Saturday, January 24, 2009

Book Reviews

Okay, I'm a little behind on the books I've recently read. Here are a couple:

My name is Chloe Saunders and my life will never be the same again.

All I wanted was to make friends, meet boys, and keep on being ordinary. I don't even know what that means anymore. It all started on the day that I saw my first ghost--and the ghost saw me.

Now there are ghosts everywhere and they won't leave me alone. To top it all off, I somehow got myself locked up in Lyle House, a "special home" for troubled teens. Yet the home isn't what it seems. Don't tell anyone, but I think there might be more to my housemates than meets the eye. The question is, whose side are they on? It's up to me to figure out the dangerous secrets behind Lyle House...before its skeletons come back to haunt me. (front jacket flap) 2008

I am intrigued by ghost stories and this one didn't disappoint. There is plenty of tension throughout that keeps you turning pages. You really end up caring for these characters. I did feel a little cheated by the ending, but you can go on Ms. Armstrong's blog and read the first few chapters of the sequel, The Awakening, which comes out May 2009.

As children, Jennifer Harris and Cameron Quick were both social outcasts. They were also each other's only friend. So when Cameron disappeared without warning, Jennifer thought she'd lost the one person who would ever understand her. Now in high school, Jennifer has been transformed. Known as Jenna, she is popular, happy, and dating---everything "Jennifer" couldn't be. But she still can't shake the memory of her long-lost friend.
When Cameron suddenly reappears, they both are confronted with memories of their shared past and the drastically different paths their lives have taken.
Sweethearts is a story about the power of memory, the bond of friendship, and the quiet resilience of our childhood hearts. (front jacket flap)
This story broke my heart (in a good way). It had a lot of emotion and made you really think about how lives are changed by one action. It was bittersweet in the end.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Turning Up the Tension

I blogged over at kidlitcentral about turning up the tension in your novel. Go check it out or just read below. Hope you can get some tips from it.

The first thing agents and editors say they look for on your beginning page is something that keeps them reading. Is it voice, characterization? Maybe. But more than likely that something is tension and conflict. Most readers want the book to begin with signs of trouble then watch how the main character struggles throughout the rest of your story.

These are some ways you can turn up the tension in your writing.
· Start first scene with trouble
· Avoid using flashbacks in beginning
· Use foreshadowing to heighten tension throughout
· Add cliffhangers at end of chapters
· Use short, punchy sentences
· Draw on emotions of all characters
· Let MC have flaws/Antagonist have good qualities
· Use dialogue to allow forward motion of story (don’t allow MC to be alone too often)
· Give MC a secret
· Use setting details to establish mood and tone
· Betray your MC and use suspicion and fear
· When MC is hurting, make it worse (kick them while they’re down)
· Build tension gradually for climax

Increasing your tension keeps your readers happy. Whether they want to scream, slap, or kiss your characters, you’ll be grateful you put the extra effort into it when they’re coming back for more.

Keep writing and learning!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Bird Lake Moon

One of my writer New Year's Resolutions is to read 200 YA novels this year. Some will be new, some old and some that I'm embarassed to say have been out forever and I haven't read. So bear with me as I try to accomplish this and post about these books.

Spencer thought the house might be haunted.

Mitch knew it wasn't. And he knew why.

The whole time Spencer and Mitch hung out together at Bird Lake that summer, there were secrets keeping them apart.

And maybe a secret knowledge keeping them together, too---together like members of the same tribe. Like friends.

(front flap copy from Amazon)

This is a quiet book. It's about divorce, loss and the things these kids do in order to move on. I enjoyed reading it, but I didn't see why it was in the YA section (maybe it wasn't suppose to be?). I always love the way Kevin Henkes handles these big subjects for kids.


I give it a 7 out of 10 stars.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Has this happened to you?

I went to my local B&N yesterday to read a bunch of picture books (I'm taking the Darcy Pattison picture book retreat in February and she requires you to read a lot of PB's beforehand). I would grab about 10 off the shelf and find a spot, read them and log info then return them to their correct spot.

One of the workers kind of hovered around me the whole time. I got more PB's and he came up and asked if I needed a basket for my purchases. I told him "No thank you, I'm just reading them right now." He gave me this very odd (almost hateful) look and left.

Then he kept hovering. I finally said "I'm really not weird. I'm a children's book writer." He said, "That's okay."

I guess he expected me to buy all of those books. Or didn't want me there if I wasn't going to look quickly then go. Geez, it's not like I didn't just buy $50.00 worth of books the week before. Ah, well.

Has this ever happened to any of you?

Thursday, January 8, 2009