Thursday, August 26, 2010

Who's Going to Get Us Out of This Mess: First Girl President Mary America!

She’s an Orphan. She’s Smart. She’s the Leader of the Free World. And she’s 12. Meet Mary America, the first girl president of the United States. “She’s ready to serve and show us all a different perspective,” says award-winning author Carole Marsh about her newest character.

Go along on the first exciting adventure of MARY AMERICA: First Girl President of the United States as the chapters of Marsh’s newest children’s book unfold. An orphan, Mary America becomes the president at age 12, through a fluke in the law and a high IQ. You’ll also meet her grandfather, First Gramps, her pesky little brother, Josh, her Aunt Doo-Dah and her baby cousin, Prissy, among other interesting characters.

“This seemed like the perfect time for a book that helps children understand what a big job it is being president, while being entertained by how somebody their age would handle the job. I’m also passionate about subject matter that helps children dream big dreams,” Marsh adds. Each book includes great educational content for children 7 to 12 about the presidency, White House, how government works, diplomacy and much more, as well as teaching children about character traits such as integrity, dependability, responsibility, creativity, trust and friendship

As with all of Marsh’s children’s fiction titles, MARY AMERICA: First Girl President of the United States will have an assigned Accelerated Reader level, Lexile measure, Fountas & Pinnell level, and a DRA level – always important for parents and teachers.

Best-selling author Carole Marsh is CEO of Gallopade International. Her award-winning Carole Marsh Mysteries series is now 78 titles strong and her latest non-fiction series, The Student’s Civil War, is garnering great reviews. Gallopade International products have won many awards, including Learning Magazine’s Teacher’s Choice award and the iParenting Award for Greatest Products. For more information, go to www.gallopade.com or call 800-536-2438.

“Saying What You Must:” Free Poetry Workshop at Fayette County Public Library

Starting Monday, September 13 at 7:00 p.m.

The Fayette County Public Library invites adults and high school students to participate in a free four-week poetry writing workshop titled “Saying What You Must.” The course takes place at the library on four consecutive Monday evenings from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m., starting on Monday, September 13 and running through Monday, October 4. The workshop is free and open to the public, but space in the class is limited, so advance enrollment is strongly encouraged. Please call the library at 770-461-8841 or sign up in person by Tuesday, September 7.

The workshop includes study of the work of several contemporary poets, including Mary Oliver, Elizabeth Bishop, Ted Kooser, William Carlos Williams, James Wright, Czeslaw Milosz, Robert Bly, Anne Sexton, Lucille Clifton, William Stafford, Raymond Carver, Maxine Kumin, and Wendell Berry, among others. Participants in the course will explore the basic elements and devices that poetry employs. But mostly they will write—both in and out of class—and share new writing with one another in a supportive atmosphere.

“Saying What You Must” is facilitated by Sara DeLuca, a Fayette County resident who has led several poetry and memoir workshops in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Georgia over the past 15 years. Ms. DeLuca’s poetry has been featured in numerous literary journals, including Emory University’s “Lullwater Review.” Her poetry collection, “Songs From an Inland Sea,” was published by Acorn Whistle Press in 1998. She is also the author of a girlhood memoir, “Dancing the Cows Home,” published by Minnesota Historical Society Press. This story has been adapted for the stage, and produced by theatres in Wisconsin and Minnesota. It is scheduled for production by West Georgia Children’s Theatre in Hogansville next summer.

Suggested reading for participants in “Saying What You Must” includes two well-known poetry texts: “A Poetry Handbook” by Mary Oliver, and “How To Read A Poem and Fall In Love With Poetry” by Edward Hirsch. Copies of both books are available for checkout at the Fayette County Public Library.

The Fayette County Public Library is located behind the Fayette County administrative complex in downtown Fayetteville, at the southwest corner of Highways 85 and 54. For additional information, please contact the library at 770-461-8841.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Whit Gibbons: Book Recounts Efforts to Protect Jekyll

Author Babs McDonald
Any book that begins with the words "I love public land" and is dedicated to "the thousands of citizens who have consistently and persistently opposed... commercial, timeshare, and condominium development" on a coastal island should appeal to many people. The dedication goes on to acknowledge those "who work for the establishment, protection, and preservation of public lands everywhere." Although this book is about the commercial and political forces that threaten Jekyll Island State Park, Ga., the principles should resonate anywhere powerful individuals and corporations decide that personal profits should outweigh the preferences of the general public.

