Choosing a Book, Part 2

Lists are a great way to find more books to read—especially if you can find annotated lists that give you a sentence or two about the books on the list.

One of my favorite places to look at lists is the ALA (American Library Association) website. Each year the ALA produces many lists for teen readers. You can find the ALA lists here.

The 2010 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults list has many good books.  Try Ship Breaker, Trash, Bamboo People, or Revolver. 

Or try Unwind, Tantalize, or Leviathan from the Top Ten Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults.

Quick Picks, the Alex Awards, the Printz, and the Newbery are all listed on the site.  Check them out.

Writing Every Day

My goal for NaNoWriMo is 200 words a day. It’s not a very large goal, but it’s one that allows me to keep thinking about my story and keep discovering what it’s about and who my characters are. It’s a goal that’s possible no matter how busy I am with other things. And by the end of November, I’ll have plot elements and characters to work with and begin shaping into a real novel.

 When I know I’m going to write every day, I find that I am always thinking about my story and characters. I see things during the day that influence and inform what I’m writing. I write notes to myself to remind me to write a particular scene. My notebook right now has this list:

 beach
slide
kennel—where dog is—what are you going to get?
church
chores
cow pound
video—there is a house

Each day when I sit down to write my 200 words, I choose one of these and write to describe my character in this place. Every day as I go through the day, I add to my list.

Prompts are another way to get into a story. I use prompts to discover action or to find out more about my character. Here are some prompts that I use over and over. Sometimes I use them as starters for the next section of a story. Sometimes I write them from the point of view of a character as though he/she is saying or writing it. Try these when you’re stuck and see if you can write 200 words!

I love the smell of…
It always seemed so far away…
You can’t be serious…
I wish I never…
I knew I could…
I could never forget…
When the house was quiet…

Don’t worry about how this section will fit into your story. As you keep working and keep thinking, you will figure that out.

I’m ahead of my NaNoWriMo goals. How are you doing?

Choosing a Book, Part 1

Unless you have a particular title in mind or you have an author whose work you follow, walking into a bookstore or library can be overwhelming. There are so many books to choose from. How do you pick?

 Even though you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, the cover is a big part of its advertising. Pictures, colors, mood all play into whether you think a particular book is for you.

 One thing I do is to keep a small notebook with me all the time. I write down books I hear about from friends or reviews or NPR. I write down when books by my favorite authors are coming out so I can look for them when it’s time.

 Another way I find good books is that I read several authors blogs. They often talk about books they like which sound good to me. Two blogs I especially follow are by two of my friends and are both specifically to recommend books. One is by author Debbi Michiko Florence called Debtastic Reviews. Since Debbi and I have a similar taste in books, I like seeing what she recommends. Another is Jennifer Recommends written by an agent and bookseller. Jenn recommends adult books as well as middle grade and young adult and makes them all sound so good I have to find them.

 Next time you’re looking for a recommendation, check out these two sites!