Thought for the Day:
“Characters can be happy for the last three minutes… until then, it’s a bumpy road.”
~ Julian Fellowes ~
Gifts for My Writer Friends:
Every manuscript needs to be tightened and trimmed. HERE Kathryn Craft has a great article with 5 Random Ways to Trim Your Manuscript.
Backstory is always hard. How much is too much? How do you get it in without putting readers off? So many issues. Janice Hardy at Fiction University has a good post HERE to help you out.
It is often said to write what you know, but you probably can’t set every story you write in your home town. How, then, can you make your setting realistic? Joan Hall writes about that HERE at the Story Empire blog.
2020 has brought a lot of changes for all of us. Most are not so nice, but one nice change in my life is that we (my daughters, son-in-law, granddaughter, and myself) have instituted family dinner and movie nights. My son-in-law comes for dinner, but doesn’t usually stay for the movies. He is a railroad engineer and doesn’t have a set schedule. He needs to sleep when he can and often is called to work in the middle of the night. We have made up a list of great classic movies, things my granddaughter has never seen, and some that even my daughters haven’t seen. Last night we had lined up The Great Escape for the movie, and Gordon decided to stay. He couldn’t resist. I hadn’t seen that movie for a very, very long time, probably 30 years or more. I had forgotten just how good it was. I hope you find some time to revisit some classic movies during this dark time. And I’d like to give a recommendation also for Arsenic and Old Lace, which we watched last week. So funny!
When I get the lists of books available for review, I look them up and read a little about them before I make my choices. I don’t read much fantasy. Fantasy doesn’t usually capture my interest, so I was a little surprised when I found myself choosing The Sisters of Straygarden Place by Hayley Chewins, but there was something about it that called out to me, so I asked for it. What a unique and fabulous book. I couldn’t put it down. It is the most unusual story I have read in years. Here is the review I wrote for the San Francisco Book Review.
Mayhap and her sisters Pavonine and Winnow were left by their parents in the magical Straygarden mansion seven years ago. The mansion takes care of all their needs. All they have to do is ask for what they want, and their wishes are granted; mysteriously food appears, or the very clothes they want are suddenly there. All that’s required is that they stay inside and never go into the tall grass surrounding the mansion. But one day Mayhap discovers Winnow has gone into the grass. She tries to follow her and bring her back, but the grass frightens her, so she has to come back in. Winnow comes back that evening, but she is not the same, and the grass seems emboldened, attempting to get into the house. In trying to help Winnow, Mayhap uncovers very disturbing secrets.
This is a completely unique fantasy with a very strange world. Hayley Chewins has written this unusual and lovely story in lyrical prose that will be a gift to those who read it. The story is incredibly compelling, the characters are well-rounded and fascinating, and the mystery of it all will keep those pages turning. Don’t miss this one.
I have a gently-read ARC for one of you. All you need do is be a follower or subscriber (it’s free!), have a U.S. address, and leave a comment below. If you would like extra chances, please share the link to this post on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media outlet and let me know you have done that. And don’t forget to check for other Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday posts at the Greg Pattridge’s blog HERE.