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In Which I Get an Idea

My son is re-reading (again!) Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson books. He's on The Titan's Curse, which, of course, he'll be finishing way too early (again!) since the next one's not due out for a couple more months. 

Anyway, he was talking about the great chapter titles this morning and reading some of them out loud to me. Among all his other talents, Riordan is the master of the one-liner, and that's really what his titles are. I was saying they're almost as good as the old Winnie the Pooh chapter titles.


"In Which Piglet Meets a Heffalump"

"In Which Tigger is Unbounced"

Then we started playing with Riordan's titles, and you know what? If you stick an "In Which" in front of them, they ARE as good as Milne's!


"In Which I Wrestle Santa's Evil Twin"

"In Which I Learn How to Grow Zombies"

I needed the game, because I started out the morning in one of those whole What-Is-This-Writing-Process-Publishing-Game-Thingy-About moods, and playing with these words lifted me out. And something must have sparked inside, because about five minutes after I got home, I got an idea for another WIP.

Normally, I'm a one-idea-person. Okay, for the series I'm working on, I'm bubbling with ideas. But it seems like when I'm in love with one character (or two, but in the same book), that's where I am. I think about that character, I think like them, and I get into a sort of tunnel-vision mode about writing. And that can lead to a bit of what-if panic. What if this is all I can write? What if I never get another good story in my brain? You all know the routine, I'm sure. 

This morning, I broke out of the worry. Who knows, as with all ideas, where this will go, but...it's here now!  And the cool thing is, there are two things I have to do before digging into plot. First comes some research, which will fit nicely into my Nonfiction Monday blogs. And, simultaneously, I have to get me a stack of the best middle-grade historical fiction out there and READ. How sad for me. :)

Actually, this post should be titled, "In Which I Get TWO Ideas." The first is the story idea. The second is...hey, I can ask you guys for help. I know about Karen Cushman, and I'll be going back to her, but all you readers and librarians (Stella!) must know some great titles. I'm not worrying about the historical period or voice at this point, I just need to immerse myself in the genre. (Isn't that just a wonderful phrase?!) So...my comments are the place to be today! Send me any and all suggestions, and off I'll go!


( 28 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 30th, 2008 05:30 pm (UTC)
mg historical fiction
susanwrites sent me over here with her blog note that you were looking for mg historical fiction. I love the title of this section of yours, love your riffs on Riordan and Winnie-the-Pooh, and I hope you don't mind me adding you to my friends list!

Of course I love this question.(yikes I'm in a lovey mood today)Even though it's just under middle grade, Sarah Plain and Tall by Maclachlan is always worth taking another look at. And while verse may not be the way you want to go, Dianne Hess is marvelous with history from OUt of the Dust and beyond. I like books by Donna Jo Napoli, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, The Watsons go to Birmingham-1863 is my favorite by Curtis and the Charlotte Doyle my Avi favorite. I'd suggest going to Esme Radji Codel's site, planetesme, which I think will link you to one of her good lists. .. and then, having chosen a period, it is great to plunk yourself down with a pile of picture books and nonfiction, esp with photos, to get a feeling for the period. Have a blast!
Jan. 30th, 2008 05:33 pm (UTC)
Re: mg historical fiction

Thanks so much! I don't mind at all if I'm on your friends list--it's always great to have someone else to read & comment with!

I should have already read Sarah Plain & Tall, shouldn't I?! Out of the Dust sounds really familiar, but I'll take a look. I have read Napoli, but probably not enough. Have you read Sign of the Beaver--I liked it even better than Blackbird Pond. And the Watsons--just the best! And I'll go to Esme's site, too, I haven't taken a look at it yet.

What a great start!
Jan. 30th, 2008 06:36 pm (UTC)
Re: mg historical fiction

You didn't mention YOUR book! I'm adding ANNE HUTCHINSON'S WAY to my list right now. :)
Jan. 30th, 2008 07:43 pm (UTC)
Re: mg historical fiction
Thanks, Becky! Anne Hutchinson's Way is actually a picture book, but if you're interested in Louisa May Alcott, I wrote a historical novel about her when she was ten called Becoming Little Women, now sadly out of print, but I hope you could get it from a library. You can read Sarah Plain and Tall over a cup of tea and is so worth it. Some of what we love in historicals is some bulk, but this is an antidote, and a suggestion of another way. I see Kelly mentions The Green Glass Sea, which I also loved. Good idea to work around the 1920's or so -- there seem fewer novels around that period, or at least none are coming to my mind at the moment, except Sidney Taylor's classic All-in-a-Kind Family (which may not have been consider "historical" when it came out, but is set then.) I wrote a piece about Woodrow and Edith Wilson that is coming out in a book about the White House Candlewick will put out this fall, so I got into the period for that (reading a thousand books or so for a three page piece!) And you'll have good fashions. Loved those cloche hats..
Jan. 30th, 2008 07:54 pm (UTC)
Re: mg historical fiction
I'll still take a look at it; I like the idea of finding out about her daughter. I'll also look for your other book about Alcott!

The suffragette march took place the day before Wilson's inauguration! He got there & didn't even know what the problem was. :) And, yes, I'm already picturing my heroine's personality dealing with the skirts.
Jan. 30th, 2008 05:43 pm (UTC)
Middle grade historicals that come to mind: Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt, Sarah Plain & Tall and The Watsons Go to Birmingham (already recommended). All of this year's Newbery list were historical, actually. The Green Glass Sea by Ellen (?) Klages, The Loud Silence of Francine Green. I'm sure you'll get lots of recs, especially since Susan put out a call for help.
Jan. 30th, 2008 06:01 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Kelly--I haven't looked at those last two. They're on my list!
Jan. 30th, 2008 06:46 pm (UTC)
more historicals
Jip by Katherine Paterson
SeeSaw Girl by Linda Sue Park
Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson
Counting on Grace by Elizabeth Winthrop
Avi's Crispin books and The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle

Those are just a few that I've really loved.

I'm sure I'll think of more. Is there a particular period you're interested in? Or setting? Or type of character?
Jan. 30th, 2008 06:51 pm (UTC)
Re: more historicals
Linda, thanks! A couple more I hadn't heard of.

My idea is centered around the woman's suffragette march on Washington, so I'm looking at the late teens/early twenties of the last century (man, that makes me feel old!). It's one of my favorite periods, anyway, so this is just sounding fun. I'm browsing the web right now, looking at kids books about the women's movement at this time, and there's lots. But I know I also need to really start swimming in historical fiction for middle-grade, to let it all soak in while I get my plot ideas going!
Jan. 30th, 2008 08:09 pm (UTC)
Re: more historicals
Here's a few more you might enjoy:

Weasel, by Cynthia DeFelice
Night Journey, by Katherine Lasky
Island of the Blue Dolphins, by Scott O'Dell
Nightjohn, by Gary Paulson
My Brother Sam Is Dead, by James Collier Lincoln
The Borning Room, by Paul Fleischman
Bullrun, by Paul Fleischman

3 by Patricia Reilly Giff:
Willow Run
Lily's Crossing
A House of Tailors

The Dear America series is also quite good. I've read a few of them and thoroughly enjoyed them, even though they're written in epistolary form.

I don't know of any historical fiction about the womens' suffragists. What a great idea!

Anyhow, there's a few more to add to the list.

Jan. 30th, 2008 08:14 pm (UTC)
Re: more historicals
Stella, I knew I could count on you. Thanks so much--I'm going to print out your list. It would be so much easier to put them on hold & buy them online RIGHT NOW, if I wasn't stuck with the old dial-up! ;)
Jan. 30th, 2008 07:59 pm (UTC)
I'm here at susanwrites's behest!

A SINGLE SHARD, by Linda Sue Park
SPITFIRE, by Kate Messner

Edited at 2008-01-30 08:01 pm (UTC)
Jan. 30th, 2008 08:04 pm (UTC)
Oh, I loved both of these!
Jan. 30th, 2008 08:16 pm (UTC)
And thanks for stopping by. It was great of Susan to post for me. :)
Jan. 30th, 2008 08:09 pm (UTC)
Hi! Susan sent me. :-)

AL CAPONE DOES MY SHIRTS by Gennifer Choldenko.
Jan. 30th, 2008 08:21 pm (UTC)
Two more great ones. When My Name Was Keoko blew me away with things I didn't know and could never have imagined.
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Jan. 30th, 2008 09:45 pm (UTC)
Susan, Thanks for the referral post! I just threw a pile onto my library old list, so don't rush to the shelves. I'll let you know if I can't get them. :)
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Jan. 30th, 2008 11:54 pm (UTC)
Re: historicals
I AM having a great time picking books. Probably almost as great a time as I have reading them. Jeannine said I could read Sarah Plain & Tall over a cup of tea, and that's how I plan to read all of these! :)

Why haven't I read Patience Goodspeed? Is that the same HV Frederick that writes the Spy Mice series? It has to be great!

Thanks for posting. It reminded me your book is supposed to be on my to-read list, also!
Jan. 31st, 2008 12:45 am (UTC)
Psst...Susan sent me. :)

I vote for Fever 1793, by Laurie Halse Anderson. I teach gifted 4th & 5th graders and it's a FANTASTIC book...probably one of my all time favorites. I also taught middle school and used it then too.

Jason's Gold, by Will Hobbs, about the Yukon Gold Rush in the late 19th century is fantastic as well.

The Cay, by Theodore Taylor is gripping too.

Historic Fiction is my FAVORITE!!! It's all I use - we're a textbook free class.

Happy reading,
Jan. 31st, 2008 02:04 am (UTC)
Erin, Three I haven't read. Yay! Thanks.
Jan. 31st, 2008 02:27 am (UTC)
I loved "Fever 1793"! Some of my other favorites inclue "Belle Prader's Boy," and Mary Lions' "The Poison Place", and all of Ann Rinaldi's books. This summer Delacorte will release "A Thousand Never Evers". I picked up the galleys at ALA in Philly because editor, Michelle Poploff said this one will win awards. After reading it I agree, so look for it this summer. You won't be disappointed!
Jan. 31st, 2008 03:02 am (UTC)
Oh! I'll have to look up Ann Rinaldi. Thanks for the recs, and I'll keep my eyes open for the Thousand book this summer, too.
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Jan. 31st, 2008 04:13 am (UTC)
Two Joyce Moyer Hostetter books...on my list! And all the others, too. :)
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Feb. 1st, 2008 12:50 am (UTC)
Great! Thanks.
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Feb. 1st, 2008 02:18 am (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 1st, 2008 05:37 am (UTC)
Hi, Becky--

Just wanted to come by and say "Hi!" Looks like you've gotten a ton of great title recommendations.

I did want to say how happy I was to meet someone else that tends to be a One Idea Writer. I always feel a little dim next to the other writers I hang around with you have about eighty-four idea balls in the air at time.

We're kind of special, I think. ;-) Like devoted and fiercely focused.

Mary Hershey

Feb. 1st, 2008 02:48 pm (UTC)
Devoted, focused, and--sometimes--a little stressed? :) I'm okay with one idea at a time; it's when I start thinking I'll ever ONLY have one idea that I worry. Luckily, I think I'm breaking out of that.

Thanks for stopping by!

( 28 comments — Leave a comment )