Wednesday, July 31, 2019

August Connecticut Children's Literature Calendar

Summers are always slow for childlit/YA appearances store appearances in Connecticut. Maybe shoppers are all reading at their beach cottages and lake houses? Sure, that's it. For eleven years, though, the Connecticut Authors' Trail has been bringing Connecticut writers to libraries in eastern Connecticut during the summer. We have two children's writers on the Connecticut Authors' Trail this month.
Sat., Aug. 3, Toni Buzzeo and Sara Levine, R. J. Julia Booksellers, Madison 10:30 AM

Sun., Aug. 4, Amanda Bannikov, Storyteller's Cottage, Simsbury 3:00 PM Book Launch

Mon., Aug. 5, Katie L. Carroll, Voluntown Public Library, Voluntown 6:00 PM Part of the Connecticut Authors' Trail

Thurs., Aug. 22, Jessica Bayless, Scotland Public Library, Scotland 6:30 PM Part of the Connecticut Authors' Trail

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

NESCBWI Encore For Writers Coming To Connecticut

The New England Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators will be holding this year's Encore for Writers at the Mark Twain House in Hartford, Connecticut on Saturday, September, 14, starting at 9:00 AM. Registration begins today.

Encore is a repeat of some of the best received workshops held at the NESCBWI spring conference. This year's workshops come from the last two conferences and include:

  • Themes, Threads, and the Core with Erin Dionne
  • Show Don’t Tell Your Manuscript’s Opening with Jen Malone
  • Lie Your Way to Greatness: Using a Synopsis to Create a Revision Plan with Tara Sullivan
  • A New Starting Place: Maps, Vision Boards, and Blank Pages with Lisa Papademetriou
  • If I Only Had a Brand: Successful Branding for Creative Professionals with Jessica Southwick

Registration is $70 for SCBWI members and $100 for nonmembers. Nonmembers can scroll to the bottom of the Encore page for information on how to register.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

John Marsden Has Some Thoughts On Bullying

Australian author John Marsden's Tomorrow When the War Began books were popular Chez Gauthier a while back, so my eyebrows rose when I read last week that Marsden is getting some interesting press for views he's expressed on bullying.

Marsden, a long-time educator, has a new book out called The Art of Growing Up, which has been described as a "broad critique of the education system." Presumably Australia's, since that's where Marsden works. The book appears to cover, among other things, overprotective parents. It sounds as if he's describing the "helicopter parent" issue we've been hearing about for years in the U.S. Turns out, in other parts of the world this is called "curling parents," presumably because the parents sweep problems out of the children's way, the way curlers sweep in front of that...thing...that goes flying around in curling. (Seriously, I have a cousin who used to curl. I should know this stuff.)

But what brought Marsden up on my Facebook page was what he's had to say about bullying, whether there in that book or in interviews about it. I'm having a little difficulty telling which.

In a Sydney Morning Herald article by Nick Bonyhady called 'Don't Care Really What People Think': John Marsden Defends View of Bullying, Marsden is quoted as saying that he would suggest "children having a hard time...look at your own likeable and unlikeable behaviours and try to reduce the list of unlikeable behaviours and unlikeable values and unlikeable attitudes and over time that will probably have a significant effect". Though there isn't a direct quote in this article to support it, Marsden's also described as considering bullying to be "feedback." Meaning, I guess, that the bullying actions provide feedback to the bullied, letting them know what unlikeable behaviors they need to change in order to stop what's being done to them.

And, yes, if this is accurate, it does sound like blaming the victim.

After thinking about this for a while, I'm wondering who gets to decide what are likeable and unlikeable behaviors?  Who decides which of my behaviors I have to change to avoid being bullied?

If We Could All Conform, Would Bullying End?

The article does include an interesting Marsden quote about conflict between children from different ethnic groups at a school he has been associated with.

