Archive for parents

Update on “Rise of the Nefarious Numbots”

Posted in Books, Family, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 7, 2014 by Jessica Crichton

Well, I have some good news and some bad news.

The good news is: “Dr. Fixit’s Malicious Machine” — now published through Second Wind Publishing LLC (YAY!) — will be available at Spocon, as will “The Counterfeit Zombies of Noc”, both with updated covers (pictured below). Of course I will also be there in person to sign, talk, and teach!

Now for the bad news.

“Rise of the Nefarious Numbots” will not be available at Spocon this year after all. This was a difficult decision, but in the end I chose to ensure a quality story for my readers rather than rushing the story so it will be out quickly. I plan on having “Numbots” available in a small scale in September, at Glamirita Clothing and Accessories in the Garland District in Spokane. It will also be available to order online for one day only as an Amazon title, before switching over to Second Wind Publishing for national release. I will let you all know when that will be as soon as I am able.

Thank you all for your patience. I promise it will be worth it! 
drfixitCoverFinalFrontTZONPrintCoverFrontFinishedNumbotsCoverFront1

Aaaaaand… GO!

Posted in Books, kidlit, Middle Grade, mothers, Sci-Fi with tags , , , , on October 17, 2013 by Jessica Crichton

The world’s first and best children’s post-apocalyptic science fiction book is HERE! “Dr. Fixit’s Malicious Machine” by Jessica Rising is FREE for a limited time! Read it yourself!

Read it to your kids! Give it as a gift! Share the link with your friends and family! Let everyone know the mag-ness of, Guts, Glory, Books, Turtle and company!

Yayyyyy!

(I’m kind of excited about this…)

Quotes From the Daily Life of a Mommy Writer

Posted in Family, Kids, mothers, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on May 30, 2013 by Jessica Crichton

In case it hasn’t been made abundantly clear, I have kids. Five of them to be specific:

Kids1Considering their pictures are already all over my Steampunk Wedding page, I’m not too concerned with posting this pic. Though, as it is on that page, here they will be going by nicknames for their protection.

Zigzgging down from the top row from the left we have Hippie Chick (age 16), Drama Queen (age 15), Bratz Princess (age 12), Doctor Boy (age 9), and Baby Girl (age 6). Now that you can put faces to the “names”, I would like to submit for your approval (and some giggles), a few choice quotes that float around the air here at Casa Rising on a daily basis as Mom sits at her computer trying to work…

Doctor Boy: “Can The Doctor fly? (AKA Dr. Who) I bet I can! I need a normal screwdriver, though, cuz my window’s really hard to open.”

Baby Girl: “When I grow up, I’m going to be a spy at night and a teacher during the day!”
Bratz Princess: “When will you sleep?”
Baby Girl: “Duh. When I’m 36!”

Drama Queen: “Excuse me while I go find my dignity.”

Me: “Hi. How was your day?”
Bratz Princess: “I’m bloating and I gotta go potty. How was your day?”

Drama Queen: “Why is there PANCAKE BATTER in my COMBAT BOOTS?”

Baby Girl: “I already swept (a-tiny-toilet-paper-square area). It’s Doctor Boy’s turn!”
Doctor Boy: “Mom told YOU to sweep, not me!”
Baby Girl: “Nu-uh. You sweep (this tiny area) and I sweep (this other tiny area). Mom said!”
Doctor Boy and Baby Girl: “MOOOOOOOOOM!”

Hippie Chick: “I’ll be in high school until I’m OOOOLD!”

Bratz Princess: “I’m going to blow up… then explode.”

Doctor Boy: “That’s some bukly, BULGY baby!”

Baby Girl: “Since poop is stuff you already ate, you can eat it again, right?”

… and my personal favorite:

Hippie Chick: “BE QUIET! MOM’S TRYING TO WORK!”

Sound like your house? How do you work at home with kids? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

My Top Seventeen Middle Grade Books of all Time!

Posted in Books, Reading, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 8, 2013 by Jessica Crichton

If you follow my blog regularly, you know that I have just begun my final Master’s thesis on middle grade children’s literature. I’ve been asked by more than a few people exactly what kidlit titles a graduate student would possibly want to study, and why. So I decided to post the bibliography portion of my final document proposal here, with a short note on each entry as to the “whys”.

Submitted for your approval: the top fifteen middle grade books of all time, according to Jessica Rising. (Your mileage my vary; in fact, I hope it does! Please add your own entries in the comments below so we can build this list high!)

1) Carroll, Lewis. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Columbus: Weekly Reader Books. Print.

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If you’re breathing, chances are you know who Alice is (though maybe not her last name — it’s Liddell, incidentally), that the Mad Hatter isn’t angry but he is totally nutso, and / or have had some kind of argument over weather Lewis Carroll’s classic work of children’s fantasy is about math, drugs, both or neither. As an undeniable staple of classic kidlit, leaving Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland out of a study on children’s books would be like leaving Shakespeare out of a study on classic adult literature. I, for one, am not about to make that kind of literary foible, you can be sure!

