Sunday, September 15, 2019

The Weekend Writer: Time To Think About Organic Writers Again

Today I saw a short conversation about "pantsers," meaning writers who don't plot out their projects before beginning to write. "Pantsers" is supposed to be short for "seat-of-the-pants," which I think is a meaningless term in this situation. I've always preferred "organic," because it describes what non-plotting writers do. We work with the story as an entire organism.

The discussion on Facebook reminded me that I have some posts related to Martha Alderson's The Plot Whisperer. She does some good work on organic writers in that book.

What's Not Helpful For Organic Writers

From the Original Content post, Organic Writers and Plotters, September 28, 2013:

"Organic writers, she says, tend to think in pictures, as in "the big picture,"  rather than language, while plotters go the other way. They are more analytical and detail oriented. Organic writers tend to prefer writing about characters while plotters prefer dramatic action. Organic writers tend to see a story as a whole and are short on details. Plotters tend to see the story in its parts. Organic writers may concentrate on character and end up being weak on the action that drives readers to stick with a story. Plotters may concentrate on action scenes and lose readers who need human interest.

I agree with a lot of what Alderson has to say about organic writers. Our interest in the big picture tends to leave us going, Okay, how do I get to that big picture? This is why formulaic plotting plans often aren't very useful for us. They involve coming up with details. A problem to solve and roadblocks to solving said problem or, heaven help me, metaphorical doors to go through or not are more mystifying than not for us. If I have problems coming up with details, telling me to come up with details isn't going to provide me with a lot of help."

I would just like to repeat the last sentence of that last paragraph: "If I have problems coming up with details, telling me to come up with details isn't going to provide me with a lot of help."

And, in my experience, that's all formulaic plotting plans do, tell you to go find details.

Why "Organic" Means More Than "Pantser"

From the Original Content post Let's Get A Little More Definitive About Organic Writers, Oct. 13, 2013

"I've often wondered why organic writers are called organic writers. Is it because we sort of grow a story, as if it's some kind of living organism that we can't control, can only nurture? That's a little woowoo for my tastes. You sometimes see definitions of organic that involve interconnectedness or elements that are part of a whole. That's what I think is the issue for me and my kind.

Remember, "plot" is only one of the elements of fiction.  Opinions vary on how many elements there are, but whatever the number, organic writers have trouble isolating one of them, plot, from the others. For us, character is most definitely tied up with plot, and plot can be tied up with setting, and voice and theme can be tied up with everything. We can't separate one thing and work on it all by itself. We can certainly try, but we find ourselves reworking things over and over again because, for us, character interaction suddenly leads to something happening we hadn't plotted out and as we get more and more involved with a theme new ideas for how to present it may suddenly appear. All the different elements offer up material at some point or another, not just plot, and not in a very orderly manner."

I would like to repeat these two sentences: "For us, character is most definitely tied up with plot, and plot can be tied up with setting, and voice and theme can be tied up with everything. We can't separate one thing and work on it all by itself." 

And, in my experience, that's what organic writing is about. There is nothing seat-of-the-pants about it.

Better? Worse? 

I have sometime seen sneering accounts of organic writing, and I think the term "pantser" and "plunger," which I just learned today is another term for organic writer, are often meant to be derogatory. For that matter, plotters are sometimes treated as less than, because well-plotted stories often fall into genre categories and are sometimes considered to be not very literary.

Organic writing and plotting are merely methods of getting a job done. There is no better or worse about them. It's in your best interest to figure out which type of writer you are and work on becoming really good at it.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Happy Anniversary, Johnny Tremain

This summer I started trying to tweet a link from the seventeen years of blog posts I have piled up. I try to go back exactly ten years, looking for something that has at least some links that still work and isn't terribly dated. Sometimes I have to hit another year or even another date. But today I found an interesting one on September 12, 2009--The Book That Keeps On Going And Going And Going. 

I was talking about Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes. As luck would have it, this Newbery winner is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. Seriously, this book just does not stop.

