Unwritten, by Tara Gilboy, is a fun-paced middle grade novel, whose premise is unique and catching. The plot of characters taken out of a story was a fresh concept, and the complexity of the characters made them feel real. While I loved this book, there are some ideas that need to be handled carefully when recommending this book to children. Some of the themes, such as why the "author" wrote the story and whom she modeled Gracie after could affect students the wrong way, especially if they are going through difficult times at home. Gracie wasn't my most favorite character and I wished her story arc would've been spread evenly over the course of the story. It felt rushed, like she lingered on her old self too long. Gertrude was the most interesting to me, and her motives would be tougher for a younger audience to fully understand, as an adult I know the complexity behind her emotions and feelings. Overall, it was a fun read though a bit dark and serious.
Del Toro Moon is an action-packed story full of creey skinners (creatures resembling "a bloodied, fresh-skinned carcass") and family relationships. Matt was someone kids (and adults) can identify with- he wants his father and brother to take him seriously and despite being a green hunter, he really wants to show he's a good fighter-- especially when his father is legendary. The sibling relationship is very relatable and believable. I mean, an sibling who teases you ruthlessly and gets on your last nerve, totally realistic. I also love the father-son relationship here, one full of understanding, love and support.
And one of my favorite parts was the Andalusian war horses who can also talk. Their personalities are to die for and only strengthened the story.
Del Toro Moon was a quickly-paced and entertaining read, very much a coming-of-age story. I would recommend it for young readers who enjoy mythology- and legend-based fantasy.
OK, so I kinda low-key want to disappear, IYKWIM? Like, IDEK, I’m so tired I just want to curl up and. Go. To. Sleep. See that picture of a cut down tree? Me. #nope
Do you understand this language? If you do, then there is a good chance that you are either under the age of twenty five, or that you know people of that age. As writers, such syntax and abuse of punctuation can make one want to punch a wall. Repeatedly. Whilst I can sympathize with this outlook, as a young person, my heart lies with the art that lies behind these words. It is a peculiar and difficult tongue, relying heavily on imagery and abbreviation to convey the speaker’s original thought. Nonetheless, it is important that people learn to accept it.
Since the dawn of time there have been arguments and misunderstandings between different generations of humans. This has been happening for as long as there have been young people, Socrates once famously saying that:
“The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise.”
The same is still true today, though it can seem more evident with the internet forcing the groups to clash as they attempt to use the same spaces. Problems only arise when one group insists that another is [insert your choice of pejorative term here], which divides the people who read it according to age. Many older people like to poke fun at the younger generations, which is understandable, as we have many facets to poke fun at. We take selfies, we follow strange and unusual make up trends, and we speak or write differently to people who were not raised with the internet.
But is it a case of just being different, or better?
As young people grow older, we are beginning to have a real impact on the English language. Terms that started as youthful slang are being carried on by older people who originally used them as teenagers. Whilst it is widely degraded as the death of traditional language, it could just be the case of an evolution of sorts. Language used to be a constantly evolving medium, with words shifting and disappearing at a steady rate. It can be said that with the arrival of the internet, this process was sent into hyperdrive. At this moment, anyone reading this could instantly send a message to someone living on the other side of the world, even someone in space! With such a change in context of what is being written, it follows that naturally the language should grow to accommodate it. That just makes it different. Just as no one is saying that modern English is better than Old English, so we should accept the never-ending development of our language.
This new linguistic branch is incredibly exciting, as it is more sophisticated than it looks. Taking the phrase from earlier ‘OK, so I kinda low-key want to disappear, IYKWIM? Like, IDEK, I’m so tired I just want to curl up and. Go. To. Sleep. See that picture of a cut down tree? Me. #nope ‘, we can infer a lot of information through the word choice and literary devices used. In these four sentences, there is an example of analogy, quantification, and acronym. The fact that millions of teenagers and young people are using these complex literary devices as fluently as they speak is nothing short of remarkable. No one has ever been formally taught to determine the use of the terms IDK or LOL, they have just been accepted into modern culture.
