Middle Grade Review: The Glass Sentence by S.E. Grove

World building is no small task, and S.E. Grove raises the bar exponentially in her debut book, The Glass Sentence. The story follows thirteen-year-old Sophia Tims as she rushes to save her kidnapped uncle, Shadrack Elli, a renowned cartographer. But Sophia isn’t simply riding trains and sailing ships through a familiar world. Years prior, the Great Disruption altered time, leaving each continent in a different age, some countries a mixture of various eras in human history. And hot on Sophia’s tail are the very people who abducted her uncle!

Overall, I enjoyed The Glass Sentence. I cared about Sophia, a spunky, precocious, but ultimately lonely girl who barely blinks at the tasks ahead of her. Each chapter provided an unexpected twist, making it very difficult (for me anyway) to predict where the action of the story would take Sophia. This book required patience to read (and to write, I’m sure!), but I did find that each time I had a question about how the world worked or why a new character was introduced, Grove provided an answer or at least the suggestion of one. There were a lot of characters–at every turn Sophia ran into a new person, it seemed–and at times I wondered if there were too many to flesh each one out adequately. That said, as the story develops, each character fell into place. I had many “aha!” moments (and I did say them aloud) during the second half of the book, and I’m glad I didn’t put it down. This story is definitely one to stick with.

I recommend this book to anyone who loves new worlds with unexpected rules and lots of plot twists and characters. There’s a few scary people (the men with grappling hooks on the cover were creepy to me), and a few moments of very age-appropriate romance.

Don’t be surprised at the end, as I was. This is a series! One of my pet peeves is reading a book thinking it’s a stand-alone, only to discover that the story isn’t over. Nothing against series in general. I just like to know ahead of time. 🙂

I learned about this book from Indie Bound’s Indie Next List newsletter. I get the newsletters at my local independent bookstore, and find it them a great resource for new books. To check out their summer recommendations for kid lit (the fall link wasn’t available), find them here.

And here’s my plug for independent book sellers. I picked up my copy this summer at Powell’s City of Books, one of the largest independent new and used bookstores in the world. If you’re in Portland, Oregon, visiting Powell’s is a must! I never leave without a sizable stack of books. To buy The Glass Sentence from Powell’s (they ship), click here.

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Hard Work, Persistence, and a Little Luck

I double checked the content, took a deep breath, and clicked Submit. The first 50 pages of my middle grade novel and a synopsis went whizzing off to the inbox of an agent.

As you regular readers will know, I am referring to my beloved first novel that I have labored over for the last two years (ugh- has it really been that long?). Through hard work, persistence, lots of herbal tea, and much support from my critique group it is finally ready.

So now what? It is out of my hands and hopefully an agent will fall in love with it. All I can do for the next 4 weeks (their typical response time) is cross my fingers, pray, and hope. Any good thoughts you can send my way would be much appreciated.

Now that I have finally finished the synopsis and submitted the novel, I have no more excuses for putting off writing new stories. Sure, I have another novel to revise but what I really need is a creative jumpstart. My journals are bursting with ideas – perhaps the next book is just waiting to be freed from the pages.

 

NaNoWriMo 2012

NaNoWriMo is here again. For those of the uninitiated, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month, where November is designated as the month to finally write that novel! There are local community get-togethers, helpful posts, trackers, and other online resources. The goal is to write 50,000 words before the last day of November, which means about 1,667 words per day.

Last year, Joanna took on the challenge, and wrote a lovely historical YA novel during NaNoWriMo. She inspired me to try this year.

I’ve adapted the challenge slightly to suit my situation. I generally write picture books and middle grade novels. Middle grade novels are typically 20,000-25,000 words. So to meet the 50,000 word goal this month, I will attempt to write two middle grade novels. Yes, two. Piece of cake, right?

Not quite. Joanna makes it look too easy. If you write your tail off for 30 days, out pops a solid, well thought through draft, right? It’s a little more complicated than that (for me at least).

I have planned the two novels. One is the story of a brother and sister who discover a portal in their hall closet that takes them to 1983. The other novel will be a sequel of sorts to a novel I already have in revision.

So I’ve currently written just over 11,000 words of the first novel. As I expected, the writing ebbs and flows. I participated in PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month) last year with a similar experience. Some days the words flow and some days they don’t. What I didn’t expect was a somewhat non-linear process.

I wrote from the beginning of my story to the end. I checked my word count- around 10,000 words. Hmmm. So I am now going back and filling out the characters, writing in more conflicts, and ramping up the stakes. But I have this nagging concern in the back of my mind: what if I fill out the story, add in everything I can think of, and I am still short of 25,000 words?

I guess I can only write until there is no more to write, and then put it aside until I finish the second novel.  Amidst family visiting (twice), my son’s sixth birthday, my husband’s <ahem> birthday, Thanksgiving, and Black Friday this month, I have my work cut out for me. I’m sure I will appreciate this in January when I have two novels to work with and revise!

Is anyone else participating in NaNoWriMo this year? Any encouragement or general cheering on would be much appreciated! You can follow my progress at the counter on the right side bar.