Tag: historical fiction

DRIVE: A Book Review by Kathryn Dover (and a Giveaway!)

When I first heard about the Baker Mountain series by Joyce Moyer Hostetter, Drive, the fourth book in the series, sounded the most interesting. Drive occurs several years after the previous novel, Comfort, and follows the story of Ida and Ellie Honeycutt, Ann Fay’s younger twin sisters.

 REVIEW

The cover of Drive is stunning; the image with both twins, a boy, and two old race cars instantly intrigued me. The story picks up almost where Comfort left off. Ann Fay’s father is still suffering from his war wounds, and Junior is still in love with Ann Fay. The plot pace is a little slow, but the story keeps moving. The style is also different from that of the previous three novels because it alternates between two perspectives instead of using only one, going back and forth between the different perspectives of Ida and Ellie.

Both twins are transitioning to high school, and Ida feels that Ellie is trying to put distance between them. At a glance, both twins seem complete opposites: Ida is shy, while Ellie is outgoing. Ida’s shyness originates in a scene from Comfort where her father mistakenly slams her against the wall. After that, Ida ceases to be outgoing and becomes very meek and shy. Ellie instantly takes her place. Life becomes a competition, and the twins are constantly in conflict with each other. However, the novel’s greatest conflict arises when the twins fight over the same boy.

The story is historically accurate: the Korean war and continuing polio epidemic are important to the story. In addition, the story takes place during the first year of NASCAR racing at the Hickory Speedway, near Bakers Mountain. Ellie loves the fast-paced, dangerous racing, while Ida is frightened by the danger and loud noises. The NASCAR races become important to the story’s theme, thus leading to the novel’s title, Drive.

The word “drive” serves a dual meaning, much like “blue” does in the series’ second novel, Blue. The first meaning is figurative: a motivation to succeed. Ida feels that Ellie has “the drive” to succeed while Ida does not. “Drive” also serves as a metaphor for Ida and Ellie’s stormy relationship, which Ida states as, “Remember. . . When Daddy slammed me up against the wall? It scared me so bad I couldn’t breathe. I guess I was like one of those race cars that gets smashed and then it just limps around the track. But you stepped on the gas and kept going. Enjoying all the attention you could. You got ahead of me, Ellie. You liked being first. And you sure do hate losing. But it’s not a race. It’s just both of us driving the best way we know how” (236).

By the end of the novel, the twins have matured greatly. Ellie matures by being more considerate, selfless, and respectful towards others. Ida learns she is capable of more than she ever dreamed, she is just as strong and as smart as Ellie. The ending is perfect. Ellie gets what she has been wanting the entire novel, and both twins have learned a valuable lesson in selfishness. Drive is very emotion-provoking; the bond between Ellie and Ida is stronger than they realize. I have enjoyed the entire Baker Mountain series and recommend them to teenagers and young adults. I think Blue is my favorite, though I eagerly await the next novel, Equal, coming in Spring 2021. I expect it to be equally enjoyable.

 

Kathryn Dover lives in South Carolina with her family including three cats (and counting!), a dog, two fish, and many house plants. She attends Presbyterian College and is studying Math and Creative Writing. She enjoys playing the piano, reading, and writing plays.

 

 

 

 

 

GIVEAWAY

Boyds Mills & Kane donated a hardback copy of Drive for one of you to win! Leave a comment by Thursday, September 17th and we will enter your name.

FICTION MASTER CLASS

Joyce is leading our first Master Class on September 19. For more information, please click here. One attendee will receive all four books that have been published in the Bakers Mountain series. The fifth book, Equal, comes out in April 2021.

 

Registration ends TODAY!

 

COMFORT: A Book Review by Kathryn Dover (and a Giveaway!)

Comfort, the third book in Joyce Moyer Hostetter’s Bakers Mountain series, picks up almost exactly where the previous novel, Blue, left off. Ann Fay Honeycutt narrates this novel as well. The polio epidemic and World War II have left her family shattered, and Ann Fay must pick up the pieces.

The beginning is intriguing, but the plot pace is slower than that of the previous two novels. Even so, the story’s many conflicts kept me interested. One conflict involves Ann Fay’s colored friend, Imogene. The author vividly portrays the racial tensions of the time period. Ann Fay states, “Colored and whites being separated was as normal to me as walking. But . . . hearing how things looked from [Imogene’s] side of town made me see things in a new light” (121). During hard times, the people of Hickory bonded together and overcame prejudice. Ann Fay’s experiences give her a fresh, more biblical perspective. However, the central conflict of the novel is Ann Fay’s father’s changed personality due to his war experiences. His war wounds run deeper than his injured arm, and Ann Fay struggles to hold the family together.

