<![CDATA[Welcome to The Wordsmithery - Wordsmithery Blog]]>Wed, 26 Jul 2017 21:26:01 -0600Weebly<![CDATA[Mermaids Under the Sea]]>Wed, 09 Dec 2015 18:14:20 GMThttp://wordsmithery.net/1/post/2015/12/mermaids-under-the-sea.htmlPicture
Rating: 3 stars

Summary:

Hailey and Claire are BEST friends, but their friendship is coming to an end. Claire is moving! (In the movie, Hailey is the one moving.) 

A mermaid named Aquamarine washes up in the Capri Beach Club's pool, and the two girls befriend her and set her up on a date with her crush, Raymond, before she has to go back to the sea. 

Making Aquamarine their pet project helps Hailey and Claire see the unbreakable bond of their friendship and the importance of letting go.

Review:

I don't know how long I've had this book on the book shelves in my room, but when I finally cleared some time for reading, I plucked it from its resting place and turned to the first page.

I've loved the movie for years, and my sister and I rewatch it every once in a while. I didn't feel old until I noticed that the book was published in 2001! The movie came out in 2006!

That means it's been a loooong while since it shined brand spanking new on the shelves. But I thought I'd bring it up in my book reviews.

Books shouldn't have a wild tour at their release and then dusty faces the rest of their lives, right?

I excepted Alice Hoffman's Aquamarine to be just like the movie - at least, in plotline. But it was more like a rough, vague, shortened version of the movie's story.

It was a fun read, though, but I did find myself missing the Mean Girls and all the funny scenes with Raymond and Aquamarine as they start to like each other (especially the Ben&Jerry/who-needs-Raymond scene).

I couldn't really connect with the characters as much as I did in the movie, but I may have come into it with a bias toward the movie. 

I will say, though, that it is great if you want a feel-good story to read to your kids! It would certainly make a cozy bedtime story. :)


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<![CDATA[The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins]]>Wed, 09 Dec 2015 18:04:57 GMThttp://wordsmithery.net/1/post/2015/12/the-hunger-games-by-suzanne-collins.html I love the anticipation that comes with starting a new book from my TBR (to be read) list. Finally, I’ve found a chunk of time over the holidays to snuggle up under blankets and dissolve into reading.

This year, I began my holiday reading with Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games published by Scholastic Inc.

Before turning to the first page, I usually read the back cover’s description and quotes. It’s like the outer edge puzzle pieces that I can lock together before slowly filling in more information as the story starts.

On the back of The Hunger Games, three names stand out in cat-eye golden font: Stephen King, Stephenie Meyer, and John Green. All amazing authors.

Phrases from each of their quotes triggered a rush of recognition - what writers call le mot juste (the exact word!). Stephen King, Entertainment Weekly, said, “I couldn’t stop reading.” Should I admit to staying up until 5am reading it last night?

Stephenie Meyer, author of the Twilight saga, also found it alluring and suspenseful. She became “so obsessed with this book.” I’m surprised that I became obsessed with finding out what happened next and how Katniss would manage each problem.

I started out slow, reading the first few pages, but soon I clamped my hands on the book’s sides and refused to let go. Looking back, I find myself wincing at my complete disregard for sleep and daily life happening around me.

But The Hunger Games was a story that I needed to savor. Perusing my shelves of books, I can’t help but slide one finger fondly down the spines of my favorite books. Reading, for me, is like collecting stories.

As a writer, it’s important to learn from other writers. Suzanne Collins, I’d like to thank you for sharing your talent for plotlines and creating twists (“brilliantly plotted” as John Green said).

Perhaps I can apply that to my own writing and focus my attention on plotlines. What authors inspired you to improve your writing? What stands out to you most clearly from their theory of practice? ]]>
<![CDATA[Chatting with Lewis Carroll's Alice]]>Sat, 17 Oct 2015 19:37:51 GMThttp://wordsmithery.net/1/post/2015/10/chatting-with-lewis-carrolls-alice1.htmlPicture
Success! I polished off Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland last night. I’ve seen the old Disney movie, the recent movie with Johnny Depp, and even gone to the local Cinemark theater to watch a ballet version! But I had yet to read the original tale.

