Thursday, September 29, 2016

Thursday Thoughts on Fall


 Yes, it's true.  Even though fall started a week ago, it's been hotter now that it was all summer.  I don't expect to put the shorts into seasonal retirement just yet, maybe not till later next month or even November.  

I don't drink coffee so I'm not sure what a pumpkin spice latte tastes like.  Not much for pumpkin pie either.  When I hear the phrase "pumpkin spice," I get reminded of a costume I bought and wore one year that bears that title:
The costume came with the pumpkin wig, the
orange dress and the fake books. I bought the
striped tights to add to it. The wig had a
pumpkin stem.

Most people who saw this didn't know what it was, but someone actually knew it was called 
"Pumpkin Spice." I was surprised by this. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

BiteOber: a Month Long Reading Challenge in October

I will be doing this seasonal reading challenge starting in October.  I plan to read a lot of gothic, horror and other Halloween-themed books as the holiday approaches. Sign up here.

Every year I host Reading Bites, a year long reading challenge. Well this year, I've been neglecting the books on my TBR so have created a month long challenge to help tackle them called BiteOber.

Halloweentime is the perfect time for reading vampire and werewolf books, right? Okay I know anytime is but Halloween seems extra bite-y. (That sounded way better in my head.)

Update: Well it's also great for zombies and killer clowns and all sorts of monsters that bite so I have decided to expand this reading challenge to include a variety of things that go bump in the night.

You can participate in only the October challenge or sign up for both reading challenges. Note the Reading Bites Challenge is vampire and werewolf specific!

All books read for the month long BiteOber challenge may count towards my year long 2016 Reading Bites Reading Challenge!

    The Rules of the BiteOber Reading Challenge: 

    • This challenge begins October 1, 2016 at midnight and ends October 31, 2016 at 11:59 PM. 
    • You may sign up anytime between now and during the challenge. 
    • I won't be creating different levels. Read as little or as many books as you want. 
    • Books should feature vampires, werewolves, zombies, killer clowns, and any other monster as main characters or secondary characters. 
    • You may include books of any format including traditional books, ebooks, or audiobooks. 
    • Books may be YA, adult, horror, romance, etc. 
    • You may reread books. 
    • Books may count towards other reading challenges especially#2016ReadingBites challenge!
    • Use the hashtag #BiteOber 
    • If you could be so kind, please place the BiteOber Challenge banner on your blog to help spread the word. 
    • Please link back to this blog, post about it on Facebook, Tweet about it, and so on to help spread the word.
    • Sign up below using your blog, Goodreads, Twitter, etc. 

    Here is what I am reading:

    How to Write a Children's Book

    How To Write A Children's Book -

    In this post, I talked about possibly writing a YA novel set in the 1980s in a diary format (or partially so).  I started writing notes about two weeks ago and have had a little trouble trying to alternate between journal entries and narration. It's all sounding like a journal, as I attempt to write in the first person. But more about this later.
    How to write a children's book is the topic today on writerslife org.  From the article:

    Children are complex and demanding creatures and to have them wide-eyed and full of wonder you have got to understand what they want. Times are a changin’ and what children are exposed to now is very different to a decade ago, and a decade before that and so on – so what children once found exciting and interesting, they may do no longer.
    I felt like doing something in the 1980s since that is when I grew up. I'm aware kids today are always playing on smartphones (even grownups are always doing so!), but it seems hard to want to write something like this. I often see myself trying to write about life as it was before the current wave of technology.
    If you are writing a children’s novel, there are some things you might want to bear in mind that will hopefully save you time and that pulling-your-hair-out feeling when you begin!
    1.  Don’t be patronizing
    One thing that will not go down with the youth of today is an author who tries to baby them. Think back to when you were a kid. What did you want more than anything? To be a grown-up!
    Talking down to your reader, being too sweet and nice, and explaining things exactly-as-they-happen-in-painful-detail – these will all put your audience off. Children want action and adventure; they want mystery, they want to be challenged, scared, amused and horrified. If in doubt look to the greats – some of Roald Dahl’s characters are genuinely menacing and utterly repellent, yet children squeal and rub their grubby little hands in delight when they hear these stories. Don’t underestimate how smart and tough they are. They can take it.

