Thursday, December 27, 2007

A great, rip-roaring fantasy adventure

I devoured this book in an afternoon. (Luckily the baby was especially nursey today...)

It's wonderful-- I grew up on the Pern books, but I think this book left McCaffery in the dust. Napoleonic Wars+ dragons and a naval captain unwillingly pressed into service--- I thought this was much more compelling then Lessa's story. And the dragons are more interesting people than the dragons of Pern......

My husbands bringing books #2 and 3 home for me this afternoon.... what fun!

Also, thanks to Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit for mentioning these books a few months back--- he's not only a great political blogger, he has GREAT taste in SciFi/ Fantasy...... If I could only visit one blog a day, it would be his!

Writing Resolutions

1. Work on breaking into the non-fiction market:

Should be fun since Highlights included Ancient History on its wish list.

2. Get to know Google Books.

I just discovered how awesome this site is! Especially for research. Interlibrary loan costs me a dollar a book, and costs my local library even more. It can be kind of expensive. But with Google books, I can see if books will actually be useful before I ILL them. And if they only have a page or two of relevant info, I can just read them on line, for free, and take notes!

I can't believed I lived before without it!

3. Finish a MG novel. I need to acquire the discipline to write longer works. The only thing to do is to sit down and do it.

4. Make a "Useful Resources" list for this blog, so that it's actually useful to other people.

We'll see how well I keep to these. Right now I'm working on 1,2, and 3.......

Friday, December 21, 2007

What I'm reading.....

But it's for RESEARCH! So it's work, right?

(One thing I've learned -- in classic comics, it's OK if the super villains just happen to forget and leave their weapons at home one day.... real smooth, Dr. Fear. And Mr. Lee? I have a feeling that if I wrote that into a children's book as a deus ex machina, I'd get totally SLAMMED by the editors.... But it's all good, clean, switch-off-the-lights and fight in the dark fun! =) )

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Why we haven't sent out Christmas cards yet...

The kids were feeling a bit too hammy. And scaring their little brother to death.

Plan B: Take a camera to Mass on Christmas Eve, have a friend snap a picture of the whole family around the creche afterwards....

Besides -- If the pope can leave his tree up until Lent, surely we can send Christmas Cards in January!

Friday, December 7, 2007

How I Wish Catholic Politicians Would Present Themselves

I saw this over at the [ Corner on the National Review]:

Running on faith, 1906 version [Mark Steyn]
I rather like this approach, from Jeremy Lott's advice to Mitt:

In 1906, Britain's Liberal party nominated man of letters Hillaire Belloc to stand for election as an MP in Salford. It was a throwaway nomination - Belloc was a French immigrant to the UK, only recently naturalized, and he was a Catholic running in an area that was heavily Methodist and that had never gone Liberal. Rather than trying to work around his religion,
as his campaign manager had advised, Belloc took the
occasion of "papist" taunts to make a memorable point.

According to literary journalist William Bryk, Belloc announced to a "packed hall" of constituents:
"Gentlemen, I am a Catholic. As far as possible, I go to Mass every
day." He reached into his pocket, pulled something out, and told them, "This is a rosary. As far as possible, I kneel down and tell these
beads, every day. If you reject me on account of my religion, I shall thank God that He has spared me the indignity of being your representative!"
An "absolute silence" was soon ended when the crowd "exploded with
applause." Belloc won, first as a Liberal MP then as an independent candidate.

On an added note, I HIGHLY Reccomend Belloc's Cautionary Verses. It includes such old favorites as "Jim, Who Ran Away From His Nurse and Was Eaten By a Lion." The Illustrations are also mildly twisted.

I got my copy at Powell's Books in Chicago-- I checked Amazon, It looks like it's out of print, so good luck finding it.

But in terms of warped children's literature, Belloc really belongs right up there with Edgar Gorey. =)

Thursday, December 6, 2007

One Last Thing

I got a request from an editor for VERY SPECIFIC CHANGES to a story I wrote! I'm over the moon because it's a magazine I've been working really hard to break into.

I always think it's funny when an editor offers suggestions, because the tone is often very deferential--- as if they're afraid of offending by asking me to change my story.....

And I always wonder, "What sort of psychopaths have you had to deal with?"

My thought on editors is that they have their jobs because their good at them. And if they suggest changes, it's usually with good reason and I should swallow my pride and at least TRY to make them work.

But maybe I'm just a flagrant sell-out.

But if the changes really were impossible, I wouldn't make them.... And so far, every time I've taken an editor's advice and then re-read the finished product, the editor has been dead-on.

Plus, since I can't afford ICL, this is a great way to get professional advice for merely the cost of a SASE!

A few reasons why

I prefer children's and YA to adult books, as a rule:

1. When I pick up a children's or YA novel by an author I don't know, it's usually at least worth finishing, and often worth recommending or discussing.

When I browse through new adult books, most aren't that great. I can judge mysteries and Sci Fi by their covers, but literary fiction is a lot more chancy.

2. They're short. So are the chapters. So they fit more easily into my life.

I'm deaf while I'm reading, but come up for air at the end of chapters. So short chapters mean that I don't inadvertently neglect the toddler.

3. They're better edited.

Children's and YA books tend to be very tightly written. (with a few exceptions). I can't STAND it when I'm reading a novel and every fiber of my being is screaming "Where was her editor????" Novels should not be for skimming.

4. The authors of YA seem to do really neat things with POV.

The first person YA novels I read are fun because it's almost like your in a conversation with the narrator... you get their perceptions of events and then you argue with them and challenge them.....

5. Reading them counts as "work" in my twisted world....

Because since I write for kids, it's not really goofing off to read these books. It's market research. right? Right?

Ok... so it's fun too. I really envy the YA librarians who HAVE to read this for professional development and book groups!

Virus Season

Well, we had a week of fevers and vomit, but I think life may be approaching normal again. The kids have their energy back and are dying to play in the snow --I'm still sick and exhausted.

But last night I finally got to read Thirteen Reasons Why.

I don't ususally like "Teen Suicide Novels" but this one was great! I especially liked (without any spoilers) how it showed the self-centeredness at the center of depression. Clay, the main character, was a truly likeable person, which helped make the book readable, even though it was about an audio suicide note.

I'd be interested to know more about Hannah's background-- her descent into madness didn't seem quite as realistic as Sylvia Plath's unless you imagine a more complex backstory that tainted her perceptions of the events in the novel...

But it's a book that BEGS to be discussed. Maybe I'll head on over to the SCBWI website later today and see if anyone's started a discussion of it......