Monday, January 30, 2012

The Remarkable and Very True Story of Lucy and Snowcap, Review

Remarkable & Very True Story of Lucy & Snowcap

Description on Amazon:
Set on fictional islands off northeast America in 1787, this story features two twelve-year-old girls from different cultures who must join forces to save themselves, their people, and one special baby. It's part historical (based on convicts who were sent to the Americas and Australia) and part fantasy. Above all, it's a captivating adventure in the tradition of The Princess Bride with shipwrecks, curses, chases, murder plots, magic (of all kinds), romantic legends, thieves and politicians (sometimes both), a caring schoolteacher and a handsome horse groom, a pair of feisty (sometimes difficult) heroines, and the mysterious power of story-telling at its center!

I read this book, loved it, then passed it on to my niece. She passed it on to her friends. As soon as I got it back I read it again.

I think the thing I love most about this book is how truly unique it is. I have never read anything else quite like it. Which means I really didn't know what to expect when I was reading it. I didn't guess the end ahead of time, I was totally wrapped up in the story as it unfolded.

The main characters, Lucy and Snowcap, were wonderful to get to know, too. They are not typical, sweet young girls. (Far from it, actually.) But they are strong and, well, they grow on you. I don't want to say too much, but the end of this book was absolutely beautiful.

Heather Bouwman has agreed to do an interview about the book here on my blog! I'm very excited about this, I can't wait to hear what she has to say. (I am in the process of picking just the right questions to ask her. If you've read the book and have a question, let me know!) :)

Otherwise, stay tuned. Oh, and go check out her book! ;)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

I'm Hearing Voices Blogfest

So I decided to enter this great character blogfest over at Cassie Mae's blog, Reading, Writing and Lovin' It! There are three assignments in February and there are some awesome prizes for each one. (Including some manuscript critiques.) Go check it out! There is still some time to join in on the fun.

Meanwhile, I've been getting some work done on my zombie novel. I've made a bunch of revisions and will soon be looking for some new eyes to check it out for me. That's another nice thing about coaching speech, I know a bunch of teens whom I could talk into reading it. Of course they like me, or at least pretend to, so they may have a hard time being honest.

I live in a small town, about 2300 people, so there is not a critique group to join here. I have searched surrounding towns, still am actually. Now I know a lot of people join online critique groups, but (I'll just admit it) I don't know how to do that.  (Yes, I know, it's embarrassing.)

Are any of you in an online group? Did it, does it, work well for you? How did you find your group? Any insight here would be appreciated. Thanks!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Any Suggestions?

We have a lot of great speeches this year. Yay. My kids brought in some great books to cut from. A few we are using are:

A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl. (a novel in verse)
I Heart You, You Haunt Me (novel in verse)
Burned (novel in verse)

Okay, so I love novels in verse for Serious Poetry, one of the thirteen catagories kids can compete in. Last year we also used Shark Girl, and One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies. (Cool title, or what?)

We also have girls doing Humorous pieces from The Idiot Girls' Action-Adventure Club: True Tales from a Magnificent and Clumsy Life, and Seinlanguage. Both are very funny.

Another of my favorites this year is a girl doing a cutting in Prose from The Lovely Bones. Very dark, very good.

Here's where I'm hoping I can get some help from you- I have a guy in Prose this year who is very talented, but we are having a hard time finding a great piece for him. I usually love using YA because these are teens, so, well, it's fitting. But I don't know of any great, dramatic YA books from a guys point of view. I don't know if this is just because I haven't read any, being a girl myself perhaps I've just been more drawn to books about girls. Or is it because teenage boys seem to be less dramatic, emotional, whatever, there just aren't books like that for them? I really don't know. I'm hoping you do. So, any suggestions?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Awards, Yay!

So the wonderfully sweet Annalisa Crawford  gave me a Liebster Award.  Go check out her great blog Wake Up, Eat, Write, Sleep.

Now I get to pass the award on to other bloggers with less than 200 followers. This was a lot of fun! You are supposed to give five, but I'm cheating and passing out six, I just couldn't make edits. (Don't we all hate making edits?) So here they are!

