Monday, May 28, 2012

Bibliophile's Corner

The Extraordinary Education
of Nicholas Benedict
by Trenton Lee Stewart

Flap Copy description:
Before there was a Mysterious Benedict Society there was simply A BOY named Nicholas Benedict.

Nine-year-old Nicholas Benedict has more problems than most children his age. Not only is he an orphan with an unfortunate nose, but also he has narcolepsy, a condition that gives him terrible nightmares and makes him fall asleep at the worst possible moments. Now he's sent to a new orphanage, where he encounters vicious bullies, selfish adults, strange circumstances - and a mystery that could change his life forever. Luckily, he has one important thing in his favor: He's a genius.

My thoughts:
The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict is the prequel to the highly acclaimed series: The Mysterious Benedict Society. In this latest novel by Trenton Lee Stewart we learn of Mr. Benedict's strange and challenging childhood at an odd country orphanage. This exciting and entertaining book is full of mystery and adventure set in the early twentieth century. As with Mr. Stewart's other books, this one includes plenty of puzzles and sentimental secrets for the reader to attempt to solve. Both this novel, and the series, The Mysterious Benedict Society, are wonderful reads for anyone with a quizzical mind, and a passion for whimsical words. I would recommend The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict to readers from the ages of eight to eighty.

To visit Trenton Lee Stewart's wonderful website, click here: http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/features/mysteriousbenedictsociety/index.html

Friday, May 25, 2012

Storyteller's Journey

 A Book for the Creative Crowd 

Recently, I purchased and read the book, Imagine, by Jonah Lehrer. It is fantastic! It is so good that my son, Brian, is now reading it. (If he takes a suggestion from his mother you know it's good.) Although I normally reserve my reviews to middle grade books, I felt it was important to pass this recommendation on to my writer friends since I found it that important to my own creativity.
Here is a brief review of the informative and inspiring book:

Imagine
by Jonah Lehrer

Flap copy excerpt:
Did you know that the most creative companies have centralized bathrooms? That brainstorming meetings are a terrible idea? That the color blue can help double your creative output?
From the best-selling author of How We Decide comes a sparkling and revelatory look at the new science of creativity. Shattering the myth of muses, higher powers, even creative "types," Jonah Lehrer demonstrates that creativity is not a single gift possessed by the lucky few. It's a variety of distinct thought processes that we can all learn to use more effectively.
Lehrer reveals the importance of embracing the rut, thinking like a child, daydreaming productively, and adopting an outsider's perspective (travel helps). He unveils the optimal mix of old and new partners in any creative collaboration and explains why criticism is essential to the process. Then he zooms out to show how we can make our neighborhoods more vibrant, our companies more productive, and our schools more effective...

My thoughts:
Beyond the wealth of wonderful information, Mr. Lehrer does a nice job of keeping the reader engaged in his text with great examples from well-known figures (Bob Dylan, Yo-Yo Ma, Shakespeare, and more). He is a gifted writer himself, weaving the data and the delightful together in an entertaining book. For anyone looking to optimize their creative capability... this is the book! I would also highly recommend Imagine to anyone who wants to be inspired - in whatever their chosen field of endeavor. It would make an awesome gift for the new graduate, or the perfect present for a man on Father's Day.

To learn more about the unique author, Jonah Lehrer, click here: http://www.jonahlehrer.com/about/

Monday, May 21, 2012

Bibliophile's Corner

Jacob Wonderbar
and the Cosmic Space Kapow
by Nathan Bransford

Flap Copy description:
Jacob Wonderbar has had a weird day. First there was the incident with the substitute teacher and the sprinklers. (Okay, maybe that wasn't so unusual for Jacob.) Then he and his best friends, Sarah and Dexter, discovered a silver man and a spaceship in the woods near their houses. Weirdest of all? The man offered to trade his ship for a corn dog! It sounded like a pretty good deal to Jacob, until he and his friends took their new ship for a test ride...and accidentally broke the universe. Now they must fend off space pirates, escape a planet that smells like burp breath - and find a way back home, before it's too late for them and  their friendship.

My thoughts:
When I saw Jacob Wonderbar and the Cosmic Space Kapow at my local library, I knew I had to read the zany tale. This MG book is the debut novel of author, Nathan Bransford - former literary agent and present online writing guru. If your young reader likes humor, adventure, and a bit of silliness, then  this book is your perfect choice! Mr. Bransford has also included great character development and wonderful dialogue. The pace of the plot slowed a bit in the middle of this hilarious story, but made a nice save by the concluding chapters. Although this is the author's first book, it is clear he is no novice - Nathan Bransford knows his stuff! I would recommend this fun-filled book to readers from the ages of 8 to 12 - especially mischievous boys.

To learn more about this awesome author, click here: http://blog.nathanbransford.com/

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Incredible Inspiration



If the path be beautiful, let us not ask where it leads.



Anatole France
(Nobel Prize winner for Literature in 1921.)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Storyteller's Journey

         Tinkering with Time

Have you ever wished for more time? Maybe you'd like to have a Time-Turner like Hermione Granger in J.K. Rowling's The Prisoner of Azkaban! Like most writers, much of my time is taken up with writing, reading, and social networking. That is in addition to my time with family, friends, and volunteer work. Over the years I have had to become obsessed with being organized. I thought I'd share with you some tips that have worked for me.

Ten Time-Saver Tips:

1) Make a list for my day. I know, I know...if you're a "pantser" this is the last thing you want to hear! However, it is easy for me to get "off track" with my writing. Making a list helps me to stay focused.

2) Schedule writing time. My writing time is from one to four in the afternoon. No blogging, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Writing and revising only! Having a set time to write allows me to accomplish other things during the day without feeling guilty for not constantly banging at the keyboard.

3) Schedule social networking time. This is something that is constantly discussed online. As writers, we are on our computers a lot anyway. It's so easy to take a break and check to see who just can't wait to talk with us! I know that I do my social networking after my morning chores, and after my writing time in the afternoon. I use it like a silly reward for completing my my word count. Later in the evening, I usually do a bit on Facebook. The point is: by scheduling it in, I don't feel guilty when I do check my various networks.

4) Keep a book handy. Reading is important as a writer - I can get in a few extra pages during those otherwise lost moments. You know the ones: the doctor's office, the dentist's office, or just being caught in a traffic jam!

5) Keep a small notebook. When that inspired idea for my WIP hits me, I can record it for use at a later time since I keep a small notebook with me. It's surprising how many times I use it!

6) Stay busy. For most of us, this is not the problem! However, I mention it because I'm sure you've all had the experience of accomplishing more tasks when it seemed you had less time than you needed. When I have extra time, it's too easy to procrastinate.

7) Set goals and deadlines. This is a big help for me to keep my writing momentum moving forward. Without goals and deadlines, it's too easy for me to cut my writing time short. Knowing that I'm "under the gun" keeps me motivated.

8) Keep goals and expectations realistic. If I need to write 50,000 words, (sound familiar NaNoWriMo participants?) I give myself ample time. Sure, we can write 3,000 words in a day - but for how long? Setting a standard I can live with helps me to not burn out.

9) Ask for help. If I'm really slammed ( like this week! ) I am not too proud to ask for help. We have a small party scheduled here at our home tonight. Rather than take on the whole thing by myself, I decided to suggest to my guests that we make it a potluck. They were truly happy to help out in that way. Most people are blessed to be a part of my journey, even in an indirect way.

10) Have fun! At first look this may not seem like a way to save time. However, if I don't "recharge my battery" from time to time with some well-deserved recreation, my writer's tank will definitely run dry. In the big scheme of things taking care of myself emotionally helps my writing time to stay consistent, avoiding burn-out.

I hope a few of these time-saver tips will help you.
Please leave a comment with a tip of your own!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Monday, May 14, 2012

Bibliophile's Corner


Waiting for the Magic
by Patricia MacLachlan

Flap Copy description:
People may drift apart,
but love can hold them together.
Sometimes we find that love
through magic.
Sometimes that magic is all
around us.

This is a story about all of these things.
But it's also a story about how four dogs and one cat help one boy and his sister save their family.

My thoughts:
Patricia MacLachlan is a master storyteller; Waiting for the Magic is another heartfelt chapter book by the Newbery Medal Award winner. What makes Ms. MacLachlan's writing so wonderful is that even when it is a simple story, she seems to spin it into a masterpiece! The character development, dialogue, and setting descriptions are superb. For me, it is partly what she doesn't write that is so amazing - she allows the story to speak for itself, never overwriting. I would highly recommend this middle grade chapter book to readers from the ages of 8 - 12.

