Monday, February 24, 2014

What Happens When You DON'T Pay Attention In 7th Grade

I found a fantasy-art pin with a horrid caption on Pinterest.  I repinned it with the following caption.  Soon afterward, I got a comment on the pin and the caption.  And, well, you can read it for yourself.
Lisa Shafer • 20 weeks ago

(Tell me, please, that a 7th-grader wrote the following caption to this pin. I'm definitely going to use it as a proofreading assignment with my students.) 

Fairies are very kind and powerful creatures with magic they never come with people cause their are afraid of people cause they distroy their home.The forest.

  • Eileen Hammerstrom
    [name deleted] • 1 day ago
    Grammer correction: ...cause they are afraid...not their are.

  • Lisa Shafer
    Lisa Shafer • 1 day ago
    "Grammer correction: ...cause they are afraid...not their are." 
    Please tell me you're being ironic in this comment. *eyes water from tears of suppressed laughter* :)

  • Eileen Hammerstrom
    [name deleted] • 1 hour ago
    Vinnie Barbarino's "What?" to you.

  • Lisa Shafer
    Lisa Shafer • just now
    @ [name deleted] "Vinnie Barbarino's 'What?' to you." 
    Response: Verbal irony here would be the unexpected situation in which the "correction" contained two errors as bad as those in the original, mangled sentence. It's hilarious. But I wasn't sure whether or not it was intentional. Now, it appears that the irony was not intentional.


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Becoming Brigid Gets Another 5-Star Review!

I'd begun to think I'd never get another review; the pickings have been rather slim lately.  But this week brought me this lovely review of Becoming Brigid.

Becoming Brigid is an intriguing and original novel that blends contemporary adolescent experiences with fascinating Celtic mythology. It is fast-paced and well-plotted, with a storyline that encompasses everything from feeling insecure, enduring babysitting-gone-wrong, and being stuck with a jerk for a date … to hopping through portals, magically healing people and being attracted to a mysterious guy who seems bent on murder.

I think the author did an excellent job including unique, vivid details in the descriptions. It’s never boring! This book also does a particularly nice job with dialogue that beautifully captures authentic-sounding voices. The main character, Pepper/Brigid, is plausible and likeable, with a strong personality that nicely increases in self-confidence and empowerment (which is one of the reasons I think this is an excellent read for adolescent girls).

A couple of my female students read this book about the same time I did; they really loved it and found themselves absolutely ga-ga over the sexy yet morally ambiguous character Dougal, who is equally endearing and infuriating. I can see their point. However, my favorite character turned out to be the neighbor kid DC (“Death Child”), the son of a funeral director, whose family’s past links inextricably into the mythological plot line. He makes a fun and unusual confidant for the main character.

I also thought that the main villain was cleverly constructed. He’s a self-righteous, judgmental teen who is blinded by his holier-than-thou attitude. Unusual and effective motive for villainy. His come-uppance is particularly satisfying!

In my second time reading this book, I still found myself slightly disappointed there wasn’t more closure between the main character and her father … but that’s a small detraction in an otherwise fabulously polished plotline.

I thoroughly enjoyed “Becoming Brigid” and recommend it highly. It has a great deal to offer its readers, both in interesting and inspiring content as well as in skillful, witty and engaging writing.

Did you like the review?  If so, how about clicking through here and then clicking "yes" that this review was helpful to you on Amazon?  That would be awesome.
(PS.  Feel free to buy the book as well.  That'd be even MORE awesome.)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Going Vintage

Monday was Presidents' Day, and I should have been grading essays.  But instead I went nuts making "vintage" images for new products on my zazzle Shafer ArtWorks store.

Isn't this one gorgeous?
My sister-in-law refers us as The Shafer Museum.  We seem to have everything odd we might need at sometime.
Seriously, to get ready for this photo shoot, I walked from room-to-room in the house, grabbing scrapbook paper, Tim Holz gears and clock faces, public domain photos (that's Evelyn Nesbit in the above photo, the girl who beat Miley Cyrus and her wrecking ball by a century when she swung about in the nude on a velvet swing), Victorian valentine reproductions, vintage jewelry, antique books, dip pens and ink (with extra nibs), lace, ribbon, a silk rose, a decorative plate, antique buttons, antique marbles, dried lavender blossoms, and my Cannon point-and-shoot.
My photo studio was the landing on the stairs where the light was good.
For about 30 minutes, I positioned and repositioned still lifes, switched angles, and made shots.  Then I cleaned up, uploaded the photos onto my laptop, and dinked around on iPhoto with the effects button for a while.
Presto!  Cool, steampunky, vintage-look, "gaslight romance," psuedo-Victorian photos!

