Welcome to my stop on Angela Myron’s Virtual Blog Tour for Ennara and the Fallen Druid. Please leave a comment or question for Angela to let her know you stopped by. You can follow her tour here, and enter her tour wide giveaway by filling out the Rafflecopter form below.
Angela will be awarding to a randomly drawn commenter during each week on the tour, a wall calendar print from http://www.cafepress.com/ennaraswag (Items can be exchanged for other equal or lesser value items from Ennara Swag on Cafepress.), and will award a t-shirt from http://www.cafepress.com/ennaraswag to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour (US ONLY).
Writing Engaging Books for Middle School Childrenby Angela MyronThank you for inviting me to guest post today. I'm excited to be at Queen of All She Reads among all of these wonderful authors and reviews!I've been asked to write about the challenge of writing engaging stories for middle-grade children. How do you capture and keep their attention? It's a great question.
Engaging readers is one of the foremost tasks we writers struggle with. This is true no matter what you are writing; from technical manuals to fantasies for fifth graders, the rules of capturing and keeping your audience’s attention remain the same. Namely, you need to know your readers.Don’t worry! I’m not going to take you down a long-winded explanation of audience analysis from a technical writer’s perspective. Sufficed to say, those who base their livelihood on communicating complex subjects spend a lot of time studying exactly who will be reading their books. And as I see it, anyone who is writing anything intended to be read, understood, and engaged with needs to understand their readers as well as they can. It’s the only way to effectively communicate through the written word.So how do you get to know your audience when writing middle grade books?You can start by reading what they read. Take a look at the best-selling lists and pick up the most popular books. What do they have in common? How are they paced? How long are the stories? What kind of character development is shown? What are common themes?Take a look at popular activities for nine to twelve year olds. From the subjects and sports middle-grade children engage in, we know that they are active, intelligent, and highly imaginative. They enjoy puzzles, song, competition, movement, and creativity. How can these activities be incorporated into story?How do nine to twelve year olds learn? Knowing how your readers absorb and understand information is crucial to communicating with them. Are they primarily visual learners? Do they absorb more information auditorily? How many middle grade students are tactile learners?
While you might not want to include audio clips in your ebook (which is an interesting option!) you can adjust your prose to include more visual, audio, or tactile information, fitting the story to your readers like a glove.Once you’ve defined clearly who will be reading your book, you need to look at how they will be using your book.Consider: What is your reader hoping to accomplish by reading your book? In most cases, we are providing entertainment. But is there also a learning component? By answering this question, you gain a clear purpose for your story and perhaps work in themes that assist with learning goals.What opportunities will your readers have to read your book? Will they have the opportunity to pick it up through a book club? On holiday? How often do they read outside of classroom reading assignments? And when they are reading, how much time do they have?
These questions ask critical elements of how you will reach your audience through a marketing plan, but also address basic elements of your prose. Do your readers only have the opportunity to read in twenty-minute intervals? Break your story into easily digestible chapters and scenes.How will your readers be using your book? We’ve mentioned book clubs and in-class reading. Would your story benefit by including a reading guide?After answering all of these questions, you can try writing a simple case study. This is the sort of thing that your marketing team would do when the book is in its publication phase, but for the author to do it while shaping the story is one way to ensure you your story will be relevant and attuned to your readership.
In a case study, you create a fictional person, one of your readers. Walk her through her day up to and including the point where she picks up and reads your book. In doing so, run through the questions above. Who is she? What is she looking for when she picks up the book? How long does she have to read? What other things are fighting for her attention as she reads? How can you help her get what she needs?Knowing your audience takes years of study and practice. Finding a voice that engages young readers, choosing story elements that capture their imaginations, and using pacing to grab their attention and focus their busy minds are all end results of knowing your audience, and knowing them well.
Ennara and the Fallen Druid (Volume 1)
by Angela Myron
Edited by Mandy Alyss Brown
Publisher: Stardance Publishing
Release Date: June 24, 2013
Genre: YA Middle School Age
Eleven year-old Ennara Gaern has a serious grudge against the dragon on her right hand.
Born with a caul—a mask that foretold magical powers—she was immediately inked with the fiendish, fire-breathing tattoo that forces her to study boring texts, cover her hand continuously, and worst of all, keeps her from visiting the beautiful capital city, Dordonne. But her quiet life changes when one night she is attacked by a shadowy demon.
Tork, an old friend and wizard, is enlisted to help. But when he arrives, he informs Ennara’s parents that she is her world’s only hope of finding the legendary Sword of Gisilfrid, which is needed to destroy the curse that is creating the demons. Ennara doesn’t want to leave on the dangerous quest, but when she learns the curse threatens her world, she reluctantly agrees.
Ennara and the wizard begin a perilous journey to the Sunken City, pitting them against dangerous oceans and pirates intent on claiming Ennara’s magic as their own. With only her friends at her side, including the intelligent, aquatic cat Smoos, Ennara must defeat monsters guarding the sword and servants of the Fallen Druid. When her world is covered in darkness, will she know how to dispel the curse?
Ennara shuffled to the rear of the cheese vendor’s stall, crouched low, and aimed. “Mag gwihuwo!”
A fine finger of black smoke curled toward the meat shop. As the ashy spell landed on the animal parts, they twitched. A woman walking by the stand shrieked. The butcher looked up, his eyes bigger than eggs and his mouth in an “O.” Several shoppers shouted in astonishment. Others yelled and ran.
A passing monk cried, “The devil is among us!” as six headless hens wriggled their way off the hooks and scrambled on the ground, flapping their featherless wings.
Then the lamb legs got free, and there they were, bouncing round the empty area in front of the butcher’s stall. The crowd parted. Some ran home. Others ran inside stores and shut the doors, but many stayed to see what would happen. The center of the plaza was clear except for the butcher, who hid in his stall clutching a cleaver, the city sentinel, still holding Kithe, Mr. Dulfsnark, a dozen reanimated chickens, five dancing legs of lamb, and a menacing zombie hog.
The watchman spun around as the gathering dispersed and saw the reanimated meat. “What the…?”
A chicken bolted for the man’s leg. He released his grip on Kithe and punted the creature away. The chicken flapped its wings as it whizzed through the air and smashed into a vegetable cart.
Mr. Dulfsnark made a mad grasp at a bouncing leg of lamb and struggled to hang on to it.
“Hey!” the butcher called, “You’ll be paying for the lamb, Dulfsnark!”
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Like many writers, I have a full life in which I juggle many duties and joys. I love to cook, garden, and play with my twins. As a mother to toddlers, I write whenever I am not helping them navigate their day--which typically means in the early mornings and early afternoons when they sleep, and sometimes when Grandma comes to visit.
I was twenty-two when writing became a passion of mine. I've been doing it in one form or another ever since. But it took me a very long time to follow my heart's desire to tell stories.
For years, I simply journaled. I delved into writing articles for newsletters and grant proposals. I settled into technical writing, often finding myself a one-person writing, editing, design, app development, and publication team. I learned the basics of journalism, and finally, when on maternity leave with my twins, I turned to writing fiction.
I am grateful for every reader I have. Writing can be a solitary pursuit, but it can also be a dialog, a meeting of the minds. I invite you to connect with me:
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