Posted in Writing

Book Review: I Don’t Want to Go to School

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Title: I Don’t Want to Go to School
Author/Illustrator: A. J. Cosmo
Publisher: Thought Bubble Publishing, 2012, 2015
Format I Read: Kindle eBook
Genre: Children’s

I opened the eBook on my Kindle and saw that it was designed to look like the story and illustrations were done on lined paper. It’s the first day of school and a young boy dreads going, filled with worries and reasons to stay home. For a young boy, these can all be seen as valid fears, so the author connects with young readers off to their first day, as well as those who remember their own first days of school. However, I’m bothered by the mother’s responses, which always begin with “That’s silly!” Such a dismissive phrase.

One of the pages contains a lot of text, and an entire line is cut off at the bottom of the Kindle edition, so the book wasn’t formatted correctly for that page. I also wish that the text had appeared handwritten to add to the school feel; instead, the book just uses two fonts to differentiate between the boy’s lines and the mother’s lines.

The illustrations are fun – in color, looking hand drawn – and the story is relevant to the target audience, but I think I’ll rate this 3.5/5 for the dismissiveness.

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: Interstellar Cinderella

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Interstellar Cinderella

Title: Interstellar Cinderella
Author: Deborah Underwood
Illustrator: Meg Hunt
Publisher: Chronicle Books LLC, 2015
Format I Read: Kindle eBook
Genre: Children’s

I saw this book on sale through a BookBub e-mail, and I was intrigued from the title alone. Interstellar Cinderella tells me right away that this will be a sci-fi adaptation of Cinderella, and since it’s a children’s book, there will be a fun twist to it.

When I opened up the eBook for the first time, it announced that this was a fixed-format eBook (shown only in one direction, horizontal in this case), so it would look very similar to the print copy.

Cinderella studies ship repair late at night after her stepmother and stepsisters have gone to bed and she has completed her chores of repairing the zoombroom and other household mechanical things.

Like many children’s books, Interstellar Cinderella is told in rhyme (abcb rhyme, for those who might be interested or know what I’m talking about), and the rhyme seems very natural for the plot. The illustrations are very detailed, the colors muted – not surprising, when I think about it, since the story takes place on a “planetoid”. Cinderella dreams of fixing rockets and starships.

I didn’t realize how much of this story was carried by the – very beautiful – illustrations. On one page, the stepfamily receives the invitation to the prince’s “Royal Space Parade”, and the stepmother suggests Cinderella fix up the broken ship so she can go. However, when I flipped the page and saw Cinderella realize her toolbox is missing as the wicked stepfamily takes off, I wondered what I had missed.  I flipped back, and then noticed that one of the wicked stepsisters has taken the toolbox. A little bit disappointed that I had to double check that.

Cinderella’s robotic mouse calls for help, and the fairy godrobot comes to the rescue with a space suit and a power gem for the ship that only lasts till midnight.

Deborah Underwood gives an interesting twist to the tale after Cinderella arrives at the Parade, where she helps the prince repair his ship, talks for hours at the Gravity-Free Ball, but must hurry home at midnight. The prince searches for her and asks her to be his bride. I’ll leave it to you to find out what happens in the end. wink

Overall, this was a cute, fun read. I’ll give it a 4/5 rating. I definitely recommend it.

Posted in Friday Reads, Writing

Friday Reads: Two Books

I’ve started reading two books this week:

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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

I started rereading the Harry Potter series just because I thought it was time. (After all, if you enjoy a series, why stop?) The edition of the third novel, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, that I’m reading right now is the UK edition. I hadn’t heard of this series until the first movie came out; probably about the same time that Goblet of Fire was all over my local Barnes & Noble. I borrowed the first book from a friend at church and devoured it in one day! I had to get to the library to borrow the other three.

As each novel and/or movie was released, my mom and I made a tradition of rereading all of the books in the series up to that point… and then rereading in between just because I loved it so much. So I’ve read the early novels at least five times, for sure.

 

Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars

Now, when you hear about the space race and rocket programs, who do you most hear about? The men, right? Did you know that women were just as much involved in getting rockets into space as the men? That’s what Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars is about. Back in these early days – the early- to mid-twentieth century – there were only three jobs available to women: secretary, teacher, or nurse. But, by golly, there were women even in those days that just loved math. Enter the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where the women could work as computers – an ancient term that once referred to a person who performed calculations – and fill notebooks with very intricate computations and trajectories of the rockets they tested.

I can’t wait to see where this book goes. I’ve learned the stories of just a handful of the women so far, being only in Chapter 3, and I have just another week to read it before I have to return it to the library – unless I’m able to renew it – since it’s such a new book.

Posted in Writing

Why writing a book is like creating parallel universes #amwriting

Wow. What great food for thought from The Writing Chimp! I just had to share! What are some of your thoughts on this?

G.L. Cromarty

When I was little there was a children’s book I read, and in the book you got to choose what happened next. Such books were not new then, and they are still around now. I saw an adult version of this not very long ago. You know the kind…

Lots of exciting stuff has happened…do you:

Open the door – go to page 64

Turn around and walk away – go to page 72

This got methinking about the writing process, and how, when we write, we sit out oftime, as if we are sitting on the edge of countless parallel universes.

Nobody knows the exact way the book will turn out when they start to write. Writers are always talking about the way characters can surprise them, or how the story can twist itself unexpectedly.

But what about us?

Whatif we sit down to write a chapter today, would…

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Posted in Writing

The Rooftop

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image from Free Flow Fridays

“And it has to be done from the roof? You’re sure?”

I couldn’t believe we were standing here debating this. “That’s what the calculations say. The transmitter has to go on the roof over Gable’s bedroom or the broadcast won’t be intercepted.”

“Yeah, I know. But… the roof!”

I glanced at the roof, then back at Jeremy. “Are you scared of heights?” I demanded.

He didn’t answer, just stared at the roof.

“You’ve got to be kidding! You win the wall-climbing challenge every time, always beating the fastest times.”

“Because I have to!” he shouted. “The faster I get up there, the faster I can get back on solid ground again.”

 

*This was inspired by a prompt from Free Flow Fridays

Posted in Writing

A New Direction of Writing

Who likes to write by hand?

I used to do it all the time, then moved to writing on my laptop for a  long time. Suddenly, one day, I quit writing except for college writing assignments and NaNoWriMo – both mostly enjoyable. But here lately, I’ve rediscovered my love for writing.

Last week, I had grabbed a blank notebook from the commuter lounge to try a free-writing exercise and paused. I stared at the page for a second and started thinking, “Why should I start writing on the first line? Let’s try something else! …

…Let’s try writing from a corner of the page!”

So I tilted the notebook and thought I’d try it from the top left corner of the page. Didn’t like it. And I wasn’t going to use the right side corners, because I’d have the notebook spring pressing against my wrist. Not happening! So – bottom left corner it is.

The prompt for this free write was clouds – in fact, my Free Flow post is the product of this – so I put my pen to that bottom left corner of the notebook and started writing. I was surprised at how fun it was to write this way. I’ve written like this several more times now.

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My latest session of using my “new direction”

As you can see, I don’t start a new line for new paragraphs.  That would leave me with too much empty space on the page.

Why is this working so well for me? I don’t know. Maybe it’s simply because my right-brained self wanted to try something different from what my left-brained self was used to all throughout school.

If I enjoy this so much with a lined notebook, what about an unlined notebook? My mom has a blank multimedia book she was going to use for an art journal, but hasn’t done anything with it yet, so she’s offered it to me. I’ll let you know how it works out.

For you hand-writers, where you do write? What notebooks do you use? Do you use lined or blank? Or do you use notebooks? Do you have any tips to share?

Posted in Writing

Free Flow

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image from Free Flow Friday’s: Unlock the Writer’s Block

I found Free Flow Friday’s weekly writing event when browsing the WordPress events. This blogger posts a photo and challenges us to just start writing. A free-writing exercise, and a photo prompt are included, and you have your choice. Here’s what I came up with in the few minutes I had before I had to leave for class today:


 

The clouds don’t know what they want to do today. Sometimes they hide. Sometimes they are out in full force, bringing thunder, lightning, and sheets of rain. Perhaps Lucas is testing his abilities again.The last time he did that, we were flooded in for a week. At least no one has figured out the truth yet. There’s Marissa, though. She’s been coming over a lot more since that flood.

Posted in Book Review, Writing

Book Review: Randy Ingermanson’s “How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method”

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Title: How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method

Author: Randy Ingermanson

Genre: Business Parable

Formats available: Paperback and Kindle

 

I first discovered Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method in an article on his website AdvancedFictionWriting.com, via a link  in a NaNoWriMo forum several years ago. I had made a few attempts at the Method, but never got very far at all. I realized that I needed a more visual/kinesthetic (learn by doing) explanation. I had seen that Ingermanson had published a novel about method, but just hadn’t gotten around to purchasing it on Kindle until this past October. (It’s also available in paperback.)

I read it in a single evening. Yes, it was that quick of a read. (At least for me; but I’m a fast reader, and if I’m enjoying a book, I won’t put it down unless I absolutely have to.) Then I went back and read it again this week, just so I could study the method again, complete with the novel’s examples and started adding to what I had already started using of the Snowflake Method on my last NaNoWriMo novel that I never completed. Perhaps if I had actually used the method every step of the way, I might have actually completed my novel.

How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method is a business parable that uses Goldilocks, grown and married with two children, as the main character. She has longed her whole life to write and be an author, but her family told her that such a thing was “impractical”, and encouraged her to find a more “practical” career.  She does so, but after the birth of her children, she became a stay-at-home mom until the youngest was old enough to enter kindergarten. She thought about looking for a new job, but realized her skills were now outdated, and she was unhappy being “practical” anyway.

She decides to do something for herself. She’s going to write a novel.

After a false start, she goes online and finds a writing conference near her, tries two different noveling workshops – taught by Papa Bear and Mama Bear, respectively – that are just no good for her. Then she finds a workshop taught by Baby Bear, using a method he calls the Snowflake Method. In this workshop, we also meet Big Bad Wolf, Little Pig, Mother Hubbard, Robin Hood, and many others.

As the workshop goes along, the reader learns the Snowflake Method step-by-step along with Goldilocks, using examples from the novel she’s creating during each step.

I found the story fun and engaging and easy to follow. And definitely amusing for the use of all of these fairy tale characters. I also appreciate that Ingermanson shows us at the end how he used the Snowflake Method to create this book. Having all of these examples on hand will definitely help me in my future writing, especially as I prepare for Camp NaNoWriMo in April and July, and NaNoWriMo in November.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who needs a step by step guide, full of examples that you can follow along in your own writing.

I think I will rate this 5/5 stars.

Posted in Writing

Say Your Name!

Write about your first name: Are you named after someone or something? Are there any stories or associations attached to it? If you had the choice, would you rename yourself? ~ The Daily Post’s Daily Prompt

I was named after my two maternal great-grandmothers, Mary Ophelia and Virginia Grace. Up until around middle school, I went by my full name. For a very short time after that, I wanted to go by the nickname Maggie, which I considered to be a combination of Mary and Grace. But that didn’t last long, and soon I just wanted to go by Mary.

When I create characters for my stories, this is a part of the history that I try to think of. But I also want to look up the meanings of the names I’m interested in to see if they fit the character I’m trying to create. (And I’ve started to notice that I favor names that start with J – Jessica, Jemima, Jo, Jack, Joel, Joseph, etc.)

How do you come up with names for your characters? Do you decide on the name first and then create the character around the name? Or create the character and then pick a name? Or something else altogether?