Gifts for Authors

author presents

Pile-o-presents day. Remember the anticipation from the night before? Flutters in the stomach and a jump-up-and-down, I-just-can’t-wait-another-minute feeling?

I still have those when I learn something new that is going to advance my art or story craft.

Cheryl B. Klein’s book, Second Sight An Editor’s Talks on Writing, Revising, and Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults contains a broad collection of techniques that fine tune the art of writing. These editing tools are universal – you don’t have to be a children’s or young adult author to benefit from them.

voice defined

Second Sight paints pictures in the mind’s eye…and is entertaining to read. “I am a narrative nerd,” says Klein.

voice unique

With each topic (delivered as a transcript from blog posts or lectures given at various writer’s conferences) Cheryl provides examples of how it was used in publishing projects. As an editor for Arthur A. Levine (a Scholastic Inc. imprint), she gives glimpses into the workings of the editorial mind that are as valuable as the mechanical and organizational techniques.

Topics Include; Author / Publisher / Editor Relationships, Creating Empathy for Your Characters, Hooks, Flap Copy, Chapter and Story Arc Maps, and Action vs. Emotional Plots.

editor relationship

Manuscript editing has always been a dreaded chore. Now, I’m almost as excited about editing as pile-o-presents day. This book is a gift to writers everywhere.

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Click here for my entire collection of editing and marketing books.

The One and Only Ivan – Book Review

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A ‘Stop Time’ Moment of Seeping Innocence

A copy of the author’s Newbery Medal acceptance speech is at the back of my copy of The One and Only Ivan. In it, the author says,” We live in a world where children are bullied into despair and even suicide; where armed guards in a school hallway are considered desirable; where libraries are padlocked because of budget cuts; where breakfast and backpacks, for too many children are unaffordable luxuries.”

“What makes children better than the rest of us is that they are buoyant, unrepentant optimists.”

When my 11-year-old finished reading this novel, his first statement was, “I LOVED that book!”  With an endorsement like that and because it was the first instance where he ‘stopped time,’ I had to read the book too.

As a writer, reader, and lover of words, I make it a habit to ‘stop time’ whenever I come across sparkling phrases that deserve homage. A ‘stop time’ is where we stop whatever we are doing to read out loud and to listen; we listen to both the author’s words and to what made that phrase so meaningful to the reader.

walls

Although my son and I read the same book, our reactions to it were as different as a carefree stroll through the park and being caught in a traffic snarl in the city at rush hour. Where my son delighted in the animal conversations, I sobbed.

Pixar uses humor with double meaning brilliantly in their storytelling. Katherine Applegate uses the same technique, but in a more realistic vein.

I sobbed because the adult world my son will live in doesn’t have easy answers. It isn’t colorful, silly, and happy all the time. The innocence of his childhood is beginning to seep away.

fear, doors, boxes, and starting anew
fear, doors, boxes, and starting anew

While Ivan and Ruby soothe each other and tell stories to help them sleep, the author communicates the ache of loneliness, coping skills, feeling boxed in, and the power that is found when helping a friend…or your own child.

The first ‘stop time’ that my son called happened when Ivan makes an impossible promise to Ruby, the baby elephant.elephant-826850_640

I’ve been waiting and watching for this moment. A maturity level that notices deeper concepts. An opportunity to share family ideals and values. An easing into the world of adulthood – or at least into the turbulent teens.

“Children know all about sadness,” comments Applegate in her speech. “We can’t hide it from them. We can only teach them how to cope with its inevitably and to harness their imaginations in search for joy and wonder.”

 

 

Let’s Gab About: Uprooted

Let’s Gab About: Uprooted

Let's Gab About Books

AUTHOR: Naomi Novik

SERIES: Standalone

GENRE: Fantasy, YA, Romance

RELEASE DATE: May 19th 2015 

PUBLISHER: Del Rey

INDIE BOUND I BOOK DEPOSITORY I BARNES AND NOBLE

AMAZON I GOODREADS

uprootedsynopsys

DSC_0653SYNOPSIS: “‘Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.’

