Tag Archives: A-Read

When Book Love Isn’t Shared

Last year I listened to Jonathan Stroud’s The Screaming Staircase, the first book in the Lockwood & Co. series. And I loved it. I went on and on about it to my kids.

A-Read said I’d brought it home from the library months earlier and he hadn’t gotten past the fifth or so chapter. “What?! How is that possible? Where were you in the story?” screaming staircase

He explained and I understood. It started off strong with an adventurous case but then backed up to explain how the main character, Lucy, ended up with Lockwood and George. I’d enjoyed the beginning enough that I was invested and didn’t mind the backstory (which included action). But A-Read wasn’t engaged enough. He put it down and never picked it up again. And despite my ebullient assurances that the narrative goes back to plenty of action, he just wouldn’t give it another try.

Two months ago, I brought it home from the library again, this time for Sprite. And I borrowed book 2 for myself. I just returned The Screaming Staircase to the library last week. He’d only read 43 pages. Like his brother, he’d put it down and never picked it up again. He just kept finding other books he wanted to read more. He didn’t even make it to the backstory section.

“You’re still in the scene where they’re dealing with the ghost?! And you stopped reading?!”

Yup.

One of the boys tried to tell me that he just has different taste from me. But no, with these kinds of books, we usually have similar taste.

So how is it possible that I can love these books sooooo much and they don’t? Honestly, I don’t get it.

But I guess this is related to why and how some books can be so popular while others, perhaps just as well-written and tightly-plotted, aren’t. Why it can be so hard for some books to stand out of the pack, for some manuscripts to break out of the slush.

Somehow, I have no problem accepting that my manuscripts aren’t for everyone. But I can’t accept that my children don’t even like a book I love.

Weird, huh? (Them, I mean. LOL!)

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Finally! My New Year Post!

Another year has come and gone. Another year filled with reading and writing (and work and family).

2015 saw more freelance work, and a friend and I chose to concentrate on characterization. We read books about character and studied new and old characters to see if we could figure some things out that would help us in our own writing.

My not-so-little-anymore readers have continued to be great readers. Sprite has been devouring anything written by Stuart Gibbs. A-Read finished The Hunger Games trilogy and is now obsessed with Rick Yancey’s new series which started with The Fifth Wave (and he and RocketMan saw the movie last night).

I’m looking forward to some changes in 2016. More writing opportunities. Maybe a change at work (shh). And, of course, lots more reading.

What’s on your plate for this new year?

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Welcome to 2015!

How did it get to be the end of March already?! And now, where do I start?

My day job has been crazy since late summer. I look forward to when things will slow down, but that never seems to happen.

My boys are growing and reading and changing. A-Read is currently reading our signed copy of Jasper Fforde’s The Last Dragonslayer. Sprout is reading The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan.

Two freelance projects came out in the fall and 2 more are due in the next six weeks. Me with my first published book!

Audiobooks have continued to save my sanity, but I’ve taken a break this month to participate in a 30 Day French Immersion Challenge at work. Now I spend my commute listening to podcasts in French.

I have been writing. A middle grade manuscript is steeping and I’m revising a young adult manuscript.

And I have been reading. A friend and I are concentrating on characterization this year, so I’ve been analyzing YA novels and reading writing books that focus on character.

Okay, friends, what’s new with you in this new year (that’s not so new anymore – oops)?

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Filed under Getting Published, Reading, The rest of my life, writing

An A-Read Dilemma

My big project at work is done and I’m finally back. It was awesome and I learned so much from the experience. I’m only not giving details to protect the privacy of my school and my students.

I have a long history of suggesting books I know A-Read will love and being right. So when I couldn’t get him past page 7 of another recommendation recently, I was devastated.

Based on my suggestion, he loved When You Reach Me, the Fablehaven series, The Graveyard Book, and countless others. So I handed him a fantasy full of adventure, mystery, and myths that I had just finished, convinced he’d love it as much as I did.

But…the day after he started the book, he received two other books for his birthday. A Minecraft fictionalization and the next book in a series he’s been wanting to read for a while but wasn’t available at our library (and we hadn’t yet gotten around to looking for it at our local indie). Despite how much I know he’ll love this book, it couldn’t compete.

Now, I have a rule about what books I read when. I always read library books before books I own because there’s a deadline involved. But I’m an adult who can rationalize and mostly do what’s right no matter how great the temptation. Apparently A-Read hasn’t matured to that point yet. He is only 11.

So, one night I went into his room to say goodnight and found him reading…the WRONG book.

Voice of Reason: That other book has to go back to the library soon.

A-Read: I didn’t really like it.

Voice of Rea–: What?! Why not?! How could you not like it?!

A-Read:

I discover he’s only on page 7.

Voice of Reason: You didn’t give it much of a chance.

A-Read: (shrugs) I just couldn’t get into it. Sorry.

I gave in. Of course. I can’t force him to read it. Even though a small part of me wanted to. I had no trouble being hooked by page 7. Again, I’m an adult. Big sigh. Instead, I told him maybe he wasn’t ready for it and we could try again in a year. (The main character was 13 and some of the action was pretty grown-up.) He looked relieved.

Now, I didn’t write this book I tried pushing on him. However, I loved it and just knew he would too. So I took his rejection personally.

Do you get that way over book recommendations? Do you feel rejected on behalf of the book if the person you’ve suggested it to won’t read it?

On the other side, Sprout never reads anything I suggest unless he already knows the book from his brother or his friends and has already decided to read it. He doesn’t let me influence him at all. I guess I take that a little personally, too.

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Connections? Or hard work?

First, you need to go read this post by Rick Riordan. I’ll wait while you do.

La di dah di dum dum doooo.

Okay?

His post resonated with me. It took him 17 years to get published and it all depended on his craft. I especially liked the part about those who doubt themselves and are always trying to improve are most likely to.

And talk about timing! I happen to be reading one of his books right now. A-Read insisted I read The Lost Hero, first in the Heroes of Olympus series. I very much enjoyed the Percy Jackson books, so I figured, why not? And I must say, I’m having trouble putting this book down. From the first page, he had me hooked.

Riordan claims not to have any magic, but he does. And maybe someday I will, too. I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing: reading and writing. Maybe someday I’ll write something publishable. And readable.

And I don’t know. I guess it’s human nature that misery loves company. It makes me feel a little better that Rick Riordan says writing is hard and that he has banged his head against the walls of publishing. It’s nice to know that someone so successful didn’t get there overnight. He really worked at it.

Thank goodness I like my job and am not looking for writing to replace my income stream. I just want to write. If it makes me some money, then great, but I just want to share my stories with people who want to read them.

It’s nice to know that it really isn’t about who you know. It’s about working. Working at my writing. That I can do.

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MG Lessons

I’ve been reading a lot of middle grade lately. Mostly books I bought for A-Read, but then decided to read, too. It’s fun having our own little book club.

Recently we read:

Rick Riordan’s The Red Pyramid
Sarwat Chadda’s The Savage Fortress
Gennifer Choldenko’s No Passengers Beyond This Point

From these books I’ve learned a number of lessons. Among them:

  • How to depict a sibling relationship; the fights, the responsibilities, the joys.
  • Main characters must have a tangible goal.
  • The most unbelievable things can happen in a book, as long as you make the reader believe.
  • Road trips (or plane trips) don’t have to be boring.
  • I prefer a more subtle type of bad guy.
  • Talking directly to the reader can help build tension. (But it can also pull the reader out of the narrative.)
  • Quirky characters are fun to read.
  • Give the reader something unexpected.

What writing lessons have you learned lately?

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A-Read Update

So now that Sprite is a regular reader (currently working on the 10th Captain Underpants), it’s time for an update on A-Read (almost 10 years old). Here’s a list of his recent reads:

The BFG, Roald Dahl
The Fellowship of the Ring (Lord of the Rings, Book 1), J.R.R. Tolkien
Bomb: The Race to Build – and Steal – the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon, Steve Sheinkin
The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, J.K. Rowling

Next on his shelf:

The Last Musketeer, Stuart Gibbs
The Shadows (The Books of Elsewhere, Book 1), Jacqueline West

So as usual, he’s into fantasy (with a brief foray into non-fiction). But within that broad genre, he’s into a little bit of everything.

What’s on your shelf?

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