Thursday, March 31, 2011

No Spoilers Here

What am I reading now?  Possession (Elana Johnson)

Annnd. . . what do I think so far?  Vi is a free thinker in a society that determines everyones choices. She knows the rules--and breaks them anyway. In the park after dark? Check. Walking with a boy? Check. Kissing Zenn? Check. And that little mistake leads to meeting Jag and _____________ with him. The society has Thinkers who direct citizen choices to ensure everyone obeys. Talk about control issues (ha--the original title of the book). Vi and Jag ____________ together. Their talents __________ and lead them to find _____________. You'd think that was a good thing, usually is, but this time it is soooooo not! Vi and Jag, ________, ____________ and __________ to stay _____________.

Hmmmm. . . okay I really can't do this without using spoilers. So just buy the book when it comes out on June 7th and we can chat.

A couple of things I can say are:
•Love Vi's snark
•Starting at about page 100, I could not put the book down.
•My favorite line in the book is the last sentence of chapter 30 (LOL!!!)
•The ending haunts me.

Do you read books on Kindle?

Yup, I do. 
No I'm not a traitor. Yes, I should still be allowed to teach reading. No, my library card is not suffering from claustrophobia in my wallet and regularly sees the light of day. And yes, I get way more out of my discount membership at Barnes & Nobel than I pay for it.

So why do I read from Kindle? Well, it's like having a hundred books in my purse. My kindle is a FREE app on my phone. Recently I found out you can also get the Kindle app for FREE for your computer. Then you can order classic novels for FREE again! In case you want to check it out to see if it is something you'd like here are the links for Kindle apps:

To download Kindle e-books to your Mac click here

For downloading Kindle for your PC click here

There is even a FREE e-book on how to publish your story as a Kindle e-book. Click here to get it.

Happy reading!

Monday, March 28, 2011


What am I reading now?  The Happiness Project (Gretchen Rubin)
Annnd. . . what do I think about it so far?  It's been a loooong time since I've read a self-help book. Fact is, I didn't think I would again. This book is a great exception. It isn't written by a psychologist/therapist. It isn't written by a motivational speaker. It isn't written by someone who overcame a horrible circumstance in life. It is written by someone who just wanted more happiness. Don't we all.

Clint Johnson taught a class a couple of weeks ago at the League of Utah Writers that I got to attend. I've heard that "When the student is ready, the teacher appears". (Buddhist proverb--right--from The Happiness Project book!) The session was great. Maybe I've heard what he was talking about before--but I doubt it. And since I'm heading into revision, it seemed like just the thing I needed to hear.
     Every paragraph should do triple-duty: It should help the reader get to know the character better, enrich the setting and  advance the plot. He suggested this be one of the things you do after you finish the first draft.
I want to go back to the stories I've written and use his ideas to improve my writing. Really there's no reason to write a new story if I have lessons to learn in the old ones.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Elana Johnson Rocks!

What am I reading right now?   Nevermore (Kelly Creagh)
Annnd. . . what do I think of it so far?   It started kind of slow, but I felt invested. I'm a fan of Edgar Allan Poe too and wanted to read how the author worked that in. Kinda long time before it kicked in, but I'm really enjoying it now, in a cheerleader loves goth sort of way.

Elana Johnson Rocks!
Okay--I admit it--I coveted the ARC (advanced reader copy) Elana brought to a class I attended that she was teaching. Today, when I got home from work there was a manilla envelope sitting by the door.

Hm. . . what's this? I wasn't expecting anything.

Check the return address...

Simon and Schuster. The publisher? Still a mystery.





Thank you, Elana!

Guess which book is butting in line 
on my bedside table?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Have you been there?

What am I reading now?  Unearthly (Cynthia Hand)
Annnd. . .  what do I think about it so far?  (About 1/3 of the way in) I really like Clara, the main character. She's smart, strong, a little unsure and trying to figure things out. I like her friends Angela and Wendy--and Wendy's brother, Tucker. I'm still undecided about Christian (supposed love interest). Not much has been revealed about him and much more time is spent on Tucker. I feel a flip coming.
The cover of the book is beautiful in graytones and shiny pale purple--yes, I often buy books by whether or not I love the cover.

