Author Archives: AJ Prince

A little Halloween Reading

With Halloween sneaking up on us in just a few days, my household has been entrenched in anything resembling spooky. My yard has been transformed into a haunted graveyard, with skeletons and spiders hanging from tree branches. Thankfully, this year the dog caught on quickly that these bones were not his chew toys. Unthankfully, I hate spiders and we have one huge brown one that just freaks me out anytime it catches my peripheral. Ghosts and jack o’lanterns are set about my living room, wreaking havoc on my cats. We made our annual trip to the pumpkin patch, where we brought home pumpkins that outweigh my youngest – oh how I am dreading the de-gutting of those. Costumes are ready and waiting to be worn and soiled.

Yes, we are ready for Halloween at the Prince residence.

Another part of our ritual is during the entire month of October, we collect books and stories from the library that revolve around goblins, ghosts, witches, and anything else that jumps in the night. Even the school has gotten on board with tying the fun of dressing up with reading. We have story book character day in our district where each child has can dress up, but must bring a book about that character. (I will be honest, I find this to be a good concept of an idea, but extremely annoyed at how they go about it.)

During this month, I tend to read more in the horror genre than I do at any other time of year. There are so many great books tagged as horror, that it was hard to really narrow one down. Last year I read a few horror books, but the classic Mary Shelley’s, Frankenstein was the one that stuck out for me the most. So this year I decided to read Bram Stoker’s, Dracula.

And I chose well.

Books written around this time period generally are written in journal/diary format. This seems to be how the writers were able to jump point of views easily and tell a story in a way that felt natural to them. It is not my favorite form of literature, but it works well for this book. It’s like piecing a puzzle together, and I enjoy that aspect.

The story itself is creepy in a very simplistic way almost. It doesn’t slap you in the face with the horror of what is happening, which so many books do. Instead it’s a slow and subtle build up that gives you chills when you picture what is unfolding in front of you. Take the character Lucy for example. At first I thought Lucy was just a side character with very little importance, but as the story grows, so does her part in it, until she is no longer of any importance.

Stories now days tend to be more graphically descriptive than they used to be. This tends to be a good and a bad thing, in my opinion. But there are some great descriptors that are so simple but paint a vivid picture right in front of you. There is this scene where Dracula scales the side of the castle like a lizard, and you can’t help but imagine what it would be like to be able to do that!

So do your reading/writing habits change during the Holidays? What are you reading right now? Let us know in the comments, we’d love to hear what you have to say.

Till next time,

~AJP

Dreams with Deadlines

“Goals are dreams with Deadlines” – Diana Scharf Hunt

Do you ever wonder what life would be without dreams or goals? Would we just float along aimlessly, with no real gumption to move forward in life? It sounds boring.

Goals can be mundane, for example, like planning to make it to a destination on time for once. Or they can be a major plotting point in your life, like becoming a successful author.

One of my major writing assignments, due today actually, for one of my classes was to write an essay on my Life Goals. This included a three year, five year, and a ten year goal that I had to set out for myself. These things could not be something like getting married (though, check), or having children (again, check), but more like goals that I could accomplish on my own by pushing myself to reach them and not relying on another individual to succeed.

This sounds easy enough, but it wasn’t. Writing is a big part of my future, and I share my goals for writing every time that I make it to a writer’s meeting. It was difficult for me to come up with three attainable but meaningful goals and then write a paper explaining how I plan on reaching these said goals.

Writing this paper was horrible, not because I couldn’t do it, but because it had me hanging my head in shame. I am so swamped with trying to keep my head afloat that I am not getting the one thing done needed to reach my ultimate goal. Write! I mean, I am writing, but I am not getting to really write the fun stuff right now. Oh, I write. Essay’s upon essay’s! (If I never have to analyze another topic again, I wont be saddened.)

I need to write for fun for any of this to be worth it. This being school, blogging, and meetings.

At the beginning of next month is the start of NaNoWriMo (50,000 words in 30 days), I know that Jesi and CJ are already signed up to do it and have been planning profusely. I keep telling myself that I don’t have the time, and I really don’t, but I need something fun to get me back in the swing of writing for pleasure and not just for a grade.

 I guess I just added another dream with a deadline to my list .

So what goals do you have set for yourself? How are you going to achieve them? Let us know down in the comments, we’d love to hear from you.

Till next time,
~AJP

Challenge the Banned

The week of September 27 – October 3 is banned books week. Twitter has been filled with funny tweets from publishers and readers alike. Libraries have set out the books banned in the past, front and center for you to read a “banned book”.

It seems ridiculous really, the idea of banning a book, to me anyway. In school, had I been told that I could not read a book, the first thing I would have done was have my mother find it for me so that I could read it. My mom knew better than to tell me that I couldn’t read something, because then I would have had my grandmother go out and find it for me so that I could read it.

We can look back at the past and laugh on the idiosyncrasies of the times before us. They were naïve, they didn’t know any better, or it was just the world they lived in.

But.

Even today, we have schools and parents who challenge books. You can find a list of them here. In a world that parents turn a blind eye and let kids flaunt themselves in public, on social media, they get their pants in a twist because their children could be reading something that would dirty their minds.

Preposterous.

I understand censoring for age-appropriateness, I wouldn’t read to my six-year-old a book in the age group for my 12-year-old, nor would I read a book full of sex to my 12-year old. As their parent, that is my job. Emphasis on the word my.

The world is a fishbowl of situations and people. We do not all fit into a mass mold, and we cannot expect our children to come from the same generic template either. They have to be able to read about situations that they ever never had to experience firsthand.

It seems the books on this list were banned because the subjects/topics that were written about made someone uncomfortable. Let’s take To Kill a Mockingbird for example (it is the most recent that I’ve read); it has been called degrading, full of profane and racist language and actions, and so much more.

This book was so much more than about race; it was also about the integrity of the human race – or lack of in some cases, prejudice, poverty, discrimination and the fact that we struggle to see past our own front yard some days.

But it was a good book. Not because it was full of happy go lucky times, not because it took me to a different time and made me feel good. No, in fact, many scenes made my stomach twist up in a sickening rage. It took me to a time and a place that was uncomfortable. It made me see things through a different point of view.

This hasn’t been a book that my eldest has had to read for school yet, I wonder if it will be on the list at some point. There have been others that bring light to uncomfortable circumstances. It is not taught so that they grow up and become like what they read in the book. No, it is to bring light to situations that are gritty and controversial so that maybe our kids can learn from them. Be better because of them.

I will never understand the idea of banning or challenging a book. Everyone needs to be able to read an experience for themselves. The idea of a school or a person telling me what my kids can or cannot read would tick me off.

The idea of being told what I should or should not write about would tick me off. The world isn’t a neat little package, wrapped up waiting for us like on Christmas morning. Therefore, we shouldn’t have to write like that either. And by banning a book, isn’t that what they are trying to say/do? Tell us that we shouldn’t have written about that.

Check out these websites to view the different lists of banned or challenged books.

Here is a list of Banned Books that Shaped America: (The bolded ones are books that reside on my bookshelf.)

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain, 1884

The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Malcolm X and Alex Haley, 1965 (Grove Press)

Beloved, Toni Morrison, 1987

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, Dee Brown, 1970

The Call of the Wild, Jack London, 1903

Catch-22, Joseph Heller, 1961

The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger, 1951

Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury, 1953

For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway, 1940

Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell, 1936

The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck, 1939

The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1925

Howl, Allen Ginsberg, 1956In Cold Blood, Truman Capote, 1966

Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison, 1952

The Jungle, Upton Sinclair, 1906

Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman, 1855

Moby-Dick; or The Whale, Herman Melville,1851

Native Son, Richard Wright, 1940

Our Bodies, Ourselves, Boston Women’s Health Book Collective, 1971

The Red Badge of Courage, Stephen Crane, 1895

The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1850

Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, Alfred C. Kinsey, 1948

Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein, 1961

A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee Williams, 1947

Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston, 1937

To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee, 1960

Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe, 1852

Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak, 1963

The Words of Cesar Chavez, Cesar Chavez, 2002

 

What is your favorite banned/challenged book? Let me know down in the comments, we’d love to hear from you.

Till next time,

~AJP

Check out these websites to view the different lists of banned or challenged books.

http://www.bannedbooksweek.org/

http://www.loc.gov/bookfest/books-that-shaped-america/

http://www.ala.org/bbooks/frequentlychallengedbooks/

A Creator of Words

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to Live.” – Albus Dumbledore

  

This past weekend, I skipped my writer’s group meeting so that my husband and I could take our kids to see a showing of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in theatres. I know, I know, skipping a writing meeting is generally unheard of.

But… Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was showing in the theatre. That hasn’t happened since 2001!

Now, my kids have grown up with a mother who absolutely loves all things Harry Potter, so this was not the first time that they have seen this movie. Nor was it the second, third, fourth, or… you get the idea. But it was the first time they were able to experience it on the big screen.

And they were amazed.

The first time I saw this movie was the weekend that it was released. My husband (then fiancé) and I were joining part of my family for a movie night, and at the time this was the only interesting kid friendly movie showing. I had never heard of this Harry Potter and his magical world and just needed something that my (under ten) siblings could agree on. They are now in their 20’s and probably do not even remember going. Later that same weekend, I drug my mother and another younger sibling to see it. After that, the rest was history.

We immediately went out and purchased the first book. As in the next day. A few days later, we bought the second. And so on. The movie had been spectacular, but the books were/are better. By the time the series was fully released, I had babies of my own. My son has his own collection of the books and the movies, and I have a collection of the books saved for my daughter for when she is able to read them on her own.

Now, I am sure there is someone out there that didn’t care for the series, but I haven’t met them yet. As I am also aware that there are plenty of people who liked the series, read them, even watched the movies and that was that. It was just another book/movie for them.  I have read or listened on audio to the series more times than I care to share with you.

Everyone is different. There are those who fall back on Shakespeare, Austen, Fitzgerald, Tolkien; there is a creator of words out there for anyone and everyone. You just have to be willing to find who speaks the loudest to you. Me, I’m just a Rowling girl.

One day, one of us might become one of those authors for someone. One never knows.

Who/what speaks the loudest to you? Let me know down in the comments, I’d love to hear from you.

Till next time,

~AJP

Are You Reading?

The MORE that you Read,
the more THINGS you will KNOW.
The MORE you LEARN,
the more PLACES you’ll GO!
~Dr. Seuss

It’s not a secret that I love to read (mentioned in a previous post). And to write, you have to read.

Here lately, I find myself reading probably more than I do anything else. While I work, I listen to e-audio books on my iPad, instead of music. I have three (very thick and large) school books that I read during my breaks, lunch and after work & class. On the nights that I do not have class, I read to my youngest – right now we are on a Halloween and Christmas kick. And then I try and get in a few minutes of non-homework reading right before bed.

I am also not one to stick to reading one book at a time either. At any given time, I could be reading one to five books at a time. This might seem like too much to some, but it works for me. There are days where a story just doesn’t hold my interest, but calls me back to it another day.

And I will admit, finding these e-book audios on the library’s website has saved my sanity at work. A person can only listen to music for so long before the singing starts to wear on ones nerves.

Right now I am listening to…

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling (I have been rereading the series with a friend of mine who has never read them before! I know, I know. How could one have never read these before? It is not from lack of trying on my part.)

And I am reading…

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham

So what are you reading right now? Let me know down in the comments, I love seeing what others are reading.

Till next time,
~AJP

A Juggling Act

**Disclaimer, this post has not been proofread for any grammatical or spelling errors, so please read any errors that you come across and pretend that they are not really there. **

Wednesday. Today is Wednesday. It is just a day in the middle of the week for a lot of people, or also known as hump day.

Wednesdays are also the day I have a class scheduled and get my youngest to soccer practice and my oldest to church for bible study, after I have put in 9 hours at the office, made dinner and… and… I am forgetting something…

Oh right. It is also the day that I post here at TW.

I have a juggling act going on right now and I might’ve let a few of the balls drop lately, including remembering that I post on Wednesdays. Well, I cannot say that I have completely forgotten. I do remember – right as I lay down for sleep and go through my “to do” list in my head. That’s when I go “crap!”

But why dwell on what cannot be undone. Let us move forward…

Last night was my first class in English. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, the professor hadn’t posted his semester syllabus nor had he sent any pre-class emails giving us a heads up. Yes, I know this can be the norm, but my other professors already had made contact and I have been a complete mess of nerves about going back to school, so I really wanted something.

