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Showing posts from February, 2019

Next week on the blog

I don't plan on posting on Fridays on a regular basis; in the past I have found that Friday is the one day of the week that I can't seem to make the time. Ordinarily I'd have had a post up today, but with a dental procedure to take care of and my husband's birthday to celebrate I didn't have time.
Rather than do a last-minute job, I'll save my post about where writers get our ideas for next week. In addition to that, I plan to discuss character names, daily goals, and the use of magic in children's fiction.
Hope to see you then!

On editing

I have a confession to make: I am supposed to be editing. I am not editing. This is a problem.

Some people who aren't writers may think that only indie, self-published writers like me ever do any major editing of their own work. Oh, sure, the traditionally published writers with agents and major publishing companies behind them still read through a manuscript and clean it up a little, but surely those people have built-in editors to do all the really hard editing, right?

Believe me, if that were true, it would be reason enough to keep querying agents and begging publishers to look at my books--even if statistically speaking most writers have virtually no chance of ever being published by one of the so-called Big Five publishing companies, who produce about 85% of the total number of books published each year. Because a nearly-zero chance might seem like a fair trade for doing the hard work of editing.

However, even a writer hoping to land that magical agency representation (witho…

Writing talk: on writing for children

One thing that I don't think gets talked about a whole lot among writers is this: why is it--or should it be--different to write for children than for adults?

There are a lot of possible answers to that question. Some of them are obvious; some less so.
An obvious answer is that children aren't adults; not only that, but the picture book crowd isn't ready for easy readers and the easy reader crowd isn't ready for MG fiction. The words used, the sentence structure, the presence or absence of pictures--all of those things will be different depending on your audience.
And that's true. But when you are writing for middle grade readers, kids who are already capable of reading chapter books, whose vocabularies are growing and whose ability to read complex sentences is well underway, what makes their books different from, say, a young adult novel or a book written for adults?
I think the answers can be summed up in three words: what, how, and why.
The "what" ref…

Parents: should your younger children read YA books?

When I was a kid, I read lots of books written for children ranging from the very old to the contemporary. Classics of children's fiction as well as stories written when my parents were little were available at the library, as were the newer and more modern books. My parents didn't have to worry about these books; nobody would have dreamed of writing things in children's books that would be a problem for readers as young as eight or nine years old. Although young adult novels had been written as early as the late 1960s, the explosion of YA fiction hadn't begun yet when I was an avid child reader.

Today there are both Young Adult and New Adult books written; YA fiction is supposed to be for ages as young as 12, while NA are aimed at readers ages 18-24. What both of these books have in common, and what Middle Grade, or MG, fiction is not supposed to have, is sexual content, some of it very explicit.

Many parents of older middle-grade readers have no idea that a YA book …

Writing talk: rewriting characters

I wrote just a bit about fictional characters and the struggle to make them real people who fit the story, even if it means letting the character be in charge, in a manner of speaking.
But what happens when you create a character and you realize that he or she simply isn't working out?
I've had a couple of experiences of that, and unfortunately I've dealt with it the right way and the wrong way.
The wrong way is something that happens when you're still an inexperienced writer trying to get a feel for this whole process. You've done all sorts of world-building; you've crafted an original plot; you've got the settings and themes all lined up; the dialog is working well. There's just one problem--the main character is flat, dull, unlikable, or just plain wrong, a jarring note in an otherwise decent novel.
So, what happens next? If you're like my younger self, you grimly carry on with the story while a festering dislike of the main character grows to t…

Writing talk: characters

There's an old saying about how the way to make God laugh is to tell Him your plans. I had planned on some focused, disciplined blog writing focusing on my newest project; I had not planned on an emergency dental visit and a looming root canal.

One thing you find out as a writer is that your original plans for the story may also make you laugh by the time you've finished writing. The very first "book" I ever completed, a fairy tale I started writing when I was fifteen, was supposed to be dark and tragic; I ended up writing more like A.A. Milne than like J.R.R. Tolkien, and The Fairy Godmother Expedition ended up being an unpublished and comic novella. No matter how many plans you make for your characters, if you are writing well at all, you will learn that your characters have ideas of their own; in fact, one of the surest ways to spot a flat or unconvincing character is to look for the character who always does and says exactly what he or she is told by the writer …

Return to blogging

I have to apologize for the slow start this blog has had. I began it right before last November's NaNoWriMo, and didn't stop to think about how hard it would be to work on a blog while writing the last novel in a ten-book series. It wasn't just hard; it was impossible, and then that inertia that writers know so well set in and kept me from getting back to this.

The fear of the blank page is a very real thing.

But now that I'm writing this post, I'm also ready to commit to frequent blogging here. And while I want this blog to be a platform that will help me reach parents of middle-grade readers (ages 8 to 12), I also want to talk more generally about writing and connect with fellow writers, especially people of faith who are writing for children.

In upcoming days I hope to talk about my current projects and share more information about the books I already have available. Stay tuned!