YALLfest 2013

Ho man.

YALLfest was a total blast this year. Continue reading

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On the Importance of Reading Aloud

Following on this awesome post by Lindsay Allison about the importance of being a good beta reader, I’d like to share something I’ve learned from our little cuddle-fest of local writers.

One of the most important things I’ve learned from my critique group is how important it is to read your own fiction aloud. Before the formation of this group, I never used to read my own writing aloud, but now I do it in my everyday practice. After I’ve finished a chapter or long section of writing, I will go back over it and, rather than simply reading it silently in my head as I would once have done, I read it out loud to myself. Continue reading

Finally finished The Millennium Trilogy yesterday…

Oh man. Oh man. Ohhh man. Epic long post coming up in the next few days, but… suffice to say. The final book did NOT disappoint. Lisbeth Salander is my waifu.

Reading tons of great books lately. Right now I’m working on the first in Molly Harper’s “Nice Girls Don’t” series. Omg that woman is absolutely hilarious. The MC is a recently fired librarian who is shot by a drunk hunter who mistakes her for a deer in the woods, after which she is changed into a vampire. Hijinks ensue. This book is definitely feeding my need for actual GOOD vampire fiction, which is something I have been lacking since finishing The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice about 15 years ago. And it’s FUNNY. Awesome. The literary world definitely needs more monster comedy.

So what are you guys reading right now?

Book Club Monday – The Joy Luck Club pt. 1

Kicking off our first book club title, we have a modern classic by Amy Tan – The Joy Luck Club. Perhaps like me you’ve read it before and wish to read it again, or maybe you’re reading it for the first time. Either way, I hope you’ll enjoy it and check back for further discussion of the first 4 chapters next week. Below are a couple of discussion questions we can consider for next week. Feel free to post any responses you might have!

The Joy Luck Club – Discussion Questions

1. When and why was the Joy Luck Club formed? Why were the words “joy” and ” luck” included in the club’s name? What is the significance of these meetings? Do you have meetings/rituals with friends/family that are similar to this?
2. Why do the characters in THE JOY LUCK CLUB use stories to communicate rather than simply stating stating what they are thinking and feeling? What effect do the stories have on the listener in the story? What effect do they have on the reader?

Book Review: Erin Hunter’s “Warriors” Series, and Why EVERYONE Should Read Kids’ Fiction.

Having a bad day? Feeling bogged down in life? GO READ A KIDS’ BOOK.

Seriously. I am such a proponent of adults reading more children’s literature. Be it a storybook or a beginning chapter book… Kids’ fiction is to be enjoyed by all. There is no age limit on storytime.

Case in point. One of my absolute favorite children’s book series: Warriors.

So, right off… It’s about CATS. And who doesn’t like stories with personified animals? I mean, come on. Secondly, it’s a coming of age story about a young boy (who just happens to be a cat) searching for his own identity and place in the world. That’s appealing to everyone, not just kids!

The first book, Into the Wild, serves as an introduction to the world and a recurring conflict for our main character that will span the course of the first series.

Our MC is a young cat named Rusty who lives at Twolegplace with his human owners. Rusty lives a happy and comfortable life as a house cat, but spends his afternoons at the edge of his garden, peering off into the wild woods beyond and wondering what adventures might await him there. One day, he decides to just go for it, and slips over his fence and into the woods. In the forest, Rusty encounters a wild cat who attacks him! But despite this confrontational first meeting, the wild cat (whom we learn is named Graypaw) is impressed with Rusty’s courage and fighting ability. He tells Rusty strange and wonderful things about the cats of the forest; there are four Clans – Windclan, Shadowclan, Riverclan, and Graypaw’s own Clan, Thunderclan. The forest cats live by an ancient code of honor and respect to their ancestors in Starclan who guide and watch over the forest from above. Rusty is fascinated by all this, and dreams of becoming a forest cat. But does Rusty have what it takes to run with the wild cat Clans? Or will his soft and comfortable kittypet upbringing be too much for him to overcome?

The Warriors series is written by 4 ladies who collectively write under the name Erin Hunter. They are Victoria Holmes, Kate Cary, Cherith Baldry, and Tui Sutherland. Together they have written over 40 Warriors books spanning the course of 4 separate series, with an additional manga form series, and several stand alone books as well. I think it is safe to say the series is doing well, and is one of the most popular series for young readers right now.

One thing that I love most about Warriors is the sort of… Catspeak words our authors have come up with for expressing certain concepts from a cat’s point of view. Words like kittypet, Twoleg, Thunderpath. They are words for things that are either concepts in the human world that would seem alien to a cat and must therefore be reinvented, or words for concepts that fall outside the realm of human understanding. For example, a kittypet is a housecat. It’s generally considered a derogatory word among Clan cats because it implies weakness. To humans, there’s no need to make distinction between wild cats and housecats; they’re all just cats, right? Not so, from a cat’s point of view! Anyway, I like that. The use of these made-up words does a lot to put the reader in the frame of mind of the characters they are reading about.

Another thing I love about this series is that it seems to be directed towards and appeal to children of all genders. I have such a problem with anything for kids that is catered to “just girls” or “just for boys” whether it be toys, or books, or clothes, or whatever. So the fact that this series has a little something for everyone is good. It’s got adventure and heroics, but also character driven story, and even a little romance. Kids appropriate romance, of course, but you get the idea.

Warriors is a great and fun series for anyone who likes a little adventure and fantasy and characters overcoming insurmountable odds. Also kitties! ❤

The ladies behind Erin Hunter also write another series about bears called Seekers, and will be debuting their brand new series about dogs living in a post-apocalyptic world called Survivors later this summer!

Anyway. Go read a kids book! You’ll be glad you did!

Until next time,

Laura ❤