Below please find the latest news and events concerning me and my books.
November 23, 2011. For any writers who may be reading this, the website Book Marketing Buzz offers information and comments by writers on the subject of book marketing. Today, I am making a contribution to the site. Below is an excerpt - one of the questions where I spout my opinion, for what it's worth...
"What’s your opinion on blogging? Do you see that it is helping sell your book or is it not making much difference in terms of sales?
"I have a few concerns about blogging. Every writer these days is told to blog, which means they have to be constantly writing blog content, which is time they take away from writing their next book. And if they have a family and a day job, they don’t have a lot of time to start with. On top of that, fiction writers’ primary expertise is writing fiction, so that’s what they blog about. The result is thousands of blogs on fiction writing – which makes it hard to stand out.
"Now, I have a website rather than a blog on writing. It’s How to Write a Book Now. I try to present tips and advice on it which you don’t see everywhere else. I’m a big fan of dramatica story theory, which is a powerful tool which few people understand. So I try to present it in a simple, easy-to-use format so beginning writers can get a leg up. The site now gets a good amount of traffic. In fact, my article, “Create a Plot Outline in 8 Easy Steps” has been the number one search result for “plot outline” on google for a year or so.
"I also have a blog which I started for this book. You can find it at http://glencstrathy.wordpress.com/. But I confess I don’t post as often as I should, nor have I done everything I should to make it an effective marketing tool. (See, I’m much better at promoting things other than myself.)"
To read the read of this interview, or to find out more about effective book marketing practices, check out...Book Marketing Buzz
November 22, 2011. Today I'm making a guest appearance on "Morgen Bailey's Writing Blog," and talking about the two most important elements a novel for middle-grade readers requires.
Here's the start of that post...
"When I was younger, I never could have predicted that I would one day be writing middle-grade fiction. In fact, I always imagined that my first novel would have been adult science fiction, fantasy, or mystery, simply because that is what I used to read for fun.
"All that changed, however, when I became a father. My daughter loves to read and be read to. She also has a hard time falling asleep. So for many years, I spent one or two hours each evening reading middle-grade fiction aloud to her. I recited all the Harry Potter books so many times that she now knows many passages by memory. I also read the His Dark Materials, and the Bartimaeus series, most of Roald Dahl’s books, and many other classics.
"While I was developing a subconscious understanding of children’s fiction through continuous exposure, I was also working on my own middle-grade novel, Dancing on the Inside, and consciously working out how to make it a book that would appeal to girls my daughter’s age. So let me share with you the two most important things I’ve learned."
To read the rest of the post, and discover other articles, interviews, freebees, etc., visit... Morgen Bailey's Writing Blog
November 21, 2011. My article "Why Good Middle-Grade Heroes Matter," along with information on Dancing on the Inside appear today on the blog, Reviews by Molly.
Molly is a prolific reader and reviewer, and you can also find a lot of giveaways on her blog, so it's well worth checking out at...Reviews by Molly
November 19, 2011. CM Magazine, formerly the Canadian Review of Materials, is an online magazine published by the Manitoba Library Association and consulted by librarians.
I'm very pleased that they recently declared Dancing on the Inside "Highly Recommended".
Here's a brief excerpt from the November 18th edition (vol. 18, issue 2)...
"The journey Strathy takes readers on as Jenny finds friendship, along with her real talent, and learns how to make her own dreams come true, is emotionally gripping, and the ballet world the author takes readers into is authentic and exciting enough to make even more girls decide that, perhaps, some form of dance is for them."
To read the rest of the review, and learn about other great Canadian books for kids, visit...CM Magazine
November 18, 2011. Lindsay at the book blog Everyday is an Adventure had this to say (in part) about my book today...
"The best part of the book for me was watching the friendship between Ara and Jenny - this friendship is the exact model that I try to teach my students about. Bringing out the best in each other without outshining or outdoing the other, that is what makes a friendship bloom.
"I also enjoyed following along with Jenny throughout her obstacles and trials - the perseverance that Jenny displays is such a great attribute and makes her a very strong character. And even though I was angry with her mother throughout the book, I am glad that the author included her as a character because we need to realize that not everyone in our lives will be supportive all the time and that is another obstacle that we have to overcome to achieve our goals."
