National Novel Writing Month is coming

The clock is now ticking down, and I am anxiously awaiting the start of November. It’s almost time to write! I realize that I shouldn’t need a special month to write a novel, but it helps. When a mass amount of authors are standing by to cheer you on (or share in your agony), it makes it a lot easier to crank out 50,000 words. There’s goals, every day, every week, and for the entire month. Others have hit every goal, year after year, so why shouldn’t I? Hell of a motivator, let me tell you.

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Fantasy Fiction Novel Releases Today

After years of story-telling and revisions, Kira’s Tale, the first in the Descend into Darkness series, releases today.

I can’t even begin to tell you how exciting this is, because “Dawn J. Stevens” is actually me, or at least, my pen name. Placing both feet into the fiction world is something I have been working on for nearly a decade. It’s a scary thing, really, to announce becoming a fiction author. I chose a pen name while I worked on my craft, just to separate myself from reality and fiction. It was never meant to be a secret, just… a separation.

So with this information, may I introduce you to my first published fiction novel……

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Meet Dawn J. Stevens

It’s been awhile since we’ve posted to the “Reading Corner” here at Idea Queen, but there’s something special to announce…

This author has spent years in the making. She has spent over a decade working on her craft, and is FINALLY releasing her very first fiction novel on Amazon in October. Dawn J. Stevens is officially on the author circuit as she gets ready to release Kira’s Tale.

Kira's Tale

When Kira finds herself in a strange place with no idea who she is and with new magical abilities, she sets out on a journey to find her place in a world engulfed in Darkness and magic. With two Taliesin friends as her guides, Kira must put back the pieces of her missing life.

You can stalk her in the following ways:

Dawn’s Website
Dawn on Facebook
Dawn on Twitter

Again, keep an eye on this one. National Novel Writing Month is right around the corner, and I’m just sure she’ll be writing novel number two. 😉

NaNoWriMo Nightmares

Don't Think. Just Write.

Inspiration created for my NaNoWriMo friends.

Oh yes, November has come. National Novel Writing Month. This year I vowed I’d give it another shot, despite my horrid crash and burn a few years back. I failed big time, ending the challenge about 18,000 words shy and walking away from writing for awhile. Yeah. THAT bad.

This year I’m coming in at a totally different angle. I still haven’t been writing much lately, aside from school essays, blog posts, and social networking ramblings. Burnout from doing the same thing obsessively every day is still months down the road. So this year, I just might make it.

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Writing Challenges for NaNoWrMo

I decided to jump on board with NaNoWriMo this year. That’s short for “National Novel Writing Month”, which is in November.  A little on the crazy side, considering I have so much other stuff going on with The Hot Spot, school, and remodeling the house. Yet this is something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time.  I even gave it a shot a few years back, but didn’t quite get a novel completed. I was too wrapped up in the word count, trying to force myself to write a specific number of words a day even after I had “finished” the novel. I failed, I admit it. But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try again!

This year I plan to work on a story I have been writing off and on for about 6 years. I’m not going to get caught up in writing specific number of words, or even an actual novel. What I do plan to do is just write, and hope by the end of it I have something that can be published.

I joined a group on LinkedIn with the intentions of getting myself ready for NaNoWrMo . I wasn’t expecting writing prompts or practice this early, but I think it’s a good idea regardless. If we don’t start now, how are we ever going to be ready to write a novel? Especially me, who is seriously out of novel-writing practice. I can’t even remember the last time I wrote a piece of fiction. Now or never, I thought when I saw that discussion topic.

The prompt was “When I opened the package that came in the mail today, I was shocked to find…” and the requirement was 500 words or less. So here’s what I wrote…

When I opened the package that came in the mail today, I was shocked to find a glowing shard of….something. “What is that?” I said to myself, my fingers hovering over the source of the light. Dare I touch it? It was small, probably no bigger than a quarter, yet the luminous glow created a blue hue the size of a soccer ball.
I shook the mysterious item out of the box and onto the antique table my grandmother had given me, hoping it wouldn’t destroy the wood I had worked so hard to restore. Much to my surprise, though, it didn’t even hit the surface. Instead, it floated, as if unseen hands cupped the special gift in a ceremonial offering.

The center of the item began to turn white while the blue hue started to spread. It consumed the entire table like rolling fog spewing from a fog machine. Then it began to dissipate, leaving a cloudy white residue across my table.

Of course. Why had I thought my beautiful table was a good dumping spot for a potentially harmful item? Stupid. Yet my cursing and regrets were short lived, when the cloud slowly began turning into a fantastic feast. A golden turkey appeared, cooked to perfection. Mashed potatoes came next, creamy smooth and sprinkled with herbs. Side dishes, desserts, and dips followed, until the table looked like a fancy buffet. The acorn-sized glowing shard was dimmer, yet still a floating glow in the center of the table.

