Tuesday, November 19, 2019

NaNoWriMo: A Novel Challenge

* IMHO, anybody who writes 50,000 words
in any kind of narrative is a winner,
no matter how long it takes!
Every November brings with it a "contest" of sorts -- the National Novel Writing Month challenge.  Anyone can enter, and the way to "win" is to write at least 50,000 words of a planned novel. No referees, no penalties, and no prizes (of the extrinsic variety, at least).  Any and everyone who crosses the word count finish line WINS!*

As a librarian who is woefully unable even to consistently write blog posts, I'm highly unlikely to jump into this contest, but I'm a great cheerleader for those who do.    After all, writers usually hope for readers, and this librarian plays a great audience.  I read a friend's NaNoWritMo novel a few years ago, enjoyed it and offered some experienced editorial tips.  I continue to be impressed by the former Paideia student (and faithful book club member) who had written 2 or 3 November novels by the time she was a senior (Hazel, you know who you are!).

Ask good writers for a helpful tip, and they'll all say "Read, Read, Read!"  The Paideia Library can definitely help there -- literary novels, literary non-fiction, action/spy/mystery novels, YA romance, long and complicated fantasy, short and fast-reading novels-in-prose-poetry -- we've got it all.  The more you read, the better you can identify better and worse writing, and hear your own writing in your head.  For writers looking for more concrete, actionable writing advice -- see the books in the display photo below.

November is drawing to a close (our Thanksgiving Feast is one week from today), but it's never too early to start planning for next November.  Historical fiction needs research and planning, complex fantasy needs outlining (and likely a glossary of characters & names).  Maybe you need to warm up by writing a short story or novella (apparently, under 40,000 words doesn't count as a "real" novel). If you want to procrastinate, you can even research all the steps you'll need to take to get your novel published once it's finished.

Check out a book, or check out one of these NaNoWriMo sites online, and get your game plan together.  Let me know if you want an audience come December 1.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

September JH Book Club:
Renegades by Marissa Meyer

Hey Bookclubbers -- If you want more Renegades and Marissa Meyer, check out the links at the bottom of this post.  It's all the cool stuff about the author and the book that I meant to show you at the meeting.

~ ~ ~

Junior High book club had a fantastic start to the year yesterday afternoon.  Nineteen (yep, 19!!) 7th & 8th graders were bubbling with questions and opinions and reflections about Renegades, an action-packed superhero & villain re-work by favorite author Marissa Meyer.  Seriously, we were still talking well after the target finish time of 4:15 pm, and we could have kept going. This is going to be another fun book club year.

This is the 4th year that I've led the jh book club on my own after founder/teacher Greg Chagnon left Paideia.  It was teeny the first year (6 members, only 4 of whom would be at any one meeting), but ohmigosh! it's just about doubled in size each year. 

We had a lot of questions that may or may not be answered in the next two entries in the trilogy, Archenemies, and Supernova (out in November), plus some that just won't, like the "what if the author had taken the story in another direction" musings, or wishing she'd told more of the backstory of this or that character.  My answer -- fan fiction!  It's a fabulous outlet for aspiring writers (creating a new story line within the structure of an established world and characters), and a way for enthusiastic readers to live a little bit longer within the universe they've come to love.

October's book is The Name of the Star, a mystery/paranormal/ghost/horror novel by Maureen Johnson, another YA favorite.  Since we'll be meeting shortly before Halloween, I thought it was thematically appropriate.  I can't wait to see what the book club thinks!

~ ~ ~

So here are the drawings, interviews and videos that I rounded up for the meeting and didn't have time for.

One thing we didn't talk about is what the characters "should" look like.  The world of Renegades is truly diverse in terms of race, personality and superpowers, but the author only gives clues to their appearances instead of full descriptions.  It's really interesting, then, to see how different readers interpret their favorite heroes and villains.

This drawing shows the main Renegades in their uniforms.  It's from a Tumblr, which (as usual) has some pretty sketchy ads, so I'm not going to link back to the artists page.  Forgive me. 


The next two are from artist C.C.'s  Instagram (@casartco).  Click on the pics to see them on Instagram.

Adrian's Patrol Team (Renegades)

Nightmare's villain family (Anarchists)

And these from Marissa Meyer's author Instagram 
(they made it into a poster) -- 

Explore more Renegades fan art on Instagram here.


Are you an aspiring author?  In this this interview, Marissa Meyer explains how she envisions and writes such exciting action scenes.

There's a Marissa Meyer wiki with a whole section  just for the Renegades universe.  More fan art here!

On YouTube I found this short video of the author talking about the members on Adrian's team.


And, because, music, the author has created a complete playlist of songs to go with the novel. I don't know if anybody put it on Spotify, YouTube or Pandora, but you can for sure check it out.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

January Book Club:
The Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse

January's Junior High book club choice was the historical fiction novel The Girl in the Blue Coat  by Monica Hesse, a missing persons mystery set in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam in 1943.  This was a change from the recent couple of book choices (Geekerella and Let It Snow), which had strong "romance" storylines, and everyone loved it! 

The main character, Hanneke, hates the Nazis for taking over her country, and for the death of her sailer boyfriend.  She's smart, brave and daring, but focuses on protecting and supporting her disabled father and out-of-work mother through a regular job and another on the side procuring and delivering black market goods.  Hanneke doesn't want to know too much about her Jewish neighbors' disappearances; "there's nothing I can do about it," she thinks.   When one of her best customers asks Hanneke to use her procurement skills to find a missing Jewish girl, a series of events brings her close to young people in the Dutch Resistance, and the truth of the Jewish transports.  Hanneke realizes there is something she can do, and throws herself single-mindedly into saving this one girl.  Nothing in the war is as it seems, and among the many many things that Hanneke sees and misunderstands is herself.

I love investigating the history in historical fiction, and put together the information below to create context for our discussions.

Our next few books are: February, The Adoration of Jenna Fox; March, Five Feet Apart; and April, Girls Made of Snow and Glass.

Dutch words

Hanneke - main character (pronounciation)

Mirjam - the missing girl (pronounciation)

gracht - canal

plein - square

Het Parool - The Watchword (underground newspaper of the Resistance)

Map of Amsterdam

Het Rembrandtplein - Rembrandt Square

Jewish Lyceum (where Mirjam, Amalia, and real-life Anne Frank attended school)

Joods Lyceum today (Google Streetview)

Joodse Ster ("Jewish Star") - the Dutch Star of David badge

Related image

Schouwburg theatre during WWII (where Jews were detained before being transported to the camps)
Image result for schouwburg amsterdam wwii

Street where Ollie & Willem live (in the University of Amsterdam area)

Hollandsche Schouwburg today, as a museum and Jewish cultural center

Hollandsche Schouwburg exterieur. Foto Marijke Volkers

Walking route from Schouwburg toward the transport trains in the Eastern Docklands.
The plan is to help Mirjam escape the prisoner group before they reach the Muidergracht bridge.

Plantage Middenlaan - Google Streetview

Anne Frank House - 263 Prinzengracht, Amsterdam (Google streetview)

Plantage Middenlaan over Muidergracht Bridge

Image result for muidergracht bridge amsterdam

Opklapbed - folding bed (like a "murphy bed" in English)

Image result for dutch antique murphy bed

Amsterdam to Kijkduin