Time Travel Thoughts

I’m currently in the Research & Development phase of my Work In Progress which reminds me of the character Conrad (Jason Bateman) in the movie The Longest Week:

Narrator: …At present, he was working on his magnum opus – a great New York novel in the tradition of Fitzgerald and Edith Wharton. It was widely speculated as to where he was in the process of writing it. When asked, he would simply reply…

Conrad Valmont: I’m in the gathering stages.

Narrator: Conrad had been in the “gathering stages”for several years now.

This seed has been around for several years as well, but for various reasons the time has come to push it to the front of the idea list. The idea includes a time travel/historical element and since that has been done before it is hard to make it not derivative. These concerns keep putting me off, and yet, I keep coming back to the drawing board.

The actual act of time travel requires many world building solutions to everyday questions: what’s so special about this character that s/t/he/y gets to travel through time, what is the time travelers purpose when s/t/he/y is in another time, why time travel and not just historical fiction, how does the time travel work, does it work only to a single specific time/multiple times/past & future, can the traveler go back & forth or forward & back at will, can the traveler determine the time before s/t/he/y go, how does the main character return? (I’ve been reading and watching a lot of time travel movies/shows.)

Here’s a quick list (to organize my thoughts) of how time travel tends to work in fiction.

Mathematical/Scientific:

  • Time Machine or device (Back to the Future, Bill & Ted, Annum Guard Series (YA), Into the Dim (YA series). This allows the character to go to different pre-set times/worlds unless something happens to the device. TARDIS.)
  • Geometric (tesseract ala A Wrinkle in Time)
  • Wormhole
  • Tachyon
  • Rip in universe
  • Hypnosis
  • Time ray (comics often villain has this)
  • Remote Control
  • Radiation
  • Alien assistance
  • Cryogenics
  • Gaseous fog
  • Weather or Earth event
  • Interaction with Future Traveler who has superior technology

Endowed Magical Object/Person:

  • Book (Magic Tree House series: Morgan Le Fay is “Time Librarian.” Inkheart series. Really world traveling but still.)
  • Fairies, Witches, Ghosts (Christmas Carol)
  • Guardian Angel (It’s a Wonderful Life)
  • Artifact in pieces (The Story of the Amulet)
  • Artifact (Time-Turner in Prisoner of Azkaban)
  • Artifact + magical words
  • TARDIS (Fits here as well because it looks like a regular police box. Note: I’m not a Dr. Who super-fan so don’t skewer me.)

Magical Portal:

  • Fog (The Fog of Forgetting)
  • Wardrobe (Narnia series)
  • Door (The Devil’s Arithmetic)
  • Gate
  • Large historical structure ie: Standing Stones (Outlander)

Illness:

  • Genetic issue (Time Traveler’s Wife)
  • Heart attack
  • Blow to the head (A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court)

Passive:

  • Sleep (Rip Van Winkle)
  • Fainting (Peggy Sue Got Married)
  • Random flash of light, etc.

This list is not at all exhaustive and I’d love for others to chime in (in the comments) with their own thoughts and examples.

Book Review: The Librarian of Auschwitz

I received this ARC through a MacMillan/Shelf Awareness giveaway. The book is scheduled for an October 10th launch!

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The Librarian of Auschwitz is marketed as a novel but it reads as creative nonfiction in the journalistic style of Susan Orlean. Author Antonio Iturbe’s interviews with the real Dita Kraus and information from the interviews with Rudolph Rosenberg make the novel more true than not. Anne Frank and her sister show up in the book as well. The narrative quality of the writing makes it a little difficult to ascertain what portions of the book are fictitious (but we can assume that specific conversations, some scenes, character actions and reactions have been embellished for the story). I would have liked an author’s note that makes clear to teen readers what is true and what is not.

The book was originally written in Spanish and is translated by Lilit Thwaites.

