Monday, April 11, 2016

MMGM: Lilliput

This is another delightful surprise I found at my library recently. I was drawn in immediately by the sort of steam-punkish cover (it’s not really a steam punk novel) and the fact that it’s a reimagining of a classic, Gulliver Travels.

For the record, I must admit that I’ve never actually finished Gulliver’s Travels. I tried, I really tried, but after the delightful part about Lilliputians, the rest was pretty slow going.

But never fear, Sam Gayton has taken the most interesting part of Gulliver, and shall I say, made it even more interesting.

Here’s the synopsis (from the back flap):

She is a girl three inches tall with eyes like drops of dew. Her clothes are cut from handkerchiefs and stitched with spider silk. For half her life, she has been trapped in a birdcage while her giant kidnapper sits below her, writing in a leather-bound book. Her name is Lily, and tonight she is escaping. She is going home. To Lilliput.

Inspired by
Gulliver’s Travels, Lilliput is an exhilarating adventure filled with cruel contraptions, cunning escape plans, and an evil clock maker who will stop at nothing to capture Lily and her friends. Join Lily as she travels through eighteenth century London—over rooftops, down chimneys, and into chocolate shops—on a journey to find the one place she belongs…home.

What to love about Lilliput:

1.    A delightful main character: Lily’s desire to get home, her difficulties to forgive, her desire to escape at all costs really rang true for me. I also loved how she often spoke Lilliputian, and how she was the perfect contrast of fragile (due to her inexperience and size) and fiercely brave.

2.    World building and setting: I liked the splash of magic in this book, otherwise set in real historical London: the clock maker who could make clocks speed forward or slow down (for nefarious reasons), Lily’s ability to read minds and sense feelings, her extraordinary sense of smell. All this contributed to the whimsical mood of the story.

3.    Larger than life characters. In addition to Lily and Finn, who rescues her, I was particularly drawn to Mr. Ozinda, a chocolate maker who speaks in rhymes, and his talking parrot, Mr. Senor Chitchat.

4.    Lyrical language. This book has an old-fashioned feel, not just in the storytelling, but the illustrations and the language. The simple, yet apt descriptions and metaphors really fit a child’s way of thinking. Like Lily’s description of her first taste of hot chocolate: “It was like swallowing happiness.” And hands down, it is one of the most sensory-rich stories I’ve read recently.

5.    A retelling of a classic.  There’s something about reading a retelling of a classic. I love getting to experience favorite characters and situations in new ways—and in this case, seeing a Gulliver in a completely different light.

Parent/Teacher warning:

There is some violence in this story and one character dies, so this might not be the best book for young and/or sensitive readers.

(This post has an Amazon affiliate link.) 

Have you read a retelling of classic literature that you enjoyed?

To check out more Marvelous Middle Grade suggestions, check out Shannon Messenger's blog. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

ISWG: From the Mind to the Page

I’ve been trying to figure out an insecurity for this month. It’s been hard to choose. I’m finishing up revisions on my manuscript, and soon, I hope to be sending it out. I think I’m more nervous about getting these last revisions right than querying. Go figure.

All my life, I’ve thought that publishing or getting an agent would be my ticket. It would validate me, make everything worthwhile. But, more likely, I hoped it would make others see that I was a real writer.

Now I don’t care so much.

I’ve learned to enjoy the writing, not just the getting published part, which is a big step for me. I used to have enough information in my brain about agents to write my own manuscript wish list.

But I’ve taken two years off submitting. Two years where I’ve just focused on getting my writing where I want it to be. Instead of focusing on whether I’ve written something “they” would like, I’ve focused on whether I’ve written a book I like. Or more exactly, if the story I pictured in my head has made it to the page.

See, I’ve had problems with that too. So far, most of my books haven’t “said” what I wanted to say. Like stepping back from your painting and realizing it doesn’t look like the one you imagined, I’ve done that in my writing. And all the submitting or researching of agents didn’t change that.

But the difference now, and maybe the reason I’m not so nervous about sending this one out, is that I can tell from my critique partners’ feedback that what I wanted to convey with this book is conveyed. That, to me, is a better feeling than getting a request to see my work.

So, I can’t control whether someone else in publishing likes it, but I am pleased. I have done what I set out to do.

As Anne Lamott says in Bird by Bird: "...if you are writing the clearest, truest words you can find and doing the best you can to understand and communicate, this will shine on paper like a lighthouse. Lighthouses don't go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining."

What are your greatest joys about writing or publishing?

Insecure Writer's Group

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time.
Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter hashtag is #IWSG

The awesome co-hosts for the April 6 posting of the IWSG will be Megan Morgan, Chris Votey, Viola Fury, Christine Rains, Madeline Mora-Summonte, L.G. Keltner, Rachna Chhabria, and Patricia Lynne!