Guest Blogger: Hank Quense, Author of Fiction Writing Workshop for Kids

Writing a story is a tough job, especially for a kid. There’s all that stuff about characters and setting they have to remember. And then there’s the plot. How is a kid supposed to figure that one out?

I’ve written a number of novels and I’ve had over forty short stories published in magazines, anthologies and web sites. So I know firsthand about these difficulties. Over time and after a lot of false starts, I developed a process that allows me to approach a new story in an organized manner. Once I had this process I found it eliminated many of the dead ends I had previously run into.

A few years ago the Valley Middle School in Oakland NJ asked if I would visit the school and talk to their seventh graders. On visits like this, authors usually talk about their books and read scenes from them. I hate reading scenes! I find it boring and I’m sure I bore the audience with my monotonous voice. Instead of torturing the kids this way, I decided to show them how I use my process to create a short story. The slide talk worked like this: I gave them the overall story idea, one that they would want to write. After that, I used a handout with a series of text boxes with questions to have the kids come up with ideas on characters, setting and plot. Finally, I broke the story up into six scenes and showed the kids how to use the text box ideas to write each scene. The talk was wildly successful.

4: New Project
Besides the Valley Middle School, I’ve given this talk in libraries and expanded the concept to include two more story ideas. While I love doing this, my talks are geographically limited. To remove this limitation, I used these three talks as the basis for the ebook called Fiction Writing Workshop for Kids. Using the advanced technical capabilities of ebooks, the book has graphics, audio and video clips embedded into it. The videos show the text boxes and coach the kids on how to develop ideas for the basic story elements: characters, setting and plot. Each story has a final video clip showing the kids which text boxes to use in each scene.

Finally, there is a set of blank worksheets the kids can use to develop stories on their own.

The suggested audience for the ebook is 4th to 7th graders.

This is not an ordinary ebook: it’s interactive and that presents some problems. Not all e-readers can open the epub and mobi versions of this book. Apple computers and IOS devices can open the epub version if they have the free iBook app installed. Some Nooks also can open it. You can open the epub on a PC computer if the computer has Adobe Digital Edition app installed. You can download this free app here: https://www.adobe.com/solutions/ebook/digital-editions.html

The mobi edition will only work on the more recent Kindle Fire tablets.

Other Kindle tablets will not be able to deal with the audio and video clips.

The ebook is available on iBooks at https://apple.co/2CJYDjN and Kindle at https://amzn.to/2RnU5Yo.

This website has more information and a demo story your child can try out: https://padlet.com/hanque/a7zx74mjcgrg

Getting a book published is always a great feeling, but this one felt not just great, but also fulfilling.

A Toad That Explodes and Other Cool Animal Facts by Melissa Abramovitz

Did you know that horned lizards can shoot blood from their eyes? Discover other mind-blowing facts about animals!

Age Range: 10 – 12 years
Grade Level: 2 – 3
Lexile Measure: HL470L
Series: Mind-Blowing Science Facts
Library Binding: 32 pages
Publisher: Capstone Press (January 1, 2019)

Purchase here!

Melissa Abramovitz is the author of hundreds of magazine articles, more than 30 educational books for children and teenagers, numerous poems and short stories, and several children’s picture books. She is a graduate of the University of California San Diego. Visit her website at www.melissaabramovitz.com

Bargain E-Book: High School: The Real Deal by Juliana Farrell and Colleen Rush

From plagiarism to popularity, vartisty sports to vocational classes, GPA’s to graduation, you’ll find all the details right here.High school can be overwhelming, but this book will give you the lowdown on what to expect during the most exciting, challenging four years of your life.

File Size: 346 KB
Print Length: 144 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins (June 6, 2009)
Publication Date: June 23, 2009
Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
Language: English
ASIN: B002C9499K

Order from:

HC.com
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Kobo
iBooks

Writing Magic by Gail Carson Levine

If you’re looking for a great book to teach you about writing, pick up a copy of Writing Magic: Creating Stories that Fly by Gail Carson Levine.

Best known for Ella Enchanted, Levine shares her wealth of experience with young writers. With helpful advice on beginnings and endings, writing dialogue, shaping characters, when to show and when to tell, how to come up with ideas and more this will become an often referred to resource. The chapters are short enough to be digested in one sitting and followed up with a writing exercise to illustrate the point. Even as a seasoned writer I found these exercises worthwhile. If you have an interest in writing, Writing Magic should be on your “TBR” list.

Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Age Range: 8 and up
Grade Level: 3 – 6
Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins; Reissue edition (December 23, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 006236717X
ISBN-13: 978-0062367174

 

I borrowed this book from our local library. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Coming in February: Midnight Teacher by Janet Halfmann

Halfmann tells the powerful story of Lily Ann Granderson, an enslaved woman who “believed the path to freedom was through education.” Ladd’s rich, naturalistic acrylic-and-pencil images depict Granderson’s upbringing in Kentucky, where she learned to read and write in secret, then shared her knowledge with other children. As an enslaved adult in Mississippi, Granderson risked punishment by holding night classes in an empty cabin: “Landowners feared that if the enslaved could read, they would discover that some northerners wanted slavery abolished.” After the school is discovered, Granderson is shocked to learn that she won’t be punished (Halfmann speculates about why she might have escaped punishment in an afterword) and reopens her school, teaching as a free woman for many more years. The painful but uplifting narrative may spark readers’ curiosity about other enslaved individuals whose stories have not yet been told.

Age Range: 7 – 11 years
Grade Level: 3 – 4
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Lee & Low Books; Illustrated edition (February 6, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1620141639
ISBN-13: 978-1620141632

Pre-order from Amazon or other online retailers.