Monday, August 29, 2011

Welcome To The Other Side of the Hurricane

So we made it through. Hurricane Irene has come and gone. As you know I posted about the impending hurricane on Friday, full of speculation whether she would deliver a mighty wallop or not. So was she as predicted or was she a dud? Well, I think that will be up to interpretation. Some people are saying it was a lot of hype about nothing. While others have days of clean-up, maybe even weeks, ahead of them with flooded basements, flooded communities, property damage and power outages. So just like a book, the end judgement is up for interpretation.

In my area, we've had lot's of flooding and power outages. Even my J-O-B has lost power and isn't anticipated to regain it until the end of the week.

So yes, there's damage, but no, it's not as extensive as original predictions...let me say that again, not as extensive as ORIGINAL PREDICTIONS. We ended up with a Tropcial Storm as opposed to a Category 4 or 5 Hurrican (strictly speaking for the NY Metro area). But isn't it better that everyone was overprepared than the other way around?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Irene - Will She Deliver or Fall Short?

It hit me today, anticipating Hurricane Irene's approach is just like the anticipation of a long awaited book (without the risk of lives lost of course); you wait, and wait, and wait...and listen to all the hype, and then wonder if the end event (or book) will be all it's been hyped to be. Sometimes the books deliver, and sometimes they fall short. Will Irene deliver the projected punch? Or fall short?

I guess we'll find out tomorrow night.

I live in the projected path of where Irene will hit, but luckily not in any of the low lying areas that are requiring evacuation. I'm stocked-up and ready to weather the storm. Let's see how it all plays out. I'll let you know what happens next week.

Be safe everyone!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Book Review - Night Road

Book Review - Night Road
by Kristin Hannah
Night RoadLet me start by saying this...this book made me cry, not once, not twice, but four separate times. The story that unfolds in this book is touching, and emotional. We know from the beginning of the novel that something happens, something big, that affects the characters, but we don't know what. The first half of the book leads us up to that something. Here is where we meet the characters and feel attached to them.

And then we see and feel and experience the after.

The story is about three teenagers: Mia, Zach, Lexi and its also about Mia & Zach's mom Jude Farraday. There are other important characters throughout the story, but pivotal characters are those above. We get to know them, understand them individually and together and then we watch them as they endure tragedy.

As a writer, what amazes me about the way Kristin Hannah tells her story is that if feels very spontaneous. A character makes a decision and we see that decision unfold into consequence. It's not so easy to execute. A writer knows the outcome of a story, but Kristin Hannah does it, and in a way that seems both effortless & seamless. This is what makes parts of the story so heartbreaking.

I loved this book...it is on my favorites list. A highly recommended read; suitable for both adults and teens. Bravo!!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Ideas for Novels in My Future

Years ago, when I first started thinking about writing novels as a career, I used to worry that I wouldn't have enough ideas to get me past the first novel. I thought, what if this novel is the only GREAT idea I had. And now? This morning I was driving in to work, and another great novel idea hit me. I say another, because I probably have 5-6 solid ideas to carry me through the next 5-6 novels. And that's excluding sequels to the novel I'm working on now. And every few months another fantastic idea hits me. These are not just passing fancies. No, I'm talking about the whole beginning of the novel comes to me, the exact wording of how it starts and then there's a flash and I sense the whole novel that follows. I know, it sounds weird, to sense the rest of the novel. But its a feeling, a knowing that this idea is complete, and exciting, and doable. I've drafted plots in a flurry of words, character ideas, twists, etc. Sometimes I can't write it down fast enough, like this morning. The ideas are there, ready to develop. That's the fun part.

Now I worry about finding the time to write these great novels.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Writing A Novel Is Hard

Writing is hard work. I know it probably seems like the easiest thing to do, I mean it's just putting words on paper right? It's not like a person has to lose a limb or sacrifice their freedom to write, well at least not in this country. Other places, where freedom of speech is not so free, that's a whole other story. But let's not sway from the topic. Easy peasy right; Oh my goodness, if only that were so.

