering, without much else to remark it. Therefore, without further adieu I give you ... word metrics! Because it's better than nothing, eh?

Here's today's progress on my witchy art-deco horror novel about Lizzie Borden thirty years after her parents' deaths - now featuring ghosts and non-ghosts alike, anti-Catholic conspiracy nuts, supernatural political shenanigans, the mafia, and a Bonus! space-worshiping murder cult hiding behind the KKK:

    Project: Chapelwood
    Deadline: October 1, 2014
    New words written: 1797 (acceptable)
    Present total word count: 74,072



    Things accomplished in fiction: Came perilously close to rehashing old times, but the Bad Old Days should probably stay back in the past.

    Next up: Actually reach the storage area; go rifling through the files; maybe feed the room a secret or two, to see if it's hungry.

    Things accomplished in real life: Neighborhood jaunt with dog; returned a phone call; returned several emails of importance - including one interview; painted the trim on the rear garage entry door, and thereby banished a couple of carpenter bees; weed-whacked like hell across the spot where the garden used to be, and tackled the rest of the back yard, too; gave the husband a can of paint and a brush and set him to dealing with the front garage door trim because there are yet more damn bees over there and I am too short to reach all that stuff without a ladder.

    Other: Minimal cat-disruption last night. She gave me one weird yowl from the foot of the bed around 2:00 a.m., then wandered away. Hey, I'll take it. The dog, on the other hand, started whining unhappily around 9:00 a.m. - and I'd bitch about that, except (a). he never wakes us up, like, EVER, and (b). it was 9:00 a.m., so I really needed to get up anyway. I still don't know what was bothering him. He didn't seem to need a potty run or anything...just...dog reasons, I guess.

    Number of fiction words so far this year: 107,465

Writing When You're Busy

I'm going to have to dive into those revisions today because I need them done next week. Eep! Since I took the jazz class after ballet, my body is currently angry at me, so sitting and working is probably good. And then I get to go chase kindergarteners. More eep.

Today's writing post is appropriate to stuff I'm dealing with now. I have a reader question about writing when everything else in life is going crazy, like a busy holiday season.

How you handle this depends on your situation. It's more serious when you have a contractual deadline. You have a lot more leeway when you're working on your own and it's more of a personal goal.

If possible, you can avoid some stress by setting realistic deadlines. Sometimes, you may get revisions from your editor and a request to have them done in a week, and you don't have much choice in the matter, but generally when it comes to completion of a manuscript, I'm given some say in setting the due date. I tend to pad my deadlines in a big way, which takes away some stress and makes me look brilliant when I'm very early, but I take a good look at my calendar and make sure the deadline doesn't fall around a major event like a convention or a holiday season when I'm sure to be busy. I try to set my deadlines before such events because if you are coming up against a deadline and need to put on a push, you don't want that to be during a week in which you have events every night and a lot of errands to run.

If something comes up and it looks like you won't meet your deadline, it's best if you let the editor know right away. I know my previous publisher also padded deadlines because authors so often missed them, but it does help in their scheduling if they have time to plan. I had that issue come up a couple of years ago when I was ill for nearly six weeks and it completely sidetracked my writing. I let the publisher know while I was still sick that I might be late with the book, and they were able to work things out.

If you do have to get work done during a busy time, you need to give yourself permission to let other things slide for a while. Focus on the things you're required to do -- your work and whatever's making you busy. Then let yourself live on takeout and frozen dinners for a week, don't worry about the house getting messy, and dig deep into your "laundry day" clothes. If you have a chance to prepare for a busy run, do the laundry in advance and stock up on quick and easy meals. Let your friends know that your social life may need to be put on hold for a while, though it doesn't hurt to give yourself an occasional break so you don't snap.

If the deadline isn't urgent and you don't want to just give yourself a writing break during the busy spell, adjust your expectations. You may not hit your usual time or word count goals, but doing any work at all can be an achievement that allows you to maintain some momentum. If you're really distracted, to the point that writing is hard to focus on, this could be a good time for brainstorming or research so that you're thinking about your story even if you aren't adding words to the manuscript.

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Wordless Wednesday (more tulip love)...

tulips3 (2)

tulips6

tulips12

(For all the tulip lovers out there, like me and boreal_owl)

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Staking a claim

It is interesting to watch commercials these days. Since we tend to either mute the sound of the commercials or fast forward through them on the DVR, it has become sort of a game to see if we can figure out what is being advertised and what claims are being made for the product.

When it comes to staking claims, education seems to take the lead. Take Accelerated Reader, for example. Touted as a reading "program," its claims are incredible (in the true sense of the word incredible). Here is their newest addition to the site which ensures folks that AR is your #1 stop for CCSS materials: http://doc.renlearn.com/KMNet/R0056070F0FD6A62.pdf. Now, AR can tell you if your students are college and career ready. Well, not really, but it sounds good, right?

And now, look at all the literacy skills we can measure with a 10 items multiple choice quiz over a book: http://doc.renlearn.com/KMNet/R004090617GG9110.pdf. This form suggests that AR can measure engagement as well: http://doc.renlearn.com/KMNet/R004090313GG93AB.pdf.

Now I am seeing hosts of webinars and professional books promising "deeper literacy." I understand what Kelly Gallagher talks about in his groundbreaking book, Deeper Reading. But so many of these webinars and books boil deeper literacy down to close reading and complex (as measured by levels and exiles) texts. I am growing more than a little tired of the claims about complexity and close reading. First, we have done critical reading for years. Critical reading, unlike the CCS-prescribed close reading, does allow for background information, does allow for personal response (does Rosenblatt not count under CCSS, I wonder?), does allow for questions beyond those which are text-dependent. And complexity? If all measures of complexity have to do with numbers (and that is where the CCSS discussion begins), then we are not looking at texts critically (or closely) enough.

I posted out this week, the list of books suggested for reading aloud that I compiled from Facebook and Twitter. Here are some complex texts from that list.

1. The Anansi stories are trickster tales from Africa. How the tables are turned so that the trickster ultimately loses presents some complex ideas for young readers.

2. CREEPY CARROTS can be used to discuss mood and tone and humor. Not too shabby for a picture book, right?

3. EACH KINDNESS, EXTRA YARN, and OFFICER BUCKLE AND GLORIA present stereotypes, archetypes, motifs, and other quite complex elements.

I could go on (and I will when I do a presentation on picture books for all ages in San Angelo this summer), but please be aware of the over-hyped claims being made by folks whose interests are not kids by PROFITS.

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