Thursday, May 15, 2014

Critique Groups and Pixar's Braintrust

Yes, I wish I were affiliated with Pixar, but alas--not today.

Anyway, a kindly neighbor with a great Kentucky drawl brought this magazine article to our house the other day featuring Pixar's braintrust. This is a group of storytellers, filmmakers, smart people, etc., who get together, watch Pixar's movies in development, and give honest feedback. Sometimes this takes movies  in a completely new direction, sometimes the movies are scrapped altogether, and sometimes they spark an idea that makes a great movie a Pixar wonder.

Writers, I hear your collective thoughts right now. Yes indeed, it IS just like a great critique group. So with this in mind and a great many critique groups having come my way through the years, I want to underline the fabulous points the article made about how great critique groups work--call it a braintrust if you will, it's still a critique group.

1. The author is the boss. Oh my goodness, there are some critiquers who are adamant that their suggestions must be taken or your manuscript will burst into flames. Nope. It won't. And even though you may have ultra-bossy critiquers, you are the author and you must feel free to be so.

2. Storytellers are your best bet for critique least that's how the article slants. I know many who are happy with good readers who've never thought to write on their own...but they have to be readers and not just people who like you enough to wade through your manuscript. Basically what you want is honesty from someone with perspective on the craft.

3. I liked that the article said what you want are people who can give you a great many ideas in a short amount of time. I can vouch for this being liberating. Instead of one thing you can do to improve your story, it's nice to have many things to choose from. When you're making something up from scratch, it helps to remember that there isn't one correct path. There really isn't. And it helps you remain in control, too. Let idea lead to idea. Then you can choose the best from a bunch, not just the one you thought of first or the one the bossy critiquer is pushing.

4. Finally, you need to do your part when you're critiquing. Express what's going right with a manuscript, SOMETHING is going right. And offer honest feedback. I know it's hard--if they don't want your  honesty, they'll quit coming to you. But any writer worth print must learn to love the honesty. So be that honest, affirming, idea-offering critiquer. Don't be the bossy one. Offer suggestions, offer ideas, and realize that your idea sitting there in a room full of people is just one of many and you are not the author, nor (probably) the best critiquer on the planet, so keep it in perspective.

5. Take your critiques with a smile and a thank you. You can write mean things about your critique group in your journal at home afterward, if need be, but they are trying and they gave you their time, even if you didn't like what they had to say.

So there you go. Everyone can be a little Pixar, even if you're currently, well, not part of Pixar.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Tagged: My Writing "Process"

I was tagged by the wonderful Suzanne Warr to blog about my writing "process." Yes, that's process with quotes because I use the term loosely. Scheduling writing into my life is something I'm pretty formulaic about; the actual writing is something else again.

Picture Book Class
I can hear little gasps all around cyber space from the young students who take my picture book classes. We do go over a tried and true picture book writing process--but it's only one of many ways to write a picture book. Here's what I teach the kids to get us to our deadlines:

1. Decide on a character--species, gender, name--the good stuff.
2. What is your character's problem?
3. What other problems might the main problem cause?
4. What will your character do to solve their problem? (We usually try three things--there are three bears, three musketeers, three billy goats Gruff, get the picture. Stories love threes.)
5. What will finally solve the problem?

We throw in some discussion of tension (internal, external, and time--for those interested). We talk about about exaggeration, word choice, proper picture book length, and using illustrations to tell more story than your words do. We don't talk about rhyme because I'm no good at rhyme...

Anyway, this is all well and good for a picture book class on a schedule. In fact, it's not so bad for a professional picture book writer as long as they remember that not all great stories fit into the mold--still, it's uncanny how many of them do.

Novels--The Adventure
But I find when I write novels it's a whole different thing--not so much a process as an adventure from beginning to end. I've outlined, written cold, used 3x5 cards, interviewed my characters in type and out loud, used the plot point methods, and for me it comes down to this: whatever gets that story out of my head and onto the page is what I have to do. For me, it's never been the same thing twice, but there are some vague similarities between all my projects:

I always start with a character and their problem. Okay, almost always. Sometimes I start with just a concept, but the story never gets moving until I have my particular character and their specific problem.

The second thing I need to know is where my character ends up at the end. I can't just write and get somewhere good in the end by rambling. I just can't. Some people can. I can't even write the next chapter unless I know where I'm going with it. I need a map: beginning point, end point. Then I experiment with all the ways there are to get to where I want to go, and hopefully choose the best one.

No matter how well I outline (and I have outlined superbly at times, trust me) I feel lost in the middle of a novel. I can't hold it all in my head like a picture book and frankly, I don't like that feeling, still, I keep moving forward. Once I've written the entire thing--only then--does it begin to come together as I rewrite (and rewrite and rewrite). Only then can I plant the clues in the beginning, bring out the running gags, play with character descriptions, depth, and finally (my favorite) add VOICE. I think that's because, finally, it does start to all have a place in my brain. But boy, that first draft, no matter what, really stinks. The  3x5s help in their way, the plot points in theirs, and I have a current thing I like that I'll explain below. But my book never really sings until I've gone over it so much that I can forget methods and mechanics and give it life--making it real once my framework is built all around it. It's sort of like a house becoming a home, or (to be more literary) like Dr. Frankenstein building a monster.

The Thing That Happens To Work For Me Now
Now, this is the current thing I like (stolen from the bestselling Jonathan Stroud). I prefer it hugely to 3x5s because I spend an untold amount of time fiddling with those things, not to mention color coding them, and dropping them in parking lots. So, I finally made a list of every one of my current book's scenes (a list of chapters would work just as well).

Because my POV shifts, I write the POV character, too. Then I make precise little notes about what to add and where as needed during my many rewrites. You can tape a blank page to the left and right of your list if you need to (for notes). That's it.

I can see my whole book at once. When I panic about a character being at breakfast when they're supposed to be saving the day, I don't have to sift through the manuscript to figure out how to fix it. I just pull out my handy dandy list which helps me figure out exactly where to add things and how.

I'm telling you with this current book, it's all about this list. Next book, it will probably be about scribbling on the tablecloth or taking lots of baths.

Whatever gets it on the page, that's what I'll do.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Sweetest Review

This week, an acquaintance approached and said his wife coerced him into talking to me...always a good start to a great conversation--but the thing is, it really WAS a great conversation.

"I don't think you know that I'm Navajo," he said. (I didn't.) And he went on to say that the book I'd given his wife for a baby gift, Wild Rose's Weaving, had captured his childhood memories perfectly. He said Wild Rose was now his little boy's favorite book, that it sits on the shelf by his bed, and he picks it out to read first, every night. He said the symbolism, the words, everything just hit the culture right on.

I hugged him. That ups our acquaintanceship to official friends, right?

At any rate, I think it's the sweetest review I've ever received.

Wild Rose was originally written in response to a week I'd spent in the Navajo Nation. My publisher and I didn't want to assume we knew all about a culture we don't belong to, so I made the text a bit more general than it was originally, and the illustrator went for a multicultural feel as well. Still, it's nice to know that I got it right. Nicer to know that I could spark real memories, and foster a connection between father and son (and grandma).

Just really touched--and thankful for wives who make their husband's talk to people!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Monthly Reading

I DID read those books I said I would get to and some of them were fantastic! I have just been out of town and away from blogger so I haven't been able to report. Here's there's the rundown:

The Raven Boys, Maggie Stiefvater

Oh my goodness. The language is strong, but I couldn't have enjoyed the writing and the story more. I read the sequel Dream Thieves as well, not knowing it wasn't a completed series. Now I have to wait for the third installment. Boo! Quirky, fascinating characters including psychics, poor boys, rich boys, ghosts, and hit men. You'll get to know them all well. Like really well. Like why don't they live in my neighborhood well...okay, maybe not the hit man.

