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Happy Monday Everyone! Before I get to our post today, I wanted to invite any of you who live near the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area to come see a community theater group play that I've been helping with. It's Noises Off, a British farce. I'm dating the director and have been helping with props, general getting the set up, will be doing front of the house, etc. It's been a lot of fun, and a learning experience because I know so little about that artistic avenue.

It's November 10-19th at the Riverside Art Center in Ypsilanti. Here's a link for details:
http://www.ptdproductions.com/ Be sure to stop by and say hi if you come. I'll be working front of the house every day.

Now onto today's post. I'm thrilled to have author Monika Schroeder here to share about her MG contemporary BE LIGHT LIKE A BIRD. It really sounds like something I know many of you will like.

Here's a blurb from Goodreads:

After the death of her father, twelve-year-old Wren finds her life thrown into upheaval. And when her mother decides to pack up the car and forces Wren to leave the only home she's ever known, the family grows even more fractured. As she and her mother struggle to build a new life, Wren must confront issues with the environment, peer pressure, bullying, and most of all, the difficulty of forgiving those who don't deserve it. A quirky, emotional middle grade novel set in Michigans Upper Peninsula, Be Light Like a Bird features well-drawn, unconventional characters and explores what it means to be a family and the secrets and lies that can tear one apart.

Now here's Monika!
            Thank you for inviting me to "Literary Rambles" and for giving me the opportunity to share a bit about the process of writing Be Light Like a Bird.
            Be Light Like a Bird is the emotional, realistic fiction story of 12-year old Wren who is heart-broken after loosing her father in an airplane crash. Wren's father always told her to be "light like a bird, not like a feather" - - to control her own destiny, to make her own choices. But Wren is adrift after her father dies and her mother acts distant and angry. Over the course of the story Wren needs to heal and grow, and when she finally learns the reason for her mother's behaviour, they both have to learn to forgive.
            In early drafts of the book the focus was on Wren's trouble being the new girl in school and her fight to save the bird sanctuary. Over many revisions I felt that I hadn't reached the core of who she was and what was hurting her. But I didn't know how to fix it and left the manuscript in the drawer for a long time. In fact, this was actually the second book I wrote, but it became the fourth book I published. Leaving it in the drawer helped. One day on my morning walk I suddenly knew who Wren was: her father had died and her mother had dragged her to northern Michigan. From there I rebuilt the emotional arc of the novel, focusing on the grieving and her relationship to her mother.
            It still took me a lot longer to finish Be Light Like a Bird than my previous novels. In
hindsight, I realize that one reason for a slower writing process may have been that for the first time I braided together several subplots in a book: Wren's relationship with her best friend Theo, her desire to fit in with the popular girls at school, her grief, the relationship with her mother and, finally, the school project she and Theo work on together which leads into their campaign to save a bird habitat. I am not a fast writer, and, after I had taken the original manuscript out of the drawer, more than two years went by before I had put all the scenes in the right place so that Wren's emotional arc as well as the different plot components were aligned. Only when that structure were in place, I could begin to polish and edit the text.
            Since it took so long to finish the book I experienced many moments of frustration. Like many writers in those moments I thought I could never shape this manuscript into a decent book. My poor husband had to listen to me whine frequently and repeat the question, "Will I ever finish this book?" I appreciate his patience and constant encouragement. He reminded me that time actually doesn't matter while writing a book. What matters is to get it right -- and not to loose faith.
Monika Schröder writes novels for middle grade readers. Among her books are Saraswati's Way, a story of an Indian street child and The Dog in the Wood, set in eastern Germany at the end of WWII. She grew up in Germany but has lived and worked in American international schools in Egypt, Oman, and Chile. Before moving to the US she was the elementary school librarian at the American Embassy School in New Delhi, India. She now lives and writes in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina with her husband and her dog. Visit her at: www.monikaschroeder.com

Monika generously offered a signed copy of BE LIGHT LIKE A BIRD 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 November 19th.  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 for U.S. & Canada.

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 I have an interview with debut author Jenny Moyer and a giveaway of her YA science fiction FLASHFALL.

Tuesday that week I'll be participating in the Gratitude Giveaway Hop.

Then I'm starting my holiday slowdown because everything slows down so much with NaNo and the holidays. I'll be visiting you but not posting as much.

On Monday, December 5th I'll be back with a guest post by MG Jenny Lundquist and a giveaway of her new MG THE CHARMING LIFE OF IZZY MALONE and a 10 page manuscript critique. Jenny is a fantastic middle grade author who nails her characters' voices, so this is a great opportunity for someone. 

Hope to see you on Monday!


Linda Mitchell said...

I love the concept of this book --- in the title. My MS students would LOVE this book.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

This sounds like a wonderful book for MG and YA, both. When I was teaching, my 6th graders would have enjoyed it, from the sounds of it. (So many issues that they deal with!) And I enjoy reading books with complex subplots that come together. Please throw my name into the hat

Kristin Lenz said...

Great to see Monika here! We met at the Highlights Whole Novel Workshop many years ago. It was reassuring to learn how long it took to get this novel right - this seems to be the case with every story I write!

Karen Lange said...

Be Light Like a Bird sounds like a great book. In addition to being a good story, it sounds like it could fill a real need in the YA niche. It's nice to meet Monika. Wishing her much success!

Sounds like you are having fun in the theater world, Natalie! :) Thanks for hosting. I'll pass on the giveaway this week. Enjoy your down time.

Crystal Collier said...

I've seen Noises Off, and it was a hoot! I'd go in a heartbeat if I could just get my teleporter working... ;)

Oh boy. I struggle with emotional journey books. I just don't want to cry, know what I mean?

Suzanne Warr said...

This sounds delightful, so thank you for the introduction! I also really enjoyed hearing about Monika's process while writing this book. It seems to me that some books come fast, and some come slow, and the writer just has to hang on or hang in there and press forward either way. But it's comforting to hear of other writers doing the same!

cleemckenzie said...

Just reading the play title, Noises Off, made me laugh. I saw that play a few years ago. It was brilliant and non-stop fun. Wish I weren't about 3,000 miles away, or I'd pop in to applaud.

Congrats to Monika. Glad she took the extra time to weave in some interesting side plots. That always enriches a book.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's a lot of emotional trauma in one book. So much for Wren to deal with.
Good luck with the play, Natalie!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I love the simplicity of the cover. It sounds like a beautiful book. Thanks for the interview.

I actually performed in Noises Off (years ago). I was Brooke!! :)

Jessica Lawson said...

The story sounds beautiful and the cover matches that sentiment. Thank you for sharing, and for the giveaway!

Natalie, enjoy the play! I wish I could make it :)

Jemi Fraser said...

Sounds like a great story dealing with issues so many kids deal with! :)

Not really said...

This is a great book. And not just for kids. My neighbor's son could learn about forgiveness and respecting the environment. I told her about this book and read the post to her. She said she was going straight to Amazon. deepotter@peoplepc.com

Brenda said...

Sounds like a wonderful heartfelt story. What a wonderful opportunity Natalie to participate in the putting on of a play, sounds like lots of fun! Have a great week.

Sheena-kay Graham said...

Congrats Monika. So sad Wren lost her bad but I love the bird references in this story.

KB/KIM said...

Monika, thank you for sharing about your writing process. The development of a character is so important and sometimes when she (or he) doesn't have it, we spend time meandering around in the sand til inspiration strikes! So excited that she found her emotional arc and very excited for you and your book. I wish you loads of success!

Greg Pattridge said...

Putting away a story to let it simmer in your mind is an important step for a successful plot. This one sounds like Monika has struck all the right chords.The topic of a parent death is one many kids have struggled with. Thanks for the insights.

And Natalie, best of luck with the production of Noises Off!

Joanne Roberts said...

I really enjoyed this behind the scenes. It's so helpful as awriter and so fascinating as a reader. Awesome. Thanks!
And I tweeted your post. You'll find it @BookishAmbition Thanks again, Joanne, BookishAmbition@gmail.com

Rosi said...

Good luck with your theatre production. It's such a fun show. Nice to hear about how this book came about. The book sounds like a real winner. I will pass on the giveaway, though. I just am buried in books right now.

Danielle H. said...

This book sounds just like my favorite ones to read--emotional and lots of difficult decisions for the main character. I love reading about how books came to be written. Thank you for sharing! I shared on tumblr.

Natasha said...

This book sounds like an amazing read!!
Thanks for the chance to win!
natasha_donohoo_8 at hotmail dot com

Tyrean Martinson said...

Wow! Be Light Like a Bird sounds like a wonderful read! Thanks for sharing.

Unknown said...

So glad I found Rambles. Now I'm a subscriber.
Intrigued by Be Light Like a Bird. Makes sense that Monika refocused her ms. on Wrens' painful relationship with her mom. Teens need to work out the parent bond if they are to have healthy relationships with peers.
Hope I am in the pipeline to have a chance at the book giveaway. If not, what else do I need to do?

Natalie Aguirre said...

Hi Andrea, So glad you found my blog. Just reply with your e-mail address and you'll be entered in the book giveaway contest.

Not really said...

And I did mention this, posted on Google

DMS said...

I love the title of this book! And I adore the name Wren. :) Sounds like a book I would really enjoy. Thanks for the change to win a copy.

Rachna Chhabria said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rachna Chhabria said...

I like the concept of this book, it sounds like a emotional story that will tug at the readers' heartstrings. Love the name Wren :) Good luck Monika.

Beth said...

Wish I lived near you. I loved the movie Noises Off and would enjoy seeing the play.

finnthefearless said...

I appreciated hearing the process it took you to finish your book, it has mirrored my experience as well. Nice job!

Unknown said...

Enjoyed this interview. Thanks for the opportunity to win a free copy of this book.

Nick Wilford said...

Nice interview with Monika and interesting to read about the process of writing this book. Sometimes it takes a realisation about a core part of the plot to make everything else fall into place.

Tamara Narayan said...

I'm a slow writer as well. This sounds like a wonderful novel and I've got two middle-school aged girls that might be interested as well.

My email is tamara(dot)narayan(at)gmail(dot)com

Penny said...

Thanks for the post. I follow on GFC and Goodreads. Also by email.
Email is penny dot olson at gmail dot com