Jun 29, 2012

Friday funnies June 29

PITCH CONTEST going on now at Daisy Carter's blog. Go here to find out the deets.

It is raining. Again. *sigh* So I'm back online now avoiding going outside because the cool weather/lack of wind has brought out the mosquitoes in droves. *pauses to itch* I am very glad I booked the sun for our Saturday barbeque a while ago because, apparently, you Lower 48ers have been hogging it. So STOP. Please. *bats eyes**itches again*

                            This would make a great English assignment. "Write the entire Gettysburg address in a text, using no more than 400 characters." (More than a tweet bc, c'mon. It wouldn't work.)

                                         So...how did the cat get the bear through the door?

Here are a few more: roads - the way to go.
Signs: so you know what's going on.
Rivers: how our water gets to the ocean
Teenage sons: phantom eaters who sleep like cats

Now you try! Have a great weekend!

Jun 21, 2012

Friday funnies - June 22

People, it is SUMMER in Alaska. I am actually sunburnt. And not coming inside ever. I'm thinking a blog hiatus is in order bc it is party time here (ie outdoors until midnight or so, sleep until 5ish bc it is so light outside, and outside again) and I have edits due on several projects. So if you don't see me Monday, I am elsewhere temporarily. :)

                                          I am on the last stage right now...sniff...

                                                           And the prize is a dictionary. Woo-hoo!

                                             I wonder how many followers God would get...?

 I totally forgot about Picard's magic computer thingie. This was mid-90s or so. He. So. Rocked.

Happy (belated) solstice everyone- spend it outside!!

My so-called teenage life

Totally late posting this (working at day camp ALL week - crazy schedule right now!) but I wrote this diary entry at the beginning of my senior year. I'll make it short...I wrote a LOT in those days. Oh - and the Jeff in this entry is NOT my hubs. ;)

Aug. 29

Well, here I am again, starting another school year (my last in Indianola!) and the start of a new journal! Somehow the two events always seem to go together.
School started and boy is it weird being the oldest in the school system. Of course I'll get used to it - hey, I like it! :) That means there's no older guys around anymore, they're all in college. BOO HOO! I saw Jeff last weekend. At first it was strange. I didn't even want to kiss him (not at all the reaction I'd dreamed of!) but by Sunday I was all his again. And now he's at college and I miss him dreadfully. He's s'posed to call tomorrow on his parents' tab which means only ten minutes, then I call him. O dear, I hate it already.
My classes are on the easy side, although I think Ancient History with Harms will be a pain because he is a pain. Got all sorts of classroom procedures that are useless and had an assembly on being the best school in the state. (?) Anyway, this year's theme is "Bionic". Remember last year's "Prairie Chicken?" Well, now we have a "Bionic" staff and they wear buttons with that word on it to prove it. Whatever.

I love Jeff!

Oh my. I TOTALLY forgot about the prairie chicken theme of my junior year. Our principal read somewhere that, while eagles soar, prairie chickens run really fast (or something, I can't remember the analogy except it struck us all as weirdly hilarious at the time). And the principal decided that, since we lived in Iowa, we should aspire to be like the prairie chickens who can outrun eagles. It only lasted a year.
The BIONIC thing stood for something - of course, educators today still adore anagrams, and are still doing theme years in high schools. I'll have to ask my son what his was last year.

Have a great day!

Jun 17, 2012

Why It Works: Daughter of the Forest

I discovered author Juliet Marillier several years ago the way I usually do - by checking out her book at the library. It was the first time I'd ever read her stuff. She's a fantasy author and honestly, fantasy isn't really my thing. But I was caught by the cover of Daughter of the Forest and by the blurb, which mentions an evil enchantress, a spell and a kidnapping. Marillier retells the Celtic tale of siblings who are turned into swans....only in her novel, there are six brothers and a sister, who must save them.

Here is how it starts:
 Three children lay on the rocks at water's edge. A dark-haired little girl. Two boys, slightly older. This image is caught forever in my memory, like some fragile creature preserved in amber. Myself, my brothers. I remember the way the water rippled as I trailed my fingers across its surface.
"Don't lean over so far, Sorcha," said Padraic. "You might fall in."
He was a year older than me and made the most of what little authority this gave him. You could understand, I suppose. After all, there were six brothers altogether and five of them were older than he was.
I ignored him, reaching down into the mysterious depths.
"She might fall in, mightn't she, Finbar?"
A long silence. As it stretched out, we both looked at Finbar, who lay on his back ,full length on the warm rock. Not sleeping: his eyes reflected the open grey of the autumnal sky. His hair spread out on the rock in a wild tangle. There was a hole in the sleeve of his jacket.
"The swans are coming," said Finbar at last. He sat up slowly to rest his chin on his knees. "They're  coming tonight."

Blue: Setting - although there is little to suggest where these characters are, it's clear they're in the woods by some amount of water (river, stream, pond?). Some of this is spelled out on the cover and the blurb, but they're obviously not in a city or any crowded spot.
Pink: narrator explanation - the girl called Sorcha is telling this story as an adult.
Orange: backstory - Sorcha has six brothers and she is the youngest. Padraic is the nearest brother to her in age. From Finbar's clothes and hair, these children are either poor or not well cared for.
Yellow: character reveal: The dark-haired Sorcha doesn't listen to Padraic, who appeals to Finbar for authority. So we know that Sorcha has a mind of her own, and both she and Padraic respect Finbar.
Green: mystery/foreshadowing - Why should Finbar care that the swans are coming? It's an odd thing for a boy to say.

Notice how Marillier works in these key elements using only a few hundred words. The Sevenwaters Series was supposed to be just a trilogy, but it's been so popular, Marillier is has written five books so far. 
Her sixth, Flame of Sevenwaters, comes out this November. Find out more about her here.
If you've read any of Marillier's books, share your favorite in the comments!
Have a great week,

Jun 14, 2012

Friday funnies

Whew - where did this week go? There's got to be a study somewhere that proves summer weeks go by faster than school year weeks. Because they DO.

Whatever you're finding time for these days, there's always time for a song. Welcome to the Key of Awesome, which I found accidentally while searching for something else. Couldn't find it so enjoy!

Also worst movie ever...

                                        Love this one. Go here to see it clearer.

This phone actually does remind me of my grandmother. I think it's the mauve.

Have a great weekend!

Jun 10, 2012

The brilliance of Graceling, a bloghop and a winner

 Thanks to everyone who stopped by last week and voted in an informal poll. I had to take it off my blog due to a weird formatting glitch but the results were helpful.

 Tied for first place was diagramming of successful YA, and a fun bloghop. For the next several Mondays, I'll be examining passages from popular YA books (if you have a title suggestion, let me know) and preparing for a Most Embarrassing Writing Moment bloghop sometime in July.  I need a co-host or three. It'll be a one-day hop with a People's Choice prize-to-be-determined. If you're interested in co-hosting, email me.

Random.org choose Michelle of Books on the Run to receive an ARC of ARTICLE 5. Yay! Michelle, I'll be emailing you soon.
Now, on to examining the brilliance that is Kristen Cashore's Graceling...
I first read this book as an ARC when I was working in a middle school library in 2009. The cover caught me first - that shiny, glinting sword with the girl's eye peering out at me. And then the blurb mentioning a female spy/fighter who was Graced with kick ass power.  (I mean that literally: Katsa is able to kick anyone's ass.) Right away, Cashore appealed to the latent ass-kicker in me because even though I've never been in a physical fight in my life, that hasn't meant part of me didn't want to be. I'm just too small (and too smart) to pit myself against the odds. My teeth are fine where they are, thank you. But if I could kick ass with impunity...well, then, BRING IT ON.
So I was hooked enough to flip open the cover. The first paragraph is all about setting - the dungeon, the smell of moss and damp, the feel of cold stone and flickering torch light. As a reader, I love tactile hints of setting  - they draw me in, give my brain lots of clues to trick myself into going into that hypnotic state only good writers create. But Cashore doesn't stay here long. She tells me in the third paragraph why we're here: Katsa has been sent for the guards. It was for them she was sent first.

As a reader, I'm wonder what the heck that means and turn the page. Katsa dispatches four guards before amazement had even registered in their eyes. There was only one more guard, sitting before the cell bars at the end of the corridor. He scrambled to his feet and slid his sword from his sheath. Katsa walked toward him, certain the the torch at her back hid her face, and particularly her eyes, from his sight. She measured his size, the way he moved, the steadiness of the arm that held the sword toward her.
"Stop there. It's clear enough what you are." His voice was even. He was brave, this one. He cut the air with his sword, in warning. "You don't frighten me."
He lunged toward her. She ducked under his blade and whirled her foot out, clipping his temple. He dropped to the ground.

Cashore shows me four things in this short piece of writing. (There would be five if I'd included the first two graphs of setting but I didn't want to make this post super long.)
BLUE - character building -  Katsa is a fast and efficient fighter. She's been trained and she doesn't waste time.
GREEN - play to engage reader sympathy - Katsa notices the guard's behavior with approval; it shows us both her business-like attitude and her fairness. It's important we root for her despite her ass-kicking abilities and showing us her other qualities makes us like her. A few sentences later, this impression is reinforced when she treats the knocked-out guards gently.
YELLOW - backstory/worldbuilding. Her eyes give away what she is, although her attempt to hide this from her next opponent isn't successful. He's guessed it from everything that's just happened. This tells us that her ability is widely recognized and feared in her world.
RED  - mystery. Why does she hide what she is? It isn't for her protection (she obviously needs none) so I have to read on to figure it out.
Cashore does all this in less than 500 words. Her writing is tightly designed to give your brain all the tools it needs to stay engaged - setting, sympathy, intrigue, mystery, a hint of a world to explore. This is exactly what agents are talking about when they say: write tight, keep it moving, hook me fast.

What are some other examples of great opening scenes?

Jun 7, 2012

Friday funnies

I love the Swedish Chef.

And this...is me.
Hey, I do SO have a life.

This guy, however...

And these people are being really, really nice:

I'd be the one who left a long time ago. :)

And it's not Friday without a LOLcat

Have a great weekend everybody!

Jun 3, 2012

A Manuscript Monday poll and #armchairBEA

There's a great way to participate in BEA (Book Expo America) this year, for those of us not fortunate enough to go. Check out Armchair BEA's site here to link to other bookish bloggers also watching from the sidelines. Our first event is a quick interview about blogging...if you're a regular here, feel free to skip to the poll below. :)

  1. What are you currently reading, or what is your favorite book you have read so far in 2012?
I just finished an ARC of Jennifer Weiner's newest book, The Next Best Thing, via NetGalley. My favorite book so far this year is UNSPOKEN, a YA paranormal by Sarah Rees Brennan, which releases in September. I'm interviewing Sarah later this summer - she is an awesome as her book.
2. What is your favorite feature on your blog (i.e. author interviews, memes, something specific to your blog)?
I love Friday Funnies. They're fun to collect and post.

3. If you could eat dinner with any author or character, who would it be and why?
That would be CS Lewis. The guy was a genius. 
4. What literary location would you most like to visit? Why?
Narnia. Wait...does this have to be a real location? OK then, ancient Rome. :)

5. What is your favorite part about the book blogging community? Is there anything that you would like to see change in the coming years?
Book bloggers are so generous and welcoming, there really isn't anything I'd change.


I need your help deciding what direction to go on Mondays over the next few months. My blogoversary is also coming up end of this month and I'd love some input on what to give away how to celebrate. If you've already had yours, let me know what worked!
To sweeten the deal, if you vote in the poll and let me know in the comments, I'll throw your name in the hat for a free ARC of ARTICLE 5 by Kristen Simmons or a five-page critique by moi. Your choice, should Random.org choose your number. Thanks for helping me out and have a great week!