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…

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…

5 Challenged Diverse Books You Should Read
Between the Lines / September 26, 2016

    .         Between the Lines is a series of posts focused on better understanding books, trends in writing, and the labels associated with these. As we have entered Banned Books Week, let’s address some frequently challenged books that are worth your time. Specifically: books featuring diversity. Diversity in literature has been a hot topic lately. With campaigns such as #WeNeedDiverseBooks, blogs like Naz’s Read Diverse Books popping up all over the place, and hashtags such as #OwnVoices taking over twitter we know this isn’t a phase. At some point in the future, I’ll wax eloquent on my reasons why we need diversity in literature. But, until then, check out the books below that highlight diversity in literature: 1 — And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell What is it? A children’s picture book illustrating the true story of a same-sex penguin couple in the Central Park zoo. Two male penguins, Roy and Silo, start taking turns sitting on rocks during brooding season, and get quite depressed when it doesn’t hatch. Noticed by a zoo keeper, Roy and Silo are given a real egg that was abandoned by the mother and begin to create their own family….

5 Challenged Graphic Novels You Should Read
Between the Lines / September 23, 2016

              Between the Lines is a series of posts focused on better understanding books, trends in writing, and the labels associated with these. To prepare you for Banned Books Week, let’s address some frequently challenged books that are worth your time. Specifically: graphic novels. The popularity of graphic novels has risen significantly in the last decade. They share more than just superhero stories now. In fact, none of the graphic novels listed below are superhero stories: 1 — Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples What is it? Saga certainly falls into the epic space opera genre. But, at the same time, it’s nothing like your typical space opera. It has been described as “Star Wars meets Game of Thrones” and compared to The Lord of the Rings and Romeo and Juliet. The story of Alana and Marko, a husband and wife from opposing races and sides of a generations-long war. They just want to live in peace and protect their daughter Hazel who is the first interspecies child between their races. After all, now that the world knows Hazel exists, they need to kill her to prevent the war from ending. Why…

Understanding Challenged Books
Between the Lines / September 20, 2016

      Between the Lines is a series of posts focused on better understanding books, trends in writing, and the labels associated with these.   September 25th through October 1st, 2016 is Banned Books Week in the United States. This event was launched in 1982 as a response to surges in book challenging across the United States in schools, bookstores, and libraries. According to the American Library Association (ALA), more than 11,300 books have been challenged since the start of this advocacy week.   Wait. Is there a difference between challenging and banning a book? Yes! A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict books based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those books.   Why does it matter if people challenge books? This is a violation of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. Removing access to literature, no matter what it contains, is a restriction of free thought and speech. Censorship can be subtle, or blatant and overt, but it is always harmful. Just because someone, or a group of someone’s, finds an idea offensive or disagreeable does not mean that it’s right. After all, as Noam…