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Become a Better Writer Today!

Become a better writer today! Today? Yes, today! How? By reading my book full of writing tips and tricks. Oh, one more thing. It'...

Friday, August 30, 2013

Friday Fun- Mapping Europe through the Ages

Hello!
It's time for "Friday Fun". Throughout history, Europe has been populated by many diverse groups and territories have changed hands countless times. For an informative and easy way to track some of these peoples, visit this interactive map.

My best to you all,
Megan

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Writer Wednesday: Alice's Adventures



Hello!
It's time for "Writer Wednesday" when I discuss another author and his or her book.

I never read Alice in Wonderland as a child. In fact, I didn't even see the movie. It was only this past year that I read the book for the first time. First I encountered Alice in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and then Through the Looking Glass.

Perhaps, because I had not read it before, I experienced the book as a commentary on growing up. To me, it seemed that Lewis Carrol was writing a cautionary tale about retaining imagination. In the first book, Alice is constantly growing and becoming smaller while reminded to enjoy every day- even "unbirthdays". In other words, growing up is about finding one's place- where one fits.

In Through the Looking Glass, Alice must navigate through the chess board of life- determining what moves to make, using strategy but also imagination.
My favorite lines from the stories are Alice's conversation with the unicorn.
“Do you know, I always thought unicorns were fabulous monsters, too? I never saw one alive before!"

Well, now that we have seen each other," said the unicorn, "if you'll believe in me, I'll believe in you.”

Perhaps, that's the strongest message. If you have faith in others, if you are willing to really see them, then you too will be seen, others will have faith in you and you will then always be the right size.

My best to you all,
Megan

Monday, August 26, 2013

Writer's interview with middle school students

Hello!

A couple of months ago, a group of middle school students from a school in Michigan wrote to me with some questions about writing. I thought that I would share some of their questions and my responses here.


1) Question: What would you say to someone who says "I hate poetry"?

My answer:
To answer the question of what I would say to someone who says, "I hate poetry", I would say that poetry is like music or movies or books or games or food or... well, you get the idea. Poetry is really more a world or a field rather than one particular thing. Just like there might be some foods that you don't like, while you love others or you might like classical or rap music but not pop or jazz, there might be some poetry that you like and other poetry that you don't. That's ok! Many people think of rhyming poetry only, because that is what we are usually first introduced to. There are all kinds of different poetry, though- some that is strict in form, others that's more like sentences or just words or syllables. Some rhymes and some doesn't. There's even something called "found poetry" where people assemble sentences or words that they find from places- magazines, newspapers, etc. There's some poetry that I don't like either, and I write poetry! But, no matter if we like the poetry or not- it can be good to see things in a different way, we can still learn something from it, and it can be fun to try different poetry- like trying new foods.


2) Question:   How old were you when you started [writing]?

My answer: 
 I first made-up stories when I was 3 years old and my mom wrote them down for me, since I couldn't write yet. My first poetry was around the age of 8 or so- a school assignment to write a poetry book about pigs!

My best to you all,
Megan

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Saturday's Quotation to Inspire: Doors of Possibility

"When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us."- Helen Keller

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Writer Wednesday: To the Ends of The Earth 100 Maps that Changed the World

Hello!
It's time for "Writer Wednesday" when I discuss another author and his or her book.


Where are you going? It's a great question and one that is often answered by maps. Even in the age of technological advancement with gps, maps are still leading the way.

To the Ends of the Earth: 100 Maps that Changed the World is a fascinating book that explores how nations have been forged and histories altered through the lines of maps.

Rivalries between the UK and France, the understanding of earth in relation to the heavens, and the depiction of structures and landmarks all are subjects addressed in this very interesting book.

It travels through history to show how maps have been used to shape nations' images, for propaganda, and how they influence our views of the world. Decisions are made about what will be represented each time a new map is made and the current times and values are reflected. To the Ends of the Earth: 100 Maps that Changed the World explores exactly that- the spirit of exploration itself and the depiction of that exploration.

My best to you all,
Megan

Monday, August 19, 2013

Colonial Williamsburg

Hello!

Last week, I spoke about where authors find their ideas. One of the things that I mentioned was visiting historical sights.

Colonial Williamsburg is one such inspiring location. Here, the past comes alive through living history. Living history locations and historical fiction have a lot in common. Both

make the past able to be experienced and relevant to the present through infusing it with life. In Williamsburg, the past can be heard in the sound of the fife and drum, tasted in the Shrewsbury cakes and Brunswick stew and viewed through the colonial buildings.

Wandering through the streets and into the shops, buying soap or a tri-corner hat, hearing a re-enacted court case or seeing the bird bottles where nests are built in the spring, are a few of the many ways that life in the 1700s can be experienced at this historic sight.

If you are ever in Virginia, I highly recommend that you visit this fun, informative and fascinating place.

My best to you all,
Megan

Friday, August 16, 2013

Friday Fun- Literary Character Quiz

Hello!

It's time for "Friday Fun". Are you interested in books? Do you like a good quiz? AbeBooks has provided a quiz to determine what literary character you are. Just answer ten short questions and reveal your literary double.

My best to you all,
Megan


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Writer Wednesday: Paris 1919

Hello!
It's time for "Writer Wednesday", when I discuss another author and his or book.

Paris 1919 grabbed me from the minute I saw it on the bookshelves. History, especially of international relations, has been my focus of study for a long time. When possible, I include story lines into my novels around such topics.

In 1919, with the atrocities of World War behind them, the statesmen of the world turned to Paris to make the peace. Although those were their intentions, the lines on the map that they drew forged new boundaries and set the lines of dynamite on a timeline. Those time bombs are still exploding- from WWII, the Balkans and into the lines of the Middle East.

Margaret MacMillan, the author, is also the great-granddaughter of David Lloyd George, offering insight into the times that others would not have.

If you are interested not only in history, but also in the effects of the past on the present, Paris 1919 is a fascinating read.

Past is prologue.

My best to you all,
Megan


Monday, August 12, 2013

Where do Authors Get Their Ideas From?

Hello!

"So, where do you get your ideas from?"

This is a question that I'm often asked. My answer is lots of places! Museums, galleries and historical sights to visit are all first hand inspiration. Reading about an interesting historical tidbit or fascinating literary figure can also fuel ideas. Documentaries and family stories are other areas that I've explored for literary possibilities.

Sometimes an irresistible character appears and demands to have his or her story written. Other times, a theme will come first, some message or concept that needs a story to express itself through.

Ideas come from many places and discovering them is something truly special- like finding the first flower of spring that soon blooms into an abundant field of possibilities, beauty and color. 

My best to you all,
Megan

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Saturday's Quotation to Inspire: Limitless Happiness

 "This ocean of felicity is so shoreless and bottomless that all the saints and angels cannot exhaust it."
Robert Boyle. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Writer Wednesday- The Martian Chronicles

Hello!

When I was thinking about what book to write about for today's "Writer Wednesday", the idea of hot dogs and summer came to mind and made me think of Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles. What have hot dogs got to do with Mars? You may be asking this question, if you've not read the book. In short, Bradbury chronicles life on Mars- from a Martian and earthling perspective as various generations travel from our green planet to the famous red planet. Mars becomes so settled that hot dog stands even pop up on it.

Mars, out of all planets, seems to capture the imagination most. "Men from Mars" and even "women from Mars" in the classic episode, "Lucy is Envious" of the 1950s sitcom I Love Lucy, have drawn the imaginations of many. Imagination perhaps is the true key. Mars is close enough to be able to comprehend, but foreign and exotic enough to be utterly different.
"Lucy is Envious"- I Love Lucy
In the days of Medieval and Renaissance exploration, people imagined giant sea monsters and wondered at what marvels and frights were just beyond their edge of the world. Today, our own earth is no longer a mystery to us. We travel a bit farther to a place such as Mars.

At the heart of Bradbury's story seems to be the idea of exploration, of making something our own, of relating to something new until it becomes normal or even commonplace, like a corner hot dog stand. Perhaps, more so than Mars, what we are discovering is really imagination itself. In it, there are endless possibilities and one of the strongest mediums for exploration of this wide frontier is fiction. Fiction, like Mars, is accessible to the mind but vast enough to offer exciting new possibilities - stretching the limits of our imagination. 

My best to you all,
Megan

Monday, August 5, 2013

Museum Monday: Flying High at the Air and Space Museum

Hello!

Today for Museum Monday we're exploring the Air and Space Museum at the Smithsonian in Washington DC.

In 1927, Charles Lindberg flew "The Spirit of St. Louis"  in the first nonstop trans-Atlantic flight.

In 1947, Chuck Yeager flew the Bell X-1 in the first flight to break the sound barrier.

In 1962, John Glenn orbited the earth as the first American in the Mercury Friendship 7.

In 1969, the Apollo 11 Command Module "Columbia" was used in the first manned lunar landing.

These are just a few of the highlights of the history of flight that
are represented by the aircraft at the Air and Space Museum.

They embody the spirit of aiming high, of traveling farther, and of seeking new horizons. Those lessons can be applied to life and to writing as well. 

My best to you all,
Megan

Saturday, August 3, 2013