Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Teen Read Week!!! Why is Reading Comprehension Important?

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Hello everyone! It's Day 3 of the Teen Read Week blog tour hosted by Sarah at Inklined.

  Here's today's schedule!                 
6:00—Ramblings of a Young Author (You're truly!)
  To start off, here's a little paragraph about me: My name is Bethany, I'm an aspiring teenage writer, and just like all the other aspiring teenage writers, I would love to be published one day. But I have a lot of work to do. Besides writing, I LOVE acting, singing, reading, hanging out with friends, laughing maniacally, and just having an all out good time. I love my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and everything I do, I do for Him.
 And here's a bit about this blog: This blog is relatively new, and I'm still trying to get it on it's feet. Because, to tell the truth, I don't always know what to blog about. Mainly, it is where I post my book reviews, occasional thoughts on life, and I hope to soon share some writing tips. It is for other young writers/readers to relate and (I hope) enjoy.
    Now, on to the official post!
  I was originally planning to write a blog post on showing description in your writing, before I realized that this is Teen READ Week. I guess my blog post will have to wait another day. So what, I find myself wondering, could I say, that would be of interest, be of use to any of you?
 Let's talk about reading comprehension. Now... don't start groaning! I know a lot of the time, we, as teens tend to speed read through books. Yes, we all do, and have done it. Why is it so important to read and understand? Well, you could read something completely wrong, for instance. Or, you could skip over a sentence (happens to me...) But what IS reading comprehension?
 Some words can be confusing. You probably know many now, but every once in a while a strange one will pop up... like facetious. When we're reading a book, and we come to a hard word, we tend to read slower, trying to sound the word out, figure what it means. In the process of reading, the rest of the sentence could be disrupted, and you might never know what it said.
 So what am I supposed to do? you ask. Should I read the entire dictionary?! (Sarcasm- though I do think reading the dictionary would be very cool.) But no. No. No. No. You don't always have to be in a hurry to read a story- though often times it's necessary. For me, I enjoy the slow experience of getting to know the characters. But if you're a naturally fast reader... well that's great! What I'm saying is, don't read so fast that you lose part of the story, part of the vocabulary. If a story needs to be told, it should be told in its entirety. So if you do come across a difficult word that disrupts the flow, go on and get that dictionary, look the word up, and start the sentence or paragraph over, and return to the flow. You'll learn something, and enjoy the story more for it. 
 And that's all I have to say about that! 
Writing is so important, for all ages. Story telling is one of the greatest gifts God has given us. In it, we learn so much, can be inspired, or go through a wide range of emotions. Here are some of my favorite word crafters, and some books they have written.
 Wayne Thomas BatsonDoor Within, Pirate Series, Berinfell Prophecies, The Dark Sea Annals. (He writes fantasy, and it is so good. He is my greatest inspiration.)
 Shannon Hale - The Princess Academy, Goose Girl. (Another amazing fantasy author! )
 Jill Williamson - Replication, The New Recruit. (She writes spec fic, or "weird books for teens.")
Francine Rivers - The Last Sin Eater, Redeeming Love. (Miss Rivers writes wonderful historical fiction.)
 And those are just a few. I highly recommend these authors, they will exercise your imagination! So that's all I have to say, for now. I hope this post has been interesting in any way, and don't forget to check out the rest of the day's posts!
 For those of you waiting for a tidbit of my story... here's a few sentences... What do you think?
 As he passed another hopeful young lady, her eyes large and bright, he caught sight of the honey colored hair of the girl standing next to her. His breath hitched in his throat, and he fumbled for something intelligent to say. Finally, in an almost inaudible whisper, he spoke one word; one name.
 “Anya?” A pair of frightened green eyes turned to him. They pleaded with him, and Elric saw a deep dread hanging there, as if being chosen were a death sentence.
 Have a lovely day!
 P.S. If you were unsure, facetious means
Treating serious issues with deliberately inappropriate humor; flippant.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The New Recruit: A Book Review, Author Interview, and Giveaway

 I was sent this book from the author in exchange for an honest review from myself.
From the back cover:

Forced to choose between military school and a Christian spy organization, skeptic Spencer Garmond signs on with the Bible geeks. But before he even boards the plane for Moscow, Spencer realizes this is no Bible club.
These guys mean business.
Stumbling onto a case involving a gang of homeless boys, a chilling tattoo, and the always beautiful Anya Vseveloda, Spencer struggles to find the faith needed to save the Mission League from enemy infiltration.
  I was excited about this book before I even received it in the mail. I had read her previous book, Replication, a month or so ago, and Miss Jill certainly has a way with words. With that book, I was drawn to the story, riveted, wanting to see what would happen to the characters I came to care for. So, for The New Recruit, I had a very high standard set.

 This book lived up to the standards. The more I read, the more enthralled I became. I suppose, being a Christian, and knowing the Lord since I was a small child, I can't connect to Spencer the way a lot of people do. But, still, it was an interesting lesson to get inside the head of "the other side." Really, how do unsaved youth feel around us? Do they see us as unrealistically bubbly and annoying? Being bubbly is a wonderful thing, especially if it's a real thing. And do these kids feel judged? Like all we want to do is condemn them for their sins, and won't befriend them unless they accept the Lord? It's pretty sobering stuff. Some of the characters were, I suppose, over the top in this way, but I guess that's how it is sometimes.

