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Posts Tagged ‘writing’

Poetry Pet Peeves: 7 Dos and Don’ts when Rhyming for Children

Posted on September 17th, 2012 by pajamapress


1. Don’t invert syntax for the sake of making a rhyme.

Unnatural phrases, don’t you see,

The end result of this must be!

2. Don’t add “do” before a verb to make the meter fit.

This error many folks do make.

It’s more than my poor ears can take.

3. Don’t strain the pronunciation of a word to make it rhyme. It must rhyme naturally from the last stressed syllable on.

It may look right, but I aver

The stress is inverted on answer.

4. Do have a story arc.

“The sun rose. It was lovely.” Well!

Do you have nothing more to tell?

5. Do avoid trite rhymes.

Breeze, trees. Dove, love. Sigh, cry. Go, fro. Night, tight. Song, along. Need I go on  (and on, and on)?

6. Do use internal rhyme, alliteration, and word play.

When you tickle the fancy and trip the tongue

It’s gear-turning, language-learning, wiggly, giggly fun!

7. Do use contemporary language, situations, and characters.

Perhaps in Queen Victoria’s reign

Their language was delightful,

But oh! to pen such words today

Is absolutely frightful.

Yes, carriages and pocketbooks

And parasols are grand,

But if you’d win your audience,

Examine what’s at hand.

If you ever want your book 

To make it off the shelf,

The child who reads your poetry 

Must recognize herself.

On Writing, pets, and Puppy Mills Open Book Toronto interviews Rob Laidlaw

Posted on August 29th, 2012 by pajamapress

Just days before the paperback release of No Shelter Here: Making the World a Kinder Place for Dogs, Open Book Toronto has posted an interview with author Rob Laidlaw. In the interview, Rob talks about puppy mills, reading recommendations for animal lovers, and the dogs he has rescued and loved—even if it meant kicking down a door.

Click here to see the interview.

Writing Laura Secord: Historical Fiction and the Heroine

Posted on August 27th, 2012 by pajamapress

C.B.CrookConnie Brummel Crook is the author of fifteen picture books and novels of historical fiction. Her most recent, Acts of Courage: Laura Secord and the War of 1812, tells the story of Laura Ingersoll Secord, one of the most celebrated (and sometimes controversial) figures in Canadian history. Today Connie shares what it was like to recreate the story—and the personality—of this courageous woman.

I heard tales of Laura Secord’s heroism as a child. My parents were descended from Loyalists.  My great grandfather lived with us when I was a very young child, and he sang old ballads about those days. All his songs had a story to tell. My father, too, was interested in history. I grew up with the stories about which I have written. Of course, I did do a lot of research to fill in details that I did not know or remember as a child.

I have drawn Laura’s adult character from historical sources and her youthful character partly from an interview over a pleasant lunch prepared for me and my husband by Laura Secord Dunlop, an 89-year-old lady, in the early 1990’s at Kitchener, ON. Mrs. Dunlop’s father had told her much about Laura and he, too, had lived a long life, and so could remember back directly.

Since I could not find much that had been written about Laura’s early years before she came to Upper Canada, I asked Mrs. Dunlop about Laura’a childhood. She mentioned that Laura went through a most difficult time when her father, Thomas Ingersoll, married again so soon after her stepmother’s death. After all, Laura’s own mother died when Laura was eight, then her step-mother, to whom she was adjusting nicely, died four years later. Then four months after her death, Thomas Ingersoll married yet again. From Mrs. Dunlop’s comments, it appeared to me that Laura was a strong, determined child at a time when one might think she would have been more fragile.

I began to investigate that time period in the States.  Thomas Ingersoll, who had fought for the Americans in the American Revolutionary War, was then caught into subduing the rebels of Shay’s Rebellion.  So I worked that suspenseful event into my story with Laura involved. The fact that a school teacher from a nearby school was actually killed led me to work in the school events to introduce this part of my story. Also, when I was researching, I found out that around 1990, the house that had originally been Laura Secord’s home was, in fact, the library of Great Barrington.  So I phoned them for details of the land, house, area, etc. from that earlier time period.  A few years later I was contacted by someone working in the archival materials in that library to give them my Canadian spin on some events up here. I don’t know if they ever used it.

The ruins of the De Cew house; photo by Alex Luyckx

The ruins of the De Cew house; photo by Alex Luyckx

Over twenty years ago, I was asked by a publisher to write a novel about Laura Secord.  So I read every book, article, scrap, letter etc. that I could find. I visited Niagara Falls area, where my first cousin lived, and so I was free to explore. In fact, I walked and rode (my husband beside me in the car) over her long trek as much as I could. Some places were hard to find, and many were changed. The De Cew house was only partially preserved, with the stone parts of basement coming up above the soil. Also, I spent a great deal of time at the Public Library. They would not allow me to take out the personal file of letters and such, but they gave me space to work there with these precious files. The more I read, the more I became impressed with the way Laura handled difficult times­—not all of which fit into my story about the War of 1812.

Monument to Laura Secord' photo by Alex Luykcx

Monument to Laura Secord’ photo by Alex Luykcx

In a published source, I found another courageous deed described.  After the war, when James was on duty at the Customs, where he had a more prosperous job than his own business had ever been, he heard rumours about an expected attack from smugglers. There was no time to bring in help, and so Laura dressed as a man and took duty with him. The camouflage helped to show there was more than one man there. The ruse worked and the smugglers did not attack because they assumed the plan was found out and probably the police were in waiting for them. Why else would a man be brought in on short notice to accompany the lone Customs Officer, James Secord, who had walked with a limp ever since the war?  Laura’s courage even in these later years stood out. Nor did she mind impersonating a man to do the task. Was she not exceptional for her time?

Though I always try to write an exciting story, it is just as important to write something accurate enough that the subject of the book would also enjoy reading it. I hope that Laura Secord would find her life honoured and accurately reflected in the books that I have written.

Sylvia Gunnery’s Top Ten Tips for Writing YA

Posted on August 1st, 2012 by pajamapress

We asked Sylvia to share some advice for other writers who are targeting the YA market. Here are her top ten tips:

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Please feel free to share or pin these images!

7 Famous Authors who Wrote Outside the Box

Posted on July 2nd, 2012 by pajamapress

True Blue is a step outside the norm for Deborah Ellis, who is known for empowering stories about kids in developing nations, not psychological thrillers about two teenaged camp counsellors with a murdered charge. True Blue was such a success that it made us wonder—what other famous authors have produced works outside of their normal genres?

Jane Austen

Northanger Abbey, circa 1798-99

NorthangerPersuasionTitlePageMany passionate Austen fans are turned off by Northanger Abbey, which seems so incongruous with her other works. The incongruity makes sense, though—it’s actually a parody of gothic literature, unlike her other novels, which can be better classified as comedies of manners. 

Lewis Carroll

“The Principles of Parliamentary Representation,” circa 1870

Fans of Charles Dodgson, alias Lewis Carroll, will know that the famous nonsense writer was a mathematician by trade, and that Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Jabberwocky share space in his bibliography with titles like An Elementary Treatise on Determinants, With Their Application to Simultaneous Linear Equations and Algebraic Equations. Still, it may surprise even those well-informed fans to learn that this busy writer also found time to pen a number of political pamphlets regarding fairness in political procedures—a particular concern of his.

Beatrix Potter

On the Germination of the Spores of the Agaricineae, 1897

Beatrix_Potter_wikiBeatrix Potter’s tales of rabbits, mice, hedgehogs and other animals of the British country garden began charming young readers in 1902 and are still beloved today. Less well-remembered is Potter’s passion for the natural sciences, especially mycology (the study of fungi). In 1897 she submitted a paper, On the Germination of the Spores of the Agaricineae, to the Linnean Society—although, as a woman, she was not allowed to attend the proceedings and had to present it by proxy.

J.R.R. Tolkein

Mr. Bliss, circa 1938

Tolkein’s name is irrevocably linked with Middle Earth and mythology. In the children’s book Mr. Bliss, however, he tells the story of a man’s hapless first ride in a new automobile—apparently inspired by Tolkien’s own experience.

Laura Ingalls Wilder

The First Four Years, circa 1940

Laura_Ingalls_WilderOf Laura Ingalls Wilder’s famous “Little House” books, The First Four Years is the only one that remained unpublished at her death, the only one not edited by her daughter Rose or by a professional editor, and the only one that seems to be directed at adults. The story of Laura’s trouble-fraught early years of marriage lacks the rosy glow of nostalgia that infuses the other books, where hardship is tempered with happiness and idealism overwhelms distress. The manuscript was found among Rose’s possessions at her death, and neither mother nor daughter seem to have pursued its publication.

J.D. Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye, 1951

Salinger’s most famous work is actually his greatest anomaly. The American writer began publishing short stories in the early 1940s and has several novellas and anthologized stories to his name; The Catcher in the Rye, however, is his only novel.

J.K. Rowling

The Casual Vacancy, 2012

This still-to-come novel will be Rowling’s first adult book after her sensational Harry Potter series for children and teens—although, of course, a remarkable number of adults read those books as well.