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies…

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Escape Clause – Book Review

escape_clause_ga_vandruffWhen thirty-something screenplay writer Jaqie Shanahan and her comedy company – Doofus the dog and José the gecko – stumble upon the ghost of her missing best friend, Jeep McBain, this witty, entertaining, mystery-solving adventure takes off at full sail.

“I didn’t know anything about ghost protocol,” Jaqie comments. “José bolted out of my pocket, climbed to my collar and clutched on with his knobby gray toes for a better view, “ while “Doofus snarfled the dead man’s armpits, and nibbled at the sand crabs scrabbling across the mostly bald head.”
Escape Clause is executed with flawless pacing and impeccable editing. Ms. VanDruff credits experience in stage work for honing her storytelling skills. She writes what she enjoys reading – good clean fun, romantic comedy, and amateur sleuthing. Also evident is her great love and appreciation for her animal sailing mates.
VanDruff’s story background is a nautical theme. On top of this, she adds Hollywood sparkle, tongue-in-cheek caricatures, and a budding paranormal romance.
If your reading mood is to navigate into waters that bring on short bursts of laughter, an ‘awww’ for adorable animals, wistfulness at the lengths one will go to for a good friend, then look no further than Escape Clause.

GA’s an author to keep your sights on!

Follow GA VanDruff:

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Billy Jean, Armadillo Queen – Book Review

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00011]If you were a fan of Three’s Company and Alice in the 1980s, you’ll enjoy Billy Jean, Armadillo Queen.

billy_jean_armadillo_queen_megan_scottMarla arrives on the scene after a few personal setbacks. Accepting a job as a waitress in a character theme restaurant, she is transformed into Billy Jean, Armadillo Queen.

The staff ridicule, interactions and backbiting are reminiscent of so many situations where personality conflicts make spending time at work uncomfortable.

Donning her Billy Jean alter ego gives Marla a chance to ‘act out’ in ways that she’d never dare as her real self – with quick redneck banter laced with southern charm. Marla begins to realize levels of freedom that are startling and uplifting.

Marla’s journey is toward self-acceptance. She learns not give negative thoughts power and influence over her actions and decisions. Based on experiences in her own life, Megan Scott wrote Billy Jean, Armadillo Queen in two formats; as a stage play and as a narrative.

In both formats, the warring forces between Marla’s Light and Dark self-talk are entertaining and raunchily humorous.  The dialogue clearly demonstrates the energy and force that thoughts have over daily life and overall level of happiness.

Using laughter to teach such an important lesson is a lovely way to shine a light on a healthier way of thinking.

Connect with Megan Scott:right looking head shot

Buy the Print or e-books on Amazon
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Become an Environmental Champion – Imagine World Habitat Health

History Professor Yuval Harari describes humans as the only species capable of imagination, large-scale cooperation and creating fictional entities that are some of the most powerful forces in the world.

Fictional entities make decisions about resources that have global consequences.

 

“Money is the most successful story ever invented because it is the only story everybody believes,” says Harari. Professor Harari is the author of the international bestseller Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.

It is a peculiar notion that mass story telling, or fantasy, is responsible for the state of our global habitat contamination. Yet the facts do speak objectively. You don’t need statistics and numbers to tell you what your eyes can see everywhere.

If imagination has the power to pollute the planet, is it possible to use it to heal the world?

Global information is flowing as fast as…water. Consumers – scratch that!- Inhabitants have the power to change the world with thought, keystrokes and lifestyle alterations.

  • Become an environmental champion. Choose an area that you are passionate about. Gather data, talk to friends and family, share on social media and make changes in your own behavior.
  • Vote with dollars to support businesses that practice environmentally sound and sustainable operations and boycott those that don’t.
  • Encourage children, middle schoolers and high schoolers to think about what problems they’d like to solve.
  • Imagine and write stories about positive change.

 

From a simple 200-word writing prompt, I recently realized that I am most passionate about plastic pollution and that I am a water champion.

