Monday, March 30, 2015

Quote of the Day

"Writers: Apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master."  ~Ernest Hemingway

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Amy's Review of The Quantum Deception by Denver Acey and GIVEAWAY!!

The Quantum Deception by Denver Acey
Book Summary/Teaser:
What starts out as a calm night in Salt Lake City turns into chaos when a passenger plane crashes into the mountains. When reformed cyber hacker Tanner Stone links the accident to an ingenious Chinese computer virus, it s up to him to prevent it from destroying the financial data of everyone in America! Thrilling, explosive, and packed with twists, this book changes everything you know about Internet security. - Book was originally titled "The Utah Code Breaker".

Genre: LDS Fiction
Content: Some violence
Publisher: Cedar Fort, Inc.
Release date: March 10, 2015
Number of pages: 288

 My Opinion:
I loved it!  It was exciting and interesting from the very beginning.  I love that the NSA team has to think through the different problems and work to find solutions using extremely high tech equipment.  I think I liked it even better than the prequel - The Quantum Breach, although I think both books could easily be turned into movies.  I love that these books are exciting and dangerous while staying clean and appropriate for all audiences.  You can tell that the author has a lot of knowledge on these subjects and it makes the books even more interesting to understand the process of things.  But remind yourself, it is FICTION or else you might become a little paranoid that they are watching you.....
Rating: *****
Learn more about the author here
Did I mention GIVEAWAY? Well, here it is!
  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Children's Choice Book Awards 2014 Grades K-2

This award isn't like the Caldecott or Newbery awards. Children, parents, and teachers get to vote for their favorites. It's the Children's Choice Book Awards for 2014.

The Stubby Pencil Reviews
 the 2014 winners for grades K-2
We used the Public Library for these reviews but I ended up buying some of them. We were not compensated in any way for these reviews.
Bear and Bee
written and illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier

The illustrations are simple yet amusing. I found myself laughing out loud as I turned the pages. In this book, Bear learns to judge events based on his own experiences and not his assumptions.

Chamelia and the New Kid in Class
by Ethan Long

This book teaches kids how to improve upon jealous feelings. It shows a good alternative to anger and frustration via Chameila's example. The illustrations are fun shapes and collage type art.

Alphabet Trucks
by Samantha R. Vamos, illustrated by Ryan O'Rourke


A truck for every letter of the alphabet! And it rhymes. I think little boys and even little girls would love this book. Not only will kids learn the alphabet, but they will learn about different types of trucks.  The illustrations are charming--they remind me a little of the style in Curious George books.

I bought a couple of copies for my grandsons. That's the hazard when you're a book-reviewing grandma.

Mustache Baby
by Bridget Heos, illustrated by Joy Ang

First of all, the illustrations are stinking cute with laugh-out-loudable details. Every page busted me up.

The story is unique and quirky with hilarious consequences and it has a surprise ending that leads to a sequel. This was so much fun that I had to buy this book too.

The Day the Crayons Quit
by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

The illustrations are crazy cute--like a child's artwork. The story line is imaginative and fresh. I never thought of the crayons' point of view before, but what would happen if your crayons just up and decided they'd had enough? Read it to your kids to find out. Yep--I bought this one too.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

I Hope They Call Me on a Mission by Benjamin Hyrum White

Book Blurb:
It's never too young to prepare! This charmingly illustrated picture book teaches children what it's like to be a missionary, from riding a bike to studying the gospel to having a companion, and everything they can do now to be ready so that when the time comes, they'll be the best missionaries they can be. Colorful and cute, it s a perfect gift for baptisms and birthdays.

I Hope They Call Me on a Mission by Benjamin Hyrum White, Illustrated by Corey Egbert

Genre: picture book
Pages: 38

My thoughts:

This picture book provides a unique look at missionary life from the perspective of a missionary writing home to his niece and nephew.

On each two-page spread the missionary explains what he does, one topic at a time, then asks, "What can you do now?" It's like an interactive approach to get kids thinking.

The author gives practical, everyday suggestions that will not only help kids be prepared to serve missions, but will improve family life in the process.

The pictures are colorful and whimsical. I think kids will be able to relate to the niece and nephew.

All in all, I think it is very well done. This would be a great book for quiet time during Sacrament meetings, fun for Family Home Evenings, primary classes and Sharing Time.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Writers Need to Make Time for These 6 Chores

If you are a serious writer you know that you need to carve out time in your day for real writing. Most writers have a goal...2000 words a day, ten pages a day, etc.

Well, real writing includes, but is not limited to the following 6 writer's chores:

Workshops and Classes
Practice your Craft
Critique Groups
Emails and Social Media
Getting Published

Workshops and Classes

Why? First, we should make learning a daily habit.
Second, workshops are great places to network. Be prepared with business cards or book marks.
Third, besides learning something new, there's nothing like a good workshop to re-energize, re-fuel that need to write.

