Monday, June 19, 2017

Writers Block


This is a topic I've run into on my last two WIPs.  In fact, after months of fretting, I finally slapped an ending on one and moved onto the next project.  Yet again I'm faced with how to end the next book.  I've searched and searched for ways of dealing with it and came up with something new I'm going to try.  In www.whynottedit.com/writers-block, I stumbled upon a really fun suggestion.  When stuck writing, I usually skip to the next part,
but since I'm now at the end, I can't do that, but I can use a random sentence generator to get some ideas flowing again.  So that's my helpful tip for the day.  Try out some of plot and sentence generators to help reboot your writing. You may not use the finish product, but it gets you back on track.

Monday, June 12, 2017

YA Book Pick: THE GIRL I USED TO BE

Once a month, we choose an outstanding YA book to review. We want to spotlight books of interest to aspiring writers, as well as highlight some of our favorite books and authors!
This month's Book Pick is THE GIRL I USED TO BE by April Henry.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
When Olivia's mother was killed, everyone suspected her father of murder. But his whereabouts remained a mystery. Fast forward fourteen years. New evidence now proves Olivia's father was actually murdered on the same fateful day her mother died. That means there's a killer still at large. It's up to Olivia to uncover who that may be. But can she do that before the killer tracks her down first?

First Line: "The only sound I can hear is my own panicked breathing."

From just this line, you know that this is going to be a suspenseful book and the main character is going to find herself in some kind of horrible danger. 

I don't always love the technique of starting off with a scene from later in the book and then flashing back, but it's done really well here, with just enough details to make the reader curious.

Highlights: Ms. Henry is local to me and was a faculty member at an SCBWI workshop I attended last weekend, so I picked up several of her books before the event. She is a master of page-turning suspense and cliffhanger chapter endings. I thought I'd guessed who the murderer was—but I was wrong, which always makes me happier than when I'm right!

I enjoyed the law enforcement details of this book and several others I read, so it made sense when the author talked at the workshop about her meticulous research into these areas. She goes out of her way to speak with experts, try out weapons and methods of escape, and take classes relating to her writing.

A Good Read For: Ms. Henry has written many stand-alone books and several series, but I think this one is an excellent introduction to her work for someone who wants to see how to do life-in-danger suspense and mystery for YA.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Which Country Is the Most Literate?

Most writers love reading. So a statistic like "27% of US adults didn't read a single book in the last 12 months" can be really disheartening. This recent Writer's Digest infographic includes this and many more literacy statistics—including the fact that the US is only the 7th most literate country in the world.

What can authors do to improve literacy? Well, the obvious answer is to write a book that everyone wants to read. How many people have you met who said they didn't read after they were done with school, but then they picked up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, or Twilight, or The Da Vinci Code, and that got them reading again?

Another answer is to remove any judgement associated with reading "fun books," or "books for kids."   I'll never forget a conversation I had with one of my husband's college friends. He told me he used to love to read, and we bonded over our mutual love of Patricia Wrede's Enchanted Forest Chronicles. Unfortunately, he graduated college with the idea that the only acceptable books were weighty, impressive books of the type he studied in classes. The result was that he'd read only a handful of books in the ten years since.

I find this is incredibly sad. Everyone should be able to read whatever they enjoy, whether that's the Harry Potter series, category romance novels, or the classics (there have to be people out there who actually enjoy the classics, right?). Reading has been proven to improve quality of life. Let's let people read whatever makes them happy.