Join me over at the YA~NA Sisterhood blog, where I'm talking about how I get in the zone to create kid characters readers care about. Make sure you leave a comment about your favorite younger characters or share your best tips, too!
Out of the blue, my 10-year-old came home full of questions about my book, the characters, the sequel. And he drew me this:
I've got a happy heart.
I was tagged by my friend, author Laura Brown in the Writerly Meme. I'm sure that most of you reading this have no idea what this is about, so here it is: I've been given a list of questions to answer about the main character from my latest novel. Even though it's not my latest novel, I'm going to go ahead and switch gears from my Middle Grade books to my upcoming Young Adult release, IN THE MIDDLE. I'm currently on the third round of edits for this book, and hope to have it out by Christmas.
1. What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?
Lucy (never Lucille!), and she's definitely fictional.
2. When and where is the story set?
This is definitely contemporary. Mainly, the story takes place in a small, one stoplight kind of town called Mitte. To the eye, Mitte looks quaint and homey, but something sinister lingers in the shadows.
3. What should we know about him/her?
Lucy lost her parents in an accident, and also struggles with a handful of leftover aches and pains herself. She doesn't have much to call her own, and she doesn't belong anywhere else. Lucy's only in Mitte because her one remaining relative lives there.
4. What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?
The main conflict, I'd say, is that Lucy really struggles with the circumstances surrounding her family's accident... and she doesn't know why she's in this awful little town and why people keep disappearing.
I wouldn't say that he messes up her life, necessarily, but her friendship with a guy named Oliver changes a lot of things for Lucy.
5. What is the personal goal of the character?
I've already said as much, but her goal is to figure out how to get out of Mitte.
6. Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?
Currently, the title is IN THE MIDDLE. I haven't written much about it on my website, but there are a few blog posts smattered here and there. That's all I have to share right now, but stay tuned!
7. When can we expect the book to be published?
Fingers crossed, by December of this year. The story needs a little bit more work, but really the biggest obstacle, now, is designing a book cover. The book is the easy part, but the cover... YIKES!
I don't have anyone to tag for you right now, but I will update this post if I do!
Sorry I've been so horrible about blogging lately. I'm participating in an anthology project, and one of our big deadlines was yesterday. Like any true writer, I waited until the last few days before the deadline to get crackin' on my work. The good news? I, indeed, made the deadline. The bad news? I've lost feeling in half of my hands. Haha.
Oh, and my goal deadline to finish Daniel 2 is tomorrow. If I'm being honest, the goal deadline to finish that sucker was back in July, but that's waaay before it morphed into this unrecognizable thing. Now that it's ballooning into this tome of WAR AND PEACE proportions, well, let's just say I've had to adjust that deadline a few times.
All of that to say, I've been concentrating my finger energies elsewhere. However, numb, useless hands or no, my blog silence must be broken. What better way to do that than sharing some fan art from kids who have read DANIEL THE DRAW-ER?
Awesome, right? This picture's artist is a kid after my own heart. YAY HORSES!
By the way, your fan art could wind up on my blog, too! All you need to do is contact me for my e-mail address, then send me a scanned image of your art. I also love getting real, live mail (the old-timey kind in envelopes with stamps and everything!).
So let's hear it... Who's your favorite DANIEL character and why?
Welcome to another installment of "Names Changed To Protect the Innocent", the portion of our show when we learn more about the inspiration behind my characters. If you've read my Children's/Middle Grade book, DANIEL THE DRAW-ER, you already know that one of the most magical elements of the story is the colorful cast of people, animals, and, yes, even aliens from the planet Beezo. You can find Part 1 here.
Today's character is...
Whiskers is a crowd favorite amongst the kids I've met at book signings. His popularity doesn't surprise me all that much because he's a funny curmudgeon of a feline.
And, hello! What's not to love about a talking cat?
This white cat isn't a fan of sushi or flying, and he tells it like it is.
Here's a fun fact you probably don't know, kiddies: Whiskers has a Jersey accent. Does that surprise you? It should, because I never told you before. Unless you're inside my head, and you can hear him talk, too, you should be surprised.
Are you in my head?
