A Special Holiday Idea for Young Readers

One of my writer friends works for the Department of Education in California and has started her own business to encourage kids to read.

I don’t try to sell things on my blog unless I actually love/ believe in the product. I’ve looked over the materials she’s developed and it seems like something I would have loved to receive as a kid!

Here’s a blurb from the Pick Your Path Books website about what she’s offering:

At Pick Your Path Books we customize original novels to feature a child’s name, family, and interests. All you do is fill out a form telling us about the child and his/her family, and you receive a book that is personalized for a specific person! In addition to the extensive customization, our books are written in a “pick your path style”, meaning that it is the child’s decisions throughout the story that determine the ending.

Each book is printed and bound just like the paperbacks you find in the store, with a glossy cover. You won’t be able to tell the difference.
Books have been written with children 8-12 years of age in mind.

I’ve taken a look at the first title offering, The Mayan Ruins. The writing is solid, the illustrations are great, and the physical quality of the book is equivalent to anything you could find at Borders or Barnes & Noble. On top of that, the kid will experience an adventure while learning about Mayan culture and architecture. Here’s what The Mayan Ruins is about:

One moment you’re on a plane to a theme park, the next you’re being kidnapped by two distinctly disreputable men. They want you to help them pillage some ancient Mayan ruins. Do you decide to help them? Or do you try to take the treasure for yourself?

This title is set mostly in the tropical locale of Belize. Cursed ruins, a tunnel into the past, and ghosts abound!

So it’s time to ask yourself; do you know a child interested in having a personalized adventure set in the Mayan ruins?

Check out the website for more information: www.PYPBooks.com.

In case I don’t get a chance to blog again in the next month, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

Happy Halloween?

Not if you’re this kid:

Bed by Joshua Hoffine

Bed by Joshua Hoffine

Check out more horror photography by Joshua Hoffine. His work is inspiring. Some of the scenes he’s shot, like the one above, make me want to write all the story that must have happened before and after the photos.

If you visit his site, be aware that some of his portfolio is very graphic.  It’s not called horror photography for nothing.

Happy Halloween!

Oranges ARE the Only Fruit

I love oranges. I wrote an entire guest post about my love for oranges. Actually, I wrote two.

In those posts, I mention how I’ve purchased books based purely on the title containing the word “orange”.

For instance, I purchased Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit before realizing it was by one of my favorite authors, Jeannette Winterson. It turned out to be an excellent read.

My luck held out again this week. I picked up Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris. I couldn’t put it down. This is one of the best books I’ve read all year. It is sensual and dark historical fiction, full of betrayals and secrets, where oranges are used as weapons instead of food.

I didn’t recognize the author’s name when I picked up the book.  Joanne Harris is the same author who wrote Chocolat. Chocolat was turned into a movie starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp and happens to be one my all-time favorites (my husband’s too).

Just one of those weird connections that reaffirms my faith in the power of a ripe, sweet orange.

Some people have lucky numbers. I have a lucky fruit.

Plague Year

I’m back from the dead! Or at least, back from an unplanned blog hiatus.

Posts will be short and sweet for the next few weeks. In the meantime, check out my new review of the post-apocalyptic novel, Plague Year, on the QuietEarth website.

Reading for Pleasure: Go Do It Now!

stack of books

Before I had the courage to call myself a writer I would feel guilty about reading. I thought I should have spent that time getting done something productive and not be ‘selfish’.

When I started calling myself a writer I realized it became a part of my job description to read as much as possible, especially novels that I enjoyed. I realized that I MUST make time for reading because reading will make me a better writer and good reading always makes me excited to write.

There’s a great phobia that solves any and all problems with finding time to read:

Abibliophobia -having the morbid fear of running out of reading material

Suggested Usage: “Jamie is such an abibliophobe that she NEVER leaves the house without a novel tucked into her purse – otherwise the world may end.”

Suggested Usage: “Jamie is such an abibliophobe she included the word in the ABOUT Jamie Thornton section of the blog.”

Allow me to count the ways in which I am an abibliophobe:

– I will choose a purse to take with me based on the size of the book I’m currently reading.

– The side slots in my car doors contain at least one novel.

