Thought for the Day:
“Don’t get discouraged if you’re hammering away at a sentence or a paragraph or a chapter, and it keeps coming out wrong. You’re allowed to get it wrong, as many times as you need to; you only need to get it right once.”
~ Tana French ~
Gifts for My Writer Friends:
It is easy to fall into the trap of using stereotypes when creating your characters. HERE Mindy Lawrence has a terrific post on Writers on the Move about Avoiding Stereotypes and Cliches in Writing. She has several great links as well.
If you are ever feeling stuck for an idea for what to write, check the post out HERE at Creative Writing Now. It is chock full of ways to get yourself going.
When Angela Ackerman writes, I read. HERE is a guest post of hers on Writers in the Storm about giving your characters skills that will really make them stand out.
I’ve been through a lot of orientation kind of things this week with Storyteller’s Academy. I am very excited about my upcoming classes, but also a bit daunted. My plan was to take three classes, but the amount of work involved is a LOT. So my plan for this week is to attend the opening class for each of the three that interest me and get a feel for whether or not three will be too many. The good news is, the cost is the same no matter how many I take. I could, were I Superwoman, take all six that they offer, but there lies the way to madness. I am also doing Storystorm, so that takes some time as well, but it will be over in another week, and it doesn’t really take a great deal of time. It’s a lot of fun to get all the inspiration from those daily posts. Tara Lazar really does a great service to the KidLit writing community. If you aren’t familiar with Storystorm, you can read the initial post HERE and put it on your calendar for next year.
Some years ago I met Joyce Moyer Hostetter at a Highlights workshop. She is a lovely and generous person, and it was a real treat to meet her. I think the first two of her Bakers Mountain books had been published at the time as well as her amazing novel, Healing Water: A Hawaiian Story. Since historical fiction is my favorite genre and all her books are historical fiction, I was in heaven. Her latest book, Equal, came out last spring, but I just never got around to it. Recently, Joyce emailed me and asked if I would like to have a copy sent for review. It took me all of one second to respond with a “Yes, please!” I had all but one of the Bakers Mountain Stories (there are five in the series) but just hadn’t gotten to this one. Last week I was able to get started, and it was like going home. The characters and setting were so familiar to me, and I immediately recalled how much I liked these people and this place. If you haven’t read any of the Bakers Mountain Stories, don’t worry. Every book stands on its own, but you will probably want to pick up the others after you’ve read this one.
It is 1959, and Jackie Honeycutt decides to go fishing in the river on this last day before he will start eighth grade. When he gets there, a boy sitting on the bank pulls out a big bass. Jackie doesn’t know him, but the boy is Black, so that isn’t a surprise. It turns out Thomas Freeman is only a year older and lives and goes to church nearby, and he certainly knows who Jackie is. But in North Carolina in that time, they are an unlikely pair, and yet, they talk to each other about things they like — Jackie is raising a cow for the fair and Thomas is a birdwatcher and they both admire Jackie Robinson — and start to become friends, going fishing together a few times. On one such outing, an old drunk white man comes by and talks nastily to them, then throws his empty bottle hitting Thomas in the head, knocking him down. This is really the beginning of Jackie’s realization that African-Americans are treated badly by so many, and that the battle for integration his older sister, Ellie, is always talking about is needed. Jackie has no idea yet how different his life is from Thomas’s, but he will learn a great deal about discrimination, families, life, and himself as he journeys through the next year. Fortunately for Jackie, he has a marvelous teacher and a loving, if imperfect, family to help him along the way.
Once I started reading Equal, I just couldn’t put it down. Part of it was that Jackie and I are both about the same age and had some experiences in common. The writing is exceptional and beautiful. Joyce can really paint pictures with words and also creates a lot of tension in her storytelling. Jackie is a very imperfect character and gets himself into some interesting problems along the way, things that many will relate to, and that is part of what makes him so compelling. This is a terrific book for young people to learn about the fight for civil rights in this country, but it deserves wide readership beyond the middle-grade audience for which it was written. And please don’t miss the terrific author’s note at the end. It is a wonderful civil rights history lesson.
I’m not giving away or donating my copy. I have all her books and am not willing to part with any of them. Don’t forget to check for other Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday posts at Greg Pattridge’s blog HERE. He always has links to several middle-grade reviews, and he writes reviews on his own blog two or three times a week. See you here soon!