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November 14, 2014

By Alan

To those of you participating in NaNoWriMo right now, I salute you.  To those readers who think I’m just spewing out a silly string of syllables, let me introduce you to National Novel Writing Month.  Every November hundreds of thousands people of all ages undertake one common goal:  to each write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. 

Daunting?  You bet.  Every year I tell myself I’m going to rise to the challenge, and every year I come up with a cornucopia of excuses.  This year’s list is particularly bad:  my computer is on the verge of dying; a million new video games are coming out; and I’m leaving the province for several days.  And that’s just to start.  But in spite of all these reasons not to do it, I decided this year is the year.  As of this writing I’m 10% of the way there.

For aspiring writers NaNoWriMo is an extremely useful exercise.  Many writers, and I’m no exception, can get caught up in the thought that every sentence needs to be perfect the first time it hits the page.  The result is that people will start a project and get discouraged that it isn’t turning out as well as they had hoped, and often abandon the project in the process.  By choosing to write so many words in such a short time frame you are choosing to accept that this draft of your story isn’t going to turn out to be a polished masterpiece.  Between you and me, mine is terrible, but by ploughing through I’m learning so much about what it means to actually commit 50,000 words to the page.

If you get stuck along the way, Nanowrimo’s Young Writer’s Program has some excellent resources to keep you motivated, including a Dare Machine that generates challenges for you to implement into your story and keep the plot moving forward.  Winnipeg Public Library is also hosting official NaNoWriMo Write In sessions, so when you need a change of space while clacking away on your keyboard, come down to the Millennium Library, Anhang room and set up shop.  The Write In sessions are every Thursday in November, 6:30-9:00 p.m., no registration necessary.  Call 204-986-6779 for more information. 

Once you’ve completed your novel, flaws in all, take heart in the old adage “writing is rewriting.”  Take a well-deserved break and come down to Millennium Library, Anhang Room on December 6th between noon and 4 p.m. for the Thank God It’s Over Party.  Then you start on the second draft, making sure to keep an eye out for all of the bits of writing that turned out to be gems.  There will be more than you expected. 

Like any writer, I’m constantly on the lookout for ways to improve my craft.  There are many, many, books out there about how to become a better writer.  Before I sign off, I’d like to share with you some of the best books about writing that I’ve come across:

Seize the Story:  A Handbook for Teens Who Like to Write by Victoria Hanley

Seize the Story does a great job of discussing many of the underlying principles of good creative writing.  Beyond just discussing writing, the book is filled with examples of writing, both bad and good; and exercises that will challenge the reader to put to use the techniques they learn.

Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss

One of the weakest aspects of my writing is my grammar.  I’m notorious for putting commas in all the wrong places.  The trouble with most books about grammar is that they can be incredibly boring.  Eats, Shoots & Leaves is an exception to this trend.  It will entertain you and at the same time teach you how to properly use commas, semi-colons, and all manner of other punctuation.

The Writer’s Journey:  Mythic Structure for Writers by Christopher Vogler

There is a theory about stories called the monomyth – The idea is that all stories follow a basic structure.  This theory has had a profound influence on many writers, including George Lucas who wrote Star Wars and Dan Harmon who writes the TV show Community.

Christopher Vogler wrote a memo to Hollywood about this theory which influenced movies such as Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, and The Lion King.  He later expanded the memo into an excellent book about the craft of writing called The Writer’s Journey. 

Stan Lee’s How to Write Comics by Stan Lee

Writing doesn’t just have to be about novels.  There are plenty of other forms for the written word:  screenplays, short stories, plays, graphic novels, and poems, just to name a few.  Stan Lee does an excellent job of explaining how the principles of storytelling apply to the medium of comic books AND he goes into depth regarding the unique challenges of comic book writing.   

 

 

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November 6, 2014

de Mariève,

Avez-vous connu la guerre? Non? Savez-vous à quel point vous êtes chanceux? Chaque jour, dans le monde, des gens se battent et s’entretuent pour défendre ou obtenir leur liberté. Pour notre génération qui n’a pas connu la guerre, ça peut sembler le dernier de nos soucis. Le 11 novembre, plusieurs penseront peut-être davantage à se procurer le dernier jeu vidéo Assassin’s Creed que de souligner le Jour du Souvenir…

