By the time most of you read this I will be on the open road! I’m headed to New Jersey for my cousin’s wedding, and then it’s off to Ocean City to catch some serious rays, do a bit of writing and reading, and just RELAX. I’ll be around while I’m gone because, in all honesty, blogging and being on Twitter IS how I relax. I’m excited to get more time to do it.
So, here’s what we’re going to talk about today:
I love, love, LOVE it when I get blog awards, even though I usually don’t follow the rules when I get them. But I think I will for this one because I really want to highlight some people for all the help they’ve given me with my writing.
On June 11, I got the Booker Award from Valerie Lawson. All I can say is, THANK YOU. Seriously. I mean that.
As always, these things come with rules:
- This award is for book bloggers only. To receive this award, the blog must be at least 50% about books (reading and writing is okay too). [That addendum is what saved me!]
- Along with receiving this award, you must also share your top five favorite books that you’ve ever read. (More than five is okay.)
- You must give this award to 5-10 other lucky book blogs that you adore. [I’m sending it off to bloggers that have truly helped me as a writer.]
This first rule almost broke me. I would imagine it’s like choosing between your children. But I’m determined to be on the straight and narrow this time. I always feel strange picking those books. You know the ones – the popular ones, the ones that everyone has read. Like it’s a bad thing that my favorite books are the favorite books of millions of other people. But, you know what? They’re our favorites for a reason, and I’m picking them!
In no particular order:
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling. You didn’t think I’d leave Harry Potter off this list did you? I chose this book because it is both the high and the low of the series, all wrapped up in a message so poignant that it brings me to tears every time I read it. It’s the low because it’s in this book that we find Harry broken and beaten and defeated. But it’s also the place where we learn that good always defeats evil and love truly conquers all.
- The Great Tree of Avalon: The Eternal Flame by T.A. Barron. This book takes place after the Merlin series by the same author. It’s set in a different but related place. I picked this book because the message of the author is so loud and clear to me: humans don’t always do the right thing. That is to say, what we think is best for ourselves isn’t always the best for fellow animals or the earth, and that we have a responsibility to choose our actions carefully in order to keep the peace between not only ourselves, but all living creatures. It’s a message that I have unknowingly included in many of my own stories because it is so important to me.
- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. This will always be my favorite book out of the trilogy. Collins tells a story that is so believable it puts knots in my stomach. This could happen. In fact, not only could this happen, but it might happen. This book is so real because everything about it is plausible – our world is becoming a scary place and Collins told us just one of the ways that our collective story could unfold.
- Fire Bringer by David Clement-Davies. This story is an allegory and the moral is as shining and as bright as the sun. It’s beautifully written from the perspective of a deer – yes, a deer. But you know what? Replace the animal bodies with human ones and the antlers with swords, and you have an age-old story about conflict, corruption, and morality. It’s a good story on the surface, but if you want to dig deep, there’s a wonderfully philosophical tale there too.
- Speak You Also by Paul Steinberg. This isn’t a book for some light reading – it’s a memoir by Steinberg about his time in Auschwitz during WWII. It was his “response” to Survival in Auschwitz by Primo Levi. Here’s the first paragraph from the back of the book, as it sums it up so perfectly: “Arrested in Paris in 1943, the sixteen-year-old Steinberg was deported to Auschwitz. As a chemistry student, he was assigned to work in the camp’s laboratory alongside Primo Levi, who would later immortalize him as ‘Henri,’ the prisoner who clung to his life at the cost of his own humanity in Survival in Auschwitz. Fifty years later, in this unsparing act of self-examination, Steinberg ultimately confirms Levi’s judgment of him: ‘Probably I was that creature, prepared to use whatever means I had available.’ But he asks, ‘Is it so wrong to survive?’”
Again, in no particular order, here are the people who have helped me so much in terms of my writing.
- Matthew Wright has a great series he calls Worldbuilding, in which he talks about Tolkein a lot all the little things you can do to make your story more authentic and visceral. He’s got a lot of quick and dirty tips for authors of all genres. And he isn’t just some Joe-Schmoe who blogs because he can. He blogs because he knows. (Seriously, the stack of his published works is probably taller than me. And I’m often referred to at work as the “Amazon Girl,” so that’s saying something.) Here’s one of the posts that helped me out recently.
- Kristen Lamb. Need I say more? Not only has she written two fabulous books (Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer and We Are Not Alone-The Writer’s Guide to Social Media), but she understands what the average writer goes through. She helps us tame the social media dragons and reminds us all to laugh once in a while. This woman speaks truth and this post right here literally changed the way I look at myself as a writer.
- Marcy Kennedy’s blog is one of the more unique ones I’ve come across. She picks themes and ideas from movies and TV shows and relates them so well to life. Not only life, but the life of a writer. One of the posts that helped me the most was the one about how to keep strong female characters likeable. Incidentally, it’s also the one that got me to start watching Battlestar Galactica.
- Next up is Julie Glover and her awesome posts on grammar. No one can know all the rules and – let’s face it – English is hard. It’s complicated and, frankly, it doesn’t always make sense. But Julie makes it easy! And she’s definitely taught me a thing or two. Here’s one of my favorite posts, written by Professor Punctuation!
- I’ll round off the list with Kait Nolan/A Round of Words in 80 Days. If you’re unfamiliar, this is a writing challenge that happens throughout the year. Writers list their goals and get together with other participants for the sake of accountability. We check in once or twice a week (it’s up to you), and tell everyone how we’ve done. I know how it sounds – just something else to add to the list. But it’s not. The support that I receive from my fellow ROWers is unbelievable. I hate that feeling of letting someone down, so it really drives me forward with my writing. I also like schedules, so this way I can draw up a list of goals, put them on the calendar, and see how much I can accomplish in a few months’ time. Each week one of the sponsors puts together a post to help us with our writing. Of particular interest was this one about how there just one single thing you can do to guarantee you’ll reach your goals: write!
Once again I would love to thank Valerie for giving me this award. You can check out my new shiny on that sidebar to the left. I’d also like to thank the other bloggers that I mentioned above, as well as the ones that I follow regularly. You’re all an inspiration to me and each of you has had a hand in helping me to become a better writer. I hope to have just a fraction of your awesomeness some day.