Friday, July 29, 2011

thrift store + library =

I've got a whole new collection of books this week. From both the library and the thrift store, though the ones from the library are only borrowed, not bought.

Modern Homestead by Renee Wilkinson (nonfic)
-It looked interesting, and I think there are things in it that I would like to add into my latest writing project. I've started it, and I'm super excited

The Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages (fic)
-I've seen it on the shelves of many libraries, and it always catches my eye. The Greek writing on the cover intrigues me. I finally picked it up, and will read it during vacation.

Inkspell by Cornelia Funke (fic)
-its the sequel to Inkheart, which I read a while ago. I've been meaning to pick up the massive second installment for some time, and I finally did.

Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke (fic)
-the third book in the Inkheart series. I decided to go all in.

The Thief Lord (fic)
-I read this several years ago with my old library's Parent Child Book Club, and I've been meaning to reread it for quite some time because I think I will appreciate it more this read. As a side note, when I brought these books home my sister and I were talking, and she pointed out that they were by the same author- something I hadn't noticed at all! So, I look forward to the totally different types of book styles, read within a week of each other.

Thrift Store
Another sister and I made a beeline for the book section of our thrift store the other day, and we looked through the more recently published books, not finding anything either of us was interested in. Its always a gamble. Then, we moved on to the Shakespeares and classics. For a while, I thought I would be leaving empty handed, and then book titles started jumping out at me. I came home with:

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (fic)
- I actually don't know much about the story, but many people have been astonished that I have not yet read this book, so I picked it up as soon as I saw it

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (fic)
- A Jane Austen- you can't go wrong

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (fic)
- I know a little about the story line, but not much. Again, I've heard the characters are wonderfully written, and I am excited to read it for myself.

Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
- Another classic that I have wanted to read, but never have. Once, I bought a copy of it cheap somewhere, only to get home and realize its an abridged version. I don't like reading those, because you cannot really say you've read the book. So, that one has sat on my shelf untouched, but this more recent find will soon be read.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

books to movies

I recently (about ten minutes ago) found out (here, and the GreenBeanTeenQueen's blog) that The Invention of Hugo Cabret (my review) was being turned into a movie- and scheduled to come out at thanksgiving! I am super excited, and couldn't wait to show you the trailer.

how do you feel about the movie, from what you know about the trailer and the book? Do you have any opinions about books made into movies? Have you read Hugo?

*book giveaway!*

And here it is, the book give away.

I am giving away a copy of Sharon M. Draper's novel, 'Out of My Mind'!

Its signed, too. An autographed copy- think of that! (NOTE: I didn't have the book with me when I met Sharon M. Draper, so she signed a label that I put in the book.)

And, it could be yours!

You have to do two things to enter to win the book- that's it!

Let me explain before I tell you requirement number one.
When I met Sharon M. Draper, she was our speaker for a writing workshop. One thing she suggested was revise-revise-revise-revise-revise-revise-revise-revise-revise-revise..  Another of her tips was 'specificity'. Keep those in mind both in your future writings and in the following 'challenge'. One of the activities Ms. Draper had us do was to listen to some music, and describe the colors we saw. Later, we added a scene to the music. So, this is your challenge:

1. Pick one of these songs (One, Two, Three) and, in the comment section below, include
-(your name and email address, obviously, in case you win)
-the song you chose
-two colors you see in the first minute of the music

2. You must tell people on your own blog about this book give away, with a link to this post. If you don't have a blog, email me and we'll see what we can come up with (
-Also, include a link to where you posted about this contest in your comment

This contest ends at 12 o'clock noon Central Time on Saturday August 6th. Make sure you're entered by then! Gook Luck!


(Some fun, rather random, links: here, here, and here)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Sharon M. Draper Interview

Marie: Are any of the characters in your books based off people you know?

No, I made them up.  Sometimes fictional characters can seem so real that the reader might think they are real people, because good fiction is based on reality.  But the characters in my books are just that--fictional.  I start with a character who grows and develops as the book progresses, so that even to me he or she seems real by the end of the story.  But they only exist in the pages of the book.

