Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Janet Reid is Awesome!

Hello Literati!
I have returned from my Backspace Writer’s Conference with newfound knowledge and inspiration!  For those of you who are aspiring authors, you must go to this conference!  It should not even be a question, start saving for it now!  It will change your life!
I met some fabulous people at the conference: a critique group of YA writers, editors, agents, and especially Karen Dionne and Chris Graham.  Karen and Chris are the founders of Backspace and are both published writers.  They are amazing people and I feel a real privilege to have met them.
So, if you are a writer, first, get a membership to Backspace.  Do it now, we will wait here for you.
Next, you’re going to start saving for the conference, trust me when I say you will not regret it!
So who is Janet Reid?  She’s known in literary circles as The Shark.  She eats writers for breakfast.  I scheduled a one-on-one with her and everyone at the conference thought I was either a) crazy, or b) a masochist.   But I went to the conference for honest opinions and she is bursting with them!  Of course I was super anxious for the meeting.  All morning knots welled in my stomach, trapping butterflies in their grasps.  Now, I hope I don’t ruin her image, but Janet “The Shark” Reid is awesome.  She was super nice and she even gave me a book, Swamplandia!.  That’s right; it has an exclamation at the end, which makes it look weird in that sentence.  Has anyone ever read it?
There will be more to come about what knowledge I can pass on to fellow writers.  In the meantime, this Friday will be the second installation from the Real Evil Genius series...and it’s a good one!
What are you reading right now?  Care to give it a quick review in the comments?
Happy reading and writing!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Hook

Good afternoon, Literati!  I'm in New York for the rest of the week, so blog posts will be super short and sweet.
Today I'd like to discuss "the hook" in writing.  That special something that grabs your attention in an article or in fiction, even in a movie.  Are there certain elements of a hook that will immediately draw you in?  I'm a sucker for mysteries, throw in a ghost and some historical fiction and I'm in! 
What do you look for in a hook?  What HAS to be in that first sentence/page/scene to grab your attention?

I look forward to your responses!

Happy reading and writing!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Splicing It Up

Good afternoon, Literati!  Today I thought I’d take a moment to talk about the comma splice.  A fellow Literati sent me an article from yesterday’s edition of The New York Times entitled, The Most Comma Mistakes.  I thought it was a clever title. 
The comma splice was a close friend of mine in high school back when I believed the comma’s best usage was to add a pause in my writing.  I will admit this, I love commas; but I love semicolons just a little bit more, so it is not often that I find myself in a comma “splicy” situation. 
To review, a comma splice is when a comma is used between two ideas that should really be their own sentences.  Example:
The little girl had a lollypop, the little boy ate an apple. (wrong!)
The little girl had a lollypop; the little boy ate an apple.  (right!)
The little girl had a lollypop.  The little boy ate an apple.  (right!)
The little girl had a lollypop, and the little boy ate an apple.   (right!)
As you can see from the above correct sentences, the comma splice error has an easy fix (or rather, several easy fixes)!  As I said above, I personally like the semicolon.  Just remember that a semicolon can only correct a comma splice if the subject of each sentence is similar to one another.  Example:
They were on a shopping spree; Macy’s was having a clearance sale!  (right!)
They were on a shopping spree; popcorn sounded good.  (wrong!)
In the first example, the second part of the sentence explains why “they” were on a shopping spree and “Macy’s was having a clearance sale” expands on the original subject of shopping.  In the incorrect example, shopping and popcorn have no relation.  They are both two completely separate thoughts.  In this case, the semicolon wouldn’t work for correcting a comma splice, and the sentence should be broken up with a period.
If you would like to read The New York Times article that inspired this blog post, click here.
Do you have a good example of common errors in comma usage?  One of my biggest pet peeves is the absence of the oxford comma...but alas, that’s for another post...
Happy reading and writing!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Verb Ending in -ING

Okay, write down a plural noun, adjective, noun, adjective, plural noun, noun, adjective, plural noun, noun, noun, adverb, a last name, part of the body (plural), noun, and another noun.  Got them?
Now fill them the appropriate blanks:

(Courtesy of MAD LIBS: WHO MOVED MY CUBICLE?, Penguin Group)
How did it come out? 
Mad Libs has been one of my favorite games since I was about ten!  I absolutely love it and usually have one in my car, in my purse, and in my living room!  If you have never played Mad Libs, you are doing yourself a great disservice.  Go out now and buy a book.  Go on.
Mad Libs was introduced to the public by Leonard Stern and Roger Price in 1953.  It is said that the game was inspired by the vintage parlour game, Consequences.  Now this is my kind of game.  You and your friends gather in a circle with paper and pen in hand.  Each person takes turns writing out a few sentences, folds the paper to cover their addition, and passes it to a neighbor.  Everyone in the circle does this until each person has had a turn.  At the end, someone reads the story aloud for a good chuckle. 
Today we have Word Feud and Words with Friends to occupy our time (and to keep us distracted from doing that sink full of dishes).    What are some of your favorite word games?  Do you have a funny word game story?
Happy reading and writing!

Friday, May 18, 2012

And the Guinness Record Goes To...

Last week, Guinness World Records (GWR) announced a world record for the most portrayed literary human character in film and TV.  Who is this mysterious literary character?
Hint #1: He once said, “I never guess.  It is a shocking habit – destructive to the logical faculty.”
Hint #2: He is famous for saying, “Eliminate all factors, and the one which remains must be the truth.”
Hint #3: He lives on Baker London...with Watson...
You got it!  (I think.)  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes received the GWR honor last Saturday at a World Record London event being held in the run-up to  London’s 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.   I love the Sherlock Holmes mysteries and highly recommend every story before, and including, The Final Problem. 
Sherlock made his literary debut in 1887 and has been featured in four novels and 56 short stories.   He has been portrayed in TV and film 254 times!  Actors depicting the pipe-smoking detective include Charlton Heston, Peter O’Toole, Roger Moore, John Cleese, and everyone’s favorite, Robert Downey Jr.  (Am I right?)  
GWR stated, "Sherlock Holmes is a literary institution. This Guinness World Records title reflects his enduring appeal and demonstrates that his detective talents are as compelling today as they were 125 years ago."
I don’t think that I could narrow down my favorite Holmes short story, but my favorite novel would have to be The Sign of Four.  The stories are engaging and it’s always fun to try and solve the cases before Holmes announces the solution.  If you’re still building your Summer Reading List, consider adding a story or two to your compilation, you won’t be disappointed!
So who was the most portrayed literary character of all time?  Hint: Read the first sentence of this post carefully.
(I’ll give you a minute to think about it...)
With a total of 272 TV and film portrayals, the illustrious Dracula is the most often character depicted on screen.
I love vampire fiction – Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian, and Joss Whedon’s awesome series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, rank among my favorites.  What are some of your favorite vampire tales?  (Caution: Please do not post anything related to, or having to do with, Twilight, or any book within that series...I will weep.)
Happy reading and writing!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Mighty Muse

“Remind yourself of your moments of triumph, especially when you’re feeling stuck.” (The Pocket Muse, Wood.)
You may or may not be a writer; you may or may not be an artist; either way you are someone who gets out of bed every morning and commits to a series of actions moving (hopefully) towards some sort of recognizable (or perhaps, unspecified) goal.  Some of you have jobs, kids, spouses – people and responsibilities to drive and motivate you throughout your day.  But do you ever feel stuck?
Most writers will experience writer’s block on a weekly basis; but throughout a regular day writers and non-writers alike may come into contact with obstacles that just make “it” hard.  So what to do?  As a writer, one of my favorite muses is the writing prompt and I haven’t come across a collection of prompts I enjoy more than Monica Wood’s, The Pocket Muse.  Here's a photo of my copy, and yes, I have worn it out!

But artists aren’t the only people who require (with probable agonizing desperation) inspiration.
My kids and husband are my greatest motivators; they get me through the rough work weeks, the writer’s blocks, and everything in between.  I also have this little muse in my head that pushes me to write (it’s a really little voice, easily quieted...especially with episodes of The Vampire Diaries).  And let us not forget baking milk chocolate chip cookies.
What is it that helps you get through a day littered with obstacles?  What gets you through those rough moments?  Who or what is your muse?    

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Conference and Fairy Tales

In exactly one week I’ll be heading to New York to the Backspace Writer’s Conference and I cannot wait!  I look forward to meeting other writers, editors, agents, and passing on what I learn to my fellow writers (and Literati)!  If you’d like to see details about the conference, click here.
Speaking of dreams coming true, I’d like to take a minute to talk about fairy tales for an upcoming series.  I’m not talking Disney-made-for-movies fairy tales; I’m talking the REAL stories.  The true story of the Little Mermaid; and spoiler alert, she does not end up marrying the prince.  And not to further break hearts out there, Rapunzel wasn’t born a princess, nor was she all that innocent. 
The original versions of fairy tales are said to be based on actual events of the time, like the story of the Pied Piper; others have underlying lessons of morality, such as The Little Mermaid. 
So what is this upcoming fairy tale series all about?  I’ll give you a hint; we’ll discuss a real fairy tale and its true origins, and trust me, the story of the Pied Piper is quite terrifying.   If you don’t have a Brothers Grimm or Hans Christian Andersen book laying around, check out these online compilations of the Brothers and Andersen.
Please leave me a comment and let me know what your favorite fairy tale is – whether it’s the revised movie version or the real one, and I’ll do my best to dedicate a post to the genuine story.
If you are interested in attending a conference or writing workshop, click here for a list of upcoming events. 
While working on a document for work today, I was in need of a quick grammar reference to double check a sentence.  I found myself reaching for my most trustworthy reference book - The Writer’s Digest’s Grammar Desk Reference by Gary Lutz and Diane Stevenson.  Everyone should have a copy on their shelves!  (I know it’s kind of random, but if you’re looking for a good reference book, check it out!)
Happy reading and writing!    

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Summer Reading and the Perfect Pairing

With summer on the horizon, Amazon has unleashed their 2012 Summer Reading List.  I really like their format and the way they’ve divided the books into categories like Beach Reading, Summer Blockbusters, and Hard-Boiled Detectives.  If you’re not sure what you’d like to read, you could always browse the Editor’s Picks for something that may catch your eye (and those books are on sale right now!).
Winter reading and summer reading is so different.  On one hand, winter reading lends images of snuggling under a blanket, maybe near a fire, with a cup of hot tea or steaming chocolate topped with whipped cream, and a gentle storm brewing outside.  Alternatively, summer reading dreams up pictures of swinging on a hammock, basking in the shade of big beautiful trees, and a glowing glass of lemonade in hand.  However, how often (really) do you sit in a big chair with a good book, blanket, and cup of perfectly made hot chocolate or read while swaying in a hammock?  Most of my reading is done late at night when everyone in the house is sleeping or the quick moments between walking to my car from my office (I actually can get a lot in from the tenth floor down to the parking lot).
If I were to think up the most perfect of reading settings, it would have to be pairing a great mystery with the gentle rocking of a hammock.  I have a hammock and those rare moments that I have the opportunity to enjoy it are like sweet paradise!  So, perfect setting: great book (a given), hammock, fresh squeezed lemonade, quiet, and a gentle breeze...and if we’re dreaming up this perfect setting, I’ll take my hammock out of my backyard and put it on a deserted island with white sand and aqua-colored waves (why not?). 
I know some people who love to sit with a good wine and read the latest Bestseller.  In this month's Wine Enthusiast Magazine, they actually have a list of books paired with the perfect wine.  Others love reading in any cozy nook with, well, their Nook (or Kindle/iPad). 
What’s your perfect reading setting?  Do you prefer winter reading over summer reading?  What genre do you plan on reading this summer?  Let me know if you plan on reading, or have read, any of the novels on Amazon’s list, and don’t forget to tell me what you thought of said book(s)!
Don’t forget to follow me by clicking Join this site on the right hand side of the screen.  It only takes a minute and I’d sure appreciate it! Happy reading and writing!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Best Moms in Fiction

Coming out of the Mother’s Day weekend, I thought it would be nice to make note of some of the most awesome of fictional moms out there.   Let me know who you would put on your list of the best fictitious moms! 
But first, just so we’re on the same page, I’d like to turn your attention to a section of the first sentence in today's post: “...Mother’s Day weekend...”  For those who were not certain, the official name for the “holiday” is singular.  Over the weekend I saw “Happy Mothers Day” and “Happy Mothers’ Day” ... sometimes capitalized, other times not.  So there you have it: Mother’s Day. 
As promised, my list of the best moms in fiction, don’t forget to leave your choices in the comments! 
1.       Mrs. Weasley (Harry Potter) – Mrs. Weasley not only demonstrated the utmost devotion and love for her sons and daughter, but she took Harry in and treated him no different.  She was a stay at home mum who used her magic to cook and clean; and when it came to it, she used that same magic to protect and avenge.  There is no doubt she is one tough cookie and one of the best mums in fiction!
2.       Mrs. March (Little Women) – Marmee, as she was lovingly referred to by her four daughters, was a strong woman.  She wanted her girls to live outside of the boundaries that society placed on them as women; all while retaining their lady-like manner (of course). 
3.       Martha Kent (Superman) – If you were driving down a dirt road at night, saw a meteor smash into the earth cradling a baby alien within its rocky embrace, would you have dusted off said baby and raised him as your own? 
4.       Mrs. Bennet (Pride and Prejudice) – Though not all of her daughters appreciated her efforts, Mrs. Bennet was a mother who only wanted the best for her girls.  She was intent on finding them the best of suitors.  Unfortunately, she was of the school of thought that without a proper suitor, her daughters wouldn’t amount to much, thus effectively scaring away both suitors and her daughters.  But she had good intentions!
5.       Lily Potter (Harry Potter) Quite possibly the best fictional mom of all time, Lily Potter gave her life and used her unconditional love to protect her son.  What more can be said?
I was surprised to find how hard it was to actually come up with good moms in fiction!  I’d love to hear your input!  As always, happy reading and happy writing! 

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Writing Prompt

Writing prompts are great fun.  As a kid I would pick a random letter of the alphabet, think of a word that began with the selected letter, and write a one page essay on the subject.  This is what I considered fun in my early middle school days, before that, it was challenging my sister to pick a word and time me on how long it took me to locate said word in the dictionary.  I dubbed it The Dictionary Game, and yes, I still struggle with naming my brilliant works/game ideas.
Writing prompts aren’t just fun for writers, I know artists who use them for inspiration; even those seedy corporate suits use them for effective brain exercises or a break from the monotonous days of the office world. 
I found this simple writing prompt online.  Use this little exercise as a transition from your hectic week into your weekend!  I’ve done the prompt myself just for some great fun!
Prompt: Make a list of 10 things that happened to you this month (luckily I keep a journal!).  They can be funny, embarrassing, happy, etc.  Pick one from your list and write about it.
1.       Finally started a blog!
2.       Baked some chocolate chip cookies with the babies.
3.       Created a new tostada of refried beans, sour cream, shredded beef, an egg over easy, and topped with cheese and salsa.
4.       Kissed boogers (received a nice big kiss from my four year old, with a really, really, really awful runny nose).
5.       Missed another Glimmer Train contest deadline.
6.       Drove by my dream house (it’s even DREAMIER in person!).
7.       Got squirted on (this is what my two year old calls it when she pees all over the toilet).
8.       Sent the first 10 pages of my novel to THE Query Shark in preparation for our one-on-one meeting this month in New York!
9.       Was called a witch several times (by my two year old “princess”...)
10.   Got scared while watching Ghost Hunters International when my husband started scratching at the front door (at the SAME moment the paranormal investigators asked the evil spirit dwellers for a sign to validate their existence - Creepy!).
I decided to write on number 9 in my list, if only to clarify that I don’t have a bratty daughter; nor am I a horrible mother deserving of the “witch” title (I hope).  Last week my daughter wanted to play a game: The area behind the recliner would be her castle, her brother would be the genie that gave her said castle, she would (of course) be the princess, and I would play the role of...the witch.   Fine, I played along and answered her questions appropriately (“Would you like some tea, Witch?” “Yes, thank you, Princess!”).  But it was after we had stopped playing make- believe, I had served her dinner, and she says to me, “Thank you, Witch.”  What the what???  We hadn’t been playing for hours by this point, so I asked her not to call me a witch. 
She complied.  That is, until Monday, when I gave her some water and she said, “Thank you, Witch.”  “Don’t call me a witch,” I replied.  Smiling her unbelievably sweet smile, she said, “Okay Mommy...Witch.”

And there you have it!  The real prompt advised to make a list of 40 things (really??), but I thought 10 would be more blog-friendly.  I’d love to see what you would put on your list!  Leave your list in the Comments!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Evil Genius: The Real Professor Moriarty, Part Two

The Evil Genius is a once a month series discussing true villains our beloved antagonists have been based from.  I’d love to read your comments on what you think of the series, your thoughts on Moriarty, or on any Sherlock Holmes novel/movie/show! 

