The Great Newbery Quest
Between the Lines , Reading Challenge / September 21, 2017

                is a series of posts focused on better understanding books, trends in writing, and the labels associated with these.   As some of you might have noticed, I read quite a bit of MG/YA literature. Why? I take part in two book clubs which tend to lean more YA/MG (one is exclusively for YA/MG books), but also I find that a lot of modern YA/MG books are addicting and brilliant. For the last few years, I’ve really taken an interest in better understanding why these books appeal to me. This has led me to The Great Newbery Quest! The Newbery Medal was established in 1921 at the American Library Association annual conference. Publisher’s Weekly editor Frederick Melcher proposed the idea that the ALA honor the author of “the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children”. Named for John Newbery, a 18th-century children’s book publisher, the award was enthusiastically supported by the ALA and sponsored by Melcher. The goal if this award is to encourage quality, creative children’s books and to prove to the world that children’s book deserves recognition and praise. It became the first children’s book award in the world. While…

Between the Lines: Lessons Learned on Reviewing Writing
Empty Pages Writing Club / August 18, 2017

              is a series of posts focused on better understanding books, trends in writing, and the labels associated with these.   Over the last year, I’ve had the honor of getting to know a number of local writers. All of these writers have been connected to me personally in some way– budding new writers! No one famous, and no one with a fully published novel (I’m looking at you and your magic, Krysti!), but people I am hoping will become famous. Good writers. In fact, this led me to develop a relationship with a local writing club: Empty Pages Writing Club. They asked me to act as an impartial judge for a writing competition they wanted to host amongst themselves. I said yes, and it was an honor I took very seriously!   For this competition, members of the Empty Pages writing club submitted a short story which was 30 pages or less in length. Any genre. I read and reviewed these based on 6 criteria: Plot/Conflict, Setting, Character, Symbolism/Theme, Point of View, and Writing Style. Check out my reviews for all 4 submitted short stories below: Recyc One Sentence at a Time Madness…

Empty Pages Writing Club: Recyc

As you might recall back in March I talked about what it means to review writing and why it’s so important. As part of that, I shared that in April I would be the impartial judge in a writing competition for the Empty Pages Writing Club. Everyone submitted up to 30 pages of anonymous text to be read, critiqued, and ranked with their peers. I read these stories and ranked them according to Plot/Conflict, Setting, Character, Symbolism/Theme, Point of View, and Writing Style. Each category was worth up to 5 points meaning a story could earn up to 30 points total. Stories have been read, reviewed, and ranked– and now it’s time to talk about the stories! For my other Empty Pages short story reviews, check out: One Sentence At A Time  Madness of the Midnight 103PB-1930-35-1117: Just a Drive in the Country Title: Recyc          Length: 27 pages          Genre: Science Fiction The winning story only won by the skin of its teeth, honestly. Recyc was the second story I read and I read it four times to ensure that I wasn’t cheating any of the others. In the end, I think it was the protagonist who pushed…

Empty Pages Writing Club: 103PB-1930-35-1117 – Just a Drive in the Country

As you might recall back in March I talked about what it means to review writing and why it’s so important. As part of that, I shared that in April I would be the impartial judge in a writing competition for the Empty Pages Writing Club. Everyone submitted up to 30 pages of anonymous text to be read, critiqued, and ranked with their peers. I read these stories and ranked them according to Plot/Conflict, Setting, Character, Symbolism/Theme, Point of View, and Writing Style. Each category was worth up to 5 points meaning a story could earn up to 30 points total. Stories have been read, reviewed, and ranked– and now it’s time to talk about the stories! For my other Empty Pages short story reviews, check out: One Sentence At A Time  Madness of the Midnight Recyc Title: 103PB-1930-35-1117: Just a Drive in the Country      Length: 19 pages          Genre: Historical Fiction/Mystery As I mentioned in my previous post, Madness of the Midnight and 103PB-1930-35-1117: Just A Drive in the Country both tied with a score of 20/30. I didn’t want there to be a tie for 2nd, so I ranked this story higher after considering which story…

Empty Pages Writing Club: Madness of the Midnight

As you might recall back in March I talked about what it means to review writing and why it’s so important. As part of that, I shared that in April I would be the impartial judge in a writing competition for the Empty Pages Writing Club. Everyone submitted up to 30 pages of anonymous text to be read, critiqued, and ranked with their peers. I read these stories and ranked them according to Plot/Conflict, Setting, Character, Symbolism/Theme, Point of View, and Writing Style. Each category was worth up to 5 points meaning a story could earn up to 30 points total. Stories have been read, reviewed, and ranked– and now it’s time to talk about the stories! For my other Empty Pages short story reviews, check out: One Sentence At A Time  103PB-1930-35-1117: Just a Drive in the Country Recyc   Title: Madness of the Midnight        Length: 29 pages          Genre: Fantasy Madness of the Midnight and 103PB-1930-35-1117 both tied with a score of 20/30. I didn’t want there to be a tie for 2nd, so I ranked this story 3rd after considering which story I enjoyed reading more overall. That said, something key to my enjoyment…

