Sunday Inspiration: The Creative Process

ira glass quote

One of the hardest parts of any creative process is deciding whose feedback to let impact your work. I’m learning as I go along, giving some people more of a voice than I probably should and shutting out some that I probably shouldn’t. One person might love my first chapter while another might think it starts off too slowly. One person might think I should start with a flashback while another might think it should jump into the heart of the story immediately. Ultimately, though, the gap is mine to close through revision and constant practice. Eventually it will work. I have faith.

Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

love letters to the dead

So obviously a book titled Love Letters to the Dead is going to be a pretty emotional one, but I don’t think I was quite prepared for all there is to find in here.

Through a series of letters written to dead people ranging from Kurt Cobain to Amelia Earhart to Elizabeth Bennet written over the course of a school year, Laurel explores some seriously heavy topics. Her parents divorced, her sister May died, her mom moved away, she switched schools… and that all happened before the book actually picks up. As Laurel writes these letters, working through the decomposition of her family, May’s death, and revealing snippets of the circumstances surrounding her death, she begins to heal and come through as herself rather than just a shell of May. She also experiences her first love, and I really appreciated Sky’s character for his role in Laurel’s healing process. He’s honest and caring and doesn’t try to take advantage of Laurel in her fragile state. He’s there when she needs him.

There were a few times I almost stopped reading. Too much sadness, too much belittling of the religious aunt, too much teen drinking, too much stuff. But I have to admit that I’m so glad I didn’t stop. Laurel is a very realistic teenage girl wrestling with things that most teenagers have to deal with in some way or another, and while she makes some decisions I wouldn’t want my students making, she definitely learns from her mistakes. She comes out a better person than she was going in. I admire Laurel – especially who Laurel becomes by the end of the book – for how she deals with things that have happened to her and makes a conscious choice to change the trajectory of her life.

By the time I was two-thirds done with Love Letters to the Dead, I liked it. When I finished it, I really liked it. After it had a few hours to settle and sink in, I loved it. In the vein of The Fault in Our Stars, it’s not a frilly, finish in a day and smile the whole way through kind of book, but it is a stick with you and make your heart feel full kind of a book. I have a feeling that Laurel and Sky will be with me for a while.

Love Letters to the Dead comes out this Tuesday, April 1st. Find it here on Amazon or at your favorite bookseller!

#ThrowbackThursday: Louise Rennison’s Georgia Nicholson series

This recommendation originally posted on Pimples, Popularity, and Protagonists in September 2010. My love of this series is still firmly in place!!!

A few years ago, I read Louise Rennison’s Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I didn’t realize it was part of a ten book series. Then, this summer, I happened to notice a film version of it available for rent on Netflix. I put it in my queue and prepared myself for yet another disappointing book-inpired movie. I was pleasantly surprised by how good the movie version was, and it inspired me to check into Rennison’s other books. Imagine my surprise when I found another nine books featuring the Angus protagonist, Georgia Nicolson! It was pretty exciting. (I know I’m a book nerd, ok?)

I put all of the books on hold at my local library and waited until I had them all to start reading. Then, when they were all finally in, I tore through all nine books following Angus… in a matter of ONE WEEK. Several times, as I was reading in the evenings while my husband was watching TV, I would seriously laugh out loud at the sheer hilarity of the books. I’m seriously considering buying all of the books so I can reread them whenever I need to have a good laugh.

A note about content – some of the titles sound a bit risque sexually… but the content is not. Though all of Georgia’s friends are preoccupied with boys and the constantly rate themselves on a “Snogging Scale” (snogging is British for kissing), the girls never do anything beyond kissing with their boyfriends, and there’s very little inappropriate language in the books. Out of all the young adult series I’ve read, this one is pretty clean.

Basically, in the series, (don’t worry – no spoilers – this is VERY general) Georgia Nicolson and her group of friends navigate their way through a year or so of school at Stalag 14, an all-girls high school. The group calls themselves the Ace Gang, and they are absolutely hilarious together – constantly trying to pull little pranks, getting in trouble, and torturing the school’s staff. Georgia’s family is crazy (maybe certifiably) and full of funny situations, and Georgia’s love life is, well, complicated but constantly interesting and exciting.

I’d recommend this series to teenagers… mature upper grade middle school girls through high school and adult readers (especially if you work with or have teenage girls). Here are all ten books of the series, in order:

1. Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging

2. On the Bright Side, I’m Now the Girlfriend of a Sex god

3. Knocked Out By My Nunga-Nungas

4. Away Laughing on a Fast Camel

5. Dancing in My Nuddy-Pants

6. The He Ate My Boy Entrancers

7. Startled By His Furry Shorts

8. Love Is a Many Trousered Thing

9. Stop In The Name Of Pants!

10. Are These My Basoomas I See Before Me?

The Giver trailer is out today!

I’m so impressed, which is surprising because The Giver is one of my all-time favorite books. I’ve been nervous about the movie just because I know how near and dear it is to my heart – I don’t think I could handle a low-budget cheesefest reminiscent of the first Twilight movie. It looks like I had nothing to worry about, though. What a relief!

AND there’s a super cool new website for the movie:

Find out more about The World of The Giver and my love of Jonas as a heroic protagonist through my past posts!

The Giver Movie

Giver Movie

2014 is definitely the year for book movies! Go follow @thegivermovie for updates and images leading up to the release of The Giver, which is absolutely one of my favorite books ever.

Cover Reveal: Don’t Fall by Rachel Schieffelbein

Don’t Fall by Rachel Schieffelbein

Summary from Goodreads:
In which a teenage girl endures the over-protective love of her adoptive mother until she falls for a boy who has her wanting to spread her wings, pitched as a contemporary retelling of RAPUNZEL.

Seventeen-year-old Anya leads a very secluded life in a house on the edge of town with her adopted mother. She doesn’t go to school, but instead has a private tutor. Her over-protective mom keeps her so sheltered that she doesn’t even have a best friend. But Anya doesn’t seem to mind. She has her books, her photography, and her daydreams, and would do anything to please her mom. Until one day at the library, the only place she’s allowed to go, she takes a picture of a beautiful boy.

Before long she’s lying to her mom, and sneaking out late at night to meet Zander. But Zander wants more than a secret romance. If Anya wants to be with the boy of her dreams, she will have to risk her relationship with the only other person she’s ever cared about.

Swoon Romance wants you to help them decide the cover for Don’t Fall! 
They have three lovely cover options for you to choose from.  Please vote below on your favorite cover!
Which cover do you like better?
Option #1
Option #2
Option #3

Poll Maker

Option #1: Designed by, photograph by Beth Mitchell
Option #2: Photographed and designed by Laura Lanning
Option #3: Designed by Anna Zaffke, photo from  Aleshyn_Andrei

About the Author:
Rachel grew up in a tiny town in Minnesota. She still lives there, with her husband and their four kids. She coaches high school speech and theater, rides Arabian horses, reads as much as she can, and writes stories.
Author Links:

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