2) Cooper, Susan. The Dark is Rising. New York: Scholastic, Inc Publishers. Print.

DarkisRising

Written by the daughter of James Fenimore Cooper, The Dark is Rising by celebrated novelist Susan Cooper is a Newberry Honor book, and as been the favorite of many generations of children. It’s classic fantasy with a real-world twist of history and ancient Celtic culture, and a deep resonance of the human condition that few other children’s books have ever emulated.

3) Dahl, Roald. Danny the Champion of the World . New York: Alfered A. Knopf (1975). Print.

Danny_champion_001

Having published a myriad of well-known and beloved books for kids, Roald Dahl is arguably one of the great pillars of modern kidlit, so leaving him out of the study would be a gross oversight. Still, which of his wonderful, witty kids’ books should be included to represent the whole? That was my dilemma. In the end, I opted to forgo fantastical whimsy in preference for a life-lessons story every kid can relate to. After all, there are enough fantasy stories in my list already, and the whole point of my study is to prove that kidlit emulates the human condition just as deeply and profoundly as its adult counterpart. For anyone who has read Danny, its inclusion for this reason should be a no-brainer. It certainly was for me!

4) Ende, Michael. The Neverending Story. New York: Penguin Books (1996). Print.

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Most know of The Neverending Story from the popular 1984 film adaptation. However, Michael Ende’s powerful fantasy book about the importance of imagination and hope in a sometimes fearful world is as relevant to today’s children as it was when it first appeared in Germany under the title of Die Unendliche Geschicte back in 1979. As both a classic kid’s book and a well-known fantasy epic through the last  three generations, including The Neverending Story in my study just makes sense.

5) Gaiman, Neil. The Graveyard Book. New York: Scholastic (2003). Print.

GraveyardBookBrit

It’s current. It’s popular. It’s a Newberry Award Winner. And, perhaps most importantly, it resonates deeply with modern children. Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book is such a perfect modern counterpart to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland that not including it as at least a comparison between classic and current kidlit would be a terrible oversight. But even beyond that, Graveyard is a great story in its own right, which is a must for inclusion on my list. Plus, keeping up with the times is very important for any serious writer, and while I adore the classic titles I grew up with, there is wonderful kidlit from every era to explore — including our own.

6) Collins, Suzanne. Gregor the Overlander. New York: Scholastic (2003). Print. 

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Gregor the Overlander is a modern middle grade story. It’s also very popular, which speaks for the mindset of today’s children, and the societal impact of fiction on child culture and vice-versa as a whole. Suzanne Collins herself is a highly gifted and beloved children’s writer of our modern age, though her most famous series, “The Hunger Games”, is YA rather than MG, the age-group focus of this particular study.

7) Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. New York: Harper Collins (1993). Print.

mockingbird

Back to classics! Whether you wanted to or not, chances are you read To Kill a Mockingbird in school. For me, it was ninth grade English and I fell in love with it instantly.  There is a reason this book has been studied by schoolkids all over for generations — it is the epitome of the human condition, the very thing that makes literature worth reading, writing and studying. Some would argue that this is more of a YA title than MG. However, I have set up certain conditions (clearly outlined in my full thesis), as to what is considered MG for this study. One of those conditions is the age of the protagonists being between 7 and 12 years. To Kill a Mockingbird fully meets this requirement, and I would feel very remiss to leave it out.

8) L’Engle, Madeline. A Wrinkle in Time. New York: Laurel Leaf Imprint, Random House Publishers (2005). Print.

WrinkleInTime5

Best described as a modern classic, Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time is quickly taking its deserved place among the ranks of the timeless. Though it is usually classified as a fantasy book, Wrinkle actually mixes fantasy with science fiction to form a deeply relevant story that has touched the hearts and minds of children for so many years now. It is also a Newberry Award winner, which I must admit I have been a little biased towards for this study. After all, there is a reason certain titles earn that prestigious award!

9) Lewis, C. S. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. New York: Harper Trophy (1994). Print.

Wallace_Books_Lewis_001_large

Like Alice in Wonderland, C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is an undeniable staple of classic kidlit. That alone gives it an instant place in my study; its timeless ability to fascinate the hearts and minds of children from so many different generations makes it a perfect example of how children’s literature directly effects and mirrors society. Its metaphor, too, is a perfect example of life-reflected-in-literature, which can’t be ignored.

10) Palacio, R.J. Wonder by R.J. Palacio. New York: Knopf Books for Young Readers (2012). Print.

wonder

I initially chose Wonder because it is a very modern (published in 2012), award-winning middle grade book that is right now making the rounds of literary fame through book clubs, raving reviews and bookstore center isles. When I chose it, I hadn’t yet read it, and was ready to take it off the list if I felt it didn’t make the cut. Of course, as you can see here that didn’t happen. What did happen was I found yet another wonderful example of the human condition reflected in a children’s book. The lesson in Wonder of not judging each-other is deeply woven into the storyline and narrative style, both with the main character being so unique himself, and the narration switching points-of-view between him and many others in is life whom he has touched. In this way, the story shows that not only does everyone have feelings they aren’t always proud of, but everyone has a story to tell that directly effects how they see others and the world around them.

11) Riordan, Rick. The Lightning Thief . New York: Hyperion Books (2005). Print.

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The Lightning Thief is included in this study as a modern popular title, with Rick Riordan being a huge success both in middle grade and young adult circles. When studying how literature impacts a society, one must include the literature that society most craves, as it is a direct mirror to the psyche. Also, as a modern adaptati0n of  classic mythology — the precursor to most original fairy tales — Lightning can be studied in relation to the evolution of children’s literature over eons of time. This alone, as I am sure you can understand, is invaluable to my study.

12) Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. New York: Arthur A. Levine Books, 1997. Print.

HarryPotter1

It would be a very difficult thing indeed, to study middle grade literature and its place in society without including “Harry Potter”. The impact that JK. Rowling’s boy wizard has had on modern children and modern society as a whole is almost deafening, and that impact is only continuing to grow. My study would literally be incomplete without it, and its absence would certainly remove a large chunk of relevance that I am not willing to lose. Though the later books can be classified more as young adult titles, the earlier ones are clearly middle grade, and The Sorcerers Stone is the very earliest. That, and the fact that it began the whole phenomenon is why I chose this particular title in the series.

13) Spinelli, Jerry. Maniac Magee. New York: Scholastic, Inc Publishers. Print.

maniac magee

Another Newberry Award Winner, Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli deserves its place on this list for its poignant yet simple vision of life as an outsider, and what it means to belong. One argument against children’s books being relevant to deep study is that they are shallow and only relate to the shallow minds of children. Now, ignoring the obvious fallibility of children’s minds being shallow in the first place, Maniac Magee blows that entire argument out of the water. It is simple to understand and entirely relatable for middle grade readers, yet so deeply conveys the human condition that I challenge any adult to read it and not see it as a masterpiece in its own right.

14) Patterson, Katherine. The Great Gilly Hopkins. New York: Harper Trophy (1978). Print.

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As another Newberry winner, The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Patterson already deserves a spot on this list. Still, there have been many Newberry winners and honors over the years – including another title by Patterson herself — so why is Gilly so special? Like every book on my list, Gilly reflects society and the human condition, which are key elements in weather a piece of literature is considered worthy of inclusion into the canon of  scholarly study. The story is deep and meaningful, especially to children who feel like outsiders in their world. The themes therein of family, devotion, and the pain of loss are just as relevant to adults as they are to all the children who have read and loved this book.

15) Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. New York: Dover Publications; abridged edition (1998). Print.

HuckleberryFinn

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is already an undeniable classic. Its inclusion to my study is twofold. One, I simply love Mark Twain and can’t stand to do any study without him included — call me biased. And two, as an acknowledged classic that fits perfectly into my definition of middle grade children’s literature, Huck Finn will lead credence to the study of kidlit as a whole. Win-win!

16) White, E.B. Charlotte’s Web. New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1952. Print.

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A classic Newberry Honor book, Charlotte’s Web is, like Alice in Wonderland, a staple of children’s literature. The mismatched friendship of Fern the girl, Charlotte the spider and Wilbur the pig is a perfect example of how children use their everyday surroundings to better understand themselves and others — a lesson that even adults often must continue to learn. The basics of respect and understanding emulated in Charlotte’s Web will continue to be relevant to mankind as we enter a future that is bright with promise, hope, and peace.

17) Snyder, Zilpha Keatley. The Witches of Worm. New York: Dell Yearling, 1972. Print.

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The Witches of Worm was given to me for Christmas last year. Before that, I hadn’t even considered including it in my study, as I didn’t know it existed. A Newberry Honor book, Witches is everything that award emulates — depth, spirit, a reflection of the fear and emotional pain that every human being goes through, no matter what their age. Another book of metaphor, Witches personifies that theme within the mind of its pre-teen protagonist as she struggles to come to grips with the loss of her childhood, and the realization of her mother’s own human failings via her discovery of a very strange stay cat. As a children’s mirror to societal psyche and the human condition, it’s difficult to find a better story than The Witches of Worm.

So, there you have it — the seventeen books I will be studying and critiquing in my master’s thesis on middle grade children’s literature, and why they have been included. Of course, these descriptions aren’t detailed, as this is a short explanation only. However, if you have any questions or relevant additions / arguments to add, please feel free to do so in the comments section. And thanks for reading!