Marie: Do you listen to music as you write? Why or why not?

No, I need complete silence.  I can’t even stand the sound of a fan blowing or a TV in another room.  I do, however, incorporate music into everything I write.  I use a lot of musical imagery because I think melodies make strong memories in the mind of the reader.

Marie: What do you do when you get a 'mind block'?

I rarely get them.  My biggest problem is writing down all the words fast enough.  If, on accasion, I get stuck, then I shut down the computer and go shopping!  Retail therapy is always effective and fun.

Marie: Time and money aside, what would you rather be doing?

I love what I do.  No two days are ever alike.  I get to write, travel, read, sleep late, go to the beach, or do nothing at all.  I’m blessed.

Marie: If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you bring with you, and why?

I’d bring building tools, the complete works of Shakespeare, and a satellite telephone so I could be rescued!

Marie: What is your favorite genre to write, and why?

I love writing realistic fiction for teens.  That seems to be my strength.  I like creating charcters that seem so real that the reader wants their phone number so they can call them and talk to them.

Marie: Could you tell us three random things about yourself?

I can’t swim.  I love Hagen Daaz ice cream.  I’ve met President Obama.  I prefer being called Sharon M. Draper.  The M is important.  Ok, that’s four.

Marie: How long have you been writing?

Tears of a Tiger, my frist novel, was published in 1994.  But I’ve been writing all my life.

Marie: In an average week, how much time do you spend working on your writing?

If I’m in a “writing” week, I get up at 4 AM and I write all day.  I collapse around seven or eight.  Then I get up and do it again the next day.  I’ll do this for may two-three weeks solid.  I can get the core of a book done in that time.  Then I go back and revise and refine.

Marie: Can you tell us anything about a current project you are working on?

I’m working on a new book, as yet untitled.  It’s a teen trauma drama., very powerful. 

Marie: What is the first thing you do when you get a new story idea?

When I start a new book, as I did this summer, I write down my story plan—names of characters and their general physical descriptions, the setting, the basic plot idea, and the problem that will drive the story.  Then I sit down a wait for the words to come.  They usually do—in buckets and waves.  It's amazing.

 Marie: How do you decide if an idea you have for a story is worth keeping?

All ideas are worth saving.  Not all ideas will become books, but each idea is valid and important and may come in handy one day.

Marie: What obstacles would you warn beginning authors of?

Thinking you’ll get rich quick.  You won’t.  Thinking you’ll get a national book tour and you’ll be interviewed by Letterman.  You won’t.  Thinking the first draft is okay.  It isn’t.  Neither is the fourth or fifth revision.  Quality takes time.

Marie: What cool thing has happened lately?

Out of my Mind is on the New York Times Bestseller List!  Incredibly marvelous.

Marie: What question have I not asked that I should, and what is the answer?

One ninth-grade student who was interviewing for the school paper asked me what I thought about the powerful effect my books have on kids all over the country.  I told her, "The proper answer is 'It's very gratifying,' but the real answer is 'awesome!’

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


that you could, hypothetically, relive certain hours in different time zones

that my sister forgot who Jane Austen was (a sister who performed in this year's cousin camp movie of Pride and Prejudice) and, upon further discussion, did not realize said author was dead.

trying to learn maps of the UK, and London, for my upcoming trip there

realizing how soon it is until school starts again.

turning all the lights off in the house, except for one, and listening to a book, while crocheting
having to drop ever so many stitches each row of the blanket, because I lost my crochet hook, and the one I'm now using is fatter, and its messing up the width of the blanket

late-night walks around a block or two, breathing in the fresh air, talking, gazing at stars or clouds with my sister, and my dad

that moment when a song comes on, and you get excited, and then realize its not the right song, but only one that starts out the same

that moment when a song comes on, and you've been trained to think its the pseudo- song that sounds like that one you like, but really, its the right one.

listening to A History of London

meeting my 1,000 words-a-day- quota for my newest project three days in a row. Yes, the first three days, but you've got to start somewhere

looking at pictures of cousin camp, and only remembering the wonderful, incredible, good moments
waking up early. after going to bed early.

hanging out with college friends- going to a movie, then tubing/skiiing/boating, then sleeping late(ish)

hatching a plan to meet with a second cousin for a movie night, since we havn't gotten together outside of family gatherings since we were kids going to the sci-tech museum

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Lois Lowry Interview

tMarie: Are any of the characters in your books based off people you know?

Lois: None specifically, except for two books…A SUMMER TO DIE and AUTUMN STREET…which are autobiographical. But every fictional character is created out of everyone the writer has known, because that is the knowledge you draw on in creating personalities and idiosyncrasies.

Marie: Do you listen to music as you write? Why or why not?

Lois: Sometimes,. But it has to be undistracting music. I have a collection on iTunes…mostly classical.

Marie: What do you do when you get a 'mind block'?

Lois: I rarely feel that way. But it is important, I think, that the writer stops writing each day at a time when  you know what is about to happen, what comes next. That way it is easy to go back to it. And also, I find that during sleep the mind works on the material.

Marie: Time and money aside, what would you rather be doing?

Lois: Restoring and remodeling old houses.  I wouldn't be RATHER doing it because I love what I do. But it is a great passion of mine.

Marie: If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you bring with you, and why?

Lois: Friends, books, and food, for obvious reasons.

Marie: What is your favorite genre to write, and why?

Lois: Realistic fiction, I think.

Marie: Could you tell us three random things about yourself?

Lois: I have a dog named Alfie and a cat named Lulu.
I have traveled to all seven continents.
My birthday is the first day of spring.

Marie: How long have you been writing?

Lois: Since I was 8 or 9. Professionally, since I was 35. (I am now 74)

Marie: In an average week, how much time do you spend working on your writing?

Lois: 5-6 hours a day.

Marie: What is your favorite part about being an author?

Lois: The solitude and the act of working with language.

Marie: Can you tell us anything about a current project you are working on?

Lois: I'm finishing up a fourth book which will follow THE GIVER trilogy.

Marie: What is the first thing you do when you get a new story idea?

Lois: I open a new folder on my computer and store ideas there.

 Marie: How do you decide if an idea you have for a story is worth keeping?

Lois: If it holds my interest, if I enjoy the writing of it, it is worth keeping.

Marie: What obstacles would you warn beginning authors of?

Lois: Its too easy to spend a lot of time TALKING about writing, and very little time doing it. Sometimes people want to "be a writer" but they can't handle the great solitude and the long hours of work.

Monday, July 18, 2011

cousin camp photos

cousin camp was a little earlier in the summer, and I'm here to share a gathering of photos with you.
This year's movie is called "First Impressions"- its Pride and Prejudice gone Western.
My cousin posted a synopsis of our movie on her blog, so if you're interested, check it out. 

Pa Bennet

Jane Bennet


Lydia Bennet

US Marshall Collins

Lydia and Mr. G. F. Wickham

Mary Bennet

Elizabeth Bennet

Jane and Elizabeth Bennet

preparing for the corn husking scene

Doc Bingley's little sister

US Marshall Collins

Darcy's cousin, Chief Fitzwilliam; US Marshall Collins; Mr. Darcy

Chief Fitzwilliam 

Anne de Bourgh

Anne de Bourgh

Charlotte (Lucas) Collins

Mr. G. F. Wickham; Old Mr. Darcy; George Darcy; Director; actress out of costume

Sheriff Catherine de Bourgh

Jane + Doc Bingley and Darcy + Elizabeth, preparing to ride off into the sunset

Ma Bennet

Mr. and Mrs. Darcy

Mr. Darcy
most of the cast, preparing for the barn dance

Saturday, July 16, 2011


Yes, a shameless add for myself :)
There's some pretty cool stuff coming up!

