Monday, January 29, 2007

Interview: Jennifer Holm

Jennifer Holm is the author of the recent Newbery Honor winning book, Penny from Heaven. Her other books include Our Only May Amelia (which also won a Newbery Honor) and the Babymouse graphic novel series. Visit her online at: www.jenniferholm.com

Congratulations on winning your second Newbery honor! Tell us your reaction when you won this time around.

First of all, I couldn't believe it! And second of all, I missed the call (doh!)

Here's what happened. It snowed here on Monday. The minute my three-year-old son saw the snow, he wanted to play outside. Somehow, our old cat, Leia, escaped out of the house and so we spent the morning looking for her (which shouldn't have been *that* hard considering Leia is a black cat.) My son kept saying the cat went inside, but I didn't believe him. When we finally went into the house, there was the escapee cat--happily asleep on a warm heating vent. Typical.

While we were outside the Newbery Committee had called twice and left a message. I couldn't believe this was happening again (I missed the call for OUR ONLY MAY AMELIA, too!) But, luckily, they called back. We celebrated with peanut butter-and-banana sandwiches and Leia got an extra helping of Fancy Feast.

When in your life did you know, "I'm going to write a novel!"?

I was always a big reader as a kid, but I was very intimidated by the idea of being a writer. My dad's a pediatrician and my mom's a nurse--those are pretty practical jobs. So I don't think I ever thought being a writer was a realistic career--more like a fantasy or a dream. I wrote OUR ONLY MAY AMELIA in my early twenties, and after it won a Newbery Honor, my very practical farm boy-doctor father called me up and said, "I think you should take this writing more seriously." So I did!

What was the biggest challenge in writing Penny?

Well, it took three years to write. That's a long time to live in 1953. The research was never-ending (I'm kind of obsessive.) Part of the problem was that I really got into it. For example, I listened to the box set of FIBBER MCGEE & MOLLY, the radio show mentioned in the book. It's pretty hilarious.

Which character did you have the most fun writing?

Frankie! I love him. We've all known boys like him.

You obviously did a huge amount of research for this book. What did you like best about your research?

I loved talking to people. I interviewed my family extensively, but also talked to all sorts of historians--Italian American professors, Brooklyn Dodgers experts, car aficionados, polio physicians, etc. One of my favorite historians was to a man who wrote the definitive book on wringer washing machines. He knew everything about them and had a whole wringer washing machine museum!

How did you decide to write Penny in first person present? (It worked so wonderfully!)

Because this is historical fiction, I really wanted readers to connect to Penny. I think the immediacy of first person present helped a lot.

Who are some of the authors that have influenced you the most?

My biggest influence was probably Lloyd Alexander who I loved from an early age. THE BLACK CAULDRON is still one of my favorite books.

What are you working on at the moment?

I'm reviewing proofs for a new book that will be out this summer. It's called MIDDLE SCHOOL IS WORSE THAN MEATLOAF. (I really hate meatloaf in case you were wondering.)

To close, what is your favorite thing about being a writer?

Spending all day in my pajamas. :)

So fun to get your insights. Thank you, Jenni!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

DailyLit

Via The Longstockings, I have found a website called DailyLit, which will send installments from classic books to your email each day. It's a great prompt for reading some books that you always mean to read, but never seem to get around to. I have chosen Charles Dickens's Great Expectations. Here is an excerpt from one of the opening paragraphs, a description that I love:
As I never saw my father or my mother, and never saw any likeness of either of them (for their days were long before the days of photographs), my first fancies regarding what they were like, were unreasonably derived from their tombstones. The shape of the letters on my father's, gave me an odd idea that he was a square, stout, dark man, with curly black hair. From the character and turn of the inscription, "Also Georgiana Wife of the Above," I drew a childish conclusion that my mother was freckled and sickly.

