Tu Books Announces Winner of First Annual New Visions Contest for Writers of Color

T. A. Knox-Collins:

Congrats to the winners! Watch out for their books. In fact, someday maybe all our books will be out there too. ūüėČ *fingers n eyes crossed*

Originally posted on the open book:

[from the press release]

New Visions Award sealNew York, NY‚ÄĒApril 11, 2013‚ÄĒTu Books, the science fiction, fantasy, and mystery imprint of respected multicultural children‚Äôs publisher LEE & LOW BOOKS, is thrilled to announce that author Valynne Maetani has won its first annual New Visions Award for her young adult mystery novel, Remnants of the Rising Sun.

The New Visions writing contest was established to encourage new talent and to offer authors of color a chance to break into a tough and predominantly white market. The award honors a fantasy, science fiction, or mystery novel for young readers by an author of color who has not previously published a novel for that age group.

Remnants of the Rising Sun is about a Japanese American teenage girl, Claire Takata, whose life is turned upside down when she discovers her father was a member of the Japanese mafia, Yakuza. “As kids, my brothers…

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Trying to Outrun Science – So now, InVitro Meat?

I just finished a class in World Building at a local college. It was taught by a wonderful teacher who is so full of knowledge and experience — Phil Athans. This is his blog, look him up. In this class we learned how to create a¬†‘bible’ that is so essential for anyone writing Science Fiction or Fantasy. We looked at books and movies that were consistent about their world’s rules – something we don’t really notice until there’s a book or movie that blatantly disregards all rules and just did it ‘Because’. I bet you can think of a few right now.

So I spent the last few weeks going over the world of the Ark Chronicles, in particular my first installment Generation Zero. It’s been great fun drawing pictures, maps and rethinking the rules of¬†my world. Of course I did this three years ago when I started writing this story and over time, some of the rules changed, as did the story with each revision. I have bits of paper and files on several computers with all my musings and thoughts. But this time, I got myself ONE¬†notebook and compiled it all into one place, and added my terrible, unartistic¬†drawings and stick figure¬†illustrations.

Then it came to the science in my science fiction. Phil said different writers use different proportions of science and fiction – for example, your story might be 90% fiction ad 10% science, or vice versa. I’m not sure where I fall but I’m aiming for somewhere in the middle.

Generation¬†Zero is¬†what I call ‘near future sci fi’. It’s set in 2081 and the problem with that is almost¬†as soon as¬†I write something or make something up, the real world of science tells me, “It’s been done,” or¬†“We’re almost there.” (Admittedly I also ignore the “That can’t be done” and the husband’s comment “You’re changing the rules of physics!” Yeah well, that’s the ‘fiction’ part. I can hear him cringe.)

When I read about or watch on TV about the new stuff that’s coming out, I grunt and moan and then try to go one step further in my story¬†so that¬†my ‘science’ isn’t outdated before the book is done. Science progresses so quickly, it’s¬†dizzying!

And no less so in today’s issue – food.

When you put a thousand people on a starship for thirty years, they’re going to need to be fed, especially if they’re also expected to reproduce in space. I’d done quite a bit of research on this topic and thought I’d had it down. But of course I don’t. And I discovered this while having breakfast this morning, over a cup of tea, a waffle (yes, broke my diet – couldn’t resist my husband’s offering. It’s Saturday)¬†and a Time Magazine.

In the March 25, 2013 issue of Time magazine (I couldn’t find an online version of the article yet) there’s a short piece entitled “Grow a Burger“. It’s about In Vitro Meat. There’s even a Consortium for this research. It began at a workshop held at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences June 15, 2007 and research is continuing to this day to try and create meat in a lab, so that we don’t have to kill animals to eat. The Time Magazine article quotes Winston Churchill in 1931, saying “Fifty years hence, we shall escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to eat the breast or the wing.”

Maybe it took more than fifty years, but isn’t this fascinating? Scientists are taking meat cells, a.k.a myoblasts, cells that would normally grow into muscle, and are prompting them to grow into actual meat with real flavor. The Huffington Post had an article about it too in 2012, calling it Frankenfood. Please understand that I’m not thinking about the realities of this yet. We’re still a way away from this being on our tables, and I’m sure we’ll have to consider the ethics, the safety and all those issues.¬† I’m thinking purely as an SFF writer at this time.

The way I look at it is, if we have to send people out into space for long journeys, as in Generation Zero, we won’t have to load the ship with livestock for food, or make everyone vegetarian. Having read a few sci fi books in a similar vein to mine, these have been the typical solutions. I too had livestock on the Ark II (the starship I created), but they died — couldn’t survive the space radiation. I resorted to cloning them one at a time.

But now look what we can do! We only need tissue samples from animals in order to grow them into steaks, chops or wings.

Thank you, world of science for giving us¬† SFF writers such great fodder (no pun intended) to work with. I wonder what you’ll come up with next?

T. A. Knox-Collins:

Our Final installment, giving our thoughts on diversity in genre fiction for MG and YA.

Originally posted on the open book:

New Visions Award sealIn January we announced the finalists of our first New Visions Award, a new writing award for a debut author of color for a middle grade or young adult science fiction, fantasy, or mystery novel. Over the last few weeks, we’ve highlighted these talented finalists on our blog as they answer questions about what inspires them, the writing process, and more. Perhaps among these five finalists you’ll find your next favorite author!

guest bloggerPreviously, our New Visions finalists shared their experiences as young readers, and whether they saw themselves represented in books.

In this last post, they share their final thoughts on diversity in genre fiction for middle grade and young adult readers:

Ailynn Knox-Collins

I applaud the efforts that publishers like Tu Books are making to bring diversity into children’s lite  rature. I am humbled and grateful to have been given a small part to play here. I…

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Meet Our New Visions Finalists, Part IV

T. A. Knox-Collins:

This is what books meant to us when we were growing up.

Originally posted on the open book:

guest bloggerNew Visions Award sealIn January we announced the finalists of our first New Visions Award, a new writing award for a debut author of color for a middle grade or young adult science fiction, fantasy, or mystery novel. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be highlighting these talented finalists on our blog as they answer questions about what inspires them, the writing process, and more. Perhaps among these five finalists you’ll find your next favorite author!

Previous posts by our New Visions finalists:

Q: What was your relationship to books and reading as a child or teenager?  In what ways did you see yourself represented in books?

Ailynn…

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Originally posted on the open book:

guest bloggerNew Visions Award sealLast month we announced the finalists of our first New Visions Award, a new writing award for a debut author of color for a middle grade or young adult science fiction, fantasy, or mystery novel. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be highlighting these talented finalists on our blog as they answer questions about what inspires them, the writing process, and more. Perhaps among these five finalists you’ll find your next favorite author!

Q: What has been your experience writing from a different cultural background that may be unfamiliar to most young readers? 

Ibi Zoboi, Haiti.

While most readers are familiar with Edwidge Danticat, there are, of course, other Haitian and non-Haitian writers telling stories about Haitian children. M. Sindy Felin’s Touching Snow was a National Book Award Finalist.  The recent winner of the Printz Award is In Darkness, a story about a Haitian boy during the…

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T. A. Knox-Collins:

Here are the three finalists. Get to know us all.

Originally posted on the open book:

guest bloggerNew Visions Award sealLast month we announced the finalists of our first New Visions Award, a new writing award for a debut author of color for a middle grade or young adult science fiction, fantasy, or mystery novel. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be highlighting these talented finalists on our blog as they answer questions about what inspires them, the writing process, and more. Perhaps among these five finalists you’ll find your next favorite author!

Q: What brought you to Tu Books and to the New Visions Award competition in particular?

Rahul Kanakia, Baltimore, MD:
My novel has a number of autobiographical elements. I mean, obviously, I didn’t grow up in a plague-wracked authoritarian dystopia, but I did share many of the troubles and experiences of the character in my novel. I went to Catholic school and I was confused regarding my sexual orientation and I had body image issues…

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T. A. Knox-Collins:

Tu Books is graciously hosting an introduction to the five finalists of the New Visions Award. Today, their blog features a blurb from me and Valynne Maetani. Tomorrow, we’ll learn about the other three wonderful writers. I’m excited for you to get to know us all.

Originally posted on the open book:

guest bloggerNew Visions Award sealLast month we announced the finalists of our first New Visions Award, a new writing award for a debut author of color for a middle grade or young adult science fiction, fantasy, or mystery novel. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be highlighting these talented finalists on our blog as they answer questions about what inspires them, the writing process, and more. Perhaps among these five finalists you’ll find your next favorite author!

Q: What brought you to Tu Books and to the New Visions Award competition in particular?

Ailynn Knox-Collins. Redmond, WA:

I came across Tu Books when I bid on a copy of Tankborn for a charitable cause. Soon after, I had the good fortune to sit next to the writer, Karen Sandler, at an SCBWI conference in LA. I was delighted to find an imprint that is dedicated to putting books out there that…

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What I learned from Downton Abbey

The last episode of Season 3

Actor Dan Stevens as Matthew Crawley in Downton Season 3

The thing about Downton Abbey is that, in my family at least, it performed a minor miracle.

