Focus on Teen Writers and Artists: Inlandia Launch

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Inlandia-Teen-2019-Cover-e1557118499842-967x1024.jpgThursday evening, the Inlandia Institute celebrated the launch of this spring’s

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Christina Guillen, Inlandia Institute Programs Coordinator, introducing teen readers.

teen issue of Inlandia: A Literary Journey at “Literature on the Lawn,” part of Riverside’s monthly Art Walk. Several of our teen writers and artists spoke as their family, friends, and Inland Empire community member listened. It was a delightful evening of focus on teen writers and artists.

Image of flyer advertising ‘Literature on the Lawn.’

 

Why Focus on Teens?

 

Image of teen reader.

Kiyani Carter, teen editor and writer

Last night I was at my writers’ workshop where I was having a nonfiction piece critiqued by other adults. In my essay, I had written a few paragraphs about something I’d learned in many years as a high school English teacher and a teacher-librarian. This small bit of my essay–it was about helping teens choose books to read–ended up being the most discussed section of my piece. Why?

The adults were fascinated that I have years consistently reading young adult books, things I could keep in the catalog of my mind for later book talks, to use for suggestions when a student would ask me if I had a book with someone just like him as protagonist and hero.

“I didn’t think of that–that every student wants a book with him or herself at the center.”

 

Write Your Own Story

Image of Victoria Waddle

Victoria discussing the process of creating the teen issue and congratulating the teens.

 

Well, of course they do. Sometimes they don’t find that book or that story or that poem, so they try to write it themselves. As Nobel winner Toni Morrison said,

  • “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”
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Samantha Schmiedel

 

 

The reason I wanted to have a teen issue for the Inlandia Journal–and this is the second annual teen issue–is that it’s a good place for teens, particularly local Inland Empire teens, to write their experiences and have those experiences read. It’s as simple as that.

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Maihan Phan

 I love giving the teens the opportunity to be heard, I love having teen judges who are getting their first experience as being editors. And while I hope to give teens opportunities, many in this process faced their first rejection–in fact, 75% of the submissions didn’t make it to the journal. To each person whose work was not accepted, I sent notes about what did work in their pieces, encouraging them to keep writing. I want everyone to keep striving because the fact that the pieces weren’t ready doesn’t mean that they won’t be published with a bit more work. They are simply in progress.

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Aubrey Koyle

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Alissar Nahhas

 

 

 

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Loma Linda Academy teacher David Stone, with his kids, supporting the teen readers.

 

Thank You for Your Journey

Tonight, I want to thank all the teen editors for their work in reading the pieces. Their efforts are truly a sacrifice of time at a particularly busy point in the life of teens–the end of the school year. I want to thank all the teen writers for submitting. It’s a pleasure to feel the emotional resonance of your work, to see you writing yourself into your own story.

Image of students.

Creative Writing teacher Alejandro Cisneros (second from left) with Wren Levya, Alyssa Valenzuela, Violette Valencia and Vivyan Perez (left to right), all from Loma Vista Middle School.

Congratulations on your success!

Note: If you’re interested in submitting work for the next teen issue of Inlandia, subscribe to this blog, and you will receive notification of submission dates. (Right now, that appears to be October 15, 2019-Jan. 31, 2020.)

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Sync Audiobooks for Teens Free Now!

Image of AudioFiles Sync Program

I didn’t realize that AudioFiles summer Sync Program for teens has started this week! It’s a great program–free audiobooks for teens for ten weeks of the summer. Each week books are thematic pairs. Sometimes one is a classic and one is contemporary. Other times, they are books written within the same decade. Every time, they are excellent choices.

As someone who enjoys YA literature, and who has spent years making recommendations to teens, I’ve used the program often. I highly encourage all teens to sign up .

As you can see from the flyer, The first pair of books are Blink and Caution and Swing. I remember reading Blink and Caution when it came out, and loving it for so many reasons–the two desperate protagonists, the friendship they develop, the danger they face, the mystery. I reviewed it here. Now that the folks at AudioFile have chosen to pair it with Swing, I’m going to read that as my next YA fiction.

If you are a teacher or a librarian rather than a teen, please check out the program and encourage your students or patrons to sign up. Start immediately–the books are only available for free for one week ,and then they disappear!

 

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The Teen Issue of Inlandia will be Out Soon!

So excited about the second annual teen issue of Inlandia: A Literary Journey!

Submissions were open to all Inland Empire teens. Ten ten editors selected the pieces that will be in the journal–art, photos, poetry, fiction, nonfiction, microworks, and reviews. It was a very diverse group of submissions this year! As we did last year, we have some teens from outside the area featured as well. However, the majority are from the IE.

Come on by the Riverside Art Walk/Literature on the Lawn this coming Thursday and hear some of our local poets and authors read their work. Let’s welcome them into our arts community! Details below:

Flyer for the Literature on the Lawn event

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Absurd Science Questions and Answers: What If?

Image of book cover of What If?

For divergent thinking, read What If?

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

I had a lot of fun listening to What If?: Serious Scientific Answers Absurd Hypothetical Questions. Randall Munroe is the author. He’s also the creator of xkcd. I told my sons I was listening to a crazy and fun book while I was walking and had gotten a copy from the library so that I could go over some of the questions and answers again as well as see the diagrams. When I told them the title of the book, they knew immediately who the author was. Munroe’s website is popular.

Absurd Science Questions=Thinking Outside the Box

I think any teen who likes thinking outside the box will love this book. You don’t need to be a science genius. Whether you understand all the science involved in the answer—to Munroe’s credit, he breaks it down for the average reader—you will sometimes be astonished at how weird or impossible events would affect the neighborhood, the state, the nation, the world, the universe.

Absurd Questions, Fun and Wacky Answers

What If? compiles all the best questions and answers from the xkcd webcomic. Four of these questions are listed inside the book jacket, so I’m guessing the publishers thought these were the best.

  • What if I took a swim in a spent nuclear fuel pool?
  • Could you build a jetpack using downward firing machine guns?
  • What if a Richter 15 earthquake hit New York City?
  • What would happen if someone’s DNA vanished?

These are great, and the answers are surprising. Vanished DNA is an otherworldly concept to me. I have a few more favorites of my own:

  • What would happen if you tried to hit a baseball pitched at 90 percent of the speed of light? (The answer was sooo far from anything I’d imagine.)
  • What if everyone actually had only one soul mate, a random person somewhere in the world?
  • What would happen if you made a periodic table out of cube-shaped bricks, where each brick was made of the corresponding element? (Boom! Boom!)
  • If an asteroid was very small but supermassive, could you really live on it like the Little Prince?

Weird and Worrying Interchapters

Also included in What If? are interchapters entitled “Weird (and Worrying) Questions from the What If? Inbox.” A few examples:

  • Would it be possible to get your teeth to such a cold temperature that they would shatter upon drinking a hot cup of coffee? (Non-answer: “Thank you, Shelby, for my new recurring nightmare.”)
  • Is it possible to cry so much you dehydrate yourself? (Non-answer: “Karl, is everything OK?”)
  • What sort of logistic anomalies would you encounter in trying to raise an army of apes?

Ask Absurd Questions: Be a Divergent Thinker

I love all of this because of the divergent thinking. Just reading it lets you know that’s it’s OK to think up bizarre stuff and wonder about the answers. While the answers themselves are highly entertaining—and sometimes frightening—the fact that people ask such crazy questions in this wild, wide world is worth the read.

For other weird science reads, see my reviews of Gulp and Spook.

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Ontario Teen Book Fest // Submission Deadline

Image of Isabel Quintero giving one of three keynote speeches at the Ontario Teen Book Fest on March 9, 2019.

Isabel Quintero giving one of three keynote speeches at the Ontario Teen Book Fest on March 9, 2019.

Inlandia Submissions Deadline for Teen Issue is Days Away! March 15! Submit Now!

If you are a teen living in the Inland Empire, don’t miss your chance for publication in the online journal Inlandia: A Literary Journey. The deadline is day away—March 15. Artwork, fiction, nonfiction, poetry—we want to see it all! Go to the submission link for all the guidelines.

Ontario Teen Book Fest Inspires

Writers seek advice at teen book fests. Any writer–not just YA–will benefit as authors speak about craft, agents, and publishers. If you are a teen writer, make sure you attend! Great fun and info about the authors’ journeys at the Ontario Teen Book Fest. Over at VictoriaWaddle.com, I wrote about my take on the keynote speeches by Isabel Quintero, Suzanne Young and Stephanie Garber. Check it out here! 

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Submit Your Work to the Teen Issue of Inlandia Now!

Inland Empire Teens–Here’s Your Opportunity

The Inlandia Institute is happy to announce that in the spring of 2019, it will publish its second annual teen issue of its online creative writing journal Inlandia: A Literary Journey. All Inland Empire teens (13-19 years old) are encouraged to submit fiction, nonfiction, poetry, book reviews, and artwork. So–if you live in Riverside County, San Bernardino County or the city of Claremont, we want to see your work!

 

Work will be judged by teens living in the IE. Those works selected will be published in the spring issue. Our goal is to highlight the creativity of our IE youth and to give them the opportunity to publish their work professionally. This speaks to our larger mission of recognizing, supporting, and expanding all forms of literary activity through community programs in Inland Southern California.