When last we left Adam Worth, the criminal mastermind behind the inspiration for Doyle’s Professor Moriarty, he had accomplished the first step of his scandalous plot.  Worth was now a member of the London aristocracy, living in a stunning mansion, breeding race horses, and boasting a collection of rare books and fine art.  The next step of his plan was finding a secret gang that he could trust.
It wasn’t long before Worth had created a criminal network that was seemingly headed by four men.  Outside of these four men, the subordinate gang members were unaware that Worth was the true boss.  Worth planned out every heist and calculated each robbery carefully, in some instances, using his yacht as a means for his gang to escape the scene of a crime.
While setting up their next big caper in Constantinople, Worth’s gang leaders were arrested for forgery.  There were a few rules Adam Worth lived by, never use violence and never abandon a friend.  He spent a considerable amount of money for the group’s release, paying off judges and the police.  Shortly after, the gang disassembled due to some internal conflicts.  Bullard, Worth’s best friend and most trusted partner in crime returned to America.  Bullard’s wife, Kitty, followed him soon after, taking with her Worth’s two daughters.
But he didn’t have much time to feel the impact of losing his best friend, the love of his life, his daughters, or his gang, because it wasn’t long before his younger brother showed up on his doorstep.  The young man idolized his older brother and had turned to a life of crime as well; only, he was not as talented or smart as Worth.  Despite Worth’s pleas against his brother’s chosen profession, the younger Worth committed several illegal acts and was soon arrested by Scotland Yard.  One particular constable had made capturing Adam Worth an obsession.  He jumped at the chance to use the mastermind’s younger brother as a bargaining chip.  Worth had the money to pay for his brother’s bail; his problem was that he could not find a bondsman who would post the bail.   But when had anything stopped Worth from getting what he wanted?
Worth concocted a plan to steal a local bondsman’s beloved painting of Georgiana Cavendish, The Duchess of Devonshire.  His idea was to steal the painting and hold it as ransom until the bondsman posted the bail for his brother’s release.  Before Worth could contact the bondsman, his brother was mysteriously released.  Adam Worth put his young brother on a ship the next day and sent him back to America.  Worth grew quite fond of the painting and decided to retain possession of it, keeping it hidden in a secret compartment of his traveling trunk.
It was time to begin anew.  Worth moved to South Africa posing as an ostrich feather salesman in order to learn the route of his next venture – diamonds.  He was able to steal an estimated $500,000 worth of diamonds and sold the diamonds in London.  In the 1880s he married and fathered a son and a daughter.  He kept his criminal life hidden from his family.
Worth’s downfall came when he decided to break his dear friend, Bullard, from an American prison.  His friend was dying and Worth believed he owed it to Bullard to break him free.  By the time he made it back to America, Bullard had died.  Never one to miss an opportunity, Worth put together a small gang to hold-up a courier delivery cart.  During the break in, the lookouts abandoned him and he was arrested and sentenced to seven years in prison.  While in prison, he discovered that an old associate had seduced his wife and stolen all his money.  Worth’s wife was committed to an asylum and his children were sent to live with his younger brother and his wife.
In 1897, Worth was released for good behavior and sought out the famous American detective, William Pinkerton.  He confessed all his crimes to Pinkerton and then left to retrieve The Duchess of Devonshire, which he had stored at a warehouse.  He was able to come to an agreement with the old bondsman’s son and the son came to collect the painting from America for about $25,000.  Worth snuck on to the son’s ship and made his way back to London.  From there, he committed several robberies, including stealing some diamonds in order to pay off his sister in law, who had been holding his children ransom.  During this time, Pinkerton and Worth remained in touch and Pinkerton wrote a manuscript on Worth’s life. 
Worth retained many aliases, in fact his own children didn’t know his real name.  He was a man who lived by his own moral code with an unsurpassed talent to secretly commit crime, and a loyalty to his friends and associates.  Worth died on January 8, 1902, he is buried in the famous Highgate Cemetery.  His tombstone reads: Henry J. Raymond.
 Pinkerton took in Worth’s kids after his death, giving them all the proceeds from his manuscript about their father’s secret life.  Ironically, the son of the man who would inspire one of the greatest literary villains became a Pinkerton detective.
To read the whole story, check out Ben Macintyre’s book, The Napoleon of Crime: The Life and Times of Adam Worth.  If you want to read more about Professor Moriarty, read Doyle’s Final Problem.
That concludes the first installment of The Evil Genius!  Please leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Evil Genius: The Real Professor Moriarty, Part One

The Evil Genius is a once a month series discussing true villains our beloved antagonists have been based from.  I’d love to read your comments on what you think of the series, your thoughts on Moriarty, or on any Sherlock Holmes novel/movie/show! 

