I’ve Been Chosen for a Liebster Award?!

Thanks to Julia from Butterfly Tales for nominating me for my very first blog “award” — the Liebster Award!

Thanks Julia!

The idea of this award is that bloggers nominate fellow bloggers to receive the award and post 11 facts about themselves, answer 11 questions from the blogger who nominated them, and come up with 11 new questions for 11 other bloggers of the nominee’s choice to answer! (That was hard to follow, I know – you’ll get it if you read on!) You can read Julia’s Liebster post here.

I was curious about this award, so I did a little Google searching and discovered a few things about it. It began in 2010, it appears, and is somewhat like a chain letter, except it’s for bloggers and it serves the purpose of attracting a wider audience for lesser-known blogs. The blogs nominated are supposed to be small – under 200 followers – although earlier incarnations of the award had set the limit at 3,000. Oh, and “liebster” is German for “dearest!”

So now that you know the history, I’ll start off with eleven facts about myself!

1. I once talked NCAA football with U.S. President Barack Obama on the phone. (I was doing a story for the paper – you can see the transcript here! I’m the third student on the line.)

2. My favorite candy is the Snickers bar, but Hersheys with almonds is a close second.

3. I’m the first woman in my entire family to earn a Bachelor’s degree, and the second person in my family to go to a four-year college.

4. At one point, I owned over 50 rabbits — I used to be involved in 4H as a kid.

5. My favorite TV show to watch reruns of is That 70’s Show. My favorite current TV show is Community.

6. I am a dead ringer for Taylor Swift, or so I’m told. Once I was chased at a hotel by drunk men who thought I was Taylor Swift. Security was involved.

7. I was aided by a good Samaritan in college when I fell on ice and knocked myself out in a deserted parking lot. She called her friend who had a car and took me to the ER. Unfortunately, because of the concussion I had at the time, I can’t remember her name, but I’ve been paying this kindness forward ever since.

8. Once I broke three iPhones in three weeks. I dropped my 3GS on its antennae, was given a 3G by a friend, broke the power button, and then reverted back to my original iPhone 1 from 2007, which I proceeded to also drop and cause the screen to freeze. Also noteworthy: I was three days out of my warranty on the 3GS.

9. My all-time top favorite book is Watership Down by Richard Adams. I read it in 7th grade. My English teacher was impressed, although he wasn’t a fan of the storyline.

10. The best $5 I ever spent was on a ticket to a Jack’s Mannequin concert at my college. JM is my all time favorite band, and I shed physical tears when I heard they were done.

11. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day.

—-

Okay, now this next set are the answers to Julia’s questions:

1. What are you currently reading? I just finished To Fetch a Thief by Spencer Quinn. It’s part of this mystery series featuring a detective and his dog, and it’s all told from the dog’s point of view! Hilarious.

Right now, I started Open Minds by Susan Kaye Quinn (no relation to Spencer Quinn, though!). It was free on Nook the other day, and it’s fantastic so far. Expect an update soon. 🙂

2. If you could meet any three people (alive, dead or fictional) who would they be? Andrew McMahon, Emily Giffin, and Joe Paterno

3. Favorite book? Well, I mentioned Watership Down already, but I also love Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, and anything by Emily Giffin.

4. Most embarrassing moment? When I was in eighth grade and cell phones were just starting to become popular with kids, my parents got me a Boost Mobile phone, which had the ability to be a walkie-talkie. Once, I was in school during study hall, which was totally silent because our teacher was super strict, and my mom buzzed me on the walkie-talkie and was like, “Katrina? Where are you? I’m outside, but I don’t see anybody…” And when I didn’t answer, she kept buzzing me. Everyone could hear it even though my phone was in my purse. My mom was early to pick me up from school, which was why no one was around…

5. Can you make any anagrams with your name? Not that I know of…

6. Would you rather read Harry Potter or Twilight? Too easy – Harry Potter all the way!

7. One skill you wish you had? I wish I could wake up one day and be awesome at playing guitar.

8. Favorite song right now? I can’t help getting down to T. Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble!”

9. Last film you saw in the movies? Skyfall, the latest James Bond movie. It was fantastic, and I really loved Ben Whishaw as Q! So adorable.

