Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Spring is Here!

Hello NBHE. March and April have been months of wonderful celebrations for my family. My son celebrated his becoming an Eagle Scout, and my daughter, four days later, celebrated her sixteenth birthday. Both events were like planning for weddings. I hope this is an acceptable excuse for posting late.

April Selections:

Family: Color Struck by Pamela and Joel Tuck

Children: Fort Mose by Glennette Tilley Turner

Adult/High School: American Uprising: The Untold Story of America's Largest Slave Revolt by Daniel Rasmussen

We continue this month with the second portion of an interview with authors, Pamela and Joel Tuck. It is not too late to order a copy of their book, Color Struck, a classic for every African American library. Their story sheds light on the damage caused by drawing destinctions between the darkness and lightness of skin color. As difficult as that is to survive when you are the target, we see grace and mercy reflected back through the life of a grandmother who changes the course for her family. Don't miss out on this intriguing read. Order your copy at www.pamelamtuck.com.

Fort Mose: It is the story of Francisco Menendez who built the first free black settlement, Fort Mose (Mo-say) in colonial America just north of St. Augustine. The book is filled with maps, pictures, and drawings to demonstrate what life would have been like for slaves and free black in a Spanish colony. Including an Afterward and Author's Note, the book is forty-two pages of excellent non fiction reading.

American Uprising: The Untold Story of America's Largest Slave Revolt: I have this book on hold at our local library. A friend mentioned it to me because of hearing a PBS blurb about it. The book deals with the cover up of one of the largest slave rebellions in New Orleans. I would recommend this read for adult and high school students. I have not read this one, so let me know what you think.

Enjoy the conclusion of our NBHE Interview with authors Pamela and Joel Tuck.

NBHE: What prompted you to tell the story in Color Struck?

PT: I was working on a picture book story about my father. I called my grandmother to interview her about a certain part. Somehow she began retelling me some of the struggles she faced within the family and accounts of her life as the despised, dark-skinned daughter-in-law. I took notes and remained quiet, asking questions only to fill certain gaps. My notes piqued my husband’s interest and one of his first responses was: “Let’s write about Grandma.” In doing so, we ended up with Color Struck. We were touched by my grandmother’s faith and forgiveness, and how she held her integrity, despite her oppositions. We were inspired by her story and hoped others would be enlightened and inspired by it as well.

NBHE: What was the hardest part to write?

PT/JT: We think the hardest part to write was the contemporary part. The notes gave us a start for a lot of the scenes we created for the “past” parts of the novel. We knew each chapter had to support each other, so trying to create contemporary scenes that would pick up from the past scenes and still move the story forward, was challenging. Our goal was to keep the warm, family-time tone of the book by seamlessly weaving the two stories into one.

NBHE: What tips would you offer to others who would like to publish family stories?

PT/JT: Decide what theme/message you want to convey to your readers. Are you writing to enlighten, entertain, inspire, etc. Then concentrate on the events that would work with your theme. A lifetime of stories can’t be told in a single book, however, if you want to write a picture book, focus on one aspect and build around that. If you want to write a longer work, organize your events and write each chapter as if it was a story within itself, making sure each chapter builds toward your theme. Once you have your story/idea..just write! If you don’t’ think you’re a good writer, then record your story on tape (there are people who can put it on paper for you). We would suggest joining a writer’s group, such as the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), or a local writing group. This will help you polish your writing, along with learning the rules of manuscript formatting and submitting to publishers. There are several reference materials on writing found in your local library and online. Surround yourselves with positive influences and learn to sift criticism: take what will help you become a better writer and let the rest go.

Happy Reading.