books · crafty things

Broken Snowshoe Logo

Broken Snowshoe logo

I wanted a little logo for my books. I’ve been calling my publishing self Broken Snowshoe after my beloved cat Bob. Despite his many challenges he was always loving and happy and made those around him happy too. I asked my daughter Anna to design me a something, combining Bob and books. This is the logo she created for me. I love it.

Then as an added surprise, for Christmas she made a little clay model of it for me. It’s even cuter! Here’s to creative and thoughtful kids!

Broken Snowshoe logo clay model by Anna

Now I just need to finish my books so I have something to put this logo on. Coming soon. . .

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Forgot to Show Off My New Books

I forgot to show what I bought at FogCon last weekend. I knew I wouldn’t be buying as much as I wanted since the budget is what it is right now, but here’s what I went home with:

I’d already read The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers, and enjoyed it a lot, so I knew going that picking up the next book was part of my plan.

I’ve wanted to read In Calabria for awhile now, so when I saw a signed copy available I snapped that up (Peter S Beagle was not at FogCon as far as I know, but there was a bookseller there with lots of signed books from lots of authors).
Then there were a ton of things I saw that were already on my TBR (To Be Read for anyone who doesn’t do book lingo) list, plus I started a whole new TBR list as I listened to panels and got interested both in books the presenters had written, and ones they recommended or quoted or talked about. Picking was tough. Then I also sort of had in my head ahead of time that I’d like to get something I didn’t know anything about before attending. Something new to me. That’s where Defrag came in. I piked it up in the dealer room because of the cover art and the thin size I thought it might be a graphic novel, and my daughter might like it. No, it’s just a short-ish book, but I still love the cover art, and the blurb sounded interesting, so it’s my ‘new thing to try out’.

Then I made the good financial decision to not go back to the dealer room again. I still have my list though, so I am all set on reading material for a nice while.

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Meeting Authors at SF Comic Con 2018

Books from SF ComicCon. Photo by Kara Hartz

I was a little disappointed that they didn’t have any novel writing focused writing talks on the schedule this year. There were a few on screenwriting and comic writing though. The last couple years they had several, but I noticed the author who did those talks was not there this year.
There was also only 1 novel table in the vendor hall that I found, that had books from several authors. I bought a book from each (1 was an ebook because her paper copies didn’t show up apparently) and got them signed.

I had hoped for more, obviously, since I am a book lover more than anything, and am considering writing to the con to say how much I missed the writing talks and hope to see more of them in future years.

Still, I have fun new things to read, and that’s always a win.

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NanoWriMo 2017 starting in 2 days

I’m NaNoWriMo-ing again this year. National Novel Writing Month for those unfamiliar with the term) I haven’t won in a very long time, and I really, REALLY want to win this year. Yet I’m no less overwhelmed and overscheduled than I usually am, so we’ll see how things go.

This year I’m writing with an outline. As my novel revisions are going very well so far, my NaNo novel will be the sequel to that one. The story so far is fresh in my mind, and I’m excited to continue it. I already know the characters fairly well (although new characters will be introduced). So all this is to my benefit I think, as far as quick word counts go.

Logistically, I’m also trying some new things. My laptop has been slowly dying for awhile now. It takes ages to power on, an off, and is just old and sad. Since I’m too broke to just go get a new laptop, and I have a wonderful pocket computer anyway (aka a smart phone) I decided to get a bluetooth keyboard and write on my phone.

I’m trying out the program yWriter, but so far can’t quite figure out how to use it both on my phone and on my desktop. It seems like there is something to do with saving to Google Drive, but I can’t figure out how to do that yet. So I have two days to get my learning curve finished with this program, or I guess I’ll just use Google docs.

Wish me luck!

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3 Books (and a cat)

Meeko with my current reading material. photo by Kara Hartz

I’m overwhelmed with great reading material (again). I picked up The Healer’s Legacy by Sharon Skinner at San Francisco Comic Con last weekend, and started reading it on the way home. The author presented a writing panel I attended, and I remembered seeing her last year as well, but I didn’t have a chance then to go back to the dealer room to buy a book. So I made a point to do so this year. I’m enjoying it so far. The main character has a panther and tiny dragon friend. So – what more do you need?

Then at the library I spotted Seven Stones to Stand or Fall by Diana Gabaldon on the ‘Lucky Day’ shelf. The Lucky Day books are popular books that they don’t let you renew, and you can’t put a hold on them. I think there are other copies of the same books you can hold, but they save some just for the Lucky Day shelf- the idea being that when you come into the library and find a great book that you’ve been wanting, that makes your day, Lucky! Now, I HAVE been wanting to get this book because it is a collection of Outlander short fiction. I’ve already read most of the stories, but there are 3 or 4 of them that I had not yet tracked down in their original publications. So yea! Problem is, I’m already reading the above book, but I had to grab this one when I saw it, and can’t renew. So I get to read extra. My Sunday is reading day!

Then, a great co-worker gave me The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan. (When I went to get that link I noticed the ebook is on sale for $1.99 if you want to grab it – not sure how long the sale goes.) I’ve heard good things about it, so it’s going next in line because she just told me her sister wants to read it too. I can’t lollygag too much with getting it done and back to her.

Other books I’m looking forward to hopefully getting soon are the last in the Broken Earth Trilogy: The Stone Sky by N K Jemisin, The third book in the Tawny Man Trilogy: Fool’s Fate by Robin Hobb, and Terminal Alliance by Jim Hines – it isn’t out yet though so I get to wait for that one. (Ack! When I went to get THAT link I saw he has a Magic ex Libris short story available called Chupacabra’s Song for only $0.99 that I then had to buy. Perhaps I shouldn’t do these posts about what I’m reading if they are going to result in me finding even more things to read. . . oh who am I kidding. There is always room for more great stuff to read.)



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Homeschooling High School – Honors 9th Grade English

Like my decision to share my personal experience with my colostomy, illeostomy and abdominal wall reconstruction, I’ve decided to share our personal journey with homeschooling through high school. It also seems to be a topic that worries a lot of otherwise calm and collected homeschoolers. Now, we are just at the beginning. I am no expert other than the fact that I was once in high school and I was accepted to multiple UC universities, so I have at least some idea of what that takes to accomplish.

Some caveats before we begin:
Homeschooling journeys are very individual. Just because I mention something we are doing doesn’t mean I think that is the best thing for everyone to do. It means this is what we have decided to do at this time for this kid. You know your kids and your goals, and my kid and her goals might be different. Use your discretion when following any advice.

We homeschool through a public charter program. They will create official high school transcripts for us from all the work my daughter will be doing. Unless we leave the charter, I won’t be offering advice on how to write a transcript.

Also because we use a charter, I will be following, at least loosely, their checklist of standards for each class I write about so I know my daughter will get the proper credit for her work.

We don’t know what our kiddo wants to do in life yet. So we are approaching high school from the perspective of making sure she is prepared for whatever she decides on. If she decides to go to a competitive university, we want her to be prepared to get in and succeed. If she chooses another path she will at worst be over-prepared. If she makes a decision later on about what she wants to be, we may switch gears to better aim for that.

So our guidelines for Honors English recommended reading and analyzing 6 novels. (Yes only 6!) She usually reads many more than that in a year, but we have been a little lax on the analysis part in the past, so that’s something I’m going to focus more on this year. We’ll go slower through the books and do a lot more talking and probably writing about them. Our novels for 9th grade high school English this year are:




To guide us along with the literature analysis portion of things I ordered a few guides. Specifically, I’d like to mention there two because I learned something:

What I learned was that these are not two different publishers and two different types of study guides as I first thought. They are a teacher’s version and a student pages of the same study unit (well, if you bought it for the same novel -as you can see I did not.) Reading through these guides, I thought about ordering the missing piece of each one, but ultimately decided against it. I think I’ll just use the section I have for each one, and we will still do our own thing, our own discussions, etc. This will give us a little more variety in how we go about our book discussions. If, when we are actually using them, I think otherwise, I’ll report in here about how it went.

I also bought a Literature textbook, primarily so we can add in some short stories. I’m not sure how much we’ll use this, but I wanted to round out the novel studies a little.

We spent a good part of 8th grade working on the 5 paragraph essay format until I was confident she was comfortable with it. So this year we’ll work on refining her style, and help her put her thoughts and ideas into a structure.

I wanted her to try an online class, and thought English might be a good choice, but was unable to find anything that fit what I was looking for. I found several online and local writing classes, but nothing that would have been a full English class, and certainly nothing that would hit an honors level course.

She has several writing projects to complete throughout the year, and a couple of oral presentations. In addition she is required to take a proctored finial exam or complete a finial project. She is leaning toward doing the project, but we have no guidelines on what they are expecting for that or if she needs to turn it in to anyone in particular, so we will have to talk to her charter to clarify about that.

Wish us luck!

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Thoughts on Watership Down

I’m rereading Watership Down by Richard Adams in preparation to assigning it for my 9th grader. I waited until 9th grade to assign this particular book because I remembered it as being really good, but really, really creepy and frightening when I read it as a child. I don’t remember how old I was when I read it, but much younger than 9th grade. I also spotted Watership Down on several recommended reading lists for high schoolers. I think this just reinforced the idea I had that this was a scary book and not for young kids.

Now that I’m rereading it however, I’m increasingly of the opinion that the creepy memories I have are not of the actual book, but of the cartoon movie version from 1978 that I watched, and then had nightmares about, as a small child. Because the Watership Down movie was a cartoon, people liked to show it to kids despite the amount of death and gore they managed to put in. My husband remembers it airing on television ever Easter. How festive to see rabbits fighting to the death, but that’s how we rolled back then.

   

On my current reading, I’m enjoying the heck out of it. There’s a reason some things just hold up over time. Yes, there are a few creepy moments, and a fair amount of fighting and injuries, but the gore is minimal in the book compared to the cartoon. It’s just a group of rabbits who work together to find the things that make rabbits happy in life: a safe burrow, good grass, mates, and so on. There is teamwork and friendship and bravery.

In fact, I’m enjoying it enough that I think I’ll include the 5th grader, and we’ll all read it together. I think she’d enjoy it. Some of the vocabulary might be advanced for her, but not much. She reads several grade levels ahead on her own anyway. Mainly it’s the rabbit-specific language that is tricky, and that is new to all of us. I’ve debated with myself about showing the movie version to the kids when they finish reading. I’m afraid of scaring the memory of a great book with the memory of a horrific movie.

When I was trying to see if Netflix had the Watership Down movie, I found a ‘coming soon’ Netflix original miniseries. Apparently one intention is to make it significantly less gory and scaring for children, but the article still does say it won’t be for very young children. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/04/27/bbc-remake-watership-down-with-less-violence-to-avoid-scarring-c/
I’m excited about this.

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Robin Hobb is my Idol

I’m reading Golden Fool by Robin Hobb right now. I’ve been saving it for my surgery/recovery so I would have something to look forward to. I’m just about halfway through and just learned something that rocked my little reader brain for a loop. I won’t give the spoiler here, but man oh man is this a good book.

It’s a little awkward to blog about how everyone needs to read this book when it is the second book in the middle of a trilogy, and this trilogy is in the middle of a much longer series of books. Don’t start here. Start with Assassin’s Apprentice. Work your way through everything in between, then read this. It will be worth it.

Now, when I was trying to figure out the reading order of these books, several websites and forum discussions I came across said that you could skip the Liveship books since they focus on different characters. I read the Farseer Trilogy (Assassin’s Apprentice, Royal Assassin, and Assassin’s Quest) first (as should you), then the Liveship books (Ship of Magic, Mad Ship, and Ship of Destiny) and the started on the Tawny Man trilogy (Fool’s Errand, Golden Fool – that I’m in the middle of now) and next will be Fool’s Fate). Now that I have done so I can say with authority that you should absolutely NOT skip the Liveship books.

