ARC Review: Time Traveling with a Hamster by Ross Welford

time traveling with a hamster by ross welford

Back to the Future meets The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time in this original, poignant, race-against-time story about a boy who travels back to 1984 to save his father’s life.

My dad died twice. Once when he was thirty-nine and again four years later, when he was twelve. On his twelfth birthday, Al Chaudhury receives a letter from his dead father. It directs him to the bunker of their old house, where Al finds a time machine (an ancient computer and a tin bucket). The letter also outlines a mission: travel back to 1984 and prevent the go-kart accident that will eventually take his father’s life. But as Al soon discovers, whizzing back thirty years requires not only imagination and courage, but also lying to your mom, stealing a moped, and setting your school on fire—oh, and keeping your pet hamster safe. With a literary edge and tons of commerical appeal, this incredible debut has it all: heart, humor, vividly imagined characters, and a pitch-perfect voice.

Description taken from Goodreads.


I was prepared for the worst with this book. Between the blurb, the cover, and the title, I was fully prepared to put it down 20% of the way through as an unfortunate disappointment. But no, Time Traveling with a Hamster demanded to be loved and read, and it reminded me why I continue to read middle-grade lit.

I think what I love about this story is that it’s so no-nonsense. It gets right to the heart of the story, never stopping to dwell on the ridiculousness of the situation. Between Al’s authentic voice and the great pacing, it’s easy to get lost in the magic of the story. I’ll admit that I was skeptical in the beginning, but shortly after I got into the story, I realized it’s perfectly reasonable to write a story about time traveling with a hamster.

The plot and writing were spot-on. I especially loved the way that Al got to explore his relationships with his dad and grandpa because of the time travel, though I wasn’t impressed by his bad relationship with his step-sister. There were points in the story that were cliché or felt like they were formatting ideas derived from other writers (ten facts about one of the characters, a chapter move that I dislike immensely because it breaks the story apart). I was disappointed by this, especially in the beginning, because of how impressed I was by Welford’s writing.

All in all, I would recommend Time Traveling with a Hamster to boys and girls through middle school and maybe a little younger. Honestly, it’s great for anyone willing to give it a chance. The humor is spot on, the story is exciting enough to keep impatient readers going, it has heartfelt characters, and the ending is satisfactory. A great read. 4 stars.

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Review: My Seventh Grade Life in Tights by Brooks Benjamin

my seventh grade life in tights by brooks benjamin

LIVE IT.

All Dillon wants is to be a real dancer. And if he wins a summer scholarship at Dance-Splosion, he’s on his way. The problem? His dad wants him to play football. And Dillon’s freestyle crew, the Dizzee Freekz, says that dance studios are for sellouts. His friends want Dillon to kill it at the audition—so he can turn around and tell the studio just how wrong their rules and creativity-strangling ways are.

WORK IT.

At first, Dillon’s willing to go along with his crew’s plan, even convincing one of the snobbiest girls at school to work with him on his technique. But as Dillon’s dancing improves, he wonders: what if studios aren’t the enemy? And what if he actually has a shot at winning the scholarship?

BRING IT.

Dillon’s life is about to get crazy . . . on and off the dance floor.

Description taken from Goodreads.


My Seventh Grade Life in Tights had everything I wanted, and more. It was sassy and smart and heartfelt, and I was rooting for Dillon every step of the way. The structure was there, from the pacing to the premise to the world-building. From the start, I loved his voice and character, but what really made the story was the friendships.

love great supporting character friendships, so much so that it’s currently my pinned tweet, and My Seventh Grade Life in Tights delivered. I felt Dillon’s struggles with reconcile his dreams with his relationships with his friends, and it was a great representation of the collection of lows and highs that seventh grade is.

Also a plus on that count, there’s plenty of diversity in this story. Brooks smashed clichés and stereotypes throughout the book, and I loved seeing that.