 The writing of the book was excellent, except for a few distracting grammatical errors (it happens to everyone!) and what seemed like a flaw in the storyline. But other then these small details, the book was superb. Who doesn't enjoy a story about teen spies? Add a dose of spiritual warfare, and a cliffhanger ending, and it's one action packed trip that leaves me wanting book two. You definitely WON'T be sorry to buy this book! But maybe you won't have to... Miss Jill has graciously offered to let me host a giveaway of The New Recruit, which you can find at the bottom of the page.

 So, yes, I think this book is worth the money you would normally be required to pay for it, and I bet you'll enjoy it. I recommend this book for anyone 12 and up. Even some adults would enjoy it. (I'm letting my mom read Mrs. Williamson last book, and she's been devouring it.) So, yes, I hope you'll think about adding this book to your Young Adult collection.
 And now, an interview with the wordcrafter herself.
 How long have you been writing?  
I started writing in 2004 when I was twenty-nine years old. My first book was published in 2009.
 Did you ever think you wanted to be a published author before you became one?
Not really. As a kid, I used to dream about being famous, but it was either for fashion design or writing movie scripts. I never thought about writing novels.
 Can you tell us where you got the inspiration for some of your books?
Inspiration is everywhere. I got the idea for By Darkness Hid on a walk with my son. We passed by a house that had burned down, and there was a tree in the yard, only half of which had burned. I went home and Photoshopped an image of a half-dead, half-living tree. Replication started on a drive to pick apples in upstate New York. As we drove past farm after farm, I got thinking. “What if there was a farm that grew people? Clones? They could call it Jason Farms!” And Captives came to me on a Monday night at one of my Beth Moore Bible study classes at church. The study was on Daniel. And Beth asked us to think about a group of teenage boys today being thrust into a Babylonian world. She asked how we thought they’d do. And I thought. “Yeah… How would they do?”
Sometimes it can be difficult to turn off my creative brain.
 What is your favorite part about the writing process? 
Brainstorming the start and the overall plot. I also really like the rewrite process, but as my deadlines get smaller, that part becomes much more stressful and fast. So I don’t enjoy it as much as I used to.
 Is the publishing process different then you first imagined?
Sure it is. I thought it would be easy to get published. I had no idea how difficult it was. I had no idea how difficult it was to write a good book.
 Can you tell us how long it took for your first book to be published?
If you mean the first book I had published, By Darkness Hid was published in 2009. It was the sixth book I wrote, though. And it didn’t take me as long top write that book as it did the first book I ever wrote. By Darkness Hid took about six months from start to finish. The first book I ever wrote was The New Recruit, and it just got published last month. I started that book in 2004 and it got published in 2012. And I rewrote that book again and again and again and again.
 Why are you inspired to write the genre you write?
Because I like to read that genre. I like weird things. I’m weird. And spec fiction is just cool.
 How does your belief in God help you in writing new novels, and how does it affect your writing? 
 It assures me that I’ve found the purpose he has for me at this time in my life. So even when it gets hard and I’d like to quit, I won’t. And every writer’s worldview affects their writing. No matter what book you pick up and read, you can glean the author’s beliefs in the pages. Some beliefs are less popular today than others. But my beliefs always come through in some of my characters. But I wasn’t always a believer, so I remember what it was like to be on the other side. And I hope that comes through as well. It’s always my goal to write believable characters.
Would you ever be interesting in writing a book with someone else?
Sure. Though I hear it’s not easy. I’d have to have a really good relationship with that person(s).
 Of all the books you've written, which is your personal favorite? Who is your favorite character?
I don’t have a favorite. I can’t choose between my children! Though I do like to say that some of the books I have yet to publish are favorites, though I think that’s just a proud mom wanting all her children to have an equal chance to be in print. If I were to say, Martyr is my favorite character, then I’d think of Achan. And if I said Achan was my favorite, then I’d think of Spencer. And if I said Spencer was my favorite, then I’d think of Mason. And if I said Mason was my favorite, then I’d think of Amaraq.
You get the picture. LOL
 Can you tell us anything about upcoming projects?
The New Recruit is the first in a four-book series. The next book will come out in May 2013. And in February 2013, Captives will release. Captives is the first in a dystopian trilogy that was inspired by Beth Moore’s question and Daniel chapter one, when Babylon conquered Jerusalem and took the young princes into the palace to live and work.
 And for fun... what is your absolute favorite thing to eat? :)
Cheesecake! Almost any kind of cheesecake makes me very, very happy.
  Is there anything else you would like to say?
Come and find me online! I’m on Facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/jwilliamsonwrites
And I blog on my author website here: http://www.jillwilliamson.com/

 Thank you for answering all the questions so great! Now, onto the book giveaway! Please leave an email or some way to contact you if you win!
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