The Boy in his younger days, giving Santa some love.
...something we try to avoid in our writing. Here's my new benchmark for it:
The Boy came home yesterday with a questionaire the school counselor gave his class. A sheet of ten questions, it measured how 'stressed out' the kids were. The Boy scored in the 'very stressed' category. I was worried.
On the back, was a pie chart for the 24 hours in the day. The kids colored in blocks of time for each activity they did on a normal day--school, sleeping, etc. The Boy colored in the hours between 3:30 and 8:30 pm and labeled it "Being Bored".
Contradiction. It can make our stories less believable.
I've been working on a sad scene today. My MC, 13 year-old AJ, and his mother are living with her uncle, a really great guy. But one morning, AJ gets up and finds his mother left him. She's gone. As we say in the south, she done left up out. As you might imagine, AJ's pretty broken up.
Does he cry?
I've always heard that your characters hold back their tears so the readers don't have to. But some things seem to need tears. Especially, when you're trying to show the vulnerability of a trying-hard-to-be-grown-up, thirteen year-old boy.
The question is really hitting home for me because a friend of mine lost her mother this weekend. My mom passed away almost twelve years ago, but I only have to think of how much we didn't get to do together, how much she would have loved my son...and here come the tears. Every. Single. Time.
Can you imagine writing a character that cries every time she thinks about her mother?
So I'm learning... To make our characters believable, we have to remember they're not real. They're art forms. A personality painted in words designed to elicit certain reactions from readers. And while a real thirteen year-old might bawl his eyes out if his mom abandoned him, you guys might love AJ more if he keeps it all inside.
Part of my NaNo Young Writers Group. We ended up with about sixteen winners,
but I'm seriously proud of all of them.
Hi Strangers! I had no idea when I declared a blog break it would go on so long. But ... here we are, a month into blog near-silence. Quick updates...
Mentorship: Working with my guru is fantastic! I received the line edits a couple weeks ago. After going through those and the revision letter, I've been exchanging seriously long emails with Susan -- hashing out whether to nix plot points or reinforce them, bring in new elements or cut some of what's already there. Yesterday, I started first round revisions and got through about 50 pages, including a new prologue. YES -- a prologue. I was surprised too, but it works. Once I finish these changes, I send the ms back to Susan and she takes another swing at it. Three swings in all before our mentor/mentee reunion in April to cap off the program. What's been the most helpful? Seeing the things I love about my story are the same things Susan loves. It gives me confidence.
The Iron Bodkin has two great new reviews this month. Writer/blogger Medeia Sharif reviewed Bodkin on her blog yesterday, saying "This is a fun MG novel. After visiting the author's website, I'm pleased to see that the story will continue with a sequel." You can read the whole (really nicely done) review here, along with reviews of a handful of other great books. Idaho Magazine's December issue features both Bodkin and Aalvor, my friend Laura Bingham's fantasy book. Copies hit newstands today. If you get to read it, tell me what it says. :) We got about 10" of snow and I can't get to the store to buy it!
I seem to be doing a better job keeping up with facebook than blogging. I'd love to be your friend, if you're a facebooker! You can find me here or, at my author page, here. Be sure to say you follow my blog so I know who you are.
Bonus point: If you're an e-book reader, The Iron Bodkin is on serious sale at amazon for just $2.99. Perfect if you have any middle-graders getting Kindles or Nooks (etc) for the holidays!