June 2015 Archives

The act of writing is

The act of writing is an act of optimism. You would not take the trouble to do it if you felt that it didn't matter.
Edward Albee

Writing a novel is like

Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.
E L Doctorow

Tunnel Vision

TunnelVision.jpgI was introduced to Tunnel Vision (St. Martin's Griffin, 2015) by Susan Adrian when I went to hear another author speak. After hearing Susan talk about her book, I had to get it.

Jake Lukin has a special power--he can identify where someone is (and more) by touching an object the person has owned. His dad has warned him what the government will do if anyone finds out, but wanting to impress a girl at a party, he shows off his skill. Now he's being followed around by government agents; or is it bad guys...

Tunnel Vision is a fast-paced thriller that is hard to put down. There are unexpected twists in the story, romance, and sacrifice. I'd love to see it made into a movie. Oh, and the book has been nominated as a YALSA 2016 Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers.

This is author Susan Adrian's first book, but she's working on a sequel! Check her website for her Tunnel Tour--she's been traveling all over the country.

How It Went Down

I've decided to use the book titles as my blog entries for recommended books because of one of those "duh" moments when I realized it will be easier to find a specific book versus using the search function.

HowItWentDown5-206x300.jpgHow It Went Down is such a perfect title for this book (Henry Holt and Company, 2014) by Kekla Magoon. This story of a teen's shooting shows so many things. Such as, how we sometimes see what we expect to see. How we jump to conclusions. That what we read in the news is not as simple as we think.

Instead of being told from one viewpoint, this story is told from multiple viewpoints--teens and adults. We see how a number of the characters change because of the shooting of 16-year-old Tariq.

It's a tough book to read as it is so emotional--not that the author went over the top by any means--but that the circumstances of the people and the decisions they have to make create emotion. And that the injustices create emotion. I found myself putting the book down for some distance and then returning when I could handle it again.

How It Went Down is a Junior Library Guild Selection. I think it should be required reading for teens.

You may want to read the FAQ about this book on the author's website.

Kekla Magoon has written four other YA books and is also a nonfiction author. On her website there are links to interviews with her that make interesting reading and also some videos.

Better to do something imperfectly

Better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing flawlessly.
Dr. Robert Schuller


Guest post by Mary Blount Christianskateboarder.jpg

It helps when we create name for a fictional character to first create a background--positive and negative traits, talents, skills, interests, siblings and birth order, goals, conflicting emotions, support group [oft times friends more than siblings]. We make note of their needs--emotionally, physically, and spiritually; need to receive love and to give love, to have respect from peers and self, and to learn and achieve. Just ask yourself, what kind of character do I need to handle the challenges of my plot?beautifulgirl.jpg

I find giving them a name that seems right often makes things fall into place--is it a family name, an unusual one that may give way to teasing, a strong name or a weak one, or a preferred nickname? A good exercise is to imagine visiting the protagonist's room. How is it decorated? Any posters on the walls? Does it reflect her taste or is it in conflict? Go through the character's purse or wallet for the older characters, or the toy box or that treasure box tucked under the bed. What we keep defines us. People tend to carry their lives in their wallets--club memberships, family pictures, friends' pictures, that sort of thing.

facepaintedgirl.jpgIn the November 2011 The Writer magazine, Bharti Kirchner wrote an article, "Tips for Naming your Characters." She suggests that you get to know your character first [gender, personality, place of birth, hidden traits, ideals and socioeconomic status. Even the smallest of our readers share these. In names, she suggests that you not use names that work for either gender [Pat, Robin, Chris, etc.]

As tempting as it is, it's best to not give your characters names of your kin and friends. Your job is to give characters flaws and challenges that even those yearning to see their names in print probably won't like. Names need to fit your character the way a glove fits your hand.

Other things to avoid because repetition gets boring or confusing:
- All characters with one syllable names [Sam, Bill, Jan]
- Rhyming names [Harry and Larry, etc.]
- Names all beginning with the same letter
- Difficult to pronounce or spell

You can find popular US names listed by the birth year on the web at https://www.ssa.gov/oact/babynames/. Most recent year is 2015.

Here's an index of researched surnames. For Asian names, try top 100 Chinese Surnames and Korean Surnames and Indian Surnames.

Host's note: Looking for another ethnicity? Google it, but I hope you aren't just using random last names with no idea about the culture where you got it. ;-)

MaryBChristian.jpgAbout Mary Blount Christian
Mary has more than 100 trade books published in the children's--plus reprints in Braille French, Japanese, Indonesian--and young adult field with six adult mysteries due in 2016. Follow her blog here.

Kid photos courtesy of morguefile.com

Writing isnt just on the

Writing isn't just on the page; it's voices in the reader's head. Read what you write out loud to someone-anyone-and you will catch all kinds of things.
Donna Jo Napoli

The ending has to fit

The ending has to fit. The ending has to matter, and make sense. I could care less about whether it's happy or sad or atomic. The ending is the place where you go, "Aha. Of course. That's right."
Carrie Jones