And how bizarre is it that I would think about doing a Johnny Tremain blog post and then find out it is its anniversary year? My avid followers may recall that I'm always having woo-woo-type experiences with books. And speaking of woo-woo-type experiences: am I the only person struck by the fact that the Tremain anniversary edition has a forward written by someone named Nathan Hale? Come on.

My 2009 JT blog post was inspired by some posts at another blog, Boston 1775, a site on the American Revolution in Massachusetts maintained by J. L. Bell. (This is one of the rare situations in which I've actually met someone I'm talking about. In fact, I've met John a couple of times.) I was thinking about bringing John's 2009 Johnny Tremain posts to my readers' attention again, anyway. Once I realized the book was having a big, big anniversary, too, I went to work.

John did three posts in what I called, at the time, a Tremainathon. They were based upon his reading of  Son of Liberty: Johnny Tremain and the Art of Making American Patriots by Neil L. York, a history professor at Brigham Young University. I found the first and third posts particularly interesting.

The Path to Publication

What I Found Particularly Interesting About Post 1 In The Tremainathon: "I’ve long said that Johnny Tremain reflects the values of America during World War 2, and York confirms that was in fact Forbes’s vision. She called the book “my great war effort...” I don't think a lot of people realize that a lot of what they read when they read history reflects as much about the people who wrote it than it does about the historical events or figures they were writing about. That's what makes history more...mmm...fluid?...then we probably expect it to be. No, what happened in the past cannot change. What we know about it can change, if new information comes to light. And how we perceive it can change, depending on the attitudes of people writing about it.

This summer I finished reading Champlain's Dream by David Hackett Fischer. (Oh, my gosh! John mentions him in his third Tremain post!) Okay, I only skimmed the book, but I can tell you that Fischer includes a thirty-four page section listing writings about Champlain and describing how the authors from different periods perceived him. ("A rough-hewn man of the people." "Imperial.")

History, it appears, is never done.

Johnny Tremain's Deleted Scene

Check it out. It relates to both Post 1 and Post 3.

Three People Detained at the Castle

What I Found Particularly Interesting In Post 3 Of The Tremainathon: Forbes lucked out when she deleted the scene described in Post 2 from Johnny Tremain. Some historical information she used in that scene turned out to be inaccurate. Unfortunately, she had used it in her Pulitzer prize winning biography, Paul Revere and the World He Lived In. What was the problem?

"When that letter, now in the John Lamb Papers at the New-York Historical Society, was printed in Elbridge Goss’s 1891 biography of Revere, there was one small error. Instead of saying “three persons,” Goss’s transcription said “these persons.”

While writing her biography of Revere, Forbes interpreted “these persons” to refer to the men who had signed the letter..." 
And she concluded that all those people, instead of  "three persons", were somewhere they weren't.

I think we can all agree that this is a lesson we should all learn in not relying on secondary sources. The thought of hunting down every single primary source for a biography exhausts me. I am overwhelmed as I sit here.

Also, this is the kind of story that confirms my feeling about writing straight history. No, thanks. I already don't sleep well at night.

Johnny And Esther Deserve A Moment

I don't believe I've ever read Johnny Tremain. I may have seen a bit of the movie, but only if it turned up on TV. So I can't say I'm a fan. I do, however, have great respect for Esther Forbes' accomplishment. Within a two-year period she won a Pulitzer Prize and a Newbery Medal. That is one hell of a one-two punch. And, yes, having a book stay in print 75 years is mind-boggling. A very tiny number of writers see anything like that happen. Probably not even 1 percent of writers do this.

I wish Esther and Johnny were getting more attention this year. Maybe more will happen before December. In the meantime, scroll down this column from Shelf Awareness for an interview with Nathan Hale on his involvement with the Johnny Tremain anniversary edition.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Some Thoughts On Ethnic Characters in "The Horn Book Magazine"

I read a great article today in the March/April The Horn Book by Sayantani DasGupta. My Characters Don't Wear Shoes in the House deals with whether authors from immigrant backgrounds need to write stories about their communities that "perform a certain kind of pain for others' voyeuristic pleasure, and 'teach' mainstream readers about my background and experience." Or can they write about positive experiences they've known? Or just any experience they've known? Does everything need to be about oppression, even if the writers haven't experienced that?

