Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Underneath
by Kathi Appelt


I have mentioned this book on so many blogs recently, that I decided I needed to post a review. Right off the bat I want to say, if you have not read this book, READ IT. Even if you don't like the storylines (and you will) you should read it to study Kathi Appelt's mastery of craft.

I don't know anyone who has read The Kite Runner or A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini and not marveled at the beauty of the language and the cadence of the sentences. The Underneath is the upper MG equivalent of The Kite Runner. Seriously. Within the first chapter, I was captivated by the originality and beauty of the writing. I fell under the spell of the sentences and the words and the rhythm of this book. I did not want it to end. But wait - there's more...

In addition to the magic of the individual sentences and language choices, Kathi weaves together three seemingly unrelated storylines. She gets and holds our attention while shifting between characters and their stories, and then expertly brings them together for a stunning conclusion.

I can't explain the overall beauty of this book. When I think of it or share it with someone, I'm never sure whether I love it more for the story or for the beautiful way the story is written. It is a masterful example of craft.

What book/s have you read that blew you away because of the beauty or power of the writing?

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Contest and Some Blog Love

Karen @ I'm Always Write is having a New Year's Resolution Contest! The Prize is a brand new, hardcover copy of Catching Fire and a $20 Visa gift card. Entering is easy, so go do it! (as soon as you enter my contest - hahaha)
_____________________________________________________________________

Also, I need to pass along a couple of awards that I received recently. First, a big thank you to my critique partner Bethany @ Aspirations for the Kreativ Blogger Award, which requires me to come up with 7 more things you don't know about me and then pass it to 7 other bloggers.

1. I found out this morning that my oldest son, Wyatt (12) was in a car accident while visiting his grandmother. He's okay, but I think I will be scarred for life.

2. My husband and I tied for Montana "Speech and Debate Coach of the Year" before we were married.

3. I am a complete and total ditz when it comes to remembering things.

4. My family went to visit Washington D.C. and Williamsburg, VA. last summer - loved it!

5. I believe cheesecake should be eaten EVERY DAY of a vacation.

6. My daughter wants a puppy.

7. My husband does all the cooking and grocery shopping - I'm super spoiled. :)

I pass Kreativ Blogger love to:

1. Karen
@ Scobberlotch (how do you NOT give a Kreativ award to a blog with a title like that?!)
2. Wendy @ W.M.Morrell's Musings from Down Under (check out her blog header and the awesome beach santa pic. over there right now.)
3. Anita @ Anita's Edge (I never know what to expect when I check out her posts, and I love how she refers to her boyfriend as "Sarcastically Delicious")
4. Matt @ Free the Princess (this is a more recent discovery for me, but I am totally addicted to his interesting posts)
5. Shannon M and 6. Frankie - how on earth do we not acknowledge the semi-psychotic and totally entertaining creativity passing between these two right now?!
7. Stephanie @ Hatshepsut (maintaining one of the most awesome blogs out there, while creating a modern-day Hatshepsut mania, requires some gifted creativity. I LOVE this blog!)

I also need to thank Carolina @ Carol's Prints for the Blogging Writer Award. Apparently it has no set rules, so I have all the power. I choose to pass this award to a few blogs that always leave me feeling intimidated - um, I mean impressed - by the power of the writing I find there.

I pass Blogging Writer Award love to:

* Terresa @ Chocolate Chip Waffle - Everything she writes sounds like poetry. I bet even her grocery lists sound beautiful!
* Roxane @ Peace Garden Mama - Her blog posts and her comments are always thoughtful. I feel as though every word has value and is heavy with sincerity.
* Laurel @ Laurel's Leaves - I always feel like Laurel pours her heart into every post.
* Sherrie @ Write About Now - A sure thing for the good blog/great writing combination.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Just For Fun

The following lines, taken from student writing samples, are provided by NWREL to trainers of the 6 + 1 Traits of Writing. I always share these with teachers at my training workshops for a bit of comic relief. Since you all love the student metaphors and similes posted by Stephanie, I thought you might also enjoy these. Besides, with all the holiday hubbub, it's the best I can do today! ENJOY!


