How Reading-Aloud Made Me the Teacher and Person I Am Today.

This is a wonderful real life story of how an amazing teacher, Jennie, gives voice to children by reading aloud and helps to create a love of learning through reading. It also makes a world of difference for parents to give the gift of reading aloud to children as both parent and child learn to share and the memories that are made, create a bond that lasts forever. Thank you, Jennie, and Happy Thanksgiving.

A Teacher's Reflections

My very first day of teaching preschool in Massachusetts, thirty-two years ago, was both career and life altering.  Lindy, my co-teacher, asked me to read the picture books to children each day after our Morning Meeting.  Sure (gulp)!  I was new, scared, and unfamiliar with many children’s books.  I had not been read to as a child, except for The Five Chinese Brothers from my grandmother.  I still remember the page that opens sideways, with the brother who could stretch his legs.  One book, and to this day I remember it vividly.

The book I read to the children on that first day of school was Swimmy, by Leo Lionni.  It was magical for me, and for the children.  The story line, the art, the engineering, the words… it was a taste of something I knew I had to have.  And, I couldn’t get enough.

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The next few decades…

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Happy Birthday to Bram Stoker!

Lucky are the students, faculty, and staff, who were able to attend the HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO BRAM STOKER! Celebration at Lehigh University Libraries. Plus, the opportunity to watch the 1931 Movie Dracula! The best part, is sharing in a discussion about the movie with Professor Charles F. French!

charles french words reading and writing

Bram_Stoker_1906

(https://en.wikipedia.org)

Today is the 170th anniversary of Irish writer Bram Stoker’s birthday. As the author of Dracula, a book I consider one of the finest Gothic novels ever written, he has had enormous impact on the worlds of writing, theater, and film.

To commemorate this day, the wonderful librarians at Lehigh University’s Linderman Library organized a showing of the classic film Dracula (1931) and starring Bela Lugosi. I was asked to give a short presentation about the film, which I enjoyed doing.  Given the opportunity to talk about this book and film, I always grasp the chance.

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So I wish Bram Stoker a happy birthday!

wp-1476386546701-maledicusMaledicus: The Investigative Paranormal Society Book I by Charles F. French is available for purchase on Amazon either as an ebook or a print book!

Please follow the following links to find my novel:

ebook

Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal…

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The 5 Secrets to Developing Better Characters | BookDaily

The 5 Secrets to Developing Better Characters | BookDaily #AuthorTips

By TA Sullivan

November 8, 2017

The 5 Keys to Character Development

My friend wanted me to attend a writing seminar with her, so I agreed to go. However, the summary said it was geared more for novices, so I didn’t really expect to learn much. Boy, was I surprised.

The instructor, a creative writing instructor from one of the top schools in the south, came in and took her place at the podium. After introducing herself and giving us a brief synopsis of what the presentation was to be about, she asked us to take five minutes to describe her as if she was a character in one of our stories.

The results were pretty much as expected. Most of the attendees gave similar descriptions to this:

Melanie is a 30-ish woman with brown, shoulder-length hair, dressed in a gray suit with a lacy, rose-colored blouse.

She told us to hang on to those descriptions, and then she went on to give us her presentation. That’s when we all learned how wrong we had been in actually thinking we had described a character. What we had described was a one-dimensional, uninspired, and uninteresting person.

A story character should be as varied as someone in real life. They should have substance, not just a description. They should come alive for the reader and become someone that the reader can actually believe in. The 5 primary attributes that each character needs in order to achieve this kind of depth are:

Mannerisms/Traits: These are the tics or compulsions that a character displays consistently. For example, the character paces when nervous or agitated, chews gum or tobacco, hums to him- or herself, blinks excessively, clicks a pen without realizing it, taps the end of a pencil on desk all the time, bounces his or her foot, plays with his or her hair or runs his or her fingers through his or her hair, chews his or her fingernails, rubs at a scar on chin, cheek, nose, etc., stutters, or laughs inappropriately.