I love this one, too!

This one is made into a pocket journal with a wrap-around cover, so half the photo's on the other side.

I call this one the Time Traveler's Notebook.  :)

And there are more, but suddenly blogger's throwing fits about the URLs again.  I hate it when it does that; there's no rhyme or reason to it!  Ugh.
Oh well.
Please drop by Shafer ArtWorks and check out these notebooks to see the rest!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Introducing: Shafer ArtWorks!

I've been thinking about doing this for months now, so, over the weekend -- once I recovered from the lack of sleep, caffeine-and-sugar overdose, over-stimulation, aches, pains, and hostility which make up parent-teacher conferences -- I ignored a good deal of housework and most of a pile of essays (OK, I got SOME of each done!) and started a business.
Sort of.
Look, for my whole early life, my father was self-employed.  Our family ran the oldest silk-screen printing company in Utah, and it went quite well until an early heart attack forced Dad to retire earlier than he'd planned.  My folks offered to let me run the business, as I knew how and had worked with Dad for years, but my heart was in teaching and I knew I had not the art talent my father had.  The business was sold -- and a few years later, the folks who bought it went under and it failed.
All of this means that 1) I've always had the POV of the self-employed, 2) I've grown up thinking creativity and marketing are normal, 3) I've grown up as the daughter of an artist, and thus I see the world in various frames.  (Beautiful scenery is thought of in terms of how it would make a good painting.  And I read people's tee-shirts.  Always.)
Now, Mom and Dad are at a stage where they could use a bit more cash (well, who isn't at that stage, really?).  Dad has enough gorgeous paintings to fill a gallery on his own, but only the ultra-wealthy buy fine art in its original form.  (Yes, he's sold some paintings in Park City -- home of the über-wealthy -- as well as Moab, St. George, and Salt Lake, but most people don't want to pay what paintings are worth.)  However, ordinary folks will buy good art if it's in a form they can afford: posters, calendars, notecards, etc.  (They'll also buy bad art this way.  Just sayin'.)
Thus, I've convinced Dad to start again: an online business this time, with little or no overhead costs.  Mom's the internet junkie of the two of them, not Dad (who never learned to type, so computers seem a bit intimidating to him still), so I've had to show him how it will all work.
Max has kindly agreed to help us when we actually set up our own website, and Dad and I already know how and where to have professionals photograph the paintings which are too large to be scanned in.  But, more research showed me that has pretty much the best deal for people who want to merchandize their art/graphic art/photos, so I went ahead and set up a zazzle store.
Here it is:  Click here to check it out.

They also create this snazzy little flash panel for folks to use in advertising their stuff:

make custom gifts at Zazzle

My dad's artwork isn't ready yet, so it's just my photography.  I spent several hours this weekend sorting through photos and finding what works best.  Oddly, it's not the great scenic views that are working on notebooks and iPad cases and light switch covers; it's the closeups of flowers, of vintage fabric, and of off-beat things, like a WWII ration stamp booklet.
See what I mean?

This quince blossom photo looked so good I put it on everything from a pillow to an iPhone case.

And, I planned on putting in some other pictures, but blogger's being all weird and won't accept the URLs, even though the quince blossom one was just fine.  *rolls eyes*

So, I've been in business for about 48 hours.  I haven't sold anything yet, but I hope to.  I'm wondering if my photography will sell better, the same as, or not as well as my books (which are still available on amazon!!)  But if you're in the market for some gifts or home decor, do drop by Shafer ArtWorks and have a look.  :)

I promise to make a HUGE announcement once Dad's artwork is available!

PS. Max, I used the photo I took of your stained glass inset on your door.  I hope that's OK.  It's my photo, but it IS your door.  Let me know if it's not OK, and I'll take the stuff down.

It makes a pretty spiffy clock, though!

