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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: action, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 88
1. Taking Action – Fun Books to Get Kids Moving

The beauty of children’s books is that they lend themselves to so many further experiences beyond the reading of the words. These three books contain just the right mix of language and animation to have you and your little ones practicing a few moves of your own.   Puddles are for Jumping, Kylie Dunstan (author, […]

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2. Seeker, by Arwen Elys Dayton | Book Review

It's delightful to slip into the complex and fully realized world where Seekers slice through time and space and unlock the mysteries of the universe.

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3. Moving Beyond Despair in The Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer

Over the past couple months I’ve looked at both of Satoshi Mizukami’s works that are available in English, Spirit Circle and Hoshi no Samidare: The Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer, and my feelings on Biscuit Hammer were rather lukewarm. I felt like Spirit Circle improved on all of the problems I had with the story but that was expected, ... Read more

2 Comments on Moving Beyond Despair in The Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer, last added: 5/24/2015
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4. Witches Protection Program, by Michael Phillip Cash | Dedicated Review

If you’re looking for a good fantasy book to transition from the young adult genre into the new adult genre, Michael Phillip Cash’s Witches Protection Program is your next read.

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5. Terminal, by Kathy Reichs and Brendan Reichs | Book Review

The Morris Island gang is back in Terminal, the fifth and final full installment of Kathy and Brendan Reichs’ NY Times Bestselling Virals series.

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6. Shadow Scale, by Rachel Hartman | Book Review

Fans of Rachel Hartman’s breath-taking imagination and startling humane characters, dragons or otherwise, will marvel and mourn as Seraphina’s journey—at least on the page—comes to an end.

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7. Book Titles: Creating a Good Book Name | Rachel Hartman, Author of Seraphina

Shadow Scale jumped out at me. It was more complex than it first appeared, I realized in that moment, because “scale” could mean several different things.

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8. Seraphina Series, by Rachel Hartman | Book Series Giveaway

Enter to win a copy of Seraphina, written by Rachel Hartman, and the newest release, Shadow Scale (Seraphina: Book Two). Giveaway begins March 9, 2015, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends April 8, 2015, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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9. Seraphina, by Rachel Hartman | Book Review

In the kingdom of Goredd, humans and dragons have lived and worked side by side for more than forty years, a treaty of peace signed, and the past war forgotten. But when a member of the royal family is brutally murdered and the finger of blame points to dragons, it appears that not all is forgotten, or forgiven.

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10. Seven Wonders: Book 3: The Tomb of Shadows, by Peter Lerangis | Book Review

Seven Wonders: Book 3: The Tomb of Shadows, by Peter Lerangis will appeal to tweens and teens who like lots of action and danger in their stories and who are curious about ancient history.

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11. Spirit Circle Manga Review

Title: Spirit Circle Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, Publisher: Shonen Gahosha (JP), Viz Media (US) Story/Artist: Satoshi Mizukami Serialized in: Young King Comics (33 out of 33 chapters reviewed) Fuuta Okeya lives a normal life and has gotten to his second year of middle school without incident, although he can see some spirits including the one following his new classmate, ... Read more

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12. Book review and giveaway- Delete by Kim Curran

Today, Faber Academy and I are kicking off the blog tour for Kim Curran's DELETE! It's had a bit of trouble getting out, due to the closure of Strange Chemistry, but it's coming and it's having a blog tour! 

Title:   Delete

Author:  Kim Curran
Series:    Shift #3
Published:   31 March 2015 by Xist Publishing
Length:  230 pages
Source: Strange Chemistry ARC
Other info: I reviewed Shift and Control and really enjoyed them! I’ve also had Kim over to talk about shifting in real life, and about her other book, Glaze (which I also reviewed).
Summary : The country is at war. Beset by enemies within and without. And all because of the decisions changed by one boy, Scott Tyler. In this ravaged alternative reality, Scott hardly recognises himself. He's a war hero, a leader of a unit of Shifters and maybe the only one who can prevent the country's frail defences from crumbling.
But all Scott wants to do is find a way back to the world he knew, without losing the girl he loves. With every Shift he makes, Scott edges closer towards oblivion. With no one to trust – not even himself – how much is he willing to risk to get home?

Review: This is the end of a trilogy, so this review will contain spoilers for the first two books (and you really do need to read Shift and Control before this one). Following the end of Control, Scott finds he has shifted to a world where Britain is at war, and Scott is apparently the Commandant of ARES, or at least its present form, and  everything is completely different. However, unlike most Shifters whose realities change when they shift to accomodate for that shift and they accept that shift as being the one true reality, Scott remembers the more peaceful, less treacherous world, and he wants to get back.
I really enjoyed Shift and Control, and thus I was very excited to read this. When I did get to read Delete, I read it so quickly. I think if life didn’t get in my way, it would be a one-sit-read.
You know how I said Control put the plot on a larger scale to Shift? It’s happened again. Majorly. Again.
I loved the different sides of the characters we got to know. Frankie, Aubrey, and Katie  were all changed but also still them, and Scott...woah. in this world, Scott’s personality is rather different to the one he remembers having, and I loved seeing him struggle with what he remembers, what he thinks he is, what what he has to do in this world.  So much character development.
The plot progressed well. It’s fast, but there are also quieter moments. Especially between Aubrey and Scott as  he tries to find the differences between the past Aubrey and the one now. .
I did have mixed feelings about the end. Initially I really disliked it, but after a little time, I realised how wonderful it was because Scott has learnt things and might be able to make things better and maybe it isn’t as bad an ending as I thought.

Overall:  Strength 5 tea to a brilliant ending to an action packed series examining decisions and their consequences.

Also, there's a tourwide giveaway happening to win all three Shift books. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

0 Comments on Book review and giveaway- Delete by Kim Curran as of 3/30/2015 4:29:00 AM
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13. Fight, Chase, Shoot, Battle! Action Scene Checklist

The Aliens Inc, Chapter Book Series

Try Book 1 for Free

Darcy’s Note: In my question to understand action scenes better, I came across Ian’s book and was blown away by how practical it is. To make it even more practical I created an Action Scenes Checklist. To understand it and fully exploit it, you should buy his book and read it cover to cover. Yes, I’m that enthusiastic about it. If you plan ANY action in your story, you need this book. Stay tuned below for a chance to win a copy of this book and Healy’s latest novel.

Guest post by Ian Thomas Healy

Like many people, I love movies, and I have a special love for tight action sequences. I have always taken pride in my ability to translate that type of action into my books, and as a writer specializing in superhero fiction, action is an important component of my work. After years of being asked by my writer friends to help them with their own action sequences, it occurred to me that there might be a need for this sort of information across the industry, and so I sat down and analyzed what was it exactly that I did instinctively when I wrote action scenes, and how I might teach that to others. Thus, ACTION! WRITING BETTER ACTION USING CINEMATIC TECHNIQUES (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0055LH0MU ) was born (naturally, during a running firefight with explosions and hair-breadth escapes).

A lot of writers dance around action, because writing it is daunting and uncomfortable. By its very nature, action is high-energy, full of motion and intense pacing, and for many writers, it’s a weird change from what they’re used to. At its very root, though, action is a means to resolve conflict, and conflict is the basis of all good storytelling, so it’s not something to run from (crashing through a window, sliding down a rooftop slope, and then dropping into a waiting convertible), but to embrace as an important part of your toolbox.

castles-healyIn ACTION, I break down what makes an action scene tick, from individual acts, called Stunts, up through Engagements (related series of stunts), to the all-encompassing Sequence, which contains more than one Engagement. Here’s an example of an action scene from my new book CASTLES, which released on April 1:

Sally rushed into the building. All she knew was in the space of a single breath, her entire squad had been taken out. Who were these guys, and how had they stayed under the radar so long? Parahuman criminals didn’t just appear out of the woodwork at random, especially when they were working as a team. There had to be records on these guys somewhere.

And then Sally ran across someone who could move nearly as fast as she could, and she was fortunate not to have been gutted like a fish by the barbed quills sprouting from the new combatant’s arms. He slashed at her and she twisted and dodged through the lobby of the building on full defense. Unlike the criminals two floors above, the guy attacking Sally wore less of a jumpsuit and more of a wrestling-style singlet. The quills seemed to grow all over his body and she thought of him as Porcupine Man.

Super-speed abilities were rare in the world, even more so than psionic powers, and yet this was the second speedster Sally had fought in as many weeks. “Is there a factory churning you guys out or something?”

Porcupine Man’s perceptions were apparently accelerated like hers, for he understood her despite her rapid speech. “The times, they are a-changin’.” He spread his arms wide and flexed his chest in a peculiar way.