10. Best childhood memory? Picking pecans out of butter pecan ice cream with my grandmother and loading them up into our bowls. 🙂

11. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? I would hit up Italy, France, England, and Australia. And New Zealand. And possibly Ireland, while I’m in Europe!

And now here are MY questions for those that I nominate!

1. What was your favorite vacation you’ve ever taken?

2. Who is your greatest inspiration?

3. If you could do anything for your career OTHER than what you do now, what would it be?

4. If you spend a day in the life of one person, who would it be?

5. What is your idea of the perfect day?

6. Is the glass half full, or half empty?

7. If you could be on any reality show, which one would you like to star on?

8. What is your favorite homemade meal?

9. Would you ever go sky diving?

10. If your life became a movie, which actor or actress would best portray you?

11. Would you rather be a contestant on Jeopardy! or Wheel of Fortune?

And here are my nominees! Sorry if I’ve tagged anybody twice, but hopefully you enjoy answering my questions!

http://richardleonard.wordpress.com/, http://allenfiction.com/, http://readfulthingsblog.com/, http://katiebieker.com/, http://novelconclusions.com/, http://aliceatwonderland.wordpress.com/,  http://caitlinsternwrites.wordpress.com/,  journeyofjordannaeast.wordpress.com, http://thejoyunderneath.wordpress.com/, http://itsjennythewren.wordpress.com/, http://booksandbowelmovements.com/

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New Looks for Harry Potter Books?

In honor of 15 years since first being published, the Harry Potter books are getting new illustrations on their covers in the U.S.

First of all, I cannot believe it’s been 15 years since Sorcerer’s Stone was published. That makes me feel super old.

The new cover (courtesy USATODAY)

Secondly, I don’t know how I feel about new covers for my all-time favorite book series. I grew up with those covers and LOVE them. Some people thought they were no good, but I appreciated the artistry and relative ambiguity of the covers. Besides, doesn’t the old saying “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover” apply here? Regardless of what you thought about the cover, it doesn’t take away from the supreme awesomeness that is the book inside.

USAToday talked to Ellie Berger, president of Scholastic Trade Publishing, and she said:

“We thought it was time for a fresh approach” for the trade paperbacks “as of a way of attracting the interest of a new generation of 8- and 9-year-olds who may know Harry mostly through the movies.”

I mean, she’s got a point there. We all know the importance of a good cover to market a book, old adages aside. I can see how the new cover (pictured above) is more visually attractive to today’s kids. It’s true that some kids can probably identify at least Harry and Hagrid off the cover without even having read the book, just based off of the movies, media, etc. In fact, I’d venture to guess that most of today’s kids know the storyline without having read the books, thanks to the movies.

Maybe I’m just becoming one of those fussy old anti-change folks, but at least the hardbacks are sticking with Mary GrandPre’s illustrations for now.

What do you think? New covers totally warranted? Or is it all just a ploy by Scholastic to re-energize the series and make people re-purchase the books?

Getting Started

During one of many long internet surfing sessions, I discovered this blog by author K.M. Weiland. I love it! She’s “helping writers become authors” with tons and tons of blog posts about various elements of writing. In keeping with the theme of beginnings, I wanted to share this gem from Weiland’s blog about writing good opening lines that will hook readers and make them keep reading.

The entire post can be found at http://wordplay-kmweiland.blogspot.com/2011/09/5-elements-of-riveting-first-line.html, but here’s an excerpt:

“The opening line of your book is your first (and, if you don’t take advantage of it, last) opportunity to grab your reader’s attention and give him a reason to read your story. That’s a gargantuan job for a single sentence. But if we break down opening lines, we discover a number of interesting things. One of the most surprising discoveries is that very few opening lines are memorable.”

At first, I thought, “What?” But Weiland goes on to ask the reader to recall the opening lines of the last five books you’ve read, and she’s right. Even my very top favorites, like J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series or any of Emily Giffin’s novels, aren’t engraved in my memory!

The opening sentence, a notorious labor for many of us, really isn’t all that memorable to those who will eventually read our work! Check out Weiland’s post for her “5 Elements of Riveting First Lines” and stop fretting over those first sentences!