Flower

Posts Tagged ‘fiction’

We Are ProQuest: Jean Ward

Dexter the Very Good Goat, Jean M. Malone, Jean Ward, Children's Picture Books

Photo with permission to use from Jean Ward

We Are ProQuest: ProQuest is only as successful as its staff. The ProQuest difference is people behind-the-scenes using their skills to create products and features to provide the optimal research experience from kindergarten to post-graduate to life-long learner. We Are ProQuest features profiles of some of our talented team members. Today let’s meet Senior Product Manager, Books for the OASIS/CIS products, Jean Ward.

Jean Ward has made a name for herself as Jean M. Malone writing children’s books and has a novel in the works. Her children’s picture book, “DEXTER the very good goat” was mentioned in a ProQuest newsletter when Jean was praised for her work. While Jean has recently changed roles to become Senior Product Manager, Books for the OASIS/CIS products she also balances that job with her writing career. Jean shared with me her journey, challenges and what she dreams to accomplish in the future.

How did you come to work at ProQuest?

I came to ProQuest through the Coutts acquisition from Ingram in 2015, and it has been a very positive experience.

What is your educational/professional background?

I double majored in English (Creative Writing concentration) and Motion Pictures (Screenwriting concentration) at the University of Miami, and then after graduating I started working in a bookstore. It was a small, family run shop where half the charm was the serendipitous discovery, but the lack of Dewey Decimals or a catalog actually drove me nuts. From there I went to work in my local public library for a few years, and then I joined Ingram as an assistant cataloger, which was the perfect outlet for my organization-starved self.

While working at Ingram I went back to school to earn a Master’s of Library and Information Science at the University of Alabama, and eventually transitioned from cataloging to a collection development position within Coutts, first as a title selector and then as the department manager. Recently I left that department to become the Senior Product Manager for the OASIS product at ProQuest.

I understand you’re a writer. When did you start writing?

Gosh, I’ve been writing for about as long as I can remember. I guess I’m not embarrassed to admit that I started out as I think probably many writers do, writing fan fiction when I was a teenager (Star Trek). Then I did a heck of a lot of writing in college, and after college, I wrote my first novel, which will never see the light of day.

What do you enjoy best about writing?

That’s a really hard question! I think what I love, even though I also hate it, is the revision process, and once I learned to embrace that, it really freed me because it allowed me to write truly terrible drafts so that I could just get things out on paper and see how they worked, and then go back to them. I think the most beautiful thing about writing is how it’s like a painting, and this is what I realized a few years ago when I finally learned how to revise. It made me think of The Girl With A Pearl Earring movie, where you actually see the way Vermeer would have painted: first there is a shape. Just a shape. And then you come back and you add more textures and more colors and the shape turns into a blob. And then you come back and add another layer–and after several layers, you have this beautiful amazing piece of art. But it didn’t start out as a beautiful, rich, textured work–it started out as shapes and blobs. And I think writing is exactly the same.

How do you balance work and writing?

When you find out, you tell me. It’s basically having two jobs, right? There have been long periods of time where I really burned the candle at both ends, but I have not been very good at this lately, and by lately I really mean for about the last two years. As I have taken on greater levels of responsibility at work, I have less and less energy to devote to writing, and I go through long dry periods where I just don’t write at all. Or it comes in fits and starts which are too sporadic to be useful.

But what I have found is that the best way to write is to have a routine. If I can manage to get myself into a routine for awhile where I sit down and write for an hour or two every day, then I find it much easier to stay in that routine. But life happens, it gets in the way. We moved this year, I have a longer commute, my husband’s schedule changed, my work schedule changed–so I have not been in a routine for awhile. I’m working on getting back into one right now. I’m not really like some writers. I don’t write to stay sane like my sister does. I actually watch TV to stay sane. I write because when I don’t write, I feel very disappointed in myself.

You’ve been published. How did you get published?

Every single path is different, right? I had a screenwriting classmate in college who got a job at Penguin, and she put out a call when she became an editor–send me writing samples if you ever think you might like to write for Penguin. So I did, and one day she called me and said all her writers were busy and she needed a book about flamingos on a short deadline–I think she needed the first draft in about 10 days, could I do it? And I said “Of COURSE I can do it!” and promptly went to the library to learn everything I could about flamingos. I ended up doing 2 more books for Penguin, and what I learned is that you always say yes when presented with an opportunity, even if it’s a little bit scary.

What has been your proudest moment?