To learn more about the award-winning author, Patricia MacLachlan, click here: http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/authors/interviews/article/43625-q--a-with-patricia-maclachlan.html

(For all of you who will be attending the SCBWI Summer Conference this August in Los Angeles, CA -
Patricia MacLachlan is scheduled to be one of the keynote speakers!)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Friday, May 11, 2012

Storyteller's Journey

   No Schmooze...You Lose!

Last Saturday I had the wonderful privilege of meeting with some local members of the SCBWI - most of whom I had never met before! Our city is in a situation like a lot of towns where the regional meetings are usually quite a ways away, while another region is actually closer.

Photo by Susan Uhlig


It was wonderful to have a small meeting of the Western Washington chapter of the SCBWI in one of our local libraries for a Clark County SCBWI Schmooze!




The group represented  a great variety of those involved with Picture Books, MG stories, and of course Young Adult. It never ceases to amaze me how inspired and rejuvenated I am after spending time with a group of such creative writers and illustrators. We all agreed that we would like this to become a quarterly event. Many thanks to Susan Uhlig - long time SCBWI member, and past regional advisor, for organizing this special morning. Since she took this photo, and is therefore not pictured, I am attaching the link to her website so you can get acquainted with this lovely lady. http://susanuhlig.com/

Thanks to SCBWI for this Schmooze - we all had a blast!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Bibliophile's Corner

If Only
by Carole Geithner

Flap Copy description:
If thirteen-year-old Corinna Burdette could have one wish, she knows exactly what it would be. When most girls her age are hoping for new cell phones or prettier hair, Corinna wishes her mother, Sophie, was alive again. She knows that dying is a normal part of life, but having her mother taken away from her the summer before the eighth grade wasn't part of the plan.

Now Corinna has to do the unthinkable: concentrate in school, play soccer, and hang out with friends, all as if nothing has happened. Corinna's dad tries to help, but he's dealing with his own grief. Her friends try, but they don't know what to say. Classmates whisper about her because she is "the girl whose mom died." While everyone else's life is moving along, Corinna feels hers has stopped - it's especially hard when, at any given moment, she feels like she might completely lose it. Even normal activities such as buying new clothes (her dad is clueless) or listening to music (which means sad songs) are laced with danger. But as Corinna's year progresses, surprising things begin to happen, including a discovery that leads to information she never knew about her mother.

My thoughts:
Carole Geithner's debut middle grage novel, If Only, deals with the journey of grief from the perspective of the young girl - Corinna. Ms. Geithner's many years of grief counseling as a clinical social worker have brought a truth and compassion to this heart-felt and hopeful novel. The author's characters seem to come alive with humor, honesty, and believability, as they grapple with typical adolescent issues. Corinna not only comes to terms with her mother's death, but also learns a lot about family, friends, and the importance of communication. I would highly recommend If Only to girls from the ages of 8 - 12; and to anyone dealing with the loss of a loved one.

(Note: Carole Sonnenfeld Geithner is married to Timothy Geithner - U.S. Treasury Secretary.)

To learn more about the author, Carole Geithner - click here:
http://carolegeithner.com/

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Incredible Inspiration



All the things that truly matter - beauty, love, creativity, joy, inner peace arise from beyond the mind.


Eckhart Tolle

Friday, May 4, 2012

Storyteller's Journey

Manicuring My Manuscript

Last weekend I spent the first significant time this Spring in my garden. I was busy trimming the grass, pulling weeds, and planting geraniums, while my husband mowed the lawn.


I can remember many years ago, when I first began to take gardening seriously, that while I loved to plant pretty flowers, the thought of weeding did not appeal to me. (Ya think?) However, as the years have gone by, I have not only stopped hating to weed, I have actually grown to enjoy it. It is like a relaxing therapy for me.

It dawned on me that my writing experience is a bit like my gardening experience. When I began seriously writing I loved scribbling my stunning story with wonderful words. (At least I thought it was stunning! ^_^) However, the thought of revising and editing wasn't quite so exciting. Only now, after writing for nearly five years, am I beginning to enjoy manicuring my manuscript. Seeing my story begin to shine is exciting and rewarding - just like weeding my garden!

Do you enjoy revising your work, or merely endure it?