Tuesday Teaser ~ The Spark

This week, I'm reading The Spark by Kristine Barnett and enjoying it a lot.

Kristine Barnett’s son Jacob has an IQ higher than Einstein’s, a photographic memory, and he taught himself calculus in two weeks. At nine he started working on an original theory in astrophysics that experts believe may someday put him in line for a Nobel Prize, and at age twelve he became a paid researcher in quantum physics. But the story of Kristine’s journey with Jake is all the more remarkable because his extraordinary mind was almost lost to autism. At age two, when Jake was diagnosed, Kristine was told he might never be able to tie his own shoes.

The Spark is a remarkable memoir of mother and son. Surrounded by “experts” at home and in special ed who tried to focus on Jake’s most basic skills and curtail his distracting interests—moving shadows on the wall, stars, plaid patterns on sofa fabric—Jake made no progress, withdrew more and more into his own world, and eventually stopped talking completely. Kristine knew in her heart that she had to make a change. Against the advice of her husband, Michael, and the developmental specialists, Kristine followed her instincts, pulled Jake out of special ed, and began preparing him for mainstream kindergarten on her own.

Relying on the insights she developed at the daycare center she runs out of the garage in her home, Kristine resolved to follow Jacob’s “spark”—his passionate interests. Why concentrate on what he couldn’t do? Why not focus on what he could?  This basic philosophy, along with her belief in the power of ordinary childhood experiences (softball, picnics, s’mores around the campfire) and the importance of play, helped Kristine overcome huge odds.

The Barnetts were not wealthy people, and in addition to financial hardship, Kristine herself faced serious health issues. But through hard work and determination on behalf of Jake and his two younger brothers, as well as an undying faith in their community, friends, and family, Kristine and Michael prevailed. The results were beyond anything anyone could have imagined.

Dramatic, inspiring, and transformative, The Spark is about the power of love and courage in the face of overwhelming obstacles, and the dazzling possibilities that can occur when we learn how to tap the true potential that lies within every child, and in all of us.

November 2001
"Mrs. Barnett, I'd like to talk to you about the alphabet cards you've been sending to school with Jacob."

People ask what the hardest thing is about having an autistic child, and for me the answer is easy. What mom doesn’t want to hear her baby tell her that he loves her or to feel his arms around her?”

Share the first paragraph (or a few) from a book you are reading. Here's the link: Bibliophile By The Sea

Nuggets for August

Some solid guidelines from James Scott Bell. I especially love what he says about backstory.

Another from JSB. How to write an eating scene.

This says it's about beta readers, but it could just as easily be titled "where to find critique groups."
(BTW, I highly recommend Critique Circle. The site has a great structure and lots of writers at every stage of development.)

If you're at the stage where you have or are developing a mailing list, this is a useful post

Thursday Writing Quote ~ Hemingway

The most important thing I’ve learned about writing is never write too much at a time… Never pump yourself dry. Leave a little for the next day. The main thing is to know when to stop. Don’t wait till you’ve written yourself out. When you’re still going good and you come to an interesting place and you know what’s going to happen next, that’s the time to stop. Then leave it alone and don’t think about it; let your subconscious mind do the work. ~ Ernest Hemingway

Tuesday Teaser A Night to Remember

I've wanted to read A Night to Remember by Walter Lord for a long time. It's especially poignant for me because a member of my extended family was traveling in third class, which makes the story feel a little personal. In light of that, it doesn't feel like I should say I'm enjoying this, so let's just say that I appreciate the way the events surrounding that night are related in this book.

Lord’s classic bestseller, and the definitive account of the unsinkable ship’s fateful last hours
At first, no one but the lookout recognized the sound. Passengers described it as the impact of a heavy wave, a scraping noise, or the tearing of a long calico strip. In fact, it was the sound of the world’s most famous ocean liner striking an iceberg, and it served as the death knell for 1,500 souls.
In the next two hours and forty minutes, the maiden voyage of the Titanic became one of history’s worst maritime accidents. As the ship’s deck slipped closer to the icy waterline, women pleaded with their husbands to join them on lifeboats. Men changed into their evening clothes to meet death with dignity. And in steerage, hundreds fought bitterly against certain death. At 2:15 a.m. the ship’s band played “Autumn.” Five minutes later, the Titanic was gone.
Based on interviews with sixty-three survivors, Lord’s moment-by-moment account is among the finest books written about one of the twentieth century’s bleakest nights.

High in the crow's nest of the New White Star Liner Titanic, Lookout Frederick Fleet peered into a dazzling night. It was calm, clear and bitterly cold. There was no moon, but the cloudless sky blazed with stars. The Atlantic was like polished plate glass; people later said they had never seen it so smooth.

What troubled people especially was not just the tragedy--or even the needlessness--but the element of fate in it all. If the Titanic had heeded any of the six ice messages on Sunday . . . if ice conditions had been normal . . . if the night had been rough or moonlit . . . if she had seen the berg 15 second sooner--or 15 seconds later . . . if she had hit the ice any other way . . . if her watertight bulkheads had been one deck higher . . .  if she had carried enough boats . . . if the Californian had only come. Had any one of these "ifs" turned out right, every life might have been save. But they all went against her--a classic Greek tragedy.

Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! To see what others are sharing on the Teaser Tuesdays, check the comments at: http://adailyrhythm.com/

Share the first paragraph (or a few) from a book you are reading. Here's the link: Bibliophile By The Sea

Sunday Snippet

I haven't played Sunday Snippets for some time, but having just gotten back my rights to A Knight in Cowboy Boots (yes, I got them back almost two weeks earlier than expected), I thought something special was called for.

   “So what’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?”    
   Maddie laughed. It should have sounded old, trite, and corny, but nothing said in that drawl could sound anything but enchanting. Her laughter lit something deep in Mr. East Texas’s dark eyes. She suddenly felt warm. Sitting-in-front-of-a-fire-on-a-cold-winter-night warm. The flutter in her heart moved into the pit of her stomach.
  “Don’t tell the bartender, but I’m casing the place to see if I want his job,” she said.
   The bartender's eyebrows rose, but he didn’t comment. He’d no doubt seen this dance often enough.

I've reissued the book and it's available on Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Kobo, and Itunes. A few other places are scheduled so if you have another favorite online retailer, it might be showing up there soon.

If you want to read more snippets, you can find links to them at:

Thursday Writing Quote ~ McKee

Deus ex machina not only erases all meaning and emotion, it's an insult to the audience. Each of us knows we must choose and act, for better or worse, to determine the meaning of our lives...Deus ex machina is an insult because it is a lie. ~ Robert McKee

Thursday Writing Quote ~ Stein

The function of suspense is to put the reader in danger of an overfull bladder. ~ Sol Stein