Awesome Authors #19: Lois Duncan

Lois Duncan

Image Credit: AZ Quotes

I hadn’t thought about Lois Duncan in years!


Born in April 1934, she was the oldest child of professional magazine photographers. Raised in Pennsylvania at first, her family relocated to Florida, where her parents became circus photographers. She played in the woods and read. Duncan started writing and submitting manuscripts to magazines at age 10. She sold her first story at age 13. After graduating from high school in 1952, she enrolled in Duke University. However, she dropped out the following year to start a family with the man who became her first husband, Joseph Cardozo.

Her writing career continued throughout the 1950s, publishing over 300 articles for various magazines. Her first novel, Love Song for Joyce, was published in 1958. In the early 1970s, she was hired to teach journalism at the University of New Mexico, after living in Albuquerque for nearly 10 years. While teaching, she enrolled in classes at the university. She earned her B.A. in English in 1977.

Married twice, Duncan had five children. Her youngest daughter, Kaitlyn, was murdered in 1989. After her daughter’s death, Duncan’s writing shifted to lighter fare, particularly children’s picture books.

Her 1966 novel, Ransom, received an Edgar Allen Poe Award. She was the recipient of the American Library Association (ALA) Margaret A. Edwards Award in 1992. In 2014, she was awarded the Grand Master award from the Mystery Writers of America.

Duncan died on June 15, 2016. She was 82. Although the cause of death was not disclosed, her second husband, Donald Arquette, noted his wife had suffered several strokes in prior years.


Killing Mr. Griffin (1978)

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Image Credit: Wikipedia

I’m pretty sure this is first book of Duncan’s I read. Every book written by her, I borrowed from Russell Memorial Library in Chesapeake.

Summer of Fear (1976)

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I don’t remember reading this one, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I did.

The Third Eye (1984)

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This one absolutely freaked me out. I don’t think I picked up another book by Duncan for at least six months after this.

Don’t Look Behind You (1990)

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I don’t remember reading this one, but I want to. It’s set in Virginia!

I Know What You Did Last Summer (1973)

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I didn’t make the connection between the book and the film adaptation (1997) until years later.

Chapters: My Growth as a Writer (1992)

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I’ve always been interested and intrigued by authors and their memoirs or autobiographies.

Who Killed My Daughter? (1992)

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Being such a fan of true crime, this book is already climbing toward the top of my next TBR list.


What about you? Have you read any of Lois Duncan’s works?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Awesome Authors #18: Sarah Dessen

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I’m long overdue for an Awesome Authors post.

I inhaled Sarah Dessen’s books when I was in high school and college.


Dessen was born in June 1970 in Evanston, Illinois. Her parents, Alan and Cynthia, taught classicism and Shakespearean literature at the University of North Carolina.

When she was 15, Dessen became involved with a 21-year-old man. She realized it was a bad idea, and cut ties shortly thereafter. In an interview, she said she took the blame for the situation and relationship for years afterward. When she herself turned 21, she made a point to look at teens and ask herself whether or not she wanted to hang out with them, or even date one. The answer, she said, “was always a flat, immediate no. They were kids. I was an adult. End of story.”

She first attended Greensboro College in Greensboro, North Carolina. She dropped out quickly to enroll in the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. She graduated with the highest honors in Creative Writing.

While launching her writing career, Dessen worked as a waitress at a restaurant called Flying Burrito. Her first book, That Summer, was published in 1996.

The 2003 movie How to Deal, starring Mandy Moore and Allison Janney, was based on Dessen’s books That Summer and Someone Like You.

Several of her novels have been named the American Library Association’s (ALA) “Best Fiction for Young Adults” selection. Along for the Ride (2010) made the New York Times Best Sellers List.

In 2017, Dessen received the Margaret A. Edwards Award as a result of seven of her novels, published between 2000 and 2011. Her newest book is Once and for All (2017).


Just Listen (2006)

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Image Credit: Wikipedia

I’m pretty sure this is the first book of Dessen’s I remember reading, although I’m not 100 percent sure.

Lock and Key (2008)

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As someone who has struggled all her life to ask for help, this one cut deep.

That Summer (1996)

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Image Credit: Goodreads

I think I’ve read this? I’m not sure. This is Dessen’s first novel.

Dreamland (2000)

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I passed by this book so many times at the library, and then once I finished either Just Listen or Lock and Key, I knew I needed to read it.

This Lullaby (2002)

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I remember this one, since having faith and learning to leap is something I’ve worked on for years. The cover also caught my eye at the library.

Along for the Ride (2009)

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I don’t remember reading this one, but I know I want to.

Keeping The Moon (1999)

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If I have read this, it was early on. I distinctly remember the cover, and I know I saw it on the library shelves. Regardless, I do want to pick it up and re-read it.

Saint Anything (2015)

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Image Credit: Goodreads

This is one I definitely haven’t read. I’m pretty sure the last new release I read was Lock and Key.


What about you? Have you read any of Sarah Dessen’s works? Have you seen How to Deal?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth  🙂

Awesome Authors #17: Nicholas Sparks

Nicholas Sparks

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Nicholas Sparks was my absolute go-to for romance novels for a long time. I own nearly every one of his books, and he was a defining author for me for several years.

In fact, I did my college senior thesis on his books. I studied the perceptions of love and romance from female readers. I would like to eventually publish it!

Born on New Year’s Eve 1965, Sparks was the second of three children. The family moved frequently while his father was pursuing graduate studies in Minnesota and California. Eventually, they settled in California after his father became a professor. On a track and field scholarship, Sparks majored in business finance at Notre Dame.

He married Cathy Cote in 1989, and they have had five children, three sons and twin daughters. He started writing in his early college years. His first publication was as a co-author in 1990. The book was titled Wokini: A Lakota Journey to Happiness and Self-Understanding.

While selling pharmaceuticals in the early 1990s, Sparks wrote The Notebook. Literary agent Theresa Parks offered to represent him after finding it in her agency’s slush pile and liking it. She secured a $1 million advance from Time Warner Book Group in 1995. After its publication in October 1996, it made the New York Times best-seller list in its first week.

He lives in New Bern, North Carolina, where he donated $9 million to New Bern High School for an all-weather tartan track. He and his wife amicably separated in 2015, and subsequently divorced.

As of October 2018, he has published 22 books. He has published one book nearly every year since 1996, with two books being released in 2003, as well as 2005. Eleven books have been New York Times best-sellers. His most recent book is Every Breath.


A Walk to Remember (1999)

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Image Credit: Wikipedia

I honestly can’t remember if this was truly the first Sparks book I read. But, I loved it, and the movie adaptation (2002) was very good. It was also incorporated into some of our Sunday School classes and youth group activities.

The Notebook (1996)

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I think I read this after the movie adaptation (2004) came out, but this is one of Sparks’s books that I treasure and re-read frequently. The movie adaptation is one of the best that’s ever been made, hands down.

Nights in Rodanthe (2002)

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I felt a special connection with this book, since Rodanthe, North Carolina, is only about two hours south of where I live!

I wanted to love the movie adaptation (2008) so badly, especially since I’ve visited the house that’s featured in it multiple times, but it wasn’t that great.

Safe Haven (2010)

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Image Credit: Wikipedia

This book was a hard read for me. I myself was a part of an abusive relationship for several years, and this book brought back several memories. Thankfully, by the time I actually read it, I was several years into dating Al.

I’m pretty sure we watched the movie adaptation (2013) together. I liked it a lot, despite the subject matter.

The Last Song (2009)

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Image Credit: Goodreads

I waited for what seemed like FOREVER to get my hands on a copy of this from the library! I devoured it on a car trip either to or from Florida.

Most people hated / loathed the movie adaptation (2010), but I liked it.


What about you? Have you read or seen any of Nicholas Sparks’ work?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Awesome Authors #16: Chris Van Allsburg

Chris Van Allsburg

Image Credit: Quotefancy

Chris Van Allsburg was practically a household name when I was younger. He has created some of the most beautifully illustrated books I have ever seen. Our future kids will definitely know about him, too.

Born in East Grand Rapids, Michigan, in June 1949. Van Allsburg has an older sister. His parents moved a few times between East Grand Rapids and Grand Rapids. After graduation, he attended the College of Architecture and Design at the University of Michigan, where the art school was located at the time. After graduating in 1972, he went on to the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), where he obtained a master’s degree in sculpture in 1975. He opened a studio. Struggling with time in the studio, he started to sketch his ideas and designs at home. His wife thought his drawings would be good for children’s books. His first book, The Garden of Abdul Gasazi, was published in 1979.

He resides in Providence, Rhode Island, with his wife, Lisa. They have two daughters, Sophia and Anna. Van Allsburg converted to Judaism, which is Lisa’s faith.

He has received several awards, including two Caldecott Medals for U.S. picture book illustration. He was the 1986 U.S. nominee for the biennial, international Hans Christain Andersen Award, the highest international recognition for those who create children’s books. In April 2012, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from his alma mater, the University of Michigan.


The Polar Express (1985)

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Image Credit: Wikipedia

My parents have had a copy of this book since before I was born. It was a Christmas tradition for years to read the book and/or listen to the story on cassette tape. We even had a collector’s set with the book, cassette tape, and a silver bell. If you haven’t read it, you should.

Also, the movie adaptation (2004) is wonderful. We went to see it in theaters, likely the weekend it was released. We love Josh Groban in our house, so we also got the soundtrack and DVD. It’s a thing.

Jumanji (1981)

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I’m pretty sure I first read this book through either the Chittum Elementary School library, or the Russell Memorial Library. I remember the Reading Rainbow episode, too.

Like The Polar Express, the movie adaptation (1995) is awesome, with Robin Williams and a cast of characters. I think I saw it on TV first. It’s one of my favorite movies that will never get old. We also saw the sequel (2017) in theaters, and it was pretty good, too. We miss you, Robin. There was also a TV series that ran from 1996 to 1999.

The Wreck of the Zephyr (1983)

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This is one book that I hadn’t heard of! I need to see if the local library has it.

Zathura (2002)

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This is one instance where I saw the movie adaptation (2005) before I read the book. It’s always fun to think about and dream about space. We actually watched the movie again recently – It’s really well-done. Plus, it’s fun to see several actors when they first got their start in the film industry.


What about you? Have you read or seen any of Chris Van Allsburg’s work?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Awesome Authors #15: Orson Scott Card

Orson Scott Card

Image Credit: AZ Quotes

I was first introduced to Orson Scott Card when I was entering high school. We were assigned to read Ender’s Game, something that I initially dreaded!

Born in Richland, Washington, in August 1951, he is the third of six children. He is a great-great-grandson of Brigham Young. His older brother, Arlen Card, is a notable composer and arranger. Card was raised in Santa Clara, California; Mesa, Arizona; and Orem, Utah. Raised in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church, or Mormon church) church, Card was a missionary in Brazil, and graduated from Brigham Young University (BYU). He also attended the University of Utah, and spent a year at the University of Notre Dame in a Ph.D program.

Card started primarily as a poet. While a theater major, he began doctoring scripts, and eventually wrote his own one-act and full-length plays. Several were produced by faculty directors at BYU. He delved into fiction writing, and his earliest stories evolved into The Worthing Saga.

He was an associate editor at the Ensign, and moved to Salt Lake City. He currently teaches English at Southern Virginia University. In addition to writing under his given name, Card has written under multiple pseudonyms.

He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife, Kristine. They have had five children, all named after authors their parents have admired: Michael Geoffrey (Geoffrey Chaucer), Emily Janice (Emily Bronte and Emily Dickinson), Charles Benjamin (Charles Dickens), Zina Margaret (Margaret Mitchell), and Erin Louisa (Louisa May Alcott). Charles had cerebral palsy, and passed away just after his 17th birthday. Erin died the day she was born.

He has been awarded the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award multiple times, and has been the only author to win both science fiction’s top U.S. prizes in consecutive years. He was also recognized by the American Library Association (ALA) in 2008 with their Margaret A. Edwards Award, in which a writer and a particular body of work is recognized for “significant and lasting contributions to young adult literature.”


Ender’s Game (1985)

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Image Credit: Wikipedia

This is one of the best science fiction books that I have ever read. Although it was assigned reading, I ended up re-reading it while still in high school. The movie adaptation (2013) was also very well done.

For someone who used to be a huge sci-fi skeptic, this is the book that turned it around for me.

Speaker for the Dead (1986)

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Image Credit: Wikipedia

This is one book that has been on my radar, but have yet to read.

Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus (1996)

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I’ve always been fascinated by alternate histories. This one looks interesting.


What about you? Have you read any of Orson Scott Card’s books or work?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Awesome Authors #14: Stephen King

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Image Credit: The Odyssey Online

Stephen King has become one of my favorite authors. Originally, I avoided his work because of the horror elements. But, I like a lot of the work that he’s done. Read on to learn more!

Born in September 1947, he lived in Portland, Maine. His father, a merchant seaman, left the family when Stephen was two years old. His mother was left alone to raise Stephen and older brother David. They moved several times – Wisconsin, Indiana, and Connecticut. They eventually returned to Maine, where King’s mother cared for her parents until they died. He was raised Methodist.

King developed an early interest in horror, reading horror comics such as Tales From The Crypt. He contributed to his brother’s newspaper, Dave’s Rag. The first story of his to published was “I Was A Teenage Grave Robber,” serialized over four issues of a fanzine in 1965. He graduated from the University of Maine in 1970 with a bachelor’s degree in English. His first child, Naomi Rachel, was born the same year. He married Tabitha Spruce in 1971, and also had two sons, Joseph King and Owen King.

He was nearly killed on June 19, 1999, when a distracted driver struck him while he was walking along the shoulder of Maine State Route 5. After five operations in ten days, and physical therapy, King was able to resume writing his memoir.

He has published 54 novels, and six non-fiction books. He has also written over 200 short stories. King has received multiple awards and medals, including Bram Stoker Awards, British Fantasy Society Awards, the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America, and a National Medal of Arts from the United States National Endowment for the Arts.


Carrie (1974)

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Carrie wasn’t the first book of King’s that I remember reading, but I do remember hearing about it for years before I read it. They even used the book as part of an episode on horror literature for Where In Time Is Carmen Sandiego? in the mid-1990s.

The Shining (1977)

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This is one of those books where the author has a different opinion of the movie adaptation!

Misery (1987)

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I knew King had written Misery, but I didn’t actually read it until I was in college. One of my friends was in my Museums in Paris class. When we went to Paris over spring break, she was reading it for her American Literature class. I read it after school let out for the summer, and I was cold the entire time!

The Green Mile (1996)

 

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Image Credit: Amazon

The Green Mile is one of my favorite books. My parents said I was too young to see the movie adaptation when it came out in theaters in 1999. But, it’s now one of my favorite movies. Tom Hanks and Michael Clarke Duncan (May he Rest in Peace) give outstanding performances.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (2000)

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King’s memoir was one of the first books that I read, and then immediately re-read. I originally borrowed it from the library and renewed it, but resolved to get my own copy as soon as possible. I think I first read this in either 2009 or 2010, when I was taking several fiction and non-fiction classes at Longwood.

This is one book that I will never give away. It’s incredibly valuable to me. In fact, I think I need to read it again soon.

11/22/63 (2011)

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The only reason I can think of why this book is still on my TBR is because it’s just gigantic. Like, 849 pages.

However, Al and I watched the miniseries adaptation on Hulu in 2016, and that was impressive.


What about you? Have you read any of Stephen King’s books or work?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Awesome Authors #13: Caroline B. Cooney

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Image Credit: AZ Quotes

I discovered Caroline B. Cooney through one of the libraries, either the school or the Russell Memorial Library in Chesapeake. I think I read her for the first time in middle school? It’s been a minute since then, wink wink.

Born in May 1947, Cooney grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut. After high school, she attended several different colleges (Indiana University, Massachusetts General Hospital School of Nursing, and University of Connecticut), but did not obtain a degree.

Her first novel, Safe as the Grave, was published in 1979. Since then, she has written well over 30 stand-alone novels, a trilogy, and three different series. Her work has received multiple honors and awards, including several from the American Library Association (ALA). In 2008, her book Diamonds in the Shadow was named an ALA/YALSA Quick Pick, and nominated for the Edgar Allen Poe Award.


Driver’s Ed (1994)

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Image Credit: Between The Lines

This was the first of Cooney’s books that I remember reading. I think I was in middle school at the time, because I specifically remember asking my mom lots of questions about what I would learn in driver’s ed.

This book haunted me for years, and I didn’t dare read it again until after I got my license!

Flight #116 Is Down (1992)

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Image Credit: Caroline B. Cooney

I’m so glad I didn’t read this one while traveling! I realize Cooney’s works are fictional, but she brings such realism to them, I was always left a little paranoid after reading them.

Flash Fire (1995)

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Image Credit: Goodreads

This book made me grateful we never lived in California or anywhere with a high fire danger.

Code Orange (2005)

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Image Credit: Caroline B. Cooney

I remember reading this book right after it was published. It was fascinating to me. She revealed the genesis of this book on her website – A librarian was going through donated medical textbooks and an envelope, at that time 100 years old, fell out. It was labeled “smallpox scabs.” What do you think happened next?

Cooney wrote the book in the context of a sixteen-year-old boy finding them in New York City. What could possibly happen?

The Face on the Milk Carton (1990)

I tried to read this one in middle school, but ending up waiting until high school. I do want to read the whole series eventually. It’s fascinating to read about Cooney’s research and writing processes – What if a girl recognized herself as a missing child on a milk carton?

Emergency Room (1994)

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This is one book I don’t remember hearing about. This is going on my TBR!


What about you? Have you read any Caroline B. Cooney’s books?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