Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): What If by Safetysuit.
I know this comes from the movie, but the movie is based on the book, right? Totally legit. Enjoy today's Feature Fun Friday: How the Wizard of Oz Should Have Ended. :) Have a fantastic weekend everyone!
Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): What If by Safetysuit.
Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Drought by Vienna Teng.
*takes a deep breath*
... I love books.
What? Don't give me that look.
Sounds like a dumb confession, right? But this has gotten me into quite a spot of trouble. You see, because of this near addiction (my family would bust up laughing at this, call it a full-on addiction. Pshaw. What do they know?), I have acquired a *few* books I haven't read yet. Heh heh. Am I weird for feeling bad for them? It's like they are watching at me, giving me sad pitiful looks of longing. They are practically begging me, saying "why don't you love me?"
And so this led me to make perhaps the stupidest promise on planet Earth.
*shakes fist at the reading gods*
*takes deep breath*
I vowed not to buy another book until I have read all the ones I own.
I think I'm going to die.
Don't believe me?
Well, I'm not sure what your TBR pile looks like, but here's mine.
This is what I was originally going for (didn't work out as good as I'd hoped)
*runs and hides*
Oh, and don't try and do that move without assistance. A mountain of books isn't nearly as nearly stable as it seems. This was my first attempt.
And here are all the books I have to read (I'll be crossing them off as I go. It is the great WriterGirl race!).
The Hero of Ages
The Islands of the Blessed
The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Society
The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Leven Thumps and the Gateway to Foo
The Diary of Anne Frank
The Little Book
The Twelve Kingdoms: Sea of Shadow
The Twelve Kingdoms: Sea of Wind
The Twelve Kingdoms: The Vast Spread of the Seas
The View From Saturday
The Mysterious Bennedict Society
Alphabet of Dreams
So what does your TBR pile look like? Anyone want to dare go into a race against me (because let's face it, I've got six months before Mockingjay comes out, and I would really like to buy a book before then). My hands are already twitching. Just a little. *glances at them* Promise. Anyone dare take on their TBR pile with me?
Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Falling For the Time by Barenaked Ladies
Over at Steph Su Reads she is having her mega-blogoversary giveaway. And she has just recently reached 900 followers, so congratulations to her! Ends Feb 28th, so hurry!
Speaking of huge giveaways, Storywings "little" 49 follower giveaway has exploded to over 243 (as of this posting. With each new benchmark, she adds more books. At this point, it's staggering. Luckily you have until March 19th with hers. And it is international, always a plus.
Bree Despain, author of the highly popular The Dark Divine book(s), is also holding a contest. Her supercool husband invented something sweet. I think it will be making many mommies very happy. Go check it out. Prizes include a YA book of your choice, a signed copy of The Dark Divine, or even a 15 page manuscript critique by her. Now that is what I call nice winnings. Hurry though, this one also ends Sunday Feb 28th.
I love The Spectacle blog. Lots of different authors with some really cool articles. Very spiffy. One that impressed me recently (for all you writers out there) is Jo Whitmore's analysis of The SHOWDOWN, you know, the final climactic moment in your book of epic awesomeness. She breaks it down really well and makes it easy to understand.
Here is Janice Hardy's (author of Shifter) take on how to write a query letter in four easy steps. Definitely good ground coverage for those getting ready or thinking about querying in the near future.
And since I'm a nerd, I'm including this, eight months before Halloween. Like scary stories? Ever wonder what some the famous places that inspired these stories look like? Wonder no more. The Smithsonian magazine has put together Real Places Behind Famously Frightening Stories.
And don't forget to check the amazing and fabulous Nathan Hale's blog. He is doing a picture book marathon, as well as the incredible Land of Doom comic series, where he and Yellowbelly (his fantastic creation) infiltrate the intense world of Children's Publishing. He just got to the YA category. Oh yeah. Go check it out.
That's it for now!
Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): April Pearl by What Time Is It, Mr. Fox?
I love trying new things. Because now I hurt in new ways that I possibly couldn't imagine. Ibuprofen, you are my best friend. Who knew that in fencing you are supposed to be in a semi-crouched position the whole time you're fighting? I'm remembering my (much) younger days in karate. Hurt back then too.
Also, never ever underestimate the weight of a two pound sword. That doesn't seem like much, but hold that baby up for two hours and you've got a paradigm shift on pain. I have a new appreciation for fencers all over the world. The first week we didn't even touch a foil. We just used our hands and pretended they were swords (that was really funny *swish swish - stab!*). After that first night of just holding up my hand, I thought I was going to die. Then add the foil and wow. (However, the first time I held the sword in my hand, it was the coolest feeling in the world. It was like we bonded. I couldn't stop grinning). It is getting a lot better now. Last night, my arm almost didn't hurt at all. Also, swords are longer than you think, really. Don't swish them around. Funny and stupid things happen then.
~Hollywood-style fencing is not like real fencing. You face a smaller target and fights with much smaller movements. The moves look great, but with all the swishing and flailing, it leaves you wide open and then - stab!
~Hollywood fencing is still really cool in my book. I'm not giving up my Princess Bride fight scenes anytime soon.
~Girls - always always wear bobby pins for your bangs. You may look stupid, but when you pull your mask off to shake hands with your opponent for the seven-hundredth time, you'll thank me.
~It's weird looking out through black mesh while you're fighting, but it hides any strange expressions on your face you might be making while you are concentrating - thus making you look a lot cooler. :)
~I wear a size 42 jacket (that's pretty small). Guess how I remember it? Think Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Yep. It's the answer to everything, even my jacket size.
~Girls, make sure to wear cups. Just saying.
~Only the white area of the torso counts as a hit. Neck, mask, and arms are "off target." Guess where I happen to hit with surprising frequency?
I only have one week left in class, and hopefully I can sneak someone in next week to take video of me. I'm sure I think I look a lot cooler than I really am. So hopefully this will be a WriterGirl epic-win video instead of a WriterGirl embarass-herself epic fail. But hey, even if we all get a good laugh, it's all good. :) Then we can appreciate the real masters all the more for it.
Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): All I Know by Five For Fighting [Chicken Little soundtrack].
It's finally happened. My seventeenth (or maybe eighteenth... yeah, definitely eighteenth) worst fear has finally happened. My little sister, the Snake Charmer, finally got her dearest wish.
We have a ball python in the house.
*Pauses for a moment* Aaaaaah!!!
Yeah, I'm supposed to be an undercover superhero and all (ordinary girl extraordinaire!) :) but this thing is ten feet long, has beautiful coloring (yes, I will admit that), and her name is Trinity. Like from The Matrix. I wonder if that says anything... *imagines suspending leaping reptiles*
First of all, that cage is ginormous. Yes, I am making that an official word, and Firefox didn't correct my spelling so that proves it is real, right? :) But seriously, you could probably lock two full-grown people inside of it. Maybe three. She has her own tree in there for heaven's sake! And yes, I made sure it came with a lock (like from those cheap diaries you can buy at a dollar store). Apparently if you don't have those, they can lift the lid off and go "wandering" about.
But that wasn't the worst part. The worst part was when Snake Charmer brought in the food. When you think "rat" you think something gross with glittering eyes, right? Like from Lady and the Tramp, or any number of Hollywood interpretations? Well, you got it WRONG Hollywood. I blame you for shattered misconceptions. These things are cute. They are either light tan, white, or a mixture of both. And they're small, like babies. Who ever heard of a white rat?! They're adorable. And they're going to get eaten. Do you think I am goin to be anyhere near her room when that happens? It's the circle of life, right here in my house.
You will get to see pictures of Trinity the snake very soon. As soon as I can stop panting from bringing that cage in.
Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Clocks by Twelve Girls Band [Coldplay cover] (click here to listen on YouTube).
The Today Show has a fantastic series called Al's Book Club for Kids where Al Roker picks a book and a panel of kids read the book, bring in the author, and discuss it. It's fantastic. He has made some really fun choices and recently they did Grace Lin's Newberry Honor winning book, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, an ethnic fairy tale-like story written by a Canadian-Chinese author. We haven't had an author interview on here in a while and this was perfect for this week. It just fell in my lap. She even discusses her heritage and being ashamed of her culture growing up. But this is a really fun interview. The kids ask some great questions and I love that they all sit in bean bags. :) Mmmm... bean bags.... ^_^ Have a fantastic weekend everyone! And try not to get into too much trouble. ;)
Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): We Are One by Cam Clarke/Charity Sanoy/Ladysmith Black Mambazo [Lion King 2: Simba's Pride soundtrack].
I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about this post today. It wasn’t something I wanted to write on a whim or rush out without thought or care.
I want you to take a look at my post yesterday, Books That Have Changed My Life. If you look, you will see the common theme for these stories that so powerfully changed me all have to do with changing my view of the world.
There are many ways to see the world differently. The Giver gave it to me by showing me lack in a perfect world. It made me see my imperfect life with wonder and realize what made life valuable. But that is only one way to see the world new.
I have been to Mexico, I have been to the moon. I have been to asteroid B612 where a little boy took care of a small, vain rose. I have been into the heart of the Congo and to South Africa during apartheid. I have been to medieval Japan and seen creatures and places beyond my wildest dreams. I have seen the world. It has come in snatches and glimpses. But there is so much more out there.
I have not been inside a Mayan temple or seen their way of life. I have been to Romania only once, and I cannot even remember the name anymore. And what of Serbia or a thousand other hidden places of the world? I have heard their myths are wonderful, but I have not been there… yet.
I have seen enough of Westerns dragons and castles and medieval knights. I know them. I want to go somewhere I’ve never been before, be with someone new. Every child deserves to see themselves within the pages of a book. I have seen myself there hundreds, if not thousands of times. But I know there are children that have never seen themselves there, not once. So they stop trying. A door is closed then, entire worlds are closed off and the possibility of expansion is broken. It is tragic, and it is wrong.
There are books out there. You have seen it here, you have seen it in other places. But they are like buried treasure. They are wonderful to find, but they shouldn’t be so rare. You shouldn’t be able to count on one hand all the stories of Japan you know. Or of Africa, or of any other place. That goes the same with characters, of any kind, especially of characters. Books reflect life. The world is filled with diversity. It is teeming with it. It is what makes us unique and so beautiful. Books should be a mirror to that too.
I'm sure you can't imagine what it's like to wander through the teen section of a bookstore and only see one or two books with people of color on them. Do you know how much that hurts? Are we so worthless that the few books that do feature people of color don't have covers with people of color? It's upsetting, it makes me angry and it makes me sad. Can you imagine growing up as a little girl and wanting to be white because not only do you not see people who look like you on TV, you don't see them in your favorite books either. You get discouraged and you want to be beautiful and be like the characters in the books you read and you start to believe that you can't be that certain character because you don't look like them. --Ari from Reading In Color.
Ari’s heartrending and beautifully honest letter of what it is like to be a teen of color.
Kristi’s (The Story Siren) letter of how she, as a white person, had her view changed.
An incredibly thought-provoking and thorough post by Bookslut about the many aspects of diversity and representation in YA literature. She says it brilliantly.
Bookshelves of Doom link-filled post to the LIAR and Magic Under Glass cover controversy.
Stacy Whitman’s list of YA fantasy/sci-fi with characters of color/diversity. And Tu Publishing's list of diverse YA SFF she recommends.
Official site of Tu Publishing, multicultural sci-fi and fantasy for YA.
Official site of Lee and Low Books, an independent publishing house of diverse books.
“Transracial Writing for the Sincere” – for those interested in how to authentically write books of a different ethnicity not your own.
Cynthia Leitich Smith’s list of multicultural books for all ages.
Persons of Color Reading Challenge.
Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Lost Time by Preston Reed.
Why do we read? Really, it is a valid question. Stories have been around forever (in fact, my theater professor argued that food, shelter, love, and stories are what a human has needed to survive from the beginning of time). But there are some stories that are more important than others. In fact, I dare say there are stories that have changed lives. It has happened to me several times, where a story has changed my whole view of the world.
