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The Summer of Something New

This was the summer of fantasy – with the Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson.  I thought it might be fun to try something different, because that is how we grow both as writers and as people.  There are plenty of reviews out there, so I won’t repeat that information beyond a basic premise; rather, I’d like to explore what I learned from reading these books and how they affected me as a reader and, ultimately, as a writer. Mistborn was one of Sanderson’s first books, and, in it, we find our protagonist, Vin.  She is a thief, scared and friendless, but she will discover not only a hidden power but also learn much about herself and the very essence of trust and friendship. What struck me about this book (well, actually, 2 books – I just started reading book 3 in the series) is just how true the characters are.  Great characters are so important to a story.  Can anyone forget Gollum in Lord of the Rings or Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet?  But characters can be tricky.  I see so many writers fall into the trap of making a character fit into their plotline, but a character should live and breathe and be...
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Fuzzy Mud, Mysterious Messages, and The Blackthorn Key

My summer of reading was an odd assortment. I started with Louis Sachar’s Fuzzy Mud. Not a bad read at all. A story of a bully, the bullied, and a girl in the middle all wrapped up in a scientific mystery of what’s really out there in the woods. I thought the suspense was great. While not as magical as Holes (what is?), the story was great for writers wanting to see how to build character and suspense. Next on my list was a non-fiction title, Mysterious Messages. Both kids and adults will love this book and its magnificent illustrations. From coding systems to coding machines, this book offers a concise and fascinating look into the complex world of espionage and how codes and cyphers have been used throughout the ages. My final book was an MG historical The Blackthorn Key. This book was awesome. Wonderfully steeped in 1600s England, this book is full of intrigue, suspense, and science. Like many other readers, I enjoyed the puzzles the character must solve to unravel the final mystery. One thing I noted was the humor–or lack there of. The tone isn’t whimsical or silly like many MG books. This book carries a strong story, with young but mature characters dealing with issues that...
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A Summer of Fairytales and Monsters

     It’s summertime and the reading’s pleasing! I started off the summer with a wonderful historical fairytale: Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan. I sought this book out originally because it was a 2016 Newbery Honor and was not disappointed. It is beautiful and powerful storytelling. It has the magic and mystery of the woods, the depth of a past vividly retold, and music that strengthens 4 different lives. I spent a lot of time with comics as well. I especially looked forward to each new monthly installment of Paper Girls by writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Cliff Chiang. It’s a teen scifi/horror story set in the 1980s. Filled with girl power, as four 12-year old paper girls take on time travel and aliens in their suburban hometown. To top off a great story, its filled with lots of fun nostalgia just as another summer favorite: Netflix’s Stranger Things. Overall this was the summer of Yancey, Rick Yancey. I finally picked up The 5th Wave and was not disappointed. I had tried my best to write my own interpretation of finding hope when one can’t trust and Yancey showed me how it’s done. But this wasn’t even my favorite of his. I was looking...
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A Thrill Ride of Summer Reading

A Thrill Ride of Summer Reading This summer, I had a plan. A plan to scare, thrill, and completely immerse myself in young adult murder mystery. The result? Well, I certainly spent a good deal of time biting my finger nails. I even had a few “ah ha!” moments. I have to say, there were times where I really had to suspend belief, but then I reminded myself that teens, not a 30-something jaded mother of two, were the intended audience for these books, and it made me realize how hard the authors had to work to orchestrate such complex stories with characters you could root for. Here are three you might try if you are writing mystery/thrillers or just enjoy a good “who-done-it” read. Ten by Gretchen McNeil On an island off the coast of Washington State, ten teenagers converge at a house to party. Much like Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, one by one the teenagers begin to get knocked off. The story is told third person, but only one perspective, so it’s pretty straightforward. There are a lot of characters to keep track of, but with big personalities, they all stand out pretty well. I thought this one was...
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Reading for Research

The first advice I received about being a children’s author was to read, read, read. It seemed like a daunting task. If I spent so much time reading, how would I ever find time to write? I’m one of those word-by-word readers, the kind that read as slow as they would if they were reading aloud. But I took up the challenge, finding some books I enjoyed and reading long into the night. This summer, though, I changed pace. Instead of focusing on children’s fiction, I opted for some books on research and development—child development, that is. The Whole-Brain Child is a book I’d recommend for anyone who has interaction with kids. It isn’t a usual psychology book and even has comics illustrating the different pros and cons of discipline methods. My favorite phrase now is “connect to redirect.” Instead of commanding a child to change her behavior, we can help her talk about her emotions and empower her to take charge of her actions. Of course, the amount of responsibility varies with age. I love how this book explains the “why” behind behaviors in children and adults. Another excellent book is The Connected Child. Written for parents who foster and adopt, this book...
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Welcome to WWAT!
What's WWAT? What's Write About This is a blog dedicated to examining what works in kidlit. By tackling various themes and topics, we'll break down passages, examine sentences, and explore concepts that make-up the components of successful writing. We welcome you back each week with a new post. Thanks for stopping by!
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