At the end of each segment that it sends you, it provides the option to "receive the next fragment immediately", in case you are at an intense spot! Leave a comment and let me if you sign up to read a classic on DailyLit. :)

Flora Segunda

by Ysabeau S. Wilce

Synopsis from Harcourt's website: "Flora knows better than to take shortcuts in her family home, Crackpot Hall--the house has eleven thousand rooms, and ever since her mother banished the magickal butler, those rooms move around at random. But Flora is late for school, so she takes the unpredictable elevator anyway. Huge mistake. Lost in her own house, she stumbles upon the long-banished butler--and into a mind-blowing muddle of intrigue and betrayal that changes her world forever."

This was a lively read, never a dull moment for Flora and co. The characters were all interesting, but rather bizarrely so. The book itself had some wonderful moments and adventures, but at the same time seemed to leap, hop, halt and skip around like an untamed colt. The whole thing was so odd, so different, that I couldn't quite get myself to like it. Excitement, check. Page-turner, check. Interesting (albeit weird) characters, check. The writing itself was good, I suppose. However, everything in this world seemed so unconnected and the surprises in the book would be more aptly termed shocks! For characters, I preferred Flora's papa and her friend Udo LandaĆ°on to Flora herself.

Flora Segunda: Being the Magickal Mishaps of a Girl of Spirit, Her Glass-Gazing Sidekick, Two Ominous Butlers (One Blue), a House with Eleven Thousand Rooms, and a Red Dog was a little too strange for me. (Although how can you not love that title?) In ways I want to recommend it because it was a unique, funnish sort of tale. But the mishaps outweighed the magic for me. Read it if it sounds interesting to you, but beware its un-normality.

Links: Check out the book's very cool website

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Fablehaven

by Brandon Mull

Kendra and Seth are taken to stay with their grandparents, whom they hardly even know, for the entire summer. But where is their grandmother? Why is Grandfather being so strict about where they can and can't go on the property? And what in the world was that hag doing in the forest?

Seth is determined to find out. He's willing to break all the rules, peek into all the forbidden places, just for the sake of fun and adventure. Kendra, on the other hand, is naturally cautious and a little timid, too. She knows better than to break the rules . . . but at the same time she can't helping being curious as well.

Pretty soon Seth and Kendra are caught up in more than they can handle. It doesn't take long for them to discover that if you break the rules, you will pay.

This is a colorful story about fantastical creatures (fairies, giants and the like) and the magic (and danger) they bring. The descriptions sparkled with imagination. I loved the characters and the life that the author breathed into them. Fablehaven is a highly entertaining and fresh fantasy that I would definitely recommend!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Ordinary Miracle

My new favorite song: "Ordinary Miracle" by Sarah McLaughlin, from Charlotte's Web.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Into the Wild

by Sarah Beth Durst

I love retold fairy tales, mixed up fairy tales, original fairy tales . . . pretty much anything to do with fairy tales. My work in progress(my NaNoWriMo, which I'm still plugging away at) is a retelling of a fairytale. Can I just say, I adore fairy tales? So maybe that's why I adored Into the Wild so much.

Julie is caught between two worlds - the world of the Wild and its fairy tale stories, and the real world where giants, witches and talking mirrors don't exist. You see, her mother is Zel, a.k.a. Rapunzel. And for a junior high school girl who wants to fit in and be normal, that can create complications.

All of the story-book characters (Goldilocks, the Seven Dwarves, etc.) escaped from the Wild years ago. The Wild is a bad place for them, a place where they are forced to reenact their tales over and over. But when the Wild is let loose into the real world and begins taking over the lives of both the fairy tale characters and ordinary people, it's up to Julie - someone who knows more about the Wild than other people, but who also doesn't have a story that she'll be caught in - to find the solution to their problems.

Into the Wild is a fantastic story with a spunky main character and a fast-paced plot. The author weaves all of the well-known fairy tales into her book with an ease and clarity that makes the reading of the book a delight. Highly recommended for anyone who loves fairy tales, or is just in need of a good story.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Newbery Awards Announced!

