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26. Memorial Day Romance Giveaway: FREEFALL audio for free!

Freefall Audio Sml

Romance! Who doesn’t want that streaming into your ears? Now here’s your chance to win a free audio book edition of my romance novel FREEFALL.

But hurry! The giveaway ends Thursday at midnight so the 20 lucky winners will have their audio books ready for download at the start of the holiday.

Go here for all the details!

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27. Friday Feature: Extraordinary Sam and the Adventurers' Guild



“This box may seem empty,

But there’s more than meets the eye…”

Sam Miller seems like an ordinary twelve year-old boy, but the discovery of a mysterious box from his missing grandfather changes his life forever. He soon finds himself in a strange world full of adventure and magic where he must battle pirates, giant spiders, and an evil tyrant. To survive, Sam must overcome his fears, solve the riddles, and most of all, be Extraordinary. 

Find it on Amazon.

Kevin A. Springer grew up on a farm in Maryland where his imagination knew no limits. As a husband and father, he reconnected with his creativity while telling bedtime stories to his two young boys. One such story evolved into his debut book, Extraordinary Sam & the Adventurers’ Guild (Bookfish Books LLC.), which tells the tale of an ordinary boy who finds a hatbox and discovers a world of adventure and self-discovery.
Kevin is a self-proclaimed dreamer and a kid at heart. When he’s not writing or reading, he is coaching soccer or helping with homework. He lives outside of Atlanta with his wife, two extraordinary boys, and dogs. He is also a co-founder of the Middle Grade Mafia blog.
 
SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS

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28. Friday Feature: Interview With a Ghost



Chrys Fey here taking over Kelly Hashway’s blog for this Friday Feature and I’m not alone. I have with me the MC of my short story, Ghost of Death. Did I forget to mention she’s a ghost? Yup, she is. Let’s get started, shall we?


Hey, Jolie.

*eyes widen* You can see me?

Of course, I can see you. I’m the one who wrote your story, remember?

Oh, that’s right. I’m sorry. I have ghost-brain. You know, like pregnancy-brain?

I get it. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions? Our readers haven’t met a ghost before and they’re dying (no pun intended) to know more about you.

Sure, fire away!


1. How did you realize you were dead?

I saw my corpse. That’s a pretty big sign, wouldn’t you say? *sighs* I’m sorry. I’m a little testy, right now.

2. I’d be testy, too. What was your first thought upon seeing your body?

I thought it was a dream or hallucination. Or maybe I was having a mental breakdown. I didn’t want to believe it. Who would? After the shock wore off, I was pissed because there’s so much I still want to do. Who wants to be dead when your life is just supposed to be starting?

3. What was your life like before you were a ghost?

I was a college student going for my journalist degree. I had just won an internship to Globe Magazine and had the dream of being the best journalist ever. On Wednesdays, I’d go to a small pizzeria with my friends, and on Fridays, we’d go to Galaxy Bar where I’d drink a few Wormholes and would get sweaty with my boyfriend, Cody, on the dance floor.

4. Do you recall anything about your murder?

Nothing. Yada, Yent. Zilch. I wish I did, though. I hate knowing my killer is out there roaming free. Maybe even planning to kill another college student.

5. I hope not! Can you tell us about the detective on your case?

Detective Avrianna Heavenborn is a real bad ass. No one dares to cross her. Not only is she fierce, but people also fear her because they think she’s a freak. That’s a story for another time, though.

6. What it like to be a ghost?

It sucks! I can’t touch Cody or hug my mom. I can‘t see my reflection in the mirror or talk to my best friend. But there are a few perks. For example, I can stare at people, right in front of their faces, and I don’t have to worry about being rude. I can even walk through doors, which is a neat trick.

7. What do you miss the most?

So much. I think it’s the littlest things that I took for granted that I miss the most, though. Like the smell of Cody’s cologne, my mom’s homemade cookies, and fresh cut grass.


I think I’d miss smells, too. Like the smell of flowers and baking bread.

Mm. And taste. Like the taste of pizza. That’s a big one!

Oh yes, pizza. Our readers are going to have to read Ghost of Death to understand your obsession with pizza.


Definitely! Well, I gotta fly. I need to see if Avrianna has any leads. Chow!


Title: Ghost of Death
Author: Chrys Fey
Genre: Supernatural/Suspense
Format: eBook Only
Page Count: 41 (short story)
Release Date: April 22nd, 2015
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press

Blurb:

Jolie Montgomery, a twenty-one-year-old woman, wakes up in an alley next to her corpse. She has no memories of her murder or the night she died. She didn’t even see the killer’s face before he or she took her life. Wanting justice, Jolie seeks answers in the only way a ghost can...by stalking the lead detective on the case.

Avrianna Heavenborn is determined to find the person responsible for a young woman’s death. She gets closer to the killer’s identity with every clue she uncovers, and Jolie is with her every step of the way.

But if they don’t solve her murder soon, Jolie will be an earth-bound spirit forever.


Book Links:

Available for PRE-ORDER:


Blurb:

Detective Reid Sanders doesn’t believe in the supernatural, but when he’s faced with a crime scene that defies the laws of nature, he has no other choice but to start believing. And solving a magical murder involves working with a witch.

Liberty Sawyer embodies the look of your classic evil witch, so, it’s no surprise when she uncovers the murderer is a witch that she becomes Reid’s number one suspect. If she can’t convince him otherwise, more people could lose their lives to dark magic, including her.

Book Links:


BIO:

Chrys Fey is the author of Hurricane Crimes and 30 Seconds. She is currently working on the sequel to Hurricane Crimes that’ll serve as book two in the Disaster Crimes series.

When Fey was six years old, she realized her dream of being a writer by watching her mother pursue publication. At the age of twelve, she started writing her first novel, which flourished into a series she later rewrote at seventeen. Fey lives in Florida where she is waiting for the next hurricane to come her way.

You can connect with her on Facebook and her blog, Write with Fey. She loves to get to know her readers! 


Author Links: 
Facebook / Blog / Website / Goodreads 


Thank you all for visiting and hopefully commenting. ;) 

Thanks, Chrys! It was great getting to know Jolie!

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29. Help Your Students & Families Find the Best Summer Learning Opportunities

You’ve been their teacher for nearly ten months. It seems like only September that a new gaggle  of hungry learners entered your classroom. What a journey it has been!

Summer is fast approaching, which means:

  • Prevent Summer SlideYou will not have explicit control over your students’ daily schedules and learning much longer
  • Summer slide is a serious risk
  • Summer school, camps, and programs are quickly filling up (some by February!)
  • Summer learning can make a difference

So in your final guidance to your students and families—help connect them with the right summer learning opportunities!

Summer slide can happen to any student, but is particularly detrimental for low-income children. If you work in a Title I school, for example, families may lack time to research and to apply early, supplemental income to put towards summer programming, or even the language (English) to navigate and negotiate with programs.

Engaging parents in the summer program process is critical. Ten months together with a student and family is significant, but the summer break is a sobering reminder that our time with students is so short (too short) on their grand education journeys.

Reality: We have about 900 hours a year with students, compared to the 7,800 hours students spend out of school. And so, finding a summer learning opportunity for our students is one last opportunity to engage parents as partners and recognize them as the ultimate teachers and advocates of their children.

Why should educators and school staff support with summer planning? Helping families navigate the convoluted summer programs race, you’ll ensure:

  • your students retain the growth they achieved with you
  • your students find a safe, healthy place to continue learning for the next two months—many of these programs provide not only academic support, but also necessary meal services that families have depended on during the school year
  • your students get exposed to new experiences in art, science, music, or sports which will help them build their background schema—a critical reading strategy
  • the next grade’s teacher will love you forever (no wants to spend the first month(s) of school re-teaching or reminding students what they already learned, thereby losing precious learning time for new material—full steam ahead!)

FIRST, start your own research now.

  • Does your school offer summer school or host a summer day camp?
  • Ask around: What programs did your students from last year go to that they would recommend for your current students? What academic programs do your colleagues and administrators recommend? Does the school’s PTA know of local quality opportunities?
  • Head straight to the local library in the neighborhood of your school—no one does better research on community resources than here, and I have found incredible, meticulously curated binders on health resources, summer camps, preschools, and more in the Children’s Rooms of many public library branches.