Another thing that this book has going for it is Dillon, whose passion for dance is inspiring. He’s trying to enter into an adult world at a young age, and I respect that. He tries really hard at what he does, he doesn’t give up, and he’s genuine all at the same time. I enjoy seeing kids who are passionate about something represented in stories, and by the end of the book, I was ready to have more of Dillon! In particular, I would love to see who he becomes as a young adult, if that were ever an option :D

All in all, the book was superb. It hit all the right notes, and I’m even happier that I got the chance to work with Brooks during Tweens Read August. I had a ton of fun with the book, and I’ll be recommending it. 4.5 stars.

Review: Beetle Boy by M.G. Leonard

beetle boy by m.g. leonard

The glorious start to a middle-grade trilogy about a brilliant boy, his loyal friends, and some amazingly intelligent beetles that brings together adventure, humor, and real science!

Darkus Cuttle’s dad mysteriously goes missing from his job as Director of Science at the Natural History Museum. Vanished without a trace! From a locked room! So Darkus moves in with his eccentric Uncle Max and next door to Humphrey and Pickering, two lunatic cousins with an enormous beetle infestation. Darkus soon discovers that the beetles are anything but ordinary. They’re an amazing, intelligent super species and they’re in danger of being exterminated. It’s up to Darkus and his friends to save the beetles. But they’re up against an even more terrifying villain–the mad scientist of fashion, haute couture villainess Lucretia Cutter. Lucretia has an alarming interest in insects and dastardly plans for the bugs. She won’t let anyone or anything stop her, including Darkus’s dad, who she has locked up in her dungeons! The beetles and kids join forces to rescue Mr. Cuttle and thwart Lucretia.

Description taken from Goodreads.


This book was a Tweens Read August pick. Check out M.G.’s post on the blog here

I’m no huge lover of beetles or insects, but I was initially interested in M.G. Leonard’s debut because I heard it was reminiscent of the kind of writing in another book I loved as a kid but can’t remember now (has snow and a red machine on the front? anyone?) Anyway, I went into Beetle Boy with high expectations, and almost all of them were met.

Starting with what I liked, I loved the factoids on beetles! M.G. clearly loves beetles, and she worked them into the novel without making it seem unnatural. There weren’t any info-dumps, and I came to appreciate beetles over the course of the story. I went it a bit skeptical of how well that element would be handled, but I was pleasantly surprised. I grew up on movies like Antz, The Ant Bully, and A Bug’s Life, and this book brought many great memories back for me.

Along that same vein, the writing and plot were spot-on. The writing captured the feel that I was looking for. Like some of the other books I’ve reviewed lately, it had this feel of older middle-grade fiction, books that aren’t narrated in such a whimsical way. I appreciated that, and I loved getting to know the characters. Each person was nuanced, and characters were distinctive.

What I disliked had to do with writing though, as much as I loved both of the execution of this story. I can’t truly see myself recommending this story to many kids in its target audience. It’s just too out-there, I guess. It’s a fun story, but enthusiasm for reading about bugs (no matter how cool they are) doesn’t transfer easily. I’d still recommend this to lower middle-grade readers.

Overall, not a bad read by any means. I was entertained, and I enjoyed learning about beetles. However, for the most part, I probably won’t be recommending this one. 3 stars.

Review: Lucky Strikes by Louis Bayard

lucky strikes by louis bayard

With her mama recently dead and her pa sight unseen since birth, fourteen-year-old Amelia is suddenly in charge of her younger brother and sister, and of the family gas station. Harley Blevins, local king and emperor of Standard Oil, is in hot pursuit to clinch his fuel monopoly. To keep him at bay and her family out of foster care, Melia must come up with a father, and fast. And so when a hobo rolls out of a passing truck, Melia grabs opportunity by its beard. Can she hold off the hounds till she comes of age?

Description taken from Goodreads.


Two words that, when put together, are immediate turn-offs for me in any book: rural South.

