Saturday, December 31, 2011

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Free Webinar: Creating a Book-Marketing Plan

If you are planning on releasing a book in the coming year, you should check out Brian Jud's webinar tonight:

How to create a functional book-marketing
plan for 2012
Sponsored by SPAN
Thursday, December 29, 2011 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM EST

 Here's a quick blurb on Brian's registration page about the event:                                  
"Make 2012 your year for success! During this webinar you will discover unique and practical ways to increase your sales through marketing planning. Brian Jud will show you how to create innovative strategies for creating and selling more books. Learn innovative pricing techniques. Find out practical things you can do immediately to arrange distribution into retail and non-bookstore markets. See easy ways to promote your books economically in a competitive environment. By the end of the webinar you will have a step-by-step, customized plan to sell more books throughout 2012."
It's a free webinar. Here's the link to the registration page:

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Have you been to your local library recently?

Have you been to your local library recently? If not, then go, quickly, and get your library card. I have to admit I'm a bit embarrassed that I was not a "card carrying member" either, at least UNTIL TODAY! Yes, I signed up at the local library today. And now that I'm looking at all the resources available at the library, I wonder why I didn't do this sooner.


Image Courtesy of DailyClipArt.net

So check this out, while at the library, look what I discovered:

1. A book discussion group in town that I'd like to join. The first book is The Road by Cormac McCarthy and I've been dying to read it.

2. Since I needed a copy of The Road, I discovered that through the library I can download a  digital copy of the book (for free!) to read. Albeit, there are two people ahead of me who have reserved a copy (probably other Book Discussion Group members)...but I can dowload it right to my kindle. Nice!

3. I can even take my family to the Natural History Museum in NYC for free with a pass from the library. I just need to reserve it in advance. That is like nearly $100 in savings for a family of four! Cha-ching!

Wow - and those are the gems I've uncovered in only about an hour. Imagine what else I can discover the more I use the library.

So, go...get your library card, and found out what benefits await you.

Meanwhile, I'm heading back to the digital library to see what else I can download to my kindle.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Most Anticipated Titles for 2012

It's a new year and I am super excited about some books and movies releasing in 2012...and here they are, my list of most anticipated titles in 2012:
BOOKS:
Enshadowed by Kelly Creagh, the follow-up to Nevermore, which I absolutely LOVED! (8/28/12 release)
Enshadowed

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver, the follow-up to Delirium - another one of my favorite books (2/28/12 release)

Pandemonium (Delirium)
MOVIES  (adapted from books):
The Hunger Games movie (releasing in theaters 3/23/12)


The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 (To hit theaters November 16, 2012)


The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey (to release December 14, 2012)


It's going to be a great year! What are you most looking forward to in 2012?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Paring Down in 2012

With all the streams of information, it can all bit a bit overwhelming...not to mention time-sucking. In 2012, I vow to find a much more efficient way to deal with it all, to find a proper balance between writing novels and attending to all the other items like this blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

One of the things I'm toying with is updating the blog once a week, which will force me to prepare a more meaningful post each time. Also, I want to take the time to unsubscribe to all the excessive newsletters and updates I get for things I really don't have much interest in. So goodbye shopping club updates...hello fewer emails.

It's time to streamline my very limited time, and make the best use of my resources.

I'm still putting the plan together, so it's a work in progress. There has to be a proper balance, because in the end it's the writing that has to receive the most attention. Without that there is nothing.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Time is Now

Grrrrr. I lost my momentum, and I need to get it back. Too many excuses. Too many doubts. Time to put the blinders back on and make it happen, and I don't want to wait until the new year. I can't wait for the new year. It's time to get back in the saddle and focus my writing, draft the next book, and get the current novel in the hands of the right contacts to get it on its way to publication. Now.

The time to do it is NOW.

Ok, I feel better already.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Book Review - Midnight Alley

Book Review - Midnight Alley (Morganville Vampires, book 3)   by Rachel Caine

Claire Danvers is back in the third installment of Rachel Caine's Morganville Vampires series, and here she is getting herself into even more trouble - but isn't that what she does best? In this continuation of the series, Claire tries to keep her obligations to both Amelie (the oldest vampire and ruler of Morganville) and her friends (Eve, Michael, & Shane) but somehow the lines get blurred and she risks not only her only life but the lives of those she cares about most.

