Friday, October 29, 2010

Win A Signed R.L. Stine Book

In honor of Halloween this weekend, I'm running a contest here on the blog. The prize is a signed copy of an R.L. Stine book. The first person to guess the title of the book wins the prize. Easy right! But of course there are a few rules:
1. Only one guess per person. But, I will allow guesses by friends for you as long as they comment on the blog under their name. If they become a winner, they can let me know where the book can be sent (directly to you if needed). So if friends post answers for you it makes your chances at winning unlimited!
2. Answers can be submitted by commenting on this blog
3. If no one guesses the correct answer, then the names of everyone who places a guess will be gathered and a winner will be drawn randomly from amongst them.
4. Answers will be accepted until someone guesses the correct answer or October 31st at midnight (whichever comes first).
Hints:
1. It's a children's book
2. It's not a title that has been previously mentioned on this blog before.
Good luck!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

3 days until NaNoWriMo

Three days! Three days to NaNoWriMo and I'm freaking out a little bit. Why? Because I have officially decided to devote November to both crafting the first draft of a new book AND revising my current book...at the same time! It's going to a challenge and I'll have to push myself a lot particularly since I do work full time, and work a freelance job, and take care of a son and a husband as well as a cat and 4 fish. Phew! It's going to be exhausting. But if I can pull it off, it will be a great month for writing.

Good luck to all my fellow NaNoWriMo participants!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What is an author's "voice"?

I came across a great post this morning and wanted to share it here. If you haven't read this one yet, it's a must read for all writers. Ever wondered what it means to have an author's voice? Well, this post tackles that question and explains what "voice" means as deciphered from several perspectives.

So check it out, "Authorial Voice: the many hued definitions".

Monday, October 25, 2010

Revision Frenzy

Last week I slacked off a bit and didn't get nearly as much writing done as I should have, so this week is going to be a Revision Frenzy. I am determined to get a huge chunk completed by October 31st.

And can I admit I'm a bit torn about what to do come November 1st. I want to create this rough first draft for my next book during NaNoWriMo and yet I still have this huge task of finishing revisions of the current novel. My husband thinks I should skip the new story and stick with the old story. And he has a valid point. I DO want to get it done already. But last year's NaNoWriMo proved to be such a huge success for me in that I had this great first draft in 30 days. My plan this year was to have the next book at least in rough draft form so once I start submitting book 1 to agents, then I can already be starting revisions on a book two at the same time.

And then I started thinking, well can I do both? I must be crazy. C-R-A-Z-Y! To even think that. Both projects on their own are time intensive enough.

I'm not really sure what to do, other than revise like crazy this week and see where I'm at on Sunday.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Why Don't More Adults Read?

I love books; love to write them and love to read them. And because I surround myself with people who enjoy the same, I found it surprising when I came across the following statistics from the book, THE ODDS What Are The Chances by Thomas J. Craughwell.
  • 14% of adults with a grade school education read literature
The ODDS - What are the Chances?So that got me thinking...why? Why don't more adults read when reading is a great way to learn and a great way to escape. And then I found these statistics that may help explain it, scary as they are.
Ok, here's the glincher:
  •  21 million Americans can't read at all, 45 million are marginally illiterate and one-fifth of high school graduates can't read their diplomas. (statistics listed by The Literacy Company)
Yowzer! So how do we change this? There's got to be a way. The statistics just leave me baffled.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Book Review - Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

Linger (Wolves of Mercy Falls, Book 2)First off, let me admit that I finished this book last night and I already have Grace & Sam withdrawals. And now I have to wait until 2011 for book three? Oh no! Needless to say, I thought this 2nd book in the Wolves of Mercy Falls series was an interesting journey. New characters are introduced here and some previous characters take on larger roles. I wanted to see more Grace and Sam together and I'm hoping to see more in book three, but I also understand the need to develop additional characters.

I hate how I'm left hanging at the end of the book, but again I guess that's the whole point of having a book three! There's more at stake here than in book one, and we delve deeper into how the "changes" affect the characters emotionally. We also see consequences unveiled for decisions the characters make. This book is a reality check for the characters.

All-in-all this is another recommended read.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

NaNoWriMo 2010

Only 12 more days until NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). The goal is to write 50,000 words in the month of November. Last year I completed the task, and this year I'm hoping for a repeat performance.

I've pulled two ideas from my writing board as potentials for this year's novel. The next step in preparation is to draft two brief outlines and then decide which book I'll work on.

And I'm super psyched with the progress I've made on the revisions from last year's novel. I was hoping to have revisions done before this year's event, but it's not quite ready yet. I'll keep working on it until October 31st and then it's going to collect dust for 30 days.

And, by the way, I'm looking for writing buddies for this year's event. My handle on the NaNoWriMo website is michcarl. Anyone looking to buddy up?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Ghost Stories with R.L. Stine

Ghost Beach (Classic Goosebumps)R.L. Stine was telling ghost stories and signing books this past Saturday in New York City. That's a picture of my son standing next to R.L. Stine with a signed copy of Ghost Beach. My son is a huge fan of the Goosebumps series; I think I've mentioned a few times how much he enjoys the books. Needless to say we both had a blast. It was my first time meeting Mr. Stine, who was great with the kids -  very entertaining and he took the time with each person that waited to meet him. The highlight for my son was that he got to participate in the ghost story part by offering a character name for one of the stories (Bella - no not from twilight, but the name of the pet spider in his classroom at school). Highlight number two is that he got to buy another book in the series, plus get it signed, meet the author AND pose for a picture. He couldn't wait to get to school today to tell his teacher and share the experience with his class.