As you look down my list, you will see that many are "younger" stories. Many of them I did read when I was young. Some, I did not. And here I will let you in on a little secret (we are going deeper I am normally comfortable with)--- this is why I write for the age group I do. This is where stories matter. An adult can pick up a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird and at the end of it say "that was a nice read" and there will be no more said of it. For a child, or someone who sees with a child's eyes, that book can change their life, like it did for mine.
Here are some books that have changed how I see the world.
By the way, this is all leading up to tomorrow's post. I hope you listen in.
The Giver by Lois Lowry.
I read this when I was very young and to this day I bless my English teacher who was undaunted by the controversy and "banned book" status it still holds. This is one of the books that had one of the most dramatic impacts in my life. It is not your usual dystopia where you immediately know something is wrong. In all appearances, it seems like a perfect society. But as she began to peel back the layers and show the significance of what was missing, I was awestruck. Memories, love, choice, freedom, all these were opened up to me in a deceptively simple but amazingly powerful story. It has never left me and I have never forgotten it.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
This was also given to me in that same English class (this was also the teacher that sparked my love of writing. So teachers out there, please don't ever feel that you don't have an impact. You inspire in ways you cannot comprehend). This was one of the first introductions I had to racism and the outright cruelty of some people (but also the goodness of others). I had been given lessons on it before, I'm sure, but this is what finally made me see it. Stories are important. Perhaps because it was seen through the eyes of a child that I could so clearly identify the absurdity of the racism and stereotypes. Even today, I love to go back and find the layers I missed the first, second, or sixth time around. I love Scout, I love all of these characters, and they feel like family.
House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer.
Something about science fiction in its projections can pack a powerful punch. Such is the case for this book. I read it for fun, but took away a lot more than I expected. It opened my eyes to a world strange and foreign but at the same time one intimately familiar. I saw Mexico completely different, but because I was on their side looking over at what I already knew. It raises many questions that are not easy to answer, but these stories never seem to ask you the question outright. The story makes you ask them of yourself.
Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton.
A required high school read, and one I did not like in the beginning. But it grew on my as the world of South Africa opened up before my eyes and the people began to become more and more real. It transported me in a way, and helped me see things I had never seen together, and helped me piece them together so that they made sense. It was one of the less "impactful" on my list, but it made me see the world differently, all the same.
Little Sister by Kara Dalkey.
Yes, you are beginning to see this cover quite a bit. Unlike most of these others that have so powerfully altered my life, this one is relatively unknown and thoroughly forgotten. But this book changed me nonetheless. As strange as this may sound, this book was the one that opened up the world of possibility for me. Never before had I heard of tengu or Amaratsu, or Lord Emma-O, the Judge of the Dead. I knew Hades, I knew the Greek and Roman gods, even a few Norse ones, and Egyptian too, but who were these? My scope of knowledge felt incredibly lacking then, and this book made me realize how much more there was to know of the world. It was a wake-up call, and a call to me to find these hidden places I knew nothing about. It was transportive and magical and utterly mesmerizing. It made me see possibility, and that is as equally important as anything.
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery.
Now this is probably considered the "youngest" book on the list. However, I read this later than any of the others. I read it in college, and my mind still staggers by all it contains. Such a simple story, but one that has such depths to it. A French pilot crashes in the desert and finds a blonde-haired little prince? It seems so outlandish and absurd. But that is what strikes a chord so strongly. It is about belief, and taking that leap of faith, in a way only children seem to be able to do. But the journey is incredible if you can make that leap.
This is part of Color Online's call for books that gave a Paradigm Shift.
Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): I Dare You To Move by Switchfoot [A Walk to Remember soundtrack].
I've been officially published!!! Well, sort of. Several months ago, The Literary Lab issued a challenge (and you know how I am with those). They wanted to pit the best short stories of every genre against each other in a battle of epic-ness. And then publish them all side by side. So none of this "Best of Sci-fi Anthology" nonsense. We can be buddies, right? So thus it was, in the aptly-named Genre Wars contest.
And guess what? I got picked!!!
No, I didn't win in my category, but I was only one of five chosen for inclusion in the anthology. What I did was completely for fun. I wanted to play around with language and see just how well I could weave words together, ala Neil Gaiman type style. Apparently, something about that worked. :)
The best part is that this anthology is completely non-profit (no, I didn't get paid for this, but that is really alright for me in this case). All proceeds go to WriteGirl, a non-profit organization that helps women and girls gain self-confidence through writing. I think that is amazing, and I am so glad I could contribute to such a worthy cause.
The book itself is surprisingly cheap: $13.00 (honestly, I was expecting something close to $20.00). It's paperback and is just over 200 pages with 29 short stories (and the grand prize winner was for the YA/Children's/MG category. Rock on!). All entries had to be under 2,000 words, and let me tell you, writing an entire story in 2,000 words is not easy. It really is a worthwhile venture. What better way to make yourself feel better than to know you are helping girls gain confidence through writing? And you get an awesome book out of it to boot.
I'm heading over there right now to order a copy. And if you do buy a copy, look in the back under my biography. You get to see me touting my skills as an undercover superhero. ;)
P.S Mine is called "A Story More" about a strange man who tries to convince a young woman she has amnesia and that she really belongs to another world, and he has come to take her home. Oh yeah and he loves her, by the way. :)
Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): King of Wishful Thinking by New Found Glory.
This was originally an idea from Au Courant started in March, an idea she has graciously let me run with.
The idea is to introduce you to unknown, forgotten, or overlooked fiction that has been lost from regular radar. I am WriterGirl. I am in the business of saving lives, one book at a time.
What I do is go to amazon, narrow it down to a YA field and type in a random word, any word that comes to mind. I then take a sampling of some I have never heard of before, or only vaguely heard of (and hopefully you as well). No infringement is intended for any description I take for the books. It's purely for promotional reasons. I will try and cover as many genres as possible that are fitting for the random word. Simple but it really uncovers some incredible gems. I will be doing this every other Monday. If there are any words you want to prompt me with, go ahead and fire away.
Half World by Hiromi Goto.
Melanie Tamaki is human—but her parents aren’t. They are from Half World, a Limbo between our world and the afterlife, and her father is still there. When her mother disappears, Melanie must follow her to Half World—and neither of them may return alive. Imagine Coraline as filmed by the Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki (Howl’s Moving Castle), or Neil Gaiman collaborating with Charles de Lint. Half World is vivid, visceral, unforgettable, a combination of prose and images that will haunt you.
Shiva's Fire by Suzanne Fisher Staples.
Born during the worst storm ever seen by her small village in India, Parvati is both blessed and cursed with mysterious powers that confound her people. Wild animals flock to her; she is able to charm fish, birds, even deadly cobras. But Parvati's truly exceptional talent is her ability to dance like the Hindu god Shiva himself. At age 6, she hurls herself into a cooking fire and dances safely through the flames, emerging without a single burn. Naturally, these powers scare the other villagers. Only her mother Meenakshi loves and believes in her, protecting her from the their curious and hostile stares. The guru Pillai, a famous Indian dance teacher, hears of Parvati's talent and comes to offer her a position in his dance school, or "gurukulam," in the large city of Madras. Once there, she questions her destiny, or "dharma," as she experiences both a devastating loss and a blossoming romance; "...she thought about the mystery of dharma--how some things were very difficult to accept, while others opened as simply and as naturally as a flower." But through it all, the fire of Shiva burns within her, and Parvati knows that, despite all other callings, she was born to dance. --Jennifer Hubert.
Tree of Life: The World of the African Baobab by Barbara Bush.
According to African legend, each animal was given a tree to plant by the Great Spirit. When the hyena was assigned the baobab tree, the careless animal planted it upside down--"and that is why its branches look like gnarled roots." With this intriguing bit of folklore, Bash proceeds to unfold the life cycle of this majestic bastion of the African savannah. Frequently measuring 60 feet tall and 40 feet across, these giants "outlive nearly everything on earth"--their life span is over 1000 years. In this compelling and moving account, the baobab stands proud and stately as a vivid panoply of activity unfolds within its sprawling branches. With stirring landscapes and lavishly detailed closeups, Bash's realistic watercolors bring this profusion to vibrant life. Finally, an old tree dies and "collapses in on itself, a melted heap of ruins." A seed sprouts, a new baobab tree begins to grow and life continues. One of nature's great lessons is recreated dramatically in this stirring book. --Publisher's Weekly.
Kino no Tabi Volume 1: Book one of THE BEAUTIFUL WORLD by Keiichi Sigsawa
This strange but interesting novel began as a serial in a Japanese magazine, became a popular book series, and spawned an animated TV series and a video game as well. The story begins with a traveling stranger and the girl whom he befriends. Her community requires that all 12-year-olds undergo surgery to make them into adults who will work at their assigned jobs without complaint. When the stranger questions this tradition, the girl's parents kill him. She takes his name, Kino, and his talking motorcycle, Hermes, and escapes–becoming a traveler herself and visiting several dystopian communities. In one, people have taken medicine that allows them to read the thoughts of others, with predictably bad results. In another, political revolutionaries kill anyone who dissents, leaving few inhabitants still alive. Often, the setup seems artificial–Kino's travels are simply a device to move from one disastrous society to another–and wherever she arrives, she finds an eager guide ready to narrate the history of the community. There are also occasional references to events that are not described in the novel, making the story disjointed. Fans of anime and manga might not find these omissions troubling, but if they are hoping for action, they will be disappointed. Black-and-white illustrations between chapters add to the manga feel. Teens with an interest in politics and philosophy will probably enjoy this story. Others may find it puzzling, but also intriguing and unpredictable.–Miranda Doyle, San Francisco Public Library
A Princess of Roumania by Paul Park.
This is a truly magical tale, full of strangeness, terrors and wonders. Many girls daydream that they are really a princess adopted by commoners. In the case of teenager Miranda Popescu, this is literally true. Because she is at the fulcrum of a deadly political battle between conjurers in an alternate world where "Roumania" is a leading European power, Miranda was hidden by her aunt in our world, where she was adopted and raised in a quiet Massachusetts college town.
The narrative is split between our world and the people in Roumania working to protect or to capture Miranda: her Aunt Aegypta Schenck versus the mad Baroness Ceaucescu in Bucharest, and the sinister alchemist, the Elector of Ratisbon, who holds her true mother prisoner in Germany. This is the story of how Miranda -- with her two best friends, Peter and Andromeda -- is brought back to her home reality. Each of them is changed in the process and all will have much to learn about their true identities and the strange world they find themselves in.
Earth Tales From Around the World by Michael J. Caduto.
The theme of this impressive collection of 48 traditional tales from around the world is respect for the natural world. Logically arranged into 10 sections that explore the earth and humankind's relationship to it, the stories within each section are also strongly connected. For instance, a Polynesian Maui yarn that explains the nature of the "sky" is followed by an Inuit story about the creation of the sun, a Navajo tale that introduces the origin of the Milky Way, and an Aboriginal story that looks at how the Pleiades was formed. This book is the first place many of these eloquent tales have been adapted for children; two of them, the Australian legend "The Seven Sisters" and the French folktale "Earth Words," are gems. For both children and adults, the one-page discussion of lessons at the end of each section and the general activities in the back of the book are unobtrusive. There are also extensive scholarly notes, as well as title, culture, and country and geographical indexes. --Julie Corsaro
The Demon Slayer by Samuel Mills.
n this coming-of-age tale, journey five thousand years back to the danger-filled jungles of ancient India and a time when gods and demons walked on the Earth. Meet Abhay, the hunter's son, who must earn his manhood by facing a selfish bully, a man-eating leopard, and a fierce demon before he can earn his manhood. Meet Dayita who must marry according to the rigid laws of her society rather than her heart's choice. Meet Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana, royalty banished to the wilderness far away from friends and family.
