My Five Favorite Words

 

Words-010

The idea for this post came from an article with the subject of blog posts suggestions. I have far more than five favorite words, but as to keep this post from being too tedious for the reader I’ll keep it to just the five.

Withershins- counterclockwise, contrary to what is natural, unlucky

There are certain words which bring about a specific reaction before even knowing the definition. Withershins is one of those words. It feels very ominous.

Catawampus- crooked

This is one of those words that is just fun to say. Try it. Cat.a.wam.pus. So much better than just saying crooked.

The sound of some words gives a hint to their meanings. Such as…

Mollycoddle- pamper, baby

If you’re reading a book and the father says to the mother, “Don’t mollycoddle that boy!” you know what he means even if you’ve never seen the word before.

Insouciant- easy-going, casual

Insouciant is another word that sounds a bit like its meaning. Insouciant sounds smooth and laid back.

Pugnacious- inclined to quarrel or fight readily

A common word, but one that I like the sound of and it so perfectly paints a picture. Pugnacious is a great word for character description.

There you have it; five of my favorite words. If you have some words that you would like to share, please leave them in the comments. I would love to add to my list.

Finding the time to write

I want to thank Helen for writing this. I have been really struggling to get my second book finished because of a lack of time; her post let me see that even someone who has more books than I, has the same hardships.

Helen Pollard writes ...

This is a perennial problem for most writers, and one I wish I had a better answer to.

Most of the time, the answer is:  I don’t.

Not what you were expecting? Sorry.

When I took up writing again about five years ago after a long raising-my-family-and-returning-to-work gap, it wasn’t too hard for me to snatch the odd hour here and there. And at that time, writing was all I was doing in that odd hour. Well, that and a little internet research on technique, agents, publishers – but in the main, my aim was simply to watch my manuscript grow.

Oh, how I wish that was still the case.

I’ve mentioned in previous blogs about my naivety when I got my first contract. I knew I would have to create a website, start blogging, get going on social media, but I really had no idea how much promo and…

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Interview with Author Katy Newton Naas

Katy Naas

Let’s get to know Katy…

Katy Newton Naas graduated from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale with a bachelor’s degree in English Education and a master’s degree in Reading and Language Studies. She currently teaches middle school reading and high school English in southern Illinois, as well as children’s church. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, including her husband, her husband young son, Aven, and her four-legged sons, Shakespeare and Poe. She expects her second little boy to arrive in the next couple of weeks!

From a young age, Katy was always an avid reader and writer with a big imagination. Though she continues to grow older, her true literature love is and has always been young adult fiction. She loves creating both futuristic and realistic stories about teenagers, and feels so fortunate to get to work with them every day as a teacher.

