February 2010 Archives

Talent made a poor appearance.

Talent made a poor appearance. Until he married Perseverance.
Arthur Guiterman

Steampunk and Darwin - Leviathan

leviathan-cover.jpgThe concepts in Leviathan (Simon Pulse, 2009) are interesting and felt real. I cared about the two main characters from opposing camps in this alternate world. It's funny, too. And had wonderful illustrations by Keith Thompson. This is another one of those books where I'm waiting not very patiently for the sequel (Behemoth coming out in October 2010).

Okay, you have to watch the book trailer on Scott Westerfeld's site for Leviathan. The ending of it made me laugh.

This book is an early YA and like The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate deals with issues of evolution, plus both are set in the early 1900s.

Newbery honor book - The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

Calpurnia.jpgIn The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate (Henry Holt and Company, 2009) 11 year old Callie Vee is the middle child between 3 older brothers and 3 younger brothers. She's also caught in the middle of wanting to learn about nature with her grandfather and her mother's desire for her to learn womanly pursuits. This historical novel by Jacqueline Kelly is funny, interesting, touching. I love the relationship between Callie and her grandfather, her struggles in the kitchen, the music she likes to play, her conversations with Viola their cook, her misunderstandings of what the future might be, the excitement and interests as new things like the phone and automobiles begin to affect their lives.

I believe the Newbery honor award for this book was well deserved.

And it's Jacqueline's first book! Read about Jackie at her publisher's site or on her own website. There's also a fan page on Facebook.

Don't tell me the moon is shining

Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.
Anton Chekhov

Writing a Novel? Where Does It Fit?

A few years back another writer and I did a novel writing retreat. These questions are ones I developed for attendees to consider about their novels. Perhaps the updated version will be helpful for you, too.

Where will your novel be shelved after it has been published? Not just shelf, but picture what authors you will be placed between. If you don't know, take a field trip to the bookstore and see.

What is the genre and subgenre of your novel?

Middle Grade

• Adventure
• Animal
• Biographical
• Contemporary
• Early Middle Grade
• Fantasy
• Graphic
• Historical
• Horror
• Humor
• Multicultural
• Mystery
• Problem
• Religious
• School
• Science Fiction
• Sports
• Tweens

Young Adult

• Adventure
• Biographical
• Chick Lit
• Coming-of-age
• Contemporary
• Dystopian
• Edgy
• Fantasy
• Graphic
• Hi-Lo
• Historical
• Horror
• Humor
• Multicultural
• Mystery/Suspense
• Novel in Verse
• Paranormal
• Problem
• Religious
• Romance
• Science Fiction
• Sports
• Steam Punk
• Urban
• Western

I doubt these are exhaustive lists, but they should help you think about what type of novel you're writing.

What three stories are similar in some way to yours? The first 3 books or movies that come to mind when you think of your story are? What makes them similar? What is different?

Think about the books you most enjoy reading. What subgenre(s) are they? Don't know? Check out reviews, talk to booksellers and librarians.

Does what your writing fit one of the areas you love to read? If yes, keep reading those subgenres. If no, consider writing in a different subgenre--something you love to read. If you never read, how can you know what today's kids are reading?

Feel free to comment on these lists and questions. (Click on the title of the entry and it will take you to a page where you can comment.)

To be a successful children’s writer

To be a successful children’s writer you will need to get in touch with your inner child, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that inner children are all sweetness and light. They can be argumentative, unreasonable, uncontrollable and highly irritating. You will need to embrace these qualities of your child as well … invoke the forces of anarchy, chaos, silliness, danger and magic.
Andy Griffiths

Emotional Book - Rubber Houses

rubberhouses.jpgWhat do you do when your little brother gets sick and dies? Grieve of course. And remember how he was before. But Kit also reinvents herself. Kit is a likeable character and her grief is realistically presented.

Rubber Houses (Little, Brown 2007) by Ellen Yeomans is written in verse.

Read more about the author at her website: http://www.ellenyeomans.com/index.html

sweetheart.jpg15-year-old Austin Gray is tired of being stuck on the curb during the No-Jesus Christmas parade when attractive girls like Sundi get to ride on the hood of a truck. And being on the curb is where Dean Ottmer can make fun of her. Since Daddy died at the bridge, Mamma doesn't let her have a bit of freedom either. What's a girl without confidence to do? Austin joins the Future Farmers of America and gets a show chicken, which of course provides more material for Dean.

Author Jill S. Alexander has created a whole town of great characters in the sweetheart of prosper county (Feiwel and Friends, 2009). And it's not just the people, like Dean's "spit-and-scratch so-called friends" or tuba player Lewis Fortenberry (Elvis), but also the critters. You'll meet Charles Dickens, Austin's rooster, and WhizBang, the cat, to name a few.

Read more about Jill and her book that has been receiving nominations for awards at http://www.jillsalexander.com/. Or check out her blog here: http://jillalex.livejournal.com/

The role of a writer

The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say.
Anaïs Nin