While the novel is mostly about Ann Fay, I enjoyed reading how her friend and neighbor, the protagonist of the first novel, Aim, Junior Bledsoe, matures. He continues to look after Ann Fay and her family. Junior also gives Ann Fay sage advice. For instance, he tells Ann Fay: “If you want something bad enough, you can get it” (19). Junior has developed greatly from Aim; several events show his maturity. In Aim, Junior is jealous of Ann Fay and her father’s close relationship, yet in Comfort he watches that relationship fall apart and tries to pull it back together. Additionally, in Comfort, readers learn that Junior’s feeling for Ann Fay go beyond friendship. Ann Fay does not realize Junior’s feelings, and I enjoyed their interactions.

The Honeycutts are in desperate need of comfort: the desire for comfort is so strong it is mentioned several times throughout the novel, making the title very fitting. The family is still healing from the wounds they received in Blue, and the end of these trials does not seem to be in sight. As Ann Fay struggles to find comfort, her father whittles her a tiny doll in the likeness of herself. She names the doll Comfort, and it comforts her by reminding her of her father. Ann Fay also receives encouraging advice from a friend, Mr. Botts. He tells her, “Everyone in life has a handicap, Ann Fay. But the struggle to overcome it is worthwhile” (169).

Altogether, I enjoyed seeing how all the characters developed, especially Ann Fay, her father, and Junior. The ending is happy and would probably be satisfying to most, but it left me wanting to know what happens with Junior and Ann Fay’s relationship. Comfort is almost as emotion-provoking as Blue, and anyone who enjoyed Blue will not want to miss this thrilling sequel. I recommend Comfort to teens and young adults, and I look forward to reading Drive, the next novel in the series, soon.

 

Kathryn Dover lives in South Carolina with her family including three cats (and counting!), a dog, two fish, and many house plants. She will be attending Presbyterian College in the fall and wants to study Math and Creative Writing. She enjoys playing the piano, reading, and writing plays.

 

 

GIVEAWAY

We have a copy of Comfort to give away to one of our readers! Please leave a comment by August 20 and we’ll enter your name.

MASTER FICTION WRITING CLASS

Joyce is leading our first Master Class on September 19. For more information, please click here. One attendee will receive all four books that have been published in the Bakers Mountain series. The fifth book, Equal, comes out in April 2021.

Inside the Head of Your YA Protagonist: What You Need to Know

 

Photo by Stanley Morales from Pexels

Last week, I was sitting around a conference table with an enthusiastic group of writers. They passed out their copies and we all took turns offering gentle but constructive feedback. Before I go on, consider joining a critique group; it’s key if you want your writing to grow and your story to be the best it can be.

An older gentleman in the group read his piece, and I was intrigued by the fact that his main character was a 16-year-old girl. The feedback that followed focused on how his MC sounded more like him than a teenage girl. How can he help that? How can you?

Here is a list of details you should keep in mind when writing in the perspective of a YA:

  • Teenagers are in the beginning stages of finding themselves. Even the most mature teenager probably has many underlying insecurities. If it’s not body image, it’s peer pressure, or bullying, or not feeling understood. If you’re writing contemporary YA, you also have the growing amount of mental illness among young people to factor in. It’s not cliché, it’s real life for them.
  • Your characters shouldn’t act too logical or mature. Young adults are still learning about handling conflicts. They are infamous for acting out of emotion.
  • Just like with adult men and women, young adult girls think different than young adult boys. If you’re writing in the perspective of the opposite sex, one of the first details you should research is the mindset of that gender. That way, you won’t impose too much of your own thinking on your character.
  • Seek to understand what abstract concepts look like to young people. What do they fear? Do they have hopes? What does victory look like? How would they describe love? The fears I had at 15 are on a completely different spectrum than the fears I have at 26. And I’m still peeling back the layers of love. Capture that, and your youthful readers will relate better to your characters.
  • Understand your time period. Some of these traits are universal for teens, but some details change depending on the generation you’re exploring. For instance, Generation X seemed to be very keen on getting their driver’s license the day they turned 16, but Gen Z seems less motivated, possibly due to the many rideshare apps. Consider these subtle generational changes when you write.

Now that you have a whole lot to think about, how do you go about answering these questions?

