Tag Archives: Reading

Triple A Book Blog Reviews Humans In My House (series book 1)

19 Mar

thumb-3150402_1280

(This book review by Triple A Book Blog originally published here: https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FTripleABookBlog%2Fposts%2F1361681833978726&width=500 Republished with permission.)

A charming book for the youthful reader, or those young at heart. I not only enjoyed this book but so did the group of kids I read it to at school.

Quirky and fun, it’s one of the few books I’ve ever read that was from the point of view of a stray cat living in an abandoned home.

I love that it’s first person and really feels like how a cat might think. It also helps show a unique twist on the psychological makeup of children and what they deal with such as peer pressure, without being too heavy.

I can’t wait to read the second book and see what happens next with the cat and the humans…..

(See Triple A’s review of Humans In My House and the Stars Above It here and their interview with Amanda Marsico here.)

Advertisements

International Book Giving Day 2018

14 Feb

What’s better than giving valentines and chocolate? Giving BOOKS!

February 14th is International Book Giving Day. The goal is to get books into the hands of more children and to make them excited about reading. This is a volunteer-led initiative that anyone can participate in.

Some of the ways to participate include:

  • Gift a book to someone you know
  • Leave a book in a waiting room for children to read as they wait
  • Donate to local libraries, hospitals, shelters, and other organizations that can get the books to children who need them. (This includes international organizations!)

To top it off, “Publisher Book Island will donate one book to their hospital programme [sic] for each book sold via their website (14 – 28 February)” (International Book Giving Day 2018), so go buy some books!

Today, I got involved by donating a class set of Acephalous and Humans In My House to my local Boys and Girls Club in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where the books will find a permanent home in the media rooms at their Club (elementary age) and Teen Center (middle and high school age). I’ll be volunteering to lead a book club on the books later on (if they read them before we move back to VA).

Here’s a photo of my visit!

0214181155

After delivering books, Amanda Marsico holding #Kepler in front of the Boys and Girls Club of the Grand Strand.

Follow this and other adventures on my Instagrams @KeplerSeesTheWorld (Kepler & kid-friendly book news) and @RedInkEnthusiast (Acephalous & Teen+ book news) and use #bookgivingday in your posts. Don’t forget to follow @BookGivingDay, too.

How to Babysit Your Author: A Guide

12 Feb

couch

Staying in on a Friday night? Parking it on the couch for the weekend?

If you love an author, you might be stuck in the house with one of these bleary-eyed, curmudgeony, hand-cramped word-herders. Here are some surefire ways (in somewhat chronological order) to babysit your author successfully.

  1. Say goodbye to the corner seat of the couch.
  2. Turn on the coffee maker; put on the kettle. It’s only a matter of time. Whether your author wants coffee, tea, or hot chocolate, the hot water will be in demand.
  3. Hand over the remote. Watch some mindless, guilty-pleasure TV. Don’t feel guilty.
  4. Those little bitty decorative throw blankets? You can do better. Pull the comforter off the bed and throw it over the couch.We want our feet and our shoulders covered.
  5. Place cat in lap.
  6. Intersperse a few good puns throughout conversation. Hint: The best puns are the ones that make your author comment on how bad they are.
  7. Make a cheese plate, except with chocolate instead of cheese. Actually, the plate isn’t even necessary. Just hand over a stack of chocolate bars. Your author will know what to do with them.
  8. No nap-shaming. If you don’t want to sleep while your author does, read their draft. If it’s not ready to read, mute your phone/computer/video games, and don’t load/unload the dishwasher. Please.
  9. Wake your author only if you’re dying or dinner’s ready.
  10. Breakfast for dinner.
  11. Offer a neck and shoulder rub or a hand massage. Typing is easy, but it’s still strenuous work.
  12. Even if they already have plenty, surprise your author with a new journal, date book, note pad, or pen. Post-its are also a practical option. Your author might not have time to journal every day, but random thoughts worthy of a post-it crop up constantly, and they make great bookmarks.
  13. After reading and writing for work, authors often don’t make time to do it for enjoyment. Give your author a few hours of uninterrupted read-for-pleasure time to work on that To-Be-Read pile. It’s getting dangerously tall.
  14. Your author’s eyes might be too tired to read for fun. Give them a cold rag or gel mask to relax. Save the cucumbers for some hummus.
  15. Make hummus.
  16. Listen to your author’s anxiety-riddled plot-hole repair plan. Don’t just nod and smile. Give real feedback by telling your author the things that will actually help the story, even if it’s not what they want to hear. Your author would rather screw up in front of you and then put in more work than publish something iffy under the impression that it’s great.
  17. Remind your author that it’s fine they aren’t writing right that second. Rest is essential work, too.
  18. Did I mention cats? More cats. Also, refill hot beverage of choice. Your author has run out by now.
  19. Stay up late with your author, even though they napped and you didn’t. Remember to nap with them next time.
  20. Run a bath.

These are just a few ways to babysit your author. This list is not exhaustive, nor does it cover the preferences of every author. That means your author might be easier, or harder, to please. If the latter, I apologize on behalf of my temperamental, wordy kind and wish you good luck.

Editing the Classics: Heart of Darkness

30 Apr

I’m starting a new series. It’s called Editing the Classics. Here I will edit, rewrite, or otherwise alter classic works of literature in the public domain. The idea is to offer a new interpretation of the text with insight and humor, to modernize the tale, and in some instances to see how the story reads when made PC. I hope you guys like it, and if you’ve got suggestions for works you’d like to see here, let me know in the comments below!

Editing the Classics: Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

You can find the full original text for free here.

Excerpt fom chapter 1

Original:

“The old doctor felt my pulse, evidently thinking of something else the while. ‘Good, good for there,’ he mumbled, and then with a certain eagerness asked me whether I would let him measure my head. Rather surprised, I said Yes, when he produced a thing like calipers and got the dimensions back and front and every way, taking notes carefully. He was an unshaven little man in a threadbare coat like a gaberdine, with his feet in slippers, and I thought him a harmless fool. ‘I always ask leave, in the interests of science, to measure the crania of those going out there,’ he said. ‘And when they come back, too?’ I asked. ‘Oh, I never see them,’ he remarked; ‘and, moreover, the changes take place inside, you know.’ He smiled, as if at some quiet joke. ‘So you are going out there. Famous. Interesting, too.’ He gave me a searching glance, and made another note. ‘Ever any madness in your family?’ he asked, in a matter-of-fact tone. I felt very annoyed. ‘Is that question in the interests of science, too?’ ‘It would be,’ he said, without taking notice of my irritation, ‘interesting for science to watch the mental changes of individuals, on the spot, but…’ ‘Are you an alienist?’ I interrupted. ‘Every doctor should be—a little,’ answered that original, imperturbably. ‘I have a little theory which you messieurs who go out there must help me to prove. This is my share in the advantages my country shall reap from the possession of such a magnificent dependency. The mere wealth I leave to others. Pardon my questions, but you are the first Englishman coming under my observation…’ I hastened to assure him I was not in the least typical. ‘If I were,’ said I, ‘I wouldn’t be talking like this with you.’ ‘What you say is rather profound, and probably erroneous,’ he said, with a laugh. ‘Avoid irritation more than exposure to the sun. Adieu. How do you English say, eh? Good-bye. Ah! Good-bye. Adieu. In the tropics one must before everything keep calm.’… He lifted a warning forefinger…. ‘Du calme, du calme.’

New:

“The old doctor felt my pulse. His glazed over stare indicated he was thinking of something else. He mumbled, and then, with a strange eagerness, asked me whether I would let him measure my head. Rather surprised, I said yes. He came at my face with a thing like calipers and I shifted away from him. ‘Hey, I’m not taking your eyes out or anything…’ Remembering myself, I leaned toward him. Not long after clamping the sides of my head from all angles, the kook took great care with the notes of my dimensions. Dr. Whoever was an unshaven little man in a worn out raincoat. He had the nerve to where slippers to work, and I thought him a harmless fool. Explaining himself he said, ‘I always, in the interests of science, you know, measure the crania of those crazy enough to go out there,’ he said. ‘And when they come back, too?’ I asked. ‘Oh, I never see them,’ he remarked; I had to wonder if that meant they never came back. ‘And, moreover,’ he continued, ‘the changes take place inside, you know.’ He smiled, as if at some quiet joke. One of us was certainly crazy. ‘So you are going out there. Interesting. He gave me a searching glance, as if testing my decision, and made another note. ‘Ever any madness in your family?’ he asked, in a matter-of-fact tone. I felt very annoyed. I wanted to ask the same of him. ‘Is that question in the interests of science, too?’ ‘It would be,’ he said without taking notice of my irritation, ‘but the medical community doesn’t really care for my research. But soon they will. I have a little theory which you business men who go out there must help me to prove. This is my share in the knowledge of my country–the mere wealth I leave to others.’ Scrubbing his face like the ‘scientific’ inquiry had exhausted him, he paused. I followed the path with my eyes to see where his gaze had landed. I thought he momentarily fell asleep. Suddenly, he coughed and came back to life, continuing as if he had never stopped. ‘So, you’ll have to forgive my questions. You are the first Englishman I’ve examined…’ I quickly filled in that he should not take me as the norm. ‘If I were,’ I said, ‘I wouldn’t be talking like this with you.’ ‘What you say is rather profound, and probably wrong,’ the doctor retorted with a laugh. ‘But fine. Avoid irritation more than exposure to the sun. Adieu. What do you English say? Oh, good-bye. Ah! Good-bye. Adieu. In the tropics, one must, before everything, stay alive.’ As I exited his small clinic, he lifted a warning forefinger…”

Self-Editing Tip #19–Chekhov’s Gun

23 Aug

Ever read something and wondered, “Why did the writer even bring that up?” or “So what?” or “What happened to that (x, y, z)…?” Ever write something and then never address that point again?

That’s basically what Chekov’s Gun is all about—everything that’s written better be worth the space it takes up in the text. It needs to have a purpose.

The great dramatist Anton Chekhov once said, “Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there” (Valentine 1987).

I’m sure you could use the gun for something else. Maybe you take it off the wall and beat somebody with it. Maybe you take it off the wall and sell it for train ticket money. Who knows? The point is, if you’ve made the effort to point out some detail, readers are going to look for why it’s important. So, make sure it comes full circle, that you get back around to that detail in some way, and that it’s important!

Here is a long list of Sci-Fi and Fantasy literature that effectively uses Chekhov’s Gun to bring details full circle. Use your own reading experience when judging the accuracy of this list, because I have not read many of the novels included.

Next week, we’ll dig into some Red Herring! Hint: it’s not a fish 😉 Until then, have a great weekend with lots of purposeful writing and happy reading!

 

–Amanda Marsico

Editor, Proofreader, Red Ink Enthusiast

marsicoam@gmail.com

www.facebook.com/marsicowritesite

https://twitter.com/MarsWriteSite

http://pinterest.com/wordsnsounds/

 

Source: Valentine, Bill T. Chekhov: The Silent Voice of Freedom. 1987. Philosophical Library. Print.

Interview: What Children REALLY Want to Read

22 Aug

Today is a get business done kind of day, so in lieu of a Self-Editing Tip, I’m going to post responses I’ve gathered from children I’ve worked with over the years on the topic of books.

 

Randy, 5

What is your favorite book?

“I have one, but I don’t know it…”

Leah, 4

What is your favorite book?

“Princess Fairy Tale Land.” (Side note: Who knows if that’s the real title)

Why?

“It has a lot of movies with it, and it’s funny.”

Why is it funny to you?

“It has lots of funny words.”