Are You Ready?

Posted in Books, Family, kidlit with tags , , , on January 26, 2013 by Jessica Crichton

It’s almost here! Just a little over two weeks before the official release of “Dr. Fixit’s Malicious Machine”!

Are YOU ready to get your copy? Let me know which you prefer – paperback or ebook!

Confessions of a Not-So Martyrly Mom

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on January 17, 2013 by Jessica Crichton

If you’ve followed my blog at all, you know I write kids’ books and study them in graduate school. What you might not know, however, is I actually own some of those strange little creatures myself. Five of them, to be exact. Cisily is 16, Emily is 14, Joei is 12, Conrad is 9, and Briar Rose is 5.

Once we clear the inevitable “why in the world did you have five children in this day and age?”, most people ask me how I do it. The general consensus is that I must me some kind of sleepless martyr, a supermom that no other parent could ever possibly compete with.

Well, I have a confession to make — I actually do it by being a pretty cruddy mother.

Here’s a short list of the things I don’t do for my kids on a daily basis:

  • I don’t make them breakfast. Okay, so every once in a blue moon I might decide to try my hand at pancakes, but usually they get their own cereal while I’m either sleeping or taking a shower.
  • I don’t change their sheets or blankets. If I smell something funky, I tell them to do it.
  • I don’t help them with their homework. That is, except in the rare case when they need help with English. Being my children, however, they usually need help in math. Anything I could do would be the complete opposite of help in that regard.
  • I don’t clean up after them. I tell them to do it.
  • I don’t spend the day playing with them. I spend it locked away in my library, writing, reading and generally being a far more productive student and writer than mother.
  • I don’t check labels when I shop, or create meals “from the cow up”. I get the same food every month, and use it in pretty much the same way, as I have since my kids were born. I’ve made a few little changes, such as butter instead of margarine and steamed frozen veggies instead of microwave from a can, but I am far from Betty Crocker… or Olivia Organic, for that matter. Yet somehow my kids are still healthy and energetic. Strange…
  • I don’t drive them around to classes and extracurricular activities. I have nothing witty to say about this — I just stink at remembering it all. I’ve had paperwork for one after school activity they want to do for the last two months. I actually did look for the paperwork yesterday. It’s disappeared.

So what do I actually DO as a mother?

  • I talk to my teenagers whenever possible. “Whenever possible” isn’t always that often, but they know that when they need me, all they have to do is ask. And if I feel like I’m starting to lose them, I make a point to drop what I’m doing, seek them out and ask, “so, what’s been going on lately?”
  • I make dinner every weeknight. Sometimes it’s pot roast, and other times it’s baked potatoes covered in beans from a can, but we always eat at the table so we can talk for a few quiet moments during the otherwise hectic day.
  • I always tuck them in. This only takes a few minutes from my life, and even if they know they’ll wake up to prepare their own bowl of cereal, they fall asleep with the assurance that Mommy loves them… with a little extra Mommy “love” stuffed into a pillow or stuffed animal to keep their dreams happy all night.
  • I hug and kiss them as often as possible. This takes exactly one second out of my life, and it speaks volumes.
  • I make it to every parent-teacher conference. They’re only twice a year, and if I can make no other parental appearance at my children’s school, I sure as sunshine am going to make that!
  • Sometimes I randomly play video games with them. This is a memory I have of my mother that was very special, and it’s fun for all of us. Plus, it’s a great surprise for them when they see Mom doing what they love. (They also love to tell me how to play, and I don’t bother reminding them I’m from the original video game generation.)

So, I spend more time on my career than I do on my children. That is my confession. But despite it all, they have never once doubted that they are the very most important part of my life. Heck, my teenagers still hold my hand in public. I think that means I must be doing something right, despite what every parenting expert — and my childless friends — say to the contrary.

The one thing I have learned the hard way above all others is this — nobody can be everything all the time. All the planning to be a perfect parent never works out, and by the time you have a child in grade school you’ve either accepted this and figured out how to pick your battles, or decided you’re the worst parent ever — simply for being human.

What about you? What is your advice for juggling your kids with your career?

“The Counterfeit Zombies of Noc”

Posted in Books, Family, Fantasy, Kids, Middle Grade, Sci-Fi, Writing with tags , , , , on January 12, 2013 by Jessica Crichton

Book 2 of “Guts and Glory, Freedom Fighters of Nil”, is underway…

The Teens of Nil have all been put under a deep sleep, their minds erased by Dr. Fixit’s Machine. If Glory can’t find the antidote within the zombie-infested swamp of Noc, the Kids will be next!

Meanwhile, “Dr. Fixit’s Malicious Machine” will be out soon! Keep checking back for the latest information!

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