When I came up with the idea for Whiskers, I simply thought of the kind of thing a nine-year-old boy would draw. Homemade Pokemon, fire-breathing dragons, and obviously rocket cats. When you consider the world through the fresh brain of a nine-year-old boy, the idea of Whiskers becomes kinda obvious.
And, obviously, now you're going to ask me if Whiskers is based on a specific talking rocket cat.
No, actually there is no real-life talking rocket cat... but our family used to be owned by a certain white cat named Wally. He's now demanding ear skritches from the angels, but when he was with us here on earth, he lived life on his terms. You like that box? Well, it's Wally's litter box now. You want to pet Wally? He'll show you where and exactly how to do it--with his teeth. If he could have talked, he would have sounded like a cast member from The Sopranos. I'm sure, had he not gone through all of his given lives, he would have worked out the whole flying and talking thing, no problem.
That's it for this week. Check back soon for part 3 in Names Changed To Protect the Innocent.
NowDo you have an animal in your life who would make a good story character? I'd love to hear about them in the comments below.
Each week, I've committed to networking my readers with other authors who are also building their readership. As far as I'm concerned, that's a win-win. They get to tell a new set of people about their stories, and maybe you find your next favorite book (after mine, butofcourse! Wink, wink).
At least one day per week, I'll take a break from promoting my wonderful author cronies to share a little bit about me, what I'm working on, and all kinds of other good bookish stuff. I thought I'd kick this weekly segment off by addressing a FWQ--a frequently-wondered question. I think the term "FAQ" is so overdone, don't you? So, FWQ it is.
"Where did you come up with the idea for that character?"
Well, dear reader, that's a wonderful question, and not one I always have a brilliant answer for. When I was writing my Children's/Middle Grade book, DANIEL THE DRAW-ER, so many of the ideas for the silliest of creatures came from the cobwebby recesses of my brain, with no real idea how they got there in the first place. A few of the characters--the best characters, really--were based on people and animals I know and love. It makes me so happy to know that you know and love them, too, and you appreciate all of their unique quirks.
Instead of pouring out every one of my secrets at once, I will break them up into separate blog posts, to be doled out like bread crumbs in coming weeks. And, in the spirit of building up momentum, I'd like to start things off slow and low-key.
Our first victim... ahem, I mean, subject will be Tommy, the guy you all love to loathe.
Tommy is the loser boyfriend of Daniel's older sister, Lila. Tommy's claim to fame is his shabby, poorly-designed facial hair, gross aroma, and his enthusiasm for arm punching poor Daniel. This guy's also not real great with important info, such as names. In short, he's a little bit of the worst.
It was brought to my attention recently that one of my brothers-in-law read Tommy's description in my book and thought he might be the inspiration for such a lovely, wholesome character. If he identifies with Tommy, then shame on him.
Just kidding. Maybe.
Tommy is based on a combination of bad boyfriends my sisters went through. Most of those guys were short-lived, cute but empty-headed, with not enough interest in a bratty little sister to take the time to say hello, or even learn my name (not even a "Fritz"!).
His signature arm punch was actually drawn from a particularly traumatic experience I had. No, none of those guys punched me, although I'm sure a few of them wanted to. One guy who looked at least four years too old for my sister, with the gross mustache not helping his cause, came over to our house to hang out. I remember him pinning me under a bean bag chair (yeah, we were a bean bag family), and tickling me until I peed my pants. Adults always warn about that kind of stuff happening--"Stop! Or she'll pee her pants!"--but you don't think it'll ever happen to you until it happens. And then you're eternally mortified, and you have to get back at all of the skeezy sister's boyfriends in the world by immortalizing their misdeeds in print. Forever. Then you make it all worse by telling the world that somebody tickled you past the point of no return... Okay, I'm going to stop now.
The Tommies from my past usually weren't rockstar wannabes, but most of them considered themselves to be cooler than they actually were. I think we all think that about ourselves, some of us are just better than Tommy (and my sisters' exes) at keeping it on the down-low.
I hope you enjoyed taking a deeper look into the story behind one of my characters. Make sure you check back next week for another installment of "Names Changed To Protect the Innocent".
If you're on Pinterest, please join me over there and let me know what you think of when you read my stories. I always love to see how readers visualize my characters! You're usually far more creative than I am!
Until then, keep dreaming...
The random things that cross my mind go here...
All Rights Reserved, S. J. Henderson 2014