Summer is now here: temperatures in the 90s with triple-digit heat indexes. So… I spend my days writing at the library, and my evenings reading at home.
I decided to take a break from the MG read-athon and instead focused on Paris this week.
I am an avid fan of Susan Vreeland. Surprisingly, I have yet to read Girl in Hyacinth Blue, but thoroughly enjoyed Luncheon of the Boating Party (see my review here) and Life Studies: Stories (short review here). She tells a compelling story with fluid prose, but it is her masterful descriptions of paintings that I so enjoy. My appreciation of art is always improved after reading one of her books.
This week I started Lisette’s List, which takes me away from the Impressionists and into the world of Marc Chagall. I find myself reading slowly, appreciating the subtle language and not wanting the experience to end. I should complete the book this coming week.
I also read a children’s book that I heartily recommend to any fan of the Madeline series. Madame Martine by Sarah Brannen is about a sweet little old lady who lives in the 7th arrondissement of Paris. She is rather set in her ways, and believes the Eiffel Tower is nothing but a tourist trap (?!!) I briefly reviewed the book in my Paris in July post this week, but truthfully, you should obtain a copy from the local library and read it for yourself. I promise it is a delightful way to spend a few minutes on a hot July afternoon.
I also finished The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson. This book was not quite so delightful, as it touches upon some pretty heavy subjects like homelessness, morality of stealing if in want, prejudice towards hobos and gypsies. To by honest, I wasn’t sure I wanted to finish it.
But I am glad I persevered. The end of the story ties up all the loose ends nicely and subtly presents a good moral lesson. I recommend the book… but with the following caveat. I think parents should read this story as well and then be prepared to discuss these difficult topics with your middle grade student.
For several weeks now I have tried to focus on character development. I know a compelling story demands a well-rounded and relatable protagonist as well as a riveting plot. I feel as though I need to flesh out my main character before I delve into scene reconstruction. I need to flesh her out and know her as well as I know my own children.
But every time I sit down to create Phoebe, I freeze. It is the equivalent of asking a student to sit down to the blank page and write an essay. I don’t know where to begin; I don’t know where to focus; I don’t know how to materialize her out of thin air.
But I do know how to research. And I love to research. And since this writing gig is supposed to be fun, I decided to create Phoebe in a way that is fun for me.
I am researching the sixteen Myers Briggs personality types as well as the nine basic Enneagram types to help me develop Phoebe from the inside out. I am also using this book, Creative You, to help me understand myself as well as my characters. It is fascinating!
I’ve always known I’m an ISTJ (the organizer) but after doing a bit of research, I am learning that I also exhibit many traits of the INTJ (the architect). Knowing my type, and how I process life, can help me develop my own unique gifts and talents in a way that works best for me. I don’t seek so much to be labeled, as to be understood. And I guess that I is what I would like to do for my characters as well.
This week I will start another weekly blogging goal.
At this point I have a list of about 25 middle grade novels I have read since January 1st, and I am anxious to share my book impressions with like-minded readers.
Tune in tomorrow for my first book impression: Rescue on the Oregon Trail by Kate Messner. It is one of my favorite reads of the year.