My mouth hung open as I struggled to find an explanation for the appearance of so much food. What did it mean? Why was it here? I decided the only way to find answers was to test it again, so I grabbed the box it came in and scooped the glowing ball up. The food remained, yet I was not ready to taste test a possibly poison meal. Not until I found answers.

I shook the item onto the piano, where it spread light across the surface as it had done before. There was no food, but the keys began to move and a sweet melody filled the air. I knew the tune; my mother had played it for me when I was a child.

Next I tried the glow stone on a chair I had inherited from my great grandmother. There was no food or music, but instead the shape of a person took form. Slowly the image of my great grandmother appeared in the chair, smiling at me in approval.

“My cleaver little granddaughter, how smart are you!” She exclaimed, clapping her hands together and rising. The light from the mysterious item followed her. “You’ve learned how to use my special stone, and in no time at all! Come, let us eat, and I will tell you all about it….”

 

This might not be a fantastic story or even a great ending (personally, I think it sucks), but the purpose of the exercise was to get us comfortable with writing again. Mission accomplished. It made me think in descriptive, story-telling terms and helped jump start my creativity. Editing is something that can be done later.

For those of you participating in NaNoWrMo this year, I wish you the best of luck!

Should I Buy a Kindle?

I’ve been wanting one of these little buggers for years. Ever since the big release I’ve been drooling over the Kindle and debating if I should buy one or not. Since my significant other just purchased a tablet, the “want” has grown. I’m just not sure if it’s quite a “need” just yet.

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=momsmarket-20&o=1&p=12&l=ur1&category=kindle&banner=009RYHZQK84HQ5J904G2&f=ifr

Pros to buying a Kindle

1. School Textbooks
I’ve recently discovered many of my textbooks for school are available in Kindle version. The latest cost a whole $9.99 which I did buy the Kindle version of, so that my book is always on my desktop and netbook. No dragging it around! Although I do have to drag around my netbook still if I want the book to go anywhere.

2. Lending Capabilities
My best friend and I have a history of swapping used paperbacks. I happen to know she has a Kindle, so it would be super easy for us to swap books back and forth without even leaving the house.

3. Easy to Use
I’ve played with a few of them in the store and found them so super easy to use. I think even my techno-challenged mother could use one without problems or without internet (IF she had the 3G version). Which would make it super easy for three of us to swap books amongst eachother.

4. E-Ink
I love my netbook, I really do, but it’s so hard to read the screen when outside. Since my other half drives most of the time, I’m free to do homework or reading in the car. Kindle would be a HUGE help in this area and actually allow me to see the screen. My original thought of the e-ink was it looked so uninteresting and basic, but now I’m starting to realise it’s purpose. It doesn’t suck the battery and is SUPER easy to read anywhere anytime.

5. Better Battery Life
I never stopped to check the battery life before, but when I finally did, my jaw hit the floor. The basic Kindles have a battery life measured in weeks and months instead of hours. Amazon has them quoted as lasting 2 months so even if they only last half the time quoted, that’s still a whole month. My netbook’s battey life was originally about 7 hours but is not down to about 4 hours, depending on what I’m doing. Again, Kindle has AMAZING battery life.

Cons of the Kindle

1. Limited Use
Despite all the pros, it’s still only for reading various materials. I can’t type essays or blog posts on the go like I can with my netbook. Granted it may be difficult in some areas to do these tasks with my netbook, but it is possible. Not the Kindle though – it’s only for books, blogs, magazines and newspapers.

2. Kindle for PC
I think it was smart for Amazon to make the move to PC, but it makes the Kindles look slightly less desirable. Granted the PC versions do not have the imfamous “e-ink”, yet you are still able to read Kindle books with them.  This is actually the reason I bought my netbook last summer – because I could view Kindle books on the go.

3. Price
This may not be a con for  most people. I’m on the fence right now as to if the $100+ for just the basic Kindle is worth the cost for no more than I’d used it. As stated before, I own a netbook that has about half the capabilities of a Kindle. Is the extra cost worth the benefits the netbook doesn’t have? I’m really not sure. It appears this post will have a part two as I compare Kindles and netbooks.

Final Note

Even though I’m still on the fence about Kindles, I do know the rival Nook isn’t something I’m interested in. I spotted them at a Barns & Nobels and asked if I could view Kindle books on it. I was told by the sales employee “not legally, but they do have programs to convert Kindle books so you can”. Ummmm…no. That’s rediculous to spend the extra time to strip out Kindle formatting when I could just buy the Kindle in the first place. Not when I currently have a small library of Kindle books and plan to buy more textbooks for school from Amazon.  And honestly, I believe Nook may be more like a limited tablet than anything, but I could be wrong.

If you own an e-reader of any kind, I would LOVE to hear opinions!

Stephen King Revisited

My desire to read has conciderably dwindled since the addition of our bedroom TV. Although sifting through shows on Netflix, I came across an old obsession.

I was so addicted to The Dead Zone on USA at one point in time, and craved more after seeing every episode they made. When I came across the orginal Stephen King book at a used book store, I read it immediately.

You know what they say, “the book is always better”, but that’s not the case here. Both had their own unique twists, making them each a real treasure.

One of these days I’ll get around to watching the movie from the 70s, but I fear it wouldn’t be as fantastic as the book or series.

If you haven’t experienced the Dead Zone in any form, I highly recommend you do. I’m getting started on the series again, and may just read the book again, too. 😉

Recommended Reading for May

It’s been awhile since we’ve posted anything in Reading Corner, but rest assured we always have a book in hand around here.

Right now I have a few books in progress that I’d like to share with everyone. The first is free for Kindle users, or those who like to read Kindle books on their PC (personally I like to use my Netbook to read in bed!).

 


Great Expectations
There aren’t too many people who haven’t heard of this book, since it’s a very old classic. So old, in fact, that it’s now listed as a Public Domain book on Amazon. This means if you snag the electronic version from Kindle, it’s free.

Great Expectations isn’t a book for everyone, especially if you’ve seen the movie. It’s a difficult book to read because of the older style of writing, but can be quite enjoyable if you manage to get into the story line. Personally I find it hard to read, but still have the desire to finish it.

 


Nightmares & Dreamscapes


First off, let me say I love Stephen King. He is by far my favorite author because of his creative imagination, story telling ability, and style of writing. However, some of his novels can be hard for the average person to read because of their length. That’s where this book comes in.

Nightmares and Dreamscapes has been sitting beside my bed for quite a few months. It’s a collection of short stories writen by Mr. King, so it’s a perfect book to have sitting when you need a quick story or two in between novels. I highly recommend adding this to your book collection, even if you don’t plan to read the entire book immediately.

 


100 Ways to Improve Your Writing


This book, obviously, is only going to appeal to those who are in the business of writing. I felt the need to add it to the list, though, since I do recommend it to anyone looking to improve their writing. Each tip is short, and can be easily applied to current writing. Since I’m always looking to improve, I’ve found this book extremely useful.

 

That’s it for my list for the month! If you have any book suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment. 🙂

7 Short Stephen King Novels

There’s no disputing how great of a writer Stephen King is. However, glancing at some of it his novels seems a bit intimidating to those who do not read much.

This list features seven short novels that Mr. King has written over the years, which are great for those with little time to read.

1. The Dead Zone
You may remember the TV series which aired briefly on USA. As with all movies and shows, the book was better. A perfect short read with a fantastic twist at the end.

2. Dolores Claiborne
What makes this particular book unique is the way the tale is explained. Dolores tells the story of how she killed her husband, in her own language and accent.

3. Gerald’s Game
There’s a reason this particular book was never made into a movie; the main character spent the entire story handcuffed naked to a bed. This story was the “other half” of Dolores Claiborne, although it doesn’t matter much which you read first.

4. Dreamcatcher
This particular book is a bit longer than the others, but still worth the read. If you’ve seen the movie, make sure you read the book, too. Of all the movies they’ve made out of Stephen King books, the movie from Dreamcatcher was missing the most details.

5. The Green Mile
Chances are you have seen this movie, since it was such a huge hit with well-known actors. The movie did not stray too much from the book, but the book is still more than worth a read. In the movie, just a few tiny details are missing or changed from the original story.

6. Insomnia
Suffering from insomnia? If so, you may want to pick up this book for entertainment on those long nights of no sleep. It keeps you guessing as to what’s going to happen next, without a hint of knowing the ending.

7. Bag of Bones
Similar to Insomnia in the way you can’t guess the ending. Full of twists and surprises that keep you reading.

Have you read short Stephen King books that aren’t on the list? Be sure to leave a comment with your own favorites!

Ramona and Beezus – the Original

I have to say I was a little surprised it took them almost 20 years to come out with a movie based on these books. Of course, maybe it was just good marketing on their part. I grew up on Ramona’s tales, and now have kids of my own that I think will enjoy the movie and the books both.

Honestly I had almost forgot about these books until I saw the commercials for the movie. My daughter, age 7, of course wants to see the movie. I’ve given her my “Ramona the Brave” book that was given to me around her age, and she’s latched on to it. I love seeing her reading a good sized chapter book and something I know she’ll relate too for years to come. I always felt a certain connection to Ramona, probably like all little girls do at some point. Seeing the movie out now brings back childhood memories, and it makes me want to re-read all the books.

I did a quick search on Amazon and found an entire collection.
Check it out here: The Ramona Collection, Volume 1