This essay hit me at a great moment, because before getting out of bed this morning, I finished reading The Wangs vs. The World by Jade Chang. This is an adult book, but I think it illustrates what DasGupta is writing about. It's not a stereotypical suffering immigrant story, by any means. Charles Wang comes to this country and becomes successful beyond most of our dreams. Then he loses it all in 2008, not because of his ethnicity or some kind of immigrant oppression but because it's 2008. The Wang children go out into the world of fashion blogs, private secondary schools, stand-up comedy, and art but still maintain a connection to their culture, able to speak Chinese, particularly within the family, and eat Chinese food beyond what's offered at Panda Express.

These Chinese-American family members exist in a truly Chinese-American world of their own making, not a cliched one imposed upon them. Theirs is the kind of immigrant story I think Sayantani DasGupta was writing about.

By the way, an excerpt from Ebony Elizabeth Thomas's The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to the Hunger Games appears in this issue of The Horn Book. It's very good, too.

Sunday, September 08, 2019

Maybe I'm Too Into Used Book Sales

I am certain I've written here about attending used book sales, but every search I can think of turns up nothing. At any rate, I've been to another.

I became interested in library used book sales a few years back while my mother was a resident in a skilled nursing facility. I would go to these sales to keep her in Nora Roberts' books. Also Danielle Steele...Fern Michaels...Maeve Binchey...She was a fan of a whole slew of woman writers. I kept lists of the titles she'd read for each author on my cell phone so that when I hit these sales, I didn't buy duplicates. I'd bring my finds in when I visited her, and we'd go through them. I'd leave some, keep the rest of the stash in bags and boxes in my laundry room until she needed more.

What I found happening while I was at these sales was that I'd also buy for myself, because books would jump off the tables at me. (I know I did a post on my finds at a book sale I went to this past year. Where could it be?) In particular, I liked a certain kind of edgy, sightly off center adult fiction. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, for example. The True Story of Hansel and Gretel by Louise Murphy for another.

I've been hearing for years about a library used book sale in a town on the "other side of the river," as we say here in central Connecticut. It's so large, they can't hold it in the library; they have to move everything to the local high school gym. The sale last two days, and legend says that on Saturday morning you have to stand in line outdoors to get in. It's held in September, a time when we're usually traveling. We're home this month, though, so I decided to take this opportunity to go to the sale yesterday.

I'm Getting Kind Of Picky

This sale is in a town an hour away from me, which is a way to go for used books. I have family members who live there, though, so it doesn't seem that far to me. I'd been in town just two days before.

Still, I'd been on the road for about a half an hour yesterday, when I suddenly thought, what if I'm disappointed? I'd been looking forward to this trip for weeks. What if the sale wasn't that great?

I have to say, even though the number of books offered was as huge as I'd heard, I was sort of underwhelmed. I arrived around two in the afternoon, because I'd been warned on Facebook that Saturday morning is a mob scene, so I didn't have to wait in line. But when I arrived, what I was first confronted with were several tables of stacks of new bestsellers. Piles of the same titles. I've seen new books like these at other library book sales and was told by a source at one of them that someone involved with that library had a connection with a chain bookstore, and the books came from there. Someone at yesterday's book sale must have had a great connection with a chain store or a warehouse or something. These books were being offered for either two or five dollars. Nice prices.

To me, though, it was like I was hitting a Barnes & Noble instead of a used book sale. I'm not one of those people who has an issue with B&N. B&N placed a decent sized prepublication order for one of my books. Also, I have plans for the B&N gift card burning a hole in my pocket. But, still, if I'd wanted to go to B&N yesterday, I would have gone to B&N.

While going through the paperbacks further back in the room, I noticed a lot of books that you'd kind of expect to find. Also, books that I'd read. And, remember how I said I used to go to these things specifically for Nora Roberts? I didn't need to look for Nora Roberts yesterday, but old habits die hard. I only found a couple of boxes of them. I've been to smaller sales at libraries in smaller towns and found whole tables of Nora and her kindred authors. What was that about?

My husband pointed out later that I couldn't have looked at every book in this room. That's true. But as I said to him and said earlier in this post, the point of going to these sales is to buy books that jump off the tables at me. So I don't have to look at everything.

So What Did Jump Off The Table At You, Gail?

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, because it deals with a situation I've been thinking about writing about. Reading this might make me think twice about that.

The Pursuit of Alice Thrift by Elinor Lipman, because I read another book by the author, which I liked.

Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo, because I'm interested in reading about Buddhism, but only if it's easy.

Iceland's Bell by Halldor Laxness, because I just finished watching two seasons of an Icelandic television show. In Icelandic with subtitles. I'm committed.

A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers, because while it's science fiction I've never heard of, it's supposed to be "exciting and adventurous."

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri, because I read an article about Lahiri writing a book in Italian, a third language for her. Damn. It wasn't this book, but still, I showed some respect and bought another one of her books.

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante, because it's famous. Seriously, I think this book is about two people. That's it. What I've heard is that it's the first in a famous series by a famous Italian author. Hey, it jumped off the table at me.

What Did This Set You Back, Gail?

Okay, so I read the sign on the wall about the pricing of the book. I read it a couple of times. I thought I was going to pay at least a buck seventy-five for each of these books, maybe more. I was charged seventy-five cents a piece for a total of five-dollars and twenty-five cents for seven books. I hope those nice cashiers didn't undercharge me. I feel as if I know them, because it turns out they've seen the same Icelandic TV show I saw.

If you look at the picture above and to your left, you'll see that this place had five cashier stations set up. They had tables for, I think, three more. For when things got really busy.

I ended up spending a lovely hour there, underwhelmed or not, enjoyed some Cheerios and chocolate chips in the car afterwards, and didn't hit any traffic in Hartford going either way. A good Saturday afternoon.

Thursday, September 05, 2019

Comfort Reading That Just Happens To Support A Goal

I remember early summer fondly. I had fewer family responsibilities than I'd had in years. The temps weren't terribly high. We didn't get any biking in, but managed a few short walks in town on weekends. Unfortunately, I had family members heading out on a lengthy trip at the end of June, and family members traveling is always a source of anxiety for me. Definitely damaged my bliss.

I treated that with a binge of Books Two through Four of the Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells. I could feel good about reading these books for two reasons.
  • First, and most importantly, I love Murderbot
  • Second, I have an adult scifi manuscript I've mentioned before that I'll be shopping around again some day, and I'm working on improving my recent reading background in this genre.
Now, I'm somewhat off-topic with these books, since they're adult, and I specialize in childlit here. But they first came to my attention last year when the first book in the series, All Systems Red, was an Alex Award winner. The Alex Award being for adult books with "special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18." So there's a connection.

These are marvelous first-person novellas told from the point-of-view of a Security Unit, an artificial life form with some human material thrown in. It's on a journey to discover how it came to murder some humans it was supposed to be protecting, as well as working on a corporate plot against a former employer. With all that on its plate, it still finds time to access the entertainment media it downloads. It finds a lot of time for that, actually.

Murderbot's quests are carried over amongst these books. But the series doesn't seem like an obvious serial. Each novella has its own storyline as well.

Murderbot is a great character, and these are great distractions when you have something you want to be distracted from.

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Time Management Tuesday: The Tend-And-Befriend Stress Mindset

With this summer's stress and time management study, I am trying to find ways to use  the stress mindsets (ways of perceiving stress) described by Kelly McGonigal in The Upside of Stress to replace the best known stress mindset, flight-or-fight, for the purpose of managing time during stressful periods. (Hmm. Yes. That was a long intro sentence.) The flight aspect of flight-or-fight causes us to run from the discomfort of work stress, straight to procrastination. The fight aspect might help us to overcome work stress to get a job done, but it can also cause a lot of struggle on its own.

The last alternative mindset I'm going to write about is called tend-and-befriend. McGonigal says that while flight-and-fight is about self-survival, tend-and-befriend is about protecting people and groups.  That behavior can help us when dealing with stress because it triggers courage and hope and leads us to build social support networks and become better respected. I don't know how much it will help with time management, but I think it does have a particular connection to writers.

The Tend-and-Befriend Stress Mindset

McGonigal says this mindset "may have evolved to help us protect offspring, but when you are in that state, your bravery translates to any challenge you face." It's easy to see how this mindset will work in stressful situations involving parents and children. You have children who are ill or troubled, you want to tend to them. You want to seek out experts to help them. The same could be said for any care giving situation or any helping profession. You tend to others and look for help of some kind to do so.

A U.S. News article, Should We 'Tend and Befriend' in This Stressful Time?, states that tending can involve protecting the self, as well as others, suggesting that being careful about self-care could fall under tend-and-befriend. This article, as well as others I've found, also says that some people believe women are particularly likely to use tend-and-befriend. No, I'm not going to go down that road.

The Stress Mindset Intervention For Tend-and-Befriend And Bigger-Than-Self Goals

If you, whether you're a woman or a man, want to try to shift away from your present stress mindset to one of tend-and-befriend, McGonigal suggests:

  • When feeling overwhelmed, look for a way to do something for others. The value for you here is that doing for others makes us feel hopeful.
  • You can also make a daily practice of finding an opportunity to support someone else. This would help with building networks.
Additionally, McGonigal writes about bigger-then-self goals, which she defines as goals that have a purpose beyond personal gain and success. These are often related to a team, a community, or an organization and feeling part of them "takes the toxicity out of striving." Being part of these types of bigger-than-self goals help you build social support networks and become respected and better liked.

Writers And Bigger-Than-Self Goals

I may have written over the years of the marketing for creatives workshop I attended long ago at which an artist spoke about how getting involved with arts promotion for others had ended up helping her own career. She believed other creatives can find ways to work within their fields for the field, not just for themselves. This sounds a lot like bigger-than-self goals. Attending that workshop helped motivate me to start the Time Management Tuesday feature for this blog. I saw it as a way of helping writers find ways to manage time for their writing.

I'm aware of many other writers who do work for the field, or for bigger-than-self goals.

  • For instance, the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators is run by volunteers to a great extent. The annual spring New England SCBWI conference is run by volunteers at every level. There are regional SCBWI advisers throughout New England. They're volunteers. Smaller and shorter-term events are run by volunteers. There are informal gatherings that are run by volunteers. Social media contacts are made by volunteers. These are all people who see their connection with the SCBWI as a bigger-than-self goal.
  • Writers' groups usually have a point person who keeps people aware of upcoming dates and is the contact for new members. Keeping the group going is a bigger-than-self goal for them.
  • Debut writers frequently team up to manage marketing or publicity opportunities for their books. Their books are a personal goal, but working for the team is a bigger-than-self goal.
  • Blogging writers have worked as judges for the Cybil award. A time consuming task for a bigger-than-self goal. For that matter, writers are asked to serve as judges for other types of book awards for which they don't receive payment. Maintaining the award is a bigger-than-self goal.
  • Writers attend appearances for other writers, read their books, post about them on social media. Supporting others is a bigger-than-self goal.
Treating working for-the-field as a bigger-than-self goal has been helpful for writers, connecting them with agents and editors and providing them with a network that provides support in terms of publicity when they have books published. It definitely can provide tangible value.


The Drawback In Terms Of Time Management

McGonigal claims that helping someone else decreases people's feelings of not having enough time. Tending to others makes individuals feel better about themselves as workers. It boosts their self-confidence and that changes how they feel about the demands they face.