"At Geelong Grammar they had quite a high percentage of students enrolling from Asian countries and their acceptance depended very much upon how Westernised they were," Marsden said of his time teaching at the expensive school in the 1980s. "If they were able to speak English fluently and wear the clothes that Anglo kids wore and listened to the same kind of music, then they were fully accepted.

"There was absolutely no racism involved," Marsden added. "But if they weren't yet at that stage then there was a gulf between them... It didn't necessarily result in bullying, although sometimes it did, but more often it was sort of a gap between the two subcultures."

So, I guess the solution to racial bullying is conforming to Western Anglo culture. What's racist about that!

More importantly, though, does this suggest to anyone else that conforming to...something...some standard bullies support, say...could put an end to other kinds of bullying? I don't have much knowledge of bully psychology or the research done on them, so I don't know how well this would work, or if it would work.

If it would work, I'm having trouble wrapping my brain around what it could mean. Does this give the bullied power, because they can change bullies' behavior by changing their own? Or does it really suck that the bullied have to change their behavior because bullies don't like it?

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Reading Short Form Work To Support This Year's Goals

I am reading an essay or short story a day this year in support of my first goal for the year, "Work on short-form writing, essays and short stories." You can follow my reading on Twitter. Additionally, I've been able to knock off a couple of short story and essay collections. I'm thinking of this as research, the adult essay/short story equivalent of mentor texts

American Housewife: Stories

I thought a book of short stories called American Housewife would be more...housewifie. Hellen Ellis's short stories are edgie and often unique in subject matter. But I'd say they are more women's stories then housewife stories, more about women's experience than housewives' experiences. Yes, I feel I'm nitpicking, too. I'm sure that if the collection had been called something else, I would have felt differently.

How did this book work as research? The end of the book includes a list of publications where these stories were originally published that I'll be able to check out. Otherwise, I don't know that I experienced any kind of writing revelation reading them.

We Are Never Meeting in Real Life: Essays

Samantha Irby's essays in We Are Never Meeting in Real Life were eye-poppers. These are definitely personal essays in which Irby comes across as funny, self-deprecating, and approachable, just to get started. She is very memorable as a writer, and if I can grab singleton Irby essays to read, I will.

How did this book work as research? Well, my understanding of personal essays is that they involve taking some element from writers' lives and using them to relate to something universal. I don't know if Irby is doing that here, but that may be because her life is so different from mine that I just assume that many of these experiences aren't universal because I haven't lived them. The lesson here, I guess, is that if you're writing something that some of your readers can't relate to, you better be damn good and funny.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Connecticut Bookstore Closing

According to its website, Book Club, Bookstore & More in South Windsor will be closing July, 30, 2019. (In roughly a week and a half.)

Friday, July 19, 2019

Buyer, Beware Of Buying Counterfeit Books

Sales Lost
Earlier this month, a family member tipped me off to this story about an author published by a legitimate Christian bookseller who lost thousands of sales because a third-party seller on Amazon was selling counterfeit copies of her book. Though the issue of counterfeit books on Amazon was news to me, it has been covered before. And Amazon has addressed the issue, as well.

A few years ago, I suspected that there might be a counterfeit version of my Saving the Planet ebook circulating. Additionally, we have a textbook author in my husband's family tree, and textbooks are supposed to be particular targets for counterfeiters.  So I can imagine these victims' pain.

But as an Amazon customer, I also have concerns about making sure I'm not buying fakes and thus undermining other authors. I'm not sure how to do that, unless I make a point of avoiding all third-party sellers, the honest as well as the dishonest ones. Which I certainly can do.

UPDATE: I just stumbled upon Summer Reading Prime: How to Avoid Buying Counterfeit Books on Amazon from Nancy Mertzel, an attorney specializing in copyright and trademark litigation.  

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Time Management Tuesday: Stress Is Harmful Vs. Stress Is Helpful

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a couple of mindsets in the Gauthier family. This week I'll cover two very general ones described by Kelly McGonigal in The Upside of Stress. Notice how they could impact writers.

The Stress Is Harmful Mindset

"When you view stress as harmful," McGonigal says, "it is something to be avoided. Feeling stressed becomes a signal to try to escape or reduce the stress...."

Writing can be stressful. Coming up with new material, revising a draft and having to come up with more new material is hard. Creating the perfect synopsis, the perfect cover letter, creates a lot of misery. (That can't just be me, can it?)

"...people who endorse a stress-is-harmful mindset are more likely to say that they cope with stress by trying to avoid it. For example, they are more likely to:

  • Try to distract themselves from the cause of the stress instead of dealing with it 
  • Focus on getting rid of their feelings of stress instead of taking steps to address its source."
  • And other things like drink, withdraw, etc.
Writers could distract themselves from their stress by addressing its source, meaning writing. But more often we don't deal with it, we distract ourselves instantly by going on-line. Social media may not have been created to alleviate stress, but it does a great job with it.

The Stress Is Positive Mindset

"...people who believe that stress can be helpful," McGonigal goes on, "are more likely to say that they cope with stress proactively...they are more likely to:

  • Plan a strategy for dealing with the source of stress.
  • Seek information, help, or advice."
  • And other things  
These must be the people who actually do their writing. But I'm just guessing.

More Mindsets Are Coming Up, As Well As Information On How To Move From One To Another

Maybe next week, maybe not.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Reading Is A Sign Of Good Health

After three days on an antibiotic that doesn't make me sick (so far), I am again sitting up and taking nourishment. In fact, I started working again yesterday and have done a little cooking.

I've also watched a lot of TV. Last weekend when the body aches hit, I added a Netflix app to my tablet so I could watch TV in bed, twenty-four hours a day. And that's what I did for several days at the beginning of the week. I watched two Katherine Ryan specials, the new Aziz Ansari special, all three seasons of Broadchurch, part of season one of Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, and an episode from the last season of Episodes.

I would wake up and watch some TV on my tablet before I got out of bed. Once I was better, I moved out to the sun room to watch tablet TV. I'd go to bed and watch an episode of Broadchurch before I went to sleep. Except one night when I was running late, I watched that episode of Episodes because it was only half an hour. If I woke up in the night, I watched TV.

Those were all times when I used to read. I had no interest in it then. Kind of like I didn't have an interest in eating Saturday night into Tuesday.

Then one morning instead of watching TV in bed, I used my tablet to read articles. A number of them. Last night I ended up reading the first story in a Shirley Jackson book I've had on my Kindle for at least a year. Even though twice today I petered out and stretched out on the sun room couch to finish Broadchurch, it looks as if I'm back reading.

As I was writing this, I realized that my desire to read came back along with my desire to eat.

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

What Are You Whining About Now, Gail?

Lyme Disease! That's what I'm whining about now. I'm being treated for suspected Lyme Disease, which is a hodgepodge of uncomfortable symptoms, in my case, anyway, and the antibiotics to treat it suck.

I added the Netflix app to my tablet, and now I can watch TV and movies in bed. If I felt better, I'd worry about never reading again. But instead I'm going to go watch another episode of Broadchurch.

And I mention this here, because I don't expect to be working this week. What energy I have is going to watching TV. See you on the other side.

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Time Management Tuesday: How You Think About Stress In Your Life

Today I'm continuing my exploration of how stress affects the way we manage time, using The Upside of Stress by Kelly McGonigal.

McGonigal writes about mindsets, "beliefs that shape your reality." The concept of mindsets isn't new. I've always thought of them as, say, a belief system that everything is filtered through. What is new is that McGonigal says that mindsets affect how we perceive stress and that there's a "new field of mindset science" that shows that one short intervention can change them.

I've only made it about 25% of the way into the book so far, and while I was in the early days I was thinking...Meh. Then I realized what my own stress mindset is. (Actually, McGonigal tells us in the book to do that, so maybe I was following instructions. I don't remember.) And very soon thereafter I happened to get an e-mail from a family member (not the archivist I wrote about recently, another one, a nurse) who had read my first stress and time management post and responded with what sure looked like her stress mindset.

A Tale Of Two Stress Mindsets

Gauthier 1. That's me. This is how my mindset about stress goes: I feel that I can only take on one stressful activity at a time. I can't take on Stressful Activity B until Stressful Activity A is over.  I can't even make reservations for a weekend in July until whatever issue is concerning me in May and June is over.

Gauthier 2. The nurse.  She thinks that stress is necessary.  She believes we have stress no matter what the circumstances, because we are so used to having stress that it helps us to get things done.   Feeling stressed gets us motivated to finish the things we need to do.  Otherwise, would we finish anything?

The Gauthier Stress Mindsets And Time Management

How do these mindsets affect how these particular Gauthiers manage time and crank out work?

Gauthier 1. That's me again. If the stars are lined up correctly, I can work toward multiple goals.  Not so much when stress raises its ugly head. In fact, during particularly stressful times, I intentionally narrow my focus to only a few things. Once I get something done, or get that stress behind me, I can take on something else. I can stay on task, because I limit the number of tasks I'm working on. I might, for instance, limit myself to work and family, and cut way back on social interactions and travel.

Gauthier 2. Gauthier 2, who is not me, remember, is able to work on more things over all aspects of her life. She manages work, family, a network of friends, travel, going to movies regularly, and hitting some Broadway shows when they came to Hartford.

Does what I'm describing here illustrate that fight-or-flight business we're always hearing about because Gauthier 1 appears to run for her life to escape stress while Gauthier 2 tends to go "@#!! it! We're doing this?" You'd think so, but McGonigal says that fight or flight is not the only stress response. More on that in another post.

Why Do People Develop Different Stress Mindsets?

Gauthier 1 and Gauthier 2 should have pretty similar DNA ( says so), and except for birth order and the Mom-and-Dad-liked-me-better thing, we had a pretty similar upbringing. So why such different stress mindsets? Is this something McGonigal will cover in her book?

If I had to guess...and this is my blog, so I do...our work situations are a factor here. Remember how I made a point of stating that Gauthier 2 is a nurse? She has spent years in a variety of increasingly responsible healthcare positions, keeping her under stress regularly during her workdays..

Gauthier 1, on the other hand, is a writer. I experience what might be described as punctuated stress. Stress shoots up when trying to meet a contractual deadline. It goes up when preparing for a professional presentation or having to make it. An editor leaves her publishing house. Should I follow her? Stressful. Cover letters for submissions require hours of stressful work, because a sentence phrased incorrectly could mean the difference between convincing an agent or editor to take a look or being passed over. Struggling to come up with new material for revisions? Stressful. But when those high stress moments are over, the stress is gone and I have long periods of working in comfort.

In The Upside of Stress, McGonigal says that "past stress teaches the brain and body how to handle future stress. Stress leaves an imprint on your brain that prepared you to deal with similar stress the next time you encounter it." "Psychologists," she says "call this stress inoculation. It's like a stress vaccine for your brain."  "...going through stress makes you better at it..."

So I'm making the argument that the kind of stress Gauthier 2 has experienced over the years has made it possible for her to better handle it, and her ability to handle stress means she can better manage her time and do more. Evidently my kind of stress has done nothing for me.

Monday, July 01, 2019

I Was Going On About Time Ten Years Ago

My family member the archivist tweets from his extensive archives regularly in order to bring some of his material to the readingpublic's attention. I have done that once in a while, but realized today, hey, I could tweet every day from the ol' Original Content backlist. So, tomorrow being July 1st, I thought, why don't I tweet a July 1st post from another year? How about from ten years ago?

So I looked at the July 1st, 2009 post and what do I see? Trying to Manage Time. I was on that ten years ago, two and a half years before I started the Time Management Tuesday feature.

I do think I've made a little progress since then.