Mais c’est quoi le Jour du Souvenir? Comment est-ce qu’on se souvient de quelque chose qu’on n’a jamais vécu? Le 11 novembre, au Canada, on honore les soldats qui sont allés se battre pour qu’aujourd’hui, justement, on n’ait pas à penser à la guerre. Les jeunes soldats ayant combattu, s’ils ne sont pas morts sur les champs de bataille, sont certainement restés marqués à vie. Il y a des horreurs qui ne s’oublient pas. Les marques physiques et psychologiques sont permanentes. Et saviez-vous que les soldats enrôlés pour la Première et la Seconde Guerre mondiale devaient en principe avoir au moins dix-huit ans, mais que beaucoup ont menti sur leur âge pour faire partie des recrues? D’après les sources du Musée canadien de la guerre, le plus jeune soldat canadien ayant été envoyé pour la Première Guerre mondiale n’avait que 10 ans!

Le 11 novembre, profitez donc bien de votre congé. Mais prenez au moins quelques instants pour penser à nos soldats. Et si vous restez en pyjamas, pourquoi ne pas vous installer confortablement dans un sofa avec un livre sur la guerre? Les romans suivants vous plongeront dans la réalité d’adolescents qui vivent une guerre. Vous apprécierez davantage votre liberté, chèrement acquise par nos courageux vétérans!

Camp Paradis de Jean-Paul Nozière
En pleine guerre civile dans un pays d'Afrique, Boris, 14 ans, orphelin d'un père trafiquant de drogue, est confié aux bons soins de Ma et Pa, qui tiennent un refuge pour enfant : le camp Paradis. Pour Boris, chaque nouvel arrivant est un mystère à déchiffrer : Fatouma, Victoire, Serge, Djodjo, tous fuyant leur passé et s'efforçant de cacher leurs meurtrissures.

 

Derrière les lignes ennemies de Carol Matas
Sam Frederisksen, 18 ans, vient des prairies. Il est mitrailleur à bord d'un bombardier Lancaster pendant la Deuxième Guerre mondiale. Lorsque son avion est abattu par l'ennemi au-dessus de la France, il survit de justesse et parvient à joindre la Résistance française. Victimes d'une trahison, Sam et des soldats d'autres pays sont bientôt capturés par la Gestapo, puis envoyés à Fresne, une prison aux abords de Paris. Considérés comme des espions, les prisonniers sont battus, certains torturés, avant d'être transportés au camp de concentration de Buchenwald, en Allemagne. Dans cet endroit sinistre, Sam découvre les horreurs de la Guerre : les chambres à gaz, la torture et la famine, mais aussi le courage et la détermination des nombreuses victimes.

Envol pour le paradis de Jean-Marie Defossez
Envoyé dans les camps des jeunesses hitlériennes à quatorze ans, lors d'une mobilisation obligatoire, Arthur, qui refuse d'adhérer aux dogmes nazis comme ses parents, de simples cultivateurs, est, malgré lui, envoûté par le rêve de devenir pilote d'avion. L'amitié d'un dénommé Heinz lui permet, au début de son séjour, de porter un regard critique sur le projet nazi. Mais le responsable de son foyer exploitera les moindres méandres de son désir de voler afin de l'amener à se battre sous le commandement du Fürher.

La Mémoire trouée de Élisabeth Combres
Cachée derrière le fauteuil, Emma n'a rien vu de l'assassinat, de sa mère, mais a tout entendu. Rwanda, avril 1994, la folie meurtrière explose. Pas un habitant tutsi ne doit être épargné. Pourtant la fillette survit. Car la vie réserve aussi des moments de grâce, des rencontres déterminantes... L'écriture tout en pudeur de ce roman sur le drame du génocide rwandais lui donne une force magistrale.

Les Petits soldats de Reine-Marguerite Bayle
Hawa a douze ans lorsqu'elle quitte son petit village du sud de la Sierra Leone pour la capitale Freetown. Le 25 mai 1997, la capitale est assiégée par une « armée populaire ». La population civile est massacrée. Commence alors pour Hawa une vie quotidienne faite de souffrance et de violence où elle tente, malgré tout, de survivre. En 1999, un accord de paix est signé et les combattants sont désarmés. Cette même année, l'UNICEF est chargé d'accueillir des enfants-soldats et de les réinsérer dans une vie sociale la plus « normale » possible. Hawa est recrutée pour s'occuper d'un groupe de sept enfants. Elle tente de les sortir de cette violence dont ils ont été les victimes mais, - bien souvent aussi, les auteurs. L'héroïne raconte alors son long combat afin qu'un jour Moussa, Kadiatou, Michael et les autres enfants-soldats de Sierra Leone puissent enfin retrouver un peu de leur innocence.

