Tag Archives: Sprite

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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Writers write. Period.

Writers write.writing

I’m sure you’ve heard these words. It’s how we explain what we do, our addiction or obsession or compulsion or whatever. It’s how we keep ourselves motivated.

I’ve even used them with Sprite. He told me recently he wants to be a writer when he grows up. But I never see him writing and he doesn’t express an interest in writing now. Most writers I know started as kids. We all have stories of the journals we kept or the stories we wrote in elementary school. I wrote a mystery story set on a cruise ship in middle school and entered poetry contests in high school.

For Sprite, I think it’s a matter of wanting to be like Mom. I can’t imagine why. I don’t exactly make it look glamorous. But who knows? Maybe he’ll catch the writing bug when he’s older.

While I have no trouble accepting myself as a writer, as an author is another matter. I’ve now had six books published, all freelance projects for the educational market, and one in my own name. By definition, an author is someone who writes, but we commonly use the word to mean a published writer.

So why do I find it so hard to accept the title of author?

Maybe because the freelance gigs were just jobs and I haven’t yet published the kinds of things I always dreamed of having published: novels for teens and tweens.

Is it a magic pill? Once I (finally) get a novel traditionally published, will I suddenly feel like an author? How does an author feel that’s different from a writer?

All I can do is continue on my path. To write.

To my published friends, when did you start feeling like an author?

To my pre-published friends, do you think you’ll feel differently once you’ve been published?

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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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Filed under Reading, The rest of my life, writing

A Sprite Update

Since I shared A-Read’s current reading list a few weeks ago, today I’ll update you on my 7-year-old, Sprite.

This has really been his year of reading. He finally got to try some of the books he saw his big brother reading and that he’d been coveting for years.

In the past few months he has read the first 4 (of 5) of the Percy Jackson books by Rick Riordan, and 3 of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books by Jeff Kinney. He currently can’t quite get his nose out of the 2nd Harry Potter book. He’s especially in a rush to finish it since he learned I won’t allow him to watch the movie until he finishes.

Capture-the-Flag cvr

Author Kate Messner visited his school recently and he got an autographed copy of Capture the Flag. He’s very excited to start reading it.

He’s in a wonderful stage of discovery. His reading habits aren’t as set as his brother’s, but he’s actually pickier. If he loves a book, he’ll read it constantly, but if he isn’t very interested, he won’t touch it.

What are some of your favorite books for an ambitious early middle grade reader?

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Inspiration

I came across this letter from E.B. White about why he wrote Charlotte’s Web. (Thanks to Susanna Leonard Hill for sharing this!) spider web for blog

Then RocketMan came home from a camping trip with this picture, which immediately made me think of E.B. White and Charlotte and his little spider friends. And, it’s a gorgeous photo. (Click on it to see a larger version to really appreciate the beauty of the spider web.)

Separately, searching blogs recently for an energy bar recipe made me want to make kale chips in my dehydrator. So I bought a bunch of kale. The next day, Sprite and I went blueberry picking. Then my brother hurt his back and he told me he makes kale, beet, ginger, apple, orange juice every morning, and especially now to help detox his liver from all the meds. So, all of this together inspired me to try a blueberry and kale smoothie. I liked the taste of the smoothie, but I didn’t appreciate all the tiny green bits left in my teeth afterward.

The result of all that inspiration was not as successful as E.B. White’s inspiration. But at least I tried. What if Mr. White became fascinated with spiders and farming and the ethics of killing something you’ve raised and connected with, but didn’t write Charlotte’s Web?

Who cares if your inspiration comes from a gorgeous photo, current events, or some crazy idea that hits you in the shower? If you don’t try writing it, it can never be anything at all. But if you do try, maybe it will become a beloved classic. Or at least a published book you can hold in your hands and feel proud of when you tell your friends and family.

Let the crazy ideas come.

Do the work.

Don’t give up.

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My Littlest Reader

I knew this day would come. I knew someday my younger child would love to read. He spent almost 7 years watching his family read and talk about books. When he started learning to read, I knew it was just a matter of time. But it hit me the other day, when he woke up at 5:30 AM to go to the bathroom and then decided to read instead of going back to sleep, that he had arrived.

He is a reader like the rest of us.

So now, he finally gets his own nickname on this blog: Sprite. I think it captures his cuteness and his sense of wonder.

What book had Sprite reading so early in the morning? Captain Underpants #8. Sigh. Capt Underpants 9 cvr

He also loves the Magic Tree House books, but he stopped at #18 to finish up the Captain Underpants series. Despite my discomfort with the subject matter (I will NEVER understand the intense humor in potty situations), these books have helped him jump three reading levels in a couple of months. And I know that as soon as he finishes book 10, he’ll go back to the Magic Tree House books. He even has the next several already waiting on his bedside table.

In a couple of weeks, I’ll update you on A-Read’s current reading list. In the meantime, what’s your child’s favorite book you love to hate?

(Oh, and Happy Poisson d’avril!)

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Filed under Reading, The rest of my life