  • Crack open the child psychology books. Rudimentary knowledge of brain development at that age can make a world of difference. Even if your character doesn’t suffer from them, learn about mental illnesses and how they affect emotions and relationships between people that age.
  • Interview your young connections. Sit down with friends and family members, a high school class, or a church youth group and really hear their words. You will get a real visual and auditory understanding of them as well as a peek into their mindset.
  • Find younger beta readers to look over your work and give them questions to focus on regarding character authenticity or plausibility. They may have good feedback that you can include in your manuscript.
  • Research trends, not only in fashion or ideals, but also in how young people are treated by bullies, parents, peers. What responsibilities are common for the age group in question?
  • Most importantly, remember. Remember your adolescence, your struggle, your journey, and your growth. Doing so will provide the heart that your story needs. The research will only enhance your experiences. As the writer, you can confidently give your young adult characters the arc that they need to make a compelling journey.

How do you like to tackle the mind of your YA MC? Let us know!


Leah Jordan Meahl is an up and coming Christian author. She loves to journey with new adults and Christians alike with her blog. Check out her full Bio.

The Minimalist Writer

Along the city wall in York, England – a bow window used in the time of war. It’s all about focus!

As a writer, I can get caught up in FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out. Each time a new blog post or newsletter alerts me of a webinar I must attend, a book I should be reading, or a social media task I need to engage in, I get panicky.

Which is the most important? What if I make the wrong choice?

 

There is too much to do in a limited timeframe. Authors have families, other jobs, people and pets to care for, let alone places we’d like to go – just like anyone else. How do we fit it all in??

Can I make a suggestion?

We don’t need to!

As far as I’m concerned, there are only seven things we authors MUST do . . .

READ. WRITE. CONNECT. CRITIQUE. SUBMIT. INSPIRE. MENTOR.

Sound easy? It is!

 

#1 READ

Books that

– intrigue
– inspire
– inform

In addition, you must read in the genre you are writing in. And occasionally, to shake things up, choose a genre you would not normally read, or try an e-book or an audiobook. You’d be amazed at how a story gains another dimension when you listen to the words.

Join Goodreads, and find fellow readers who will share their favs. And you, in turn, can recommend yours.

 

#2 WRITE

For obvious reasons, if you are going to be a writer, you need to, well, write!

Every day, in some way.

It could be a letter. A blog post. A one-page prompt. An entry in your diary. Some creativity needs to flow from your pen.

I find having a weekly blog post forces me to write. Sometimes, being part of a challenge like NaNoWriMo brings out the creative juices. Or perhaps you work better with prompts. You can find prompts online or in a book. Take your pick.

 

The Charles Dickens Museum

 

#3 CONNECT

Connecting with others is a must — readers, writers, and professionals (agents and editors).

How is that done?

Through Social Media — pick one!

Facebook: if you love to post links, ask questions, share your travel pics, post cute animal photos, and share FB posts with others.

Pinterest: if you love to categorize images in a visual file for future reference, collect images for your next book, or writing tips to use later.

Twitter: if you can be succinct, love to connect with professionals, use GIFs and images, and ask questions or participate in pitch parties, etc.

Instagram: if you are all about a single photo, love to go live, to inspire others, and can tell a story in one image, but don’t necessarily care to share.

Also, writers’ groups like 12×12 are a great way to connect. You will find your friend list and writing skills growing faster than you ever thought possible! Memberships to professional organizations like SCBWI and ACFW are a must.

 

#4 CRITIQUE

Every writer needs a critique group. You can’t write in a vacuum. You need others to point out flaws in your writing, so you can perfect it. If signing a contract with an agent or editor is on your wishlist, then you need critique buddies to help you get that manuscript in shape.

The groups I’ve mentioned above will have critique groups to join as well as Word Weavers International, specifically conceived to help writers perfect their manuscripts in a friendly environment. They gather online or in person to encourage one another in their writing pursuits.

 

#5 SUBMIT

Of course, if you are going to be published, you need to submit! Here is a comprehensive guide to help you. Find the Writer’s Market 2020 here. The guide gives you tips of all sorts, and the categories are divided according to genre, subject, and type of publication. For those who write faith-based works, The Christian Writer’s Market Guide is a must-read.

And don’t forget the importance of writers’ conferences such as our own Write2Ignite and others like The SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference.     Each year, you have the opportunity to schedule appointments with agents and editors who might be waiting to publish your story!

 

#6 INSPIRE!

I don’t know about you, but I need to get out every so often and be inspired. Since I am a historical fiction writer, nothing gets my little grey cells working more than a trip to a historical town or museum. When I visited Bath, England years ago, my daughter and I had tea at this famous bun shop.

When we finished our treats, I visited the tiny museum in the basement of the shop which you see below. There was a small sign indicating that the woman who started the shop was a Huguenot girl who escaped persecution and fled to England. That tidbit of info was all I needed to begin my story, which I titled “Because of a Bun: Soli’s Saving Grace”.

 

 

#7 MENTOR

Just as the Brontë sisters mentored each other, and modern-day writers, too, as their classics wind their way into our hearts, we as writers need to find someone a bit farther behind us to come beside us on our journey. Have coffee with them and ask about their projects. Give them links to helpful resources. Offer to critique a story for them. They will thank you, and someday, do the same for another.

Did I leave anything out? Let me know in the comments below!


 

The Heart Changer - MG Historical Fiction

Jarm Del Boccio’s debut MG Historical Fiction, “The Heart  Changer”

Jarm Del Boccio’s debut middle-grade historical fiction, The Heart Changer, released with Ambassador International April 26th. You can connect with her at https://www.jarmdelboccio.com/  Purchase The Heart Changer HEREJarm loves reviews, as does any author! 

Here’s a handy Teachers’ Guide to use with The Heart Changer as a unit study.


Jarm (‘J’ pronounced as a ‘Y’) Del Boccio finds her inspiration in everyday life, but in particular, when she travels the globe, observing the quirky things that happen along the way. Focusing on the lives of characters from the past, Jarm is devoted to breathing new life into the pages of history. Jarm Del Boccio is content with the journey God has placed her on, and lives with her husband, adult daughter and son (when he lands at home), in a tree-lined suburb of Chicago.

 

 

 

 

Sneak Peek: Carol Baldwin’s Presentations for W2I 2018

Ready for Write2Ignite 2018? I’ll be leading three workshops at the conference: “Strangers in a Strange Land,” “Fiction Writing” (Teen Track), and “Writing Historical Fiction.” Let me describe them for you!

“Strangers in a Strange Land”

In Exodus 2:22, Moses names his son Gershom because Moses was a stranger in a strange land.

Christian writers, in some ways, are also “strangers”—in the secular publishing world.

How can we, if we’re Christians, honor Christ as writers in a largely non-Christian domain? What’s our calling as Christian writers? What’s our privilege? How do we fit—or fail to fit—in the secular publishing world? There are no easy answers. Nevertheless, in my interactive workshop “Strangers in a Strange Land,” we’ll examine ourselves, this “strange land,” ways to integrate our faith into our writing, and our presence in the secular world.

“Fiction Writing” (Teen Track)

I love teaching teens; they have out-of-this-world ideas for their characters and plots. True, sometimes their lack of inhibition must be tempered by plausibility, but their enthusiasm is contagious and inspirational!

In my Teen Track workshop, “Fiction Writing,” I’ll teach teens the following:

  • how to exercise their muscle words (All groans aside, this skill does involve actual exercise!)
  • how and why writers should use mentor texts
  • how a red pencil is their best friend
  • how to jazz up their writing by showing rather than telling
  • how details make a difference in crafting genre fiction

“Writing Historical Fiction”

I love historical fiction almost as much as I love teaching teens!

My hands-on workshop “Writing Historical Fiction” will involve the following topics:

  • R—Research. Should you read newspapers? Magazines? Books? Should you read fiction or nonfiction? Microfilm? How do you know when your research is done?
  • E—Experts. How can you find experts to consult about your story? What should you ask them? How should you use an expert’s story to inform your story?
  • A—Arrange. How can you create a system to keep track of notes, interviews, and photos?
  • D—Details and drafts. What details do you need to create an authentic story? How do you move from writing rough drafts to homing in on your story?

If you plan to attend this workshop, please bring your favorite historical novel. If you’re working on a project, bring one or two pages of your work.

Looking forward to seeing you at the conference in September!

***

Carol Baldwin

Carol Baldwin loves teaching writing and has presented at many educational, library, and writing conferences. She taught in the continuing education department at Central Piedmont Community College, coordinated the Charlotte SCBWI group for over twenty years, and co-publishes Talking Story, a newsletter for educators and media specialists.

Carol’s most recent book is Teaching the Story: Fiction Writing in Grades 4–8 (Maupin House, 2008). Currently, she’s working on her first young adult novel, which is set in North Carolina in 1952.

Find Carol’s book reviews, writing tips, and classes at CarolBaldwinBlog.blogspot.com, and follow her on her Facebook page or Twitter (@CBaldwinAuthor). You can also contact her at cbaldwin6@me.com.

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