All my writer buds are picking words. I know what you’re thinking. Writer’s pick words all the time–lots of them. It’s part of the job description. But this is different, everyone is talking about a mantra, goal or intention for the year. I LOVE this. And now I want a word too. An inspirational word is sooooo much better than a resolution, right?
As you might guess, picking one word to encompass a year’s worth of living is a challenge. As soon as I started to think about it, words began flying at me from every direction. Amazing, fabulous, exciting applicable words, but one stuck out.
internalize: to make (something, such as an idea or an attitude)
an important part of the kind of person you are
Why is this my word for 2015? Here are some of the random thoughts that connect the dots for me…
*Writing great books has to come from within. The true motivation can not be about my place in publishing. It can only come from knowing my own place in the world.
*What is inside of me is not contained within another person. It is my obligation to bring my unique voice to the table, where it can eventually move outward and connect with readers. This outward movement of my thoughts can only START from within.
*When I read books by A.S. King, I understand what it means to internalize the human condition and then share it with the world. Her books inspire me to pay attention to what is inside of me. I find the unique way she internalizes her thoughts to be fascinating and I want to be able to do that in my own right.
*I need to remember to slow down and move inward more often. The world moves at a speed that is almost incomprehensible. I need time and space to sift through the embers and fan the sparks. Day dreaming is a valuable use of my time despite what the rest of the world might think. I will not give it up.
*Making time to read more and more good books is not only a pleasure, but a catalyst for shaking up the things I have inside that have not yet marinated enough to be sufficiently internalized.
*Internalization is another word for truth in my twisted mind. I might be able to lie to everyone else and I may be able to pretend to lie to myself, but deep inside I always know the truth about me. Internalization is the brave acceptance of an undeniable truth.
*The “rules” I need to follow in the writing game are unfortunately always changing for me. What works one week may not work the next. Instead of letting that rock my boat, I need to understand that at my core, my needs are fluid. And because I truly can’t lie to myself (see above) I know when I’m living up to my own writerly potential. It is not healthy to compare my journey with anyone else’s. Internalizing this means knowing when to push and knowing when to cut myself a break.
I’m sure I could write ten more of these, maybe even twenty. The more I internalize one deep thought, the quicker another one steps into the periphery of my mind, reinforcing my word choice for 2015. I’m looking forward to next year already. This word thing is going to be addictive.
Did you pick a word for 2015? If you did, I hope you’ll share. If you haven’t, it’s never too late–words are free. And freeing.
Today it’s been a decade since my dad died. At first I started to say it’s been ten years since I lost him, but that didn’t sound right. As much as I miss him, I never feel as if I’ve “lost” him. He never seems absent to me. Rather it feels as if our relationship has been altered to fit our new circumstances–like he’s crossed through a magical wardrobe or passed through a wrinkle in time. He’s no longer huggable, which is a definite downside to this phase in our relationship, but the trade off is that there’s a fluid, intuitive connection between us that exceeds what we had when we were just an arms length away. But despite the continued love between us, I really miss having him here.
In memory of my “old life” with my Dad, my husband helped me find this video. It reminds me of why his absence still feels so big–he’d always showed up in a million small places. He was this guy for so many of us. He’s my role model.
Love you and miss you Dad. <3
Today in the comments, please celebrate someone living who is doing the little things that mean the most.
Happy New Year and don’t forget what’s important in 2015.
Because I believe…
If you get lost, you can always be found.
Just know you’re not alone.
Cause I’m gonna make this place your home.
Today my heart is happy. Hope yours is too.
Life with Riley is starting to get a little bit more sane LOL! A little bit–he’s still a potty-training, chewing, puppy. But he’s quietly crating for about seven hours at night and ME getting a humane amount of sleep makes all the difference. He’s also learning to respond to his name, sit and go down on cue. He’s learning what off means and thankfully he hasn’t tested it too much at this point. Additionally he’s got a decent grasp of what easy and gentle mean and I’m happy to report he’s pretty darn good with his deposites. *fist pump*
As you can see, we wear each other out some days. And even though I have to remind myself how far we’ve come in a week, I try to not get my panties in a twist about how much there still is to work on. I try to visualize the dog he will become when we’ve got the kinks worked out. It’s exciting to contemplate. I’m a behaviorist at heart and training him has it’s own special kind of rewards for me. But even though I’m pretty good at operant conditioning, I still get frustrated some days, but I’m learning to watch him closely–so I can “hear” what he’s saying. It’s all part of training positively. And you’re going to hear me talk about this a bit in the future and how it pertains to writing because my mind (what little I have left) is spinning at the implications. But even though I’m having a sleepy puppy moment right now in which to blog…
And that means I have a TON of other things to get done that just can’t wait. So, hold that thought. Enjoy your Christmas and I’ll be back here over the holidays if I can. But you can be sure you’ll see my in 2015 <3
What are your big plans for the Holiday?
Riley is here!!! We got him on Friday and it’s been a whirlwind ever since. I’m tired and inspired. I’m in love with his little face and his adorable personality and extremely sweet temperament. But I miss sleeping and peeing by myself LOL! Knowing what it’s like to take care of a “baby” again isn’t the same as actually doing it. *sigh* But here’s the really good news. I’m very glad I we brought home this puppy. I have a feeling that with the right love, training and diligence, we’ll get everything sorted out in a reasonable amount of time. This cute little face was on the bucket list of FIVE people in my house. That’s a really good reason to make some sacrifices. No one ever died wishing for cleaner carpets and less unconditional love. And although I really like to sleep (a lot) I’m still pretty sure I won’t be wishing for more Zzzz’s when my ticker stops ticking. So, if everyone can bear with my occasional sleep deprived rants and my Oh-My-God-I’ve-Never-Owned-A-Dog-Now-What-Do-I-Do panic attacks, then I think everything will be okay. *paws crossed* Now it’s time to introduce you to Riley…
Fresh out of the car after a two hour ride home. (He was a champ BTW)
Exploring the landscape.
We’ve gotten quite close–he wants to sleep wherever he can touch my foot. <3
Riley gave up after all that playing. Just couldn’t make it up the driveway.
But he had enough energy to be grateful I carried him up the rest of the way LOL!
But if you think we wore out that puppy, you should see what the puppy did to the 11yo in the middle of decorating the tree Zzzzzzz…
And BTW–I can’t believe I was even able to write a blog post for today. So, yay for that! What have you been up to besides writing and sleeping LOL!
Back in the day–we’ll if I’m honest, back not so many days ago–I would’ve told you I’d NEVER be a dog owner. And now, here I am, chewing at the bit to go pick up my 9 week old German Shepherd puppy. There was a conspiracy against me and YOU know who you are. *points finger* But despite my initial 44 and half years of dog ownership reservations, I’m actually very excited that I’ve changed my mind. Obviously word of mouth is a powerful thing. I’ve been exposed to too many happy dog families lately. And I am a mom of three boys–isn’t there a manual that says a puppy is mandatory? That’s what the kids were telling me anyway. The new Sabatini pup, to be named Riley, was supposed to come home yesterday but with the weather and some other unavoidable issues, the pick-up got cancelled. Boo! Now I’m waiting to reschedule either Friday, Saturday or Monday and while we sort it out, all the Sabatini’s look a lot like this…
We’re just waiting around.
(Not the actual puppy in case you’re wondering)
We’ve never even met the little, but everyone in the house is both nuts with anticipation and a little bummed at the same time. Once you make the decision to give a home to a pup, you don’t want to wait to bring him home. But we have to. *growls like a ferocious puppy* Hopefully by my next blog post I’ll have real puppy pictures for you. In the meantime, it’s time to give me your very best piece of puppy parenting advice. I have a feeling I’m going to need it.
It’s time for some Book Auntie Braggery because my amazing, fantastic, wonderful writer friend, Amy Nichols has a book birthday today!!!!!
In a parallel universe, the classic bad boy falls for the class science geek.
One minute Danny was running from the cops, and the next, he jolted awake in an unfamiliar body – his own, but different. Somehow, he’s crossed into a parallel universe. Now his friends are his enemies, his parents are long dead, and studious Eevee is not the mysterious femme fatale he once kissed back home. Then again, this Eevee – a girl who’d rather land an internship at NASA than a date to the prom–may be his only hope of getting home.
Eevee tells herself she’s only helping him in the name of quantum physics, but there’s something undeniably fascinating about this boy from another dimension… a boy who makes her question who she is, and who she might be in another place and time.
Amy K. Nichols has been crafting stories for as long as she can remember. She is the author of YA science fiction novel Now That You’re Here, to be published by Knopf December 9, 2014. The follow-up, While You Were Gone, will be published in 2015. She is mentored by award-winning crime novelist James Sallis and lives on the edge of the Sonoran desert with her husband and children. Amy is a member of SCBWI and SFWA, as well as the Class of 2K14 debut authors. Visit her online at http://www.amyknichols.com.