Midnight Alley (The Morganville Vampires, #3)Midnight Alley reveals even more about the dark secret that haunts the vampire race, the secret that Amelie is trying to keep from everyone, including the other vampires. But Amelie  has a plan, and it involves Claire; intelligence can be deadly, as Claire is soon to discover.

I like the introduction of Myrnin (an older vampire & scientist) in this book, and I'm excited to see where Rachel Caines takes this story line later on.

Recommended for young adult readers with strong adult cross-over appeal. Parent note: recommended for YA readers on the higher age range as some of the Morganville novels deal with issues better suited for the older YA reader.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!


I'll be spending the day with family and reflecting on all the things in my life that I am thankful for, and you are all on the top of the list.

Thanks for your support.

Love you all!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

100 Best First Lines from Novels

Photo courtesy: Discoveryschool.com
Surfing the internet today looking for inspiration, I came across this list from the American Book Review of the 100 Best First Lines from Novels, and wanted to share it. What do you think...do you have favorites here? Any favorites you would add from books you've read?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Book Review - Succubus Blues

Book Review - Succubus Blues
by Richelle Mead

I'm not usually a fan of the hot  & sexy stories that offer pure erotica and not much story line. And the whole premise of this story gave me pause. Imagine my added concern when I looked-up the definition of "succubus" on Dictionary.com:
suc·cu·bus   /ˈsʌkyəbəs/ Show Spelled[suhk-yuh-buhs] Show IPAnoun, plural -bi  /-ˌbaɪ/ Show Spelled[-bahy] Show IPA.1.a demon in female form, said to have sexual intercourse with men in their sleep.
2. any demon or evil spirit.

3. a strumpet or prostitute.

Yep, I thought I had this whole booked pegged, but then I started reading the reviews, many which offered insight into the storyline. It had promise. So I gave it a try, and yes, its true. This book is steamy in parts (not for kids, definitely an adult read) but it also had strong characters and a good story. And I love the fact that the whole concept is believable, in other words, the story and the characters are setup in such a way that even if there wasn't a supernatural element, their situations and problems are relatable.

This was my first Richelle Mead book, and it has made me a fan. I see now why her books are so popular.

Recommended read for adults and fans of paranormal/supernatural.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

National Day on Writing

October 20th is National Day on Writing...that's today! Who knew! So before I go to bed tonight I'm going to put some words to paper to celebrate the day. There's still a few hours left, so you can participate too. Here are some links:
National Day on Writing by National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)
Contribute your writing to The National Gallery of Writing

You can also contribute/follow on Twitter with these hashtags:
#dayonwriting
#whyiwrite

Happy National Day on Writing!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Break - Winding Down & Ramping up to Write

Breaks are important; not breaks as in "I'm breaking up with you", but breaks in terms of rest, down-time, and respite. It's a chance to recharge. And I have. I'm creatively recharged. Ready to write the next novel. Able to leap talling buildings in a single bound. Wait a minute, that's superman.


Courtesy: 1clipart.com

Anyway, this well-deserved writing break has me chomping at the bit to start writing again. I'm excited to start crafting the next book, Book 2 of The Energy Trilogy titled "Li". I'm ramping up to start drafting during National Novel Writing Month in 13 days. I saved book one in pdf format and loaded it to my kindle. I'm rereading it at the gym and brainstorming ideas for this next installment (which is exciting in itself because having book 1 on the kindle makes it feel more real somehow, like its already published even if its not).

This was a good break. I'm ready to start the next leg of the journey.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sample the work of The National Book Award Finalists

Short and sweet today...just wanted to pass this on...check out this post from GalleyCat that offers links to samples of each of The National Book Award Finalists: National Book Award Finalists: Free Samples

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011

I just updated my profile online for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) 2011. Here's the link to my page for anyone who is interesting in buddying-up during the event: http://www.nanowrimo.org/en/participants/michcarl

If you're not familiar with the event, National Novel Writing Month is an event where writers across the  between November 1-30...wins.

For me, NaNoWriMo has proven to be an effective tool for crafting first drafts in a short time, followed by many, many months of revisions.

So now its off to brainstorm for ideas.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Filling Writing Withdrawals With TV

Since finishing the novel, I've taken these last two weeks away from writing to cleanse my writing palette. I miss it. I think I'm going through writing withdrawals right now. But I need this quick break as I gear-up for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), which starts November 1st.

