Stepping into the forest of my mind

Stepping into the forest of my mind
Just as every journey begins with a first step, every story begins with the first word.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Worlds of Wonder: Middle Grade Fantasy Guest post by Author Darcy Pattison

It is my privilege, today, to introduce Darcy Pattison to everyone.  Darcy is a well-published children’s writer with a host of fiction and non-fiction titles on her shelf.  Her shelves also contain books on writing and publishing in today’s market.  She holds writing workshops at Highlights Foundation Workshops at Chautauqua and at other conferences as well as online.
Children's Writer, Darcy Pattison

Darcy is going to talk about her newest title, Liberty, a middle grade adventure story on the high seas.  This is a tale of struggle and hard work to obtain dreams.  It’s a tale of learning to believe in oneself in order to help others. 

Welcome, Darcy, to Adventures in Writing.  And thank you for sharing some of your writing expertise with our readers.   
My pleasure, Victoria Marie, and thank you for having me. 
One of the most important elements in children's literature is a sense of wonder. As a children's book author, you must remember that children don't have a strong base of experiences to draw upon. Everything is new - and full of wonder. The appeal of fantasy is exactly the same thing, that this story reaches outside the realm of everyday and takes them to a new place for new experiences.
In my new middle grade fantasy, LIBERTY, I play upon that need for new experiences by starting with pigs on Farmer MacDonald's farm, the normal world. Quickly, though, you realize this story won't stay near home. Santiago Talbert is a pig who wants to sail the seven seas! Pigs at sea? Yes!
Darcy Pattison's new
            release book cover
The story started soon after 9/11 when I sat at the dinner table with my elementary school age son and his friend and asked what I should write about next. 
Pigs, they said. 
Okay, but what will the pigs do?
Go sailing.
From a simple conversation the concept grew. Santiago and Penelope Talbert leave the farm and go to the mythical land of Liberty, where any intelligent creature—human or animal—can get ahead in the world. They learn the world of sailing and map making and finally join the crew of the H'alloween, where the polar bear Captain harbors a dark secret.
It's a journey or a quest, a coming of age story. The character's growth was important to keep in mind. They move from naive about the world to savvy sailors. But the deeper question is how do you decide what you value in life? The Talberts' character qualities are challenged by their adventures. Will they pursue selfish dreams? How will they treat others?
For this type of fantasy, it's been important to keep the character change in mind. The adventures aren't just for action's sake, but instead to put the characters in positions where they must choose a course of action. Quests are about discovery of new places, but most importantly about discovery of a character about him/herself. While revising, I went back often to check exactly what they said at important points and made a list of these statements. Then, I read through them to be sure there was an emotional progression that made sense.
LIBERTY is a story about following your dreams while holding onto your ideals. Set in the fascinating era of tall ships, it's a rousing story of danger on the high seas. But in the midst of the action, Penelope and Santiago grow up and become the sort of pigs that take care of their friends.
               Thank you so much for this post, Darcy.  If you are interested in purchasing Darcy’s new release, you may access it through these links:
Mims House publisher's site for print books:

Have a beautiful day, everyone! 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

An Insecure Writer’s Support Group Post: Where is the Very First Piece of Writing I Wrote?

Okay, so I may not remember if this was the very first piece of creative writing I wrote as an adult, but it was toward the beginning of my “writing career,” if I can call it that. 

            At the time, I was taking a correspondence writing course with The Institute of Children’s Literature Group.  I’m sure I’m dating myself with the mention of “correspondence courses,” but I had five little kids and no time to go to the bathroom in those years.   I wrote several pieces during that course.  This particular story was my favorite.  Luckily, I never abandoned it.  I did constantly revise it, though.  One of my many insecurities—constantly revising!

            “The Unusual Tour Guides” became “Emerging from Darkness,” my first YA published short story in Cricket Magazine in 2012, the October issue.  Since then, I have published four stories with Cricket Magazine.  Yes, I’m still pinching myself to be sure I’m awake!  And, no, it didn’t happen overnight.  It took years.  And years.

            “Emerging from Darkness” went through various workshops and critique groups.  I made the mistake of taking too many people’s advice, another insecurity I have.  Everyone else can write better than I can. 

Even short stories need to have both the internal and the external struggle.  What I needed to filter out was any advice that was outside my story scope or not how Victoria Marie Lees wrote.  That, ladies and gentlemen, is the difficult part when receiving critiques and advice.

 The editors at Cricket liked the premise: a young teen still grieving from the recent death of her mother and resisting the need to become the caretaker for her younger brother.  Of course, then I needed to add in a bit of adventure in a national park setting, it’s becoming my trademark.  My family and I have been blessed to go camping every summer and we usually choose National Parks.  I maintain a Camping with Five Kids blog of our many true adventures. 

It’s so easy to say, never give up on a story.  I have many stories living on my computer for which I am still trying to find homes.  Perhaps I need to try harder.  At least I should stop trying to incorporate everyone’s advice or revising the poor things to death, and just send the stories out to markets.   

Please feel free to offer some advice of your own on how you filter out which comments to incorporate from critique and which to disregard for your manuscript and how you let go of revisions to send it out.  It would be greatly appreciated.  All the best to you.  
This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.  We post on the first Wednesday of every month.  To join us, or learn more about the group, click HERE.