Program finders:

Questions to consider when looking into programs:

  • How is reading incorporated? Sports clinics are great for addressing the opportunity gap, but the major goal is about preserving (and hopefully increasing) reading and math literacy
  • Is transportation available?
  • Are breakfast and lunch provided?
  • Are scholarships available? Groups like Wishbone and The Fresh Air Fund can help cover the cost to otherwise out-of-reach high quality programs
  • Can siblings of different ages participate?
  • Are materials available in other languages or staff members able to communicate with non-English speaking families?

SECOND, begin talking to your students and their families NOW (inquire at after-school pickup and in your final parent-teacher conference). Ask:

  • What are your plans for the summer?
  • How will your child continue reading practice and discover books?
  • Have you ever considered a day camp or summer school program?
  • What has been a challenge in finding a program before? (Likely challenges in the past: language, cost, ability to take siblings or multiple age groups, transportation, general convenience, or compatibility with work schedules)
  • Discuss summer slide and if/how their child may be at risk. Talk about some ways to prevent summer slide at home and the benefits of local programs.

THIRD, present families with 3-4 programs you have found that are convenient. You do not need to offer families the whole menu of options (thanks, internet) and, frankly, many may not be realistic due to waiting lists, distance, or cost. You know your families and what is doable.

Having said that, you may also discover scholarships to summer programs that your families wouldn’t have even considered—if you can connect them, do it! These are memories your students will have forever.

FINALLY, hold parents accountable. Consider having an after school or morning session with a couple of laptops in your classroom for parents to register and learn more. (In my first year of teaching, my grade level colleague physically connected parents to the registration forms by printing a couple of forms to attach in the summer learning packets and discussed options in the final parent-teacher conference). In this way, you can:

  • help families learn about programs near their neighborhood
  • answer questions
  • provide translation of a website or help make a phone call to specific programs on behalf of families whose first or preferred language to speak in isn’t English
  • create a visible support system among families who are also registering, which will increase chances of success for when you are working and studying elsewhere during the summer (as well as help with carpooling!)

Be Pragmatic. Don’t feel like you need to coordinate 30+ students’ summer learning plans and help students decide between sports clinics. Zero in on students whose learning achievements seem the most precarious and you know that if you don’t help point out a summer learning opportunity, they face two months of staying at home with the T.V.

Even if you only get a couple of families (with siblings) registered this time around, next year they will be back championing the experiences and opportunities, and can be partnered with to encourage other families—nothing like seeing someone like you participate to make you rethink what is possible for your family.

Recommended Reading:

Jill Eisenberg, our Senior Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her weekly column at The Open Book, she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. 

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30. The FAT CAT Get Healthy for Summer Giveaway!

I get soooo many e-mails from people who have just read or listened to FAT CAT and want some more tips about how to do what Cat does in the book and totally transform their bodies and their health.

So guess what? I’m going to give you the chance to win a great book to get you started.

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau has written numerous books and cookbooks and has an amazing podcast and is generally out there inspiring people and teaching them how to make lifelong changes that will make them feel happy, healthy, and strong. Those of you who have listened to the FAT CAT audio book know that Colleen and I have a great conversation at the end of the book about both of our food backgrounds and what led us to make changes. I love Colleen’s work. I’m also happy to introduce other people to it.

So for this month’s giveaway, you’ll have the chance to win a signed copy of her new book, The 30-Day Vegan Challenge: The Ultimate Guide to Eating Healthfully and Living Compassionately. The winner will also receive a signed copy of FAT CAT, along with a Karmic Cafe T-shirt just like the one Amanda designs in FAT CAT.

You can enter the giveaway here. And remember the cool extra-credit detail: When you enter you’ll get a confirmation email that contains your own personal special code. When you post that code on your own blog or Twitter or Facebook, you’ll get 3 extra entries in your own name every time someone else enters from that link. So the more you share, the better your chances are of winning! Go get ‘em!

Good luck to all of you!

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31. Friday Feature: The Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver



“She’s not who I thought she was, but that doesn’t matter. Maddy is my sister, my twin sister, and I’ll do anything for her, including losing myself.”

Twin sisters. A fatal accident. A devastating lie. Which girl survived?

Ella and Maddy Lawton are identical twins. Ella has spent her high school years living in popular Maddy's shadows, but she has never been envious of Maddy. In fact, she's chosen the quiet, safe confines of her sketchbook over the constant battle for attention that has defined Maddy's world.

When—after a heated argument—Maddy and Ella get into a tragic accident that leaves Maddy dead, Ella wakes up in the hospital surrounded by loved ones who believe she is   Maddy. Feeling responsible for Maddy's death and everyone's grief, Ella makes a split-second decision to pretend to be Maddy. And everyone believes her. Caught in a web of lies, Ella is faced with two options--confess her deception and risk devastating those who loved Maddy, or give up her own dreams and live her sister's life.


*"Leaver's brilliant novel is the high school version of What Happened to Janie? The compelling premise will attract readers and the strong characterization will keep them enthralled." -VOYA, STARRED REVIEW


"Trisha Leaver crafts a powerful and haunting novel that will keep you up long after you read the last page. Full of twists and turns and FEELS, this book questions how far a person will go for her family . . . even if it means losing herself." - Lynne Matson, author of NIL


“THE SECRETS WE KEEP is a book who truly earns the title “gripping,” and refused to be put down until the very last page.” ~ Cuyler Creech, Teen Library Toolbox

Buy Links for THE SECRETS WE KEEP:


About the Author:
TRISHA LEAVER lives on Cape Cod with her husband, three children, and one rather irreverent black lab. She is a chronic daydreamer who prefers the cozy confines of her own imagination to the mundane routine of everyday life.  
She writes Young Adult Contemporary fiction, Psychological Horror and Science Fiction and is published with FSG/ Macmillan, Flux/Llewellyn and Merit Press. For more details, check out her website at: www.trishaleaver.com


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32. President Obama Announces ConnectED Library Challenge and #BooksforAll Project

Every child deserves the chance to learn and thrive in an environment that is enriched by the latest technology. Two years ago President Obama announced ConnectED, a signature initiative focused on transforming teaching and learning through digital connectivity and content.  Today, building on the progress made to date, at the Anacostia Library in Washington, D.C., the President will announce two new efforts to strengthen learning opportunities by improving access to digital content and to public libraries: new eBooks commitments and the ConnectED Library Challenge.  LEE & LOW BOOKS is excited to be a part of this new program!

The first is commitments from publishers to find ways to make sure their content is available to low-income youth in America.  Major publishers (including LEE & LOW BOOKS) are announcing they will make over $250 million in free eBooks available to low-income students.  Nonprofits and libraries are partnering with each other to create an app that can deliver this content and materials from the public domain.  Complementing that effort, the ConnectED Library Challenge is a commitment by more than 30 communities to put a library card into every student’s hand so they will have access to the learning resources and books they can read for pleasure, all available in America’s libraries.

These initiatives represent another way the ConnectED effort is making a real difference for students. Combined with the $2 billion in private-sector commitments, and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) funding for school and library connectivity that includes $2 billion specifically for Wi-Fi, and $1.5 billion more in annual funding today’s announcement brings the total value delivered as part of this five-year transformation in American education to over $10 billion. And as a result of these commitments, we are on track to meet the President’s goal of connecting 99 percent of students to high-speed broadband in their classrooms and libraries.

—————–

As part of today’s effort, the New York Public Library is developing an e-reader app that will provide access to a universe of digital books, including contributions from publishers and hundreds of classics already in the public domain, to create a book collection for students aged 4-18 from low-income families.  The New York Public Library will work with a network of top librarians volunteering their time through the Digital Public Library of America to connect young readers with books that match their reading levels and interests.  New York Public Library will work with First Book, a book-donation non-profit, to help make sure eBooks reach students in low-income families.

Major publishers are committing to make wishing aavailable thousands of popular and award-winning titles to students over a three-year period.  These contributions will create a new book collection for students aged 4-18 from low-income families. Students from all demographics will be able to access the public domain titles, whose cover art and typography will be freshly designed by world-class designers and artists.

The new commitments the President will announce today will help ensure the smartphone or tablet that is increasingly a part of students’ lives is also a teaching tool outside the classroom that encourages kids to become lifelong readers.

Hundreds of Millions of Dollars in New Private-Sector Commitments: Today, the President will highlight some of the major publishers and their authors that have pledged to donate titles to low-income students:

  • Macmillan: Providing unlimited access to all of the K-12 age-appropriate titles in their title catalog of approximately 2,500 books.
  • Simon & Schuster: Providing access to their entire e-catalog of books for children ages 4-14, comprised of 3,000 titles.
  • Penguin Random House: Committing to provide an extensive offering of their popular and award-winning books.
  • Hachette: Offering participating students access to a robust catalogue of their popular and award-winning titles.
  • Candlewick: Providing unlimited access to all relevant children’s and young-adult e-book titles in their catalog.
  • Bloomsbury: Providing unlimited access to over 1,000 of its most popular titles.
  • Lee & Low: The leading independent publisher of multicultural books is providing unlimited access to over 700 of its titles.
  • Cricket Media: Offering full digital access to all of its market-leading magazines for children and young adults, including Ladybug and Cricket.
  • HarperCollins: Providing a robust selection of their award-winning and popular titles.

Commitments from Government, Non-profit, and Philanthropic Institutions: Today, the President will highlight commitments supporting expanded access to free books:

  • The Institute of Museum and Library Services: Investing $5 million to support the development of the e-reader app and tools and services to help the public  more easily access e-books and other digital content.
  • The Digital Public Library of America: Their network of librarians will volunteer with the New York Public Library to help make sure popular books reach the most appropriate audience. DPLA, in conjunction with Recovering the Classics are also add age-appropriate public domain titles whose text and cover art has been redesigned by leading graphic designers and artists.
  • New York Public Library: New York Public Library is developing a cutting-edge e-reader app and working with industry and tech leaders to improve the experience for students.
  • First Book: a book donation non-profit organization has committed to work with New York Public Library and interested publishes to provide authentication and delivery services to ensure that e-books will reach students in low-income families.

—————————

President Obama recognizes the critical role that libraries play as trusted community anchors that support learning and connectivity at all times and many different paces. In fact, more than 70 percent of libraries report that they are the only providers of free public internet access in their community. Like many modern challenges, improving education for all children requires key leaders to collaborate in new and powerful ways. Libraries are uniquely positioned to continue to build programs and partnerships that bridge the divide between schools and homes and provide educational services to every person in the community.

Announcing the ConnectED Library Challenge: Today, the President will call upon library directors to work with their mayors, school leaders, and school librarians, to create or strengthen partnerships so that every child enrolled in school can receive a library card. These libraries also commit to support student learning through programming that develops their language, reading, and critical thinking; provide digital resources, such as eBooks and online collections of traditional media; and provide broadband connectivity and wireless access within library facilities. Over 30 major cities and counties have announced they are taking the challenge and will work to provide cards to all students.

Communities adopting the ConnectED Library Challenge include: Baltimore, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Clinton Macomb, Columbus, Cuyahoga, D.C., Denver, Hartford, Hennepin County, Howard County, Indianapolis, Madison, Milwaukee, New Haven, Oakland, Pierce County, Pima, Pocatello, Pueblo City, Ramsey County, Columbia, Rochester Hills, Rochester, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Seattle, Skokie, and St. Louis.

Commitments in support of the ConnnectED Library Challenge: To support the implementation of the ConnectED Library Challenge, the Administration announced new commitments to action:

  • The Institute of Museum and Library Services: Host a national convening this summer to identify and share best practices in reaching universal library card use among public school students.
  • Urban Libraries Council: Lead an initiative that provides a forum for community, library and school leaders to work together to meet city and county education goals by leveraging resources and measuring outcomes.
  • American Library Association:  Drive adoption of the ConnectED Library Challenge through their 55,000 members and align the challenge with existing support and technical assistance provided through their Every Child Ready to Read initiative.

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33. What is Día de los niños/Día de los Libros? 5 Questions for Pat Mora

Día de los niños/Día de los libros (Children’s Day/Book Day) is an annual celebration of books and literacy that takes place each year on our near April 30. The American Library Association says:

Día is a nationally recognized initiative that emphasizes the importance of literacy for all children from all backgrounds. It is a daily commitment to linking children and their families to diverse books, languages and cultures.

Pat MoraDía’s founder, and one of its biggest proponents, is award-winning author Pat Mora. We asked her 5 questions about the holiday and how to celebrate it:

What is bookjoy and how do you hope Día will cultivate it in young/early readers?

I coined the word bookjoy to convey the private and delicious pleasure of enjoying time with books. Little ones can thoroughly experience bookjoy long before they’re readers if the adults around them share excitement about books.

What impact is Día having on communities where it is celebrated?

Día strengthens communities because it brings diverse children and families together to celebrate all our children and to connect them to bookjoy. Día is a year-long commitment to share literacy creatively with culminating celebrations held in April on or near How to Celebrate Día de los niños/Día de los LibrosApril 30th.

Do you feel that the recent push for more diversity in publishing (especially with the We Need Diverse Books community campaign) has sparked renewed interest in Día?

I hope so. We celebrate Dia’s 20th Anniversary April 2016. For years, I’ve written and spoken about the importance of a national book community, including publishers, authors, illustrators, and award committees, and reviewers that reflect the diversity of our children. Those of us in this community need to participate in creating a body of children’s literature that honors our plurality.

What would you say to a library or school that wants to celebrate Día but doesn’t have many resources at its disposal?

Those of us committed to Children’s Day, Book Day, in Spanish El día de los niños, El día de los libros are creating a tradition in the same way that Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are traditions in our country. Exciting: honoring all children and sharing bookjoy with them. Some April observances are small and some are big, but the important element is annually sharing this tradition. Literacy is essential in a democracy. Let’s celebrate kids and books!

What role does community play in the celebration of Día? How can individual readers support or celebrate Día?

Readers enjoy sharing an important value in our lives: books! We can ask our nearby or local schools and libraries if they celebrate Día and be prepared to explain what it is and why it’s important. We can volunteer to help or provide a donation. Many Día celebrations include book-giveaways and books as prizes. Schools and libraries welcome our support. When diverse groups of diverse ages join together for children, it energizes communities.

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34. Boos for girls

I don’t know how many school assemblies I’ve done over the past 12 years. 200-300 is my best guess. Something I’ve found is that boys feel okay booing and mocking things they see as “for girls” but that girls never mock the “boy” things. Here’s an example. This exact scenario has repeated at every elementary and middle school assembly I’ve done in the past year and a half - at least 30, maybe more, in over a dozen states.

Me: I went to Mattel headquarters. Mattel is the largest toy maker in the world. They make Thomas the Train, Justice League Figures, Matchbox Cars–

Boys: Yay!

Me: Barbie–

Boys: BOO!!!

Me: I was going to write a book for their new toy line, but it was so secret, we had to put in a security code to go down a secret hallway, into a second locked door where on a table under a shroud they had the prototypes for the new toys. I lifted the shroud and this is what I saw: (switches to slide of Ever After High dolls)

Girls: Yay!

Boys: BOOO!!! BOOOO!!!

Notice the girls did not boo Thomas or Justice League or cars. Many cheered those things too. But the boys booed Barbe and EAH in unison, loudly, as if it was only natural, expected.

I’ve put up with it for awhile. And all this booing is after I’ve even talked with the kids about how unfair it is that people claim there are boy books and girl books. How untrue. Why can girls read anything but  boys are told that they can only read half the books? And we’ve talked frankly about this. Still, the loud, fearless, angry mocking of any mention of “girl” media.

I’ve stopped putting up with it. When they boo, I stop them now. I demand respect. “I don’t know who told you it was okay to boo anything that you think girls like, but it’s not okay with me. That will stop. Girls, you don’t have to put up with that. The things you like deserve respect. You deserve respect.” I don’t know if they listen. But I’m going to say it all the same.

I think that by being “polite” and pretending to ignore the boos, I was actually reinforcing their opinion that this was okay. Tolerating something out of civility sure looks like complicity if you’re a girl in the audience. I won’t be complicit anymore. Which is “kinder”: ignoring the boos or calling them on it?

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35. Mastering Words: Ways to Evolve as a Writer

Each day, we seek to put our best foot forward. We shower, dress for the day’s activities, style our hair. We plan, organize, gather our things, and check the mirror before leaving, making sure to pluck stray fluff off our sweaters and straighten our sleeves.

Why?

  • To enhance our strengths.
  • To appear confident.
  • To show the people who interact with us that we are collected and ready for whatever comes our way.

It’s human nature to minimize our weaknesses. We hide zits, disguise thinning hair and avoid talking about our embarrassing mistakes. But in writing, covering up flaws can keep us from success.

Writing weaknesses are normal. We all have them. But it’s okay, because each of us is on the same journey, and there is no finish line–no point we reach where we’re “good enough.” Regardless of how adept we become at writing, there will always be room to grow.

Let’s look at some of the key elements that will help you evolve as a writer.

Attitude

fearAll writers shares a common epiphany on the writing path. I call it Staring Into The Abyss. This experience happens when our writing has strengthened to the point where blissful ignorance rubs away and we begin to realize just how much we don’t know.

It’s a dark moment, a bleak moment. We feel shock. Frustration. Despair. Some stop right there on the path, their writing spirits broken. Others take a micro-step forward, progressing toward the most important stages leading to growth: acceptance and determination.

Once we come to terms with what we don’t know, we can set out to learn. Taking on the attitude of a Learner is what separates an amateur from a PRO.

Asking for help

Writers can strengthen their skills on their own, but it’s a lot of hard work. Reaching out to other writers will shorten the learning curve considerably. Critique partners can help identify your weak areas and offer strategies to improve. They also will know of resources which might help.

There are MANY great sites for writers to find a critique partner or two. I highly recommend The Critique Circle (free & safe to post work–this is where Becca and I met!) There are also sites like Critters Workshop and Agent Query’s Critique Partner Wanted board. Or, let Ladies Who Critique  play matchmaker for you.

The no-brainer: READ

book stackNo matter what areas need to be worked on, books can help. Find inspiration through your favorite fiction authors and in ‘how to’ books (here’s a great list to start on). Pick up a few and take notes. If you can, pair up with another writer to read the same book and then discuss it. Learning together gives you a better chance to fully understand any topic. This is what Becca and I did for an entire year, and our understanding of writing craft soared. It was time well spent.

Resources, resources, resources

There are thousands of articles on writing that can teach strong writing technique. Plotting, Story Structure, Voice, Description, Showing vs Telling, Style, Dialogue, Characters…whatever areas you want to develop, there is content out there to help you. Click HERE & check out out Writing Heroes for starters!)

The trick is finding the best nuggets of information without losing your whole day online. Try this Search Engine for Writers. You will find excellent articles on any aspect of writing imaginable. Pay attention to great article round ups like Maureen Crisp’s excellent one every Thursday, as well as Yesenia Vargas’ Monday Must Reads. And don’t forget to check our categories in the sidebar!

Think outside the monitor

Many of us are introverts, and it’s easy to get caught up on the keyboard and screen. There’s nothing wrong with this, unless your rectangular life preserver is holding you back. Writing Groups, Conferences, Work Shops and Retreats are all excellent opportunities to hone writing skills and meet mentors. Writing events need not be expensive–get involved in a local writing group and see what events have a low or no cost for members.

When you’re looking for opportunities to learn, don’t forget the movies. So much can be gleaned by watching films to see what makes them work. In fact, some of our biggest epiphanies as writers will come from studying screenwriting. I highly recommend reading Save the Cat & Writing Screenplays that Sell. These books are pure gold. Trust me, your writing will thank you!

ideaWrite and rewrite

Transforming writing weaknesses into strengths will take time. Choose learning strategies that work best for you and never stop writing. Each step of the way, apply new-found knowledge to the page. We learn most of all by doing, so always make time to write.

Chances are, you have more than one area where you know you can grow. Sometimes the easiest thing is to look at one facet at a time, and hone your skills in that area.Then when you feel like your writing is on sturdier ground, shift your focus to another facet of craft. Bit by bit, you will elevate your writing and feel proud at how far you have come.

Happy Writing!

Image 1: Geralt @ Pixabay
Image 3: jamoluk @ Pixabay

The post Mastering Words: Ways to Evolve as a Writer appeared first on WRITERS HELPING WRITERS™.

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36. Monday Mishmash 4/20/15


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. Monroe County Book Expo  Thank you to everyone who came out to the Monroe County Book Expo. I had a lot of fun talking to the readers and other authors. 
  2. Mobile Websites  I hate mobile websites, and ALWAYS opt for the web view if it's available. But…Google is changing their SEO and now you pretty much have to have a mobile website, so I made that change over the weekend.
  3. New Adult Scavenger Hunt  The New Adult Scavenger Hunt begins on April 23rd, and I'll be participating as Ashelyn Drake. I'm really excited to be part of Team Blue! I'll be sharing an exclusive scene from Looking For Love, told from a different POV, which is always fun. I'm also giving away a paperback of Campus Crush.

  4. Reviewing  I have two books I agreed to review soon. One book I'm finishing up and another I have yet to start. So it looks like I'll be busy with that this week.
  5. Revisions  I'm working on revisions for one of my manuscripts. It's always fun to pull out a book you haven't looked at in a while. It adds a fresh perspective to the story.
That's it for me. What's on your mind this week?

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37. Friday Feature: The Prophecy and The Outlanders by Erin Rhew


Today I'm featuring two books by Erin Rhew!

Growing up on a small farm in the kingdom of Vanguard, seventeen-year-old Layla Givens lives a deceptively tranquil existence. But her carefully constructed life quickly falls apart when she’s abducted by a religious zealot who proclaims her The Fulfillment of an ancient peace prophecy and whisks her away to marry her greatest enemy.

Wilhelm, Prince of the Ethereals, is reluctant to meet his new bride. He's grown up believing Vanguards are evil, an enemy to fight and fear...not love. Can he set aside his prejudices and work alongside Layla to bring lasting peace after centuries of war?

Nash, a loner who has never fit in, carries a huge secret, one big enough to destroy both kingdoms. When he accidently meets Layla, he’s no longer content to live in the shadows, but he must resist his growing attraction—for her safety and for the longevity of the two kingdoms.

When Nash's secret is revealed, a firestorm sweeps through both realms, with Layla at the center. Now she must choose between duty and desire while the fate of two nations hangs in the balance.


Buy links for THE PROPHECY:  




With King Jesper dead and Prince Wilhelm mortally wounded, Halfling prince, Nash, and the Fulfilment, Layla, assume the throne of Etherea. They must contend with a new Prophecy Candidate who asserts her position, and Layla is surprised to find her fate intertwined with this challenger. Facing a myriad of choices, Nash and Layla’s decisions affect not only their own futures but that of two kingdoms.

Unbeknownst to the Ethereals or the Vanguards, a slumbering menace stirs in the south, awakened after centuries. The mysterious Outlanders, a force shadowed in mystery, sit poised to tip the balance of power, sending ripples of fear throughout both warring kingdoms.

Elder Werrick proved a formidable foe, but Layla may yet meet her match in the monstrous Outlander queen. This mistress of the dark’s plans, rooted in revenge and ancient lore, now threaten the livelihood of all three kingdoms.
Racing against time, Layla travels to the Borderlands—home of the Voltons and Ecclesiastics—to discover as much as she can about the war, the First Ones, and the prophecy itself. Lives teeter in the balance, kingdoms sit on the cusp of ruin, and a beast, greater than any she’s ever faced before, plots a catastrophic attack.


Buy links for THE OUTLANDERS 



  


Erin Rhew is an editor, a running coach, and the author of The Fulfillment Series. Since she picked up Morris the Moose Goes to School at age four, she has been infatuated with the written word. She went on to work as a grammar and writing tutor in college and is still teased by her family and friends for being a member of the "Grammar Police." A Southern girl by blood and birth, Erin now lives in a rainy pocket of the Pacific Northwest with the amazingly talented (and totally handsome) writer Deek Rhew and their “overly fluffy,” patient-as-a-saint writing assistant, a tabby cat named Trinity. She and Deek enjoy reading aloud to one another, running, lifting, boxing, eating chocolate, and writing side-by-side.   

Find me online:

Twitter: @ErinRhewBooks
           




Want your YA, NA, or MG book featured on my blog? Contact me here and we'll set it up.

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38. Monday Mishmash 4/13/15


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. Monroe County Book Expo  I'll be at the Hughes Branch of the Eastern Monroe Public Library this Saturday from 10am-3pm selling copies of ALL my titles (both Kelly Hashway and Ashelyn Drake titles). If you're in the Stroudsburg area, please stop by to see me and a bunch of other local authors.
  2. Scholastic Book Fair  Someone help me. I'll working the Scholastic Book Fair at my daughter's school again this week, and it's a BOGO sale! My poor wallet. I just can't help myself when it comes to buying books.
  3. New Adult Scavenger Hunt  I'll be participating in the New Adult Scavenger Hunt April 23-26 as Ashelyn Drake. I'm Team Blue! I'm promoting Looking For Love and giving away a copy of the Campus Crush paperback, which includes ALL the books in the series—yes, even Looking For Love. Find out more about the hunt here.

  4. The Monster Within in a B&N Ad?  I was on my email last Friday and this was the ad that appeared in my sidebar. That's The Monster Within! No idea how this happened, but woo hoo!!! Totally made my day. I hope others saw this ad in their email sidebars, too. I'm just going to tell myself they did. ;) 
  5. New Picture Book Released  I had a new picture book release through Guardian Angel Publishing. It's titled A Lion's Song and you can purchase a copy on Amazon or the publisher's website. Right now the paperback is available in both places, but the ebook version is currently only up on the publisher's website. Robert Lee Beers did such a great job with the illustrations. Just check out the cover: 
    Amara is the only lion who can't roar. Every time she tries, it comes out like a song.  She doesn't know what her purpose in the pride will be if she can't be ferocious. But when a Nile crocodile threatens her family, Amara's song just might save them.
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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39. Friday Feature: Perfect For You Review Quotes Video




Yes, I'm sharing my own book today. Well, actually I'm sharing readers' thoughts of my book. Check out this video where I share some of my favorite lines from reviews of Perfect For You.


Do you have a favorite review quote of one of your books? Feel free to share it in the comments.

Want your YA, NA, or MG book featured on my blog? Contact me here and we'll set it up.

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40. Reading in Bed

I don’t know what it is these past several nights but I’ve been barely able to keep my eyes open while reading before bed. Maybe it’s the cold, grey days we’ve been having. Maybe it’s because work has been pretty busy. Hard to say but it is frustrating.

Do you read before going to sleep? I know sleep experts frown upon the practice but I thumb my nose at them. I love reading in bed at night and so does Bookman. It happens every night and on the few occasions when it doesn’t, it feels so wrong. Sometimes the time reading before lights out is only 10-15 minutes. Most often it’s around half an hour. When we are feeling wild and crazy and don’t have to work the next day it might stretch to 45 minutes, even an hour. Whoa! I know, right?

My eyes were drooping in a major way last night. I could barely read an entire sentence before they would go unfocused and I’d begin to nod. That’s when I start trying all kinds of ways to keep alert. Sit up straight, hold my book up off my lap, put a finger on the page to follow the words as I read. None of it was working. I wasn’t about to admit defeat though. I probably read the same two pages three or four times before we turned off the light.

It’s not the book’s fault. I’m reading When Books Went to War at the moment. Good pacing, not brainy but not fluff, long chapters but lots of breaks within the chapters, easy to put down and pick up where I left off.

Choosing a book to read before bed is an art. Don’t you think? You want something relaxing but not dull. You don’t want something that is so exciting and such a page-turner you stay up into the wee hours. It has to be something you can start and stop. It has to bear up under an attention that might drift from time to time or eyes that might droop. You don’t want a chunkster you’ll be stuck reading for the next eight months. But you don’t want something so short you can finish it in a night or two.

Essays tend to work fairly well for me but not all essays. If they are long I will want to read the whole essay which could be detrimental to my beauty sleep. But if they are too short I feel kind of cheated because I didn’t get to read long enough. I’ve thought before that short stories should make great bedtime reading but I find it difficult to manage varying lengths. Where I might be able to stop in the middle of a long essay if I have to, short stories should be read in story-chunks. So I rarely end up reading stories before sleep.

Certain kinds of novels work really well. Proust is not a good choice to read before sleep. Murakami will give you wacky dreams. Anything remotely tense or thriller-y will cause bad dreams or not allow you to sleep at all for fear of what that noise might be. Science fiction and fantasy tend to work pretty well as does lighter literary fiction. I find nonfiction works really well too, but not all nonfiction. Books on history like When Books Went to War, letters, diaries, memoir and literary biography are good choices. One must stay away from books on science and technology before sleeping because they require too much mental effort.

Sometimes poetry works. It has to be an “easy” poet though like Mary Oliver. T.S. Eliot is not good before bed reading.

How do you choose your before sleep reading? Do you have a preference for certain kinds of books or a particular genre?


Filed under: Books, Reading

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41. The Year of Reading Dangerously by Andy Miller

The Year of Reading Dangerously is the sort of smart indulgent reading that is very nearly impossible for me to resist. Andy Miller, who works for a publisher in London, decides to improve his reading habits and tackle a list of books that he has long claimed to have read but actually didn’t. His impetus for the project is a harsh look at what he is reading now and it’s not pretty. As he put it, “an audit of my current week’s reading would look something like this”:

200 emails (approx.)
Discarded copies of Metro
The NME and month music magazines
Excel spreadsheets
The review pages of Sunday newspapers
Business proposals
Bills, banks statements, junk mail, etc.
CD liner notes
Crosswords, Sudoku puzzles, etc.
Ready-meal heating guidelines
The occasional postcard
And a lot of piddling about on the Internet

He pretty much had me at “emails” but he nailed it with “bills” and that bit about “piddling about on the Internet.” (I’m not proud, I’m just honest!)

First he decides to read a dozen books and then does so well he goes onto tackle a full list of 50. He loves some, has a love/hate relationship with others and actually loathes a few. But mostly Miller is just funny and honest and a totally enjoyable narrator. He’s doesn’t talk to readers, or suggest ever that just because he is reading a lot of big hefty classics and we are reading about someone reading those classics, that he is better than us. More than once he considers that he might be a little crazy for doing this but quitting would be even worse. So he hangs in there and as readers, we all get to cheer him on.

I have not read many of the books on Miller’s list. I can not find enough sympathy to sustain me through Anna Karenina, I only got through the graphic novel adaptations of Moby Dick and Lord of the Flies and Jane Eyre….well, I’ve given up trying to make it to the end of Jane Eyre. (I have tried and tried and tried!!!)

But it’s okay – you don’t need to have read every book on the list to enjoy reading about Miller tackling the list. And he has Margaret Atwood and Dodie Smith and Henry James and Kerouac as well; it’s actually a very eclectic set of books to consider. So sit back and let Miller guide you through his year. Readers should all be so determined to dive into challenging titles and get beyond the inanity that most of us fill our days with!

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42. YA Scavenger Hunt


Welcome to YA Scavenger Hunt! This bi-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors...and a chance to win some awesome prizes! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize—one lucky winner will receive one signed book from each author on the hunt in my team! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 72 hours!

Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are EIGHT contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the GOLD TEAMbut don't forget about all of the other teams and the chance to win a whole different set of signed books!
If you'd like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.

SCAVENGER HUNT PUZZLE

Directions: Below, you'll notice that I've listed my favorite number in gold. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the GOLD TEAM, and then add them up (don't worry, you can use a calculator!). 

Entry Form: Once you've added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.

Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian's permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by April 5th, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.

Today, I'm hosting Julie Cross! JULIE CROSS is the author of the international bestselling Tempest series. Julie lives in Champaign, Illinois.

Find out more information by checking out her author website or find more about Julie's book here!

Now time for some EXCLUSIVE CONTENT!

Bestselling author Julie Cross teams up with Ford model Mark Perini to pen a poignant and gritty YA novel about love and the dark side of modeling and the fashion industry Eve's time as a fashion model nearly destroyed her-now she's determined to build a career behind the camera lens. But landing a coveted photography internship brings her face to face with her dark past-and her ex. While Eve is snapping pictures, up-and-coming male model Alex is launching his career-which, for him, involves maintaining a fake relationship with his (secretly) underage co-star, Elana. But Alex is falling for Eve, and Eve won't let herself get hurt again. If Alex can pull off a fake love with Elana, can he convince Eve to risk a secret affair with him?

Spotlight Excerpt

And then I see me. The pictures Eve took and pretended to be capturing shots of the view out the window. It’s just my profile and there’s a shadow over my face so you can’t really tell it’s me. I’m also hunched over like I’ve forgotten to stand up straight. Eve catches me staring at myself. She’s now wearing jeans and the pink shirt she yanked from the closet a minute ago. She’s morphed back into College Eve. “Is it weird that I have pictures of you on my wall?”

“You can’t really tell it’s me,” I say, but it is a little surprising. Not weird, just surprising. I don’t have pictures of anyone, including myself, in my room or in my shared apartment at all. 

Eve moves beside me and taps the picture I’m looking at. “I like this one a lot. You look human.”

I laugh. “As opposed to alien?”

“As opposed to supermodel.”

“I get it. You’re against Photoshopped models and all that,” I say. It’s a tired argument—though I’d willingly have it with Eve—but it’s not like I can change the world or anything. It’s not like I have any say in what’s done to my pictures.

She pulls two rubber bands out of her long wavy hair, letting it fall loose from the tight bun. I immediately smell her shampoo. “It’s not Photoshop that makes me hate fashion pictures. I edit too. I’m just not as intrigued by images where the subject knows they’re being photographed. It’s like being on trial. You’re going to hide all your vulnerability, all the raw emotion that you get in a real image.”

“So what you’re saying is, if I were to replicate this pose…” I tap the picture in question. “But this time I knew you were taking a picture, I couldn’t make it look the same?”

She’s still staring at the image. “I don’t know. Maybe I’m too biased to answer that since I’m the one who took the photo. Maybe it would only look different to me.”

Just hearing her say that makes me realize how much of her goes into her pictures, and how little of me is actually in a photo from any professional shoot I’ve ever done.

“I think I get it.” I scan all her photos again. “If you don’t include the entire subject in the picture, then people are free to fill in their own blanks.”

I’m not even sure where that came from. It sounded like a Freudian analysis or something. The air must be different on a college campus than in the rest of New York City, and it’s gone to my head.

Eve turns her eyes from the picture and stares at me. “Maybe.”

Her proximity to me becomes the only thing my mind is able to focus on. I didn’t come on this date just so I could kiss her, and I didn’t come into her room for that reason either. Which is why I know for sure, the second her head turns and her eyes meet mine, that it’s exactly what I should do.

I only have to lean in a few inches before my mouth is on hers and her eyes are closing. And there’s nothing to look at or think about, nobody watching us or taking our picture. It’s as easy and natural as taking my next breath, and I know I’m already addicted to kissing Eve before my tongue has even moved past her lips. My hands are going to insist on living in her hair forever, even if it’s really hard to walk around anywhere. And I’m pretty sure my heart is going to beat at this much faster pace for good.

I should have done this five days ago. And every day since.


And don't forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of signed books by me, Kelly Hashway, and more! To enter, you need to know that my favorite number is 8. Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the GOLD TEAM and you'll have the secret code to enter for the grand prize!

CONTINUE THE HUNT

To keep going on your quest for the hunt, you need to check out the next author, LAURISA WHITE REYES!

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43. One Last Time Travel Giveaway!

All_Covers_LargeThe limited-time TIME TRAVEL STORY BUNDLE is officially on sale for one more week. A lot of you have already bought it, which is great–I hope you’re enjoying the books in there as much as I am! I’ve already ripped through 3, and have 9 more to go (I can skip Parallelogram (Book 1: Into the Parallel) since I wrote it myself and consequently have read it more than anyone else in the world. So far). I love reading about time travel, and these books are such a treat for my brain. I hope you’re all treating your brains to this fabulous book bundle, too.

If so, then are you ready for one more free thing?

This one isn’t a high-stakes giveaway like the last two I’ve done, it’s a straight bonus offering for the first 20 people who respond.

Parallelogram 1 Audio

PARALLELOGRAM (Book 1: INTO THE PARALLEL) is now available as an audio book. And the first 20 people who send me their confirmation of purchase for the Time Travel Story Bundle will get this audio book as a bonus from me FOR FREE!

So whether you’ve already purchased the Time Travel Story Bundle, or are about to go do it right now, the only thing that matters is being one of the first 20 people to send me an email here with two pieces of confirming information: the email address you used when you made the purchase, and the download link you received once the purchase was complete. That’s it! Then if you’re one of the first 20 people who qualifies, I’ll send you everything you need to get the free audio book.

Why am I doing this? Because I know you’re going to love the books in the story bundle, and I also take a gleeful kind of pleasure in giving away free stuff. I have a plan to do that every month for the rest of this year, so make sure you’re part of my Readers’ Group mailing list so you always hear about it first!

Good luck! Can’t wait to give 20 of you some audio swag!

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44. Kickass Women of Science Fiction: Including Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Another Giveaway!

Some people say I’m a book pusher. I’m okay with that. I get impatient with friends when they still haven’t read that book I recommended at least A WEEK AGO, for heaven’s sake, so I just go online and send it to them. Pushy? Bossy? I will not apologize. People need to read certain books and yes, I do know what’s good for them.

Which is why I’m about to go full-on pushy once again, and not only recommend some books that you need to read RIGHT NOW to fulfill your need for kickass science fiction heroines, I’m also going to go the extra step of enforcing that by actually giving them away free to one lucky winner.

Diving into the Wreck ebook cover webFirst, Diving Into the Wreck, part of the Diving Universe series by Hugo Award-winning science fiction author Kristine Kathryn Rusch. I’ve been a fan and student of Kris’s for about 13 years, and have always viewed her as a pretty badass woman and author in her own right. But she also writes amazingly complicated and strong women characters who are always so much fun to spend time with. Kris has generously offered to give the lucky winner a signed copy of the book. She also answered some interview questions for me that I’ll share below, so hang on. It’s always fun to hear how other writers think.

 

The Lost WorldSecond is Michael Crichton’s The Lost World, and if you were a fan of his Jurassic Park you may think you already know all there is to know about this sequel, but I think perhaps you don’t. Because the reason I’m pushing it is that it has one of my favorite heroines of all time, Sarah Harding, who is both scientist and never-say-die person-you-most-want-with-you-in-a-crisis, and I am so inspired by her intelligence and toughness I actually reread this book about twice a year just to pump myself up. I think once you’ve experienced Sarah Harding for yourself, you’ll be totally hooked, too.

 

Parallelogram OmnibusThird is my own Parallelogram seriesWhy am I book-pushing my own series? Because I wrote it for a particular reason: to show two very different girls who are entirely kickass in their own separate ways. One is a scientific explorer, willing to try out all sorts of bizarre (and potentially hazardous) physics theories she’s come up with, and the other is a teen adventurer who has been raised by her very badass explorer grandmother to handle all sorts of physical risks with a cool head and a deep will to survive.

In my spare time I like to read a lot of true adventure books by real-life explorers, and I based the teenage adventurer Halli and her grandmother Ginny on two women explorers I really admire: Roz Savage, who rowed solo across the Atlantic (why not??), and Helen Thayer, who was the first person to ski solo and unsupported to the magnetic North Pole. When she was 50, by the way. So yeah, I think you should read Parallelogram for the same reason you should read the Rusch and Crichton books: because the girls and women in these books will entertain and inspire you.

I asked Kristine Kathryn Rusch a few questions about her own writing process and what inspires her to write the strong kinds of characters you’ll find in all of her work:

RB: What qualities do you admire in the heroine of your book Diving Into The Wreck? Did you write those qualities into her character on purpose, or did they develop over time on their own?

KKR: Boss is her own person. She only lets people call her Boss, and she won’t tell anyone her name, because it’s her business. What I love about Boss is that she is so secure in who she is. She knows what she can and cannot do, and she knows just how much she’s willing to tell/give in any situation. She admits when she’s wrong, and she analyzes everything. She’s very strong, but she also can be vulnerable.

My characters come fully formed, but they do reveal parts of themselves over time. Boss & I share a love of history, but she’s so much more adventurous than I am. She would go crazy in a room writing all day. I love it. I never add traits consciously. Subconsiously, who knows? I assume so. But the characters are real people to me, with their flaws and strengths, and that includes Boss.

RB: Who are some of your favorite kickass heroines in other people’s science fiction books and movies? What about them inspires you as a person and/or as a writer? (I’m a big fan of Ripley’s in the Alien series. When she’s rescuing the little girl Newt from the breeding area in Aliens and fighting off the queen alien and her posse–you’d better believe Ripley makes me want to be braver in real life.)