The specifics of the Holocaust are horrendously and horrifically true, yet teenager Dita’s amazing story as protectorate of books for the children of the “family camp” school was new to me. Her strength and the strength of those around her in the face of their inhumane treatment is inspiring and humbling. Dita, the other children, and their teachers find refuge in the stories and facts from the eight illicit books they have and hide. It is this refuge, that allows Dita to hold on to her own humanity and to stand up for others. The novel is truly an ode to the power of books. If you liked “The Book Thief,” “The Librarian of Auschwitz” will keep you up all night reading.

I read a lot of YA and children’s Holocaust literature in my late 20s but haven’t been able to stomach it until recently. Perhaps my renewed interest comes from our current xenophobic and racist policies, the rise of authoritarian governments, the lack of concern from our young people regarding “democratic legitimacy,” or the Syrian atrocities and others going on right under our noses that make the cry “Never Again” a fallacy. Nevertheless, I am interested now. Here are some excellent pairings to go with The Librarian of Auschwitz. (There are many, many more.)

From those who were there or had family members there:
Night, Elie Wiesel
The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank
Maus,(1 & 2) Art Spiegelman
I never saw another butterfly, poetry from the children of Terezin edited by Hana Volavková

Also:
The Devil’s Arithmetic, Jane Yolen
Briar Rose, Jane Yolen
The Book Thief, Marcus Zuzak
Paper Hearts, Meg Wiviott
Milkweed, Jerry Spinelli

Younger children:
Number the Stars, Lois Lowry
Benno and the Night of Broken Glass, Meg Wiviott
The Yellow Star: The Legend of King Christian X of Denmark, Carmen Agra Deedy

Henry Holt/MacMillan has a  The Librarian of Auschwitz teacher’s guide.

Let’s Stand Together

“If you were on a airplane that was hijacked, and they said Jews go to left and everyone else go to the right, what would you do?”

I was at a non-denominational summer camp when this question came up. It was the summer of 1984; I was thirteen-years old, identified as Jewish, and there had been three hijackings in the news. My friends and I had just talked a Florida camper down from tears. She was sure that her plane would be diverted to Cuba.

These are the conversations you have when adults aren’t around. They are conversations that force you to face who you are and figure out what, if anything you would stand for. I remember my question to the questioner: “Wait. Do you know that the hijackers are against Jews?” The answer. “No. You don’t know if something is going to happen to the Jews or not.”  “Then no,” I answered. “I don’t want to die. I’d say I wasn’t Jewish.”

Because of how I choose to present my Judaism, it’s pretty easy to be overlooked as a just another white person who might raise a tree on December 25th (I did in 20 years of marriage to a non-Jew) and eat chocolate bunnies in the spring. (Who would pass up chocolate—not me.) But that ability to pass, often makes me privy to microaggressions and anti-semitism that sometimes happen within closed groups. To avoid that, I often declare myself as Jewish early in new work relationships. I’m no shrinking violet and it’s my moral imperative to not only speak up for all underrepresented people in negative situations but also to advocate positively for diversity and equality.

The growing anti-semitism in our country goes hand in hand with other messages of hate and othering against: Muslims, immigrants, LGBTQ people, and all brown and black people. The recent comments (from those who sit in the whitest White House in recent history) about Emma Lazarus’s poem on the Statue of Liberty and our President’s on-going reaction to the racist and anti-Semitic events of Charlottesville  bring me to tears. There is no doubt that KKK and neo-Nazi members, and others who label themselves as white supremacists are emboldened by the friend they have in President Trump. I am equally aghast whenever I see Jewish organizations supporting this president.

What does one do when it looks as if our entire country has stepped into a time machine that takes us back to (reveals that we never left) an amorphous period between 1890 and 1969?

I recently found this New York Times Article, “Revocation of Grants to Help Fight Hate Under New Scrutiny After Charlottesville.” In summary, President Obama earmarked $400,000 to the organization “Life after Hate” to help members of hate groups out of extremism. When President Trump took office, he rescinded those grants. I’ve donated to the organization in the hopes that, as President Obama Tweeted:

In addition to my donation, I will continue to shut up and listen to those who face bigots daily simply because of the color of their skin. I will stand up, speak out for, and ask difficult questions about equality, diversity, and peace in my art, writing, personal, and professional life. I will suggest wonderful books to children and families that provide empathy and education. And if, G-d forbid, I am put in a situation where I have to declare my identity and face possible harm, I hope we will all stand together on the same side of that plane as human beings.

