Friday, August 30, 2013

Free PDF Converter

Creating PDFs is a helpful skill for any writer to learn. Maybe you want to keep a club or community informed; maybe you work in an office; or maybe you're starting your own newsletter. PDFs are great tools for all of those things and more.

But the software can be expensive. I use a free website recommended by library staff called "" to convert my Friends of the Library newsletters from Word docs to PDFs. It's easy and it works great!

When installed, it lists itself under your printer.

This is a screenshot from the Windows 8. If you have an earlier version of windows, it will look slightly different,
but it's just as easy. Just act like you're going to print your document, but choose "doPDF" as the printer rather than
your normal printer selection. The red arrow points to the spot on my screen. **Revision note 9/2/13: Since I got
Windows 8, I found another way which worked better. Instead of "Print" I chose "Export," which is a few
options lower on the blue sidebar on this page.


Monday, August 26, 2013

The Book Thief Trailer

Since I'm lame and missed my post on'll just have to suffer through this wonderful trailer for The Book Thief today instead...

By the way: The Book Thief is available on both ebook and audiobook from the Lakeport Library, if you want to prepare for the movie.

Friday, August 16, 2013

End of Teen Summer Reading Program (Pictures!)

What a great year for the tween-teen program!
  • 37 teens signed up. Although 38 signed up last year, this year's crop was much more active in the events.
  • 33 teens attended 1 or more events, which is kind of incredible.
  • 14 teens read 3 or more books. In order to get prizes, the teens needed to read at least 3 books.
  • 145 books were reportedly read. (Wow!)
Here are some pictures Amy sent me of the final shebang (the Award Party):

Eating Pizza Om Nom
Awkward Moment when head librarian and teen winner
fight over the Kindle Fire grand prize.
OKAY, yes, I'm kidding.

Girl in front wearing Pikachu shirt: Fist bump.

Friday, August 9, 2013

YA Fiction Booklist: Twisted Fairy Tales and Retellings

Fairy Tale Retellings

Check out these twisted and retold fairy tales, all available at the Lakeport Library,or upon order from nearby Redbud library. And don’t forget about our ebook and audiobook downloads. You can download certain books on your home computer through “overdrive” onto your Kindles, ipods and other ereaders and mp3players. Some books are Adult Fiction that appeals to Young Adults, and others are Juvenile Fiction that appeal to Young Adults.

Cinder / Marissa Meyer
The book of lost things / John Connolly (Adult Fiction)

Golden / Cameron Dokey

Bewitching : the Kendra chronicles / Alex Flinn

Princess of the Midnight Ball / Jessica Day George

Just Ella / Margaret Peterson Haddix

Fire and Hemlock / Diana Wynne Jones

Snow / Tracy Lynn
Beauty : a retelling of the story of Beauty & the beast / by Robin McKinley (Juvenile Fiction)

Deerskin / Robin McKinley

Rose daughter / Robin McKinley (Juvenile Fiction)

Mermaid : a twist on the classic tale / Carolyn Turgeon
Spindle's end / Robin McKinley (Juvenile Fiction)

Beast / Donna Jo Napoli

Bound / Donna Jo Napoli

East / Edith Pattou

Sisters red / Jackson Pearce

Bella at midnight / Diane Stanley

Nobody's son / Sean Stewart

The swan maiden / Heather Tomlinson

Midnight pearls : a retelling of "The little mermaid" / Debbie ViguiƩ

Breadcrumbs / Anne Ursu

Briar Rose / Jane Yolen

The following books are available Ebooks or Audiobooks AND in hard copy at the Lakeport.

A little princess / by Frances Hodgson Burnett (audiobook, Juvenile Fiction )

Entwined / Heather Dixon (ebook)

Book of a thousand days / Shannon Hale (audiobook)

The goose girl / Shannon Hale (ebook & audiobook)

Fairest / Gail Carson Levine (audiobook, Juvenile Fiction)

Impossible : a novel / Nancy Werlin (audiobook)

The amazing Maurice and his educated rodents / Terry Pratchett (ebook)

Order These From Nearby Redbud

Into the Wild : a novel / Sarah Beth Durst

Confessions of an ugly stepsister / Gregory Maguire

The swan maiden / Heather Tomlinson

Briar Rose / Jane Yolen


Friday, August 2, 2013

Letting Critiques "Marinate"

Viewing our stories from the perspective of another person can teach us a lot about writing. Most serious fiction writers make friends with other writers and exchange critiques with them.* Critiques give us vital perspective on our creations.

*You can also exchange work on this great site, called, where I learned how to self-edit by editing the work of others. Besides this, I learned many basic writing skills from the critiques of others, such as "showing" versus "telling." The website is essentially a free, online critique group.

However, we writers won't be able to understand that perspective, at first. It can be difficult for our minds to adjust to the lens of our critique partner's view. A partner's critique on my story often contains all sorts of hidden gold, if only I could mine it. In order to do that, I need to let the critique marinate in my mind alongside my story.

Then something magical happens (Magical, I tell you!). I suddenly see tons of ideas in the critiques that I never noticed before. It's like getting thoughts from several writers, instead of just one.

I used to read a critique once, maybe twice at most, before assuming "I got it."

No. No more.

Now, I have a process.
  1. I read the original critique and let it sit for a day or two or more, depending on how it strikes me. I may or may take some notes on it, at this point.
  2. Later, I read it again. I take notes on what I think is true, or what I think merits serious consideration. It's important for me to type it out the critique, or explain it out loud in my own words. As I do this, new insights from the critiques pop out at me.
  3. I come back to the critique multiple times and reread it, eventually transitioning from the critic's words to my own digested version. I run through my story with them fresh in my mind, taking notes on revision ideas as I go (but not necessarily implementing all the changes I see). As I do this for a time, more things make sense and connect. This part is especially exciting when I have two or more critiques because the advice often overlaps in areas.
  4. Finally, I implement the ideas from the critique (or ideas the critique inspired), starting with structural issues and ending with the nitty gritty. I can't say I stick to a list because sometimes new ideas pop up and I follow those. It's a haphazard, yet strangely, chaotically ordered process. (Sometimes it drives me a little insane because I like order. But writing is essentially ordering, so getting it done feels great.)
So, what can you learn from this, Scribblers? I don't know--maybe you'll want to try paying lots and lots of attention to the words of your own critics.

I was inspired to let critiques marinate by Kristin Cashore's wonderful blog post about how tedium and revision go hand in hand. (Kristin Cashore is the author of Graceling, Fire and Bitterblue, all of which are award winning female-driven YA Fantasy that I LOVE.) I highly recommend Cashore's craft post.

Photo Attribution:

By SJ Yang (Ganjang gejang  Uploaded by Caspian blue) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons