Book Dragon’s Top Ten for 2016

5 Claws for Darcy from Book Dragon
5 Claws for Darcy from Book Dragon

I love this guy. He’s cute, plus he has good taste.

Yesterday he released his Top Ten Books for 2016Darcy By Any Other Name snagged his #2 spot. Wow! Thank you, Book Dragon!

I love these “Favorite Reads” lists. They’re how we discover some really great books. Especially impressive is that this year all of Katy Huth Jones’ (she’s Book Dragon’s keeper) favorites are titles by indie authors.

Book Dragon's Horde
Every dragon has a treasure horde. Here’s Book Dragon’s.

Here’s the link to Kathy’s The Best 10 Books I Read in 2016 list. Oh, and I am currently reading her award-winning Mercy’s Prince  YA fantasy series. It’s really good.

About Darcy By Any Other Name, Book Dragon says: “The cover alone made me want to read this book, but the idea of Darcy and Collins switching bodies was so intriguing, I devoured this book. It’s so well-written and SO much fun to read this deliciously twisty plot. Hile has stayed true to Ms. Austen’s P&P characters but managed to make some of them larger-than-life! I plan to read this one again and recommend it to anyone who loves Jane Austen, Pride & Prejudice, or well-researched historical fantasy!”

Laura Hile (1)

Fall into Reading Sale

Hang on to your hat! A freak lightning strike exchanges Mr. Darcy and Mr. Collins.
Mr. Darcy, stuck in Collins’ body? And living as a guest in Elizabeth’s Bennet’s house? What a hoot!

It’s Friday, and what better way to celebrate than with e-books? New reads, hooray!

That’s right, it’s time to “Fall Into Reading” with FREE and BARGAIN books from my pals at Clean Indie Reads. There are some really good authors represented here. I’ve enjoyed titles by Kathy Huth Jones, Lia London, Annie Douglas Lima, Shaun Stevenson …

Darcy By Any Other Name is $2.00 off.  If you have Kindle Unlimited–“the Netflix of e-books” –you can read him for free.

The rains have returned to the Pacific Northwest,  and so it’s the perfect time to stock up on books. Stop by and see if there is a FREE or BARGAIN title that sparks your interest.

Laura Hile (1)

Write 31 Days: Storms

Photo: Susan Barton
Photo: Susan Barton (image is link)


When fellow author Susan Kaye introduced me to Facebook and blogging ten years ago, I was reluctant and shy. How could I have guessed then that I would one day have so many Internet friends?

Tonight, as hurricane Matthew draws near, many of these friends are in its path. And in my prayers.

There’s nothing like a disaster to set our thinking straight. We fuss over so many inconsequential issues. Talk about a hard way to learn important truths.

Laura Hile (1)

Write 31 Days: Worth Reading Again

Photo: Pascal (Creative Commons Flickr)
Photo: Pascal (Creative Commons Flickr)

“No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally
–and often far more–worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond.”
C. S. Lewis

wise-words-writerly-words-1Childhood books wait, like treasures, to be rediscovered. Like my old copy of The Wind in the Willows, which has been living on my bedside table. I’ve been reading sections before dropping off to sleep. I call this language study, as it’s loaded with charming Victorian Britspeak.

But to say truth, it’s been so comfortable to spend time once again with Ratty and Mole and Badger as they wander the countryside and mess about in boats. The rain drums against the window glass, while I am inside–safe and warm and reading…

What other childhood favorites beckon? One series in particular has been calling to me. I loaned my set to a young friend years ago, and it went the way of borrowed books. Somehow I can’t bring myself to buy the Kindle edition. I want to experience it again as a real book, with paper pages.

Today the Spurgeon Fellowship had a breakfast in the spot our morning prayer group usually meets. We went up to the library–and there on the shelf, as if waiting for me, was The Chronicles of Narnia.

It was all I could do not to nab it right then, but I had classes to teach.

Ah, but I’ll be back for it…

Laura Hile (1)

Write 31 Days: Calling it Done


Photo: Adrian Brady (Creative Commons Flickr)
Photo: Adrian Brady (Creative Commons Flickr)

“Art is never finished, only abandoned.”
– Leonardo da Vinci

wise-words-writerly-words-1.I shared this quotation with my fiction writing class on Monday. One student read it aloud, and then I asked for opinions as to what it meant.

A perplexed silence followed. Opinion questions are tricky …

It’s early days yet. They’re still afraid to say the wrong thing. This won’t last …

Da Vinci’s acknowledges an important truth, namely that our art will never be perfect. Never, ever-ever. Sooner or later, we must put down the brush, step back, and call it done. Even if it isn’t.

If we wait for perfection, we will never let anyone see what we’ve made. Our gift will be wasted.

“When a recording artist listens to his CD,” I asked the students, “what do you think he hears?”

There was a pause. One student spoke up. “The mistakes?”

“That’s right,” I said.

He looked relieved, not only because he’d made a good observation, but also because the recording artist was human, just like him. He hears the flaws we don’t hear. But aren’t we glad he was brave enough to share his music anyway?

Laura Hile (1)

Write 31 Days: Persevere


One step at a time, an arduous, seemingly impossible climb is accomplished Photo: saeru (Creative Commons Flickr)
Step by hesitant step, an arduous, seemingly-impossible climb is accomplished. Photo: saeru (Creative Commons Flickr)

“Perseverance is more prevailing than violence;
and many things which cannot be overcome when they are together,
yield themselves up when taken little by little.”
– Plutarch


The power of Perseverance becomes more obvious to me as I get older. A young woman can clean an entire house in one violent, very strenuous day. I know because I used to let things pile up and then attack. Not anymore. I simply do not have the energy to clean like a fiend.

A little bit each day, though tiresome, accomplishes results. This is how I keep the bathrooms and kitchen clean. Just like consistent daily writing gets a novel written.

It’s funny. Since I’ve become a published author, the way my students look at me has changed. The educator wears the short cape; the professional sweeps into the room wearing the long one.

Two weeks ago I launched a new year for my high school fiction writing elective. Pairs of sophomore eyes gazed at my thick Darcy book with awe and admiration. “You wrote that?” someone said. Indeed I did, and I said that any one of them can do the same–if they’re willing to dig in and work.

From my laptop to your Kindle, a real book
From my laptop to your Kindle, a real book

Perseverance carries the day. I flipped open my old free-write notebook–the same kind I’d just issued to each of them. “See here?” I showed a random page. “It says Chapter 29. While students like you were working, so was I. I wrote parts of that book sitting right at this table. Working ten minutes at a time.”

I can’t do everything, but I can do a little bit each day. Hey, like blogging! Thanks for stopping by!

Laura Hile (1)

Write 31 Days: Friendship


Covering rough terrain together Photo: Bekassine (Creative Commons Flickr)
Covering rough terrain together is both faster and easier.  Photo: Bekassine (Creative Commons Flickr)

“Friendship is one of the sweetest joys of life. Many might have failed beneath the bitterness of their trial had they not found a friend.”
Charles H. Spurgeon

wise-words-writerly-words-1Writing, like any artistic endeavor, is thought of as a solitary undertaking.

And yet to travel solo is a rough and lonely journey. Most writers can’t hack it alone, myself included. Without writing friends, I would have given up long ago.

Support needn’t be arduous, and it’s best if it’s not one-sided. So much is accomplished when we can talk out a situation with someone who knows what we’re up against. A fellowship of masterminds!

Even when I’m stuck, it’s heartening to see a writing friend make progress. Thus I see that if I can put discouragement aside and get back to work, I will make progress too.

Laura Hile (1)

Here I go. Write 31 Days

wise-words-writerly-words-1Every day in October I’ll be sharing writerly wit and wisdom from favorite writers of past eras.  Comrades in the trenches who know a lot more about what it takes than I do.

Collecting quotations has long been a hobby. I share them with students, and during October I will share my favorites with you.

Day 2  Friendship
Day 3  Persevere
Day 4  Call it Done
Day 5  Worth Reading Again

Laura Hile (1)

The Guilt-Trip Menagerie

Photo: Andrew Braithwaite (Creative Commons Flickr)
We had a cockatiel named Chipper. And a parakeet. Photo: Andrew Braithwaite (Creative Commons Flickr)

“I’m going to ask my mom for a pet tarantula.” This was from one of my students, said to no one in particular. His aim was to get a rise out of his classmates.

Ah, but I am wise to the ways of 7th grade boys–and their moms.

“Too late,” I quipped. “You’re not home schooled anymore. The guilt-trip menagerie is closed for business.” Yes, once the kids transition into school, there is no more conning Mom into mind-enriching “live science” projects.

What a dupe I was for boyhood curiosity! Our cat (and one litter of kittens) was not enough. Over the years we adopted birds–yes, the boys taught the cockatiel to say words–and fish and lizards. And garter snakes (caught by them), plus pet store crickets (epic-fail snake food) that somehow got loose in their bedroom and chirped until they died–months and months later. I should probably add that we were living in an apartment.

Photo: Fyn Kynd Photography (Creative Commons Flickr)
We ended up with not one but two garter snakes. Photo: Fyn Kynd Photography (Creative Commons Flickr)

One of the reasons I encourage students to write is the “time capsule” element. Those notebooks are a treasure in later years, filled with details everyone has forgotten. My oldest son transitioned into middle school in 1999, but the home school pets lived on.

I’ll let Michael take up the story in his own words:

I had a snake for about two years, and all of the time the cat would stare at the snake. She would sit on top of the snake cage and try to get in. Having a snake was fun! It was a little garter snake and I fed it live goldfish….The snake would then eat the live fish whole! My friends got a kick out of that.

Photo: Susanne Nilsson (Creative Commons Flickr)
A neighbor’s mom was tired of having  pet lizards. Guess where they came to live? Photo: Susanne Nilsson (Creative Commons Flickr)

Once the cat knocked the snake cage over, and the snake got loose! The cat got in big trouble and was put outside [on the balcony]. It gave my brothers a scare when they found out that it was loose, but we found it and put it in its cage. Another time we had some guests staying over, and the snake got loose in my room where they were supposed to sleep! We caught it again, and it stayed in its cage.

His observations about our cat are more prosaic:

My cat is funny. She is lazy and always wants her way. Every morning she wakes me up so that I will take my shower. Then, after my shower she jumps into the wet bathtub and washes her feet, as she drinks sthe water! On the days that I sleep in, she meows and meows so that she can drink and wash. I just ignore her and sleep in some more. Last night at about 9:00 Flower, my cat, was sitting in the bathtub waiting for me to take a shower in the morning.

One day Michael will write fiction. He is doomed by his DNA, I tell him. He just rolls his eyes at me, but I  know better.

Originally posted last year at Jane Started It. Sharing here just for because.

Be vulgar at your own risk!

Last year's class arranging word magnets
Last year’s class arranging word magnets

A new crop of 7th graders now inhabits my classroom. They’re coltish, talkative, and desperate to master the art of sarcasm. Uh-huh. They’re not very good at it. I give them props for trying.

Needless to say, they are no match for me. But if they’d like to take me on, hey, I’m game. “Bring it,” I say, with a wink and a smile.

One of my classroom standards involves not using  “vulgar” words. Curse words are obviously forbidden, but I do not wish to be subjected to vulgar (potty) expressions either. Like the word c-r-a-p.

I tell the students very nicely at the beginning of the year not to use this word. And then I wait, because it’s only a matter of time until it slips out. Sometimes the violation is of epic proportions. Today I’ll tell you about one of those times.

So last year during work time, one of my jolliest, most talkative students was rummaging for something in his messy desk. “I can’t find anything,” he complained, “because of all of the crap in here.”

Some of last year's girls
Some of last year’s girls

“What?” I said, in my best shocked-teacher voice. He turned around. My eyes were twinkling, but I did not crack a smile. The other students’ heads came up in true “prairie dog” fashion. They knew to stay silent–or risk missing the show.

“Look,” I deadpanned, “it’s bad enough that we have ants in here. Are you telling me that we have feces too?” Feces is one of their science vocabulary words. Nevertheless, amid the stifled giggles, there were whispers of “What’s that?”

“No, I didn’t mean … there’s not really …” the student managed to say, between gusts of laughter. And then he said, “Oh, crap.” By now his classmates were close to losing it. Ah, but I am the master of the poker face.

I reached for the container of Lysol Wipes. “See this?” I said. “It says that it kills 99.9% of germs.” I put it on his desk. “Clean the number two up.” He doubled over with laughter.

But I wasn’t finished. “Next time,” I said somberly, “kindly excuse yourself and visit the men’s room. Instead of using your desk.”

As if on cue, the break bell rang. Mirth exploded. Into the hall my students fled, to wail with laughter and share the joke with the 6th graders.

I could have read those twelve-year-olds a lecture about vulgar speech and potty words. Instead I choose to be memorable. So much more effective, don’t you think?

Laura Hile (1)