Some pictures, of course.
Some other posts, like the usual.
An interview with Lois Lowry. (yeah, you read that right)
An interview with Sharon Draper. (you read that one right, too!)
A book giveaway- an autographed copy of Sharon Draper's 'Out of My Mind'.

so, I'm just saying, and I suppose I'm a bit biased, but I think you should make sure you don't miss any of it!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

something that goes tick-tock

for those days when a watch doesn't cut it

Interview with Kara Bartley

Marie: Are any of the characters in your books based off people you know?
~Yes, many of them actually. With my first novel, ‘The Siamese Mummy’ most of the characters were based on my family and friends. The names were changed but I kept (in most cases) the first letter of my family’s names. For my other three novels including ‘Habock’ I continued to do that, while inserting parts of myself as well. Many of my characteristics and behavioural traits can be found within each female lead. Doing that gave me a closer vantage point—as if I were writing the books from the inside out.

Marie: Do you listen to music as you write? Why or why not?
~Usually I don’t. I find that I get too distracted by music. To me, music is another form of communication—words in the form of notes. And I love music, I’m a pianist. But I find that when I try to listen to music while writing—it’s like someone trying to read to me and I can’t do both. Sadly, I’m not very good at multi-tasking. And yet I can listen to music while doing everything else hmm...I haven’t figured that one out yet....

Marie: What do you do when you get a 'mind block'?
~My ‘blocks’ come in days rather than at certain points of writing. When I sit down to write, I can’t stop. I just keep on going. I have to physically close my computer to stop myself. My ‘blocks’ come to me when I wake up. There are certain days when I open my eyes to the morning and say ‘I just can’t write today’. For whatever reason, those days do happen. Maybe it’s my mind and body telling one another that they need a break. But eventually that passes and I return to my writing.

Marie: Time and money aside, what would you rather be doing?
~If I weren’t writing, I’d be knee deep in dirt and rock. I’d be happily digging up my next fossil. Paleontology is in my blood—that lust for the past will never leave me. It’s what inspired me to write and what keeps me grounded—literally!

Marie: If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you
Bring with you, and why?

 ~If I were stranded on an island, hopefully it would be off of the coast Costa Rica. Then I could bring my two favourite novels ‘Jurassic Park’ and ‘The Lost World’ and use them as guides to finding dinosaurs and paleo-worlds. Thirdly, I would bring as much Coca Cola as possible to make my desertion thoroughly enjoyable.

Marie: What is your favorite genre to write, and why?

~ Up until now, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed writing mystery and thriller as with my first three novels. But with ‘The Moon In Habock’s Mirror’, that changed somewhat. I fell in love with fantasy. There was a creative freedom that came with it. Talking animals, awakening the cosmos—there was something very exhilarating about it. I guess I’m torn now, I love mystery but I also adore fantasy. I’ll stick with those and see where they take me.  

Marie: Could you tell us three random things about yourself?

 ~Hmmm...I guess I’d have to say that— 1. My favourite colour is orange. 2. I have a smiling clown fish named Herbit—he’s not real but adorable just the same. My three Siamese cats won’t allow me to keep any edible pets in the house. He’s made of paper mache and sits in a glass fish bowl, looking happy all the time.  3. I have a brown belt in karate.

Marie: How long have you been writing?

~I used to write little books when I was little, mostly about family pets and whatnot. I remember collaborating with friends in elementary school to write a magazine we called ‘The Hairy Canary’. We had big plans, boy did we ever. We were going to bribe everyone in the school to buy one. But alas, our plans did not work.  Creative writing then disappeared from my life when I went off to school in pursuit of science. The funny thing is, that when I was digging fossils in Kansas in 2002, writing found me again. And definitely when I least expected it. And I’m glad that it did. It seems that my life has always been this strange mix of science and creativity. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.  

Marie: In an average week, how much time do you spend working on your

~I’d say about three or four days. I try to get in as much writing as possible. I work full time elsewhere so sometimes that’s difficult.  I usually write at night—I’m definitely a night owl. And sometimes those nights turn into days and that’s when I have to stop myself and take a break.