I think my proudest moment on this journey has been to do with my latest book. It is a picture book, and the text actually began as my writing sample for that Penguin editor. I loved it so much that I asked my dear friend JJ, who is an amazing young artist, to illustrate it for me, and she breathed life into it in a way that I hadn’t even imagined. Since this book wasn’t an assignment or publisher request, but was all of our own making, it has been incredibly exciting. My proudest moment was finding out how much my–let’s see–she would be something like my cousin-in-law once removed? Anyway, she is the most adorable little girl, and she is Dexter’s biggest fan. Hearing about how much she loves Dexter, how she keeps her book in a special spot in her play kitchen and how she knows all the words by heart–that is definitely my proudest moment so far. Knowing that something about the book struck a chord with her and makes her so happy.

What is a dream you have in life?

I want to continue to write picture books because they are so much fun, but my dream is to be a novelist published by a mainstream publisher. I’m currently revising my third novel, and have been for an embarrassing number of years now. I dream big–I want to touch people’s lives–especially young people–through my writing. I want to win the Printz. And then I also have this nerdy obsession with Hallmark Christmas movies, and I have several Christmas novels that I want to write–and then write the screenplay adaptations for them as Hallmark movies of my own.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to…Celebrate the Movie

J.K. Rowling Research Topic in ProQuest eLibrary

J.K. Rowling wrote Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in 2001 while simultaneously writing the main Harry Potter series of novels. Devoted Potter fans will note that “Fantastic Beasts” actually makes an appearance in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone as the name of one of Harry’s required textbooks. Following the success of the Harry Potter movie franchise, Rowling makes her screenwriting debut in the prequel by the same name.

Eddie Redmayne

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Set in the 1920s, this adventure follows wizard Newt Scamander as he arrives in New York for a brief stay and No-Maj (American Muggle) Jacob Kowalski who accidentally lets some of Newt’s beasts escape from a briefcase. The ensuing endangerment takes place decades before Harry Potter steps foot into Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Go experience your favorite characters come to life on the big screen starting Friday (November 18), or stop by your library or bookstore and pick up a copy of the book.

Newt Scamander

Photo credit: natalie419 via Foter.com / CC BY

We have compiled five ways that Muggles, Witches and Wizards alike can prepare for viewing what is bound to be pure magic!

1. Attend a Library Event

Check your local library or bookstore’s website and see if they are hosting any Potter-themed events. Here are some events we found:

Kent District Library

Lawrence Public Library

East Lansing Public Library


2. Create Your Own Butterbeer Recipe

After experimenting with a few different ingredients, this is the recipe we came up with:

  • 1 pint vanilla ice cream
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1 bottle cream soda (chilled)

Allow ice cream to soften. Blend softened butter, sugar, and spices in a bowl. Add to ice cream and freeze. Fill each glass with a scoop of ice cream mixture and pour cream soda over it. Enjoy!

ingredients

Butterbeer Ingredients – Minus the softened butter, which we had already melted in bowl behind the cream soda [Photo courtesy of Kimberly Carpenter]

butterbeer

Chilled Butterbeer [Photo courtesy of Kimberly Carpenter]

editors

Editors Kimberly and Juliana [Photo courtesy of Kimberly Carpenter]

 


3. Create Wizard Crafts

Create your very own magic with these crafts:

DIY Harry Potter Wands

DIY Wizard Suitcase

DIY Mirror of Erised


4. Design Your Own Fantastic Beast

Design your own Fantastic Beast by using SIRS Discoverer Animal Facts to research fascinating animals. Combine the physical description, behavior, and habitat of different animals to create your own creature. Create a drawing of your Fantastic Beast.


5. Museum Discoveries

Explore interactive events, programs, or see the movie in IMAX:

Museum of Fine Arts Boston

Harvard Museum of Natural History

Smithsonian

 

We’ll see you at the movie!

Happy Birthday Lewis Carroll!

"Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, c. 1875." Photo credit: National Media Museum via Foter.com / No known copyright restrictions

“Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, c. 1875.” Photo credit: National Media Museum via Foter.com / No known copyright restrictions

Lewis Carroll was the pen name of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. The beloved creator of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Through the Looking-Glass and other fantasy tales, has a birthday today (January 27, 1832). To celebrate Lewis Carroll, we wanted to share some of the things that made this children’s author and his work so unique:

He was also a mathematician who wove mathematical lessons into his stories.

This learning disability which hinders the ability to read didn’t seem to hinder Carroll’s writing talent.

He loved visiting the Oxford Museum of Natural History and many of the animals he saw there inspired the use of animals in his writing.

Lewis Carroll taught mathematics at Christ Church College at Oxford for years under the dean Henry Liddell. The fictional Alice was inspired by Liddell’s daughter Alice.

