Hi there, would you be kind enough to humor me and share the following information:
1. the name of your best friend in middle school
2. the name of your middle school
3. the name of the sibling closest in age to you
4. the name of your baseball home team
Based on the information you have provided, I’m going to ask you another question, and for this one you need to be wearing your honesty cap. Hold it, you don’t have one? Back in the old days, elementary schools should have given them out along with those terribly helpful thinking caps they doled out during arithmetic lessons. Eh, but if my workbooks attest to the powers of caps, you didn’t miss out on much.
Okay, so psychological integrity is a foreign concept to some of us. Let’s try a more manipulative method. Stare at the edge of your nose, close your eyes and think Truth. Truth. Truth. You’re going to say the truth.
Now that you’re in a hypnotic state, what’s the first thing that comes to your head when I say the answer to number three? (Please refer to the list above.)
What? I didn’t hear you. Oh, I see, you’re wary of speaking up. Hmm, then I guess I’ll have to take the keyboard back, big brave me. I’m not scared of retribution; I’m also probably the only one here today who’s writing under a pen name that is unknown to her siblings, but that’s beside the point.
Maybe I’m not being fair claiming to be more courageous than you; perhaps you’re all grownup, and believe you’re so over “that”— the petty torments of your childhood. So what if the answer to number three flushed your card collection of the answer to number four down the toilet, hung up pictures of you as a baby in the bath in the answer to number two’s main entrance, and stole the answer to number one? You harbor no ill feelings.
But here I am, stuck in my nursery. Hey! That explains why I wrote Launching Sisters to WitchCamp while other authors out there are writing the next great American novel.
On a more serious note, tapping into those raw childhood emotions was one of the first steps I took to write my middle grade fantasy. Though I have more than ten years of experience working with families, and I myself am a mother in a dynamic family, I wrote from neither of these vantage points. Instead, I traveled back in time and wrote from my own middle grade mindset.
Critics will doubt the feasibility of doing that, and I admit I couldn’t remove the effect of my adult hindsight, but I tried to stay in that time period and emotional framework as much as possible. I don’t have a remarkable memory when it comes to facts and figures, but I do have a strong episodic memory. More significant is the fact that I was “blessed” with an acute emotional awareness, and my memories evoke the same emotions I experienced at the time of occurrence. I wasn’t kidding about being stuck. At least I found a way to take advantage of my baggage when I played out my feelings of sibling rivalry and familial frustrations with J.J. and his sisters.
I hear you. So what can those writers who aren’t bogged down by phenomenal episodic memories do? I basically said it already, but am going to reiterate, in a different order, the steps to writing in an authentic middle grade voice:
Be brave. Man up and own up to the demoralizing fact that indeed, you were once a kid. And that kid lived through many different types of experiences.
Put on your honesty cap. What emotions stand out from those times? To me the need of affirmation, the lack of control, and the desire to be number one lay at the very top of my middle grade emotional storage box.
Get hypnotized. Or whatever it takes for you to deal with those long-buried emotions; they are real and raw, but therein exists their power to transport you back in time.
Just a cautionary note: before you embark on this emotion-laden historic journey, dash off a text warning the answer to number three. It’s only ethical to give your potential victim a chance to run away from the rage crime of the century.
Launching Sisters to WitchCamp
Genre: Middle grade fantasy
Publisher: MuseItUp Publishing
Number of pages: 118
Word Count: 31474
Cover Artist: Charlotte Volnek
Sixth-grader J.J. learns there are no easy breaks in life.
When J.J. discovers the opportunity to send his maddening sisters off to WitchCamp, he has fantasies of a delightful summer. However, J.J. and his friend are soon off on a ride they didn't anticipate -- one that lands them in a chilling mess of witch hunts and creature feasts.
With his creative ideas, J.J. utilizes their risky escapades to escape. But making deals with superhuman creatures just lands them in hotter water.
Now it’s up to J.J. to save them all from certain death by being more imaginative and daring than ever before.
The witches don’t descend immediately, but take their time circling the clearing in the woods. Is this to give us a sneak preview of their camp, or is it simply landing regulations?
Crowds of long-haired figures in dark clothing sit around in circles, and in their center a huge circle appears to have been drawn in red paint. Smack in the middle is a roaring bonfire pit.
A heavy beat rocks the area. The figures each have a big pot turned upside down, and they’re banging on them with long spoons. The rhythm is steady, eerily paced. The sound effects seem to signal something deliciously spooky is about to happen.
A tree trunk sails through the air, directly below our feet, but above the groups around the bonfire. It comes to a stop and descends till its right above the fire pit and hangs there midair.
The tree trunk starts rotating over the fire. As it turns, I see a dead giant all tied up!
The wood, still suspended in the air, keeps on rotating over the fire. The giant’s body reminds me of the chicken on the rotisserie in our supermarket.
“What’s going on down there?” I ask my driver in a high-pitched voice, trying to sound like a girl.
“A barbeque.” She cackles. “A special barbeque. It’s not every day we get to slay a giant, but this one was really asking for it.”
A terrible smell, which makes me think of garbage dumps, public bathrooms, and the stash of molding food under my bed, saturates the air. Great cheers sound up from the circles below. The old witch behind me chuckles. “The girls are eager for their dinner.”
About the Author:
LRS has a master’s degree in psychology. For more than ten years she pretended to be working while she was on the floor enjoying playtime with kids.
She has lived on the eastern and western coasts of the U.S.A, as well as abroad, and currently resides in Canada with her family. Wherever she is, she can’t pass by a toy store without going inside.
When she's not writing, she can usually be found in her kitchen, where she’s either baking (and sampling) cookies or stirring a pot. (Unfortunately, she has yet to find a magical spoon.)
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