Wendy's favorite quotes

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind."— Dr. Seuss

Saturday, January 29, 2011

In which I help a few kids and have a blast…

At my daughter’s request, I started teaching an after school young writers club. Friday afternoons I meet with 6-10 kids from the 5th-8th grade.

The first week we talked about Dan Wells 7 point story structure. If you have not watched all 5 of his free videos on Youtube, you should. They are awesome. Over the next few weeks we talked about character interviews. They filled in their own 7 points with both heroes and villains, and they interviewed each other.
We talked about grammar a little for some common mistakes, and focused on writing good dialogue. The Nanowrimo site has a terrific lessons for free downloads.

This last week, I was blown away by the quality of their writing.

One wrote a series of journal entries about a girl whose perfect family is falling apart as the parents spiraled toward divorce. Another wrote about a character who suffered from constant pressure from bullies and feared to tell anyone about it lest the cruelty get worse. The topics are far more deep and real than I expected. I’m excited to see what they write next.

After their stories are finished and edited, we’ll bind the stories together and make a book so they each get a copy to keep. I’m a shameless briber by the way. I give them a candy bar every time they complete a chapter.

When I was in 4th grade, I had a teacher that praised my poetry. In 7th grade when my grades were sliding and I had no faith in myself, a teacher asked me if I’d like to be in the honors English class. Why she noticed me, I’ll never know. But I still remember how it changed the way I thought of myself. I hope that when these kids finish this year, they will remember that this was the year they became authors.

Have you stepped out of your comfort zone lately?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Ever feel like this while reading?

I had to laugh when I watched this video since I do get really cranky if it's the very end of a really exciting book and the whole world needs my attention. I've been known to tell the kids, "I'll come see what you want in 28 pages."

I just finished reading the Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest...so dinner was an hour late. Oops.
Anyone like me?

*update- I just had to add this other quick video to this post. Consider this a humorous mini-commentary on society technology*

Sunday, January 16, 2011

What Makes You Stop Reading?

As I’ve read many wonderful books (and several less than stellar ones) the last month or so, I found myself pondering on what makes a really good book—and what makes a reader decide to discard one.

I can easily list a few things that are deal-breakers for me with books.

#1 Children in real danger- I love YA books and like exciting adventures with kids in them, but if you have a phsyco-killer and have them kidnap a child so they can do horrible things…I’m done. I read for fun, and I spend far too much time stressing over my own kid's safety. I don’t want to worry about imaginary kids too.

#2 Bad writing – If the writing is so passive or cliché that I can’t get into the story, then I’ll give up 50 pages in or so.

#3 Predictable- I’m fine with knowing the girl gets the boy at the end, but I tire quickly when the storyline is all a set-up for the guy to convert or something. If I know the end before I get there, what’s the point of reading.

#4 Superfluous sex scenes- If a book has bedroom scenes, they better have a good reason other than just throwing it in there. I’ve tossed several books where the whole thing turned out to be a weak plot sprinkled with racy scenes. I read for a good story, not for cheap thrills.

What are deal-breakers for you? How many pages in do you read before you chuck the thing?