This week is the annual Writers For Hope benefit auction. Writers, readers, schools, and book lovers are invited to bid on items ranging from signed books to writing critiques and even video school visits with well-known authors. 84 publishing professionals including bestselling authors and top agents are participating this year, and I am proud to be one of the donating authors. Please take a moment to visit this wonderful event. 100 percent of the proceeds go directly to RAINN, the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network, the largest USA-based anti-sexual assault organiztion. LEARN MORE HERE.
This year, I wanted to push my Drama Two curriculum, which includes a focus on
world drama. As part of the process, I decided to pair the class with a World Wise
Schools active Peace Corps Volunteer Stephanie Edwards. The students had
previously researched a unit of non-Western theatre and taught the class, focusing
on their findings.
Once paired with Stephanie, my students received videos she had prepared,
showcasing information about her time in the Peace Corps, the local (Guarini)
culture of her village in Paraguay, and other videos relating to what Stephanie was
doing to help improve people’s lives. With each video, my students watched via
Google Classroom, and then wrote a response, leading to larger class discussions
later. My kids also sent Stephanie several email introductions and questions, and
later video interviews. After one video on Guarani myths, my students performed
their own interpretation of the myths.
The most rewarding part of our WWS exchange was when the students got to meet
Stephanie in person. She took a brief vacation, and used one of her vacation days to
come to our school, where she spoke to the kids, shared photos and a native drink
from Paraguay, answered questions, and even presented one of the lessons she’s
worked with in her host village. My principal attended and all of the kids really felt
that the exchange was rewarding and a great way to end our partnership.
I thoroughly enjoyed how WWS gave my students a unique and personal
perspective into another part of the world. I have already registered next year’s
class to participate in WWS again.
400 years ago today, William Shakespeare died. Without question, he is the most influential writer of all time in the English language. His plays are still performed today, his sonnets still considered some of the finest poetry ever written, and even the many words he invented continue to be a part of the English language, four centuries after his death.
I am a huge Shakespeare fan. My particular favorites being Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, and A Midsummer Night's Dream. This past spring, I directed A Midsummer Night's Dream in our new blackbox, putting my own spin on this classic tale.
When I first visited London, a friend took me to the roof of St. Paul's. We looked out over the city, and saw a massive construction project at the South Bank. We didn't know what it was, but later learned that they were building a replica of the Globe Theatre. Today, after tourning Shakespeare in 197 countries, RSC performed for President Obama at the Globe.
I've been asked in several intervews if I could go back in history and meet one person, who would it be, and the answer I give is always Shakespeare. I sometimes wonder what his life and plays would be like, had he written today. Shakespeare's greatest achivement is that his plays are not lines meant to be analyzed in an English classroom, but living works, to be performed and interpreted on a stage. The Midsummer Night's Dream I directed was different from the version I performed in, or the productions I've seen. Each play takes an unique flavor, even if every word is kept the same, in the hands of a different director, designer and production team. The plays have a life of their own, and subsequently an immortality the rest of us writers shall likely never know.
What is your favorite Shakespeare play or sonnet? Leave a comment below and share!
Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are eight contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the PINK TEAM--but there is also a red team, an orange team, a gold team, a green team, a teal team, a blue team, a purple team, and a pink team for a chance to win a whole different set of books!
If you'd like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.
SCAVENGER HUNT POST
I'm hosting Philip W. Simpson, a fellow author and fellow teacher. Phillip W. Simpson is the author of many novels, chapter books and other stories for children. He received his undergraduate degree in Ancient History and Archaeology, his Masters (Hons) degree in Archaeology and his Masters (Hons) degree in Creative Writing from the University of Auckland.
Before embarking on his writing career, he joined the army as an officer cadet, owned a comic shop and worked in recruitment in both the UK and Australia.
When not writing, he works as a school teacher.
Phill's newest book takes a different look at Greek mythology:
Loyalty has no limits. Raised from a pup by Greek hero, Odysseus, Argos has come to learn the true meaning of love and loyalty.
But when Odysseus leaves for the Trojan War, little does Argos know it will be 20 years before he sees his master again. With Odysseus gone his wife, Penelope, and son, Telemachus, are easy prey for neighboring kings and the Gods themselves. But Argos was tasked to keep them safe until Odysseus returns and that is a promise he is determined to keep – whatever the cost.
Told through his eyes, Argos recounts the story of his life – his pain, his joy, his triumphs and failures; his endurance in the face of hardships almost too great to believe. Above all else, Argos strives to do what is right – and to remain loyal to his King when all others have given up hope.
To live long enough to see his beloved master one more time. This epic myth of love and loyalty proves that a dog really is man's best friend.
COMING MAY, 2016: Click the cover to learn more!
Phill sent me a rejected version of the cover for Argos. This hasn't been seen elsewhere. The rejected cover is this:
And don't forget to enter the contest for a chance to win prizes by me, Christopher Mannino, and more! To enter, you need to know that my favorite number is 28. Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the PINK team and you'll have all the secret code to enter for the grand prize!
Don't forget to also sign up for my email blast MYTHIC MONDAYS. EVERY new subscriber gets an exclusive short story, and is entered to win a 50 dollar gift card, an audiobook, or a signed paperback!
CONTINUE THE HUNT
To keep going on your quest for the hunt, you need to check out the next author!
GILLIAN BRONTE ADAMS
What'd you think of the Scavenger Hunt? Does Argos sound neat? Please leave a COMMENT below!!
Most of my followers know I'm a writer, teacher, director, actor, singer and traveller. But did you also know I really enjoy photography? To welcome in the spring, I walked around my neighborhood taking a few images of the new season. After a brutal winter, and the continuing depressing news about terrorism and a contentious election, it's refreshing to simply enjoy the feeling of renewal and rebirth that comes this time of year. It is also a season of many holidays including Purim, Easter, Passover, Holi, Nowruz, and others, all of which are firmly rooted in the same celebration of renewal, rebirth, and growth.
Happy Spring! Click the pics to enlarge and leave a comment if you enjoy.
Also- coming soon is the YA Scavenger Hunt- it's something totally new for the site that involves hundreds of authors across the world!
On New Year's Eve, Rachel and I finally got around to watching Inside Out. I LOVED the film. While it wasn't a kid's movie at all, I felt like I was back with the old Pixar, the people who kept coming up with new, original ideas, like Monsters Inc, Finding Nemo, and The Incredibles. For a long time, I've been wondering if Lasseter's team had just run out of ideas. Why are there so many Cars spin offs? Finding Dory? Are you kidding? Pixar was the one house with all the new ideas, at least at first. I was thrilled to watch that movie, and felt a glimmer of hope.
Then, on New Year's Day, Rachel and I watched another Disney movie, the new Star Wars film. Not only was the movie almost completely the same story and structure as Episode Four, what really depressed me was all the previews. We sat through twenty (I kid you not) previews, and I only saw ONE trailer that looked interesting- and even that was for a new Star Trek film, hardly a new idea or concept.
The strangest thing was how every "new" movie we watched a trailer for is a spin off or remake of an old idea. Tarzan, The Jungle Book, Batman vs Superman (which looks like it might be the dumbest movie ever), and even a new Independence Day. I know making movies is an expensive business. Yet, it's sad to see when even the newest Star Wars film plays it safe. Phantom Menance proved that any Star Wars movie would've made a fortune, no matter what. However, Abrams played it safe by sticking to old ideas, old plotlines, and almost ridiculous moments of pandering to the fans. "Hey let's all pause and remember this moment. And now look, the holographic game's still there, and here's the band from Episode Four, let's remember that, etc..."
Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the movie, and just like every other sucker paid good money (even enjoying it in IMAX and 3D). Still, I'm dissapointed at how few original films I see coming out of Hollywood these days. Every other action movie now's a new superhero based on a comic book. How many films are either complete remakes, or only go into production after the books become wildly successful? Film is an art form in its own right, and I applaud the makers of Inside Out, and do hope to see more original films in the future.
Wishing everyone a Happy New Year's. This past year was a fantastic year for me, and hopefully 2016 will be even better. Enjoy every minute, and take the time to make this upcoming year a wonderful one.
By December 2012, my girlfriend Rachel and I were deeply in love. We'd been living together for several months, and she'd even spent time with me overseas while I completed my program at Oxford. That year we agreed to not get each other any Christmas gifts at all, since we were saving for a joint trip to California.
At her final day of work in Washington, DC, one of Rachel's co-workers handed her a large gift. Inside was a scrapbook, and the first part of an eight-part poem I had written. There was also a clue as to where she could find the next part of the poem.
A scavenger hunt began, across Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware. With every poem stanza, I'd also gotten Rachel a personalized gift. On Christmas Day, at her family's house in Delaware, she opened two passes to Colonial Williamsburg, a historic city in Virginia. We headed there next.
At a small Bed and Breakfast in Wiliamsburg, Rachel found the final part of the poem, waiting next to a bottle of wine. As she placed it in the scrapbook and read the now completed poem, I sank to one knee and propsed. She said yes.
It was a Christmas story I will be proud to someday tell our children.
For four years, I have blogged actively at The Poet's Fire. My blog was originally was created to keep my family and friends in the USA updated while I studied abroad at Oxford. During my time in England I became inspired to write School of Deaths, and my career as a writer began. The blog morphed from a travel blog to a blend of inspiration, advice, and personal posts. Now, as I move into a deeper phase of my writing, I am consolidating the blog to this, my author site.
Feel free to visit The Poet's Fire at its original site for all posts before December 20, 2015.