A Reading Rumpus

It’s been a reading rumpus here.

The other day I spent a good long time at my local AMAZING library (Curtis Memorial Library) with our incredible Youth Services Librarians and my Goodreads TBR list. Of course my eyes are way bigger than my metaphorical reading stomach can handle. The mathematical equation of my relationship with library books looks like this:

Check out time allowed – my reading speed = not enough time for everything I took.

Sometimes that doesn’t matter because truthfully, there’s nothing like the feeling of walking out of the library with a massive pile of books and more on the way from Interlibrary Loan (A Psalm for Lost Girls by Katie Bayerl).

After the library, I finally (how did it get to be August) excavated my patio chaise lounge from the back of the garage (still haven’t gotten to my bike *covers head in shame*), dusted off the cobwebs, and set it in the Maine sunshine to read.

The picture book haul was excellent. For me, Little Fox in the Forest by Stephanie Graegin (Random House Kids) was a delight. It is wordless and uses sequential art and framing as in a graphic novel. Reminiscent of the Wizard of Oz, the blue-grey monochromatic palette gives way to full color as the main characters travel from the real to the fantasy world through an topiary archway.  I was “reading” the book to my man-children and they were frustrated with my narration of the silent story. (Mom. We can see what’s happening.) Perhaps the book is best for consuming on one’s own or allowing the child to tell you what is happening.

My review of Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes on Goodreads. More to come. I will renew books if necessary by golly.

Escape
by Anna E. Jordan

Consuming story
The pile never shrinks
More hours in the day please

 

 

 

A room of one’s own

When spammers set up shop in one’s comments, one knows that it’s been too long since the last blog post. In addition to a copy editing/marketing job at a regional publisher, I coach rowing in Maine. Real spring (sunshine, warmth, flowers) starts in June here, so the last month has been a cluster of rain, flooded rivers, frustrated parents, and fabulous high school rowers. We have a couple of final practice sessions next week but this weekend I’ve been able to take a breath and do a few thing for me. (Yoga. Banana-walnut-chocolate-chip waffles with my son. Wonder Woman movie!) I’m crawling from the banks of the river to write this post and to introduce you to…

MY NEW WRITING STUDIO!

Anna's Studio.jpg

This studio is the product of two years of work to change an unfinished storage space from the back of my garage into a haven of peace, writing, and drawing. When move-in day came, I was able to unearth boxes from the garage, and closet and rediscover my art materials: fluffy brushes, buttery pencils, oil and acrylic paints and various papers. It’s been awhile since I’ve carried a sketchbook but have found myself jotting down lists of possible subject matter and warming up my hand with large, lazy, charcoal circles on newsprint. When I’m in this space, it is as if time stands still and the daily current event horrors melt away.

In other good news, I have a new agent who loved my most recent middle grade manuscript. I’m eager for her notes and ready to polish my work until it shines. Until then, I’m playing with a new mystery idea for a contemporary YA, and trying to find interview subjects for another project. (If you or someone you know is a mom who works the night shift in construction or another field, please leave me a comment, message me on Facebook, or send an email to annaeleanorjordan [at] gmail [dot] com.)

Hoping to see you all again here soon.

 

 

What a day!

This morning, I see that there is mouse poop in my pantry. It’s true that I’ve heard the pitter patter of little feet around midnight. They seem to tromp back and forth across the first floor ceiling. I figured that I’d wait till after winter and call an exterminator. But this morning, I sweep up the pantry floor and realize that the dirt there is actually mouse poop, and that there’s more on the cookie shelf along with bits of foil wrap, but not just any foil wrap—Girl Scout Samoas foil wrap. Oh no, Ma’am. In the ceiling next to the HVAC duct is a classic mouse hole or two. So I’m taking things out of the pantry, and throwing a lot away, and taking other items out of their packaging and putting them in reusable containers and wincing because my hip has been hurting.

