Wednesday, December 30, 2009

BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA: Magic born of tragedy-book review of a classic

I don't know how I missed this book as a kid. I heard of it, but thought it was some sort of war story. I couldn't have been more wrong.

 I ran across it in a school and set it aside for months before getting around to reading it.I was in for a surprising journey. This is a poignant, beautifully rendered tale of love, friendship and loss. Bridge to Terabithia is the story of Jess Aarons, a fifth grader in rural Virginia who becomes friends with his new neighbor, Leslie Burke, a girl from the city and a child of liberal, progressive writers.

Jess is a sensitive, artistic boy, the rather neglected child in a family of four sisters. Mom favors the girls and dad is busy working. Jess' world changes when he meets Leslie, a girl of vivid imagination and fantasy. Leslie is ostracized by the other students, but she and Jess forge a close friendship. At Leslie's direction, she and Jess create an imaginary kingdom in the the woods near their home. They call it Terabithia and designate themselves the Queen and King. Terabithia is accessible only by a rope swing over a creek. Jess and Leslie go there everyday after school to share their fears, hopes and dreams.

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Nice Twist on Twilight: EVERNIGHT: A book review

I happen to run across this book in Barnes and Noble and it sounded like a enjoyable little read on the way to work, so I bought it. Was I ever surprised. I love this book!

Evernight is a 327 page YA book written by Claudia Gray. It is somewhat Twilightesque, but it takes a fresh twist on the Vampire tale. I was pleasantly surprised.

From the beginning, I thought I had the story figured out. Ms. Gray turned my suppositions on their head. More than once I found myself saying: "Nice. I didn't see that coming!" Or, "I wasn't expecting that-cool!"  I can't really tell you much without giving away some suprising plot twists that make the book such a fun, unexpected and enjoyable read. I'll only be able to give you the blurb from the back of the book:

Saturday, December 26, 2009

As We Enter a New Year, Consider This....

As the old year comes to a close and a new year takes its place, remember this:

Life is short. Forgive quickly, Kiss slowly, Love truly, Laugh uncontrollably and never regret anything that made you smile.

Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we're here, we should dance!


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Can a Young Adult romance be enticing without paranormal elements? You bet it can! A book review: Perfect Chemistry

The Young Adult book market is rife with stories that incorporate paranormal elements. Such books are often exciting, suspenseful and capture the imagination of their readers. The trend in the market being what it is, can a teen book without supernatural elements stand a chance of intriguing an audience? I think it can. One such book is Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles.

There are no boys turning into fantastical creatures in this book, but that doesn't make it any less of a great read. Perfect Chemistry is a 357 page YA novel that's romantic and edgy. The differences between Brittany Ellis and Alex Fuentes may not be otherworldly, but crossing the great divide between culture, race and class provide more than enough conflict and drama.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

YA Panel: NY Chapter of The Society of Children's Book Writer's and Illustrators (SCBWI)

On Tuesday, I attended a young adult panel presented by the NY chapter of SCBWI. The presenters consisted of two editors: Krista Marino, Senior Editor with Delacorte and Lexa Hillyer, Editor with Razorbill.

Ms. Marino addressed the issue of voice. The authorial voice is the author's fingerprint. It follows them from book to book. If you read a Stephen King book or a Meg Cabot book, you will find a commonality of tone that is evident in all their writing.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Barry Lyga: Boy Toy author connects to a reader

I received the nicest e-mail from Barry Lyga thanking me for the review of his book and touching on some of the issues that occur when an author writes material that is difficult for some people to digest.

 If you've read my November 27th post, I touched on the subject of authors and their readership. An author can't be expected to respond to everyone, but when they take the time to do so when possible, it certainly is thoughtful and appreciated. This is one author who clearly reads his messages!

Thanks Barry. May you live long, prosper and write many more good books. Check him out folks.


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Sex Abuse Alert and Book Review: Boy Toy

If you have read my introductory post as well as my All about Me profile, you'll recall I stated that in addition to discussing literary matters, I will be touching on my insights as an educator and therapist.  These concern life issues that are important and beneficial for all to understand.

Professionally, I have worked with youngsters in various capacities: the school system, the legal system and the mental health/social service systems. A couple of incidents, both recent and not so recent in addition to a novel I just completed reading, has served as the catalyst for the post today. Let me begin with the book review.

Boy Toy by Barry Lyga is a 409 page young adult novel that delineates the tale of Josh Mendel, a 12 year old boy who is manipulated into a sexual relationship with his teacher. The story goes back and forth from the present to the past and follows Josh as an 18 year old high school senior who still struggles with the aftermath of the affair, years later. The book depicts the sexual activity fairly graphically, but it is not gratuitously so. It is real and organic to the story and yes--it's disturbing to read as you consider that the boy is only 12 years old and suffering emotional damage from premature sexual activity.

There have been a number of highly publicized incidents involving minors and school staff. People may be prone to dismiss such occurrences because the perpetrator is a pretty female and they take a "boy's will be boy's" attitude. This book exemplifies the real damage that occurs to the child's psyche as a result of such abuse. I highly recommend reading it.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Book Release this week. Opportunity for free copy!

Julie Hadden, the first runner up on season 4 of The Biggest Loser has written an inspirational weight loss book. It is being released this week and is worth checking out.

You even have the opportunity to get a free copy. Check out literary agent, Rachelle Gardner's site  for the details.

I , for one, am always looking for a way to keep the extra pounds at bay.

Monday, November 30, 2009

New Moon book giveaway: Everyone's a winner!

Since there were only three ladies in the US and Canada that didn't have a copy of New Moon, I did some networking and got two more copies. All three ladies are now happy owners. Congratulations to:
Jackie B, Jackie O and Marjorie R. Enjoy girls!

Friday, November 27, 2009

An author and her readers: How far is too far?

I've e-mailed three authors whose work I really like. One sent back a rather extensive reply. She answered questions I had about the origins of her surname and was quite chatty. The second sent a brief thank you for my interest.  It is the third response that took me aback.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Lessons for Writers from New Moon, the movie

I spoke to several people today to get their opinion of New Moon. The sentiment was the same: it was good, but not as good as Twilight. They had no plans to go back for another viewing, though several of them saw Twilight multiple times. What's the difference? As I said on Sunday's post-it's the focus of the movie: Bella's inner angst and turmoil. It's hard to make those kinds of emotions exciting and attention grabbing on screen.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

New Moon book giveaway

If anyone is interested in the opportunity to receive a pristine copy of New Moon, please leave a comment. Include a reference to your desire to receive the book in addition to any thing else you wish to add. I happen to have two copies, so I'm giving one away. The opportunity will be open until next Sunday, November 29, 2009.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

New Moon movie review

I don't usually go to see movies on opening night, but I was near the theatre after work and the next showing available was less than two hours away so I bought a ticket and waited in a nearby Barnes and Noble.
If you're one of the few people on earth who hasn't seen the first installment of this saga, you need to do that before seeing New Moon. You can't get the flavor for what all this is about unless you've seen Twilight first. I have friends who didn't see Twilight, but were drawn into the advertisements and planned to see New Moon. Do yourselves a favor and see Twilight first. New Moon was truly like being dropped into the middle of a story. It's a continuing saga-true, but I found that a bit disconcerting. It didn't have a clear beginning for someone who isn't familiar with the story.

Mind you, I have not read New Moon yet. I intend to.  I found out from the first movie, it was better to see the movie first and then read the book. Lots of people were disappointed with the movie after reading the the book first.  I didn't have any expectations when I went to see Twilight, because I had no idea it was a book. I discovered that little tidbit when I was sitting in the theatre and spoke to the people waiting for the movie to start! Of course I went right out, bought it and devoured the book. I decided then, not to read any subsequent books until after I've seen the movie, that way, I won't be disappointed by any deviations from the book.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Backspace Agent-Author Conference: Opening Pages

The second day of the conference, the attendees read the first two pages of their manuscript. It was evident that people had put a lot of thought and effort into what they had written and expected to be affirmed. For the majority, it was not to be. The agents were direct in what was not working and why: Not identifying the appropriate audience for your writing, writing things there was no way the POV character would know, being too descriptive with your writing; not getting to the point quickly enough.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Backspace Agent-Author Conference

The first word that comes to mind after attending this conference is SUBJECTIVE. I learned there is no one standard for what will lead an agent to be interested in a piece of work. It is highly subjective and dependent on their own personal tastes. Let me give you some examples.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Can anyone write and get published?

The other day, someone I met mentioned she was writing a book. Naturally I was curious and asked what it was about. She said it was about her life. I said, "So you're writing a memoir?" I received a blank stare. I explained what a memoir was and we discussed fiction vs narrative non-fiction. She said she had spoken with a publisher and I questioned who it was. She couldn't remember the name but said, "It's something like 'Universe'." I said, "Is it iUniverse'? She got excited and said "yes."

"So you're going to self-publish?" Once again, that blank look. I asked her if she had a way to distribute her book? She hadn't thought about that.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Revision one, two, three...

I've had a fairly steep learning curve as I began to formulate my novel. I bought books and searched for information on line about the craft of writing and story telling. A consistent theme was the need to revise and edit your writing.

Monday, November 2, 2009

So, you think you're a writer eh?

I've always had a professional reputation for being a skillful writer. Since beginning this adventure known as penning a novel, I've learned that creative writing-good creative writing is a different animal entirely. It requires different skill sets than  academic or scholastic writing.

Clinical/technical writing does nothing to enliven the imagination. It's goal is to transmit information-period. When you're writing a novel or a memoir, you want to bring the reader into the world of the story. Your goal is to make the story so engrossing, the reader is not conscious they're reading a book-they are there, in the story, right along with your protagonist. Maybe they even become your protagonist. This is a skill that takes time to develop. You have to practice. the more you write, the more you realize you need to write-and write, and write, and write...It's an ongoing process. Recognize that, accept it and be prepared to do what's necessary to get your character's or your own personal story told.

After many interruptions, I was finally offered a seat in a nursing program to take the clinicals. After much thought, I turned it down because I really want to work on my novel. The program is intense and there is no way I would be able to work full time, take the clinical classes, do the internship in the hospital and work on a book. I have to prioritize. I want to give my book the best chance possible and that means giving it the time it requires. I know I made the right decision, because I don't regret it one bit! I enjoy writing and I'm excited to see where I can go with it. If you have a passion for something, give it your best shot. Even if it doesn't work out as planned or as you would have desired, at least you know you did your best and you'll have no regrets.


Sunday, November 1, 2009


I've been thinking about starting a blog for awhile and I decided to bite the bullet and do it. You may wonder what the meaning of my blog title is: Writing is a Blessing. Well, writing is a form of communication. It's a means of communicating  over time and distance. It enables one to communicate with someone he or she has never met and possibly never will and yet, information can be conveyed. That information can be for entertainment purposes or for information. Of course some use writing to hurt others, but that is not the goal of this blog.

I'm an educator and counselor by profession, so I'm always giving advice and teaching in some form or another. I'm also working on my first novel, which I hope will be sufficiently interesting and well written to elicit publication.

I see writing as an opportunity to help, enlighten and inspire others, hence writing as a blessing. If I write a novel that is entertaining and transports the reader to another experience, or offers a written word of advice that is helpful, that's a blessing. I'll be touching on a number of issues:  my attempts to become a published author, what I learn about the process as well as other topics and interests as they come to me.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you'll join me on this journey toward being a blessing to others.