Carroll’s writing style reminds me of the quirkiness of Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth. Taking what we know and twisting it around makes for a satisfying read. Clever writing layers mirth over funny little truths and questions.

Why is a raven like a writing-desk? (Ask yourself sometime and get back to me.)

As I journeyed deeper into Wonderland, I noticed that my attention kept coming back to Alice, our main character. To my surprise, I discovered that I had been analyzing her and trying to place just exactly what kind of little girl she was.

Then it occurred to me. I’ve seen this sort of little girl before. Not the same little girl, mind you. But a similar one who could even be friends with Alice if they hadn’t chosen separate worlds within which to reside.

Alice dear? (Hmm?) Meet September. (Hello.) She’s the very sort of girl you are. (How would you know we are the same sort of little girl?) Why, haven’t you ever met other little girls the same sort as you? (Silence.)

I’ll tell you about September then. Her book is titled The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, and her author is Catherynne M. Valente. September fell out of her window instead of a rabbit hole (or rather stepped out of the window by taking the hand of the Green Wind).

In her travels inside Fairyland, she encounters characters similar to the ones in Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth and Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. They challenge the life she led before coming to Fairyland, but she crosses her arms (so to speak), juts out her chin, and holds her own in the conversations.

What have you noticed about main characters in the books you’re reading? Do you find yourself analyzing them to find out what sort of person they are? Leave me a comment below.

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<![CDATA[Halloween Frights: The Maenads]]>Sat, 10 Oct 2015 19:35:22 GMThttp://wordsmithery.net/1/post/2015/10/halloween-frights-the-maenads1.html Greek mythology has caught my attention lately, and I spent a few hours reading through The Bacchae, a play written by Euripides. It’s an ancient Greek tragedy that follows Pentheus, the king of Thebes, as he attempts to manage the unrest in his civilization – the crazed worshippers of the god Dionysus.

As I grappled with this ancient Greek text, I noticed the following points:

*SPOILER ALERT*

A MOTHER’S HORROR AT MURDERING HER SON. When Pentheus’ mother, Agave, hoots and hollers all over Thebes with her “prize,” I couldn’t help but cringe.

The entire play has been laced (poisonously, some would venture to say) with Dionysus’ plot for revenge (since someone has been spreading doubts about his divinity!).

In the scene with Agave and her “prize,” Dionysus altered Agave’s perception of reality. At last, the mother has a moment of devastating realization. She murdered her son in a frenzy of madness and now holds his severed head.

The sorrow fairly bowls me over. (I suggest you read The Bacchae, too, to get the full effect.)

OUR FEAR OF MADNESS. A major component of Dionysiac worship was that element of madness. Revelers would lose themselves in worship (often to the extent of Agave – no longer in control of their own minds).

Euripides paints madness in a strange and ominous light through The Bacchae. We do not meet the maenads (another name for Dionysus’ worshippers) in the beginning. Instead, they are portrayed in a far away sense – almost a fog of eerie cries and writhing silhouettes.

The creepiest part about madness is that it can impact anyone. Even our steady, stable, sturdy main character, Pentheus, winds up in the middle of the madness and succumbs (in a way) to a reversal of identity (dresses up as a maenad to sneak into their gatherings on the mountain).

Be aware, all you ghouls, as Halloween approaches! Watch out for maenads. :) How are you managing your own madness/horror? Tell me in the comments about the fiendish frights you’re planning.
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<![CDATA[East of the Sun and West of the Moon]]>Sat, 19 Sep 2015 19:33:36 GMThttp://wordsmithery.net/1/post/2015/09/east-of-the-sun-and-west-of-the-moon1.htmlPicture
I generally peruse Barnes & Noble in aimless crisscrossing paths. Sure, there are some sections that I tend to sink into longer than others – YA novels, classics, science fiction, cooking, and mythology.

I especially love fairy tales, legends, and myths. There’s such a deep tradition of storytelling in them. It’s real and raw. They’re stories in their most basic form – the origin of much of our modern day literature.

In a selection from Andrew Lang’s The Blue Fairy Book, I discovered one of my favorite fairy tales, often known as “East of the Sun and West of the Moon.”

It follows a girl who is taken by a white bear to a palace, but she is unhappy and worries about her family. By night, another person comes and sleeps next to her – with just the sound of his gentle breathing and the rise of covers as he sleeps.