In class he explained the reason for the lack of a syllabus, of course system issues – we’ve all been there right? – And gave us a break down of what our next 16 weeks will look like. At this point I was both relieved and back to being freaked out. It occurred to me in the middle of this room, with 20 other bodies, that I will now be graded on my writing.

GRADED!

Graded, as in scored for pass or fail. (What in the hell was I thinking?)

This week’s assignment, we watched a video and have to give a thesis on the debate of the “Homeless Homed” project. It is less for a grade and more to show the professor my writing style. We need to give the argument vs argument concept; the argument being the claim plus the justification in the situation.

Claim + Justification = Argument

Then how the use of the “Art of Persuasion” and how a person can use techniques to coerce their audience. It is an interesting concept. And something as writers we all try to do. We use our voice and techniques or the “Art of Persuasion” to show/coerce the reader into feeling for our characters even if/when they are flawed.

Hmm, wonder what I will come up with.

So my question for you, do you know your writing style? And if so, are you comfortable enough with it to be graded on? Let me know in the comments.

Till next time,
~AJP

An age old question

When you meet a writer, one of the first questions is, “what do you write?” or, “what are you working on?”

 
This past weekend, while some of our fellow Twisted Writers were running the library book sale, I met another local writer. And sure enough, these were her first two questions, “what do you write?” and, “what are you working on?”

 
I struggle with these questions. I am not sure why, but I always have. It is almost like I guard these tidbits of knowledge as my own precious jewels needing to be locked away from prying eyes. Mine!

 
But being a writer is opening up and sharing your bits of treasured words with others. So I guess I should start handing out my treasure maps…

 
What do I write?

 
I write contemporary fiction, usually in the YA (Young Adult) or NA (New Adult) genre. I write flash fiction on the side, but it’s not something I really think much about in the long haul. My love is for novel writing and that is where I want my future to be.

 
What am I working on?

 
At the moment I am working on several different pieces.
My biggest project is writing the Storyteller’s point of view in my novel. (Synopsis: The synopsis for this one is; One family. One hour. One Action. Several Reactions. They say blood is thicker than water, but what do you do if that blood is slowly choking the life out of you? We delve into the lives of six family members, three generations; each dealing with a situation that could make or break them.) It is a big project for me because there are so many POV’s that if I do not get this done correctly then it will become a confusing mess of words. I have written out the stories from everyone else in the book, but now I am left with the most important one, the one who created the mess in the first place. My goal is to have her side written by the end of the year so that I can start on edits and rewrites by January.

 
My second smaller project isn’t really a project at all. Yet. I had an idea come to my head a few weeks ago and I am working on getting the bits and pieces out on paper to see if I want to take it further into a story later on. Right now, I have a bunch of random scenes and dialogue scrawled out in a notebook. Oh and a time line. It’s always good to have a time line.

 
For my mini project, I am working on a short story for a Twisted deadline. (I say mini project, this is the one giving me the most grief at the moment.)

 
Human nature is to always be working on something, towards something, or doing something. It’s what we do. Keep our minds busy, our hands working, our imaginations rolling or we become stagnant.

 
And no one wants that.

 
What are you working on at the moment? Share with us down in the comments, we’d love to hear what you have to say.

 
Till next time,
~AJP

Unemotionally Attached

I am sitting here with absolutely nothing to post about today. My mind has been preoccupied with new and old story lines, trying to edit something for an upcoming workshop, and dealing with Month End issues at work. So as I sit here, wracking my brain with something – anything- to blog about, my mind keeps going back to CJ’s post yesterday.

It was a good post, and I loved reading her point of view on the matter regarding the recent publication of Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee. CJ linked to some great articles giving you an insight on the drama that has been circled around Ms. Lee here of late.

To Kill a Mockingbird is a book that a lot of people hold dear, something they remember fondly reading while growing up. So the idea of this new book painting Atticus as a different man than he was in TKAM is unfathomable to some.

But what if you don’t hold To Kill a Mockingbird dear?

I don’t.

Up until a year ago, I never put much thought into the book other than it was a classic that I would get around to reading someday. Then last year at the end of a writers meeting with my group, Joe mentioned that his favorite novel of all time was To Kill a Mockingbird, we discussed it for a minute before departing and that was it.