Who was the man that Sherlock Holmes referred to as the “Napoleon of crime” and “a genius, a philosopher, and abstract thinker”?  It turns out that Professor Moriarty was not just a figment of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s imagination; but a tried and true real-life criminal.   It was during an interview that Doyle disclosed that the inspiration for Professor Moriarty was an obscure man named Adam Worth.  A criminal mastermind who was loyal to his friends and abhorred violence saying once, “A man with brains has no right to carry firearms.”
Worth was the son of a German tailor and immigrated to the United States when he was fourteen years old.  As a young man, he enlisted to fight against the Confederate army, and it was during this time where his life took a turn that would alter his destiny.  Injured during battle, Worth suffered a mortal wound and was declared dead by the army doctor...only, he wasn’t dead.  There had been a mix up with the paperwork and Worth was erased from existence.   
He took the opportunity to become a professional bounty jumper, enlisting in the army several times under different aliases to collect the enlistment bonus, and would then abandon his assignment.  After a while, those damn Yankees began to recognize him, so he decided to go ahead and switch to the Confederate side, until he ran into the same problem. 
Adam Worth abandoned the bounty jumper profession to become a pick pocket and was soon arrested and sent off to Sing Sing to serve three years.  But the walls of the prison could not keep in the genius that would later inspire one of the best antagonists of all time.  During a guard change, Worth made his escape, thwarting the guards and climbing out of a sewer pipe (guess it doesn’t just happen in the movies).
Leaving his life and alias in Massachusetts, Worth whisked away his best friend and partner in crime, Bullard, to Liverpool to start a new life.  In Liverpool, the men fell in love with the same woman, a barmaid who went by the name of Kitty.  Kitty married Bullard, but had an open affair with Worth, who fathered two of her daughters.  Worth and Bullard ran a bar featuring some illegal underground gambling, but the ambitious Worth was not content and began to plot for higher stakes.
The odd family of three moved into a local mansion, purchased by Worth.  Adam Worth was intent on giving the appearance that he was a gentleman, and he pulled it off nicely with race horses, a collection of rare books, and galleries filled with beautiful art.  Soon he was a member of high society.
Part one of Worth’s plan had been accomplished.  Now, all he needed was a trusted secret gang to execute his devious criminal plots. 
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post, The Evil Genius: The Real Professor Moriarty, Part Two. 
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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The World Loses Maurice Sendak

The day greeted us with the sad news that Maurice Sendak has passed away.  Most of us will remember Sendak for the childhood favorite – Where the Wild Things Are.  But at 83 years old, Sendak had accomplished so much more in the art and literary worlds.  He has authored and illustrated more than a dozen books and has illustrated more than seventy stories written by other authors.  Not only was Sandak an illustrator and author, but he also worked on ballets and operas.  His death is a true loss to the world; but he was a man who lived a long and interesting life.
My four year old son has adored Where the Wild Things Are for over a year and even has it memorized.  Books such as Sendak’s introduce toddlers to the wonders of words and stories.  These early books open a new world to children, inspiring their imaginations to grow.  Can you remember that first book that you loved as a kid?  I remember Dr. Seuss’s Left Foot, Right Foot being the first book I could read, but the first book that I loved was Miss Nelson is Missing.  I must have checked it out of the school library at least fifty times, and that’s no exaggeration.  I guess it was my introduction to the Mystery genre, which remains a favorite.
To this day I still love reading books like Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, The Giving Tree, and Tiki Tiki Tembo.  Whether it reminds you where you came from, or brings back memories long forgotten, there’s something really special about reading a children’s book. 
Leave a comment about your favorite children’s book or how early reading impacted your life. 
And in Sendak’s honor, go out there and encourage mischief of one kind, or another...

Monday, May 7, 2012

A Question for the Ages: What’s Better, the Book or the Movie?

