Monday, June 10, 2019

Margo's Musings: Whose Nut is it?

There are squirrels and chipmunks all over our yard. My sister, Margo, loves to watch them racing about. So, I wasn’t surprised when we walked into the children’s section of our local library and she pointed at I Want That Nut, which was part of a Charter Oak Book Award display. The cover is cute, and I know the chipmunk caught her eye right away.

In the story, Chipmunk and Mouse are having fun playing together when they find a nut. Of course, they both want it. The story shows one of them having it and the other one tricking them out of having it. It made us chuckle to see some of the disguises used and how they tried to get the nut. But in the end, the nut belongs to someone else, and don’t think they won’t try to take it back! If the nut is lost, will they be able to work together to share something else? If they keep the nut, will it still cause a problem with their friendship? Will they learn to share or think it’s better to have something for their very own? You’ll have to read this picture book to find out.

The illustrations are very appealing. I also like that there was a message in the story, but it was delivered through a lot of laughter. It’s a great book to read aloud because of all the speech bubbles. We even found some adults acting out the story in Readers Theater on YouTube. If you're interested, take a look. I know Margo loved watching the story in action.

Has anyone else read I Want That Nut? Or have you read another book by Madeline Valentine? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Happy Reading!

Friday, June 7, 2019

Answer to Fairday's Riddle: Go Nuts!

Excellent guessing, Riddlers! Next week, we're going nuts about nuts. Tune in Monday to find out which children's picture book Margo's picked for review. See you all around the book block. ~ F

You'll feel this when things go awry— or you might eat it in cookies and pie. A hard outer shell with soft immaturity— this fruit may cause some insecurity. Could be fun to go bananas, better yet baked by nanas.

What am I referring to? Answer: Nuts!

Make time to riddle and rhyme!
62 original riddles and illustrations

Monday, June 3, 2019

Fairday's Riddle: Crazy Good!

Hello, Riddlers! Can you guess our theme this week? Mine bakes the best! ~ F

You'll feel this when things go awry— or you might eat it in cookies and pie. A hard outer shell with soft immaturity— this fruit may cause some insecurity. Could be fun to go bananas, better yet baked by nanas.

What am I referring to? Stop by Friday for the answer!

I gave you a clue!

Monday, May 27, 2019

Author Interview with Diane Magras

The DMS was lucky enough to interview Diane Magras. Lizzy reviewed her book The Mad Wolf's Daughter, and it was great to share our thoughts about it and hear yours! We're excited to learn a little more about her story. So, without further ado... take it away, Diane!

What inspired you to write The Mad Wolf’s Daughter?

The Mad Wolf’s Daughter began with a very different novel in mind. I don’t remember what it was about, but Drest was a secondary character, and I found her distracting me from my original concept. As I began to think about her more, a scene arose in my mind: of a rough-looking girl sitting by a bonfire with her very rough-looking father, having a difficult conversation about his past. Once I decided to work with this story instead, I knew that I wanted it to star a girl who had grown up learning to fight like any man. As I revised the book, I realized the opportunity I had to depict typical medieval men supporting a woman in every way. And I wanted to tell a fast-paced action adventure from a perspective from which it’s rarely told: an utterly confident girl who has good reason to believe in herself, faced with impossible odds, and barely flinching in danger. (But flinching sometimes, because otherwise that wouldn't feel real.)

How long did it take you to write The Mad Wolf’s Daughter? When you wrote The Hunt for the Mad Wolf’s Daughter did you find a difference in how long it took you to write it?

The first book went through three or four major drafts, and took me about a year to write and start querying. (It takes me a month to write a first draft, but all that extra time to rewrite and revise—and wait for readers of those drafts to share feedback!) I’d begun writing the second book even before I had a publishing contract, but I ended up completely rewriting it once I’d signed with my editor. From that point, things went very quickly: I didn’t have the luxury of a full year. Fortunately, I’d spent a lot of time thinking about the story and I knew the characters well, so it was easier, in a way, though more rushed.

What was your research process like for The Mad Wolf’s Daughter? Was there any aspect of your research that was the most interesting?

My research process is a bit like throwing out a net, drawing it in, and sifting through what I’ve caught to find what I need. To research these books, I read quite a bit, starting with histories of the time (written by the people of the time as well as by historians today), then going into medieval daily life in a broad sense, then going into very specific details—horses, swords, armor, herbal remedies, plants, geology, and of course castles. I ended up using only a tiny fraction of what I’d researched, but all that research helped me clearly see the world I was writing. (And I find all of that fascinating, so it was fun!) But one of the best parts of my research was visiting castles in Scotland, where I tried out a battle scene near the end of the first book on a set of spiral stairs. The medieval period has a bad reputation as being, as Thomas Hobbes called it, “nasty, brutish, and short.” Yet I found what I read about it often incredibly beautiful, rich with ideas and inventions, with people trying very hard to live comfortably and treat others kindly. There was a lot of dirt, manure, and stink (especially in castles)—but there were castles. And I’ll always see the fortresses that I love best as tremendous feats of engineering and art.

What is your writing process like? Do you listen to music? Write in a special place? Edit as you go or write and then edit?

I have a full-time job, so I need to keep to my writing sessions (morning and night and on weekends) pretty rigidly. I usually don’t listen to music to get me in any mood; I need to get into the piece I’m working on quickly to make best use of that time. My writing nook is in the corner of my bedroom beside a window that looks out on a garden and the woods, and I usually sit there. But honestly, I can write anywhere; on business trips for my day job, I just bring my laptop and write in the evening as if I were at  home. I’m a plotting pantser, so I know what my story is going to be like when I start it, but I don’t always know how I’ll get to each plot point. And because there’s some uncertainty, some aspects where my story is leading me along, I write the whole thing before I edit. It saves time!

What are some of your favorite books from childhood? Were there any specific authors who inspired you?

I have always loved to read and was a voracious reader as a kid. I enjoyed Judy Bloom’s books, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and everything I picked up from Scholastic Book Fairs (a longtime favorite was Betty Brock’s No Flying in the House). But the book that made me want to be a writer was Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising. I’d always told stories, but that book made me want to write a story, and it hooked me on ancient British lore.

If you could live during any time period in history, when would it be? Why?

This question is hard because as a woman in my own culture, I’d be at a major disadvantage in every time period! I love reading about history, but from the safety and distance of today (even when some things today remind me too much of the past).

If you could befriend a character from your book, who would you befriend? Why?

I would befriend Emerick. He’s had a tough early childhood, but has managed to come out of it with a keen moral sense and kindness at his core. He cares deeply about his friends, and will quietly (and sometimes not-so-quietly) sacrifice a lot for them. He’s also someone who is quite taken with castle architecture, and I suspect we’d have some wonderful nerdy conversations.

Is there anything you’ve learned along your path to publication that you would like to share with new writers?

Enjoy every moment. It doesn’t get easier, so be sure to celebrate all the small and large triumphs you get. If you’re not published yet, keep trying. It truly only takes one. But no matter where you are in the process—finishing that first book, trying to find an agent, waiting to hear back from editors, celebrating a book deal, worrying about marketing—never lose sight of the pleasure you take in writing, which I hope is why you’re doing this in the first place. As long as you remember to relish the action of creating, you’ll be fine. And also, don’t rush yourself. Every writer has their own path and no one path is the “right” one.

Can you tell us what you are working on now?

I’m waiting to hear back from agent with her thoughts on my third book, so I’m working on my fourth (I’m always working on something!). I can’t say much because these things change, but I can say that I’m really enjoying writing some of this dialogue between a certain pair of characters!

Where can we purchase your books?

The best place to purchase my books is your local indie, if you have one.

You can also find my books on Barnes & NobleIndigo in Canada, and Amazon.

I also want to mention that I have audiobooks of both The Mad Wolf’s Daughter and The Hunt for the Mad Wolf’s Daughter, performed by the incredible Scottish actor Joshua Manning. If you’ve heard me read aloud and think do voices, wait until you hear his!

Hear Diane read the first chapter of The Mad Wolf's Daughter on Author First Chapter Read Alouds

Diane has generously offered a hardcover copy of The Hunt for the Mad Wolf's Daughter to one lucky reader. To enter please comment on the interview below or on the review. If you are not a follower of the blog, please also leave your email address so we can contact you if you win. *US Residents Only*

Monday, May 13, 2019

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday #MMGM Book Review: The Mad Wolf's Daughter by Diane Magras

Young Drest hears a sound one night, but her father and brothers don’t believe her. When their camp is invaded, war breaks out, and Drest is forced into hiding to stay safe. Unfortunately, the Mad Wolf and his band of sons are taken as prisoners, leaving Drest to fend for herself. Still hidden, she witnesses a scene between two men and she can’t believe it when one of them double crosses the other and tries to kill him. The wounded man is left behind and Drest takes him as her captive. He is a knight from the invading group and knows the way to the castle where her brothers and father have been locked up. She hopes she can trade the man she rescued for her family, and the man is desperate to get to the castle for his own reasons. Drest has never left the area where her family has their camp. The path to the castle is not easy and they encounter bad weather, people who steal from them and danger at every turn. Plus, she hears terrible stories about her father and brothers which she knows can’t be true. Drest’s captive may be her enemy, but she does her best to keep him alive though his health continues to fail. Enemies to the core they must work together to get what they both want; although only one can be the victor. What will happen when Drest makes it to the castle? Will she be able to save her father and her band of brothers? Is she truly the Mad Wolf’s daughter or is she her own person? You’ll have to read this tail and decide for yourself.

When I found out my class was Skyping with Diane Magras, author of The Mad Wolf’s Daughter, I knew I had to read the book. I was not disappointed! I liked the confidence Drest has and how she stood for what she believed was right. All her life she heard the stories from her father and brothers about what they did to protect women and children. Even when her belief faltered she still held true to what she knew was right. The story of friendship, struggle and fight will appeal to those who like adventure. I recommend this book to kids and adults from fourth grade up who like taking a trip back in time when people often took the law into their own hands and were at the mercy of those in the court and castle. I am already looking forward to reading the second book, The Hunt for The Mad Wolf’s Daughter, and I can’t wait to hear what that author has to say during our Skype.

Has anyone else read The Mad Wolf’s Daughter? Or have you read another book by Diane Magras? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Happy Reading!

PS- I just noticed that all of the times I wrote Drest, the main character's name, auto correct changed the name to Dress. Fixed now! 

For other MMGM posts, please visit Greg Pattridge's blog.