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

Friday, November 27, 2020

November Scribbler Box: Structure

The November box from Scribbler has arrivedYou can learn about previous boxes, and why I subscribed by clicking the "Scribbler" link in the labels below.

This month the box offers coverage of the theme: STRUCTURE.

As always, the first thing you see upon opening the box is a writing exercise/contest postcard. Each month provides a new challenge for writers to practice. The deadline for this month is December 13. 

The "Curated Writerly Gifts" this month include a collection of fabric thumbtacks, a pin with the words "Ask Me About My Novel", a coaster that looks like a record and reads "Replaying my Plots and Thoughts", a coupon for 50% off a tea subscription box, and three different flavors of hot chocolate mixes: dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and chocolate mint.

As usual, this box also came with an inside look at the publishing process for this months author, and an exclusive invitation to chat with a publishing professional: Author & Web Designer, Pauline Wiles.

Also included  is the
 collectible 'Writing Passport' with the author discussing this months theme of  STRUCTURE.

This months new release:

Loch Ewe, 1940. When gamekeeper’s daughter Flora’s remote highland village finds itself the base for the Royal Navy’s Arctic convoys, life in her close-knit community changes forever. In defiance of his disapproving father, the laird’s son falls in love with Flora, and as tensions build in their disrupted home, any chance of their happiness seems doomed.

Decades later, Flora’s daughter, singer Lexie Gordon, is forced to return to the village and to the tiny cottage where she grew up. Having long ago escaped to the bright lights of the West End, London still never truly felt like home. Now back, with a daughter of her own, Lexie learns that her mother—and the hostile-seeming village itself—have long been hiding secrets that make her question everything she thought she knew.

As she pieces together the fragments of her parents’ story, Lexie discovers the courageous, devastating sacrifices made in her name. It’s too late to rekindle her relationship with her mother, but can Lexie find it in her heart to forgive the past, to grieve for all that’s lost, and finally find her place in the world?


Have you read anything from this author? Do you subscribe to any boxing services? What do you recommend? Have you heard of SCRIBBLER? Are you tempted to join?

Monday, November 23, 2020

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good.

              -Psalm 107:1 NIV

It’s the week of Thanksgiving in the United States. I’ll be spending time with family, and hopefully doing very little actual work :-). I also plan to enjoy some of my favorite foods, reading, and writing time! 

I feel so very blessed. Despite the craziness of 2020, I have so much for which to be thankful. 
I'm in a particularly reflective mood and my heart is full of gratitude for the many things for which I am grateful. I still have a job I enjoy, a home I love, and a family I adore. 

I am also thankful for the new publication on the shelves. If you're interested, click the link to the right to learn more about Think Positive for Preteens.

For some fun reading, here are ten reasons I'm thankful to be a writer.

I'm also extremely thankful for my online family. As a thank-you to my readers and fellow bloggers, I wanted to share a short Thanksgiving romantic fiction piece I wrote (about 800 words). I hope you enjoy! http://writinginwonderland.blogspot.com/2017/11/thankful-every-day.html

I pray you all enjoy a wonderful week full of what you need. Happy Thanksgiving!

What are you thankful for having in your life?

Monday, November 16, 2020

Masterclass: A bargain Replacement for Writing Conferences

Due to the craziness that is 2020, face-to-face or in-person conferences have become a difficult thing to enjoy. Travel restrictions, limited capacities, masks, zoom malfunctions, etc. have all made attending writer's conferences more difficult this year - if not downright impossible in many circumstances.

However, there is a highly prestigious and worthwhile alternative to these. This popular and affordable option is MASTERCLASS.

According to the website, it’s “an American online education platform on which students can access tutorials and lectures pre-recorded by experts in various fields’.

Anyone can access a multitude of courses for the same price (or cheaper) than the cost of a single day of conference attendance. If you're not familiar with this company, they offer courses by well-known professionals considered the best in their field.

A typical MasterClass runs between 15 and 25 sessions. The segments range in time from 3-minute intros to more than 20-minute lessons. That makes for a class series of blocks at around 3 to 5 hours of total film time. It depends on the subject and the presenter.

There are three parts to a MasterClass production. One is the on-camera time where the presenter lectures and/or demonstrates. Two is a PDF workbook that acts as a script guide and notebook. Three is behind-the-scene access to material that adds value to your purchase.

The MasterClass purchase offers two options. One is $90 for a single class. Two is $180 annually for an “All Pass”. For under two hundred bucks, you can buy an unlimited subscription that gives you access to all classes. Given there are well over 50 classes, that’s an exceptional value.

