I don't know why this is so. And I can't put a quantifiable, scientific explanation around why I hear my characters. It’s just one of those things in life that I delightfully accept.
That’s why I was tickled when fellow Kid Lit author and friend, K. Lamb, asked me to participate in the Meet the Character Blog Tour to introduce you to a character from one of my books.
Like most writers, I have an endearing relationship with people in my tales. And like a parent, it was hard to select which one of my literary offspring to highlight for this post. (Not to worry: I made sure my other characters didn’t feel slighted.) I can’t wait to introduce you to Tara, or Sweet T as she is sometimes called. T remains one of my favorites simply because she is the protagonist in my first book.
At the end of this post, you’ll also meet the three writers who will next share their book characters:
... a Welsh scamp among fairy folk
... a seven-year-old girl teaching American Sign Language (ASL)
... a fourth-grade boy in small-town USA facing realities of WWII
But first, I’d like to tell you more about tour sponsor K. Lamb.
Ready? Put your feet up and get comfy.
Often when holed up in my writerly nest, my mind takes off on mental flights. It’ll swirl through ideas, sorting which ones to keep and write about.
Sometimes, I'm overwhelmed and unsure of what to do. That’s when my characters chime in and speak to me. They let me know what journey they want to take and what kind of peril I can fling at them (rated PG-13, of course).
I. Meet Blog Sponsor K. Lamb
... author of the Dani P. Mystery series for children 7-11 y/o
I cyber-met K. on Goodreads this spring and followed her into the twittosphere when she asked folks to help her tweet about her new book. Though I was new to Twitter and probably botched this my first tweet, K. was gracious and appreciative of my efforts. In fact, K. generously and consistently supports me and other Indie authors. She's also a strong literacy advocate, adopting local schools and donating her books to them. Dani and the Haunted House, her first published work, is an Amazon best-selling e-book in the Children’s Detectives category. Wow!
K. recently released her second book in the collection, Dani and the Mall Caper, and has two more books in this series under production: Dani and the Rocking Horse Ranch, Book 3, and Dani and the Hidden Treasure, Book 4. Yep, she's a dynamo.
Learn more about Dani's adventures @ http://www.danipmystery.com/
Find K. Lamb and her books on Amazon @ http://goo.gl/1mwmiF
II. Meet My KidLit Character: Sweet T
1. What’s the name of your character?
Is she a fictional or historic person?
Sweet T was inspired by my then eight-year old niece, Tara. We often refer to Tara as T, so naming my character Sweet T wasn’t a stretch.
I wrote Sweet T and the North Wind as a birthday gift for the real T after I was downsized, cash-strapped, and couldn't afford to buy her a present. Years passed. Tara grew into a lovely young woman who recently graduated from college with a degree in teaching history. But Sweet T sat for more than a decade until 2013 and the rise of digital publishing, when I dusted off the manuscript and published it.
2. When and where is the story set?
Last time a powerful North Wind blew so cold, strange things happened. And the winter Tara turned ten years old, the wind blew sharp, and the lakes in her rural New England community were frozen solid by Thanksgiving. Old timers from the village warn everyone to take care.
Do you heed them?
Listen to the North Wind howl. Watch it drift snow to the bottom of windowsills.
Can you see T dashing out in the morning light to catch her school bus? Wrapped from head to toe in warm woolies, she waddles like a penguin down the icy sidewalk, her breath swirling round her head in puffy white vapor clouds. She knows it will be another long day of staying cooped up indoors to keep safe from the North Wind.
3. What should we know about Sweet T?
Tara, or Sweet T as Grandma calls her, enjoys being the oldest sister and likes to help everyone.
She makes sure middle-sister Kristen pours milk into Mowgli’s cat bowl without spilling. She shows little sister Jenna the best way to solve tricky jigsaw puzzles. And Daddy never finds his car keys without her.
Umm, could you excuse me a moment? I hear the smoke alarm going off downstairs. Be right back.
4. What problem does Sweet T face?
Psst! Over here! It's T.
The old smoke alarm trick gets Cat off the keyboard every time. We have a few minutes until she returns, but I want a chance to talk to you. After all, this blog is about ME!
My problem? I’ve been stuck inside for-everrrrrr because that North Wind won't stifle its blustery breath. Mama says I have cabin fever. Daddy says I need to run up and down the stairs to work off my cabin fever.
I do everything I can to stay busy. I finish homework. I play with my sisters. I read a library book. I even clean my room. And I keep thinking about my new scooter I just got for my birthday --- a red racer that I can’t ride until spring when the snow melts. Such a long time away!