There are events and characters in the book right now that would carry so much less interest and almost no emotional impact for me as a reader if I didn’t have all the extensive background information and relationship connections explored in the Liveship books. My mind boggles at those reviews I read way back when that said you could skip them and not miss out on anything. The emotional wallop I and them main character hit yesterday would have been completely absent without the Liveship books. In fact, it may have been a bigger wallop to me since I have more incite to the revelation than Fitz does right now.

The only other books I saw as recommended to skip are the Soldier’s Son trilogy. These are actually an unrelated trilogy that is unconnected to the events in the Farseer world. Still, I read them and loved them. They are worth reading, but you don’t need to worry about their placement in the larger series because the events are completely outside of that story-line.

That’s probably enough gushing for the moment. Go read!

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What I’m Reading

I often read more than one book at a time, but I think I’ve gotten a little out of hand at the moment. Problem is, I’m completely loving everything I’m reading at the moment so I can’t bring myself to set anything aside and focus more. Part of the reason this happened was that I put myself on the waitlist for books at the library fairly often. Sometimes those waitlists are long. A waitlist 100 people long may take months to get to me, or weeks – depending on how many copies the library has to go around. From time to time, several things I’ve waitlisted will arrive close together. The reason this is a problem is that if there was a waitlist for the item, I was usually not the last person on it. Others are waiting behind me for their turn as well, and if there’s a pending hold on a book, you’re not allowed to renew it. So I have to read those right away. Unless I’ve reserved too many. Then I have a problem. Like now.

Another thing that is happening is that I’m reading books along with my kids. Things I’ve assigned them to read that I haven’t read myself, or I read so long ago that I need a refresher before we have discussions. This type of reading is also time sensitive since I have to keep up with them.
That’s how I end up here. Reading:
Fool’s Errand by Robin Hobb (it has been waiting for me on my Kindle for awhile, and darnit, I just needed this one for my heart.)
Obelisk Gate by N K Jemisin (audiobook from the library that I had to wait for)
Shockaholic by Carrie Fisher (library reserve. Really wanted to read some of her fiction, but still waiting for that to come in) 
Eragon by Christopher Paloini (audiobook from library. I remember this one fine, but the kids both needed to read it for book club, and we thought it would be easier to all listen together)
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J K Rowling (bedtime family read-aloud)
The Once and Future King by T S White (audiobook for 8th grader’s assignment. She’s reading the physical book. I flunked this one. Didn’t keep up. She’s finished – I’m on Chap 10. Luckily I remember enough to talk about it still.)
Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (new assigned book for the 8th grader. I promise to do better this time!)
A couple nonfiction books about homeschooling high school (note 8th grader mentioned above – trying to prepare) that I have checked out from library but have to admit I haven’t gone far in because of above list. 
Also, I have Ghost Talker’s I just picked up on hold, but haven’t gotten to start on because of above list. This is the one I’m worried about since it was a long wait for it. I guess if I have to return it before I get to read it, I can just get back in line. 
Having too many wonderful things to read hardly seems like something to complain about. I just need to learn to pace myself better.
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Gorillas

This whole business about the child and the gorilla in Cincinnati is very upsetting. All I see is blame being thrown in all directions. It’s understandable. That’s what we do when we are upset and feel helpless. I have no great insight. What I do have is a deep and long love of gorillas, and I want to share a little with you today.

We read The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate at our homeschool book club awhile ago. The preteens loved it, the littles loved it, and even the moms loved it, and each group enjoyed different layers of this great story based on the life of a real gorilla, Ivan.

When I was in high school, I wanted to be Diane Fossey when I grew up. There are lots of books about her and the gorillas she studied, but here’s a fun one, and it includes sections on Jane Goodal and the chimps, and Biruté Galdikas and the orangutans.

And then we can’t forget about the beautiful Koko. I couldn’t pick just one book to feature for her, so I encourage you to visit her website to see what she has been up to lately. If you’re moved to do something for gorilla-kind in the wake of this tragedy, that site is a good place to donate.