"Remember Jekyll Island" (2010, Langdon Street Press, Minneapolis, $14.95) by Babs McDonald gives an inside view of the history of what she refers to as "inappropriate planning" by the Jekyll Island Authority. The authority was created to oversee conservation, development, and management of the island. Yet some citizens became actively involved in thwarting development of the island as proposed by the authority because they thought the plan would reduce public access to the magnificent coastal habitats. A primary threat was an increase in private development and restricted-access housing areas. Jekyll Island State Park is currently open to the public and belongs to all the people; the idea of private development was viewed by some as unacceptable.

I feel certain that a book written by the Jekyll Island Authority about their process of decision making, planning, and management would offer explanations for the authority's actions. And such a book might be appropriate, because in McDonald's opinion the members of the authority have "got some 'splainin' to do." For example, she states that the way the authority appears "to discount public opinion, deflect public scrutiny, and act with impunity may be related to its accountability to Georgia's governor."

One helpful feature of the book is the chapter titled "What You Can Do." If you don't like the way a publically owned area such as a national or state park is being treated, you can take action. Some of the suggestions are geared to Jekyll Island but they have generic applicability and would work in many different situations. For example, set up a website and let people join your effort. Give away free bumper stickers ("Save ..."). One suggestion that I am always in favor of is to contact your local newspaper or any others whose readers are interested in the ecological issue.

South Beach, Jekyll Island
And let us not forget elected officials, who often have great influence. They seem to be more attuned to the public interest when they realize that their actions are under scrutiny.

"Remember Jekyll Island" details efforts to protect a specific place. But it has general applicability to any place where public habitats and natural environments are vulnerable to political maneuvering and self-serving justification by people with an eye on personal profit.

The writings of Gifford Pinchot in 1910 express the environmental spirit that many people, probably a majority, would like to achieve. Pinchot, the first chief of the U.S. Forest Service, is quoted in McDonald's book: "I stand for the [Teddy] Roosevelt policies because they set the common good of all of us above the private gain of some of us." In other words, a state park that thousands of people a year can enjoy is of greater value to the nation than a developed enclave accessible by only a privileged few.

Who's right and who's wrong in contests to decide how land is used sometimes depends on whom you talk to and how articulate they are in making a case for their side. At this juncture in the development prospects for Jekyll Island, it would appear that a few developers and possibly some politicians could get rich by limiting access to a state park that is currently open to the public.

Perhaps the black-hat players described in the book could justify their actions if they told their side of the story. Or perhaps Dr. McDonald's assessment is right on target and no justification is possible.

Send environmental questions to ecoviews@gmail.com. Whit Gibbons is an ecologist and environmental educator with the University of Georgia's Savannah River Ecology Laboratory. 
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You: A Writing Contest Winner?

(NAPSI)-If you've ever thought about becoming an author or professional illustrator, a new contest could be good news for you.

More than 600 novels have been published by the winners and over $30,000 in prizes awarded annually through the Writers of the Future contest. The most successful contest for aspiring writers to have a chance for their creative efforts to be seen and acknowledged, it has the highest success rate in launching careers of any writing competition.

The contest was started by L. Ron Hubbard, himself one of the most successful writers of the Golden Age, and other famous science fiction authors have praised it.

What Authors Say

For example, Neil Gaiman, author of dozens of books, including "Coraline," said, "Writers of the Future has a record of nurturing and discovering writers who have gone on to make their mark in the science fiction field. Long may it continue." While Orson Scott Card, who pens the "Enders" series, among many others, said of the contest, "It's what keeps sci-fi alive."

What Winners Get

Winners receive trophies and cash prizes. They also get to attend a weeklong workshop taught by contest judges-including New York Times best-selling authors Kevin J. Anderson ("Dune" series) and Sean Williams ("The Resurrected Man") and internationally acclaimed artist Stephen Hickman, each one an experienced professional in the field-providing sound advice based on hard-won experience.

About Writing

As for how to write the story, here's some advice that Hubbard himself gave an interviewer at the time of the first contest:

"There are some activities that are simply so much fun that one can't give them up. Writing is that for me. I love every opportunity to write.

"Many young writers are told to write in order to learn how to write. That is good advice. I used to find any excuse to write because I loved to do it. If I didn't have a typewriter, I wrote in longhand.

"I chose science fiction because there is great versatility in this genre. A writer must pick his medium as carefully as a painter must pick his brush and colors."

According to Joni Labaqui, contest director, there are no entry fees. All the judges see is a number assigned to a submission.

Where To Learn More

To enjoy fine sci-fi and to get an idea of the type of work that wins, you can read previous collections, available online and at bookstores. For more information, go to www.writersofthefuture.com or call (323) 466-3310.

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