But I can’t stand the wait. I head down to the basement to check on my scooter. That’s when I make a wish and find North Wind magic. My ordinary afternoon turns into into the ride of a lifetime, and I discover a power that lies within myself. It’s a power that any boy or girl can learn to unlock and use. All they need to do is….
Uh-oh. I hear footsteps. Cat’s coming back. Quick, let's skip to the next question before I jump back into my book.
5. What is the personal goal of the character?
I love visiting with my family at Grandpa’s house on Harriet Street. He always has licorice treats for us, and he tells stories that make us laugh. Grandma loves baking and makes yum-alicious peanut butter cake with triple-fudge frosting that is positively the most wonderful dessert you will ever taste. She serves it with sweet tea, and calls me Sweet T after her favorite beverage.
There’s a sad part to my story, though, and a peril my family faces because someone we love becomes very ill. Our life turns upside-down when .....
Oops! Cat’s rounding the top of the staircase. Gotta run. Bye!
6. How can we learn more about Sweet T and the North Wind?
Thanks for waiting while I checked the smoke alarm. It was nothing. I don't know why the alarm goes off all the time.
Hmmm. I could've sworn I left off writing at Q3. Oh well.
Sweet T and the North Wind is the first of my Sweet T tales about the adventures of Tara and her sisters. In this chapter book for early readers illustrated by Irene A. Jahns, readers will recognize T and little sister Jenna from Finding Fuzzy, the second book in the series. Like Fuzzy, Sweet T can be read as a stand alone book and scored a five-star review from Readers' Favorite.com.
You can also sign up for Cat’s Connections to get the latest email updates about my books and special goings-on. New subscribers receive a link to download my very-short story for grown-up readers, Driving Down to Dillon. Dillon has special meaning to me, and I hope you'll enjoy this tale about love and new beginnings.
III. Next Up on 6 October:
Three Authors Introduce Their Characters
Eiry Reese Thomas
Eiry is an author, educator, and virtual friend from across the pond. I admire the way she spins stories for 8 to 11-year-olds about fairies and make-believe folk inhabiting her native Wales. She writes in both English and with the musicality of the Welsh language (described in Welsh as telynegol or harp-like, true to her Celtic roots). She is an amazing bilingual author and curriculum content creator for educators.
The Flitlits, Eiry’s series of interactive ebooks/apps for upper-elementary students, will enchant you with its rhyming narrative and ethereal drawings. The series was created with the support of the Welsh government and has been a 2014 top-seller on iTunes for the iPad in English, Welsh and US English versions of the text and narration. Educational guides for lesson planning are featured in the apps and on the website. Print versions will follow later in 2014 as trilingual editions. I have enough of a challenge writing in one language, so I give Eiry a stand ovation for publishing in three.
Find more about The Flitlits on YouTube.
Connect with Eiry on Twitter @EiryReesThomas or @TheFlitlits
Leigh and I become gal pals when our offices shared the same aisle, and we participated in Book Club at the community college where we worked some years ago. Leigh is a chef, baker, and teacher. Most recently, she and her husband bought rural land and are developing Winterrest, a small farm in central New York, US. She's a real foodie, happiest living off the land and developing her sustainable farm.
On top of everything else, Leigh has always written stories and poems. Her middle-grade e-book, John Bloom and the Victory Garden, will debut in November 2014 on Amazon. You can bet this work of historical fiction set on the advent of WWII has a food focus and contains dandy plot turns and kid-friendly recipes that especially appeal to boys.
Connect with Leigh on Twitter @LeighShearin
Changing the world, one SIGN at a time!!
I bumped into Kentrell and illustrator Marc Rodriguez in May at the 2014 Book Expo America in New York City. Their warm smiles and colorful display table featuring their award-winning Shelly’s Adventures books drew me in. As a former special ed teacher, I was fascinated as Kentrell told me about Shelly, whose first language is American Sign Language (ASL) and who acts as an interpreter for her dad. I love that young readers also learn to sign along with Shelly as she explores the world around her.
Shelly's Adventures LLC was formed to help bridge the gap between the deaf and hearing world. American Sign Language (ASL) is the third most widely used language in the United States. To increase awareness of ASL and deaf culture, Shelly's Adventures LLC produces educational products that make signing fun for individuals of all ages.
Learn more about Shelly http://www.shellysadventuresllc.com
Thanks for stopping by. I enjoyed your visit. Please come again. And stay tuned for the next tour stop on 6 October with Eiry,
Leigh, and Kentrell.
'Fess up and do tell in the comments below...how do book characters speak to you?
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Carmela discusses kids, reading, learning, art, and more on her blog and social media sites.
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