This weekend the husband and I went to see The Hunger Games; and while I thought it a good movie, I still think the book was better.   The movie lacked some of the more interesting cliffhangers and foreshadowing (not to mention, completely removed a likeable character).  I gave the book a B-; and based on that same scale, I would have rated the movie a C. 
It gives rise to a question being asked more these days as more movies based from books are being made: What is better, the book or the movie? 
Before The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, I was adamant that a movie could never (ever, ever) be better than a book.  And then Peter Jackson wowed us with an artistic genius that I doubt even Tolkien could have matched.  Tolkien himself admitted that he was no author, but a linguist; the books allowing him a platform to create his Elven language.   
I read The Hobbit when I was a seventh grader and I will confess this: I hated it!  I thought it the worst book ever written!  I remember skipping chunks of the novel just to save my sanity!  If I had to read one more description on how the blades of grass grew from a sparkling emerald meadow, I was going to vomit! 
When I saw the trailer for The Fellowship of the Ring in 2001, I was not wide-eyed, clutching my chest, and squeezing tears of joy from my eyes as some of my friends and other moviegoers were.  But fast forward a few years and sitting in my DVD cabinet you’ll find all three extended version sets (oh how much time I’ve spent enthralled in this epic trilogy!  Worth.  Every.  Second.).   Now, I can’t wait to see The Hobbit movie, even though so many (many, many) years ago, I often fantasized about throwing the book in the toilet.
I still stand by that in MOST cases, the book is better than the movie.  But I’m interested in what you have to say on the matter.  Is there a movie based from a book that blew you out of the water; whilst the book itself waned?   Or how about the other way around?  Have you ever found yourself so excited to see a movie based from a book you fell in love with, only to be extremely disappointed?

Friday, May 4, 2012

Move Over Cinco de Mayo Taco Parties - FCBD is Tomorrow!

Though my fellow co-workers at the bank wouldn’t believe it, this technical writer did once collect comic books.  X-Men was the favorite back then.  I still remember the feeling of carefully peeling back the tape that enclosed my precious comic book in its plastic sheath.  How removing the comic from its protective cocoon required careful hands and delicate fingers...not to mention holding one’s breath (lest you sneeze and scar this comic that would one day be worth hundreds!).  
Back then, there was no Free Comic Book Day (or FCBD as the aficionados call it), but if there had been...whoa, we would have been anxiously waiting for the first Saturday in May!  Of course, not all comic book stores are handing out free books, and forget about those major retailers and convenience stores.  This is mainly an event celebrated by local and independent shops, and no, you can’t just walk in, grab any comic you want, and voila, free comic!  There is an actual board that creates a list of which comics will be given out on FCBD (how do I get on this board??)  This year books like The Avengers, Mega Man, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer are on that list.  And what doesn’t scream comic book awareness like an awesome comic book movie?  The Avengers movie premieres today and Free Comic Book Day tomorrow – the makings of an awesome weekend for the comic fan in us all.
To find a local retailer participating in FCBD, click here.
Here’s your Friday Useless Info Fact: The first comic book was published in the United States in 1933.  There are even historical eras to divide the life of the comic book, starting with the Platinum Age and ending with the current, Modern Age. 
So pick up a free comic (let us know which one you picked up!); and if you’ve seen The Avengers, leave a comment and let us know what you thought of it!  Happy Friday!

Thursday, May 3, 2012


Hi there fellow Literati!
Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines literati as, “persons interested in literature or the arts.”  If you’re reading this blog, you’re literati (and probably a word nerd and grammar geek, be proud and hold your head up high!). 
You will soon discover that I am a passionate person.  What I’m most passionate about are my kids, husband, and anything literary, especially books.  I love the words in books, with each sentence creating a picture in my mind; the way a spine creaks, as if greeting an old friend; and the way a book smells, be it the aroma of freshly printed paper, or the old musty smell of a reliable classic.     
So what will you find on this blog?  Hopefully a break in the monotony of your day, a laugh (I’ll even settle for a snicker), but you’ll also read news about grammar or anything literary, book reviews, suggested reading lists (summer is on the horizon!), the seldom syntax rant (my advanced apologies), information on publishing/writing/agents/writing conferences, and so much more!  Most of all, I hope you find a fellow literati and friend!  (Oh!  And let’s not forget the occasional exciting giveaways!)
Thanks for stopping by!

My trusty grammar source: