Sunday, November 23, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
This contemporary book is set in an elite East Coast boarding school. The main character, Frankie, has blossomed between her freshman and sophmore years of high school and is finally noticed by the cool, upper classmen on campus.
As she begins to enter their world, she learns that her boyfriend, Matthew, is a member of a secret all-male society know as the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds.
The book explores class, feminism and discovering yourself in a unique and poignant way. Plus, the author, E. Lockhart took the liberty of having some fun with words in the book. Check out this snippet:
"Prefixes like 'in,' 'non,' 'un,' 'dis,' and "im" make words negative, yes? There may be grammatical particulars I am not addressing here, but generally speaking. So you have a positive word like "restrained," and you add the prefix "un" to get a negative: unrestrained.
Frankie calls these neglected positives. She also has imaginary neglected positives (INPs) like petuous, meaning careful from impetuous; ept meaning competent from inept and turbed meaning relaxed and comfortable from disturbed.
Disreputable History is a nominee for the 2008 National Book Award for Young People's Literature. It is my goal to read all of the nominated books this year.
Monday, November 3, 2008
Friday, October 31, 2008
I AM VERY EXCITED!!
I've been thinking about going back to school for a while, but I've never gotten beyond the thinking part. But now the timing is right and everything fell into place for this to work out, so I'm thrilled.
I recently read The Samurai's Garden: A Novel by Gail Tsukiyama. It is a rich story about a young Chinese artist who spends the summer on a Japanese island just before World War II. It is definitely a literary novel - meaning how it is written is more important than the plot. But both are fascinating. My dear mother-in-law, Marilyn, who is an artist herself, recommended this book and I must say, I wholeheartedly agree.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Sunday, June 8, 2008
Flashcards of My Life by Charise Mericle Harper (235 pages)
Clemency Pogue: Fairy Killer by JT Petty (120 pages)
How to Steal a Dog by Barbara O'Connor (170 pages)
The Opposite of Invisible by Liz Gallagher (151 pages)
Ellie McDoodle, Have Pen, Will Travel by Ruth McNally Barshaw (170 pages)
Utterly Me, Clarice Bean by Lauren Child (190 pages)
Technically, I think I went about 10 minutes over on the 48-hours, but I'm hoping no one will hold that against me. (and I doubt that I've come anywhere close to reading the most books during this time period)
I reviewed the first two books yesterday, so you can check a previous post for those.
Here are the others.
I have to admit, I didn't like How to Steal a Dog. I realize there are quite a few parents out there who make poor choices or find themselves in over their heads - I could swallow the "we were evicted and living in our car" storyline. What I could not swallow is that no other adults in the story were smart enough to figure that out. The author sets the scene as being in a small town, but my experience is that folks in a small town would find out very quickly that this family was living in their car. More than likely child welfare would be involved, etc. I was impressed with the inner conflict presented in Georgina and the decisions she finds herself making. I just didn't think it needed to go on as long as it did.
In contrast, I LOVED The Opposite of Invisible. Great characters, great plot. I particularly liked how the author portrayed high school cliques and mentioned that the cheerleader was intimidated by the artsy kids. I also liked the open and honest way she talked about drinking and sex and the choices teens face in those areas. Plus, who can resist the Seattle setting? Makes me want to go shopping at Pike Place Market and dodge the flying flish!
Ellie McDoodle is pure fun. I wonder, would drawing in my journal make me laugh more at difficult situations? If I came up with descriptive nicknames and drew pictures of my crabby co-workers would it make me smile? I may have to try it....
Utterly Me, Clarice Bean was utterly wonderful. Again, humor in a difficult situation. I waited until I'd finished reading, but then I had to go back and share the Granddad's friend being evicted from the nursing home because he snuck in the dog and it ate the neighbor's parakeet pages with my husband. It was hilarious.
A few thoughts about the challenge - I learned that I can squeeze more reading time into my schedule. Carrying a book around means you steal time to read a page here, a page there and - guess what - you can read more books!
Most of all, I've been working on developing my voice in my writing. With the assortment I read this weekend (and yes, reading them all together like this really helped) I was able to hear the voice in each of the books. I feel very proud of myself for this. I'm looking forward to applying it to my own writing.
I got an audio book from the library to listen to while driving, but I didn't take the extra step of putting it on my iPod. Had I done that, I probably would've knocked off another book while grocery shopping this morning, doing the dishes, etc. Something to consider for next time.
Saturday, June 7, 2008
Flashcards of My Life by Charise Mercile Harper is a humorous cross-section of teen angst. The pages are dotted with doodles and drawings related to the story (although I wouldn't say it goes so far as to be a graphic novel) I have to admit there were several times when I laughed out loud. This produced glares from my husband who was attempted to balance the checkbook at the time. But I would read him the hilarious page or passage and he too, would laugh, so all was well. I'm hoping I can talk my oldest daughter into reading this. I think she would enjoy it, but I would also like to get an exact gauge on whether something like this would appeal to freshmen/sophmores. I noticed the author was careful not to reveal exactly which grade the characters were in.
Clemency Pogue: Fairy Killer by JT Petty was also an excellent book. But very different from Flashcards. I would call this a modern fairy tale. It hinges on a line from supposedly from Peter Pan (although this may be pure fiction - after the Challenge, I'll take the time to look it up): "as soon as Wendy had spoken, Tinkerbell dropped dead. Dead as a gossamer-winged doorknob." I was entertained by the book. It would make a great companion for reading with Peter Pan and also has references to Rumplestilskin and other classic tales.
I'm off to do a little yardwork before starting on the next book. And I haven't decided yet what it will be, but you can be sure - I'll let you know how I like it.
Friday, June 6, 2008
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
I stumbled upon something else that sounds like lots of fun: The Third Annual 48-hour Book Challenge. See how many books you can read and then review on your blog in a 48-hour period. Since we have no particular plans for the weekend, this sounds perfect. I plan to start gathering my books tonight and working out a reading schedule.
Sunday, June 1, 2008
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
But Estonia would not have it. Against astounding odds, the Estonians maintained their identity and their national heritage. And when the time was right (late 1980s - Mikhail Gorbachev) they took a stand and raised their voices for the cause of freedom. Imagine 200,000 people in traditional Baltic dress spontaneously singing the banned national anthem. What's a media-conscious world leader to do?
Most Americans have no idea how truly blessed we are to have such enormous freedoms.
I am currently working on a piece about Estonian Independence for a children's magazine. Needless to say, I'm pretty excited about it.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
A critical part of this deadline I'd devised for myself involved the post office and their rate increase that goes into effect on Monday. Over the past week, as I was double checking on spelling, page breaks and other pesky revisions, I realized that I'd probably only be saving 10 or 15 cents. In retrospect, I'm grateful I was able to beat the increase - even at today's prices it cost me $7 to mail my manuscript - and it's only 150 pages. That's lunch! Woe to the aspiring fantasy and historical fiction writers toiling away on 600 page works - you have my deepest sympathies.
In my previous post, I mentioned that I have two articles in MetroFamily this month. The other one is my monthly character column. This month's trait is wisdom. And yes, I think I've learned how to strategically place the hyperlinks within the post. I feel accomplished. One of the best parts of writing the character columns is that I get to interview young people who are "doing the right thing." These are the Character Spotlight winners One of this month's winners is raising money for the American Lung Association and has held several Kool-Aid sales in the parking lot of his church. Currently he is about half-way to his goal of $500. You can read more about Christopher or donate online (thus missing the strange taste of Kool-Aid and its permanently staining dye.)
Friday, May 9, 2008
Thursday, May 8, 2008
Namely, this is spring in Oklahoma. It seems like every time I turn around the tornado sirens are going off. One of the local television stations even dubbed this "Tornado Week." It started out as a marketing plan, but I wondered if they felt any misgivings about it since there actually were tornadoes last night...
But the weather is not the most exciting news I have. Last weekend, I attended the Oklahoma Writers Federation Conference http://www.owfi.org/ We had a fantastic line-up of speakers with J.A. Jance giving the keynote. She was witty and inspiring.
Also on the lineup was Emily Mitchell, senior editor from Charlesbridge Publishing http://www.charlesbridge.com/ . She gave great tips on developing your voice as a writer. I also had a 10 minute appointment with Emily. I wasn't my most articulate, but she graciously encouraged me to send her my manuscript. Since then I've been frantically reviewing and revising. I've set a deadline for myself to get it in the mail on Saturday and I'm going to make it happen.
The highlight for me (okay, pun intended) was the speaker I was assigned to shepherd - Judy Burke from Highlights magazine http://www.highlights.com/ Judy is very upbeat and energetic and we got along fabulously. What's more, her sessions were outstanding. One was an idea workshop where she had us make several lists and then explained how the things we wrote down could be used to develop articles. Needless to say, I'm now working on several queries for Highlights.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
I'm currently reading the most amazing book: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.
Check out the author's website here: http://www.elizabethgilbert.com/index.htm
Actually, I'm listening to the book. Audiobooks allow me to absorb twice as many books as I would otherwise. This one is particularly good because it is read by the author, so it has the added layer of the inflection and emphasis she intended.