Challenge Your Reading!

A few weeks ago I saw this posted: 40 Tiny Tasks For A Richer Reading Life. Knowing that I won’t be able to pry my husband away from the NCAA basketball tournament this weekend, I plan to hang out with him and do a lot of reading.

I love many of the suggestions on this list, like #5, asking others for recommendations. Once while traveling, I went into a tiny indie bookstore and asked the clerk to recommend three books she’d recently enjoyed. That helped me discover new authors! I miss reading aloud to my kids (#11). I can’t interrupt my husband’s basketball, and I fear reading to my cat would make me more eccentric than I’d like to be–at this point in my life, anyway.

I always enjoy reading novels about places where I’m planning to travel, so I like the suggestion of reading a book about a place I’ve never considered going (#23). Pretty sure I’ll end up wanting to go there, too!

The book abuse doesn’t appeal to me. Dog ear a page? (#15) No way! Crack a spine? (#35) Ouch!

I’m also notorious for reading a book because the movie is coming out soon, and loving the book so much that I no longer want to see the movie. The trailer for The Lady In Gold made me grab my copy off the shelf and read it right away. Wow, I loved the book–an intricate, spanning decades of time, well-researched nonfiction story. The movie can never delve into it all… But maybe I’ll take on task #37 and see the movie without wanting it to be exactly like the book.

How are you going to challenge your reading?

Another Downside To Not Keeping Up With Must-Read Books

If my To Read pile weren’t scattered over several surfaces in several rooms, it would be taller than me. I can’t keep up with all the must-read titles, so I’m always a few–many?–volumes behind. I try hard to avoid spoiler alert conversations about the books I plan to read, especially when those stories are being turned into movies. Toward the end of my reading of Gone Girl, as the plot twists were coming to light, I’d cover my ears, close my eyes, and shout ya-ya-ya when trailers came on TV. My family loved that, by the way.

The biggest downside to waiting to read the book too close to the movie: I can’t stop myself from picturing the actor’s face while reading.

I saw Ben Affleck’s strong jaw all through Gone Girl. I kept wondering, is he that well-cast for the role of Nick Dunne, or have I been brainwashed after seeing those short teaser trailers months before at the movie theater?

Now I’m reading Olive Kitteridge before the HBO miniseries starts next week. Not only do I see Frances McDormand’s face as Olive, I’m hearing her voice as I read. I adore McDormand’s acting, but this is driving a little crazy!

I much prefer creating my own visualization of characters. No human will ever match The Thorn Birds‘ Father Ralph of my young teenage mind! Sigh. It’s much more fun to be righteously indignant about casting–he’s not my               !!!!–than to be constantly reminding yourself, it’s Nick not Ben-freaking-Affleck!

It Got Me Again!

Sometimes little gifts turn out to be very expensive…

When my daughter gave me a book-a-day calendar, I thought it would be fun to read nice quotes every morning, a nice change of pace from last year’s doodle calendar on which I drew far too many octopuses. The calendar isn’t filled with quotes, it’s filled with well-written little blurbs. And they’re making me buy books. Lots and lots of books. It got me again, today.

Heck, yeah. I want to know about China’s Taiping civil war. I want to go to China someday! I love learning! I love reading about everything! Books, books, books, more books!

I told my daughter that she better get me another bookcase next year. Or maybe I should just start drawing octopuses over the enticing book blurbs?

Interview with Bobbie Pyron & A Book Giveaway!

Today I’m so excited to introduce you to a wonderful new middle-grade novel, A Dog’s Way Home by Bobbie Pyron. I love the way this story–alternating between the lost dog and his girl– combines action and adventure with school and family issues. But I mostly loved the way my own 11-year-old daughter got lost in this story! 

Leave a comment to win a signed copy of A Dog’s Way Home.
I’m impressed by the way you depict Tam’s doggie thinking in A Dog’s Way Home. You obviously know a lot about canine sensibilities. Will you tell us a little bit about your very first dog?  

The very first dog we had when I was a child was a wonderful beagle named Puck. I come from a family of big-time dog lovers and dogs were always members of the family. They were not dogs that were stuck out in the back yard–they lived in the house with us. Puck was probably one of the smartest dogs I’ve ever known and had an “old soul.” He was our nanny. We lived in a small beach town in Florida. Whenever my sister and I went out to roam the neighborhoods or the beach, my parents always said, “Take Puck with you and mind him.” We didn’t think there was anything odd about that! And because I was a rather shy child, I often preferred to spend my time with Puck than with other kids.
Tam is separated from his little girl Abby, but neither gives up finding each other again. I once found my missing cat after six months (I phoned the animal shelter on my birthday–and my cat was there!). Have you ever found a lost pet? 

This is kind of a “lost pet” story: when I was about five, our neighborhood was hit by a small tornado. It came on so suddenly, we barely had time to come in from the back yard and hide in the bathroom! When the storm passed, my sister said, “Oh no, Pucky is in the back yard!” My mother and sister and I ran to the back yard. Not only was Puck gone, but so was his dog house. We walked all over the neighborhood calling and calling his name. My mother even called my father at work and told him he had to come home and help find Puck. Right after my dad got home, we got a phone call from some folks several blocks away. The man said, “We got at dog house in our front yard and a dog in it that belongs to you”! Just like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, Puck and his dog house had been picked up here, and dropped down over there. He never got in that dog house again.
I’ve always liked standard poodles, but my daughters don’t think I’m fashionable enough to own one (poodles apparently don’t like sweatpants!) What three dog breeds best represent you and why? 

Wow, three…that’s hard! My husband will tell you without hesitation that I’m a Border Collie. I’m always trying to get him to do something! And I need a job to do—I’m not a nap taker or lollygagger. But I’d like to think I also have the loyalty of a Sheltie and the stubbornness of a terrier.
Tam encounters many wild animals on his journey. Have you ever had a wild encounter while hiking with your dogs? 

Ha! Well, living up here in Park City, it’s not at all unusual to have close encounters of the wild kind. And I do spend a lot of time—all year round—out on the trails with my three dogs. We’ve frequently encountered moose, coyotes, foxes, deer, rabbits, grouse, elk, and unfortunately, skunks. One of my dogs, Boo, is a coyote mix so she loves to hunt. When she was younger, she’d run up and antagonize a moose until it had enough and chased her. Of course, she’d run straight to mom and hide behind me! Another time, she met a very friendly fox. They played and played together out in a field for a good ten minutes. It was so amazing—and of course, I didn’t have my camera with me.
I admire the way Abby sticks to her belief that Tam will return–long after everyone else gives up. Tell us about a time in which you’ve stuck up for your beliefs. 

I am by nature a fairly reticent, peace-making kind of person. I don’t like to “rock the boat.” BUT, I will not back down when it comes to the importance of adopting pets and the rights of our animal friends, whether they be domestic or wild. I will also have to say, I also had to really stand up for my beliefs when I was trying to find an agent or publisher for my book, A Dog’s Way Home. So many people (editors, agents, workshop critiquers) told me I “couldn’t” and “shouldn’t” write the book in two different points of view. But I knew in my gut and in my heart that that was the way the book had to be written. I stuck by my vision for the book until I finally found my wonderful agent who also believed in the way I had to tell the story. Eventually, she found my amazing editor, Molly O’Neill, who also believed in my vision (and may I point out, I originally met Molly at one of your SCBWI regional conferences the year before). What I learned from that is this: yes, you have to “pick your battles” but you also have to respect your instincts and your vision!
To find out more about Bobbie Pyron see her website:  Be sure to check out her blog too! You can see me with my big doggies featured in her Fido And Friend In Five series.

To win a copy of A Dog’s Way Home, please tell me what kind of dog best represents you!
Contest ends at midnight on March 23, 2011.
Open to book and dog lovers worldwide!  

The Bachelor, Brad Womack, Needs To Read More YA Novels

Yesterday I was exercising to bad television, finishing up this week’s episode of ABC’s The Bachelor, hoping, hoping, hoping that Brad Womack would finally ditch mean girl Michelle.

She’s fake, snarky, manipulative. But he just doesn’t get it. The guy’s clueless! Brad Womack & his bevy of beauties obviously need to read more YA lit:

Since the women on The Bachelor constantly struggle to maintain their rank, I recommend The Geek Girl Guide To Cheerleading by Charity Tahmaseb and Darcy Vance. High school hierarchy at its best!

For those nice bachelorettes who get caught up in all the drama, I recommend The Lipstick Laws by Amy Holder. Be careful about who you hang out with!

To learn about truly manipulative behavior, Brad should read Her And Me And You by Lauren Strasnick. It’s tricky trying to form a healthy relationship when someone’s always out to sabotage you!

Finally, Michelle’s got to realize she’s a mean girl, right? She is thirty years old, not to mention someone’s mother. I’d like her to read Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. Sucks to realize that you’re a mean girl when it’s too late to change!

Which books do you wish mean girls and clueless guys would read?

Reading Local Challenge

These days there’s lots of talk about buying local, eating local, well, I thought, eyeing my to-read stack, I’m going to spend September reading local.

I’m going to catch up on books by Utah authors: Kristen Chandler, Carol Lynch Williams, AE Cannon, Kristen Landon, Bree Despain, and James Dashner.
Watch for updates on my progress–and some great giveaways of signed books by Utah authors. I challenge you to read a “local” book and support an author who lives in your part of the world.
Join me! (And I’d love to hear about what you’re reading.)

Writing Books, Reading Books

Yesterday I attended a panel discussion at the Salt Lake City Library with YA authors Bobbie Pyron (The Ring), Paul Genesse (The Iron Dragon series), and Sara Zarr (Story Of A Girl, Sweethearts, Once Was Lost).

Sara Zarr talked about how her first published novel, Story Of A Girl, was her fourth manuscript (that’s what happened to me too). She said she kept going despite “failing, failing, and failing because I wanted it so much.” Every year she’d think that this would be the year and that kept her going through the hard times.
Paul Genesse, who works as a cardiac intensive care nurse, spent eight years working on his writing before he got published. He attended conferences and networked with editors, which he believes helped him get published (I’ve made great connections at conferences too).
Bobbie Pyron works as a librarian so having her own book on the shelves is particularly thrilling. Yet having a book published hasn’t eliminated moments of doubt, frustration, or low self-esteem (I know how she feels).
Sara Zarr agreed that even having a debut novel that received a National Book Award nomination hasn’t made writing the subsequent novels any easier.
Paul Genesse and Bobbie Pyron said that connecting with readers and fans is the best part of publishing (I agree!).
Next the panelists talked about some of their favorite books. I always enjoying hearing what my favorite authors like to read, plus I’m always looking for good books to add to my own reading list. Here are a few books they mentioned:
Bobbie Pyron loves Lizzie Bright and The Buckminster Boy by Gary D. Schmidt, The Absolutely Ture Dairy Of A Par-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, and Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli.
Paul Genesse loves The Lord Of The Rings Triology by JRR Tolkien, A Game of Thrones by George Martin, and Dune by Frank Herbert.
Sara Zarr loves The Geography Of Girlhood by Kirsten Smith, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart, and Sorta Like A Rockstar by Matthew Quick (it will be released in May, 2010).
For aspiring writers, they all recommended Stephen King’s book On Writing. Listening to these funny, intelligent, and generous authors was a wonderful way to spend a Saturday afternoon.