Staff Book Recommendations

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By , November 7, 2014 10:34 am

James Hinds

Tunnel in the Sky by Robert A Heinlein

Through my powers of deduction and understanding of the scientific method, I infer there is an unspoken law to literature; a book can only be included on a high school reading list if it is both depressing and boring. I have no idea why the powers decided on this, perhaps this was to ensure the next generation of potential readers as unable to read without relapsing into post traumatic boredom.

I refer, of course, to that bane of high school reading program, The Lord of the Flies. I, like many unsuspecting English students, had to read this in high school. It often felt less like something my teacher wanted and more like something the devil demanded. This is a real shame, because if I had my preference, I would have read Tunnel in the Sky instead.

Tunnel in the Sky is similar to The Lord of the Flies. A story about young children stuck in the wilderness, who must survive on their own. In The Lord of the Flies, these are young children who have no idea what they are doing and are astonishingly cruel and destructive. Tunnel in the Sky? The kids are older—late high school. They’re actually taking a test for a survival course which goes wrong, but their fair bit of survival knowledge aids their ability to fend for themselves. Unlike the characters in The Lord of the Flies, they go far beyond survival and set up a representative democracy.

On second thought, maybe these books aren’t so similar.

 

Corey Parson

On Writing

I would recommend anyone who enjoys the written word to read Stephen King’s On Writing. It isn’t so much an instructional guide as a memoir of how Stephen King became the writer he is today, though he also offers practical advice and quotable tidbits like, “The road to Hell is paved in adverbs.” It is very down-to-earthand relatable; not only practical but inspirational as well.

 

Molly Morelock

All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy

Western’s aren’t my thing. I find them bleak and boring with no real appeal besides the attractive cowboys that ride off into the sunset. Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses is the only Western my reading palate has any taste for. Unlike most novels I read in school, I actually enjoyed this one quite a bit. The main character, John Grady Cole is a sixteen year old cowboy with no family, no home, and nowhere to go, so he sets off on perilous journey to Mexico with his best friend. There is romance, betrayal, violence, and all sorts of other bad themes people love to read. I would describe it more as a coming of age novel, for those of us who have to face the world alone and deal with troubling situations while maintaining an optimistic heart. It also doesn’t hurt that Matt Damon plays a real handsome John Grady Cole in the movie adaptation.

 

Mathew Pardue

Heorot Trilogy by Larry Niven

I recommend the book I most recently read. Well, three books, the Heorot trilogy by Larry Niven and his coauthors. They’re slightly older novels given to me by my father, but they don’t feel too outdated to me (the first was published the year before I was born). The trilogy consists of: The Legacy of Heorot, Beowulf’s Children, and Destiny’s Road. As the first two names imply, they’re technically books about heroes fighting monsters, but I think they really shine in the “science” part of science fiction. They explore an alien world with strange life, and even strange chemistry, that the heroes must understand and overcome to survive. Be forewarned that all three books contain mature content, so I don’t recommend them for bedtime stories with the kids. But if you like solid, well-researched science fiction and dramatic stories, then this series might appeal to you.

 

Amy Beard

Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

If you thought J.K. Rowling had skill interweaving complex details, you haven’t read Salman Rushdie. Allow me to blow your mind with my boy Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children. Rushdie’s language is by far one of the most beautiful things I have ever read. Midnight’s Children blends reality with fantasy, simplicities with complexities, humor and horror, past and present, creating a marvelous literary voyage. If you aren’t ready to be completely swept up by a novel, Midnight’s Children is not meant for you.

The book is a coming of age story but not in the typical sense—this is Rushdie after all. The novel depicts the narrator’s and India’s metamorphosis.

As the title alludes, the book does not focus on just one person (though Saleem, the main narrator gets a lot of the limelight). The ”midnight’s children” of the title are the 1,001 children born in the first hour of Indian independence, Aug. 15, 1947. Two boy babes are born in the same Bombay nursing home at the exact stroke of midnight: one to wealth and one to the streets. Molding their fates, a nursemaid switches babies: Shiva and Saleem’s differing life stories reveal a labyrinth of excitement. As a Bombay book, a big-city book, Midnight’s Children is coarse, knowing, comfortable with Indian pop culture and, above all, aggressive. This book will not disappoint.

 

 

 

 

What is NaNoWriMo?

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By , November 6, 2014 2:35 pm

Wikimedia

 

If you don’t know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It is a viral internet project that begins November 1st and ends November 30th each year. The objective of the project is to write a 50,000 page novel in the thirty day time span you are given. It is recommended that you write approximately 1,667 words a day in order to complete it, but you can write at your own pace if needed. Not so much a competition, NaNoWriMo is a place where fellow writers and aspiring authors can encourage one another through feedback and comments. The forums available offer a range of inspirational tips and resources, and anyone who completes creating a novel at the end of the month gets a free manuscript printed by CreateASpace.

Created by Chris Baty in 1999, the purpose of NaNoWriMo is not to create a perfect book in a mere thirty days, but to finish a book that can later be submitted for future editing and even publication. NaNoWriMo also offers a Young Writers Program that boosts creativity and writing fluency in youth age seventeen years and younger. The competing young writers are then able to set their own word count goal, and follow the process just like the initial program. Educators and teachers can also encourage the young writers by using the free classroom kits and lesson plans available on the website, or by ordering specific workbooks and Common Core guides. NaNoWriMo started with a mere 21 participants, eventually expanding into the website it is today. Nearly half a million people participated as of 2013, and I’m sure this year’s numbers will continue to grow. The program initiates motivation in potential authors, and encourages them to finish a goal that often seems too difficult to even start.

One of my main life goals is to write a novel, but I find this a long tedious process with a very low success rate. I’m constantly hitting writers block, or concentrating too much on the perfection of my sentences instead of the actual content. Writing hundreds of pages is extremely time consuming, and only those with tons of patience and impeccable time management can accomplish a task of this magnitude. Being a college student, and a busy one at that, writing a novel is more problematic than it is enjoyable. This recent discovery may be a solution to my problem.

I will definitely try to be one of those new participants this year. Despite that I haven’t quite started it yet, NaNoWriMo will definitely encourage me to get my ideas down on paper, and maybe, someday, in the future, my book will sit on the shelf along with all the other great novelists of my time.

 

 

 

 

13 Frightening Books and Stories

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By , October 30, 2014 3:07 pm
 http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Clarke-TellTaleHeart.jpeg


http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Clarke-TellTaleHeart.jpeg

1. Edgar Allan Poe “The Tell-Tale Heart”

A chilling short-story narrated by a character of questionable sanity, who tells a tale about a murder that is sure to leave your heart pounding.

2. Stephen King The Shining

Jack, his son Danny, and wife Wendy become trapped in a hotel with many paranormal secrets, and Jack becomes consumed by the psychological torment of the spirits that haunt the Overlook.

3. Tom Harris Silence of the Lambs

FBI agent Clarice Starling enlists the help of cannibalistic murderer, Hannibal Lector in order to uncover the deadly serial killer “Buffalo Bill.”

4. Richard Connell “The Most Dangerous Game”

Sanger Rainsford shipwrecks on an island inhabited by the notorious General Zaroff, who challenges all stranded sailors to the ultimate hunting game.

5. W.W. JacobsThe Monkey’s Paw”

The magical monkey’s paw grants the White family three wishes, but the consequences are gruesome and terrifying.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Frankenstein#mediaviewer/File:Frankenstein_poster_1931.jpg

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Frankenstein#mediaviewer/File:Frankenstein_poster_1931.jpg

6. Robert Louis Stevenson Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

In this novella, narrator, Mr. Utterson, uncovers the life of Dr. Jekyll, a pleasant man mysteriously intertwined with the life of Mr. Hyde, a cruel and violent man.

7. Oscar Wilde The Picture of Dorian Gray

A story of extreme vanity, the young and aristocratic Dorian Gray makes a deal with the devil to keep his beauty—the only catch is that he must avoid his flawless portrait which secretly portrays his true image.

8. H.P Lovecraft “The Call of Cthulhu”

Francis Wayland recounts gripping stories about a cult who serves a dark god beneath the sea, and the terror unleashed.

9. Stephen King It

A gang of outcasts team up to defeat the deranged clown Pennywise, a strange being known also as “it” for his shape shifting abilities morphing into the fears of young children.

10. Susan Hill The Woman in Black

Arthur Kipps tells the horror story of his time in Eel Marsh House and his mysterious encounters with a pony, a screaming child, and a woman in black.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Frankenstein#mediaviewer/File:Frankenstein_poster_1931.jpg

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Frankenstein#mediaviewer/File:Frankenstein_poster_1931.jpg

11. Bram Stoker Dracula

In the original tale of Count Dracula, his evil motives and vampires come alive; a few brave humans make it their mission to destroy this evil at all costs.

12. Mary Shelley Frankenstein

Ironically, a nightmare became a dream for Mary Shelley. The tragic story tells of Victor Frankenstein and his monstrous creation, who vows revenge on his creator due to a life of loneliness and desperation.

13. Irving Washington “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”

On his way home to the quiet town of Sleepy Hollow. Ichabod Crane encounters the Headless Horseman.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing and Traditional Publishing

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By , October 27, 2014 3:39 pm

bookshelfIt’s pretty safe to say, that basically all English majors dream of publishing a book one day. We spend our whole lives sitting in front of a computer screen or writing in multiple notebooks, hoping that maybe our words will reach an audience. The question is, where do we start? I’d like to think that my words would have some effect on the general public, but the risk of assuming is one that involves great consequence. So I must choose the best method for me; self-publishing or traditional publishing.

On one hand, self-publishing is a great new way for aspiring authors to get their books out quickly, and with the development and rise of e-books, they can easily hit the market without business officials and executives as middle men. E-books have swept the nation with their inexpensive prices and variety of options. A few years ago, one of the nation’s bestselling books, Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James, started out as a simple self-published e-book, but eventually expanded into a million dollar franchise, complete with hardcopy editions, sequels, and future movie adaptations. Sites like Lulu, Blurb, and Booksurge are popular among aspiring authors because they offer the best of both worlds—hardcopy editions for purchase as well as e-book editions to download off Amazon or Barnes & Noble for a fairly inexpensive price. Authors can also go to a company to self-publish, and by doing so they receive monthly payments and great royalty rates. It is an effective way to have control over all aspects of the process (editing, pricing, marketing, the works). But like all things great, there’s a downside. Self-Published books have a lower chance of hitting the market than books produced by big publishing houses due to the lack of proper management and money power. (Typically) Self-published book sales just aren’t up to standard, and it can really hurt your personal finances as a result.

If you don’t have the funds to self-publish, or if you feel like your book might need some marketing help, then strive for traditional publishing. Major publishing companies such as Random House, Simon and Schuster Scholastic, and HarperCollins produce most of the books in America. There are also publishing companies specific to genre such as Zondervan which produces Christian books and Bibles, and there are local publishers such as our press that cater to the regional area. Any of these places are willing to work with authors and writers; it’s just a matter of impressing them and adhering to their high standards. As a new writer, it might seem hard entering a company that publishes James Patterson or Stephen King, but if you can grab their attention, then it’s possible that your book will become a success. Larger companies have the money and marketing power, as well as top editors, professional cover artists, and greater success rates. But here too, these benefits come at a cost; the executives will have full control of cost, detail, editing changes, and ultimately your voice (because now it’s their voice too).

The world is full of books, one more creative than the next. When deciding what route to take, consider the pros and cons, an just remember no matter what type of writer you aspire to be, your voice can be heard.

A Night at the Holly Theater: Review of Macbeth

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By , October 16, 2014 3:59 pm

macbethVoid of elaborate design luxuries such as, stunning visuals and expensive backdrops, the Holly Theater in Downtown Dahlonega has its own charm. Rather than a performance stage, the theater intriguingly resembles a small movie theater. Contrasting the uptight atmosphere often present at the Fox Theater in Atlanta or on Broadway in New York, the quaint local aspects make the Holly inviting and relaxed. These attributes made my overall experience at the Holly enjoyable.

While impatiently waiting amongst the audience for Macbeth to start, I began reading the program. I had never seen a Shakespearean play until the night of October 11th and it definitely met my expectations. I didn’t have any grand or over the top preconceived ideas about the play. The theater is small and locally managed, so intricate detailed set designs and costumes don’t come cheaply. Shakespeare’s plays are also full of soliloquy and dialogue rather than action, making the play more about the plot rather than the backdrop. True to these expectations, Macbeth, a story of the Scottish King, was slightly unfamiliar but the program’s short summary provided me with all I needed.

The cast did an excellent job delivering their lines, and projecting the character’s emotions in the setting they were given. I can’t remember a single slip in dialogue, and their facial expressions were a good mix of subtle and hyperbolic. Shawn Jacoby took on the role of an insane and misguided Macbeth with embellished enthusiasm, making the play more entertaining to watch. Although, the setting could have used a few more artistic elements for a fuller sense of location and imagery. The stage direction made up some for the lack of background scenery, and kept the audience on edge, wondering who was going to come out of which door next. The music, haunting, mysterious, and reflecting Macbeth’s unpredictability through intense violin rifts and deep chanting, also added an eerie touch.

Dr. Brian Corrigan, the director of the play, English professor at UNG, and Shakespearean expert, delivered a large scale play in a small town, and in my opinion he did so very well. Shakespeare is known as an extravagant and detailed writer, so audiences expect his stage adaptations to play out in this manner (no pun intended). But this production doesn’t need a high class presence to beautifully tell the story of Macbeth; after all “It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

The play will be running the weekends of October 24-26th & 31st, as well November 1st and 2nd. I recommend everyone come support the amazing and dedicated cast and crew of this production. They surely will not disappoint!

If you haven’t already seen Macbeth, get your tickets here!

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