Liebster Blog Award

It appears I have been nominated for my second award. YAY!!!! 🙂 In German, “liebuster” means dearest. The Liebster Blog Award is suppose to be given to smaller, well deserved blogs with 300 or less followers in hopes of sharing that blogger’s hard work with the rest of the world. Of course you are suppose to thank the person that nominated you as well as nominate 3 to 5 blogs yourself. Finally, you can answer some questions about yourself that your nominator either came up for you or used in their own acceptance blog. I will use my nominator’s questions, which I thank for the recognition. Thank you Mandy! 🙂

One more lingering thought…

I’ve noticed some believe blog awards are a little bit like playing tag. Who could blame them? There’s too many floating around. Some of them are cool like the Sweetest Blog Award and some are strange like the Divorce Blog Award. It makes me wonder if I could come up with my own award and pass it around. Mine would be the Sexiest Nerd Blog Award or the Awesome Women Kicking Ass Blog Award. However, I really don’t view blogging as a game. For the last award, I took my time, looked at the different blogs and tried to pick some I thought were inspiring. I didn’t just pick my friends. Sure, if I think my friends earn this new recognition, then I’ll nominate them again, but that isn’t a must on my list. So just know if you do get nominated by me for any “award”, you really earned it, at least in this blogger’s eyes.

Okay, so here are the questions and answers.

What keeps you writing when you have writer’s block? Taking a walk, reading a book, watching a movie, sometimes when I can put my mind on something else and then come back to my writing, it helps.

Most writers have a literary counterpart—a character from their stories who reflects themselves. Tell us about yours. Her inner traits like the fact that she’s reserved in the beginning, but also she’s willing to stick up for injustices.

What are your passions? Writing would have to be number one. I also like music and drawing. Anything related to art. Teaching is a passion as well.

You’ve had a fight with your significant other and you want to fix things. I would accept any “wrongs” that I believe I did (like being rude for no reason) and then try to work on a compromise. Discovering the core problem always helps.

What’s one injustice you see in the world that you would fix in a story? Somehow we manage to keep the rich, rich, and the poor, poor. You go to schools in poor communities and they have nothing. But you go to the rich part of town and their school is filled with the latest and greatest.

If you could change one thing in your life, what would it be? I would like to have the job as a writer/author, period.

What’s important to you at this point in time? Family, doing the best at my main job, and also publishing at least one book in my lifetime.

Who is your hero/heroine? I admire this woman named Sheri because she is has such a good heart and is always looks to find the good in others as well. She’s so easy to talk to and you get what you see with her. No fronts or hidden agendas. I wish I could be as positive as she is.

Do you make it a habit of telling others what you thought of their work, even if your experience wasn’t good? Truthfully, no. I’m not good at critiquing work, that’s my first problem. Then I also worry if I’m wanting to change their story based on how I want it to look or not. So when I critique someone’s work, I’ll tell them things they could fix, but I try not to bother with small stuff like the changing of a word. I don’t see that as my job. I’m not an editor after all. So I always try to critique the overall picture, but not every single mistake.

What is good will? To me, the act of doing what is right and what helps people.

Here are the 3 to 5 people I nominate:

Please check these people out. I’ve looked at all of them and all three have great blogs that show a lot of work. 🙂

The Search for my Rhythm

Regrettably, what I thought would happen, did. For those that don’t know, I started a new job this year. I am now officially a media coordinator at the same elementary school that I worked at last year. This has been a great change for it was a promotion and a new position. However, because I had to develop my library legs (you know, like sea legs) I was thrown off of my normal school routine. My writing suffered because of it. In fact, it came to a complete halt. But there is still hope. For now, I have found my rhythm. Just like sports, writing has a rhythm to it. An internal beat that dives the story on inside of us from one day to the next. It allows us to pick up from where we last wrote, to continue to express the tale we see playing out in our heads. I believe that most things in this world have a certain rhythm and finding it in your daily life can increase your happiness. So now that I have found my “writing rhythm” again, I plan to continue on with the habit of using it. Will it be at the same pace as I had over the summer? No, but sitting down and writing something is better than nothing at all. Whether you are suffering from writer’s block or just an extremely busy life, know this, your writing has a rhythm to it. Find it. Once you do, you will have no problem spinning the rest of your tale.

Just Another Run of the Mill She-Ra

Having been a child in the 80’s, I remember playing with the collectable She-Ra dolls. The main girl was She-Ra who was the twin sister of He-Man. She-Ra was all powerful, smart, had special mind powers, and was stunningly beautiful. This made her the perfect heroine, right?

