Friday, March 22, 2013

Judging a Library Teen Writing Contest

I had the honor of being the final judge for a local library's teen writing contest.  (Special thanks to my author friend Laurie Brown, who is also a member of the library staff and invited me in to judge) The entries were written over the end-of-year holiday. Library staff did the preliminary judging, then they entries came to me to do the final judging and ranking. The six finalist, written by students in middle and high school, covered a variety of genres.

Finalist covers/titles
The stories included paranormal (Wolf Spirit), humor (The Intruder in the Jungle), horror (Colors in the Dark and The Fork In  The Road), memoir (It Happened To Me), and adventure (My Little Feathered Friend) It was a privilege to judge these young writers.  I remember what I felt the first time I let someone else see my words, and I applaud both their courage in letting a stranger see their work, and their abilities that showed story arcs and charactorization. 

The contest ended earlier this week with a meeting where participants, family members and friends gathered to talk about writing, both the craft of fiction and writing as a profession. I discussed paths to publication, including the fact that I found my agent as a result of a contest. We talked about the stories, especially things that worked and areas that needed a little  improvement. Many of them read their stories aloud, to the delight of parents.

Final words from the librarian who initiated the contest - "Our writers all went home feeling special and I have heard a lot of wonderful comments.  It was a success all around.  Thanks, again.  Really Thanks."

She is already planning next year's contest

BTW, there was this gorgeous cake. I was a good girl. I did not have any.


Here I am with the six finalist authors

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Blog Hop winner!!

Announcing the winner of my Feb/March blog hop for Being God - Cagmom.  She stopped by four times at various blog posts,  during the hop and her persistence paid off in a $25 Amazon gift card.

But, she never left contact information.  So, Cagmom, come to me now and let me know you are you and claim your reward.

You can email me at binns [at] babinns [dot] com.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Book Review - Prophecy

Prophecy (The Dragon King Chronicles, #1)Prophecy by Ellen Oh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Prophecy sucked me into the world of ancient Korea and the fight against invading body-sucking demons right from page one. I was pulled inside Kang Kira's existence, and knew almost before she did that her deepest wish was to just be accepted by her community. But she is different, with yellow tiger-eyes, and the fact that she is just not the normal seventeen-year-old girl. Like many outcasts, she pretends she doesn't care, emitting an aura of disdain that only makes people dislike and fear her more.

Kira has the love of her family: General Kang who accepted her wish to be trained as the first female warrior, her mother, the queen's sister, her two older brothers, her uncle and the twelve-year-old crown prince, her cousin. Ten years earlier, the then seven-year-old Kira saved prince Taejo from a demon attack, earning her the name Demon Slayer.

But that was then.

Now people have forgotten, and her yellow eyes and determination to be the only female warrior lead to rumors that she is a kumiho or demon herself.

Ellen Oh pulls readers into this world and Kira's life from the very first page. She deftly weaves the land's history and Kira's backstory into her present, a time when demons are once again after the young prince because of a prophecy. One interpretation of this prophecy is that he will unite the seven kingdoms and defeat the demons. But there are other interpretations.

Kira knows her job is to protect her cousin, and that takes her on a quest across the kingdoms and forces her to deal with two young men. Jaewon, a mysterious traveler with a tortured past that leaves him almost as alone as Kira; and Shin Bo Hyun, a young man who teased her as a child, but never ignored her or feared her, and now seems by their court-ordered betrothal.

This is not your ordinary love triangle. Kira sees Jaewon as her first, and only, real friend. Shin Bo Hyun is actively, albeit reluctantly, working for the enemy out to capture the prince.

I believe many readers will care for all three characters, along with Prince Taejo, as they search for answers to the prophecy and work to save their world from the demon invasion.

Everything fits together, the world, the people, the quest. And the ending left me hungry for the next chapter in this trilogy.

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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Baby-killing: 6-month-old Jonylah Watkins killed by a coward with a gun

I have officially had enough.

The death of a beautiful, innocent 6-month old, over what?

There is NOTHING that justifies shooting at a man trying to change his child's diaper. Pumping at least three bullets into the father and five into the infant. If you put guns in the hands of cowards, and that is what these gangbangers are, no matter what they tell themselves, this is the result. And if you make guns easy to get, which this country has done thanks to the NRA and other gun aficionados, the cowards get all the weapons they want. And use them indiscriminately.

I suppose having a gun in his hand made the baby-killer feel like a man. Maybe he still does. Collateral damage happens, right?

I have had it. I am ready to vote for anyone and everyone who intends to change the ease with which people acquire handguns, legally and illegally. And if they impose harsher punishment for possession and use, even better.

I have always believed in civil liberties. I love the constitution. And I know our founding fathers would be hanging their heads in shame at the idea their words, intended to help the country protect itself, is used to facilitate indiscriminate murder of children, frequently by other children. It has to stop.

Please, people.

Is the love of a weapon so important that we have to make it easy to kill babies?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Book Review - Donorboy

DonorboyDonorboy by Brendan Halpin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I found myself slowly, but unerringly, falling for both the teen heroine, Rosalind, and her new-found father, Sean the "donorboy" of the title. For fourteen years Rosalind lived with her Mom and her Mommy, until an accident killed them both, and the guy whose donation at the sperm bank started her existence steps for ward to claim her.

She doesn't want him. She hates God, the fates, everything that took her from her life. He has his own family drama, something that made him look at her and see himself. Not in face or genetics, but in shared pain and loss. And that ends up making them perfect for each other.

The best thing about this book is that it wasn't a "Rosalind has two mommies" story. It was a story about family, because both Rosalind and her father have a lot of growing up to do. And thought he worries that he will be the same kind of father his old-man was, it is his daughter who shows him that even the old man has changed, so maybe he better do the same. 

The story is told through diary entries, emails, IM's, and each character is a little freeer about baring their soul because so much of it is done long-distance. Slowly, one crisis after another, Sean bonds with the child he loved from the first moment he saw her in the maternity ward, and Rosalind learns that the pain of loss may never end, but she can face it, and maybe even be okay.

Note, I found this book in the adult shelf of my library. This really belongs where teens can find it. It speaks to both the young and the old.

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