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.

The Emotion Thesaurus, 2nd Edition by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi

New resource for all my writing friends…and a chance to win a great prize too!


As writers, we all have our favorite writing methods. For instance, some swear by Scrivener, while others write in Word or Google docs. Some prefer to draft longhand, using colorful gel pens and notebooks.

Most of us have a favorite writing book (or ten), too. These books have helped us understand storytelling better, demystifying certain aspects of writing. Well, today I’m taking part in welcoming a new writing guide into the world: The Emotion Thesaurus (Second Edition).

You may have heard of The Emotion Thesaurus before, or even have a copy. The original’s lists of body language, thoughts, and visceral sensations for 75 unique emotions made brainstorming character expressions and reactions so much easier. It quickly became a bestseller.

Now, there’s a bigger, better second edition. Angela and Becca have added 55 NEW emotions such as Euphoria, Vindicated, and Schadenfreude. (And that’s not all that’s new, either…the book is almost twice the size as the original.)

Anyway, if you’re interested in checking it out, you can read some of the reviews on Goodreads or find information here.

One more thing to tell you about…are you ready for this?

GIVEAWAY ALERT!

Wish you could attend a free writing retreat, go to a conference, snag a seat at a workshop, or have your professional membership to a writing organization paid for? Of course you do!

Well, at Writers Helping Writers, one lucky winner will get one of the above, up to a $500 US value.

This is the giveaway of a lifetime, so hurry over to enter!

September Non-fiction

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor tells her own story for young readers for the very first time!

As the first Latina Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Sotomayor has inspired young people around the world to reach for their dreams. But what inspired her? For young Sonia, the answer was books! They were her mirrors, her maps, her friends, and her teachers. They helped her to connect with her family in New York and in Puerto Rico, to deal with her diabetes diagnosis, to cope with her father’s death, to uncover the secrets of the world, and to dream of a future for herself in which anything was possible.

In Turning Pages, Justice Sotomayor shares that love of books with a new generation of readers, and inspires them to read and puzzle and dream for themselves. Accompanied by Lulu Delacre’s vibrant art, this story of the Justice’s life shows readers that the world is full of promise and possibility–all they need to do is turn the page.

In this adaptation for middle graders based on her bestselling adult memoir, My Beloved World, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Sonia Sotomayor’s extraordinary life inspires. Her achievement serves as a true testament to the fact that no matter the obstacles, dreams can come true.

Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic and third woman appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States, was a young girl when she dared to dream big. Her dream? To become a lawyer and a judge.

As Justice Sotomayor explains, “When I was a child my family was poor and we knew no lawyers or judges and none lived in our neighborhood. I knew nothing about the Supreme Court and how much its work in reinterpreting the Constitution and the laws of the United States affected peoples’ lives. You cannot dream of becoming something you don’t even know about. That has been the most important lesson of my life. You have to learn to dream big dreams.”

Sonia did not let the hardships of her background–which included growing up in the rough housing projects of New York City’s South Bronx, dealing with juvenile diabetes, coping with parents who argued and fought personal demons, and worrying about money–stand in her way. Always, she believed in herself. Her determination, along with guidance from generous mentors and the unwavering love of her extended Puerto Rican family, propelled her ever forward.

In this young adult adaptation of the acclaimed bestselling Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson delves deep into the broken U.S. justice system, detailing from his personal experience his many challenges and efforts as a lawyer and social advocate, especially on behalf of America’s most rejected and marginalized people.

In this very personal work–proceeds of which will go to charity–Bryan Stevenson recounts many and varied stories of his work as a lawyer in the U.S. criminal justice system on behalf of those in society who have experienced some type of discrimination and/or have been wrongly accused of a crime and who deserve a powerful advocate and due justice under the law.

Through the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), an organization Stevenson founded as a young lawyer and for which he currently serves as Executive Director, this important work continues. EJI strives to end mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, working to protect basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society.

New Releases from Guardian Angel Publishing

 

Ulysses is a basset hound who thinks he can sing, but sounds like a fog horn in the bay. That’s how he got into trouble in the backyard. Wise Owl tells Ulysses to be what he is and find his own special sound. That’s how he learned to make the most joyful noise in all the land.

Sparky travels the globe looking for children in need of help. His adventure to Uganda leads him to a young boy named Jimmy who is sick and alone in the middle of the jungle. Their colorful friendship changes Jimmy’s world.

Coloring Book shares the adventure of Sparky’s Uganda Adventure from Spark Worldwide who serves,  protects and raises kids… “It’s what we do.” Also see the picture book of Sparky & Jimmy- Sparky’s Uganda Adventure. And help support  Spark Worldwide around the globe.

Book 3 contains another sampling of ancient symbols presented by Professor Hoot who guides the reader through distant times for further exploration. Join Professor Hoot as he displays more ancient art and unusual artifacts. These items represent various cultures from ancient countries and eras.

Have you ever wondered where groundhogs live or what they eat? With rhyming fun, explore their world with facts from A to Z! Read about their Predators and how they Hibernate, Their Voracious appetites and the way they eXcavate! Intriguing information from beginning to end. Building understanding of our furry groundhog friends!

Long before Santa had a sleigh, he walked from house to house delivering toys with his faithful dog Yukon. With more good girls and boys and more and more toys, only a big sleigh will do. But who will save Christmas day by pulling Santa’s sleigh?

A fictional short story poem revealing the often-times forgotten, yet age-old secret of life: the importance and attraction of kindness. A light hearted tale of a peace loving old man, and how he became loved by the whole village by being kind.

For these and other books by Guardian Angel Publishing, visit the publisher online at www.guardianangelpublishing.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

Midnight Teacher by Janet Halfmann

Midnight Teacher by Janet Halfmann is the story of one woman’s courageous journey to improve the lives of others through literacy.

Born into slavery, Lilly Ann Granderson was sold to a slave owner in Kentucky after the death of her mother. The master’s children would often play school and gave Lilly an old speller and taught her to read. She began sharing this gift of reading with others on the plantation. Once the owner died, she was sold to a cotton plantation in Mississippi, where it was illegal for slaves to learn to read. Undeterred, she restarted her school, teaching late at night to avoid being caught. The school grew. When patrollers discovered the slave school Lilly faced a hard punishment, but the authorities eventually ruled there was no law against a slave teaching other slaves.

What I admire about Halfmann’s biographies is that she highlights people who have made a difference in this world long past the pivotal times in which they lived. Granderson’s story displays her tremendous strength and determination to offer a gift that others took for granted because it was never a right denied to them. She knew the risks and faced them without fear of the consequences because she believed education was the path to freedom for her people. Between Halfmann’s moving text and London Ladd’s stunning artwork, the reader is immediately drawn into Granderson’s story.

A perfect book for any school or personal library, Midnight Teacher could inspire many school projects and empower young people to action for the causes for which they are passionate.

Highly recommended!

Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Grades 1-6
Reading Level Grades 3-6
Lexile Measure: 950 (What’s this?)
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Lee & Low Books; Illustrated edition (February 13, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1620141639
ISBN-13: 978-1620141632

I received a copy of this book from the publisher. 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.