(Now why will blogger let me post this image but not the two others I wanted???!!!  grrrr)

Saturday, February 15, 2014

What Are You Reading?

To be honest, I'm not writing much right now.  When I write, I get so wrapped up in the world of the book that I have trouble focusing on other things in my life, and right now I have some decisions that need making, so I've put The Chocolate Smuggler's Notebook on hold for awhile.
However, NOTHING, not even the death-defying week of the loathéd parent-teacher conferences can stop me from reading.  Nothing.
So, here's what I'm reading right now:

In non-fiction, it's all about Elizabethan England and Jane Austen (which is NOT Elizabethan England, for those of you  not up on your history):

(I actually bought the hardback, not the kindle version.)
This is really a great history tome, but it's disguised as a travel guide.  Great fun!  I'm learning many details to help as I teach Shakespeare.

(I bought a paperback, not the kindle version.)
Bob Irvine was my professor at the University of Edinburgh, and this dude KNOWS his Austen.  So very many women readers claim to love Austen's books, but they know nothing more than the plots.  This book gives so much insight into her world and her books.  Anyone who enjoys Austen should read it.

In fiction, I'm reading Cress:

(I got this one from the school library.)
This is a YA sci-fi fairy tale.
I really loved Cinder, the first book in the series, but I was disappointed by Scarlet, which is book 2, as it glorified an abusive relationship in true twi-tard style.  I had great hopes for this third volume, but I am wary now, as Meyer continues to glorify Wolf and Scarlet as romantic, when, in fact, the relationship is based on violence, fear, and submission.  Also, Meyer seems to have no clue what it's like to have long hair, as Cress does not behave the way a girl with long hair does, but rather like a short-haired girl wearing a wig.  This is a minor point, but it annoys me.

I just finished Brigid Kemmerer's Secret last night.

(I bought the paperback.)
This is a YA paranormal book, for older YA (I'd say 16+).
It's very tense and very good.
One thing about Kemmerer is that she can really suck me into a story, even when I don't like a lot of the characters.  That's really amazing.  However, this book is Nick's story, and Nick is the least violent of the Merrick brothers, so it's much easier for me to like him.
Fair warning: this book ends on a MAJOR cliff hanger.  Oh, Kemmerer doesn't cheat and leave problems unsolved.  No, there is resolution.  It's just that, right in the middle of that resolution, a new problem walks in.  Literally.  Boom!  End of book.  Wait for next volume.  Ugh!
If you like the series but really hate that kind of ending, you might want to hold off reading this book until the last book in the series, Sacrifice, is released.  Then you won't care so much about the cliff hanger ending. :)
You have been warned.

A couple of days ago, I finished Standing in Another Man's Grave:

(I bought the paperback.)
This is not YA.
OK, it's no secret that I LOVE Ian Rankin's tartan noir crime fiction.  I own ALL the Rebus books -- except for the one that just came out  -- and several of his other books as well.  I was so thrilled he brought Rebus out of retirement, rather the way Doyle once had to do the same with Holmes.  :)  John Rebus is simply too good a character to leave to the dust.
Note: Rankin writes the books in such a way that a reader can just drop in to any one of them without having read the whole series.  This book is about a retired detective working a cold case, a VERY cold case.  It's fascinating.

Last weekend I read Gated:

(I borrowed it from the school library.)
This is a pre-apocalyptic dystopia and is YA.
This book is about a girl who's family joined a cult when she was very young.  She's the narrator (and it's in that ever-annoying present tense -- ugh), so the reader gets to figure things about before she does. Parker cleverly shows the dangers of how charismatic cult leaders convince weak people to follow them, then brainwash, and -- usually -- destroy them.  Woven in to the story are real quotes from Jim Jones, Charles Manson, and the guy from Waco, Texas, whose name I forget.
My only problem with this book is spotty characterization.  The protagonist, her mother, her BFF, and the evil cult leader are pretty well-developed and multi-layered.  However, her father and the requisite two love interests are cardboard.  Seriously, the two boys are nearly interchangeable, except that one live in the commune and the other doesn't.
Overall, though, this is a great dystopian read for YA.

And, I'm waiting for Saints of the Shadow Bible:

Yes, more Rankin, more Rebus.
I'll buy this one once it's out in paperback, but right now, I've got my name on the public library waiting list.  I should have a copy within the month.  Can't wait!