One of my writing friends uses this quote on her blog, and I think it's super important to what I'm trying to convey here. Here's the quote:
“Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead." — Gene Fowler
Sometimes that's exactly what it feels like. A book is a piece of the author, whether it's autobiographical or complete fiction, it's the author's creation. I know you've probably heard it said before, like I have, that a book is like an author's baby, conceived and birthed from the author's imagination. It's true, but I'd like to take it even a step further to say sometimes that book even becomes a child. Mine is about nine years old (the book, not my son). There's nurturing and discovery and ultimately the time to let go (as in when a child leaves home). 

The process of writing a book has so many steps, that its a journey of many, many years (at least in my case) There's knowing what to say, to also knowing how to say it. And both can be just as painstaking to complete. Right now, I'm working on revisions of a novel that I've completely rewritten twice already, and now I'm just trying to exact the language in this final version so that it's complete (at least until an editor gets hold of it). It's a feeling, mostly. I'm striving for a smile on my own face when I read the words. Yes, I know what's coming, but when the words perfectly convey the idea, that's a great moment.

I'm in the final push, and I have my own writing retreat coming up over the next two weekends. I'll be locking myself inside, with my laptop, to push to the end. The goal is to finish the novel, finally after 9 years of working on it. It's been a journey of discovery for me. This novel will always be special because it's where I've found my voice and learned so much about the writing process. And there's still so much more to learn. I'm ready for the next chapter.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Book Review - Angelfire

Book Review - Angelfire
by Courtney Allison Moulton

Angelfire had a good, solid story with a kick-ass, no nonsense main character who is just understanding her true potential as a warrior against evil. I liked the unique take on angels and demons and the evils that go bump in the night. It was an easy read with action, a budding romance, and lot's of evil monster-type characters closing in. 

Angelfire (Angelfire (Hardcover - Trilogy))On the downside, I felt the story was missing a couple things for me. First, it needed a stronger emotional connection to the outlying characters. Ellie, the main character, is well-defined, as is Will, but the supporting characters are less so. Second, Ellie was constantly asking questions both of herself and of others, which got a bit annoying after awhile for me. I wish the author had found different ways to unfold the answers of her past and of this world instead of always relying on her asking questions.

All in all this debut novel was an interesting read. I think YA Paranormal romance fans will enjoy this story.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Space Camp - Kids & Adults


Photo Courtesy: Spacecamp.com
I was watching Mars Needs Mom on Sunday with my son. It sparked a conversation about space travel & astronauts. My son was excited about jumping around weightless on the moon, and that led to a discussion about Space Camp. I knew it existed, but I didn't know much more than that. So I checked it out. Let me tell you, I want to go. They don't just have Space Camp for kids now, there are programs for families and for adults. This is going on my bucket list.

Check out these links:


Friday, August 12, 2011

Book Review - Before I Fall


Book Review - Before I Fall
by Lauren Oliver
 
Before I FallI had really high expectations of this book when I started it. For one, I really LOVED Lauren Oliver's second book, Delirium. And two, this was a New York Times Bestseller. With that said, the book is well-written and I was captivated by how Sam (Samantha), the main character, evolves in each new restart of the same day that she is forced to live. Think of it as the movie GroundHog Day, but for a young adult audience.
 
Before I Fall is a good solid read with good characters, but I didn't find it amazing, and I can't put my finger on exactly why. Maybe I was just expecting too much? Maybe I've seen the whole "GroundHog Day" scenario a few times before and I wanted a different plot than that? I'm not sure exactly.
 
I will say that it takes a skilled writer to create a character, like Sam, who in the beginning is the one you want to hate, and turn the story around so that you're rooting for her, genuinely. That is not easy to do, and Lauren does it here.
 
I think this is probably a unique concept to most YA readers who might not have been exposed to the movie GroundHog Day or other adult literature that deals with this same plot, and because of that, YA readers find this story so compelling. For readers unfamiliar with the movie Groundhog Day, I've included the trailer from this 1993 film below.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Magnificent 12 - Free kindle download

I love getting free offers in my inbox, when they are actually "free offers" and not just a gimmick. Well I got an email about a free book download and I tried it last night...it's legit...so I thought I'd share it with you. I'm always on the lookout for new books for my son and this one sounds perfect. I've included the trailer and a link to the free kindle (sorry just kindle) download. It looks cool - enjoy!

