Thursday, December 24, 2015

Top Five Favorite Christmas Books

As many of you might guess, one of my favorite ways to celebrate this time of year is to read Christmas-themed books. They help bring more wonder and magic to season and help me relive my childhood Christmas memories. Enjoy my top five favorite picks for the yuletide!

1. Santa Calls by William Joyce

Art, his sister, Esther, and their friend, Spaulding, are given a unusual present from Santa that takes them to the North Pole. Once there they meet the ingenious jolly man and see his Christmas Empire. But Esther is kidnapped and it's up to Art and his amazing intuition to save her.

2. The Great Christmas Kidnapping Caper by Jean Van Leeuwen, illustrations by Steven Kellogg

Three mice are making their home in the toy department of Macy's during Christmas time. They notice the children flocking to see Santa in their department. But when Santa abruptly stops coming, the mice believe Saint Nick has been kidnapped.

3. A Wish for Wings that Work: An Opus Christmas Story by Berkeley Breathed

Opus has always dreamed that his wings might work to make him soar in the sky. During Christmas time, Opus makes a special flying wish. Late on Christmas Eve, Opus hears a commotion near his home and finds out that Santa has crashed into the bay and is sinking. Using his unique wings, Opus swims out to save Santa's sleigh.

4. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

Late on Christmas Eve, a boy is invited aboard the Polar Express, to take a trip with hundreds of other children to see the home of Santa Claus. When the boy is there, he is singled out by Santa to receive the first gift of Christmas.

5. Red Ranger Came Calling by Berkeley Breathed

"Red" Breathed believed he was the famous "Red Ranger from Mars" and to complete his role he needed the Red Ranger bicycle. He wants to ask Santa for the gift, but thinks he's too old to believe in Santa. So, he goes in search of the retired hermit, Lord Sander Clos, to ask for his bicycle. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

2015 Midwest LDS Storymakers

Good evening all! Sorry for the "radio silence" lately. Life has been extremely busy this holiday season. But not too long ago I attended the Midwest "chapter" of LDS Storymakers. It was a two day conference spent entirely on writing literature...something I am struggling to do. In this post, I'll highlight the sessions I attended and the authors I met.

Kirsten Joy HobbsFirst up, I wouldn't have attended this incredibly inspiring conference if it wasn't for my amazing writing friend, baking buddy, and kindred-spirit sister, Kirsten Hobbs. This past year, she recently self-published her YA/New Adult novel, The Passion and Perils of the Insatiably Hungry (great title, huh?).

Anyway, Kirsten and I attended the entire conference together. It was setup at the Johnson County Library on Antioch. And a first this year, the conference was free because of the library's participation.

The conference started with a Writer's Boot Camp. I nervously signed up for this, unsure of what other people would think of my work-in-progress YA novel. But it was a good experience. And, thankfully, I gave out some resourceful feedback to my fellow writers. That is, if you are writing a sci-fi YA book, DEVOUR sci-fi YA books! Get whatever books you can grab in your genre and READ, READ, READ! Because you'll discover your niche as you read. So, I gave suggestions to all the writers of published books that mimicked their style.

Each group was monitored by a published author. Our "YA Mystery" group was overseen by Rebecca Belliston. She gave insightful and helpful advice to improve our writing samples. I will be reviewing her YA series Citizens of Logan Pond. Thanks for an awesome review, Rebecca!

After this, we attended classes on different aspects of writing, each taught by a published author. The seminars I went to focused on world building, description, character motivation, writing fantasy, developing a deep love for writing, and fairytale re-fresh.

The conference had a keynote speaker, which was Jessica Day George. I attended her classes on writing fantasy fiction and how to find refreshing ways to re-write fairytales. It was great to see her again since our last meet up at ILA.

The conference was not all about YA literature. Most of the presenting authors write adult literature. But the few who wrote YA were Lisa Mangum (love her Hourglass Door trilogy!), Janette Rallison, Rebecca Belliston, and Jessica Day George.

It was a fun experience, especially sharing it with my dear friend Kirsten. Now I just have to FINISH my book!

Have a great week! Thanks for checking out my blog and happy holidays!  

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Impossible Rescue: The True Story of an Amazing Artic Adventure by Martin W. Sandler

In September 1897, eight whaling ships get iced-in just off the northern coast of Alaska. Word spreads to the Whitehouse of the plight awaiting the 265 marooned whalers. President William McKinley orders the captain of the Bear, a ship in the Revenue Cutter Service, to send three officers overland to gather reindeer herds and drive the animals 1,000 miles to the whalers’ location near Point Barrow, Alaska. Three men are chosen for the mission: First Lieutenant David Jarvis oversees the Overland Relief Expedition, along with Dr. Samuel Call, and Second Lieutenant Ellsworth Bertholf. The icy ocean conditions cause the Bear to land the men 500 miles off course.

The Impossible Rescue is a hidden historical treasure. Sandler recreates the true story in suspenseful detail quoting several of the men who aided the stranded whalers. Adding to their words, Sandler exhibits original photographs of the indigenous people and locations Jarvis, Call, and Bertholf encountered on their journey. Many photographs were actually taken by Dr. Call. Sandler also provides maps pinpointing the routes taken by Jarvis, Call, Bertholf, and the Bear and the locations of the icebound whaling ships. Near the end of the book, Sandler gives a timeline of the Overland Relief Expedition and includes the fate of the people involved. Both the story and book’s structure will coax any reader to rush on with Jarvis, Call, and Bertholf as they plow forward through snow, wind, and ice to save the 265 men. Appropriate for ages 10 and up.