I. Love. These. Books. But really. I'm warning you kiddos up front about the language. Ask your mom first.

I read the Louis Sachar as well. Cardturner. I liked it although it went a bit fantastical in a place where I was quite comfortable with it being an ordinary everyday kind of book. It's a good book for sure, I think I just prefer regular fantasy to magical realism (which incidentally works brilliantly in his book, Holes. So maybe I just don't know what I'm talking about. Highly likely.)

And I've read a huge amount of picture books to the little ones including:

Penguins, Liz Pichon
Cute. The kids enjoyed it.

The Belly Book, Fran Manushkin, Dan Yaccario
Adorable. We all enjoyed this.

Barnyard Dance! Sandra Boynton
I defy you to find a Boynton book I don't love. It can't be done. I was a huge fan of her greeting cards in the eighties before she ever wrote a book. I still remember some of them!

Tikki Tikki Tembo, Arlene Mosel, Blair Lent
One of our family favorites. At least I really like reading it. I've got that name down, I tell you.

The Crocodile and the Scorpion, Emberly and Emberly
The pictures really make this great, and the kids liked the story, too.

Outside Your Window: A first book of Nature, Davies and Hearld
Gorgeous, gorgeous illustrations and beautiful to read. We take it a little at a time, more poetry than story (which I love for children) and we ooh and aah over the creative art. My image up top doesn't really do it justice.

This was waiting for me at my writing desk today. Not a good sign:

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Inspiration: Science and Dreams

Since my weekly reading was weak (see what I did there?) I will post something I did for Cabinet of Curiosities this week--kind of like when I used to use my anthropology papers for psychology in college, half the work, twice the grade. It didn't work out that well sometimes, but hey, I can handle a B now and then.

The Cabinet will be discussing writing inspiration during the month of march so if you want to hear these wonderful writers' thoughts, check it out.

Anyone who creates anything needs inspiration. Flying inspired the Wright brothers, Lisa inspired Da Vinci, and a tower inspired Eiffel.

In March, the Cabinet is going to post about our writing inspiration. It's true that writers are inspired by anything and everything, and even the idea that maybe none of it really exists at all. Obviously there's no way we can cover every inspiration. But my personal favorites thus far have been science and dreams.

I love learning about current discoveries and inventions and pondering the what-ifs. Science headlines this very day are these:

Giant Virus Resurrected from Permafrost after 30,000 Years
This 500-Pound Metal Suit Can Take Humans To New Ocean Depths
Scientists Can Now Control Flies' Brains With Lasers

At first glance these articles might seem to lend themselves only to science fiction, but that depends on where your what-ifs take you. Sure, to a writer, that virus could turn into a pandemic and an insecure biophysicist's mad race to cure it. But it could just as easily become the story of a family who escapes the crisis by living in the remnants of a beached submarine and focus on relationships, claustrophobia, and the meaning of life.

That's the point of inspiration. It sparks the story you will write, but you are the one that builds the fire, and fans the flames.

I'm currently working on a novel called Prophecy about a newly called priestess of the sun who becomes the target of a murderous conspiracy. It's not science fiction but the idea hatched from a news story announcing that the fault lines under the Temple of Delphi in Greece were proven to release actual hallucinogens. This led to my own research. The Oracle was in operation anciently for centuries; she turned the tide of wars, democracy, and even wielded authority over kings. Neighboring lands gave great tribute to these women making them wealthy and free in a misogynistic society. How did this sacred sisterhood pull it off? Did they believe in their powers of perception, and if not, what were they really up to?

So, yeah. Science. It inspires me.

I know it may seem trite after Stephanie Meyer, but if you're a colorful dreamer, you have an ocean of inspiration to explore. I don't have much to say here other than if a scene or an emotion or a character pops up in a dream that you would like to get to know better, by all means do it. Explore the idea. It may melt into nothing, or it may turn into a novel. Both have happened for me.

Other novels inspired by dreams? Misery, by Stephen King; Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley; Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson; and Jonathan Livingston Seagull, by Richard Bach. The subconscious (or wherever dreams come from) is a powerful force. (I stole this list of books from here.)

Whatever inspires you, make sure you want to stare at it, analyze it, and live with it for a very long time because inspiration is just the beginning. Faith will carry you through the long haul to completion...but that's probably a topic for another blogpost.

Weak Weekly Reading

Once again, not so good on the weekly reading--not that I didn't try. I picked up and put down three books but I just couldn't get into any of them, even after giving them a chance for a few days. They are apparently wonderful books and well reviewed, but I am weird. Now you know.

I have three lovely new novels sitting on the library shelf in front of me waiting to be devoured so hopefully that will work out better. One of them is highly recommended by Becca Fitzpatrick (not even on the front cover, but in private conversation at a bookstore where we were ushered to the special "edgy books" section), another is recommended by Pat Esden who I believe is friends with the bestselling author, and one is by Louis Sachar, and how can I not try it out? I love his book Holes, and The Boy in the Girls' Bathroom. And I will check out a bunch of picture books too, before I leave.

No, I won't tell you what books I didn't like. Those authors actually wrote books, finished them, published them, got great reviews from Kirkus (for example), and don't deserve any criticism from me. They're books that definitely deserved to be published, they just don't meet my entertainment needs at this time.


Thursday, February 27, 2014

Weekly Reading

**A is for Art: An Abstract Alphabet, Stephen T. Johnson
My favorite book of the week. The abstract art this man created for this book is impressive...I mean, I know nothing about abstract art but going to all work just blew me away. Weird of me to say, I know. Because not only is he an accomplished artist, but his word choice and humor throughout the book were surprising and captivating. I just loved this fresh take on an alphabet book and my 4 yo likes to search for the hidden objects. We see something new every time we read it.

The Dead Roam the Earth: True Stories of the Paranormal from around the World, Alasdair Wickham (NOT A CHILDREN'S BOOK)
Okay, I know. Here's the thing: I get story ideas from books like these, but I have to admit that I skipped large sections, mostly involving Mick Jagger and a giant pig demon. Ew. Not together, but they were still both "ew." Still, there were delightfully entertaining ghost stories that were lots of fun. Read with caution. And not at night.

Quiet Bunny, Lisa McCue
A long way from pig demons, I'll tell you that.

The Mole Sisters and the Busy Bees, Roslyn Schwartz
What I love best about the mole sisters are the colored pencil illustrations. Simply beautiful.

**Birthday Monsters!, Sandra Boynton
How can you not love Sandra Boynton? My four year old likes to "read" it back to me. Whoever's reading it, we always have a good time with Boynton. How can you not be impressed by someone who went from greeting cards (of which I was a huge fan) to bestselling board books?

First Graders from Mars. Episode 4, Shana Corey, Mark Teague
The Fierce Yellow Pumpkin, Margaret Wise Brown, Richard Egielski

**Highly Recommended

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Writing--The Balance

As I've worked writing back into my life after babies and illness and all the rest I've learned this one important thing: for me, it's about the balance.

Two things.

One. I can't go without writing for very long or I go crazy. It must be part of my day, nearly every day, and that's just all there is to it. Without that creative outlet I become fairly useless in every other facet of my life, or I at least feel that way: lackluster, bored, lifeless. Why am I here? Why is anyone here? I can't even eat potato chips. What's the point?

Two. I can't write all day every day without going crazy either. If it takes over more than several hours I get flighty, antisocial, and even somewhat paranoid. Too much imagination is not always comfortable. Also, the children get dirty, hungry, and finally start to get in the way of my computer screen.

Six Things

So these are my priorities (in alphabetical order) as of the first of this year and it is working very well for me. Family, Friends, God, Health, Housework, Writing. I think six things is a lot, but this is what my priorities really are. I couldn't lose any of them.

Family. I'm not sure this needs any explanation. I try to be there when my kids need me. They plop on my bed when I'm about to go so sleep and chat with me. I love that. I take them to karate (and whip out my laptop while they learn to kick things). I try to play with the little one for some time every day. I get out bikes, kiss crusty faces, and pick them up whenever they call. I am not a perfect parent but I try to let my kids know I love them no matter what. My husband is an amazing spouse and we cultivate a great relationship.

Friends. I love my friends and would be lost without them. They are much like family to me.

God. Like anything would happen in my life without God. He's given me everything, I can certainly do what he tells me now. For me that's mainly church, serving others, scripture study, and prayer. I don't let it slide.

Health. I have to pay attention to this every day. My diet is difficult and I cook nearly every pure thing I eat with my very own hands. I exercise, too. But not too much. And I look after everyone else's health in our food challenged family. It was overwhelming at first. Now, it's just life.

Housework. I know, I know. It isn't very writerly to worry about the housework. All great writers say they have given up cleaning their houses to make the time for writing. Well, I've been to some of their houses and they are lying. At least some of them are. I can't write in a messy house, mainly because if my house is messy, I can't immediately direct someone to what their asking for and get back to my writing in a timely fashion. It nags at me until I'm done. Ten minutes of laundry is going to become two hours of back breaking work before long. So I baby the OCD tendencies consistently and then get on with my life.

Writing. I write a couple of hours every day. I wish it were more, and when the little one goes to school, I am planning to bump it up. But for my balance right now, this is where it's comfortable even though it's not my ideal plan. Of course I place all my "story" time in this category, too. I can't watch a TV show, see a movie, or read a book without analyzing character, plot, and what made the story worked. Is that justifying entertainment? Sure. But I want to learn to be entertaining, so it works for me.

And that's it. If I'm not doing one of these things then I question its value and I usually don't do it often or get rid of it entirely. Sometimes surprising things end up not actually being as family oriented as I thought they were and I back away from them. PTA volunteering for example, my kids could care less if I did that so it's something of a time waster for me. Teaching a writing class for kids, who could resist that? So I juggle and learn and find what works for me.

If you want to truly write, there isn't much that can stop you. Sure, there is a thing or two that might, I don't deny it; I've experienced that actually. But if you continue on with the dream, you just might work your way around those rare obstacles. Then figure out your own balance and what you really want. No one can do it but you. And really, very little can stop you but you.

Monthly Reading

Sorry, it's been a while. Here's what I've been up to.

The Corner of Bitter and Sweet*, Robin Palmer
Yes, I was looking for Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, but saw this and thoroughly enjoyed it. A quick YA read about the life of the daughter of an aging alcoholic TV star with captivating quirky voice and heart. Not the deepest book you can read about difficult issues, but hopeful, enjoyable, yet still somewhat real.

Uncle Andy's Cats***, James Warhola
A cute story shelved in children's fiction about Andy Warhol's herd of cats.

Divergent*, Veronica Roth
A dystopian about daring, selflessness, and real courage. I think it lives up to the hype and am looking forward to the movie.

The Mischievians**, William Joyce
A catalog of the creatures who unroll your toilet paper roll, steal your socks, and (yes) dangle your boogers from your nose for others to gawk at. My kids loved this. We took it a few pages at a time. And of course Joyce's art work is stunning.

The Leaf Men***, William Joyce

Not a Box***, Antoinette Portis
What I love about this little picture book is the pictures! Very cute.

National Geographic: Kids' Myths Busted***, Emily Krieger
A very fun kids myth buster book. They assert that alligators don't live in the sewer system of New York City, but then they tell you what does.

There were lots of other picture books, but these are the standouts. And more than anything what I've read is my own writing over, and over, and over. Someday, I'm hoping I can give it a * and send it out into the publishing world. And by someday, I'm hoping this year.

* Highly recommended
** Highly recommended by my kids
*** Highly recommended by me AND my kids ;)

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Weekly Reading

Andy Warhol, Mike Venezia
Andy Warhol: The Life of an Artist, Carin Ford
Uncle Andy's*, James Warhola
Andy Warhol: Pop Art Painter, Susan Goldman Rubin
Fabulous! A Portrait of Andy Warhol, Bonnie Christensen
I loved all these books on Andy Warhol and there's value in studying more than one since every author has their unique focus and opinions. It's reported that Andy liked to make up things about his pre-fame past and childhood so who really knows what it's fun to see what the different books bring out. The standout in the group was Uncle Andy's by James Warhola. It was just a very unique experience to see the artist through a nephew's eyes and also to see the talent passed down in the family. The illustrations are wonderful.

Stretch*, Doreen Cronin/Scott Menchin
A cute, imaginative, simple book along with Wiggle. There are probably more I haven't discovered yet.

Princess Addison Gets Angry**, Molly Martin/Melanie Florian
A nice little lesson about what to do (or rather what not to do) when you're angry, emphasizing that everyone does indeed get angry. My kids saw the other Princess books pictured on the back and now they want them all. It's okay to have a seven year old boy fascinated by princesses, isn't it?

Pink!**, Lynne Rickards/Chamberlain
A penguin with a complexion problem. An inventive way to actually do a little bit of nonfiction with a storyline attached, though it wasn't what the kids were expecting.

Re-read The Boleyn King*, Laura Andersen
If I re-read anything, you know it's worth it. Did you see my name in the acknowledgements twice? I've re-read that bit possibly 300% more than the rest ;)

*Highly recommended.
**Highly recommended by my children.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Weakly Reading: Oh NO!

WeAkly reading...get it? Get it!?

Okay, bad joke.

Truthfully, I haven't finished reading any new books this week, but I'm in the middle of reading four, so next week's post should be nicely filled out.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Weekly Reading

I found this little gem in the library this week. My childhood dreams have come true!

The Dot & the Line*, Norton Juster

I saw the academy award-winning short film of this book as a little girl and thought it was the most clever thing I ever saw.  I never saw it again, or even knew it was originally a picture book written in 1963. And then there it was in the little board book section of the library, even though it's not a board book. I actually attempted a very long time ago to write a book based on that film I'd seen but I just couldn't get it to work out quite right. Good thing!

This book is subtitled Romance in Lower Mathematics, and my kids don't understand a word of it, but they love it all the same. I had to dig the library's copy out of my 4 yo's bed where she ferreted it away last night.

Suzy Goose and the Christmas Star*, Petr Horacek
A very cute and intriguingly illustrated Christmas book. Yes, my kids insisted we check out a Christmas book in January.

Boo: Little Dog in the Big City, J H Lee and Gretchen Le Maistre
If you have a puppy lover, this book is for you. Photos of a fluffy puppy in all sorts of clothes doing all sorts of things...quite a long book, actually.

Little White Rabbit*, Kevin Henkes
My Garden*, Kevin Henkes
Simple, beautiful picture books by one of my favorite author illustrators. Both of these feature beautiful color pencil drawings and focus on imagination. My kids wanted to talk about each of these when I was done reading.

How Many Fish?, Caron Lee Cohen and S D Schindler
Hello Kitty: What Will You Be A to Z?

*Highly Recommended

The Thing About Writing Goals

The thing about resolutions and goals is that if you make them, AND go so far as to write them down, AND THEN actually make a stab at accomplishing may still not reach your goal. It's the sad truth. But you will do something, and it will be more than you would have otherwise. And by "you", I of course mean, "me".

So by way of accountability, here's my little roundup of the goals I posted in the cabinet last January.

What I said I'd do:

Writing Time
I wanted to write ten hours a week, but said I'd at least write every day. I have been writing daily for months now and make at least ten hours a week. YAY ME! Sorry. I'm a little proud of this little success. I can't tell you the juggling and balancing...

I wanted to submit at least one fiction book. Well, that died on the vine, but it did get me writing a great deal last January. A friend said that a nonfiction book has to include things not easily found on the internet, and then it just all seemed like too, too much work. What's not on the internet? Okay, that's a cop out, I know. Really, my fiction urges flooded out the rest. That's the truth. I did write an outline and three chapters and get a critique.

Write The Truth About...Something
Yeah. Not feeling it. I did ponder and outline and such, but all my ideas were much bigger stories. I promise, I did give it a stab though.

Submit Sophie's called Pig Art (a picture book)
Done, to several agents. An important truth: you can write and submit, but you can't make someone publish you, that's out of your control. So, though things didn't turn out the way I'd like, I'm happy that I've done what I can do on that.

Write up my 30 Picture Book Ideas
I think I did this...not sure anymore. What I do know is that I wrote up about eight of my best ideas and sent four or five to an agent who is holding on to them but not marketing them. They are my best picture book work so I figure if they're not grabbing attention then I'll not bash my head on that brick wall any longer. I do promise myself to write any picture books that come forcefully to mind but all my ideas have been novel ideas for a very long time.

So with all that writing time I promised myself and no nonfiction or picture books to write I have been working on a YA novel which brings me to my 2014 goals.

Writing Time
I'd like to bump it up to twenty hours a week. One or two of the children may have to go into foster care...KIDDING! Sort of.

Publishable Novel
I want my novel in publishable shape by summer at which point I'll start submitting it and outlining a second book in that series (a girl can dream...especially a writer girl) and a completely new book--I have lots of possibilities I'm excited about there. I will start writing the completely new book in the fall when the kiddos head back to school.

And that's it. Easy.

Oh, and I have a super secret goal. If it works out, I'll let you know... Shhhh. I'll write that one down in private somewhere.

So now you. What's your goal? Write it? Try it. Or be Yoda and do don't try. No matter what you'll be farther down your path than otherwise. May you enjoy the journey.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Weekly Reading

I read the BEST book today that I just can't stop thinking about.

Cozy Classics: Moby Dick* by Holman and Jack Wang.


It's a board book. It's twelve pages long. It's twelve WORDS long. Favorite book of the month!

I laughed so hard when I read it that people around me in the library backed away. These authors have a sense of humor and serious editing skills, not to mention a way with felt. My favorite word? Leg. You'll just have to check it out for yourself, if I ever take it back to the library that is. Actually, I'm going to buy it and only then take it back to the library.

These authors have also happily written Pride and Prejudice, Les Miserables, and many, many more.

Other books have included:

The Kings of Clonmel, John Flanagan

Number Eight in the Ranger's Apprentice series. Looking forward for promises to be fulfilled in the next book. This series is a wonderful fantasy adventure (much more adventure than fantasy) set in medieval England (more or less). Total escape books with characters you can't imagine not actually existing as flesh and blood after you read them.

The Last Siege, Jonathan Stroud

Completely different than anything I've read by him. Contemporary teens dealing with loneliness all together in a ruined castle. I love reading authors' other works to discover how they've developed and changed over time, or what they can do with different topics.

Artists in Their Time: Andy Warhol

Hey, sometimes you just need to know more about Andy. Now I do. I have several more nonfictions to read about him. Considering dying my hair white because, you know, if it's going to happen anyway, why not pretend it's what you always wanted?

And let's not forget the picture books:

Lots of Spots**, Lois Ehlert
Leaf Man*, Lois Ehlert
Warthogs Paint, A Messy Color Book, Pamela Duncan Edwards/Henry Cole
Diary of a Fly*, Doreen Cronin/Harry Bliss
Lilly's Potty
Wiggle*, Doreen Cronin/Scott Menchin
Cool Daddy Rat*, Kristyn Crow/Mike Lester
Roar, A Noisy Counting Book**, Pamela Duncan Edwards/Henry Cole

*Highly recommended.
** Highly recommended by my 4-year-old.

Must. Write. New. Posts.

There. Now it's a goal.