From Student Writing Samples


• Space . . . the finnel fruter . . .
• The
ride I hated most at Disneyworld was 20,000 Leaks Under the Sea
• Goodby by now, but remember, I’ll be back next yer with more brains . . .
• My gramma’s ring is too small for me now but I’ll always have her dangling from my necklace.
With caller I.D. you know if it’s a salesman or a hated friend.
• I’m a bad writer, so I hope that this is enough to convince you.
• There are many in sex in the rain forest

• …the genital breeze…
• We were stuck in bummer to bummer traffic.
• It’s me. Your breast friend.

• I would change the rule about runing down the hall. Example, if your butt is
on fire are you ever going to run…
• Jeffery Dahmer was one of the greatest cereal killers of all time. . .

• Do the ninedickmanover to see if the person was breathing.
• She coulden’t even spell “culdn’t” Her spelling was abyzmall.


Don't forget to enter my book-giveaway contest extraordinaire! Check out the post below for more info.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Hear Ye... Hear Ye!


















Let the 100th Follower Milestone
Celebration Party Begin!
(cool title, huh?)

As pro
mised last week, I am hosting my very first contest. Also as promised, if we're going to party, we're going to party big! Therefore, I will be giving away twelve - count them, 12 - awesome books.

I will be awarding two - yes, 2 - GRAND PRIZES, from two separate categories. Category one is near and dear to my heart. It focuses on younger MG and lighter YA titles. Category two is a combo of writing and YA books, including two we've seen posted all over the blogosphere lately (Hint: Goldberg & King). Here's the list:

Category 1:


The
Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg (hardback)
Harry Potter 6 (hardback)
The Godde
ss of the Night: Daughters of the Moon #1 by Lynne Ewing (hardback)
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
The Thirteenth Tale
by Diane Setterfield
Stargirl by Je
rry Spinelli

Category 2:

Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
On Writing by Stephen King
Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson
Wideacre by Phillipa Gregory
The
Almost Moon by Alice Sebold
I Explain a Few Things - poetry collection by Pablo Neruda

Here's how to enter:

*leave a comment at the bottom of this post, letting me know which group of books you would like to be entered to win
* become a follower of this blog - 2 points
* already a follower - 3 points
* post an announcement and a link on your blog - 3 points
* sidebar link - 2 points
*facebook - 2
points
(Due to popular demand...) TWEETS are another 2 points

Let me know your point totals by providing them in your comments. Winners will be selected by the same random name word picker tool used by Sherrie at Write About Now.
Contest will end on January 3rd, 2010. Good luck, friends. Thanks for being so awesome! I love you all! ;-)


















Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Brand New Award

Emily, from the Chronicles of Emily Cross, created a brand new award called The Silver Lining Award. Hot-off-the-presses, the blogs today will be among only the third round of recipients to receive this award. Isn't it beautiful?

I'm supposed to nominate five other uplifting blogs that find a silver lining even on those gray days. I love that idea. And I love that it's a new award, so I don't have to worry much about whether people already have it or not. I'm just going to stick to the "silver lining" rule!

Today, I pass the blog love to:

Stephanie @ Hatshepsut: The Writing of a novel - Stephanie's blog can bring sunshine to the darkest of days. Her personality and wit never fail to make me smile. She is someone we all wish lived closer to us, so we could make her our best friend! ;-)

Courtney @ Southern Princess - This girl is fun, fun, fun! Not only do I love her blog posts, but I also love reading her comments to others. You rock, Princess!

Sara @ The Babbling Flow of a Fledgling Scribbler - Another of my stops when I'm seeking a dose of fairy dust to help me find my "happy thoughts". She recently updated the look of her blog, so if you haven't been by there recently, go take a peek. It looks great, Sara!

