Friday, August 4, 2017

My Dream Reading/Writing Area.

Booklovers' Rooms

Picture found at:

I was recently was thinking what my dream reading area or reading nook would look like.   I really put some thought into it.  I just returned last weekend from a three-week writing retreat at the Hermitage Artist Retreat. I had a cottage right on the beach. I could sit at my desk and listen to the waves. I could see the Gulf of Mexico from the window. If I looked out my side window across the street I could see the bay. I remembered how relaxed I was while I was there. So when Molly Kay from Arhaus started a conversation with me about books and my dream reading area I was brought back to those weeks.

My dream reading area would be a combination reading/writing room.  I would want as many windows in it as possible.  
Perry 54" Upholstered Chair in Thelma Sterling

I would want a chair I could curl up in with a book or my Kindle. The arms on this one curl outward just enough I'd probably add a pillow and curl to one side.  I used to think I would love to have a window seat to sit in and read.  However, my dream became bigger.  I want an oversized chair so I can snuggle up or curl up in it.  

Spinnaker Outdoor 56" Slipcovered Chaise in Sail Sailor

I would also love a chaise lounger for the same reason. Besides, it would be perfect for reading books to the grandkids. 

Industrial Flare Pendant in Antiqued Brass
For dreary days or nighttime, I would like pendant lights over each of my areas. Here are some more hanging lights from Arhaus.

I want the reading area on one side of the room and the writing area on the other side. Of course, I definitely need walls of bookcases.  If you would like to get an idea of what I would like my dream reading/writing place to look like then visit my Pinterest page.  I have a board for it. I’m sure I’ll add more to it as I find other items that would possibly become part of that dream.  You will notice that I am going for kind of a beachy feel. I want it really light in color. I think I would stick with that even if I lived in the woods. I want it to feel open and airy. I want to feel like I am sitting out in nature while I am actually inside.   I want really deep porches around the entire house. I would like to create a reading area out there as well.  Now I need to find a writing table that will fit over the chaise so that I can really relax while I sit back and write.

What about you? Do you have an idea of what you would like your dream reading or writing area to look like?  If so leave a description or a link to pictures that show your dream.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Guest Post from J.T. Bishop

I have always been fascinated with the unknown. From a young age, I’ve questioned where we come from, why we do things, what motivates us. Growing older, those questions grew to what happens after we die, where are those loved ones who’ve crossed over? Can we talk to them? And what about life on other planets? Do they exist and do they visit us? What is the explanation for those strange lights in the sky that can’t be explained?

Lots of questions, but not a lot of answers. Just based on my own experience and gut instincts, I do believe there is life after death. I do believe our loved ones are with us after they die and I do believe there is life on other planets. These ideas spur my writing and inspire me. They allow me an open range of possibilities where I can create a world of possibilities.

In 2012, I saw a Facebook video that theorized the origins of our planet. It discussed how earth was a gathering place of extraterrestrials thousands of years ago. They would gather here to meet and exchange ideas. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but it got me to thinking. What if they were still here? What if extraterrestrials walked among us and we didn’t know it? What would their story be?
And I started writing. The idea spawned four books with a fifth one coming in September plus a sixth in the works. I love creating a world of unique individuals that deal with their own special skill set, while living among those that don’t know who they are or what they’re capable of. And then to put that set of characters into a challenging set of circumstances that only they can deal with, that requires them to rely on each other, even when they have their own interpersonal issues just like everyone else.

It’s been a fun ride. I love the thrill of a great idea flowing through my fingers and into the keyboard. It came naturally to me as if the story was looking for a landing place and it found me. I may have dabbled in writing before, but now it’s in my bones. Finding that inspiration made all the difference.
And now as I promote my fourth book, and begin to prepare for the launch of my fifth, I have found the fun in adding in a little murder mystery on top of everything else. A little whodunit ramps up the suspense and creates an additional tension among my group of earthly extraterrestrials.

So my question to you is, what inspires you? Do you act on it? Do you read about it? You are likely compelled to read certain books. What gets your juices flowing? I would guess that most writers write about what compels them. Otherwise, why write? Can you tell the difference between an inspired story and one that is not? My guess is you can.

So take a moment to think about your favorite books. What was it about them that stirred you? That left you wanting more? Comment below and let me know. Was it the characters? The mystery? The unknown? And maybe one day, if I’m lucky, one of my stories will join the list.

About the Author
Born and raised in Dallas, TX, J. T. Bishop began writing in 2012. Inspired by a video that theorized the meaning of the end of the Mayan calendar, J. T. began the Red-Line trilogy. The video surmised that the earth was the central hub of activity for extraterrestrials thousands of years ago. J.T. didn’t know whether that was true or not, but it did spawn an idea. What if those extraterrestrials were still here? Two years and a lot of work later, the first three Red-Line books were complete, but she’s not done. The Red-Line saga develops as she continues to write new books.

Buy link for Curse Breaker

Thursday, July 6, 2017

When Work Gets in Your Way or How to Forget to Post Reviews You Wrote

Every year I find reviews that I had written and never posted. How does that happen you ask? Well usually it happens when I have had a couple of days of downtime and tell my family that I am going to work on my book stack. My days are finished I go back to work and think to myself, "Well, I have an extra ten minutes of my planning period. I think I'll try to work on reviews for the books I read this weekend. "  Along the way the pages get ripped from my notebook and put into my calendar to be typed up. They get moved from there to any number of places and then forgotten. As I do every year at the end of the year I try to organize and clean up before I leave school.  When I am finally home I begin to do the same thing, clean and organize things on my bookshelves, my notebooks, and folders.
In this case, I was going through my composition notebooks preparing for my writing retreat and came across all types of papers. Some were notes to go into my writing notebook and some were school papers I'd scribbled a valuable writing idea on and kept the whole paper until I could transfer that small idea. In the midst of all of those papers I found not one book review, but ten I had written and never typed up.  So, I might as well get them up now. I have a couple of other books that when I see them on my TBR list I keep searching for their review because I've read the book but can't find where I wrote the review, and I know I wrote it.  Guess I need to just rewrite them and post them, because who knows when or where I will find them?  I hope you enjoy these reviews. These have been some of the most popular books in my classroom or with other teachers in my school.

Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery
Source: Classroom shelves

This series has been one of my favorite. It is also one of the most stolen series in my classroom. I don’t know if they are keeping them, passing them on and they never return or what. I have bought this entire series twice just this year. Desires of the Dead is the second book in the Body Finder series. Violet has always been able to locate dead bodies. That doesn’t mean she can go into a graveyard blind folded and point them out. I’m talking about those bodies that have been disposed of.  Her family has been very supportive as has her boyfriend Jay.  This “gift” has been passed down in her family.  Unfortunately, in this book she has two people after her, the FBI and a creepy stalker. We see her relationship with Jay build, we meet new characters, Rafe and others. We see the toll this “gift” take on her and her relationships.  This is a series I would definitely recommend to more mature readers. On my shelves this one required parental permission because of some of the content and the fact I was teaching 6th graders.  I definitely recommend this book.

Skull Creek Stakeout by Eddie Jones
Genre: Middle Grade, Mystery
Source: Classroom Shelves

This is the second book in the Caden Chronicles and is what I call a clean read. Nick Caden has so many qualities for a reader to like. First and most important to me he loves to solve mysteries. He is trying to discover who murdered a man found dead on a golf course. As a fourteen year-old boy, Nick is a very likeable character for all ages who read this book.  My students will love the fact that he puts himself in danger to solve murders. In this book they will love the creep factor of an old mansion. Who wouldn’t feel creeped out if locked in a creepy old mansion? Dead Low Tied is the third book in this series. I have not yet read it, but it will be purchased for my shelves at school. If you have read any of Max Elliot Anderson’s “Sam Cooper” books you will definitely enjoy this series. Highly recommended and on the to be purchased list for my granddaughter for Christmas.

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Source: Classroom Shelves

As so often happens I plan on reading a book, but because of all the hype behind it my students get before me. It doesn’t matter I have four copies of this book on my shelves. That just meant more students would get their hands on it. I will always let a student read it first unless they find it on my desk because I am trying to read it for a requested review from the author. Okay, sometimes I let them read it before me.  This book was awesome. In this conclusion to the trilogy we find those we loved throughout the books coping. They are coping with the devastation of a war that was largely thrust upon them. They are coping with physical and mental loss.  One thing I really loved about this book is that the author didn’t take the easy way out. She lets us see the effects war has on all parties and how each deals with it. She tied everything up neatly, yet for some they will hate the ending. Me, I loved it. Everyone wants a happily ever after ending. But, this is a realistic outcome.  I like that even better. It makes it relatable to everyone. Listening to my students talk about the book before I could read it and seeing the connections they made to real life and how something like this could really happen opened my eyes to how deep some of my students are.  Books like this make them really think about their future. That is why I loved this book and will continue to recommend it to my students.

