Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy ThanksHallowChrisGiving!

While I was cooking the turkey this beautiful Thanksgiving Day, my kids went out to walk the dog and found this pumpkin behind someone's car tire, probably poised for a messy prank. They brought it home and carved a Christmas tree on the front, combining all their favorite fall holidays and creating ThanksHallowChrisGiving! 

I'm glad they are so easily entertained. Or maybe the tryptophan is going to their brains.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!    

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Cinquain Chains

The following is an excerpt from my SECRET LANGUAGE OF STORIES column over at the Spellbinders Blog.

Last month in my SECRET LANGUAGE OF STORIES column I discussed The Major Impact of Minor Characters and gave suggestions for several short forms that could be used to explore them such as the epigram and the epitaph. A fun activity making headstones was described.

Another short form I enjoy is the cinquain. Cinquains are also a great way to explore characters. They are short, just five lines long as the name illustrates, so it's important to capture the essence of a character with as few words as possible. It's also a good activity for students who struggle with written language.

Writing character cinquains can be part of a book report or a stand alone activity. They can be used to create a "cast of characters" and because so much white space is left on the page, other artwork may accompany the project.

Because it's a poem, ideas are more important than grammar and punctuation. Ironically though, students are still exploring grammar because the cinquain focuses on using parts of speech to create each line.

To read about the basic format of the cinquain and to find an example of a cinquain chain from my verse novel FORGET ME NOT, check out the rest of my article over at the Spellbinders Blog. .

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Fantasy Sub-genres

This post is an excerpt from this week's Spellbinders feature article. Spellbinders is a newsletter and blog designed to help teachers and librarians build life-long readers. To read the entire article go to the Spellbinders blog.

This interview is a continuation of my discussion with bookseller Elizabeth Anker about fantasy sub-genres. She is the owner of Alamosa Books here in Albuquerque, NM. To read her thoughts on Science Fiction vs. Fantasy see the October Feature Article.

I asked Elizabeth about dystopian fantasy and said she believes dystopian looks at the future as an examination of political structures. In utopia everything is perfect. Dystopia turns everything on its head. Usually a totalitarian and authoritarian government is involved and the story is set in a future that is often post apocalyptic. Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is the most popular example of dystopian fiction.

Elizabeth said she was personally tired of the genre because as it continues and people write more of it there is far less explanation of why the future described in the book is happening and how the events affect our world at large. These weaker stories tend to focus on a few teens struggling to survive and rely on super powers to explain things.

In discussing other sub genres of fantasy, Elizabeth pointed out that just about any magical creature you can think of has its own series: vampires, werewolves, and even angels.

Scott Westerfeld, author of the Leviathan series, explores zombies, vampires, and classic fantasy creatures by explaining their biology and origin in scientific terms. He tends to fall in her science fiction shelves. For an interesting discussion of the difference between fantasy and science fiction, see our October Feature Article.

To read the rest of this article go to my Spellbinders post on Fantasy Sub-genres.

Saturday, November 3, 2012


I'm currently in St. Louis at the YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) Symposium. I'm meeting amazing librarians and conducting a panel with four fabulous New Mexico authors at 1:30 on Saturday! See the details below:


YALSA Author Panel

St. Louis, Missouri - November 3, 2012


A Matter of Facts and Fiction:

Giving Teens a Research Edge through YA Author Panels

Program Description: Five New Mexico authors will present a pilot program that brings teens and authors together to explore research strategies for writing fiction and nonfiction in a digital world.  The authors will discuss collaboration among libraries, bookstores, educators, and local authors to create dynamic interactive school events designed to excite teens about becoming research detectives, and inspire teachers to link YA fiction with curriculum goals and objectives.

To find out more about the authors on the panel and to explore the handouts for this presentation, go to the tab on this blog under YALSA Author Research Panel