Posts from the ‘Children’s Books’ Category
May 22, 2014
(by Brooke Burgess)
Long time, no post! But rest assured, dear friends…I’ve been busy, albeit quiet.
And quiet is the operative term.
After receiving some helpful (and surprisingly glowing) beta reader feedback on my first novel, I completed a round of draft revisions in April and the work is currently under agent and publisher review. Then, struggling to exercise the patience of the proverbial saints, I felt the call for another adventure in Silence.
I don’t think it’s much of a coincidence that a strong first draft of a 230-page children’s fantasy novel was completed in less that ten weeks. I give a newfound commitment to meditative practice the lion’s share of the credit. So, with pre-publishing edits on the first book looming, the second book in the Shadowland Saga fully outlined (title TBA soon!), and following a slow recovery from some tropical nastiness (dengue fever and Giardia parasites = good times!), the twin batteries of intuition and mindfulness were in desperate need of a recharge.
The last meditation retreat in September stirred up some long-buried emotions. But it also rewarded me with renewed clarity, increased mental fortitude, and a powerful set of tools to apply to life and to the creative process. And with another block of 17hr days filled with deep sits, contemplative footsteps, and radiant Metta, it quickly became clear how many parallels there are between meditation and writing.
Off the top of my (currently empty) head, here are 10 that stand out:
January 7, 2014
I’m about to edit a book. Seems like a straightforward mission statement, right? But for me, the prose editing process generates a special, singular kind of fear. I’ll get to that in a second.
When you’re launching an initial assault on the blank page, there’s a leap-into-the-void, roll-the-goddamn-dice, what’s-the-worst-that-can-happen? kinda quality to the whole thing. That’s why I actually enjoyed the NaNoWriMo exercise – you show up, put your head down, and commit to your daily word count. That’s it. So, if your outline was strong enough, and your characters were clearly defined, and you respected your narrative roadmap (no matter how many shortcuts or off-road excursions you indulged in along the way), you’re gonna end up with something. And, unless you’re a complete tool, said thing will resemble an actual ‘story’, with words and paragraphs and dialogue and chapters and a beginning, middle, and end. Groovy.
But then comes the hard part. You see, in keeping with my oft-stated transmedia philosophy, Storytelling (on singular or multiple platforms) is akin to the mining, cutting, and polishing of a precious gem. Writing in prose has only reaffirmed that for me. The story outline is where one surveys the land and takes soil samples. The first draft is digging and sifting until you find the raw stone. Which makes the hardest part – the detailed cutting and polishing phases, which give the stone its unique beauty and shine — the edit.
January 2, 2014
December 27, 2013
Hello friends, and happy impending 2014!
With the new year fast approaching, I find another journey is on the verge of ending; I’m about to complete the first draft of my debut novel. For better or worse, I’m trying to see the accomplishment for what it is, and release any and all expectations surrounding it. And with that? Well, I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t getting a smidgen excited. But just a smidgen…or two. ;)
I’ve been tweeting and Facebook’ing a string today about children’s stories – specifically ‘mid-grade’ novels (for 8-12 year-olds ie: Potter, Narnia, Dark Materials, Percy Jackson, etc) – and whether it’s possible for these to contain intense emotional arcs.
I’ve been reading a lot lately, and find that many of the established series limit their protagonist’s emotional range and ‘stakes’ (at least until later instalments), while choosing instead to focus on ‘world-building’, large character rosters, and causal plot triggers.
So here’s my question: do you think that issues like self-worth, abandonment, betrayal, extreme doubt/terror, and the like are exclusively an ‘adult’ domain? I ask because, with the end in sight, I’m seeing that my tale is pretty darn dense with complex emotions already — things I personally experienced as a child — and the feeling I have now is that this dynamic has entrenched itself as the bedrock of the greater (ie: 5 volume) narrative.
Without high stakes and real struggle, isn’t a story merely ‘stuff happening in an interesting place, with random people’???