Tag Archives: reading

Book Review MAXIMILLIAN VILLAINOUS: A Teacher And Writer’s Perspective by Laura Roettiger

Book Review MAXIMILLIAN VILLAINOUS: A Teacher And Writer’s Perspective by Laura Roettiger

Book Review MAXIMILLIAN VILLAINOUS: A Teacher And Writer’s Perspective by Laura Roettiger
— Read on frogonablog.net/2018/11/17/book-review-maximillian-villainous-a-teacher-and-writers-perspective-by-laura-roettiger/

My guest review on Frog on a Blog!

Why did you name him Charlie?

Two months ago, I brought home a wonderfully sweet Goldendoodle puppy and named him Charlie. The three questions I am most often asked:

What kind of dog is he? What’s his name? (Followed by)

Why did you name him Charlie?

I had decided on the name Charlie earlier in the week, knowing we were going to meet him that Saturday. I thought about other names, tried saying them softly and calling them loudly. I never wavered. Charlie felt right. I didn’t have any specific connection to the name, no it’s not the name of an old boyfriend, I just liked the way it sounded. I had a few other names suggested to me but nothing came close. I waited until the following day, having said “Charlie” to my new bundle of joy many times in the first 36 hours and watching him respond. It’s a happy name that fits the expert criteria of naming a dog: 2 syllables and ending in an E sound so they can distinguish their name from other commands.

It wasn’t until this week, when I reread my favorite book from childhood, All of a Kind Family by Sydney Taylor, that I realized where my affinity for the name began. This charming story published in 1951 and set in 1912, centers around a Jewish immigrant family living on the lower east side of New York with five daughters. Their family friend, one of only two nonJewish characters in the book is named Charlie. I don’t want to give anything away, because I highly recommend this book, but I now understand why I loved the name from all those years ago.

A writer’s life

I was lucky enough to spend the weekend at a writers conference this weekend with an amazing faculty of agents, editors, and authors. In addition to the outstanding experts, I was surrounded by inspiring writers in my critique groups, workshops, and I also had a fantastic roommate to share writing with.

After the conference, I met up with a friend and came across this quote from Louis L’Amour and it made me think of writing, or more accurately, revising. I’m sure other writers and artists will be able to relate.

Thoughts on book reviews

Recently I’ve seen several discussions about the value or harm of book reviews. Authors need them to help with sales and even negative reviews aren’t necessarily going to hurt sales.

 

Negative reviews Evidently, some people write negative reviews and go so far as to tag the author in them. I’m not sure why anyone thinks that’s acceptable. Bad manners are never okay.There are also many reviews I’ve seen (I only read them after reading a book) that go out of their way to be mean.

The value of reviews Feelings about reviews range from “they are important and I depend on them before I make a purchase,” to “I never read them and I don’t write them.” I weighed in on a Twitter discussion saying I only write reviews if I like a book. I read 50 books in 2017 and liked the vast majority. I don’t think that’s because I’m an “easy grader.” I believe it’s because I choose well. I ask people whose opinions I trust for recommendations and make an educated decision of what to read. Of the 50 books, I didn’t finish one because I just couldn’t get through it. I know it is a beloved book by most people who’ve read it, including people I know well. I didn’t review it because my opinion wouldn’t be helpful to someone considering reading it. I didn’t choose well when I tried reading it.

Writing community on Twitter weighs in Back to the Twitter discussion: One response argued that it’s not helpful if I only write positive feedback. Another went so far as to say, if they read something they don’t like, they feel a negative review might be helpful to the author as a way to improve in the future.

Opinions My opinion, and that’s what a review is – OPINION – is that when you are weighing in on someone’s art, your voice is only helpful to those who share your frame of reference. I occasionally read genres I don’t really care for to expand my horizons as a writer, but I wouldn’t write a negative review. Obviously I’m not the target audience and my opinion isn’t going to be meaningful to a person who likes the genre.

What are your thoughts on reviews? Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.

Interview with Diana Gallagher, author of “Lessons in Falling” Raffle to win free signed copy

IMG_0086       Front Cover

#17DABash interview with the author, Diana Gallagher and a chance to win a free signed copy of the book.  Comment on this blog post to be entered in the raffle! “Lessons in Falling” is a beautifully written contemporary YA book. Before we meet Savannah, she’s suffered a career-ending gymnastics injury.  The book takes us through her senior year as she faces challenges in the aftermath of her injury, with her best friend Cassie, and Marcos, a boy from school who shows her a different type of life challenges. I highly recommend this book!

Q. In Lesson in Falling you have three storylines braided together: the friendship between the two girls, the relationship with Marcos, and the challenge of overcoming injury and going back to gymnastics. Where did the idea for the story?

A. The story began as an assignment for a graduate workshop in writing the YA novel. In fact, the first chapter is very similar to its initial draft: a girl who fails her driver’s test for the umpteenth time and takes matters into her own hands. Although I only had one chapter written for the workshop, I already knew Savannah was a gymnast and had a best friend named Cassie.

Q. How much of Savannah’s gymnastics experience is based on your own? Did you have a serious injury?

A. Savannah is a much better gymnast than I was, but we do have several elements in common: we both preferred floor exercise over uneven bars, we both pursued college gymnastics, and we shared the same injury that took Savannah out of gymnastics. Tearing my ACL was a pivotal moment in my athletic career; while I reacted quite differently than Savannah initially does, it was a valuable lesson in perseverance, patience, and fighting my way back due to pure love of the sport.

Q. How much research went into the racial part of the book? Was that a theme you wanted to tackle when you began writing or did it become bigger as you revised?

A. I researched extensively as I pursued the racial portion of the novel. From the outset, it evolved as an organic part of the story due to the prevalence of the real-life issues facing the area the book is based in. At the time I began writing, a federal investigation was launched into the hate crime death of Marcelo Lucero, an Ecuadorian immigrant, in a nearby town. Because I chose to set the story on the East End of Long Island, NY, it was impossible to ignore the contrast between the ostentatious mansions by the ocean and the migrant workers standing on the side of the road each morning, waiting for work.

Q. The issue of suicide is touched on with Cassie, but not fully dealt with. Do you feel that books like Thirteen Reasons Why are exploring the topic or exploiting it?

A. I think works like Thirteen Reasons Why open up the opportunity for conversations between parents, school administrators, counselors, and teens to deal with real issues faced by teens.

Q. Did you have any personal or cultural inspiration for the relationship between Savannah and her parents, especially her father?

A. The original draft of the novel featured a subplot with Savannah and her mother, but I ended up cutting it after the book sold. It’s fair to say that while my teenage relationship with my father was not nearly as antagonistic as Savannah’s is with her dad, my dad has always been a huge champion of my athletic and artistic pursuits!

If Lessons in Falling is made into a movie, who do you envision in the lead roles?

Savannah–Willow Shields

Cassie–Sasha Pieterse

Marcos–Tyler Posey

Q. What can your readers look forward to from you next?

You can find me contributing humorous essays to websites like The Gymternet. In the meantime, I’m continuing to write more YA novels with sporty protagonists in complicated situations!

Comment on this post by Midnight 12/27/17 Mountain Time to be entered to win a signed copy of “Lesson in Falling.”

Tsundoku – a word for all bibliophiles

A dear friend gave me the book Lost in Translation. It’s full of interesting words in different languages that are unique to a specific language or culture.

Today, I’m sharing the word tsundoku which is a Japanese word for leaving a book unread. This basically describes my TBR shelves; yes I have more than one! 📚

I have read more books this year, than in recent memory, as I have more time now than I did previously. That does NOT mean my to-be-read pile is shrinking! It’s like a chacha – one step forward and two steps back! 📚📚📚📚📚

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

The book, “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” was a favorite of mine growing up. At the time Brooklyn didn’t have special meaning to me, more on this in a minute, but I loved the immigrant story in this and another cherished book “All of a Kind Family.” That book was closer to my own family’s story and I have fond memories of disappearing into these turn of the century worlds.

On my recent visit to spend time with my daughter who lives in Brooklyn, I took this photograph. Immediately, I was transported to my childhood room, where I spent many happy hours reading and escaping into historical fiction families. As I look forward to 2018, one of my reading goals will be to reread these gems.

American Writers Museum in Chicago

A visit to the American Writers Museum at 180 N Michigan Avenue in Chicago with a fellow writer is the source of renewed inspiration and energy for writing and reading.

The museum, which opened in May 2017, has a variety of exhibits including an entire room devoted to picture books with large displays of cover art and a library for families to enjoy reading time together.

A special exhibit dedicated to Laura Ingalls Wilder is captivating for anyone who has read the books, watched the TV show, or sees themselves as an explorer or pioneer. We were especially captivated by the panel about how Laura became the “eyes” for her older sister when Mary became blind from illness. This is likely the reason Laura became such a wonderful storyteller.

My friend and I were reminded of so many favorite books and authors from high school and college days, and were also surprised at how many more we need to explore.

It’s never too late

While visiting former colleagues last week, I saw this quote on the board in 7th grade. I’m a living example of this quote even though I’d never heard it before. Not that I wasn’t proud of my previous accomplishments, but the starting over part speaks loudly to me.

I’ve always been a fan of F. Scott Fitzgerald since reading The Great Gatsby in high school. After that, I devoured his other novels and short story collections.

My novel is set in Minnesota (his birthplace) and the high school is named for him. The main character is even reading one of his books. 😊📚