The Cassini Code – Dom Testa

Genre: Middle Grade, Young Adult Science Fiction
Source: Classroom Shelves

The Cassini Code is the third book in The Galahad series. If you haven’t read the first two you must. I’ve had this book on my shelves for quite some time. The problem has been my students have had it checked out so much I’d not gotten to it. I took advantage of it coming in on a Friday to read it. Each book in the series seems to be better than the previous one. That to me is amazing since the first book has long been one of my favorites.  It becomes very obvious why Triana was chosen as leader. We have a new leader emerging. Merit has started a movement to return to Earth.  This discord keeps the tension going throughout the book. We have the same excellence with all of the other characters we’ve come to love, or hate and those who are freshly introduced to us.  My favorite is and probably always will be ROC. If you don’t know who this is then you definitely need to get the series and read it.

The Night Fairy by Laura Amy Schlit
Genre: Children, Middle Grade, Fantasy
Source: Classroom Shelves

I first purchased this book because of the cover. That rarely happens. This is a beautiful book both in story and the pictures within. Flory, a night fairy has lost her wings in a tragic accident. For most fairies this would have caused them to give up. Not so with Flory. She can’t fly, but she can survive and make the best of the situation. She makes friends with a squirrel and goes about life the best she can. Her one dream is to be able to fly again. This is a hopeful book, full of adventure. I am sure it will be loved by all who read it.

The Real Boy  by Anne Ursu

Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Source: Classroom Shelves

Oscar works for the magician Caleb. He works in the basement. He strikes up a friendship with Callie who is an apprentice to the village healer.  He is constantly tormented and put down by Wolf who also works for Caleb and thinks himself so much better than Caleb. One day Caleb disappears and Wolf gets killed. This means that Caleb must leave the basement and wait on the customers. He is shy and backwards, yet he truly has a gift. When the children of the village get very sick, Callie and Caleb set out to find out why, and to solve the problem. I loved the feeling of being vulnerable the author created with Caleb. With the boy ‘Wolf’ she created a perfect bully. One the reader could easily despise. Caleb is happy staying out of everyone’s way in the basement. He reads at night when he’s had nightmares. He waits until everyone is in bed then he sneaks into the Magician’s library and reads.  There is plenty of adventure and suspense in the book to keep you reading. The best part about all of it is the ending you don’t see coming.  This was one book that was consistently checked out of my classroom this last year.  Such an awesome and fun book to read.

Tuesdays at the Castle – Jessica Day George
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Source: Classroom Shelves

I absolutely loved this book. To me Castle Glower was almost like a character itself.  On Tuesday’s in particular the castle would get bored and create a new and hidden room. For our main character, eleven year old Celie would be off exploring the new addition. When Celie’s oldest brother graduates Wizard school her parents go off for his graduation.  This leaves siblings Celie, Rolf, and Lilah in the castle alone. Their parents are attacked on their journey and word gets back that they have been killed. As people from other lands come to pay their respect it becomes clear they are there also in the hopes of obtaining the kingdom. What they don’t realize is that this magical castle hasn’t changed anything in the king and queen’s suite and this lead the children to believe their parents are not dead. With the castle’s help they will defend their kingdom at all cost. This is a wonderfully, adventurous book to read. I really need to read the other books in the series.

Everyday Editing by Jeff Anderson
Genre: Adult, Informational, Educational
Source: I purchased

Most books I have purchased in the past along this line give students sentences to correct. Jeff on the other hand has taken sentences from great works and used them to teach students.  These are mentor texts.  You can take examples he has there and use them in your classroom.  Great examples to help you with your classroom writer’s workshop.

Polishing the PUGS by Kathy Ide
Genre: Adult, Informational, Educational
Source: I purchased

PUGS, in case you were unfamiliar with this acronym stands for punctuation, Usage, Grammar, and Spelling. Kathy Ide has taken information teachers are always searching for and placed in one book to make a great resource.  I have recommended this to other teachers. However, I find this most useful for my own writing. This should be on every writer’s bookshelves.

Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller
Genre: Adult, Educational
Source: I purchased

Donalyn is by far one of my favorite authors when it comes to reading about ways to inspire kids to learn to love reading. I purchased this book and addedbook she makes recommendations about the right way to encourage students to read, the right way to recommend books and genres. The right way to make sure your kids are reading “in the wild”, when they are away from you, instead of only when they are in your class.  This should be a must read for all beginning teachers no matter what subject they teach. In the real world of teaching, no matter what subject you teach, if your student can’t read well then they won’t really do well in any of their classes. All subjects require the ability to read and comprehend.  Put this on your list of must read books for this year.