  • We are open for submissions NOW.
  • Submissions will close on March 15, 2019.
  • Teens wishing to be guest editors may submit their request on Submittable by March 1, 2019. (Note: teen judges may still submit their work, but they may not judge their own work.)

I’m hoping you will help get the word out about this exciting opportunity for IE teen writers and artists. I’d be deeply grateful if you forwarded the message to the English, journalism and art teachers at your schools. For more information about the nonprofit organization Inlandia Institute, please visit http://inlandiainstitute.org. To view the previous teen issue of the journal, please see https://inlandiajournal.com/volume-viii-spring-2018/. To read an article about the first teen issue in the Press Enterprise, see https://www.pe.com/2018/05/15/young-inland-writers-express-themselves-in-inlandias-first-all-teen-issue/ For the information including a FAQ page, submission guidelines, and a link to our submission manager, go to our Submittable page.

Sincerely,

Victoria Waddle

Inlandia Literary Journeys Managing Editor

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Memoir: Educated

7e95d46b-cb86-4141-b76b-9cc84eba3bf2Tara Westover, the author of Educated, grew up in the country, in view of Buck’s Peak, in Idaho. Previous books I’ve read about the ‘heartland’ and its ‘real American’ inhabitants—whatever that is supposed to mean to those that use the term to describe themselves while denigrating urban folks—idealize rural life. Westover has a very different story to tell.

Tara is the youngest of seven children, born into a fundamentalist Mormon family. As the book begins, her father, Gene, seems perhaps only quirky—he preaches against drinking milk. As we read on, we realize he must be mentally ill. He is so afraid of the outside world and so insistent on protecting his family from it that he has no birth certificates for many of the children (no records for the government to use to track them—and, in his mind, the feds are always working to track them down). He doesn’t allow visits to the doctor since those exhibit a lack of faith in God. He insists that his wife become an uncertified midwife to help birth children for other parents they know who also want nothing to do with doctors.

Most important of all, Tara and her siblings are kept out of public school so that the government will not teach them evil ways. Their parents are supposedly home teaching them, but, in reality, almost no teaching is going on. Tara and a few of her siblings who are interested in being educated work hard to have the opportunity to learn. Eventually, Tara, with the help of a brother, teaches herself enough to take the ACT test and get into Brigham Young University. But before she can use education as an escape route, she suffers severally at the hands of one of her brothers, Shawn, who exhibits traits of sociopathy. Though she tries to get her parents to stop the abuse, they shrug it off, insisting that it is not happening, or, when confronted with real evidence, that it was accidental or horseplay that had gone too far.

That Westover and her siblings survived their upbringing is, quite honestly, the most astonishing thing to me. They do not however, come through it unscathed. Not only were they psychologically abused and mentally damaged, but they were physically harmed in completely unnecessary accidents. Their parents have more than one collision in the family car through sheer stupidity and a refusal to accept that nature and weather are not under their control. Their father demands that they work in his junkyard in very dangerous conditions; he insists that they use heavy equipment without proper safety garments and without fail safe plans. He even hoists them into the air to work on an open platform, telling them that a bucket such as a donkey lift is for sissies. As you might guess, there are many falls, concussions, third-degree burns, open wounds, and, yes, near deaths. This never stops Gene from repeating the same mistakes, over and over.

Each time the parents risk the lives of their children, they put it in God’s hands. To them, this is a deep act of faith. To the reader, it is a criminal refusal of responsibility.

Once Tara is grown and off to university, the Westover parents, particularly her father, begin to have a cultish following of employees and extended family members. They make a good deal of money selling essential oils and natural cures. They reinvest much of it in preparations for surviving an apocalypse or a raid by the federal government.

Because Tara will not allow the lie that her brother Shawn didn’t really abuse her; because she refused to continue to bow to their soul-crushing religious fanaticism, as well as their fear of outsiders, the government, and formal education, her parents cut off all communication with her. While it’s hard to leave family behind—and thankfully, Westover has one brother who also separated himself from the tribe and backed her up in her bid to remove herself from Shawn—it is the only way for Tara to move forward.

High school housekeeping: While this is an adult memoir, I highly recommend it for teens as well. I know many students who loved The Glass Castle. (I reviewed here.) All of them will not be able to put Educated down. While The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls is about wildly negligent parents, Educated is about wildly dangerous parents—a pair who physically, emotionally and mentally harm their children, all in the name of being free of government constraints and honoring God. Any teen going through difficult times might take heart at what Westover is able to do as she works all the way to Cambridge University and a doctorate in history.

Posted in Biography/Memoir, Faith-Based/Religious Element, Family Problems | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments