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READ LIKE A WRITER, a teaching blog

CARNEGIE LIBRARY LAUNCHES NO SURRENDER SOLDIER

Christine Kohler talks about the research behind her novel during the book launch of NO SURRENDER SOLDIER. The painting in this photo is of the Carnegie Library in Ballinger, Texas.

January 18, 2014 – NO SURRENDER SOLDIER’s launch day. Wow, what can I say? What a wonderful day!

Fellow Merit Press author Steve Parlato (THE NAMESAKE, released Jan. 18, 2013) said that during this past year since his debut novel released that every event has been like birthdays and Christmases  Read More 

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GOODREADS GIVE-AWAY: NO SURRENDER SOLDIER!

Authors often call their books their babies, and use birthing analogies. And so, like the birth of a baby, they often surprise you by arriving early. That’s what happened to NO SURRENDER SOLDIER. My “due date” was December 18, 2013, for the e-book and January 18, 2014, for the hardback to be released by Merit Press (Adams  Read More 

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PUTTING MY COVER IN PERSPECTIVE

When my Merit Press editor Jackie Mitchard e-mailed me the cover of NO SURRENDER SOLDIER, without hesitation I e-mailed back, “I love it!” What I loved about the cover is the perspective. I don’t know who is the illustrator of my cover, but he or she understood both the duel perspective—two alternate  Read More 

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WWII PACIFIC -- DEC. 7-8, 1941, JAPANESE ATTACKS ON U.S.-GOVERNED ISLANDS

The Tribune headlines announces Bataan, Philippines, occupied by Japanese army.

On December 7, 1941, Hawaii was not the only U.S. territory to be attacked. Hours after Japanese pilots attacked Pearl Harbor, Oahu, on Dec. 7/Dec. 8 (Asian side of International Dateline), 1941, Japanese forces attacked Guam and the Philippines, which were also United States possessions like Hawaii. (Simultaneously the Japanese attacked British colonies Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaya.) Within days Japan occupied Guam and the Philippines.

WHY SHOULD AMERICANS CARE?

My intent in this brief overview is not to debate the merits or evils of colonialism. Historically it happened. There is no turning back the clock with 20-20 hindsight. The facts are that the U.S. government acquired and U.S. military protected and governed Hawaii, Guam, and the Philippines at the end of the Spanish-American war in 1898-9. (For more information on exact political status in 1941 see Guampedia
for Guam, University of Alberta for the Philippines, U.S. Dept. of State for Hawaii.

During the occupation of Guam and the Philippines, many Japanese soldiers committed atrocities against the people. Even if these two islands had not been U.S. possessions for about 42 years, it’s impossible for us as a free people to stand back and not intervene when defenseless people are raped, tortured, enslaved, and murdered. Our burden to liberate the Guamanians and Filipinos was doubly so because of the nearly half a century of colonialism that caused them to be defenseless and dependent on U.S. military protection.

U.S. Marines liberated Guam July 4, 1944. U.S. military invaded the Philippines Oct. 1944. The Philippines is much larger and very rugged mountainous terrain so the battles were long and fierce. Germany surrendered May 7, 1945. Japan surrendered August 14, 1945. The Philippines became an independent nation after WWII ended. After WWII Japan lay down its weapons and the U.S. military took over its military bases. To this day the U.S. continues to provide military protection for post-war Japan, which re-directed its energies into economic development, technology, and political stability.


HOW I LEARNED TO CARE

I graduated from the University of Hawaii journalism school in 1985. Several of my professors were former war correspondents from WWII through Vietnam. When I was a reporter for the Pacific Daily News (Gannett), based on Guam, I covered political status issues such as Commonwealth hearings in Guam’s quest for self-determination and U.S.-Philippine military base negotiations. (Guam is still a U.S. Territory. Read Guampedia for political status history. The Philippines did not renew agreements for the U.S. military to use base facilities so the U.S. military only acts in an advisory capacity to Filipino military forces.)

On a personal level, I loved Guam, the Philippines, and Japan, where I also lived. My children were educated in Hawaii, Japan, and Guam and studied the history, culture, and language of these Pacific Islands. Most of all, I loved the people.