To fill the gap, I've decided to get caught up on some of my tv watching, and let me tell you there have been a few standout shows.

First off let me say that I balled watching the season finale of The Big C. Wow! This is my absolute favorite show on tv right now. The writing is amazing and the cast is spot-on. The season finale made me cry, ball, for about 15 minutes after it was over. Did you see? If not, you have to watch. Amazing! Boo-Hiss that I now have to wait until 2012 for the new season.

The season premier of Brad Melter's Decoded happened this week, which I'm glad I caught as its another favorite show. The first episode was about uncovering the theory about what Fort Knox houses...the country's gold, or dust. Very interesting! It makes you think. The research is intelligent and entertaining at the same time. And its by a writer who I respect immensely!

And finally, after a few weeks of avoiding The X Factor, I turned it on this week...and I'm hooked. Yes, I'm a sucker for a good talent show. It inspires me in my writing, to see other artists, their journey and their struggles, and finally successes that can come from it all.  It gives me hope.

So eventhough I'm missing my writing, I feel my excitement building for the next project as I tap into these amazing programs. And in just a few days, I'll start drafting my ideas in preparation for NaNoWriMo.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Book Review - The Haunted School (Goosebumps)

Book Review - The Haunted School (Goosebumps)

by R.L. Stine


Another Goosebumps installment, The Haunted School is probably one of my favorites in the series so far. But I decided to do something different on this review, and ask my son his thoughts on the book, since we read it together. My son is eight and in third grade. So, what follows are his responses to my questions about the book.

What did you like about the book?
I liked the different colors {one world represented in color and the other only in black & white-Grayworld}. I like how they {Tommy & Ben} turn back to normal, the girl {Thalia} hiding her secret, and when they {the two boys} got out & looked in the mirror with a gasp.

What would you change in the story, if anything?

I would have liked to have seen the kids change into the black zombies or the dark kids sneak into the school {the good part of Grayworld} & have them try to get in to the portal of the real school. Then have Tommy turn into a zombie, and have Tommy's friend {Ben}save the world from the dark zombies taking over.

What you recommend this book to other kids?

Yes, of course! Absolutely, super duper!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

SLJ Upcoming Webinar: Reaching More Readers—The Book and Beyond


The School Library Journal (SLJ) sponsors some great events, many of which are webcasts, available for all of us in the industry. This next event, Reaching More Readers-The Book and Beyond, sounds really interesting. Here's an overview of the event from SLJ's registration site. For more details, and to register for the event, click the link at the end of the post.

SLJ icon
SPONSORED BY: Orca Book Publishers with School Library Journal
EVENT DATE: Thursday, October 20, 2011– 3:00 PM EDT – 60 minutes


Reaching struggling readers has always been a challenge and that is truer now than ever before. With a dazzling array of distractions, it can be difficult to engage a reader with text and help them find those connections that are so important to be successful in school and in life. This webinar will discuss available books that are useful with struggling readers but also some of the new technologies and approaches that can be useful in connecting with these students, including audio books, digital and eBooks, classroom projects and more. Join a panel including a bestselling author, a library media specialist, a publisher and a state library director of development for a far-reaching discussion on reaching more readers, in more ways.

Click here for more information:  Reach More Readers-The Book and Beyond

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

It's DONE!

It's done! I now have a completed manuscript ready for submission. This has been nine years in the making, several flushed drafts, and many hours of writing, and finally its done. Woop! Woop!

Now the hard part begins. The dreaded slush pile. I've got my top agent picks and query letters are being prepared.

Fingers crossed - sending some positive into the universe.

The journey to publication continues.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Read for Relief

Writers and readers alike: Check out Read for Relief and bid on items to help raise money for Hurricane Irene relief - signed books, manuscript critiques, and more.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Book Review - The Dead Girls' Dance (Morganville Vampires, Book 2)

Book Review - The Dead Girls' Dance (Morganville Vampires, Book 2)


by Rachel Caine

The Dead Girls' Dance (Morganville Vampires, Book 2)The Dead Girls' Dance is book 2 in the Morganville Vampires series by Rachel Caine. And this book picks up right where book one left off, which is a great way to continue, as long as you're reading one book after another (which I am). There's no lapse from one book to the next, the pacing is fast, and the story reads quickly to the end.