Marie: What is your favorite part about being an author?

~As simple as that question might seem—it’s a hard one to answer for me. There are so many facets to writing and being a Libra and all, I have a hard time choosing just one. I think I might have to say—self-expression. I love so many things about writing but using myself as a portal to the written page would probably be what I like the most. The words are born through my mind, driven through my body and translated through my fingers. The result is a part of me donated to others, in the hopes they might appreciate it.

Marie: Can you tell us anything about a current project you are working on?

~I am currently working on the sequel to my first novel ‘The Siamese Mummy’, and I’m having a lot of fun working on it.

Marie: What is the first thing you do when you get a new story idea?
~I just start writing before I forget it. Sometimes it’s at the beginning and sometimes it’s further in. But as long as I write it down somewhere so that my brain doesn’t accuse my fingers of losing it!

 Marie: How do you decide if an idea you have for a story is worth keeping?

 ~I try to keep all the ideas that I have. If one doesn’t work out a certain way, then I just pluck it out and rewire it to work in another scenario. Usually I can find a home for any idea that I have, I just have to change the neighbourhood sometimes.

Marie: What obstacles would you warn beginning authors of?
~I would warn them of taking too much on. Don’t overwhelm yourself with everything that has to be done. It’ll all get done in time, your time and no one else’s.  

Marie: Which scenes did you find the most fun to write?
 ~For me it would have to be any of the scenes that included dialogue. I love writing dialogue. It could be adventure scenes or emotional scenes, just any part that lets the characters speak out and embrace their external voice.

Marie: What question have I not asked that I should, and what is the answer?
~Maybe, what is your advice to other authors? And my answer to that would be: Do not be afraid to fail. To me, success and failure go hand in hand—each one helps the other improve. They each lend a helping hand to each other.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Moon in Habock's Mirror by Kara Bartley

 Scarlet lives in Canada with her mom, dad, twin sister 'Gweny', dog Odin, and cat Adonis. Scar is the trouble maker of the family, sneaking out at night to go on dates, missing meals because she was busy hanging out with friends or boys. Her parents don't even know half of what she does, but her twin, Gweny, is fully aware, and keeps her sister's secret.
            Life as she knows it changes for Scar when her mom can't handle any more of Scar's nonsense, and grounds her on a Saturday. The other half of her punishment is that she has to clean out the dreaded attic. This tale involves talking cats, time travel, close friends, betrayal, a tragedy during a sixteenth birthday party, and, overall, the moral that, when it comes down to it, all the power and courage one needs can be found within ones' self.
            That was one of the things I didn't particularly like about the book; what I saw as the moral. "True power comes from within (210)". Because, as I've found in my own life, and through watching others, when it comes down to it, you just cant do it on your own. Especially something as monumental as saving the world; past, present, and future. Another thing thing that made the story hard to read was that there were several typos that jolted me out of the story, reminded me that it was only a book in my hand. There was also this strange new-age-y undercurrent that made me a little uncomfortable. Also, unfortunately, there was quite a bit of swearing and misusing God's name.  And, while noting the good in people, the book failed to also reference the evil that is in all people, as a part of human nature.  This is rather hard to do in a novel, I know, but it’s a truth that was neglected.
            And there were some phenomenal things that I loved. At one point, Scar is having some trouble with forgiveness, and she wants revenge. She is advised against taking this other person's life because it is not her job- her job is to protect the innocent, and right the wrongs she can right, but not to punish those who are evil. That job falls to someone else. Another plus was that, although it took some time for me to get into the story and care about the characters, after some time I did- I could hardly put the book down. I also liked the few creatures the author created for the story, I really wanted to see one in real life, not just in my imagination! One of the final things that I will mention that I liked about the book was Scar's imagination. Sometimes she would go on tiny rabbit trails of imaginings, only to be brought back to reality by something. I loved that.