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  1.  

    Today I'm delighted to welcome author M.A. Foxworthy to my blog. Her YA novel The Village Green is out now. Here's the cover and a bit about it.

     

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    Blurb

    Kelsey stood in a long line of ragged people waiting to receive her meager rations for the week.

    Kelsey Cooper, a girl of fourteen, lives with her father in the village of Green, a ran-down community of small cob dwellings and outdoor toilets. It offers its inhabitants few comforts but many restrictions.

    Kelsey and her beloved father live alone since the death of her mother, a teacher who became a threat to the authoritarian powers that be. She and her friends, Rosy and Derek, are now at the age of full-citizenship, meaning that they will be given their life-long positions in the society. 

    Everything in Kelsey’s life is well regulated and uneventful until the day that she and Derek decide to visit the ruined city outside the limits of their village. There Kelsey finds the journal of Henry Martin and her eyes are opened to life as she knows or thought she knew.

    This one seemingly accidental event is the spark that sets her world on fire. Finding out that Derek and his family are part of an underground resistance, that her best friend Rosy has been brain-washed, and that her mother is still alive is astonishing enough, but nothing compares to finding out that she is the prophesied liberator of her people.

    Does Kelsey have the courage to leave everything she knows and everyone she loves to fulfill her destiny?

     Excerpt

    Kelsey stood in a long line of ragged people. She had left her dwelling at sun-up and was more than exhausted as she waited to receive her weekly rations. She shifted her weight from her right leg to her left, but as it was no longer helping with the pain that started in her feet and reached all the way to her lower back, she plopped down on her red wagon and surveyed the surroundings.

    All around her stood the remains of small cob dwellings the walls of which were over two feet thick and had at one time been painted white. They were now crumbling like a child's mud pie left baking in the sun too long. Without people to live in them the mud houses simply disintegrated and became part of the earth around them once again. The metal roofs that had kept out the rain, sun, and snow were gone, having been recycled in some other village.

    Aside from the fact that this village had long ago been abandoned to Mother Nature, it looked much the same as Kelsey's own village. There were small white dwellings, each with a small garden and an outdoor privy. A community school, an ugly one- story building with a flat roof, and the only structure made of brick in the entire village. In the center square stood a platform of rotting wood, used for everything from public announcements to public discipline.

    Several years ago, when Kelsey was just a baby, a deadly plague carried by parasites living in mosquitoes had visited the village. The children and the old were the first to die. By the time it was over less than two hundred people were still living. Those that survived were moved to other villages and North Village was left to decay, now only used for the weekly Hand-Out.

     Kelsey turned her attention to the people standing around her. They were different: men, women, children, some young, some old, red hair, blonde hair, black and brown hair, and yet they were also the same. They looked tired and hungry, and all were unwashed. Their clothes were the same shade of dingy beige, their hair and nails looked as though it had been weeks since they’d been cleaned. And that was probably true. In good times the people were only allowed three bathes a week, but in a time of drought, as it was now, they were lucky to get one. Kelsey didn't like to think of it, but she knew that she too looked as grungy as these squalid villagers.

    Kelsey was startled out of her contemplation by the loud grumblings and arguments of her fellow citizens. She had been so lost in thought that she had not realized the line had not moved for more than a quarter of an hour.

    “What if they've run out of food?” whined the woman next to her.

     

    It sounds intriguing! If you'd like to read more you can buy the book from the links below:

    Smashwords

     Amazon

     Barnes & Noble

     

    About the Author

     M.A.Foxworthy

    M.A. Foxworthy is the author of the dystopian YA novel, The Village Green and a full-time traveler living in a 35ft caravan with her husband and four children. When she isn’t out exploring a new environment you’ll find her working on her next novel or blog post, in the dark, very quietly praying that the children stay asleep. You can follow her travels at amerrybandoftravelers.wordpress.com and her work as an author at www.mafoxworthy.com.