  • Taking on these bigger-than-self goals could be seen as contradicting the classic time management advice to learn how to say "no" in order to protect your work time.
  • I've heard of situations in which writers couldn't work at all during periods when they were tending to a larger-than-self goal like planning a conference or reading for an award. (That last one is from personal experience.)
  • I've known of writers who eventually gave up running a retreat or a writers' group, because the time demand became too much. Which sounds stressful.
  • Taking on more and more outside helper tasks is also a classic way of committing all your time so you can avoid personal work.
Tend-and-defend sounds like a mindset that may very well help us deal with the "toxicity of striving," as McGonigal says. This one, though, may not be very helpful in terms of managing time.

Monday, August 26, 2019

September Connecticut Children's Literature Calendar

The beginning of units of time are important to humans, and I've read that September has become as important as January as the beginning of a "year." The beginning of this one sees Mike Lupica, Scott Westerfeld, and Jan Brett coming here and R.L. Stine serving as keynote speaker at the Saugatuck StoryFest

Tues., Sept. 10, Mike Lupica, Wesleyan R. J. Julia, Middletown 6:30 PM

Sat., Sept. 14, Jennifer Thermes, Elm Street Books, New Canaan 12:30 to 2:30 

Sun., Sept. 15, Josh Funk, R. J. Julia Booksellers, Madison 10:30 AM

Sun., Sept. 15, Scott Westerfeld, R. J. Julia Booksellers, Madison 4:00 PM

Mon., Sept. 16, Jan Brett, Mystic Congregational Church, Mystic 5:00 to 7:00 PM Sponsored by Bank Street Books Ticketed event.

Sat., Sept. 21, Stacy DeKeyser, Books on Pratt Street Book Fair, Hartford 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM Tentative

Mon., Sept. 23, Rebecca Podos, Ryan LaSalla, Rebecca Kim WellsR. J. Julia Booksellers, Madison 6:30 PM

Sat., Sept. 28, Saugatuck StoryFest, Westport Library, Westport:

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Looking For Middle Grade Humor

I have done some reading this summer, both before and after getting sick, and now I tell people about it. I picked up Slacker by Gordan Korman because I was looking for middle grade
humor, something I write, myself. Reading it was part of my effort to read to support my goals or my work.

A lot of childlit humor isn't very funny. I've seen the same with with some adult books marketed as humor. Some of them aren't funny at all. Some of them involve a series of awkward jokes. I don't know what's going on here. The authors, agents, and editors involved don't seem to understand situational humor or timing. Why do they even want to produce humor writing?

Gordan Korman is a reliable humor writer. He definitely understand how to recognize a situation that has the potential for humor, and he knows how to work it. In Slacker, he combines humor with an improving childlit story about the benefits of doing good.

Cameron Boxer is serious about only one thing, his lifestyle, which he describes games. His only interest is playing them and preparing to play them in a tournament called Rule the World. Mom and Dad are not fans of this plan. They want to see him develop an interest that's not video games. " can be anything you want, so long as it involves real human beings and it doesn't happen on a screen."

Cam doesn't have any desire to do anything even remotely like that. But this clever slacker has to get his parents off his back so he can concentrate on training for Rule the World. He comes up with a scheme to create a "shell" school club for which he will serve as president. It sounds plenty impressive for the folks, but no one will notice it or join, because his hacker buddy is just going to slip it onto the school website that no one reads. Mom and Dad will think he'll be doing something, but he won't. His gaming time will be protected.

Yeah, everything goes wrong.

We're not talking gut-busting, roll-on-the-floor humor here, but wry, subtle stuff that comes organically out of the situation. The lessons on saving animals, the town, and doing good teeter into preaching at some points, but the commitment to Cam's character and the original situation make it palatable.

A second Slacker novel, Level 13, was published in June. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Time Management Tuesday: A Stress Mindset Involving Values

Questions about the impact of life stress on time management was my original motivation for pursuing this summer's stress and time management study. This week I'm addressing a stress mindset that seems related to those very issues. 


Stress And The Meaning Of Life

According to Kelly McGonigal in The Upside of Stress, in terms of the stress related to every day life (rather than the stress related to personal crises such as terminal illnesses or major human tragedies such as natural disasters and war) events and activities we find meaningful cause us the most stress. Child rearing, travel, school, friends, love, family all bring stress with them. Yet, these are all things most of us want in our lives.

Well, studies have shown that being able to think about these types of every day stresses in terms of our personal values, what gives our lives meaning, makes them become more meaningful and less burdensome. We are less likely to find ourselves in a flight (collapse on the couch/procrastinate)-or-fight (blood pressure rising/bang head on the wall) situation.

The Stress Mindset Intervention For Values

McGonigal suggests that when stressed, we go over our personal values and ask ourselves if we can connect our stressful situation to them in some way. Presumably if we can, the stress will become more manageable.

  • She describes some studies in which participants were given bracelets or key chains that they could mark with some value important to them that they could look at when stressed.
  • McGonigal says that writing about values has been shown to be "one of the most effective psychological interventions ever studied." Writing about values makes people feel more powerful and in control. It also can be done once and show benefits months and even years later. (Many of the interventions she writes about have long-lasting benefits.)

A Personal Reservation Regarding The Values Stress Mindset

I can see how developing a values mindset can help with stressful situations in many aspects of life. The stress of childrearing, for instance, becomes manageable because of how important our children are to us. The stress of planning a trip and getting started on it becomes tolerable because seeing the world or some particular experience we're heading out to is important to us. School stress--We value that education, if not for itself than for what it will lead to. The same with work.

So long as we can see that the stressful activity will lead to something  positive that we value, we're headed for improvement. But what happens if we look to our values and realize that this stress isn't going to connect with one that's important to us? That the school or work stress no longer will get us to something we value? The stress of this relationship is no longer worth it?

I don't recall McGonigal addressing this issue, but my guess is that if you come to this kind of realization and get out of the stressful situation then that must be a good thing, too.

Values Mindsets For Writers

Being able to develop a values mindset may be of particular help to writers dealing with work stress. In fact, many writers may already have values mindsets.

  • It's not unusual for writers to focus on subjects that are of particular value to them.
  • Nonfiction writers, for instance, may specialize in writing about climate change, nature, and the environment. Historians may limit themselves to specific periods or regions. Or they may choose to write about groups of people whose past isn't well known.
  • Fiction writers may also have values they showcase in their work. Diversity, gender equality, faith issues, and climate change are all value-laden subjects fiction writers may focus on. 

For writers like these seeing stress through a values mindset which helps them connect their stressful situation to the values that give their work meaning to them can help them get through things like another draft for an agent or editor or the rigors of marketing.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Lodestar Award For Best Young Adult Science Fiction Or Fantasy Book Announced

The Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book was announced as part of the Hugo Award announcements at the World Science Fiction Convention in Dublin, Ireland. I believe I have an acquaintance at that convention. One I've actually met in the flesh for a moment and been in the same room with, unlike other people I am acquainted with in other ways.

According to the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, the Lodestar Awards are voted on by the same people who vote on the Hugos, but the Lodestar is not a Hugo. "The chief reason for this distinction is the principle that no single work should be eligible for multiple Hugo categories: Young Adult tales are not excluded from, and indeed have won, the Hugo for best novel and best novella." So now you know that. And it is interesting.

The 2019 finalists and the winner (in bold) are:

  • Children of Blood and Bone, by Tomi Adeyemi (Henry Holt / Macmillan Children’s Books)
  • The Belles, by Dhonielle Clayton (Freeform / Gollancz)
  • The Cruel Prince, by Holly Black (Little, Brown / Hot Key Books)
  • Dread Nation, by Justina Ireland (Balzer + Bray)
  • The Invasion, by Peadar O’Guilin (David Fickling Books / Scholastic)
  • Tess of the Road, by Rachel Hartman (Random House / Penguin Teen) lists all the finalists and winners.