Similarly, different meanings can be interpreted through the punctuation and phrasing. Whilst having the same basic definition, there is a great difference between the terms:
And this is absolutely fascinating, frustrating as it must be to non-native speakers. It is incredible how the capitalization and punctuation of a simple word can denote so many emotions, whilst no description or context is added. In this way, we should be embracing changes to our informal language, because it is not reducing the sophistication of our speech. There will always be tensions between different groups of people, but if we accept that different does not mean better, then maybe we can all begin to embrace the absurdity and complexity of our shared tongue.
I am super excited for Pitchwars. This will be my fourth year doing it (umm, addicted). This is such a great community with so much to offer. And I love meeting new people, like Judi Lauren, who is absolutely amazing and you need to sub her!!
I'm going in this year with a manuscript that straddles the contemporary fantasy/paranormal line and also the thriller/mystery line that is based on Japanese Folklore. My MC is Kitsune in human form, my antagonist is the god of thunder's wolf companion, and my secondary characters are humans from Afton, Minnesota. Ok, ok, and the love interest is based of off....
So now about me
I am from the great state of New York. I am a high school teacher who works at one of NYC's suspension schools so I get to meet a lot of interesting youth with stories to tell. I also have a 13 year old who is now 5'9 and does a lot of this...
Therefore, I travel a lot but is it so much fun to watch him play. Also, one of the biggest rules I live by is to experience life and to experience the things I am going to write about as best as I can (and if I can't find someone who has and ask their advice). On that note I have: trained in Kali, Muy Thai, Krav Maga, took flight lessons (plane ), shot guns, took archery lessons, ride ATVs, skate, snowboard, horseback ride, scuba dive, do trapeze, play volleyball, roller blade, was a vet tech, trained dogs, and much more. Hey, it's called Groupon... you can try anything once.
Most Sundays I spend my time out in the woods doing this such as building a lean to, map and compass work, and training K-9s. Why you ask? I'm a Search and Rescue Technician and K-9 Handler. My pit, yes that's right a pit, is an area search K-9, while my newest little one, Drogon (yes, you GOT fans...his breeder is a big fan too) is training in HR.
So here are ten more facts about me:
1- I am a huge gamer (Xbox) and am a total HALO.
2- I love dogs- fostered them, trained them, cant get enough of them but currently dont own one.
3- I am terrified of being home alone at night and will sleep at my mother's house when my husband travels for work. Thankfully, that's not often.
4- My favorite baddy is Crowley... well he's just my favorite everything!!
5- I own a Kawasaki 250
6- Favorite shows: Last Ship, Devious Maids, Grey's Anatomy, Scrubs, Rescue Me, Rules of Engagement, Family Guy, Archer, and Impractical Jokers
7- I'm a gym freak. I spend 2-3 hrs 5-6 days a week working out. I'm a work in progress.
8- My heroes are Ashley Horner and Wade Wilson (hehe, Deadpool for those who didn't recognize the name).
9- I am a huge fan of Rebecca Yarros and Brighton Walsh
10- I secretly love Lip Sync Battle. I mean John Krasinki, Channing Tatum, and Jenna Tatum!!! Hello.
One last thing: Thank you @BrendaDrake for this amazing contest and community. Thank you to all the mentors who give their time to not only mentor once the contest begins but for all the answers and help you give us to prepare. You are truly amazing people.
See ya!! Braaap!!
I am deciding to start the week off with a delicious goody.
YIELD: 24 cupcakes
INGREDIENTS:FOR THE CUPCAKES1 (18.25 ounce) package devil's food cake mix
1 (5.9 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup sour cream
1 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon instant espresso granules
1/2 cup warm water
FOR THE FROSTING3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
pinch of fine grain sea salt
1 tablespoon clear vanilla extract
2 pounds confectioners’ sugar, sifted
4-6 tablespoons heavy cream or milk
DIRECTIONS:FOR THE CUPCAKES
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tin with paper liners or spray with non-stick cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the cake and pudding mixes, sour cream, oil, beaten eggs, and vanilla. In a small bowl, combine instant espresso granules and warm water, stirring until dissolved. Add espresso mixture to the cake batter and stir until fully incorporated.
