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The Booker Award & the Versatile Blogger Award

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the-booker-award novel conclusions writing blogHey y’all, it’s award time!

The lyrically lovely writer Asha Seth over at Amidst Books presented me with the Booker Award last month.  Asha has a beautiful writing style; definitely stop by her site and say hello.  I am so honored that she thought my blog worthy of this award!  I have been putting off accepting the Booker Award on this blog because it asks me to choose my top 5 favorite books, which is excruciatingly like choosing a favorite child.  But I decided to bite the bullet and do it.  The rules for the Booker Award:

The Booker Award is for book and literary blogs that are at least 50% about books, reading, etc.  On being awarded with the Booker Award, you must share:

  • Your top five favorite books.  Mine are:
  1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  2. The whole Harry Potter series by JK Rowling
  3. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  4. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  5. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  • Your most favorite author (and why).  My favorite author is JK Rowling.  Her tight plotting is masterfully done, and I love her amazing characterization and world-building ability.
  • Your favorite genres.  I read everything, but lately I’ve been reading lots of YA fiction (it’s like market research for my writing…).
  • Give this award to 5 or more bloggers (see below) and let them know with a comment.
  • Show this award off on your site and link back to whoever gave it to you.

I’m awarding the Booker Award to these fantastic literary blogs  (should they choose to accept) :

versatile_blogger novel conclusions writing blogThe amazingly warm and friendly writer Pish Nguyen over at Blog of Loveliness has awarded me the Versatile Blogger Award.  Yay!!!  Definitely drop by Pish’s awesome blog and say hello.  The rules for the Versatile Blogger Award are as follows:

  • Display the award certificate on your website
  • Announce your win with a post and link to whoever presented your award
  • Present 15 awards to deserving bloggers
  • Drop them a comment to tip them off after you’ve linked them in the post
  • Post 7 interesting things about yourself (see below)

I’m awarding the Versatile Blogger Award to these deserving blogs below (should they choose to accept).  I’m breaking the rules and only choosing 6:

I am ending with 7 things about me for the Versatile Blogger Award:

  1. My favorite color is burgundy, but I don’t like the color red.
  2. I have a twin brother.  It still amazes me how often people will ask, “Are you identical?”  Well, I’m a girl, and he’s a boy; what do you think?  Goodness.
  3. When I was little, I had a Southern accent (I was born in the South, after all).  There are home videos to prove this.  Sometime after we moved to Florida when I was a kid, the accent ran away, but I can still pull it out of my back pocket whenever I want.
  4. I worked at an overnight Girl Scout camp every summer for 10 summers starting when I was a teenager, including a few summers as assistant director, plus a week here and there for a couple summers beyond that.  Leaving teaching put a dent in my ability to work at camp.
  5. As hinted at in #4, I am a HUGE advocate of technology-free summer overnight camps.  Not only are they cheaper than camps that have air conditioning, they teach your child independence.  No matter what a kid grows up to be, she will need confidence and people skills, two things camp builds in abundance.
  6. I love Bananagrams.  So fun.
  7. Linguistics fascinate me.  I have hinted to my man that an OED might be a good gift someday.  This is perhaps a holdover from my days as an English teacher/copy editor/Creative Writing major.

Happy Friday, all!

The 10 Most Read Books in the World

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Happy 2013!!!  Today is the first day of Lucky 13.  Are you excited?  I can’t hardly wait!

I thought this would be a good time to start out the new year with a super fun infographic from Business Insider, The Top Ten Most Read Books in the World:

Most Read Books - Novel Conclusions - writing blog

Top 10 Most Read Books Infographic, via Business Insider

I’ve read at least part of every book on this list except for Mao’s little red book (and I think it’s fairly safe to assume I can continue on just fine without reading that little Communism handbook).  2 things struck me about this list:

1.  These books are dramatically different.  This is great as it means that there’s lots of room at the top!  As a reading public, we aren’t stuck inside any one genre — we read lots of different things.

2.  Some of these books are relatively recent, which means that this list is ever-changing.  In a few years, your book could be on the list!