En fin de compte, peu importe ce que vous choisissez de faire de votre jour de congé le 11 novembre, n’oubliez surtout pas que c’est le Jour du Souvenir et qu’on ne doit pas oublier tous ces jeunes qui se sont battus pour qu’on puisse vivre dans la paix.

Bien qu’elle préfère la voie pacifiste à la guerre, Mariève apprécie énormément les combats qu’ont menés ses ancêtres, particulièrement son arrière-grand-père qui a fait partie du Corps expéditionnaire canadien pendant la Première Guerre mondiale.

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October 23, 2014

by Alix-Rae


Each year, teens across North America vote for their top ten favourite books that were published in the previous year. The 2014 top ten list was just revealed. So here are the 10 top reads selected by teens.

 

Eleanor & Park Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits--smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.
 
 
 
SplinteredSplintered: a novel by A. G. Howard
 
This stunning debut captures the grotesque madness of a mystical under-land, as well as a girl's pangs of first love and independence. Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers--precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
 
The RithmatistThe Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson
 
As Wild Chalklings threaten the American Isles and Rithmatists are humanity's only defense, Joel can only watch as Rithmatist students learn the magical art that he would do anything to practice.
 
The 5th WaveThe 5th Wave by Richard Yancey
 
After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the un lucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one. Now, it's the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth's last survivors.
 
Monument 14: Sky on FireMonument 14: Sky on Fire by Emmy Laybourne
 
A group of survivors, originally trapped together in a superstore by a series of escalating disasters, has split in two -- one group heading to Denver airport on a repaired school bus, the other remaining in the Sanctuary trying to rebuild the community they lost. But the world outside is dark and filled with dangerous chemicals that turn people into bloodthirsty monsters.
 
Earth Girl Earth Girl by Janet Edwards
 
Abandoned on Earth because of her inability to survive on other planets, Jarra crafts a fake background for herself to join a class of norms who are excavating the dangerous ruins of the old cities.
 
The Testing The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau
 
Sixteen-year-old Malencia (Cia) Vale is chosen to participate in The Testing to attend the University; however, Cia is fearful when she figures out her friends who do not pass The Testing are disappearing.
 
SteelheartSteelheart by Brandon Sanderson
 
At age eight, David watched as his father was killed by an Epic, a human with superhuman powers, and now, ten years later, he joins the Reckoners--the only people who are trying to kill the Epics and end their tyranny.
 
Siege and Storm Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
 
Hunted across the True Sea and haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land, all while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret.
 
Eye of MindsEye of Minds by James Dashner
 
The Eye of Minds is the first book in The Mortality Doctrine series set in a world of hyperadvanced technology, cyberterrorists, and gaming beyond your wildest dreams . . . and your worst nightmares. Michael is a gamer. And like most gamers, he almost spends more time on the VirtNet than in the actual world. The VirtNet offers total mind and body immersion, and it's addictive. Thanks to technology, anyone with enough money can experience fantasy worlds, risk their life without the chance of death, or just hang around with Virt-friends.
 
Find out more about these titles by watching the book trailers!
 

 

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October 16, 2014

By Tamara

I am fortunate in that I have the pleasure of reading for the Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Twice a year a big box of brand new books appears on my front doorstep, and these books are all mine to enjoy. Each box contains a different genre or level of reading. Sometimes it’s picture books, which are my favorite; at other times I may receive a box full of kids non-fiction, or perhaps early chapter books, and sometimes Young Adult fiction.

This may seem like an odd assortment, and perhaps some of the subjects may simply not appeal to you. Why would an adult be interested in reading up on the newest Canadian board books? Aren’t those for babies? Perhaps true for some, but besides enjoying books that may be a little bit off the beaten path, I am a Librarian working in the Children and Teen Section at the Winnipeg Public Library. I read all of these books as a sampling of what I can offer to the people who come in to the library looking for assistance with finding materials. These questions may come in the form of homework help, or perhaps a parent is in search of materials to help their child develop reading skills, or sometimes an avid reader simply looking for the newest tiles.

I enjoy helping someone find a specific title; the broad smile on a child’s face is the simple thanks that I am looking for. Also, the relief on someone’s face is often silent thanks for helping them find the materials needed for a school project. But I think that my greatest pleasure is when I offer something new to an individual, something that they have not seen before, but promises to satisfy their interest for a great adventure, or a new title that might provide a good laugh. When that person shows interest and joy in taking this book home, then I know that I’ve passed on the gift of reading.

The last box of books that showed up on my doorstep was full to the brim with Canadian teen novels. I’d like to share some of them with you. I hope that you find at least one from this list that will spark your imagination. If you really like one of these books, then consider passing on the gift of reading to a friend.

The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim by E.K. Johnston
In an alternate world where industrialization has caused many species of carbon-eating dragons to thrive, Owen, a slayer being trained by his famous father and aunt, and Siobahn, his bard, face a dragon infestation near their small town in Canada.

Shattered: book three in the Slated trilogy by Teri Terry
Sporting a new identity and desperate to fill in the blank spaces of her life pre-Slating, Kyla heads to a remote mountain town to try to reunite with the birth mother she was kidnapped from as a child.  There she is hoping all the pieces of her life will come together and she can finally take charge of her own future.

The World Outside: A Novel by Eva Wiseman
Seventeen year old Chanie Altman lives the protected life of a Lubavitcher Hasidic girl in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York, in 1991. Religion is the most important aspect of her life, and, like other Lubavitcher girls, she is expected to attend a seminary and to marry as soon as she graduates from high school. But Chanie has a beautiful voice and dreams of becoming an opera singer, a profession forbidden to a Hasidic girl. When she meets David, a non-Hasidic Jewish boy, he opens the portals to the world outside her fundamentalist community. The Crown Heights riots break out, and the Lubavitchers are put under siege by their African American neighbors. A tragedy occurs. Will Chanie stay in the fundamentalist community she has always known in a life that has been prescribed for her, or will she leave it behind to follow her dreams?

Soldier Doll by Jennifer Gold
"When Elizabeth spots an antique doll dressed in a soldier's uniform at a local garage sale, she thinks that it might be a good last-minute birthday gift for her dad, who's about to ship out to Afghanistan. But is it more special? Could it be the very soldier doll that inspired a famous poem written during World War I? In finding the doll, Elizabeth has become the latest link in a chain of love and loss that began in England during World War I, when a young woman gave the doll to her fiancé before he left to join the fighting in Europe. From there to Nazi Germany in the 1930s, to a Czech concentration camp in World War II, and on to a young American soldier in Vietnam in the 1970s, the doll has been passed from hand to hand, in moments of both hope and sadness. Is the little soldier a good luck charm, or an unlucky foreteller of death? Now its fate lies in the hands of Elizabeth, who feels compelled to find its original owner. Like those who came before her, she will be tested by the realities of war, and she too will need to find the hope and courage to go on"

A Year of Mistaken Discoveries by Eileen Cook
Partnered with a boy named Brody, high school senior Avery embarks on a class project to find her birth mother, after Avery's former best friend, also adopted, dies.

Tamara is Head of Children's and Teen Services at Millennium Library. She enjoys reading and writing and lives by Michelangel's words "I am still Learning".

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October 9, 2014

 By Sophie H.

In our technology driven society, I was lucky enough to spend 6 weeks this summer at my favourite place on earth, Camp Massad, completely away from technology. I let go of my phone and laptop as I left home and got to spend an amazing summer with all of my closest friends. Being surrounded by technology 24/7 in the city, being at camp felt like being in a whole different world. But overall, my break from wifi and the outside world was a well needed one.

Thankfully, most of my closest friends already go to camp, so instead of texting them all the time, I got to live with them every day. For my friends and my family who weren’t at camp, hand written letters were used a s a method of communication. Although it’s slow, it’s still a surprisingly personal and sentimental way to talk. And being cell phone free was incredibly relieving. There were no notifications, and no stress to always be on top of everything that was happening to everyone else all the time. I finally got a break to just focus on the people in front of me, and that made me grow so much closer with so many of my friends. However, at times it could be inconvenient. In the middle of a program if you desperately needed to find someone, instead of sending an instant message sent straight to them, you’d have to run around the campsite, going from building to building just to ask one simple question. And at times, having no access to the outside world could feel quite isolating. Considering everything that happened in the world over the summer, it felt very strange to come home from camp and suddenly realise that the global situation is in absolute turmoil. However, it was sometimes a blessing in disguise. For those few weeks, the only issues I knew of were ones within the campsite. So instead of worrying about ISIS, I could worry about what song we’d be singing at lunch that day.

Despite the inconveniences of living without technology, it was a way to reconnect with my friends away from screens. I got to live for six weeks without distractions, and only had to deal with problems inside my own little world. I am so thankful for the amazing summer I had at Massad, and thankful for my break from social media.

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