Thursday, August 22, 2013

Emotional Impact: Book Chewers Link Up

The Book Chewers
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A year after I've read a book, I don't remember the plot. I remember how the book made me feel and my reaction to it. The secondary characters and love interests don't stick with me, but my reaction to the book does. That's why I find it so important to create emotional response in the reader. Make them laugh, make them cry, make them feel something.

In spirit of that thought, I wanted to participate in the weekly link up at the Book Chewers blog. Here's the link up prompt:

It's all about the feels this week! Walk us through the books that have had a profound emotional impact on you. Use the list below as a guideline, but feel free to adjust it to suit your purposes.

Made me laugh: Double Fudge by Judy Blume. It's a story about a boy, Peter, with a menace of a younger brother named Farley Drexel Hatcher AKA Fudge. My mom read it to us when we were kids and I remember laughing out loud at the ridiculous antics of Fudge. 

Made me cry: I've cried in many books, but the first one I remember crying with was Pat of Sliver Bush by Lucy Maud Montgomery. I was at my grandma's house when I was a pretty young kid and out of books to read. She gave a torn up copy of that book (that I still have) to read. When one of the characters died, I lost it. 

BONUS ANSWER: I recently read The Program by Suzanne Young, and that had me sobbing. I've never lost it quite that bad with a book before, but I think the content hit super close to home for me. I really enjoyed it never-the-less. 

Left me depressed: Mercy Among the Children by David Adams Richards. This was a story about a town and the citizens. All of the characters led these horrible, bitter, hopeless lives. Many of them endured numerous, traumatic events only to die or continue on living like they were.

Stunned or shocked me: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling. I did not see *SPOILER ALERT* Dumbledore's death coming and thankfully no one spoiled it for me before hand. I was shocked with that ending. I was also pretty shocked and impressed with the series' ending. 

Terrified me: Thr3e by Ted Dekker. The suspense and story line in this book scared me (in the best way possible!), especially when you get to the climax. I don't read a ton of thrillers, so I'm not used to the incredibly high stakes that this book offered. I loved it, though. It probably could have also gone under the stunned category since the ending was so shocking to me.

Makes me feel nostalgic: Any Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys books. I read a ton of those books when I was a kid (both the originals and the modern spins). I loved them! In particular, I get a kick out of the 90's joint mysteries with Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. 

Mixed Emotions: The Beauty Experiment by Phoebe Baker Hyde. I really respected what the author did; she ditched all her beauty routines (makeup, shaving legs, buying clothes etc.) for a year and wrote a book about it. I really wanted to like the book and I did to a degree. Although, some stories were interesting and insightful, I didn't feel like the author left me with any clear conclusion to the experiment at the end of the book.

All that being said, the majority of these books I really enjoyed! Books that make the reader feel something are books that the reader remembers.

What I'm reading: Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
What I'm watching: North and South (BBC)
What I'm listening to: Adele  

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Guest Post: Caitlin Hensley and Self Publishing

Sunny here: Caitlin Hensley comes to us from her blog Pen Over Sword to chat about her experience with self publishing. If you'd like to guest post on SOI, feel free to send me an email and we can talk about ideas. Let's give a warm virtual round of applause to Caitlin!

Around September of last year, I had recently finished writing a series of five books. They were edited to the best of my ability, and so far I’d only let my younger sister and a friend read them. I got really pumped up and sent off query letters to multiple agents. But my precious Paranormal Legacy kept getting rejected, because, according to the agents, the paranormal genre was dead. That really stung, because I cared a lot about my characters and their story, and I wanted other people to read my books.

For about two months, I kept reading my books, editing them endlessly. I lost my writing spark, because I was just rewriting the same five books over and over, and creating nothing new.

Then I thought of self-publishing. Why not publish PL that way? It might be a lot of work, but at least I could reach potential readers and allow them to meet Haily and all the rest.

So I researched, asked questions, and polished PL. I set the release date for March 6, 2013, which gave me a deadline. I learned how to design a cover, format the interior pages, and how to market and promote my work.

I published through CreateSpace and KDP, both of which looked challenging at first, but weren't actually as bad I expected.

And so, finally, after writing PL’s first draft six years earlier, and learning as much about self-publishing as I could, I became a published author.