An Ocean Apart, A World Away by Lensey Namioka.
Picking up where Namioka's Ties That Bind, Ties That Break left off, this novel opens in 1921 China, where Ailin is about to set sail for America. Ailin's classmate and friend Yanyan, who narrates here, travels to Shanghai to bid her farewell; Eldest Brother and his friend Baoshu serve as Yanyan's chaperones. Baoshu's mixed heritage (a father who served as a Chinese imperial officer and a Manchu mother) offers Namioka an opportunity to explore the mounting tensions in China over beliefs about who can best unite the country. However, the author does not delve deeply enough to give readers a clear sense of the issues at stake. Instead, she concentrates on Yanyan's adjustment to American culture, when the heroine enrolls as a student at Cornell. A romance ignites between Baoshu and Yanyan, who then turns down Baoshu's proposal that she run away with him; later L.H., a fellow Chinese student, also gradually shows signs that he wants more than friendship. Yanyan must decide what she wants for herself and from a partnership. Namioka covers (literally) so much ground (Yanyan's boat trip to America, her cross-country rail trip from Seattle to Cornell, her visit by train to Ailin in San Francisco during her school's Christmas break, etc.) that many of the characters and relationships are fleetingly portrayed rather than fully developed. Some readers may be satisfied with the conclusion, but others may wonder if Yanyan ever fulfills her dream to become a doctor. --Publisher's Weekly.
Over a Thousand Hills I Walk With You by Hanna Jansen, Elizabeth D. Crawford.
The patient encouragement of the author to help her adopted daughter, Jeanne d'Arc Umubyeyi, come to terms with her memories provides the frame for this account of genocide in Rwanda in 1994. When Jeanne was eight, Hutu neighbors massacred her family and destroyed her home; she witnessed the murder of her mother and brother, as well as other Tutsis, strangers and family friends. Beautifully crafted and smoothly translated, this searing novel is all the more remarkable for the sense of place it conveys through vividly remembered details of an African world where the mundane experiences of daily life were cataclysmically interrupted by a few months of unimaginable violence. Jeanne's courage, will to live, and understandable anger come through clearly, leading readers to wonder how a person or a country can ever recover from such events. The young woman's adoptive mother's childhood memories, mentioned in one of the chapter introductions, make explicit the connection between Rwanda and Germany. The title, taken from a story Jeanne's grandmother told, also reminds readers of the importance of human connections and continued trust. Painful to read, but unforgettable, this book will provoke thought and discussion.–Kathleen Isaacs.
Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two by Joseph Bruchac.
Six-year-old Ned Begay leaves his Navajo home for boarding school, where he learns the English language and American ways. At 16, he enlists in the U.S. Marines during World War II and is trained as a code talker, using his native language to radio battlefield information and commands in a code that was kept secret until 1969. Rooted in his Navajo consciousness and traditions even in dealing with fear, loneliness, and the horrors of the battlefield, Ned tells of his experiences in Hawaii, Guadalcanal, Bougainville, Guam, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. The book, addressed to Ned's grandchildren, ends with an author's note about the code talkers as well as lengthy acknowledgments and a bibliography. The narrative pulls no punches about war's brutality and never adopts an avuncular tone. Not every section of the book is riveting, but slowly the succession of scenes, impressions, and remarks build to create a solid, memorable portrayal of Ned Begay. Even when facing complex negative forces within his own country, he is able to reach into his traditional culture to find answers that work for him in a modern context. Readers who choose the book for the attraction of Navajo code talking and the heat of battle will come away with more than they ever expected to find. --Carolyn Phelan.
Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): River Flows In You by Yiruma.
Sorry this is late for most everyone. It's technically before midnight here. Heh heh. It was a neck and neck call, really. I have to admit, I was more than a little tickled pink that so much love was shown to Howl's Moving Castle (Woot!!!) Maybe next time. :)
And again there were several strong nods for The Chronicles of Narnia. One day, it will make the rounds. There WILL be Narnia treats to be had!
A vote for Story of a Girl, which I thought was awesome. There was even one for Twilight (I thought that would be higher up, honestly. Though I'm not disappointed. The only treat I could think of had to do with apples. And I just wasn't in an apple-y mood).
So now, the winner.
(Yes, I've figures out how to hold you in suspense properly. It's all in the spacing. It takes so much more than you think).
It was down to Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder. Or the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. A tough call. A really tough call.
I mean, why not? We just had a Maria Snyder week over here, and the Percy Jackson movie just came out. And it's the month of February, after all. Let us embrace the love! ^_^
I have to keep it hush hush with the specifics, but I am playing with the idea of "god food" for Percy Jackson. Or something blue... And for Poison Study? It's gotta be something chocolate. :) Give me a little time. These two may keep me busy for a little while. But I will keep you updated. We're tight like that. WriterGirl, over and out.
Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): The Final Countdown by Europe.
Today, Feature Fun Friday is going to get a little more personal. I have made my first-ever book trailer for Shannon Hale's (Dean Hale, and Nathan Hale's) awesome graphic novel, Rapunzel's Revenge. It has a western twist and she uses her hair as lassos. Like I said-- awesome. A contest for the big one, the best of the best, the big enchilada, is running over at her blog right now. There are some great ones. But... I am in second to last place. I like to think I am a more-than-decent editor (in fact, I've really been wanting to edit some videos to show you. Like Firefly. Mmmm, pretty Firefly *sigh*). I am not asking you to vote for me (that would be cheating), but if you could spread the word around that would be fantastic. Go look over at the contest, it is really fun to see how different everyone's turned out. Oh, and have an incredible weekend, everyone!
(P.S I will be posting the winner of the new recipe later today or tomorrow).
A book trailer, by yours truly:
Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): The Voice by Lisa Kelly (Celtic Woman).
Since one of my missions as WriterGirl is to find amazing unknown stories, how could I not join in on this? However, since it is one of my missions, I had a hard time deciding which ones should go into this list, since every one of my reviews has a stamp of approval as a good read. So I decided to make this a yearly (or bi-year) event! Thank you Kelly at YAnnabe.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but it will certainly whet your palette (and a couple of these are some of my absolute favorite reads).
Little Sister by Kara Dalkey.
The book in a sentence: Thirteen-year-old Fujiwara no Mitsuko, daughter of a noble family in the imperial court of twelfth-century Japan, enlists the help of a shape-shifter and other figures from Japanese mythology in her efforts to save her older sister's life.
Why you should read it: Simply because this book continues to take my breath away. It was so incredible and fantastic and so believably real. It introduced me to an entire world I never knew existed and a piece of me has always stayed there, wanting to linger a little while longer. Unique, beautiful and captivating. I love this book.
Hidden Talents by David Lubar
The book in a sentence: Edgview is the end of the line for troublemaker Martin who can't seem to stop taunting his teachers, but when he befriends the rejects of the ultimate reject school, he begins to think that maybe for some of them, it wasn't entirely their fault they were here, and that they had hidden talents they were completely unaware of.
Why you should read this: Kids with special powers isn't anything new, but when turned on its head and put into this setting, it becomes something very cool. Kids with powers are almost always treated as something special, but what if it only got them into trouble? A cast of fully-realized characters in a unique setting makes this a worthwhile read many times over.
Samurai Shortstop by Alan Gratz.
The book in a sentence: While obtaining a Western education in a prestigious Japanese boarding school in 1890, sixteen-year-old Toyo also receives traditional samurai training, which has profound effect on his baseball game and his relationship with his father.
Why you should read this: Combining baseball and samurai swordsmanship? Cannot. Stop. Geeking. Out about this. This was one of my absolute favorite reads of last year (yes, right up there with Catching Fire). It delves into so many deeper issues, with the coolest culture cross-over at a time when Japan in flux, transforming from the old to the new. Love it. No reservations in recommending this one at all.
The Perilous Gard by Marie Pope Osborne
The book in a sentence: In 1558 while imprisoned in a remote castle, fiery and unabashed Kate Sutton becomes entangled in a mess involving the history of the castle whose traditions go back before the Druids, and she must go fetch a man she does not like from the Fairy Folk, much like in the ballad of Tam Lin, but with very different results.
Why you should read this: This was one of the first Historical Fantasies I ever came across and I loved the blend of the genres. I also loved the developing relationship between Kate and Christopher, the man who gave up his life to save his niece and who she brings back (even though she doesn't really like him to begin with). And afterward when I discovered it was retelling of Tam Lin, I loved it even more. It won the Newberry Honor years ago, so I don't know how "unknown" it is, but I don't hear people talk of it much.
Someone Was Watching by David Patneaude
The book in a sentence: When his baby sister disappears from the river near their summer home, eighth-grader Chris fights the assumption she has drowned and sets off on an incredible journey to discover the truth of who took her.
Why you should read it: Part mystery, part adventure story, this was a book I came back to several times. The characters are real, the situation believable, and when they take off on their own to find her when no one will believe their theories, they way they go about it is not out of the realm of possibility. This one had me engaged all the way through.
The Changeling Prince by Vivian Vande Velde
The book in a (few) sentences: Welland was less than a slave. Slaves are human, and he was wolf, allowed to assume human form only when it suited the sorceress Daria.
Daria kept an army of changelings -- mostly wolf but some lynx or weasel, a bear or two, and at least one rat. She used them to hunt and kill. And sometimes to pretend to be human, so she could pretend to be a lady.
Weiland hated the lie almost as much as he hated the truth. Then he met a burglar, a thief named Shile, who offered to help him steal what he had never owned -- his own soul.Why you should read this: First, forget the ugly ugly cover. I apologize to whoever designed it, but I have never liked it. Second, can I say an awesome twist on the werewolf mythology? A wolf forced to change shape by a sorceress who is the only one of his kind who prefers his human form? Add to that a cool thief and a mystery and you have one enjoyable read.
The Diary of Pelly D by L. J. Adlington
The book in a sentence: When Tony V, a young worker of a cleanup crew on a futuristic colony, discovers the diary of a teenage girl whose life has been turned upside-down by holocaust-like events, he begins to question his own beliefs.
Why you should read this: A deeper dystopian read than most, it was a a real ride to be alongside Pelly D, a rich brat who never fluctuates from character but who you love anyway as she describes her high life as it begins to crumble around her. The jargon is somewhat difficult to get into, but is completely believable and makes the experience so much more real. It soon fades into the background. A very cool dystopian few know about.
Uncle Shelby's ABZ Book: A Primer for Adults Only by Shel Silverstein.
The book in a sentence: See title. :)
Why you should read this: Trust me, believe the title when it says "for adults only." It's not graphic, you just don't want any kid getting a hold of this book. Meant as a satire on ABC books everywhere, here is just one of the entries:
A is for apple
See the nice green apple.
How many nice green apples can you eat?
Make a circle around the number of nice green little apples you ate today.
1 2 3 4 7 12 26 38 57 83 91 116
Wickedly funny, but you don't want anyone small getting a hold of it.
The Folk Keeper by Franny Billingsley.
The book in a sentence: Corinna, an who always knows what time it is and whose hair grows two inches every night, disguises herself as a boy to pose as a Folk Keeper, one who keeps the Evil Ones at bay, and discovers her heritage as a selkie when she lives with a wealthy family in a manor by the sea.
Why you should read it: It's prose simple but lovely, this was a story I had never heard before. Mermaids yes, but selkies? Now that was something new. I loved her character and where the story took me. I read it years ago but still remember it fondly.
Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Mood Rings by Reliant K.
Now THIS is my kind of meme. I can't tell you how excited I was a little while back to find a post called "the best YA you've never heard of." I went *clicky* immediately. And then I saw another. And another. Suddenly all these unrelated posts were being linked back to a central location. I was in Monday's Muse heaven. All hail Kelly of YAnnabe. *bows in homage*
Since this is what my blog is all about, I have been positively geeking out. There are now 77 people listed for this meme. Wow.
I am so happy about this, I am reproducing all of the links here. But please, go check out Kelly's blog. It is seriously cool.
