Posts Tagged ‘authors’

fifteen for friday 2/12/10

Friday, February 12th, 2010

record breaking snow edition:

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1. I realize that this may not look like record breaking snow to a lot of the country. But I have never in my life seen so many healthy white snowmen. Feb Snow  snowman009Usually they are streaked with dirt and full of dead leaves and grass.

2. Personally I wouldn’t mind never ever making a snowman.

3. I dislike cold immensely.

4. My bushes don’t like it either.

5. Do cats have armpits? If they do, that’s what my cat was up to in the snow last night. He must’ve liked it though, cause I couldn’t get him to come in.

6. Hard to believe that only a month ago it was in the 70′s. That’s Texas for you though.

7. This list is boring. I’m talking about the weather for goodness sakes.

8. Just finished reading Respect for Acting by Uta Hagen. Lots of useful stuff in there for actors. And I guess for compulsive liars too, if that’s your cup of tea.

9. Some people have too much money.

10. Why are Hoarders, Intervention and Celebrity Rehab so entertaining? Trying to figure out if it’s the train wreck aspect, but for the grace of God, or “Whew, dodged that one”!

11. What I’m going to read when I decide to leave the house (or when the snow melts or ten degrees are added to the temperature, whichever comes first):

12. The Lightening Thief by Rick Riordan – Came highly recommended by a real life school librarian.

13. Bloodroot by Amy Greene (no, haven’t found it yet)…and why did the local librarian look at me like I was crazy when I asked for it? You’d think, being a librarian that you’d be used to hearing all kinds of strange titles, and I don’t think Bloodroot is the weirdest ever. Maybe that’s just Fort Worth.

14. Fort Worth can be backwards sometimes. Can you tell I’m a Dallas girl? I mean, the closest bagel shop is like five miles away…FIVE MILES!

15. Sarah’s Quilt by Nancy E. Turner – The second book to in the Sarah Prine series. Loved These is My Words, and I’m ready to take on some more of the old west.

PS – Writing writing, always writing. Will tell more when I have something worthwhile on the subject.

PS#2 – Today is this blog’s one year anniversary!! Yay Writer’s Cramp woo hoo!!!!

katherines lucky words

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

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These are the books I’ve read for the last week or so…

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green: Funny, funny, funny. Loved the footnotes especially. A light read.

Lucky by Rachel Vail: For me this was uber light. For rich kids whose parent(s) lose their income it might be more significant. I suppose it’s hard for me to relate. But I did enjoy it since I’ve always liked to imagine what it’s like to be wealthy. Nannies, housekeepers, stocked pool houses and all.

These is My Words by Nancy E. Turner: This book reminded me of Lonesome Dove for it’s rough and tumble western setting, though it’s not nearly as graphic. The novel is written in diary form you would think would be limiting but never feels that way due to the writer’s skill. It’s interesting to see the transition of the character’s writing from teen to mother, both for her growth as a writer as well as her growth as a person. The character is based on the author’s Great-grandmother.

Have you read any of these? What did you think about them?

As for my own writing…I’m thinking of jumping back to my long neglected novel. With so much time that has passed, maybe the changes that need to be made will be clearer. My poor protag in my current short story is going to have to wait in the woods for a while.

tuesday’s gone

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

well, not yet anyway.

51EQhdaOW-L._SL75_Here’s what went down at the local library I 1) picked up Paper Towns, then 2) looked and searched for and inquired after These Is My Words but 3) it was nowhere to be found. To assuage my melancholy regardingthis fact, I 4) picked up An Abundance of Katherines, (by John Green, author of Paper Towns). If you’ve read Paper Towns, you know what the numbered sentence is about. If you haven’t, what are you doing here?! Go get it (only I think I got the last one at the Southwest Regional branch of the Fort Worth Public Library–so don’t go there).

Another reason to get the book is that it was awarded the 2009 Edgar Award for best Young Adult novel. And it’s pretty good to boot.

outsidersIt was interesting reading from the 18-year-old boy point of view. Besides The Outsiders (written by a teen girl, S.E. Hinton) you don’t really get the male perspective in a lot of YA fiction. The nether region jokes were not so awesome for a 34 year old mom, but were in fact much more tame than what I remember boys talking about when I was a teen.

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Youngsters who enjoy this book might even want to voluntarily pick up Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman which is a public service that John Green has provided.

On to writing:

So, I wrote a pterodactyl sized (but feathered) bird into my short story yesterday. And I’m currently wondering where I may have gotten off track. Before you say, “oh, that’s not so bad” let it be known that the bird dropped off a little man wielding a sword before picking up my protag and flying off with her. Oh the humanity!

I’m thinking that this might be my story’s way of avenging itself after being left untouched for over a month.

pterodactylusNT

*In searching for a pterodactyl image I found out that pterodactyl is not the proper name for the flying lizard…in fact, pterodactylus is the correct name and they are much smaller than their brother, pteranodon who would actually be the creature I was talking about in my story.

reading list

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

What I’ve been up to reading-wise:images

**A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle – I don’t usually head back into middle grade fiction all that often (my only real exception is Harry Potter–which I think should be YA–but that’s a different argument). And I was reluctant to do so this last weekend. Alas, I had not been to the library or bookstore recently so I went into my son’s room and trolled around for some good reading. Of all the uncracked books in his library, Wrinkle stood out. I remembered when Mrs. Baker (of fourth grade fight fame) read this to us in the classroom and I’d really enjoyed it then so I thought I’d give it a whirl 14 years later and see if it held up. It did. It was short and sweet and relevant. Read it to your kids…or to the kid in you.

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**Dancing in Red Shoes will Kill You by Dorian Cirrone - Body image book. Short, fun and feminist. Definitely PG-14.

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**Devil’s Kiss bySarwat Chadda- Reading this now….more to come!

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**Extras by Scott Westerfeld – Who woulda thought that a trilogy could include four books? I think the official term for this fourth installment is “a companion book to the series”. Especially since Tally Youngblood is not a main character and the events taking place are four years in the future from the Uglies, Pretties, Specials era. Anyhoo, I’m still in the first third of this book. But I did stop reading to start Devil’s Kiss…so it doesn’t bode well. Although, many books have been saved in the last half. I hope this is the case for Extras.

super unplus happy gray

Monday, December 7th, 2009
the view from my desk

the view from my desk

Not a fan of the slate gray day and other grumps…

I swear I did nothing to en-grayify this photo. I cut out the grass out of this pic of my backyard because of it’s pitiful condition.

Next…

my coat closet

my coat closet

Is this how your mother taught you to hang up your coat? Apparently it’s how I taught my 13 year old to hang his. At first I found the coat on the floor of the closet. Called him on it, and he complained that there weren’t any coat hangers (even though I keep an AMPLE supply in the linen closet in a convenient coat hanger basket). So I handed the child a coat hanger…and above is a picture of the state of my closet a couple of hours later. I wonder what he did with the hanger I gave him?

westerfeld

I’ve been in a book slump for a bit now. After I finished The Splendor Falls (a great book–READ Rosemary Clement-Moore. Now. Thanks.) I’ve been reading The Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld which I was really super dooper excited to start. I read the whole trilogy and I know this will sound nuts to a lot of people, but it really left me wanting. Something was missing here…only I can’t seem to articulate what that might be. I suppose I couldn’t relate to Tally Youngblood (the protag) who was pretty much a completely different person in each book due to the different surgeries that alter the mind as well as the body. And I really disliked the manifesto at the ending…it seemed to come from an unauthentic place. *SPOILER* I know Tally was always concerned about the environment, but she never really tried to educate herself beyond remembering what she was taught growing up at school…but she was also taught in school that all “random” people (those who are pre-surgery) are ugly. Brainwashing. So she’s okay with some brainwashing or mind altering, but not all?