In this story, the plot thickens and Claire is thrown even further into the vampire world. Not only is Claire learning more about Morganville, but she is also becoming intertwined in the battle between the warring factions, both vampire and human. Claire's relationships deepen with her house-mates, and romance blossums.

Wow! Another great book by Rachel Caine - I'm hooked. This is a recommended Young Adult (YA) read with strong crossover appeal into the adult market.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Book Review - Glass Houses

Book Review - Glass Houses
by Rachel Caine

Glass Houses (Morganville Vampires, Book 1)Glass Houses is the first book in the Morganville Vampires series by Rachel Caine, about college freshman Claire Danvers and her arrival to Morganville Texas, a small college town with many secrets. Claire starts in the college dorms, but after being bullied there, she is forced to move off campus, and that's when the secrets of Morganville start revealing themselves to her.


The story revolves around vampires, but also has strong attachments to young adult themes like moving away from home, first love, and finding one's place in the world. Eventhough it is Young Adult, it has strong crossover appeal into the adult market as well.
This book is a great read that will delight fans of Twilight and Vampire Academy - highly recommended read for fans of young adult paranormal/romance.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Yay - Nearly There...thanks for sticking with me

I've been a bit spotty on the posts the last couple of weeks, and I wanted to say thank you for sticking with me. Trust me, all of my energy has been placed in a productive place; writing.

I am almost giddy because after 9 years of work, FINALLY, I can say I have a novel that feels whole and is ready for submission (nearly ready). I'm doing one final read-through and then handing it over to my husband for his final read-through. If it still feels as complete as it does now after that...then I'll actually being submitting. OMG!

So, thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for sticking with me. Hopefully, I'll be reporting more and more news about the progress of the novel once I start sending out the query letters, the partials, and the fulls (and keep your fingers crossed, squee!, maybe a contract somewhere in there too).

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 Anniversary


I wrote this on the 1 year anniversary of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. It's an annual traditional that I repost this on the blog. May we never forget...


Photo credit: Michelle Reynoso


Can You Believe
by: Michelle Reynoso


Can you believe,

It’s been a year?

A year of tears,

A year of fear.

A selfish enemy took so much,

An ignorant enemy gave us much more.

Precious lives of many are gone,

Lives of so many more carry on.

We’ve gained a greater understanding,

Of freedom, love, and compassion.

It’s sad to say that tragedy alone,

Has the ability to set that tone.

We’ve cried tears together,

Remembered together,

And now we must heal and move on together.


Never Forget 9/11/01, Flags of freedom wave on.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Poetry in Advertising

What do you know...I picked up my mail tonight to find an homage to poetry in the Target flyer. Have you seen this? It's actually quite creative, and it got my attention. Nice job Target!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Welcome To The Other Side of the Hurricane

So we made it through. Hurricane Irene has come and gone. As you know I posted about the impending hurricane on Friday, full of speculation whether she would deliver a mighty wallop or not. So was she as predicted or was she a dud? Well, I think that will be up to interpretation. Some people are saying it was a lot of hype about nothing. While others have days of clean-up, maybe even weeks, ahead of them with flooded basements, flooded communities, property damage and power outages. So just like a book, the end judgement is up for interpretation.

In my area, we've had lot's of flooding and power outages. Even my J-O-B has lost power and isn't anticipated to regain it until the end of the week.

So yes, there's damage, but no, it's not as extensive as original predictions...let me say that again, not as extensive as ORIGINAL PREDICTIONS. We ended up with a Tropcial Storm as opposed to a Category 4 or 5 Hurrican (strictly speaking for the NY Metro area). But isn't it better that everyone was overprepared than the other way around?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Irene - Will She Deliver or Fall Short?

It hit me today, anticipating Hurricane Irene's approach is just like the anticipation of a long awaited book (without the risk of lives lost of course); you wait, and wait, and wait...and listen to all the hype, and then wonder if the end event (or book) will be all it's been hyped to be. Sometimes the books deliver, and sometimes they fall short. Will Irene deliver the projected punch? Or fall short?

I guess we'll find out tomorrow night.

I live in the projected path of where Irene will hit, but luckily not in any of the low lying areas that are requiring evacuation. I'm stocked-up and ready to weather the storm. Let's see how it all plays out. I'll let you know what happens next week.

Be safe everyone!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Book Review - Night Road

Book Review - Night Road
by Kristin Hannah
Night RoadLet me start by saying this...this book made me cry, not once, not twice, but four separate times. The story that unfolds in this book is touching, and emotional. We know from the beginning of the novel that something happens, something big, that affects the characters, but we don't know what. The first half of the book leads us up to that something. Here is where we meet the characters and feel attached to them.

And then we see and feel and experience the after.

The story is about three teenagers: Mia, Zach, Lexi and its also about Mia & Zach's mom Jude Farraday. There are other important characters throughout the story, but pivotal characters are those above. We get to know them, understand them individually and together and then we watch them as they endure tragedy.

As a writer, what amazes me about the way Kristin Hannah tells her story is that if feels very spontaneous. A character makes a decision and we see that decision unfold into consequence. It's not so easy to execute. A writer knows the outcome of a story, but Kristin Hannah does it, and in a way that seems both effortless & seamless. This is what makes parts of the story so heartbreaking.

I loved this book...it is on my favorites list. A highly recommended read; suitable for both adults and teens. Bravo!!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Ideas for Novels in My Future

Years ago, when I first started thinking about writing novels as a career, I used to worry that I wouldn't have enough ideas to get me past the first novel. I thought, what if this novel is the only GREAT idea I had. And now? This morning I was driving in to work, and another great novel idea hit me. I say another, because I probably have 5-6 solid ideas to carry me through the next 5-6 novels. And that's excluding sequels to the novel I'm working on now. And every few months another fantastic idea hits me. These are not just passing fancies. No, I'm talking about the whole beginning of the novel comes to me, the exact wording of how it starts and then there's a flash and I sense the whole novel that follows. I know, it sounds weird, to sense the rest of the novel. But its a feeling, a knowing that this idea is complete, and exciting, and doable. I've drafted plots in a flurry of words, character ideas, twists, etc. Sometimes I can't write it down fast enough, like this morning. The ideas are there, ready to develop. That's the fun part.

Now I worry about finding the time to write these great novels.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Writing A Novel Is Hard

Writing is hard work. I know it probably seems like the easiest thing to do, I mean it's just putting words on paper right? It's not like a person has to lose a limb or sacrifice their freedom to write, well at least not in this country. Other places, where freedom of speech is not so free, that's a whole other story. But let's not sway from the topic. Easy peasy right; Oh my goodness, if only that were so.

One of my writing friends uses this quote on her blog, and I think it's super important to what I'm trying to convey here. Here's the quote:
“Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead." — Gene Fowler
Sometimes that's exactly what it feels like. A book is a piece of the author, whether it's autobiographical or complete fiction, it's the author's creation. I know you've probably heard it said before, like I have, that a book is like an author's baby, conceived and birthed from the author's imagination. It's true, but I'd like to take it even a step further to say sometimes that book even becomes a child. Mine is about nine years old (the book, not my son). There's nurturing and discovery and ultimately the time to let go (as in when a child leaves home). 

The process of writing a book has so many steps, that its a journey of many, many years (at least in my case) There's knowing what to say, to also knowing how to say it. And both can be just as painstaking to complete. Right now, I'm working on revisions of a novel that I've completely rewritten twice already, and now I'm just trying to exact the language in this final version so that it's complete (at least until an editor gets hold of it). It's a feeling, mostly. I'm striving for a smile on my own face when I read the words. Yes, I know what's coming, but when the words perfectly convey the idea, that's a great moment.

I'm in the final push, and I have my own writing retreat coming up over the next two weekends. I'll be locking myself inside, with my laptop, to push to the end. The goal is to finish the novel, finally after 9 years of working on it. It's been a journey of discovery for me. This novel will always be special because it's where I've found my voice and learned so much about the writing process. And there's still so much more to learn. I'm ready for the next chapter.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Book Review - Angelfire

Book Review - Angelfire
by Courtney Allison Moulton

Angelfire had a good, solid story with a kick-ass, no nonsense main character who is just understanding her true potential as a warrior against evil. I liked the unique take on angels and demons and the evils that go bump in the night. It was an easy read with action, a budding romance, and lot's of evil monster-type characters closing in. 

Angelfire (Angelfire (Hardcover - Trilogy))On the downside, I felt the story was missing a couple things for me. First, it needed a stronger emotional connection to the outlying characters. Ellie, the main character, is well-defined, as is Will, but the supporting characters are less so. Second, Ellie was constantly asking questions both of herself and of others, which got a bit annoying after awhile for me. I wish the author had found different ways to unfold the answers of her past and of this world instead of always relying on her asking questions.

All in all this debut novel was an interesting read. I think YA Paranormal romance fans will enjoy this story.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Space Camp - Kids & Adults


Photo Courtesy: Spacecamp.com
I was watching Mars Needs Mom on Sunday with my son. It sparked a conversation about space travel & astronauts. My son was excited about jumping around weightless on the moon, and that led to a discussion about Space Camp. I knew it existed, but I didn't know much more than that. So I checked it out. Let me tell you, I want to go. They don't just have Space Camp for kids now, there are programs for families and for adults. This is going on my bucket list.

Check out these links:


Friday, August 12, 2011

Book Review - Before I Fall


Book Review - Before I Fall
by Lauren Oliver
 
Before I FallI had really high expectations of this book when I started it. For one, I really LOVED Lauren Oliver's second book, Delirium. And two, this was a New York Times Bestseller. With that said, the book is well-written and I was captivated by how Sam (Samantha), the main character, evolves in each new restart of the same day that she is forced to live. Think of it as the movie GroundHog Day, but for a young adult audience.
 
Before I Fall is a good solid read with good characters, but I didn't find it amazing, and I can't put my finger on exactly why. Maybe I was just expecting too much? Maybe I've seen the whole "GroundHog Day" scenario a few times before and I wanted a different plot than that? I'm not sure exactly.
 
I will say that it takes a skilled writer to create a character, like Sam, who in the beginning is the one you want to hate, and turn the story around so that you're rooting for her, genuinely. That is not easy to do, and Lauren does it here.
 
I think this is probably a unique concept to most YA readers who might not have been exposed to the movie GroundHog Day or other adult literature that deals with this same plot, and because of that, YA readers find this story so compelling. For readers unfamiliar with the movie Groundhog Day, I've included the trailer from this 1993 film below.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Magnificent 12 - Free kindle download

I love getting free offers in my inbox, when they are actually "free offers" and not just a gimmick. Well I got an email about a free book download and I tried it last night...it's legit...so I thought I'd share it with you. I'm always on the lookout for new books for my son and this one sounds perfect. I've included the trailer and a link to the free kindle (sorry just kindle) download. It looks cool - enjoy!

The Magnificent 12: The Call by Michael Grant

Link to free download for kindle users on Amazon

Here's a link to the series website: http://www.themag12.com/

And here's the trailer:

Monday, August 08, 2011

Summer Camp for Kids Who Love Books

I saw this last week and meant to post it, but today is just as good. It's summer, which means lots of kids are going to camp. But what about those kids that just LOVE to read? Yes, there's a camp for that too! Check this out. Thalia Kids Book Club Camp at Symphony Space in NYC. This week is the last week, but it may be something to bookmark for next year.

Here's an article about it from Publishers Weekly: Summer Camp for Bookish Kids
Education at Symphony Space: website

Friday, August 05, 2011

TGIF!

It's Friday and I'm exhausted. You too?

I wish I could be like my cat today, living life lazing around. I snapped a shot of him this morning, and the picture epitomizes exactly what I feel like doing (but can't).

I guess I'll leave the resting and relaxing to him. TGIF everyone!

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Book Review - The DUFF

The DUFF: (Designated Ugly Fat Friend)Book Review - The DUFF
by Kody Keplinger

The DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend)...I didn't want to like this book, I really didn't. I picked it up for $5.00 at a used book store. I had heard the title touted as a must-read by the publisher before it was released, in a webinar awhile back. And when I saw it at the bookstore, I was curious. So I bought it.

When I started it, at first, I wasn't sure if I'd really get into it. It's definitely geared for teens (it is YA after all) in language and topic, where sex is as commonplace as going to school. BUT, and this is a big but, once I got into it I was hooked. I stayed up late and got up early to see how all the drama panned out. And I liked it, a lot! The story curved around nicely to a place where the main characters change from superficial to real people, as they come to realize who they are through the drama.

Recommended read for YA fans, but due to the some of the language and content I would suggest this for older YA readers only.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Make Loaning Your Books Easier - Personal Library Kit


Photo Courtesy: Amazon.com
My personal library is growing, and often times I share my books with friends and family. Once in awhile, a book doesn't quite make it back. And who did I lend it to? Has that happened to you too?  Well, I stumbled on this interesting item today called the Personal Library Kit by Knock Knock. This kit has everything in it to make your own library check-out desk: 20 self adhesive pockets, 20 insert cards, one date stamp, pad, and pencil. 6.5"x7.5".

Me likey-likey! Neat gift idea too for readers & writers alike. 

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Calling All Kids Who Write...

...Barnes & Noble & Tikatok are holding a contest for kids ages 6-14. So if you're between those ages and like to write, check it out. The prizes are pretty cool including a grand prize NOOK color, $500 Barnes & Noble Gift Card, AND meet The 36 Clues bestselling author Peter Lerangis in New York City. There are also 2nd & 3rd place prizes too! Complete details available on the Barnes & Noble website, here's the link: Summer of Imagination Writing Contest


Photo Courtesy: BN.com


Monday, August 01, 2011

Book Review - Divergent

Divergent (Divergent Trilogy)Book Review - Divergent

When I first started Divergent, I was concerned & unsure if this dystopian story would offer something new and unique, but my concerns were soon proven unfounded.  This book is good, really good. When you start reading, give it a few chapters to simmer in your brain, and I promise the story will start to grow on you. It did for me, and then I couldn't put it down! 486 pages goes really fast. At the end, I wanted more story. Lucky for me this is the first book in a planned trilogy - yippee!

Divergent follows the main character, Beatrice, as she maneuvers her way through discovering her place in a dystopian version of Chicago, choosing a faction to align herself to, and ultimately uncovering much more than she bargained for. This story is a fast read with both action and romance.

Highly recommended for YA readers (14 and above) with great crossover appeal for the adult market as well.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Writing Bucket List

There was an article in the September issue of Writers Digest by Elizabeth Sims titled, "10 Things For Every Writer's Bucket List". And there were some interesting items on the list, but it got me thinking about what I should have on my own Writing Bucket List. So here's my list, at least the beginning of my list. I'll be addint to it, I'm sure. At the bottom, I've included things that would have been on the list had I not already done them.

My Writing Bucket List as of 7/27/11
  • Finish Novel (almost there!)
  • Sign Literary Agent
  • Publishing Contract for above named Novel
  • Attend a Writing Retreat
  • Transition to full-time writing career
  • New York Times Bestsellers List
  • Walk into unknown bookstore and see my Published Book there
  • 2nd, 3rd, 4th...Novels
  • Have my own Book Signing (and a crowd in attendance)
  • Travel the world & see how the different locales influence my writing 
  • Writing Award
  • Attend screening of movie version of my book
  • Start Writing Grant/Scholarship fund - 1 for writers any age, 1 for high school students
  • Travel to high schools & talk to young adults about writing

And here are the things I've already done:
  • See my name in print with publishing credit
  • Create a consistant daily writing schedule
  • Online presence with social media
  • Attend Writing Conference (two posts about my experience: here and here)
  • Attend Book Expo America - BEA (blogged about it: here)
  • Visit The Alonquin Hotel to see where the members of The Round Table and other literary giants frequented (here's a link)
  • Attend a book signing (I've attended a few now: R.L. Stine, Breathless Reads National Tour, Allison Winn Scotch
  • Read my work in front of a crowd (poetry reading)
What about you...what's on your Writing Bucket List?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Book Review - Forever

ForeverBook Review - Forever  by Maggie Stiefvater
This is the best book in the series! I was glued right down to the last page. Maggie Stiefvater did an amazing job of bringing this series to a close in Forever.
 
For those who haven't read any of the previous books, The Wolves of Mercy Falls series is about wolves, yes, but not a typical werewolf story. In Maggie Stiefvater's series there's a real sense of the people in the story, the characters both as humans and as wolves. The driving crux of the story is more about the love between Sam and Grace, Isabel and Cole, what happens to Olivia, and Grace's split from her family than it is about a crazy wolf running around trying to kill people (typical werewolf scenario). There's also a real connection with wolves here, a kindness and respect. 
 
There's a lot going on. But it's all handled masterfully by Maggie Stiefvater. I was content with how it all ended and didn't feel like there were any nagging loose ends. It felt exactly right. Bravo!
 
