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Happy Monday Everyone! Before we get to my fantastic post today, I want to apologize for not having a post like promised last week. But the author never sent it to me. Sorry, but that sometimes happens.

Also, in case you notice, almost all my links on the blog disappeared for about a week due to a Blogger change to their blog structure. All the agent spotlights have disappeared. That's over 200 of them plus lots of other helpful links. I was so heartsick about it, but just read that Blogger planned to restore it. I was so happy to find it fixed on Saturday morning. Even more so because my garage door also broke on Friday night, and I couldn't drive until it was fixed thankfully on Saturday morning.

Now onto today's post. I'm thrilled to have blogger friend and debut author Sheri Larsen here with a guest post to celebrate the release of her MG fantasy MOTLEY EDUCATION. It sounds like a fantastic new world to explore with lots of adventure.

Here's a blurb from Goodreads:

Ebony Charmed has never seen a fire giant. She’s never chatted with ginormous ravens, been friends with a light elf, or held a relic vital to the underworld in her hand. Her less-than-average spirit tracking genes are enough excitement for her, but cause her to be the bane of sixth grade at Motley Junior High: School for the Psychically and Celestially Gifted. Her parents argue so much about her inabilities that her dad moves out of the house. And she would never survive without her best friend, Fleishman, even though he’s scared of his own shadow and insists on bringing his slimy, legless lizard everywhere they go.

That’s all about to change when Ebony receives a stick to transform for her Deadly Creatures & Relics project. If she does well, her success might reunite her parents. And with Fleishman’s help she’s sure to win. But strange things begin to happen. Mystical doors appear and a crusty rock giant steals the glowing stick. Even worse, a girl from school vanishes and Hela, Queen of the Underworld, reveals the stick’s true identity—named Gillingr, it’s used to guide spirits to their next destination. Ebony realizes there’s more at stake than simply getting her parents back together.

The two friends must brave the nine doors of Yggdrasil to find Gillingr before spirits are lost, the Well of Urd dries up, and Ebony loses all hope of uniting her family. But a dark elf lies in wait for them and he has other plans … plans that include creating a new world of spirits without them in it.

Now here's Sheri!
 The Pulse and Meter of Middle Grade Characters

When I was a tween I loved climbing trees. The thicker the trunk, the more branches, and the taller the better. Granted, I wasn’t a huge fan of heights, which made my tree scaling journeys challenging at times. But somehow I’d find a way to muscle through because nothing was more exhilarating then finding that perfect branch. You know…the one between dense clusters of leaves that gives a clear view to gaze up at the sky. I’d even developed a rhythm to my madness: find a tree, locate a great sitting perch, map out a route, and engage abandoning all thought process. Well, I’d try to quiet my skeptical brain. Admittedly, sometimes I’d succumb to my doubts and overthinking and I’d quit my climb.

See, as an adolescent I was cautious. It was my nature – a rule-keeper to the tenth degree. But the loves life had given me would pass me by if I didn’t take a risk and push my inborn nature beyond itself.

That’s similar to how I think great middle grade characters come to life. Though they’ve been curious
little buggers pretty much since birth, their hunger to understand more of life begins to grow. They’re at the cusp of developing deeper contemplation skills that lead to huge life questions – Who am I? Where do I fit in? What do I feel about this and about that? The depth of emotions and ponderings can range from character to character, but vulnerability must be there.

Take the bully found in lots of middle grade books. Some are written as simple roadblocks to the main character’s goal. But the real intriguing bullies are the ones we want to throttle with a wet noodle, yet in a private moment behind the other characters’ backs the reader sees the bully pull out a tattered photo of his mom who passed away last year. This kid is real. Life has happened to him. This moment is raw, and it makes him just like us. Imperfections dress these characters in reality. Even better is watching how they react and deal with their flaws.

And what would a middle grade character be without the ability to laugh – at the world, at themselves, and even at the snarkiness they share between friends. They still know how to have fun. The hardships of the world haven’t robbed them of it just yet.  Even when tragedies happen to young characters, a spark of life remains untainted, a hope that’s sometimes lost by the time adulthood is reached. A middle grade character should be allowed to be silly and explore the world from one outrageous conversation to the next. They should strive to own who they are in all their glorious quirkiness, awkwardness, and brilliance. They should be mirrors to their readers, inspiring them to look within, to push and explore their boundaries. They should be free – free to #MGBeMe.

You can find Sheri at: 
Book Depository - http://bit.ly/2dib7Af
IndieBound - http://bit.ly/2cGn0U4

Sheri is generously offering a signed ARC of MOTLEY EDUCATION for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment through October 22nd  If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. This is an international giveaway.

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday was started by Shannon Messenger. You can find the participating blogs on her blog.

Here's what's coming up:
Next Monday debut author  Ellie Swartz will be here for an interview and giveaway of her MG contemporary FINDING PERFECT.

Friday that week I'll be participating in the Spooktacular Book Giveaway Hop.

The following Monday Maya Rock, who provides editorial services, will be doing a guest post with a query critique giveaway.

The Monday after that I have debut author Jill Diamond and her agent Jennifer Rolfe here with a guest post and giveaway of Jill's MG mystery LOU LOU AND PEA AND THE MURAL MYSTERY.

Hope to see you on Monday!


Donna K. Weaver said...

SA is awesome. Congrats to her!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

People at that age are just starting to see the reality of the world but they still have hope.

Congrats, Sheri.

Karen Lange said...

Wishing Sheri all the best! Nice to see her here. Appreciate you hosting, Natalie. I'll pass on the giveaway this time. Have a good week!

S.A. Larsenッ said...

Aw, so nice of you to say! Thank you!

S.A. Larsenッ said...

So, so true! TY!

S.A. Larsenッ said...

Thank you so much, Karen! Natalie and LR are gems for hosting and sharing book love. Thank you for sharing the giveaway.

Greg Pattridge said...

The reasons you gave is why I read and write middle grade. I hope your new characters shine for this age group. Best of luck.

S.A. Larsenッ said...

Thanks for the well-wishes and encouragement, Greg! It's been a ride so far. I'm in the midst of writing book II. Think Sleepy Hollow mixed with Sleeping Beauty... *sinister laugh*

S.A. Larsenッ said...

I just noticed that Ellie is up next week. So so good!!!

Joanne R. Fritz said...

Natalie, I'm so sorry to hear your links disappeared for a while but so happy that they're back! Such a valuable resource.

Congrats to Sheri on the release of Motley Education! Sounds like fun. And yes, MG characters should be as complex as real kids.

cleemckenzie said...

Congrats, Sheri! Very happy for you and your book.

Suzanne Warr said...

Excellent post, Sheri, and summary of the MG personality! Your book sounds like a delight--I'm so happy for you, and for it!

Hugs on the setbacks, Natalie, and I'm so glad the link problem has a happy ending!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Some of us never outgrow the silly.
Villains never start that way. Something always happens that twists them.
Congratulations on release day, Sheri!

Kristin Lenz said...

Great to see Sheri here! I've seen you in the blogging world for many years - congrats on your book!

Linda Mitchell said...

Woot! What a wonderful post---fantastic author and MG story. Well done!

Jenni said...

Congrats, Sheri! Great advice about middle grade characters. I think looking back to what you were at the age is the best way to write them.

Patricia T. said...

Congratulations Sheri! I'm intrigued. Yes, I've seen you in the blogging world for a while. I found your comments very thoughtful with good advice! I was a tree-climber as a child and know the exhilaration you describe.

Danielle H. said...

Thanks for the reminders of the middle-grade mind and what they are seeing and experiencing at this stage of their lives. These are words for me to keep and reread as I write. I shared on twitter.

Rosi said...

Debut novels are always exciting. This sounds like a good one. Please let someone else win, though; I am WAY behind on my reading. Thanks for telling me about this one.

Mary Preston said...

A great post thank you. It's always a welcome surprise to find a bully with a soft spot.


Jessica Lawson said...

This sounds like a great MG book! Thanks for the post and giveaway! (and sorry about your garage door, Natalie!)

Natasha said...

Sounds like a great read!!
Thanks for the chance to win!
natasha_donohoo_8 at hotmail dot com

finnthefearless said...

#MGrocks Thanks for the inspiring post and chance to win your book! finnthefearless(at)gmail(dot)com

Crystal Collier said...

Yay for Sheri! I'm so happy to see her here. Her book sounds fabulous and I can't wait to read it. Truly.

DMS said...

So excited to see Sheri here! I have been seeing her latest book everywhere. It looks and sounds awesome. Wishing her the best of luck. Thanks for the chance to win a copy. :)

Tyrean Martinson said...

Congratulations to Sheri!!! I love the way she digs deep into characters!

Denise Covey said...

Blogger fiddling again! That might explain why my WEP sign up has been strangely formatted all of a sudden!

Congrats Sheri! Great cover as well as storyline!

Hi Natalie!

Ms. Yingling said...

You always read such fun books! Have you nominated for the Cybils award? Only two days left! http://www.cybils.com/2016/10/and-go-cybils-nominations-are-open.html

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I love Sheri and am SO happy for her! This looks like such a great MG. I can't wait to read it. :)

Unknown said...

Sheri's book looks spook-a-licious! Wishing her much success!

I'm so sorry you had such a rough time last week with disappearing posts and an uncooperative garage door. Glad it's all fixed!

Cherie Reich said...

Beautiful post from Sheri! Congrats to her!

Melissa Sugar said...

Congrats to Sheri on her book. I'm very happy for her and the book sounds intriguing from the excerpt. I wish her much success. Sorry, you had such a difficult week. Glad you were able to get everything restored on your blog. When I did my blog makeover and switched back to blogger comments from Disqus, I lost all of my comments - every comment ever written on a blog post. I hated it. These are the frightening things that keep me constantly debating whether or not to finally switch to WP, but I like all my blogger friends and I'm not sure I want to learn an entire new system. Then again, just knowing that Blogger/Google can remove anything from my blog at any time is scary. Thanks for the info on Sheri's book.

Tammy Theriault said...

Sheri is my girl. So happy for her new book!!

Tammy Theriault said...

Sheri is my girl. So happy for her new book!!