Then over the holidays, I was out with my grandfather and we were browsing the books when we came across a used copy for a dollar and he said he remembered reading it when he was younger. I asked what he thought about it and he encouraged me to buy the book and find out for myself. So I bought the book and proceeded to shelve it.

Now I am not sure if he came across one of the many news articles about Harper Lee and her books recently or not, but he asked the other day if he could borrow the book from me. Seeing as how I still hadn’t read it, I figured I needed to do so quickly so that he can have a go. Then I mentioned to my grandmother about Go set a Watchman being released and all of the negativity surrounding it. We decided to read To Kill a Mockingbird together since she hadn’t read it in so long and, well, since I still hadn’t read it at all.

After we finish TKAM, we will probably read Go Set a Watchman together.

If the articles are true and that Ms. Lee was not of sound mind in letting this “draft” be published, then that’s a damn shame. But. What if she was? None of us really know except for Harper Lee herself.

I am not emotionally attached to either of these books in any way. After all is said and done, I probably will be, but come on, I am reading them with my grandparents – who both read To Kill a Mockingbird willingly as adults when it was first released. How cool is that? And now I will get to share Go set a Watchman with them too. We might hate it. We might not. No one can find out until they read it.

So now that I’ve got CJ and JesiKay shaking their heads at me… What are your thoughts on the matter? Share with us in the comments, we’d love to hear what you have to say.

~AJP

(Once I finish To Kill a Mocking bird AND Go Set a Watchman, I’ll let you know if I loved/hated either of them.)

It’s time to read

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” ~ Stephen King

One of the most common writing tips out there is to read. A lot.

I learned to read early on, around the ages of 3-4. My great-grandmother spent her days dressing me up and teaching me the written word. Though I remember none of this, I will forever be grateful for my family’s hand in my love of books.

So, to write, you have to read.

Currently I am reading The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler, and The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr..

What are you reading? Let me know in the comments section, even if you aren’t a writer, I’d still love to hear what you are reading. (I am always looking for a good book to read…) 🙂

 

Till next time,

~AJP

Time Perception

I have 15 minutes.

This does not seem like a long period of time. In the grand scheme of things, I guess it is really not. But to me, right now at this very moment, 15 minutes has become an excruciating amount of time. The seconds are ticking by ever so slowly.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

Depending on what you were doing or where you’re going, this will greatly determine your perception of time consumption.

10 minutes to go…

For my birthday last month, my family went to see a movie at the theater. It was one that had been much anticipated and we were excited to finally be able to get to see it. We were not concerned with how long the movie was, or what time it was playing because it was this movie.

With our popcorn, sodas, and seats, we were ready!Soon enough it became apparent that our excitement and anticipation was no match for this movie. At  forty minutes in, I glance at my watch sure that two hours had passed. Ninety minutes in, my little one started fidgeting, 120 minutes in, the popcorn was gone, the sodas watered down, and three of us were bursting at the seams and had to take a break.

As we  returned, my husband grumbled that we had not missed anything. And we still had half an hour to go before the ending.

The problem wasn’t that the movie was bad per se. Or that the script was necessarily bad either. No, it was just that the movie was all over the place. It almost felt as if the writer had A.D.D. in some parts. We would be traveling along the storyline and then BAM!, shiny fight scene. Or a mid-action, kick-ass, hear-me-roar type of scenr, then queue violins for the random (and awkward) love scene. There were storylines that felt under developed, that sometimes had you thinking, “huh?”. Then there were subplots that drug on and on and on some more.

Dear Lord, it felt as though it was never going to end!

We found out later that the reason for some of the issues were because the movie/script had gone on too long (ya think) and they had to cut parts just to get it down to the two and a half hours. In my opinion, there were enough plots and subplots, storylines and innuendos to make this in to two movies. They crammed too much information into just one and it made a lot of the experience feel long and borderline unenjoyable.

There is something to be said about keeping it simple, as CJ posted last week. When your storyline has too much going on, your ideas become chaotic and muddled, even difficult for the reader/viewer to really enjoy or understand sometimes.

In the end, make sure that you are making a point, and actually getting there in the end. Being long-winded in your storytelling might have your readers eyeballing the clock.

My 15 minutes are up, that was quick! Or long, depending on who you are.

Till next time,

~AJP

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