Favorite Books of 2018

NONFICTION

22749747.jpgHow to Raise a Wild Child: The Art and Science of Falling in Love with Nature by Scott Sampson – In addition to becoming a parent in 2018, I also love nature and write for kids, so the topic of this book was really interesting to me. The science behind what happens to our bodies and minds when we spend time outdoors, and even in wild places, drives home the message of how important it is to help raise a generation that cares for this earth. Although this book strays farther into the realm of “hard” nonfiction than I usually go, I found it readable and interesting. The author does a great job of supporting his arguments and summarizing them with memorable statements. I highly recommend to parents, teachers, and anyone who works with kids.

I also loved H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald and Every Moment Holy by Douglas McKelvey.

NOVEL

Adult Fiction

YOUNG ADULT

36862147The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – How long has this been on the bestseller list again? The National Book Award-winning debut is honest, heartwrenching, and real. Narrator Starr Carter is a teenager caught between the two worlds of her mostly-white private high school and her impoverished, gang-ridden hometown. When an old friend is shot and killed by a police officer while Starr looks on, she enters a struggle to fight for truth and justice while attempting to reconcile the actions and reactions she sees in two very different parts of her life. Her voice is captivating and her story is a must-read.

I also loved Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor.

MIDDLE GRADE

51OQeRAQWVL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_The Shadow Cipher (York #1) by Laura Ruby – This book is the first in a new middle-grade series. National Treasure in an alternate timeline, the twists and turns of a city-wide, decades-old scavenger hunt are suspenseful and entertaining. I thoroughly enjoyed the world-building and was continually (and pleasantly) caught off guard by the blending of American and New York City history with the creative changes and additions in this alternate world. You won’t want to put this down!

PICTURE BOOK

34427286Many: The Diversity of Life on Earth by Nicola Davies – The illustrations alone make this book a stand out, but the message is a clear and important one, as well. The book takes it’s reader through an exploration of Earth’s many inhabitants and their various forms, before gently reminding us that it is our responsibility to preserve this diversity. The book ends on the slightly chilling note that we don’t want our many species to dwindle down to only one – humans. This ending would allow for wonderful follow-up discussions with individual children or classrooms.

I also loved Creekfinding: A True Story by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor by Patricia Valdez, and The Wish Tree by Kyo Maclear.

What was your favorite book this year?

 

Gift Guide for the Writer in your Life

What? It’s not the holidays yet? It’s never too early to start shopping for gifts for the writer (or writers, if you’re lucky!) in your life, and I’ve put together this list of gifts writers really want – not just more notebooks, post-it notes, and coffee mugs.

raven_gloves_01_800xFingerless writing gloves – I can’t be the only writer out there who gets a nip in the fingers. Writing gloves like these from Storiarts are sure to keep your writer both toasty AND productive.

 

20d99bd8c14b84ff1f619c54e03fe3d5_originalA scarf with their manuscript on it – Imagine how your writer will feel knowing that the product of their own blood, sweat, and tears is helping to keep their neck warm. If you need some help in the imagination department, they’ll feel pretty awesome.

 

L-1272_The-Great-Gatsby-womens-relaxed-fit-dolman_01_2048x2048.jpgAnything from Out of Print – This company puts your writer’s favorite classic book titles on everything from shirts to earrings to pencil cases, plus they have library-themes products, too!

 

download.jpgLocal coffee, or better yet, a gift card to a local coffee shop. Most writers I know love to work in a coffee shop environment, but let’s be honest, how many of us have the $$ to buy coffee all the time? Even when I do go, I’m usually getting a regular coffee. When I have a gift card, it’s specialty drink time. Does that make me more productive? Maybe. No one can prove it doesn’t.

 

jf_2018_cover_noupc_0.jpgA subscription to their favorite writerly magazine. Are they a Poets & Writers kind of guy, or a Writer’s Digest type of gal? As a children’s writer, I love getting The Horn Book Magazine, which, while technically not a writing publication, is a great way to keep up with what’s being published and form a great reading list.

 

scrivener-512_medium.pngOn that note, maybe your writer could use some new software to help speed along their process. Have they expressed interest in Scrivener, but hesitated to shell out the cash? Have they ever lost words on the web version of Write or Die? Gift them the desktop version.

 

Gift cards to the local bookstore of Barnes & Noble will always be welcomed.

Can you think of anything to add to the list?

 

Why Supporting Other Writers is Key

This is a collaboration with Christy Shuler.

Be sure to see Emily’s video, “9 Ways to Support Other Writers” over on Christy’s channel: https://youtu.be/GItSzR-uxnY

Hi, I’m Christy. Thank you so much for watching and thanks again to Emily for hosting my view of this topic. I’m a writer, blogger and Youtuber sharing my journey toward publishing and a love of all things story. I share what I’ve gathered from my own writing experience as well as take a closer look at books, television and film, focusing on what other writers can learn from the amazing work out there. If you’re a fellow writer or you just love good stories, I hope to hear from you!

***Social Media***

Blog: https://crshuler.blogspot.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ChristyShuler

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/christy.shuler/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Christy-Shuler-134831069939590/

*************

Thanks for watching ibelonginabook! I’m Emily, and I am a writer with a masters degree in writing and experience teaching writing and English at the college level. Writing, reading, and talking about books and literature are my favorite things to do. If we have this in common, leave me a comment suggesting topics you’d like me to discuss in future videos, and subscribe to my channel for more videos like the one you just watched. Happy writing!

My Website: http://emilyvanderark.com/

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How NOT to Format Your Manuscript

Word processors are amazing pieces of software that let us do so many things! You can customize almost any aspect of your document – but should you? Here are some things you SHOULDN’T do when formatting your manuscript.

Thanks for watching ibelonginabook! I’m Emily, and I am a writer with a masters degree in writing and experience teaching writing and English at the college level. Writing, reading, and talking about books and literature are my favorite things to do. If we have this in common, leave me a comment suggesting topics you’d like me to discuss in future videos, and subscribe to my channel for more videos like the one you just watched. Happy writing!

Linear VS Non-linear Structure

Have you ever heard the terms linear and non-linear and wondered what in the world they have to do with writing? This video is for you!

The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern

Interview with Erin

The Prestige

Thanks for watching ibelonginabook! I’m Emily, and I am a writer with a masters degree in writing and experience teaching writing and English at the college level. Writing, reading, and talking about books and literature are my favorite things to do. If we have this in common, leave me a comment suggesting topics you’d like me to discuss in future videos, and subscribe to my channel for more videos like the one you just watched. Happy writing!

 

Should My Characters Curse?


What is your opinion on cursing in books? Do you use it in your own writing? In today’s video, I share my thoughts on this interesting subject.

Thanks for watching ibelonginabook! I’m Emily, and I am a writer with a masters degree in writing and experience teaching writing and English at the college level. Writing, reading, and talking about books and literature are my favorite things to do. If we have this in common, leave me a comment suggesting topics you’d like me to discuss in future videos, and subscribe to my channel for more videos like the one you just watched. Happy writing!

Writing Exercises to Use Again and Again

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  1. Guess That Color: This is is a fun, easy exercise to do with a group of student or writers. Go to the website randomcolour.com. The page will fill with a color, and your group designates an amount of time – 5, 10, or 15 minutes. Everyone spend this time writing, and when the time is up, take turns reading the exercises out loud. The goal is for everyone listening to try to guess what color you were given.
  2. Children’s writer Gail Carson Levine is well known for sharing writing advice and prompts on her blog, and in books like Writer to Writer: From Think to Ink. One prompt from this book is to take the nursery rhyme “Little Miss Muffet” and “tell the story from the spider’s point of view. Give it spidery thoughts, whatever they are. Make up the workings of a spider’s mind.” You could do the same with many other nursery rhymes!
  3. The LOCK system for plot development from Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell can be applied to any work in progress, whether you are in the beginning drafting stages or finishing up revisions. Fill in the blanks for each sentence: “My Lead is a _________________. Her Objective is to _______________. She is Confronted by __________, who opposes her because _______________. The ending will be a Knockout when ____________.”
  4. In her book Writing Fiction, Janet Burroway provides the following exercise in showing and telling: “Write about something familiar from the point of view of a stranger – a foreigner, a time-traveler, a prisoner released after 20 years in jail. Pick something that might seem commonplace to your readers and imagine how the stranger would perceive it through all available senses. The goal is to make the everyday seem strange and new again. Avoid using familiar words the character wouldn’t know. You might even try not to name the situation but let the reader figure out where the character is through your use of sensory details.”
  5. For the essay writer, one of my favorite prompts is to “Tell your life story in three incidents involving hair,” taken from Janet Burroway’s Imaginative Writing.
  6. From the same book, write a poem or essay “about a building you care about. Choose one of which you have strong memories, then research the place itself. How does your memory of the place contrast with, or how is it qualified by, what you learn?”

I hope you use these prompts to create some beautiful words. Happy Writing!

Why I Went to an MFA Program


Have you ever thought about getting an education in writing? If a masters degree in creative writing is something you have never heard of, or something that you might be interested in pursuing in the future, then today’s video is for you! Let’s demystify the process.

My MFA Program

Thanks for watching ibelonginabook! I’m Emily, and I am a writer with a masters degree in writing and experience teaching writing and English at the college level. Writing, reading, and talking about books and literature are my favorite things to do. If we have this in common, leave me a comment suggesting topics you’d like me to discuss in future videos, and subscribe to my channel for more videos like the one you just watched. Happy writing!

The Care and Keeping of Ideas

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I have heard of a species of writer that keeps only one idea in mind at a time. They live and breathe this one idea, allowing it to consume their minds and all of their spare time. But what does this writer do when the idea is finished? When the manuscript is done? When they need a break, or it is time to move on? I suppose they must be stuck waiting for the next all-consuming idea to come along.

This concept is terrifying to me. If I were this type of writer, I’d be petrified that the idea I have run away with isn’t any good, and I’ll have wasted this burning energy and precious time.

So what do you do if you are another type of writer, who likes to have a few things going at once to refresh the brain, or to jump into once the draft of another project is complete?

I suppose you keep lists of ideas. I’d love to hear how other writers keep track of book or story ideas, so be sure to let me know any tips and tricks that are different from my simple list.

  • Back page of a notebook – If an idea strikes while pen is in hand, I jot it down on the last page in my notebook. That way any ideas are together in one place and easy to find.
  • Pocket folder – I keep loose notes, printed pages, or research for current stories in a simple two-pocket folder.
  • Word document – I keep an idea file in Google Drive, where I paste prompts, quotes, or links to articles that spark an idea. I try to write a few sentences about what the idea was… if I don’t I often can’t remember why I saved a certain thing.

In addition to this, I almost always have multiple projects going at once. Usually one of them takes precedence, and I spend the majority of my time and effort on that, but sometimes if I am stuck it helps to take a break and work on something else. The nice part about this system is that when I finish the main project, I don’t have to face the daunting task of starting something new from scratch. Instead, I can dabble in the projects that are already started until I figure out which one is going to take over.

I’d love to hear your solutions for the idea storing process!

My Thoughts on Ebooks


Do you only read hard-copies of books, and disdain any mention of the digital reading realm? Or have you lost track of when the last time you read a hard book was because you take your Kindle with you wherever you go? In today’s video, I share where I fall when it comes to reading!

Thanks for watching ibelonginabook! I’m Emily, and I am a writer with a masters degree in writing and experience teaching writing and English at the college level. Writing, reading, and talking about books and literature are my favorite things to do. If we have this in common, leave me a comment suggesting topics you’d like me to discuss in future videos, and subscribe to my channel for more videos like the one you just watched. Happy writing!