As soon as I cracked open Lucky Strikes, I wanted to stop reading. The narration style just doesn’t do it for me. I figured I would get into the book and see if I could get past it, but it was an issue for me throughout the entire story.

Sure, it’s sad. It’s sweet. It’s quirky. It’s got a nice cover. Theoretically, it’s got the makings of a mainstream MG novel. But no. I can’t see myself recommending to anyone for two reasons. The first is that it wasn’t for me. I can’t try to sell off books I know that I dislike. And the second is that this doesn’t read like a middle-grade novel.

Lucky Strikes is a perfect representation of books that adults think middle-graders will be drawn to. On top of the setting, Amelia didn’t actually feel like a middle-grader and there was next to nothing going on. And when things were happening, they were weird to the point where I couldn’t take the plot seriously. For this one, I would recommend reading a sample before buying or borrowing. 1 star.

Review: It’s Not Me, It’s You by Stephanie Kate Strohm

it's not me, it's you by stephanie kate strohm

One high school girl’s comedic examination of her dating past as told by the friends, family, and boys who were involved!

Avery Dennis is a high school senior and one of the most popular girls in her class. But a majorly public breakup with the guy she’s been dating causes some disastrous waves. It is right before prom and Avery no longer has the perfect date. She runs the prom committee, how could she not show up with somebody?

Post-breakup, Avery gets to thinking about all of the guys that she has ever dated. How come none of those relationships ever worked out? Could it be her fault? Avery decides to investigate. In history class she’s learning about this method of record-keeping called “oral history” and she has a report due. So Avery decides to go directly to the source. Avery tracks down all of the guys she’s ever dated, and uses that information, along with thoughts from her friends, family, and teachers, to compile a total account of her dating history.

Avery discovers some surprises about herself and the guys she’s spent time with — just in time for prom night!

Description taken from Goodreads.


Even though this is categorized as YA, I can’t take it completely seriously as YA. It had much more a mature MG feel to it, and I loved it for that. Many people have compared this to the movie Clueless, and I definitely see 8th grade girls falling in love with the drama, structure, and plot of it all.

It wasn’t exactly for me. I didn’t realize going in that it’s told interview-style, and that system almost never works for me. I like my stories told straight, and this veered off the path by a lot. Because of that, I struggled to get into the novel, but when I did, I found a really cute story underneath all of this. Avery is a lovable heroine who is just a little, well, clueless, and I loved reading about her throughout the course of the novel.

Overall, I did think it was a little too much. In all honesty, it sounds like the author took a bunch of overly stereotypical teens, interviewed them about a certain girl, and put it into a book. It worked at times, and it didn’t work at times. I’ll be recommending this one, but only to the right people. I can’t see this book branching audiences very well. 2 stars.

Review: The Wild Robot by Peter Brown

the wild robot by peter brown

When robot Roz opens her eyes for the first time, she discovers that she is alone on a remote, wild island. Why is she there? Where did she come from? And, most important, how will she survive in her harsh surroundings? Roz’s only hope is to learn from the island’s hostile animal inhabitants. When she tries to care for an orphaned gosling, the other animals finally decide to help, and the island starts to feel like home. Until one day, the robot’s mysterious past comes back to haunt her….

Description taken from Goodreads.


This is an adorable, strangely relevant kind of story. It’s scatter throughout with graphics, making it feel like it’s targeted for a younger audience, but I can easily see kids 7 to 13 enjoying this book, give or take a year depending on reader maturity.

The Wild Robot manages to be mature and entertaining despite its child-like voice, and I loved following Roz on her adventures. Honestly, the entire thing struck me as a My Side of the Mountain told from a robot’s perspective on an island.

I don’t know if he had an agenda in writing this, but Brown did a remarkable job of fitting in current issues into the context of The Wild Robot. In my opinion, regardless of whether he did or not, he handled those issues very well. There’s not too much bias throughout the story.