New Rockford Public Library
Not Enough Bookshelves
A Patchwork of Books
Things Mean A Lot
Erin Explores YA
Debbie's World of Books
A Hoyden's Look at Literature
Sarah's Random Musings
Leafing Through Life
Three Turtles and their Pet Librarian
This Purple Crayon
Ticket to Anywhere
One Librarian's Book Reviews
Dreaming Out Loud
The Brain Lair
Annie, I Think
OMS Book Blog
Oops... Wrong Cookie
Oops... Wrong Cookie (part 2)
YA Librarian Tales
Reading and Rooibos
The Cazzy Files
lucy was robbed
The Zen Leaf
Out of the Blue
Needle and ThREAD: Stitching for Literacy
Picks and Pans
Like It or Leave It
Abby the Librarian
Zoe's Book Reviews
Tiny Little Reading Room
Steph Su Reads
There's A Book
Youthe Services Corner
Confessions of a Would-Be Writer
Birdbrain(ed) Book Blog
Red House Books
Pop Culture Junkie
Fyrefly's Book Blog
reading in bellevue
The Hate-Mongering Tart
Rebecca's Book Blog
Split My Infinitives
Read What You Know
Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Spectres in the Fog by Hans Zimmer [The Last Samurai soundtrack]. Beautiful.
I have reached 100 followers! This is another landmark occasion. And so that means it is time to delve into my vast culinary knowledge and create another recipe for another book (for my qualifications, please press here). :) Last time we did The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and created a delicious lamb and plum stew. This time, I'm thinking desert. Now, here are a few suggestions in the poll. This is by no means limited to them alone. This is just to get your juices flowing. If you have a different idea for a desert for one of your favorite books, list it in the comments! You get enough interest, that is what I will be making. (I may even try to make it vegan for some of my readers. But no promises Frankie!) Let the voting begin!
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
Howl's Moving Castle Diana Wynne Jones
Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
The Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr
Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan
Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now) Siuil a Run by Orla Fallon.
Hey there and hello everyone. I just looked over and saw that I am now in the triple digits with followers. Hello to all of my new friends! *waves* I hope you stick around. We have a lot of fun around here. :) But enough of my rambling. I know you want to know which of you lucky people has won a signed copy of Storm Glass by the ever-talented Maria V. Snyder. (Yeah, just be happy that the hoster can't enter her own contest. I thought about it. More than once. Like, a lot more). :)
And I won't even keep you in suspense.
Okay, maybe a little (I'm evil like that).
I may be an undercover superhero, but I think I have an inner supervillain that comes out every once in a while. *wicked grin*
Okay! I'm ready.
Please email me your mailing address within 48 hours, otherwise a new winner will be chosen. And I've reached 100 followers now. That is a landmark. You know what that means... it's time for me to invent another recipe from a book! Stay tuned later today for details (and start thinking of your favorite stories). :)
Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Yellow by Coldplay.
Time to hearken back to the days of innocence and wonder and when books were read to you on tv. I don't know about you, but I grew up on Reading Rainbow. I knew of LeVar Burton from Reading Rainbow long before I ever saw him on Star Trek. So here is an old episode all about bees (it even includes a rap song about bees. Can I say awesome?) Watch and enjoy. But... you don't have to take my word for it. ;)
Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Falling for the First Time by Bare Naked Ladies.
It's the final day of Maria V. Snyder week! It has been an amazing journey so far and we've discovered a lot of really cool stuff, but it's not over yet. Today find out about deleted scenes, movie options , and see some of her photography! (she's really good).
And of course don't forget to answer the question below for a chance to win a signed copy of Storm Glass, the first in her new series in the Study world!
And no spoilers today. *dances* Read on dear readers!
[Me]: 17. Your connection and dedication to your fans is unparalleled. You talk with them, interact with them and are so open to them, even to answering every email you receive (including mine). :) You say that they are the ones who inspire your writing now. How so? How would you describe your relationship with them?
[MS]: They inspire me by being so enthusiastic about my stories and characters. They talk about them as if they're real and even argue about them. I just love getting reader email – each day it's a boost to my energy and motivation to read through a few emails that share with me their love of reading. As I write, I think about them and want to write the best story possible so I don't disappoint them. Writing is a solitary job and when I'm having trouble, I just need to glance at the many pictures of my readers on my desk.
18. What is your revision process like?
I try to write a first draft without too much editing. Since I'm a pantser, the first draft is very hard and slow going as I discover the story. But when it's written, I have fun with revising. I get comments back from my editor and agent and my critique partner and I make changes (or not) based on their comments. My husband reads through, looking for holes in the plot logic. Rewriting is faster for me and many times I need to go back and fix the beginning to match the ending.
19. Did you have to cut anything out of your stories, editors or otherwise?
I delete scenes all the time. Either because the story went in a different direction or I get feedback that the scene doesn't work or it isn't a logical part of the story. I keep all these scenes in another file. Many times I'll send the scenes to my bi-monthly email newsletter subscribers or post them on my blog. I have one from Sea Glass in the UK Sea Glass widget on my website. (www.mariavsnyder.com/UK.php).
20. Random question - why a fire and ice festival? Any significance? Other than their relation to the seasons?
No real significance other than the time of the year. Plenty of times, I'll be lazy about names, thinking I would change them later. Sometimes, the name just fits and I'll keep it.
21. You dabble in photography? Can we see some? :)
I do send one picture with my newsletter each issue (captive audience ;). (I'll send you a couple when I get home).
22. Any news on a movie option? :)
I would love for a movie to be made of the Study series. My agent is sending the books around LA, but Hollywood has yet to call us. If you know anyone in the business, please feel free to mention the books ;> I could also see the books as a TV series – with Joss Whedon in charge, of course.
23. Does your newest book, Inside Out, take place in the same universe as your other stories, or is it something completely new?
It's completely new. The world is totally contained – the people are living inside this metal world and they have forgotten what is outside.
