Archive for July, 2016

Review of “The Man In the Moon”

The Man in the Moon (Guardians of Childhood, #1)The Man in the Moon by William Joyce

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the first book in the Guardians of Childhood series. The companion series of chapter books by the same author is called “The Guardians.” From my understanding, “The Guardians” has six books (I own four, the other two haven’t come out yet) and is set about three hundred years before the movie Rise of the Guardians. I read that there will be thirteen books in all, meaning there should be seven books in the Guardians of Childhood series. So far, there are three (I own two).

This is the perfect sort of book to read to a small child at bedtime. The artwork is absolutely beautiful! There are some “intense” moments, but nothing terribly graphic. It’s the start of a perfect companion series for anyone who enjoyed Rise of the Guardians. I’m looking forward to collecting all the picture books as well as the chapter books that are set well before the movie.

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July Camp – Progress Report 3

Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can read.  – Mark Twain

Weekly total: 6,793
Total Words: 25,923
Words Remaining: 0!

So… yeah, I’m done a full week early.  I actually have completely finished Keenan’s story.  All that remains is the editing of the story, to combine the four pieces into a whole.  Then, I’ll be able to hand it over to my favorite proofreaders (my mom and my sister) and further edit it.  It’s kind of scary, because the story being finished means it’s one step closer to that magical step: publication!  Normally, I don’t think of actually publishing my stories, but Keenan’s story is an exception.  If any of my novels is to be published, I feel like it should be his.

My favorite scene from this past week was really near the end.  It’s the first time the reader sees Malloran being really violent with Keenan.  It’s my favorite because, up until now… we hear that he’s not a good guy, but now we have actual proof of it.  My favorite line from what I wrote this past week was:

 

Amy babbled something that might have been, “Good luck, Daddy.”  Of course, it could just as easily have been, “I want a puppy.”

 

It’s fun to write Keenan’s interactions with his little girl.  She’s just beginning to speak now and, by the time of the next section, she’s speaking quite clearly.

My best writing sessions for this past week were Tuesday, the 19th, when I finished my novel.  I was just so excited about getting to the end of the story that I kept going until I had over 2K words.  It took me the better part of the evening to get there, though.

Seeing as my novel is done… this will be the last progress report.  I hope that you’ve enjoyed seeing my progress.  Maybe it’s inspired you to give Camp NaNo at try.

A Review of “Satchkin Patchkin”

Satchkin Patchkin (Young Puffin Books)Satchkin Patchkin by Helen Morgan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a children’s book that an early elementary school kid could probably read by themselves and a younger child would enjoy having read to them. Each of the little stories starts and ends nearly the same way. For kids that age, the repetativeness is great! Each story also has a little lesson: Mother Farthing is kind and generous. Her landlord is the opposite: mean and lean.

I never read this book as a little girl, but I know that I would have liked it. I loved the characters and the stories themselves. Reading it now, as an adult, it’s still really fun. It was a quick read, but well worth my time. I might even read it again. The ending was a little sad, but I like to think that, like the leaves on the apple tree, Satchkin Patchkin will be back after winter is over.

Goodreads doesn’t have an image.  My edition is hardcover with this image on the front:

9780825558009-uk

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July Camp – Progress Report 2

For thy loving kindness is before mine eyes; and I have walked in thy truth. – Psalm 26: 3

Words this week: 9,553
Total Words: 19,130
Remaining Words: 5,870 words

So… here we are at very nearly the halfway mark in the month and my story has taken some unexpected and exciting turns.  Things are happening now that are actually resolving plot holes in both this story and in the ones that follow it.  I got Keenan to work for Shadow without it feeling contrived or awkward!  That was something that I struggled with throughout the planning stages in June.  One thing I need to keep in mind next week is that I’m going to be working towards both a resolution to this miniplot and the start of the next section of the story.  I have to write a sort of cliff-hanger ending, since this is actually the first section of a larger work.

Right now, I’m really excited with how the story is going.  I’m looking forward to continuing the story next week and, very likely, finishing it.  I also learned that Malloran (the main antagonist of this section) is a little afraid of Keenan.  That’s something to keep in mind when I edit the sections of the novel in order to string them together.

My favorite scene from the previous week was when Keenan encounters Sera again.  He’s so surprised, but he doesn’t let on to Malloran that he knows her.  He’s already a good spy!  My favorite lines were from an exchange between Sera and Keenan:

 

“What are you going to do?”

 I frowned at Sera as she rocked my daughter and fed her a bottle.  A part of me wanted to yell and I think she knew that.  I couldn’t though, not when she held Amy in her arms.  “You’re Shadow’s agent,” I said, my voice a faint hiss, “You mean, ‘What am I going to do?’  Right?”

 “That’s what I just said, Keenan,” she said.  She looked up then and smiled at me.  “What are you going to do?”

 

He’s trapped and he knows it and he’s more than a little bit frustrated by the whole thing.  It was just such fun to write and, even though Sera is in the role of a typical woman (caring for the baby), she’s shown to be a strong woman here and I loved that!

My best writing sessions this week were July tenth, since that was the day that I wrote the most (1,695 words).  It also happened to be the day that I had my best single writing session.  I was able to write over a thousand words in half an hour.

Out of Habit…

Here we are: the July Blog Circle topic… now I’m all up to date.

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Topic: Traditions
Zombies are a July tradition here at Wriye. Do you have a writing tradition of your own? How did it come about?

Bonus: Share an example of your tradition!

 

Traditions are odd things.  Sometimes, we do things for an actual reason.  Other times, we just do it because we always have done it.

I have some traditions – like participating in the NaNoWriMo events.  That’s because they never fail to give me the kick in the pants that I need to finish something.  That tradition serves an actual purpose.

Then… there are those odd traditions that make no real sense beyond… I just like to do them.  One writing tradition I have is that I wear a specific sweatshirt when I’m writing during the NaNo months.  I’ve worn every year since I got it.  At first, it was just to show it off to the other writers in my group.  Now, it just seems to serve as a reminder that I need to focus on my writing.

Another one of those odd writing traditions I have is… starting each writing session with a blank document.  It helps me focus on how many words I need to write to reach my goal for that session.  I don’t have to do math.  I just look at how much I’ve written and I know whether I’m at my goal or not.  Something about starting with that blank page… it makes me want to fill it.  Some people would find it intimidating, but I don’t.  It’s just how I’ve always worked.

Another odd one relates to Keenan, who is one of my oldest original characters.  He makes a cameo in nearly every novella length piece I write.  Even if he’s not named, I know he’s there.  It’s like a little, personal Easter egg.  If I ever published my work, I wonder if readers would recognize him.  They may not, but that’s not the point.  The point is that he’s there, as if he’s putting a personal seal of approval on each and every piece I write.

How that tradition came about is actually interesting.  Another writer friend of mine had two characters – a couple – that always appeared in her stories.  If she needed an extra, she threw them in.  It gave her a starting point, so that even the background characters had depth to them.  I thought that was a brilliant idea, so I decided to do it too.  Who else would I use but my oldest original character?  Who else would have such depth?  The only problem is… Keenan tends to steal the show when he appears.  He’s just so easy to write that, if I’m not careful, he will take over.

By the way… I look forward to Zombie July each year.  It’s fun to see what I can come up with…

Taking and Giving… it’s not easy

June’s Blog Circle… somehow, I never got around to finishing and posting it.

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Topic: Critique and Criticism
What is your method of critiquing a piece of writing? What do you expect out of people critiquing your work?

Bonus: Here’s a non-blog bonus: go into the Read Me, Feed Me forum and critique someone’s work. They’ll thank you for it!

 

I can’t believe that I never did the blog circle for June… Well, I can sort of guess why.  Critique and Criticism are two skills that I’m not really strong at when it comes to writing.

My method of critiquing is simple: I read over to piece twice.  The first time is for plot, the second time is for technique.  Then, I look for mistakes – typos, misused words, etc. – things that I can tell the writer that are easy to improve.  Then, I ask myself, “Do I like this story?  Why?  Why not?”  Sometimes, the answer is no, but not because the writer has done anything wrong.  The story might be compelling or interesting, but just… not my cup of tea.  In which case, I tell them the good points and make it clear that I don’t normally read this kind of story.  If there’s an actual reason beyond it not being my kind of story (the characterization is weak or the plot has holes you could drive a ship through), I let the writer know those things too.  I also try to find suggestions as to what could be improved on, while at the same time telling them what I liked about the story.

Basically, when someone critiques my own work… I expect the same thing in return.  I want honesty, but I also want a critic to not be mean for the sake of being mean.  You can tell me what you like, along with what needs to be changed.  If you didn’t like anything… well, why did you read my story?

I’m wary of getting critiques because, to be honest, I’ve been burned.  I was part of one writing community for a while that felt the way to critique was to rip the story apart because, “Writers need to have a thick skin and I’m not going to sugar coat it!”  Well, I’m not asking for a sugar coated critique.  I prefer honesty, thanks.  However, there’s a line between honesty and meanness that they crossed a few too many times for my tastes.

Picking My Favorite Flavor

The Blog Circle for May… somehow, I never finished and posted it…

Topic: Genre

What’s your main genre? Why do you write in that genre? Do you have a tip to share for someone wanting to break into that genre? What genre would you like to break into? 

Bonus: What is your favorite book written in your genre? (Written by you or another great writer!)

 

My main genre is low fantasy, followed closely by alternate history.  Basically, I write speculative fiction.  The reason that I’m attracted to that genre is that I have more flexibility.  I don’t have to worry as much about getting it “right”.  I just have to make sure it makes sense: that there’s a level of believability in all the stuff I’m making up.

Low fantasy contrasts with High fantasy (Lord of the Rings, tremendous amounts of world building, etc.).  It’s often set in the real world or in a realistic sort of world, with the inclusion of fantasy elements.  It’s basically got a low level of fantasy elements.  There may be only one fantastic aspect, but it’s not an entirely imaginary world with its own rules about how things work.

By going with things in the lower levels of fantasy, I don’t have to feel locked into getting bits of historical things (costumes, food, technology, etc.) correct either.  I can use a modern world and just add some fantasy elements to it.  The best tip that I could give someone who wants to write low fantasy is… don’t worry about what fantasy elements you use.  Just have fun and see what happens.

To be perfectly honest, I’d love to be able to write historical mysteries.  They’re my favorite books to read.  However, I know myself well enough to know that I don’t know enough about history to do them right.  I also know the readers of the historical genre well enough to know that… if I made a mistake, I’d never live it down!  So, yeah… I’ll stick with alternate history.  If I get something there “wrong”, I can just say, “I did it on purpose.”

My favorite books in the low fantasy genre… well, depending on whose list you go by, I’d have to say the Harry Potter series.  It’s set in a fantasy version of England.  There are made-up towns and an entirely fictional school.  There’s magic and magical creatures running around.  However, the world itself is… this one.  It’s just a little different.

A Review of “The Tales of Beedle the Bard”

The Tales of Beedle the BardThe Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh, my this was such a fun read! I loved the little footsnotes from JKR and the commentary from Professor Dumbledore that were scattered throughout the book. The stories themselves were entertaining and really add to the mythology/folklore of the wizarding world. Anyone who read and enjoyed the main series will really enjoy these stories as well. Also, they are very quick reads with the feel of real fairy tales.

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July Camp – Progress Report 1

An encouraging word: A kind heart is a fountain of gladness, making everything in its vicinity freshen into smiles. – Washington Irving

Total Words: 9,577 words
Remaining: 15,423 words

Today marks the end of the first week of Camp NaNo’s July session.  I’ve decided to write the remaining section of Keenan’s novel, A Tangled Web (this section is called, “There’s a Spell for That”).  Even though I’m writing it last, this is actually the first section of his novel.  At first, I was projecting it to be about 20,000 words.  Now, I think may end up being closer to 25K, but I don’t think it’ll get to 30K, the way the other sections have.  So… I’ve already increased my word goal to reflect that.  Of course, if I keep at the pace I’m currently going, I’ll get there some time during Week Three…

So, much like my progress reports during April, I’ve got a couple of things that I feel I should mention.  This part of the story is going well.  I got to write some fun things – like the introduction of Keenan’s familiar, as well as Sera and Shadow.  As of this moment, I’ve actually introduced all the major players.  I also had to write the first death of the story, which wasn’t as much fun.  For next week, I need to remember that, ultimately, Keenan and Sera are going to be spying on Malloran and his organization.  He needs to be doing something that bears such close scrutiny.  It’s going to take careful planning for me to make that “something” clear to the reader.

All the same, I’m feeling pretty confident about my story.  I’ve found that, if I plan before my writing sessions just what I will write that day, it works better for me.

My favorite scene is actually the one that I posted to my writing blog: Always clean your cauldron!  It was a fun change of pace from the heavy stuff that had come before it.

My favorite line was actually Bartholomew’s first piece of dialogue, “That’s quite enough of that.  Don’t draw in magic like that, unless you plan to use it… Master.”

The last sentence that I wrote was just after Shadow was introduced, “If there was access between the two, that might be my chance to help Master Shadow escape.”