Book Review: The Lump of Coal by Lemony Snicket

The Lump of Coal

by Lemony Snicket, Brett Helquist (Illustrator)

This is a story about a lump of coal who can think, talk, and move itself around.

Is there a more charming holiday tale to behold? Probably, but Lemony Snicket has not written one.

 

Review:

I absolutely loved this book. In true Lemony Snicket fashion, the book talks to the reader, engaging them, and is full of dry wit. The illustrations, also, are wonderful and amusing, full of great detail.

This is a funny little story about the adventures of a lump of coal looking for a Christmas miracle. He just wants to be creative and draw charcoal lines and maybe barbecue some meat — he is a lump of coal, after all.

I think kids, especially young school aged kids, and adults alike will enjoy this quirky, off beat story that embraces the importance of miracles and creativity.

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New Writing Practice

Yesterday, as I was scanning my Facebook feed, I found this article called How to Write Your Best Story Ever With One Epic Exercise by Jennifer Manuel.  My curiosity was piqued, and I have to say the article really resonated with me. Basically, she advocates finding a book you enjoy or admire the writing of and copy it out by hand every day before your other writing.

By Unknown – Original: Blades, William: Pentateuch of Printing with a Chapter on Judges (1891)

The idea fascinates me. I’ve always thought about how painters learn to paint by copying the masters, but I had never thought to apply this to writing beyond reading good writers. It makes so much sense to me to physically copy out other author’s writing in order to learn from it. It slows us down and makes us pay attention.

And, Manuel sites a tradition of authors copying out other writers to learn their craft, from Robert Louis Stephenson to Benjamin Franklin.

Manuel said that she has been copywriting for a year and has seen stunning results — and has written the best story of her life during this time. I highly suggest visitng Manuel’s page (click on the link in the first paragraph) as she lays out three different ways of practicing copywriting.

So, I’m going to give it a go.  I also have had trouble lately getting into the creative flow, so I am hoping that copywriting will help by getting my brain gently into writing mode. Even if I have writer’s block, I can still do something towards my writing, which I love.

I’m going to start with one of Thoreau’s essays from Walden because I think he has interesting sentence structure. I started today and found the exercise soothing and meditative. I’ll keep you updated.

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Art in the Park

On Canada Day, my writing group (Books in the Belfry) had a booth at our local Art in the Park, art show/sale and music, celebration here in Kamloops, BC. Here we mostly are:

It was a fantastic, beautiful day, full of people coming by to talk about books and writing and I appreciate everyone who stopped by.

I am so fortunate to have this amazing, supportive group in my life. A common thread among the writers who visited our booth is that they often feel disconnected and would love to connect with other writers. It’s a funny thing, how so many writers are introverted and we work on our own so much, but that we need times to connect and get support as well. After our Art in the Park experience, my group, Books in the Belfry, is looking at trying to find ways to connect with other writers, perhaps even world wide, while still maintaining the integrity of our group. One of the things we really value is our feeling of safety to share our work or speak our mind — because we know how rare it is to find.

Thanks again to everyone who made Art in the Park a fantastic day, and feel free to sign up for our newsletter here to keep up with our plans. And here’s a link to a post about our group, but basically, we are all batshit crazy about writing and keep each other going through (mostly) weekly meetings at a local coffee shop. And how did we start? Through creativity courses and by going up to people who have Nanowrimo stickers on their laptops in coffee shops.

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Book Review: Woolbuddies

Woolbuddies: 20 Irresistibly Simple Needle Felting Projects

You can see how cute these Woolbuddies are. You’re not going to believe how easy it is to make them! Tired of searching for special toys that weren’t mass-produced, former Lucasfilm animator Jackie Huang created the beloved Woolbuddy, a collection of all-natural stuffed animals that reflect his unique imaginative vision. He went on to capture fans at craft fairs, Comic-Con, and specialty boutiques. Here Huang teaches readers, using just some wool and a needle, how to needle felt a wide-eyed owl, a toothy shark, a fuzzy sheep, a towering giraffe, and more. With step-by-step instructions and helpful how-to photographs, crafters can create clutchable keepsakes to be instantly enjoyed and forever cherished.
Review:
I wanted to learn needle felting and was lucky enough to come across this book — I absolutely love it.
It starts with instructions for the basic techniques and tools, something I found invaluable and easy to follow. Then there are 20 projects divided by skill level. There are photos clearly showing how to do each step. I also love the Woolbuddy projects — they are fun and interesting, and kind of cartoonish. Both kids and adults really like them and there is lots of room for variation and personal touches.
I highly recommend this book for beginners, especially if you are not looking for realistic looking projects. The techniques are all clearly laid out and there are a good variety of projects to choose from. This is now my go-to book when I’m looking for inspiration for needle felting.

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