Monday, February 25, 2013

191% Faster Than...

I read faster than most people. Most of the time, that's a blessing.

Except for when I was in early-morning seminary. We'd do a timed scripture reading test at the beginning of the year and that determined the number of pages you had to read each day. No one told me that the faster I read, the more pages I'd had to read each day to get a gold star on the chart. I purposely read really slow the next year, but the teacher was my aunt and she knew I was cheating. 

So how fast do I read?


That means:

I think it took me about 3 1/2 hours to read Harry Potter. But that might have included some snack time and potty breaks.

FYI World speed reading champion: 
4,700 words per minute. 


How fast can you read?

Visit Staples eReader Department to find out.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Help Me Win a Scholarship?

The past several years, I've been thinking about what I want to do when I grow up.

(It's about time, right? I'm guessing I have more days behind me than in front of me now.)

I love words. I love reading. I love learning new things. I love taking things that are almost perfect and making them better, polishing them until they shine.

I spend a lot of time on projects for others. I especially like helping authors, self-publishers and small presses. I love letting people pick my brain, sharing what I know about writing a good book and getting it published. I get a lot of satisfaction from that.

And at the same time, there's this little nagging thought that creeps in on a regular basis, "When do I get to help myself? When do I get to do my stuff?"

Lately I've been thinking about that and strategizing, planning, calendaring, and actually working on my stuff. One of the roadblocks I've hit is, once I get my product polished and ready, how do I let my target reader—those people who would like it and want it—know that it exists?

I've checked out a lot of courses that talk about doing business online. I've taken a few. I've learned a lot. But there are still gaps in my plan, thing I still don't know how to do.

I recently stumbled across a course. (And when I say stumbled, I mean a Facebook friend "liked" a post someone else put on their wall and I just happened to be online and looking the right direction as it whizzed by on the FB ticker.) Something about it caught my attention so I clicked and clicked and finally got to...

Marie Forleo's B-School at http://rhhbschool.com

As I watched the free videos and downloaded the info about the course, I realized that she is covering every single thing I need to know to finally get through those roadblocks.

And her next course starts soon!

I was thrilled—until I saw the price. No way can I do that.

So I decided to make the video to try to win a scholarship. Partial scholarship won't really cut it. I have to get a full-ride.

I looked on YouTube and there are already over 100 videos from people who want the scholarship. Some of them are really good.

Mine is choppy. (I've never made a video like this before.)

And I look goofy. (Because I am so far out of my comfort zone that I'm not even in the same galaxy anymore.)

But I'm hoping that won't matter.

How do  I get a good chance at winning? By spreading the word. (Translation: expect to see me talking about it a lot on Facebook and Twitter over the next few days.)

And by encouraging my friends to comment on my video. Straight from the B-School website, it says:

Audience Choice: One of the scholarships will be an audience choice winner. We'll track the video with the most comments and positive feedback so love up your favorites. We reserve the right to make a decision, but we REALLY want to encourage you to share your dreams with the people you love.


So please, click the link below. Watch my video. Give it a thumbs up and comment! Please! I only have until 3:00 p.m. EST on Monday Feb 18th to get comments. Here is the link:


 ^ ^ ^ link! Yes! Click that one to see my video. ^ ^ ^

Don't comment here. And don't comment on my posts on Facebook. (Well, you can, but it won't help my chance at a scholarship.) Use the link above and comment on the actual YOUTUBE video on the actual YOUTUBE website.

Thanks!

Oh, and if YOU decide to do a video and go for the scholarship too? Let me know here or on Facebook and I'll go give you some YouTube love too.

Monday, February 11, 2013

A Blind Eye by Julie Daines

I'm always just a little apprehensive when someone asks me to do a book review. If it's an author I already like, no problem. But otherwise, it makes my tummy just a little uneasy when I open the book and start into those first few pages. I'm so afraid of being disappointed.

Especially when the offer of review started as, "My friend wrote a book and I loved it..." Well, of course you did. They're your friend; you're going to like their stuff. You'll get the inside jokes. I won't.

And especially when it's a debut book by a new author—because how do I say, "This baby was kind of ugly, but I'm sure your next one will be much cuter," in a tactful way that won't crush their writing dreams forever.

And most especially when the publisher is small and in my opinion, often lets their authors get away with too much info dumping.

Why am I telling you this?

Because the rarest of all rarieties happened. Despite my initial trepidation and the fact that all of the above applied, in my opinion, Julie Daines knocked it out of the park on the first swing with her debut novel, A Blind Eye.

Yes, really.

From the publisher:
Some people are born blind. For some, tragedy leaves them blind. And then there are those who simply refuse to see. This is a story about all three. 

Seventeen-year-old Christian Morris decides the only way to save himself from his father's neglect is to run away from home. On his way out of town, he finds a stowaway hiding in his car—Scarlett, who has been kidnapped from London. Blind since birth, Scarlett has developed a sixth sense: she dreams about someone’s death before it happens. And now, she has dreamed about her own. 

Christian’s attempt to leave home turns into a race to save Scarlett from death by scientific experimentation. His growing relationship with the girl helps him to look past his own blindness and confront the truth about his father. But first, he must find the kidnappers before they can get to Scarlett.

Plot: A Young Adult suspense with just a hint of some psychic activity.

The pacing was just right. Lots of edge of your seat tension, but moments of quiet and humor too. I really liked the clever chapter titles which added some breathing room.

Unlike too many YA adventure stories, Daines has plausibility built into every action Christian takes. When he needs to go into a situation that will place his life in jeopardy, there is a good reason for it. When he suddenly turns to his father for help, there's a good reason why he does what he does that, too. When he needs to be caught without his cell phone, there's a believable reason why he doesn't have it with him. Not once did I think, "Gee, that main character was kind of stupid. He only did that because the author needed him to do it to advance the plot."

This is an action/suspense/murder story. People die. It's sad. The characters respond. There was enough tension and enough plot twists to keep an adult involved, but it wasn't so descriptive that it would overwhelm a teen reader. I'd say age 14 and up.

Characters: Christian was 100% believable. He's basically a good guy dealing with an unbearable situation with his dad. He's hurting. He doesn't accept his father's first attempts at reconciliation. He doesn't believe it's real. He doesn't trust him. And it doesn't end all huggy-kissy, we're best friends now. He has a lot of work ahead.

Scarlett was awesome. I have no idea how I'd react if I were blind. I'd probably curl up in a corner and be too afraid to leave it. But not her. I loved her sense of humor, the determined way she refused to be dependent, and her punk look.

Christian's dad was believable too. As an adult, I could see what Christian couldn't. While he didn't turn into father of the year by the end of the book, all along I could see hints that he wasn't quite the uninvolved and hateful father that Christian believed him to be.

The interconnecting of the bad guys—things that didn't make sense at first, totally make sense once you understand all the connections. I love it when that happens!

Writing: Very, very good. There were only two things that pulled me out of the story a little bit. (And by "little bit" I mean nano-seconds. Long enough to notice but then I was right back into it.)

One was the fact that Scarlett, who is blind, describes her precognitive dreams using what I would call "visual" terms. She gives us an answer for this, and since I have no interaction with someone who is blind, I am willing to accept it on faith and let it go.

The other times were when suddenly Christian mentions "the bishop." Oh? Is this an LDS story? Then later, he mentions "early-morning seminary." I guess it is. It never really says. I'm smart, I can adjust. But non-LDS readers would be confused.

And that's too bad, because I would definitely recommend A Blind Eye to all readers who enjoy this genre, regardless of their religion or lack of it. Other than some references to the benefits of forgiving others and Christian's statment that he has boundaries, there are no LDS declarations of faith, no conversions, no preaching in this story. It could be anyone, any religion. And to me, that gives this book a very wide appeal.

To sum up: This book is fantastic! If you've ever felt I steered you right in a book review before, trust me on this one. Read it! I give it 5 stars and I've already nominated it for a Whitney Award. I hope the publisher can get it enough attention that it's noticed on a national level.

Recommended to  teen readers, 14 and up, who like contemporary mystery/suspense/action and to adults who like a good suspense without the gore.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

My 2012 Whitney Finalists Checklist

The 2012 Whitney Award Finalists have been announced! Hooray!!

Every year on finalist day, I get a little giddy. All these books—pre-read by a panel of authors, publishers, readers—and deemed the best of the best from LDS authors! It means about six weeks of heavy reading that I can legitimately call "work" because I have to stay up on my industry, right?

From the comfort of my warm, cozy bed and wearing jammies and my piggie slippers all day long, I can legitimately have these conversations:

  • Karlene, can you code this ebook for me? No. I'm busy working.

  • Karlene, can you come to a meeting in Salt Lake? No. I'm busy working.

  • Karlene, can you please clean the house? No. I'm busy working.

Have you seen the list??? I've only read 11 of these titles, so I have a LOT of delicious reading to do.

Go take a look. I'll wait.  (cue Jeopardy music...)

I've already got my tracking lists made and I'm only waiting for the library to open.

What, you ask, is a tracking list? Two pages of checklisty goodness. And I'm willing to share.

Page one: Titles listed by category with checkboxes for when I've read them and a line for notes. (I usually put in a score from 1-5 and maybe a few words about the book in the space beneath it.)

Page two: The library list with titles sorted by author's last name. I keep this one in my purse at all times, in case  I have extra time at the library or I run into another reader friend who is willing to loan books. I use a code to track it, like a dot if I have checked it out; OH = I've put it on hold; AF = it's at an alternate library but not currently available for check out; K = if I have it on my Kindle; an X if I've read it.



And feel free to pass it around to anyone who may want it.


*tick-tock*

*I can't believe my library doesn't open until 9:00 a.m.*

*I need to move somewhere that has a 24/7 library system.*