Yesterday evening I periodically shocked my family by screaming at the top of my lungs, "THE NEWBERY WINNERS ARE ANNOUNCED TOMORROW!!!" I have been looking forward to this day since...last year when Shannon Hale posted about her phone call.

The winner is The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron. I am embarrassed to say I've never heard of it. Well, I might have heard of it...once?...congratulations to it and its author!

The honors. Two books I've been dying to read anyway, so I'm super-excited that they were awarded: Hattie Big Sky by Kirbie Larson and Rules by Cynthia Lord. Also: PENNY FROM HEAVEN! Yay, yay, yay! I remember when I finished reading this book, I handed it to my mom and said: Read it. This one's going to win a Newbery honor, at least. I'm so happy for it!

In other news, the Batchelder Award "for an outstanding children's book published in a foreign language and translated into English" (which I'd actually never heard of), gave an honor to The Last Dragon by Silvana De Mari, a Cybils SF/F shortlist book, and one that I enjoyed very greatly.

Mom was excited for The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, which won a Printz honor! (Another book I have not yet read.)

For a list of more awards, visit this website.

***EDITED to add: The Margaret A. Edwards Award, established in 1988, "honors an author's lifetime achievement for writing books that have been popular with children." This year, author Lois Lowry won for her Newbery award-winning novel, The Giver. A hearty congratulations to her!

Also, if you'd like to watch a live webcast of the awards, you may do so here.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

A very happy SWEET 16 to the lovely Miss Cristina! Please visit her blog and wish her a happy birthday.

*EDIT: Cristina and I had a double 16th birthday party together. She has pictures from the party on her blog.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Interview: Jon Buller

Jon Buller and his wife Susan Schade are the authors of The Fog Mound: Travels of Thelonious. To learn more about them and their books, visit their website: http://www.bullersooz.com

For those who haven't read your book, can you begin by telling a little about it?

In ancient times human beings ruled the Earth -- at least that's what the old legends claim. But is it true?

Thelonious Chipmunk is a Talker -- an animal who has inherited the gift of language from his ancestors -- and he, for one, believes in humans. Who else could have made the old paper postcard he treasures? Who else could have built the tall building shown on the postcard? His desire to know more about the humans is fulfilled in a surprising and dangerous way when Thelonious is swept down the river into a strange new world -- a world of architectural ruins and puzzling artifacts, where gangs and warlords prowl amongst the crumbling remains of civilization.

With three new companions -- a bear, a porcupine, and a small brown lizard -- Thelonious embarks on a search for the far-off Fog Mound. It is a journey that becomes nothing less than a quest to uncover the secrets of Earth's past.

(That's a quotation taken from the inside flap of the book jacket.)

How did you get the idea for The Fog Mound: Travels of Thelonious?

Susan's grandmother owned a house and some land in Connecticut. As each of her daughters grew up, they moved to New York City, to explore the world and to make a living. Things often didn't work out as planned in New York. But when things got really bad Susan's mother and her two aunts could always move back home to the house in Connecticut, where life wasn't so threatening and competitive. So on one level at least, The Fog Mound is based on Susan's family.

How did you decide to make the book a graphic novel hybrid?

Our first idea was to make The Fog Mound a conventional novel, with illustrations. Susan wrote the text and then handed it to me to provide some illustrations. But at some point, while doing the illustrations, I got the idea that some chapters would work better if they were entirely done in cartoon format. It seemed a good way to draw people into the story. Other parts of the book, like those parts with long conversations or explanations, seemed like they would work better as prose. So we decided to go back and forth, alternating cartoon chapters with prose chapters.

What authors have inspired you the most in your writing?

Margery Sharp, who wrote THE RESCUERS. Mary Norton, who wrote THE BORROWERS. E. B. White's STUART LITTLE. LITTLE LULU comics. Jill Barklem's BRAMBLY HEDGE books. Philip Pullman. J. K. Rowling.

What illustrators have inspired you most in your artwork?

Ernest Shepherd. Walt Kelly. Bill Griffith. Edward Gorey. Ed Dodd, who drew the comic strip MARK TRAIL from 1946 to 1976.

