Friday, December 7, 2012

Hand of the Tarot Review

SM will be awarding a Tarot Doll of their choice to a randomly drawn commenter (US/Canada Only) during the tour. More information: http://www.smblooding.com/ht1-order-tarot-doll-autographed-book/


The Hands of Tarot
Series: The Hands of Tarot
SM Blooding
Format: E-book & Paperback
Genre: YA Steampunk (Mature)
Length: 316 pages in paperback

Blurb:

She killed his father.
She imprisoned and beat him.
And now she thinks he’s her trophy.
Synn El’Asim will do almost anything to prove her wrong. But he’s only proving her right.
Queen Nix awakened his Mark of power and inducted him into the House of Wands. She knew what she was doing. The son of the two most powerful Families standing against her is the ultimate prize.
What she didn’t take into consideration was that maybe he was too strong for her.
Maybe.
The Families aren’t. They’ve been weakened, and it’ll take a lot more than one young man with a powerful Mark to take on the Hands of Tarot.


Excerpt:
Queen Nix turned to me and smiled. “Do you wish to declare war, little boy?”
“Let them go,” I commanded, my voice ragged. “What have they done to you?”
She stalked toward me, her nose nearly touching mine, all semblance of beauty twisted with rage. “They refused to submit to me.”
I stared at her aghast, my hands clenched, my jaw tight. “So because you couldn’t control them, you’re going to destroy them?”
The rage turned cold across her features as she drew away, her shoulders back.
“Are you so weak?” The muscles in my cheek twitched.
Father took a step toward us. “Perhaps we can reach a mutual agreement.”
Someone in the cage screamed, the scream turning to ravaged sobs.
I let out a growl. “You will stop this!”
The queen turned her eagle-eyed stare to me. “I do not take orders from a mere boy.”
“Queen Nix,” my father started, “let us be reasonable.”
She took a step back and assessed him.
“The Umira have never been a harmful Family.” My father’s hands were wide at his side, his expression open. “They have always lived in peace with the Hands.”
Her eyes flared and she advanced on him. “You’ve allied yourself with them.”
Father’s eyes widened as he took a half step back.
I watched in alarm, unsure what to do. My father was the strongest man I knew.
The queen grabbed his coat and pulled his face close to hers. “The Umira have always been a peaceful Family, so imagine my surprise when they assaulted us with cannons and weapons.”
“They have the right to defend themselves, Nix.”
“Not against me.” She pushed him away and turned to her gathering guard. “Take him and his heathen son. Throw them on the pyre.”
My father drew his sword and faced the guard. “Go, Synn, now!”
Our men drew their weapons and stood by his side.
“I’m not leaving you, Father.” My sword was in my hand. I was ready to die an honorable death by my father’s side.
He backhanded me and roared, “You will protect our people, Synn El’Asim.”
I was torn. I wanted so badly to fight beside him, to protect him.
But my father had given me an order. One I could not ignore.
I turned and ran.


My Review:
I'm always on the lookout for steampunk, especially if it's something I can share with my students. This felt like a mash-up of Avatar: the Last Airbender and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, and is probably a little more fantasy than true steampunk. In this world, when people come of age, they receive a mark, which gives them power over elements, spirit, etc. That kind of magic, to me, falls into the fantasy realm.

I enjoyed the different envisionings of tech, particularly the idea of giant jellyfish, lethara, as ships and cities. That element of the world building was well done.

This YA is definitely mature YA, and not suitable for the middle-school audience. I'd recommend it to the fifteen-and-over set. The main character is seventeen-eighteen, and that's generally appealing for the kids two or three years younger. The relationship between Nix and Synn would make this inappropriate for readers younger than that. Parents might take issue with the violence, but that didn't bother me too much.

Unfortunately, this is not an Accelerated Reader book.

As an editor, I found several issues that bothered me: italics over or under used, inconsistent use of compound or hyphenated words, missing affixes, it's when its is needed... To someone that doesn't look for those kind of things, they may not distract, but they did disrupt my reading. 

About the Author:
SM Blooding lives in Colorado with her pet rock, Rockie, their new addition, Mr. Bird, who’s a real bird. She likes to hike the beautiful Rocky Mountains, and is learning to play the piano and guitar. Currently, she’s trying to MURDER them both. Friends call her Frankie.

She’s dated vampires, werewolves, sorcerers, weapons smugglers, and US Government assassins. Yes. She has stories.

She’s also an investigator with a local paranormal investigation group, Colorado Paranormal Rescue!

Links:
Twitter Facebook
Website/blog
Amazon – Kindle 
Amazon – Paperback
B&N – Paperback 
Autographed copy
Additional information 

Goodreads
http://www.smblooding.com/
http://www.smblooding.com/the-hands-of-tarot/
EPUB: https://www.dropbox.com/s/6ojq3uphhuyw7vd/TheHandsofTarot_SMBlooding.epub
Mobi: https://www.dropbox.com/s/0l8990zmh67l5e4/TheHandsofTarot_SMBlooding.mobi
Smash: https://www.dropbox.com/s/ryiv1a405cn7tcp/HandsofTarot%28Smash%29.doc

Note: I received a free copy of this book through Goddess Fish.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Show, Don't Tell!


Another common error young writers make is telling a story, rather than showing a story. This is probably because many of the short stories they have been exposed to are fairy tales, which have a distant point of view and summary-like narration. They start with phrases like "There once was..." and use direct characterization, like "She was the kindest girl in all the land."

When we write, we need to show our stories, using vivid verbs, specific details, and deep point of view. Here's an example of a passage that is told. The action is summarized and the reader feels as if the action is happening far away:

It was June of 1943. Eric's older brother had gone away to become a fighter pilot. Eric wanted to be a pilot too, so he got in the family's crop dusting plane and started it up. He flew it out of the barn and crashed it into the old oak tree in the yard. He hit his head. The doctor had to come. His brother came back, injured from the war. The two healed together.
That right there is the plot for an ENTIRE short story, not a paragraph of one, but it's similar to many of the stories students turn in.

Here's an example of some of the same action -- Eric immediately after the crash -- but shown instead instead of told:
Eric raised a hand to his forehead. When he brought his fingers away, blood covered them. He blinked once, twice. The smell of burning filled the air, and the control stick to the plane, just in front of him, swam in and out of his vision. 
"What...what happened?" Eric said, but no one answered. In the distance, as if it came from miles and miles away, screaming began, and he thought, Who could that be?
Some things to notice about the second example:
  • It has dialogue.
  • It has internal thought.
  • It has active verbs.
  • There are no weak or passive constructions in the scene, or narration.
We should be aiming to make our short stories more like the SECOND example. The writing is more vivid, and makes a bigger impact on the reader



.




Sunday, November 25, 2012

Exposition: One tool the author has to tell a story



Exposition is used in two ways when talking about fiction.

First, it is the set-up at the beginning of the plot arc. Where we learn the basic who, what, when, and where. This is a necessary part of plot to ground your reader.

I'm going to address the second way exposition is used in a story. This is when an author gives background information, description of characters or setting, or summarizes events that have already happened. It can happen at any point in the story. This is a necessary, key element of writing and one of the three tools an author has to tell his or her story, along with scene and dialogue.

A good author does this without slowing down the forward progress of the plot. That is, the exposition makes sense in the context of the scene (or action) of the story and does not trip up the reader or bore him or her.
She turned her blue gaze toward him.
Here, we get the fact that she has blue eyes in the context of the action. That's the best way to give description.

One mistake amateur writers make is including "infodumps" in their stories. These are paragraphs of exposition which trip up the reader and slow the forward progress of the plot. They take the reader out of the action. As a result, these infodumps can result in readers setting aside a book and giving up on a story.

Green Room
Green Room by Donna McNeely
One particular example of this is what I call "fantasy room." Young writers often use their fiction as a means to live out their own dreams and fantasies. Hence, their characters are about their age, if not a little older, and have things the writers wish they had, like perfect, awesome bedrooms. Young writers can spend a page describing a room: the bedding, the wall color, the drapes, the toys, the electronics... Everything you know a young writer would want in his or her own room. This is too much!

Sprinkling in a few relevant details is great, and necessary. It grounds the reader in setting and helps him or her envision the world the author is creating. But these details need to be intrinsic to the plot, and can't stop the forward momentum of the action. Does it really matter, in the grand scheme of the story, that the bedspread is green? Ask yourself that before including the detail in your story.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Requisite Thanksgiving Blog Post

So it's Thursday, it's Thanksgiving... I feel that calls for thirteen things. Here are thirteen things I'm thankful for on this Thanksgiving Thursday.

  1. Alliteration.
  2. My husband who worked with me on my days off this week to build a new coop for my chickens.
  3. Yellow Dog, who is the stray that lives among the weeds and rubble of the vacant lot next door. No one can catch him, he won't let me get within ten feet of him, but he is our first line of defense! Right now he's standing sentry at the front gate, facing the street, ready to attach any bicycles or cars that dare threaten the block.
  4. My own dogs, Zato and Hamlet. They are getting on and years, but still make a good team in home protection, plate cleaning, and snuggles.
  5. Fashion inspiration at five a.m. I now know what to where to opening day at the track today.
  6. This flippin' weather. It's been outstanding.
  7. Winter break is less than a month away.
  8. Hot tea.
  9. An east facing front porch in winter.
  10. Work, work, and more work.
  11. My readers, if any are still out there. I promise to finish and publish something soon. Really.
  12. My friends, family, and coworkers. Their kindness, generosity, and good cheer constantly amaze me!
  13. Whatever is coming next!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my students, family, and friends at BCA! I am truly grateful for having such a great work family. I hope everyone has a wonderful Turkey Day.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Model Research Essay

Here is a model essay, showing in-text citation and the proper bibliography/ works cited. While the formatting may be a bit wonky, this is essentially what students should be turning in. Remember the works cited should be on its own page.



Corina Calsing
12 April 2012
Room 235

My Favorite Thing:
Interior Design

I knew what British Colonial meant when I was in junior high school. I refinished furniture and restained flooring and painted walls. I changed drapes and rearranged items in glass jars on my dresser. Even from a young age, I loved interior design. Nothing makes me feel happier than picking out colors and finding new ways to express myself through the decorations in my home. If I could have a new career, it would definitely be interior design. To become an interior designer, I have to do three things: study, apprentice, and then build a business of my own. All this work could take years, but I think I would be happier on the other end.
Unfortunately, this is not an easy career to get in to. It takes years of study to become an interior designer. First, I would have to get an associate’s degree, which takes two years. One school I could attend is Delgado Community College. According to their Web site, they offer a seventy-two-credit program to prepare me for a career in this field. If I can take twelve units a semester, it will take me six semesters, or three years, to finish. One of the most nerve-wracking parts of this is the idea of having to take an exam to get a license after I’ve finished my course work! The exam site says, “The NCIDQ Examination consists of two multiple-choice sections and a drawing practicum entirely focused on health, safety and welfare.” That is probably going to take a lot of studying and practice. The drawing part sounds like the hardest, because I will have to actually draw plans based on information they give me. I am already imagining what those might look like…
After my two years of college, I will get an internship or apprenticeship program. That means I will have to work under another designer. The brochure says this can take 5,280 hours. That’s 660 work days… That seems like a really long time! I will need to find a mentor that I get along with. Personality conflicts could make those days seem even longer. There are many benefits to having a mentor, though. She will be able to help me get clients, learn how to run a business, and network with contractors and builders.
Finally I will get my own business! This will definitely take the most work and money! I will have to get business cards, an office, furniture… Everything so I have a place to work that looks just like the offices on HGTV. I’ll have to decorate some rooms and create a portfolio to show potential clients too.
When I think about it, I can’t imagine anyone who wouldn’t want to be an interior designer. After all, we would get to make people everyday by giving them beautiful places to live. Even though it may take a long time for me to become an interior designer, I think it will definitely be worth. Maybe someday I’ll be able to decorate your home!


Works Cited
“Interior Design A.A.” Delgado Community College.12 April 2012. <http://catalog.dcc.edu/preview_program.php?catoid=5&poid=479&returnto=300>
“NCIDQ Exam Content.” National Council for Interior Design Qualification. 12 April 2012. <http://www.ncidq.org/Exam/Content.aspx>
United States. National Council for Interior Design Qualification. Interior Design Experience Program. 2006.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Outlining, directions and sample

First, a great resource on outlining is at http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/544/1/. Below is a sample outline I'm working on for my sample research paper on green iguanas.


Corina Calsing
13 September 2012
Calsing
Writing, period 1

Outline for Research Paper: Green Iguanas
I. Introduction
    A. Hook
    B. Thesis
    C. Summary of subtopic
II. Body paragraph – Diet
    A. Fruit
       1. Mango
           a. Green/ unripe mango
           b. Ripe mango
       2. Bananas
           a. Frozen – does not like
           b. Too ripe – does not like
           c. Slightly firm, a little green
       3. Other fruits on occasion
           a. Strawberries
           b. blueberries
    B. Vegetables
      1. Collards
      2. Mustard greens
      3. Green bell peppers
      4. Other veggies
           a. Cassava -- cooked
           b. Green beans
           c. Peas
    C. Water
    D. Kibble
III. Body paragraph – Habitat
    A. Cage
    B. Bedding
    C. Heat source
IV. Body paragraph –Training
V. Conclusion

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Book Review: Wildwood by Colin Meloy

I've been a big fan of the Decemberists since the release of The Crane Wife, so imagine how happy I was when I found a young adult book penned by the lead singer and songwriter Colin Meloy? I downloaded the audio version, read by Amanda Plummer, which is available as a free download for iPod at nutrias.org, the New Orleans library Web site.

Why I would recommend this book to kids:

  • If you love Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, you'll love this.
  • If you loved The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, you'll love this.
  • Fun talking animals, battles between bandits and coyotes, a lost little brother... There is a lot of action going on here, and Prue is a great main character who learns and grows through the entire story.
  • Illustrations will also keep you engaged.

Why I recommend this book as a teacher:

  • Colin Meloy uses words that middle schoolers may not yet be familiar with, but does a good job of using context clues. This helps with vocaulary acquisition.
  • Strong female lead will appeal to girls, while the side kick Curtis will be popular with boys. Both characters have an adventure of their own where they learn and grow.
  • Progressive, hipster ideals are presented in a fun, adventurous novel.
  • This is the first in a series, so finding the next book your child will want to read is easy!
AR Level: 6.3
Points? 19

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Where I have been?

Writing and editing have always been my second job. Or sometimes third. What I did in the evenings, early mornings Saturday and Sunday.

We bought a house to renovate last November, however, and that's been taking my time. It had to be redone from top to bottom -- from flooring to roofing, and we aren't even halfway done yet. This is why I haven't sent out any new short stories or worked on any new novels.

Currently, in the few moments I have here and there, I am working on revisions of Storm Summer, a young adult historical set in Louisiana during World War II. I'd like to start sending this out to publishers in the fall. I'll keep my fingers crossed.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Interview with Armand Rosamilia and Contest!

Today I'm welcoming horror writer Armand Rosamilia, author of Dying Days.


Tell us about Dying Days.

Dying Days is my extreme zombie series, centered around Darlene Bobich, a regular woman trying to survive. So far three books have been released, and there are many more to come. As long as readers keep responding to them. While the themes might be dark and graphic, at the core of the stories is a human just like you and me, who cries, has panic attacks, and isn't superhuman. Unless you're superhuman, in which case, ignore what I said.

What is up with pop culture's obsession with zombies? It doesn't seem to be waning at all. Why do you think that is?

Eventually (sooner than later) it will go away, but right now we're in a great time as a zombie writer and reader. With the end of the world coming right before Christmas (and we'll have already spent all our money on presents - nice job, Mayan Calendar!) the apocalypse is in our thoughts, on every History and Discovery Channel program, and in our videogames. But, like everything else, it will fade. The Walking Dead season seven will be lambasted for not killing teenage Carl already, there will be three network comedy shows starring zombies, and Brendan Fraser will make six bad zombie movies in a row. Then the world will indeed end.

Who do you look to for inspiration as a writer? The great masters of horror? Or is there an incongruous author you cite as an influence?

My favorites growing up were Dean Koontz and Robert E. Howard. I read a ton of others but those two set the foundation for me as a writer. But I read all the time, and not just horror. Mostly horror. Writers like Scott Nicholson, Joe McKinney, Brian Keene, John Everson, JA Konrath, and W.D. Gagliani are my favorites right now, but who knows what new author I'll discover?

Your site says Dying Days is going to be made into an independent film. What is that process like?

It's like pulling teeth, and that has nothing to do with Reality's Edge Films. When we decided to work together on the project, one of the stipulations was for me to write the first draft of the screenplay and then have final say. No big deal, right? It would be around 100 pages and I wrote a dozen pages of fiction a day with no problem. Plus, it was only taking the basic story of Dying Days and making it into a script. The plot and dialogue were all there! All I had to do was cut and paste the book into a screenplay format and we have ourselves a movie. Only it doesn't work that way. Script writing is so alien and different for me that I had to step back, study it, and start from scratch. I find it harder to write, but in the end it will be great. I hope.

What book of yours do you love the most? Why?

If I had to pick one, it would be Death Metal. It was my first release through another company in January 2009, right before the explosion of Amazon and eBooks. It was only sold on the company's website and a defunct horror book selling site, so it didn't do well. But for me it was a great experience to write it, edit it, and have a print copy in my hand. It was promoted as an urban horror novella, but I'm not sure what that is. It's horror but there's nothing supernatural and it's more of a horror thriller, if I had to tag it. I re-released it through Rymfire Books last year and its still available and doing quite well with sales. Someday I'd like to swing back around and do the sequel to it. Until then…

 Music when you write or no?

Sometimes, if I'm working on a specific chapter or scene, I'll put something on that fits the mood. I'm 42 and grew up on 80's Metal, so there's always Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Manowar, Slayer and Anthrax playing. For really gruesome scenes (especially zombie) I'll put on some hardcore music from my teens like Bad Religion, Black Flag, Minor Threat, Bad Brains or Dead Kennedys. For love scenes? Light a candle, some Barry White… nah, just kidding…

Thanks for the interview! I hope it piques some interest to actual read some of my work! If not, I hope it piques interest to read another author's work!

I can be found on Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/Armand-Rosamilia/e/B004S48J6G/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

*   *   *   *   *

Want to know more about the Dying Days series? Want to win free eBooks and maybe print books of them? My contest is simple: e-mail me at armandrosamilia (at) gmail (dot) com with DYING DAYS in the subject line and I'll enter you into the daily giveaway… Also, post a comment here and you get another chance… follow my blog at http://armandrosamilia.com for yet another chance, and friend me on Twitter (@ArmandAuthor) and simply post DYING DAYS to me, and you'll get another shot… nice and easy, right? If I get enough people joining in the giveaway there will be a print book given away that day!

Dying Days series information can be found here: http://armandrosamilia.com/dying-days-series/

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Under a House

Here are some things you will probably find while doing renovation work under a house in New Orleans. It is supported with anecdotal evidence.
  • Car tires, some still on rims.
  • Tricycle parts
  • Pepsi bottles with the old, foam shrinkwrap labels on them. You remember those? They used to have them at the Chinese place on Palm Street in San Luis Obispo. I used to try to tear off the foam label in one long spiral.
  • Chip bags with the graphics you remember from when you were a kid. Man, Chester Cheetah has really changed.
  • Broken, antique bottles that would be worth something if they were whole.
  • Old pipe that they replaced and then just left there.
  • Thousands of plastic shopping bags whose integrity has broken down. They create a sort of distopian mat of dirty, fluttery snow flakes. And they always conceal broken bottles.