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Posts Tagged ‘novels’

Alex Haley’s “Roots”: The 40th Anniversary

In January 1977, a miniseries aired on ABC, and it would essentially change the face of television.

“Roots,” based on Alex Haley’s novel “Roots: The Saga of an American Family,” won nine Emmy Awards, as well as a Golden Globe and a Peabody Award.

Roots: The Saga of an American Family Research Topic

Roots: The Saga of an American Family Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

It tells the story of Kunta Kinte, an African adolescent who was brought to Colonial America and forced into slavery.

The story was based on what Haley claims to have discovered after conducting research to trace his ancestry.

Alex Haley Research Topic

Alex Haley Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

eLibrary offers a multitude of additional information related to the subject matter of “Roots,” including these Related Topics:

Atlantic Slave Trade

ProQuest Research Topic Guide: African-American History

ProQuest Research Topic Guide: Slavery in the U.S.

Slavery

Slavery in the U.S.

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.

Jack London Died 100 Years Ago Today

Jack London Research Topic

Jack London Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

Jack London doesn’t make many reading lists these days, but in the early 1900s, he was one of the most-read and best-loved American authors of his time. He was born John Griffith Chaney in 1876 in San Francisco. The son of an unwed mother and a father who was never part of his life, Jack grew up hard. He quit school at the age of 14 to work in a factory. As a teen, he rode trains, pirated oysters, shoveled coal and served on a seal-hunting schooner in the Bering Sea. When he had free time, Jack soaked up all the novels and travel books he could find in the local library. His life as a writer began in 1893. After surviving a harrowing sea voyage, the 17-year-old London entered a writing contest and won first prize ($25) by writing about the event. Years later, he briefly attended the University of California at Berkeley but quit and headed to Canada and the gold rush in the Yukon. He moved back to California and began writing in earnest. London found international fame at the age of 27 with his novel “The Call of the Wild” (1903) and later with the publication of “White Fang” (1906).

The Call of the Wild Research Topic

The Call of the Wild Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

While writing novels, short stories and travel tales, London also found time to cover the Russo-Japanese War for William Randolph Hearst’s newspapers. A colorful, controversial figure, he was often in the news for his adventurous exploits. Between 1900 and 1916, London wrote more than 50 fiction and non-fiction books, hundreds of short stories and magazine articles. London also supported many social issues of his day including women’s suffrage and workers’ rights. He was among the first writers to work with the movie industry. His novel “The Sea Wolf” (1904) became one of America’s first full-length silent motion pictures in 1907.

The Sea Wolf

The Sea Wolf [Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons]

White Fang

White Fang [Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jack London’s hard-driving lifestyle eventually caught up with him. His doctor urged him to change his work habits and his diet and ordered him to stop drinking. London refused to comply. He died on November 22, 1916, at the age of 40. On a personal note, if you read only one of Jack London’s books, I recommend “The Sea Wolf.” It is a great psychological thriller involving shipwrecks, rescues, and a mutiny. The novel is propelled by the brilliant, but savage, Wolf Larsen, captain of the doomed ship Ghost. If you can’t find time to read the novel, check out the 1941 film of the same name starring Edward G. Robinson as the title character. While not completely faithful to the novel, it is a very fine movie in its own right. And don’t forget to search eLibrary’s many literary resources!

November 22 Death Trivia:

Q: Jack London shares a death anniversary date with which U.S. President?

A. John F. Kennedy (November 22, 1963).

Q: Which two famous literary figures also died on November 22?

A: C. S. Lewis and Aldous Huxley (both on the same day JFK was assassinated).