Thought for the Day:
“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”
~ Colin Powell ~
Gifts for My Writer Friends:
I always learn something when I read an author’s journey or interviews with authors. Noelle Sterne has a guest post on Live Write Thrive HERE that includes 24 Lessons Learned from Writing My Novel. #16 might be my favorite.
Getting Point of View right is really important if you ever expect to be published. Nathan Branford has a good post HERE that will help you do it right.
I have had severe writer’s block lately and was happy to see the post HERE on the Creative Penn with 10 Ways to Overcome Writer’s Block.
Here in 2020, I think often of Charles Dickens’ opening to A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us …” Just when I thought it couldn’t get worse or more dark or bring more despair, we lose the great beacon of light for women in this country, Ruth Bader Ginsberg. And it makes me think, briefly, that I can’t take any more, and I will wave the white flag to 2020, but then I remember the many wise admonitions and inspiring moments RBG left us with, and I know I have to keep going and work harder and send more letters to people in congress and send more money to good candidates and pray this too shall pass and soon. RIP, RBG. Oh, how I shall miss you.
Last week, I offered a gently-read ARC of Bubba & Squirt’s Mayan Adventure by Sherry Ellis to one of you. This week’s winner is Elizabeth Varadan. Congratulations, Elizabeth! If you don’t know her, she is a very prolific writer — children’s books, adult cozy mysteries, and poetry — and lives in Northern California. you can read more about her at her blogs (yes, two of them) at Elizabeth Varadan’s Fourth Wish and at Victorian Scribbles. I’ll get your book out to you soon, Elizabeth.
I wish I had a better memory. I read about A Slip of a Girl by Patricia Reilly Giff on someone’s blog in the last several weeks, but I can’t remember to whom to give credit. I decided I really wanted to read it. I have read a few of her books, and always enjoyed them, so I ordered it up from the library. Doesn’t that cover make you want to dive right into this book?
Anna lives with her family on a farm in the country near an Englishman’s estate in Ireland. They are tenant farmers, and much of what they grow must go toward rent. One day she finds a tattered book in a field, and vows she will find a way to learn to read. Most children she knows have never had the chance to go to school as they have to work all the time just to keep their families from being evicted. They have little to eat. Anna’s two older brothers leave to go to America and find a better life, leaving Anna, Da, Mam, older sister Jane, and young, special-needs sister Nuala behind. It is not long before the brothers send for Jane, and Mam weakens and dies. Anna’s best friend, Liam, and his family are evicted, and they have to leave. It is a lot of loss for anyone to deal with. Anna’s anger bubbles up and she causes some damage at the English master’s home. She and her father are arrested, but Anna manages to escape and, taking Nuala with her, walks for days with only what they can beg or steal to keep them alive, and it is sometimes touch and go. They have an aunt in a faraway village and must find their way to her. Will they make it? Will she ever see Da again?
I have said before, sometimes I read a book written in verse and wonder why it is called verse and not prose-with-a-lot-of-white-space. That is definitely not the case with this book. Giff’s writing is lyrical and beautiful. The story is very compelling and will carry readers, even reluctant readers, through with little effort. I knew nothing about the Irish Land Wars, but it is a stunning story. While this is a work of fiction, it is clear Giff did her homework and has steeped her story in history. Middle graders will relate to and admire Anna, the main character, and her extraordinary, arduous journey. It will be particularly impressive when young readers learn this was a real happening in history, and that there are unfortunate parallels to our world today. It would also be a terrific read aloud.
I have no giveaway this week, because as bad a year as it has been, I haven’t yet taken to stealing books from my local library. I should have a giveaway again soon. Don’t forget to check for other Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday posts at the Greg Pattridge’s blog HERE.