Friday, November 30, 2012

gifts for the writers in your life

A few days ago I presented you with some gift ideas for the readers in your life. Today, let's help out the writers.

Whether you know a professional writer, an amateur, or someone just giving writing a try, these gifts fit the bill. There are tools for inspiration, a game for relaxation, a mug for your drink of choice, and notebooks for writing it all down.

Happy gifting!

Gifts for the Writers in Your Life

Typewriter Key Charm Necklace
$29.75 plus shipping
Rifle Paper Co. Floral Journal Set
$10.36 plus shipping

Monogram Mug

Dream Journal
$16.99 plus shipping

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

For the very wealthy . . . 
(Premium Deluxe Wood Edition)

The Storymatic

This is a tool/game for writers in need of a story prompt. You draw out three cards (or more, if you want to make it harder) and use them as the basis for a short story. The tan/gold cards are occupations and character traits. The orange/bronze cards are situations and objects.

The Write-Brain Workout

A year's worth of writing exercises. Each page has a prompt and is designed to suit that page's theme. You can write right in the book if you want. I received this book as a gift a few years ago and loved it.

Moleskine Ruled Pocket Notebook

Which gift would you add to your wish list? Have any other suggestions?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

gifts for the readers in your life

The holiday season is upon us! 

My holiday of choice is less than a month away, but whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or even Festivus, you're probably already brainstorming gift ideas for loved ones. I can't tell you what to buy Uncle Bob or Grandma Hazel, but I've got some ideas for the readers in your life. Maybe you need something special for your Potterhead cousin or perhaps your boyfriend loves Moby-Dick (dump him! . . . kidding, kidding). Or maybe you're looking for gifts to add to your own wish list!

In any case, I give you . . .

Gifts for the Readers in Your Life

Harry Potter Spells Tee Shirt
$10 plus shipping (ships from the Philippines)

Catcher in the Rye Print
$24.69 (ships from the United Kingdom)

Hogwarts at Night Print
$50 plus shipping

"So It Goes" and "Winter Is Coming" Stamped Cuff Bracelets
$8 plus shipping


DIY Quote Pillow
Tutorial by Wit and Whistle
$ = Less than $10 depending on your resources

Mockingjay Pin
$9.50 plus shipping (free shipping if you spend over $25)

Jane Eyre Tote Bag
$18 plus shipping

Moby Dick Tee Shirt
Out of Print
$28 plus shipping

P.S. I wish I had liked Moby Dick because this shirt's pretty awesome. Gray tees are my favorite.

The Houses of Hogwarts Bookmarks
$24.95 plus shipping

Penguin Books Postcard Set
$24.99 plus shipping

Personal Library Kit
Or of course, you could always buy them a book :-)

I tried to give some varietyHarry Potter, Jane Eyre, Moby-Dick, Catcher in the Rye, The Hunger Games, Slaughterhouse-Five, Game of Thrones, Penguin Booksbut if none of these strike your fancy, check out the website Out of Print for more tees, totes, and other gifts for readers (this is not a sponsored post, by the way)

Which gift would you add to your wish list? Have any other suggestions?

Tune in later this week for Part 2: Gifts for the Writers in Your Life!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

we need to talk about kevin

First of all, do not read We Need to Talk About Kevin if you need to like the characters in order to enjoy a book. You will not like Eva and you will certainly not like Kevin.

This is a story about a high school shooter named Kevin Khatchadourian told from the POV of his mother, Eva. Eva is writing letters to her husband Franklin, who is no longer a part of her life. She writes about the struggles of her current situation, since the entire country knows about Kevin (he's also known as KK) and the community generally despises her, especially the family and friends of Kevin's nine victims. She writes about visiting Kevin in the juvenile detention center and the infrequent talks they have. But mostly she writes about the past: her exciting life before Kevin (Eva was a world traveler and owned a travel guide company), her uncertainty about choosing to become a mother, and Kevin's childhood. Although he seemed evil to Eva from the very start
he wouldn't nurse, he didn't speak even when he knew how to talk, he cried all day, he wasn't potty trained until he was six, he seemed malicious in his childish mistakesFranklin loves Kevin and thinks Eva is crazy for constantly believing her son is her enemy. Kevin's strangeness only increases as he ages. He is contemptuous, passionless, and seems to especially hate Eva. Of course all this leads up to the massacre at his school, which he carefully plans and, afterward, regards with pride.

It took a little while for me to get into this book. Eva is an awful person, so reading the story in her words can be difficult. Her word choice is pretentious, she obviously never really wanted to be a mother, and of course you have to wonder if Kevin's madness is partially her fault. But as I got deeper into the story, I was mesmerized. Eva and Kevin are very interesting characters, even if I despised them both. And the story brings up some complex ideas about motherhood and nature/nurture. Was Eva aways right in blaming Kevin for things that went wrong? Was Franklin a complete fool or did he really believe Kevin was essentially a good kid? And most importantly, was Eva to blame or was Kevin inherently evil? 

Just a really interesting read and I loved the ending.

TITLE: We Need to Talk About Kevin
AUTHOR: Lionel Shriver
DATE FINISHED: 21 November 2012
VERDICT: 4/5 stars. Dark, but very interesting.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

ttt: authors i am thankful for

This week's Top Ten Tuesday on the Broke and the Bookish is Top Ten Books Authors You Are Thankful For. I'm thankful for all authors and for the fact that fiction books are still a popular form of entertainment, but for my top ten, I found myself constantly thinking of the authors of children's books. Partially because they're so creative and groundbreaking, but mostly because their books made me a lifelong reader.
Top Ten Authors I'm Thankful For

1. Dr. Suess (The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, Go Dog Go). How can a childhood be complete without the clever, creative, rhyming stories of Dr. Suess?

2. J.K. Rowling (The Harry Potter Series). She filled my generation's adolescence with a wonderful story and helped turn many reluctant kids into excited readers.

3. Judy Blume (Are You There God? It's Me Margaret, Deenie, Forever). I love that she was always willing to tackle "sensitive" subjects like menstruation, masturbation, religion, and teen sex. She treats teenagers like the young adults they are.

4. J.D. Salinger (The Catcher in the Rye, Nine Stories, Franny & Zooey). His humor, his dialogue, his apt criticisms of polite society. I read all his books the summer I was 14 and learned a lot.

5. Ann Rinaldi (An Acquaintance with Darkness, The Last Silk Dress, Time Enough for Drums). She is the best historical fiction author for teens. Her books entertained me, taught me history, and inspired me to write stories of my own.

6. Sarah Waters (Fingersmith, Affinity, The Night Watch). I just love the clean, lovely way Waters writes. Her stories are interesting, entertaining, often full of twists, and also really inspired me to write.

7. Susan Creech (The Wanderer, Bloomability, Chasing Redbird). Just a wonderful writer for children. Her books were among my favorites from the time I began reading chapter books through high school.

8. Roald Dahl (The Witches, Matilda, Charlie & the Chocolate Factory). He is so creative and responsible for a number of wonderful children's stories (and his books inspired a number of great movies as well).

9. Jonathan Safran Foer (Everything Is Illuminated, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close). Incredibly creative and often experimental. I love that he stretches the boundaries and always infuses his stories with both drama and humor.

10. John Green (The Fault in Our Stars). I've only read one of Green's books, but I really, really enjoyed it. I have, however, been following Green on Facebook and Twitter for a couple of months now and I really appreciate his dedication to communicating with his fans, educating them (they're mostly teens), and entertaining them with silly Youtube videos.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

ttt: deserted island books

This week's Top Ten Tuesday on the Broke and the Bookish is Top Ten Books You Would Want on a Deserted Island. Most of my choices are favorites that I know I'd love to read again, but I tried to make some practical choices too.

Top Ten Books You Would Want on a Deserted Island

1. The Harry Potter Series (by J.K. Rowling). I realize this is probably cheating, but at least I limited it to only one cheat! I was tempted to make half the list series (Game of Thrones would have been my #2 pick, by the way, only because they're long and I'd like to know what happens next since I only watch the TV Show). 

2. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (by Jonathan Safran Foer). Favorite. It would never get old.

3. Never Let Me Go (by Kazuo Ishiguro). Favorite.

4. Catch-22 (by Joseph Heller). Favorite, plus the long length and humor would be beneficial.

5. Gone with the Wind (by Margaret Mitchell). Favorite, plus the romance and Scarlett's courage and strength would put me in good spirits. After all, tomorrow is another day!

6. The Phantom Tollbooth (by Norton Juster). Clever and funny, always a good combo.

7. War & Peace (by Leo Tolstoy). Long and epic, it would take up a lot of time. And even on a deserted island, it would feel like a great accomplishment to finish. Plus, I'm just assuming it's good since it's such a classic.

8. The Woman in White (by Wilkie Collins). Ditto on the length and the classic status. A mystery would keep me guessing and on re-reads, improve my attention skills.

9. Tom Brown's Field Guide to Wilderness Survival (by Tom Brown). Gotta be practical. I have just about no survival skills, so this would really come in handy.

10. SAS Survival Handbook: How to Survive in the Wild, in any Climate, on Land or at Sea (by John "Lofty" Wiseman). And again. For all the things Tom Brown doesn't cover. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

As all writers today surely know, November is also known as NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). It is the one month each year when novelistswhether amateur or professional, published or unpublishedjoin together and support one another in the quest to write a novel in the month of November.

The official goal is 50,000 words in a month (or 1,667 words per day). The novel doesn't have to be complete when you're finished (and likely, it won't be). It doesn't have to be polished or perfect or even a traditional novel (you could write short stories, two novellas, etc). You don't have to start with a blank page (you can continue a work-in-progress) and you're encouraged to make notes and outlines beforehand. Basically, NaNoWriMo is made very loose in its requirements so that writers are free to write whatever they like. The point of the month-long challenge is that you have a set goal and a community to help you along the way. Plus, if you use the website, you'll get encouraging e-mails and can track your progress along the way.

But you probably already knew all that, right?

Anyway, I've never tried to complete NaNoWriMo before and this year is no different. I am not trying to write 50,000 words of fiction this month. However, I am trying to write 30,000.

Maybe I'm just being a wimp, but 50,000 words scares me. And I think if I shot for 1,6667 words every day for the month of November (a month which includes a major holiday, mind you!), I wouldn't succeed and I would feel awful if I didn't make it close. With Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and a weekend visit with a friend, I just can't imagine writing 1,667 every single day. I'd drive myself crazy.

Plus, that's just an awful number, isn't it? 1,667?

It's an odd number. It isn't a clean, clear finish line to shoot for. It ends in a 7, which everyone knows is a bad number (or maybe that's just mesurely I'm not the only one with strong but completely nonsensical opinions about numbers?).

So instead, I'm going for 1,000 words a day. Besides being a more agreeable number to work with, it feels very do-able while still being a challenge. And I am fully confident I can make it to 30,000 by December 1st. So far, I'm right on schedule.

And hey, maybe next year I'll be able to amp it up and go for the true 50,000 words.

Any other NaNoWriMo'ers out there? Is this your first time trying (and if not, what's the farthest you've made it)? Have any tips for a first timer? Mostly, I just want to say good luck! Write, write, write!

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