I love that my son and I were able to share this awesome experience. And someday, I'm hoping that I'll be able to do the same thing with my stories. The energy that emanates from a room full of kids excited about reading is a great kind of energy.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Book Review - Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

This first book in the Wolves of Mercy Falls series is a young adult romance first and foremost, and a fresh take on werewolves second. But it's not your typical romance in that one of the characters is not always human, nor your typical werewolf story where wolves change to human by the full moon. It's a mesh of the two done in a very refreshing way.

Shiver (Wolves of Mercy Falls)When I first picked up Shiver I wanted to read it because it's been talked about a lot and because the premise sounded interesting. But what surprised me most was this book doesn't take the stereotypical approach to the material, there's no real "good guy" or "bad guy". Instead it's about a girl and a wolf and how they love each other and try to cope with the obstacles.

It's a fast read, and I'm already reading the sequel. The only part that was a bit jarring at first read was the way the character POVs moved, but I soon acclimated and found it refreshing in the end.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Three Bags of Books Later

I walked into the bookstore today and walked out with three bags of books. It earned me a few glances on my way out by other patrons perusing the shelves. I'm sure it looked pretty funny, little short me weighed down with three big, heavy bags of books. Even I chuckle at the site of it. Now mind you, all those books are not just for me, some are early Christmas presents. But honestly, I can't go into a bookstore without rescuing a few gems. Books are like kittens in a shelter, calling to me and begging to be held. Whispers of their stories echo in the air as I read the back covers.

Ok, Am I the only one who gets so excited about books? Or does this happen to other people too? Just wondering.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Poem Publication

I got some great news at the end of last week that one of my poems is getting published in a quarterly literary magazine. I'm not going to reveal too much until the contract is signed, but I was too excited not to share!

Woop-woop! I'll keep you posted once everything is firmed-up.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Beautiful Darkness - Swag!

                                                                Tomorrow is the release of the highly anticipated book Beautiful Darkness, the sequel to Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl. So in honor of this book release, I have some swag to give away. I have bookmarks and pins for everyone who comments on this blog (up to 50 people). So if you're a fan and would like some free swag, post a comment.

Comments need to include an email address for winner notifications.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Chapter Hooks & Goosebumps

Goosebumps: Attack of the MutantAt every possible point a story needs to propel the reader forward all the way to the end. Chapter endings are super critical because it's a stopping point, probably a place where the bookmark rests between the pages most often. Hooking a reader to want to rush to the next chapter is critical. Nowhere have I seen this done so precisely as in the Goosebumps series by R.L. Stine. Who can't learn from someone who has sold over 300 million books! And my seven year old son loves the series, so much so that when I get to the end of the chapter he literally begs me to read "one more page mom, pleeaaaaase". Imagine, who can so no to a child begging for more books. So I thought it would be nice to illustrate the chapter ending hooks here with three examples from the current book I'm reading to my son.

Here are a few examples from the book, Attack of the Mutant:
ending of chapter 4 
"The driver was a nice guy. He saw me running and waited for me. Breathing hard, I thanked him and climbed on to the bus.
     I probably wouldn't have thanked him if I had known where this bus was going to take me. But I didn't know that it was carrying me to the most frightening adventure of my life."
ending of chapter 5
     "I was staring at a tall building on the other corner. A tall, pink stucco building with a bright green, domed roof.

     I was staring at the secret headquarters of The Masked Mutant."
ending of chapter 6
     "I narrowed my eyes and squinted through the glass doors.
     I couldn't see anymore. It appeared dark inside.
     I took a step closer. Then another.
     I brought my face right up to the glass and peered in. I could see a wide lobby. Pink-and-yellow walls. A row of elevators near the back.
     But no people. No one. Empty.
     I grabbed the glass door handle. My throat made a loud gulping sound as I swallowed hard.
     Should I go in? I asked myself. Do I dare?"

Have you seen good examples of chapter hooks you'd like to share?

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Book Review: The Pact by Jodi Picoult

This book came to me from a co-worker, The Pact by Jodi Picoult. Of course I've heard of Jodi Picoult, who hasn't right, but it was the first book I've read by her. I was also intrigued because the story is set in NH and the author is also from NH, which is where I grew up.
The Pact: A Love Story [PACT] [Mass Market Paperback]

When I first started the book, I wasn't sure if I would be into it because it took a little bit to build the story (and I was itching to start reading another book I have on my shelf). But once I got into the story, maybe 1/4 in, I found it to be an engaging read with strong characters. The format is setup where you are going back and forth between the present and the past, seeing where the characters are now and also seeing how they got that way. In the end, I thoroughly enjoyed it and I would read another Jodi Picoult book.

What I particularly like is how she set up the story so you thought you could figure out what might happen next and then she'd throw in a twist. Recommended reading for lovers of crime drama intertwined with a love story. It's an adult read, as there are some sex scenes that may not be appropriate for younger readers. All-in-all I would recommend it.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Words?

I can't believe I'm at a loss for words today. It probably doesn't help that I only got about an hour of sleep last night...and I don't know why. I just couldn't fall asleep. The weather is adding to the malaise as well. Sitting at a computer screen and staring at numbers and fineprint words all day is making me feel lethargic. 

But, at least it's Friday. And I'm looking forward to finding some time to write this weekend. Actually I'm hoping to do more than just write, I'm really hoping to crank out a large junk of revisions and come out on the other side of the weekend having made a lot of progress toward finishing this novel.

I'm trying to get this revision done by October 31st so I can start NaNoWriMo November 1st.

Look at that...I'm starting to feel better already. Just by sitting down and writing to you all has made me glean a bit of enthusiasm from my day. Woop-woop, thanks!