The Magnificent 12: The Call by Michael Grant

Link to free download for kindle users on Amazon

Here's a link to the series website: http://www.themag12.com/

And here's the trailer:

Monday, August 08, 2011

Summer Camp for Kids Who Love Books

I saw this last week and meant to post it, but today is just as good. It's summer, which means lots of kids are going to camp. But what about those kids that just LOVE to read? Yes, there's a camp for that too! Check this out. Thalia Kids Book Club Camp at Symphony Space in NYC. This week is the last week, but it may be something to bookmark for next year.

Here's an article about it from Publishers Weekly: Summer Camp for Bookish Kids
Education at Symphony Space: website

Friday, August 05, 2011

TGIF!

It's Friday and I'm exhausted. You too?

I wish I could be like my cat today, living life lazing around. I snapped a shot of him this morning, and the picture epitomizes exactly what I feel like doing (but can't).

I guess I'll leave the resting and relaxing to him. TGIF everyone!

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Book Review - The DUFF

The DUFF: (Designated Ugly Fat Friend)Book Review - The DUFF
by Kody Keplinger

The DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend)...I didn't want to like this book, I really didn't. I picked it up for $5.00 at a used book store. I had heard the title touted as a must-read by the publisher before it was released, in a webinar awhile back. And when I saw it at the bookstore, I was curious. So I bought it.

When I started it, at first, I wasn't sure if I'd really get into it. It's definitely geared for teens (it is YA after all) in language and topic, where sex is as commonplace as going to school. BUT, and this is a big but, once I got into it I was hooked. I stayed up late and got up early to see how all the drama panned out. And I liked it, a lot! The story curved around nicely to a place where the main characters change from superficial to real people, as they come to realize who they are through the drama.

Recommended read for YA fans, but due to the some of the language and content I would suggest this for older YA readers only.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Make Loaning Your Books Easier - Personal Library Kit


Photo Courtesy: Amazon.com
My personal library is growing, and often times I share my books with friends and family. Once in awhile, a book doesn't quite make it back. And who did I lend it to? Has that happened to you too?  Well, I stumbled on this interesting item today called the Personal Library Kit by Knock Knock. This kit has everything in it to make your own library check-out desk: 20 self adhesive pockets, 20 insert cards, one date stamp, pad, and pencil. 6.5"x7.5".

Me likey-likey! Neat gift idea too for readers & writers alike. 

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Calling All Kids Who Write...

...Barnes & Noble & Tikatok are holding a contest for kids ages 6-14. So if you're between those ages and like to write, check it out. The prizes are pretty cool including a grand prize NOOK color, $500 Barnes & Noble Gift Card, AND meet The 36 Clues bestselling author Peter Lerangis in New York City. There are also 2nd & 3rd place prizes too! Complete details available on the Barnes & Noble website, here's the link: Summer of Imagination Writing Contest


Photo Courtesy: BN.com


Monday, August 01, 2011

Book Review - Divergent

Divergent (Divergent Trilogy)Book Review - Divergent

When I first started Divergent, I was concerned & unsure if this dystopian story would offer something new and unique, but my concerns were soon proven unfounded.  This book is good, really good. When you start reading, give it a few chapters to simmer in your brain, and I promise the story will start to grow on you. It did for me, and then I couldn't put it down! 486 pages goes really fast. At the end, I wanted more story. Lucky for me this is the first book in a planned trilogy - yippee!

Divergent follows the main character, Beatrice, as she maneuvers her way through discovering her place in a dystopian version of Chicago, choosing a faction to align herself to, and ultimately uncovering much more than she bargained for. This story is a fast read with both action and romance.

Highly recommended for YA readers (14 and above) with great crossover appeal for the adult market as well.