Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins

She wished something would happen. Something good. To her. Looking at the bright, fuzzy picture in the magazine, she thought, something like that. Checking her wish for loopholes, she found one. Hoping it wasn't too late, she thought the word SOON.(from the inside front cover) (link to publisher's site)

Perkins' novel, Criss Cross,
(link to Amazon) has two main characters, Debbie and Hector, who live in the same town and are friends. They have other friends and family who are in this story, and throughout the story the two only actually come in contact a few times. The book is their story, separately. Sometimes it is told from Debbie's point of view, and sometime it is told from Hector's point of view.

The writing style is something different from what I've seen before. Every couple chapters Perkins breaks off into a different style of presenting the story. At first this was confusing and I didn't particularly like it, but it has grown on me. It makes sense in this story.

The end did not satisfy me. It was too indecisive, I feel like it didn't actually conclude. But again, Perkins makes it work for this story.

Everything that is mentioned in the book is there for a reason. It all comes together near the end, even the parts that before had seemed obscure and unnecessary make sense and have purpose.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

You've Never Seen My Desk....

Well, you haven't.

But if you read through this post, you wont be able to say that anymore.

Here is a picture of my desk:
Post-it Note galore, no? And Lots of books. Lots and lots of books.
The ones on the middle shelf are all schoolbooks. Some are notebooks, some are folders, some are textbooks...
But if you look at the top of my desk- that perilously stacked pile of books- those are the interesting ones:

Criss-Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins
Weaving the Short Story by Douglas Bement
The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes (and how to avoid them) by Jack M. Bickham
On Becoming a Novelist by John Gardner
Adventure, Mystery, and Romance by John G. Cawelti
The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright

Note: the middle four are on different aspects of writing. I raided the '808' section at the library last week, after I mentioned finishing my story.
Yeah... don't claim you've finished a writing project the day before you check out books on common writing mistakes...

From 'The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes (and how to avoid them)' I found several... well, mistakes. Here are the top five that had to do with my story:

#1 Don't make excuses
# 10 Don't let things happen for no reason [though, out of this one I had to deal more with 'don't let things happen by chance' ]
# 12 Don't forget whose story it is
# 21 Don't ever stop observing and making notes
# 34 Don't waste your plot ideas

And from 'The Saturdays' (p. 15-16)

"He [Rush] stood there, one hand in his pocket, and his other hand skipping over the keys, jigging out a neat precise little tune that they all knew.
"And for heaven's sake don't play Bach," ordered Randy. "It's so jumpy for today."
Rush slung his leg over the piano stool and sat down. With both hands he began to play slow deep chords that fitted together into a wonderful dark mysterious music.
"Yes, that's better for today," approved Randy. "What is it anyway?"
"Bach," said Rush without turning his head" ...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Friday's Fave 5

I found this over at A Library is a Hospital for the Mind.
Here's how it works. On Friday, participants look back over the week and find their five favorite things, be they activities, food, quotes, books, etc. Anything that blessed them over the last seven days.

So here goes!

1. I finished my story-- again!
56 pages, 20,000 words, 16 chapters, and twice as long as the previous draft.

2. While babysitting at the church across the street, one of the babies fell asleep in my arms as I rocked her back and forth.

3. Seeing a kid in the cafeteria wearing a Narnia shirt

4. The weather- especially Tuesday. I was able to walk around with just a light jacket all day! And then getting to play Ultimate Frisbee on Tuesday for the first time in months

5. Being told I CAN to my persuasive speech in Communications class on Why You Should Have A Pen Pal

What about you?

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

4 days, 4 books, 1 author:

I was home over spring break this past week, and I was able to spend a lot of time reading. My younger sisters got me to read four of Ally Carter's books:I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You; Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy; Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover; and Heist Society.

The first three (I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You; Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy; and Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover) are part of a series. The fourth comes out later this year. In these stories, Cammie Morgan is a spy and she goes to a spy school: Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women. The first is mostly boy drama, the second has more spy-ish-ness but still boy drama, and the third has even more spy-ish-ness and less boy drama. The only thing I didn't 'get' was that the girls are supposed to be 15, but overall I kept getting the impression they were 11 or 12.