Losing Sanity, where Johanna Garth is doing all sorts of fun things, including trying to live more like a kid. I love that!

Even In Australia, named after the last line of the wonderful, awesome, very good book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

A Coffee Driven and Adventure Bound Life where K.D. Storm shares her thoughts on life and being a writer.

Confessions of a Twenty-something Fiction Writer, Victoria is trying to become a writer, too, and I think she has a great voice that's evident even in her blog. :)

Rate Your Story This is a super cool blog where they, you guessed it, rate your story! You can send in a picture book manuscript and they will read it, post it, and rate it. Awesome. I will be sending mine soon. :)

PepperJack Pics Okay, so this is the only one that's not about writing. Laura is a photographer, and my sister-in-law. Her photos are amazing. This link doesn't go to her lastest post, it goes to one of my favorites of hers.

So that's it. Thanks again, Annalisa!
Remember to go check her out and all the others here. Thanks!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Down Side of Being a Speech Coach

So I've spent a lot of time the last week editing speeches with my students. It's fun, I really enjoy it. Finding the perfect line to get the audience's attention, and the perfect place to end it- leaving them wanting more.

Many of the kids bring in books they've found on their own, great books. This sounds like a good thing, and it is, really, but the downside is that I don't get to read them in the normal fashion. I have to skim through and find the best parts, often times reading the end first.

This is the only time I would do this. I am not a 'read the last page first' kind of person normally. I have even been known to cover the bottom half of a page with my hand so that I don't peak ahead. Okay, that may be a bit odd, but I want to read it in the order the writer intended it.

So, how about you? Do you like to skip ahead, or do you prefer to be surprised as you go?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Perfect Pitch Contest

So there is an amazing contest going on right now where you can give a quick pitch to an awesome agent, Ammi-Joan Paquette. Here's the link to check it out. You post a two line, (up to 35 words) pitch and the first 150 words of your YA or MG novel. We have some time now to get feedback on our pitches, then post the official one on the 17th. I've already read some great entries!

So. . .anyone willing to give me some feedback? I would really appreciate an honest critique.. It is impossible to hurt my feelings, I promise!

So here goes:

YA novel
Flesh-Eating Zombies and Evil Ex-Girlfriends

Pitch: Erwin and his classmates become locked in their school after people start craving human flesh. As the zombies' numbers grow Erwin must decide whether or not to stay, and who he's willing to leave behind.

First 150:
The carpet in the school library was rough against Erwin's cheek, but the uncomfortable floor had nothing to do with why he couldn't sleep. No one was sleeping. Everyone was lying there in silence, the fear and tension in the air so thick it reminded Erwin of movie scenes where the ceiling is coming down to crush everyone. The only difference, he thought, was that in the movies they always escape just in time.

It was hard to believe only a few hours ago he had been working out in the school gym. He remembered thinking, this day couldn't possibly get any worse. He laughed at the thought now. Outside he heard another bang as the things that used to be his classmates tried to claw and crash their way into the locked school.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Story Game

"Can we play the story game?"

This is the question I get every night when we sit down to dinner. It involves my seven-year-old, my five-year-old and myself taking turns telling a story line by line. (To be honest, my seven-year-old, Elizabeth, usually tells more than one line, then tries to tell Johnny what to say, too.)

Sometimes we start with a classic tale then take it in a new direction, sometimes they make up their own. Their favorites are when they make themselves and their little sisters the main characters. For some reason Catherine is always getting into trouble, just like in real life. :)

I love that they are using their imaginations. It's always fun to see what they come up with. Maybe tonight we'll tell a story about this girl:

ps. I took these pictures of Elizabeth just two days ago. Today it is freezing and there is snow covering everthing.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Who Has the Time?

This morning I was planning to write about writing and having four kids and how I am so bad at time management! I was going to ask for suggestions. As in, "If you have ANY ideas to make it easier to find time to write please help me!!"

But before I got that far I read this. Thanks Kathleen. :)

I need to make myself take the time to write. I need to remember that after getting some stuff done, or, like Kathleen says, after setting myself up to get more done, it is okay to sit down in one spot and do some writing.

Now I just need to decide what to work on. . .My YA zombie novel is still being revised, but I started a new project, and I like it. :) It's a MG fairy tale retelling and I'm having a lot of fun with it. However, my husband throws a fit if I work on anything other than the zombie book. (He loves zombies.)\

I will keep on working and some day (hopefully) they will both be done.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Breadcrumbs review

Description on Goodeads:
Once upon a time, Hazel and Jack were best friends. They had been best friends since they were six, spending hot Minneapolis summers and cold Minneapolis winters together, dreaming of Hogwarts and Oz, superheroes and baseball. Now that they were eleven, it was weird for a boy and a girl to be best friends. But they couldn't help it - Hazel and Jack fit, in that way you only read about in books. And they didn't fit anywhere else.

And then, one day, it was over. Jack just stopped talking to Hazel. And while her mom tried to tell her that this sometimes happens to boys and girls at this age, Hazel had read enough stories to know that it's never that simple. And it turns out, she was right. Jack's heart had been frozen, and he was taken into the woods by a woman dressed in white to live in a palace made of ice. Now, it's up to Hazel to venture into the woods after him. Hazel finds, however, that these woods are nothing like what she's read about, and the Jack that Hazel went in to save isn't the same Jack that will emerge. Or even the same Hazel.

Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen," Breadcrumbs is a story of the struggle to hold on, and the things we leave behind.

I loved this book. I love the way Anne Ursu writes. The main character is so real and genuine, and you feel like you are in the very real world of a fifth grade girl, then the magic blows in like a stong wind and you're in the middle of a fairy tale. What's really amazing is how seamlessly she takes you back and forth between the two.

There are some intense scenes and some pretty serious things going on for a middle grade novel, but I think kids can handle more than we sometimes think they can.

I would recommend this book to any one who enjoys a little fantasy and a great story.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Speech Season, Yay!

Let me start by saying a big thank you to everyone who participates in the Insecure Writers Support group. It is amazing. After all the encouraging comments on my post last Wednesday I am feeling renewed and inspired. (If you are not part of that group, you should be. The link is on Wednesday's post.) Now, after the night I had last night, I just need to find an Insecure Mothers Support Group and everything would be awesome! ;)

 Yesterday afternoon we had our first speech meeting of the season. We had a lot of familiar faces and some new ones. This is my twelfth year coaching high school speech and I get excited for it every single year. The kids are amazing, both talented and a lot of fun. Plus I love the other coach I work with.

Now we get to start the fun process of helping kids find speeches, and cutting them. Basically we take a wonderul, engrossing novel and cut it down to an eight minute speech. It is not easy, but it is fun. Last year we had a girl do a cutting from Ellen Foster, which has an amazing opening line. "When I was little I used to think up ways to kill my daddy." Now that's the way to start a book, and a speech. :) It gives me chills.

This year that same girl is doing a cutting from The Lovely Bones. The challenge will be to keep the  emotion without getting too morbid a piece, it is high school after all. She is an amazing speaker and I am really looking forward to working with her again this year. In fact, we have quite a few amazing speakers coming back this year. It's going to be an awesome season. Wish us luck!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


I've joined The Insecure Writer's Support Group, which is an awesome place where writers are encouraged to check out other writers' blogs and leave encouragement for them. On the first Wednesday of the month we all post about our own insecurities. So here goes.

Some times I really wish I had never told anyone I was trying to do this. My mom, my husband, my siblings, my friends, it's a lot of people to look foolish in front of if it never happens. What if I keep writing and editing and submitting and I never get any interest?

I feel like everyone will think, 'really? You thought you could write a book? To write a book you need to be smart and interesting. No wonder this didn't happen for you."

Okay, yes, I realize that is not what my friends and family would actually think. . .I think. . .But it seems like it would have been safer to just keep it a secret from anyone I actually know personally.

How about you? Do you ever feel that way?