Kasie @ Kasie West - If you doubt the sunshine to be found here, go read her post from yesterday about elbows! OMG, hilarious! Besides, her dimpled smile alone is a silver lining on a gray day. :)

L.T. Host @ Quest Published - Her Mad Libs and Random Factoid posts are just the thing on those gray days! Check them out.

There are soooo many others I could name, but I guarantee you won't be disappointed by the silver lining to be found in the five above. If you don't already follow them, you must! You must, I say!

Monday, December 21, 2009

And the game continues...


I was tagged by Heather @ see heather write AND Robyn @ putting pen to paper. It's my turn, so here's my list of Q & A. If you make it to the bottom, I applaud you! ;)


1.) What's the last thing you wrote? What's the first thing you wrote that you still have?

An alphabet picture book called The Techno ABC's

2) Write poetry?

you betcha

3)Angsty poetry?

sometimes, if I'm feeling the angst

4)Favorite genre of writing?

Picture books!

5)Most annoying character you've ever created?

an absolute brat the other girls sarcastically refer to as "Precious"

6) Best plot you've ever created?

The Naughty Boy Factory

7) Coolest plot twist you've ever created?

I'm working on it

8) How often do you get writer's block?

Only when I'm super-depressed, and then I punch through it

9) Write fan fiction?

Say huh?.

10) Do you type or write by hand?

Write by hand? You’re kidding right? People still do that sort of thing??

11) Do you save everything you write?

Duh! :)

12) Do you ever go back to an idea after you've abandoned it?

Yes. We aren't always ready for an idea the first time around. It's sometimes better when it has time to percolate.

13)What's your favorite thing you've ever written?

The Naughty Boy Factory

14) What's everyone else's favorite story you've written?

When Grandpa Knew Me (a picture book about a grandchild dealing w/ grandpa's Alzheimers)

15)Ever written romance or angsty teen drama?

Nope

16) What's your favorite setting for your characters?

Outside. There’s so much room for so many things to happen. I mean! Look at all that space.

17) How many writing projects are you working on right now?

seriously editing two chapter books and at various stages of 4 PB's

18)Have you ever won an award for your writing?

I've had a few poems published

19) What are your five favorite words?

plethora, behemoth, vascillate, reciprocity, and daffodil

20) What character have you created that is most like yourself?

Um, hmm, um…

21) Where do you get your ideas for your characters?

usually from something weird my husband says or does - really

22)Do you ever write based on your dreams?

When I remember them clearly enough. Ideas abound in our dreams and pre-dreams.

23) Do you favor happy endings?

of course - I write PBs! :)

24) Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?

It's a large part of who I am. It's hard to turn the English teacher off.

25) Does music help you write?

No - I find it distracting

26) Quote something you've written. Whatever pops in your head.

The skin we’re in it limits us
It keeps us bound to earth and dust
We can’t step out of bones and skin
To reach beyond the space we’re in
We’re meant to place our hope and trust
In One who loves each one of us

In prayers is where God wants to hear
Of all the things we need down here
Don’t be afraid to turn His way
And pray to God with love today
For peace, for health, for family
For courage, friends, or to be free

Send loving thoughts and pleas for help
To those too far to reach yourself
The skin we’re in can’t stretch as far
As God’s embrace, His loving arms
He reaches out to those in need
When prayers request He intercede

And...the game continues! I tag: (it's getting harder to find people who haven't already done this)

Roxane @ Peace Garden Mama

Valerie @ Something to Write About

Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

Hopefully none of you have done this already! Enjoy!!! :)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Coming Soon...



Hi, Folks!





I wanted to post a quick note to let you know what's coming up this week.

1. I have been tagged! Soooo, I will be posting my list of writing answers tomorrow or Tuesday.

2. I received a new, as in recently-created, award from Diana (very exciting) and will be passing it along.

3. I reached the 100 followers milestone this past week and will be doing my first contest!! It is going to be awesome, because if you're going to party, you might as well party big! Right?

Stay tuned - I'll be back after a pause for sick kids and a Christmas program.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Housekeeping Day

I’m a little behind when it comes to thanking people and passing on some blog love. Today, as I mentioned yesterday, is housekeeping day.

