Tuesday, August 28, 2012

1 Minute Lava-Awesome Cake

What am I reading now? Clockwise (Elle Strauss)

Annnd . . . what do I think so far? Casey, at 15, travels alone. Not a safe thing to do. She knows. But she does it anyway. She'd stop it if she could. Sometimes she dresses up as a guy--easier to get work that way.

Life as a "traveler" is unpredictable. One minute she's enjoying her real life in the 21st Century and the next second she's in 1860-America. There's talk of civil war, abolition and an election year with Lincoln running for the presidency of the United States.

Only this once, when she's dancing with incredibly hot, crush-worthy Nate and travels, he "trips" along with her! She finds out he was only dancing with her as a joke and now she's stuck with him for who knows how long.

Heads up teachers--especially grades 5-8! I read this book just for interest (in YA and time travel--of course), but I can see it has great connections that could be made with the Civil War, Civil Rights and our current state of affairs concerning Equal Rights. There's also a good link to be made for Women's Rights in the three time periods as well as social tolerance and expectations.

Not a heavy read, and the author doesn't try to teach a lesson--just brings up the topics as they naturally unwind in the story.

1 Minute Lava-Awesome Cake

I haven't given you a recipe this month yet--and you are going to love this one. EZ to make and it's beautiful, baby!

You just need to make a chocolate cake mix and have Dove chocolate squares.

Gather the ingredients for the cake mix EXCEPT subtract 1/4 cup of the water it asks for and ADD 1 egg. Then mix it up.

Pour 1/3 cup of batter into small mugs, ramekins or baking bowls that have been sprayed with Pam for Baking. (containers with straight sides work better than ones that bulge)

Then push two-2-two Dove chocolate squares into the batter for the melty happiness that becomes the lava. Top with a spoonful of batter to completely cover the chocolates.

Cook each one in the microwave for one minute. Let cool a few minutes. Run a knife around the edges and invert on a plate.

I served these chocolately-heaven volcanos with whipped cream and macerated (sugared) raspberries to dress it up.
Plus I love-love raspberries and chocolate together!

We didn't want to wait for each cake to cook individually so I cooked four at a time--it took 2 1/2 minutes. So yeah--it was less than 10 minutes for everything start to finish!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Mr. Potato Head and Lisa Mangum

What am I reading now?
Princess Academy Palace of Stone
(Shannon Hale)

Annnd . . . what do I think so far?
Miri and the other girls from Princess Academy leave the mountain again, this time to live at the Palace as a Ladies in Waiting to Britta as she prepares for her marriage to Prince Steffan.  One word disrupts the preparations and the kingdom with the power to take their peace and their lives. REVOLUTION.

I didn't think Princess Academy needed a sequel, but I enjoyed this one as much as the first. I highly recommend it for the classroom libraries of readers in grades 4-8.

Mr. Potato Head and Lisa Mangum

Lisa presented at Utah Valley Writers' Workshop a few weeks ago about how to build better characters. We started off with Mr. Potato Head bodies and parts and had to build characters (hero, villian, damsel in distress, comic relief...) Then she had the audience guess which role in a story the figure represented. Here are a few notes I jotted  during the rest of the presentation:

Contrast your characters past with their present as you move them to through new environments in each scene.

Look inside the character. Determine characteristics that make them different from everyone else in the book.

Personalize the challenges. What is it about them that could be exploited to further the tension and plot? For example: If they are afraid of speaking up, force them to speak to a large group about something they are passionate about.

Give the cast of characters a variety of beliefs relative to the plot so they will naturally be pulled into conflict with each other over it.

My FAVE of the presentation was when she asked, "If you gave that character $500 what would they do with it?" That's what makes each character different.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Learning to Write

What am I reading now?  Onyx (Jennifer Armentrout  Lux #2)
Annnd . . . what do I think so far?  Daemon was such a jerk in the first book, Obsidian! Yeah, I really kinda liked that about him. But I liked Katy too. Spunky enough to throw it back at him. (Plus she likes to read and has a book blog--what's not to love!)

