POINT OF VIEW: Let Your Characters Do the Talking


POINT OF VIEW: Let Your Characters Do the Talking
Natalie Bright

The Rescue Animal series expanded over many years, beginning as chapter
books but morphing into shorter eBooks with pictures. I still wasn’t happy.
There were so many stories left to be told, but the books were not coming
together. When that happens, the motivation becomes nonexistent. I moved on
to a new project.

Those horses kept bugging me though. One day I decided to writer the next
installment from the horses’ point of view and it worked. The story came
alive. I used a vocabulary reference book and targeted third and fourth
grade readers. Now this Easy Reader is perfect for kids who love true
stories about real horses.

Writing is your Journey, so go write!

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A Brief History of Children’s Literature


A Brief History of Children’s Literature

Natalie Bright

We are blogging about what we write this month on WordsmithSix. Some of the stories in my head are for children.

While cleaning out cabinets, I discovered an old textbook and since I also write for children, the history of Kid Lit was fascinating to me. “Tell me a story” is as old as time, and generations have passed down embellished family tales for centuries. I hope you find this interesting.

The Ancient World [ancient Rome; 50 BCE to 500 CE]

  • oral tale; composed not to be read but to be heard
  • children listened to poems of Homer, the Iliad, the Trojan War, the Odyssey
  • adults might be drawn by love story; children by adventure, monsters
  • Aesop’s Fables–animal tales with pointed morals

The Middle Ages [500 to 1500 CE]

  • Reading
    • fewer children could read; little written for them
    • childhood generally ignored and kept as short as possible
  • Fables and other tales
    • The Deeds of the Romans [late 13th C] collection of moral tales and fables; sources of plots for centuries]
    • animals’ stories have always been favorites of children
    • biblical stories; lives of saints; local legends
    • no distinction between fantasy and reality; storytellers freely mingled magic, enchantment, the ludicrous, and the serious
    • the literature was rich with childlike imagination, full of wonder, mystery, excitement

The European Renaissance [1500-1650 CE]

  • Instructional Books
    • children more literate
    • reading materials were instructional books (Books of Courtesy) and works written primarily for adults
    • still had Aesop’s Fables
    • by end of the 17th century social changes were well underway and there was a path cleared for a genuine literature for children.

The 17th Century

  • childhood began to take on new importance
  • adults began to recognize the special needs of childhood, including the need for childhood reading
  • two specific influences brought a heightened sense of special needs of the child
    • Religious: rise of Puritanism, that placed special emphasis on the individual’s need to tend to his or her own salvation
    • Intellectual: work of John Locke, the English philosopher who believed every child possessed the capacity for leaning and that it was the responsibility of adults to see to the proper education of children
  • Bunyan, Defoe, Swift
    • children continued to adopt certain adult works of literature–Pilgrim’s Progress, Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver’s Travels

The 18th and Early 19th Centuries

  • John Newbery
    • Little Pretty Pocket Book (1744) first significant publication for children
  • Rousseau and the Moral Tale
    • expressed his ideas about education in Emile (1762), emphasized the importance of moral development–through simple living
    • books taught children how to be good and proper human beings
    • children¹s writing was considered inferior to adult writing and therefore mostly composed by women
  • Rise of the Folktales
    • 1729–Tales of Mother Goose by Charles Parrault, retellings including Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty
    • throughout the eighteenth century, more and more retellings appeared
    • beginning of 19th century–Grimm brothers
    • folktales were not considered expressly for children
    • some adults felt them unsuitable for children as they contained adult themes, alarming frankness and violence, lack of moral messages however children, nevertheless, continued to read and love the old tales

The Victorians: The Golden Age

  • during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901) children’s literature first blossomed as first-rate authors and illustrators began to turn their talents to children and their books
  • Fantasies
    • 1865, Lewis Carroll (Charles Dodgson–math prof at Oxford) published Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and began a new era in children¹s literature
    • first significant publication for children that abandoned all pretense of instruction and was offered purely for enjoyment
    • Kingsley’s The Water Babies (1863); MacDonald’s The Princess and the Goblin (1872); Baum’s The Wizard of Oz (1900); Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows (1908).
  • Adventure Stories (for boys)
    • especially popular Stevenson’s Treasure Island (1883); Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1976) and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884)
    • British children seemed to prefer stories set in faraway and unfamiliar places; Americans more attracted to adventure stories set in America and rags-to-riches stories
    • Dime Novels–sensational, lacking style and depth, cheap–were immensely popular
  • School Stories (for boys)
    • antics of boys at boarding schools: Tom Brown’s School Days (1857)
    • school stories (virtually always coming-of-age tales) occasionally appear in the 20th century, such as The Chocolate War
  • Domestic Stories (for girls)
    • tales of home and family life focusing on the activities of a virtuous heroine, usually coming from dire straits and achieving good fortune and ultimate happiness in the person of a handsome young man
    • Alcott’s Little Women (1868) and Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables (1908)
  • Children’s Book Illustration
    • books of 18th century and earlier either lacked illustrations altogether or contained crude woodblock illustration–serious artists did not draw for children’s books
    • At the end of the 19th century, changes in publishing and printing attracted great illustrators
    • by end of the 19th century, stunningly illustrated children’s books were available at reasonable prices
    • by 1st quarter of 20th century, libraries were designating children’s rooms–or at least children¹s shelves–children’s literature had at last come of age.

Twentieth Century: Widening Worlds

  • greater diversity in children’s books
  • picture books to poetry to fantasy to realistic fiction to informational books

BIO: Natalie Bright is the author of a middle grade series for kids, TROUBLE IN TEXAS: Book 1 Hangin’ Day; Book 2 The Great Train Caper; and coming soon Book 3 Murder in the Morning. She also writers true rescue horse stories for kids, easy readers for 3rd/4thgrade level: Flash: The Story of Meand TAZ & THE BIG FLAPPY THING.

ELEMENTS OF A MIDDLE GRADE NOVEL


ELEMENTS OF A MIDDLE GRADE NOVEL

Natalie Bright

The following list of elements for middle grade novels was a handout from a writing conference. The name or origin of the information is not on the handout, so apologies that I cannot give credit. It’s a helpful list as you are crafting your story for middle grades, defined as a core audience of 8 to 12 year olds or 3rd through 6th grades.

 

  1. Drama!
  2. Imagination.
  3. Use humor.
  4. Write to the age level.
  5. Make place a character.
  6. Make each word resonate.
  7. Bring history alive.
  8. Mix genres.
  9. Craft prose carefully.
  10. Let joy spill out!

Word Count for Picture Books


Word Count for Picture Books

Natalie Bright

0-200 words. 8-24 pages. BOARD BOOKS have minimal text with thick pages for little fingers to hold.

About 600 words. 32 pages. PICTURE BOOKS for ages 2-5. Text and illustrations on every page.

Up to 1000 words. 32 pages. Ages 4-8. Fiction or nonfiction.

Up to 1500 words. 40 pages. Ages 6-10. Fiction story picture books have longer stories for older readers.

Up to 2000 words. 48 pages. Ages 8-12. Nonfiction PICTURE BOOKS for middle grade readers, usually illustrated with photographs, may or may not have chapters.

HANGIN’ DAY & A Publishing Journey


 

NOW IN PRINT!

HANGIN’ DAY & A Publishing Journey

As writers, you understand that when someone says, “Tell me about your book.”, it’s a complex question. Not only do our books have inexplainable parts such as themes, plots twists, and glorious characters, the finished manuscript can go on a long and complicated journey on its own.

This is true about my book HANGIN’ DAY (title number four). This story has evolved into book #1 of my new middle grade mystery-adventure series, TROUBLE IN TEXAS. This manuscript has a long history. If publishing journeys bore you, I understand that your time is precious. For you, I’ll say keep writing and keep moving forward. Don’t ask why, just write it.

If you’re interested in the story behind the story…

The main character came to me in a dream, in part because of a question from my then elementary aged son. I saw a tough, skinny young girl with dark curly hair staring at a hangman’s platform. My son was studying westward expansion at the time and had asked about lawmen and hanging criminals in the Wild West. (Dinner conversation with our boys has proved to be an invaluable source for filling up my idea journal. Need inspiration? Take a kid to dinner and put the cell phones away.)

The lawless frontier has fascinated countless generations, and sentencing outlaws to hang is a real and horrible part of U.S. history. Law abiding citizens didn’t want to wait weeks, or sometimes even months, for the lawman to pass through town, so they administered justice themselves most especially to horse thieves.

As a life-long fan of historical novels, I wanted to write a humorous tale set in frontier Texas, that would be heavy with details of the time period to address my son’s questions and with enough action to hold a kids attention. The book was written during lunch breaks over a year’s time, and after edits from my awesome WS6 group, I felt it was ready to submit to contests. The story won 2nd in a contest, and then it won a face-to-face meeting with an agent at an SCBWI Oklahoma conference. The 15 minute ‘prize’ meeting with that literary agent was invaluable. He totally got the premise and characters of my story. I worked on his suggested revisions.

The next year I approached the same agent at a conference. He didn’t remember my name, but when I mentioned the characters, he remembered my book. He asked to see the revisions I’d made. We corresponded over several months and together worked to polish it even more. One day he emailed me with a question: “what other stories are you working on?”. Within 30 minutes I had an offer for representation, and just like that I had a literary agent who was shopping my books with publishers in New York City! Working on edits with someone who has read hundreds more kid lit books than I and who knows more about story structure than I’ll ever learn in my lifetime was an unforgettable experience. His suggestions were spot on. The book was finally the best it could be and I had a new found confidence in my writing abilities.

Silver Belle was on her way! That was 2013, four years after the spark. I waited AND I kept writing Book 2 and Book 3 of this series, plus freelance and wrote a coming-of-age novel for young adults. Except my middle grade series set in the Texas frontier never found a home in traditional publishing, nor did any of my other novels that he shopped during that time. My entire body of work was sinking into a deep, dark hole.

Rejection.

In an effort to keep it real for you, I’ll share a portion of the feedback I got over the years relating to the TROUBLE IN TEXAS series.

1) An editor told me at a conference that country kids don’t read that much and that I’m wasting time writing stories about farms and ranches and the frontier. Nobody wants to read those kinds of stories any more. (Unfortunately, the historical market continues to be a hard sell in kid lit these days.)

2) The marketing department will never be able to sell this book because it has no wide appeal.

3) Would I consider making the town sheriff a werewolf?

4) An agent stated that this story is unbelievable. It would be impossible for a twelve-year-old girl to accomplish the things my character does. Obviously, this from someone unaware of the abilities and chores required of farm and ranch kids. Taking a moment to shed light on the rural lifestyle, I grew up in a small-town but spent summers on my grandparent’s farm. I drove my Pappy’s tractor in Junior High, and my kids were doctoring cows, mowing the lawn, and driving the backhoe by about the same age.

I respected and greatly appreciated those who took the time to provide critiques. I carefully considered their suggestions. One horrible day I realized that my style of story telling had no place in the mainstream world of children’s literature. I write frontier Texas, horse and buggy, and Wild West adventures. I’ve read those kinds of stories my whole life. The reality of popular culture boils down to this: how can a feisty group of mystery-solving frontier kids ever compete against world apocalypse? My target market of readers is not on a world wide scale, but selective and unique.

Even at this point, I didn’t stop writing. Would you? There are too many ideas in my head to quit now. Here I am, back to square one it seems, to sink or swim as an Indie Author. I’m tackling the publishing business in different ways, and seeking new opportunities to find readers.

It is my belief that stories choose the writer.

Stories grow wings and fly because of us and the words we write. The characters we create really do exist to breathe, laugh, cry, and have adventures. We can’t ignore them. I hope readers love this black horse named Sweet Fury and these rowdy frontier kids as much as I do. The commotion in my head will not quite down…their adventures continue, just waiting on the writer to supply the wings.

TROUBLE IN TEXAS Series ~ Historical Middle Grade Adventures

Hangin’ Day Book 1

The Great Train Caper Book 2

Murder in the Morning Book 3

Natalie Cline Bright is a blogger and author of the fun, historical western TROUBLE IN TEXAS series for middle grades, the nonfiction RESCUE ANIMAL series, and is currently working on an action-packed novel for young adults, WOLF’S WAR. Read about Natalie’s grandmother and her cherry salad recipe, recently selected for “THE WESTERN WRITERS OF AMERICA COOKBOOK: Favorite Recipes, Cooking Tips, and Writing Wisdom” (TwoDot Publishing, June 2017). Go to her website nataliebright.com for buy links.

HANGIN’ DAY & A Publishing Journey


 

NOW IN PRINT!

HANGIN’ DAY & A Publishing Journey

As writers, you understand that when someone says, “Tell me about your book.”, it’s a complex question. Not only do our books have inexplainable parts such as themes, plots twists, and glorious characters, the finished manuscript can go on a long and complicated journey on its own.

This is true about my book HANGIN’ DAY (title number four). This story has evolved into book #1 of my new middle grade mystery-adventure series, TROUBLE IN TEXAS. This manuscript has a long history. If publishing journeys bore you, I understand that your time is precious. For you, I’ll say keep writing and keep moving forward. Don’t ask why, just write it.

If you’re interested in the story behind the story…

The main character came to me in a dream, in part because of a question from my then elementary aged son. I saw a tough, skinny young girl with dark curly hair staring at a hangman’s platform. My son was studying westward expansion at the time and had asked about lawmen and hanging criminals in the Wild West. (Dinner conversation with our boys has proved to be an invaluable source for filling up my idea journal. Need inspiration? Take a kid to dinner and put the cell phones away.)

The lawless frontier has fascinated countless generations, and sentencing outlaws to hang is a real and horrible part of U.S. history. Law abiding citizens didn’t want to wait weeks, or sometimes even months, for the lawman to pass through town, so they administered justice themselves most especially to horse thieves.

As a life-long fan of historical novels, I wanted to write a humorous tale set in frontier Texas, that would be heavy with details of the time period to address my son’s questions and with enough action to hold a kids attention. The book was written during lunch breaks over a year’s time, and after edits from my awesome WS6 group, I felt it was ready to submit to contests. The story won 2nd in a contest, and then it won a face-to-face meeting with an agent at an SCBWI Oklahoma conference. The 15 minute ‘prize’ meeting with that literary agent was invaluable. He totally got the premise and characters of my story. I worked on his suggested revisions.

The next year I approached the same agent at a conference. He didn’t remember my name, but when I mentioned the characters, he remembered my book. He asked to see the revisions I’d made. We corresponded over several months and together worked to polish it even more. One day he emailed me with a question: “what other stories are you working on?”. Within 30 minutes I had an offer for representation, and just like that I had a literary agent who was shopping my books with publishers in New York City! Working on edits with someone who has read hundreds more kid lit books than I and who knows more about story structure than I’ll ever learn in my lifetime was an unforgettable experience. His suggestions were spot on. The book was finally the best it could be and I had a new found confidence in my writing abilities.

Silver Belle was on her way! That was 2013, four years after the spark. I waited AND I kept writing Book 2 and Book 3 of this series, plus freelance and wrote a coming-of-age novel for young adults. Except my middle grade series set in the Texas frontier never found a home in traditional publishing, nor did any of my other novels that he shopped during that time. My entire body of work was sinking into a deep, dark hole.

Rejection.

In an effort to keep it real for you, I’ll share a portion of the feedback I got over the years relating to the TROUBLE IN TEXAS series.

1) An editor told me at a conference that country kids don’t read that much and that I’m wasting time writing stories about farms and ranches and the frontier. Nobody wants to read those kinds of stories any more. (Unfortunately, the historical market continues to be a hard sell in kid lit these days.)

2) The marketing department will never be able to sell this book because it has no wide appeal.

3) Would I consider making the town sheriff a werewolf?

4) An agent stated that this story is unbelievable. It would be impossible for a twelve-year-old girl to accomplish the things my character does. Obviously, this from someone unaware of the abilities and chores required of farm and ranch kids. Taking a moment to shed light on the rural lifestyle, I grew up in a small-town but spent summers on my grandparent’s farm. I drove my Pappy’s tractor in Junior High, and my kids were doctoring cows, mowing the lawn, and driving the backhoe by about the same age.

I respected and greatly appreciated those who took the time to provide critiques. I carefully considered their suggestions. One horrible day I realized that my style of story telling had no place in the mainstream world of children’s literature. I write frontier Texas, horse and buggy, and Wild West adventures. I’ve read those kinds of stories my whole life. The reality of popular culture boils down to this: how can a feisty group of mystery-solving frontier kids ever compete against world apocalypse? My target market of readers is not on a world wide scale, but selective and unique.

Even at this point, I didn’t stop writing. Would you? There are too many ideas in my head to quit now. Here I am, back to square one it seems, to sink or swim as an Indie Author. I’m tackling the publishing business in different ways, and seeking new opportunities to find readers.

It is my belief that stories choose the writer.

Stories grow wings and fly because of us and the words we write. The characters we create really do exist to breathe, laugh, cry, and have adventures. We can’t ignore them. I hope readers love this black horse named Sweet Fury and these rowdy frontier kids as much as I do. The commotion in my head will not quite down…their adventures continue, just waiting on the writer to supply the wings.

TROUBLE IN TEXAS Series ~ Historical Middle Grade Adventures

Hangin’ Day Book 1

The Great Train Caper Book 2

Murder in the Morning Book 3

Natalie Cline Bright is a blogger and author of the fun, historical western TROUBLE IN TEXAS series for middle grades, the nonfiction RESCUE ANIMAL series, and is currently working on an action-packed novel for young adults, WOLF’S WAR. Read about Natalie’s grandmother and her cherry salad recipe, recently selected for “THE WESTERN WRITERS OF AMERICA COOKBOOK: Favorite Recipes, Cooking Tips, and Writing Wisdom” (TwoDot Publishing, June 2017). Go to her website nataliebright.com for buy links.

HANGIN’ DAY & A Publishing Journey


 

NOW IN PRINT!

HANGIN’ DAY & A Publishing Journey

As writers, you understand that when someone says, “Tell me about your book.”, it’s a complex question. Not only do our books have inexplainable parts such as themes, plots twists, and glorious characters, the finished manuscript can go on a long and complicated journey on its own.

This is true about my book HANGIN’ DAY (title number four). This story has evolved into book #1 of my new middle grade mystery-adventure series, TROUBLE IN TEXAS. This manuscript has a long history. If publishing journeys bore you, I understand that your time is precious. For you, I’ll say keep writing and keep moving forward. Don’t ask why, just write it.

If you’re interested in the story behind the story…

The main character came to me in a dream, in part because of a question from my then elementary aged son. I saw a tough, skinny young girl with dark curly hair staring at a hangman’s platform. My son was studying westward expansion at the time and had asked about lawmen and hanging criminals in the Wild West. (Dinner conversation with our boys has proved to be an invaluable source for filling up my idea journal. Need inspiration? Take a kid to dinner and put the cell phones away.)

The lawless frontier has fascinated countless generations, and sentencing outlaws to hang is a real and horrible part of U.S. history. Law abiding citizens didn’t want to wait weeks, or sometimes even months, for the lawman to pass through town, so they administered justice themselves most especially to horse thieves.

As a life-long fan of historical novels, I wanted to write a humorous tale set in frontier Texas, that would be heavy with details of the time period to address my son’s questions and with enough action to hold a kids attention. The book was written during lunch breaks over a year’s time, and after edits from my awesome WS6 group, I felt it was ready to submit to contests. The story won 2nd in a contest, and then it won a face-to-face meeting with an agent at an SCBWI Oklahoma conference. The 15 minute ‘prize’ meeting with that literary agent was invaluable. He totally got the premise and characters of my story. I worked on his suggested revisions.

The next year I approached the same agent at a conference. He didn’t remember my name, but when I mentioned the characters, he remembered my book. He asked to see the revisions I’d made. We corresponded over several months and together worked to polish it even more. One day he emailed me with a question: “what other stories are you working on?”. Within 30 minutes I had an offer for representation, and just like that I had a literary agent who was shopping my books with publishers in New York City! Working on edits with someone who has read hundreds more kid lit books than I and who knows more about story structure than I’ll ever learn in my lifetime was an unforgettable experience. His suggestions were spot on. The book was finally the best it could be and I had a new found confidence in my writing abilities.

Silver Belle was on her way! That was 2013, four years after the spark. I waited AND I kept writing Book 2 and Book 3 of this series, plus freelance and wrote a coming-of-age novel for young adults. Except my middle grade series set in the Texas frontier never found a home in traditional publishing, nor did any of my other novels that he shopped during that time. My entire body of work was sinking into a deep, dark hole.

Rejection.

In an effort to keep it real for you, I’ll share a portion of the feedback I got over the years relating to the TROUBLE IN TEXAS series.

1) An editor told me at a conference that country kids don’t read that much and that I’m wasting time writing stories about farms and ranches and the frontier. Nobody wants to read those kinds of stories any more. (Unfortunately, the historical market continues to be a hard sell in kid lit these days.)

2) The marketing department will never be able to sell this book because it has no wide appeal.

3) Would I consider making the town sheriff a werewolf?

4) An agent stated that this story is unbelievable. It would be impossible for a twelve-year-old girl to accomplish the things my character does. Obviously, this from someone unaware of the abilities and chores required of farm and ranch kids. Taking a moment to shed light on the rural lifestyle, I grew up in a small-town but spent summers on my grandparent’s farm. I drove my Pappy’s tractor in Junior High, and my kids were doctoring cows, mowing the lawn, and driving the backhoe by about the same age.

I respected and greatly appreciated those who took the time to provide critiques. I carefully considered their suggestions. One horrible day I realized that my style of story telling had no place in the mainstream world of children’s literature. I write frontier Texas, horse and buggy, and Wild West adventures. I’ve read those kinds of stories my whole life. The reality of popular culture boils down to this: how can a feisty group of mystery-solving frontier kids ever compete against world apocalypse? My target market of readers is not on a world wide scale, but selective and unique.

Even at this point, I didn’t stop writing. Would you? There are too many ideas in my head to quit now. Here I am, back to square one it seems, to sink or swim as an Indie Author. I’m tackling the publishing business in different ways, and seeking new opportunities to find readers.

It is my belief that stories choose the writer.

Stories grow wings and fly because of us and the words we write. The characters we create really do exist to breathe, laugh, cry, and have adventures. We can’t ignore them. I hope readers love this black horse named Sweet Fury and these rowdy frontier kids as much as I do. The commotion in my head will not quite down…their adventures continue, just waiting on the writer to supply the wings.

TROUBLE IN TEXAS Series ~ Historical Middle Grade Adventures

Hangin’ Day Book 1

The Great Train Caper Book 2

Murder in the Morning Book 3

Natalie Cline Bright is a blogger and author of the fun, historical western TROUBLE IN TEXAS series for middle grades, the nonfiction RESCUE ANIMAL series, and is currently working on an action-packed novel for young adults, WOLF’S WAR. Read about Natalie’s grandmother and her cherry salad recipe, recently selected for “THE WESTERN WRITERS OF AMERICA COOKBOOK: Favorite Recipes, Cooking Tips, and Writing Wisdom” (TwoDot Publishing, June 2017). Go to her website nataliebright.com for buy links.

AuthorPreneur: That would be YOU!


AuthorPreneur: That would be YOU!

By Natalie Bright

Entrepreneur: the process of designing, launching and running a new business.

We are familiar with the term entrepreneurs as it relates to the business world. It reminds me of people who are identified as creators, designers, and innovators. As I define them, the person who brings people together to coordinate efforts towards a common outcome. As more and more opportunities are realized for writers to publish their own work, the Indie published Authorpreneur has emerged.

“Do first. Believe second.” SETH GODIN

THE KEY IS YOU

As it relates to your writing, you are that key person. No one feels more passionately about your book than you. There’s not another person who cares more about your writing career or your readers than you. No one.

I’ve met so many writers with brilliant ideas, but they are afraid to take that first leap. They refuse to write the words that are burning a hole in their soul. “I’ve had this idea for many, many years. I’ll tell you, and you can write it.” NO! YOU write it.

Seriously. I’ve got more than enough ideas in my head, that I’ll never live long enough to write them all. I’ve come to the realization that I may never see them published either.

YOUR CREATIVE TEAM

Authorpreneurs have the power to bring a creative team together.

I have discovered that the entire creative process is fun for me: from the first story spark to imagining the world of my characters, building files of research notes, writing, editing, coordinating photo shoots, designing promo materials, and finding markets. I love bringing together creative minds and realizing the results of our efforts.

Based on my experience, there are some parts of Indie Publishing that don’t appeal to me. What I don’t like is formatting. I don’t like being a book store and filling book orders. I’ve found the good news! In today’s publishing world there are people who I can hire to do the stuff I hate.

There are definitely some snags along the way; every entrepreneur has them. Successful business gurus don’t mind the bumps; they just keep going.

A NEW JOURNEY

Six years ago, with a leap and a prayer, I pitched my idea for an historical middle grade novel at conferences. It was the scariest thing I’d ever done, but this character would not leave me alone. I wanted a wider audience than I could achieve on my own as a self-pub title. My dream was to see that book at Scholastic book fairs in schools across the country. I wrote a five book series, plus an extensive marketing plan, however that book did not sell to a traditional publishing house through a literary agent.

It’s time to move on to Plan B. I still feel passionate about this character, even after six years. I’m not giving up yet.

The next leap is alone as an Authorpreneur. Back to square one, but not really. I’ve learned so much along the way and I kept writing.

I am reminded of the first day of a creative writing course taught by NYTimes and USA Today bestselling author, Jodi Thomas. That was 13 years ago. She told us,

“A successful writer is willing to do that

which an unsuccessful writer is not willing to do.”

It’s a slight bend in the road and maybe a hill or two…the writing journey continues.

TWEENS Have It


TWEENS Have It

By Natalie Bright

 

Children’s literature once offered the genres of picture book and everything else. Thankfully today that grey area of choices after pictures is more clearly defined with early readers, chapter books, middle grade, upper middle grade, tween, and young adult.

The new group that emerged with efforts to focus on “tweens”, between childhood and young adults, is the topic of this blog post. You’ve probably noticed that many industries are reaching out to this group, from entertainment to fashion to reading material.

Tweens Defined

Tweens, defined as being between 10-14 years of age, seem to live in two worlds. When I talk to classrooms I’m reminded that they are still children and sometimes very immature. In other instances, I’m shocked at the complexity of the questions they can ask.

It’s a complicated age; that time period between childhood and young adult. I’ve witnessed this with our own boys. Reading a book with chapters was a big deal. Our oldest totally skipped most of the tween offerings and went straight to nonfiction on the topics that held interest for him. Our youngest enjoyed the light, simple plots of chapter books. By the time he was in fourth grade he was reading at a Jr. High level and he wanted stories that were more complex. As a parent, I was cautious about the drug and sex themes covered in the young adult genre, and thankfully there were some in-between novels that held his interest.

Holes, by Louis Sachar

HOLES is the perfect example of a book for tweens, in my opinion. It includes folklore, a mystery, and contemporary issues of a work camp for difficult teenagers, along with a mystery that spans across several generations. It appeals to both girls and boys. I enjoyed the book and the movie equally as well.

Children today are much more sophisticated in their reading choices I think. Of course, there’s always the kids who never read and those who read anything and everything. Several books I would have classified with young adult type themes, seem to have resonated with the younger crowd as well.

Good Story is Everything

As my then 6th grader got into the car after school one day, he asked, “What is team Edward and team Jacob?” Twilight was a hot topic among the tween crowd from many years. My son really wasn’t interested in reading the books at all, but agreed to watch the Pay-per-View with me. “I guess I’ll have to, so I can know what the girls talk about all day.”

Bottom line: a unique, well-written story is a good story, no matter the target age.

nataliebright.com

 

Hooray for Banned Books


Hooray for Banned Books

By Natalie Bright

Children’s Literature celebrated Banned Books Week Sept. 21-27. Hooray for that because I’ve discovered many wonderful books from these types of lists. Take for example the news that a large school district in Texas has banned The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.

Written in first-person “diary” format, it’s the inner thoughts of a teen so it’s raw, realistic, inappropriate; just like teenagers. The main character faces bullies, alcoholic parents, racism, abusive adults, sex, cuss words; just like life.

It’s written for YA (young adult) audience which means this is a story for older teenagers. As the mother of two teenaged boys, I absolutely believe in the power of parents to control the materials our children have access to. (What parent hasn’t cringed at the mention of internet?) I understand how inappropriate teenagers can be and how shocking some of their questions are, but they’re also funny, charming, and crazy smart. Kids today continually amaze me. It doesn’t mean every teenager is into any of the topics covered in a YA novel. Sherman Alexie’s book doesn’t promote a certain kind of life style. These topics exist in our world, in a teens world. This book is for high school aged teens and, in my opinion, should not be in grade school or Jr. High libraries.

Based on the author’s own experiences, THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN is about a main character who leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white high school 22 miles away. It’s a story about following your dreams, finding acceptance, facing adversity, and coming through as a winner. It’s a story with loads of HEART. I loved this book.

Opinions are subjective. For as many people who hate a book, you’ll find just as many who love it. I’ve discovered so many wonderful stories through these kinds of lists, so hooray for banned books! Let’s work together to promote the joys and privilege of reading a great story. Let’s broaden the world view for our children and open the dialogue. Let’s do more talking, reading, learning, and less judging.

Writers Take Action:

1) Post an online review of one of your favorite stories from childhood. Ask your kids what’s one of their favorites. Post an online review of that book too. By promoting each others work, we’re also promoting the joys of reading.

2) Choose one book from a Banned Books List and read it.

nataliebright.com