That's it for my most current books.
What are you reading?

Monday, February 10, 2014

Oh My Heck!!! Could The Utah State Legislature Actually Do Something Logical??!!

Knock me over with a feather!
This makes SO much sense, and teachers have been saying this for years!  Surely, the Legislature won't pass it.  They couldn't!  Why would they actually take measures that would both HELP education and ENCOURAGE birth control?
Nyah, it'll never go through.

Senate panel OKS bill requiring big families to pay more for schools
Legislature » Sponsor estimates measure, which got Senate panel OK, would mean an extra $267 million annually for public schools.
First Published 18 minutes ago • Updated 4 minutes ago
Large Utah families might soon have to pay more of what some say is their fair share toward schools if a bill that gained early approval Monday becomes law.
SB118 would limit families to two state personal income-tax exemptions, which workers can claim for themselves and their dependents. Now, families may get the exemptions for each child — a situation that has left some Utahns complaining over the years that those with the most children end up paying the least into the school system, which is largely funded through income-tax revenue.

PS.  Keep in mind that a "big" family in Utah means one with more than 8 children.  (No joke.  It's not uncommon to find 10 to 12 kids in a family.  One family in my neighborhood has 13.)

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Random Photo Story Starter 2/9/14

Here's a great little photo I snapped a few years back, then tinkered with on a couple of different apps.
Perhaps it will inspire a story or two from readers.  (If it does, do let me know.)

(Remember to click on the pic to enlarge it.)

PS I don't even know who these girls were, except that they were college students and over the age of 18.  (I asked before I took the photo.)

Saturday, February 8, 2014

A Random Photo As A Story Starter 2/8/14

I haven't blogged much lately.  Sorry about that.
Today, my excuse was battling dust bunnies and grading essays.
So, here, have a gratuitous and weird photo to inspire your writing:

Oh, yes.  There's a real story behind it.  But the point is that you create the character, or rather that you create a fictional version of someone who is clearly already a "character."
Have fun.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

And February's Winner Is...

For the last several months, I've been having giveaways, with prizes going to people who review Becoming Brigid and/or allow me to use -- for promotional purposes -- a photo of themselves with the book.  So far, I've given away a tote bag and two gift bags.
The February winner of the gift bag,

which included a lavender/rice eye mask, lip gloss, "Dark Kiss" lotion, Best-Loved Poems, and "Forever Red" perfume (not shown in this photo), was this lovely lady on the left:

Another contest will be starting up next month.  Interested in entering?  Grab a copy of Becoming Brigid, read it, and review it on Amazon, Goodreads, and/or your blog.  Also, you can send me a jpg of yourself with the book cover showing.  That works, too.  :)
Those who entered previously but haven't yet won a prize are still in the running -- and I have several more prizes: totebags, notebooks, an altered book.
(Yes, this is a brazen self-promotion.  I don't have many reviews yet, and I want more!!  Get busy, people!)

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Concept: The Illustrated Half-Vampire

So, awhile ago, I got this idea of putting together both of my Half-Vampire books and selling them as a set in e-book form.  I got the text ready, but I've been fiddling with the cover.  Nothing has really made me happy.  Thus, I haven't actually published the "boxed" set yet.
Then, this weekend, I had this brilliant idea.  Why not add photos?  I have tons that I've taken for research purposes while writing the two books.
So, this weekend, have I cleaned the house thoroughly like I should have done?  Well, I picked things up and did some laundry.  (Please don't look at the dust bunnies in the corners.)  Have I graded the tests I brought home?  Uh, nope.
Instead, I have worked on placing photos into the texts of my Half-Vampire books.  But, of course, now I realize there are many more photos that could be put in, but they're not yet in digital format, as I took them before I bought my first digital camera.  Thus, I think I'll be digging through scrapbooks soon and picking out more photos.  (Or do I just take PILES of pics to Inkley's and get them to digitize the whole thing?  Won't I want all those photos from my year of living in Scotland digitized anyway????  Wow.  Big, big, BIG project on the horizon.)
At any rate, while I'm taking a break from writing the first draft of The Chocolate Smuggler's Notebook, I suppose this is a good thing to be doing.  I hope it'll spark renewed interest in the books.