Ever since twelve year old Isabelle Tresdon’s silver strand of hair sprouted, it’s been nothing but trouble: bleeding pink dust and sparking like a firecracker. Refusing to be known as the girl with the freaky, grandma hair, she wishes it never grew and the hair withers and tarnishes. The only problem is, the strand is Isabelle's source of magic, and she can transform particles of energy into matter. It's also her ticket into Mastermind Academy, a secret school inside the earth’s core. Five days remain before the strand drains her magic and life, forcing Isabelle to enter into a deal with two trickster Masterminds to save it. But what she doesn't count on is there is more at stake than just her life. The Silver Strand, a MG Fantasy Adventure for 9-12 year olds, is book 1 in the Mastermind Academy Series.
The biggest challenge for a middle grade/pre-teens book author
Writing novels for middle graders is not as easy as it looks. The biggest challenge facing children’s authors is finding tricks to beat our reader’s short attention spans. You know what kids are like. One minute they’re playing with a toy. The next they’re climbing a tree.
A few of the tricks I use to keep readers interested include maintaining a fast pace, throwing in loads of action, continually moving the plot forward and having a defined beginning, middle and end where the conflict is resolved. Another tactic is having well defined characters with interests, likes, dislikes, and strength and weaknesses so that kids can identify and relate with them. A book that is weak in one or more of these areas risks the reader losing interest.
Regardless of the challenges of writing for middle grade readers, it’s so much fun to bring out your inner child and be a big kid. Children won’t judge you for being silly. They’ll tell you how much they enjoyed the book and what it means to them, and to me, that’s the biggest reward of them all!
The pressure of death motivated Isabelle’s hand to fly across the page. Except her hand shook so badly, it traced a wobbly outline of the dragon’s body. If she didn’t calm down, his portrait would look more like a squiggle drawn by a toddler. And she didn’t want to offend him. Not when Boldrick had bragged about her drawing skills. Taking deep breaths worked wonders to steady her hand.
Using whisked strokes, she filled in his wings and highlighted his muscular arms. Next she shaped his speared tail.
“Roasting you for two hours will do the trick.” Ramala’s tail prodded logs deeper into the fire. “Your flesh shall be just the way I like it: juicy and tender, not crispy and burnt.”
Pressure in her chest squeezed the breath right out of her. Charcoal tore across the sheet, shading his angular face and horns.
The dragon sharpened his sapphire-blue talons against a rock.
The hideous noise stirred shivers in Isabelle.
Ramala leaned his neck forward to sniff her. “I will marinade you in apple sauce.”
Beads of sweat from her brow dripped onto the paper, smudging the charcoal on his eyes. Dabbing it with her cape only made it worse.
Maybe Ramala played on her fear to meddle with her concentration, and that was how he’d never been beaten in a challenge. Well then, he might have dinosaur-sized jaws capable of crushing her, but she refused to let him intimidate her.
About the author:
One thing you need to know about LJ Clarkson is that she tells BIG lies. She tells everyone that she gave up her career as an Environmental Engineer and Project Manager to write full time. But that's not entirely true. Ten percent of the time she sleeps in. Fifteen percent of her day, she spends surfing the internet, researching for new books and her business. Ok, fine. Two percent is for research. But she's only admitting it so she doesn't end up like Boldrick. For eighteen point seven five percent of her day, she runs her promotional and support site for authors, called Indicated (www.indicated.com.au). The rest of her time involves writing, reading, watching movies and TV, walking her dogs and falling asleep whenever her boyfriend talks technical computer lingo. Truthfully, she hates early mornings, mondays, grammar (yuck! just ask her poor editor!), broccoli and cleaning. If you would like to drop her and line and let her know what you think of the book, she would love to hear from you. Just not before 8:30am in the morning.
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