Thursday, May 31, 2012

Need Inspiration? Take a Shower!

I have had more plot problems solved in the shower than I can count. The entire premise of my current work-in-progress was hatched while shampooing my hair. I had a different book mapped out - characters sketched, outline written, key scenes done - but the book was too depressing to write.

Then, under the warm spray of the shower, comes an idea that invigorated my work….a completely different character with a completely different problem, but under the same theme. It was brilliant.

And it came from the shower.

I hear the shower is equally inspiring for other writers. Maybe it is inspiring for people in other professions, but I don’t ask them about their processes. If accountants discover budget holes in the shower, they don’t talk about it much.

What is it about a shower? They are comfortable places. We are isolated from the rest of the world, unless you have a baby or toddler in the room. Even then, the water muffles the sounds (not that I ever let a baby cry while I took a shower….without calling out comforting words from time to time from behind the refuge behind the curtain. Hey even busy moms get dirty.)

Maybe it is the repetition and lack of thought put into a shower. It is so routine, it has become the subject of punch lines…..lather, rinse, repeat. This routine frees our minds to think deeper. The isolation gives us a lack of interruption.

Hmmmm, too bad my laptop isn’t waterproof. I could get some serious work done in there. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

10 Great Reasons to Read

#10 – You can do it anywhere. Whether you read a paper book, or on an e-reader, tablet or phone, books are very portable. Bring one along to pass the time while standing in line, riding in the car or sitting through study hall. Don’t read while driving though;)

#9 – Reading relieves stress. The act of reading is relaxing and an escape for the mind.

#8 – You can visit far away places without leaving home. Stories take place everywhere and anywhere. Perhaps even on Mars.

#7 – You can travel in time. Stories capture a moment in time. Read about the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, Tudor England or the Civil War.

#6 – Books make you ask “what if?” by taking you places that never existed, with people or things that only happen because of the author’s imagination. 

#5 – Books can make you feel less alone. If you have a problem, there is probably a character with the same problem. Read about people like you.

#4 – Discover people who are not like you. Learn more about what it is like to be Amish, a runaway slave in the Underground Railroad, or a German princess who becomes the Empress of Russia.

#3 – Reading gives you interesting things to talk about. Readers are exposed to a variety of people, places and ideas. This gives them plenty to talk about.

#2 – Learn to write better. The act of reading helps improve spelling, grammar and vocabulary just due to exposure.

#1 – There is something for everyone. If you don’t like reading, you may not have found the right genre yet. Learn more about yourself by finding out what books you like to read. Perhaps you like an adventure tale, or historical fiction, fantasy or biographies. There are thousands of subjects and oodles of authors penning their stories for you to discover.

Happy reading!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Philippa Gregory Does YA

Philippa Gregory is one of my favorite authors. “The Other Boleyn Girl” brought Anne Boleyn alive in another light, through the eyes of her sister Mary.

History became a very real setting while I read that book. I never thought about Anne Boleyn’s family, or knew how steamy it was in the royal court of England. I read a few of Gregory’s other tales, and was impressed with her grasp of historical characters and her ability to tell their stories in a believable and engaging manner. Too often historical fiction reads like a history lesson. Not so with Gregory’s character driven tales.

I was over the moon excited to hear Gregory has written some books for the YA audience. Finally we get to see some real princesses, and not the kind created by Disney.

“Changeling” is the newest in the Order of the Darkness series, authored by Philippa Gregory for the YA audience and scheduled for release at the end of May. 2012. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like there is a princess in there, but a girl accused of witchcraft and sent to a nunnery in Italy in 1453. She meets Luca, a boy who is cast out of his religious order, but involved in a secret mission from the Pope to find evil.

I can’t wait to read it. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Book Review: The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner
James Dashner
Delacorte Press (2009)

My teen recommended this book to me. I could not wait to get my hands on a book that so enthralled my kid, he got in trouble for reading it in class.

I can understand his love for “The Maze Runner.” This is the book for a preteen/teen boy. All the characters but one are male, and the token female character is in a coma for half of the book. They are left to live in a maze inhabited by deadly mechanical monsters called Grievers. The boys are called Gladers, named after the gathering area inside the maze with high walls that close at night, keeping them mostly safe from the Grievers. The boys create a society, with jobs and strict rules about order. They also invent their own street language, allowing these teen boys to swear while the book retains a PG rating.

The main character, Thomas, arrives in the Glade confused about his surroundings and ambitious about his role in it. The girl arrives the next day and becomes a catalyst for change. Her arrival, Thomas’ ambition and the change makes some suspicious of Thomas and others sure he is the key to solving the maze.

It is unclear what is so special about Thomas, why he can do and discover things more experienced boys haven’t in two years in the maze. His character is likeable for his compassion and his determination, which make the reader believe Thomas could be the boy to solve the maze before the Grievers destroy all of them.

The pace starts out as a slow jog through a mist of confusion and ends in a gallop toward a new cloud, presumably addressed in the sequel, “The Scorch Trials.”