What is your writing process like?

Susan and I have worked together as a writer/illustrator team for the past twenty years or so. She does most of the writing, and I do most of the illustrating, but we both do some of each. Sometimes I come up with the basic idea for the book, and sometimes Susan does. The idea for THE FOG MOUND was Susan's.

What is your illustrating process like?

For the first draft, I do very sketchy drawings in pencil, and show them to Susan to see what she thinks. She usually has comments and suggestions for improvements. After changing the drawings to accommodate her suggestions we send them to our editor at Simon and Schuster. who has comments of her own. Finally, when everybody is happy with the story and the illustrations, I draw the final illustrations on bristol board in pencil. When I am happy with how they look in pencil I go over the drawings with black ink. Then the original pencil is erased. The drawings are then scanned into our computer, and color is added with Photoshop.

Which of the characters were your favorite to write about and illustrate? (My favorite to read about was Thelonious, although I got a kick out of Billy, too.)

I suppose I would say Olive. I have always had a fondness for bears.

How long did it take you to write Travels of Thelonious?

Probably four or five years passed between Susan's first idea for the story and the version we eventually sold to Simon and Schuster. But we worked on many other things besides The Fog Mound during those years, so it is difficult to say exactly how long it took.

Can you tell us anything about your next book, The Fog Mound: Faradawn?

In Book II the animals continue their travels, leaving the Fog Mound and sailing down the river in a specially designed boat. They are trying to get to the island of Faradawn, where they hope to find some more information about what happened to the humans.

To close, what's your favorite thing about being a writing couple?

It's a really nice feeling when we manage to come up with something that we think is better than either one of us could have done by ourselves. We feel this way about THE FOG MOUND.

Thank you very much, Mr. Buller. I really had fun with your book!

Friday, January 19, 2007

ODE TO STEPHEN DOWLING BOTS

from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

And did young Stephen sicken,
And did young Stephen die?
And did the sad hearts thicken,
And did the mourners cry?

No; such was not the fate of
Young Stephen Dowling Bots;
Though sad hearts round him thickened,
'Twas not from sickness' shots.

No whooping-cough did rack his frame,
Nor measles drear, with spots;
Not these impaired the sacred name
Of Stephen Dowling Bots.

Despised love struck not with woe
That head of curly knots,
Nor stomach troubles laid him low,
Young Stephen Dowling Bots.

O no. Then list with tearful eye,
Whilst I his fate do tell.
His soul did from this cold world fly,
By falling down a well.

They got him out and emptied him;
Alas it was too late;
His spirit was gone for to sport aloft
In the realms of the good and great.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

I want the whole story

This subject has been brewing in my head for some time, and it finally came to a crisis point after reading two books in a row that didn't have endings.

The two books were AutumnQuest by Terie Garrison and Abadazad: The Road to Inconceivable by J. M. DeMatteis and Mike Ploog. Both were fun reads, but neither one was a complete story. The main character racked up a whole bunch of problems to solve, and didn't solve any of them before the book abruptly left off with a "to be continued". What is this, I thought, a weekly comic strip?

I think a big part of this is marketing - more money! But how dare publishers call something a "book" which is only a chapter of the story?! Another good example of this would be The Spiderwick Chronicles, a five-book series by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi. If all five "books" ("chapters") had been published as one book, it would'nt have been a problem.

Take a different series - Harry Potter, for a widely-known example. If someone was to pick up, say, the sixth book (without having previously read any of the others), they might be pretty confused. I decided that I don't think the Harry Potter books stand alone. And everything isn't wrapped up at the end of each book - for instance, Voldemort still isn't defeated even after six books. But each book does have its own plot that finishes up by the end of the book.