I joined this year. I'm on my second class now, and I can't wait to access more.  There are more than a dozen courses under just the topic of "writing". Some of those include :

James Patterson — Thriller Writing
Dan Brown — Thriller Writing
David Baldacci — Thriller Writing
Neil Gaiman — Storytelling
Malcolm Gladwell — General Writing
Joyce Carol Oates — Fiction Writing
Margaret Atwood — Fiction Writing
R.L. Stine — Children’s Writing
Judy Blume — Fiction Writing
David Mamet — Plot Writing
Aaron Sorkin — Screen Writing
Shondra Rimes — TV Writing
Ron Howard — Film Directing
Martin Scorsese — Film Producing
Bob Woodward — Journalism

If you buy a membership, in addition to writing, you get access to professionals in art, cooking, business, science, lifestyle, design, music, sports, gaming, government, technology, and more.

Curious what other writers think of the classes? Check out What Masterclass Can do for a Writer

Interested in checking them out directly? Here is the link: https://www.masterclass.com/

Have you tried MasterClass? Have you attended a conference with any of the writers listed above? Have you attended any conferences in 2020?

Monday, November 9, 2020

Writing Veterans

Happy Veterans Day (Week)!

Thank-you to all veterans and active military. We may not show it enough, but you are so very appreciated!

A few years ago my interview of Vietnam War Veteran and author Tim O’Brien appeared in Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors, Volume 2.  The publishers have since continued the tradition of supporting our troops. 

This yearly anthology presents essays, fiction, poetry, interviews, and photography by military-service personnel, veterans, and their families. It is an annual series published by Southeast Missouri State University Press in cooperation with the Missouri Humanities Council's Veterans Projects and the Warriors Arts Alliance.

"The stories and poems of service and sacrifice are essential in understanding what has so broadly been termed 'the American experience.' For me, Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors is required reading and worthy of a thousand tears."     ―St. Leger Monty Joynes, veteran, Vietnam

Books can now be ordered from the Southeast Missouri State University Press and Amazon.

Interested in submitting to Volume 10? They are already accepting submissions which are due by May 2, 2021. Contests and prizes will be awarded in each of the five categories. To learn more, please visit:  http://www.semopress.com/events/proud-to-be-writing-by-american-warriors/

Want to check out more "support America" reads? Chicken Soup for the Soul publishers have several books honoring veterans and their families as well. Try some of their titles such as: Military Families and The Spirit of America.

How about reading more veteran related material? Try Noir and Returning War Vet Sub-Genre, or Being a Veteran.

Have you thanked a Veteran for their service? Have you written with our military in mind? What military reads would you recommend?

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

IWSG: Why Do You Write?


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.


NOVEMBER QUESTION - 
Albert Camus once said, “The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.” Flannery O’Conner said, “I write to discover what I know.” Authors across time and distance have had many reasons to write. Why do you write what you write?

MY ANSWER - “I became a writer so that the voices inside my head would become an acceptable occurrence.” ― Janae Mitchell

I have to be honest, I haven't read a single work by Mitchell, but I love that quote. I don't even remember where I first heard this saying, but it sums up my feelings on the matter pretty well. The truth is, I become almost possessed by certain ideas and feelings and the only way for me to process or relieve those is by telling the story. Whether it's fiction, nonfiction, or poetry... some ideas just won't let go properly until they've been shared.

How about you? Why do you write, and what do you write the most frequently?

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Feliz Dia de los Muertos and NaNoWriMo!


Feliz dia de los Muertos! I hope everyone was able to enjoy their Halloween and today's festival of the dead, or All Saints Day!

Today is also the start of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). If you haven't heard of it, it's a challenge to write an entire first draft of a book in the month of Novemeber (30 days). 

As the website claims... "National Novel Writing Month is an annual Internet-based creative writing project that takes place during the month of November. Participants attempt to write a 50,000-word manuscript between November 1 and November 30. Well-known authors write "pep-talks" to keep them motivated throughout the process." You can learn more, or register at https://nanowrimo.org/

I won't be participating since I have too much on my plate again this year. I did participate a number of years ago (maybe six or seven). While I enjoyed the frantic race and it did help me to get a first draft and plan ready, that work is still sitting in a drawer to be revisited at a later date.

Not sure you can commit to the traditional NaNoWriMo challenge either? After all, November has many distractions - flu season has begun, Thanksgiving brings swarms of friends and family upon you, and demands on your time are piling up.

But what if you could win the challenge in just 9 days? Check out this article "How I Won NaNoWriMo in 9 Days."  That's right - nine days! The author, Ava Jae, shares her tips to completing her work in such a short amount of time. She also offers statistics to show you how she achieved her goal. It's worth a look.

No matter what you choose, it's important to keep giving yourself goals, and to have reasonable expectations. Above all, just enjoy your writing!