3. Using a large cookie scoop, distribute the batter between 24 muffin wells; about 3 tablespoons of batter per well.
4. Measure .4 ounce balls of cookie dough (about 1 teaspoon) and drop a ball of dough into each cupcake. Be sure to use a spoon to completely cover the dough ball with batter.
5. Bake in preheated oven for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick entered into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
6. Remove cupcakes from muffin tins and allow to fully cool on a wire rack. Once cupcakes are cool, prepare your frosting.
FOR THE FROSTING
1. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter until fluffy. Slowly add in confectioner’s sugar, and continue creaming until well blended.
2. Add salt, vanilla, and 3 tablespoons of heavy cream or milk. Blend on low speed until moistened. Add an additional 1 to 3 tablespoons of heavy cream or milk until you reach the desired consistency. Beat at high speed until frosting is smooth and fluffy.
FOR THE GARNISH
1. Garnish your cupcakes with mini semi-sweet chocolate chips and a mini chocolate chip cookie.
2. To make the mini cookies, I simply measured out 24 .4 ounce (about 1 teaspoon) balls of dough and baked them according to package directions (about 8-10 minutes). Allow mini cookies to cool completely before adding them to the cupcakes.
- If you are choosing to garnish your cupcakes, make sure you do this immediately after you frost your cupcakes. Once the top layer of the buttercream hardens, nothing will stick to the frosting.
- If you do not have instant espresso powder, you can simply omit it from the recipe. You can typically find this product in the coffee aisle of most supermarkets.
Sandra Brown (since we’re talking about New York Times #1 bestselling authors) spoke about how much social media work she had to do, and how it challenged her schedule. Even someone whose publisher doesn’t exactly skimp on her publicity and marketing budget can’t dedicate herself solely to the writing.
I’m relieved to find that I’m not the only author who has to balance writing, marketing, and publishing—and manage the business end of it.
But what’s the secret to that balance?
LISTS! Make to-do lists every day and put tasks in priority order.
If you’re like most writers, you’ll probably notice that your to-do list is formidable and overwhelming. We’re all given the same 24 hours a day, and somehow have to find a way to manage it. Here are a few principles I’ve found helpful:
If you don’t succeed today, tomorrow’s another day.
“This media we call social is anything but, when we open our computers and it’s our doors we shut”… This is one of the most vital messages that everyone needs to hear.
Look Up is a spoken word for the “online” generation. Written, performed and directed by Gary Turk, it is an extremely important life lesson . Children are growing up in a world where they don’t play outside or communicate with their friends. It seems today everything is done via text message or over the internet. It’s heartbreaking… I feel guilty myself.
This is why email marketing is still King or Queen if you will IMO! While many efforts are put on having 'likes' on Facebook - unless you advertise with them only 6%. Only SIX PERCENT of your fans are now seeing any of posts on your Business pages (unless of course you are advertising). We all love social media - but this is a reality that has been a long time coming. This is great to know as an author in our times where we are responsible for self promoting as well. Save your energy and focus on other forms of social media like Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube, and your blog.
For those of you who do FB advertising, this is worth a look. I found it interesting and disturbing at the same time. I've been a long-time FB advertiser, and when I was initially launching my business, I gained some good exposure from FB ads. Since then, FB has become much less user-friendly for the small business owner. However, the premise has always been that if you pay, you can still get good engagement and grow your visibility with legit prospects. This offers a different spin on things...
