Friday, September 30, 2016

Decided on One More Challenge for Next Year

As I said in this post, I am choosing to do offer my Literary Loners Reading Challenge again next year and will be doing two new ones: The Memoir Reading Bingo and the Epistolary Reading Challenge. I'd said even earlier that I didn't plan on hosting more than three challenges next tear, but when I was doing research for suggestions, I saw a great deal of memoirs and epistolary novels that fall into the category of humor.  I'd considered doing a humor reading challenge as well, and have come to a decision to do so. I've never seen one offered, so I think I should start one myself. Four challenges might seem like a lot, but there really is not much work involved in hosting a book challenge.

I'm still working on the Loners, Memoir and Epistolary challenge posts and hope to get them up by the end of October at the earliest. I will begin writing the post for the Humor challenge as well. Stay tuned.


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:
    1. The Gates--John Connolly
    2. Vampires of the Lemon Grove--Karen Russell
    3. Eighth Grade Bites--Heather Brewer
    4. Ninth Grade Slays--Heather Brewer
    5. Tenth Grade Bleeds--Heather Brewer
    6. Eleventh Grade Burns--Heather Brewer
    7. Twelfth Grade Kills--Heather Brewer
    8. Thirst No. 2--Christopher Pike
    9. Lenobia's Vow--P.C. Cast
    10. Blood and Chocolate--Annette Curtis Klause
    11. The Graveyard Book--Neil Gaiman
    Challenge completed on October 30

    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

    Friday, September 16, 2016

    Reading Challenge Poll Results So Far

    One week and only two votes so far, both for the Literary Loners challenge.  Looks like I may do this one again, despite how few participants I got for the first year. I am currently working on the Memoir Reading Bingo post, because I know I'm doing that one for sure.  If I feel I can handle hosting more than two challenges next year, I may offer either an epistolary or a humor one, despite not getting any votes for either of these as of yet. I've gotten into reading both of these formats and am attempting to write a YA story set in the 1980s in diary format. Many diary novels fall into the humor category. Those who have hosted challenges in the past, how many have you been able to handle hosting per year?

    Click here or go to the sidebar to vote if you haven't already done so. Voting will be open till October 1.  I have closed the poll as of 9/20. See this post for more details.

    Thursday, September 15, 2016

    Quiz: The Doodle Test

    I have to say I agree with most of this result.

    You Are Having an Exciting Day
    You are creative and easily inspired. You see so much eye candy in the world around you.

    You are thoughtful and reflective. It's likely that you're taking stock of your life right now.

    It's likely you're feeling over scrutinized and watched these days. You could do with a little space.

    You are quiet and reserved. You feel most at ease when you are able to keep to yourself.

    Sunday, September 11, 2016

    Tragedy in 2001: 15 Years Later

    It's been 15 years since 9/11. Many of us will remember what we were doing when the news broke out  about the bombing.
    Image result for 9/11 never forget

    One chapter in my memoir is titled "Tragedy in 2001," telling what I was doing in the months and days just before the attacks.  Here is a synopsis.  I was working at a restaurant under a new boss who began that summer after the previous owners sold the place.  The new boss was indeed a horrible boss, yelling at everyone, including his wife and their son. Work was now more like a prison camp, and it just got worse as the summer went on. Fortunately, I was able to get off for two different cousins's weddings, one in July and one in September. I ended up getting fired just before the second wedding; the horrible last day was the Sunday before Labor Day 2001. In the days that followed, I went looking for another job, to see movies and then to the wedding, which was just three days before the bombings.

    On the day of the bombings, after trying to keep up with the news on TV, I needed to be out and was I ever glad I made that decision. I saw that the Dollar Tree was opening in my town, so I went by to pick up an application and was immediately hired.

    What were you doing that day?

    Friday, September 9, 2016

    Poll: Reading Challenges for 2017

    It's already September, meaning there are only three more months left in the year.  For those who participate in the various annual reading challenges, you can expect to see the sign ups for next year in the coming months. With that in mind, I have already decided to do a memoir reading challenge in a bingo format. I will be working in the post in the coming months.  This year I hosted my first challenge, Literary Loners, and am trying to decide if I want to offer it again, based on the small number of participants I received. I also realized I've read a lot of humorous books and have wondered why there hasn't been a challenge for that one It sounds like it would be a good one to have.  I feel that if I don't see one offered, I could start one myself.  How about one for epistolary reading--books written in formats of letters, blogs, e-mails, and  such?

    I decided to make a poll to see what challenges readers would like to see offered on my blog next year. I'm already certain about doing the memoir one, since I have been reading a lot of memoirs and am working on my one of my own. I've been brainstorming categories to put in the bingo grid and am planning on using one of the templates on this site. I've already decided on these and have my post in draft mode. I only plan on hosting up to three challenges, so I will choose whichever ones get the most votes. Please choose up to two.    I have removed the poll as of 9/20. See this post for more details.  

    Wednesday, September 7, 2016

    R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril XI

    This will be my first time participating in this seasonal reading challenge. I'd seen it on others' blogs for years now and now I want to give it a go.  I know I'll be reading some appropriate books and will have enough to get four for the first level.  It runs through September and October. Click the link above to sign up and see more details.


    (Much thanks to Hugo Award winning artist Abigail Larson for the use of her art)

    To be up front, there will be no thumb-pricking here.
    After all, one might get blood on one’s books!
    Well, the year has gone and done it again. Winter gave way to Spring, Summer came blazing in, and here before we know it Autumn will officially take the reins. Every year when September arrives I feel a lightening in my spirit, knowing that the constricting heat and humidity of the Midwest summer will soon give way to my favorite season of the year.
    Orange will become a predominant color, and pumpkin-flavoring will invade every drink and dessert that we love to imbibe.
    Speaking of imbibing, eleven years ago I embarked on a quest to bring a community of readers together to enjoy the literature most associated with the darkening days and cooling temperatures of Autumn:
    Dark Fantasy
    I wanted to be able to use the well-worn graveyard acronym, R.I.P., so I came up with the name “R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril’. And for over a decade that is what we have done, imbibed together.
    For the 10th anniversary I took a break and the hosting duties were fulfilled (quite wonderfully) by the team over at The Estella Society. I am so grateful to them for so doing, I truly needed the rest.
    But I am back for year eleven and it is time to embrace the delicious thrill of things that go bump in the night, to figure out if the butler actually did do it, to cover our eyes during the scary bits and to conquer our fears together.
    Welcome to R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril XI.
    Many of you are probably frequent participants in this event, but for those who are new, or returning after an absence, I grew up reading scary stories illustrated by the incomparableEdward Gorey, watching horror films starring Vincent Price, and generally discovering the literary wonder of authors like Bram Stoker and Edgar Allan Poe. I did go through a brief high school, early-20’s phase where the overly gorey films like Nightmare on Elm Street were my fancy, and while I do not look down on anyone who continues to embrace that kind of entertainment, my first love when it comes to those lengthening Autumn nights are stories in the gothic vein, classic and modern mysteries, and the kind of atmospheric stories, in any format, that give you chills up your spine and make you want to pull the covers up tight.
    It is in that spirit that this event began.
    Reading and watching television are solitary activities, but can be expanded to a community if you get together to share what is exciting your interest and to discuss like passions. That is the entire point of R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril.
    R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril XI takes place from September 1st, 2016 through October 31st, 2016.
    There are only two expectations if you want to participate with us:
    1. Have fun reading (and watching*).
    2. Share that fun with others.
    Read four books, of any length, from the very broad categories earlier defined as perilous. They could all be by the same author, a series of books, a random mix of classic and contemporary or whatever you like.
    Here is what I am reading:
    1. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children--Ransom Riggs
    2. The Infinite Sea--Rick Yancey
    3. The Last Star--Rick Yancey
    4. All the Lovely Bad Ones--Mary Downing Hahn
    5. Old Black Witch!--Wende and Harry Devlin
    6. The Gates--John Connelly
    7. Vampires in the Lemon Grove--Karen Russell
    8. The Ghost Bride--Yangsze Choo
    9. The Third Witch--Rebecca Reisert
    10. Eighth Grade Bites--Heather Brewer
    11. Ninth Grade Slays--Heather Brewer
    12. Tenth Grade Bleeds--Heather Brewer
    13. The Night Before Halloween--Natasha Wing
    14. Eleventh Grade Burns--Heather Brewer
    15. Twelfth Grade Kills--Heather Brewer
    16. Anya's Ghost--Vera Brogsol
    17. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer--Michelle Hodkin
    18. It Takes a Witch--Heather Blake
    19. Thirst No. 2--Christopher Pike
    20. Lenobia's Vow--P.C. Cast
    21. An Uninvited Ghost--E.J. Copperman
    22. Blood and Chocolate--Annette Curtis Klause
    23. Five Black Cats--Patricia Hegarty
    24. The Graveyard Book--Neil Gaiman
    Challenge completed on October 30