F YMonthly Archives: October 28, 2017

Puzzle: Where the Wild Things Are

Today’s puzzle is based on Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. It’s appropriate for children in elementary school.

If you or your child complete the puzzle, feel free to share it with us by tweeting it to @BaQ_Mag! Enjoy!

 



We're including a PDF version of the puzzle, as well! Please click the button below to access it. 

Note: The PDF contains 3 pages: the puzzle as pictured, a printer-friendly version, and an answer key.
PUZZLE PDF

NaNoWriMo Prepping

My NaNoWriMo prep usually starts in September. I take any one of the handful of ideas floating around in my head at any given time and begin to flesh it out into as much detail as I can. I start with a basic plot that grows and develops as I build my world and give birth to my cast of characters.

I never go at it alone. I always surround myself with my fellow writers, asking them for advice and help when I need it and offering the same in return. It’s with their assistance that my world takes shape into something more than just a tiny pebble of an idea and forms into something greater that I can work with, in which I can give my characters and my plot a home.

The characters are the most important part of my stories. Without them I’d have an empty and boring world devoid of life and the action intended to keep readers turning the pages, hungry for more. It’s on my characters that I spend the most time. I always start with my main character, giving them just enough life that they can begin to talk to me and tell me about themselves: their mannerisms and flaws, their qualities, their motives and how they intend to reach their goals. I develop my other characters around my main character so when it’s time to start writing they can support and help or, in some cases as with an antagonist, hinder the main character on their journey to accomplish their main goal. I treat my supporting characters the same way I do my main character, letting them shape themselves. In a way, my characters write their own story.

I also spend a lot of time doing research. In my experience, there isn’t any story that couldn’t benefit from some research. Sometimes it’s in-depth historical research, or researching a bit of science I’m not already well enough acquainted with or need to brush up on. Other times my research consists of studying works by other authors who’ve “mastered” the genre(s) I intend to write in to become more familiar with the styles and methods they use to become successful writers and produce best selling works. On the occasion that I set something in a place I’m not familiar with, I take quite a bit of time to research the setting of my story. Sometimes even setting a story in my hometown requires a bit of research.

And then, of course, there’s taking time to put together a playlist that helps to keep the words flowing. Sometimes I’ll seek out help from a few artistic friends who help me to more clearly see my main characters by doing sketches based on the info I share about those characters with them. There’s also the search for a cover, even just a temporary stand-in during NaNo season to keep me motivated. And I never seem to be able to really get going once November 1st rolls around unless I’ve got even just a temporary working title for my project.

By the end of October, I’m always anxious and ready to roll, eagerly counting down the seconds to midnight on November 1st when I can finally put my pen to paper or fingers to my keyboard and start my 30-day marathon of writing to hit my 50,000 words.

Review: Border Lines by L.E. Fitzpatrick

I decided to read Border Lines during the voting period of the Summer Indies Book Awards as it was one of eight books listed in the Dystopian category.

I am going to start by saying this book is well-written with vivid descriptions. Fitzpatrick crammed so much into 233 pages and the book is bursting with action. It takes place in and around apocalyptic London. The book starts out with an interesting murder. That sets up the mystery that needs to be solved.

As the second book in a series, the story follows the already established trio of Charlie, John and Rachel as they take on a new “job”. I wish had more information from the first book. I found it a bit confusing in the beginning. For example, I did not know what type of “jobs” the group did, although, whatever they were, they appeared not to be legally sanctioned.

Although I enjoyed all the different perspectives, early on I found it a bit disjointed; by the halfway mark it came together nicely. The second point of view is more a detective-on-the-case style, following up on a slew of recent murders. This adds in place a whodunit aspect to the tale, which proved to be quite interesting. Fitzpatrick gives a few possibilities along the way.

Overall it was an interesting read that held my attention. I’ll need to read the next book to answer a few questions left over at the end.

Four out of five stars. I’m not taking off any points because I haven’t read the first book in the series, but I strongly suggest other readers do.

Puzzle: Eloise in Paris

Today’s puzzle is based on Eloise in Paris by Kay Thompson. It’s appropriate for children in elementary school.

If you or your child complete the puzzle, feel free to share it with us by tweeting it to @BaQ_Mag! Enjoy!

 



We're including a PDF version of the puzzle, as well! Please click the button below to access it. 

Note: The PDF contains 3 pages: the puzzle as pictured, a printer-friendly version, and an answer key.
PUZZLE PDF

Review: Nano for the New and Insane by Lazette Gifford

I recently found a book online titled NaNo for the New and Insane: A Guide to Surviving NaNoWriMo while searching for resources for the upcoming National Novel Writing Month in November. The title automatically grabbed my attention because, having participated in NaNoWriMo twice already, and Camp NaNoWriMo twice more, I would generally chalk it up to insanity. (Well, literary and very fun insanity, at the very least.)

National Novel Writing Novel Month is an online and virtual event with thousands of participants. The goal, in its purest form, is to write a novel of at least 50,000 words in the month of November. The rule is to begin on November 1st without any words written towards the actual novel (although you may have written outlines, character descriptions, synopses, etc. in preparation.) There are, as always, some rebels.

NaNo for the New and Insane is a great book if you’re looking into participating in NaNoWriMo for the first time. It’s accessible, easy to read, free, well-written, and not too long. (Which means you’ll be able to finish it in time for NaNoWriMo!) For those who have already participated in the madness of NaNo, this book remains a useful resource. I, myself, found a lot of tips and tricks I hadn’t heard of before.

This book is free and available through Smashwords. (Linked here for your convenience.) It’s very easy to read online or to download an ebook file and send it to e-readers like Kindles or Nooks. This is a great plus! But it is important to keep in mind that most of it wasn’t originally intended to be a book. NaNo for the New and Insane is really a curated collection of articles written by the author, Lazette Gifford, on the subject of NaNoWriMo. Content has been added in to make it a more unique experience, it’s been organized well into easy-to-follow chapters, and it always lists if the article has already appeared somewhere online.

NaNo for the New and Insane was an enjoyable read. It covers both the steps leading up to and following NaNoWriMo, which I find incredibly useful. Rather than focusing on one particular aspect, it gives a sweeping yet sufficiently detailed panorama of life before, during, and after NaNo. Granted, portions of this book (namely the post-NaNoWriMo chapters) are primarily meant for someone whose objective on November 1st is to begin–and hopefully finish–the draft. Gifford does, however, make mentions of hobby writing with suggestions for those looking to write solely for fun.

Since I’ve already participated in NaNoWriMo a few times, a lot of what Gifford said was already common knowledge to me. However, she still brought up a lot of useful ideas, like the concept of using “phases” to plan out your novel. I also found her idea of NaNoWriMo as a time to explore new genres refreshing and intriguing. I will definitely implement some of Gifford’s character-building techniques.

Gifford’ ideas are very adaptable to those who have a limited time frame for outlining (since NaNoWriMo is upon us!), and also to those who already have set outlines (since they can turn to some of her suggestions and adapt them on the spot).

There are a few typos here and there; not a huge deal, but something I did pick up on. (I tend to notice typos a bit more than most.) Additionally, this book was written in 2006 and revised again in 2011. However, some parts of it do still seem a bit outdated.

I found certain aspects of this book tinged with the author’s personal opinions. That’s to be expected, as with any book, but it is important to keep that in mind when reading. (Some of the ways she represents self-publishing, for example, are different from the ways I’ve seen it represented.)

All in all, I give this book a well-deserved 3.5 stars out of 5. NaNo for the New and Insane has plenty of potential; perhaps with another revision to expand on some points and update it to the current year, it would be a perfect handbook to those taking the plunge into the insanity of NaNoWriMo!