A teachable moment, in education, is an unplanned opportunity that arises in the classroom where a teacher has an ideal chance to offer insight to his or her students. A teachable moment is not something that you can plan for; rather, it is a fleeting opportunity that must be sensed and seized by the teacher. Often it will require a brief digression that temporarily sidetracks the original lesson plan so that the teacher can explain a concept that has inadvertently captured the students' collective interest. It is a concept you are taught when you become a teacher. But it is one that sometimes many of us overlook in our everyday lives. As an aspiring writer I was fortunate to find a teachable moment in handling rejection when I received a rejection letter about one of my manuscripts the same time my son found out he was cut from a hockey team he desperately wanted to play on. This year I used that one teachable moment to teach my son a more in depth lesson about handling.
As a mom of an athletic child I am all too familiar with the stresses of tryouts, especially at upper level tiers. Tryouts can be brutal on the nerves of children and parents. The anxiety felt while waiting for a callback, or the depression when your child finds out they didn’t make a team can be overwhelming. As a parent you feel awful for your child. I know. I have experienced all of this with my own son who plays travel hockey. But there is nothing that can be done about it except to try to teach your kids to move on, to use this rejection as a way to improve for the following year. But many parents today don’t do that. Instead, they yell at coaches in front of the kids. They buy their way onto teams. Some of them teach their kids to quit altogether. And there are still other parents who will convince their kids to play on teams at lower levels so their kid will be the big fish in the little pond, never allowing the child to challenge themselves.
I sat down and thought about what I go through as an aspiring writer and the teachable moment I was able to have with my son in the past using my writing. This time I wanted to build on that, teaching him that rejections don’t mean you aren’t good enough. They are only obstacles to overcome.
Looking at the upcoming tryout season, I knew my son was going to be trying out for a triple A travel hockey team. It would be a hard team for him to make because I knew he was a bubble player. There were skills he needed to work on but others he excelled at. I knew this could be a huge disappointment for him so I decided to parallel this experience with a book manuscript I was writing.
Fortunately, the parallel between writing and playing sports was an easy one for me to create and one that he would be able to understand. Being an aspiring writer is just like trying out for a team. You work to create a story. Your story is critiqued and then you edit. And edit. And edit some more. Sometimes feeling that you will never get it right, no matter how hard you try. Critiquing and editing a manuscript is just like practicing for a sport. More time is spent on practicing then actual game play in any sport. You practice as a team. You practice on your own. If you are lucky you even practice with a private coach. For my son he spent roughly fifteen hours a week practicing and three hours a week playing actual games.
I created two charts for our home- one for my book and one for my son's hockey. Editing on my part is equal to practicing on his part. Classes and workshops for writing are equal to hockey clinics and camps. I wanted to demonstrate how much work needed to be put into being successful. These charts helped create a comparison for my son to understand the work I put into a single manuscript, even a 407 word picture book, to the work he was putting in for hockey.
But the teachable moment, that big life lesson, is what came next. As most writers do, we keep track of all those agents and publishing houses we submit our stories to. I posted my list on my refrigerator prior to the team tryout. When I started to receive rejections from agents and publishing houses I showed the letters to my son. Sometimes, I even let him open the letters first. Then we marked them on the spreadsheet found on the refrigerator. My list of rejections grew longer and longer. Although, it was upsetting I kept working on my manuscript and continued to query new agents.
As hockey team tryouts came and went so did the list of kids who made the team. This was the moment I had been preparing for. Although, I had hoped it would go in my son’s favor unfortunately, my son’s name wasn’t on the roster. The disappointment led to tears being shed. But the tears only lasted for a couple of minutes. Soon enough I heard the all-to-familiar clang of the pucks hitting the metal bars of the net in my basement. I ventured downstairs after some time had passed to inquire how he was feeling. When I asked if he was angry he said, "No, I am "editing". It's only one rejection. There are many more teams out there."
As writers we have a unique way to show our kids, grandkids, and those around us that rejection is just an obstacle to overcome. After all, rejection letters are just part of becoming a writer, a lesson that is hardly taught to others. So I implore you to share your rejections with those around you and be their role models, demonstrating how we as writers are taught to deal with rejections and use them to become better writers.