Monthly Archives: April 2014

Book Review: Flash Virus, Episode One – by Steve Vernon

Flash Virus, Episode OneBook: Flash Virus: Episode One
Author: Steve Vernon
Publisher: Stark Raven Press
Date: October 20, 2012 (second edition)
Genre: YA (young adult)
Pages: 56; not a paper book
Price: $0.00 (Kindle)
My Rating: strange, wonderful read; not only for young adults
 

 If you have never read any of Steve Vernon‘s work, what can I say? Steve writes with such abandonment that it is a rollercoaster ride experience when reading his books, blog posts, anything. His imagination takes the reader to places most wouldn’t even think to put on paper. 🙂 Mostly in a good way.

In the first episode of Flash Virus, a school is visited by strange … people? … who gift all the students with cell phones. The cell phones seem to cast some kind of spell over anyone answering the ringtone “here comes Santa Claus”, and it just gets more bizarre from there. There is an attempt at takeover, the expected teenage rebellion, and more. To be honest, I didn’t want to stop reading till the end, and the end came too soon!

Flash Virus: Episode One is amusing, strange, entertaining, and keeps the reader interested. The problem – when you want to keep reading – is this is only the beginning, but Steve Vernon has made following episodes available at very low prices on Amazon.

Flash Virus: Episode One is a good, safe, book for middle-grade readers and up. And Please forgive my overuse of the word ‘strange’, I meant it in a good way. 😉

Steve Vernon loves to write and share his work. You can find Flash Virus episodes on Amazon at very low prices, starting with FREE for episode one.

You can find Flash Virus: Episode One listed on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

If you want to check out another of Steve’s books you can read my review here, and also enjoy our interview here.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

 

 

Ups and downs, but Spring is here

This morning my daughter who lives in Alberta boarded the plane for back … meaning … I MISS HER ALREADY!  😦  It was a lovely visit, but, as always, too short.

flying(This photo is actually from my flight to Holland. Exquisite cloudbanks!)

As you may recall, my third daughter arrived home secretively to surprise her oldest sister on her special birthday April 19. She was home to enjoy that celebration, family Easter dinner with all of us – her first holiday meal with us in six years! – and her brother-in-law’s birthday. She and I went bargain clothing shopping for a few hours one day and her younger sister joined us, which was fun. On Wednesday I took all my girls and my grandson out to a Thai Japanese restaurant, which is when I ate sushi for the first time — and liked it! Then on Friday all my girls got an identical tattoo which they call their sisters tattoo. It’s a dainty infinity ring with four tiny doves flying up from it. Quite nice, and meaningful. My girls enjoyed their time together, and it was even harder for our ‘away’ daughter to leave this time.

There were such good things, positive things, that happened during these past nine days, things for which I am thankful. We all have concerns in our lives so I continue to pray, because often times that is the only thing a mother can do.

The newest excitement for me is that a girl friend asked me to go with her to a Steven Curtis Chapman concert in another province in May! (Steven Curtis Chapman is a Christian singer – do you know him?) It will be a day’s journey by bus, followed by the concert, an overnight stay in a hotel and then the bus trip home the next day. The drawback is Meyya and it’s during one of my weeks at Dad’s, so now I’m getting things in order so I can go on this much appreciated adventure. The Lord knows how I need this; I’m hoping everything works out.

We are now enjoying the beautiful Spring weather, although we did experience another cold dip that brought some fresh snow. I’m not sure but this one may be the smelt snow. Know about that? There’s the robin snow, the smelt snow (little fish that come up the river), and the poor man’s fertilizer snow – or some call it the farmer’s snow. Whatever it is, it doesn’t stay long. Our mornings are much warmer than they have been when I take Meyya out early, and I get to enjoy the birds singing with such glorious abandon. Love it!

What do you love about Spring? What positives has Spring brought to you?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

 

Sue Harrison’s “Writing the Third Dimension” – part 15: Tools of the Trade

Welcome back! Over the next many months we invite you to return here, specifically on the fourth Thursday of each month for the newest installment of Sue Harrison‘s teaching: Writing The Third Dimension. You can read all the segments by clicking on the page title WRITING THE THIRD DIMENSION, found under Writers’ Helps & Workshops on the drop-down menu. Please feel free to ask questions and leave comments for Sue. Now for the topic for month fifteen:

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“Writing the Third Dimension” – part 15: Tools of the Trade

In the second grade, my classmates and I learned to write paragraphs. To ease us into the task, our teacher, Mrs. Stockinger, wrote a paragraph on the blackboard and told us to copy what she had written. Although the paragraph was only two or three lines, I remember that assignment as grievously laborious. I’m glad I didn’t know then that we would soon have to compose our own paragraphs and even write a whole story full of paragraphs.

Good grief, whatever was Mrs. Stockinger thinking?

She was thinking that the ability to write a viable paragraph would be a useful tool during our academic lives and beyond.

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If you’re writing a novel, then it’s safe to bet that someone at sometime showed you how to write paragraphs. You were probably taught that a good paragraph begins with a topic sentence and goes on to explain or develop the premise set by that sentence.

That’s a great place to start, but, because we’re writing novels, let’s consider a few more novel-pertinent ideas about writing paragraphs.

1. Most of the time, you should keep your paragraphs relatively short. Readers today grew up with television, and, therefore, with stories conveniently nipped into bite-sized pieces. Unlike our ancestors of the 1800s, we’re used to ideas presented succinctly. To modern readers, long paragraphs are akin to a monotone speaker.

2. Unless the reader is enjoying an audio edition or using Braille, the act of reading is a visual experience. Even before a reader delves into the words or the story, the page imprints on the brain — white space versus black letters. I used to keyline page layouts for a small university press. You’d be amazed how much time we spent considering column widths, margins, photograph placement, and caption sizes. Odd as it sounds, readers drift away when a page doesn’t contain enough white space. Ebooks have introduced a whole array of new possibilities, but still, as a writer, don’t be afraid to chop up your chapters with a few one-sentence or even one-word paragraphs. They rest the eyes, and they add pleasing visual variety.

3. Paragraph lengths impact the Voice or Voices you have chosen as the vehicle to carry and tell your story. You can test this for yourself. Read aloud a page of your manuscript. Now rewrite it with longer or shorter paragraphs. Read it aloud again. The difference is amazing, isn’t it? And that’s what I want to get across. The lengths of your paragraphs make a difference, and knowing that fact places a very useful tool into the hands and the mind of a writer.

4. Long chapters are discouraging to many readers. I love to insert a couple of one-page chapters in my suspense novels. That bit of choppiness ramps up the tension — another tool to add to your collection.

So there you have it. Writers can use chapter and paragraph length as tools to tweak their novels.

What’s your tendency? Short or long paragraphs? Short or long chapters? Which do you prefer to read?

Strength to your pen!

Sue

*Writing the Third Dimension, copyright, 2010 Sue Harrison*

Sue HarrisonBestselling author, Sue Harrison, has written two Alaska trilogies: The Ivory Carver Trilogy and The Storyteller Trilogy, and a middle readers’ book SISU. Prior to the publication of her novels, Harrison was employed at Lake Superior State University as a writer and acting director of the Public Relations Department and as an adjunct instructor in creative writing and advanced creative writing. For more information, click here. To inquire about booking Sue for workshops or speaking engagements this year, click here.

Thanks for joining us! Please feel free to leave your questions and comments. We invite you come back May 22, 2014, for part 16.

We have a winner of Flying with a Broken Wing by Laura Best!

It’s always fun to give away a book, especially when I have had the privilege of interviewing the author. This time I am delighted to be mailing a copy of

Flying with a Broken Wing – by Laura Best

to one of the people who left a comment after the interview.

If you missed the chance to enter the draw, you can still read my review of Flying with a Broken Wing here and my interview with Laura Best here.

drum roll please ….

snare-drum-th

Using the Random Name Picker tool …

The Winner Is ….

a very fortunate person …

who will be receiving the book given by Nimbus Publishing as soon as the Post Office can deliver it … after I can get it into the mail, probably on Friday, April 25.

and that person … is ….

Barb!

Congratulations, Barb! Please send me your mailing address so I can get this copy of Flying with a Broken Wing on its way to you! 

Thank you so much to everyone who has been visiting, leaving comments, and who entered the draw. I hope you make it a habit to visit again. And thanks again, Laura Best!

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

Easter weekend busyness; reminder of a book giveaway

The Lord is risen!  He is risen indeed! 

In the truth of those words my hope is anchored and my life is secure.  🙂

What a busy Easter weekend we had. On Saturday morning my daughter #3 who lives in Alberta arrived home to surprise her oldest sister on her birthday. Although dd#3 (dd stands for dear daughter) was quite tired when she got here, she got busy adding the finishing touches to a video she had prepared of the many photos we had gathered of dd #1 through her life, from when I was expecting her right up to the present.

Dd #1’s lakehouse had been beautifully decorated inside with lots of birthday bling by dd#2 and dd #4, and pink balloons along the road marked the way there. Eventually, twenty-three of us were gathered in her large living/dining area, and the table was loaded with food for the “potluck” dinner. Once all were settled, in walked dd#3. When the birthday girl looked up and saw her sister standing there she yelled, “Are you freakin’ kidding me?!!” and ran to her for a long tight hug. Only six of us knew dd#3 would be there, so it was a delightful surprise to everyone else. The meal, some gifts, and then the video – which was enjoyable and entertaining, but it was the clip at the very end of it, from her good friend in Egypt, that really made her cry. Well worth the wait. 🙂

The next day was dd#1’s husband’s birthday, our son-in-law, so we had another little party. Since his birthday fell on Easter Sunday this year, we enjoyed our family dinner first – fourteen of us at Dad’s – and then followed that with blue balloons, birthday cake and a surprise gift we’d all ‘gone in on’ for him. It was another fun family event.

I know not everyone celebrates family the way we do. Some do more, some do less, but this is the way it has always been in my family. I remember as a child going up the road to my grandparents’ large farmhouse for celebration dinners. There would usually be somewhere between two and three dozen of us there (if not more), three generations. And everyone got along, except maybe there would be the odd spat among children that would be quickly settled, nothing major.

It has been surprising, and disappointing, to me over the years when my girls have invited friends to join us who weren’t used to that dynamic, but more used to squabbles when their family members got together. Their friends would express amazement to my daughters later and I would feel such regret for them. I hoped they saw in us something to strive for in their own lives and future.

Yes, we have much for which to be thankful. And when things don’t go smoothly, I have found the Lord can do wonders in hearts.

How do you celebrate family events?

AN IMPORTANT REMINDER: Tuesday April 22 at 6 PM EST … book giveaway! Laura Best’s Flying with a Broken Wing. Be sure to leave a comment on our interview.

Interview with Laura Best, and book giveaway!

Laura BestIt is my pleasure to welcome author Laura Best to my interview chair for a second time as she was the first author I interviewed here.  Laura, who has lived in a small Nova Scotia community all her life, is the author of the award nominated “Bitter, Sweet“, and more recently “Flying with a Broken Wing” – my review of which you can read here.  Laura has been published in literary magazines across Canada, and in 2003 her short story “Alexander the Great” was nominated for the Journey Prize. Now on with the interview!

I am very pleased you agreed to this interview, Laura, especially since it provides a great excuse to give away a copy of your new book … and to pick your brain a little … and to give someone a copy of your new book, which I already said.  🙂 
 
Near the end of our interview back in January 2011, which was after your first novel – “Bitter, Sweet” –  you said, “I’m working on another novel at the moment. I don’t often discuss my work with others. All I will say is that it is young adult and set in a fictitious community in Nova Scotia.” 

Flying with a Broken Wing Now we can discuss that project since it has come out into the spotlight as the young adult novel “Flying with a Broken Wing”

First, to address the obvious, you seem to enjoy writing fiction based in Nova Scotia. Why Nova Scotia?

Often, we tend to think that books happen in other, more exotic places, and not in our own back yard. When I was growing up, I never read a story set in Nova Scotia. I wouldn’t have even thought that was a possibility. I might even have thought it would be boring. I’m happy to know that is changing and there are many wonderful books out there that are set right here in Nova Scotia. For those of us living here, I think it gives us a sense of pride to have our home province as a setting for a book. And while Nova Scotia might not be exotic to me it might be for people living in other places. I love this province! It’s what I know best, that and rural life. Most everything I write also has a rural flavour to it. It’s a large part of my identity.

I love this province, too, Laura, and it makes me glad to find books that are set here. Your writing is doing Nova Scotia justice, for sure.

I’m always impressed and fascinated with the ideas that come together to create well-rounded characters, their life stories, communities, even worlds. Where did the idea come from for “Flying with a Broken Wing”, and how long did it take you to fit this novel together?

The book started out with the idea that I wanted to write a story with a visually impaired protagonist. My writing usually begins with the idea of a character first. While I begin with a broad idea of what will happen most times the character leads me through the story. Situations crop up as I write. In the beginning, I didn’t know for instance, that my main character’s caregiver would be a bootlegger or she’d make friends with a boy whose father was a “drunk and a bully.” These things emerged along the way as Cammie told her story.

I’d say it took about a year to write the book if I were to add it all up. A few months into the writing of this book, I stopped because I wasn’t sure that I was happy with the way it was going. After taking a break for a few months I went back to it, decided I liked what I’d written, and continued on until I finally was able to write, “the end.”

You’ve given a good example of what a little time away from a manuscript can do for an author to finish the story. I’m very glad you continued it. Did you have to do any research to make this story believable?

