Monday, June 14, 2021

#IMWAYR/MMGM: Mr. and Mrs. Bunny—Detectives Extraordinaire!

I have another bunny book for you today! I can’t believe how long it took me to discover Polly Horvath, but if the rest of her work is like this enchanting chapter book, I have a new favorite author!

Not only is this a mystery, it’s hilarious, and it includes bunnies (of course!) But it’s also set on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands in the Puget Sound, near where I grew up. My husband and I went to the Gulf Islands on our honeymoon. They are rustic and beautiful—and I’ll never forget seeing a pod of Orca whales a few feet from our kayaks.

But on to this fabulous story.

Synopsis from Amazon:

In this hilarious chapter book mystery, meet a girl whose parents have been kidnapped by disreputable foxes, and a pair of detectives that also happen to be bunnies! When Madeline gets home from school one afternoon to discover that her parents have gone missing, she sets off to find them. So begins a once-in-a-lifetime adventure involving a cast of unforgettable characters. There's Mr. and Mrs. Bunny, who drive a smart car, wear fedoras, and hate marmots; the Marmot, who loves garlic bread and is a brilliant translator; and many others. Translated from the Rabbit by Newbery Honor-winning author Polly Horvath, and beautifully illustrated by Caldecott Medal winner Sophie Blackall, here is a book that kids will both laugh over and love.

"National Book Award-winner Polly Horvath's latest, a rabbity romp complete with whimsical illustrations and a quirky cast of characters, has both the look and feel of a classic children's book," raves The Washington Post.

What I liked:

1. A girl who’s smarter than her parents. Oh, this kind of character is one of my favorites! Think Matilda or Gladys Gatsby from All Four Stars. Madeleine is a regular kid and very practical, but her ex-hippie parents are rather clueless at times.

2. Animals that have defined personalities! Mr. Bunny thinks making car noises will start a car. Mrs. Bunny is the straight man for his jokes and wants to adopt poor Madeleine. Then there’s the marmot who likes to be called “The.” And many more!

3.  Unique mystery plot: In most mysteries, the reader is trying to piece together the clues to figure out what happened. In this book, due to multiple POV, the reader knows what happened, but the suspense is whether these rabbits, who think being a detective means wearing a fedora, can rescue Madeleine’s parents.

4.  Canadian setting: This book is infused with the atmosphere of the Gulf Islands. I also liked the importance placed on Prince Charles’ visit and how different characters viewed this event. This was clearly a Canadian story.

5. Lyrical, humorous writing: This book reminded of the Roald Dahl books I loved as a child. It’s rare to find a children’s book that doesn’t take itself seriously and understands how children think. Horvath has a firm grasp on what makes kids and adults laugh.

And there’s a sequel, which I currently have on order. Lord and Lady Bunny—Almost Royalty!

What books have you loved lately?

 If you'd like to read more middle grade reviews or join in the MMGM fun, go to Greg Pattridge's Always in the Middle blog. 

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

ISWG: Letting the Paint Dry


If there’s one thing I’ve learned over this writing journey is that you can’t rush.

When I first started writing, I different goal posts in mind. Get published by x age. Or after x years. Somehow I thought that meant success.

I definitely made the mistake of rushing—and not shelving—that first draft of my first novel. With each novel, I’ve learned the importance of taking a step back.

It’s like watercolor painting. You have to let each layer dry before you add another layer. And like in painting, you also have to know when to stop. I’m always amazed at the difference between a wet painting and a dry painting. What I thought was awful is not so bad when it’s dry.

Writing is like that too.

Yet with each book I have a different process. Sometimes I’ve written a messy first draft all at once, no stops. Other times, like now, I’m writing and revising and plotting and brainstorming all at once.

Which one is better? I’ll let you know.

For now, for longer works, I generally take at least a month off. Although more time is even better.

For shorter works, I take less time. But it really depends. Short works also tend to get the back burner.

But no matter how much time, the key is not to rush. The more I step back, give it time, and see it as a whole, the better it is.

Other writing news:

If you haven’t had a chance to see it, Amy Tan’s Unintended Memoir, is very inspiring. It’s still on PBS online, but you might have to have a PBS passport to view. Here is the trailer:

Savvy Authors Courses: I recently took my first course with this site.  These are self-paced courses (for a certain length of time, usually 4 weeks). It takes place via discussion board. The teacher posts content and exercises twice a week. It’s really helping me hone in on my WIP. And these classes are very affordable ($30-40). No, I’m not an affiliate or anything. It’s just so hard to find affordable writing classes. Highly recommended!

Last but not least, I have passed the 10,000 word mark on my WIP. It’s been a very long time since I’ve been in the drafting stage on a new novel. I consider the reason I got this far is due to the wonderful Story Genius book and the support of an in-person writing friend, who’s keeping me accountable by meeting me for coffee and the reading of chapters every week.

To learn more about ISWG or to sign up, go to the ISWG website.

What about you? Do you take a certain time away from first drafts?