Behaviors/attitudes: These are how the character displays his or her feelings. For instance, the character might be belligerent, argumentative, disagreeable, a yes-man, Polly Anna-like, naïve, happy, bland, or teasing.

Scents (what smells are associated with the character, if any): Most memories are related (and often triggered) by scent. Yet, as authors we tend to forget about the smell-factor. Perhaps, because books (even electronic ones) don’t yet include the ability to smell our characters or their surroundings. Still, even a description of an odor or an aroma can evoke a sense memory and help our readers remember and relate to our characters. So, include references to scents whenever possible. As it is, most people have a particular scent, and those that wear perfumes or aftershaves, or use perfumed dryer sheets, usually have a cloud of odors surrounding them. Or perhaps, your character forgot to bathe, was climbing about in a dumpster, or lives with a herd of cats.

Sounds (what sounds are associated with this character): Sounds are another overlooked, yet memorable way to help your readers remember and relate to your characters. Perhaps your character whistles, imitates bird calls, makes clicking sounds (of fingernails on a desktop or keyboard, of tongue against the roof of the mouth) or tapping sounds (of shoes or cane or fingers while texting), drags his or her foot, is associated with a rustling (of petticoats, silk fabric against skin), snapping (of cape or of gum), clomping (of boots or shoes), or wheezing (due to asthma or being overweight).

Looks: Physical attributes are the easiest to describe and usually what we (as authors) tend to focus on. However, since most readers are inclined to let their own imaginations flesh out the character, this is where the author needs to be more sparing. Include only a few basics and let the reader do the rest. For instance, relate your character’s hair color, hair style, eye shape and color, colors worn (bright colors, dull colors), clothes styles, height, weight, or unusual physical features (scars, nose size, ear shape, piercings, missing limbs, or tattoos), but describing the shoe size, exact height, and a detailed discussion of the character’s wardrobe is rarely useful and is, most times, distracting.

With all this new information at hand, she again asked to describe her as if describing a character in one of our stories, and the results were profoundly different. For example:

Melanie, our instructor for the day, was a professional-looking woman, who paced the stage in her enthusiasm. Our eyes followed her tapping heels, while her down-home voice engaged our ears. She was a southern lady, from her warm smile to the hint of jasmine that surrounded her.

Now, which description makes you feel as if Melanie was, or could be, a living person? Which description helps you connect on all levels with this person?

So, the next time you need to describe a character for your story, remember there is more to people than just how they look. Ask yourself: what does the character sound like, smell like, and act like. Add each layer to that character until you have someone so real you can see them standing in the room with you. That’s a character that your readers will remember. That’s the type of character you need to help you tell your stories.

So, how about you? How did you make your characters come alive?

WANT TO SHARE THIS TIP? TWEET THIS:

🐦CLICK TO TWEET🐦 #Authortip from @BookDailycom: 5 Secrets To Developing Intriguing Characters by @tasinator

About the Author:

TA Sullivan was born in the back of a cab in Chicago, Illinois, and she has continued to be unconventional in all that she does.

For over thirty years, she has made her living as a technical and marketing writer and editor in such diverse industries as manufacturing, cellular technology, and computer software. She has become quite proficient in turning boring into something readable and entertaining.

Her first book, “Escorting the Dead: My Life as a Psychopomp,” is an autobiographical look into the world of death escorts and near death experiences. It won praise from critics and readers alike.

Her next book, “On Dreams and Dream Symbols,” strove to expand people’s awareness of their dreams and what those dreams might be trying to tell them.

The first book of her fantasy series, “The Starstone,” came out just last year, and she is readying her second book, “The Globe of Souls,” for release this summer.

You can find out more about her on her website and on Twitter

A Review: MY BARSETSHIRE DIARY by Lord David Prosser

Lord David Prosser writes about his daily life in the lovely Welsh countryside with his Lady, Julia Prosser, in the most delightful way.  Lord Prosser has a natural ability to write about common elements of daily life in the most comedic monologues. Especially, about Oscar, a very spoiled cat, with a taste for blood, human blood. Meaning, that the cat bites and scratches his owners at will. Then there is the bird. Well, you can imagine the jealousy and the Oscar tricks to get his way.  How Lord and Lady Prosser handle this situation is utterly charming and funny.

Lord Prosser manages life at the manor with aplomb, forbearance, and laughter. Although, even for his jaunty style for helping daily life run smoothly – more or less, there are occasions when even he sneaks away into the woods, for a quick cigarette. However, rarely does he succumb to the frustrating moments that life offers all of us. There are so many incredible moments throughout this novel that incited my laugher and giggles throughout the reading of this insightful and charming novel.

For instance, I never knew that being a pallbearer could be an unexpected danger to one and all, as well as hysterically funny. It is the unexpected, even the most exasperating comedic situations in life, that bring laughter and joy. Lord David Prosser presents them to us in the most delightful way.  When I asked David about the bird, Joey the third, he said, “If I gave him a female he’d stop speaking and just squawk all the time. I spent ages letting him teach me his name.” When Lord David wrote this, I laughed so hard, I came down with the hiccups!

By the way, if I didn’t send everyone, HUGS XXX, I would be remiss, because David always sends everyone hugs!  A very hysterically funny and happy read. I highly recommend this book for everyone!

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves – Delphi Altair by K. D. Dowdall

Sally G. Cronin’s website: Smorgasbord – Variety is the Spice of Life and Sally’s Café and Bookstore are wonderful places to visit! And, that is just the beginning of Sally’s variety of interesting subjects to peruse. Consider her page on Author Services and Promotion Sites and her totally terrific Smorgasbord Media Training for Authors – and it’s Free! Not to mention, by the way, a Health Directory, A Nutrition Directory, How to cook from Scratch, Sally’s Reviews, and so much more!

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

I would like to introduce you to a new author on the shelves of the Cafe and Bookstore with here books… K.D. Dowdall  and her featured YA/Fantasy book Delphi Altair – Strange Beginnings Book 1

About the book

On the day of her mother’s funeral, Megan Donnelly finds a mysterious package, wrapped in faded brown paper and twine on her dresser by the window. She had no idea where it came from or how it got there. Megan got up from the edge of her bed and walked over to it, wondering who could have sent it. Her ginger-colored bangs fell over her hazel eyes in feathery wisps. She pushed the bangs aside, and as she did, she looked down at her black dress shoes. She noticed bits of red dirt still clung to the bottom of her shoes. She inhaled sharply as a wave of grief enveloped her. Exhaling…

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Hear Ye, Hear Ye! E.B. White on How To Write

Jennie, what a great book for writers! E. B. White, author of Charlotte’s Web, tells his secret for great writing! Thank you so much for sharing! Great post as always! Karen 🙂

A Teacher's Reflections

I love writing.  This summer I read the best book on how to write, the advice of E.B. White, author of Charlotte’s Web and other classics. Oh, I have read a host of posts and articles on writing, many from fellow bloggers.  They are all filled with terrific advice, but none compare to the simple, direct  advice of E.B. White.

It all started with reading the new book, Some Writer! The Story of E.B. White by Melissa Sweet. I wanted to learn more about White. After all, Charlotte’s Web is my first chapter reading book of the year in my classroom.

The book is far more than E.B. White’s story. I am going to call him Andy in this blog post, as that was the nickname given to him by his Cornell University classmates.  His English professor at Cornell was William Strunk, who taught English from the book he wrote, 

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BLOG TOUR FOR THE STONE ARCH SECRET!

New Blog Tour Sign Up! The Stone Arch Mystery by K.D. Dowdall (Jan. 8th – Jan. 12th) Genre: Thriller/ Mystery/ Romance

Reads and Reels, Blog Tours is doing a Blog Tour for my new novel, a mystery, thriller, romance, The Stone Arch Secret,  to be released January 8th, 2018! Go to the shown blog above and see the description excerpt of the story.