I found this super duper cool blog with awesome ideas and inspirations for getting your kids reading. It’s never too soon, or too late, to help the kidlets become readers. They’re the future! Get them some books! Seriously, check this out…
I take my five year old niece to the library every week. She loves it. I give her books every chance I get. I sent her a picture of her wrapped birthday presents last Saturday, because they were pretty, and I knew she’d be excited. She said “I bet that green one is a book!” And you know what? SHE WAS RIGHT. It cracks me up, yet makes me insanely proud that she associates me with books and reading. I try so hard to instill in her a love of stories and books. KT has some GREAT ideas. I’ll be implementing them! She’s giving us one thing a day for all of October! I know, I know, October is a little over halfway through. But! This is a really cool post with some great stuff.
Also, how is October almost gone? I feel like 2016 flew by.
Did you hear that?
Any who! Check this out. Get your kiddos reading! You know I wouldn’t share this if it weren’t important.
Earlier I spoke about the authors who turned me into a reader. Well, that was only the beginning. I’ve evolved. Certain authors pushed me into the world of story creation. Now, I’m a writer. And these are the authors who turned (cursed?) me.
I have so much to say about Neil Gaiman. So. Much. He taught me the beauty of simplicity in story telling. You don’t have to describe every article of clothing. Every hair on the main character’s head. If you have a STORY, you can have a book. Every one of his works are solid, unique, stylized, and gorgeously creative. I own this man a lot. His ideas are not only original, but he owns them. He commits to every character, theme, and sentence. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again, Gaiman never disappoints.
Where Gaiman taught me simplicity, Anne Rice taught me the art of description. Her work (The Vampire Chronicles specifically) has a flowery, artsy, romantic style of writing that would normally turn readers off. BUT IT WORKS. Or rather, she makes it work. She has the ability to beatify her characters. She just loves them. You can tell. You can feel it. She knows them, and loves them, and it makes her stories lovely. The Vampire Lestat tops my list of favorite fictional characters. And the way Rice writes about him, I’m not convinced he isn’t real. These novels showed me you can write with voice and adoration for your characters. So grateful for her.
This guy, though! If there’s anything Douglas Adams taught me, it’s honesty. His writing is so on point it almost makes me sick. He has a way of explaining a feeling with pure, brutal, honesty. Funny. Relevant. Dead on. He can truly define the undefinable. I come back to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy time and time again just to smile and nod. Every time I read ANYTHING by him I think “Yes! You’re right! That’s exactly what that feels like!”
I found myself applying this idea in my paranormal series. My style is a little more… I don’t know… unfiltered candor. But I really believe writing should be sincere. Adams helped me find genuine honesty in my own writing. And I love him for it.
Plus, comedy is HARD. I think that’s one of the most difficult styles of writing to master. And he is effortless with it.
Say what you want about “controversy” or “inaccuracies”. I don’t care. Not even a little bit. Dan Brown can captivate. He takes cliffhanger to a whole new level. Some of his books I’ll get genuinely angry at, because it’s cliffhanger after cliffhanger and I just can’t stop! He forces me to keep going. His stories are riveting and enthralling. It’s inhuman the way he can suck me in. Witchcraft I tell you! But man… did I learn about how to keep a reader hooked. His books start with a million questions, and each time you get an answer, your questions triple. At least. Deeper and deeper you go down the rabbit hole until you feel like you can’t breathe.
R.L. Geerdes may be unknown to you. She wrote a fantasy series that was pretty good. She actually writes under a different name now, and is quite successful. But I need to speak to you about when she was R.L. Geerdes. Woo! Story time!
I know her personally. And while that isn’t reason enough to call someone “inspiring” she truly did inspire me. She taught me that if you want to write, you write. She went for it. Now, she’s writing full time. She’s a success. I met with her when I was first thinking of writing. She gave me some great resources and advice. But, I gotta say, it was her meeting with me in the first place that I found encouragement. She had two novels out, and took time from her life to meet with little ol’ me. She was so kind and motivating. I was so pleased that she’d offer to help. I owe her a ton. She really set me on the path.
If you want to write… write. You don’t wait for someone to tell you it’s okay. You don’t wait for an opportunity. You sit your ass down, and do it. Now, she didn’t actually say these words to me. Her attitude did. She knew very little about me. But, she knew the importance of writing. Of a dream. She was willing to help. This showed me that if you want to write. You go and you do it. Your dream is worth it.
Also, and this is just a side note, this was my first taste of the writing community. My first experience dealing with the beautiful village of writers. What it means to be a part of this circle. I’ve had amazing results every time I’ve reached out to the writing community. We are a bunch of crazy, creative, kind, and generous people. And I am honored to be counted among you.
Stacy is also someone I know personally. We carpooled in middle school. Not kidding. However, this is not a moment of promotion for my friend. This is me saying Stacy Lynn Carroll taught me one of the most valuable things of my career. Don’t wait. Write. Publish. Live your dream.
Boom. That’s it. Now, don’t get me wrong. She’s a talented writer. I’ve loved all of her stuff. I’m going to be gifting her books to people for Christmas this year. She’s awesome and you should read her stuff. My point, for this post at least, is that she was the first writer to show me that indie-publishing isn’t something “desperate” people do.
When I first heard she was going to “self-pub” I was confused. My pea-brain thought that was only for authors who felt they’d been rejected one too many times. It was a way for them to say they were published without actually being published. I WAS THE WRONGEST WRONG PERSON OF ALL THE WRONG PEOPLE.
I read up on self and/or indie publishing and learned a thing or two…
You have so much more control over your content
You are the only one in charge of your career
You can make MORE money indie-publishing than traditional publishing
You don’t have to do what you don’t want to do
And that’s just the beginning. Carroll taught me that if I wanted a career, I could go get one. She taught me not to wait. Do it. Write your book. Publish your book. You. Just. Do. It.
Here I am, years later, with mad respect for my dear friend, and a writing career of my own. I am so thankful for her and her amazing example
Most, if not all, writers start at the same place. As readers. Our love of reading leads us to fulfill our destiny of saying what others cannot. To produce the stories people need. And how did we learn such a career existed? By reading! We started as the readers we now cherish. Certain authors set us on the path. Everyone has their favorites. And these are the beautiful souls that lead me to my journey. The authors who turned me into a reader, and ultimately a writer.
We’re going to do this as chronologically as possible. Becoming a reader starts in childhood. The books we’re read at home. The books our teachers and parents read to us. So journey with me, if you will, to the days of my youth…
Truthfully, this is my mom’s favorite children’s book. She read it to us often. And, while I have no idea why she loves it (I found the dog who didn’t like the other dog’s hat mean, but what did I know? I was just a kid) this book was a staple of my childhood. I knew all the words, all the puppies inside, and all the silly pictures. Entertaining and memorable. This probably started my whole crazy writer life. So… Thanks Mom!
Eastman created a lovely dog world in Go, Dog. Go!Simple. Fun. Relatable. My four year old niece loves it. Her grandma, my mom, reads it to her. Just as she did with me. Hopefully it will instill in her a love of silly stories the way it did for this writer. Who knows? Maybe my niece will grow to be an author herself!
What kid doesn’t love Goosebumps? I think every child in America gets a solid start with R.L. Stine. Spooky. Creepy. So. Much. Stinking. Fun! I loved every single one. And then he did the Choose Your Own Adventure books! The ones where you pick where you go in the story. Jumping around the entire book. What fun! Ah! I can’t get over what Stine did for me as a kid. I picked up my first Goosebumps in like… 5th grade? (ish.) And let me tell you… I wasn’t thrilled. I thought, “This book looks stupid. No princesses. Why do I care about monsters? These books are for boys!”
What an idiot. I loved the first one, and every single one after. So great! R.L. Stine speaks to kids beautifully. He entertains. Reaching the entire audience of children. Every kid loves his stories. He speaks to them, and their interests. Such a talented writer.
Oh, man. My friends and I LIVED off these books for all of 6th grade. At least. Actually it started in 4th grade. Maybe even sooner. We read these books furiously. Every single one. All the spin-offs. We watched the TV show and the movie. A great time was had and this book series was responsible for so much of it.
Martin creates fun stories, that deal with what kids deal with. Friendship dynamics, step-parents, diabetes… Her stories aren’t traumatic, but they don’t graze over real-life stuff. Growing up, I was totally a Kristy (kind of bossy, resourceful, ambitious) and my best friend was a complete Claudia (artistic, free-spirited, innovative). Parts of our personalities had the potential to put our friendship at risk. But! I fully believe this book series showed us that different personalities can thrive together. Everyone is important. We embraced who were were, just like the girls in Baby-sitters Club did. Ann M. Martin just gives me all the good feelings.
I read Journey to Topazthree times between 6th grade and 7th grade. I LOVE this book. The subject matter is deep and painful, but Uchida tells it with hope and beauty. A terrible mark on America’s history, this story made me think. Feel. I think that’s why I kept going back to it. It made me feel. It showed me something ugly, but taught me that people are strong.
I think this was the first book I read that invoked true emotion through writing. Oh! The Feelings!! Conflict. Sadness. Confusion. Injustice. But also hope. Strength. Tenacity. Ah! Yoshiko Uchida did such a beautiful job with this story. I think I’ll go read it again…
I read this book in 9th grade. CHANGED MY LIFE. V.C. Andrews was a turning point for me. I went from girl who kind of likes to read sometimes to always having a book with me. In my backpack, in my locker, in my purse. I became a reader. A bookworm. And so, SO, happy.
This book may have been a tad mature for me at 14. But! It was so engaging. The story was captivating, driven, suspenseful. Andrews has a way of sucking you in, without mercy. Some of her plots are even predictable, but her storytelling forces you to keep going anyway. This author taught me the power of a book. Of a story.
No list of authors (if composed by myself) can exclude Tolkien. He is my literary idol. Tolkien took me from reader of whatever, to literature enthusiast. Okay… Story time!
First of all, I honestly thought I was too stupid to read “real” literature. Classics, if you will. I thought I wouldn’t understand them. That they’d be over my head. Vocabulary would be too difficult. Themes wouldn’t be exciting. Blah blah blah. People discouraged me from reading things like this. They said, “it’s probably too hard for you and boring.”
THEY WERE 100% WRONG.
I love classics. You don’t have to be a genius to get them. Or love them. They’re all beautiful and wonderful and if anybody tells you differently you send them to me. I’ll take care of it. >insert chosen angry threat here<
Second, and this is a little shameful, I saw the first movie BEFORE I read any of the books. I hate myself for it, but… that’s just how my life played out. Any who, after seeing the movie Fellowship of the Ring I dashed out and bought ALL the books. I now own Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, The Simarillion, The Book of Lost Tales… Even some theory and language books on Tolkien’s world. Read ’em all. Love ’em all.
Tolkien opened up a doorway for me. Not just for classic literature, but for fantasy as well. A deep love of high fantasy grew quickly. Which led me to science fiction. Which led me to write. My first book is science fiction. Had I not ventured into Middle Earth, I never would continued on to create my own worlds. It really is that simple.
He is a true genius and beautiful soul. I owe him my life.
There was a time when I felt all I had was Middle Earth. Those adventures gave me purpose when dealing with a particularly difficult phase of life. I clung to them for strength. I keep them near now… Just in case I need them. Tolkien’s characters were my friends. My family. They still are.
These are the writers who turned me into a reader. They’re the reason I write. Had I not found them, the fire of story telling would never have ignited. I’d be wandering around searching for a destiny. Now, I wander searching for a story.
But, you know what Tolkien says…
Be sure to check back for Part 2 of Why I Write: Authors Who Turned Me into a Writer. More authors to gush about. More books to swoon over… All that jazz. Also, I’d love to hear about the authors who took YOU from “regular person” to reader. What book changed your life and turned you into a fantasy world creature?
In six-ish hours it’ll officially be NaNoWriMo prep time. For me anyway. Some have been preparing since September 1st, some before that, some may not gear up for a few more weeks. But! No matter when, or how, NaNoWriMo is coming for us all.
National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for those that don’t know) takes place November 1st-30th. It’s a challenge for writers to complete a novel draft of 50,000 words during those thirty days. Basically, write a book in a month. Boom. Easy, right?
It is not.
This is my first year participating. While very excited, I’m doing my best to OVER prepare so as to avoid getting overwhelmed. As a result, I’ve gathered some awesome resources. And, lucky you! I’m going to spill it all here, so you can play too!
Let’s start with NaNoWriMo in general.
First, I found this great, probably pretty accurate, representation of what to expect. Our friends at BuzzFeed wrote this up a few years ago. While not SUPER helpful for participants, those who know someone involved may learn a thing or two. I’m planning on sending this to my husband come November 1st. It has some hilarious info and gifs on the stages we writers will experience during NaNoWriMo. Like this gem. Stage one:
(It is from like… 2012 I think? But still relevant)
A great list of stuff to do. Everything from plotting to social calendar clearing. Even a handy graphic I may print out and carry around with me. She’s has great visuals with every step. Many of which cracked me right up:
A lovely compact list to help with plotting. I especially like the idea of drawing a map. Fantasy or not, a map of your character’s surrounding and geography can be immensely helpful. Also, thoughtfully choosing a point of view helps a ton. Pick one and stick with it.
An awesome day-by-day process of where your story should go. Great for the planners (like me) to read through before you outline. Can also be good for the Pantsters*. You crazies can peek at it to keep your plot moving along. Super great list for story construction. Also contains a neat graphic. Woo!
*A “Pantster”, I learned, is a writer who “flies by the seat of their pants” when book writing. For example, they don’t outline and such. Pretty sure I would actually die a death if I tried it. They’re cool and badass and I want to hear their war stories…
Great tips on how to keep your micro-goal of 1667 words per day. That’s all we have to do. One thousand six hundred sixty-seven words. A day. For thirty days. We can do that, right? It’s going to be fine.
If you’re like me, and have momentary panics about achieving even a hundred words a day, this post will really help. Awesome advice, about distractions, momentum, etc… I also loved her idea of changing your font color to a super light gray. To keep from editing as you write. I’m a major culprit (victim?) of that. I’m horrible. Fixing every little problem that shows up when my atrocious first draft crap spews out. I tweak here and there. Bad! No! I’m the worst person to tell you not to do that, because I can’t stop doing it myself. But, DON’T. I’ve actually made a sub-goal for NaNoWriMo. JUST LET THE CRAP FLOW. Don’t edit. This blog made some great suggestions for overcoming that. Awesome.
If you’re like me, I love to see progress. While I’m usually one for instant gratification, sometimes it’s nice to see steady progress toward my goal day-by-day. Especially if I have thirty days where I have to stay focused and finish. These spreadsheets (all totally and completely free) can really help us keep track of word counts. Which, as we all know, are important to be watching.
The spreadsheet with this link is technically for 2015. But! The post states there will be an updated one for this year posted soon. Hooray!
Also, you can donate to the cause for more spreadsheet goodness. If you’re feeling extra nice, it’s a cool thing you can do.
This one isn’t NaNoWriMo specific. But, it’s a great resource for reminding you why we write first drafts. It’s got some good stuff on plotting and discovering your story. While the post is sort of an ad for a book about writing a novel in thirty-one days, it still has some great points about first drafting.
I hit up this blog a lot for advice and motivation. So, browse through some other articles. This is where I first read about publishing shorter stories on Amazon. And even though my novellas are longer than what is suggested, I found that I loved writing shorter fiction. It taught me a lot and I’ll keep doing it. My point? You never know where you’re going to find inspiration, or have an “ah ha!” moment. So poke around. Read a little about what you don’t think will interest you. You’ll be surprised. This applies to ANY blog, of course.
NaNoWriMo is going to be awesome. I’m really looking forward to it. Even though it’s my first ride on this merry-go-round, these are the things I’m going to keep in mind that you’ll also want to consider:
Don’t forget to prep your friends and family. Let them know you’re not going to be as reachable as normal.
Guard your writing time. This is one month out of the year when you are going to choose you. You owe it to yourself to write. You love it. You deserve it. For thirty days, say no to the other stuff. Protect the time you’ve set aside for yourself to do what you love.
Write through writer’s block. That syndrome doesn’t get to exist in November. My best advice when you think you’ve got it? Pretend you don’t. Write anyway. The point of this exercise is to write. Not to write well. Remember that. Just put words on the page.
Don’t edit as you go. Just say no, kids.
Try to get enough sleep.
Plan. Plan. Plan. Have an outline. Set micro-goals. Word counts, page counts, scene completions, whatever. Strategize so you can be successful. And so you don’t get overwhelmed. (As a side note, this point may be lost on the Pantsters. I don’t know how you do it, and I have MAD respect for you dudes that can fly like that. PLEASE tell me how you do it. I think I’d just end up weeping under my desk.)
The point of #NaNoWriMo is to write. Not to write well. Remember that.
There you have it! For now, at least. As I find more throughout this crazy writing spree, I’ll update this post. Again, find me on the NaNoWriMo official website so we can hold hands and cry together. I mean… win together.
Banned Books Week is now! I will be reading Lord of the Flies by William Golding for my official banned book. I’ll also be taking part in a banned books photo challenge over on my Tumblr which I will also post on my Instagram
(I’d also like to preamble this with: I long for the day I write something important enough to be banned. I’ll know I’ve made it when my work is challenged. That’s an okay goal to have, right?)
Any who, here are my thoughts:
The Banning of books is a controversial issue that’s been debated and protested for decades, if not longer. Books are banned for many reasons. Some of the criteria almost makes sense (sexual acts, violence). Other reasons are laughable (children questioning authority, too depressing, abundance of cartoons). Authors of these works are trying to tell a truth, or express an idea. Writers are not writing books with the intention of being banned. They’re trying to help people, and some of these people are children. Your children. The banning of these “controversial” novels isn’t helping anyone. Children are being cut off from reading about, what some may call, uncomfortable situations; this is only going to make it more difficult for them to deal with these situations in real life. It is often helpful for children to read about these issues, in an environment where they can ask questions (to parents or teachers). If not allowed to learn about things like sex or mental illness in a safe environment, children may be left learning about these subjects from friends or popular media. Can you imagine? It also seems that groups banning books forget kids aren’t without common sense. Children quite often know what’s “real” and “not real”. Give your kid some credit! And give them the opportunity to learn, grow, and explore their world and new ideas. They can find help in these books. Let them.
This form of censorship isn’t an archaic practice. Schools and communities are still trying to infringe upon the liberties of free speech. They’re playing with the rights of children. It’s almost sickening. They seem to be having trouble coming up with valid reasons, too. Some book banning criteria includes:
children questioning authority (you will think what we think, no matter how wrong we are)
characters who speak in non-standard English (heaven forbid you have an accent.)
Non-Christian culture (no Jewish literature for you)
witchcraft of supernatural (magic isn’t real, but our kids might think it is!)
abundance of cartoons (never a good idea to help children better understand a concept with pictures)
homosexual subject matter (you have two dads, so you’re not allowed to be a role model)
negative statements about the United States government (remember slavery?)
non-traditional family units (because every family is a nuclear family)
promotion of self understanding (don’t you dare think for yourself!)
That’s a minuscule glimpse of the list of “reasons” books are censored.
To be fair… there are some reasons to consider keeping some books out of elementary schools, or make them only available to older readers. I’ll agree that some content need not be read by second graders. I’m not a complete radical. But, I stand by my argument that ideas should never, I repeat never, be kept from people. How are we to grow as a society and culture if we shelter our future thinkers from an idea that could plant a seed of pure brilliance? We’re cheating ourselves and our children if we allow thoughts to be put through an approval system. Just because you don’t agree with an idea, doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea. This is supposed to be the free world! This is not a land of certain people’s opinion. This is a country of anyone’s opinion who is willing to speak. Stop shushing the people brave enough to change the world.
Books are not bad guys. Taking them away won’t help your children deal with the scary world in which we live. Our kids need books, even the questionable ones. The reasons for banning books are not reasons at all. They’re agendas. Please, I beg of society, let books help them. There’s no need for empty libraries. Challenging these books is hurting our little ones, and us. It’s not fair to take away the tools to help them grow and learn. You’re leaving them defenseless.
Now you can own the final installment of Demonic Illusions!
The complete set will be released tomorrow. The paperback next week.
It’s been a roller coast of a late summer. Waiting for Sam to tell me where he and Delilah were going to end up took some time. He wasn’t quick about it. But, I’m so pleased to have worked it out. Feel free to send me hate mail about the ending. I don’t invent the stories, I just tell them. But! I love talking about it. So, comment away!
Click the big ol’ cover up there, get the book, review the book, tell everyone you know to buy the book. It’s just that easy!
But wait there’s more!!
Actually, there isn’t. This post just turned into an infomercial for a second.
Hell’s Princess comes out tomorrow! Here are the details you need to know:
TOMORROW: Hell’s Princess will be available
FRIDAY: Demonic Illusions The Complete Series will be available digitally (ebook, Kindle, Nook)
NEXT WEEK: Demonic Illusions The Complete Series will be available in paperback
There is a slight delay in the print version. I was afraid it would happen. But, there isn’t much to be done about it. The paperback just wasn’t high enough quality. So, I had to fix some formatting issues. But! Another proof is on its way to me, meaning it will be available to all of you soon. I cannot apologize enough for the delay. I absolutely hate it. However, I want to give my readers the best, and it just wasn’t good enough. We’re on our way, though! Just a tiny… bit… longer…
Links will be posted in the morning for Hell’s Princess. I cannot thank you all enough for your support. See you tomorrow!