Have you been there?
Tonight at book club, we looked at a couple of websites that are really fun to include in literature lessons.

•The first one we viewed was
It uses google earth to fly you around the setting of the story. As you click onto markers, you get extra background information about that section of the book--videos, pictures, related websites and summary information.

•The next one was
In this one the designers have noted interesting phrases or important information in the text (gives the page number and quotes the book) then gives background information to help with understanding. Other tabs give setting information, a review of the book, author info, a glossary and a summary.

Buzz over to both and have some lit fun!

P.S. Aprilynne Pike was our guest author tonight, traveling from Arizona to meet with us. (Thank you so much.) It was a delight to hear her story of how she came to be a writer, and the perseverance she had to continue on that path. I'm sure glad she did. An interesting insight she gave us into the "Wings series" is related to her background in biology. The faerie are the plant kingdom equivalent of the humans in the animal kingdom. She put a lot of thought into what the differences in biological make up would do to the way she could write the emotional responses of Laurel. I really hadn't made that connection while reading her books. No heartbeat so no racing heart, no blood so no blushing. While reading the books, I was fine suspending reality and just allowing her to be faerie. But I really love that thought. Thanks, Aprilynne.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Twinkie Goodness Cake

What am I reading now?  Iron King and Iron Daughter and Iron Queen (Julie Kagawa) as quickly as I can devour each.

Annnd. . . what do I think so far?  At first, I was disappointed with Iron King. Seemed like a lot of the same old same old faery lore. But when Meghan travels with Puck to the Summer Court the story gets much more interesting. Enter dark, brooding Ash. Beautiful, alluring, enemy Ash. It's the kind of romance that goes from don't-do-that, to oh-how-nice, to train-wreck and yes-you-should-have-known-better, over and over.

Twinkie Goodness Cake
Hmmm--it's been a while since I tempted everyone with a bit of sugary happiness.
Here's the photo journal for this one:
It looks like an ordinary strawberry cake. Right? Right. Like it's made using the directions on the box. Not even frosted. Boring.

But--looks can be deceiving.

When you slice into it, you find that it has Twinkies baked into the middle of the cake. Surprise!

Finally I served it with (low sugar) whipped cream and sliced, macerated strawberries. Like this:

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

First 5 Pages

What am I reading now?  Wolves, Boys and Other Things That Might Kill Me (Kristen Chandler)
Annnd. . . what do I think of it so far?  Not a werewolf in the whole book--true--not even paranormal. Kristen nailed small-town-ness in this book, making it so fun to read. The characters are lovable, the story believable and compelling. No love triangle, although there is a love interest, the story isn't about romance.

She was fun to listen to as well. She shared a few secrets with us about her next book. How would it be to travel to tropical locations to do "research" for your next book? 

First 5 Pages (by Noah Lukeman)
Remember a few weeks ago I asked "So, I finished Wish Thief, now what?" I've been learning about revision and editing since that time. I've started The First Five Pages, but I'm determined to read it SLOWLY. Right-slowly. Each chapter looks at how to edit and revise the first 5 pages of your MS, so a prospective agent or editor will ask for more. (By the way: that means whatever you do to the first 5 pages, you should do all the way through.) 

Here's a teaser for why you want this book.
The chapter I'm working on right now is about taking out the extra adjectives and adverbs. I've heard that before, many times, but I didn't know how to do it. This chapter gives steps: Take them out and list alternatives for the boring ones. Strengthen the verbs and nouns where you removed the modifiers. Only put back ones where the noun or verb is not strong enough without it. Finally, every now and again put in a simile or metaphor instead of the modifier. 

So, I'm reading this slowly and trying to revise with this step in mind. Also, I'm trying to draft this way in the first place. It's tricky. :)