    2. Be imaginative and compelling

    The great thing about children is that they still believe in magic, they don’t have to ‘suspend their disbelief’ they already believe it! Writing a children’s book gives you an amazing opportunity where you can let your imagination run wild. If you can create wonderful, lovable, exciting characters, they can be just about anything. Think outside the box, create a world where anything can happen. Children still live in a world where people can be who they want to be, and achieve amazing things and overcome impossible obstacles – so make it so with your stories – children will love you for it.
    3. Don’t try too hard
    Do be careful. Children are pretty scary critics and sometimes it’s easy for authors to be so desperate to please they go way overboard. Not every single character has to be utterly unique – by this I mean it’s OK (if you want to) to write about fairies and goblins and wizards and witches and dragons and spells – just think of new and exciting ways of doing so.

    4. Watch the pop culture references
    There is nothing more cringe-worthy than reading a children’s book littered with enthusiastic pop culture references that they think children will relate to. Unless something is totally crucial to your story, it’s always better to leave these out as they make the author sound a little desperate, and they’ll quickly become outdated anyway.
    I will do what I can to follow each of these That last one is basically what I'd said above about current culture and technology. Sometimes the current ways of communication make it seem like there wouldn't be much of a story with people texting rather than talking face-to-face.  Not a lot of action when you can call or text someone to tell them you're running late. Before cell phones, if you were running late to somewhere, others would wonder where you were and you might be worried how they would react when you finally got to where you were going. The technology of today seems to have eliminated this sort of plot device.  This holds true for both kids' and adults' stories.  As someone who grew up in the 1980s, I felt a novel set in this era can teach others what life was like before cell phones and the Internet.  I read the Little House series as a child and learned about life before automobiles, electricity and such, and have read other historical fiction set in similar times.  As such, I see the 80s as a good setting for fiction.

    Tuesday, September 27, 2016

    Banned Books Week

    This being Banned Books Week, I decided to read The Catcher in the Rye, one of the most often banned challenged classics of all time.  I'm participating in the Banned Books Challenge, and this is a good one to put on the list. This also goes well  with the reading challenge I am hosting and doing this year.

    I now find it strange I was never forced to read it in school, but then again my schools may have banned it. It was in the 80s that I was in school--could it have been banned then?

    Cover features a crude drawing of a Carousel horse (pole visible entering the neck and exiting below on the chest) with a city skyline visible in the distance under the hindquarters. The cover is two-toned: everything below the horse is whitish while the horse and everything above it is a reddish orange. The title appears at the top in big dirty yellow letters against the reddish orange background. It is split into two lines after "Catcher". At the bottom in the whitish background are the words "a novel by J. D. Salinger".

    Wednesday, September 21, 2016

    Topical Costumes for 2016?

    I'm sure everyone saw this coming. I spotted these at my local Kmart last weekend:

    I personally like to avoid topical costumes, especially in election years.  It always seems like the election overshadows Halloween. But in my neck of the woods, the topical costumes never seem to happen. In 2009, I did not see one person dressed as Michael Jackson. I half-expected to see someone as Caitlin Jenner last year, but none could be found.  That being said, I now wonder whether to expect to see the following in my town this year:


    Or these:

    This website predicts the above costumes to be among the hottest this year.

    And don't get me started on Pokemon GO...

    Again, I will be avoiding these kinds of costumes.

    Tuesday, September 20, 2016

    I've Come to A Decision...

    Even though I haven't gotten any votes for this one, I decided I will be offering an epistolary reading challenge for next year, along with my returning Literary Loners and my new Memoir Reading Bingo challenges.

    I decided on this since, in 2014, there was a postal reading challenge  I did then. It hasn't been offered since and no comparable challenges have been offered either.  So I decided I wanted to start one for the coming year.  As a result of this decision, I will be closing the poll on my blog.

    In this post, I came up with the idea of a YA novel in diary format, set in the 1980s. This is one category of epistolary writing. Side Note: I began some notes last Sunday night, but haven't done any since--guess I'm having writer's block! But it seems kind of weird trying to start something new when I'm still working on my memoir. But more about this later.

    I've already begun the posts for the first two challenges (both are currently in draft mode) and will begin one for the epistolary one soon.  I hope to get all posts completed by the end of October or beginning of November, since most sign up posts start going up around that time.  I will then add them to this site. Stay tuned.

    Monday, September 19, 2016

    Happy Birthday to Stephanie Faris

    Piper Morgan Joins the Circus (Book 1 of 5)
    Piper Morgan in Charge! (Book 2 of 5)

    Last Wednesday I received my copies of the first two Piper Morgan books by Stephanie Faris, whose birthday is today.  Looks like the timing was good!

    Happy birthday to Stephanie!

    Happy birthday 339