Of course, that's only a sample. To read the full review, and see Lindsay's other recommended books, visit...Everyday is an Adventure
November 16, 2011. In case you were wondering, Dancing on the Inside is as much about the subject of social phobia (debilitating shyness) as it is about ballet. So I'm very pleased that a reviewer appreciates that aspect of the book. She writes...
"If you know a young girl who you think even might be suffering with social phobia, PLEASE get her this book. It won't take the phobia away, but it will help her know that she's not alone. Simply understanding what's wrong and that there are others with the same problem is help all by itself."
To read her comments in full, visit...Bluerose's Heart
No surprise Laura (who writes the blog) gave Dancing on the Inside a clean bill of health. Here's a snippet of her review...
"This is the perfect story for girls who love ballet and want to pursue a career in this art, as well as any young girl suffering from extreme shyness. This was a new theme for us and it added an interesting perspective to the story. And we loved the book cover. It captured the essence of Jenny perfectly."
To read the rest of the review, and discover more "clean reads" visit the ...Library of Clean Reads
November 14, 2011. Minding Spot is a blog that features lots of giveaways and reviews of products for children and their mothers. If that's you, it's well worth checking out this blog
Of course, the reason I'm mentioning it is that today postings include an interview with me and a review of Dancing on the Inside.
Here's just a bit of the interview with me...
"I confess I started writing stories when I was 11 years old and too shy to have a life. Back then, I mostly read science fiction and comic books and those were the kind of stories I came up with.
"Probably one of the most profound experiences I had as a kid was a summer arts camp run out of a local church basement. We were encouraged to express ourselves freely, and it was just what I needed."
To read the rest of this interview, and check out the many giveaways currently available on this blog, click on...Minding Spot
November 11, 2011. Today's appearance is at Beyond the Books, a blog that showcases independent authors and their books. Here is a brief excerpt of my interview...
Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?
The publishing industry seems to be going through a revolution at the moment. So many authors are publishing books themselves, using eBook and POD technology. Some do it because they can make more money that way. Some are frustrated with the glacially slow screening process in traditional publishing. And some just want more control over the final product. It’s an exciting time, which is not necessarily a good thing because it means writers are taking on even more risk.
Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author?
Hearing comments from people who read and like your work. Most writers don’t want to be rich. They just want their work appreciated. Their other dream is to have enough money to live on while they write the next book.
Check out the rest of this interview, and get a ton of information on great indie authors at...Beyond the Books
Novelist and blogger, Lynda Coker, gave Dancing on the Inside a five-star review on her blog, Between the Pages. I won't repeat the full review here (because I think you should check out her blog yourself, to get it straight from the horse's mouth). So I'll just quote the last part. (Please note that the capitalization is just as it appears.)
"This is my first read by author Glen C. Strathy and I highly recommend his style and voice. His ability to get inside the head and heart of his young subject, Jenny, is a spark of pure talent, with just a sprinkle of magical insight. BE SURE TO PUT THIS ONE ON YOUR CHILD'S READING SHELF."
To read the full review, and discover more of Lynda's recommended books, visit...
Between the Pages
November 9, 2011. An interview in which I discuss the personality of Jenny Spark, the protagonist of my book Dancing on the Inside appears today in the Virginia Beach Publishing Examiner. Here is a brief excerpt...
Your main character, Jenny Spark, has quite a challenge – she wants to dance but is terrified to do so. What is it about dance that terrifies her so?
Glen: It isn't dance that terrifies her. It's having people watch her. She suffers from social phobia, which is a fear of being judged negatively by others. Most people have this to some extent. I read once that the average person is more afraid of speaking in front of a group than they are of parachuting from an airplane. However, this fear is worse for some people, especially younger people who haven't figured out who they are. Also, some people are born without great social instincts, or they are very creative or eccentric, so they can unintentionally say and do things that get bad reactions from others. They can say the wrong thing to people without understanding why it's wrong. They can annoy people when they're just being themselves, or when they think they are being friendly. After many incidents like this, they become afraid of opening their mouth or doing things that attract attention because they never know what will make other people upset with them. Jenny is the kind of girl who was bright and creative but never quite fit in with her peers, not good socially, so she learned to cope by avoiding scrutiny.
Why do you think that kids reading the book can relate to Jenny so well?
Glen: On the one hand, I think many kids feel more self-conscious during their pre-teen years because they are starting to mature and get attention in ways they haven't before. They are starting to worry more about what their friends think about them. If you aren't part of the "in" crowd, it's easy to feel like a misfit. (And let's face it, the majority are not in the "in" crowd.) At the same time, there are a lot of kids who are very bright, who have dreams, but who are socially awkward. In fact, there are a lot more of them than most people realize, especially girls because girls try to hide it in order to fit in. Lots of these smart people lose out in life to those who are more socially astute.
So any kid who ever feels like a misfit or an outsider can relate to Jenny and at the same time cheer her on as she tries to achieve her dream. You know she deserves to win because she has talent and because she has to struggle against her fear.
To read the read of this interview, visit ...Virginia Beach Publishing Examiner
November 7,2011. Today, I am being interviewed in the literary blog, Review from Here.
Here's a brief except...
You know the scenario – you’re stuck on an island. What book would you bring with you and why?
The only sensible answer to this question would be “The Definitive Guide to Surviving On and Escaping From Desert Islands.” But I know that’s cheating.
Seriously, I would probably take the collected works of either Plato or Shakespeare. Shakespeare is one of those rare writers who you could read for the rest of your life and continue to discover new layers, new pieces of wisdom. Plato, on the other hand, teaches you how to think. The Norton Anthology of English Literature would be another good choice.
What is the most important lesson you have learned from life so far?
Most problems in life have very simple solutions, and they are seldom as bad as they seem. The real difficulty is that we either don’t know the solution or we have emotional barriers (like anxiety) that prevent us from solving them.
To check out the rest of this interview (as well as new interviews with a lot of interesting authors) visit...Review from Here
November 4, 2011. I'm being interviewed on The Hot Author Report. Here's a brief excerpt of that interview...
Q: It’s rare today to find an author who does nothing but write for a living. Do you have a day job other than writing, and if so, what is it? What are some other jobs you’ve had in your life? Have they influenced/inspired your writing?
A: I’ve been fortunate to have made a living writing freelance for the past decade, although most of my income comes from writing promotional material for businesses. Writing fiction is a privilege, something I do when I can because it is personally fulfilling as well as a chance to connect with readers in an honest, authentic way. I know many writers have day jobs in different fields and sometimes I think it might be nice to think about something other than writing for part of the day. But other times I feel like I’m not very suited to anything but writing. Most other jobs I’ve had were very boring by comparison.
Q: Tell us briefly about your book.
A: Dancing on the Inside is the story of a 12-year-old girl named Jenny Spark who has a great passion for ballet. Unfortunately, she also suffers from crippling social anxiety. She can’t dance in front of people or take a ballet class without having a panic attack. But she doesn’t give up her dream. Instead she finds ways to watch classes while practising in secret. Eventually her teacher discovers that she has a phenomenal talent for choreography and decides offers to produce a ballet that Jenny creates. The real challenge, of course, is whether Jenny can find the courage to dance on stage.
November 3, 2011. My guest post "Why Middle-Grade Heroes Matter" appears today on the literary review blog, Jagged Edge. Here’s a brief snippet of the article…
“The other day, a budding writer asked me if it was okay to have a protagonist in a middle-grade novel kill someone with magic. The writer explained that the person killed was the villain in the story, someone who would never stop thwarting the protagonist’s goals.
“Naturally, I immediately thought about Harry Potter and his many fights with Lord Voldemort. J.K. Rowling went out of her way to make sure that Harry only acts defensively. He repeatedly uses a disarming spell rather than a killing spell on the villain who murdered his parents and threatens to harm or enslave the entire wizard world, including all of Harry’s friends.
“Now, I am not opposed to death in middle-grade novels, depending on how it is handled. One of my favourite books in this genre is “Bridge to Terabithia,” which ends with a tragic death that brought tears to my 10-year-old daughter’s eyes (and mine too). Nor do I have any problem with the battle scenes in “The Hobbit,” which result in the death of numerous characters, minor and major alike.
“But here’s why I would hesitate to have a middle-grade protagonist kill someone, even in self-defense…”
To read the rest of this article, visit...Jagged Edge
November 2,2011: My guest post “Writing for Middle Grade Readers“ appears today on Pitching Pencils, a blog that features reviews and articles by authors on all aspects of writing.
I will be discussing some of the key considerations you must make when writing to this age group, as well as the 4 Traits Middle-Grade Protagonists should have.
As a special “sneak-peek,” here are the first two traits…
It’s rare to find a middle-grade novel these days with an adult main character. Children like to read about characters who see the world from a perspective similar to their own. They like characters who are their age or perhaps just a few years older (so they can take bigger risks) and who have similar if slightly bigger problems.
Along these lines, make sure your main character has real flaws and problems. Perfect heroes are boring and unrealistic. More importantly, they are harder for the reader to relate to.
Incidentally, a character does not require a contemporary setting to have realistic problems. Middle-grade readers certainly enjoy historical, fantasy, or science fiction novels. But while your main character is fighting dragons, he may also be coping with typical 12-year-old challenges such as how to fit in, how to cope with peer pressure or bullying, how to choose the right friends, how to get approval from the adults in his life, or how to prove himself. Every child has problems, and every child feels at times as though they are the only person to have their problem. They love to discover through stories that people in other settings can have similar problems and come out all right.
Children on the verge of adolescence are instinctively beginning to pay more attention to the wide world. They want to start making decisions and doing things they couldn’t when they were little. They are imagining what they will do when they are older. So they love books about characters who go on adventures far from adult supervision and who must tackle problems without adult help.
Of course, that’s true of all fiction. The main character in any novel needs to solve his problem or cope with his situation himself. There’s no point if someone else does it for him. The worst thing you can do in a children’s book is have a parent step in and rescue the main character or deliver the solution on a silver platter. For this reason, many great child protagonists are orphans who have no parent to help them (e.g. Anne of Green Gables, Orphan Annie, Harry Potter, Huckleberry Finn, Oliver Twist, etc.).
To read the rest of this discussion, visit ...Pitching Pencils
First stop on this month’s blog tour is "Mad Moose Mama," a highly regarded Canadian blog that reviews products, books, and gifts for children, and features some excellent household tips.
Here’s a brief quote from the Mama’s review of my children’s novel, Dancing on the Inside:
“I would give Dancing On The Inside a four and a half stars out of five … This was a truly enjoyable read, especially for the positive message the author is trying to share and encourage. I could see this go into a series as we watch all the girls come to terms with their lives and their careers, watching them grow through the dance school and beyond.”
To read the rest of the review – including the bit I left out of the quote (the first negative comment I’ve received, which isn’t really negative as it was about a character who the reader is supposed to dislike) – click on: Mad Moose Mama.
News Flash: From September 20 until October 18, 2011, you can read an interview with me on the blog "I am a reader, not a writer," and have the chance to win a FREE copy of Dancing on the Inside.
Here's a bit of the interview...
If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future?
Definitely the future. People tend to idealize the past, but for most of history the food was bad, housing was barely adequate, and medical care was abysmal. But as human knowledge increases, life keeps getting better. One day we're going to have politics, economics, and science all figured out so that everyone has a great lifestyle without war, disease, oppression, pollution, or poverty. I'd love to see that day.
If you were a superhero what would your name be?
I would choose to be Wolverine because of his ability to heal instantly and be immortal. How else will I live long enough to see the future? However, I would not want to lead such a violent life. I'd use those claws only for chopping vegetables.
To read the rest of the interview, and post a comment for your chance to win, visit ... I am a reader, not a writer.
News flash: I was interviewed on Freado. Here's a portion of that interview...
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The idea behind the story really grabbed me, and I wanted to it justice. So I spent a lot of time learning about story structure and how to make the plot compelling before I starting writing.
What books have had the greatest influence on you?
In the middle-grade/young adult genre, it would probably be Harry Potter. I love the way Rowling went to great lengths to plot all seven books in advance so she could include things in the early books that wouldn't become significant until much later. I tend to write much shorter sentences than she does, however.
For the rest of this interview, visit... Freado
Thank you for your interest in my book - here's a gift for you
You get 1,000 points, with my compliments, to use on Freado.com - the world's biggest book winning site. My book - 'Dancing on the Inside', appears in the games on this site. Just click anywhere in this box, and follow the instructions.