Blog module icon

Displaying all posts tagged with:

'science fiction'

Jul 30

Titles and Covers by Charlotte Helgeson

Posted to Campbell Unclassified on July 30, 2021 at 1:21 PM by Genesis Gaule

How important is the title and cover of a book? The title is first seen as part of the cover. How much does that cover influence the reader? Who makes the decision about how that will look. Is it the author or publisher?

Remember, the old adage of not judging a book by its cover? In the explanation of that English idiom, the word ‘alone’ is often added. So go ahead and take a good look at the cover and let that help decide if a deeper look will follow. It won’t be the only factor, but it does influence our choices.

That sounds so easy, but there is a huge amount of time, talent and thought that goes into a cover design. The author has lived inside the book for months, maybe years and knows the story inside and out and upside down. Publishers take a different approach by wanting a cover that will attract potential readers. An illustrator will add a creative talent that takes the words and puts flesh on them or creates an abstract concept of the story line. Publishers often win out though the more bestsellers an author creates, the more influence she’ll apply to the design.

Sometimes covers will change if books are reproduced. Publishers will want them to be more timely or if a movie has been produced then a still picture might be placed on the cover. Books considered classics may see many covers as different publishers take turns at reviving them, such as The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

Cookbooks with colorful covers of food catch my attention every time such as The Elder Scrolls by Chelsea Monroe-Cassel. There are also books that I can’t take home because I find the covers too scary. 

Yes, I’m easily influenced by covers but what about titles?

Titles are influential also. Authors with their publishers will decide on a title. I have an author friend who agreed to change the title of her book when the publisher thought her choice wasn’t mysterious enough.

Too many titles are the same or so similar that readers get confused. I prefer titles that are more distinct like The Poppy War by R.F. Kuan (great cover) and Ancestor Approved edited by Cynthia Leitch Smith.

The individual words in a title can catch a reader’s attention. For me some favorites are tree, sand, herbs or seeds which is why I picked up The Seed Keeper by Diane Wilson. The cover is a picture of beading which is beautiful. The book is about seeds and plants. After picking it up and looking at it, I found that it takes place close to home--a good find for me based on a cover and title!


Jul 02

These Are a Few of My Favorite Tropes! by Vanesa Gomez

Posted to Campbell Unclassified on July 2, 2021 at 2:18 PM by Genesis Gaule

While some people might think of any use of tropes as something that hurts an author’s writing, they may be surprised to find that almost every story utilizes them. They can be incorporated into a story to set up a character type, be creatively used to complicate a journey, or just used for some feel good content. If you’ve ever been waiting for a love triangle to unfold, you will either want to pull your hair out in frustration or be at the edge of your seat in anticipation. Coffee shop settings with romantic tension are either your cup of joe or make you yawn. Essentially, everyone connects with and favors some tropes over others. Here are a few books that incorporate some of my favorite tropes.

Found Family:

One of my all time favorites is the “Found family/Chosen family” trope. In these stories, a group of misfits find a home in the company of others in the group. They learn to confide, trust, and protect each other on their journey to complete a mission. It's a great way to create character arcs in a work of literature, when a ton of exposition for a large ensemble may feel out of place or unnatural. Over time we can see more of a character’s personality and background come out when they encounter difficulties. It’s also a reminder to readers that your family is made up of people that care about you, not necessarily the family you were born into.

Some books that incorporate this trope well are:

The House in the Cerulean Sea

by TJ Klune

When a group of children in an orphanage have the power to destroy the world, it’s up to Linus to investigate how dangerous they really are. Along the way, he may have to choose between saving his newfound family, or the world.
Science Fiction KLUNE

Six of Crows

by Leigh Bardugo

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz's crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction--if they don't kill each other first.
Junior BARDUGO

Artemis Fowl Series

by Eoin Colfer

(Slow build over the entire 8 book series) Artemis is a young boy genius with a mantra to guide him through life: “Gold is Power”. When this leads to elaborate and risky schemes to maintain his family’s wealth, those he once considered enemies will turn out to be more than he ever expected.
Junior COLFER

The Hobbit

by J.R.R Tolkien

A homebody Hobbit is reluctantly swept up into an epic journey by a wizard and thirteen dwarves.
Science Fiction TOLKIENebook

Enemies to Lovers:

When it comes to romance, “enemies to lovers” books are particularly fun to read. In these stories, people who see the worst in the other person grow to find themselves lost without them. Snarky humor and heartfelt moments of character growth? What more can you ask for!

Red,White and Royal Blue

by Leigh Bardugo

Alex Claremont-Diaz--America's Goldenboy First Son--has a beef with Prince Henry across the pond. And when the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an Alex-Henry altercation, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse. Heads of state devise a plan for damage control: staging a truce between the two rivals. What at begins as a fake, Instragramable friendship grows deeper, and more dangerous, than either Alex or Henry could have imagined... and could possibly upend two nations.
Fiction MCQUISTON

The Unhoneymooners

by Christina Lauren

For two sworn enemies, anything can happen during the Hawaiian trip of a lifetime—maybe even love—in this romantic comedy. Olive Torres is used to being the unlucky twin: from inexplicable mishaps to a recent layoff, her life seems to be almost comically jinxed. When her eternally lucky tiwn sister Ami gets married, Olive, is forced to spend it with the best man (and her nemesis), Ethan Thomas.
Fiction MCQUISTONebook

Pride and Prejudice

by Jane Austen

At the end of eighteenth-century England, spirited Elizabeth Bennet copes with the suit of the snobbish Mr. Darcy while trying to sort out the romantic entanglements of two of her sisters, sweet and beautiful Jane and scatterbrained Lydia.
AUSTENebook

If you are curious to find out more about the patterns found in media, try looking up a book on Tropedia. You may find yourself surprised by the list of tropes a single novel contains, and even more surprised to see if there is a trend connecting all your favorite books.

May 07

What Does that Word Mean? by Charlotte Helgeson

Posted to Campbell Unclassified on May 7, 2021 at 12:55 PM by Genesis Gaule

In the middle of a good read, no one wants to be disrupted by an unfamiliar word. I don’t mind a new word now and then, but too many will make me shut the book and go to the next. It’s good for my brain to add something that I can turn around and use, but again, too often and the whole read will be abandoned.

For the most part, words can be figured out by how the author uses them. If a main character wears a green jacket than any other word that refers to its color would mean some kind of green, like emerald, pastoral or verdant.

Our individual vocabulary is made up of the words each of us use. We each have four kinds of vocabulary:

  1. Reading--a word we can understand while into a book
  2. Listening--the words we understand when someone speaks
  3. Speaking--words we use when talking to someone
  4. Writing--the words we use when writing a letter, office work or homework

As I mentioned earlier, you may understand a word while reading because a good author has guided you to its meaning.

When listening to someone talking, words fly past quickly but we have the advantage of body language. If I heard ‘plummet’ for the first time and a friend demonstrated it with a hand coming down quickly, I’d understand. This may mean we understand more words than if we were reading them.

What words we choose when speaking to someone depends a great deal on who that someone is to us. If we’re looking at the weather with a 3-year-old, you might say, “It looks like it’s going to rain a lot today.” When speaking to Grandpa, you might say, “It looks like a thunderstorm.”

Our writing vocabulary can demonstrate a different range of words than when we’re speaking. Though there may be many words we use when talking that we’d never write down. Some we may never have seen in print. Kitty-corner is a word like that for me. I’d used it all my life and only recently saw it in print.

These vocabularies can be surprisingly different. Consider how you speak to your closest friends compared to how you speak to co-workers, Grandma or a flight attendant. There may be favorite words shared or some less favorable. All these vocabularies combine to make your personnel collection of words.

There are authors I read to challenge my vocabulary. I know I’ll have to take my time and focus. Other books, I fly through, knowing there will be no challenge.

doctors-blackwellIf you’d like to learn a few new words from good authors, how about trying The Doctors Black by Janice P. Nimura. The book is casual and yet a fascinating account of the first 2 female medical doctors. Nonfiction is good at teaching new words, but so is fiction. The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells is told from a robot’s point of view. I loved how its techy language was like a casual conversation about what’s for dinner. The author who always challenged me the most was Umberto Eco. If you like words, try his books.

pomegranateAn important part of learning how to read is learning new words, written and spoken. When I was young, I had no experience with pomegranates. I couldn’t have recognized one until I was an adult. A great book to share with kids is Grena and the Magic Pomegranate by Melvin Leavitt. Not only will the reader learn what a pomegranate is, but will also enjoy a great story and possibly learn a new word.