This in no way means I am anti-environment. Just saying.

Please chime in if you have differing views on this (or backup would be nice too). I’m always happy to talk books.

what i’m reading

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

What I’ve read recently:

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Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

I wanted to love this book for many reasons. First, it is the latest (and the last one to be read by me) of the Sarah Dessen books (at least for now). I was under the assumption that her successive novels would just get better and better. After Just Listen and Lock and Key, I was sure I would adore Along for the Ride. I enjoyed it enough, but it took me several days to read. That definitely means that I did not love it. I didn’t want to spike it into the book depository or anything. It was just okay.

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Prom Dates from Hell by Rosemary Clement-Moore

This was a FUN read. Smart and sarcastic Maggie Quinn is having a helluva senior year. Strange things are happening and her “spidey senses” are tingling. Suspend all disbelief when reading this book and it will be a fun-house read. The story moves along quickly, lots happening. I got through it much faster than Along… and I can’t wait to get my hands on the next Maggie Quinn book.

And what I’m reading now:

onwritingOn Writing by Stephen King

I am a huge non-fan of non-fiction. I try to put it off as long as possible. I was, however, very pleasantly surprised when I started reading On Writing and didn’t want to put it down. The first third of the book reads like a short biography, and King knows how to write about experiences. It’s vivid and quick, no wasted words. The second third is the heavier stuff, but even that King makes light. He writes like he loves it (even grammar!) and urges you to love your writing too. I’m not through it yet, but at this rate I will be soon–and for me to read non-fiction this quickly is stunning.

catching fire, writing odds and ends…necessarily in that order

Monday, September 21st, 2009

Whew! That was a long title, my goodness. Let me take a breath…

‘kay.

catching fire

catchingfire

On my fifteen last Friday I mentioned that I read Catching Fire. That wasn’t a lie. I did, and I loved it. It left me hanging more than The Hunger Games did, so now I’m angry  with Suzanne Collins until the next book comes out. BTW, READ THIS BOOK. But make sure you read The Hunger Games first, of course.

writing stuff

This is really cool – MIT’s (that’s Massachusetts Institute of Technology) FREE online writing course. No grades, but you get the syllabus, assignments and course materials (downloadable).

This is where I got that link. There are also free courses offered by Purdue University, UCLA, and the University of Utah to name a handful (minus two fingers).

I learned a lot about writing this weekend thanks to my pal Jenny Martin. She is the librarian who guest blogged for me last week, remember? I learned that one of those courses mentioned above would be a great idea for me. Passive voice, who knew! (It seems like everyone I know knew. ugh.) Also, this one space between sentences is going to take some getting used to. It was the only thing that stuck from 7th grade typing class.  There!  I did it again. oy.

guest blogger: jenny martin, librarian extrodinaire

Monday, September 14th, 2009

bookstack2When Jen asked me to post about advice I’ve gleaned from writers’ groups, I wasn’t sure what suggestions to give. After all, as a writer, I’m a novice. I have zero expertise to offer on the mechanics of writing.

But I am a librarian. As such, it’s my job to read widely and well. I’d like to think I’m acquainted with the transaction between reader and book. Perhaps an examination of this exchange could be helpful. After mulling over the helpful hints offered at AQ and writer’s workshop, I’m struck by a single question.

What happens when I read a good story?

Reading is an interactive experience, an emotional communion between the reader and the tale. If a story reaches me, touching my intellect and psyche in a meaningful way, I consume the story.

Or does the story consume me?

After reading a really good book, I absorb the emotional core of the plot and carry it with me. Although I may never read it again, it never leaves my subconscious. Like a talisman, I examine the tale each time I devour something new. I compare its characters, its setting and its message against those inside the novel in my hands.

A good story haunts the outposts of the soul.

If this is true, what implications does it have for the writer?

Simply put, if the writer’s setting, characters, themes and plot do not spark an emotional connection, the story dies. It is not carried on, it is not absorbed, and it does not take root in the consciousness of the reader. The story slips away, a vapor. It’s lost.

If your story is does not yet live in the heart of its reader, do not lose faith. Return to your characters. Reach inside of them and extract the essence of that which makes them real and vibrant. Close your eyes and experience the story through their eyes. Transfigure this experience until it fits comfortably on the page.

Then, with any luck, your story will either break the reader’s heart or heal it.

About the blogger:

Jenny Martin is a school librarian in the DFW area. She holds a Masters Degree in Library Science from the University of North Texas. She also reviews books and writes YA.

spotlight: aq connect

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

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Agent Query Connect is a website billed as “the internet’s most interactive social networking community for the publishing industry”.  I don’t know for a fact that it’s the MOST interactive blah blah…but it is very helpful indeed.  And best of all, IT’S FREE.

My favorite groups:

AQ Connect – Query Critique Corner- when you put your query up here people from all over will swoop in to give you advice.  Some of it is very helpful and some of it requires a thick skin.  But if you didn’t have a thick skin you wouldn’t be putting your writing out for all to see…right?  Take it with a grain of salt.  Use what sounds right for you and matches what the helpful literary agents say they want in a query.  Remember, some of the people commenting are just as novice as you, so don’t take everything to heart.  (Oh, and paste your query into the body of your discussion.  Many people don’t want to open attachments for obvious reasons.)

First Page Critique – Put your first page up and see how many people would like to keep reading.

First Chapter(s) Critique - Same as above, only you have slightly longer to hook a reader.

The five most popular groups:

AQ Connect – Query Critique Corner

First Page Critique

AQ Connect – Agent Updates

First Chapter(s) Critique

AQ Connect – New Member Shout-Out!

I spent quite a bit of time last week on AQ Connect polishing my query which was so covered in soot, it was really hard to know it was a query at all.  In other words, I learned a whole heckuva lot about query writing.  This is not to say that I’m an expert or that I can’t learn any more.  I’ve lived long enough to know that you never know everything about even one subject.  More on queries later this week…

all the time in the world

Monday, September 7th, 2009

ALLtheTimeintheWorld“I glanced out of the window at the poor peasants who could not or would not shell out the sixteen dollars to tour Elvis’ earthly digs.  They stared back at our privileged group.  As I watched their envious faces, I considered tossing a few coins to see if they would scramble for them.  Then I decided not to think quite that hard about the peasants.

“Let them eat mashed banana sandwiches,” I decided, in tribute to Elvis’ favorite lunch fare.  I smiled smugly at the onlookers as I gave them my best royal wave…”

Excerpt from All the Time in the World by Richard Leigh Penn.  Quoted with permission.

Shortest Summary: The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy minus space travel meets your 10th grade history book.

Longer Summary: Wanna see Elvis at the Louisiana Hayride?  Meet Lincoln, Booth, battle the Clanton Gang in the old west, make movies in the 1930′s, seek and destroy Jack the Ripper?  Seems highly unlikely, right?  It sure is for most of us, but for Brian Willard it’s reality.  The man is a travel agent who hasn’t been many places up until the point when we join him at the beginning of the story –he’s checking out Elvis’ Caddy at Graceland.

Brian is chosen by “The Big Idea” because he is completely and utterly mediocre.  Since he’s an average joe, of average intellegence and abilities, and has nothing tying him down, he is chosen to get as much time travel experience as possible “just in case” something should happen that would cause a rift in time.  See, The Big Idea can’t physically change the flow of time, but a human can–somehow–the Big Idea’s not so sure on that one.  Brian stumbles through time periods and into situations that are frightening, exciting and sometimes very lovely.

Richard Penn’s work of commercial fiction is an exciting fast-paced read.  The story twists and turns but never loses its way as the protagonist matures from a silly bumbler into a more thoughtful man.

Get your copy of All the Time in the World.

**I normally write about young adult fiction, this is not YA.  That’s just an FYI. :)