And in book #2 of the Lux series, the frustration continues. Only now there's no escaping Daemon, they're linked as a result of him healing her. Their relationship has changed--mostly, usually, sorta.

But the new him frustrates her in new ways. He's talented like that.

Between the time I read the first book in this series and this one, I also read Shadows (Lux 0.5) and Daemon Extra from Obsidian and Daemon's POV Homecoming Dance. Then I read the Covenant series that is available by this author.

I'll bet you can guess that I'm going to say I like this one too. Yup! I'm definitely following what this author writes.

Thought for the Day:

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

1st Chapter Advice from Lisa Mangum

What am I reading now? Endlessly (Kiersten White, Paranormalcy Series)

Annnd . . . what do I think so far?  Love the ending--cried twice. It's so sad that Evie's story is finished. I hate saying bye to story friends. (Yes, it's a bit like having imaginary friends, which I'm a little too old for or not quite old enough for. Whichever. *sigh*) Her voice throughout the series is fun and light, and the paranormal world she lives in is unpredictable and twisty which all together means this story is ENgAGiNg
(Translation: Teachers, this one belongs in your library 'cause teens will love it.)

Evie has the power to change everything--to fix the world, at least back to what it was supposed to be before the Fey got involved and messed with everyone. That choice however comes with a huge price tag--give up the one person you love most, oh, and maybe give up her life too. Impossible choices, ramped up mix of paranormals, revealed love and sacrifice, and unicorns (yes, rainbow wielding, sparkly, stinks-like-death-itself unicorns)--bleeping fantastic book series!

Paranormalcy 5 Stars
Supernaturally 5 stars
Endlessly 5 stars
15 Stars Total !!!

First Chapter Advice from Lisa Mangum
Listen up--she knows this stuff as an author (Hourglass Door Series) and as an editor (Deseret)

Start with
     •strong voice

Don't try to cram too much in. You have the whole book to tell the story. The first sentence invites the reader to read the first paragraph; the first paragraph invites the reader to read the first chapter, the first chapter invites the reader to read the next and so on.

Reread your first page after you write the last page and tweak it again.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Story Recipe

What am I reading now?  Innocent Darkness (Suzanne Lazear, The Aether Chronicles #1)

Annnd . . . what do I think so far? Noli is in trouble again. Again! Steven (she calls him V), her partner in crime, tries to take the blame but the police officer doesn't buy it.  This time she isn't given a way out. In fact, if she will go in front of a judge if she isn't sent to a reform school (a gentle one for young ladies of social ranking) to grow up and change her ways.
Her mother agrees to the bargain and she is sent to Findley House. It isn't an education center. It's an abusive environment. When she has the chance to run away, she does.

This is billed as steampunk, but it's only just barely so. It's mostly a story about fairies. That's okay by me--I like that too! I had fun with this story. I would have given it 5 stars, except I took one away for TMI on physical intimacy near the end. It's not for 12-year-olds as advertised!

Story Recipe
Notes from Caleb Warnock's Presentation at
Utah Valley Writers' Workshop

•The FIRST PAGE of the story should start on the day that is different, at the moment everything changes.

•The FIRST HALF of the book is where the Protagonist is being chased by the problem.

•At the FLIP-OVER POINT the Protagonist is tired of being chased and decides to save him/herself.

•Although the Protagonist is trying to solve the problem the RULE OF THREE comes into play here; 3 tries and 3 fails before succeeding.

•In the end, determine the PHYSICAL PRICE of the success; something was gained and something must be lost.

•Identify the EMOTIONAL REWARD; what new insight does the character have now or what emotional growth has occurred?

There's no way to put everything he taught about how to manage a plot from his presentation into this post, but his ebook has much, much more. Click here to take a look---> PlotShop