There was very little research required for the book, just a few small facts to check out to make the story more authentic since it’s set in 1949.When writing a story with a historic setting it’s important to know what was going on in the world at that time. In one place, Cammie makes mention of a movie star whose legs were insured for a million dollars. I love these little details and find them quite interesting. For instance, the Standard magazines, that were mentioned several times, are magazines I actually have from when the queen and king toured Canada right before the Second World War. I’ve always loved looking though those magazines and knew it would fit into a story one day.

While Tanner is a fictitious community, the story could have been set in any number of rural communities in Nova Scotia. There’s this common bond in rural communities, things that are passed down from one generation to the next. It’s a part of the fabric, an inner knowing, if you will, of the people and the lifestyle. Cammie’s whole way of speaking, the sayings she used, are all things I grew up hearing, and still hear today. No research required in that department. 🙂

You are a fine example of ‘write what you know’. 🙂 “Flying with a Broken Wing” is an intriguing title, and very suitable. How did you come up with it, and was that always the title you had in mind?

The title came from a line that appears several times in the book and also makes up the very last lines in the book. “‘They say birds can’t fly with broken wings, Evelyn Merry,’ I whisper. ‘But that doesn’t mean that we can’t. I promise you we will.’”

More importantly, the title suggests that we can fly in the face of adversity, just as the main character, Cammie, does. We all face hardships in life. We’re either born into it or we encounter it along the way. We can allow these things to define us, and accept our limitations for what they are, or we can do what some might say is the impossible regardless of our life’s circumstances. I think it’s an important message.

The title originally began as “Fly with a Broken Wing” and slowly progressed to “Flying with a Broken Wing.” 

Flying with a Broken Wing” works so much better! Who or what inspired you to make your main character visually impaired? 

Writing a visually impaired protagonist was challenging because I knew I’d be entering a world that’s totally foreign to me. Not only did I have to let the reader know what Cammie could see (or couldn’t see) her other senses had to come into play as well. I had to make sure the reader understood Cammie’s visual impairment and I had to do it in a believable way. My mother is visually impaired and has been since birth. I decided that Cammie would experience the world the same way my mother does. When Cammie takes her glasses off to read up close, or her ability to read Aunt Millie’s moods by listening to the sound in her voice and her body language, these are things I borrowed from my mother. Several times through the writing of this book I’d call and ask her to explain what her range of vision was with and without her glasses on.

You did an excellent job of portraying that; your mother must be proud of the results of your work. In this book you have several very interesting and spunky characters. Do you have a favourite, and why?

I do love Cammie, but her aunt Millie might just be my favourite. Many people have expressed their strong dislike for Millie, and she’s certainly a hard nut, there’s no denying that. She’s self-centered, tough, and a known liar. But she’s more than that. She’s a product of her environment, someone who does love but doesn’t know how to love very well. Her toughness is a matter of self-preservation. She’s a bootlegger. She has to be tough. Perhaps Millie’s my favourite because I don’t judge my characters. I simply observe their actions. I don’t become upset by what they do or don’t do. And then, of course, I know a bit more about Millie than everyone else. She comes off as cruel, not only because she’s physically abusive, but because of the lies she’s told Cammie over the years. But we can take heart in knowing that Millie didn’t simply invent these lies to be cruel. There are reasons for the things she’s told Cammie. We just don’t know what they are. I think that’s the way it is with the people in our lives. How many times do we pass judgment on others without stopping to consider what personal challenges they might have faced in the past or are facing at this very moment? Everyone has a story. We don’t always know what it is, but we’re often quick to pass judgment.

Excellent points! I’m learning we must know our characters well in order to portray them effectively to others. Which of your characters gave you the most trouble, and in what way?

That’s a tough question. I’m not sure I’d say any of the characters gave me trouble. But if I had to choose one I might say Cammie because her visual impairment was challenging to write. Still, I didn’t want this to be just a story about a visually impaired girl. More importantly, I wanted it to be about a girl with hopes and dreams, a girl who isn’t about to sit back and let life happen to her, a girl who decides to change her life, someone who isn’t defined by the things that make her different, a girl who just happens to be visually impaired. I’ve come to have such respect for the blind and visually impaired. I’ve heard so many stories from my mother about some of the people she went to school with and some of the remarkable things they went on to accomplish. If my readers gain anything from this book, I hope it’s a better understanding about people who are living with physical challenges and the things they are capable of achieving. 

I believe readers of “Flying with a Broken Wing” will hear Cammie’s heart and root for her as I did. This is a book that should be encouraging to girls in whatever their situation. Which of your characters is the most like you in attitude and/or approach to life?

I’m probably most like Evelyn Merry. I’m the person who offers support to others, who cheers for the underdog, and holds other people’s secrets close to my heart.  

There are names which can be considered unisex, my name being one of those, and you created a male character with a female name that is very unusual for a man, at least not one I had ever heard a man called. Why did you choose to do that? And why that name?

I like unusual names. They tend to be the ones we remember, and I wanted Evelyn to be a memorable character, not simply Cammie’s sidekick. I’m really bad at choosing names for my characters but, thankfully, I have a book to look through. When I came across the name Evelyn, the book said that at one time it was a popular name in England for a man. I wasn’t sure in the beginning just how I felt about the name, but as time went on it really grew on me. I can’t imagine it being anything else. I love his name. 

It was really odd to me at first, but the more I got to know Evelyn the more I liked his name. Do you have another novel in the works since this one really leaves the reader hoping for a sequel?

 I’m working on several different stories at the moment. I didn’t plan for it to happen that way but it did. And while I am planning on a sequel to “Flying with a Broken Wing” my heart is pointing me in a totally different direction these days. I’m the type of writer who is led by the characters and the story. When a story demands that I work on it, and I try to ignore those demands, I’ll encounter all sorts of problems until I give in. While my logical mind might tell me to write one thing, I need to listen to the quiet whispers inside me. If I don’t pay attention I end up losing the joy in writing because I’m looking off into the future at the end result instead of enjoying the process along the way. So, for now, I’m working on a story that makes me truly happy and the sequel, I’m in the midst of writing, has been put on the back burner for a little while longer.  

I am so glad there will be a sequel! I think because you follow your heart is why your writing is so good. Is there anything you would like to add to this interview that I may have left out? 

I can’t think of anything I’d like to add only that it’s been fun, and some of your questions were quite challenging. I think that’s a good thing. Thank you so much, Lynn, for interviewing me about my latest book.

Thank you, Laura, for agreeing to share your writing wisdom and experience with us again. I am learning from you. Now let’s give away a copy of your new book!

Readers, if you would like to have a chance to win a SIGNED copy of “Flying with a Broken Wing” by Laura Best, please leave a comment about anything you found especially interesting in the above interview. On April 22 at 6:00 PM EST one name will be selected using the “random name picker” tool. At Laura’s book launch, Nimbus Publishing gave me an extra copy just for this event! So … remember to check your inbox in case you are the winner because I will be contacting you for a mailing address. 🙂

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings! 🙂

Book Review: Flying with a Broken Wing – by Laura Best

Book: Flying with a Broken Wing
Author: Laura Best
Publisher: Nimbus Publishing
Date: September 6, 2013
Genre: young adult
Pages: 216
Price: $12.95; also available on Kindle
My Rating: a story of hope with characters the reader will cheer on
 

This is Laura Best‘s second novel. As Laura told us in this interview, Flying with a Broken Wing is a young adult novel set in a fictitious community in Nova Scotia.

Nearly twelve-year-old Cammie is the main character in Flying with a Broken Wing, and we get to see most of the adventure from her perspective. She is a young girl with a big dream – the dream of somehow starting a better life for herself.

All Cammie knows about her past is that her father was lost in the Second World War, her mother left her with an aunt who is the local bootlegger, and now her life feels full of shame and disappointment. Her aunt is harsh and not the most popular person around – among people who don’t buy moonshine, that is. Add to that the fact that Cammie’s eyes don’t work well. Being visually impaired has been a terrible burden, especially when everyone treats her differently because of it, and her aunt doesn’t even want to let her go to school. To Cammie that is very unfair, especially when she wants to go! When Cammie learns about a school for the blind in Halifax, that becomes her new goal and her hope for the better life she wants.

Cammie gains a friend along the way, one her aunt does NOT approve of because of her own personal reasons, which suits Cammie all the better. That’s when the excitement really begins … and the hilarity, and the trouble – big trouble. What kind of trouble? you may ask. Well, I’m sorry but you have to read about that yourself. Let me just say, it was a daring and dangerous plan, and the author certainly held my interest! Now I’m hoping for a sequel.

This is a delightful young adult novel for anyone to read. Laura Best created very believable characters in a post-war community setting. She is expert at writing real people who talk and act as one might expect, including some who aren’t always nice. If you have never had the privilege of reading any of the author’s work, read this one.

You can find Flying with a Broken Wing listed on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

Please return here for an interesting interview with Laura Best – to be posted April 17’14 – after which you will have the opportunity to try to win a copy of “Flying with a Broken Wing” donated by Nimbus Publishing located here in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