KKR: Favorite SF women. Honestly, that’s a tough one for me. Most of the sf I read is short fiction, and the characters are one-offs. None of the women in the stories I read rise to the level of favorite. I like Ripley–and she was inspiring to me–but is not someone who comes to mind easily.

In SF, my examples were always negative. For example, in Trek, I was so happy that Kathryn Janeway had her own ship. Then I saw the dang first episode, and when she was faced with a big issue that James T. Kirk could have solved in 45 minutes, she gave in, and made her crew suffer for **years**  I think most of the sf films/TV suffer from stupid women problems.

The strong women I read about appear in the mystery genre. I adore Sara Paretsky’s VI Warshawski. I used to love Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Malone, especially when I encountered her in the 1980s. The female lead detectives were unusual women, who did their own thing in a man’s world. They’re the inspiration for my sf heroines.

RB: This is a chicken-or-the-egg question: Do you give your characters some of your own kickass qualities of bravery, wisdom, compassion, etc.–or do you feel inspired as you write their stories to be more like them yourself?

KKR: LOL, Robin. I love that you think I have kickass qualities. I think my characters are more articulate than I am, smarter than I am, more adventurous than I am, and more courageous than I am. I am blunt and stubborn and difficult, and in my fiction, those qualities are virtues, so there’s some of me there. But these folks are not people I want to be: they’re people I want to meet.

RB: Which character of yours has changed you the most as a person? Why?

KKR: The character of mine who has changed me the most as a person is Smokey Dalton, from my Kris Nelscott mysteries. He’s an African-American detective in the late 1960s. He’s a true hero, in my opinion. But his situations are beyond difficult. I always put him in the middle of a historical situation, and then ask him to respond. Some of those historical situations–I keep thinking, if I were there, would I have had the courage to do what he did? Would I have known what to do? And the thing I admire most about Smokey: His world, horrid as it is, doesn’t break him. It makes him stronger. That has had a huge impact on me and my thinking and my writing.

RB: What do you prefer in your favorite heroines, whether it’s the ones you write, read, or watch: More stoic than compassionate, vice versa,or a particular ratio of both? (For me, 80% stoic, 20% compassionate.)

KKR: Compassion first. I quit reading a mystery series set in the Middle Ages because our heroine–a smart and active woman–had a baby, and then abandoned that baby to go on a crusade. Well, this is the Middle Ages, and yes, she might have done that historically, but it would take 2-3 years to return to that child, and there would be no guarantee that the child was safe or well cared for. So I quit reading right there. The woman was too selfish for me to read about. Stoic, yes. But willing to sacrifice someone she loved for her own ends. Not someone I want to read about.

RB: Bonus question: I know you’re a big fan of the time travel series OUTLANDER, as am I. (I just finished the fourth book. What a ride!) If you were in Claire’s position, catapulted back to 1745 Scotland, what skills would you want to bring to the mix? I love her medical knowledge–it’s such a huge asset. But is there some skill you’d find just as valuable?

KKR: Great question. I have a wide variety of historical knowledge and weird trivia. I know how to make a match for example, and I know how to sterilize a room (even back then) and I know what’ll happen when in most of the English-speaking world. So I like to think all of that will be beneficial. Knowing outspoken me, though, I’d probably be jailed as a witch and executed. :-) I also know that I’d be panicked as hell about dying of something preventable, like the cold that has felled me this week in 2015. If it became an infection in 1745, I could die. And I’d probably worry about that more than anything (except the food, which–yuck!) So as you can tell, I’m probably too much of a worrier to time travel safely.

SPEAKING OF TIME TRAVEL …

Kris and I both have novels in the Time Travel Story Bundle, which is on sale for just two more weeks. Here’s your chance to score a whole bunch of great fiction at an incredibly low price. Don’t miss it!

All_Covers_Large

And as soon as you buy the bundle, head on over to my GIVEAWAY PAGE and enter to win those three fabulous science fiction books! I push them because I love–the heroines in those books and you, Dear Readers. Enjoy!

0 Comments on Kickass Women of Science Fiction: Including Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Another Giveaway! as of 1/1/1900
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45. The Science of Reading

In a recent neuroscience study, researchers focused on the visual side of the brain and concluded that volunteers saw words and pictures and not individual letters. This research could prove very helpful in understanding how struggling readers process words, and improve tactics for teaching.

Arbordale truly believes that reading, and being read to, is a very important part of growing up. So, we are closing out the work with a Friday Reads Giveaway! Comment on this post to be entered to win these three Arbordale books!

Daisylocks_128 ShapeFamily_128 AnimalPartners_187

Learn more about the Journal of Neuroscience article on Science News.


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46. Comics, Comics, Comics!

It's a great time to be a comics fan.

There are loads of amazing ones coming out right now. The Newbery, Caldecott, and Printz committees all recognized graphic novels as honor books this year. People are starting to sit up and pay attention to the world of comics and graphic novels, so I am here with a list for your kids (AND YOU!). Happy reading! And welcome to the comics life.

Lumberjanes is by  Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, and Brooke Allen. It's published by Boom studies in single-issue format, but the first trade paperback (collecting issues 1-4) is out on April 7th. Y'all, this one is so incredible. Feminist, funny, and constantly focused on friendship, this series is set at a summer camp and shouldn't be missed.

PrinceLess by Jeremy Whitley has been a relatively new find for me and I'm obsessed. Princess Adrienne is tired of sitting around in her tower waiting for a prince to slay her dragon and rescue her. So she and her dragon decide to go do the rescuing themselves. Completely turns sexist and racist tropes on their head, as displayed by this panel:

PRINCELESS_PREVIEW_Page2

PrinceLess hasn't been checked in since we got it. Your kids are gonna love it.

The Explorer books (there are three) are comics anthologies edited by Kazu Kibuishi, whom your students already know because they adore amulet. This trilogy asks well-known comic artists like Raina Telgemeier, Emily Carroll, and Faith Erin Hicks, to write comic shorts based on a topic. They're amazing. There's something for everyone in this series!

Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson. Kamala Khan is a Pakistani-American teenager in Jersey City who suddenly and quite accidentally becomes empowered with extraordinary gifts. She has to figure out how to handle being a typical Muslim teenager--who's now a superhero.

Honestly, when I discovered these (there are two so far), I bought them based solely on the tagline: "Yet another troll-fighting 11-year-old Orthodox Jewish girl." Basically, that's enough to sell me, but Mirka is fun and amazing and her religion is shown as something that's part of her life, not something to be overcome or chafed against. Plus, dragons.

This is just a really small cross-section of all of the wonderful comics for kids that are being published right now. I hope you and your kids love them as much as me and mine do!

*
Our cross-poster from YALSA today is Ally Watkins (@aswatki1). Ally is a youth services librarian in Mississippi, and has worked with ages birth-18 for the last 6 years.

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47. Comics, Comics, Comics!

It’s a great time to be a comics fan.

There are loads of amazing ones coming out right now. The Newbery, Caldecott, and Printz committees all recognized graphic novels as honor books this year. People are starting to sit up and pay attention to the world of comics and graphic novels, so I am here with a list for your kids (AND YOU!). Happy reading! And welcome to the comics life.

Lumberjanes is by  Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, and Brooke Allen. It’s published by Boom studies in single-issue format, but the first trade paperback (collecting issues 1-4) is out on April 7th. Y’all, this one is so incredible. Feminist, funny, and constantly focused on friendship, this series is set at a summer camp and shouldn’t be missed.

 

PrinceLess by Jeremy Whitley has been a relatively new find for me and I’m obsessed. Princess Adrienne is tired of sitting around in her tower waiting for a prince to slay her dragon and rescue her. So she and her dragon decide to go do the rescuing themselves. Completely turns sexist and racist tropes on their head, as displayed by this panel:

PRINCELESS_PREVIEW_Page2

 

PrinceLess hasn’t been checked in since we got it. Your kids are gonna love it.

 

The Explorer books (there are three) are comics anthologies edited by Kazu Kibuishi, whom your students already know because they adore amulet. This trilogy asks well-known comic artists like Raina Telgemeier, Emily Carroll, and Faith Erin Hicks, to write comic shorts based on a topic. They’re amazing. There’s something for everyone in this series!

Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson. Kamala Khan is a Pakistani-American teenager in Jersey City who suddenly and quite accidentally becomes empowered with extraordinary gifts. She has to figure out how to handle being a typical Muslim teenager–who’s now a superhero.