So I came to the conclusion that I don't need books to stand alone. I just need them to have their own story. And that story needs to be complete.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Book lists

Cybils books that didn't make the official SF/F shortlist, but were on my personal shortlist:

Avielle of Rhia by Dia Calhoun
The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor
Gossamer by Lois Lowry
The Beasts of Clawstone Castle by Eva Ibbotson

Runners-up:
Travels of Thelonious by Susan Schade and Jon Buller
Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett


Books I would love to win the Newbery (in this order):
Penny from Heaven by Jennifer Holm
Avielle of Rhia by Dia Calhoun
Yellow Star by Jennifer Roy
Gossamer by Lois Lowry

Hee, hee












(Click on this to get it bigger.) And note: I got a kick out of this, but I must say I believe Harry Potter to be far superior to Star Wars, and not at all copy-cat. :)

Sunday, January 14, 2007

"The world is full of obvious things which nobody ever observes."
~The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

"Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known."
~Carl Sagan

Listen to the Mustn'ts, child, listen to the Don'ts.
Listen to the Shouldn'ts, the Impossibles, the Won'ts.
Listen to the Never Haves, then listen close to me.
Anything can happen, child, Anything can be.
~Shel Silverstein

Friday, January 12, 2007

Shakespeare's Sonnet 116

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

"It's a wonderful poem. It says, loving doesn't change just because someone isn't there, or because time gets in the way, or even death. It's always with you, keeping you safe, it won't ever leave you."

"An ever-fixed mark," I said.

Rachel nodded. "Even to the edge of doom."

~from King of Shadows by Susan Cooper

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

King of Shadows

by Susan Cooper

Nat Field has been chosen along with a group of select boys to perform Julius Caesar and A Midsummer Night's Dream at the newly-built Globe in London. The cast consists of all boys - the director wants this play to be as true to the time as possible. A different adventure begins for Nat when he awakes to find himself 400 years back in time, when the original Globe was first built!

A couple of summers ago I took part in a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, which is the play this book mainly focuses on. I had a wonderful time reading about their preparations, costumes, and ultimately the performance. It brought back a lot of memories!

I also enjoyed reading about Nat's friendship with Shakespeare. When they acted together (Nat as Puck and Shakespeare as Oberon) the author wrote that they had a natural chemistry. And as a reader you could feel that chemistry working between them, whether they were on or off stage.

My main complaint with this book was that in the few chapters that didn't take place back in time, there was some foul language scattered throughout. I'm not sure why the author thought it necessary to make the modern-day kids and adults have bad mouths, it certainly didn't add anything to the story. Also, *POSSIBLE SPOILER* parents of young children should be warned that Nat's father commits suicide, and that scene gets just a little graphic. *SPOILER OVER*

That aside, I think King of Shadows is a well-written, intriguing peek into life as an actor during the Elizabethan time period. Anyone who is interested in history or acting is sure to enjoy it.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

AUTHOR INTERVIEWS

In order from newest to oldest:

Holly Cupala (Tell Me a Secret)
Patrick Carman (Skeleton Creek)
Mary E. Pearson (The Adoration of Jenna Fox, A Room on Lorelei Street)
Siobhan Vivian (A Little Friendly Advice, Same Difference)
Maya Ganesan (Apologies to an Apple)
Ally Carter (Don't Judge a Girl By Her Cover)
Tony DiTerlizzi (The Spiderwick Chronicles)
Laurel Snyder (Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains)
Shannon, Dean and Nathan Hale (Rapunzel's Revenge)
Vivian French (The Robe of Skulls)
Gary D. Schmidt (The Wednesday Wars, Trouble)
Mary Hooper (At the Sign of the Sugared Plum)
Siena Cherson Siegel (To Dance: A Ballerina's Memoir)
Elizabeth C. Bunce (A Curse Dark As Gold)
Lisa Graff (The Life and Crimes of Bernetta Wallflower)
Laini Taylor (Faeries of Dreamdark)
Joan M. Wolf (Someone Named Eva)
Shannon Hale (Book of a Thousand Days)
Laura Amy Schlitz (A Drowned Maiden's Hair)
Clare B. Dunkle (The Hollow Kingdom)
D. M. Cornish (Monster Blood Tattoo)
Ying Chang Compestine (Revolution is Not a Dinner Party)
Kaza Kingsley (Erec Rex)
Kirsten Miller (Kiki Strike)
Laura Ruby (The Chaos King)
Sarah Miller (Miss Spitfire)
Lisa Yee (Millicent Min, Girl Genius)
Sarah Beth Durst (Into the Wild)
Jessica Day George (Dragon Slippers)
Dia Calhoun: Part One & Part Two (Avielle of Rhia)
Rick Riordan (Percy Jackson and the Olympians)
Jennifer Roy (Yellow Star)
Jennifer Holm (Penny from Heaven)
Jon Buller (The Fog Mound: Travels of Thelonious)
Lesley M. M. Blume (Cornelia and the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters)
Gail Carson Levine: Part 1 & Part 2 (Ella Enchanted, Writing Magic, Fairest)
Len Bailey (Clabbernappers)