Heist Society had the opposite problem: the 15 year old main character felt older than the age Ally Carter gave her. Heist Society is not about spies- it is about thieves. A whole family of thieves. Except Kat. Kat does not like the legacy her family is leaving, so she decides to go to boarding school and leave thieving behind her. One day, however, Hale tells Kat that her father's life is being threatened because of some paintings he is accused of stealing. That he claims he did not steal. Kat wants to keep her father and everyone she loves safe; but will she, even if that means going back to her old way of life?

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Stream of Consciencness. Kind of

My Earth/Science for Elementary Teachers Lab takes a trip to the Library to work on a project where we will need to use books, textbooks, and labs/activities.

My group takes the table next to the two, hip high shelves of Juvenile and Young Adult fiction.

We work on the project, half paying attention, half having our own conversation.

'J' mentions she has to find a book of realistic fiction to read for her Childrens Literature class. This class, by the way, is one I am looking forward to like nothing else.

'What about Little House on the Prairie?'
'No, historical fiction is a different category we have to read.'
'hmm... let me think...'
'yeah, I need Realistic Fiction and a Historical Fiction books too, but I don't want to read Little House on the Prairie. Let me know if you think of anything.' says 'm'
I tell her I will.

I look at the shelves on my right, hoping the titles will jog my memory of some good historical fiction/ realistic fiction books.

I've never really looked at the books up here, think I, because I assumed with such a small selection there can't be any good ones.

My eyes graze over the titles.

Boy, was I wrong. The shelves are teeming with books I remember reading and loving, or books I have been told I should read, or books I want to read. I see 'Criss Cross', 'Trouble'. 'The Star of Kazan', 'Jellice Road', 'When You Reach Me', 'Savvy', 'Ella Enchanted', and so so so many more.

I find a binder with lists of books in it. I go to the tab labeled 'Newbery Medal' and look at the list again. I've looked at that list a lot in the past month, since my informative speech in Communications class was on it. I gave that speech today, and I guess it went okay. Could have been better, but just about everything that happens could have been done better...

Anyway, I read the list, and see 'Sarah Plain and Tall', I tell 'M'.
'Whats that one about?'
'You haven't read it???'
'Neither have I' notes 'N', the fourth member of our group.
I stare astonished, realizing yet again that others did not have the pleasure of growing up reading such wonderful books.
I give a brief overview, she agrees to use that one for her Historical Fiction.

I brush my eyes over the books on the shelf to see if any others sound good.

And then I see it.

On top of the bookshelf, propped up.

Waiting all this time for me to see it.

Waiting ever so patiently.

Red jacket.

Gray, block lettering for the title.

A bird on the front, not centered.

A Mocking Jay.

The sequel to the book 'The Hunger Games'.

Catching Fire.

I snatched that book up faster than I could think, gripping it tightly, smiling incredibly.

The girls in my group start laughing, enjoying how much I adore books.

Especially ones I have been trying to get a hold of.

For almost



I will be visiting that part of the library often, now that I am aware of the gold mine that it really is. Quite often, actually.

Monday, March 01, 2010


Early in February I wrote about my experimentation with the slant I wrote at. HwExpert, from Your Handwriting Explained, commented, and I found her blog through that. I proceeded to spend half my day reading up on her blog about graphology- the study of handwriting. I was amazed! I was also intrigued, and have spent (too) many hours since then reading different blogs and articles I found on the subject. Check some of these out!

for a quick guide to pressure, slant, zones, spacing, speed, and intelligence, visit Viewzone

for a free, online course that looks at three aspects of handwriting, visit Handwriting Insights

for a quick article on seven parts of handwriting, visit Teaching K-8

for a very long, in-depth chart looking at many, many different aspects of handwriting, visit handwriting pro

If you are interested in analyzing your own handwriting, don't read these articles yet! First, find a piece of unlined paper and write about anything (your day, your cat, your favorite subject, a rock...) for as much of the page as you please. The more you have to look at, the more accurate your analysis will be. You should write in cursive, and then sign and date it. What you find out from you analysis will tell you about what mood you were in when you wrote that sample. Its quite fun, actually! Compare samples from different days to see how your mood and handwriting changed. Enjoy, and analyze away!