One thing I was very surprised with was how engaging the story was. It would’ve been easy enough to let the potential of the story run through the cracks and right out of his hands, but Brown held onto the book. It almost reads like a slice of life, where every chapter or so is its own adventure. This kept the plot fresh and interesting.

Overall, I’ll be recommending. I was really excited for this one, and it lived up to my expectations. The writing was a bit distant, but I’m almost never a fan of the oh dear reader, Roz was not yet out of her troubles yet type narrative anyway. All in all, it was very well-done. 4 stars.

Review: Mrs. Ravenbach’s Way by William M. Akers

mrs. ravenbach's way

Being a new student at the McKegway School for Clever and Gifted Children is crummy enough, but when Toby Wilcox is stuck in the fourth grade homeroom of Mrs. Ravenbach, a vainglorious German tyrant who worships “the order and the discipline,” he faces a much bigger challenge—fight back or be ground to goo in the gears of Teutonic efficiency.

Toby upends Mrs. Ravenbach’s perfectly ordered universe and risks everything to strike a blow for free-thinkers everywhere!

Mrs. Ravenbach’s Way is the first book in the series: The Amazing Escapades of Toby Wilcox.

Description taken from Goodreads.


Don’t go into this expecting a Roald Dahl-like read. If you’re looking for the Trunchbull, go read about the Trunchbull, but don’t try to find it here.

I went into this story wanting another horrible teacher the likes of which I’ve only ever found in Matilda, and it didn’t really work out that way. Akers’ writing lacks the signature wit and humor of Dahl’s books, and there was nothing remotely endearing about the teacher, the students, or the plot.

Mrs. Ravenbach’s Way is told from the perspective of the teacher, which was surprising. When I found this out, I hoped that Akers would try to justify why Ravenbach is the way that she is. What ended up happening was completely different. This book reads like an angry student wanted to get back at a teacher in a way that was embarrassing (for both parties) and wholly juvenile.

There was no one to champion in the book. The students were horrible, and the teacher was equally so. I’m not even quite sure what the author was trying to prove by writing this. I had hoped for more, maybe a little emotion, some kind of lesson even. Something. But all in all, there are a lot of students v.s. teacher books out there, and there’s nothing to be gained from this one.

1 star.

Series: The Amazing Escapades of Toby Wilcox #1

Review: El Deafo by Cece Bell

el deafo by cece bell

Starting at a new school is scary, even more so with a giant hearing aid strapped to your chest! At her old school, everyone in Cece’s class was deaf. Here she is different. She is sure the kids are staring at the Phonic Ear, the powerful aid that will help her hear her teacher. Too bad it also seems certain to repel potential friends.

Then Cece makes a startling discovery. With the Phonic Ear she can hear her teacher not just in the classroom, but anywhere her teacher is in school–in the hallway…in the teacher’s lounge…in the bathroom! This is power. Maybe even superpower! Cece is on her way to becoming El Deafo, Listener for All. But the funny thing about being a superhero is that it’s just another way of feeling different… and lonely. Can Cece channel her powers into finding the thing she wants most, a true friend?

This funny perceptive graphic novel memoir about growing up hearing impaired is also an unforgettable book about growing up, and all the super and super embarrassing moments along the way.

Description taken from Goodreads.


I actually read this on the recommendation of an advanced younger reader, and I have to say, it wasn’t exactly my cup of tea. I can see other kids enjoying it, but the writing was just a little bit too off for me. The narration sounded stunted and awkward, and I couldn’t truly connect with Cece’s character. I sympathized with her, but I didn’t connect with her.

I think this is an amazing book to help readers learn about people with disabilities in a way that builds empathy and understanding, but outside of that, it wouldn’t be my first choice for anything. The artwork felt really awkward, and there was nothing especially beautiful or stunning about it. If anything, I laughed at many segments of it. For that, I note its humor, but I wasn’t too impressed by the art.

As for the story, this book follows Cece over the course of 4 or 5 grades. She struggles with her hearing and many different people who treat her differently because of it. She explores her disabilities, and I enjoyed following her through her ups and downs, and I wanted to hug her through it all. She gets taken advantage of or unintentioanlly made fun of by many people, and a lot of El Deafo consists of Cece learning to stand up for herself. By the end of the book, she starts learning to advocate for herself, and it was great to see that.

All in all, I would recommend this one. It’s definitely not the greatest disability book I’ve ever read, but it’s one of the first in middle-grade that deals with deafness. I think this book could do great things for younger readers, along with R.J. Palacio’s Wonder and Sharon M. Draper’s Out of My Mind. 3 stars.

pg count for the hardback: 248

Tweens Read August Day 11: Lauren Magaziner & Pilfer Academy

Tweens Read August is a 14 day event taking place for the first two weeks of August. I’ll be hosting authors, regardless of debut year, whose books I’m the most excited for. Each day, I’ll announce who the next author is at the end of the post. There’s also a giveaway going on, so be sure to check that out!

It’s the eleventh day of Tweens Read August, and today Lauren Magaziner is sharing top ten tips for all the writers out there! She’s the author of Pilfer Academy, which came out on February 16th, 2016.

Here’s a little bit about it:

pilfer academy by lauren magaziner

Series: Bounders #1

Release Date: February 16th, 2016

Add to Goodreads

Troublemaking George has never heard of Pilfer Academy, a top-secret school for cultivating young crooks, until he’s kidnapped as its newest student. The teachers are kooky at best, and naughty does not even begin to describe his sneaky, smart, and morally bankrupt new classmates. Between disguise classes, cracking safes, and DIY gadgets, George becomes an expert bandit and finds true friendship with Tabitha, his new partner-in-crime. But everything is ruined when George comes to a shocking realization: He is just too good-hearted to be a thief!

Unfortunately, not thieving is not an option at Pilfer Academy, and “misbehaving” students face Dean Deanbuggle’s favorite punishment—the Whirlyblerg! In order to gain their freedom, George and Tabitha must pull the biggest heist the school has ever seen and reveal their true colors not as thieves, but as kind (and, okay, mischievous) kids.

Description taken from Goodreads.

Top Ten Tips for Breaking Writer’s Block

Have you ever opened a word doc and felt like your brain was in a vat of glue? Have you ever wanted to shout AUGH! when looking at your current work in progress? Have you ever felt like you had no idea what to write or how to write it or why you ever thought about writing something in the first place?

If you answered YES, then it appears you have had writer’s block!

Here’s a not-so- secret secret: me too.

So without further ado…

10. Take a break. (Run away with us for the summer! Let’s go upstate!) Hamilton lyrics aside, sometimes taking a breather from your writing can allow you to come back to it with fresh eyes and a more relaxed brain. So, go take a walk! Go people watch in a crowded place! Go refill your creative well with books and TV and movies and music!

9. Retrace your steps. Sometimes I find that getting stuck is a warning sign that I made a misstep a few chapters earlier. When I turn back to an earlier chapter, I look for anything that could be tripping me up later on. And, like a puppet master, I play with the strings of my manuscript, searching for places where I can increase stakes and tension.

8. Force yourself to write anyway. Sit in front of the blank page and “free write.” Meaning: write whatever comes into your head, whether or not it is relevant to your story. Sometimes just getting words on the page will start your flow and open you up to new ideas.

7. When that doesn’t work, bang your head against a keyboard until you make words.

6. Hang upside-down from the ceiling like a bat to dislodge any ideas that got stuck in your cranial cavity. If you turn red, you’re nearly there. If you turn purple, a EUREKA! moment is sure to follow*

*results not 100% guaranteed

5. Give in to the writer’s block. It will make you feel inadequate as a writer, so of course, the only natural thing to do to become a real writer is to devote your all to playing the role of An Author. You sever relationships with friends and family, move out into the mountains, live off of the wild Earth and berries, and become a hermit in a cave. You will write hundreds of amazing novels in your isolation, albeit all of them might be the same sentence written over and over again: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”

4. Stab a book with a basilisk fang until it bleeds ink. Sacrificing books to the Goddesses of Muse will cause them to smile upon you, thus blessing you with words.