A big thank you and a blog hug go to Sara @ The Babbling Flow of a Fledgling Scribbler for honoring me with the Superior Scribbler Award. I’m supposed to pass it along to 5 blogs I’ve been enjoying recently. Check out these five if you haven't already, and prepare to enjoy!

Superior Scribbler love goes to:



Courtney (but I just call her Princess) @ Southern Princess
Tricia @ Talespinning
Stephanie @ Stephanie Damore
Natalie @ The Sound of rain
Biblio794 @ Books Not Bombs




I also send out blog hugs and thanks to Diana @ Writing Roller Coasters for the One Lovely Blog Award. The rules are to link (up to) 15 new blogs. Whew! Here goes – many of you probably already stalk these sites, but they are all fairly new to me and I enjoy them all.


Marybeth @ Desperately Seeking My Inner Mary Poppins
Susan @ A Walk in My Shoes
Tricia @ Talespinning
Simon @ Constant Revision
Kristen @ Write in the Way
Jessie @ Louder Than Noise
Jenni @ Jenni James
Valerie @ I Should Be Writing
Tabitha @ Through My Eyes
Lady Glamis @ The Innocent Flower
Angie @ Always Write
Tere @ The Lesser key
Leah @ Funny is the New Young

Thank you again to Sara and Diana! Congrats to those who get to pass them on next - go out and share the love!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Dancing Hearts


I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed--and gazed--but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
~ William Wordsworth


This is one of my favorite poems. I love the idea of gazing at the beauty before us, and then calling it up in our mind's eye to appreciate it again later. That's something good writers do well. We observe the world around us with sharper vision, always looking for the details, storing them for future use.

This poem is one of my "happy thoughts". I think of it when I'm feeling stressed or blue and then, like Wordsworth, "...my heart with pleasure fills, / And dances with the daffodils." Today, I hope we all have dancing hearts.

What makes your heart dance?

_________________________________________

I also need to thank a couple of people for awards today. Candice at Suffering from Writers blog recently honored me with the "From Me to You" flower bouquet award, which must be passed on to seven of my new favorite blog reads. It also requires me to share seven more things about myself, which I will do tomorrow. Today, though, I pass the love to:



Laurel @ Laurel's Leaves
Catherine @ Winged Writer
Diana @ Writing Roller Coasters
Marybeth @ Desperately Searching for My Inner Mary Poppins
Juju @ Tales of Whimsy
Bane @ Bane's Blogging Blues
L.T. Host @ Quest: Published




Those are some of my most recent favorite stalking spots. Each site has something unique and special to offer (check out L.T.'s mad libs). I hope you'll pay them each a visit!

I also received the Honest Scrap award from Laurel. Thanks, Laurel! I'll pass the love along on that one tomorrow, along with a couple of others I've neglected this week.

After this monster-long post, don't forget today's question:

What makes your heart dance?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009



You know you’re getting older when…

1. You find yourself being laughed at by your husband, because you have to hold the children’s Tylenol bottle at arm’s length in order to read the dose


2. You start thinking Botox might not be so bad


3. You are the oldest in your critique group by more than a decade *sob*


4. You keep getting invited to bridal showers and baby showers for former students

5. It’s easier to go to bed at 8 PM than it is to get out of bed at 8 AM


6. Your kindergartner has to teach you how to use a smart board *true story*


7. Too much noise is beginning to make you nervous (not a good sign for a teacher of hormonal teenagers and mother of three)

8. You would rather stay home and read than go out with friends


9. You get up in the middle of the night (or morning or afternoon or evening) and you gimp around like a hobbled horse.


10. Riding the Ferris Wheel makes you nauseous

Imagine me singing the "I feel Good!" song by James Brown. Got it? Okay. Now, Imagine me singing it to the words, "I feel old!" Yep! That's me.