The phone rings, and it’s the assistant at the doctors, and do I want a 10:30 appointment from a cancellation? Since it isn’t snowing that hard and it’s right around the corner, I jump at the chance. When I get there, the doctor is running 30 min late. Then she sends me for a xray. Then she tries to get me in to see the sports doctor right away (read: 30 or 45 minutes later). Then the sports doctor’s assistant comes out and apologizes and says really, they’ll be an extra 45 minutes. I say I need to go home to eat something, and I’ll be right back.

However, while I’m at home, son #1 calls. He stopped to get me the mouse traps I asked for but they only have poison, which I don’t want, but while he was in the store, he left the heat and radio going for his brother, without keeping the car running, and now the battery is dead and can I come give them a jump.

So I stop eating and get in my hybrid and go to help them. The wind has whipped up quite a bit, and I need to get back to my appointment, and my hybrid hood battery only seems to have a positive point. I can’t make anything happen so I bring the boys home and go back to the doctor.

The sports doc sees me and basically diagnoses that my hip hurts. She has some idea where the pain is coming from, but it’s hard to really tell with soft tissue. Predictably, I’ll need to take ibuprofen or Aleve and find some time in my schedule for physical therapy.

I tell my son I’m on the way home and he says that the AAA guy is headed to the car so come pick him up. I do and when we get to the car, the wind is gusting, and the snow is coming down about two inches and hour. Now that the AAA guy is there, my son can’t seem to pop the hood. He tries, and tries, and finally the plastic inside hood lever breaks off the cable. We are SOL. The AAA guy calls a tow truck and says it’ll be an hour. So I take my kid home and go back to wait the hour and there’s the tow guy! The car is already up on the truck, and he’s about to leave with it. Luckily I intercept him and let him know to take it to the shop and not back to my house.

I inch home in what seems to be a white tunnel. Now I try to stay in the middle of the road so I don’t end up jumping the curb or getting caught in a drift. At home at 4pm, I turn the heat on under homemade chicken soup and pop two marshmallows in everyone’s hot cocoa.

Snow day. Good thing I stayed home from work. It might be nap time.

Edited to add:

I’m making dinner (pesto tortellini, asparagus, and matzoh ball soup) when a mouse “small, grey, and bright eyed” (with apologies to Bonny Becker and the mouse)  scampered across my stove. Did you hear me? Across my stove! I screamed and scuttled backwards which brought in my son and my dog who, upon hearing “mouse,” was ready to rumble. Through a course of events which included fire and entrapment, the mouse ended up in the jaws of Lucy the valiant (or beast depending who’s telling the story.) I will be getting many mouse traps tomorrow. As soon as I can dig out.

#MadnessPoetry has begun!

In my last post, I promoted the call for poets on the completely redesigned and fabulous Madness Poetry website. Well…I was accepted as an “authlete” and received my first word, “reciprocal,” last night at 8pm with a thirty-six hour deadline. Twenty-four hours later I’ve submitted a poem. Nothing like a deadline to get the creative juices flowing!

Now it’s your turn. Check out the Authlete Brackets to see how the competition is progressing, the Authlete Matchups to see the word assignments, and the Calendar of Events  to see when poems will be posted, then start voting for you favorite poetry. And faithful blog readers, I humbly ask for your votes.

If you are a teacher, there’s a special place for you and your classroom to sign up, vote, and be counted.

Only the best, funniest, most technically sound, fearless poets will survive.

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2017 March Madness Poetry is back!

poetry friday

For all of you who love reading and writing poetry for kids, it’s time to celebrate. Ed DeCaria is reviving the March Madness Poetry contest. Not only that, but he has also put in  an amazing effort to give Madness Poetry it’s own website with new and improved user experience. He is currently taking 1) Poet Authlete Applications 2) Classroom Teachers who want their students to participate in voting and 3) Fans who want to participate in voting. As we’ve all discovered, if you don’t vote, you suffer the results so go to http://madnesspoetry.com/ today and signup! Thank you, Ed!