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Archive for the ‘Reading’ Category

I have noticed a theme here lately in the books that win the Newberry Medal award or other awards. It seems to me that they all have a sad tone or dark mood. Here are some books I have read that have been given awards.

“Wolf Hollow” by Lauren Wolk, was such a sad story that I had a hard time reading this to my school children. It was sad and depressing and did not give you any hope in humanity. Yes, there are life lessons in it. Yes, it is more realistic with the ending. But how are these books judged? Do they get an award because of how much they make you feel or cry?

“Hello Universe” by Erin Entrada Kelly, is another story that leaves you feeling a little sad at the ending. Yes, again there were life lessons. It had a better ending than the other books but you feel the innocence is gone from these children.

“Pax” by Sara Pennypacker, is a story that you just cannot stop reading even though you have guessed the ending before the last three chapters. Another sad story of loss and a young boy having to grow up and face the reality of war. It breaks your heart.

Now, these are only the books I have read in the last year that have gotten rave reviews and won awards. I have read other books that were good and uplifting.   But there is a universe of sad books that have received awards like, “Old Yeller”, “Shilo”, “Holes”, “Beyond the Bright Sea” (Another book by Lauren Wolk. You can see her pattern of style.) and “Inside Out and Back Again”.  And they all have a sad tone to them.

So what makes these books so loved by critics or literary scholars? The harsh reality in them? The fact they bring grown men to tears? Who knows?

I think we need more good books for children where they can feel happy about the ending. We need beautiful books that show that the world is not all ugly. We need books that children can escape into for a while. Children are already seeing the ugly side of the world it is time we give them books that encourage them to see the bright side of things now.

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Do you ever feel you are a seasonal writer?istockphoto-692299112-612x612

Okay not everyone can be like Mary Faulkner and keep pumping out books. Some of us (especially me) like to write when the season is right. At the beginning of the year I feel excited to start fresh to tackle my goals of writing, then somewhere during the year life happens and my writing goals get forgotten.

Some of the time I hit a slump in writing that it looks like I gave up altogether but I am always thinking about it in the back of my mind. When I read a good book, I think “Oh that was some good writing” which makes me think about my own writing. Then I feel depressed I have not written in a while and the vicious circle continues.

So how do you break the habit of hibernation? I recently read a great article about 3 steps to help writers become more successful in accomplishing goals. We should all try these steps. The first is to not wait for inspiration.  I know that seems to be my problem right now.

The second is to not give up because of someone criticizing your work. Everyone will have something to say about everything you do. Try not to get offended and keep on writing.

The third is to set up small wins. We all have high expectations of ourselves and feel we are not meeting them. Ultimately, this can hurt your motivation for writing. Make smaller goals to reach each day and celebrate when you accomplish them.

Read more from this article: 3 Surefire Ways to Write More Consistently

Start writing today!

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Taking a break in the summer from writing does not mean to stop reading.  I have challenged myself to read more books this summer.  If you want to challenge yourself and need to keep track too, then try the challenge on Goodreads. https://www.goodreads.com/

This helps me to also keep track of my reviews of the books.  Sometimes I can read so many books that after a while I lose what I read. Keeping my impressions by writing reviews reminds me of the book. How do you keep track of your reading?

I recently read an article about the summer slide for kids. The data is disheartening for children book authors. Here is an excerpt from the article on Summer Reading 2019:

“According to findings from the Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report™: 7th Edition, there is a rising trend of kids ages 6–17 reading zero books over the summer: 15% in 2016 vs. 20% in 2018. Among 9–11-year-olds, this percentage has doubled (7% to 14%), and among teens ages 15–17 it has increased by ten points (22% to 32%). To help turn this trend around, the report reveals that if parents are aware of the summer slide, their children are less likely to read zero books (16% vs.25%). Yet, 47% of parents with school-age children are not aware of the summer slide and this percentage increases sharply to 63% among families with household incomes under $35,000. “https://www.cbcbooks.org/2019/05/08/summer-reading-in-2019-is-all-about-kids-empowerment-with-scholastic-summer-read-a-palooza/ 

Scholastic and United Way Worldwide are donating high- quality books to communities providing children access to them through libraries and book stores.  Teachers and parents are also trying to reverse this trend. I do not stop reading so, of course, I do not let my kids stop either.

What are some effective ways that help children (and you) to keep reading during summer break? What do you feel is the benefits for an author to read in their genre or outside of it?

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Reading children’s books has to be a priority for writers in this genre. We need to know what children want to read or why a book is selling. Some of the best books I read this year did not make some of the lists. But here are a few that did.

The NY Times top-selling children books had only one book I have read this year: “The Girl Who Drank the Moon” by Kelly Barnhill. 28110852.jpg

I gave this book 5 stars on Goodreads and you can read my review of it here:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2357366254?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

You can also see the full list of books that made the top of NY Times Bestsellers:

https://www.nytimes.com/books/best-sellers/childrens-middle-grade-hardcover/?module=DropDownNav&action=click&region=navbar&contentCollection=Books&version=Childrens&referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2F&pgtype=Reference

From Goodreads Best Middle Grade & Children’s for 2018 the top of the list was “The Burning Maze” by Rick Riordan. A lot of my favorite authors made it on this list.  You can see the full list here:

https://www.goodreads.com/choiceawards/best-childrens-books-2018

Commonsense media is anotherplace where you can find the top children’s books for the year. One book I have added to my read list (maybe because I really like this author and met him once in person) is by Matt de la Pena called “Carmella Full of Wishes”.  His writing is full of emotion, which makes it is hard not to get swept up into the characters lives.  See the full list here:

https://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/best-kids-books-of-2018

What books were your favorite from this year? Comment below what books did not make the list.

And read some great books this coming new year!

 

 

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I hate dry spells in writing. I feel guilty that I have not written in a while. This guilt then turns me away from writing which is the exact opposite of accomplishing anything productive. So what did I do during this period of “no-writing”? Well, I read some great literature, took a couple of college courses and I vegged in front of the TV. Not a lot of writing. When you have to write lesson plans, reports and other forms of documents, then creative writing seems to take a back seat.

This will have to change this next year. 2019 will be the year of more creative stories and time to write some poetry. I recently read that “Improving your writing through the practice and study of poetry forces you to whip out your magnifying glass and look at your writing up close. Whether you apply poetic concepts to fiction, blogging, or article writing, your engagement with poetry will help you produce better writing.” (https://www.writingforward.com/better-writing/poetry-helps-you-improve-your-writing)

I do not plan to just jump head first into writing poetry. Studying and reading other famous poets will help me get my juices flowing. I have written some poetry in the past. Writing poetry will help me flex those brain muscles I have not used in a while. Let me know what helps you get over your dry spells in writing in the comments below.

Good luck to everyone’s writing in the new coming year!

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When we look at all the places we could shop for a book thirty years ago the choices were slim. Today, because of all the different formats of books there are hundreds of places to shop for books. Which, in my opinion, is a good thing. This only creates better opportunities for authors getting their books into hands around the world. Here are the most go to places for self-published and even traditional published authors to have their books sold at:

 

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https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1330042438

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https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/flight-of-the-raven-8

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https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/flight-of-the-raven-j-r-wilson/1127745179?ean=2940154965856

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https://www.24symbols.com/book/x/x/x?id=2530421

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https://play.playster.com/books/10009781546870623/flight-of-the-raven-j-r-wilson

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https://www.overdrive.com/media/3737358/flight-of-the-raven

This list doesn’t stop here. The library and schools have books that readers can find. Even publishers sell their books on their websites. There are thousands of bookstores around the world. And people even sell books on eBay and other sites where you might not get the newest edition but maybe a bargain of a find. What is your favorite place to shop? Which format of books do you like- digital or physical? And finally, where do you think your book has sold the best?

Happy book hunting!

 

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Source: The Most Anticipated Children’s and YA Books of Fall 2017 

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Source: Getting to the Top of the Charts on Amazon Kindle

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After much anticipation of the finished product, my book is live on Amazon!

Here is the link:   http://amazon.com/dp/B06Y6C8687

If there is a problem with the link or anything else please let me know.

Thanks everyone for being so patient.

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If you have read my previous posts about self-publishing than you can see that I have always been torn about it. No longer now. I am in the last stages of finishing up an MG manuscript that I have worked on for more than eight years! Imagine eight years of seeing rejections from publishers and literary agents. Eight years of rigorous editing by paid editors. Eight years of agonizing that I did not write a good story. Eight years of work behind me now.

My last step is to self-publish on Amazon Kindle. I have a friend designing the artwork for the cover then it will all be left in the readers’ hands.

Friends and relatives have been waiting for this day forever.  It feels like sending your first child off to kindergarten. You want them to be the best kid ever and to make lots of friends. Same thing with my book. I want good reviews and make lots of friendly fans.

Feelings of excitement and trepidation are waging war inside of me. In the end, I think I will be satisfied to see my book out there on a digital shelf.  Sometimes you just have to take the plunge and just do it.

To all my loyal readers, I will keep you updated when my book hits the shelf and I will post a copy of the link soon.

Thanks, everyone!

 

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