What Characterizes Tween Literature?

To anyone who loves “Tween” literature (that is, between children’s and YA), or just loves those who push prose, this may be a great new blog for you to watch.

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Contest Update

Dear *cough*Eliza*cough*,

Congratulations!

You’ve successfully made it through First Round Judging in the WOW! Winter 2013 Flash Fiction Contest. Your entry has officially been given the thumbs-up, and you’re well on your way!

In the sections below, you’ll find information on first round judging, your contest schedule, the new flash fiction contest, and information about your guest judge for the Winter ’13 contest, literary agent Jennifer DeChiara. Enjoy!

Q: What exactly is “First Round Judging”?

A: First Round Judging means your story has made it through the first cut. Our round-table of guest judges have scored all of the contest entries, and based on those scores, we have narrowed down the entries to the top 50 or so. That means your story beat out over 200 other stories. That’s quite an accomplishment!

As you know, we have 20 winners total. So making the first cut does not necessarily mean you will automatically win a prize. We send out this email to inform you where we are in the process, and to let you know your story is excellent and you have a very good chance of placing.

What happens now: From here, we go through another round of judging, and final judging by our prestigious guest judge of the season, to get the entries down to the Top 10, and 10 Honorable Mentions. This is when we send a second email notifying you if your entry placed in the Top 10. We also try to notify Honorable Mentions, if time permits.

Next, our guest judge carefully selects the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Place Winners. When we find out who the top 3 are, we begin assembling the contest winners’ feature for publication in the next issue of the WOW! ezine. At this point, we do NOT notify the top 3 winners, since we are working as swiftly as possible to get the webpage up.

Congratulations!

I sent Indian Paintbrush in this time and just got the notice back today I’m still in the running.  What a feeling!  😀

Last contest I made it in the top 20.  Maybe this time I can hit the top 10?

First Down and Genocide

Sorry for the football reference, tis the season here in the US.

I’m going to go through all your suggestions from yesterday one by one – for the Daily Post Challenge: And Now For Something Completely Different (which, this is the first time I’ve decided to broach social and political issues so it counts as something completely different) – and I’ll be starting with Tammy‘s suggestion of:

Try documentary poetry about a current event.

Which works out really well because it’s also another season, when we “celebrate” the “discovery” by Christopher Columbus, that ambitious Italian who sailed for Spain, searching for a short route to India and instead landed in the Americas.

However, the problem with this is that not only was he not the first person to land in America (HELLO, Native American anyone?!) but he wasn’t even the first European to set foot in the Americas – that distinction is generally granted to Leif Eriksson.

In fact, today is Leif Eriksson Day.  Let’s observe that, instead.  (I propose the following to observe the day: don’t be dicks to people you meet, give to local charities, and then drink copious amounts of mead and praise Odin that at least one of our ancestors wasn’t a complete douche-wad.  We’ll decorate with Celtic knots and watch the movie Thor, based on Marvel comics, based on the bastardization of Norse mythology.  It’s horribly inaccurate, but the actors are delicious.)  Hey, maybe Leif was  dick, too, but at least *he* didn’t slaughter 90% of the people he came in contact with.  Much better first impression.  Too bad the subsequent impressions weren’t so good.  The remains of his settlement in Canada have been found.

Back to Columbus… Columbus was a dick (<- If you don’t click on any other link in this entire post, click on this one.)  He wasn’t your average, everyday white explorer dick like, say, John Smith.  Oh no, he was a very special kind of dick on the level of Hitler and Pol Pot.  Even some of his own people were horrified at what he did, and the attempt to arrest him for his crimes was thwarted by the fact the King and Queen of Spain were growing quite fat on the gold with which he was filling their coffers.  Within 50 years of landing in the Bahamas, he had managed a complete genocide of the native population.

So, to Tammy’s request to write a documentary poem about current events, I wrote about this.  But Eliza, you cry, this isn’t current events, this is history!  Well, so long as we continue to celebrate and honour the man responsible for beginning the genocide across this continent, it will continue to be current events.

Who Discovered What Now?

In fourteen-hundred and ninety two
Columbus sailed the ocean blue
But history class, it was the worst
‘Cause Leif Eriksson landed first
Except, no wait, that’s still not right
Neither men were first to sight
The continent of North America
Cause there were already people here – DUH!
Sorry, Columbus, I know you tried;
You started a 500-year genocide.
So how can history open our eyes
When we’re just taught a bunch of lies?

Tools of the Trade?

So, someone asked what I use to paint with.  It seems a somewhat odd question, doesn’t it?  I’m watercolor painting, so I’m painting with… watercolor.

Okay, after a few minutes thought, I realized maybe it isn’t quite as straightforward and obvious as it sounds.  So I decided to show you what I paint with.

I use the water-filled brush that came with my water color kit, a small square brush that I’ve used for years with my acrylic paints, then a few days ago I bought the large soft brush in the middle – a number 12 round – and the fan brush at the bottom – a number 4 fan – to have some greater options in coverage and brush strokes.

The pen is a proper fountain pen, which is what I use to add detail lines, outlines and my signature block.

The water colors themselves are part of a small travel kit I bought myself last Christmas as a present to me.  I got it on Amazon because it was on sale (and it looks to be again!) and I thought, hey, I can afford that price, and it’ll be a good kit to play with to get a feel for the medium.  I really didn’t expect it to be such high quality!  (Or maybe it isn’t and I just don’t know the difference?)

Here’s my well loved inside view:

So that’s the basics.  I’ll be lazy on the paper and say… it’s water color paper.  The large size I got as a gift from my friend who hasn’t painted in a while and passed on a pad of it to me to use, so I don’t know what weight it is, but it isn’t *super* heavy.  The postcard stock is just a postcard water color paper pad.

The only other tools I use are the board I mount the paper on (it’s an old, large chess board, but thin and light.)  I tape it down using basic blue painters tape which both holds the paper still, keeps it from warping too badly when wet, and gives it that lovely finished edge I’m loving so much!

And, of course, you can’t have water color without water.  I have two reservoirs I use, the small one is an old jam jar (yay, recycling!) which works great for travel as it fits in little pockets well.  The daily use one is an old veganaise jar, and the top can double as another mixing tray in a pinch.

There you have it, this is what I use to paint.  It isn’t terribly expensive, depending on what your budget is.  A few brushes, a water color kit on sale, and some blue painter’s tape with something to tape it to, and you’re ready to go!

Lastly, I’ll leave you with a fun little play I did, painting my “cave art tools”

🙂

Arachnophobia: VINDICATION!

I’m arachnophobic.  Not *quite* to the degree some are, I am not paralyzed with fear at the very sight of them… (for long).  Far from it, I RUN.  With fear.  I climb on furniture and implore nearby cats to vanquish it.  With fear.  Or at least, valiantly swat and scream with fear until the tiny monstrous intruder into my life is deceased.  I’ve been known to suck them up into the vacuum cleaner, also.

However, there is that tiny little paranoid core deep down inside that says the spiders know.  They KNOW.  And one of these days… they’ll get me.

Allow me to set the scene.  It is a bright, sunny Saturday.  I have been enjoying my morning working out on my XBox Kinect (fabulous device, that.)  My Sister and Hubby have come down as well, and we’ve decided to visit the local brewery for lunch.

This, of course, means I must have a shower before appearing in public.  Off I go to the bathroom, draw back the shower curtain, and yelp at the sight of a HUGE, BROWN/BLACK, CREEPY SPIDER SITTING IN MY TUB!!

THIS IS NOT OKAY.

Okay, calm down.  I don’t dare try to smoosh it with something, it might jump at me and crawl up my arm and bite me!  Ridiculous, you say?  Just you watch!  It’ll happen some day!

Instead, I am saved by the fact that… it’s in the tub so at least it can’t run at me.  I would have shrieked like a little girl for my uncle to come and kill it, but he was sleeping.  So I had to pull on my big-girl panties and take care of it myself.  I – with not a complete lack of guilt at killing the critter – decide to just wash it down the drain.

Which I did.

…with lots and lots of water to ensure it was good and washed down.  Because if it isn’t, it might crawl back out of the drain while I’m taking a shower and bite me!  And it would be justified in doing so, I freely admit!  Paranoid?  HA!  JUST YOU WATCH!  IT’LL HAPPEN SOME DAY!

So I take a shower with one eye constantly peering at the drain, or the over-flow, because, after all, there’s a trap on the drain, I don’t think it’s actually strong enough to push that up to get out, but it might crawl up the pipe and out the over-flow.

I manage to fully cleanse myself, even if I never came closer to the drain than a full foot, and let me tell you, shower paranoia regarding spiders crawling out of drains and biting your feet is far more imminent and nerve wracking than Psycho with a knife shadow on the shower curtain paranoia ever could hope to be!

Still, as you may notice, since I’m sitting here writing you this story, I did survive the shower.  (Barely… it was touch and go there for a while.)

I told my sister the story (who is also very arachnophobic) and we laughed about it over beer and burgers.

So, dear reader, you may be saying, ‘See?  Nothing happened.  Just being paranoid.  That spider couldn’t possibly have survived to crawl back out of the drain after being washed down for the whole time you were in the shower.”

OH, BUT WAIT!

Because Sunday, as I’m busy in the kitchen making pies and plum butter and all sorts of other goodies, my uncle comes in and I start telling him my harrowing brush with death in the shower – and he is, of course, getting a very good chuckle out of it.

He then tells me when he took a shower, THERE WAS A FREAKIN BIG BLACK SPIDER IN THE TUB!

IT CRAWLED OUT AND WAS WAITING FOR ME!

I AM NOT CRAZY!  I AM NOT PARANOID!  THAT DAMN SPIDER CRAWLED BACK OUT OF THE DAMN DRAIN AND WAS GOING TO EAT ME NEXT TIME I WENT TO TAKE A SHOWER!

Just sayin’.

Next time you think about laughing at someone’s arachnophobia, just remember, they can crawl out of the bathtub drain and GET YOU.

Oh, I also found out that brown recluses like to hide out in things like bed sheets.

Next available shuttle, I’m moving to Mars.

 

 

Update: And just in case you still think I’m paranoid, or even perhaps exaggerating just a touch… I just took a shower.  And what should be waiting for me on the freakin counter when I step out!?

!!!!!!

Something’s Different…

The background image in my last theme was broken.  That is, if you scrolled down far enough, it would go black, and text would start getting funky.  So I decided to go with a new theme.  A nice rich brown.

Also, there are way, way too many fonts in the world.  Which is to say there aren’t too many but when trying to find just one, there’s an awful lot to scroll through.

I’m still tweaking bits of this new theme here and there, made somewhat more difficult by the fact that I’m still not entirely sure what I’m doing but hopefully I don’t break anything irrevocably as I stumble through.
Still, the content is the important part, right?  Right?  🙂

Recycling’s Forgotten Elder Siblings

Recycling is awesome.  It reduces waste going into our landfills, it reduces demand for the raw materials, it reduces – to some degree – manufacturing pollution (though bear in mind, recycling produces a small amount of its own pollution) and it makes you feel all holy to help the environment, right?

I’m here to tell you: stop recycling.

Okay, that’s a lie, I’m not actually going to tell you that.  But I want to get your attention so I can tell you that recycling is only one step in reducing waste and pollution, and that it should be the last step, not the first, and certainly not the only.

Recycling has two older siblings called Reduce and Reuse.  These are far, far more mature than Recycling, and should always be courted first.

Recycling is sort of the easy-way-out of caring about the environment, and is a cop-out in many ways.  It still takes 100% of the energy to produce the first time, and then it takes additional energy to recycle it.  Oh sure, the energy to recycle is significantly reduced from the initial process, but why not save the whole mess?

Plastic, especially, can be tricky to recycle if you don’t know what the number codes mean, and some plastics aren’t recyclable at all.

Reduce: this should be the first step in saving the environment.  Stop the cycle at the very beginning – use less.  Don’t buy disposable items when non-disposables are available.  Don’t buy small sizes when bulk is available.   Don’t buy individual packaged items if you can repackage these yourself into smaller portions.  You’ll save the package from its very first use, reducing the initial impact on the environment to gather and process these materials the first time.

This means you have to get over some of your convenience, just a little bit.  And we are a nation that loves its convenience, aren’t we?  (Well, if you’re in the US.)  Individual sized things are this latest craze that makes us feel somehow special, I guess?  This little packet of crackers is *just for me*… it didn’t come out of the same bag as everyone else’s crackers…  Oy, we are a spoiled, childish culture sometimes.

Okay, so reduce prevents the initial package from even entering the cycle.  It reduces the pollution and energy at the source, which is awesome!  Instead of spending 100%+1/3 energy to recycle, we spend 0% when we don’t even use it in the first place.

But we can’t reduce 100%.  We still need some products and some packaging, because it would be awful difficult to carry 10lbs. of flour home in our bare hands.  And this is where the middle-child comes in, Reuse.

Reuse: When you’ve reduced what you can, there is still some left over.  Rather than dumping this in the recycle bin and using a bit more energy to turn it back into more packaging, reuse the package you have and save that extra bit of energy.

Especially plastics that often can not be recycled anyway, based on their number, your local recycling capabilities, and the type of plastic it was made from to begin with.

It’s a snap to clean ziplock or sandwich bags, – and takes no extra time or energy if you have a dishwasher – and you’ll save both the bag itself and the box they came in by doing so.

Take the glass jar your pasta sauce came in, clean it well, and use it to store flour bought from the bulk section of your grocery store.  Not only have you removed the jar from needing any energy added to recycle it, you’ve reduced the secondary packaging required when you buy the bulk flour.

This really is much more beneficial than buying two packages which both get recycled at additional energy expense.  Reuse one package, remove the need for the second!

I keep grocery bags in my trunk, lots of them, to reuse when I go to the store.  I keep lots of them because if I forget to put one batch back in the trunk, there’s more to reuse instead of needing new.  Of course, using cloth bags is a great way to incorporate reusable items into daily life without the initial consumption of paper or plastic bags.

You can even reuse at work, taking old paper destined for the recycle bin (if it was only printed on one side), turning it into scratch paper note pads.  An easy way is to cut or tear the paper into quarters and staple one corner, and voila!  You have a quick way to reuse office paper again before it ever needs recycling.

One of my favorite reuse items is an old teapot whose lid broke, that I now use as a watering can for indoor plants.  It has a lovely Chinese dragon motif on it, and I couldn’t bear to get rid of it being so pretty, so now it sits nestled among my plants and is both beautiful and functional!

Bulk: Bulk is the love-child of Reduce and Reuse, helping you to do both!  Find a grocery store that has an amazing bulk section if you can (and I mean a bulk section of product you dispense into a reusable container, not just bigger packaging, but that is at least better than individual packaging.)

Yes, this may mean you need to find a new or supplemental grocery store.  Again, we need to move beyond our childish convenience need and expend a touch of energy of our own to help make a difference for everyone.

While it isn’t the case that everyone has access to a good grocery store and bulk, if you do, I implore you to use it as much as you can.  I’m very fortunate to have a local cooperative where I can buy rice, flour, sugar, salt, spices, tea, coffee, peanut butter, honey, seeds, beans, olive oil, and so much more all in bulk bins which allow for greatly reduced and overwhelming reuse of packaging.

Things to consider next time you’re at the store:

Skip the bottled water.  It isn’t even as clean as your tap water, so why spend 1000% more for it?  Buy a water filter if you don’t like the taste of your tap water and buy a refillable, non-plastic water bottle to take with you (glass, or stainless steel.)

Instead of buying individually wrapped snacks, buy a larger bag and portion your own servings out of it.  Why spend more money for more packaging and create more waste when you can spend a few moments of your time and do it yourself?

Reuse containers from other products you need, such as glass jars, plastic sacks, or shopping bags, and take these back to the store with you for bagging fresh produce, bulk items and your groceries.  It may take some time to make it a habit but you’ll be saving packaging and the environment!

If there is a non-disposable option available, go for that.  You may spend a little more upfront, but you’ll save over the life of the product and you’ll reduce the impact on both ends of the manufacturing cycle.

Because seriously: this is the only planet we get.  It isn’t recyclable.  Our demand for convenience is killing us!  So it’s up to each of us to decide which we want:

This?

Or this?

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