Sunday, December 29, 2013

Sunday Poem: The Quilts From Gee's Bend By Alison Luterman

The Quilts of Gee's Bend, Minnie Sue Coleman, Pig In A Pen Medallion
The Quilts from Gees Bend, Alabama

Women who owned no shoes,
whose feet were hard as packed earth,
whose throats were open
flowers through which gospel poured,
made these praise-songs
of cotton, these shouts of necessary
color. In their work-
stiffened hands, the threaded needle,
shared scissors.
Here are the scraps
of a husband,
his stained overalls, scorch
mark of denim punctuating the mute
expanse of fabric. Witness. Ripped
paisley tablecloth, shred of red scarf,
bleached fertilizer sacks.
Beautys hours stolen
away from chopping and hoeing,
the cleaver, the bucket, and the well.
I like to hang my quilts all on a line
outside, and stand back till I see them wave
like flags from a long ways off,
a woman says, who learned
from her mother (who had sixteen
children, and not a shoe
between them)
that if there was to be grace
in this life, she would have
to make it herself,
and that she could
and that it would live on.
-Alison Luterman
Winner of the Writers Digest 2007 poetry prize

Find Alison Luterman's website here.

 About The Quilts Of Gee's Bend

NPR: The Quilts Of Gee's Bend: A Showcase Of  Distinctive Work By African-American Artists

THE QUILTS OF GEE'S BEND from Souls Grown Deep Foundation on Vimeo.

I'll be posting a poem every Sunday. Enjoy the read. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Emma Coats Tweets Pixar's 22 Rules Of Storytelling + Pixar Filmmaker Andrew Stanton (Toy Story, WaLL-E) Reveals His Secret Story Sauce

Emma Coats formerly of Pixar tweeted these 22 rules for great storytelling last year from her twitter account @lawnrocket. They apply to any story but I think they have special significance for picture book artists. The best picture books are masterfully edited scenes. You can find her storyboarding nuggets here on her tumblr Story Shots.
1. You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.
2. Keep in mind what's interesting to you as an audience, not what's fun to do as a writer. They can be very different.
3. Trying for theme is important, but you won't see what the story is actually about until you're at the end of it. Now rewrite.
4. Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.
5. Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You'll feel like you're losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.
6 . What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?
7 . Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.
8. Finish your story, let go even if it's not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.
9 . When you're stuck, make a list of what wouldn't happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.
10. Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you've got to recognize it before you can use it.
11. Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you'll never share it with anyone.
12. Discount the first thing that comes to mind—and the second, third, fourth and fifth. Get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.
13. Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it's poison to the audience.
14. Why must you tell this story? What's the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That's the heart of it.
15. If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.
16. What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don't succeed? Stack the odds against.
17. No work is ever wasted. If it's not working, let go and move on. It'll come back around to be useful later.
18. You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best and fussing. Story is testing, not refining.
19. Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.
20. Exercise: Take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How do you rearrange them into what you do like?
21. You must identify with your situation and/or characters; you can't just write "cool." What would make you act that way?
22. What's the essence of your story? The most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.
Bambi, 1942 film produced by Walt Disney
Pixar Filmmaker Andrew Stanton (Toy Story, WaLL-E) shares his ideas about what makes a great story in his TEDTalk. He remembers his mother taking him to see Bambi as a child and how the film envoked in him the most important ingredient a story should have: wonder, the secret sauce.


TWITTER: Emma Coats, @lawnrocket
TUMBLR: Emma Coats Story Shots
TWITTER: @AndrewStanton

Enjoy the read. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Pinterest Dominating Publisher Referral Traffic

Shareaholic released a Social Media Traffic Report based on 200,000 publishers over 13 months.
What they found might surprise you.
"Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter are dominating. These three social media power players collectively accounted for 15.22% of overall traffic last month. Given their community and share-friendly nature, it’s no surprise that they top the list in traffic referrals and have grown more than 54% each in share of overall visits. Facebook grew 58.81%, Pinterest by 66.52% and Twitter 54.12%. Pinterest’s growth is especially interesting now that the company is flirting with paid advertising."

Find Shareholic on twitter: @Shareaholic.

Pinterest & Publishers
Pinterest Driving Discoverability: Are Publishers On Board?

Okay, I'm Addicted To Code Club's Robo-Boogie

The #HourOfCode is approaching! Here's a fun, silly way to get kids to play with code.
Robo-Boogie is an app made by CODE CLUB, a "nationwide network of volunteer led after school coding clubs for children 9-11. Very cool. This should be a part of every school, right?
I discovered it exploring Mark Blair's google feed {a wealth of information}. He's compiled a great list of resources for #HourOfCode here.
Robo-Boogie: pick a robot, make it dance by changing the code then share it on Facebook or Twitter!
Explore Robo-Boogie here and start dancing!
I dare ya, go ahead, try it. ; )
Here's my dance! Find CODE CLUB on twitter: @CodeClub, they ROCK!

5 Reasons to Teach Kids To Code From Kodable

Kodable is an iPad curriculum that teaches kids the basic tools for programming. Kodable teaches the basic concepts needed for any programming language.

  • Programming Logic
  • Sequence
  • Conditions
  • Loops
  • Functions 
  • Debugging

It comes with Learning Guides and other resources for teachers and parents. You can find Kodable here.

5 Reasons to Teach Kids to Code
infographic c. Kodable 2013