Sally dropped to the floor as several quills whisked over her head to embed themselves in the reception desk, quivering like arrows. A sharp, burning pain shot down her back and she knew one of them had grazed her. She hoped like hell they weren’t tipped with poison. “That’s a Bob Dylan lyric. My husband loves that song.” She pulled her horseshoes from her belt.

“Maybe he can play it at your funeral.” Porcupine Man shot more quills at Sally and she threw herself backwards over the reception desk to put something solid between her and her opponent. With his speed, she only had a moment to decide on her next action, and she froze when she saw a terrified woman huddled beneath the desk, eyes wide, a quill poking out of her bloodstained blouse.

Sally had no time to check to see if the woman was severely hurt. She couldn’t stay hiding where she was and put the civilian in danger. Nor could she risk slowing herself down enough to offer any comfort. She heard the patter of Porcupine Man’s approaching footsteps and forced herself to move. She ran, leaning forward to make herself a smaller target. The slice on her back burned like a paper cut with lemon juice in it. He skidded to a stop and Sally knew she had an advantage over him, being able to stop and start instantly.

She glanced back and saw him fire another quill at her from his chest. It had gone from a veritable barbed forest to a sparse stand in just a few moments. His quills didn’t replace themselves very quickly. Maybe she could get him to use them up. She dove for the floor again, twisting herself around to land on her shoulder. The quill passed right over her face, close enough that she could see the wicked barbs on its tip. As she slid, she hurled one of her horseshoes at him. Normally, throwing away one’s melee weapons was a poor choice, but Sally had spent thousands of hours at the targeting range, learning how to throw things effectively. When accelerated by her super-speed arms, the most innocent objects could become deadly projectiles.

Her horseshoes were hardly innocent.

The iron ring caught Porcupine Man on his sternum, hitting him hard enough to send him flying back into a wall, which cracked with his impact. He fell amid a pile of broken drywall and didn’t move.

This scene represents a single Engagement in a larger Sequence, which is Mustang Sally’s team of superheroes versus a group of super-powered bad guys. There are several Stunts in this Engagement:

  1. Sally dodges as Porcupine Man attacks her in melee combat.
  2. Sally dodges again as Porcupine Man shoots spines at her in ranged combat.
  3. Sally dodges yet again as he keeps shooting at her (she’s having a rough go of it).
  4. Sally goes on the offensive and throws a horseshoe at Porcupine Man, taking him down.

In ACTION, I coach you on methods for writing these types of scenes on a step-by-step basis. When Darcy contacted me to say how helpful she’d found my book, it made my day, because any time I hear that I’ve helped someone to become a better writer, it makes the whole process worthwhile. If you find it a valuable tool for yourself, please don’t hesitate to post a review online and to let me know how it helped you!

Download my Action Scenes Checklist based on Healy’s book.

Leave a comment and your name will be in a giveaway for a copy of one of Healy’s ebooks (Kindle, epub or pdf). There’s one copy each of ACTION! and CASTLE.

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14. Book Blog Tour: The Kingdom on the Edge of Reality...

Paperback: 360 pages
Publisher: Two Harbors Press
Language: English
ISBN-10: 937293645
Genre: fantasy, action and adventure

The Kingdom on the Edge of Reality

The Kingdom on the Edge of Reality takes the shape of a fantasy story full of action and adventure. There is a small kingdom set aside in time and space, saintly king, evil duke, prophecy and unlikely hero.  The book is about a real kingdom set up in the present day by a wealthy eccentric in the Canadian wilderness; there is no magic, no bizarre weapons or fantastic creatures. Everything that takes place is the story is possible and plausible. Among other things it’s a serious book about the human predicament and lies across several genres, or maybe falls through the cracks between several genres, and that's what makes it unique.
When Gahan started writing The Kingdom on the Edge of Reality,it had a different title, certain characters, which were present in early project ideas, didn’t make it into the final work. Several scenes took place in locales that disappeared. Gahan was not afraid to just mess around and try all sorts of different approaches because that is the magic brew that what you are looking for will arise out of.  He recommended that other authors work on paper with a ballpoint pen. Writing involves many changes, scratching out and writing between the lines before you ever try to type it out on the computer. Whatever you do have fun and be patient with your creation.

He had created living characters the same way he used to create characters as a ‘method’ actor in his previous career in the theatre. Through the characters own ingenuity and perseverance, chapter-by-chapter the new story unfolded. Some of them lost their lives solving the problem, and he regretted he was not being able to save them, but they made their own decisions. The only veto power he exercised was if they decided to sit down to eat and talk things over and the action began to drag, he would send in a messenger with some bad news to bring them to their feet again.

There was also a time during which he had to set the whole project aside. This made the story ten times better.

Teenagers and adults who enjoy King Arthur-like stories, castles, battles and life-threatening quests will enjoy this Arthurian saga. The Kingdom on the Edge of Reality is not only an escapist adventure but at times creates cultural controversy.

Gahan Hanmer's creativity and gift for storytelling came from his background in theatre. Creativity ran in the family, Gahan mother and uncle were well known actors. He developed his talent exclusively as a theater artist, working with many inspired teachers and directors

The result was the following:

What Readers are Saying...

"The mark of a modern classic is a story line handled with such originality that it cannot be imitated. Like Lord of the Flies or The Last Unicorn, The Kingdom on the Edge of Reality is in a class by itself; it is one of a kind. --- Diane K. Stevenson, PhD "

About Gahan Hanmer
Gahan speaks French and Spanish and has a Master of Fine Arts degree from Columbia University. He unintentionally became a grown-up raising two beloved daughters and now lives in the high chaparral desert of California. The Kingdom on the Edge of Reality is available at: Amazon, and on his website.  Ask Gahan Hanmer questions by visiting his website at http://thekingdomontheedgeofreality.com/contact.htm.
Book Excerpt

Sir Leo was glad to see me and shook my hand warmly. I had caught up with him in the field outside the walls where he was practicing with a bow and arrow. “Do you shoot?” he asked me.
“I haven’t since I was a boy.”
He handed me his bow and quiver and watched me put two arrows in the target and scatter five or six others in the grass beyond it.
“That was not too good,” he said, holding out his hand for the bow. In one fluid motion he nocked and drew and loosed and that arrow sprang into the bullseye like it couldn’t wait to do anything he wanted it to.
“That’s fantastic, Leo,” I said, and he grinned with pleasure. “How did you learn to do that?”
“Well, I taught myself. Or you could say I learned it from the birds. Have you ever wished you could fly?”
“Who hasn’t?”
“I made myself miserable with envy watching the birds when I was a boy. But when I discovered archery, I realized there was more than one way to ride the wind. If my body couldn’t do it, my spirit could. Here, take this arrow and throw it at the target.”

This Giveaway is open Internationally.
PRIZES 1 Winners will each receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal Cash.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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15. Nancy

There’s been a lot of hiding around here lately.

sheet hiding

A blog post about ME is hiding over at Peace, Love, and Whiskers. Pop over and check it out, if you haven’t already.


The other day, I saw this…

red balloon

It’s an evil, runaway, red balloon. It’s hiding under the car, waiting to roll out and get me. Mom let me walk by really fast, because she knows that balloons are trying to kill me.

white balloons

And look what’s back there! Two more balloons. White ones. I know what they have planned…

That's close enough...

That’s close enough…

I have no plans to start liking balloons, but I want to thank my friend Little Binky for sending me this lovely award. I am not afraid of it.


Do you see what else is hiding? In the grass? A feather. It’s from the birds that sit in the trees and laugh at me.


All kinds of things are hiding in all kinds of places. When I try to hide, I always get caught. The other day, I brought my tiny yellow dog and hid on Mom’s bed with it. Somehow, she found out that I was in there.

messy bed

I don’t know how she does it! She’s a regular Nancy Drew when it comes to figuring things out.

When she was little, Mom was probably Nancy Drew’s biggest fan. She read every one of the Nancy Drew Mysteries, and hung on every word.


Now that she’s a writer, she hardly ever writes mysteries. She wrote one once, and when it was finished, she said, “Ugh. This thing is so lame.” And “Where’s the suspense, the red herring, the foreshadowing!?” and “Seriously? You’re back on the bed again?”

Who? Me??

Who? Me??

Mom might BE Nancy Drew, and LOVE Nancy Drew, but she has no plans to WRITE Nancy Drew.



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16. Off-Stage Scenes Rarely Work – Unless You Are Scarlett

The ALIENS have landed!

"amusing. . .engaging, accessible," says Publisher's Weekly

Here’s a common problem that I see in first drafts: the main action has happened off-stage.

Think about Scarlett O’Hara and the other southern women sitting at home waiting; in an attempt to avenge his wife, Frank and the Ku Klux Klan raid the shanty town whereupon Frank is shot dead. But the raid takes place off-stage.


Or, think about times when a weaker character stays home, while the adventurous character is off doing something. Sports stories are hard when the POV character is watching the on-field action.

This can be a real trap for children’s novels if an older sibling or parent is doing something fun/exciting/scary/etc off stage.

Another challenging situation is when a bully is planning something and the POV victim is just trying to avoid that.

Or, maybe you’ve planned a great scene, and the main character is present, but you don’t write that scene. Instead, what you write is something like this: “The next morning, Elise lay in bed and went over the previous night in her head.”

No. That doesn’t work!

Does this always need to be changed? No. But it’s a major problem and challenge as you revise. Here are some tips.

Recognize the problem. As you write the first draft and revise it, you should be evaluating the scenes. Ask: Who hurts the most in this scene. It should almost always be the main character. If it’s someone else, why isn’t THAT character the hero/ine of the story?

Put the POV Character in the action. When you find a scene where the main action is off-stage, look for ways to rethink the plot and scenes and put the main character in the thick of the action. It’s why Captain Kirk leaves the Enterprise and goes down to the planet over and over and over. Really? No Captain would be allowed to jeopardize his life that much and give over the control of the ship to a junior officer. It’s unrealistic–but great storytelling.

Make the story about how the off-stage action affects the POV character. In Gone with the Wind, Frank and the other men go off to avenge Scarlett’s honor, but the POV stays firmly with Scarlett. It’s about her growing realization of what the men have gone off to do, the opinion of the other women, and eventually the women’s reactions when the men come back. This is a risky way to write a scene, because the real stuff happens off stage; but it can work if you keep the focus right.

Write the scene. If your character is just thinking about what happened last night, it’s a simple fix. Write the @#$@#$@# scene! Sometime this happens when the author is afraid of the emotions in a powerful scene; the author avoids writing that scene and tries to jump forward in time. It never works. You must write the scene that you fear. you must write the exciting scene because your reader demands it; that is the exact reason why they come to your story. Don’t cheat them out of the emotionally experience.

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17. Content Marketing Success - You have to walk the walk

There are so many amazing quotes out there that focus in on what needs to be done and does it in a sentence or two. The quote above from Anatole France, does just that. It reminds me of the Bible quote: "Faith without works is dead." No matter how much planning you do, if you don't take actionable steps, you won't get anywhere. And, if you can't dream it or believe you can accomplish it,

0 Comments on Content Marketing Success - You have to walk the walk as of 7/25/2014 6:42:00 AM
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18. Book Review- Bombmaker by Claire McFall

Title: Bombmaker
 Author:  Claire McFall
Published:  1 February 2014 by Templar
Length:  336 pages
Source: publisher
Other info:  Claire has also written Ferryman, which I reviewed here and won the Scottish Booktrust Award.
Summary : The English government have closed the borders with their Celtic neighbours. Any Celt found in England is branded with a tattoo, found twice they are executed. Scottish Lizzie is the 'property' of psychopathic London gang boss Alexander. Can Lizzie escape Alexander's deadly grip and at what price her betrayal?

Review: Following bad economic times, England closes the borders with Scotland and Wales  and brings in  a new policy: Celts found in England are branded. Branded Celts in England are killed. Lizzie is one such branded Celt, who is the "property" of Alexander, a gang boss in London, who keeps her around for her bombmaking skills. as time goes on, Lizzie realises she might like a life outside the gang. Which is something that Alexander does not like at all.
I read McFall's Ferryman last year and really enjoyed it. I was looking forwards to this, especially with everything going on about the Scottish Independence referendum. Extreme nationalist governments make good reading (not real life), and so do gangs. Add in promises of a clever awesome female character and I'm sold.
You very quickly get pulled into Lizzie's world, both the political climate and the gang life that she’s part of. It’s a world that is believable, if you imagine that a yes vote leads to extreme xenophobia on the  English peoples’ part (ie just a huge ramp up of how it is now).
I love the fact that all the characters are well fleshed out really well. You really get close to them, even if that closeness is not something that you really want to be. Alexander’s creepiness seems to know no bounds. Lizzie, I liked a lot; she’s resourceful, and you want things to go right for her, even though they tend not to. I loved reading about them and how they got where they are and where they want to go.
It’s very very different to Ferryman. McFall writes well in both softer afterlife stories and gritty thrillers. I’m looking forwards to see what she does next.

Overall:  Strength 4 tea to a fast paced relevant  dystopia.

0 Comments on Book Review- Bombmaker by Claire McFall as of 7/31/2014 8:10:00 AM
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19. Tea Party or Fist Fights? Why Action Scenes are Hard to Write!

COMING: March, 2015

ActionViolenceIn my current WIP, I want to up the action and make this a physically exciting story. So, I bought a great ebook, Action! Writing Better Action Using Cinematic Techniques by Ian Thomas Healy. It’s great, as I said, and breaks down the actions into easy components that can be easily mastered. Even for me, it’s easy.

Healy says that great action scenes put characters into motion and the “effective description of that motion is what makes the difference. . .
I get that part. But here’s what stumps me: “At its most basic level, an action scene is an expression of plot or character development through violence.”

Violence. As in people hitting each other, shooting at each other, killing each other. Yep. That kind of physical violence.

It’s been a long, long time since I was in a knock-down drag-out fight. That was with my younger brother when I was about 15, and we were fighting about whether the overhead light was on or off while we watched TV. I never had the chance to play football, which is a pure Show-Don’t-Tell version of testosterone. When my daughters played soccer, I cringed when they played tea party on the field: Oh, you have the ball? Well, take your turn and when you are finished, I’ll take my turn. Teaching aggression (much less violence) to young ladies is hard.

Our society trains women to avoid violence. We teach our daughters aggression now on a soccer field, but step off the field and it’s tea party time again. Women writers are at a disadvantage in writing action scenes.

Because Healy says that a great action scene needs violence.
Heck, I can’t even work up a good case of Road Rage.

Motivation. The hardest thing for me is to motivate the characters. I can block out the action and get the characters fighting. I’ve seen enough action movies to be able to do it. (Go watch The Transformers latest movie if you want non-stop violence. Wow. It must take up 75% of that movie.)

But WHY are these characters resorting to violence? (See, even our language makes it hard to use violence: “resort” implies that violence is a last option and the choice to use it is not easy.) Why would the characters use fists, swords, guns or other weapons against someone else? Healy helps with blocking out the sequences of actions and building them into longer sequences. But he says little about the character motivations.

In one sense, this is an escalating of tensions. Almost any motivation would work: revenge, for example, could easily escalate into violence. Two rivals for a fortune in gold could escalate an argument into violence and death. For violence to take place, there’s a line that needs to be crossed. Polite society demands that people restrain themselves, and that self-control must break for your characters, shoving them into a no-holds-barred action. Violence. It’s an escalation and it’s a letting go of social restraints. It’s a willingness to take action and a determination to get something done—no matter what.

Sounds like a good way to increase the tension and stakes in a story. Yes, often action stories are physical stories, without much in the way of characterization. You’ve heard it said that you either write an action story or you write a character story. A cross-pollination though, could create an intriguing mix. This time, I’m shooting for a story with better balance between action and character.

Cinematic. In some ways, this mix will be more cinematic. The sights and sounds of the action are crucial to the success of the scene. And yes, as I am writing, I am trying to visualize the actions in my head; I’m trying to see it as if it is on the big screen. Healy’s title is right on, violence—action scenes—are cinematic.

Thanks to Healy’s advice, I am making lists of what he calls “stunts,” or isolated pieces of actions, that will build into “engagements,” or movement across a setting, which will ultimately build toward some climactic “resolution.” I am taking baby steps in building a chapter with interesting action, um, violence.

Look out. I’m strapping on my boxing gloves, er, getting ready to type the next chapter of this new action-adventure story.

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20. Take Action for Kids in Need

Action Kit coverWhen Melissa Deneen Shipp surprised each of her students with a new book of their very own, their reaction surprised her. “Normally this is the part when they maul me with hugs,” she said. “But instead they just stared. They literally couldn’t believe their eyes!”

She told her students, “Yes, YOU are the owner of that book!” Jumping up and down, her students shouted in reply, “This is mine, this is mine!” It was one of the best days Melissa has ever had as a teacher.

For over 20 years, teachers like Melissa and supporters like you have joined First Book to bring moments of joy, comfort and learning to millions of kids in need.

But there’s so much more to be done. Over 32 million kids in the U.S. live in poverty. In their homes, schools and communities, books are rare.

Action Kit Outside Envelope StampAs our kids return to school this month, we invite you to support them – now, throughout the year and into the future.

How can you make a difference? Volunteer your time, tell educators in your community about First Book or donate to get books in the hands of children in need. Check out our 2014 Action Kit and discover the many ways you can get involved today.

