Thursday, 25 February 2010

Increasing Length?

Even though I'm busier than ever this year, I'm still determined to read as many of the Whitney Award finalists as I can. I consider it a great privilege to be able to vote and I take it seriously. Right now I'm stuck in Undaunted. If I stay up for another 45 minutes or so, I should be able to finish it. The end is kind of dragging for me and I keep wanting to start another book, but I'm trying to be disciplined and read one book at a time. As it stands, I'm about half done the reading list.

Maybe it's because I have so many other things on my plate right now, but I'm convinced that the books (on average) are longer this year than last year. Maybe when life slows down a bit, I'll figure it out - just because I'm a little obsessive like that. Meanwhile, I'm off to go read into the wee hours of the morning. Tomorrow is just a bunch of housecleaning and I don't need to be totally awake for that, right?

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Journals and Bored Teenagers

On Sunday I had the opportunity to teach the Laurel class. The lesson went well if you consider a one-sided discussion a good lesson. My daughter is in that class and she told me later that I kept looking at her. I told her it was because I knew she had the answer - it didn't make her speak up. According it the Young Woman's president, their reaction was fairly standard. At the end of the lesson, I could only think how good it would be to return to Relief Society.

On the way out of the room, the YW's president stopped me and asked if I would be willing to teach a Tuesday night class on journaling to the group. My first question to her was to inquire as to whether I had to keep an active journal to take on the task. She said my name came to mind because I am the only writer she knows and she figured if anyone was going to keep a journal, it would be a writer.I told her to give me a few days to forget about the faraway looks and disinterested stares before and then I'd be happy to do it. It serves me right for thinking I could escape so easily.

I purchased my first journal on my ninth birthday with some money my great-grandmother gave me and the books have slowly been filling up ever since. To be honest, my journals are extensive and there are times when I faithfully wrote for years without missing a day. Now I'm more likely to go years without writing an entry. Since January I have been trying to record something every Sunday. It's nowhere near what I used to do, but it is something.

As I started thinking about journalling, I realized that journals of all sorts are completely integrated into my life. There is my personal journal - like I said, one entry a week. There is also the journal I take with me to church meetings to record impressions and thoughts (and yes, story ideas.) My writer's journal follows me everywhere and is filled with brief descriptions, story starters, newspaper articles that intrigue me and notes about stories in progress. I also have a school journal where I record brief entries about the assignment I'm working on, how I feel about the learning process and notes about things I need to do. There is also a scripture journal with insights and impressions from my study time, my day planner which has all sorts of nuggets about life in it, and the morning pages I write before I do my other work which contain some surprising nuggets of thought. And of course, there is this blog - which, like my personal journal, has been suffering some neglect, but I do intend to give it some loving attention.

So after some thought, I guess I am a prolific journal writer. It seems I am surrounded by efforts to leave some sort of record of my thoughts and insights. Some of these attempts are more neglected than others, though which one gets ignored always changes.

Now I need to figure out how to take the obsession I have with the written word and relay some of that to the girls. A simple lecture will leave them all snoring in their seats and if I ask for too many answers to too many questions, the girls are bound to get that blank look as their minds wandering far from the topic at hand.

A few vague concepts are floating around in my head, but I'm looking for ideas. How would you get sixteen and seventeen year old girls enthused about keeping a journal and present it in such a way that they all stay awake?

And since I still have a bunch of handmade journal/scrapbooks I made at Christmas time, lets turn this into a contest. There are several books left, so you may be able to pick the color you like. Everyone who comments with an idea for this presentation will be entered to win. If you mention this on Facebook, Twitter, or your blog you get another entry. I'll draw a name on March 1st.

Friday, 5 February 2010

2009 Whitney Award Finalists

Best Romance

Counting the Cost
Liz Adair

Illuminations of the Heart
Joyce dePastina

All the Stars in Heaven
Michele Paige Holmes

Santa Maybe
Aubery Mace

Previously Engaged
Elodia Strain

Best Mystery/Suspense

Traci Hunter Abramson

Methods of Madness
Stephanie Black

Murder by the Book
Betsy Brannon Green

Lemon Tart
Josi S. Kilpack

Altered State
Gregg Luke

Best Youth Fiction

Princess of the Midnight Ball
Jessica Day George

Fablehaven IV: Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary
James Dashner

My Fair Godmother
Janette Rallison

Bright Blue Miracle
Becca Wilhite

The Chosen One
Carol Lynch Williams

Best Speculative Fiction

Servant of a Dark God
Dan Brown

The Maze Runner
James Dashner

Aprilynne Pike

Brandon Sanderson

I am Not a Serial Killer
Dan Wells

Best Historical

Sandra Grey

The Undaunted
Gerald N. Lund

H.B. Moore

The Last Waltz
G.G. Vandagriff

In the Company of Angels
David Farland

Best General Fiction

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
Jamie Ford

No Going Back
Jonathon Langford

Gravity vs. the Girl
Riley Noehren

The Route
Gale Sears

Eyes Like Mine
Julie Wright

Lifetime Achievment Award

Gerald Lund

Oustanding Achievment Award

Dave Wolverton

Unlike previous years, no finalists are being announced for the two overall awards. Instead, the Whitney Academy can choose from any of the eligible finalists in any category. In other words, all of the novels listed above are still in the running for Best Novel of the Year.

Likewise, any of the above finalists that meet the eligibility requirements for Best Novel by a New Author can be chosen for that award. This year, the eligible books are:

  • Servant of a Dark God, by John Brown
  • Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, by Jamie Ford
  • No Going Back, by Jonathon Langford
  • Gravity vs. The Girl, by Riley Noehren
  • Wings, by Aprilynne Pike
  • I Am Not A Serial Killer, by Dan Wells
  • Bright Blue Miracle, by Becca Wilhite

Monday, 1 February 2010

A Little Busier

Starting today, my son and oldest daughter will be attending practices for a play. I knew my daughter would try out since she loves acting and singing. She was given the biggest part, although she was a little disappointed because it doesn't involve much singing. What really surprised me was my son auditioning.

When he was much younger, he suffered from terrible stage fright. During talks at primary, he would usually start giggling, then become more embarrassed and start crying. I can't count the number of talks I had to finish for him. Yet if you put him in costume, he seemed to be okay. I couldn't imagine how the audition would go, but apparently he was absolutely hilarious.

Anyway, it means we'll be listening to the music at home and helping kids read lines. Then there is the scheduling. My daughter needs to rearrange her schedule at work to accommodate practices. Luckily she has a great employer and this shouldn't be too much of a problem. The directors are also willing to give her a little leeway as well. I told her I would drive her to work on nights when she needs the extra half an hour to keep up with homework.

On top of it all, I am the costume director. Anyone have a few extra pirate costumes for teenagers just hanging in a closet somewhere? The performances will be May 12,13,14 but I want to have the costumes mostly finished by the end of March because April will be crazy with the writer's conference and Easter. As if we don't keep busy enough in our house. Should be a fun busy though.
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