Empty Pages Writing Club: One Sentence At A Time

As you might recall back in March I talked about what it means to review writing and why it’s so important. As part of that, I shared that in April I would be the impartial judge in a writing competition for the Empty Pages Writing Club. Everyone submitted up to 30 pages of anonymous text to be read, critiqued, and ranked with their peers. I read these stories and ranked them according to Plot/Conflict, Setting, Character, Symbolism/Theme, Point of View, and Writing Style. Each category was worth up to 5 points meaning a story could earn up to 30 points total. Stories have been read, reviewed, and ranked– and now it’s time to talk about the stories! For my other Empty Pages short story reviews, check out: Madness of the Midnight 103PB-1930-35-1117: Just a Drive in the Country Recyc Title: One Sentence At A Time          Length: 9 pages          Genre: Science Fiction In all honesty, it’s not particularly surprising that One Sentence At A Time came in the last place. With a title like that and being only 9 pages long (this was the only incomplete story), it might have been a giveaway from the…

Between the Lines: On Reviewing Writing
Between the Lines / March 27, 2017

              is a series of posts focused on better understanding books, trends in writing, and the labels associated with these.   One of the best parts about reading communities are the connections you make. Over the last year, I have made a ton of new friends all over the world. While we all share a love for books, we don’t all share the same perspective, which I adore. Similarly, I have started to make more connections with writers. Working with an author is an incredibly rewarding experience. When someone asks you for your personal opinion on their works, their written baby, they are putting a lot of trust in you. It’s your responsibility to help them nurture and develop that baby. Your feedback could be the tipping point for that acceptance letter. I love working with writers and I always jump at the chance to help out when I can fit it in my schedule.  At the beginning of the year, one of my friends reached out to me and asked if I’d be willing to be an impartial judge in a writing contest. The Empty Pages Writing Club needed motivation to “actually put…

Author Interview: Lindsay Ouimet
Between the Lines , Interviews / December 22, 2016

For those of you following along at home, I recently reviewed What’s A Soulmate? and was blown away. I definitely don’t want to over-hype this book (we all know what that can do!), but it was the first contemporary/romance novel I read and enjoyed. Not only that, but I was completely captured by world-building in a contemporary novel: something I can never remember happening. I couldn’t be happier to have the author of What’s A Soulmate, Lindsay Ouimet, on the blog today for an interview. What’s a Soulmate? Book Synopsis: Libby Carmichael has just met her Soulmate. It’s just too bad he’s behind bars. When you only see the world in black and white until you meet yours, it’s pretty simple to figure out when you’ve found your Soulmate. What Libby can’t figure out is why fate/destiny/the powers-that-be have decided that Andrew McCormack is her one, true match. Libby is smart, organized, and always has a plan for what’s coming next. So when she sees Andrew for the first time and her world is instantly filled with color, she’s thrown for a loop. Namely because he’s in a dingy grey jumpsuit. And handcuffs. And being booked into a juvenile detention facility. Surely…

How We Can Support Intellectual Freedom
Between the Lines / October 1, 2016

              Between the Lines is a series of posts focused on better understanding books, trends in writing, and the labels associated with these. Banned Books Week is wrapping up today. But just because a week celebrating Banned Books is ending doesn’t mean we can’t continue to celebrate banned books ourselves, discuss censorship in literature, and how it can best be combatted. I recently got into conversations with 4thhouseontheleft and M Reads Books around how we can make a difference when it comes to understanding why books are challenged and banned in our communities. I mentioned a few things in my first 2016 Banned Books Week post, but I barely scratched the surface. Therefore, to wrap up our week, let’s explore what we can do! Note: On the United States Banned Books Week website there are additional resources broken up by your relationship to banned books. Feel free to stop here and explore more!   Read Banned and Challenged Books As I mentioned in my Understanding Challenged Books post, reading and reviewing books on the banned/challenged list are critical. By spending our time, money, and resources on these books we are making a statement to libraries,…

5 Classic Challenged Books You Should Read
Between the Lines , List / September 29, 2016

              Between the Lines is a series of posts focused on better understanding books, trends in writing, and the labels associated with these.  Banned Books Week is almost over. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t continue to read banned and challenged books! I hope that you will continue to keep reading and talking about banned and challenged books through the rest of the year. In this post, we will explore some of my favorite Classics which have been challenged or banned.   1 — The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien What is it? The Lord of the Rings is the fantasy series that completely changed how fantasy is written. J.R.R. Tolkien was a linguistic genius who spoke over 10 languages. He began inventing functional languages for fun, and then developed a world in which they were spoken, which required a series of legends to support it… which led us to the creation of High Fantasy. The pinnacle of High Fantasy Adventure stories, we follow Frodo Baggins on a complex journey to destroy the One Ring. It’s a work of genius. Why is it challenged? The Lord of the Rings has been challenged for various reasons since its publication…

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