Honestly, when I discovered these (there are two so far), I bought them based solely on the tagline: “Yet another troll-fighting 11-year-old Orthodox Jewish girl.” Basically, that’s enough to sell me, but Mirka is fun and amazing and her religion is shown as something that’s part of her life, not something to be overcome or chafed against. Plus, dragons.

This is just a really small cross-section of all of the wonderful comics for kids that are being published right now. I hope you and your kids love them as much as me and mine do!

*
Our cross-poster from YALSA today is Ally Watkins (@aswatki1). Ally is a youth services librarian in Mississippi, and has worked with ages birth-18 for the last 6 years.

 

 

 

 

The post Comics, Comics, Comics! appeared first on ALSC Blog.

0 Comments on Comics, Comics, Comics! as of 3/29/2015 12:37:00 PM
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48. #662 – How to Read a Story by Kate Messner & Mark Siegel

cover amx

x

How to Read a Story
top book of 2015 general
Written by Kate Messner
Illustrated by Mark Siegel
Chronicle Books           5/5/2015
978-1-4521-1233-6
32 pages          Age 4 to 8

 

“STEP 1: Find a Story.
“STEP 2: Find a Reading Buddy.
“STEP 3: Find a Cozy Reading Spot.

“Kate Messner and Mark Siegel brilliantly chronicle the process of becoming a reader, from choosing a book and finding someone with whom to share it to guessing what will happen and—finally—coming to The End. How to Read a Story playfully and movingly illustrates the idea that the reader who discovers the love of reading finds, at the end, the beginning.” [book jacket]

Review

Early readers will love this short primer on how to read a picture book. A young boy sits among dozens of books trying to find the perfect one. If you look closely, you will see the dog is laying on what will become the final choice: The Princess, the Dragon, and the Robot. I love little details that ask the reader to pay close attention.

How to Read a Story_Int_Step 1

Step 4 says to look at the cover and try to decipher what the story will be about. Step 5 is the most exciting step as you finally crack the cover, turn to page 1, and begin reading.

“Once upon a time . . .”

I love this book. From the cover on, How to Read a Story is a perfect primer on reading a picture book—the start of a love of reading. One important point: talking like the characters, whether a powerful mouse or a hungry knight, using character voices will increase a reader and listener’s enjoyment of the story. The author uses different fonts to emphasize these changing voices.

The ink and watercolor illustrations are cute and really add to the instructions as they draw you into How to Read a Story. Young kids—and parents—will love the young boy and his reading partner curling up in a soft over-stuffed chair reading and listening, until step 8, when they take a break to predict what might happen next in The Princess, the Dragon, and the Robot. Stiegel illustrates each possibility in a talk-bubble.

“Will the princess tame the dragon?
“Will the robot marry the princess?
“Will the dragon eat them all for lunch?”

How to Read a Story_Int_Step 2

During Step 2, everyone—except the dog—had better things to do than read to the young boy; by the end of his reading aloud, they are all interested in the end. Each of the ten important steps helps teach the wonderment of reading to young children. How to Read a Story looks fantastic and its text is important for all to learn. Once you have read a picture book—following the steps—there is one-step left:

“When the book is over say, ‘The End.’
“And then . . . start all over again.”

HOW TO READ A STORY. Text copyright © 2015 by Kate Messner. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Mark Siegel. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.


x
Purchase at How to Read a Story AmazonB&NBook DepositoryChronicle Books.
x
Learn more about How to Read a Story HERE.
Meet the author, Kate Messner, at her website:  http://www.katemessner.com/
Meet the illustrator, Mark Siegel, at his website:  https://www.tumblr.com/tagged/mark-siegel
Find more picture books at the Chronicle Books website:  http://www.chroniclebooks.com/
x
fcc

Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews


Filed under: 6 Stars TOP BOOK, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, NonFiction, Picture Book, Reluctant Readers, Top 10 of 2015 Tagged: Chronicle Books, How to Read a Story, Kate Messner, Mark Siegel, Reading, writing

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49. #663 – How to Read a Story by Kate Messner & Mark Siegel

cover amx

x

How to Read a Story
top book of 2015 general
Written by Kate Messner
Illustrated by Mark Siegel
Chronicle Books           5/5/2015
978-1-4521-1233-6
32 pages          Age 4 to 8

“STEP 1: Find a Story.
“STEP 2: Find a Reading Buddy.
“STEP 3: Find a Cozy Reading Spot.

“Kate Messner and Mark Siegel brilliantly chronicle the process of becoming a reader, from choosing a book and finding someone with whom to share it to guessing what will happen and—finally—coming to The End. How to Read a Story playfully and movingly illustrates the idea that the reader who discovers the love of reading finds, at the end, the beginning.” [book jacket]

Review

Early readers will love this short primer on how to read a picture book. A young boy sits among dozens of books trying to find the perfect one. If you look closely, you will see the dog is laying on what will become the final choice: The Princess, the Dragon, and the Robot. I love little details that ask the reader to pay close attention.

How to Read a Story_Int_Step 1

Step 4 says to look at the cover and try to decipher what the story will be about. Step 5 is the most exciting step as you finally crack the cover, turn to page 1, and begin reading.

“Once upon a time . . .”

I love this book. From the cover on, How to Read a Story is a perfect primer on reading a picture book—the start of a love of reading. One important point: talking like the characters, whether a powerful mouse or a hungry knight, using character voices will increase a reader and listener’s enjoyment of the story. The author uses different fonts to emphasize these changing voices.

The ink and watercolor illustrations are cute and really add to the instructions as they draw you into How to Read a Story. Young kids—and parents—will love the young boy and his reading partner curling up in a soft over-stuffed chair reading and listening, until step 8, when they take a break to predict what might happen next in The Princess, the Dragon, and the Robot. Stiegel illustrates each possibility in a talk-bubble.

“Will the princess tame the dragon?
“Will the robot marry the princess?
“Will the dragon eat them all for lunch?”

How to Read a Story_Int_Step 2

During Step 2, everyone—except the dog—had better things to do than read to the young boy; by the end of his reading aloud, they are all interested in the end. Each of the ten important steps helps teach the wonderment of reading to young children. How to Read a Story looks fantastic and its text is important for all to learn. Once you have read a picture book—following the steps—there is one-step left:

“When the book is over say, ‘The End.’
“And then . . . start all over again.”

HOW TO READ A STORY. Text copyright © 2015 by Kate Messner. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Mark Siegel. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.


x
Purchase at How to Read a Story AmazonB&NBook DepositoryChronicle Books.
x
Learn more about How to Read a Story HERE.
Meet the author, Kate Messner, at her website:  http://www.katemessner.com/
Meet the illustrator, Mark Siegel, at his website:  https://www.tumblr.com/tagged/mark-siegel
Find more picture books at the Chronicle Books website:  http://www.chroniclebooks.com/
x
fcc

Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews


Filed under: 6 Stars TOP BOOK, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, NonFiction, Picture Book, Reluctant Readers, Top 10 of 2015 Tagged: Chronicle Books, How to Read a Story, Kate Messner, Mark Siegel, Reading, writing

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50. Writer Wednesday: Barnes and Noble vs. Amazon

Lately I've been wondering what drives people to Barnes and Noble as opposed to Amazon or vice versa. They both have books in paperback and ebook formats, so what prompts someone to pick one over the other?

I'm an Amazon girl, but oddly enough I used to purchase all my books through Barnes and Noble. I don't know why I changed. It sort of happened one day without me knowing it. But let me share something with you from an author's perspective—something that has me admittedly perplexed.

I released an Ashelyn Drake title (Looking For Love) this month. It's a new adult romance, and I mention the genre for a reason. I've heard (not that I know if this is true or not) that romance sells better on B&N than Amazon. Well, for this book, that's true. My B&N ranking continues to get better every day, while my Amazon ranking is going in the opposite direction. Checking my sales numbers, I see a drastic different between the two sites. Now here's why I'm baffled. I don't use the B&N link to promote. I always use the Amazon link. Sure I have the B&N link on my website, but I don't actively promote it.

That's not the only reason I'm confused. You see the other Campus Crush novellas, before they were packaged as one book—Campus Crush, all sold better on Amazon. Hmm… So what is making this book different? I have a clue!

So I'm asking you all, which site do you gravitate toward—Amazon or B&N—and why?

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