What makes you feel old these days?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Voraciously Obsessed


If you read good books, when you write, good books will come out of you.
~ Natalie Goldberg


As we travel the blogs of our circle, books are another common theme we see. Valerie has her series on MG books (which I love by the way) , MeganRebekah had a fun post last week about cover envy, Sherrie has posted about the Bone series of graphic novels, and we see book giveaways everywhere we go (check out the "Friends" contest at Southern Princess).


For people who love to write, I think reading is a natural obsession. So many times I've seen us refer to ourselves as "voracious" readers, and I don't think it's hyperbole - we really are voraciously obsessed! Each time we review titles or share a favorite, we gush our enthusiasm or choke on our disappointment. Books are at the core of who we are and who we hope to become. Personally, I can think of nothing I'd rather have at my core than words!


What are some other similar or fun themes you've noticed around our circle?


Here are some of my favorite books:

Friday, December 11, 2009

Go Ahead, Make Me Laugh!

Natalie Murphy over at The Sound of Rain had a fun post yesterday called, "Things That Made Me Laugh."
I laughed.


Yesterday, a day when awards flourished everywhere in our circle, many of us shared comments of blogspots and people who make us smile each day. Erica, visiting here for the first time, commented, "It looks like there's a lot of love on this blog." YES! I felt it, too, but not just here.


Marybeth (
Desperatley Searching for my Inner Mary Poppins) had a post titled, "Any Friend of Yours is a Friend of Mine", in which she marveled at the number of familiar faces to be seen on all of our blogs. That's why we are a blog CIRCLE - no beginning and no end, but a whole lot of friendship to go around. How great is that?!

Today, let's celebrate friendships together and pass on some laughter! I'll start...

Our family was watching a show together the other night and, as always, my bottom fell asleep. I wiggled around and then jokingly moaned, "Oh... my buttocks!" My five-year-old daughter gave me the strangest look before saying, "Mama! Your butt doesn't talk!"

Your turn - Go ahead, make me laugh!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

From Blue to Yellow

Yesterday I was a little blue. Today, I look like this:



Happy Thoughts:

I am sending out a big-time THANK YOU to all of my wonderful blogging buddies. You are happy thoughts and fairy dust kind of spectacular! I appreciate your suggestions and kind words more than you know. Also, it looks like Valerie, Bethany, and I are going to give this critique group thing a try together. Isn't that the greatest? It took only one day for this online community of ours to come to my rescue - what a blessing you all are!

More Happy Thoughts:

Additional thank-you's go out to Bethany at Aspirations and Kasie West for honoring me with awards this week, and thank you Sherrie at Write About Now for the gift of four gingerbread men from the Solvang Bakery!

1st: Bethany honored me with my second Honest Scrap award. Click here to see the list of 10 honest things about me.


I pass on the love to...

~ Roxane @ Peace Garden Mama (for always helping me feel like a better person)
~ Tracy @ Crossing Chalk (OMG Hilarious!)
~ Stephanie @ Stephanie Damore (too dang cute for words!)
~ Kasie @ Kasie West (best smile on the blogosphere & a super-fun blog)
~ Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse (I learn something new every time I visit)
~ Sara @ The Babbling Flow of a Fledgling Scribbler (for always making me smile)
~ MeganRebekah @ MeganRebekah Blogs and Writes (one of my must-reads!)
~ storyqueen @ Storyqueen's Castle (a brilliant woman and a great blog)
~ Andrea Cremer @ A Blurred History (love her blog!)
Choco @ In Which a Girl reads (for such great book reviews!)

2nd: Kasie Honored me with...



This award requires me to share 7 more things about myself and then pass it on to 7 more bloggers. Kasie described it as getting virtual flowers - I love that.

1. I'm allergic to onions, which is an incredibly inconvenient thing to be allergic to because EVERYONE cooks with onion.

2. My favorite movies are Remember the Titans and Finding Forrester

3. I love the Ocean

4. Have I mentioned before that I love baseball? Go A's!

5. I teach Sunday school

6. My kids are 12 (boy), 7 (boy), and 5 (girl) years old

7. My favorite color is yellow


I pass on the love to...