I can’t wait for my copy to get here!!! If you’re just as excited as I am and want to read NOW THAT YOU’RE HERE, you can find it here…
*Barnes & Noble
In celebration of NOW THAT YOU’RE HERE it’s time to discuss some important stuff. Do you believe in a parallel universe? What other books do you love that deal with the mysteries of parallel universes?
Lots of people groan when they hear non-fiction, especially kids. The first thing that often comes to mind it BORING! But I’m here to tell you that you’re just not reading the right books. Here are some of my favorite children’s non-fiction reads that will knock your socks off.
1. Sniffer Dogs: How Dogs (and Their Noses) Save the World by Nancy Castaldo
Anyone who has ever spent time with a dog knows that dogs love sniffing! They sniff out hidden food, dirty socks, and the visitor who comes to the door. But some dogs work with police officers, soldiers and even scientists to put their “sniffers” to work. Sniffer dogs make use of the amazing biology behind their noses to protect people from bombs, catch criminals smuggling drugs, or help researchers locate a hard to find snail in a forest.
A dog’s nose is so sensitive that if a human could see as well as a dog could smell, we would be able to see the small letters on an eye chart from four (four!) miles away. Is it any wonder then that dogs can be trained to find missing people in piles of rubble or a certain flower blooming amongst hundreds or thousands of other smells?
In Sniffer Dogs you will meet many dogs and their handlers and learn all about their jobs. Some of these dogs are raised from birth to detect blood sugar levels in their owners. Others are rescued from animal shelters and their boisterous personalities help make them excellent sniffer dogs. Featuring a balance between science and social science, Sniffer Dogs will appeal to dog lovers and science lovers alike.
My boys LOVED this book so much. It’s loaded with pictures, vignettes and so much interesting information. All I can say is that next time I see Nancy she’s in trouble because my kids are REALLY pushing for a puppy and we are considering. LOL! If you already have a dog, you’ll learn a TON about what makes your dog an amazing sniffer. And I’m always a sucker for a book that has inspirational heroes in it. This is an all around great read for kids and adults. My copy is being passed around the family as we speak.
2. Bomb: The Race to Build–and Steal–the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin
In December of 1938, a chemist in a German laboratory made a shocking discovery: When placed next to radioactive material, a Uranium atom split in two. That simple discovery launched a scientific race that spanned 3 continents. In Great Britain and the United States, Soviet spies worked their way into the scientific community; in Norway, a commando force slipped behind enemy lines to attack German heavy-water manufacturing; and deep in the desert, one brilliant group of scientists was hidden away at a remote site at Los Alamos. This is the story of the plotting, the risk-taking, the deceit, and genius that created the world’s most formidable weapon. This is the story of the atomic bomb.
Bomb is a 2012 National Book Awards finalist for Young People’s Literature.
Bomb is a 2012 Washington Post Best Kids Books of the Year title.
Bomb is a 2013 Newbery Honor book.
I’ve had the pleasure of listening to Steve speak more than once and I loved hearing his transformation from “boring” text book writer to award winning author. He has learned the art of capturing the truly interesting tidbits of our history and is able to weave them together in a story like fashion that begs you to turn the page. Bomb was a captivating read and after finishing it, my boys have gone on to read more about Pearl Harbor and the Holocaust out of curiosity. We’ve also read some of Sheinken’s other books and they don’t disappoint either.
3. Knucklehead: Tall Tales and Almost True Stories of Growing Up Scieszka by Jon Scieszka
How did Jon Scieszka get so funny, anyway? Growing up as one of six brothers was a good start, but that was just the beginning. Throw in Catholic school, lots of comic books, lazy summers at the lake with time to kill, babysitting misadventures, TV shows, jokes told at family dinner, and the result is Knucklehead. Part memoir, part scrapbook, this hilarious trip down memory lane provides a unique glimpse into the formation of a creative mind and a free spirit.
Funny man, Jon Scieszka has always been a favorite at in the Sabatini house and I’ve seen crowds roar with laughter when he gives a presentation, so it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that I had tears running down my face reading the chapter about the Scieszka boys on vacation in the backseat of the family station wagon. I swear it was the best laugh I had in 2014. My kids still talk about it and after we got done reading it together, I kept finding boys in bed pouring over the stories again and again.
4. Ick! Yuck! Eew! Our Gross American History by Lois Miner Huey
In history class, you’ve studied people who lived long ago. But do you know just how gross daily life was in the United States around the time of the American Revolution? • People rarely bathed. • They didn’t wash most of their clothes regularly. • Their teeth were rotting. • Bedbugs feasted on people as they slept. • Lice crawled through their hair (and their wigs) day and night. Ready to step out for a breath of fresh air? Well, look out, because the streets were filled with poop. Don’t believe it? Hop in a time machine and travel back to June, 1770, in the pages of this book!
Just put Lois’ book in my shopping cart for my own boys! I’ve been long over due to read this one and I’m so excited. I was in the audience when Betsy Bird was singing it’s praises and that is all the confirmation that I needed! The boys are going to love this one. Merry Yucky Christmas to Me :o)
5. Dear Bully: Seventy Authors Tell Their Stories edited by Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones
Discover how Lauren Kate transformed the feeling of that one mean girl getting under her skin into her first novel, how Lauren Oliver learned to celebrate ambiguity in her classmates and in herself, and how R.L. Stine turned being the “funny guy” into the best defense against the bullies in his class.
Today’s top authors for teens come together to share their stories about bullying—as silent observers on the sidelines of high school, as victims, and as perpetrators—in a collection at turns moving and self-effacing, but always deeply personal.
Sadly, bullying can happen at any time in your life, but for kids who look upon their favorite authors as rockstars–this is a powerful book. But it always helps to know you’re not alone. Dear Bully is a heartfelt reminder of how deeply the kid lit community is invested in it’s readers. So proud to be a YA author. <3
If I haven’t convinced you to buy non-fiction with these fabulous suggestions, remember that non-fiction is becoming a very big component of the common core curriculum. And while lots of the things about core curriculum give me hives–I LOVE anything that gets kids to read diverse material. Reading non-fiction with your kids is strengthening an important intellectual muscle that will serve them well in school and in the future. Go out and buy and read these amazing books!!!!!
Are there any great non-fiction children’s books that I need to put on my TBR list? Please share!
I’ll be back next week with more holiday book buying suggestions. Please feel free to share these with all your reader friends. I know all of these authors will be mighty appreciative. You can find more of my Best Books Holiday Shopping Blogs here…
*Best Books Holiday Shopping Guide-Some of Kim’s 2014 Favorites
If you’re like me, you’re spending more than your fair share of hours devoted to staying on top of the holiday madness. Aren’t we all trying to get that shopping done so we can finish the wrapping, sit back and watch holiday shows while eat cookies? Gosh, I wish I had a holiday house elf to help me get it all done.
But I don’t. So, instead of pouting, it occurred to me that at least I can help you with your shopping. I’ll be your bookish Holiday House Elf. *grin* If you’re looking for some awesome books for your favorite readers, then I have some amazing reads I’d love to share with you…
1. Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King
Would you try to change the world if you thought it had no future?
Graduating from high school is a time of limitless possibilities — but not for Glory, who has no plan for what’s next. Her mother committed suicide when Glory was only four years old, and she’s never stopped wondering if she will eventually go the same way… until a transformative night when she begins to experience an astonishing new power to see a person’s infinite past and future. From ancient ancestors to many generations forward, Glory is bombarded with visions—and what she sees ahead of her is terrifying.
A tyrannical new leader raises an army. Women’s rights disappear. A violent second civil war breaks out. And young girls vanish daily, sold off or interned in camps. Glory makes it her mission to record everything she sees, hoping her notes will somehow make a difference. She may not see a future for herself, but she’ll do everything in her power to make sure this one doesn’t come to pass.
In this masterpiece about freedom, feminism, and destiny, Printz Honor author A.S. King tells the epic story of a girl coping with devastating loss at long last—a girl who has no idea that the future needs her, and that the present needs her even more.
I need to preface this by saying I ADORE all of A.S. King’s books, but this may be my favorite book of 2014. It’s dark, it’s hopeful, it’s human, it’s edgy and it’s outside the box while being universal. I can’t stop thinking about it. This book may be the closest book to replicate that feeling I had in 10th grade when I read The Giver by Lois Lowry for the first time.
2. The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker, bookworm and band geek, plays second clarinet and spends her time tucked safely and happily in the shadow of her fiery older sister, Bailey. But when Bailey dies abruptly, Lennie is catapulted to center stage of her own life – and, despite her nonexistent history with boys, suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two. Toby was Bailey’s boyfriend; his grief mirrors Lennie’s own. Joe is the new boy in town, a transplant from Paris whose nearly magical grin is matched only by his musical talent. For Lennie, they’re the sun and the moon; one boy takes her out of her sorrow, the other comforts her in it. But just like their celestial counterparts, they can’t collide without the whole wide world exploding.
This remarkable debut is perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, and Francesca Lia Block. Just as much a celebration of love as it is a portrait of loss, Lennie’s struggle to sort her own melody out of the noise around her is always honest, often hilarious, and ultimately unforgettable.
The beautiful thing about this book is it’s raw, honest pain intermingled with soulful, optimistic love and humor. When you’re done with this book you’re going to want to hug it. Nelson does gorgeous things with words.
3. Schooled by Gordon Kormon
Homeschooled by his hippie grandmother, Capricorn (Cap) Anderson has never watched television, tasted a pizza, or even heard of a wedgie. But when his grandmother lands in the hospital, Cap is forced to move in with a school counselor and attend the local middle school. While Cap knows a lot about tie-dyeing and Zen Buddhism, no education could prepare him for the politics of public school.
My absolute favorite Gordon Kormon book to date and I’ve been reading a bunch–my boys adore his writing. Schooled is sweet and hilarious and I’m bound to read it again because I loved it that much. Cap is a character who wiggles his way and by the end you never want him to leave.
4. Journey by Aaron Becker
Follow a girl on an elaborate flight of fancy in a wondrously illustrated, wordless picture book about self-determination — and unexpected friendship.
A lonely girl draws a magic door on her bedroom wall and through it escapes into a world where wonder, adventure, and danger abound. Red marker in hand, she creates a boat, a balloon, and a flying carpet that carry her on a spectacular journey toward an uncertain destiny. When she is captured by a sinister emperor, only an act of tremendous courage and kindness can set her free. Can it also lead her home and to her heart’s desire? With supple line, luminous color, and nimble flights of fancy, author-illustrator Aaron Becker launches an ordinary child on an extraordinary journey toward her greatest and most exciting adventure of all.
Journey is a wordless picture book that harnesses your imagination and then sets it free. Every time I flip the pages of this book I want to illustrate all the magic of my world. A gorgeous journey of heart and soul.
5. The Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy by Laini Taylor
The perfect gift for readers who want to be swept away.
The Daughter of Smoke & Bone Trilogy Gift Set includes three hardcovers: Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Days of Blood & Starlight, and Dreams of Gods & Monsters.
From master storyteller and National Book Award finalist Laini Taylor comes a sweeping and gorgeously written modern fantasy series about a forbidden love, an ancient and epic battle, and hope for a world remade.
Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.
In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.
And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.
Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.
When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?
Trilogies are tough to write. The first book is always hard to follow. Not for Laini Taylor. In my opinion, each book was better than the one before. This may be my favorite trilogy ever. The world building and character development are exquisite. And there is so much thought provoking depth without preaching. I can only believe that Taylor was able to write such an intricate story because Karou and her world are completely and utterly real to her.
Now go forth and give the gift of books. I’ll have some more gift giving book suggestions for you as the holiday shopping season continues. Don’t forget to support your favorite authors by spreading the word about their beloved books. In fact, feel free to give suggestions in the comments or link this post to your own Best Books Holiday Shopping Guide. I don’t know an author who wouldn’t be appreciative. <3
Have you read any of my recommendations? Did you love them too? Which one is your favorite?
Sorry I missed you on Thursday. Boys with half day schedules and teacher conferences were cramping my blogging schedule. But I’ll tell you a secret–I didn’t mind not writing because I’m rather busy with another important aspect of drafting which is being a sponge. I’ve been kicking butt with my writing since buckling down in September and sending those boys back to school. *grin* And it’s been awesome and I’ve been loving it, that is, until my NaNo battery ran out of steam and d-i-e-d.
It was bound to happen. In my excitement to produce prolifically, I forgot what kind of an artist I am at heart. I am a sponge.
I soak up all kinds of stuff floating around me and then I squeeze it to see what kinds of questions pour out. But lately, I’m afraid that in my enthusiasm to write, write, write–I wasn’t absorbing as much as I need to. Writing can only a numbers game when we have thoughts in storage and I realized I was exhausting my supply faster than I could replenish it. My sponge was on the dry side.
But I’m happy to say that my “break” from word count is not a break from my drafting process. It’s very important for me to day dream, observe, read, ponder and experience. What are the more hidden aspects of your drafting process? What stimulates and feeds your artistic process?
Thursday is Thanksgiving, so I’ll be taking the day off. You’ll all be too busy eating turkey and watching the parade to read blogs. But I’ll be back next week in DECEMBER! How the heck did that happen? Guess I can say…see you next month LOL!