"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." - Walt Disney

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Banned Books Week

Today is the beginning of "BANNED BOOKS WEEK 2016".  The top ten books frequently challenged in 2015 has been released by the State of America's Library Report

A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others.

The Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged books list is compiled by the Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) and is based on or derived from communities across the United States. According to their data, the ten most challenged books of 2015 were:

  1. Looking for Alaska, by John Green
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
  2. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James
    Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and other (“poorly written,” “concerns that a group of teenagers will want to try it”).
  3. I Am Jazz, by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings
    Reasons: Inaccurate, homosexuality, sex education, religious viewpoint, and unsuited for age group.
  4. Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, by Susan Kuklin
    Reasons: Anti-family, offensive language, homosexuality, sex education, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“wants to remove from collection to ward off complaints”).
  5. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon
    Reasons: Offensive language, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“profanity and atheism”).
  6. The Holy Bible
    Reasons: Religious viewpoint.
  7. Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel
    Reasons: Violence and other (“graphic images”).
  8. Habibi, by Craig Thompson
    Reasons: Nudity, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
  9. Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan, by Jeanette Winter
    Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group, and violence.
  10. Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan
    Reasons: Homosexuality and other (“condones public displays of affection”).
If you would like more information about banned and challenged books, contact the Office for Intellectual Freedom at (800) 545-2433, ext. 4220, or oif@ala.org.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Get Lost...

For sure, you have to be lost to find a place that can’t be found, else ways everyone would know where it was. – Captain Barbossa, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

All writers get stuck. Call it writers block, stress, overwhelmed by outside forces, burnout… whatever you want. We can lose our ability, even our will to write.
When this happens, it’s time to get lost.
If you want to be a better writer, you have to lose the block, lose yourself. Allow yourself time to heal, time to deal, time to be anything other than a writer for a while.
1)      Crisis – deal first with any impending doom that might be interfering in your mental balance. Take care of your health, your family, and your other responsibilities. Your basic needs must be met before you can achieve self-actualization.
2)      Indulge – allow yourself time to relax. Whether you partake of your favorite movie marathons, binge read an entire series, or simply catch up on your sleep let your brain rejuvenate.
3)      Play – get physically active. Play your favorite sports, participate in games, window shop until your drop, go dancing with friends or family – whatever you enjoy to encourage your body to be more active.
4)      Explore – there is nothing like new experiences, places, and people to fuel your imagination and spark hundreds of ideas. Inspiration can come from traveling the world, or simply trying a new restaurant, class, or skill. New experiences and learning can turn your mind from bored thoughts of the ordinary toward interest and excitement.

Try these four tips to help stimulate your brain and body. Remember to ground yourself in your world and what you know, allow yourself to float in the mundane, enjoy the fun, and then try something new.  Do this and both your writing and your life can be enriched and altered by remembering how to get lost.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Writer at Work

Hey all! I'm trying to finish up a few projects this week (hoping to meet, if not beat, looming deadlines). I've also found some broken links on this blog that I hope to update soon. I'll do my best to be back to blogging, commenting, and visiting with everyone next week.

Until then, check out this great anthology call from the Insecure Writer's Support Group: http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/2016/09/announcing-2016-iwsg-anthology-contest.html

What projects currently have you scrambling? Are you working to finish a project you are passionate about, or are you stuck in a rut? If you feel stuck, you MUST check out the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Until next time, HAPPY WRITING!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Have We Forgotten?

This years high school freshmen are the first group to learn about 9/11 as an historical event since they were not even born yet when this horrendous day occurred.


It's hard to believe that it's been 15 years since the attacks. America's motto following 9/11 was "We Will Never Forget." I was so proud of the way our country banned together following that terrorist activity. Just as we have following any other attack by foes in our nations history.

Yet, now I see our country participating in another form of war - one of hate and disrespect. So many of our citizens are all too often ready to jump straight to hate. They can't wait to point out someone else's mistakes. Or worse yet, attacking an opinion or point of pride for someone else just because they do not feel the same. When did it become necessary that we all think, act, and feel just alike?

Has this intolerant culture been bred by social media making it easy to bite back immediately without facing the adversary? Have politicians stirred and fueled our hate and distrust of others? Have we forgotten what it's like to fear for our country? Will it take another act of war to force us to join together?

Where were you when the planes hit New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington DC? What is different about how you act and feel today than in 2001?

Take some time to consider and write about your feelings, memories, and what you think needs to happen in the future. Here are a few ideas:

1)      Write about your reaction to and activities the day of the September 11th attack.
2)      How have your feelings and understandings about the attacks of 9/11 changed?
3)      There were many heroes during the September 11th tragedy. Write about a hero or a heroic event that made an impression.
4)      September 11th is a Day of Remembrance. As we honor those who lost their lives on this day 2001, make a list of everything in your life that you are thankful for.
5)      Did the events of that day change your thoughts about your life? In what ways, if any, did you change?
6)      Sometimes a mistake becomes an opportunity. Explain…
A)    The terrorist mistake of bombing on 9/11 became an opportunity for the United States to demonstrate it is the strongest nation on earth.
B)    9/11 offered America the opportunity to learn from its mistaken efforts to dominate the globe.

Obviously your answers to #6 will offer diametrically opposed positions depending on how you view the United States' role as a world power, and on the extent to which you believe America should fight terrorism.

7)      BuddyProject.org offers suggested activities that your children can do as they research the events of September 11, 2001. Explore the various sites with your children and discuss with them the information that you find. Encourage older children to write about their findings and feelings.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

IWSG: Busy Day Writing

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs. You can also join us on twitter using the hashtag #IWSG, or on the Facebook page.

Now, IWSG hosts have changed up the format in an effort to make it more fun and interactive.Every month, they will announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 

Don’t forget to visit others that day to see their answers. Want to join, or learn more? Visit our - Sign-up List.

The September 7th question is - How do you find the time to write in your busy day?

My Answer - The truth is, some days are harder than others. Work, school, social media, family, and illness can all interfere with your best writing goals. Be realistic, but set a daily goal. Even if it's just 100 words - write something every day. It can be as simple as an idea for a book, a scene, or even a character, but you MUST write something. Those 100 words can be written in a matter of minutes. Admit it, you dedicate that much attention to your cell phone every day. Simply be sure to give equal attention to your writing.

Wishing you could commit to a higher word count EVERY day? Check out this article on How to Write 10,000 Words in a Day and why you should give it a try at least once.

How about you? What is your daily schedule?

Friday, September 2, 2016

Labor Day Writing

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

In 1906, Upton Sinclair published The Jungle. His goal was to expose the deplorable conditions at factories in Chicago and other American cities.

In 1979 Irving Ravetech and Harriet Frank Jr. gave us the screenplay for Norma Rae - a young single mother and textile worker who agrees to help unionize her mill despite the dangers involved.

Interested in a few more "labor" themed books? Check out this list of twenty best labor day books.

What are some of your favorite labor inspired reads?

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Genius of Bradbury

No matter what genre you write, you should be following https://killzoneblog.com/. This blog is kept by 11 top suspense authors and publishing professionals. It also hosts guest spots from equally talented individuals in the field. This site offers wonderful examples, anectodes, lessons, and support to hundreds if not thousands of writers. I highly recommend you check them out.

I mention them today because twice this week, authors there have mentioned meeting or learning from Ray Bradbury. While I'm super jealous that I never had the opportunity to meet Bradbury, we fortunately live in an age where the internet allows ready access to videos and interviews.

Below is a great video of Bradbury. In this talk, as in many interviews and his own book Zen in the Art of Writing, Bradbury offers 12 useful tips to writers which are summarized below the clip:

1) Don't start out writing novels because they take too long. Instead, start with short stories. Write at least one a week for about a year. He says it isn't possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row.

2) Don't purposely imitate your favorites. You have to write until you find your own voice so the story doesn't ring false for the readers.

3) Do, however, continue to read and examine the work of those quality authors. He suggests the short stories of Roald Dahl, Guy de Maupassant, Nigel Kneale, and John Collier.

4) Stuff your head with bedtime reading. He suggests reading the classical short stories and poems of Shakespeare, Pope, and Frost before falling asleep.

5) Get rid of relationships with unbelievers. If they laugh at you, or make fun of your ambitions, Bradbury suggests you call them up and "fire them" from your life.

6) Live in the books, not computers. He may not have gone to college, but his love of libraries and reading helped him to become one of America's most celebrated authors.

7) Fall in love with movies. He prefers the old ones.

8) Write with joy. He says if a story starts to feel like work "scrap it and start a new one."

9) Don't plan on making money. He and his wife took a "vow of poverty". He never worried about how much he could make off a creation.

10) List ten things you love and ten things you hate. Then write about the former, and "kill" the latter.

11) Just type whatever comes into your head. You never know what works until you freely put it all down and test it.

12) Remember, if you can ever get just one person to come and say "I love your work," then you are a success.

Are you a fan of Bradbury? What do you think of his 12 tips?