Before the realization of its inclusion among the common fairy tales (that apparently every writer knew by heart excepting me), I thought it was odd that some of the books I was reading followed such similar story lines.

Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George uses the tale known as “East of the Sun and West of the Moon” in the story about a woodcutter’s daughter traveling with the bear to his castle.

The romance between the girl and bear develops tenderly with an echo to the old and well-loved tale of “Beauty & the Beast.” Alongside my transfixed fascination with dragons is a sense of thrill when white polar bears take the stage.

The Golden Compass, a movie based on Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” book series, involves these strong beasts fitted with armor and pained but wise eyes.

Another book that follows along the “East of the Sun and West of the Moon” fairy tale is Ice by Sarah Beth Durst. This version takes a spin on the original tale with the main character as the daughter of the girl who is taken by the bear.

What other versions of the fairy tale have you read? Send me a couple you’ve found in the comments below.

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<![CDATA[Growing Old]]>Sat, 12 Sep 2015 19:30:09 GMThttp://wordsmithery.net/1/post/2015/09/growing-old1.html I finished Rilla of Ingleside, and now I’m reading Chronicles of Avonlea – the final book of the series! Sadly, Anne herself doesn’t show up very often, but I’ve come to enjoy the short tales involving the people of Avonlea.

After reading halfway through the book, however, I noticed that many of the stories involved the theme of growing old, especially the bitterness and pride of old age.

Was Lucy experiencing the ravages of time as she wrote these stories? In the back of my copy of her book, the publisher included a page titled “About the Author” including a paragraph about Lucy’s life and career as an author.

I noticed that she passed away in 1942. On the copyright page at the front of Chronicles of Avonlea, it says that the first Canadian edition was published in September of 1943 (Happy 72nd Anniversary, dear Lucy!).

That means that the book was published after her death. The copyright page duly takes notice of this fact with the small text at the top stating that the book was “published by arrangement with the author’s estate.”

L. M. Montgomery only lived to be about 68 years old, but she must have used her increasing old age in these tales about the lives of the Avonlea folk she loved so much.

The stories about elderly ladies practically ripped my heart out, though. Old Lady Lloyd’s trek through the rain coming back from visiting her wretched cousin made me sick to my stomach – an elderly lady walking alone in the cold downpour!

Aunty Nan in the story about little Joscelyn was painful as well (though not quite as painful as the terribly sad Old Lady Lloyd story). With Aunty Nan and Joscelyn, the reader didn’t have to wait quite so long for the loving little girl to come to the bedside of the elderly lady.

How do you peer forward into or daily encounter the elderly stage of life? Leave us a comment below – perhaps about how you worry about becoming prideful or how you wish to love others like the ladies in these stories.

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<![CDATA[Appreciation for Our Soldiers]]>Sun, 30 Aug 2015 19:29:20 GMThttp://wordsmithery.net/1/post/2015/08/appreciation-for-our-soldiers1.htmlPicture
I’ve been devouring Rilla of Ingleside this past week, and my head feels heavy with the weight of the war in which the boys of Ingleside enlisted.

I keep the worn copy on my nightstand so that I can read a chapter before going to sleep, but lately, the pain and restlessness of the Glen St. Mary women has kept me in an anxious and depressed state.

But as Rilla matured from her vain, gigglesome girlhood, I found myself maturing (in mind, at least) along with her. Watching her brothers go to war and raising a war-baby certainly forced her to grow up fast.

Have you ever noticed that you hardly ever notice when you’re in the middle of growing up?

There are rare times when you realize it and smile secretly to yourself over the triumph of personal growth, but it really does not come into our notice often.

I only noticed how far we’d (me and Rilla) had matured when the other characters in the book started noticing the responsible way that Rilla attacked her Red Cross work, the expert movement of her hands as she looked after Jims, the seriousness of her beautiful, empty eyes.

I began to appreciate the families of soldiers and the hardships that came with war. In my lifetime thus far, I have been fortunate enough to avoid the shock and horror of the sort of wars that the Ingleside family had to endure.

But with that endurance came some of the greatest insights into the human soul – the love of a pale but brave mother, the drawing together of a family reduced in size by the war, the last conversations between boys in khaki and their loved ones.