A common critique I hear from other women about a heroine is that she isn’t powerful enough. There is this certain belief which some think heroines need to be strong mentally and physically. I have gotten this critique about my girl characters before. I think the whole powerful, strong, female type is a way to go. It works, but it doesn’t have to be like that every time. More importantly, I believe it shouldn’t be the most important focus.

To me, the author should pay more attention to the growth of the character. Things like how strong she is physically and mentally are minor details that can be worked out in the writing process later. They are a step above hair and eye color. I actually like to see a female character be more timid and demure at first. Then as the book progresses and there’s character growth, she can emerge as a strong, independent woman. When a book unfolds this way, I feel it’s more of an accomplishment than the other way around. Maybe it’s a bigger jump to start from the bottom up or to start with nothing and end with something; however you can’t help but feel satisfied with the journey by the time it’s finished.

If a story starts off telling me how perfect the heroine is and how she “takes crap from no one” I tend to dislike her. Plus, I find it annoying. In order to pull this off, the author needs to make sure they show her softer side, that she isn’t as perfect as she thinks she is. In reality, who likes a bitchy girl who never really understands any other point of view but her own? And who has perfect hair, a flawless complexion, and always wins at everything? Not me, so if a heroine is like that, I can’t relate to her. You won’t find this writer making critiques about your character’s female roar power. I’m too interested in her growth, and how it fits into the story you have to tell.

Capital Growth Coupled with the Principles of Production Expansion

No, this isn’t about economics. Believe it or not, the title of this post is from one of the chapters in the book I’m reviewing, Lawn Boy. Lawn Boy was written by Gary Paulsen, the award winning author of Hatchet which I have heard fabulous things about.

Several of my fellow school librarians said they liked this book. I did not. The book was very informative on the subjects of economics and business. I’ll give it that. I almost majored in business and accounting, and I have five accounting classes under my belt which I all aced. I’m pretty book smart, not so much the other smart. 🙂

So anyway, I don’t mind reading about the business world. But for pleasure reading, it must have a strong, interesting plot. Sure, I like learning about new things, but if I don’t find the story interesting, I’m done. I don’t want to learn more. I refuse to.

The book is about a boy who is given a riding lawn mower for his birthday and decides to start mowing people’s yards. As his business grows, so do his problems. He learns about profit margins and the stock market from a strange looking neighbor who claims to be a stockbroker.

The book is only 88 pages and, as some other reviewers pointed out, is a short read. Someone please tell me why the shortness of a book is considered a plus in some readers’ minds? Obviously, they really don’t like the story if they’re getting excited about it ending soon.

If your child likes learning about business or wants to have their own raking leaves or lemonade stand company, then this book might interest them. But parents, please don’t make them read it if they don’t find the topic intriguing, even if it’s a “short read.”
I give this book 0 out of 5 chocolate bars. Rating = Hey, who ate all the chocolate?

Inspiring Blog Award

I am such a newbie to blogging, I didn’t understand what this award meant until my good friend Sharon explain it to me. So please excuse the lateness of this post.

Thank you Patty, nominating me. As someone just beginning on the journey of blogging, your encouragement meant a lot.

The rules say that you need to thank and link back whoever nominated you. Then you must list seven things about yourself and then try to nominate 15 other people for the award. I’m going to try to get to this as close as I can.

1.) I like to make people laugh

2.) I enjoy watching and reading anime and graphic novels

3.) I speak limited Chinese

4.) I play the violin

5.) I want to travel to Alaska and go Birding

6.) I can’t ride a bike (I know, horrible)

7.) At the age of 18, I had over $20,000 in my bank account (and yes, I blew it all)

People I nominate

I want it BAD, baby

Here is a familiar topic we all know and love…the villain! I don’t know why I feel like discussing this type of character. Perhaps it’s because I’m finally at a point in my story where I’ve started to write about him, or maybe it’s some other physiological reason unbeknown to me. (lol) Now, I’m not trying to explain how to create a good villain. We all have different opinions about that. But I do want to know the answer to at least one of my question, why does society love a scoundrel?

Some might object, claiming no one loves the bad guy. I hope they are correct. However, let me tell you this. I was a classroom teacher last year. On special occasions, I handed out coloring pages for good behavior or on those rare treats like the day before Christmas. I had this Star Wars coloring book I used for the boys, and they liked it. But the boys didn’t want a picture of Luke or Han. Every single time they wanted to color Darth Vader! Even when I told them they shouldn’t always want to color the bad guy, I would still only have one or two call out, “I like coloring the good guy, teacher!”

If that wasn’t proof enough, answer me, what takes our breath away when we go see the latest movie? What makes us ‘feel’ when we read the newest novel from our favorite author? You will say, “When the protagonist is in trouble, silly!” But why should we care about the protagonist? Don’t bother me with how many times Clark Kent goes to work everyday for the newspaper and bumps into things. WHO CARES! Frankly, it starts to get annoying.

My theory is simple, the amount we care about Superman winning at the end of the movie is dependent upon the relationship he has with Lex Luther. For every good, there is an evil, for every ying, there is a yang. The bad guy is as important, if not more than, the good and pure guy. Besides, if Lex Luther was a sorry ass villain, then Superman’s victory wouldn’t be near as thrilling as when Lex is about to push the button to blow up America. It’s no wonder we love villains. Without them, we have no story, we have no plot. We have nothing but a fancy pants.

Sometimes, there’s the dark hero plagued by internal conflict. This conflict is more sinister than usual. But villains don’t have to be a second person. They can be the hero like with Batman, who is sometimes viewed as a savior and other times an evil doer. I would go as far as to say Bale, in American Psycho, is another example. Yes, he goes around cutting people up, but the odd thing about it, he’s the only person who can stop his madness. Every so often you see a glimpse of that “hero” in the movie, even though it never wins. (And yes, I do love me some Christian Bale) I find myself yaying for the hero part of that movie, hoping he will change his ways. Why? Because the villain is so evil, such an ‘extact opposite’ to the hero, that I can’t help but want good to win.

Authors, love your villains and treat them with care. They do so much for us. The least you can do back is give them a bloody, glorious death. They wouldn’t want it any other way. 😉

Favorite Poem

The Panther – by Rainer

His vision, from the constantly passing bars,

has grown so weary that it cannot hold

anything else. It seems to him there are

a thousand bars; and behind the bars, no world.

As he paces in cramped circles, over and over,

the movement of his powerful soft strides

is like a ritual dance around a center

in which a mighty will stands paralyzed.

Only at times, the curtain of the pupils

lift, quietly–. An image enters in,

rushes down through the tensed, arrested muscles,

plunges into the heart and is gone.

A Writer’s Group Roast

Ode to the writer’s group whose hearts yearn to help.

Although their comments may make your nose hairs stand on end,

And their constant debating gives you an earache.

In the end, we writers are all but lost without our dear group,

For who else can truly understand our sacrifice?

As we all know, a writer’s group is one of the most important factors in the world of the written pen.  For myself, I belong to a wonderful writer’s group that only has the best intentions for its members. However, I have been at the other end of the stick, where the comments and critiques were more critical than necessary.

There are signs of a good writer’s group. One is if they give positive critiques. Instead of always telling you what’s wrong with your writing, they should also be telling you what’s right with it. Another sign is if the group supports each other. Do they celebrate the accomplishments of their members? Do they cheer you on or listen to your problems? Finally, it’s all about respect. We as writers have to respect each other no matter if opinions differ. A good writer’s group does just that.

However, there is no perfect group. They’re run by humans for Pete’s sake, humans that have emotions (probably strong emotions if they are writers) and desires. Feathers will be ruffled every now and then.

So what are some negative things that can happen within a writer’s group? One is when a member becomes bothered with the critiques they are given. Usually they disagree with them, especially if they are too negative. This is understandable because we all want our work to succeed, and having someone point out its negatives can makes us worry our story is going to come crashing down. We pour a lot of our time and soul into writing. When people tear it down, we tend to sometimes feel we are being torn down and not the story.

First, you will never get anywhere in the writer’s business if you can’t take a negative critique. They are bound to happen. Why, because not everyone will agree with or like everything you write. That’s just the law of the land. Second, it’s how you handle what you think is negative. I’m a passionate person, and I wear my heart on my sleeve. I’m well aware that I worry over things too much, but that is what I do. To compensate for this, I allow myself a little “worry” time and then, “Bam!” I’m over it. It becomes small potatoes to me. If this is you, my suggestion is to get a trusted friend and “vent” to them. One that you believe will understand where you’re coming from, (hopefully, this can be a fellow writer). Also, be aware of how things affect you and make an effort to change those feelings for the better. It’s not a good feeling to be upset or worried.

Now sometimes, the person critiquing can get upset when they believe the author doesn’t agree to their suggestions. I’ve seen this more than once. The person giving the critique gets so involved with trying to “fix” the story that they don’t understand why the author doesn’t agree with them. The good news is this usually stems from wanting the best for that author, at least that’s my opinion. So the point is, all members need to accept the fact that their suggestions aren’t always going to be used, but are well appreciated. If they don’t, then the critiquing group can quickly become a debating team where the members feel as if they have to prove their comments are correct.

So if you haven’t yet, and I believe most of you have, go join a writer’s group, but make sure to go in with an open heart and mind. Just remember, your story is…YOUR STORY, and no one can change that. It’s up to you to decide to take or leave a critique, which is, after all, just somebody’s suggestion. In time, you will discover your fellow writers are gold, and they will become your second family.

The Review That Got Me Blackballed Out of the Service, (media service that is)

This review is about the book, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimah. It’s the story of a mouse, Mrs. Frisby, who needs help moving her house before the farmer destroys it with his plow.

Although I’ve seen the movie, I’ve never read the actual story, up until now. I am sorry to disappoint my fellow bloggers and blog readers but this review didn’t get me “blackballed” or fired from any job. However, it will probably turn an eyebrow or two since I didn’t favor the book. Here’s why…

I know Robert O’Brien’s 1971 story is a beloved classic and who wouldn’t like those adorable animals and their human like traits. The setting is well described for the most part, and as a reader, you feel for Mrs. Frisby and her plight to save her son, Timothy.

But that might be it for me. It’s a classic tale of “don’t watch the movie before reading the book,” and in this case, I did. I prefer the story changes in the Hollywood version more than the original work itself. For instance, I guess it’s the romantic in me, but I liked how Mrs. Frisby and Justin’s relationship was insinuated in the movie. (I know this is a children’s story, but I can’t help what I like). “Spolier” Plus, it annoyed me how I still don’t know for sure if Justin died in the book or if it was another rat who went back to save Brutus.

Justin wasn’t the only character I had a problem with. I enjoyed the movie’s version of Jenner more as the big bad villain than how O’Brien portrayed him. In the book, Jenner came across as just a rat with an independent streak. (Blah, I like them bad to the bone.) Finally, the scene where Mrs. Frisby goes down to see the rats just doesn’t excite me like it does in the movie where I have no trouble visualizing the awesome beauty.

Robert O’Brien did a good job writing this classic story, but the movie takes the chocolate in this case.

This book receives three out of five chocolate bars. 

Rating = Go see the movie.

Book ‘Em Conference and Book Fair in Lumberton, 2013

I am writing this post to let all my fellow writers and book lovers know about this great event. This past February, I had the pleasure of attending the very first Book ‘Em Conference with my good friend, Sharon. The Book ‘Em Writers Conference was held in Lumberton, North Carolina back in February and the foundation is already planning a second annual conference February 23 of next year. Now I know what you are thinking, February, why that’s seven months away! But I didn’t have a blog back then to write how great the first one was, and I didn’t want to forget to share this excellent event with all of my friends.

There are several things I found wonderful about this conference. For one, the conference is a perfect place if you are just beginning to write. You will be surrounded by other new writers all with like minds and eager hearts. There are seminars and classes offered ranging from character development, settings, to getting published the easy way. Mostly small and medium publishing houses attend conferences like these. But smaller publishing companies are a great way to get your foot in the door and some authors prefer them to big house names. The publishers attending usually hold a Q and A session where the audience can ask questions. This is invaluable to an author because you receive first hand information about the business and create those much needed contacts.

Hold the back button, I’m not done yet! The Book ‘Em Conference isn’t just for writers, it’s for book lovers as well. Along with the conference, there is a book fair featuring local authors from North Carolina and the surrounding states. What reader doesn’t like to be among rising talent, and with all the new authors featuring their work, your chances of running into the next C.L. Lewis, Beatrix Potter, or Nora Roberts is high. Plus, the Book ‘Em foundation always features a “big wig” author or guest speaker/s. This past year it was Carla Neggers and Michael Palmer, Michael Palmer, please! The movie, Extreme Measures, is based off of his book with the same name. I remember watching that movie with Gene Hackman, Hugh Grant, and Sara Jessica Parker, and it was good. This year’s guest speakers are Chuck Williams, who was in the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie, and Mary Alice Monroe, whose romantic books are published all over the world.

Most importantly, the conference is FREE. So please pull out your calendars, your phones, your sticky notes, and mark the date, February 23, 2013. This author will see you there!