    What a fascinating life, M.A. I'm sure you're never short of story ideas! Thanks for dropping by to tell us about your book. :)

     

     

  2. GETTING IT WRITE

     

    My tip sheet this week is about conflict, an essential element to any story.

     

    Adding Conflict to your Story Tip Sheet

     

     

     

    Conflict is vital to your story. Your character needs to have some conflict/problem to resolve. Conflict is what holds your reader’s interest and keeps them reading. There are three main kinds of conflict:

     

    • Conflict with other characters.
    • External conflict – conflict with circumstances.
    • Internal conflict – conflict with your own personality.

     

    Conflict with other characters is the most popular conflict for writers. There are countless books based around the protagonist having problems with the family, friends, boyfriends/ partners, neighbours, etc. The most common conflict in a romance novel is when the heroine and hero clash over something.

    External conflict. This forms the basis of many exciting adventure stories, for example where your protagonist is trapped in a snowstorm, stranded in the fog, involved in a train or aeroplane crash.

     

    Internal conflict. This is when your protagonist is faced with a situation where they have to struggle against their own nature. Perhaps they are too shy, insecure, feel they are too fat, too thin.

     

    Dual conflict. Of course these conflicts can be mixed, for example if a character is kidnapped for a ransom this would be a conflict with other characters (the kidnapper), circumstances (they are rich) and probably internal conflict (they could be scared of closed in spaces and are kept in a small room). However, there should be one major, over-riding conflict that isn’t resolved until the end.

     

    Writing Exercise

    Think about what your character's biggest fear is. Now write a scene where they have to face that fear. How do they deal with it? 

    If you're writing a children's story you'll find more useful tips in my book, GET WRITING: CHILDREN'S FICTION

    getwritingfront

    Available from Amazon ,Waterstones, Barnes and Noble and other book stores. If you'd like info about one of my courses, or my manuscript critique service - for both children's fiction and adult fiction - then contact me.

  3.  

    I'm always pleased to hear the success stories of former students of mine, so I thought I'd start a monthly blog to share them with you. My star guest today is Maya Mawlawi, who took my online writing course a few years ago. Her first book was published in Arabic and last year won the award  'Best Children’s Book in the Middle East'.
      
      
      
      
      
     
     Maya

    I asked Maya to tell us a bit about herself.

    Of Lebanese origin but raised in New York, I had the best of both worlds; the deep ties to Lebanese family oriented culture (and the bonus of speaking multiple languages), as well as the freedom that exposure to the West brings with it.  I went to school and university in New York and worked in Advertising at McCann Erickson before moving to Beirut to work at BBDO and experience my fun 20’s in the vibrant party city of Beirut. One husband and three kids later, I enjoy painting and experimenting from my ever expanding cook book collection.  I also truly enjoy developing the ideas that come to my head into easily readable children’s books.


    I'm delighted to hear that you've had a book published since taking my course and have also being commissioned to write another one. Can you tell us about your work.

    My first book is about two young boys who meet a dangerous stranger online while playing on an Internet game site. This story through a captivating example warns children about the potential dangers of the Internet and provides them with tips on safe "surfing". Furthermore, the heroes of this story solve the problem on their own, avoiding any cliché endings in which an adult saves the day and preaches a moral lesson. It is published in Arabic by ASALA publishers, a leading Middle Eastern Children’s book publisher and aimed at children aged 7-13. My name on the book is Maya Mawlawi Nasser and the official book title in Arabic is “Zeid wu Jad fi warta” meaning Zeid and Jad in trouble.

    My next book is about children living with food allergies and will be published as a bi-lingual text in a side by side format in English and Arabic.

    The tips you gave me and lessons I learned from your course proved so valuable in making my story the success it was.

     Congratulations Maya. That's wonderful news. And I'm so pleased you found my advice helpful. I wonder if you'd mind telling us a bit more about yourself.

    How did you get started writing?

     I have always enjoyed reading children’s books, particularly the works of Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein and at a later age, Judy Blume. I have always been creative and imaginative so I thought, let’s give it a shot.

