Monday, October 20, 2014

Celebrating a Classic: Katherine Paterson's BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA (post by Michael Gettel-Gilmartin)

I have to admit that I came late to reading middle grade classics. As a kid, I was into books like the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, and the various series by British author Enid Blyton. Then I graduated to Agatha Christie and Georges Simenon. I had my John Le Carré phase and then became an English major: Shakespeare, Milton, Dickens were my daily fodder for many years.

When I started writing, I wrote adult books--humorous tales, or mysteries set in Japan. It's only when my kids were born and I was reading to them that I became enamored of middle grade. Roald Dahl, Philip Pullman, and J.K. Rowling entranced me.

I read Bridge to Terabithia a couple of years ago, and it was like a punch in the gut. As a parent, anything involving the death of a child makes me cry, and this novel brought out the tears in buckets.

Things I Loved about the Novel
1) The friendship between a boy and a girl. It starts off as a rivalry--Jess wants to be the fastest in fifth grade, but is beaten by Leslie, the new girl at school--and ends up as a deep friendship in which the imagination reigns supreme.
2) Paterson does an amazing job of depicting children's lives--the meanness, the struggle, the triumphs. She also does an incredible job of mining grief, with all its anger, and blame, and hurt.
3) The writing itself is simple and elegant. This is a slim book, but its ripples go on and on, lasting a long time after you close its covers.

What other middle grade classics would you celebrate? Leave a comment, so as I can add to my reading pile.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Key to Rejection

"If we are unwilling to change it is highly likely we have already reached our maximum level of achievement."
~John Fuhrman

In his book, Reject Me - I Love It!, now in its 2nd Edition,John Fuhrman provides us with a book full of strategies to use rejection to our advantage. In chapter nine he uses the word success to provide some of those strategies:
  • Self-evaluate
  • Understand each task
  • Care
  • Concentrate
  • Expect
  • See
  • Share

Self-evaluation requires us to evaluate and compliment ourselves. Fuhrman advises us to evaluate our mistakes, determining how we can make changes for the future, and encourages us to be equally committed to rewarding ourselves with compliments when we do well.

We must understand not only the task we have created for ourselves but also why we need to make our dream happen. Focus and clarity keep us on the right road. Avoiding rejection detours us from our chosen path--our path is supposed to have rejection on it.

Care about your dreams and goals. Fuhrman reminds us that if we don't care about something, we won't pay attention to the details; the map becomes vague.

Concentration allows us learn how actions affect results, which allows us to make adjustments or new plans.
Concentration allows us to understand what we have learned so we can avoid the same mistakes. It keeps us focused on our goals and dreams, protecting us from distractions that would slow our progress and helping us overcome the fear of rejection.

Expect to succeed. Expecting something confirms its certainty in your mind.

See, feel and hear your future. Fuhrman tells us we should walk backwards toward success. Picture yourself as successful already and act accordingly.

Share how you achieve success with others. This is my favorite one. Fuhrman tells us that as we become successful we need to share what we receive, something our blogging circle does exceedingly well.
"It's not only the doing of great things, but also the sharing of how you did it that's key to your success. It makes your life happier, more fulfilling, and worthwhile. It also supports others in their quest for success--inspiring them to achieve the same rewards."

Rejection doesn't always have to be a bad thing. 
The key is in how we choose to deal with it.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Character 101: Quotes and Links to Help You On Your Way - Caroline Starr Rose

When revising, it's essential you study your characters carefully to determine what's working and what's not. Here are some quotes and links I used in my revision class last spring. I hope they point you in the right direction with your own work:

Quotes from Novel Metamorphosis:
Villains and emotional complexity: “Look for a place where you dislike the villain the most. At that point, how can you work in a tender scene with the villain’s friend?”

“Most dialogue is too long winded, too formal, and includes too much information.”

Quotes from Second Sight:
“At the end of your book, your main character should be better equipped to live that life…”

Characters often don’t know what they truly NEED. Don’t spell it out for the reader! Let them figure it out.

“...a character is a plot.You just have to find the other characters and the moral dilemmas that will force the character to change and grow.”

“Put those characters in situations that fascinate or trouble you personally -- problems you want to write about, conflicts that move you in some way.”

Samuel Johnson: “Inconsistencies cannot both be right; but imputed to man [and characters!], they make both be true.”

“Use backstory to show the reader how the character became who she is, what her relationships with other people are like, and why the frontstory matters to her.”

“Action: what a character does to get what they want. Action is a result of Desire plus Attitude.”

“ To the minor characters in your book, the hero of your books isn’t your main character -- it’s them...Everyone has reasons for doing the things they do and you need to know the reasons.”

“[As we read] we are right there in [the characters’] heads, having these experiences with them, sharing their pain; as as a result we share their growth as well.”

“No description should ever be content to play only on the surface. Whether a reader is aware of it or not, he should always be learning about character on multiple levels, especially at the beginning of your story.”

“We must always know what your characters want (each and every one of them) when we see them in a scene together.”

Unconscious objective (Cheryl would classify this as an unknown need / desire): “Characters struggling with Unconscious Objective shouldn’t be able to articulate them. But those deep desires are something that you, the writer, must absolutely think about.”

“Think of how you can lend your stories a more complex undertone by always reminding us of your character’s worries and anxieties.”

Where Do Character Strengths Come From? :: Cynsations
Determine Your Character’s Destiny :: The Write Practice
The Sensitive, Passionate Character :: Live, Write, Thrive
Character Development :: Janice Hardy's Fiction University (a collection of articles covering protagonists, antagonists, developing strong characters, secondary characters, and character arcs)
Stickman Character Development (this is the super high-tech image from above!) :: Caroline Starr Rose

What tips, techniques, or quotes do you find helpful when thinking about character?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Trailer: Surviving Bear Island

It was a total surprise to me when my editor told me they were working on a trailer for Surviving Bear Island, due out in March 2015 from Move Books. And then she blew me away by saying there would be three of them. The idea being that the first trailer is a mood piece. It doesn’t have any narration. It is mostly visual, and the audio is all sounds in nature—some cool growling noises at the end.

I’ve put the trailer below if you’re interested in checking it out.

I’m curious if you watch book trailers when you come upon them, and what you think of the concept of book trailers in general? I didn’t give them much thought until I found out there would be one of Surviving Bear Island. In your opinion what is the role(s) of a book trailer? Where do you think a book trailer would have the most impact? If you have thoughts on this topic I’d love to hear them in the comments.

Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Giveaway: THE FOUNDRY'S EDGE, hosted by: Marissa Burt

Hi Mayhemers!

Today, I'm introducing you to THE FIRST BOOK OF ORE: THE FOUNDRY'S EDGE.

From the jacket copy:

"For Phoebe Plumm, life in Meridian revolves around trading pranks with irksome servant Micah Tanner and waiting for her renowned father, Dr. Jules Plumm, to return home. Chief surveyor for the Foundry, a global corporation with control of metal production and technology, Phoebe's father is in the field for months at a time. But when a sudden and unexpected reunion leads to father and daughter's being abducted, Phoebe and would-be hero Micah find themselves stranded in a stunning and volatile alien world - one that has been ruthlessly plundered by the Foundry for centuries and is the secret source of every comfort and innovation the two refugees have ever known.

Cam Baity and Benny Zelkowicz have fashioned an intensely inventive, engaging, and thought-provoking tale of two worlds on a collision course and the two young rivals who find themselves on the front line. THE FOUNDRY'S EDGE is the first book in a trilogy that will transport young readers down a mechanical rabbit hole and send them on an adventure that explores the hidden costs of indulgence, the perils of unchallenged nationalism, and the world-altering power of compassion and conviction."

And the authors have provided us with a copy to give away! This giveaway will run until Friday 10/17, midnight PST, and I'll select and notify the winner shortly thereafter. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway