Thursday, January 14, 2016

Recent Reads

With thrills, chills, and laughs on every page, this fourth book in the tween series "sure to please young readers looking for a thrill" (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) follows three monster-obsessed best friends on a trip to a haunted Mexican pyramid.

The Three Monsterteers—Nick, Carter, and Angelo—have defeated the Zombie King, taken down a mad scientist, and even squared off with their own evil twins. But all that pales in comparison to the trio's latest monster mystery, which begins with a family trip to Mexico to explore some forgotten Mayan pyramids alongside a group of archaeologists.

When the boys arrive at the archaeological site, they learn of a previous expedition that vanished into these very pyramids fifty years ago. Angelo is convinced that aliens must have been involved, but Nick starts to suspect that the disappearance had more to do with an ancient Mayan curse—one that may still hang over the ruins today. Using their knowledge of real Mayan mythology, the three friends must unravel the secret history of the curse—before someone very close to Nick ends up trapped in the underworld forever.

With the same "mix of creepy chills and laugh-out-loud humor" that made bestselling author James Dashner call Zombie Kid "the perfect book," this fourth book in the Case File 13 series will leave you rolling in your tomb.

5 out of 5 stars

My son and I really enjoyed reading this book together. It had dangerous adventures, brave monster hunters, and lots of laughs. This is the fourth book in the series, but it can stand alone. I'd recommend it for third to fifth graders, or as a read aloud as a family (which is what we did). 


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Improving My Plot

I took a bit of a hiatus from writing recently to figure out some writing concepts I’ve struggled with. While my word count hasn’t increased much, my understanding of writing has.

I hope.

My studies focused mostly on plot. What it is? How do I find it? How do I take the mess that is my story and structure it?

After reading several posts and books, and watching some lectures on the subject I’ve learned a few things:

Everyone has a different method. While that may overwhelm you while studying, it can actually help you figure out your unique process. Take what works from each source, and leave the rest.

If trying to structure you novel before its written keeps you frozen and unable to write, ditch the outline for later. Get those ideas down.

Also, study more than one way of plotting. You never know what will finally click.

For example, I have struggled with understanding how to plot and organize various plots and subplots in my work. Then I watched Dan Wells’ Seven-Point Story Structure on Youtube, and wham, it started to make sense.

A writing friend recommended Libbie Hawker’s  Take Off Your Pants!, and figuring out my story purpose and overall arch is no longer a great mystery of the universe.

Jack Bickham’s Scene & Structure, which I’m currently studying, has helped me start to organize my scenes so they actually have a clear purpose. I have rambling writing syndrome, so this has helped me streamline my thoughts a little better.

I’m still working on improving in all these areas, and getting back into writing regularly has been a bit of a pain, but I now have a better idea of how to write. Or, at least, one aspect of how to write. There are many, many more for me to learn.

Although, next time I don’t think I’ll stop writing while I learn them. Live and learn. J

What plotting methods have you found work best? Do you plot before or after your first draft?

Happy Writing!