Take a look at the Anne of Green Gables blog, especially Building the Devastation of War, or leave a comment below about your thoughts and deeply felt sorrows while reading Rilla of Ingleside.


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<![CDATA[Mission Impossible Movie Review]]>Sun, 23 Aug 2015 19:24:52 GMThttp://wordsmithery.net/1/post/2015/08/mission-impossible-movie-review.html Who doesn’t love a high-speed car chase?

In the most recent Mission Impossible movie, motorcycles are the vehicles of choice – flattening into the curves and zipping down the straights.

Who leads the pack of growling machines?

The beautiful and elusive Ilsa Faust. Unlike the demure beauties of a past age of womankind, Ilsa can “ride,” as Ethan Hunt points out later.

Furthermore, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation features clever story developments. Among my favorites are the scene at the opera and the scene with the British prime minister.

Telling you more than that would give the plot away! Be sure to look for those scenes as you attend your local theater or munch on popcorn in your media room.

While some people tire of the Tom Cruise movie series, I can’t help but celebrate the production of movies that are consistently surprising, romantic and get you using your brain to figure out how he will get out of each situation.

I will admit, however, that throwing in the word, “impossible,” in the movie’s lines is taking it a bit far. Let’s try a few synonyms, shall we?

Still, the mix of true movie making is right there at your fingertips – comedic lines from Brandt, heart-wrenching moments with Benji, a romance between Hunt and his leading lady, the anticipate high-speed chase, the seconds of doubt in impossible fixes, the culmination of clever planning.

What are your thoughts as the franchise progresses? Favorite scenes or twists from the new movie? Tell us in the comments below.

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<![CDATA[It's the Little Things]]>Sun, 16 Aug 2015 19:21:07 GMThttp://wordsmithery.net/1/post/2015/08/january-27th-2017.htmlPicture
Our furry friends appreciate the “little things” that we do for them. Watching their small joys elicits an uncomfortable pang in our chests – the reminder of humility.

Just the other day, I went outside to feed the animals in the evening. The dogs’ water was looking low and sprinkled with bits of hay, so I decided to go dump the old water, rinse the bucket and refill it with fresh water.

Lugging the heavy bucket out of the barn and tossing the water out, I set my face (unknowingly) into a frown and thought about the heat in the air and the bugs nipping at my skin. Why do some people enjoy the outdoors so much?

My blue heeler nudged up against my leg, brown eyes large and wise. Irritated, I just pushed him away and grumbled to myself.

But when I set the bucket full of fresh water on the ground, he sneaked forward and sipped out of the bucket. I turned back from unlatching the gate to look at him.

With that little sip, the dip of his head into the bucket, the wet velvet on his muzzle, my heart melted. That dog appreciated what I’d done for him.

Just a little thing – filling a bucket with clean, sloshing water. Yet he wanted to enjoy it as soon as he could. He wanted to appreciate it with a tender sort of sincerity.

How do your furry friends humble you? Tell me about them in the comments below.

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<![CDATA[A Visit to Ingleside]]>Sat, 08 Aug 2015 19:10:43 GMThttp://wordsmithery.net/1/post/2015/08/a-visit-to-ingleside1.html I feel as if I have lived an entire lifetime with Lucy Maud Montgomery's Anne Shirley – excuse me, Mrs. Anne Blythe.

We grew up from the ragged little orphan girl with a full and open heart to the young woman studying her nights away at Patty’s Place to the fresh-faced mistress of the House of Dreams.

Now she listens to the little fears and delights of her own “small fry” at Ingleside.

To think that the little girl with only an old suitcase and a head of dreams came to live in such a huge house with all those adoring children with little dreamy heads of their own!

I almost feel as old as Anne in Rainbow Valley. But, of course, no one can change that fast. Somehow books have a way of aging us up (or down).

Have you read Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights?

While reading that book, I felt that I aged at least a few generations along with the characters, but the satisfying feeling of accumulated wisdom was certainly worth it.

Where else would we have the chance to experience generations of lives in that detail and intensity?

What books have you read that aged you either up or down (or caught you right in the comfortable middle)? Tell me about them in the comments below.

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