There are shows that only I watch, those that the husband watches and those cringe-worthy ones that the teenage daughter can’t live without. But one fateful day several years ago, the whole family gathered in front of the television to watch a new show¬†and together became hooked on this series. It became the thing to look forward to on Sunday nights, the topic of discussion for several days after (not just amongst¬†us but with colleagues, friends and Facebook contacts) and gave us a moment to share as a family, which is rare if you have teens. And for that I’m grateful.

We grew to love the whole lot that lived in this beautiful house set¬†in Yorkshire in the early 1900′s.¬†We suffered with Mary as she worked through the potential husbands, hoped with her as she learned to love Matthew and pined with her when she almost lost him to another. We¬†cheered Sybil when she learned how to cook and made herself useful during the war, then ran off with the chauffeur. We applauded almost everything that came out of the mouth of the Dowager (gotta love Maggie Smith), and admired the stoic belief in work well done by the servants downstairs.¬†We cried at every death – Lavinia’s, William’s, held our breath when Cora¬†almost did¬†and of course sobbed out hearts out this season. In that silly way a fictional family can¬†become a part of a real one, these characters nudged their way into our hearts¬†and¬†brought us a moment of togetherness.

But this season, I realized something else. (All right, not just from Downton, but most recently so).¬†As with any story,¬†the unexpected¬†has to happen to make¬†it captivating, (even though¬†I’d rather it didn’t come in such never-ending waves.) Who didn’t yell “No!” at the TV when Lady Sybil succumbed to eclampsia? ¬†And most of all, who didn’t think “how could they do this?” at the end of Season 3? (Sorry if this is a¬†spoiler). I admit to staying up quite late afterwards feeling so sorry for the family, then wondering if it was done so that the actor could move on with his career or did the writer want us to¬†conclude that the family was cursed – that¬†every time a baby is born, an adult family member must be killed off? I am not¬†ashamed to admit there were hair pulling moments.

Whatever the reason, ¬†I think Julian Fellowes, the creator of this series,¬†has done what all writers long to do – get a reaction out of your audience and I applaud him. (He’s also the writer of two other films I love – Gosford¬†Park and The Young Victoria.) ¬†In Downton, he’s made us care so much about his characters that when something wonderful happens to them, we cheer; when there’s an injustice, we yell at the TV; and when they die, we cry and wonder why.

Sigh. That’s my dream. I want to create characters that people care so much about they’ll get mad at me for making them take the wrong path or choosing the wrong boy/girl, consider sending me an email when I¬†hurt a favorite character or worse. I want readers to love my¬†“people” as much as I do, to have imaginary conversations with them as I do. (okay, maybe not that). That’s what I did as a child, a teen and (okay, I’ll admit it,) as an adult, with the characters I loved. They saved me in moments of loneliness, confusion or just simply boredom.

So, for me,¬†the journey continues. I must hone my craft – read, take classes and most of all keep writing. I will learn to bring these characters to life, make them flawed but fulfilling that latent potential¬† inside them, mostly¬†for me but¬† hopefully for¬†readers out there somewhere,¬†who at this moment, aren’t¬†even aware¬†that these characters exist. Maybe this is my hero’s journey, for now.

Habitable Planets Somewhere Out There

Find out the facts about the most Earth-like exoplanet yet found in this SPACE.com infographic.
Source SPACE.com: All about our solar system, outer space and exploration
I love Space.com because they post some amazing photos that allow us to gawk at the beauty of the universe. But this is the sort of article that excites me the most. Maybe because I write about finding new worlds, about saving mankind through colonization of new planets. It certainly looks like it isn't as fictional as once believed. Now all we need is that starship...

Originally posted on the open book:

It’s Black History Month, and that means it’s time for our annual giveaway from Lee & Low Books! We’re giving away three sets of three books featuring African Americans, and the contest will run through February 28, 2013.

To enter, follow in the footsteps of Dave the Potter, the subject of our new biography Etched in Clay: The Life of Dave, Enslaved Potter and Poet. Dave was an enslaved potter in South Carolina who inscribed his works with sayings and short poems in spite of harsh anti-literacy laws for slaves:

horses mules and hogs ‚ÄĒ
all our cows is in the bogs ‚ÄĒ
there they shall ever stay
till the buzzards take them away ==
March 29, 1836

I wonder where is all my relation
friendship to all ‚ÄĒ and, every nation
August 16, 1857

Write your own couplet in the comments below (it could be about anything…

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