Did you spend the weekend celebrating Halloween or Dia de los Muertos? Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? What are your current goals?

Sunday, October 25, 2020

October Scribbler Box: Outlining

The October box from Scribbler has arrivedYou can learn about previous boxes, and why I subscribed by clicking the "Scribbler" link in the labels below (although I did take a break).

This month the box offers coverage of the theme: OUTLINING.

As always, the first thing you see upon opening the box is a writing exercise/contest postcard. Each month provides a new challenge for writers to practice. The deadline for this month is November 13. 

The "Curated Writerly Gifts" this month include a wooden sign with the words "YOU CAN" upon it, a bag of colorful vanilla flavored popcorn, a magnet with a writing quote, a notepad for daily writing goals, and a sheet of writing inspired stickers

As usual, this box also came with an inside look at the publishing process for this months author, and an exclusive invitation to chat with a publishing professional: Literary Agent Abby Saul.

Also included  is the collectible 'Writing Passport' with the author discussing this months theme of  OUTLINING.

This months new release:

A shocking thriller by the bestselling author of Girls of Glass.

It seems like an open-and-shut case for FBI special agent Lucy Thorne when Eliza Cook walks into the field office. The teenage girl confesses to murdering a young boy. Disturbingly composed, she reveals chilling details only the killer could know. Beyond that Eliza doesn’t say another word, leaving a vital question met with dead silence: Why did she do it?

To find the answer, Lucy goes to the scene of the crime in the small Idaho town of Knox Hollow. But Lucy’s questions are only mounting. Especially when she’s drawn deeper into the life of the victim. Then a combing of the woods yields unsettling evidence that Eliza isn’t the only one in this close-knit rural community with secrets.

Getting to the truth is becoming Lucy’s obsession. And it’s a dangerous one. Because for the good folks of Knox Hollow, hiding that truth will take more than silence.


Have you read anything from this author? Do you subscribe to any boxing services? What do you recommend? Have you heard of SCRIBBLER? Are you tempted to join?

Monday, October 12, 2020

Halloween Reads


2020 has had its share of SCARY situations. Fall is here now and many are contemplating whether or not to try to enjoy the haunting season at all.

One safe way to celebrate Halloween is with a great read. Not all seasonal reads are scary. If you're looking for something a little lighter, try my romantic Halloween short story (about 800 words): Madame Tooshkas Spell.

If you prefer to stay home cuddled up with a more traditionally good scary book, try one of my suggestions from 10 Scary Reads to Terrify Your Inner Child.

I'd also like to recommend my short story "Lights Out" which appears in Road Kill, Texas Horror Volume 4 from Hellbound Books Publishing: here.

Interested in FREE scary books? Try one of these!

Need a few scary good costume ideas? Try one of these 10 Minute Literary Halloween Costumes and dress like your favorite characters.

How are you celebrating this season?

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

IWSG: Working Writer


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.


OCTOBER QUESTION - 
When you think of the term working writer, what does that look like to you? What do you think it is supposed to look like? Do you see yourself as a working writer or aspiring or hobbyist, and if latter two, what does that look like?

MY ANSWER - I feel like a working writer could be anyone who receives pay for their services - hopefully on a regular basis. I see myself as more of a hobbyist now that I spend so much time teaching at the high school and college level. While I am still publishing it is not on a regular or consistent schedule. I write when I have time or the mood strikes. I get published when someone else finds it worthy or matching their own goals.

How about you? How do YOU define "working writer"?

Friday, October 2, 2020

Jerusalem Book Launch and Giveaway

 


“The novel’s women are tough and subversive, pushing those around them toward more nuanced approaches to religion and life…Jerusalem as a Second Language [is] a sensitive novel about how religiosity is adapted in liminal spaces.” -Foreword Reviews, July/August 2020

 

Please join me in spreading the word about JERUSALEM AS A SECOND LANGUAGE (Trade Paperback; Aubdae Publishing; ISBN 978-1-951547-06-6; $19.95), the wonderful new novel by the late Rochelle Distelheim.  Rochelle was an award winning short story writer whose debut novel, Sadie in Love, was published in 2018, when she was ninety! She passed away just a few weeks ago at the age of 92, but I hope we can bring attention to her and her writing and honor her legacy.  

 

SYNOPSIS: It’s 1998.  The old Soviet Union is dead, the new Russia is awash in corruption and despair.  Manya and Yuri Zalinikov, secular Jews – he, a gifted mathematician recently dismissed from the Academy,  she, a concert pianist -- sell black market electronics in a market stall, until threatened with a gun by a Mafioso in search of protection money.  Yuri sinks into a Chekhovian melancholy, emerging  to announce that he wants to “live as a Jew” in Israel. Manya and their daughter, Galina, are desolate, asking “how does one do that,” and “why?”

 

Thus begins their odyssey, part  tragedy, part comedy but always surprising. Struggling against loneliness, language, and danger, Yuri finds a Talmudic teacher equally addicted to religion and luxury; Manya finds a job playing the piano at The White Nights supper club, owned by a wealthy, flamboyant Russian  with a murky history,  who offers lust disguised as love. Galina, enrolled at Hebrew University,  finds dance clubs and pizza emporiums and a string of young men, one of whom Manya hopes will save her from the Israeli army by marrying her. 

 

Against a potpourri of marriage wigs, matchmaking television shows, disastrous investment schemes, and a suicide bombing, JERUSALEM AS A SECOND LANGUAGE confronts the thin line between religious faith and skepticism.

 

BUY LINKSAmazonAubade Publishing

 

Please comment below for a chance to win a FREE copy of  JERUSALEM AS A SECOND LANGUAGE and Rochelle’s first novel, Sadie in Love


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rochelle Distelheim, a Chicago native, earned numerous short story literary awards, including The Katherine Anne Porter Prize; Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards and Fellowships; The Ragdale Foundation Fellowships; The Faulkner Society Gold Medal in Novel-in-Progress; The Faulkner Society Gold Medal in Novel; The Gival Press 2017 Short Story Competition; Finalist, Glimmer Train’s Emerging Writers; and The Salamander Second Prize in Short Story. In addition, Rochelle’s short stories earned nominations for The Best American Short Stories and The Pushcart Prize.  Her stories appeared in national magazines such as Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Ladies Home Journal, Woman’s Day, Woman’s World, Working Woman, Working Mother, and more.  Her first novel, Sadie in Love, was published in 2018 when she was 90 years old.  She lived in Highland Park, IL. Here is the obituary that ran in the Chicago Tribunehttps://www.legacy.com/obituaries/chicagotribune/obituary.aspx?n=rochelle-distelheim&pid=196338405&fhid=2000.


Don't forget to comment below for a chance to win a copy!


Sunday, September 27, 2020

Banned Books Week 2020


September 27 is the beginning of "
BANNED BOOKS WEEK 2020". Below is a couple of lists of ten of the most frequently challenged books.

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 here, the ten most challenged books of 2020 were:

  1. George by Alex Gino
    Reasons: challenged, banned, restricted, and hidden to avoid controversy; for LGBTQIA+ content and a transgender character; because schools and libraries should not “put books in a child’s hand that require discussion”; for sexual references; and for conflicting with a religious viewpoint and “traditional family structure”
  2. Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin
    Reasons: challenged for LGBTQIA+ content, for “its effect on any young people who would read it,” and for concerns that it was sexually explicit and biased
  3. A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss, illustrated by EG Keller
    Reasons: Challenged and vandalized for LGBTQIA+ content and political viewpoints, for concerns that it is “designed to pollute the morals of its readers,” and for not including a content warning
  4. Sex is a Funny Word by Cory Silverberg, illustrated by Fiona Smyth
    Reasons: Challenged, banned, and relocated for LGBTQIA+ content; for discussing gender identity and sex education; and for concerns that the title and illustrations were “inappropriate” 
  5. Prince & Knight by Daniel Haack, illustrated by Stevie Lewis
    Reasons: Challenged and restricted for featuring a gay marriage and LGBTQIA+ content; for being “a deliberate attempt to indoctrinate young children” with the potential to cause confusion, curiosity, and gender dysphoria; and for conflicting with a religious viewpoint
  6. I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas
    Reasons: Challenged and relocated for LGBTQIA+ content, for a transgender character, and for confronting a topic that is “sensitive, controversial, and politically charged”
  7. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
    Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity and for “vulgarity and sexual overtones”
  8. Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
    Reasons: Challenged for LGBTQIA+ content and for concerns that it goes against “family values/morals”
  9. Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling
    Reasons: Banned and forbidden from discussion for referring to magic and witchcraft, for containing actual curses and spells, and for characters that use “nefarious means” to attain goals
  10. And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson illustrated by Henry Cole
    Reason: Challenged and relocated for LGBTQIA+ content
You can also view the previous years lists as well at OIF. However, if you're curious about the most frequently banned books for the last 100 years in America:

TEN OF THE MOST FREQUENTLY CHALLENGED BOOKS IN HISTORY:

Some books have been repeatedly banned or challenged throughout history. This is a list of books that appear the most often on banned books lists.































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. Another god source of information on banned books is the "Libraries and Center for Academic Technology" site by Butler University: https://libguides.butler.edu/c.php?g=34189&p=217684