Mackenzie, 4

What is your favorite book?

“’Gigi’—It’s about Gigi, and if Gigi touches something bad an alarm comes on and guards come and put her in a pink tower.”

Why is it your favorite?

“Because I tried it and I liked it!”

Shane, 4

What is your favorite book?

“Lightning McQueen.”

Why?

“It has fast cars, and it’s funny.”

What makes it funny?

“They say funny things. The cars can talk.”

William, 5

What is your favorite book?

“ABC Trains.”

Why?
“Train tracks go under a house, and it’s funny.”

Why is it funny?

“They hit each other. They make butt jokes.”

Leah, 5

What is your favorite book?

“Princess Story Book.”

Why?

“Princesses are so beautiful.”

Is it a funny book?

“No, it’s a beautiful book.”

 

As you can see, the majority of Pre-K and kindergarteners choose their favorite books based on humor and appearance. So, if you’re a children’s writer, maybe some of this input from children can help you out. I’m aware that most of their answers are the same, but that’s what’s golden about it. It points you in a very specific direction. I don’t write children’s literature, but I’ve always wanted to. I collected these short interviews out of pure curiosity in the event that one day I finish the children’s stories I’ve started. We’ll see. I hope it’s handy for you.

 

Have a great Thursday! Be on the lookout for another Self-Editing Tip tomorrow.

–Amanda Marsico

Editor, Proofreader, Red Ink Enthusiast

marsicoam@gmail.com

facebook.com/marsicowritesite

https://twitter.com/MarsWriteSite

www.pinterest.com/wordsnsounds

 

 

 

Self-Editing Tip #16- The Hook

16 Aug

The Short and Sweet of First Sentences and First Pages of Fiction

Today, we’re going to move away from grammar and focus on content. Specifically, I’d like to pass on a few short, but easier said than done, points that I’ve learned from a combination of professors, writing guides, and poorly written novels. Consider these while writing the beginning to any longer piece of fiction. (Let’s call a “longer” piece of fiction 5,000 words or more—anything you would hesitate to call flash fiction—or something with chapters.)

  • Chaos and confusion are not the same as mystery and suspense. You generally want to avoid beginning your text by throwing your readers into the midst of action/tragedy/horror and expect them to be intrigued enough to keep reading purely from the shock of what’s going on.
  • A reader’s choice to begin reading does not signify that reader already cares about a character, setting, or event. Beginning a story with intimate thoughts from a character or with a character in a compromised state isn’t always the best choice. Though the thoughts can give good insight into that character, they may be better placed further within the storyline once your reader cares about the character. This is because the thoughts a character expresses, though revealing, don’t matter until the reader knows how they feel about the person—are they supposed to root for or against this character? Do they love to hate this person? Are they sympathetic to what the character is going through or are they unable to relate? Introduce characters in a way that not only shows readers who they are, but also shows them why they should care. The same goes for introducing your character by way of some big event. If you go this route, make sure you’ve given readers a reason to care. They don’t know that person yet, so you’ve got some convincing to do.

In my experience, the beginning is the hardest part. By keeping these points in mind, I’ve been able to create introductions that not only familiarize readers with the setting and main character, but intrigue them into caring. Shed the notion that readers already care simply because they began to read. Remember, just because someone is curious enough to read your writing doesn’t mean you’ve gotten them to care about what you’ve written. That takes something extra—practice, for one, but also some element within the character that the reader can latch onto as important to them. This hook will be different for each reader, so creating well-rounded, realistically human-acting characters is a good place to start. Even if your characters aren’t humans, there are innate human truths and qualities that will show through because the characters have been created by you, a human.

Tell me what you think about introductions and character crafting. It’s a tricky topic. If your opinions differ or you have some strategies you’d like to share, I’d love to hear about them!

Thanks for reading.

–Amanda Marsico

Editor, Proofreader, Red Ink Enthusiast

marsicoam@gmail.com

%d bloggers like this: