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search about a garden a tree a stream an entrance now

Joshua Whiting

learner, writer, creator, librarianish person

a stream

All posts and notes on this site, sorted by when published.


#NaPoWriMo

[Originally Posted: 2019.03.16]
[Last Updated: 2022.02.19]

Think I’m going to try writing a poem every day in April.

Think I’m going to try writing a poem every day in April.

https://twitter.com/jdwhiting/status/1106973881091252224 Think I’m going to try writing a poem every day in April.

I went looking and “writing a poem every day in April” is already a thing, it’s been a thing for a long time. It has a hashtag and a domain and some blog posts. That’s definitely enough to be thing. #napowrimo #glopowrimo http://www.napowrimo.net/

Not quite decided yet on whether I will post the poems online or share them in any way as I make them.

Actually I’m fairly decided that I won’t share them. I’ll just use it as a way to get back into writing, bank up some ideas and drafts, see what happens.

There’s also this other piece of it I’m thinking about, a weekly #NaPoWriMo class in Salt Lake, but I’m not sure I dare to do it or if it will be a good fit for me.

http://www.slcc.edu/cwc/workshops.aspx

I mainly mention it because it might be a good fit for someone else.

Standalone post link: #NaPoWriMo
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Iheartfacebook

[Originally Posted: 2019.03.14]
[Last Updated: 2022.07.16]

Last night I posted a grumpy response tweet about my wild hope that Facebook and Instagram would just stay broken forever.

Then I thought that maybe that was a little too mean, and I deleted it.

Last night I posted a grumpy response tweet about my wild hope that Facebook and Instagram would just stay broken forever.

Then I thought that maybe that was a little too mean, and I deleted it.

Last night I posted a grumpy response tweet about my wild hope that Facebook and Instagram would just stay broken forever.

Then I thought that maybe that was a little too mean, and I deleted it.

But I’m semi-convinced now that Facebook saw it and took extra-algorithmic measures to try to win me back this morning.

Early today, out of pity or some strange curiosity, I opened Facebook on my phone. (I don’t have the app, I just pull it up in the phone browser.)

There, right at the top of the feed, was one of Kate DiCamillo’s wonderful, rambling posts.

As far as I know, other than publishing books, Kate DiCamillo only posts on Facebook, and her posts are always a refreshing highlight on the platform.

I saw that my newsfeed had been front-loaded with posts from friends and people that I could ONLY find on Facebook.

They have me.

Their algorithm is becoming omniscient.

(Or maybe the disruption and my lack of visiting in a while just meant it actually had a few realish and interesting things to share with me.)

Standalone post link: Iheartfacebook
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Now (February 26, 2019)

[Originally Posted: 2019.02.26]
[Last Updated: 2019.02.26]

Some of the things I’m working on and thinking about these days…

Some of the things I’m working on and thinking about these days…

  • I’ll be attending the Utah Coalition for Educational Technology and the Utah Educational Library Media Association conferences next week.

  • I’m chairing the Children’s Fiction Committee for the Beehive Book Awards. We’ll be announcing the nominees for the 2020 awards in sessions at said UELMA conference next week. I probably really should be crafting 45 second booktalks right now.

  • I’m building out this website, with the aim of it becoming a central home for all my personal content and activity on the world wide web. I’m building it mostly from scratch to force myself into learning more about web design and coding.

  • I’m trying out this Coaching Digital Learning MOOC from the Friday Institute.

  • I’m gearing up to transfer content, create tutorials, and curate new digital resources as our district phases out an old digital video platform at the end of this year.

  • I’m just finishing up an exhaustive listen through the discography of Sonic Youth. Up next (actually already started) are Outkast and Parliament-Funkadelic.

  • Though we are now deep into 2019, I continue to plug away at the 2018 Film School Drop Outs Challenge on Letterboxd.

This page was last updated on February 26, 2019.


Props for the ‘now’ page concept go to Derek Sivers. I had envisioned a page of this sort for my new website, but my concept was vague and I didn’t have a clear way forward until I happened upon someone with a ‘now’ page and followed the trail back to the source. I think you should make one too.

Standalone post link: Now (February 26, 2019)
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CLAU/Beehive Update 2019.02.18

[Originally Posted: 2019.02.23]
[Last Updated: 2021.02.20]

I’m chairing the Children’s Fiction Committee for the Beehive Book Awards. Our committee recently finalized the list of nominees for the 2020 awards, and I’m preparing to announce and booktalk those nominees, along with some of my colleagues from the Children’s Literature Association of Utah, during a breakout session of the Utah Educational Library Media Association Conference on March 8.

I’m chairing the Children’s Fiction Committee for the Beehive Book Awards. Our committee recently finalized the list of nominees for the 2020 awards, and I’m preparing to announce and booktalk those nominees, along with some of my colleagues from the Children’s Literature Association of Utah, during a breakout session of the Utah Educational Library Media Association Conference on March 8.

(I also just remembered I probably need to let the authors know their books made it on the list.) During the 2019-2020 school year kids and teens throughout Utah will vote for their favorites from the nominee list.

Standalone post link: CLAU/Beehive Update 2019.02.18
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Book Review - Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus

[Originally Posted: 2019.02.11]
[Last Updated: 2022.02.19]

I published a review of Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling on Granite Media and also posted it on Goodreads.

Cover Image - Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus

I published a review of Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling on Granite Media and also posted it on Goodreads.

Cover Image - Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus

When her dad randomly takes a job as manager of an old west theme park, Aven Green has to move to the Arizona desert for the start of 8th grade. Her armlessness was never a big deal with her friends in Kansas, where she had gone to school with the same group from kindergarten on up. Now at a new large school where she doesn’t know anyone, Aven is self-conscious and the kids she encounters aren’t exactly welcoming or friendly. Can she overcome her fear, make connections with people, and follow her interests and talents, or at least stop eating lunch in the bathroom? And can she uncover the mystery of the absentee owner of the quirky theme park, to which she feels a strange growing connection?

Told in an authentic, hilarious first person voice, this book is filled with life and heart. The author does a great job of showing Aven and other characters as authentic, growing people, making mistakes and learning throughout the book. It provides an empathetic and informative depiction of characters with differing abilities, helping readers understand the real challenges caused by specific disabilities as well as how little those challenges can actually limit a determined and supported person from following their interests and talents to accomplish great things. As an adult reader the story opened my eyes to ways I could improve my interactions with people of differing abilities and be a more considerate support. These are things I wish I had learned at a much younger age so I feel this could be an important book for young people to read. It’s an extremely engaging, easy read that kids will want to pick up anyway. Highly recommended for young people as well as teachers and parents of young people.

Read-alikes: • This book has a similar vibe to Wonder, but is lighter and funnier, without a central bully-villain. It’s a very accessible realistic/contemporary fiction story. • Could be a good next step for fans of humorous diary books like Wimpy Kid or Dork Diaries. It doesn’t have illustrations but it is told in first person and it includes funny entries from the character’s blog. • The quirky theme park mystery element has a similar vibe to small town stories by authors such as Sheila Turnage and Natalie Lloyd.

Review by Joshua Whiting, Media Specialist, Granite Educational Technology Department Rating: ★★★★½ (4.5 stars) Interest Level: Grades 4-8

Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus Written by Dusti Bowling Sterling Children’s Books 262 pages Release Date: September 5, 2017

Tags: 2017 Children’s Fiction, Arizona Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Desert Fiction, Dusti Bowling, Humorous Fiction, Joshua Whiting, Mystery Fiction, Persons with Disabilities Fiction, Realistic Fiction

Standalone post link: Book Review - Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus
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Book Review - Nightbooks

[Originally Posted: 2019.02.11]
[Last Updated: 2022.02.19]

I published a review of Nightbooks by J.A. White on Granite Media and also posted it on Goodreads.

Cover Image - Nightbooks

I published a review of Nightbooks by J.A. White on Granite Media and also posted it on Goodreads.

Cover Image - Nightbooks

Alex has an obsession with all things creepy, and he spends his nights writing scary stories. One night he decides he’s tired of being a “weirdo,” so he sneaks out of his family’s apartment with his story notebooks and heads to the basement to burn them in the building’s boiler. The elevator takes him to a different floor instead, where he is illogically lured into a strange apartment and soon finds himself trapped in an actual scary story, enslaved by an actual witch. It turns out the witch needs his stories to keep the enchanted apartment under control, and although he wants to find a way to escape there is a part of him that enjoys the dark, magical surroundings and the appreciative new audience for his tales. Can he keep creating new horror stories to keep the witch happy, or can he figure out a way to use his storytelling as his means of escape?

This isn’t the creepiest middle grade fiction book I’ve ever read, but with its dark fairy tale elements it brings just the right amount of horror, tinged with hope and humor, for young readers. I loved how this book not only spun a good tale but made me think about the power of storytelling, and, quite simply, made me want to write things. I think young readers will recognize and engage with these themes of storytelling, writing, and being true to one’s interests and talents as well. The story also explores friendship/relationship-building rather well, as Alex and Yasmin (another child enslaved by the witch) learn to trust, help, and open up to each other despite the very real possibility of getting separated or hurt by the manipulations of the witch.

This novel would be a perfect next step for fans of scary story collections. The text does an excellent job of integrating many such scary stories, written by Alex, into the larger narrative framework. I especially liked the inclusion of fully-readable pages from books in the witch’s library, complete with secret handwritten notes in the margins. It is a low-key metafictional touch that isn’t too gimmicky and does subtle wonders for the setting, making the witch’s vast library of scary stories seem tangible. They are teasers for a whole world of other books to explore.

Highly recommended for budding writers (which ideally would be any young person) and fans of scary stories and fairy tales, whether fractured, Disneyfied, or traditionally dark. It could make a good read-alike for Neil Gaiman’s middle grade books, Adam Gidwitz’ A Tale Dark and Grimm series, Frank Cole’s Potion Masters series, and for those who enjoy the creepier aspects of Harry Potter. It would be a great step towards more literary/Newbery-ish dark fantasy books such as The Girl Who Drank the Moon, Splendors and Glooms, or Jonathan Auxier, as it has similar moods and themes but reads slightly easier and younger than those books.

Review by Joshua Whiting, Media Specialist, Granite Educational Technology Department Rating: ★★★★½ (4.5 stars) Interest Level: Grades 4-7

Nightbooks Written by J.A. White Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers 294 pages Release Date: July 24, 2018

Tags: 2018 Children’s Fiction, Books Fiction, Fairy Tales Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, Fractured Fairy Tales, Friendship Fiction, Horror Fiction, Joshua Whiting, New York City Fiction, Storytelling Fiction, Witches Fiction, Writing Fiction

Standalone post link: Book Review - Nightbooks
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Addenda to My Twitter Bio

[Originally Posted: 2019.02.06]
[Last Updated: 2022.07.16]

Terms, conditions, and disclaimers to your reading of the content of this web site and all content I may create or share on twitter or any social network.

Terms, conditions, and disclaimers to your reading of the content of this web site and all content I may create or share on twitter or any social network.

  1. (Retweets = Endorsement) If I retweet you it means I completely approve of and unabashedly endorse not only that tweet, but everything you have ever said and done, as well as everything you will ever do going forward. You have my complete trust and faith in all things at all times. I love you.

  2. Know that I interpret and receive your favorites, retweets, and replies in a like manner, regardless of any protestations you may make to the contrary. Thank you for your endless support.

  3. All thoughts are not my own. I am influenced and manipulated by everything around me. I digest, regurgitate, commodify, and plagiarize nearly everything I find. I am likely an unwitting mouthpiece for various corporate and political interests. I’m not sure if I even have my own thoughts.

Revision: February 6, 2019.

Standalone post link: Addenda to My Twitter Bio
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5 Things I Learned by Stealing and Reading the Earthsea Trilogy

[Originally Posted: 2014.08.19]
[Last Updated: 2022.02.21]

A few weeks go I was at my wife’s family’s cabin and I was lurking around in a bedroom browsing my in-laws' old bookshelf. Hidden in the midst of a notable collection of Louis L’Amour novels, with an old framed photograph sitting on the shelf in front of them, I discovered copies of the original Earthsea Trilogy by Ursula LeGuin: A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan, and The Farthest Shore.

Earthsea Trilogy 1970s Paperbacks

A few weeks go I was at my wife’s family’s cabin and I was lurking around in a bedroom browsing my in-laws' old bookshelf.  Hidden in the midst of a notable collection of Louis L’Amour novels, with an old framed photograph sitting on the shelf in front of them, I discovered copies of the original Earthsea Trilogy by Ursula LeGuin: A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan, and The Farthest Shore.

I believe I have read the first chapter of A Wizard of Earthsea at least three or four times over the course of my life (the first time was probably when I was about 10 years old.)  For whatever reasons it never took and I never continued and finished, but it has always been on my list to get back to sometime (right up there with Moby Dick, Swann’s Way, and the Old Testament.) So, it appeared the time had finally come for this book, and I spent a good chunk of my cabin weekend reading that old copy of A Wizard of Earthsea.  As the time came to leave the cabin, I still had about 15 pages left and the story was completely unresolved.  What else could I do but steal the book and take it home? And then since I was already stealing, I might as well steal the whole trilogy.

Although I had various other reading plans, I put them aside to focus on this trilogy.  And now that I’ve finished, I am having a hard time finding anything else from those other reading plans that engages me and forces me to make reading a priority like these books did.

So, rather than a review (because I’m [bored with book reviews](http://kidlit.froztfreez.com/bored-with-book-reviews/ ““Bored with Book Reviews”")), here are five things I noticed and learned from these books, mostly from a would-be writer’s perspective:

  1. You don’t have to show everything.  You can tell some things.  And you don’t even have to tell everything.  You can skip time, even and especially across volumes of a trilogy, across years, across great deeds only alluded to or sketched out briefly.  You don’t have to share the whole history of the world you build or the whole lives of the people you bring to life.  You can cover wizard school in three chapters rather than seven books.1

  2. You don’t have to end books with cliffhangers. Not even the second volume of a trilogy.  Each book in a series can be a stand-alone snapshot of a much larger world.2

  3. You don’t have to write high fantasy that is obsessively Euro-centric; you can have high fantasy with people of color.  These books actually set a precedent for this 40+ years ago that I didn’t know existed. Our hero and the majority of the characters are dark-skinned people.  For the most part this isn’t a major focus of the narratives, but it is definitely there and it is intentional.  It’s just one subtle detail of her world and character building, which makes me love it even more.  I didn’t realize this when I started reading A Wizard of Earthsea as a child; it certainly isn’t reflected in any of the cover art I have seen for these books over my lifetime. Depressingly, that downplay was probably a sound marketing decision for the times.  Hopefully the #WeNeedDiverseBooks meme is changing the calculus for those types of decisions and will result in new book covers even for old books such as these. I’m definitely not well-read in fantasy and most of what I have read was a long time ago, so I recognize that I am ignorant and maybe others authors have been engaging in diversity in fantasy for a long time as well.3

  4. The varying ethnic and cultural details are just one example of how LeGuin is a master of using fantasy and other speculative fictions to explore, describe, confront, come to terms with, and rebut ideas we have about culture, race, social norms, politics, religion, sexuality, etc.  I had learned this years ago from reading her The Left Hand of Darkness as a teenager, but I had forgotten since then or taken it for granted.  Speculative fiction provides such capability and opportunity to explore these kinds of issues in a very real, emotional way without the potential for the story and ideas to get bogged down by all the messiness, politicization, and need for research and accuracy that can come with tying a story or character to a particular place and time in the actual historical or contemporary world.  LeGuin is practically an anthropologist of new cultures of her own creation, and I like her approach.4

  5. I love reading paperbacks from the 70s.  They just don’t make them like that anymore.  But more than just the physical-ness of the books themselves, it is good to read something from a different era with a different writing style that is not really trending. A nice widening of perspective from the more contemporary middle grade novels I have been focusing on in the last year or two.  I am reminded that there is so much more to read and learn, I can’t just try to keep up with the new stuff.  I need to read what I need to read, even if it is old mass paperbacks hidden behind a picture frame on a bookshelf in someone’s cabin.5

Footnotes


  1. Not to say that there’s anything wrong with writing seven whole books about wizard school, it’s just nice to see that there are other ways to do it. ↩︎

  2. Not to say that there’s anything necessarily wrong with cliff-hangers; it’s just nice to see that there are other ways to do it. ↩︎

  3. Not to say that there’s anything wrong with writing fantasy books all about light-skinned people steeped entirely in European traditions, it’s just nice to see that there are other ways to do it. ↩︎

  4. Not to say that there’s anything wrong with realistic and historical fiction, it’s just nice that there are other ways to explore serious themes. ↩︎

  5. [footnote]Not to say that there’s anything wrong with reading newer middle grade fiction books, it’s just nice to know that there is a lot to be gained from older books as well.[/footnote] ↩︎

Standalone post link: 5 Things I Learned by Stealing and Reading the Earthsea Trilogy
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''''

[Originally Posted: 0001.01.01]
[Last Updated: 2022.02.19]

Standalone post link: ''''
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Search Results

[Originally Posted: 0001.01.01]
[Last Updated: 2021.11.07]

This file exists solely to respond to /search URL with the related search layout template. No content shown here is rendered, all content is based in the template layouts/page/search.html Setting a very low sitemap priority will tell search engines this is not important content. This implementation uses Fusejs, jquery and mark.js Initial setup Search depends on additional output content type of JSON in config.toml ``` [outputs] home = [“HTML”, “JSON”] ```

This file exists solely to respond to /search URL with the related search layout template.

No content shown here is rendered, all content is based in the template layouts/page/search.html

Setting a very low sitemap priority will tell search engines this is not important content.

This implementation uses Fusejs, jquery and mark.js

Initial setup

Search depends on additional output content type of JSON in config.toml ``` [outputs] home = [“HTML”, “JSON”] ```

Searching additional fields

To search additional fields defined in front matter, you must add it in 2 places.

Edit layouts/_default/index.JSON

This exposes the values in /index.json i.e. add category ``` … “contents”:{{ .Content | plainify | jsonify }} {{ if .Params.tags }}, “tags”:{{ .Params.tags | jsonify }}{{end}}, “categories” : {{ .Params.categories | jsonify }}, … ```

static/js/search.js ``` keys: [ “title”, “contents”, “tags”, “categories” ] ```

Standalone post link: Search Results
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Copyright 2022 Joshua David Whiting. Made in Millcreek, Utah, USA. Contact me. Built with Hugo and my own WP51 theme, still a work in progress. Hosted via Github and Netlify.