It was out of my newfound understanding of WWII history in the Pacific that I researched and wrote the novel NO SURRENDER SOLDIER. It was out of my love for the people of all these islands that I created sympathetic realistic characters in Kiko Chargalauf, a 15-year-old Chamorro boy, and his family; Kiko’s best friend, Tomas Tanaka, and his family; and even Isamu Seto, the WWII Japanese soldier modeled after the real “no surrender soldier” Shoichi Yokoi. It is my hope that this novel will raise awareness of the history and political status of these lovely Pacific islands and people. So when you remember Pearl Harbor, you will also remember Guam, the Philippines, and Japan.

[Note: This brief general primer is not intended for use as a scholarly source.] Read More 

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KUDOS FROM ALAN PANEL AUTHOR AT NCTE 2013 CONFERENCE

When I taught high school English I used to go to teacher conferences annually for my required Continuing Education Units (CEU). But this was my first teacher conference where I went as an author speaking on a panel. It was awesome! The pressure was off to attend dozens of exciting and informative talks, but  Read More 
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GRATITUDE IS AN ATTITUDE

Happy Thanksgiving!

As a member of the Class of 2k14 Fiction Addiction debut novelists, I've been asked to write about something I'm thankful for, as a writer. This is my portion; you can access the entire list of Class of 2k14 authors and their thoughts on  Read More 

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GOURMET IN YA LIT, Part IV

FOOD SHORTAGES & RISKY BEHAVIOR

By Karen Bass

Close your eyes and imagine your perfect feast, think about those succulent dishes, steam wafting up to tease you with their delicious smells. Now pretend you’re imagining that feast when you haven’t had enough to eat for months. Anticipation becomes torture. Your stomach clenches in  Read More 

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GOURMET YA LIT, Part III

This is the third blog article in a series about the importance of food in YA literature.

SACRIFICE, COMMUNION, & FELLOWSHIP

In NO SURRENDER SOLDIER (Merit Press, Jan. 2014) food is significant both literally and symbolically. In Guam, 98 percent of people are Roman Catholic. As a result, Guamanians host huge fiestas, many celebrating villages’ patron saints.  Read More 

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GOURMET YA LIT, Part II

GOURMET YA LIT, Part II

This is the second blog article in a series about food in young adult literature in celebration of Thanksgiving in Canada (Oct. 14) and the U.S. (Nov. 28). In today’s article I have asked Beth Fehlbaum to talk about food in BIG FAT DISASTER, Merit Press, March 2014. I’ll  Read More 

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GOURMET YA LIT

GOURMET YA LIT

In celebration of Thanksgiving, the annual big pig-out feast, in Canada (Oct. 14) and the U.S. (Nov. 28) I’m running a series of articles about food in young adult (YA) literature. In today’s article I’ve asked Kim Askew & Amy Helmes, co-authors of ANYONE BUT YOU (Merit Press, Jan. 18, 2014) and Suzanne Kamata, author of GADGET GIRL: THE ART OF BEING INVISIBLE (GemmaMedia, 2013) to tell you why food is important, and prevalent, in their stories. (*Ed. note: The authors wrote the articles but I edited their articles into third person.)

ANYONE BUT YOU is a retelling of Romeo and Juliet in Chicago Italian restaurants. Mmm…pizza, anyone? To get a taste of how cleverly creative Kamata plays with food and cooking utensils, here’s a quote from GADGET GIRL: “Luckily, Gadget Girl has brought along her crème brȗlée torch. She’s been planning on using it to make a surprise dessert for Chaz’s victory dinner, but she whips it out early to melt the golem.”

Warning: You might want to wear a bib in case you drool while reading.

ANYONE BUT YOU by Kim Askew & Amy Helmes

The inspiration for Askew and Helmes’ third Twisted Lit novel, ANYONE BUT YOU, was the Montague and Capulet animosity in Romeo and Juliet. Why did the families despise each other in the first place? The authors’ re-imagined saga revolves around a bitter rivalry between two family-owned Italian restaurants in Chicago, and the mystery of how their feud began. Naturally, Askew and Helmes were influenced by the ongoing debate over who makes the best Chicago deep-dish pies: Gino’s East? Giordano’s? Lou Malnati’s? Pizzeria Uno? (Uh...they’re opting not to weigh in with a verdict on that, lest any diehards out there come after them with pizza-cutters!) The star-crossed lovers, Roman and Gigi, find forbidden love against the backdrop of homemade pasta and pizza dough. Going back in time—1933, to be exact—to explore the imagined history of their families’ epic impasse gave the authors an opportunity to tell the fascinating history of pizza in America. The dish wasn’t always standard fare in the States, but like the works of Shakespeare, it’s become a classic readers would be quite reluctant to live without.

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