“You have to write whichever book it is that wants to be written. And then, if it’s going to be too difficult for grownups, you write it for children.”
“I’m not writing to make anyone’s children feel safe.”
J. K. Rowling
“Writing a book is an adventure.”
Writing can be lonely, so that’s one reason that I love writing with children or people who want to write for children. Children truly are fearless when in their imaginations—and I love to help them use that to create something real – a book – a story – something that never existed before….
We can turn any classroom or school into a writing adventure ship. Because my newest series is set on a cruise ship, I work with the children and teachers and principal to write an adventure that fits into the curriculum. We have sailed to our families’ homelands as we studied our ancestors – or to Egypt.
I have spend many years writing with children, and learning to stretch our – “I Magic Nations.”
I would love to work with your school.
Contact me for ideas of how together either in person or on skype we can shape a project.
Check out the projects that we have done on-line, and put on Amazon.Com and Blurb.com.
It is all an adventure.
WRITE YOUR OWN MYSTERY:
WHO DID IT AND WHY?
- FIGURING OUT WHY YOUR DETECTIVE AND THE READER CARES IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO ME WHEN I WRITE.
- Watch out for those red herrings.
- Illustration by Mordicai Gerstein from Something Queer in Rock N’Roll
- MYSTERY WRITERS GET TO KNOW HOW THE STORY ENDS: Writers, young and old, always have trouble ending a story. The joy of writing a mystery is that the bad person is going to get his or her comeuppance and your detective is going to save the day! SWEET!
- YOUR DETECTIVE: Decide who you want to be your detective or detectives: They have to care about right and wrong. They can be messy or very neat; they can love sports or hate sports. Have fun making up your detective. Since I love hanging out with my friends, I often write about best friends working together. Then they can argue and joke together. Best of all, you get to make up two different personalities.
- THE SETTING: Is it a mystery at school? In the classroom or in the playground, or in the backyard? Or do you want an exotic setting? It’s fun to do research and find little details that will make great clues. For example, on a cruise ship, I found out that the crew goes back and forth in secret passageways. Feel free to take your detectives on a cruise. Then they can have the run of the ship.
- THE MYSTERY: WHAT HAPPENED: Pick something that gets stolen or taken, such as a pet that is kidnapped or a project sabotaged. The mystery should matter to your detective. For example, in DANGER AND DIAMONDS, Philippa cares about Philip even though he is keeping something about himself secret. When he is in danger, she really wants to protect him.
- The clues and the red herrings! A red herring is something that throws the reader and the detective off the real clues…and they are fun to write. Once I write my first draft of the mystery and I know who did it and why, then I often go back and sprinkle red herrings. By the way, the term “red herrings” originated when fugitives used to rub red herrings across a trail to confuse the bloodhounds who were after them. Sprinkle your red herrings to confuse your reader. It might even confuse you.
- When you finish a draft, the hardest part is giving it to someone you trust. Listen to what they say, and try to make the story better. That’s what a good editor does.
- Many drafts later VOILA! You have a mystery. Now let your detectives take you on another adventure! Have fun!!
Discussion questions for Danger and Diamonds:
- If you lived on a cruise ship, where would you want to go? What mysteries do you think you could find there?
- Philip, the captain’s son, misses his homeland. Where is your family’s country of origin? Would you like to sail there with your friends? What would you like to show them? And why?
- Philippa gets to live on a cruise ship: What do you think would be the best and worst things about such a life? For example, every cruise brings a new adventure, but Philippa always has to be polite to the paying customers. Would that be hard for you?
- Philippa has a wicked sense of humor. Sometimes she can make a joke too quickly, and it gets her in trouble. Do you know someone like that? Are you like that? When can you take a joke too far?
- Philip’s father is the captain of the ship. Philip lives in a huge stateroom and is allowed to have pets. Philippa and her parents live below the waterline. Is it hard to be friends with someone who has so much more than you? How do Philip and Philippa show their loyalty to each other?
- Philippa and Philip love mysteries and are always willing to do research to solve them. Why is it so important a detective to be curious? What can you learn from mysteries?