I didn't intend to write a children's book. Until I shared it with my daughter (a middle-school teacher), I thought I was writing a Young Adult novel. She said, no, it's middle grade (ages 9 -12). Huh? Groan. I didn't know anything about MG stories.
So off I went online to read samples of MG books. Holy smoke! She was right. The sound, the adventure, the characters. Middle Grade. I did more research, looking at other stories that my grandkids (ages 11 and 9) read. Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus series. J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter. Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time, J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit. Say what? The Hobbit?
That's when it hit me. When I taught sixth grade, I read A Wrinkle in Time and The Hobbit to my students. (If my teaching days weren't so far behind me, I would've read Riordan's books to those kids.) I've read the Percy Jackson series, I loved the Harry Potter books. I did know MG stories.
As I reread Rescuing Mara's Father, in preparation to sending it off to my editor, I recognized the elements that made it a story that would appeal to that age group. The ages of the characters (16, 15, 11), friendships, camaraderie, high stakes, a life-death adventure. I'd instinctively written a Middle Grade story.
At last, a book my older grandkids could read. They know I'm a writer. They've "approved" my covers. They also know they have to be older to read my books. Now, they won't have to wait so long.
Because Rescuing Mara's Father is still a work-in-progress, here's the tentative blurb:
My father is gone! Taken by the Queen of Compara’s agents. I have to rescue him before the Queen tortures and kills him.
Never mind, we’ve had a rocky road lately. Instead of the kind, loving father I’ve always known, he’s become demanding, critical, with impossible expectations—not just as Father but also as the only teacher in our frontier outpost. I’d rather scoop zircan poop than listen to another boring lecture about governments on Central Planets. Give me a starship engine to take apart or, better yet, fly, and I’m happy.
Never mind, Father promised I could go off planet to Tech Institute next month when I turn fifteen, where I’ll learn to fly starships.
Never mind, I ran away because I’m furious with him for reneging on that promise. Father is my only parent. I have to save him.
Every weekend, I share snippets from Rescuing Mara's Father with the Weekend Writing Warriors. Pop on over to my blog tomorrow to read the next snippet.