24. And a trademark question of mine - do you have a unknown book you love that few know about?
Never Tease a Weasel by, ?? The first book I remember reading with my mom, and the first book I could read on my own (could have been because I had it memorized by that point, but I remember my mother making a big deal out of me reading the words by myself :). For a more current book, Kate Elliott's Jaran – a great science fiction romance.
Thank you so much for coming . I know that was a lot of questions and I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed the interview. Is there anything else you would like to add?
Thank you for having me! If anyone is interested in my books, I would suggest you go to my website. I have the first chapter of all my books online for you to read. I also have a few free short stories you can read and writing advice as well (I have one humorous article about being rejected :). The url is: http://www.mariavsnyder.com/books.php
Last chance for a signed copy of Storm Glass (not Sea Glass. Sorry, my mix-up) by Maria Snyder! (Followers only. Today is your last chance!). :) Final Question:
What is an unknown book you love, but no one seems to know exists?
Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Adiemus by Karl Jenkins.
Day two of Maria V. Snyder week! Today we get to find out about which characters are named after her parents, who Yelena was originally supposed to fall in love with, and how Valek felt when Yelena drank the My Love poison.
Don't forget to answer the question at the bottom for a chance to win a signed copy of Sea Glass!
[EDIT: Storm Glass, Storm Glass! A thousand humble apologies about the mix-up. My fault, not hers].
Spoilers are in red.
[Me]: 9. You have received many awards and nominations for your books (including the Beehive award which is where I first saw your book!), but you say there is one "award" in particular that has affected you stronger than any other. Would you mind sharing a little bit of that story with us and the incredible young woman you met along the way?
[MS]: I don't think I won the Beehive ;> but Poison Study did win the Utah/Salt Lake County Library System's Reader's Choice award. As for the other “award,” a few months after Poison Study was published, I received a wonderful email from a reader who asked me to be her “Tuesdays with Morrie” mentor for her high school English class. She went on to explain that the main character in my book, Yelena saved her life. She had been considering suicide, but when she read about all the things Yelena endured she felt she, too could endure her own problems. We exchanged emails weekly for three months for her report, but we still keep in contact. I even met her and her parents and we spent a wonderful day together. Every time I look at her smiling picture on my desk, it's like winning an award – the best award ever!
10. Your office sounds completely nifty. Your husband made it for you, right? Could we possibly see a picture of your home office, complete with the weapons you use to practice your fight scenes? :)
My husband enjoys doing woodworking and I designed this huge U shaped desk for my office and he built it from cherry wood that had been cut down from his father's farm. He also made me built in bookcases. I helped with staining the wood, but he did everything else :)
11. Your "secondary characters" impressed me, people like Ari and Janco, Lief and Opal. You made them so real. With so little "screen time", how did you manage to make them so lovable and complex? (I'm especially curious since you are a pantser writer and I most certainly am not).
As a “pantser” the characters develop as I worked with them. I really don't plan them out or have any advice or techniques other than to give them each an unique trait. Since I never know if or when a secondary character becomes more important in the story, I try to give them all a little tweak. Here's an example to explain better. Opal's parents – they briefly show up in Magic Study and have a little more screen time in Fire Study. I named them after my parents, thinking they would be side characters. Then my editor convinces me to write the Glass books and suddenly these two characters are way more important.
12. The idea of "My love" is so fascinating. Where did that idea pop up from pantser? ;) And another question I must know - how did Valek feel when she said those words at the Commander's table?
Again I'll have to credit my subconscious for brewing up that poison. I knew I had to invent poisons because I couldn't find real poisons that fit with my plot (the nerve! :). In doing research on poisons there were a lot of spousal poisons throughout the ages so it just bubbled when I needed a name.
Interesting that you picked up on that scene with Valek and Yelena. When I had originally thought of the idea of using a food taster, I thought I would use a monarch for my fantasy book. And I imagined a scene where the king had fallen in love with his food taster and he has to watch her swallow food that he suspects is poisoned. I thought the fear and sense of doom would make a powerful scene. Well when the Commander came along and assassinated my King, the scene changed and that one with Valek and Yelena is the closest to my original vision.
To answer the question (finally!), Valek is terrified of losing her, but he can't show any emotion besides concern that some one tried to poison the Commander.
13. Your first idea for this series came from a king who had fallen in love with his poison taster (brilliant premise!). But at what point did it become Valek, the Commander's chief security officer (and all-around assassin) who took his place? How did our hero come onto the scene?
LOL – I guess I should have read through these questions first :) I always knew I'd needed a security chief so Valek was a part of the story from early on, but he wasn't going to be romantically involved with Yelena. I had thought the Commander would, but then we all know how that wouldn't work ;) As I wrote the story, Yelena and Valek's relationship developed and deepened until they decided to be together. When I read back through the manuscript, I shouldn't have been surprised as the clues were all there!
14. A little more on the genesis of your series. It first came from a quote by Orson Scott Card. Could you share that with us? He mentioned a monarchy specifically, then someone came and murdered your entire royal family. That ended up being the Commander. What was that experience like for you? :)
The Commander came along as a conscious decision. I had written the first couple of chapters with a King and while the idea of having a food taster be a main character was unique, I thought having a monarchy was not unique enough so I changed it to a military dictatorship. Once I had the Commander in place, the rest of the story flowed better.
15. Also, why call chocolate criollo? (And what you decide to use chocolate as a controlling food?) :)
According to my husband, chocolate is a magical substance :) I decided to call it by a little known sub-species of chocolate because, despite my husband's claims, it does a lot more in my story than in real life. The genus of cocoa is Theobroma, which is Latin for Food of the gods.
16. Do you have a favorite type of chocolate? :)
I enjoy dark chocolate – the best is Dove dark and my favorite candy bar is the Milky Way Midnight, which has the Dove dark chocolate.
Second day, second chance! (remember, followers only. But you can be an old or new follower. Just follow by the end of Friday for it to count). Make sure you tell everyone else too! Because signed books are cool and Maria is telling us all these amazing secrets. :D Second question:
What is your favorite kind of chocolate? (if you hate chocolate, say so and that counts.)