Monday, February 28, 2011

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: The BFG

My oldest daughter does not love to read. It is a chore, an assignment, something she must check off a list before doing what she really wants. She's eight. But as an English Major, rabid reader, and writer, this stomps on my heart. I've been reading to her since she was 2 months old. Where I have failed her? She tried Harry Potter...loved book one but snored through 2 then stopped. (I know!) She loved The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe, but never finished Prince Caspian and only read Dawn Treader so she could see the movie with her friends. I think I've established she's a tough nut to crack.

Gratefully, her 3rd grade teacher started reading Matilda by Roald Dahl to her class. My daughter immediately checked it out from the library and gobbled down the rest of the story in two days. Since Matilda, she's read every book he's written and now enjoys reading...don't get me wrong, it is still a chore but she likes it.

I've always loved Roald Dahl. James and the Giant Peach is still an all time favorite. But I had never read The BFG. So I pried it from my daughter's small fierce fingers.

The BFG by Roald Dahl
published in 1982

The Hook: After being kidnapped by a 24-ft giant, little Sophie befriends the gentle dream-catching giant and they team up to stop the human-bean-eating giants.

Why I loved it: Style and imagination. Roald Dahl is an amazing storyteller and his ability to make up believable jibberish is next level. You can open the story to any page and find no less than 5 crazy made up words that children love. Am I right or left? Exactly. Delumptious from the first to the last page. Great for both boys and girls. Who doesn't want to foil people-eating giants? Although, a girl as the protagonist may turn some boys off.

Other MMGMers:

Friday, February 25, 2011

Best of the Middle Grade Blogs: February 25

This has been a crazy week. And on a random note, I just ordered business cards for The Northern Colorado Writers Conference. It seems like an awkward thing to do, creating a card that says Middle Grade Writer. But last year I didn't have them and regretted it. As I get ready for the conference, I plan on posting some do's and don'ts at conferences. But for now, enjoy my favorite MG bloggers this week.

Industry & Market



Who inspired you this week?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

She's Crafty: Pesky Words & Overwriting

As I finish up revision, I am hunting through my manuscript looking for pesky words that weaken it or flowery globbly guck called overwriting. How do I know what to look for? A little help from the blogosphere. So here's my list of links highlighting the worst of the worst offenders in writing.

Top Ten Blog Posts on Pesky Words and Overwriting
  1. Breaking the Rules of Writing @ The Other Side of the Story.
  2. Free FtQ Chapter: The Trouble with With @ Flogging the Quill.
  3. Top 10 Easily Misused Word Cousins @ Grammar Divas.
  4. Extraneous Words @ The Blood Red Pencil.
  5. Shooting Glances @ Kidlit.
  6. Are you Overusing Passive Verbs @ Wordplay.
  7. Style Blunders in Fiction @ The Blood Red Pencil.
  8. Subjective Point of View: Expressing Judgment with Adverbs and Verbs @ TalkToYoUniverse.
  9. Words that Often Spell Trouble @ Janice Hardy
  10. A Rose By Any Other Name is Still Too Flowery. And Purple. @ The Other Side of the Story.
  11. Bonus: Free FtQ Chapter: Dealing with Overwriting @ Flogging the Quill.
  12. Bonus: Phrase Frequency Counter for Writers @ GalleyCat.
What do you do to avoid overwriting and pesky words?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: The View from Saturday

I hope everyone is enjoying MMGM and President's Day Weekend. I should have probably reviewed something holiday appropriate like Lincoln: A Photobiography by Russell Freedman. But I didn't. Maybe Shannon Whitney Messenger did. This week my pick is:

The View from Saturday by E. L. Konigsburg
Published in 2003

Other books by E.L. Konigsburg include (but are not limited to):
  • From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
  • Silent to the Bone
  • A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver
  • The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place

The Hook: 4 6-graders are picked to do a quiz competition against other schools. The kids form a club and an unlikely friendship.

Why I loved it: It is sorta like slumdog millionaire but there aren't any slums, or millions, or dogs (just kidding, I forgot there are a couple of dogs). But the kids find the answers to the quiz competition base on their experience. Each chapter is told from the point of view of one of the kids and tells the story behind their answer. A great book for both boys and girls.

My favorite line from the book: I am a passenger on the spaceship earth.

Want more on E. L. Konigsburg? Check out her biography.

Did you review a book for MMGM? Leave a link in the comments and I'll add your link. Also if you're on Twitter, check out #MMGM for more.

Other fabulous MMGMers:

Friday, February 18, 2011

Best of the Middle Grade Blogs: February 18

Ahh, the end of a long week. I have twitches in my left eyelid...I think I need a pirate patch. Or maybe I should be blinking more. Need a break, enjoy some of my fave bloggers from this week:

MG Industry

Agents & Queries



Who inspired you this week?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

She's Crafty: Dialogue

This week I'm focused on dialogue. Is it smooth or choppy? Is it believable? Watch the tags. Are there enough beats to liven the story? Does it have tension? Does it push the story forward or just fill in space? Blah, blah, blah, blah blah blah.


Top Ten Blog Posts on Dialogue:
  1. John Green and Dynamic Character Relationships @ Nathan Bransford. (While this isn't specific to dialogue, I apply the theory every time my characters speak to each other.)
  2. Dialogue Masterclass @ Kidlit.
  3. Dialogue that Matters @ TalkToYoUniverse.
  4. Free FtQ chapter: Dialogue Beats @ Flogging the Quill.
  5. How Dialog Can Help Re-structure a "Needs Some Work" Draft @ The Other Side of the Story.
  6. Seven Keys to Writing Good Dialogue @ Nathan Bransford.
  7. Technical Tips for Writing Dialogue @ Iggi & Gabi.
  8. Tag, You're It! How to Write Excellent Dialogue Tags @ Kidlit.
  9. Speaking of Dialogue @ STET!
  10. Don't Overuse Names in Dialogue @ Wordplay.
  11. Bonus: Is Your Character Walking & Talking? @ Adventures in Children's Publishing.
I have to watch my tags and make sure I've added enough action and detail. What's the easiest or hardest part of writing dialogue for you?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Falling In

First, respects to Shannon Whitney Messenger for starting MMGM. Since it is Valentine's Day, I thought I would review a book that stole my heart last year. My review today is Falling In by Frances O'Roark Dowell. I found this book browsing B&N's Middle Grade section. I almost cried when I saw the cover because one of my WIP's looked like it might have a similar plot. I snatched it up and began reading. Shew. It was nothing like my WIP but I loved it all the same.

Falling In by Frances O'Roark Dowell
Published March 2010

The Hook: A quirky girl falls through a portal in the principal's office where she falls into a world where children hide from a child-eating witch. Instead of running, Isabelle Bean decides to go find the witch.

Why this is one of my favorite books from last year: Voice and style. I couldn't put it down. Great characters, great point of view, and an exciting plot. Think Wizard of Oz but then erase the thought because it's nothing like it in a backward sort-of-is way. Clearly for girls, although boys might enjoy it. I wanted my daughter to read it as soon as I put it down.

Want more on Falling In? Read more here.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Best of the Middle Grade Blogs: February 11

Like I said, I'm a blog monster. I gobble them up and spit them out. I write a Writing World Blog Roundup over at The Writing Bug every Friday. And so I figured I'd write a roundup of the best middle grade blog posts every Friday. I'm still new to gathering MG sites, so if you know of anyone that blogs about Middle Grade, leave a link in the comments and I'll pursue.

Industry & Market


Mega Giveaway
  • Follower Love Giveaway Hop @ Kid Lit Frenzy. (This is a massive link to over 144 book giveaways that go through Feb 13. Good luck.)

What MG blogs inspired you this week?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

She's Crafty: Point of View (POV)

Arrrgh. I'm pitching my MG adventure to an agent at the Northern Colorado Writer's Conference next month. So I'm raising my revision alert level from Gotta-Get-It-Done to Do-It-Now. What am I working on tonight? Point of View (POV). I'm searching for any inconsistency. Now, I do not profess to be an expert on POV, but I read a ton of writing blogs. Light bulb, that's something I can blog about. So look for it, every Wednesday I plan on listing a top ten of great links on different writing topics.

Top Ten Blog Links on Point-Of-View (POV)
  1. A View to a Skill: Understanding Point of View @ The Other Side of the Story.
  2. Subjective Point of View: Expressing Judgment with Adverbs and Verbs @ TalkToYoUniverse.
  3. POV: The Cure for the Common Problem by Janice Hardy @ Mystery Writing is Murder.
  4. Point of View from My Point of View @ The Blood-Red Pencil.
  5. POV = Viewpoint @ Edittorrent.
  6. Training Our Inner Editor, Part 3a: Point of View @ The Blood-Red Pencil.
  7. How to Layer Points of View @
  8. Using the Bystander Effect in Your Novels @ Plot to Punctuation.
  9. FtQ Chapter: Describing a POV Character @ Flogging the Quill.
  10. Which is Best: First or Third Person Point of View? @ Write it Sideways.
I love to write Third Person Limited. What POV do you write in?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: The Mysterious Benedict Society

Shannon Whitney Messenger is an exuberant champion for MG. She started Marvelous Middle Grade Monday and I love the idea. So I'm shamelessly taking it, spreading it, and eating it with Nutella (everything is more delicious with Nutella and/or bacon).

The book I'm spotlighting this week (mostly because I just finished reading it):

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

Published in 2007. The first in the series. Other books in the series:
The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey (The Mysterious Benedict Society #2)
The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner's Dilemma (The Mysterious Benedict Society #3)
The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict (2012)

The Hook: Four uniquely gifted children are given a secret mission to save the world from an ominous subliminal threat.

Why I'm gushing: The clever puzzles Stewart weaves into the story had me guessing and then hitting my head in duh. The characters are well crafted and balanced each other well. Great tension and intrigue. An entertaining boy book that even my 8-year-old daughter will love.

Want more from the author? Listen to Trenton Lee Stewart talk about the book at the B&N Studio.

Friday, February 4, 2011

My TBR Middle Grade Pile of 2011

This year I plan to read at least 20 Middle Grade novels...hopefully more but being the voracious goal setter, this seemed like an achievable number. Most of these books are not 2011's or even 2010's. So I'll probably be adding more 2011's to this list. But here she is as of now:
  1. Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli.
  2. Looking for Alaska by John Green.
  3. Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry
  4. The Clockwork Three by Matthew Kirby
  5. Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
  6. A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz
  7. Matched by Ally Condie
  8. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
  9. The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Stewart
  10. The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
  11. The Forbidden Sea by Sheila Nielson
  12. The Underneath by Kathi Appelt
  13. Ella Enchanted by Gail Levine
  14. Arana's Visitor: Book 1 of the Vadelah Chronicles by Julie Rollins
  15. The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
  16. Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
  17. The BFG by Roald Dahl
  18. Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur
  19. Timothy and the Dragon's Gate by Adrienne Kress
  20. The Grey Griffins: The Brimstone Key by Derek Benz and J.S. Lewis

I just finished reading the books in blue. I'm currently reading The Mysterious Benedict Society. And my TBR pile has The BFG and The Clockwork Three sitting on top. Between this list and my book club's list, I'll be spending many late nights writing. Okay, enough blog blah, I need to get cracking on my WIP if I'm going to query in March. cheers.

light bulb

I'm officially a blog monster. This is number eight for me (yup, most are hidden). But I can justify this--I needed a public blog for following the middle grade. So next I'm going to harness my MG chi and make this the sweetest blanket fort to hide out in.