Sunday, July 19, 2015

TSS: July 19, 2015

Summer is now here: temperatures in the 90s with triple-digit heat indexes. So... I spend my days writing at the library, and my evenings reading at home.

I decided to take a break from the MG read-athon and instead focused on Paris this week.

I am an avid fan of Susan Vreeland. Surprisingly, I have yet to read Girl in Hyacinth Blue, but thoroughly enjoyed Luncheon of the Boating Party (see my review here) and Life Studies: Stories (short review here). She tells a compelling story with fluid prose, but it is her masterful descriptions of paintings that I so enjoy. My appreciation of art is always improved after reading one of her books.

This week I started Lisette's List, which takes me away from the Impressionists and into the world of Marc Chagall. I find myself reading slowly, appreciating the subtle language and not wanting the experience to end. I should complete the book this coming week.

I also read a children's book that I heartily recommend to any fan of the Madeline series. Madame Martine by Sarah Brannen is about a sweet little old lady who lives in the 7th arrondissement of Paris. She is rather set in her ways, and believes the Eiffel Tower is nothing but a tourist trap (?!!) I briefly reviewed the book in my Paris in July post this week, but truthfully, you should obtain a copy from the local library and read it for yourself. I promise it is a delightful way to spend a few minutes on a hot July afternoon.

I also finished The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson. This book was not quite so delightful, as it touches upon some pretty heavy subjects like homelessness, morality of stealing if in want, prejudice towards hobos and gypsies. To by honest, I wasn't sure I wanted to finish it.

But I am glad I persevered. The end of the story ties up all the loose ends nicely and subtly presents a good moral lesson. I recommend the book... but with the following caveat. I think parents should read this story as well and then be prepared to discuss these difficult topics with your middle grade student.

For several weeks now I have tried to focus on character development. I know a compelling story demands a well-rounded and relatable protagonist as well as a riveting plot. I feel as though I need to flesh out my main character before I delve into scene reconstruction. I need to flesh her out and know her as well as I know my own children.

But every time I sit down to create Phoebe, I freeze. It is the equivalent of asking a student to sit down to the blank page and write an essay. I don't know where to begin; I don't know where to focus; I don't know how to materialize her out of thin air.

But I do know how to research. And I love to research. And since this writing gig is supposed to be fun, I decided to create Phoebe in a way that is fun for me.

I am researching the sixteen Myers Briggs personality types as well as the nine basic Enneagram types to help me develop Phoebe from the inside out. I am also using this book, Creative You, to help me understand myself as well as my characters. It is fascinating!

I've always known I'm an ISTJ (the organizer) but after doing a bit of research, I am learning that I also exhibit many traits of the INTJ (the architect). Knowing my type, and how I process life, can help me develop my own unique gifts and talents in a way that works best for me. I don't seek so much to be labeled, as to be understood. And I guess that I is what I would like to do for my characters as well.

This week I will start another weekly blogging goal.

In addition to French Friday (this week's post here) and Wordless Wednesday (this week's post here), I will also be a part of Marvelous Middle Grade Monday (hosted by Shannon Messenger).

At this point I have a list of about 25 middle grade novels I have read since January 1st, and I am anxious to share my book impressions with like-minded readers.

Tune in tomorrow for my first book impression: Rescue on the Oregon Trail by Kate Messner. It is one of my favorite reads of the year.


  1. Speaking of the Oregon Trail, I just finished Rinker Buck's new book on the subject. Fascinating stuff!

    I hope you keep enjoying Lisette's List. I noticed that on the shelves at the bookstore (where I work) recently. Sounds interesting!

  2. I just looked-up Rinker Buck's book and it does indeed seem fascinating! Thank you for the recommendation.

    It's interesting... the more middle grade historical fiction I read, the more I learn about other time periods that I want to research further. It's addicting :)

  3. I do love books that take me to interesting places...and if the writing style is lovely, all the better.

    I have not yet Susan Vreeland, but she is on my list.


  4. Luncheon of the Boating Party is already on my wish list. Now I need to investigate Lisette's List, too!

  5. I'm working on a post about children's books about Paris. I hope to publish it next Sunday. I have your books on my list.

    Here's my Sunday Salon!

  6. I don't think you will be disappointed with any of Vreeland's novels :)

  7. Oooohh Deb... I look forward to reading your list (and adding to my own) :)

  8. JoAnn - I'm sure you will enjoy both of them!

  9. I just learned about the Paris in July Challenge and must remind myself to join up next year...too many books on the pile this year to pay attention to that now. I have liked the Susan Vreeland books I've read, too. I want to read Luncheon of the Boating Party.

  10. Luncheon... was the first Vreeland book I read and I absolutely ADORED it!!

  11. I read both Lisette's List and the Family Under the Bridge in the last several months. Both were delightful in their own ways. I'll have to check out Luncheon of the Boating Party. Girl in Hyacinth Blue was good, but I liked Lisette's List even better. I love a good book set in France!

  12. Anything set in France is good to me: Book, Movie, Holiday... :)

  13. Spending the day writing in a cool library sounds wonderful. =) I hope you can bring Phoebe to life very soon!

  14. I do enjoy my library days, Diana ... and slowly but surely Phoebe is beginning to become her own person :)

  15. I have The Family Under the Bridge in my heaving Paris TBR. I think I'll have to add Madame Martine too.


Related Posts with Thumbnails