Have you read any of these “most read” books?  Which were your favorites?

P.S. Speaking of the new year, there’s a great new year’s resolutions post over at bottledworder.

Dreaming of Endless Books

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Ever after library - Novel Conclusions - writing blog

Ever after. Imagine the library down the hall. Courtesy of Google Images.

Earlier today, I was chatting with my better half, Beau, and I mentioned how I would love to have a library in our future house (which does not exist yet).  He didn’t quite see eye to eye with me on this one:

ME:  Can we have a library in our house someday?

BEAU:  We already have a library.

ME:  What are you talking about?

BEAU:  If a library is a room full of books, Library #1 is our living room.  Library #2, the bedroom.  Library #3, the office.

ME:  (dreamily) It would be all tall, gorgeous shelves full of books with comfy overstuffed chairs.

BEAU:  And maybe the bathroom is Library #4.

ME:  Hmph.  Not what I meant, punk.

This got me thinking about beautiful libraries.  I love libraries, and beautiful libraries are even better.  The first one that popped into my my is the gorgeous library at the monastery in the movie Ever After.  I can’t find a picture of that exact library, but it is multiple floors and open to the working area where the monks are making new copies of the books (this Cinderella movie is set hundreds of years ago).  Danielle, our Cinderella, lights up as she tells the story of falling in love with the book Utopia by Sir Thomas More.

Harry Potter Hogwarts Library - Novel Conclusions - writing blog

Hogwarts Library. Courtesy of Google Images.

The omnipresent library of the Harry Potter books (and movies) also deserves a nod.  Major props go to JK Rowling for working the library into every book in the series.  Harry’s good buddy Hermione manages to find out something important from a book that moves the plot forward in every story in the series; the library is practically a character in the books.

Beauty and the Beast library - Novel Conclusions - writing blog

Belle in the town book shop. Courtesy of Google Images.

There are also a couple of fantastic libraries in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (side note: I can’t believe this movie is more than 20 years old).  As a kid, the fact that Belle adored reading made me love her more.  Who could forget the charming town book shop or the luxurious library at the Beast’s mansion?

For some real-life beautiful libraries, check out this slideshow of twelve stunning libraries.  Which libraries (real or imagined) do you think of when you think of libraries?

Setting as Character

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Novel Conclusions - Setting as Character - Harry Potter example

courtesy of bn.com

In some novels, the setting works only as a backdrop, a starting-off point, but in others, the setting brings the story to life.

I can still remember the pervasive, dark heaviness of the jungle throughout the entirety of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.  The impassiveness and mystery of the jungle makes the characters jumpy and also reflects Kurtz’s descent into madness.

James Dashner’s Maze Runner uses his setting, the Glade, both as an antagonist and as a puzzle to find out why the boys are there.  The mystery of the Glade itself helps build the tone of the book.

In JK Rowling‘s Harry Potter series, the grounds and buildings at Hogwarts School play a pivotal role in almost every book in the series.  The secrets of the castle — and who is in possession of those secrets — build, one upon the other, from Book 1 all the way through Book 7, though I won’t spoil the how.  We know from our first steps inside the castle that it will be important to the story:

The entrance hall was so big you could have fit the whole of the Dursleys’ house in it.  The stone walls were lit with flaming torches like the ones at Gringotts, the ceiling was too high to make out, and a magnificent marble staircase facing them led to the upper floors.

What can we as writers take from these examples?  In each of these books, the author deftly weaves the setting into the plot so that the story could not happen without the place it’s set in.  Each of these stories would be dramatically different if they were set in different locations.  Imagine Heart of Darkness in Paris or Harry Potter in Kansas — completely different.

Is your setting integral to the plot?  Does your story change dramatically if you change the location?  Why have you chosen a certain place (or places) to be your main setting?  How does your setting give depth to your story?  Each of these questions can give you another way to look at your setting and how to adjust it or change it entirely.

What’s your take on settings?

P.S. Check out an alternate take on the same topic here.

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