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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Christmas-time Middle Grade Books

I thought I would list a few middle grade holiday books, in case anyone would like to read them.

by Nancy Krulik
Scholastic Paperback October 2009

 How The Pops Stole Christmas (How I Survived Middle School Super Special Series)

Jenny can't wait for the holidays, but her good mood quickly evaporates when she picks Dana as her "Secret Snowflake" in English class and finds out that her friend Sam is heading home to England for the holidays.

by Tony Abbott
Scholastic Press 2005


Unlike the traditional Santa Claus myth, Kringle is a coming-of-age story about an orphan who becomes a force for good in a dark and violent time. It is a tale of fantasy, of goblins, elves, and flying reindeer — and of a boy from the humblest beginnings who fulfills his destiny.
Our tale begins in 500 A.D., when goblins kidnapped human children and set them to work in underground mines. Kringle is one such child.... until he discovers his mission — to free children from enslavement. His legend lives on today, as he travels the earth every Christmas Eve to quell the goblins once more.

by Kathryn Laski
Scholastic November 2001

Christmas after All: The Great Depression Diary of Minnie Swift, Indianapolis, IN, 1932 (Dear America Series) 

At the age of twelve, Minnie Swift is living through one of the toughest times in America's history, The Great Depression. She keeps a detailed diary over the span of one Christmas month. Reflecting the sadness but also the optimism that characterized the time, this is an intimate portrait of a mid-western family's days and nights, ups and downs, triumphs and losses. It is the story of one family's persevering spirit.

The only one I have read is the Christmas After All and I enjoyed it.

There are lots and lots of picture books with the Christmas theme, but I couldn't find that many MGs that dealt with Christmas - hmm, maybe I should write one.

 Do you have any good ones to add to my list?

By the way, I mentioned in my last blog post about our local library's annual writing contest. They announced the winners at a reception on Thursday.

I was surprised and happy to find out that I took 1st place in poetry and 1st place in memoirs!

Monday, December 8, 2014

A Writer's Rest and Relaxation

All year I have been writing and revising.

I am somewhat of a perfectionist and want everything just right or should I say,  just write.

I have been working and working on one of my middle grade manuscripts and finally decided to send it out again - with the many changes I made to it this year.
So, with fingers crossed, I took the plunge and sent it flying out into the world.

I also finished two new picture books, that I just love, and sent them flying out into the world.

Now - I wait.

Every now and then I suffer from writer burn out. That is what I am doing now. So, I have been taking a break and getting caught up on other things.

These burn outs usually do not last very long. I know by the first of the year, I will be at it again - working on my ideas and typing away at the computer.

Soon I will return with regular posting.

Our local library had their annual writing contest and Thursday there will be a reception to announce the winners and have them read their winning entry. I was notified that I placed, so I will be there. That may be just the nudge I need to start writing again. 

Do you ever get writer burn out?
Do you ever feel like you have to take a break - even if it is just a little one?
What gives you the nudge to start writing again?

I think my nudge is that I have to write and I am not happy until I put the words down on paper. As the main character of one of my middle grade manuscripts says, I get so full up, I think I am going to explode.

Monday, November 17, 2014

MMGM - Rude Dude's Book of Food

Welcome to Marvelous Middle Grade Monday.

I am telling you about:

Rude Dude's Book of Food
by: Tim J. Myers
Familius LLC 2014


I write a column for children every month in Two-Lane Livin' Magazine. My column is titled, Fun Facts for Kids.

I have learned two things:
Kids love facts.
Kids love learning facts written about in a fun way.

Tim Myer's book is all about facts written in a fun way. It has eight chapters about the crazy-cool stuff we eat. Food is fascinating when told about by the Rude Dude. Most everyone loves chocolate - right? But, I bet they didn't know about chocolate's trip down history. Also, learn all about hamburgers and one smart cookie. That's not chocolate chip cookies, but fortune cookies. And, we learn that awesome pizza has a short history in America. and you wouldn't believe the different toppings some people put on this favorite snack bar food.

Well, you get the idea. This book is all about foods kids love and it is written in a fun, and sometimes wacky, way. For all the teachers out there, in addition to learning a lot of neat facts about food, there are also lesson ideas and info on how the book meets common core standards.

So, if you know someone who wants to learn good, fun and weird facts about some of their favorite foods, this is the book for them.

 For more reviews on books click here to go over to Shannon Messenger's Blog.

Happy reading!

Friday, November 7, 2014

She said. He said. I said.

I recently read an article on writing in deep point of view. I always wondered what this meant. Among other things, it said that in deep point of view dialogue tags are replaced with action, body language, voice description or emotion. Replacing the tags makes your story feel more real.

That got me started on my little tangent of finding and replacing said's in my manuscripts.

Of course, you can't take away all of them. Tags serve the purpose of: identifying a speaker, preventing reader confusion, making long dialogue sections more digestible, and they provide opportunities to insert action or description - thus becoming an action or description tag.

Then there are adverbial tags. I try to avoid these - she said quickly, he said coldly, she said angrily.
These words can  make a tag seem more obvious and remind them that they are reading a story instead of experiencing it. Don't be lazy, let the person's dialogue and/or actions show that they are angry.

Last night, I took on the task of finding all the said's in a Middle Grade manuscript I had written. I deleted over 100 of them!
About a week before, I had checked another Middle Grade manuscript I had written. I didn't notice how many I deleted in that one, but it was quite a few.

In case you are wondering, here is one other way to help create deep point of view in your manuscripts:
Get rid of thought words/sense words, such as felt, heard, realize, look, decide and saw.
Why? Because these are telling words that you tack onto the start of a sentence that show the world as it is filtered through the character's eyes. 
Instead of saying, "he felt the hot rays of the sun on his body," say "the hot rays of the sun beat down on his body." I know that's not a very good example, but it gives you an idea of what I mean.

So, give it a try. Like me, I bet you will find a lot of dialogue tags and thought/sense words you can get rid of - and it won't hurt your manuscript a bit. In fact, it will make it better.

Anyone else have thoughts to add to this conversation? If so, tell us in your comment.

Happy Writing!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Halloweensie Post

I've entered Susanna Leonard Hill's 4th Annual HALLOWEENSIE CONTEST!

Everyone participating writes a 100 word or less Halloween story that includes the words pumpkin, broomstick and creak.

Here is my entry which is exactly 100 words, not counting the title:


Witches shout trick or treat
and sing a scary tune,
then they swoop and fly about
beneath the yellow moon.

Zooming on their broomsticks,
they fly to the pumpkin patch,
but crash into some ivy
and start to itch and scratch.

They hear frightful creaks
and turn around to meet
a sickly Mr. Frog
crooning trick or treat.

Grabbing ten fat pumpkins
they scoop out all the goo
and toss it in their pot
and stir their stinky brew.

They share with Mr. Frog
to cure his throat’s high pitch,
but keep the rest to spread
upon their itchy itch!

Well, that's it. 
Wish me luck. 
She has great prizes to give away to the winners. Go here and check out the other entries.

Happy Halloweensie everyone!