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Lost Dream

It was there—
A hope, a dream,
Dangling from a single thread.
Tempting me,
Filling me,
Causing me to scheme and yearn.

Now it’s gone,
Snapped in two.
Nothing left
of the Dream That Was.
I must find
a way to see
Hope in something else.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Book Discussion Group

Michele over at Scholar's Blog has something new: a sort of on-line book club. Each month a book will be nominated for discussion. Anyone can participate! Read more about it here.

February's book of the month will be The King of Shadows by Susan Cooper, a book I've had on my to-read list for awhile now. This will be the push I need to pick it up. :) I hope you'll join in!

Sookie's tag

Which would you rather have/be (if you want to-you can state your reasons)…..

A hamburger or a hotdog?

A hamburger. Hot dogs are good at the beginning, but by the time I've finished I feel like gagging.

A kiss underneath the stars on a clear night, or in the rain?

Neither at the moment. ;) Someday ... oh, I don't know. I guess I haven't really thought about it, lol.

A snowy morning or a warm afternoon?

Oh, both! But snowy mornings are lovely. It's always such a beautiful surprise to wake up and look out the window and have white frosting over the trees and hills.

Hot chocolate or coffee?

Hot chocolate. Rich, creamy, sweet. Mmmmm.

A text message or a phone call?

A phone call. Text messaging is fun, but talking on the phone is much more personal. And emotions don't get exaggerated so much, either. It's easier to offend when you're typing then when you're talking.

A limo or a Volkswagen Bug?

A limo! To take me to the premiere of my movie. ;)

A long island ice tea, or a martini (note-you do not have to have drunk alcohol to answer this question-you can answer it based on which one sounds/looks better)

I haven't had either, but "long island ice tea" has a much nicer ring to it.

A book or a movie?

"I should infinitely prefer a book." ~Pride and Prejudice, the miniseries

Tea or a soda?

Chai tea.

(have as a friend) An axe murderer or a clown?

A clown, most definitely!

A peaceful lake or a restless ocean?

Hm...maybe the ocean.

A singular best friend or many acquaintances?

I think having a close, "bosom" friend is important, but I think it is also good to have a good many friends and acquaintances. It can get lonely, otherwise.

(be) a person who flips hamburgers for McDonalds or a stuntman?

Stuntsman!

A dog or a cat?

A cat. Or a dog, if it's not too hyper.

And finally-

A TAG or a survey?

Tag. I hereby tag....Nancy....and Sookie, because even though she invented this tag she didn't answer the questions!

**EDIT: the following questions are a few Nancy made up to add to the tag:

A world without words or a world without color?

A word without color. I don't think I could survive without words.

An empty amusement park or an empty shopping mall?

Empty shopping mall! But neither would be much fun without a friend.

The mannerisms of an insufferable opera diva or the mind of a mad scientist?

Oh dear. I guess I'll take diva - if only from the fact that I like singing better than science.

No memory of history or no memory of yesterday?

No memory of history, I guess. *sob*

That was fun. ;)

Friday, January 05, 2007

"For how long?" I ask Papa,
trying to sound brave.