– If I’m going on a roadtrip that number increases to at least five (and that’s five on top of what I’ve managed to pack in my purse and other bags).

– Some people can’t get away for a weekend without packing 10 pairs of shoes. I’ll decide to wear only the flip-flops on my feet in order to make room for another book in my bag.

– My To-Be-Read pile is four stacks at least three feet high.

– I’ve been known to sacrifice water bottle room in my hiking pack to make room for a novel I just might get the urge to read.

– I’ve been known to bring a book, or two (or three) to family dinners.

– Going to the movies? Need a book to read before the movie starts.

– Even if I was willing to purchase The Kindle, I would still carry around a backup novel just in case the batteries ran out, I cracked the screen, or someone set off an EMT.

– If I absolutely could not fit a novel in whatever purse I was taking, I still print out an article and fold it like crazy until it fits.

– If folding it like crazy still won’t make it fit, I’ve been known to stuff my husband’s pockets instead.

The above list is what I’ve managed to brainstorm in about five minutes. Thank goodness reading is now a part of my job description.

If you’re interested in feeding your own reading habit, check out my post on:

Do You Library? How to Read 291,000 Books Before You Die

Overcoming Roadblocks with Stephen King

I’ve allowed the fear of rejection to keep me from writing these last few weeks. A recent post on Write To Done came at just the right time: Stephen King’s greatest lesson for writers.

Writers must battle the fear of the blank page, and then, the fear that no one will recognize the book is worthy to be published. I’m sure there are more fear roadblocks, but that’s as far as I’ve gotten in the publishing process so far 🙂

When I stop writing for more than a few days it’s not because of a lack of ideas, but because I’m spending too much time thinking about the business of writing and not actually writing (or reading). Then I read something like the post on Write To Done or the post on Crime Fiction Dossier to write a great book and I remember, “A writer is a person who writes.”

I love reading posts that inspire people to continue writing, especially when it includes quotes from one of my favorite authors. Check out Stephen King’s On Writing for more. It’s part autobiography and part lesson book for aspiring writers. It’s one of the best books on writing I’ve yet read, and I’m not just saying that because The Stand is in my top ten list.

Even though writing is a solitary endeavor, it helps to know other writers (published or unpublished) experience fears similar to my own. Not sure why that’s such a comfort. Maybe it’s a mix of ‘misery loves company’ and ‘I am not alone’ — two sides of the same coin?

Food Apocalypse or Just Bad Indigestion?

Vegetable Apocalypse?

Ever wonder what the earth might look like if vegetables took over the world? Carl Warner has:

So has Octavia Butler. She wrote an entire sf trilogy that involves spaceships, genetics, aliens trying to take over the world, and interesting ways of generating food (and people). She’s one of my favorite all-time authors. Her novel, Parable of the Sower, made it on my top ten favorite apocalyptic novels.

Cornification

I saw Warner’s artwork on io9.com and felt inspired to share this with all of you. Something about his inventiveness and attention to detail captures my imagination and makes me want to write stories set in strange worlds like the ones he’s created. As I was writing this post though, I realized that while amazing, Warner’s foodscapes are not as novel as I had first thought.

Something about the nightmare idea of food taking over the world just-makes-sense.

Don’t believe me? Check out Shawn Hendriks post on Enslaved by Corn. Or The Ominvore’s Dilemma, or, or… well, maybe Warner’s artwork isn’t meant to be political. I mean, it is an imaginary world of broccoli trees, milk waterfalls, and biscuit mountains, but still, remember what happened to those greedy kids in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? Bad things. Bad, bad things.

Thanks goes to io9 for finding Carl Wagner’s collection of foodscapes. Can’t say I’d want a bite out of Warner’s broccoli tree, plus the biscuit mountain looks a little tough to chew, but check out Warner’s full gallery of foodscapes. I wouldn’t mind spending lunchtime in his Tuscan Market.

Oh, My! (Final Thought)

Warner’s art looks like what might happen if the Smurfs had a threesome with the Twilight Zone and Charlie & the Chocolate factory. Come to think of it, UNICEF already imagined what that threesome might look like:

Your Turn

So what do you think? The Vegetable Apocalypse: a disturbingly accurate prophecy of our not-to-distant future, or does it make you want to keep a bowl of ranch dressing handy?