3. Pilfer someone else’s idea. (I actually don’t know if I recommend this… but as the author of a book about a school for thieves, I’m contractually obligated to say it.)

2. Open Pokemon Go and catch a new idea with a Pokéball.

1. Hunt down inspiration. Akin to catching ideas with Pokéballs, but not quite…

Many authors say that inspiration is irrelevant because writing is a job; writers must do that job, whether or not they feel inspired. That’s both true and untrue. True in the sense that some days, writing is easier than other days, and when you have a job to do, yes, you must do it. Even on the tough days. Untrue in that: if you are having a truly miserable writing experience, it will show. If you feel like you’re slogging while writing, it will read like a slog. Because inspiration—that wily creature—is heart of your story. And if you’re stuck or listless, then it may mean you need to remember what that heart is. Why are you writing this story? What does it mean to you? At its core, what is this story about? Why are you the writer to write it? Remembering WHY you write—and why you write this story in particular—will bring joy and momentum again.

When you rediscover the heart of your story, you’ll unearth passion again. Patience you must have, my young padawan. The words will come.

About the Author

lauren magaziner

Lauren Magaziner is the author of humorous middle grade books: Pilfer Academy (2016), The Only Thing Worse Than Witches (2014), and the upcoming Wizardmatch (2017). She is a proud graduate of Hamilton College and spent two years working in the magazine world (a serendipitous job considering her last name). Lauren is originally from New Hope, Pennsylvania, though she currently resides in Brooklyn, New York, where she writes full-time.


Giveaway

Thanks to Lauren for taking part in Tweens Read August! I know how hard writing block can be, and these tips can be really helpful for breaking back into your story. This book sounds great, and I’m interested to see the different aspects to it. Make sure to add Pilfer Academy to Goodreads, and follow Lauren’s other amazing reads! The author being featured tomorrow is Robin Yardi.

Tweens Read August Day 9: M.G. Leonard & Beetle Boy

Tweens Read August is a 14 day event taking place for the first two weeks of August. I’ll be hosting authors, regardless of debut year, whose books I’m the most excited for. Each day, I’ll announce who the next author is at the end of the post. There’s also a giveaway going on, so be sure to check that out!

It’s the ninth day of Tweens Read August, and M.G. Leonard is here to share her top ten writing tips with us!

Here’s a little bit about her debut, Beetle Boy:

beetle boy by m.g. leonard

Series: The Battle of the Beetles #1

Release Date: February 23rd, 2016

Add to Goodreads

The glorious start to a middle-grade trilogy about a brilliant boy, his loyal friends, and some amazingly intelligent beetles that brings together adventure, humor, and real science!

Darkus Cuttle’s dad mysteriously goes missing from his job as Director of Science at the Natural History Museum. Vanished without a trace! From a locked room! So Darkus moves in with his eccentric Uncle Max and next door to Humphrey and Pickering, two lunatic cousins with an enormous beetle infestation. Darkus soon discovers that the beetles are anything but ordinary. They’re an amazing, intelligent super species and they’re in danger of being exterminated. It’s up to Darkus and his friends to save the beetles. But they’re up against an even more terrifying villain–the mad scientist of fashion, haute couture villainess Lucretia Cutter. Lucretia has an alarming interest in insects and dastardly plans for the bugs. She won’t let anyone or anything stop her, including Darkus’s dad, who she has locked up in her dungeons! The beetles and kids join forces to rescue Mr. Cuttle and thwart Lucretia.

Description taken from Goodreads.

Top Ten Writing Tips

I love writing Top Tens. When Eli invited me to write a top ten, I considered telling you ten reasons to love my book Beetle Boy, but readers like to make up their own minds about what is good about a story, so I decided against it. Next, I considered writing about my top ten beetles, but I couldn’t reduce 350,000 species to a top ten. I’ve included thirty types of beetle in Beetle Boy and even then I felt bad for leaving out some super awesome ones.

Eventually, I decided to tell you my top ten writing tips, because people who love reading stories often go on to writing them. That is how I started. So here they are:

1) READ EVERYTHING

I know that sounds obvious, but you can only learn what you do and don’t like in stories by reading every book you can get your hands on. This can get expensive, so use your local library. If something is dreadful you have my permission not to finish it, but think about why it sucks.

2) DAYDREAM

Imagining is an important part of writing that is unique to all of us. Give yourself permission to stare out the window and imagine wild and crazy people and places.

3) EXPERIENCE DIFFERENT FORMS OF STORY

A book is not the only way to tell a story. Notice the different ways to tell a story, look at art, graphic novels, music, plays, dance, opera, films, animation and poems to see how they tell stories. Are you sure you want to write a book? Perhaps you want to write a film.

4) GET A NOTEBOOK

Scribble everything down. There is no right or wrong way to do this. It can be doodles, a line of dialogue you heard on the bus or a paragraph describing a city in the clouds. Your notebooks contain the ingredients for future stories. Mine are full of messy drawings, post-it notes, instructions, character descriptions, questions in capital letters and inspiring things other people have said. You cannot make a cake until you have all the ingredients; it’s the same with a book.

5) IGNORE OTHER PEOPLE’S ADVICE

Teachers said my handwriting, grammar, punctuation and attitude towards writing was bad through-out school. I have been beset by people helpfully advising me to give up, telling me how hard it is to write a book and how no one ever gets published. I ignored them and did it anyway. If you have stories to tell then you should go ahead and tell them.

6) TALENT IS ANOTHER WORD FOR HARD WORK

I thought you had to have a natural talent to do anything, but I have discovered that talent really means working hard. You will only have a talent for something you truly love because you will want to work hard at it. I love telling stories. I live for it. I love working hard and getting better at it. Working hard at something you love is rewarding.

7) DON’T GET IT RIGHT, GET IT WRITTEN

If you try and make each sentence perfect as you write it, you’ll never get to the end of your story. Write your story as fast as you can, without thinking about it too much. Get to the end. Then put it down and go and do something else. Come back to it later and read it, noting down all the things you need to do to make it better. It’s much easier to improve a story until it’s perfect than to write a perfect one first go.

8) READ YOUR WORDS OUT LOUD

When you read your writing out loud you notice words you have missed out, when your sentences are so long you run out of breath, when you use the same word three times in a sentence. If you are brave enough to read it to someone, then you’ll also notice if they get bored. All useful to help you improve your work.

9) LISTEN

When you are happy with something you’ve written, give it to someone you trust to be honest and ask them to read it and give you honest feedback. Be prepared to want to cry and shout at them, but don’t, instead, listen. This is what an editor at a publishing company does for an author, and we want to cry and shout, but instead we listen and see if we can address the problems they point out. This always makes the writing better.

10) LEARN

I have learned so much from all the mistakes I made writing Beetle Boy. I’m editing my second book Beetle Queen right now. It’s much easier because I have learnt from my mistakes, but I am making a whole host of new ones. I think Beetle Queen will be an even better book than Beetle Boy, but I know I’ll always be learning.

About the Author

m.g. leonard
M.G. Leonard is Senior Digital Media Producer at the National Theatre of Great Britain, where she creates podcasts and documentaries about making theater. Beetle Boy is her debut novel and the first book in The Beetle Trilogy. She lives in Brighton, England with her family. You can visit her online at http://www.mgleonard.com. Follow her on Twitter @MGLnrd.


Giveaway

Thanks to M.G. for being a part of Tweens Read August and coming up with this list of tips! Be sure to add Beetle Boy to Goodreads and enter the giveaway above. The author being featured tomorrow is Monica Tesler!