August 2014 Archives

Fated to be Useless? - Firstborn

firstborn.pngFirstborn (Blink, 2014) by Lorie Ann Grover grabbed me by the throat right from the start with young Tiadone witnessing a Madronian priest taking a "useless" firstborn female from her R'tan parents. The baby will die. Tiadone hadn't believed the stories, but now he knows it's true. And it would have happened to him if his parents hadn't declared her male at birth.

How could you not read on after that?

This is author Lorie Ann Grover's first fantasy novel, which received a Kirkus Starred Review. Watch the book trailer here.

More importantly read why Lorie Ann wrote this novel: "The impetus for Firstborn was an article I read on gendercide. Appalled that the atrocity continues today, I funneled my anger into writing this novel. My hope is that through the power of story, awareness and action against gendercide will increase. The United Nations estimates that there are 200 million girls missing today. You can read more about gendercide and take action at or"

Lorie Ann has 3 previous novels in verse published. Read about them on her website.

Write something so painfully

Write something so painfully personal you pray nobody reads it.
Chad Gervich

Secrets! - The Pledge

pledge-175.jpgIn The Pledge (Margaret K. McElderry, 2011) by Kimberly Derting, 17-year-old Charlaina speaks her vendor language of Parshon and the universal Englaise just as she should. But she also understands the languages of the classes above her and that's a secret she must keep hidden. It's forbidden in the country of Ludania to even look into the eyes of someone of higher class when they are speaking. And looking at a Council girl puts Charlaina's life at risk.

But that's just the start of this story. There's also underground dance clubs, an ancient autocratic queen looking for her replacement, and more secrets--like who Max is and the language he speaks--that affect the lives of everyone Charlaina cares for.

This book is the first in a trilogy and was chosen as a 2013 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults selection. I need to get the rest of the books about Charlaina and her world!

The sidebar on Kimberly Derting's blog "The Road to Publication," shows how many other countries The Pledge has been published in--9 besides US/Canada! Is that cool or what?

Kimberly has another trilogy in process and a series, too. Check them out here.

Write about what you're

Write about what you're most afraid of.
Donald Barthelme

If you love super heroes, these two books are must reads. Both are fast paced and funny.

Geeks.jpgFirst, is Geeks, Girls and Secret Identities (Scholastic, 2012) by Mike Jung. Vincent Wu and his friends love Captain Stupendous. But when Vincent learns the Captain's secret identity, he and his friends have to act to save Captain Stupendous, because the Captain is really a girl who doesn't know anything about being a super hero!

The opening line of the book: "There are four Captain Stupendous fan clubs in Copperplate City, but ours is the only one that doesn't suck." This story definitely doesn't suck either. In fact, it's so appealing my copy was recently stolen... No kidding!

Read author Mike Jung's description of himself on his blog to laugh, too. But besides being a funny guy, he's honest about how difficult life can be. Can't wait to see his next book.

Next, is Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Supervillain (Curiosity Quills Press, 2014) by Richard Roberts. In this case Penelope Akk knows she could be a superhero, because her parents are ones. But as her powers begin emerging she finds it is so much fun being a villain instead.

The opening line of the book: "On the last day before I got my super power, I was sulking because I didn't have a super power." You can probably tell that Penny is a teen.

This is author Richard Roberts' fourth book. Read more about him and his other books here.

Hmm, I wonder if these two authors have ever met... Who would dominate the world?!

Write about it by

Write about it by day and dream about it by night.
E. B. White

Say What?

photo courtesy of luisrock62 from
Once a friend and I were discussing how people say "you." Where she grew up, in the Ozarks, it was "youns" for one person and for more "younses." When my brother-in-law and family lived in Greenville, SC, they explained that "you all" or "y'all" is said to one person and to more than one is "all y'all."

Going heavy on that type of dialect in a story can make for difficult reading. However, it got me thinking about regional differences that could add flavor without dialect.

In Denver, my neighbor called a grocery cart, a grocery buggy. Buggy makes me think baby...

Some brand names change by region, too--same product, different name. i.e. Best Foods/Hellmann's Mayonnaise. Although be aware--there can be trademark issues with using brand names.

Traveling in upper New York near the Hudson River many years ago, we stopped at a restaurant and I ordered a "deluxe" hamburger. The waitress didn't understand what I wanted, so I explained I wanted lettuce and tomato. She said, "Oh, California style!" As a native Oregonian I was tempted to say, "No, California style would be avocado and sprouts!"

During a Kansas critique group, I read that my characters jumped onto each other creating a pile of kids and I called it a "pig pile." The Midwest natives explained they call it a "dog pile." My image of a pile of baby piglets changed to that of something not so pleasant from a dog.

Once I mentioned to someone how I saw my first fireflies in Kansas. She was shocked to discover they don't exist west of the Rockies. Though not sure how strict that border is as we never saw them in Colorado either...

Sitting at a banquet table with writers several of us poured milk in our hot tea. We'd all learned the habit in England. Speaking of tea, I've always ordered iced tea with those simple words. I learned in Joplin, Missouri that most people order "sweet tea," so there I must specify "unsweet."

I've retrained myself not to ask what flavors of "pop" someone has, but instead to call it "soda." I've heard some areas refer to all flavors of carbonated sweet drinks as "coke."

Clothing matters, too. Another brother-in-law, a long time resident of Montana, traveled to Alabama on business. The man picking him up at the airport had never met him but unerringly picked him out of the crowd because of his cowboy hat and heavy coat.

If you've never lived or visited another place, you may not be aware of your regionalisms. So take a gander (look, look see) at the Dictionary of American Regional English and check out what I think a "bear claw" is! (Listed in 100 Sample Entries.) You also might want to follow @darewords on twitter. It's fun and educational.

Words can be like

Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly -- they'll go through anything. You read and you're pierced.
Aldous Huxley