Sunday, September 29, 2013

Catching Up: Three Quick Reviews

Today I’m doing some catching up with a few quick reviews.

     The first is a book I received as an advanced copy from the author. Gabrielle Prendergast runs and does a tremendous job supporting the genre, so I wanted to support her by spreading the word about her book, Audacious, (YA) which releases October 1st. I hadn’t read a novel in verse in a while and I think I was long overdue. I finished this one within a day.   
     From reading her blog posts, I know that Ms. Prendergast enjoys a bit of controversy. During Banned Book week she expressed the desire that her own novel would make the most challenged list one day. Given that a great deal of the story revolves around the C word, I’m betting she’ll get her wish. Although the story wasn’t really for me, I think the audience for verse novels is growing and there are plenty of readers out there who will feel differently.

     My second review is for Somebody Up There Hates You by Hollis Seamon. The premise sounded unique: a 17-year-old cancer patient tries to get the most out of life while living out his final days in Hospice. I hunted down a copy of the ARC at BEA, even though it meant crossing the Javits Center more than once with critically aching feet. The writing was excellent, the boy voice rang true, and the story line kept me reading at a quick clip. I would have preferred more romance and less lustiness, but perhaps that’s more true to the teenage boy POV.

     Also at BEA, I picked up The Show Must Go On! By Kate Klise (for ages 7-10). I’ll be honest, I didn’t seek this one out, but someone handed it to me and I didn’t know how to say no. I recently decided to share it with my 8-year-old nephew and before giving it to him, I thought I’d read it, so we could discuss it later. I was pleasantly surprised. It was a lot of fun, with black and white line drawings throughout. It has humor. It has heart. It has a dastardly villain who the circus performers must band together to overcome. It uses wordplay and even incorporates a little math, as well as clever characters that young readers will root for. I hate to nag my nephew, but I’m dying to know what he thinks of it.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Multitasking Fails

Do you ever feel like you're so preoccupied with constructing fictional lives for your characters that you fail at real life?

We all multitask, right? Whether we're good at it or not. We're trying to get more done in a day than is reasonable so we try to juggle more and more.

I am not great at multitasking. Mostly, I am aware of this shortcoming. I don't talk on my phone while driving. In fact, if you know me well and you're riding in the car with me, when I come to a particularly hairy intersection, you stop talking and let me focus. (Yes, I turn down the radio, too.)

The other night, when I finally peeled myself away from the computer to prepare dinner, my mind was still on my WIP. In my head, I was writing the next scene as I prepared two dishes - chicken Parmesan for my husband and I, and a stuffed chicken breast for my daughter. When the timer rang, the table was set and we were ready to eat. I went to the oven and pulled out one casserole dish. My daughter's dinner was done, but where was the chicken Parm? It didn't take long for me to find it--in the fridge. I have no idea why I put it there and no recollection of doing so, because my head was in a fictional land of my own making, putting words in my characters' mouths instead of dinner on the table.

Do you make these blunders, or are you better at turning your stories on and off?

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Enchanted by Possibility

It's September! I love this time of year - the weather, the change of pace, the feeling of fresh starts. During the years that I homeschooled my daughters, September marked a return to structure. We had chosen new school books, new readers, new notebooks, fresh pens, perfectly pointed pencils with unused erasers. We were embarking on a brand new year of endless possibility.

Those school days are behind us, but I find myself feeling some of that blank-slate excitement. Maybe that's why I cleaned my desk last weekend. It took an entire day. (It got a lot worse before it got better.) I left no slip of paper un-turned. The grand payoff is that I can now see the welcoming surface of my desk and it's calling to me, as are the notebooks I bought (because with back to school prices, who could resist?)

Yesterday was one of those easy writing days, where the words flow and you can see where your sentences are taking you. I know they won't all be like that, but I also know enough to relish them when they come.

Hope is a renewable option: if you run out of it at the end of the day, you get to start over in the morning." - Barbara Kingsolver

What do you like best about September?