First Book will provide 15 million books to kids in need this year and we believe we can meet this goal because of supporters like you. Take action today!

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21. Love=Action

I often wonder if people understand that love is an action word. No, I don't mean the act of fleshly love. I mean prove it.

Recently a person in my life has shown me that love was not in their vocabulary, let alone their heart. I dared them to prove to me they love me in ways that would conquer that disbelief. Give me a reason to stay in their lives. Because actions speak far louder than words and the only actions shown- were complacency and contempt. It had been that way for many, neglectful and abusive years.

That person is now taking baby steps to show me that my lifetime of love has not only been one-sided and pointless. They are allowing their heart to shine again. You see, it wasn't just non-love that was being communicated. It was hurt that was not being communicated. The poison had to stop.

If a man walked into his house and saw a stranger forcing his wife to do unspeakable things- would he not rush to her aid and save her?

And if a woman saw that same person robbing her husband and she just happened to have a strong weapon at her disposal, would she not rescue her husband and then think about calling for help?

It's the same in the spiritual sense; emotional & mental.

If a person is struggling with their faith, with their emotions, with their life- and you just happened to be with that person until death do you part- get in there and fight.
Who are you to leave them go this alone? How can you say you are in love when you don't even try?

Are you the person who is being neglected? I am praying. God knows the answers you need.

Don't leave people alone, my lovelies. Eventually you will lose them. In one way or another.
Unless, of course, that is what you want.
In that case, stop torturing them.

Step up and be the person your love needs.

Nobody should have to face the most horrifying of life's struggles alone. All humans need another human to hold their hand once in a while, to help them navigate through troubled waters.

This blog entry was not intended to be harmful or judgmental. I don't know who this is for. Maybe it is just for me. Whatever the case, we need each other. We can't go it alone. Let's purpose to be the hope and the salt and the Light in other people's lives. Hold them up when they cannot stand. Let's show them they are worth the fight and be there as long as it takes. Forgive. Forget. And love once again.

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22. Book Trailer for Zac’s Destiny

Please check out my book trailer for Zac’s Destiny on YouTube!

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23. Christmas crime films

In order to spread some festive cheer, Blackstone’s Policing has compiled a watchlist of some of the best criminal Christmas films. From a child inadvertently left home alone to a cop with a vested interest, and from a vigilante superhero to a degenerate pair of blaggers, it seems that (in Hollywood at least) there’s something about this time of year that calls for a special kind of policing. So let’s take a look at some of Tinseltown’s most arresting Christmas films:

1. Die Hard, directed by John McTiernan, 1988

Considered by many to be one of the greatest action/Christmas films of all time, Die Hard remains the definitive cinematic alternative to the usual saccharine cookie-cut Christmas film offering. This is the infinitely watchable story of officer John McClane’s Christmas from hell. When a trip to win back his estranged wife  goes awry and he unwittingly finds himself amidst an international terrorist plot, he must find a way to save the day armed only with a few guns, a walkie talkie, and a bloodied vest. With firefights and exploding fairy lights abundant, this Bruce Willis tour de force is the undisputed paragon of policing in Christmas films.

2. Home Alone, directed by Chris Columbus, 1990

In a parental blunder tantamount to criminal neglect, the McCallister family accidentally leave their youngest member, Kevin (played by precocious child star Macaulay Culkin), ‘home alone’ to fend for himself over Christmas as two omnishambolic burglars target the McCallister household. As the Chicago Police Department work through the confusion of the situation, Kevin traverses his way through a far from silent night. Cue copious booby traps and slapstick as the imagination of an eight-year-old boy ingeniously holds the line in this family-fun classic.

3. Batman Returns, directed by Tim Burton, 1992

Gotham is a city perennially infested with arch-criminals whose seemingly endless financial resources demand that they be tackled head-on by a force who can match them pound-for-pound (or dollar-for-dollar, if you prefer). Enter Gotham’s very own Christmas miracle: billionaire Bruce Wayne and his vigilante alter ego Batman (Michael Keaton), who provides a singular justice-hungry scourge against the criminal underworld. As the Penguin (Danny DeVito) hatches a nefarious plot which threatens the city, Batman’s wholly goodwill must prove resilient. Though director Tim Burton went on to make The Nightmare Before Christmas the following year, Batman Returns itself is hardly a Christmas classic.

4. Lethal Weapon, directed by Richard Donner, 1987

Ward Bond (1903-1960) as Bert, the cop in It's a Wonderful Life (1946) by Insomnia Cured Here. CC-BY-2.0 via Flickr.
Ward Bond (1903-1960) as Bert the cop in It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) by Insomnia Cured Here. CC-BY-2.0 via Flickr.

With a blizzard of bullets and completely bereft of snow, LA-based Lethal Weapon lacks nearly all the usual trimmings of a Christmas film. Seasoned detective Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) is close to retirement when he’s paired with the young (and morose) Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) to tackle a drug smuggling gang. As their stormy investigation progresses, Murtaugh and Riggs’ unlikely union flourishes into a double-act worthy of Donner and Blitzen (and, judging by the pair’s return in a subsequent three installments of the series, their entertaining policing partnership always leaves audiences wanting myrrh…).

5. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, directed by Jeremiah Chechik, 1989

In this third installment of the Griswold family’s catastrophic holidays, Clark (Chevy Chase) navigates his way through the perils of yet another disastrous calamity, but at least this time he has his Christmas bonus to look forward to. Things take a bizarre turn for the criminal when the bonus isn’t forthcoming, resulting in a myriad of mishaps of Christmas paraphernalia and SWAT teams. As the tagline for the film attests, ‘Yule crack up!’

6. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, directed by Shane Black, 2005

Petty thief Harry Lockhart (Robert Downey Jr.) finds himself embroiled in a series of increasingly byzantine cases of mistaken identity as both a method actor and criminal investigator. Reality cuts through when Harry is shepherded into a murder investigation involving the sister of his childhood crush, Harmony Lane (Michelle Monaghan). Perhaps one of the less christmassy films on this list, there are definitely still a few seasonal signs parceled  in to this murder/mystery thriller.

“There’s something about this time of year that calls for a special kind of policing”

7. Miracle on 34th Street, directed by George Seaton, 1947

Arguably the ultimate Christmas film, Miracle on 34th Street is the classic tale of the legal battle around the sanity and freedom of a man who claims to be the real Santa Claus. This original film won three Academy Awards including Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Edmund Gwenn’s portrayal of Kris Kringle (‘the real Santa Claus’). Despite being remade in 1994 and adapted into various other forms, the 1947 version remains the quintessential Christmas film which no comprehensive watchlist could be without.

8. Bad Santa, directed by Terry Zwigoff, 2003

Dastardly duo Willie (Billy Bob Thornton) and Marcus (Tony Cox) make their criminal living by posing as Santa and his Little Helper for department stores, and then opportunistically stealing as much as they can. As the security team for their latest blag hunts them down, Willie meets a boy determined that he is the real Santa and the race is on for the degenerate pair to reform their lifestyles before they are stuffed.

What would would you add to this list? Tell us your favourite policing Christmas film in the comments section below or let us know directly on Twitter. Merry Christmas everyone!

Headline image credit: [365 Toy Project: 019/365] Batman: Scarlet Part 1. CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0 via Flickr.

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24. Two Middle Grade Books 2014

Middle Grade Readers

1) One Dog and His Boy- Written by Eva Ibbotson, Published by Scholastic Inc. New York, NY 2014. Hal is just an ordinary kid with a large dream of owning a dog. On his birthday Hal is allowed to choose a pet that is when Fleck becomes a part of his life and an adventure begins after Hal finds him gone on Monday. Together with a girl named Pippa Hal rescues Fleck and running away is his only option, made trickier when Pippa announces that she and the other dogs want to come along. It not only teaches your children about the power of friendship and love  but it takes them on a journey through life. I highly recommend this book for your middle graders. Get out and pick up a copy today.

2) The Path of Names- Written by Ari Goelman, Published by Scholastic Inc. New York, NY 2013. Dahlia Sherman loves magic tricks, math and video games. She is not so found of campfire songs or lighting storms or mean girls her age. When she is placed in a sleeping camp strange things start happening like ghosts of little girls and an ancient maze guarded by a mysteries caretaker. This books take her on a journey through the past to discover what all this means. It is a mystery based on ancient Jewish scripture that is much better suited for your older middle grader. The book is a fun read and has a very strong connection to Jewish traditions and mystical culture.     

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25. Zac’s Destiny 2014 Kindle Award Winner!

Zac’s Destiny, winner of The Book Awards for a Kindle title 2014!
Available on Kindle from Amazon worldwide.


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