Knowing When a Story is Done

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How do you know when a story is done?

That is a question that all writers must face. There’s the old saying that a story is never done, it’s just abandoned. And that’s true to a point. You can always tweak something. But at some point, we do have to figure out when it’s time to “abandon the story.”

For me, the story’s not finished if I’m still making major changes. Like if I have a major plot hole to fix. Or I need to flesh out character descriptions or setting. Or if I’m still dealing with character motivation or backstory.

It’s when I start just dealing with minor things in the manuscript—removing a comma here and changing a word there—that it’s time to let the story take to its own wings and fly.


Your Turn

What about you, writer friends? How do you know when your story is done? Let me know in the comments.

#WriterFriendsChallenge is a monthly challenge hosted @susanleighneedham & @thatsarahelynn on Instagram.

Review / Once Upon a Tim

20220630ma_0876Book: Once Upon a Tim (2022)
Author: Stuart Gibbs
Art: Stacy Curtis
Genre: Lower MG

Opening lines from the book …
Once upon a time, there was a prince who was revered throughout the land for being exceptionally brave… who was known far and wide for his cool and calm presence in the face of grave danger… and who was beloved and adored by all the people of his kingdom. This is not his story. It’s mine. I’m Tim.

WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THIS BOOK…

1) What a clever title and play on words with our main character Tim the peasant! Love it.

2) This is an old-timey story about a peasant boy (Tim) and girl (Belinda) who go on a quest to help their prince rescue a princess. And, you guessed it, these two kids are braver than the prince.

3) There’s a series of “vocab lessons” within the text that are playful and fun. And lots of anachronisms. (Like talk of indoor plumbing and air conditioning.)

4) As to be expected from this author, there’s lots of humor that’s perfect for the lower MG crowd!

5) I really enjoyed the illustrations that accompany this book. And there are lots of them. Which is good for the crowd that might be intimidated by blocks of long text.

FINAL THOUGHTS

This was a fun book, definitely aimed at younger readers. For fans of fairy tales with a twist and knights and quests!

 


YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

Photo Challenge #32/ Lines

20220721ma_1269“Swallows in a Row” / Theme: Lines

A little about this photo…

Caught this group of swallows chilling on the high wire. My question is, is one of those lines more comfortable than the other? Why are all the swallows on the one line and not the other?


THIS 2022 WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGEThis year is my fifth year of doing this challenge! (I began in 2018.) For more information about the list of prompts for this year, click on this link. And join me in posting your own photos every Saturday with #2022picoftheweek

Photo Challenge #31/ So Hot

20220720ma_1116“In the Tunnel” / Theme: So Hot

A little about this photo…

Here in Niagara (Ontario, Canada) we call electricity “hydro”. That’s because we get our power from a big waterfall. (If you guessed Niagara Falls, you’d be right.)

This is a shot from a visit to the newly-opened power station. And by newly-opened, I mean it’s open for tourists. The actual turbines are no longer in use, having closed a few years ago. (Not that we don’t still get our electricity from water… It’s just that the power is generated at a different facility.)

The coolest part of this tour is the elevator ride down to “the tunnel”. This tunnel carried the water out after it was used to generate power. On a hot, hot day, it was actually quite cold down here!  

P.S. Thank you to the random tourists who are taking a selfie. You created a nice little silhouette!

 


THIS 2022 WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGEThis year is my fifth year of doing this challenge! (I began in 2018.) For more information about the list of prompts for this year, click on this link. And join me in posting your own photos every Saturday with #2022picoftheweek

Photo Challenge #30/ Yesteryear

20220721ma_1207“Down the Staircase” / Theme: Yesteryear

A little about this photo…

This is Dundurn Castle. (No, not a real castle! There are no real castles in Canada.) It’s basically a grand house and was the home of Sir Allan Napier MacNab, one of our pre-Confederation premiers. I have been to this house no less than four times over the past thirty years. This time we took the kids to visit this house of yesteryear. Fun to take the younger generation! (I don’t mind coming back either.)

That’s our tour guide leading us down the steps. We had a lot of questions. She seemed quite happy to answer all the questions even though I think our tour went a little over the hour!  

 


THIS 2022 WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGEThis year is my fifth year of doing this challenge! (I began in 2018.) For more information about the list of prompts for this year, click on this link. And join me in posting your own photos every Saturday with #2022picoftheweek

PB Review / Where Three Oceans Meet

pb-3oceansBook: Where Three Oceans Meet (2021)
Author: Rajani LaRocca
Illustrator: Archana Sreenivasan
Genre: Picture Book

Opening Lines of the Book…
We decide to travel to the very tip of India, where three oceans meet. Pati, Mommy, and me.

MY THOUGHTS…

It’s like a travelogue! It’s fun to see the three generations (grandmother, mother, and daughter, although I believe Pati means the paternal grandmother) make their plans to go to India. And then, we get to journey with them. We go on boats and whiz through the countryside on a train.

At the climax of the story, we get to the tip of India at Kanyakumai … where the three oceans meet. One of my favorite lines connects the women to the titular three oceans: “Pati, Mommy, and me. One who lives in India, one who moved to America, and one who belongs to both.”

Thank you @BethStilborn for recommending this book to me!