He contemplated a variety of book titles from Alice’s Hour in Elfland to Alice Among the Fairies.

John Tenniel, Lewis Carroll’s illustrator, made his illustrations on a wood-block before giving to an engraver to cut.

Both Carroll’s love for the Dodo Bird and his real name, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, inspired the Dodo in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

The book has also been translated into at least 100 languages including Classical Latin.

How will you celebrate the work of Lewis Carroll? Let us know in the comments below or Tweet us at #ProQuest!

Where Writing Can Take You This Summer

"Tell Your Story." Photo Credit: Damian Gadal / Foter / CC BY

“Tell Your Story.” Photo Credit: Damian Gadal / Foter / CC BY

Creative writing, poetry, fiction, short stories and so many other types of expressive writing are sometimes taken for granted in school when rigid educational standards and testing are prioritized. Writing, however, is a skill that goes hand in hand with reading and literacy and should be practiced in all forms including creative ones. Crafting a story from the imagination is a talent that cultivates creative thinking and should be encouraged. Whether you’re just starting to write, college-bound, working or interested in taking a writing class, opportunities are endless. You may be surprised at how many doors will open when you know how to craft stories and poetry. This summer, challenge yourself to start writing and see where it can take you. As Dr. Seuss wrote, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”

Here are five wonderful places where writing can take you this summer:

1. Writing poetry can lead you to compete:

If you have an interest in writing poetry, there are contests and competitions you may want to check out. Blue Mountain Arts Poetry Card Contest is one in particular that awards you and doesn’t require an entry fee. The contest is held bi-annually and you can enter as many times as you wish. Non-rhyming verse is preferred.

2. Writing can encourage you to craft your talent:

Sometimes writing camps are good options for young writers who want to attend a program over the summer. You meet other like-minded writers and get to have your work critiqued. One such program offered by the Emerging Writers Institute allows 10th-12th graders to craft works of poetry, fiction, plays and more under the guidance of talented instructors. This particular program is housed in residence at top universities and dates are available in 2-week time-frames throughout the summer.

3. Writing can inspire you to visit the local library:

Believe it or not, your library does offer writing workshops and classes over the summer. Chances are it also offers these services year-round. Check with your local librarian to find out what writing classes and events are being offered in your hometown. Once you start writing, you may visit the library more often to find new books to inform your writing. Also check out National Novel Writing Month in November and see what you can do to prepare for it this summer.

4. Writing can take you on a travel adventure:

Sometime in the course of your education, you may get an opportunity to study abroad. Writers have many options available to them to do this. One program to consider is the Prague Summer Program for Writers which now operates as an independent entity. Being able to apply directly removes the obstacle of being enrolled at a specific university. If this program isn’t right for you, there are lots of others. Beginning a writing journey this summer can prepare you for a study abroad adventure next summer!

5. Writing can teach you about yourself:

The terms “writer” and “introvert” are often associated together. This does not mean every writer is an introvert or every introverted person is automatically a writer. The association comes from society’s idea that if you write, you are more attuned with your inner self and thus able to channel that better with words. I have learned that writing can teach you a lot about yourself and your inner voice. The more you write, the better you become at listening to what it’s trying to tell you. Let your words be your guide and you will always find your way. The New York Times op-ed “Writing My Way to a New Self” by Hana Schank provides a firsthand account of how this sentiment is illustrated by writing.

Where is writing leading you? Let us know in the comments section or Tweet us at #ProQuest!

Read-Aloud Plays for Teachers and Students

Many elementary school classes like to perform short plays. It helps the students with their reading skills, memorization, public speaking, and more. My daughter’s third-grade class performed a short play for some of the students this year! They performed a Native American play called “The Strongest One.” It was great to see all of the students working together during the performance and having a great time too. They even asked questions to the audience afterwards about the message behind the play–how all things are connected within our environment.

"The Strongest One" Play Performed by Third-Grade Students

“The Strongest One” Play Performed by Third-Grade Students
Image by Jennifer Oms

A great place for teachers to find read-aloud plays for elementary school students is in SIRS Discoverer! You can find a great collection of plays for many different reading levels. From historical fiction to mysteries to fantasies and more. Here are some examples:

The Ballad of John Henry Storyworks

The Case of the Gooey Chocolate SuperScience

The Spiderwick Chronicles Storyworks

And from SIRS Discoverer WebFind, here is a resource for more children’s plays:

ZOOM Playhouse: Act Up and Put On a Play PBS

SIRS Discoverer also has a great collection of fictional read-aloud stories for children such as:

Hannah and the Birdman Storyworks

The Day That Lasted All Night Click

For all our your researching needs, turn to SIRS Discoverer.