Water Facts

Planetary Water

  • Water covers around 70% of the Earth’s surface.
  • The earth is a closed system, similar to a terrarium, meaning that it rarely loses or gains extra matter. The same water that existed on the earth millions of years ago is still present today.
  • Water regulates the Earth’s temperature.

Properties

  • Water dissolves more substances than any other liquid. Wherever it travels, water carries chemicals, minerals, and nutrients with it.
  • Water can move up narrow tubes against the force of gravity in what is known as capillary action.

Drinking Water & the Human Body

  • Water regulates the temperature of the human body, carries nutrients and oxygen to cells, cushions joints, protects organs and tissues, and removes wastes.
  • 75% of the human brain is water and 75% of a living tree is water.
  • 22% of our bones are water.
  • Most people around the world have access to clean drinking water but it is a major problem in poorer areas of the world.
  • Drinking water is needed for humans to avoid dehydration, the amount you need each day depends on the temperature, how much activity you are involved in and other factors.
  • More than one-quarter of all bottled water comes from a municipal water supply – the same place that tap water comes from.
  • According to the World Health Organization, 3.2 million children under the age of five in developing nations die each year as a result of unsafe drinking water and poor sanitation.

Household Water Use

  • The average person in the United States uses anywhere from 80-100 gallons of water per day.
  • Flushing the toilet uses the largest amount of this water.

Manufacturing and Food Production

It takes:

  • 2.6 gallons of water to make a sheet of paper
  • 4 gallons of water for a dairy cow to produce one gallon of milk
  • 6.3 gallons of water to make 17 ounces of plastic
  • 26 gallons of water to irrigate one calorie of food
  • 924 gallons of water to produce 2.2 pounds of rice
  • 2,641 gallons of water to make a pair of jeans
  • 3,962 gallons of water to produce 2.2 pounds of beef
  • 39,090 gallons more water to manufacture a new car
  • 300 million gallons of water are needed to produce a single day’s supply of U.S. newsprint.

Water Pollution

  • Water is part of a deeply interconnected system. What we pour on the ground ends up in our water, and what we spew into the sky ends up in our water.
  • Leather and chemical industries cause are major contributors of water pollution.
  • Industries released 197 million pounds of toxic chemicals into waterways in 1990.
  • Around 70% of the industrial waste is dumped into the water bodies where they pollute the usable water supply.
  • Fourteen billion pounds of garbage (mostly plastic) is dumped into the ocean every year.
  • Water pollution is the major cause of various diseases like cholera and typhoid.
  • The Ganges river in India is one the most polluted in the world. It contains sewage, trash, food, and animal remains.

Stuff to Do

100 Ways to Live Plastic Free

Join the Plastic Pollution Coalition

Become a Member of the South Yuba River Citizens League (California)

Article Sources:

Environmental Protection Agency

Science Kids

All About Water

Sunnyslope County Water Conservation Tips

Conserve Energy Future

Tree Hugger

 

Simmer and Smoke – Book Review

Heat and flame transform substances from one thing into another.simmer and smoke

Simmer and Smoke is a well executed debut novel. The subtitle —A Southern Tale of Grit and Spice—gives an accurate description of the sentiment of the book.

The story follows the lives of Mallory and Shelby—women who live near Atlanta, Georgia. They have divergent economic and social status and challenge ineffectual feelings, failures and self-doubt as they strive toward their personal and professional goals.

The mother daughter relationship with the theme of ‘home’: what it is, what it means and what happens when one strays too far away from it—is explored throughout.

“Home is the place I can live with myself, without hating myself.” – Mallory Lakes

It took a while to feel connected to the characters—at first I identified more strongly with one—then switched to the other. Whenever I put the book down, it persistently called to be picked up again and again.

In many ways, Simmer and Smoke reminded me of the NY Times best seller, The Telling Room, by Michael Paterniti. Its pacing is indicative of the culture from which the story is told and it leaves one with a craving to search out the food that is described within the pages.

Fortunately for the curious reader / fan, Lampman’s culinary website – dinnerfeed.com — has hundreds of recipes to investigate and includes more of her expository writing.