Interlude

With the quick approach of Christmas Day, I find myself stretched to the limit and too exhausted to write…or even read! I’ll be taking a short break from the internet while I get myself organised for a busy Christmas and New Year period.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish you a very merry Christmas and I hope 2009 is a good year for all of us. May you stay healthy, happy and safe. And I would also like to say thank you for showing your support during the past year. It has been appreciated more than you know.

2009 will bring one change to this website. It will be a year when I interview published authors and will post their responses here. The first interview is scheduled for New Year’s Day, so please be sure to drop by and find out what happens there. I’m sure you’ll find it informative. There will be 12 interviews – yes, one per month – throughout the year. I’m looking forward to seeing how that pans out.

Merry Christmas, everyone! 🙂

Page 56, fifth sentence

Alan Baxter is asking people to get involved with a meme he put up on his blog the other day, so here’s my contribution. First, you need to know the rules:

* Grab the book closest to you
* Go to page 56
* Find the 5th sentence
* Write that sentence as your status message
* Copy these instructions as a comment to your status message
* Don’t go looking for your favourite book, or the coolest one you have – just grab the closest one

OK, the book closest to me is a book from the library I intend to read next. It’s called “The Mirror’s Tale” by P W Catanese. Unfortunately, the book only has three sentences on page 56, so I’ve pulled the fifth sentence from page 55 instead.

He put his nose an inch from the wall, peered carefully, and saw an edge as thin as a hair around the spot he had just touched.

I haven’t started reading the book yet, but I’m guessing this is when the main character finds out something interesting about the mirror in question. I find it interesting that a random sentence can give such a big clue as to when I can expect the excitement to begin. All I can say is that the 54 pages and four sentences before this line better be worth it, because I like stories to start in the middle of the action! You will find out, of course, once I’ve finished the book.

If you are reading this, then you can safely say that you’ve been tagged. 😉

Research: Comparing Young Reader Books

no-fraidy-catfishy-field-tripCatKid by Brian James is a series for young readers – I’d say 7 to 9 year olds. I borrowed a couple of them from the library in a batch of books I wanted to read for research. I picked “I’m No Fraidy Cat” because the title reminded me specifically of one of our cats (who acts tough but is a scaredy cat through to the core). “The Fishy Field Trip” was randomly picked.

These books, of course, are way too young for me, but I wanted to find out what was being published for the age group. The books I read, there were also two others I haven’t mentioned here, were good research material. They were published by two major publishers – Scholastic and Simon & Schuster – and I found that they all gave the same results, which were:

1. They stayed within a single storyline, which were not too complex.
2. They spoke to the target audience, using words I suspect the age group would find amusing and would trigger copy cat usage (kids love to mimic things they love).
3. Most centred on two main characters. The other characters were only used to help the main characters and the plot advance. There was little information provided regarding these other characters.
4. They were quick and concise. No flowery descriptions in any of these books.

I had a few more books to read, but I don’t think I’ll bother with them. I don’t actually write for this age group – or I haven’t to date. Instead, I’m going to move on to the next age group, which is 9 to 12 years olds. This is the age group I write for and it will be interesting to see the difference between the two age groups.

Book Review: Deep Water

Deep Water (Castings Trilogy, Book 2)

Deep Water by Pamela Freeman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Last night, I finished reading Deep Water by Pamela Freeman – book 2 of The Castings Trilogy. I must say that I particularly enjoyed how the author ties everything together. Even the “mini stories” play an important role in the overall plot – and not only because they give the world and the characters more depth. My only complaint is that the third book won’t be released until late in 2009.

My apologies for the lack of enthusiasm in my “review” of the book. It really is a good book and deserves much more than what I’ve written here, but I have a tummy bug, so I’m not feeling 100% and don’t have the energy to think and be creative. I might come back to this post and expand on it at a later stage…when my brain isn’t fried and I’m feeling better.

Edited on Tuesday 9 December 2008

Well, five days later and I’m still not 100%, but I do feel much better than I did and I’m ready to add something more to my review of Deep Water now.

As a reader, I found that the first two books of the trilogy spoke to me. I enjoyed the characters, especially their depth, and I related to their stories. I also enjoyed finding out what made them tick by reading their “mini stories”. Often we accept traits of characters on face value, but the author of these books offered reasons and circumstances that made me feel sorry for even the nasty characters. As I said in my review of Blood Ties (Book 1), this trilogy is the best adult writing I’ve read in a while.

As a writer, I found the “mini stories” worked well in captivating my interest, yet we are told time and time again that flashbacks should be kept to a minimum. I believe these books prove that rules are meant to be broken, if it is done well. I also took note that the flow of the writing was easy to follow. There were no strange words that stopped me in my tracks because I didn’t know what they meant. The character names and the names of places were easily pronounced, which again didn’t divert my attention away from the storyline. And…there were no long descriptions and no weather reports, which are two of my pet hates.

I think the only real criticism I have about this trilogy is the fact that the story is continuous from one book to the next. I’ve never like books that do that – especially when I have to wait almost a year before the next book is available to continue to read – as my memory isn’t the best anymore. But even when my memory was great, I didn’t like it. I prefer each book of a trilogy to have a main story that starts and ends in that book, even if there is a thread that stretches over all three books (which there should always be, in my opinion).

I enjoyed both books a great deal and they are highly recommended.