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Thursday, May 23, 2019

How To Write MIDDLE GRADE HISTORICAL FANTASY



Are you entering this contest?

Writing Middle Grade Historical Fantasy
 is a bit of a challenge.


MAKE YOUR TALE FUN

See through a child's eyes.  

What would sweep today's Middle Grader away in a historical fantasy?  

What adventures would the squire of King Arthur be propelled into?  

Joan of Arc was a mere 15 when she began having her visions which birthed her legend.

But no matter your MC's plight, inject humor into the mix ... 

AND PLEASE NO PREACHING.



PUPPY LOVE IS REAL 
TO THE PUPPY

Adults see kids as small with small problems.  Not so.  They, like we, want to be heard, to be understood, to be treated with respect.

Children want to be talked to not at, especially in the books they read.



SANDPAPER YOUR 
COURSE LANGUAGE

Mark Twain could get away with it with HUCKLEBERRY FINN 

but he was writing for adults using a middle grader as protagonist.


DON'T BE AN IDIOM IDIOT

How many Spanish youngsters use "swell" or "golly" during the Spanish Inquisition?  

The same number of young cabin boys aboard the British Fleet during the Napoleonic Wars.

That's how many.

Do your research. Fine out the common words used during the time period and locale of your story.



DON'T GIVE YOUR YOUNG READERS HISTORY INDIGESTION

Make your history fun and new and brief.


KNOW YOUR READER

 During the middle grades, friends and school become more important 

than home and family as kids try to figure out their place in the social structure. 

In NANCY DREW, the parents all but disappeared from the pages.

No matter the time period or fantasy, 

make your MC take the reins of the adventure in his or her own hands.


HOW DID I GET INTO 
THIS MESS?

 If a character has no problem to solve, there is no point to the story. 

The story plot consists of an urgent problem confronting your main character 

and how he or she goes about solving it, against tremendous opposition. 

But when you are a child that becomes extraordinarily difficult.

Danger, mystery, and suspense are the undercurrents 

that will pull your young reader along the spinning of your tale. 


THE CLIFF NOTES VERSION 
OF THE SECRETS TO 
MIDDLE GRADE FANTASY

  • Tight writing.
  • Active and powerful verbs.
  • A plot that’s cool and fast paced.
  • Characters who are alive with authenticity.
  • Dialogue that is true to the characters.
  • A background rich with possibilities or mystery.
  • Your own unique writing voice.
  • Hints and clues that are woven into the fabric of the plot, and tell of past history and things yet to come

HAVE YOU DECIDED TO 
ENTER THIS CONTEST?

IF NOT, WHY NOT?

A CLUE TO MY OWN
SUBMISSION

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

My New FAVORITE MOVIE



No, not ENDGAME.  

Heresy, right?

(Only $4.99 to rent on Amazon)


It is a rare Indy gem from Portland


Take a chance on it.

You will be glad you did.


It is a thoughtful, witty 
prize winning
Indie comedy 
about 
family, gender roles,
 and 
the importance of accepting 
each other for who we really are 

ZOE, future filmmaker

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

If the World Was Ending Tomorrow?


"If today was your last day
And tomorrow was too late
Could you say goodbye to yesterday?
Would you live each moment like your last?
Leave old pictures in the past
Donate every dime you have?
If today was your last day.

Would you call old friends you never see?
Reminisce old memories
Would you forgive your enemies?
Would you find that one you're dreamin' of?
Swear up and down to God above
That you finally fall in love
If today was your last day."
- IF TODAY WERE YOUR LAST DAY; Nickelback

If you close your eyes tonight and never re-opened them, what kind of last day would you have had?

 The world will be gone.  Time is set to be an echo.  You have 24 hours left in which to exist. 

It could happen.   The funny thing about life is, trouble never comes from where you expect it. 

You spend two months worried about interviewing for that big job promotion, 

then on your way there, you die of a heart attack brought on by all that stress. 

That's just the way it goes.

Super-volcanoes, a Verne-Shot (which combines the super-volcano scenario with an asteroid strike, fun, right?), 

Gamma Ray Burst from our sun, 

engineered diseases or something totally out of left field could end life as we know it.

But for you ... for me ... the world could end tomorrow.

Heart attack, mugger, or drunk driver.  Any of those three could end your life suddenly.

"There is only one time that is important: NOW.  

It is the most important because it is the only one over which we have any control."
- Leo Tolstoy  


Appreciate your job if you can ...

If you just "Survive" your job, you are wasting 71% of your life. (5 out of the 7 days of the week.)


Forgive if you can ...

What someone did to hurt you was their fault.  Carrying it with you for each day afterwards is all on you.


Focus on the NOW ...

The Past and the Future are illusions.  NOW is the only reality.  

If you grasp after ghosts, you, yourself, are not living.  You are making of yourself a ghost.


Each moment matters for it may be our last.  

Think of all the shooting, bombing, or air crash victims.  They thought their lives would go on for years.

Appreciate what and who you have while you have it and them.

Here is Stephen King on my favorite novel of his, DUMA KEY

Monday, May 20, 2019

How To Make Your Book A PAGE TURNER

A book is a journey we do not have to take.  
We must be persuaded to do it.

Usually it is the set-up that does that for us: a unique or intriguing situation.

But once the book is picked up, 

it will be the characters who will tug us along to find out what they will do and say next. 

Do they make us laugh?  Do they make us root for them?

As humans, we are driven to seek an understanding of others,

for in understanding them, we come close to understanding ourselves ... 

and perhaps we will not feel quite so isolated, alone.

HOW TO ENGAGE THE READER

1.) EACH STEP MUST TAKE YOU SOMEWHERE 

As I've said: each book is a journey.  Characters, descriptions, or dialogue ... must move that journey along ...

or you are making the reader simply jog in place!


2.) TONY STARK ON A ROAD TRIP

Wouldn't he be a hoot on a road trip to anywhere?  
Your characters must entertain in some form or fashion

or your reader will opt for more enjoyable companions.


3.)  WHERE IS THE DARTH VADER OF YOUR TRIP?

Success conceals; adversity reveals.

Is he looming like a storm cloud on the horizon?

Or is she sitting, smiling like the false friend she is, right beside your hero?

Does his motivation make sense to the reader or does he exist merely to be the Big Bad of your story?

Your reader should see that he/she is just one bad day away from becoming that person.


4.) WHERE IS THE TICKING BOMB?

Imagine a tense company board meeting: 

the founder is being betrayed by his best friend in a hostile take-over.

He is bravely, intelligently fighting for his dream while the Judas is smugly smiling.

Unknown to them both, but known to the reader, a terrorist bomb is ticking beneath the table ...

right in plain sight should someone just bend down to pick up a fallen pen.

Tick ... Tick ... Tick.

Can you see all the various ways that could play out?

Your hero staggers out of the board room, having lost it all as his wife rushes into his arms ...

just as the bomb goes off, killing all those within the office.

The Judas in betraying his best friend ends up saving his life.


5.) WHERE IS THE WONDER, THE MAGIC?


It does not have to be literal magic but the wonder has to be there to draw your readers in and keep them.

SAME OLD, SAME OLD plots can become riveting if you spin them.

Robin Hood is the villain; 

the sheriff is the valiant, misunderstood man of honor 

trying to keep peace in order to prevent the King from ordering mass executions of the peasants.

A simple view out of a stagecoach window can become magical if your protagonist describes it so that the reader views it with new eyes.

My tagline to the front page of 
THE NOT-SO-INNOCENTS AT LARGE is


“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but in acquiring new eyes.”

– Samuel McCord

Hope this has helped in some small way, Roland

Friday, May 17, 2019

Why HEART is important in a story



I stayed away from the show RIZZOLI & ISLES 

until earlier this year when I got a deal on Season 1.

The promo photos like the one above had led me to think 

it was a police procedural made shallow by two plastic leads.


But the series had heart, 
humor, and compassion


I decided to try the series of books
on which the show 
was based.


The heart, friendship, and humor 
were not in the books.  

The gory details of the murders were
too dominant for me.

The books literally left
me cold.


The heart of the show was revealed in how it treated the suicide of 

Lee Thompson Young who played Detective Frost.


The show dealt with Lee’s death in a way that was not just respectful to the actor 

and the role that he had filled in the company of actors, but also to his character. 


His desk remained empty except for the action figure he kept there for two seasons afterwards.


Lee's character Frost appeared in spirit in various episodes.


And the sense of his loss was an ongoing theme throughout the remaining four seasons.





If you haven't tried  
RIZOLLI & ISLES,
give it a shot.

HAVE YOU EVER STUMBLED
UPON A TV SERIES
AND LOVED IT
ONLY
TO FIND IT HAD
BEEN CANCELLED?