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

Friday, September 27, 2019

September Scribbler Box: Endings

I just received my sixth box from Scribbler. You can learn about previous boxes, and why I subscribed by clicking the "Scribbler" link in the labels below.

This month's theme is ENDINGS. As before, the first thing you see upon opening the box is a writing exercise postcard. Each month provides a new challenge for writers to practice.

The "Curated Writerly Gifts" this month included a triplet of highlighters, a "Book Nerd" pin where the double o's are a pair of glasses, a NOTE PALS sticky tabs set, and The Story of my Life - a DIY memoir: every life is packed with stories worth telling, and no one can tell them better than the person who lived them. But when you sit down to put it all into writing, where do you begin? the blank page is the most intimidating and procrastination-inspiring part of any writing project. Luckily, this notebook clears that hurdle for you. In its pages, you’ll find prompts and exercises, written by a published writer, to help you bring your stories to life. A good memoir is more than an autobiography that chronicles your existence; it’s a life on a page full of description and dialog, a window into your past. If you’re not a writer, even if you’ve never written before, don’t worry: these prompts and exercises are designed to coax out your inner storyteller with specific, guiding questions. This book will create a record of your life, but it will also help you express who you are as a person, and how you became who you are today. Whether you’re writing down your life story for yourself, your close family, or for a wider audience, this book will guide you through the project and make your life story a joy to write and a pleasure to read. Once you’ve done all of the prompts, you’ll have a wealth of memories, anecdotes, and personal knowledge to work with. The question is, what will you do with it?

This months new release novel is SAVE YOUR BREATH by Melinda Leigh with an autograph. This is the 6th book of the Morgan Dane series.

When true-crime writer Olivia Cruz disappears with no signs of foul play, her new boyfriend, Lincoln Sharp, suspects the worst. He knows she didn’t leave willingly and turns to attorney Morgan Dane and PI Lance Kruger to find her before it’s too late.
As they dig through Olivia’s life, they are shocked to discover a connection between her current book research on two cold murder cases and the suicide of one of Morgan’s prospective clients.
As Morgan and Lance investigate, the number of suspects grows, but time is running out to find Olivia alive. When danger comes knocking at their door, Morgan and Lance realize that they may be the killer’s next targets.

As usual, there was an inside look at the publishing process for this months author, an exclusive invitation to chat with a publishing professional (Anh Schluep, Ediorial Director of Montlake Romance), and the collectible 'Writing Passport' with the authors discussing this months theme of ENDINGS.

In August I weighed the pros and cons of this service if you'd like to see my thoughts on this subscription box. I have since then experienced a problem with their additional order service, but have also received an enticement of something to come. I may go ahead and keep the service for another three months in the hopes that all kinks will be worked out. If not, hey at least I've received some interesting books and a few cute swag to give away at upcoming events.

To learn more about this monthly box service: https://www.goscribbler.com/

Do you subscribe to any boxing services? Have you heard of SCRIBBLER? Are you tempted to join?

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Banned Books Week 2019

September 22 is the beginning of "BANNED BOOKS WEEK 2019". 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, the eleven most challenged books of 2018 were:

  1. George by Alex Gino
    Reasons: banned, challenged, and relocated because it was believed to encourage children to clear browser history and change their bodies using hormones, and for mentioning “dirty magazines,” describing male anatomy, “creating confusion,” and including a transgender character

  2. A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss, illustrated by EG Keller
    Reasons: banned and challenged for including LGBTQIA+ content, and for political and religious viewpoints

  3. Captain Underpants series written and illustrated by Dav Pilkey
    Reasons: series was challenged because it was perceived as encouraging disruptive behavior, while Captain Underpants and the Sensational Saga of Sir Stinks-A-Lot was challenged for including a same-sex couple

  4. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
    Reasons: banned and challenged because it was deemed “anti-cop,” and for profanity, drug use, and sexual references

  5. Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
    Reasons: banned and challenged for including LGBTQIA+ characters and themes

  6. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
    Reasons: banned, challenged, and restricted for addressing teen suicide

  7. This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki
    Reasons: banned and challenged for profanity, sexual references, and certain illustrations

  8. Skippyjon Jones series written and illustrated by Judy Schachner
    Reason: challenged for depicting stereotypes of Mexican culture

  9. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: banned and challenged for sexual references, profanity, violence, gambling, and underage drinking, and for its religious viewpoint

  10. This Day in June by Gayle E. Pitman, illustrated by Kristyna Litten
    Reason: challenged and burned for including LGBTQIA+ content

  11. Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
    Reason: challenged and burned for including LGBTQIA+ content


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

Sunday, September 15, 2019

7 Steps to Planning a Short Story

I've been reading a lot of short stories lately. I've also been working on writing several new short stories of my own. I recently realized I plan them all basically the same way. In case you are interested, or are stuck and hoping for some help, here is my short story process.

1) Pantsing - I never plan draft one. I always start with a general idea, goal, emotion, or scene in mind. I write this until I can't go any further.

2) Clarify Problem(s) - this is the central conflict of the story - it's purpose. Why should the reader be interested?

3) Clarify Character - why does the main character in particular need to face this issue? Why is it important to them? This is usually the protagonist, but not always.

4) Strengthen Obstacle - what has kept the character from achieving their goal? This could be more than one issue, but the struggle to overcome this is what helps you to develop character and caring from your reader.

5) Introduce Failure - have the main character fail at least once. No one like a perfect, easy, straight line to a goal. What do they need to learn to accomplish, or move on from, this dream?

6) Highlight Shortcomings - the solution, or key to obtaining the goal, lies squarely in the faults or overcoming of that characters issues. It should seem as if this story could only happen this way, for this particular protagonist.

7) Finale - show the hero achieving the reward, or learning to accept failure (unless you want the unsatisfying ending). Either way, this too should be a result of this particular characters decisions.

How does this process differ from yours? Any great short stories you want to recommend?

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

IWSG: Where in the World Would 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.

SEPTEMBER QUESTION: If you could pick one place in the world to sit and write your next story, where would it be and why?

MY ANSWER: Scotland - almost anywhere in this country. Two years ago I spent a couple of weeks touring this beautiful country and I would absolutely love to go back. While I did very little actual writing while there (we were traveling and exploring nearly non stop - only pausing long enough to sleep and eat) I've since written quite a few pieces inspired by my time there. Now granted, I've only been to a few countries out of the 195 currently in existence, but it's hard for me to imagine a more beautiful one, or one full of nicer people. A return trip is definitely on my "must do" list. If you'd like to learn more about my trip check out these posts from April 2017.

How about you? Where in the world would you sit and write?