  • Why did you choose to write a dystopian novel?
  • Well, I had the idea one day when I was bored on my computer, browsing through the Yahoo! articles. It was one of those days when every story was particularly depressing – murder, children gone missing, etc. So a thought occurred to me: If there is life out there somewhere, looking down on us, what do they think about us? The idea just kind of developed from there. I started thinking of all the ways their society would be different, better than ours. But that, of course, created problems of other sorts. Thus, the planet of Verdant was born!
  • Do you have any favorite dystopian literature? Authors?
  • My all-time favorite dystopian story is THE GIVER by Lois Lowry. I read that story for the first time in fifth grade, and it never let me go. I teach the novel now – all these years later – to my seventh graders, and most of them fall in love with it just like I did.
  • Do you foresee any part of your book becoming reality? If so explain.
  • Well, I think everyone wonders about the possibility of life out there on other planets. Will we ever get there to see it? I would like to think so. We’re closer now than we’ve ever been before. But as far as what that world would be like…I’m not sure. My main character, Noah, learns some horrible things about his “perfect” world. I’d like to think that part would never become reality.
  • Was there a particular event or idea in the real world that inspired your writing?
  • Well, like I said before, it all stemmed from the news articles. I try to watch the news and keep up with what is happening in the world around us, but sometimes, I just have to tune it out. If you stop and think about all the ‘what if’ situations that could happen, you would never go anywhere or do anything. It’s a scary world out there!
  • When writing your book, did you seek to only tell a good story or to get across a specific message?
  • I really just wanted to tell the story, but after it was finished, I realized there was a message as well. Sure, we’re far from perfect. But some of the things that go along with our imperfections are what make this world worth living in.
  • What was the inspiration for your book?
  • Well, I’ve spoke to this question a couple of times above, but I will just address it as writing in general. People always ask why we as writers choose to write. At the risk of sounding cheesy, I really don’t think we choose writing so much as writing chooses us. It’s something I feel compelled to do. When I get an idea or a particular character in my head, it stays there until I do something with it and I have to write it down. It’s been part of my life since I was very, very young.
  • What other genres do you read?
  • I will read literature from just about every genre. I teach middle school reading and high school English, so of course, I enjoy the classics. But on my own time, for entertainment purposes only, I concentrate on YA. I always joke that even though I continued to age, my literary tastes just didn’t grow up with me. My favorite books and authors are all YA.
  • Have you or would you like to write in another genre? Which one?
  • Well, THE VISITORS is YA dystopian, but my second release, HEALING RAIN, is YA contemporary/romance. I have a third release coming out in July, GUARDIAN, and it is a middle grade novel about a seventh grade girl with epilepsy and her seizure assistance dog. I have two current projects going: an adult contemporary romance, and a series of chapter books for young readers. So, as you can see, I’m all over the place! I would say my concentration is more YA and MG, but I am really excited for the young reader series as well. We will see where life and inspiration take me!
  • Are you particularly fond of any one of you characters?
  • I get pretty attached to all of my characters, I think. In THE VISITORS, I was most attached to Jady, the sixteen-year-old human protagonist. She is so strong and smart, and she’s not afraid to take chances. I have a real soft spot in my heart for Rain, the somewhat sarcastic protagonist in HEALING RAIN, because of all she has to go through in her life and the way she deals with it all. In GUARDIAN, I really fell in love with Drake, the seizure assistance dog, because of his loyalty and the sacrifices he makes to protect Kinsey, his owner. I don’t think it’s possible to spend so much time with these characters, writing their stories, and NOT become attached to them as if they’re family.
  • Is there one book, in any genre, that has had a lasting impact on your life? Title. How did it affect you?
  • Now this is a tough question. So many books come to mind. I think if I have to narrow it down to ONE choice, I’d say the one that has stuck with me the most throughout the years is CATCHER IN THE RYE. I just absolutely fell in love with Holden and all of his flaws. When I finished that book, I thought, I want to do this. So I guess you could say it was the novel that first made me think about really pursuing a career in writing.

You can visit Katy here…

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/katynewtonnaasauthor

Twitter: @KatyNewtonNaas

Now let’s check out her YA novel, The Visitors…

TheVisitors

Sometimes soul mates find each other in unlikely places. But is love worth it if it risks your life?

Seventeen-year-old Noah is startled when he awakes one day to find that dangerous, irrational, self-serving, and destructive visitors called “humans” are coming to visit his beautiful, perfect society. All citizens are ordered to have limited contact and share minimal information with these visitors.

Sixteen-year-old Jady is thrilled to accompany her father and his crew on a trip to a recently-discovered planet, Verdant. The United States’ crew is hopeful that they can learn from this advanced yet similar species.

Despite their greatest efforts to fight it, it doesn’t take long for Jady and Noah to fall in love and begin a secret affair. But when their relationship is revealed, danger is created for everyone involved…

Sounds like a fascinating read. You can go and buy here…

THE VISITORS is available in ebook, and now in paperback! Find it at:

http://www.amazon.com/Visitors-Katy-Newton-Naas-ebook/dp/B00NLXQDZO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1432897779&sr=8-1&keywords=the+visitors+katy+newton+naas

 Thanks Katy for sharing with us.

Interview with author Karen King

Karen King

Karen King

Let’s get to know Karen…

Karen King has had over one hundred children’s books published. She’s written for many children’s magazines too including Sindy, Barbie, Winnie the Pooh and Thomas the Tank Engine. She writes for all ages and in all genres; story books, picture books, plays, joke books and non-fiction. Perfect Summer is her first YA. It was runner up in the Red Telephone books YA Novel 2011 competition.

How did you get started writing?

I’ve always written. I had my first poem published when I was 11. I started my writing career with Jackie magazine, writing articles and photo stories.

 Are you a Plotter or a Pantser?