     Can you tell us a fun fact about yourself?

    I love to cook and paint. These are the two areas of my everyday life in which I feel euphoric.

    What’s your top writing tip for new writers?

    Just get started, the hardest part is tackling a blank page but it flows from there. Don’t worry about grammar and spelling and formatting at first, just get your ideas down and go back for editing later.

    Great tip, Maya. Thank you for talking to us today. Good luck with your future writing.


    If you're a former student of mine and would like to share your success story with us, please contact me.
     

  4. GETTING IT WRITE

     

    For the next few Tuesdays I'm going to post one of the tip sheets I use when running my writing courses. I hope you find them useful. Do let me know if you've any tips you want to add. This week's topic is about plotting your story.

     

    Plotting Your Story Tip Sheet

     

    Decide on your theme and plot. The theme is the subject of your story, such as love, jealousy, revenge etc. The plot is based on your character’s problems, it tells your character’s story in a series of connected events. It shows what conflict your character faces, why the conflict has occurred and how your character deals with it.

    The basic structure of a plot is like the three act structure of a film in that it has a beginning, middle and end. The beginning of your story should set the scene, introduce the character and let the reader know what the main conflict in the story is. Make your beginning interesting, don’t waffle on or you’ll lose your reader’s interest.

    The middle develops the action and conflict but this is the place when writers often falter and the story goes stale. Your story should ebb and flow like the tide, with conflict gushing in then some time for the reader to relax when things seem to settle down for a while, or perhaps some humour, before the tide of conflict sweeps in again.

    The ending is where the conflict is resolved in some way – this could simply be the character having grown enough to cope with the situation they are in. Make sure your ending is credible so that your reader feels satisfied with the story. It doesn’t have to be a happy ending but it should be a satisfactory one.

    It’s a good idea to do a bit of preparation before you start writing your story. Work out a rough outline of the plot so that you have a guide to work with. If you’re writing a novel you might find it helpful to do chapter or scene outlines so that you can make sure there’s enough going on and it all pans out.

    Get to know your characters, especially your main character. Writing a paragraph about them or filling in a character profile form will help you make them more rounded and realistic. Think about what they look like, how they walk, talk, what they like doing, what they dislike, what they are scared of. Their likes and fears can come in useful when developing conflict in the story.

    Your setting is where your story takes place. Where does your character live? Where do they work? What does their neighbourhood look like? Paint the picture for your reader but make it concise, don’t waffle on. If part of your story takes place abroad or in a place you haven’t been, do your research. You need to make your reader feel as if they are really there.

    If you're writing a children's story you'll find more useful tips in my book GET WRITING:CHILDREN'S FICTION.

     

    getwritingfront

     

    Available from Amazon ,Waterstones, Barnes and Noble and other book stores. If you'd like info about one of my courses, or my manuscript critique service then contact me.

  5. I came across the Body Buddies stand when I attended the London Book Fair on 14 April. The fab Body Buddy characters grabbed my attention so I went over to their stand to find out more information. I discovered that Body Buddies was founded by Laura Church, a Fitness and Nutrition Consultant who has over 30 years of experience.

    Here are two of the Body Buddies, with Laura Church and myself.

     

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    Laura created the Body Buddies as a fun and exciting way for children to learn about nutrition without being preachy. Sam Goldup, a mum of two, helped her write the stories and the illustrations are drawn by Leasho Johnson, an award winning Jamaican designer and illustrator.

    Laura and Sam have written books and devised exercise packages for children.

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    The blurb at the beginning of the book tells us:

    We are the Body Buddies. We are Super Heroes that live in your bodies and keep you strong, fit and healthy. We’re going to show you what jobs we do and how you can keep us happy. The happier we are the healthier you are!

    The characters are given names such as Bossy Brain and Larry Lung. The books are fun and informative with easy to read text that helps children understand the importance of each body part and why they should eat healthy.

    You can find out more about the Body Buddies here: www.bodybuddiesnutrition.com.