Thought for the Day:
“A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.”
~ Ayn Rand ~
Gifts for My Writer Friends:
We all need a little inspiration now and again. HERE Melissa Donovan on Writing Forward gives us 20 Fun and Inspiring Character Writing Ideas.
Lisa Wilson-Hall has a great article HERE on Writers in the Storm about How to “Go Deeper” Into a Characters Emotions.
Without conflict, there isn’t much of a story. HERE Becca Puglisi has a great post on Anne R. Allen’s blog titled Need Conflict? Just Let Your Characters Talk.
I heard something on the radio the other day that really struck me. It said that in 2021 there have been 59 school shootings with over 5000 people injured or killed in those shootings. Today as I watched the morning news shows, I saw the photo of Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and his family in front of their Christmas tree all holding powerful guns with the message, “Merry Christmas! ps. Santa, please bring ammo.” This on the heels of the latest school shooting by a 15-year-old boy allegedly abetted by his parents. Our country seems to become more and more divided with every passing day. One day, common sense will prevail. I hope it’s soon. Stepping off my soapbox now.
I promised to keep you up on what I’m doing with the free and paid-for classes I am taking. First, a free one for you. If you have some interest in picture book writing (although I do think writing is writing, and anything you learn about writing stories will help you), I have a free one that I think is pretty good. The Children’s Book Academy has a series of seven free lessons you can sign up for HERE. You will get emails daily for seven days, each with a short lesson in it. Yes, they are trying to sell you their services, but I got something out of these, and there is no obligation to do anything else. If it isn’t for you, you can always unsubscribe. I mentioned I had signed up for Storytellers Academy, and I have started taking my first online mini-course. It is on picture book biographies, something I have long wanted to try. I have one particular idea I have wanted to write about for a long time, but I just didn’t have the tools. I hope I soon will. And I will need to make a trip to Europe to do research! BONUS!!! I really like that I can work on classes whenever I want, even in the middle of the night if I am battling insomnia. Storytellers Academy also has art classes, and I am going to try some of those as well. I’m not an artist, but I am trying to spend some time each week sketching. I will have more reports going forward.
I received a book from the publicist at Walker Books US, a division of Candlewick Press, that won’t be out until February, but I just finished it and want to tell you about it while it is still fresh in my mind. And, since I am giving away my copy, you can be the first on your block to get your hands on it. It is The View from the Very Best House in Town by Meera Trehan, and it is very unusual.
Asha and Sam have been best friends for a very long time. They have special classes together and also are neighbors, so it’s natural for them to be friends. Both are on the autism spectrum, and they seem to understand each other perfectly. They both love playing Househaunt, but are good at different aspects of the game — complementary aspects, it turns out. But things change. Sam’s mother has been busy trying to get Sam admitted to Castleton, a private school in town. She finally has success. Sam isn’t very happy about leaving a school where he feels safe, but it seems so important to his mom, so he goes along with it. Asha is devastated. Not only will she not have Sam around each day, but Sam will be going to school with Prestyn, the mean girl who used to be Asha’s friend. Prestyn lives in the biggest house in town, a house called Donnybrooke, one that towers over their neighborhood. Asha loves the house and wishes she lived in it, but Prestyn has been awful to Asha, so she never goes to Donnybrooke.
Sam is miserable at his new school. The very first day, the principal shows an article from the local paper to the entire school in which Sam is called Miracle Boy because, in spite of his disability, he got into Castleton. It gives ammunition to all the mean kids in the school, and Sam’s life is awful. But he gets put into a group with Prestyn and Tessa, her best friend. Of course, Sam ends up doing all the work, but he thinks Prestyn and Tessa like him. But Prestyn is a mean girl, and she can’t help but do awful things to Sam. And Tessa can’t stand up to her. Things become dangerous, and Asha comes to the rescue, putting herself in a very difficult position.
This book is cleverly told from three points of view, all close third-person. The three are Asha, Sam, and Donnybrooke. Yup, you read that right. The house is a point-of-view character. In a sense, Donnybrooke often gives Prestyn’s viewpoint, but not always. This book is something of a thriller, in that there is real danger driving the story. For the most part, the adults in this book leave a LOT to be desired, but Asha’s family is kind, loving, and generous. Not only is there diversity shown in the characters through the issue of autism, but Asha and her family are East Indian. The characters are very relatable (yes, even the house!), and the problems are ones all kids will understand. Hopefully, it will make a lot of readers more cognizant of and understanding of those on the spectrum. Meera Trehan’s writing is beautiful and the story compelling. I think this could make a good read-aloud too. It’s a terrific book.
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 Greg Pattridge’s blog HERE.