Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Big Read - To Kill a Mockingbird

Jackson County is participating in The Big Read this month. It is provided by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

The book picked for Jackson County was To Kill a Mockingbird.

I was on the court house lawn a few weeks ago when the event was kicked off. It rained, but people still came. There was a story telling contest, someone portrayed Atticus Finch and gave a speech on the courthouse steps, they gave out free copies of To Kill a Mockingbird and there were free refreshments. And anyone who wanted to feel what it was like for Scout to be in a ham costume, could step into a cardboard ham and get their picture took.

There's been activities all month at both county libraries and this week Mary Badham, who starred as "Scout" in the movie will be visiting. She will visit both high schools on October 26th and hold a program at a church gymnasium on Monday, also. All the events are free.

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday of this week they are having free showings of the movie "To Kill a Mockingbird" at the Alpine Theatre in Ripley. The Alpine is the old theatre in Ripley that has been restored.

If nothing happens, Charley and I plan to go to the movie on Friday night.

It has been an interesting month celebrating Harper Lee's book.

Friday, October 16, 2009

scary characters

It's October and Halloween will soon be here.

Let's make a list of scary children's characters.

Penguin took a poll and at the top of their list of scary characters was the White Witch in the Chronicles of Narnia. I hate to admit it, but I've never read the book, so I'll take their word for it.

How about these for scary characters:
  • the Wild Things
  • Cruella de Vil of 101 Dalmations
  • the Big Bad Wolf of Little Red Riding Hood
  • the Wicked Witch in Wizard of Oz
  • the flying monkeys in Wizard of Oz
  • the Witch in Hansel and Gretel
I know it's a medal winner and I know I'm in the minority, but I'm not crazy about Where the Wild Things Are like most people. The monsters are horrible looking and I don't like the character telling his mother, "I'll eat you up!" It amazes me sometimes how some books become so popular.

I know I've only scratched the surface. Add to my list and tell me your favorite scary children's characters.

Would you like to write a scary story? Go here for some spooky story starters.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Book Fair Update

I didn't sell very many books, but I had a real good time at the Book Fair.

Granny Sue, a member of my writing group was there and I met another blogging friend, Matthew, of Appalachian Lifestyles. And I made a new friend, Cali Davidson Frye, who writes children's books. I also got to meet Fran Cannon Slayton who wrote When the Whistle Blows.

I wish I had taken more pictures.

There was a huge space where there were tables and tables of used books for sale.
There were many local publishing companies with their books for sale. Authors were there to sign their books and there were workshops you could attend. And best of all, this was all free to the public!

Believe it or not, I only bought one book at the used book sale. There were just so many to look at and I didn't have a lot of time to spare and the check out line was sooo long. Some people bought boxes and boxes of books!

I want to tell you about the book I did buy at the used book sale for $2. It is a writing book and I love it. It has so much good advice. It is titled, Writing From Personal Experience.

One of the chapters is titled, Is It Funny? I've always wanted to write humor and this chapter was full of useful tips and ideas, such as, write about whatever you find absurd, be simple, be bold, be brief. Humor is about brevity and less is definitely more. Be direct and cut the clutter. One of the things that makes people laugh is the truth. The truth with a curlycue at the end! Another thing that makes people laugh is the unexpected.

The book is about writing from personal experience, but in my opinion it has good advice for any type of writing you might do.

I am already looking forward to attending the Fair next year and being a little more prepared next time and making the most of it.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

West Virginia Book Festival

The West Virginia Book Festival will be October 10-11 at the Charleston Civic Center.
I'll be going to it on Saturday. It will be the first time I've attended it and I'm looking forward to going.

They have a huge used book sale, book signings, vendors and exhibitors, programs for children and teens, story tellers, poets and much more.

The hours are from 9am to 6pm on Saturday and Noon to 6pm on Sunday.

The West Virginia Writers will have a table at the festival. Anyone who has a book published and is a member of WVWriters can bring their books to sign and sell.

I will be there on Saturday at 12 noon with copies of Christmas Traditions. If any of you live in the area, come on by and say hi. I would love to see you.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Writing Exercise

Mary from Mary's Writing Nook posted a writing exercise from her writing group.

You were to write a story starting with this sentence:

I knew it was a mistake to travel by ---- when . . .

Fill in a mode of transportation such as a tricycle, red wagon, truck, motorcycle, etc.

She told me to use red wagon. Here is my story.

I knew it was a mistake to travel by red wagon when I saw the bull in the cow pasture glare at me. He snorted and pawed the ground. He shook his head and swished the flies off his back with his long black tail.

My short legs shuffled across the field. I wiped the sweat from my face and watched the bull out of the corner of my eye. He snorted again, lowered his head and pawed the ground with his sharp hooves.

"Why did I take the short cut home from the store?" I muttered to myself.

I picked up my pace and I streaked across the field. The wheels of my red wagon sailed over the bumps behind me. I raced toward the nearest tree. My hand let go of the wagon handle and grabbed hold of the sturdy oak limb. I scrambled up the tree just as the bull ran underneath me.

"Na, na, na, na, na," I shouted to the animal below.

I shouldn't have done that. He took aim and charged toward my red wagon. His horns slid between the open slats and he flung it over his head. It twirled in the air and landed with a thud. The eggs and bread, smashed and shattered, fell to the ground.

Content with his rampage on the red wagon, the bull turned and lumbered across the field. I climbed down from the oak tree and looked at the mess. I reached into my pocket and counted my change. Pulling my red wagon behind me, I returned to the store taking the long way this time, and bought more eggs and bread.

My little red wagon and I traveled down the winding road, around the cow pasture, toward home.

Now, it's your turn. If you would like to do this, fill in the blank with a mode of transportation and write a short story.

Have fun!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Troublesome Words

I just submitted a story to Cup of Comfort for Couples. They've extended the deadline if anyone thinks they might have a good story to submit. The good thing about it is you don't have to wait forever to know if Cup of Comfort accepts your story or not. You will be notified by October 31st.

I read and reread my story a lot. I did a lot of editing. I got input from a friend of mine who is very good at writing and editing.

Words I used to have to find and delete were that, just and but.

I still have to look for those words while editing my stories. Now I have discovered a few other words I have trouble with and never realized it.

Pronouns! You know what I'm talking about. Them, We, They etc.

We (who? you and the family?)
Them (who? family and friends, comments?)
They (who? parents, friends?)
He (put in name)

I found I need to be more concise. More clear.

So, after I fixed the story being submitted to Cup of Comfort, I pulled up my middle grade manuscript and checked it out.

was everywhere! Of course you can't take them all out. A lot of they's had to be left in, but I was amazed at how many could be changed into something more clear and concise. Now I am going back and looking for them, we, he, it etc.

It's easy to do. Go to Edit and Click on Find.
You might be amazed at what you discover lurking in your manuscript.

What are your troublesome words that slip into your stories?