Highly recommended read for young adult readers. High cross-over appeal for adult readers as well.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Tools for Taking Notes While Reading

I've been looking for a more effective way to jot notes when I'm reading physical books. It's easy on my kindle because I can type up notes and bookmark sections of text. When I'm reading physical books I don't usually think to grab a piece of paper to jot notes...particularly when I know I'll be writing up a review at the end. So after some research, here are some helpful tools to use in jotting notes while reading. I hope they help you too.


Photo Courtesy: Levenger.com
 Book Mark Cards - "Mark your pages without marking your pages" These are bookmarks that are made for notes.

Set of 250 for $19.00

Available at Levenger.com

And while you're there, check out this article about "Writing in Books" by Steve Leveen.





Photo Courtesy: Staples.com

Here's another option, a Post-it Flag Marker where you can mark the page and jot tiny notes on the flag (or flag notes on the page). These are available from most office supply stores, but here's a link to Staples where I found the information: Post-it Flag Marker.


This next one isn't useful in jotting notes, but really such a cute idea for
helping you remember where you left off, that I had to include it. This is called FingerPrint and it literally has a finger that points to the spot where you left off (or to the spot where you will begin again). This one is available at Amazon.com: Finger Print - Bookmark.


Finger Print - Bookmark
Photo Courtesy: Amazon.com


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Book Review - The Boxcar Children

The Boxcar Children (The Boxcar Children, No. 1) (Boxcar Children Mysteries)Book Review - The Boxcar Children 
by Gertrude Chandler Warner

I have to admit, I had never before heard of The Boxcar Children before this year, when a co-worker talked about it as being a book she remembered from her childhood. So, I was curious to see what it was all about, and if it might be something my 7 year-old son might be interested in. Then I saw the name pop-up on Netgalley. So I downloaded it.

My son LOVED it! He wants me to get more Boxcar Children books. And I enjoyed it too. This first book is quaint, but intriguing. It's a fun story that incorporates children's curiosity, adventure, danger, and strong bonds between these children. The writing is simple and easy, so my son has no problem reading it on his own, but it's also the kind of story that I enjoy reading to him as well. The messages hidden in the pages are also good for our kids to hear. We see these kids as hardworkers, and loyal; not afraid to roll up their sleeves and get a little dirty for the love and survival of each other.

I highly recommend this book for young readers.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Harry Potter - Amazing, As Expected!

Yes, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows-Part 2 was amazing. It racked in a whopping $169.2 million dollars. Would anyone expect less than stellar results from the finale to this epic story?

Photo Courtesy: Wikepedia

I went to watch it on Saturday, and I found myself reliving the book I had read years ago. And it reminded me how well crafted the story really is. I don't ever remember reading the series and thinking "that's a bit much" or "whatever happened to...". Every plot line worked. Every word seemed perfectly placed, and written in very simple prose. No gaps in storyline.

And to think, this is all from a single mother who had an idea one day, and worked on that idea for years before it finally got published. Hats off to you J.K. Rowling. It's been fun reading and watching Harry Potter for all these years.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Book Review - Passion

Book Review - Passion by Lauren Kate

Passion ((Fallen))
This series by Lauren Kate has been a solid three star rating for me so far, except this book fell a little short. I would have preferred to cut most of the travelling-through-time scenes and opted for a little more text that delved into the higher meaning of the curse between Luce and Daniel. I just felt stringed along for most of the book. That is just my opinion. Online, I see that there are plenty of people who really enjoyed exploring this history between Luce and Daniel. I was just hoping for more answers, answers to questions that have been left open for most of the series. But then again, we do have the next book, Rapture, to look for those. And yes, I'll be reading the last book, because I'm just dying to know how all of this gets pulled together in the end. Call me a sucker for unfinished love stories, particularly ones between a human and an angel.

If you're curious about my reviews of the other two books in this series, I've listed them below with links to those previous posts:

Friday, July 15, 2011

Harry Potter - It All Ends 7.15

It's here - the final movie in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2. I've been looking forward to this for some time. It's exciting but also a bit sad too. Yes, I've read the books, I know how the story ends, I know what will happen when I go to watch it, but there's a finality about a series coming to an end like this. That's where the sadness is, in seeing such a magical story, end.

It all ends 7.15
Photo courtesy of Yahoo Movies