Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Way to Stay in Destiny -- Review and Giveaway

Thought for the Day:

“The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible.”

~ Vladimir Nabokov ~
Gifts for My Writer Friends:


Fiction University is always worth a look, but some posts are absolutely not to be missed. Janice Hardy is running a series of posts on revision. One of the best HERE is Clean Up the Description and Stage Direction.

HERE is another one from Ms. Hardy. One of the best on revision she has had, and that’s saying something. 

Every wonder how much time your story should cover? Wonder no more. K. M. Weiland explains it all HERE in her post called The Crucial Way to Figure Out How Much Time Your Story Should Take. 

Last time we met, I offered a copy of Scar Boys by Len Vlahos to one of you. This week's winner is Helen! Congratulations, Helen. I will get the book out to you this week. I have another great giveaway this week, so stay tuned.

A year and a half ago, I was lucky enough to attend the Highlight's Whole Novel Historical Fiction workshop. It was a great experience. One of the things that made it great was the wonderful faculty. One member of the faculty was Augusta Scattergood. Her first book, Glory Be, hadn't been out too long, but it certainly had received a great deal of acclaim. It is a wonderful book. If you haven't read it yet, you should. But this week I am going to tell you about her second novel, The Way to Stay in Destiny. When she told me it was about, among other things, a relationship that had love of baseball at it core, she had me. I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. Here is the review I wrote for the San Francisco Book Review



It is the 1970s and young Theo, who lost his parents when he was four, must now leave his grandparents’s Kentucky farm with his uncle, a stranger to Theo, to move to Florida. Uncle Raymond is an angry Vietnam veteran who has very strict rules for Theo as they settle into Miss Sister Grandersole’s Rest Easy Rooming House and Dance Academy in the tiny town of Destiny, Florida. Miss Sister is a kind woman who takes a shine to Theo and encourages his talent for playing piano, something Uncle Raymond has forbidden. Theo is befriended by a girl his age named Anabel who shares his interest in baseball. Anabel’s pushy mother thinks Theo is a bad influence. As soon as Theo begins to feel at home, his uncle threatens to move and disrupt Theo’s life again.

“The only answer is creaking bedsprings, then snoring. Before long, my uncle’s yelling about jungles and guns and spit. Under the sheet, I
cover my ears and listen for musical beats inside
my head.”

Augusta Scattergood has written a middle-grade novel that presents her young
Augusta Scattergood
readers with a picture of small-town America in the 1970s, shortly after the Vietnam War has fractured society. This is a period seldom written about for this age group. The book has excellent writing, compelling characters, strong conflicts, and a solid story that should bring wide readership in the target audience.





I have a gently read hardback copy of this terrific book for one of you. To win, all you need do is have a US address, be a subscriber or follower and tell me that in a comment you leave on this post. If you are reading this in your email, click HERE to go to the blog so you can leave a comment. If you would like extra chances, please spread the word by posting the link on a Tweet, blog post, Facebook, or any other way you like. Let me know what you have done in your comment, and I will put in extra chances for you for each that you do.

Don't forget to check out Shannon Messenger's wonderful blog HERE for many more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday reviews and giveaways.

 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Scar Boys -- Review and Giveaway

Thought for the Day:

“Failure is the opportunity to begin again, more intelligently.”
~ Henry Ford~
Gifts for My Writer Friends:

Wonder why your work was rejected? Anne R. Allen has an entertaining post HERE to answer that question.

If you are going to get writing advice, why not get it from one of the most prolific writers on the planet. Aerogramme Writers’ Studio has a post HERE called Stephen King’s “Everything You Need to Know About Writing Successfully -- in Ten Minutes.”

That old bugaboo, the synopsis, generated this excellent post at the Write Practice HERE by Monica M. Clark.

No giveaway last week, but I will have one this week, so please keep reading. I usually stick to middle-grade books, but this one really is young adult. What can I say? Sometimes I do read other kinds of books. And this is such a good book, I think a lot of you may choose to stretch your reading wings a bit and include this on your list. It is The Scar Boys by Len Vlahos. Here is the review I wrote for the San Francisco Book Review.


Harry is only eight years old the day bullies tie him to a tree and leave him there in a thunderstorm. The tree is struck by lightning, catches fire, and Harry’s life is forever changed. If he had trouble with bullies before this deforming event, things only get worse. When he is in middle school, he is befriended by popular Johnny, who rescues him from some bullies and suggests they start a band. They find two other guys to join them and practice and play their way through high school, until they are good enough to start playing for pay. Suddenly, the bass player drops out. When auditioning for a replacement, they find beautiful Cheyenne. This, again, changes everything for Harry.

“My tongue tied itself in a neat little knot and a bowling ball dropped from my esophagus to my stomach. My fingertips and toes went numb.”

Len Vlahos structures this wonderful novel as if it were a college application essay, and this works really well. Harry’s voice is clear and absolutely
Len Vlahos
appropriate for a guy at eighteen to tell his story, and the structure allows Harry the ability to speak directly to the reader in ways that an ordinary novel structure would not. The writing and story are very strong, and this exceptional story should reach an audience far beyond the young adult segment it targets. 

I have a gently read hardback copy of this terrific book for one of you. To win, all you need do is have a US address, be a subscriber or follower and tell me that in a comment you leave on this post. If you are reading this in your email, click HERE to go to the blog so you can leave a comment. If you would like extra chances, please spread the word by posting the link on a Tweet, blog post, Facebook, or any other way you like. Let me know what you have done in your comment, and I will put in extra chances for you for each that you do.


Don't forget to check out Shannon Messenger's wonderful blog HERE for many more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday reviews and giveaways.