Reading in the Wild by Anne Ursu

Anne Ursu very eloquently expresses the value of books for kids.

Nerdy Book Club

A year ago, my little boy learned to read.


He’d been staring at books in his room at night all summer—way past when any respectable mother of a five-year-old would have declared lights out. I thought he was studying the pictures, and I figured any time spent with books was good. I had no idea he was actually reading them until one day he pointed at a road sign and exclaimed, “Bump!”


I loved watching him with books; I’d wanted him to be a reader so badly because I’d had such an intense relationship with books growing up. I was a shy, sensitive little kid, and as I got older, I was more and more bewildered by the vagaries of interpersonal relationships—but I was always at home in the pages of a book.  I read everything, all the time—my mom says on Friday afternoons I would disappear into…

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Alex Cavanaugh interview on blogging

Literary Rambles Interview

I recently read this post about blogging and have been thinking about it ever since.  The person being interviewed–and the one doing the interview, too–spends a lot of time reading and writing blogs.  When I started this, it was as a place to express my thoughts without having to tell anyone who knows me personally that I’m attempting to write a book.  It’s kind of an online journal, I guess.  And I do read a few other blogs, including Literary Rambles, where I found this interview.  And I wouldn’t mind starting conversations with others and making some new friends online.  But, I don’t have hours a day to devote to reading and writing and commenting on blogs.  So does that make me an inconsiderate blogger who should just quit now, before I offend anyone?


I’m having one of those days, the kind where you say, “What’s the point?”  Why have I wasted all these hours trying to write a book, when that book will never be good enough to be read?  I could have been doing so many other things with all those hours!

Then I started to list all those other things, and writing an unread novel didn’t seem quite so bad.  Instead of writing, I’d most likely have been watching mind-numbing television, or shopping for shoes I don’t really need, or cleaning windows, weeding my flower beds, or doing laundry.  Or reading a GOOD book or spending time with my family.  Other than the quality family time, and maybe the book, none of those is really worth regretting.  I feel better now.

This all started because I sent my newly revised first and second chapters to my critique partner for review.  I thought they were finished and fabulous.  She, of course, disagreed.  And curse her, as I always do, because she’s right.  I just have to remind myself that she didn’t say the chapters were hopeless–just not intense enough to make her want to read the rest of the book and somewhat “overdone.”

So, do I go back to work and revise some more, or do I buy a new pair of shoes tonight?

Another Confession

I have another confession to make.  I buy Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips and eat them like m&ms.  And sometimes, when I find dirty socks (I have two teenage boys) on the coffee table I can’t decide whether to use the dirty socks to dust the coffee table or just ignore both the dirty socks and the dust.

Okay, totally irrelevant, but I got that off my mind.

My book and I are on a break right now.  I finished a first draft and am setting it aside to look at it with fresh, more objective eyes in a few weeks.  In the meantime, I’m thinking about query letters and synopses.  I’ve been reading articles about how to write the query and synopsis, which is actually, I hope, going to be useful when I go back to the manuscript, because in order to write a synopsis or query, you have to think about the entire plot and how it progresses, as well as the character arcs, emotional development, the characters’ goals and the things that get in their way of achieving those goals, and all the other things that go into a complete novel.  If I can articulate those important aspects of my story now, I can recognize where there are holes in my draft—and fix them!

I know what I want this novel to do when it’s finished.  I want it to take the reader’s breath away, make readers FEEL what the main character feels, actually suffer with her and then find that ray of hope in the end that gives her the strength to know she’ll be okay.  I know.  It’s not much, but that’s the kind of book I like to read.

And speaking of that, while I’m on this break, I’ve been rereading YA novels that have a lot of flashbacks to study how the author handles entering and leaving flashbacks, since my story has lots of flashbacks (probably too many).  Most of these books—Between, Before I Fall, The Sky is Everywhere—I’ve read before and am just reading bits of now.  But one that I loved the first time I read it, I completely reread again, and I still love it.  The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith.  It’s been a quiet book, not a lot of buzz and not on the bestseller lists, but I fell hard for it.  I like the characters, liked the writing, maybe because her voice is kind of like the voice I hear in my own head, and I definitely rooted for them to get together in the end.  It’s a very satisfying story, with one of the best almost-kisses I’ve read recently.  Plus, it’s clean and I can recommend it to a grandma for her granddaughter, knowing there’s nothing “bad” in it except maybe a mild swear word (I don’t remember, maybe there isn’t even that.)

Have I mentioned that I own a bookstore?  That’s what I mean when I say I can recommend a book to grandmas. . . .  When they come into the store, looking for a book for their teenage granddaughter, it’s sometimes hard to find one that Grandma won’t be shocked by, if she happens to open it and read the first page.  More on the store some other day.