As a mother, I spend a lot of time reading out loud to my kids. We have so many picture books, that occasionally one will fall off the shelf (or out from under the couch) that I swear I’ve never seen before. My kids (5 year old twins, and a 2 year old) all love reading books, but as they are too young to read themselves, I do the reading for them. Even the best books can only be read so many times before you want to pull your hair out, and if you have kids you understand that they want to read the same book over and over and over.
And over and over.
(Annoyed yet? Because that is just a small taste of what it’s like to read the same book 453,499 times.)
My twins gained the attention span for longer books about a year ago, and since then I’ve been on a quest to find great chapter books to read to them. We have tried recommended books, as well as random ones pulled off the shelf. Some have been painful experiences, but in our adventures in reading I’ve come across some real winners too. I’m going to share them with you.
What makes a good read aloud chapter book? Continue reading
Posted in Book Reviews, On Writing
Tagged book recommendations, Book Reviews, bullies, Chapter Books, children's books, Commander in Cheese, early readers, fantasy, female protagonists, humor, Inspector Flytrap, Jordan Quinn, Lindsey Leavitt, monsters, picture books, Princess, Princess in Black, read aloud, Shannon Hale, The Kingdom of Wrenly, The Notebook of Doom, The Secrets of Droon, themes, Tom Angleberger, Tony Abbott, Troy Cummings, villians, weird
I’m in the middle of editing The Darkest Hour which is a good thing to do but sometimes I need a little “fun” writing time to break it up. Whenever this happens I turn back to my favorite character, Liz. If you’ve read this blog before, you will also recognize the narrator, Ethan, and his partner James. You can read more about these characters on the Elizabeth DiMaggio page of this blog. I hope you enjoy.
Ethan had known James’s identity for some time. Actually, “known” isn’t the right word. Suspected would be better. It was wrong, but he’d used his clearance and looked up her profile and memorized everything in it. But it hadn’t listed her real identity, so he’d…gone above his clearance.
The fact that her identity had been missing even in the most secret places in the agency was its own clue. He, for example, had no reason to hide his true identity. He was in the habit of using a fake name, simply because that’s what one did in the industry. James always called him Ethan, so that’s the one he preferred, but he could just as easily have gone by Jeremy, which was his given name. No one would have care and he had no one from “real life” that would be hurt. Most agents had a little more to protect than he did, so it wasn’t surprising when James’s identity was hidden under a few clearance levels. What was surprising was that her identity didn’t seem to exist anywhere. No one in the agency knew who she was.
She was good with computers, but erasing that kind of information from the agency database was the kind of thing only the top hackers in the world could do. So why did James need that level of protection? Continue reading
Posted in E.A. DiMaggio, Ethan
Tagged CIA, clearance, clues, Cover, creative writing, Elizabeth DiMaggio, Ethan, facade, famous, Fiction, identity, James, Mission, movie star, Oscars, partners, protection, research, spy, surveillance, venue
If you have ever wondered whether I’d be a great character in a fantasy story, the answer is no. But it might be kind of funny. My critique partner and super awesome writer and all around person, Beth Wangler tagged me in this fantasy game for fantasy month. I can’t wait for you to read Beth’s novel Child of the Kaites, coming out later this year, but in the mean time you can check out her website for some other stories, poems and awesomeness.
You can look at the original #fantasymonth game post here. Read more to see how I would fare in a fantasy world.
Posted in On Writing, Uncategorized
Tagged #fantasymonth, Aladdin, bears, Beth Wangler, brontosaurus, chambermaid, dinosaur, fantasy month, Fiction, Fran Laniado, Harry Potter, Katelyn Buxton, Kyle Robert S, Mercy Thompson, Narnia, Patricia Briggs, Petra Englisch, Shultz, What if
The thing about lava is that it’s a lot harder to find than the movies lead you to believe. Sure, sometimes volcanoes explode in massive, deadly explosions, and sometimes there is actually some lava involved in such explosions. But more often than not, eruptions of oozy goozy lava are quiet and slow and not that news worthy. The Kilauea volcano on the big island has been erupting since 1983 and although enough lava erupts every day to cover a two lane road for 20 miles1, you don’t see any flashing news headlines, or movie trailers featuring Pierce Brosnan or Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as manly heroes up against Hawaii’s worst volcano.2 That’s because most of the lava flows harmlessly to the sea, or globs onto the side of the volcano, building new land quietly, out of the lime light.
I had already hiked over twenty miles in search of lava. That hike was magical, but we had never found the elusive liquid rock, and we were running out of time. Field trips to Hawaii do not last forever. So, our professor did the only thing he could. He woke us up at three in the morning. Continue reading
Posted in A Grain of Sand, Uncategorized
Tagged adventure, basalt, birth, Chain of Craters Road, creative writing, Dwayne Johnson, field trip, geologic time, geology, Hawaii, Hawaiian Lava Fields, heat, hiking, lava, non-fiction, Orpheus, Pierce Brosnan, rock hammer, teddy grahams, underworld
Some of you may remember that I wrote a novel called The Darkest Hour. I’m currently working on edits right now to make it all polished and perfect. In the course of the editing process I have had various people read my novel to give me feedback. This has been so helpful and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate these people and the time they took to work with me to make my story better. It takes a village to write a book.
Having said that, one comment I received has stuck with me. The comment was regarding musings by my narrator near the beginning of the book. My narrator is a girl named Rory who has found herself caught up in the politics of her surrounding micro-nations because, it turns out, she’s a princess. So much for her dreams of being a chemist. At the point at which this paragraph takes place, Rory is injured and in a prison, with little hope of ever getting out. Things are looking pretty hopeless. Here is the paragraph. Continue reading
Posted in On Writing, The Darkest Hour
Tagged 51writers, beta readers, character arc, character flaws, creative writing, damsel in distress, Editing, fantasy, feedback, Fiction, hero, knight in shining armor, negative feedback, Novel, rescue, strength, strong female character, YA Fiction
This is the final part of Meelo’s story. He’s a minor character in a story I’m working on, but I loved him so much, I had to give him a happily ever after. Get caught up with part 1, part 2, and part 3.
When Meelo next opened his eyes, it was twilight—morning twilight—and the vehicle was moving much slower over roads that Peetzland would have had indentureds rip up and replace a decade ago. He must have slept all night.
The man was now driving although Meelo could not even pull up the vaguest memory of the car stopping for the drivers to switch. They were in an uncultivated grassland and Meelo could see up ahead a break in the brush, some sort of gully or wash.
The woman turned toward him. She smiled. “Good morning. We’ll be there in just a couple minutes and get you a proper breakfast. I hope you slept well.”
Meelo shrugged non-committally, but didn’t say a thing. The woman smiled at him again and turned back around. She was younger than he had thought last night. She looked tired, but she didn’t look haggard and broken like an indentured. Her eyes were not dull. The man in grey was older than she was, but not by much. When he almost caught Meelo’s eyes in the mirror, Meelo glanced away quickly. He’d already seen the man’s coldness back in Peetzland. Continue reading
Posted in The Darkest Hour
Tagged Anna, Chasing the Dawn, creative writing, debt, dystopian, Fiction, free, gulch, indentured, Meelo, Peeztland, Raymond, short story, snow, sunlight, sunrise, supporting character, The Darkest Hour, winter, YA Fiction
Third part in a four part short story about Meelo, a supporting character in one of my novels in progress. I just couldn’t get Meelo out of my head, even after his purpose in my novel was complete, so I wrote him a story. Get caught up with part 1 and part 2, and look for the conclusion next week.
Meelo didn’t move. It was him? He was the one the man in grey had chosen? Why? The administrator was glaring, but Meelo was only vaguely aware of that.
Bennett slapped his hand on Meelo’s shoulder, startling him out of his stupor. “Good luck, kid.” He nodded in a way Meelo could only assume was supposed to be reassuring, and then Bennett slipped away into the hall and out of Meelo’s life. Another person gone.
Meelo managed to stumble toward the administrator, who turned and exited the room the same way the man in grey had gone. Meelo hesitated to follow and found himself being prodded by one of the guards. He only looked back once as the last of the indentureds disappeared into their world. His world too. He didn’t know how to live outside of it anymore. Continue reading
Posted in The Darkest Hour
Tagged creative writing, debt, dystopian, Escape, exhaustion, ficiton, hunger, hypnotizing, indentured, Meelo, night, payment, Peeztland, short story, supporting character, winter, work in progress, YA Fiction