Puzzle: Jack Blank and the Imagine Nation

Today’s puzzle is based on Jack Blank and the Imagine Nation by Matt Myklusch. It’s appropriate for children in middle school.

If you complete the puzzle, feel free to share it with us by tweeting it to @BaQ_Mag! Enjoy!

 



We're including a PDF version of the puzzle, as well! Please click the button below to access it. 

Note: The PDF contains 3 pages: the puzzle as pictured, a printer-friendly version, and an answer key.
PUZZLE PDF

Book Review: Nerve by Jeanne Ryan

ARE YOU PLAYING THE GAME OR IS THE GAME PLAYING YOU?

Vee doesn’t know if she has the guts to play NERVE, an anonymous online game of dares. But whoever’s behind the game knows exactly what she wants, enticing her with lustworthy prizes and a sizzling-hot partner. With Ian on her team, it’s easy to agree to another dare. And another. And another. At first it’s thrilling as the Watchers cheer them on to more dangerous challenges. But suddenly the game turns deadly. Will Vee and Ian risk their lives for the Grand Prize dare, or will they lose NERVE?

–back cover blurb of Nerve by Jeanne Ryan

Sometimes one stumbles upon a book that they know is not written well, but that they absolutely adore anyways. That was me with this book. There are so many reasons that I should not have enjoyed this book, and yet it was one that I enjoyed reading so much.

The writing style was nothing special. In some areas of the book it even seemed as if it were not edited to make it be the best that it could have potentially been. While the writing style was not great, it was passable, and overall it did not take away from the enjoyment of the stories.

The characters are a different story–they are cardboard cutouts that one would expect to see in a book like this. There was very little depth, and they were predictable stereotypes, but they played their purpose.

The plot was fairly predictable, but something about it made it impossible to put down. It was fast paced, and overall I did enjoy the plot quite a bit.

I did have one major problem with this book, though. As found out in the very first chapter, the main character accidentally fell asleep in the garage and ended up in the hospital because of poisoning from the car exhaust. The parents thought that it was a suicide attempt so they grounded her. For one thing, this doesn’t really even make sense. Who would ground their child for something like this, and why would it be looked at as an acceptable and loving thing if they did?

Overall, I did enjoy this book quite a bit. If you’re looking for a fun and quick read, go for it. If you are looking for something substantial, pass on this one. I give it three out of five stars.

Puzzle: Cub in the Cupboard by Ben M. Baglio

We’re excited! Are you excited?

This post marks the return of our puzzles! We hope you enjoy them.

Today’s puzzle is based on Cub in the Cupboard by Ben M. Baglio. It’s appropriate for children in elementary school.


We're including a PDF version of the puzzle, as well! Please click the button below to access it. 

Note: The PDF contains 3 pages: the puzzle as pictured, a printer-friendly version, and an answer key.

PUZZLE PDF

Review: Evasion by Becca Boucher

A zombie pandemic has already happened and left scars behind. In the meager life that is left behind, a new problem arises – drugs. The main character, Lizzy, never saw the signs her husband was involved until it was too late. As the story progresses it becomes clear much more is being created than meth & heroin – someone wants to recreate the pandemic.

I am obligated to give my usual warnings: strong language; drug addiction; and violence. Recommended for mature audiences.

I love the idea of a man-made, mind-eating bacteria and the use of drugs as a means of distribution. Bringing in elements of intrigue, government conspiracy, interwoven lies, kidnapping, and murders, all within a small town, makes this a fast-paced page-turner. There is a touch of romance that hits out-of-the-blue. It’s a nice touch, but happens a bit too fast considering all that is going on.

Overall, the characters are well-developed, but I was more intrigued by them rather than emotionally vested in their fight. I would have liked to have had a bit more of a look at Luca and Lizzy’s relationship before the pandemic to give me a little extra emotion about what was happening to them – perhaps a prologue of life before the war.

A recommended read for government conspiracy theorists. Although this book is technically about zombies, they have a rather short role on screen.

Four out of five stars!