 


12-PB-July12 CHALLENGE

12 months to read 12 books recommended by 12 friends…

This picture book review is part of a monthly challenge I’ve set for myself. I’ve asked my friends on Twitter to recommend picture books they’ve enjoyed reading (published within the past 3 years). I will choose to feature one each month.

Note: The original 12 Challenge isn’t necessarily just for picture books. But I’ve set it up this way for my own challenge.

Photo Challenge #29/ Fruit

20220703ma_0902“A Taste of Cherries” / Theme: Fruit

A little about this photo…

We have a little sour cherry tree in our yard. And these cherries are from this year’s harvest. We pick and pit and freeze. They will be added to the cherries already in the freezer.

One of these days these cherries will be … PIE!

 


THIS 2022 WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGEThis year is my fifth year of doing this challenge! (I began in 2018.) For more information about the list of prompts for this year, click on this link. And join me in posting your own photos every Saturday with #2022picoftheweek

Newbery Verdict: The Great Gilly Hopkins

IMG_0428Book: The Great Gilly Hopkins (1978)
Author: Katherine Paterson
Publisher: Harper & Row
Genre: MG, Contemporary
Newbery Honor Book (1979)

Opening Lines of the Book…

“Gilly,” said Miss Ellis with a shake of her long blonde hair toward the passenger in the back seat. “I need to feel that you are willing to make some effort.”

MY THOUGHTS…

Gilly is such a tough girl who’s been hurt by the system. She’s been in and out of foster care and really just wants to be with her mother. But she gets sent to Trotter instead. And what a character Trotter is! Not to mention the shy foster brother, William Ernest, and the neighbor Trotter treats like a member of the household, Mr. Randolph. Gilly has a hard time with all these “misfits.” But little by little, these people break their way into Gilly’s hardened heart.

There’s also the teacher. She tries to connect with Gilly over Gilly’s name: Galadriel. And finally, we meet the grandmother. This is Gilly’s key to her mom, the elusive Courtney. Gilly wants nothing more than to connect with Courtney, and suddenly there’s an opportunity to go to her grandmother’s. She has high hopes of a happily ever after. But … well, things don’t turn out quite as she expects. However, Trotter has some wonderful words for Gilly.

NEWBERY VERDICT…

This book truly is one of Katherine Paterson’s masterpieces. It only got the Newbery Honor. The Westing Game won for this year. Also a good book, but I (personally) like this one a tiny bit better. Yes, it’s that good. Gilly’s character arc in this story is stunning.

P.S. A side note: Gilly is NOT the kindest person in this book! I think that’s what makes this book seem so real. She’s had a tough life. She uses rough language (although, by today’s standards, it’s pretty tame); Paterson writes it like Gilly would say it. But I think it works to the credit of the book as we see the character growth beneath the words.

YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!


Newbery Verdict Reading Challenge: This is a personal challenge for me to read books that have either won the Newbery Medal or are a Newbery Honor book. The Newbery is named for eighteenth-century British bookseller John Newbery. Since 1922, this annual award has given to the author of the “most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.” A Newbery Honor book is given to the runners-up. (Note: This year is the 100th Anniversary of the Award!)

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

Photo Challenge #28 / Starts with S

20220618ma_0814“Scene for a Saturday Stroll” / Theme: Starts with S

A little about this photo…

I love how this church is just peeking through all the trees. And that blue sky! It was all just begging me to take a photo.

 


THIS 2022 WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGEThis year is my fifth year of doing this challenge! (I began in 2018.) For more information about the list of prompts for this year, click on this link. And join me in posting your own photos every Saturday with #2022picoftheweek

Published! / Ready, Set, GO!

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This is my second story to be published in Clubhouse Jr., and it’s in the July 2022 issue. Ready, Set, GO! is a story about a boy named Lucas who is excited to get his first REAL bicycle. And it’s not just any bike … It’s a Deluxe Super Bike! The kind without training wheels. He can’t wait to race his best friend, Amy. Except, well, learning to ride a bike is a little harder than it seems. 

(Added bonus: What’s really fun, is Clubhouse Jr. also included a little rebus story to go along with Lucas and Amy’s biking adventures.)

And now for …

The Story Behind the Story

This story was inspired by the recent event of my nephew learning to ride a bike. He was sooooo excited to begin but soon became very frustrated. It wasn’t easy! But, with a little perseverance, soon he was riding all by himself. I remember him zipping along the pathway around the pond near his house. As he passed by his mom and me, he lifted one hand and shouted: “Look, one hand!” Yep, one week of riding and he was a pro.

When I first wrote this story, it began as a very simple days-of-the-week story. But then I fleshed it out and added a little Spanish flair and the excitement of a birthday bike. It was a good day when the email arrived from Clubhouse Jr. saying they wanted to publish this story. (They published my Christmas Bunny story back in 2020.)

Do you remember your first bike?

My first bike was just a hand-me-down from my older brothers. And it was yellow. I remember my brother taught me how to ride. It wasn’t nearly as cool as Lucas’ Deluxe Super Bike which has flames on it. (A totally fictional bike, as far as I know. Unless … it isn’t? Let me know in the comments if the Deluxe Super Bike really does exist! Especially if you had one.) 😎