"Until . . .
Until . . ."
Papa pauses and looks at the ceiling
as if the answer to my question is
up above us.

Finally he tells me he just doesn't know the answer,
that these days we cannot plan the future
but instead must go day to day,
trusting that there will be an end to this situation,
that a better life is ahead.

Later, I think about what Papa has said.
I try to picture a better life.
It is hard to do,
since I have known this one for so long.

~from Yellow Star by Jennifer Roy

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Happy Blogiversary to me!

So I've been bloggin' for a year now.

Just a few of the things my blog has brought me:
  • Friends. I seriously cannot even begin to name all of the people I have met/talked to because of this blog. So many people I want to meet in person someday! And I'm so glad to be able to get to know you all through the Internet. Thanks to everyone for your encouragement, comments and discussions.
  • A job in which I got paid with books (the best form of payment, if you ask me). The Cybils! I was so blessed to be able to serve on the SciFi/Fantasy nominating committee. What a fun challenge that was.
  • Another job - this year my book reviews will appear in the The Writers Post Journal! I'm psyched! And I was approached about the job via someone I got to know through blogging.
  • A creative outlet for my writing and musings.

A year in posts (my favorite posts from each month):

January: A Night at the Symphony

February: When I was a Little Girl

March: Credo Ut Intelligam and I'm in with the big dogs

May: My adventures with cousins Tori and Kenny. Adventures the first, second, and third.

June: Warner Bros. Studio and shoes

July: Sunday afternoon in London

August: Library tales

September: On Harry Potter

October: My quote a day from the Lemony Snicket books, as an advent to the release of The End. (Go here and scroll down to the bottom to begin reading the daily quotes.)

November: Revisiting Alice and meeting Gail Carson Levine

December: Interview with Lesley M. M. Blume

Woo-hoo! Happy birthday/anniversary, dear blog of mine!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Day 3: Dumbledore and the Dursley's

"I don't mean to be rude -" he [Vernon] began, in a tone that threatened rudeness in every syllable.

"- yet, sadly, accidental rudeness occurs alarmingly often," Dumbledore finished the sentence gravely. "Best to say nothing at all, my dear man."

"I would assume that you were going to offer me refreshment," Dumbledore said to Uncle Vernon, "but the evidence so far suggests that that would be optimistic to the point of foolishness."

--

A third twitch of the wand, and a dusty bottle and five glasses appeared in midair. The bottle tipped and poured a generous measure of honey-colored liquid into each of the glasses, which then floated to each person in the room.

"Madam Rosmerta's finest oak-matured mead," said Dumbledore, raising his glass to Harry, who caught hold of his own and sipped.

The Dursleys, after quick, scared looks at one another, tried to ignore their glasses completely, a difficult feat, as they were nudging them gently on the sides of their heads. Harry could not suppress a suspicion that Dumbledore was rather enjoying himself.

~Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling

17 Days until the End. . . .

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Top Favorite Movies: 2006

ACTION:

#1 - The Last Samurai
I really enjoyed this stirring, adventurous story of the samurai warriors and the man who is captured by them and ultimately becomes one of them. Warning: intense battle sequences (plenty of gore). Highly recommended.



#2 - Signs
I watched this for the first time in 2005, and really disliked it. However, I re-watched it and loved it. Don't ask me why . . . anyway, it's a very good story of how God works everything out for good - even when what happened seems awful at the time.




Runners Up:
Batman Begins
Equilibrium
Flightplan

COMEDY:
#1 - Twelfth Night
This is the most well-done Shakespeare film I've ever seen. I love it - and all the actors do a great job. A wonderful movie that my whole family enjoys.



#2 - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
This movie makes me laugh. And I like to laugh. Roald Dahl's quirky stories are so very difficult to bring to life on screen, and I think they did a marvelous job with this one.

Runners Up:
The Importance of Being Earnest
Just Like Heaven
Sabrina (the new one with Harrison Ford)

DRAMA:

#1 - Walk the Line
Great, great movie. Joaquin Phoenix so deserved an Oscar.

Runners Up:
The Dish
The Nativity Story
Luther
North and South
Roman Holiday

FAMILY:

#1 - Tie between two:
My Fair Lady
This is my favorite musical, period. Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison are so wonderful in it!
Beauty and the Beast
Another fun musical. It is extra special for me this year, since I got to act in the stage version.

Runners Up:
Hoodwinked
Singin' in the Rain

And make sure to check out my Inspiring Star Awards!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Cybils shortlists announced

Fantasy and Science Fiction, with my thoughts:

Silver City by Cliff McNish
A compelling, unique story of a group of children who are . . . different, to say the least. A very interesting read. It might help to read Silver Child first, but I believe it can stand alone, also.

Beka Cooper: Terrier by Tamora Pierce
A story of a group of police "Dogs" and their fight for peace in the slums of a fantasy city. Beka solves two mysteries while training to be a "Dog". This book moved rather slowly, and there were some sexual references that made me uncomfortable - so with those two things it's hard for me to recommend it, but it was a fun and original story. My favorite characters: Goodwin and Tunstall!

Ptolemy's Gate by Jonathan Stroud
Confession: I'm actually not quite finished with this! Of all the books on our original shortlist (there were 28) somehow this got pushed towards the last for me. However, so far it's one of my personal favorites. I would highly recommend it, even though I don't know the ending yet. ;)

Pucker by Melanie Gideon
I couldn't finish this book. I didn't connect with the main character at all. Others seemed to enjoy it though (obviously) so it made it on the list. :)

The Last Dragon by Silvan De Mari
I really liked this clever, enjoyable fantasy. Don't let the words "elf" and "dragon" scare you off - it's not a run-of-the-mill story at all. Another favorite.


The other shortlists are:

Graphic Novels

Non-Fiction (Middle Grade and YA)

Middle Grade Fiction

Young Adult Fiction

Fiction Picture Books

Non-Fiction Picture Books

Poetry

Best wishes for the judges, and I'd like to say two things:
1) Don't panic, and
2) I don't envy you. :)

My duties are over now. My initial reactions?
1st - RELIEF!
2nd - I'm not going to look at another book for - for - well, a long time!
3rd - (a few hours later) I need to go to the library so I can get more books. NOW!
4th - Withdrawal. All of our lovely discussions and cat fights are over. Thank you all - Sheila, Michele, Gail and Kim. You've been wonderful.
5th - What a great experience.

Three Things Meme

Journey Woman tagged me!

Three things that scare me: spiders, demon rituals, terrorism

Three people who make me laugh: Brady, Traci, my mom

Three things I love: books, acting, my friends

Three things I hate: sickness, loneliness, hormones (lol)

Three things I don't understand: What are calories and why do people want to lose them?, how someone can read over 400 books in a year, why the prince had to have Cinderella try on a slipper to find her. In some versions, she's masked at the ball, so that's ok then, but in other versions (such as the Disney one) she isn't! So why couldn't he just recognize her?

Three things on my desk: lists of books, lists of movies, lists of things to do

Three things I'm doing right now: working on a novel, thinking of what to post for my blogiversary, drinking hot chocolate

Three things I want to do before I die: publish a novel, work in a library/bookstore for kids and teens, star in a play/movie

Three things I can do: review books, encourage my family and friends, type fast

Three things you should listen to: "AllStar" by SmashMouth, "Great Big World" from Hoodwinked, "Home" from Beauty and the Beast

Three things you should never listen to: people screaming at each other, rap, a bomb exploding

Three things I'd like to learn: fencing, HTML, hang-gliding

Three favorite foods: spaghetti, apples, scalloped potatoes and ham

Three beverages I drink regularly: water, black currant juice, um...water?

Three TV shows/Books I watched/read as a kid: Gumby, The Bobbsey Twins, Arthur

Three blogger friends that I am going to tag: Sookie, Cristina, Pickles