NaNoWriMo: The End. A Final Peptalk Link

Not everyone reaches the words “THE END” on November 30th. Even though it’s the last day of National Novel Writing Month, some of you are realizing that you still have 25,000 words to go. Or 50,000. Or 100,000.

That’s why I’m linking to this pep talk from the exceptional Marie Lu (writer of LEGEND and more). It’s an extra push to keep on going. Yes, 30 days in a row of writing is exhausting. But most of the time, it isn’t nearly enough.

Read this, find your fire, and move forward!

Three Books I’m Thankful For

FAHRENHEIT 451, for being a cornerstone of my life. For the constant reminder that language is magic. For the message that misery comes in many forms, that darkness can be created by fire, that sometimes the only to move forward is to destroy almost everything that was behind you. For the never ending inspiration.

FEED by M.T. Anderson, for its discussion of materialism and how easily some of us would sell our lives in exchange for constant entertainment. For reminding me of the difference between access to information and knowledge.

THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins, for pointing out that so many countries sacrifice their children to war and think little of it. For criticizing our ridiculous celebrity culture. For making my heart rate reach unhealthy levels.

AUDIO BOOK PREVIEW: SKIN DEEP by Brandon Sanderson (Courtesy of Audible.com)

Hey everyone! One of my favorite authors, Brandon Sanderson, has a new story coming out! As of today, it is available as a FREE AUDIOBOOK release from Audible.com. Follow this link to download your copy!

Here’s a 5 minute sample, narrated by the fantastic Oliver Wyman:

Brandon Sanderson is one of my favorite authors (see my review of STEELHEART here) and this new novella about a detective and his ghostly companions is sure to be another amazing tale.

Thank you to Esther Bochner of Audible for making this sample clip available.

Book Trailer: THE BLOOD OF OLYMPUS by Rick Riordan

Book Trailer: THE BLOOD OF OLYMPUS by Rick Riordan

I am always fascinated by how marketing teams use different covers for their novels. This book trailer from Puffin UK not only gives a great summary of the final book from Riordan’s latest series, but it also gives you a glimpse of the cover art chosen for the UK release of the novels.

Maryland’s Black Eyed Susan Reading Program 2014-2015: Part II

Maryland’s Black Eyed Susan Reading Program 2014-2015: Part II

Written by Grant Goodman, 11/16/2014

Part I of this article series is available here.

Today I’d like to focus on one of the ten chosen Black Eyed Susan novels for this school year.

The book in the spotlight is POISON by Bridget Zinn.

This review is going to be different from most reviews I write…mainly because I haven’t read this book yet. That being said, this book did something amazing this year, which makes it easy for me to recommend.

In order to fairly distribute my BES books, I raffle off my classroom library copies, since I only have one copy of each novel. When the winner of the POISON raffle finished reading the novel, he told me, “Mr. Goodman, I sat down on Saturday and read about 100 pages of the book without stopping…I haven’t done that in a long time.”

Isn’t that the best praise a YA novel can get?

Maryland’s Black Eyed Susan Reading Program: Part I

Maryland’s Black Eyed Susan Reading Program: Part I

Written by Grant Goodman, 11/16/2014

I’m lucky enough to work in a school where our reading programs are unbelievably successful. Our Media Center (the new term for libraries, for those who aren’t in the education world) participates in the state-wide Black Eyed Susan reading program.

Maryland has a committee of readers from around the state who spend time picking out 10 featured books for students to read. (There are 10 books for elementary school, 10 for middle, 10 for high school, and 10 graphic novels)

What I love is that there is a mix of genres every year, including supernatural, science-fiction, historical fiction, non-fiction, and poetry as prose.

They are all entertaining reads (though I will admit that some do skew younger than others) and if you’re looking for new reads, you’re bound to find a new author or two who will really impress you.

This year’s middle school list is as follows:

After Iris by Natasha Farrant

On the Day I Died: Stories from the Grave by Candace Fleming

The Neptune Project by Polly Holyoke

Titanic: Voices from the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson

Far Far Away by Tom McNeal

Eddie’s War by Carol Fisher Saller

Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

The Girl from Felony Bay by J.E. Thompson

Four Secrets by Margaret Willey

Poison by Bridget Zinn

NaNoWriMo Advice from Scott Westerfeld

11/12/2014

For those of you still keeping up with your daily writing, congratulations. While I’ve been successful with NaNoWriMo in the past, this year is definitely not my year.

For those of you who have only come across finished drafts of novels, this blog post from YA author Scott Westerfeld will give you a small glimpse into what it’s like to write your very first draft. It’s an ugly, ugly thing.

When we pick up novels from a store, we’re looking at polished, shimmering products. But if you take a look at how much work goes into making that happen…well, it’s a long, dark process.

Lemony Snickett on Writing a Novel

Some of you out there are currently wading through National Novel Writing Month. One of my absolute favorite parts of this month is that the NaNoWriMo crew gets authors to write pep talks.

A few years ago, they had some guy named John Green. They’ve had pieces from Neil Gaiman, Brandon Sanderson, and Veronica Roth.

The best one I’ve ever read, however, came from Lemony Snicket. It’s full of biting snark and surprisingly touching wisdom about what books can mean to us.

Even if you’re not in the midst of attempting to write 50,000 words this month, I think you’ll find it inspirational.

Check it out by clicking here.

The Hero’s Journey (Monomyth) in YA

The Hero’s Journey (Monomyth) in YA

Written by Grant Goodman, 11/4/2014

The Hero’s Journey (also called Monomyth) is a story pattern that appears again and again in literature and film. You can find it featured prominently in The Odyssey, The Princess Bride, and The Lion King, just to name a few.

While there are many “official” steps, here are the basics of what you need to know:

  1. The hero is forced to leave home to seek out adventure/a new life.
  2. Our hero meets a mentor or receives supernatural aid.
  3. There are several small challenges the hero must conquer.
  4. The hero experiences death and rebirth (not always literally, though).
  5. The power/skills necessary to succeed are finally mastered by the hero.
  6. The key obstacle is overcome or defeated, leaving the hero free to live without fear.

Here’s an example for you, which is a spoilerific romp through a certain wizard story you may have heard of, called HARRY POTTER.

Harry is whisked away to Hogwarts, where he must learn to cope with being a celebrity and the pressures of wizard school. He finds himself mentored by a series of wizards: Hagrid, Dumbledore, Sirius. In book after book, Harry must confront the growing threat of an ever more powerful Lord Voldemort, until eventually he faces the fully revived wizard. Harry experiences death at the hands of Voldemort, though he comes back to life. Harry, having overcome death and becoming the master of the Elder Wand, is able to end Voldemort’s uprising. He has removed the world’s greatest threat and is therefore able to go on living his life.

There are several other prominent titles that follow this model. Suzanne Collins’ GREGOR THE OVERLANDER, Ursula Le Guin’s A WIZARD OF EARTHSEA, and Christopher Paolini’s INHERITANCE CYCLE are a few more that come to mind.

The next time you’re making your way through a YA adventure novel, there’s a good chance you’re following one of the most widely used story patterns in human history.

Seal of Approval: EVERY DAY by David Levithan

Seal of Approval: EVERY DAY by David Levithan

“A” wakes up in a different body every day. He takes over some teen’s consciousness, spends a day, and then moves on to the next one. The process is, as far as A can tell, random. Sometimes A wakes up in a guy’s body, sometimes in a girl’s. It’s a life that’s not really a life at all, because A never gets to live out a full story. New day, new story.

The concept is brilliant. A has lived through a lot: dead end relationships, drug addicts, depressed teens. A doesn’t fully understand human connection, because he (or she or whatever) never stays in one place for long. His life changes when he meets Rhiannon and finally finds a real connection with someone.

EVERY DAY is a new spin on teen romance. A’s constant reincarnation is chaotic and his pursuit of Rhiannon is a seemingly impossible task. How can he manage to reach her when he’s someone new every single time?