Practice Your Craft

Try these two writing chores to open your mind and get your muse working overtime:

Free Flow Writing--Spend 15 minutes a day writing whatever comes into your head. You'll be surprised how writing problems sort themselves out.

Copy write--Take 15 minutes a day to copy passages from your favorite authors. Something about manually writing helps our brains retain new information. It helps us think out our options. Daily practice helps us develop our voice.
Reading other Books
Stephen King's Prime Rule for Writing is, "Write a lot. Read a lot."

 To some degree, research is required for every work in progress. The trick is to find it quickly, absorb it, and file it. Don’t let it distract you from writing.

Critique Groups
Critique groups are a great way of working the bugs out of your manuscript. The process is less expensive than hiring an editor and you can develop lasting friendships. The downside? What you save in money will cost you in time spent.

For example, it takes time to find a compatible group. I’ve been part of three different groups and over time they all fell apart, some faster than others. I even tried a critique buddy, but soon found that my skill set was too far behind.

Secondly, you need to spend time reviewing your group members’ chapters. The bigger the group, the more time is consumed. Try to limit your group to 3-5 members.

Lastly, you need to make time for your group meetings whether weekly or monthly. A good time saver is to exchange manuscripts over email. Everyone can work in their own time frame and still meet deadlines.

Emails and Social Media

For our book review blog we sort through dozens of email requests daily. We plan blog posts, post to Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. We also share other similar blog’s posts. My favorite right now is K. M. Weiland.

 Again, the trick is to not let yourself get distracted—get on, get your business done, and get off.

There are two things I’ve found that helps with this. First, make yourself an author’s page on Facebook and use it to post all of your professional writing type posts. It's easier to avoid distractions if you stay on your professional page. Second, set the timer. Do your chores first, then if you do get distracted it won’t be for long. 

Getting Published

 Whether you choose to publish traditionally or self-publish you will find either choice will take a great deal of time, just in different venues.

To publish traditionally you will probably need an agent. Sending out queries takes weeks and months to get back replies. When rejections come you start over. When you do get an agent and find a publisher you will need to revise and re-write. This is true for both avenues. You will also do a lot of your own marketing.

To self-publish you will need to spend a great deal of time learning how to format, cover design and illustrations, professionally edit your manuscript (I recommend that you do not do this part yourself), and do all of your own marketing. You can save a lot of time if you hire it all done for you, or you can save a lot of money by spending the time to learn how to do it yourself.

It may be worth the time investment if you learn it well enough to offer this service to others.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Great First Sentences

A great first sentence should accomplish three things. First, it should introduce the main character. Second, give a sense of time and place. Third, entice the reader with a need to know more.

I have listed some of my favorite examples below:

From The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum:

"The trawler plunged into the angry swells of the dark, furious sea like an awkward animal trying desperately to break out of an impenetrable swamp."

From How to Be a Pirate by Cressida Cowell:

"Thor was seriously annoyed. He had sent a mighty summer storm to claw up the seas around the bleak little Isle of Berk. A black wind was shrieking across the wild and angry ocean. Furious thunder boomed overhead. Lightning speared into the water."
(okay that was a paragraph, but it's middle grade)

From The Pelican Brief by John Grisham:
"He seemed incapable of creating such chaos, but much of what he saw below could be blamed on him."

From The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R.R. Tolkien:
"When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton."

From Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh:

"Harriet was trying to explain to Sport how to play Town."

From J. K. Rowling's The Sorcerer's Stone:

"Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much."

From Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park: 

"The tropical rain fell in drenching sheets, hammering the corrugated roof of the clinic building, roaring down the metal gutters, splashing on the ground in a torrent."

From Jane Austen's Emma:
"Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her."

The following is the longest first sentence I have ever read, taken from Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery. The length, and wordiness mirrors Rachel Lynde:

"Mrs. Rachel Lynde lived just where the Avonlea main road dipped down into a little hollow, fringed with alders and ladies' eardrops and traversed by a brook that had its source away back in the woods of the old Cuthbert place; it was reputed to be an intricate, headlong brook in its earlier course through the woods, with dark secrets of pool and cascade; but by the time it reached Lynde's Hollow it was a quiet, well-conducted little stream, for not even a brook could run past Mrs. Rachel Lynde's door without due regard for decency and decorum; it probably was conscious that Mrs. Rachel was sitting at her window, keeping a sharp eye on everything that passed, from brooks, and children up, and that if she noticed anything odd or out of place she would never rest until she had ferreted out the whys and wherefores thereof."

From 4:50 From Paddington by Agatha Christie:    

"Mrs. McGillicuddy panted along the platform in the wake of the porter carrying her suitcase."

The last sentence is probably my favorite. It inspired this post. It is short, descriptive and I had to read on. I could totally picture a frumpy, older lady trying to keep up with her porter. Awesome.

What are some of your favorite first sentences?