Being an indie writer isn’t easy. Every time I decide to publish a new book, I have to design the entire book myself, promote it on my own, and edit until the book is ready for its release. As long as you don’t mind doing all that on your own, I definitely recommend self-publishing. It’s fun, and, of course, there’s the added bonus of being able to reach for a book on my shelf, crack open the front cover, and see Haily’s world stretching out before my eyes.

Any questions? Don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments below. And thanks, Sunny, for having me on your blog! :)

Caitlin Hensley has been telling stories since she learned to hold a pen, and is pretty much obsessed with writing. When not typing frantically on her laptop, she’s usually clogging, catching up on reruns of her favorite TV shows, or getting lost in a great book. By day, she’s currently attending a two-year program to become certified in graphic communications, and at night, teaches classes on blogging at a nearby college. Caitlin lives in rural Oklahoma with her family and a slightly nutty Chihuahua.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Harry Potter in Translation Video

When this video popped up in my recommended videos, I was intrigued. I wanted to share this video about the Harry Potter books being translated into other languages and the obstacles (some quite funny) that the translators encountered, because it was so enjoyable. It was super interesting for me, since I never even considered many of the points she talks about. Enjoy!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Scrapbook Novels

This adventure into not-quite-graphic-novels-but-not-novel-novels all started when I read Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral a few weeks back. Intrigued by the style of Chopsticks, I went on the hunt for similar titles and came up with The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt: a novel in pictures. I've since sorted out my thoughts about this new -at least for me- genre and decided to write this blog post to take a closer look at what these alternative, "scrapbook" novels have to offer. 

Let me start by filling you in on the two books I looked at. 

My lovely sister holding up the book
Chopsticks: It's a story about Glory, a young pianist, who has spent her life traveling around with her widowed father for piano recitals. Enter love interest, Frank, the artistic bad-boy, who rescues Glory from her father, her grief and demanding lifestyle. At least that's what I think happened in the book. Since the story is told through magazine clippings, photos, T.V. Screens, text messages and other bits, it's a bit difficult to know if I really picked up on all the plot points.
Cataloged in the Teen Fiction section at the public library.

Here are some pictures of the different pages in the book. Click to enlarge to photos and flip through them, if you'd like.

The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt: This is the some-what cliched story of France Pratt's journey into adulthood during the 1920s. This story follows Frankie (she hates Frances, she informs us within the first few pages) as she goes to university then travels to NYC and Paris searching for a better life and writing career (and not to mention romance). This story is told a little bit more clear than Chopsticks, because Frankie fills in the gaps with dialogue and short clues about what's going on that she types on her typewriter than clips to put in her "scrapbook". The clippings mostly include photos, lots of advertisements, some school papers, ticket stubs and period illustrations. Found in the Adult Fiction section at the public library.

Some photos of the inside of the book. 

The difference between these two books is that Chopsticks leaves much of the story interpretation up to the visuals, whereas Frankie Pratt depends on the text to tell the story with the other bits simply for visual interest. Although I'm wildly unlearned on writing these scrapbook novels, it seems to me that Chopsticks was more creatively driven and Frankie Pratt was driven by the nostalgic, romantic, Fitzgerald-esque interest in the 1920s. However, that being said, Frankie Pratt, was equally (if not more) enjoyable than Chopsticks, because I actually had a really good understanding of what was going on. I know, I know, I'm not quite there with appreciating the philosophical  interpretation...but hey I'm working on it, besides balancing the creativeness and actual plot is key to this genre. 

Reading these scrapbook novels, did remind me of two important elements of story telling:

1. Dialogue is important to create the characters of the story
Both of these books had written dialogue and relied on actual words at some point. In Chopsticks it was the text messages and in Frankie Pratt it was the typed text. For me, both of these stories came to life when I heard (or rather saw) the characters talking. Dialogue must be strong and unique to each of the characters to create memorable, plot-moving stories. 

2. Symbolism adds depth to the story
Chopsticks in particular, relies heavily on what the objects symbolize and what the objects mean to the story. For example, this book shows a picture of Glory playing solitaire in a room by herself on one page and the next page showed Frank doing the same in a different place. Although that is a fairly simple symbol, it's effective; they're lonely. The symbols get more complex (think back to English class when you rip books to shreds looking meaning in these symbols) and show more of the characters true feelings. Whether or not the reader picks up on all the symbols in your story, they're an effective way of foreshadowing and communicating a higher theme, thus creating a layered story. 

Scrapbook novels are a unique type of story telling. Since they strip down the elements of fiction, they force you to look at what's really essential to a narrative. I'm constantly learning as I read these types of books and encourage you to pick up one similar and maybe even try your hand at writing one. 

Has anyone read any other scrapbook-esque novels and has a recommendation? Want to talk about your feelings towards this genre? Are you interested in writing these types of books? Other thoughts? Comment below.

Reading: Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling 
Watching: Wives and Daughters

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Book Chewers Link Up: Library List

I've been following and enjoying the bookishness of The Book Chewers blog since Cait, Mime, and Lydia ushered it into the blog-o-sphere April 2013.  I've watched their weekly linkup parties go by, but never participated, until now that is. 

This week's prompt:

You're running errands for a book character of your choice, and you'll be picking up some books at the library for them. What books are on the list they gave you, and why did the character choose those specific books?

I'm going to pick Juliette from Shatter Me and Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi. I actually bought this book (!!!) from the bargain bin (cue my wallet breathing a sigh of relief) at a little Foodland up in Cottage Country. 

The whole book-buying experience was funny to me. First the stand with all the bargain books was in the middle of the ice cream section, wedged between two freezers. I wasn't complaining though, books and ice-cream: a match made in heaven. It was the books on the stand that had me going. Their was an etiquette book for the mother-of-the-bride filled with tips on avoiding wedding faux-pas, an I Spy-like book where you had to find the ten dollar bills hidden in grainy pictures of Hong Kong, a book of wedding poetry, TinTin graphic novels, a book on how to be the best feminist one can be, and of course, your average in this case, Foodland harlequins. I probably wouldn't have even seen Unravel Me tucked in amongst the others, but the author's unique name caught my attention. At first, I didn't realize it was the sequel to Shatter Me because the two covers looked so different, but after some examination I figured it out. 
 It had a tiny cut on the front cover, so it was half price (yippee!). When I arrived at the checkout I was pleasantly surprised that they had a person to bag our groceries. You don't see that around where I live; I'm used to the Self-checkouts. Anyways, she put my book in a little vegetable bag to protect it and then it was mine for the reading. 
The bag the book came in and my reading spot. 

I just finished reading it today on the drive home from my Aunt's cottage, so it's fresh in my mind for this linkup.  The linkup...riiiiiight that's what this post was supposed to be about. Without further adieu, the books that Juliette might want from the library:

Knitting new mittens & gloves : warm and adorn your hands in 28 innovative ways by Robin Melanson 
Since Juliette's touch is fatal, she has to cover her skin all the time. I figure she'd get bored of wearing the same gloves all the time. She needs some style in her life, instead of that drab spandex suit and leather gloves.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Juliette struggles with standing up for herself, so I think she'd be inspired by Katniss's resolve and kick-butt personality. 

Living Beyond Your Feelings: Controlling Your Emotions So They Don't Control You by Joyce Meyer
Juliette can be really self involved sometimes and caught up in her feelings. It was slightly annoying to me, but thankfully another character calls her out on it. I think that by the end of this book she was trying a little bit better to stop being so wrapped up in her bitterness. Maybe she'd want a self-help book on that topic. *cough* she needs it *cough*

Dr. Seth's love prescription : overcome relationship repetition syndrome and find the love you deserve by Seth Meyers, with Katie Gilbert
Juliette has a few problems when it comes to her love life. The obvious one being that she can't touch anybody, and the real problem being that she's wildly attracted to someone terrible for her (and everybody else for that matter!) and she knows it. She'd be getting this book in hopes of getting over that attraction and moving on. 

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins 
Juliette needs a light, romantic and fun read with a happy ending. Her life is way to intense!

If you want to do this fun linkup click here and be sure to comment if you do it, so I can check it out! Also comment with character/book combinations and what you think of this link up. 
The Book Chewers
What I'm reading: Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling
What I'm listening to: Michael Bublé
What I'm watching: Rookie Blue
Previously on A Splash of Photography: A Walk in the Woods
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