January 2018 Archives


insignia.jpgInsignia (Katherine Tegen Books, 2012) by S.J. Kincaid has the flavor of Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card.

Teen Tom Raines doesn't know what a real family is like. He and his father flit from place to place depending on whether his dad still has money from gambling or not. That's why Tom has taken on gambling himself with virtual reality games--he likes having food to eat and a nice place to sleep.

But someone has been watching. Tom is recruited for the military in the new way of fighting--virtually. He loves his new life, however, it's not sure who will mess it up first, Tom, his father, or his stepfather.

This book is the first in a trilogy. I've ordered the second book, Vortex, and am sure I'll read the third, Catalyst, after that.

You can see my recommendation of the author's book The Diabolic here. It's what got me looking at the S.J. Kincaid's other books. Her website is here.

The Sun Is Also a Star

sunisalsoastar.jpgThe Sun Is Also a Star (Delacorte Press, 2016) by Nicola Yoon is an impactful book that covers a very short time period in the two protagonists lives. The book is mainly told from the viewpoints of two teens from immigrant families. We also get some insight with viewpoints of some other characters.

First, we meet Daniel who feels like he has to accept his destiny and become a doctor because his oldest brother has screwed up. Daniel's family is from Korea.

Then we met Natascha who is angry at her father. Her mother says she should give up on trying to keep them in America. Her little brother thinks Jamaica will be better.

The two meet on the day Natascha's family is being deported and the day Daniel is being interviewed for Yale. And what an amazing, frustrating, busy day they have. These two couldn't be more different. One is a romantic, the other a scientist--you'll have to read it to see which is which.

How could a story like this have a satisfactory ending? Well, it does.

This book is a National Book Award Finalist, Michael L. Printz Honor Book, and New York Times Best Seller.

Nicola's unofficial bio makes me smile. I haven't yet read her book Everything, Everything. I hope she keeps writing.

Words have to be crafted

Words have to be crafted, not sprayed. They need to be fitted together with infinite care.
Norman Cousins

Who Killed Christopher Goodman?

WhoKilledCG.jpgWho Killed Christopher Goodman? (Candlewick Press, 2017) by Allan Wolf is a story based on a true crime. This YA historical novel, set in 1979, is inspired by the an event in the author's past. The story is told in multiple viewpoints, including the killer's.

Everyone likes teenager Christopher Goodman, even if he is kinda weird. But that's what makes his murder even more shocking.

The characters whose voices we hear are Doc Chestnut--The Sleepwalker, Leonard Pelf--The Runaway, Squib Kaplan--The Genius, Hunger McCoy--the Good Ol' Boy, Hazel Turner--the Farm Girl, and Mildred Penny--the Stamp Collector. They are all participating in the Deadwood Days street festival which everyone attends for some summer excitement.

It's a story of broken and repaired friendships, love, hatred, revenge, hard work, and more.

Go here to see what else Allan has written and has coming out soon. His bio is here where you'll find out he is a poet as well as an author.

Six of Crows

six-of-crows.pngSix of Crows (Henry Holt and Company, 2015) by Leigh Bardugo is a fascinating YA fantasy of a band of young people each with their own unique issues. The story is told in multiple viewpoints.

Kaz Brekker has an idea for the biggest heist ever. The item to steal isn't jewels or money, but a man in an impregnable prison. Those he asks to go with him are Inej--the Suli girl also know as The Wraith, Jesper--a good shot and gambler, Nina--a heartrender--though some consider her a witch, Matthias--the foreigner who knows the layout of the Ice Palace, and Wylan--a run away who can setup explosions.

This crew isn't the only one attempting this venture. But besides the riches to be had, they might just be the only ones to protect others from a very deadly drug.

crooked_kingdom.pngWhat's really exciting is that this NY Times bestseller has a sequel! It's called Crooked Kingdom.

Go here to read about the author and to see her other books.

Thats the beauty of books

That's the beauty of books. In so many ways, they never really end.
Markus Zusak

Let's Get Help

chicken-1647390_1280.pngMost writers don't start out thinking they're going to need technical skills beyond maybe a word processor and email, but in this world of social media and digital submissions, writers either need to learn technical skills or get help.

I'm of a technical mindset and have more technical skills than many writers of my generation, but still I get help. My husband and my daughter have both helped me with website and computer issues. A writer friend taught me how to use twitter and tweetdeck. Please don't be too chicken to ask for help yourself.

Here's some things I've found many writers don't know:

How to keep computer files organized. I've seen many writers with every file saved on the desktop or in the first level of documents and they have trouble finding what they are looking for. I've showed them folders and how you can put folders within folders. Normally each of my projects has its own folder. Here's how I helped another writer with this issue in this post. It includes some tips on naming documents, too.

How to back up files. When their computer hard drive dies, writers have lost all of their work. Even when you have a crash, you can lose hours of work on your wip. Don't let this be you. Find out how to preserve copies successfully. The latter portion of this blog post mentions some methods.

How to do an electronic submission, especially when pasting in material. When I was sharing on the topic with a group, one person said that the best tip she got was "don't enter the to person's email until you are sure you are ready to send." This means you can't accidentally send an unfinished submission. I'll write up some more details for a future blog post.

How to resize a picture. A writer (or illustrator) needs to submit an illustration, a cover, a headshot and have a large file, but has been requested for something smaller. I wrote this post to specifically help with this problem. I find people often don't know how to rename the picture with something meaningful either--it's okay to name it what it is.

How to keep email organized. Some writers keep everything all in the inbox, which makes for an overwhelming number of emails. Folders to save important emails by topic or event or date can be helpful. Or you can have a folder for critiques or projects. Many email programs allow you to set up filters to sort incoming email automatically into folders as well. You might want to do that for newsletters you like to read. As hard as it may be to believe, one gal didn't realize she could just delete emails she'd read and didn't need.

New writers often don't know about standard manuscript format. This is the way editors and agents will want to see manuscript submissions. Follow this link for details.

New to computer users don't know about Word's tables or Excel's spreadsheets. Either can be helpful in keeping track of submissions, agents, chapter summaries, finances, etc. (Although I prefer the latter for finances.)

Sometimes we aren't even aware we need help. We don't know there's a better or easier way. Many years ago I complained about how awkward something was in Word. My husband showed me tables. Wow, it made what I was doing so easy. Since, I've used it for forms many times.

So if something isn't working well for you, ask others, "Is there a better way?" Or search online for "How do I ________?"--there are tutorials, youtube videos, etc. that explain so much. For example, I've learned more about html that way.

What have you gotten help with? What do you wish you could get help with?

Comments are welcome.

I dont like to call

I don't like to call it writer's block. I like to think of it as a knot. You get to a place that's tangled is all, and it takes a little more time to tease it out.
John David Anderson

Never give up For that

Never give up. For that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.
Harriet Beecher Stowe


FOXHEART.jpgFoxheart (Greenwillow Books, 2016) by Claire Legrand starts out with an unlikable main character that I grew to like a lot.

"For the first twelve years of her life, Girl had no name." Left at the Convent at age three, she wouldn't even talk for two years. Her gray hair made her unusual too and everyone was suspicious of the unusual. At age five when she wouldn't tell the sisters her name, her punishment was to be given no name. Of course, the other orphans made up names for her. Girl took advantage of this and acted like a pig when the girls called her one. Called herself Pigwitch Girl while stealing from a woman from town.

Though obnoxious on the outside, Girl yearns for her parents. When she's ten, a stray yellow dog becomes her sole friend and she names him Fox. She dreams about becoming the best thief in the Star Lands. But one night her whole life changes, and Girl has to run for her life.

I really enjoyed the story and the different characters we are introduced to and I loved the cover that hints to all kinds of things in the story. The book is a 2016 Junior Library Guild selection.

Author Claire Legrand has a number of other books that you can check out here. Three books are slated for 2018 and 2019.

A Face Like Glass

facelikeglass.jpgafacelikeglass.jpgA Face Like Glass (Amulet Books, 2017) by Frances Hardinge is set in a believable, yet very unique underground city of Caverna.

Neverfell doesn't remember anything before she was five when she ended up living and working with Cheesemaster Grandible as his cheese making apprentice. Her master makes her wear a mask whenever she meets anyone, which doesn't happen very often as she's never let outside his tunnels. At twelvish, Neverfell assumes the mask is because she's so ugly. But when Neverfell goes out into the city itself, others think her face is terrifying, but for a reason she could never imagine. Will Neverfell be able to solve the mystery of where she came from?

If you like middle grade fantasy, you should read this book.

The cover on the left is the cover of the book I read. The cover on the right is the UK version, which I like better. The book originally came out in 2012.

Author Frances Hardinge has written a number of other books. You can read about them in her library. Her bio made me laugh. She likes wearing black hats as you can see here.

You want to write a

You want to write a sentence as clean as a bone. That is the goal.
James Baldwin