Post 12: Nonfiction & What I’m Reading

Nonfiction…

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(The Creative Penn has great resources for authors.)

diverse shelves.jpgThe book, “How to Market a Book,”  is a great example of nonfiction for writers, both traditionally and self-published. “The World of Dinosaurs,” is another example that’s great for kids and adults alike. Personally, I love dinosaurs.

Here are some things to think about when writing and evaluating non-fiction:

  1. Are you an expert in the field; is the author? It’s important to really research and have up-to-date knowledge on the subject. For evaluating books, check the inside of the back of the book and their website.
  2. Have the facts been verified? That really ties in as to whether or not the author hasdone their research. Make sure you’re spilling the truth.
  3. What is the book about? Read the back and the inside flap to make sure it’s over what you’re really interested lest you waste your time, and make sure you’re providing direct information on your website and back-cover to accurately convey the primary information to be gleaned.
  4. Does the writer have any links with organizations that provide more information for further information, do you?
  5. Are there visuals? Do they have captions? Do they enhance the text? Visuals are both aesthetic and informational. Without them, you’re 99% likely to loose your readers. We need variety of format.

Since I’m not only a writer and am also going into the library profession, if you are a teacher or even a parent, here are 5 questions you might can ask your student’s/children: (Carter and Abrahamson)

  1. What would life be like if this were written 50 years earlier or later?
  2. What are your favorite pictures and illustrations?
  3. Would this book be a good documentary?
  4. What did the author have to do to research material for this book?
  5. What three questions would you ask the author?Screen Shot 2018-02-28 at 4.55.01 PM.pngClick here to visit Book Riot, a great website for identifying 10 great works of non-fiction.

My main reading in the non-fiction arena is about gardening, the craft of writing, and self-publishing. However, as I continue to broaden my horizons and “Climb the Sacks” (great YoutTube vlog to check out), I will keep an eye out for educational books to share with children, teens, young adults, and adults, will checking for illustrations, authenticity, and relatedness.

#nonfiction #yabooks #teenbooks

Also, What am I Reading?

Currently, I am reading (or listening through Audible, actually) “Liar and Spy” by Rebecca Stead of which I will be giving a book review on sometime soon. So make sure to stay tuned for that.

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Post 14 & 15: Reflecting on a Novel – Steps/Graphic Novels – the Benefits.

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If you’re anything like me, reading outside is a great place to pause and reflect. Want 10 questions to probe deeper thinking about that novel? Consider these:

  1. What if the main character was a boy instead of a girl, or vice versa?
  2. What if this story had a different setting? What if it were to happen in a different town or time?
  3. If this book were a movie, would it have color? What tones would it have?
  4. If the author could’ve dropped the axe on any character, who would it have been, and why?
  5. Can you identify with the main character? How do you both differ?
  6. Could this story be turned into a movie or tv series? If so, why, or why not?
  7. Has anything in the story, from comments to events, ever happened to you?
  8. What is it about the first paragraph that led you to keep reading? If it was boring, why’d you keep going?
  9. If you were to design the cover of this book, or even give input to the designer, what would it incorporate?
  10. If you only read the title, what would the book mostly likely be about? Later, rereading the title, was it a good choice? Did it convey the overall book?

Thinking about some of the above questions can help to really analyze yourself in relation to a book, as well a show others have already related to the book. We can sometimes enjoy a story at a much deeper level when we look past the surface. Not only that, but almost anyone can ask themselves these questions. These questions were originally derived from Richard Peck (1978).

The only step I don’t really care for is number 3, but I really like question 1 and 10. Some of these steps I already think about when I read, but I would like to incorporate number 4 a bit more for curiosity’s sake.

Graphic Novels – The Benefits

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First, what are they? The above graphic explains the elements of a graphic novel and the one below shows more basic elements:Scan.jpeg

This picture is from the graphic novel of Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. It just goes to show that not all graphic novels are like the ones in comic books. This art is more aesthetic and just gorgeous. Benefit 1: Graphic novels are great for the more visual learners. Benefit 2: They also show more than a text can sometimes convey, giving a work more creativity and life.