It depends whether I’m writing to a commission or not. If I’m commissioned I have to plot as I have to send a synopsis and the first couple of chapters to my editor. If I’m not writing to a commission I plot at first so that I know the basic outline of my story but once I get going I write ‘by the seat of my pants.’

 Are you most productive in the morning or evening?

Morning. Often I get out of bed and start writing right away. I’m full of ideas in the morning.

 What’s the most frequent question people ask you?

When I visit schools kids always ask me either if I’m rich. I usually say “No, I’m really poor so please go and buy some of my books!”

 Why did you choose to write a dystopian novel?

I didn’t actually set out to write a dystopian, the story that came to me was a dystopian one

 Do you foresee any part of your book becoming reality? If so explain.

I think that if we don’t curb Society’s obsession with physical perfection then there is a real risk that in the not-too-distant future people with disabilities suffer prejudice and are kept out of the public eye.

Was there a particular event or idea in the real world that inspired your writing?

Yes, I read a magazine article about girls as young as six worrying that they were too fat or too ugly. I thought that was really sad. I started wondering what would happen if people got so obsessed with physical perfection that it became a ‘crime’ to be different in any way.

When writing your book, did you seek to only tell a good story or to get across a specific message?

I wanted to get the message across that we’re all beautiful in our own way and people shouldn’t be so obsessed with trying to have perfect looks. I hope it’s a good story too.

Have you or would you like to write in another genre? Which one?

I write in many genres, for children from preschool to teens, fiction and non-fiction. Also romance stories and novels for women.

Are you particularly fond of any one of you characters?

Morgan from Perfect Summer. She’s feisty, kind and loves her little brother Josh so much she’d do anything for him.

Is there one book, in any genre, that has had a lasting impact on your life? Title. How did it affect you?

The ‘Just William’ books by Richmal Crompton. They used to make me laugh out loud when I was a young girl. They, and Enid Blyton’s books, inspired my love of reading and writing. I always wanted to write a funny book but I’m no good at humour. I do write joke books though.

Visit Karen here…

Website: www.karenking.net

Author Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/?ref=tn_tnmn&__adt=7&__att=iframe#!/KarenKingAuthor

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/dashboard

Twitter: @karen_king

Now let’s check out her YA novel, Perfect Summer

PerfectSummer book cover

Growing up in a society so obsessed with perfection that the government gives people grants for plastic surgery, 15-year-old Morgan can’t help being a bit envious of her best friend Summer. Summer is beautiful and rich, her father is a top plastic surgeon and her mother is a beauty consultant with a celebrity client list. Her life seems so effortlessly perfect. Whereas Morgan isn’t so rich or beautiful and her little brother, Josh, has Down’s syndrome – which, according to the Ministry and society in general, is a crime. Then Josh is kidnapped and the authorities aren’t interested so Morgan and Summer decide to investigate. They, along with another teenager, Jamie, whose sister, Holly, has also been kidnapped, uncover a sinister plot involving the kidnapping of disabled children and find themselves in terrible danger. Can they find Josh and Holly before it’s too late?

Sounds like a fascinating read! You can find it at any one of these sites…

Astraea Press: http://www.astraeapress.com/#!/~/product/category=4452103&id=19176172

Amazon UK:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Perfect-Summer-Karen-King/dp/1482720639/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_pap?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1376050032&sr=1-1&keywords=perfect+summer+by+karen+king

Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Perfect-Summer-Karen-King-ebook/dp/B00B4DF3DG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1384898358&sr=8-1&keywords=perfect+summer+by+karen+king

Waterstones:   http://www.amazon.co.uk/Perfect-Summer-Karen-King/dp/1482720639/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_pap?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1376050032&sr=1-1&keywords=perfect+summer+by+karen+king

Barnes&Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/perfect-summer-karen-king/1114196037?ean=2940016050270

 Thanks Karen for sharing with us.

Favorite Literary Character

Sam Wise Gamgee

When I considered My Favorite Literary Character as a subject for this post I was frustrated with the idea of choosing just one. As you know when you are an avid reader you collect many favorite characters. But as I thought about each one I noticed the majority of them had similar characteristics and that Sam embodied them all.

Of course the character is only as good as the author writes him and Tolkien had a gift for creating characters with such depth and complexity of personality, that even the villain Gullom at times elicits our pity.

So what is it about Sam? Sam is ever loyal to his master.

“It would be the death of you to come with me, Sam,” said Frodo, “and I could not have borne that.”

“Not as certain as being left behind,” said Sam.

“But I am going to Mordor.”

“I know that well enough, Mr. Frodo. Of course you are. And I’m coming with you.”

Sam is humble. He doesn’t envy Mr. Frodo’s wealth or position but is content to be his gardener.

Sam is brave. He takes on Orcs, giant spiders, men, and Gollum. In probably the most powerful scene in Return of the King, Frodo has nearly given up but Sam finds the strength to help him complete his task.

“Come, Mr. Frodo!’ he cried. ‘I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you and it as well. So up you get! Come on, Mr. Frodo dear! Sam will give you a ride. Just tell him where to go, and he’ll go”

And he desires good and is willing to fight for it.

“There’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo… and it’s worth fighting for.”

Though Frodo was chosen to save Middle Earth he couldn’t have done it without Sam; ever loyal, humble, brave, and good.

 

 

 

Back in Bisbee

A Merry Band of Travelers

Bisbee

On a recent Sunday afternoon Jim and I decided to have a little alone time. Well, almost alone, Lucy and I are pretty much inseparable right now. So we headed back to Bisbee after a brief sojourn in Tombstone… again. Jim loves Tombstone; I almost think that he would stop all our travels today if I would agree to settle down there.

But, back to Bisbee. Old town Bisbee isn’t a large town, but without super-charged children who just want to keep moving, you have a chance to leisurely experience it.

Like this lovely little shop.

Free Store

Yes, the Brewery Gulch Free Store. Everything you need in one convenient stop. A poster of Lady Gaga, a 1990’s monitor, some ribbon, a bottle of mouthwash… there’s really too much to list here. All kidding aside could you explain to me the mindset of someone who leaves a nearly empty bottle of mouthwash?…

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Books or Movies

A few months ago I was standing in the book section of Sams when I overheard the couple next to me discussing a title that had recently been made into a film. The female asked her male counterpart if she should read the book before watching the film, to which he replied that she would be less disappointed with the film if she waited and read the book afterwards.I found his response very interesting as I had just watched the final installment of The Hobbit and was again disappointed in its inaccuracy.

My husband and I have commented time and again about how books make the best movies.  Of course that is when the director sticks to the book. But unfortunately they most often do not. And I wonder why, if the book was popular enough to be made into a movie, do the directors not just leave the story alone.

There seems to be a consensus in Hollywood that moviegoers will not pay to see a film unless it is full of violence or romance or sex or all three. Consider The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien published this book in 1937 and it has been incredibly popular ever since. So why change it? Why make a single book into a three-part movie? Why add story lines that never existed in the original writing?

I can only come back again to the notion that movie makers are under the delusion that we won’t watch something that we thoroughly enjoyed in print, unless it appeals in some way to our carnal natures. In this case there was the added violence between Thorin Oakenshield and an Orc that never existed. I can’t help but wonder at how disappointed Tolkien would be to see what was done to his story.

And that also makes me wonder what living authors like Lois Lowry and Jeanne DuPrau think about the movie counterparts to their books. Were they as frustrated as I was with film versions of The Giver and The City of Ember?

So I think the young man in Sams had it right. If you don’t want to be disappointed while watching the movie, don’t read the book first.

Waiting for Albert- A short story

“Excuse me sir, could you please tell me the time?” Charlotte asked politely. The man with the small mustache and round bowler hat did not so much as incline his head toward the sound of her voice. They always do that, thought Charlotte, when had people become so lacking in common manners. She rested against the back of the wooden bench and watched the passing crowds. Nannies with their small charges in hand walked them quickly home from a day of play in the park. Men with folded newspapers under their arms and briefcases in their hands, hailed cabs to take them home to their families or off to one of the local gentlemen’s clubs.

Charlotte turned her attention to the town clock again. There must be something wrong with it, she thought, for the hands never appeared to move. It seemed always to be four- fifty. She rubbed her gloved hands nervously as she again surveyed the crowd looking intently for him. He had promised to meet her at five o’clock. Calming herself with the belief that he would keep his word she pulled from her satchel an ivory boar’s hair brush and contentedly groomed her thick black tresses.

Mother and Father simply didn’t understand what a good man Albert was. They didn’t know him like she did. And they were much too old to remember what it was like to be truly in love. Yes, Albert gambled a bit too much and drank a bit too much, but that would all change once they were married. He only needed the love of a good woman to help him change his ways and if only her parents could see that, she could have a proper marriage and wouldn’t have to run away with him in secret.

Charlotte returned the brush to her satchel and pulled out the letter she had written to her parents explaining everything. She would post it when she and Albert arrived in Franklin. It was there he had promised to make a respectable woman of her… and of course he would. He wasn’t anything if not honest, having only once committed the smallest indiscretion with that barmaid. But he assured her that he had had too much to drink and didn’t know what he was doing and that it would never happen again. Charlotte rubbed her hands more intensely with the thought.

Again she turned her attention to the town clock looming over the square. Charlotte felt it looking disapprovingly at her and averted her eyes. Watching the women walk by she noticed their dress, such uncommonly straight skirts and large brimmed hats. Charlotte felt rather old fashioned in her hoop skirt and bonnet. And the men weren’t wearing the top hats that father wore when going out. Odd, she thought. An elderly gentleman came meandering slowly toward her. She could see his watch chain bouncing against his protruding stomach as he walked. Surely he was not in such a rush that he could not be bothered to answer her question. “Excuse me sir, but could you tell me the time? I think the town clock has stopped.”

He halted his steps and pulled the gold watch from his pocket checking the time on the towering wooden timepiece and being assured that the two were in accord he nodded his head in approval and walked away.

He must not have heard me, she thought, but surely now I know that the time is correct. Only ten minutes before Albert would arrive. She had never been so happy. To have such a handsome and charming man turn all his attention to her was more than she had hoped for. Mother and Father had tried to convince her to marry that dreary Charles. How could a mere bank clerk compare with such an exciting man as Albert? She would have done anything for him… and did. But that would all be rectified when they were married. Again that burning sensation in her hands. She rubbed them furiously and the pain subsided a bit.

Time seemed to stand still. Only the people and buildings showed any signs of change. Charlotte pulled the brush from her bag, groomed her long hair, returned it and pulled forth the letter. She requested the time from men and women only to be ignored; and always the burning feeling of her gloved hands. Her mind would wander into imaginations of Albert and the barmaid, she would see him in her arms and with all of Charlotte’s will she would push the nightmarish picture from her mind and replace it with the happy thoughts of her wedding day.

The shiny glass-walled buildings reflected the sun’s rays down on Charlotte but she felt none of the heat. As though she sat in a shadow she was chilled to the bone and wrapped her shawl tightly around her shoulders. What funny clothes the people wore, spiky heeled shoes and such short skirts. Mother would never have allowed her to show so much of her legs in public. And the men, not even wearing a tie or jacket. No one turned an eye toward her or answered her pleas for the correct time. Albert had to be here soon, he simply had to. She had many times thought to rise and search for him but could not summon the energy to move. Charlotte reached for her brush but the burning in her hands became too much for her and she removed her white lace gloves to examine what the cause might be. Turning her hands over she saw that her palms were stained a dark violent red. Charlotte’s mind reeled as she saw it all again. Albert and the barmaid embracing with such passion as he promised he had only for her! The smile on her wicked red lips as he kissed her neck! There on the counter lay a knife the tool that would end this nightmare and send it back to Hell. Charlotte’s vision was blurred with red, the red of Albert’s blood. It was all she could see, it was all there was until there was the bench.

“Excuse me sir, could you please tell me the time?”

Hello Lucy, Goodbye New Mexico

A Merry Band of Travelers

Two weeks ago, on Valentine’s Day, I was lying in a hospital bed surrounded by my husband, a nurse, and a midwife being encouraged to breath through the pain and push. After about fifteen minutes of this Lucy Valentina left my womb and entered the world! She then proceeded to turn that world upside down.
If you happen to be keeping count that now puts us at seven people living in a 35′ trailer. Chaotic? Yes. But joyful!

Lucy

And here she is. The only one of us to be born outside of Indiana.

We spent six months in New Mexico waiting for Lucy to come and once she did we were all itching to move on. Our plan was to leave at the end of March, but when snow was predicted and I just happened to mention that maybe we should spend the rest of the winter in southern Arizona…

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