Reading · Teaching · Writing

Saturday Summation – 18 August 2012

Here are some of my most interesting blog and news reads of the week.

Writing Stuff:

Write to Done has a good post this week with concrete examples about cleaning up your writing and simplifying it. Check it out and then look at your own writing; it’s very satisfying to go through this process.

This article – “A Right Fit”: Navigating the World of Literary Agents – is the one that every literary agent wants you to read (no joke, almost all the agents I follow tweeted this article out). The only point they tended to disagree with, however, was the idea of “who you know”. Agents made it clear that many of their clients have come from the “slush pile” (as they call the mass of queries they get each day).

Another article that got passed around a ton is this one from Forbes by David Vinjamuri: Publishing Is Broken, We’re Drowning In Indie Books – And That’s A Good Thing. I think many of his initial arguments are not quite solid, but he builds up a pretty decent balance. It’s a longer piece and if you have the time, I recommend reading the entire article, if not, at least jump to the last page, as his predictions are quite sound.


Reading Stuff:

A couple of weeks ago, NPR posted results of their viewer votes for the top 100 YA novels. It’s a great list, even if you may disagree with some of the rankings. I didn’t look closely at the list, but if I had, I would agree with author Laurie Halse Anderson’s (Happy & Sad about the NPR Top 100 YA List) and teacher Shaker Laurie’s (On NPR’s Very White Best Young Adult List) concern that only TWO books of the 100 were written by authors of color. Apparently, NPR is now exploring this, but it’s very sad, indeed, and that means the list is missing a lot of great YA literature by the likes of Soto, Myers, Tan, Morrison, Muñoz Ryan, Na, Yep, and so many others. On the flip side, maybe we can also be happy that female authors are dominating the list?

Teaching Stuff:

Two related items…

It has become quite commonplace for students to use Yahoo answers and other similar sites to ask a question like this: “Who are the important characters in the book, X, how do they change, and what is the overall theme?” In other words, “write this essay for me”. I run into the answers in my students’ essay too often. These days, with author accessibility, I know that some students now have the audacity to email or tweet authors these same kind of questions – maybe some of them are doing it under that guise that they are getting information straight from the source, I suppose. In any case, I love this article that has an author giving his “answer” in a recent Yahoo exchange: “High School Student Seeking Book Summary on Yahoo! Answers Gets Response From Author

The related item is this… for as much as we are trying to instill in our children – or our students – that plagiarism is wrong, the real world still accepts it. A journalist for Time and CNN was recently discovered to have plagiarized and was put on suspension while the investigation went on and now, he is being re-instated with the idea that it was “unintentional” and an “isolated incident”. I have my doubts. He is a professional. Read this post and the related articles to see for yourself. I am most frustrated by this quote at the end: “ Mr. Zakaria is known for managing a demanding schedule: he works for CNN, writes columns for Time and The Post and also writes books.” as though being “busy” excuses him. What message are we sending our students?

Video of the Week:

I was originally going to post the animated short of Lego’s history, since they have just celebrated their 80th birthday, but it was long and kind of weird, so my friend Jen came to the rescue with this goody of a Shaun Sterling, a Chicago lawyer, who has gotten recent attention for his dance to Madonna’s “Vogue” at his Bar Mitzvah back in 1992. It made her smile, so maybe it will make you smile, too:

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