Sherrie @ Write About Now (Thank you for your kind contest)
Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse (Virtual Flowers are not nearly enough, but they're a start)
Roxane @ Peace Garden Mama (You truly do brighten my day)
Stephanie @ Hatshepsut (because you are the first blog I check every morning!)
Lisa @ Lisa and Laura (because she's had a craptastic week)
Bethany @ Aspirations
and
Valerie @ Something to Write About ( my two new critique partners- yay!)

To all of you, I say again, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! for being so supportive.

Fields of Paper


Let me walk through the fields of paper
touching with my wand
dry stems and stunted
butterflies....
~Denise Levertov, "A Walk through the Notebooks"


Don’t we all wish for this? Each time I read this quote I am filled with a longing I can’t define. Something intangible – but it is tangible, I tell myself, with enough talent, effort, patience, luck. So many “if only’s” and “maybe when’s” accompany us on this journey toward…something.


I think I’m feeling a little blue today. Maybe it’s because it’s been a while since I’ve heard anything – positive or negative – from my floating queries. Maybe it’s because I don’t have a critique group and have realized how much I could benefit from one. The wonderful manuscript critique I won from Angela at The Bookshelf Muse was a revelation to me. (THANK YOU, ANGELA!) I made some of the same mistakes I drill my composition students about over and over again. Things that would have jumped off the page at me in one of my student’s papers went unnoticed in my own work. Why is that?


I think of how much stronger my story will be now, and it’s exciting – and depressing. Today, I've decided to begin my quest for a critique partner or group. I now see how valuable they are!
Angela, you rock! ;-)

So...how do I find a partner or group of people to share this journey with? Suggestions?

(I just noticed Terresa at The Chocolate Chip Waffle has a similar post today. Hop on over and share your words of wisdom with her, too!)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Grownups Never Understand Anything By Themselves



What the Dormouse Said: Lessons for Grown-ups from Children’s Books

– collected by Amy Gash



Hopefully you love it already, just from the title. Curious? Good.

This charming book is full of wise snippets from classics like Little House on the Prairie, Sounder, Winnie the Pooh, and Charlotte’s Web. The back cover describes it as, “Wisdom and Whimsy from Harry Potter to Beatrix Potter.”

My favorite bit of praise for this little gem came from the "Colorado Springs Independent":

“The perfect gift for your sister, your mother, your brother, your nephew, your kid’s teacher, your daughter away at college, your son in the Navy, your mailman, your priest, for the old lady next door or for the baby just born. Most importantly, give it to yourself. It will help you remember why you loved reading in the first place.”

Amy Gash has collected and organized children's book quotations dealing with everything from faith and courage to character and individuality, from love and friendship to family woes. As writers of children’s literature, we can all benefit from what is to be found within its pages. I highly recommend it as a book every writer should own.

“Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.” ~ The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery, 1943

What grown-up lessons have you learned from children's books?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Super-Charged at Bedtime


If I'm trying to sleep, the ideas won't stop. If I'm trying to write, there appears a barren nothingness. ~ Carrie Latet

Or maybe

I keep little notepads all over the place to write down ideas as soon as they strike, but the ones that fill up the quickest are always the ones at my nightstand. ~ Emily Logan Decens

Or how about

A notepad by the bedside accounts for half the earnings of my livelihood. If it weren't for bedtime, half my novels would still be stuck at dock. ~ Ever Garrison

Are you noticing a pattern?

Why is it that so many of the best ideas and words and sentences and titles and characters come to us when we’re trying to fall asleep?! Last night I was so tired and desperate for a good night’s rest that I even took a “simply sleep” tablet before bed. I fell asleep fine. The problem occurred after a middle-of-the-night bathroom trip. Back to bed…eyes closed…blankets soft…hubby warm…brain suddenly powered on high! It was like I suddenly had a film clip of possibilities and edits rolling behind my eyes. Ugh!

It’s nice to know that it’s a common ailment among writers, but that doesn’t lessen my frustration. I would prefer to have the film clip rolling as I sit at the computer, perfectly prepared to capture each new idea.

How about you – does your creative brain suddenly become super-charged at bedtime?

If I fall asleep with a pen in my hand, don't remove it - I might be writing in my dreams. ~Danzae Pace

Saturday, December 5, 2009

We have all been drooling-bloggers over James Dashner's recent release of The Maze Runner - I. Love. that. book. Love it! I loved it so much I had to try out his previous series, The 13th Reality (once my son, who insisted on reading them first, finally let me have them - thank God he's a speedy reader!)

My first thoughts as I read book one, The Journal of Curious Letters, was there is no way this was written by James Dashner! Then, I just became so fascinated and impressed by the difference in voice and pacing and humor and character - oh, I could go on and on - that I was attacked by the green monster, big-time! I don't even want to ponder the writing talent behind such extreme stylistic differences - he's an uber-brilliant writing genius!

That said, you need to know that the differences are NOT a bad thing, but actually a very good thing. The 13th Reality books are not on the same maturity level as Maze, but they are thoroughly enjoyable. Book 2 left me longing for book 3, which is due to be released at about the same time as The Scorch Trials. I recommend these books, especially for those MG readers hungering for more Reading Delights (ya know, like Turkish Delights, but with books).

Check out this cool 13th Reality Website - you'll love it!

Have you ever read new/different books by a favorite author and been surprised by the differences in writing style?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Book lovers usually love giving books as gifts. The joy of loving books includes the joy of sharing them with others.

I have struggled this year as I've tried to find books for my oldest. He is such a voracious reader that it can be difficult to stay ahead of him. He's almost thirteen, so it's not like there's a shortage of great books out there for him. The challenge is finding ones he hasn't already devoured! :)

My two younger children are still easy to match with books I know they'll love. My second grader is currently in love with Ready Freddy, and my kindergartner is discovering the fun of picture books and early readers that she can read on her own.

I know we writer/reader/bloggers will all have a great time trying to pair those we love with the perfect books this Christmas. So, what I want to know is....

Which books are on YOUR Christmas wish list this year?

If I had the power of Santa and his elves, I'd wish for some of the sequels I'm dying to read! :)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Join me in the 2010 Debut Author Challenge!
Check out the Story Siren for participation info, make your list, and sign up!

Check out the sidebar for my list of challenge titles.

P.S. If you haven't read the post below about the book DREAM, you should - it's an incredible book! :)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

More than just a book review...much more


by Susan V. Bosak

This is a wonderful book about the power of dreams and the potential to make possible that which is considered impossible. We are led through the stages of life's journey - birth to death - by a star. At each stage she repeats the refrain, "Dream a dream with me". My heart hears it as a whisper, lifting from the pages and into my soul. That phrase has become a sort of mantra for the writing me, the me who dreams bigger dreams than the teacher me or the mother me or the wife me. The impossible made possible - through dreaming. "Dream a dream with me."

It's more than that, though. The star teaches us that in order to achieve such lofty goals, we are required to BELIEVE they can be achieved, to DO that which is necessary on our part to grow the seeds of dreams, and to THINK wisely along the journey. Even better, we are warned of the gray days that will inevitably come and are encouraged to accept the help of those who offer it. "Dream a dream with me."

There is so much more to this picture book - so many layers of depth and symbolism and intellect and wisdom - than I can share with you in a single post. It would require a series of posts in order to begin to do it justice. Seriously. It took five years for this little-but-huge book to be born. In fact, it has its own website at dreamstorybook.com, where teachers can find lesson plans for every subject area and its messages may be better explored. "Dream a dream with me."

The writer me sees the messages hidden deep and deeper within the folds of this book differently than the other me's see them. As we travel the long and sometimes uphill path of our writing goals and dreams, we must embrace the "believe, do, think" philosophy found within the pages of DREAM. Ultimately, we are the ones who make dreams happen...or not.
"Dream a dream with me..."

How do you see your writing dreams... how can you best help yourself maintain a "believe, do think" attitude?
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