Tuesday, October 13, 2020

BLOG TOUR: Rural Voices: 15 Authors Challenge Assumptions About Small-Town America Edited by Nora Shalaway Carpenter

Welcome to the Official Blog Tour for Rural Voices: 15 Authors Challenge Assumptions About Small-Town America edited by Nora Shalaway Carpenter. On our tour stop today, we have a guest post to share, featuring author "Nasugraq Rainey Hopson, Rural Voices Prompt." We also have a tour-wide giveaway to share as well. So... Be sure to check it out and grab your copy now! Follow the tour, HERE.

Publish Date:
October 13, 2020

Think you know what rural America is like? Discover a plurality of perspectives in this enlightening anthology of stories that turns preconceptions on their head.

Gracie sees a chance of fitting in at her South Carolina private school, until a "white trash"-themed Halloween party has her steering clear of the rich kids. Samuel's Tejano family has both stood up to oppression and been a source of it, but now he's ready to own his true sexual identity. A Puerto Rican teen in Utah discovers that being a rodeo queen means embracing her heritage, not shedding it. . . .

For most of America's history, rural people and culture have been casually mocked, stereotyped, and, in general, deeply misunderstood. Now an array of short stories, poetry, graphic short stories, and personal essays, along with anecdotes from the authors' real lives, dives deep into the complexity and diversity of rural America and the people who call it home. Fifteen extraordinary authors - diverse in ethnic background, sexual orientation, geographic location, and socioeconomic status - explore the challenges, beauty, and nuances of growing up in rural America. From a mountain town in New Mexico to the gorges of New York to the arctic tundra of Alaska, you'll find yourself visiting parts of this country you might not know existed - and meet characters whose lives might be surprisingly similar to your own.

Nora Shalaway Carpenter, David Bowles, Joseph Bruchac, Veeda Bybee, Shae Carys, S.A. Cosby, Rob Costello, Randy DuBurke, David Macinnis Gill, Nasugraq Rainey Hopson, Estelle Laure, Yamile Saied Méndez, Ashley Hope Pérez, Tirzah Price and Monica Roe


Nasugraq Rainey Hopson, Rural Voices Prompt

Inspiration can be found in many places. Sometimes all you need is that perfect prompt that develops into a multifaceted world and sometimes you just need a bit of oomph to kick start your working session.  Here are my top 10 places and/or activities where I find inspiration to write.

  1. Go for a walk.  I don’t know if it’s because I am less distracted by my phone/computer/tv or just the physical feeling of moving forward, but walking clears my head and makes way for the imagination.  It doesn’t have to be a five-mile hike through the countryside to work, but I aim for at least a 20 min of walking. 

  2. Dreams.  They can be a way for some of the unformed ideas in my head to emerge into the light.  I like to write snippets I found interesting in my notes App on my phone.  When I was younger, I kept a small notebook and pencil near my bed.  The goal is to write down the ‘scenes’ first, and then write down the emotional layer…things you were feeling…afterwards.  Don’t worry, it’s not supposed to make sense, but can be a neat way to spark your creativity. Don’t feel bad if you can’t remember them all in detail; the more you do it the more you start remembering when you wake up. 

  3. Artwork.  I like to find interesting images and make up a story to fit. There are a few places I visit and scroll online, like DeviantArt and Pinterest. But you can just as well visit the library and dig around in the Art section. There are usually more in depth collections of artworks there with a narrower focus. 

  4. Music.  I listen to the ‘new music’ tab on my music app.  Sometimes a song will just make something click. I also like to explore the collections that I normally would not listen to. I start with whatever is popular in that section and wonder around with a click here and there.  Music is pretty much infinite! 

  5. I play ‘What if?’  What if when I picked up that orange it disappeared?  What if I walked into the living room and there was a strange old lady sitting there?  What is the weirdest thing that could happen right now, and how would I explain it?  Sometimes neat stories are prompted by the question ‘what if?’ This technique usually produces some really interesting first paragraphs! 

  6. Word salad.  Before throwing out old magazines I clip out nouns and adjectives and other random words and mix them up in an envelope. I pick a few out randomly and build a sentence from the combination.  This is actually a technique I learned from an English teacher.  If you want to take it a step further (and you like art) you can draw images that illustrate the sentence or story. You can get some pretty funny combinations! 

  7. Oral stories.  We like to tell stories in our family, so it is a wealth of ideas for writing. Sometimes it’s easier to use other people’s experiences as jumping off points for a story or scene, rather than our own.  Bonus points: you can practice being a good listener and it helps connect you with your friends and family.  Use all avenues of interaction, like emails, phone calls, texts and even social media posts. These can count as ‘oral stories.’  I even have several old school pen pals both international and just from other states that provide fresh insight into the different experiences we all have.  

  8. Get your blood pumping.  Go for a run, do jumping jacks, play some basketball.  Use that awesome feeling afterwards to give you an extra boost for writing.  Our brains are delicate ecosystems of hormones and chemicals, and using that systems built-in need to provide balance can spark the energy and motivation needed. 

  9. Photos.  I often keep photos of family and even strangers’ images that I find interesting hanging in my writing space.  Sometimes I know their stories and sometimes I don’t.  Sometimes I build character sheets for these strangers, imagining their experiences and stories.  Having a visual image to refer to can cement that character’s personality. 

  10. Try new things.  Be adventurous.  Taste new food.  Try a new hobby or learn a few words in a foreign language.  Read a different genre than you usually do. Be uncomfortable.  In nature all of the interesting things exists in spaces where there is friction.  Where salt and fresh water meet.  Where extreme cold meets with tropical weather. Where the land meets sea.  Good stories always have some sort of clash of opposing forces, or a change in the ‘normal’ happens.  Often inspiration can be found in those spaces.

Born and raised in the rural expanse of the North Slope of Alaska, Nasuġraq Rainey Hopson grew up on the fantastic tales from her unique and rich indigenous Inupiaq culture. When she is not writing or creating art inspired by these stories, she is studying how to grow food in the arctic and working a preserving traditional Inupiaq knowledge. She has a degree in studio art and has taught all levels of art from kindergarten to college. She lives with her husband and daughter, three dogs, and a small flock of arctic chickens in the Anaktuvuk Pass, Alaska, where she lives off the land and the amazing bounty it provides as her ancestors did for thousands of years.


The writers bring authentic voices to their work in addition to their biographies, shared at the back of the book. This collection will be a high-interest read for middle and high school students...This book is a must-purchase for libraries serving middle and high school readers. —School Library Connection

The compilation successfully meets the challenge of serving as a cohesive whole while providing readers with enough variety of tone, pace, and voice to keep the reading experience interesting. A fresh and highly accessible contribution. —Kirkus Reviews

From laughing out loud to holding back tears, readers who enjoy emotionally resonant books will not be disappointed. Those from similar geographic areas will be nodding their heads while every reader, regardless of location, will connect to the universal triumphs and tribulations of teen life. Fans of Rainbow Rowell will dive headfirst into this collection. A great addition that explores an often misrepresented portion of readers. —School Library Journal


**About the Editor**
Photo Credit: Chip Bryan
Nora Shalaway Carpenter grew up on a mountain ridge deep in the West Virginia wilderness. A graduate of Vermont College of Fine Arts’ MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults program, she is the author of the YA novel The Edge of Anything and the picture book Yoga Frog. Before she wrote books, she worked as associate editor of Wonderful West Virginia magazine, and she has been a certified yoga teacher since 2012. She currently lives in Asheville, North Carolina, with her husband, three young children, and world’s most patient dog and cat.

Stay connected with Nora Shalaway Carpenter


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