Monthly Archives: September 2010

Banned Books Week 2010

This year, one of my favorite young adult books is under attack: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. A professor in Missouri thinks this well-written book about how a girl deals with sexual assault is pornographic. Click here for details.

That leaves me sad, angered and somewhat speechless. So below are some Banned Books Week resources and articles.

*From the New York Times, some ways to celebrate the week.

*YA author Beth Revis has this to say on the subject.

*Guest blog by Adam Russell Stephens on Shannon Mayer’s blog.

*Ingrid Sundberg shares quotes about censorship and things to do this week.

*YA authors Lisa and Laura Roecker will donate one copy of Speak for every comment on this blog post. They also talk about what this book has meant to them.

I encourage you to read books for yourself to form your own opinion. I encourage you to speak out for what you believe.


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A peek into the Kwizera revision

I normally write on the computer and do most of my revisions on the computer.  But every so often in the process I decide I need a hard copy to read and write on.  During our trip to Austin last month, you may remember, Dear Reader, I had some thoughts for further changes.  I made those changes in the computer and then printed out a hard copy and read it through.  Then something else took my attention – short stories, more on that later – and I took a three-week break from Kwizera.  Last week I read through it again and wrote down more details in certain places, and moved some things around.

Here is what some of the pages look like now:

On the page on the left I decided that a certain plot event happens too soon and that we haven’t seen for ourselves certain character traits mentioned elsewhere.  So I decided to add a new scene and made notes about what should happen in that scene.  The big line shows where I decided to insert the new scene.  In the right corner I circled the number of the page where I think some details can be taken from and put in this new scene.

Here is a close-up of the two pages from the right of the image above:

On the left are my attempts to make the words flow better and for the dialogue to sound less stilted (a criticism I received from an awesome editor at a major publishing house last fall).  I normally am very good at dialogue (unlike description), but the stilting results from me trying to make the dialogue sound like I remember my African colleagues speaking.  However, these characters are rarely speaking English.

On the right is a page of mostly backstory.  If you are a writer, you understand why that page is so marked up.  Backstory is the bane of the novelist.  It’s necessary, but it tends to bog down the narrative, especially if it happens too soon in the story.  So here you can see that big chunks are being taken out (those curlicue marks).  I have found better ways to convey the information I’m taking out – like in action and dialogue.

All that remains now is for me to convert all the handwritten notes likes these onto the computer – a rather slow and tedious process, unfortunately.  That is taking me longer than I thought it would, partially because I’m still working on short stories (but also the tedium is a reason I’m still working on short stories).

Once those notes are converted, I will have a brand spanking new draft of Kwizera to pass around to my beta readers.  Phew!

So there is a peek into my process.  What do you do that’s similar or different?  If you aren’t a writer, did you learn something about me or writing that you’d like to share?  To the comments with you!

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Randomness 2010

In honor of this year’s Random Act of Publicity week, here are some book recommendations from the past few months.

 Powerful tearjerkers:

 Jandy Nelson’s The Sky is Everywhere
Gayle Forman’s If I Stay

I don’t normally choose books that will make me cry.  I’m the same way with movies.  I like to be entertained.  These books made me cry and laugh and root for the main characters, and I couldn’t help but go along for the ride.  Pure awesome.

 Pure fun:

 Sarah Rees Brennan’s The Demon’s Covenant (Book 2 following The Demon’s Lexicon)
Holly Black’s White Cat
Rachel Hawkins’ Hex Hall 

These are all urban fantasies/paranormals with fun and/or sexy characters.  Brennan’s brothers are irresistible, Black’s twist left me breathless and I could feel the humidity of Hawkins’ setting along with the strong and likeable Sophie.

 Other (mostly) contemporary titles:

 Tara Kelly’s Harmonic Feedback
Pam Bachorz’s Candor
John Green’s An Abundance of Katherines
Francisco X. Stork’s The Last Summer of the Death Warriors

 Each of these books had quirky characters I couldn’t help rooting for and would definitely read more about if the authors decide to write sequels.  They cover a wide variety of settings and issues.  Green is one of my heroes, and I can’t wait for more from Bachorz and Kelly.

 My to-read list*:

 Kiersten White’s Paranormalcy
Kody Keplinger’s The DUFF
Garcia and Stohl’s Beautiful Darkness
Jennifer Donnelly’s Revolution
Cheryl Rainfield’s Scars
Tricia Rayburn’s Siren

*These are not yet on my bedside table.  Click Books in the right nav bar to see what currently awaits my attention.

 There is something for everyone on this list.  So pick up a book and enjoy!

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A Tween Experience

This summer we hosted our 12-year-old nephew for two weeks.

He loves to read, too. He arrived with Return of the King, having just read the first two books of the Lord of the Rings trilogy at his grandparents’ house. He quickly moved on to one of the Heir books by Cinda Williams Chima. Then a book I had reserved for him after reading about it in Publisher’s Weekly, X-Isle by Steve Augarde. Then he picked out The Chaos Code by Justin Richards. Then I bought him The Hunger Games (I was shocked he hadn’t already read that).

He liked everything, but especially The Chaos Code and The Hunger Games. In fact, he keeps raving about The Hunger Games (Yippee! Another convert! They are making a movie of this – if you have not already read it, do so now).

But in between those last two books, we hit a wall. I picked various books off the library’s YA shelves. Some he rejected just from the title, others after reading the inside flap. Then we went downstairs to the middle grade section and we had the same problem. He had already read all that he wanted to read (with the exception of The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan which was unfortunately already out).

He would not consider any contemporary fiction. I was shocked at the number of good boy books he is missing out on. He says he only reads contemporary fiction he has to read for school.


Well, we must choose our battles and at least he loves to read. But I couldn’t believe he would rather leave the library empty-handed.

Have you had a similar experience with a reader close to your heart? What did you do?


Filed under Reading, The rest of my life