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I just love these funny graphics, even though they’re not in novel format:

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The benefit (3) of these graphics is that they are very relatable. We can relate to what the author is trying to convey much more easily than if they were just going to say, “I feel like a model with red lipstick, but I really just look like I got a busted lip.”

For those more visual learners, and for those who are intimidated by large volumes of words, a graphic novel can seem much more manageable, benefit 4.

They can also portray historical events and inventions that would otherwise be unfamiliar and/or hard to visualize, benefit 5.

The 6 benefit is that an author can get very creative in how they express themselves.

Personally, I look forward to reading graphic novels for a more aesthetic experience as well as a quick, satisfying read. I also look forward to seeing how others illustrate the author’s words and what images they imagine. Lastly, I look forward to seeing reluctant readers pick up these books and enjoying them, as it teaches them words they otherwise wouldn’t have read, as well as encourages them to read more and more on their own.

Graphic novels are enjoyable for all ages.

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How cool is that: A Coraline graphic novel. Here is a really neat website with many graphic novels to pick out for YA readers.

#ya #graphicnovels #amreading

Book Review 7: Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

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Summary: Arnold, aka, Junior, is the main character in “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie. Junior lives on a reservation and has one good friend named Rowdy. Junior and Rowdy play together a lot but often suffer from poverty, sickness, and alcoholism. Realizing that he isn’t going to become anyone unless he leaves the reservations school, he decides to move to an all white school. Meanwhile, he has to live with a friend and family who resent his actions. He also has to navigate through tragedies while becoming a really good basketball player.

Reflection: It was a really open book and first person, which helps in portraying the emotions and inside mind of a teenager. While there were many deep and controversial issues and it has been a banned book, it is a book that can help others pull themselves up out of the many things that bring them down in their own life.

Pros and cons: It portrays real-life issues that have been overlooked (+). I can’t really think of any negatives. I really always enjoy illustrations in books.

Intended audience: middle school and high school libraries. Ages: 14-18.

#bookreviews #ala #ya

Book Review 6: “Winger”

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Summary: Winger, by Andrew Smith, is about a young boy (really young for his grade) who is a junior and just fourteen. He’s in love with his best friend, Annie, who thinks he’s adorable. At the same time, as if that isn’t rough enough, he is moved to o-hall where the “bad” kids have to stay. Mind you, this isn’t the average high-school, but a school for rich kids. The worse part about staying in o-hall? Rooming with Chas Becker, bully extraordinaire. In short, Winger has to pull off staying alive in o-hall, learning how to be friends with a gay guy, and winning the heart of Annie. With rugby as a key sport and illustrations to support Winger’s thoughts, the book is both full of action and hilarity (I laughed out loud more than I ever had while reading a book). I really enjoyed this book. As always, I didn’t care for the cussing. The end was a bit sad, but it’s one of those things that made Winger grow as a character. In all, I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Pros: Realistic, well-rounded, funny, serious, entertaining and educating.

Cons: cursing (not everyone has succumbed) and…

Intended audience: middle school and high school libraries. For ages 14-18.

Reflection: I enjoyed this book. Not at first, though. I’m a picky reader, and at first I was super reluctant to read it. I even went so far as to try to find another book by the same author… none of them looked appealing. Sooo, I read it. The main reason I was reluctant was because it was in a guy’s perspective and sporty. Not what I generally read. Turns out, as I mentioned, it was well-rounded. It really depicted the sexual desires of a young boy, as well as the peer pressure inflicted upon those considered “weak.” In the end, I grew to admire Winger. In the future, when I read YA or teen books with boy protagonists, I will be on the lookout for the varying experiences the author presents and reflect on how well that depicts our youth today.

#teenfiction #yabooks #amreading #bookreviews

Post 11 and 13: Realistic Fiction VS. Fantasy and SciFi

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Realistic Fiction

Do you read realistic fiction? I do. I read a lot of things, actually. But if you would like to know the inside scoop as to what falls under realistic fiction, keep reading:

Realistic fiction deals with day-to-day events that are universal to all people. While cultures and the way of life may be different from person to person, it is all realistic (based on reality). Things like the way teens talk, to the reflection of a school day, etc, are all normal. Normal issues are the key areas of conflict in YA books.

Themes emerge naturally based off of these conflicts. Puberty, sex, friends, etc, are all things that happen naturally in a person’s life, and these issues naturally become the themes of the books. There is usually one main theme with one or two other smaller themes in the same piece of writing. For example, in my upcoming novel, “The Thread that Keeps Me,” Jesse has to deal with poverty while taking on a sexual relationship and the role of mother to her little sister. The main theme is poverty but the other two themes tie in with it.

The book RELATES to the reader. That’s the biggest key. While it may not relate directly (as we do not all experience the same things,) readers know enough about the situation to develop empathy as they read. They can also relate it to similar experiences in their lives. Various topics, as mentioned before, are addressed, such as: death, love, sex, family and family changes as well as body images.

 

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Fantasy and SciFi

Fantasy is my number one favorite. Here are the essential elements of fantasy and sci-fi that you need to keep in mind when writing:

As long as it cannot really happen, it’s usually fantasy. In other words, unfortunately, we cannot fly on brooms. We cannot truly cast spells, or live in space – that would all fall under “violating the laws of physical reality” (Perry). For example, animals cannot talk back to humans. Animals cannot drive boats. Humans cannot read other’s minds (though I wish I could).

Sci-fi (science fiction) fits in the realm of fantasy, but not all fantasy is sci-fi.

Even though the story falls under fantasy, the story and world still must be established and developed in such a way that it is believable. Are there rules? It has to be solid and consistent so that there are no holes. The characters must also be believable and relatable. Are they searching for friends? Are they trying to survive some kind of even the way we allegorically try to survive certain issues in our lives? Is your writing believable enough that readers can get past the parts that are impossible? Do you make it seem as though it could really happen? If so, good. Are you still tying in themes that underly children or young adults? Remember, doing so helps your readers care about your characters and story more than any plot ever would.

These are things that I know fairly well as a writer and that I am continually mindful about as I write. As I read I will be evaluating the books as to what category they fall under. Sometimes books blend, as kind of mentioned before. Keeping mind of these elements will be really helpful when recommending books to picky readers!

Hope that helps!

#yabooks #childrensbooks #fantasy #sci-fi #writing #writinglife

Publication Update + Excerpt

Update:

As some of you know, I have been in the process of self-publishing Forces and the Malachite Stone, a middle grade fantasy. I recently published it on Amazon but, deep down, loathed the cover I had made. Plus, believe it or not, found some editing errors (after several read throughs); that just wasn’t acceptable, so I quickly pulled it.

I am currently working on a better cover and going through more edits. This will take some time, but I am doing my best to deliver quality work. One of the things with self-publishing is that you have the power over every aspect. And, unfortunately, that means it can take quite a while to get things accomplished. To get past this, however, I am just relishing my book-baby and enjoying going through it again.

Don’t let the process get you down. Just keep enjoying it, knowing you’re making it the best it can be. Enjoy spending time with it while you can. Okay, that’s all for now.

Happy writing!

Forces excerpt: Prologue

A dark figure sprinted through the woods, his foot tearing through vines as he ran from the creatures chasing him. The sky thundered overhead and he gave a silent plea, willing the rain to come.

He clutched a torn piece of paper in his right hand, balling it up into the confines of his fist as pellets of rain started to dance on his head. He hoped this would help the snakes lose his scent.

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#yabooks #selfpublishing