Augusta Scattergood, High Five Magazine, Highlights Founders Workshops, Highlights Magazine, Joke van Leeuwen, Linda Pratt, Nancy Castaldo, The Day My Father Became a Bush, Tracy Barrett

Home from the Workshop and a Giveaway

Thought for the Day:

“Writing a novel is a terrible experience, during which the hair often falls out and the teeth decay. I’m always irritated by people who imply that writing fiction is an escape from reality. It is a plunge into reality and it’s very shocking to the system.” 
~Flannery O’Connor~

Some Gifts for my Writer Friends:

For a good article from Writer’s Digest on choosing character names, click HERE
Have you ever thought of applying for a grant? You can find a terrific post HERE that can help you in that quest. 
 Click HERE for a good post on the three pillars of fiction. 
When I last posted, I promised a copy of The Mighty Quinn for one of my followers who left a comment. Our winner is (Drum Roll Please!) Jennifer Rumberger. Congratulations, Jennifer! I will be sending the book this week. For those of you who don’t know Jennifer, she is a children’s writer and has a very nice blog. Check out her site by clicking HERE.
The red-head in the middle of the front row is my grandson,  Gehrig.  

I had every intention of posting last week right after I came home from my workshop, but Sunday brought a critique group meeting and a baseball tournament with my grandson’s team, Hank’s Bombers, winning the tournament championship. (Woot!) This weekend they had another tournament with the same result!!(Woot! Woot!). Living in California where baseball is a year-around sport is great. I love it.

Last week, I was in Boyds Mills, Pennsylvania, in the Pocono Mountains. If you MapQuest Boyds Mills, PA, it looks like you are in the middle of nowhere. You really are. And that is a good thing.

Whole Novel: Historical Fiction Workshop Faculty & Attendees

The grounds of the Highlights Foundation, at the original homestead of the founders of Highlights Magazine, is peaceful, quiet, and absolutely magical. There were twelve writers, all who had completed manuscripts of historical novels and all, I believe, were for middle grade or Tween audiences. We had five instructors: Kirby Larson, author of Hattie Big Sky, Linda Pratt, partner in Wernick/Pratt Literary agency, Tracy Barrett, author of about ten historical novels for young people and a similar number of non-fiction books, Augusta Scattergood, author of Glory Be, and Nancy Castaldo, many times published author of historical fiction and non-fiction. The writers all had to submit and be accepted to the workshop and were all pretty comparable in their level of experience. Each of our manuscripts had been read ahead of time by one of the primary instructors (mine was read by Linda Pratt), and we received notes a few days before arriving. When I say notes, let me explain that I received six single-spaced pages of notes. When we arrived, we received our manuscripts back with more notes. Mine was positively peppered with wonderful, helpful suggestions. During the week, we had lectures from all five of the instructors on pertinent topics as well as three one-on-one meetings with our mentors. They were available to us all week when they weren’t in one-on-ones.

The Highlights people pick us up at the airport, pretty much where ever we land. I came into Newark, two hours away. Every attendee had his or her own private cabin in the woods with desk, chair, wi-fi, reading chair, refrigerator with cold drinks, coffee maker and coffee and tea, a small library, comfortable beds, bathroom, and lots and lots of writing time. Breakfast, lunch, appetizers and wine, and dinner are served in the conference center affectionately called the Barn. The chefs prepare everything from fresh, locally-grown (for the most part) produce and meat from 4-H winners from the county fair and the food is simply spectacular.

This is the fourth workshop I’ve attended and I have been to three week-long retreats. I can’t say enough good things about the workshops put on by Highlights. They have a wide variety of topics covered in workshops and terrifically talented and experienced people teaching them. Believe me, I wouldn’t keep flying back and forth across the country for these if they weren’t really special. Take a look at the classes they have already scheduled for next year. If you don’t see one that is just right for you, check back now and again. They will be adding more as time goes on. You can find the site HERE. I just looked through it and found one I think I might have to go to if I can just find a way. I can’t recommend these workshops enough. 

I promised a giveaway and I have an interesting middle-grade

novel for one lucky winner. Here is my review for the San Francisco/Sacramento Book Review of The Day My Father Became a Bush by Joke van Leeuwen.

Toda and her father live happily in their town. Toda’s father is a baker and has his own shop. Then one day, Father tells her he has to go away to be in the army and fight in the war. Luckily, he has a book that tells about camouflage, and he can disguise himself as a bush and hide from the enemy. Toda’s grandmother comes to live at the bakery and take care of Toda, but the war comes to their town and soon they are in terrible danger. Grandmother sends Toda to her mother who lives across the border, where Toda will be safe. Toda doesn’t remember her mother, but does as she is told to. Her journey is long and arduous and full of adventures. Some of the time she is terribly alone, but she persists and knows she must find her way to her mother.
“A lot of people sat in the waiting room. The two women, the man, and the boy weren’t there. Everybody looked tired. Perhaps they’d all been waiting a long time.”

Joke van Leeuwen, author and illustrator, has won several awards in her native Netherlands including the Dutch State Prize for youth literature. American youngsters may find this story unusual, but it will broaden their literary horizons. 

All you have to do for a chance to win is to be a follower and leave a comment. If you post on your blog, Tweet the link, or post on your favorite social media, you can have an extra chance just by telling me where you posted the link. I will announce the winner in my next post. 

Be sure to check for more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday reviews at Shannon Messenger’s wonderful blog by clicking HERE

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