Saturday, February 11, 2012

Guest Blog: Writing for Kids: Choice or Calling?


Today I am exchanging blogs with the wonderful children's book author Melissa Ann Goodwin, author of The Christmas Village. I wanted her on my blog because I believe the spirit of Christmas can be kept inside of us everyday (truthfully, I'd rather think of the love of Christmas instead of the little man with the bow & arrow this week). The story is really a fantasy adventure that uses the holiday as a backdrop. So be sure and  check it out after reading her post! Take it away, Melissa!

People often ask me why I decided to write for children. The truth is I don’t remember ever deciding such a thing.  I do remember thinking, as a child, that I wanted to write books like the ones I liked to read – books like The House at Pooh Corner, The Secret Garden and Charlotte’s Web. When I finally settled into writing at the ripe old age of 45, stories for children were what fell out of me. There wasn’t really a decision or choice, it’s just what happened.

What I’ve realized, though, is that my secret goal is to write children’s books that grown-ups will love too. For me, that starts with a rollicking good story. I want all the elements – excitement, mystery, suspense and a few good twists and turns. I want a setting that I can see, hear, smell, touch and taste. I want characters that feel like dear friends whom I’ll miss terribly when the story ends. I want humor, subtly-delivered life lessons, and a bit of wistfulness.

My first book, The Christmas Village, reflects just about everything that I loved about Christmas as a child, as well as the nostalgic sense of Christmas that I have as an adult. The idea came to me one night when I was looking at our own miniature village, spread out on cotton batting on the dining room table and twinkling in the dark. I started to wonder, Who lives in the blue house with the red roof and cupola? What song are the carolers singing? Who are the boarders in Ida’s boarding house, and what does Ida look like?

The little lighted villages look so pretty and perfect, feeding our fantasies of old-fashioned white Christmases featured in movies and songs. The idea of a sad little boy, looking at a perfect village like mine and wishing he could escape his troubles by disappearing into it began to emerge. I started to imagine why he was sad and to think of ways he might get himself there. Then the story just took off - to places I never imagined it would go when I first started thinking about it!

I’m thrilled when kids tell me, “I loved The Christmas Village because it was so exciting that I couldn’t stop reading.” But I’m just as tickled when adults say, “I loved that it gave me that old-fashioned feeling of Christmas that I remember as a child.”   When I hear those statements, I feel as though I’ve accomplished what I set out to do. Now, I’m working on a sequel, partly because so many people have said they’d like one, but mostly because I miss the village and my characters too. It’s called … no wait, I think I’ll keep that a secret a while longer!

Thanks for stopping in, Melissa to share with us! Please follow her on her blog and pick up your own copy of her book for that special "V-Day love" in your life. Surprise them with something a little different this February. 


12 comments:

  1. Thank you, Melissa and Gregory, for such a charming post. I'll be among those waiting for that sequel.

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  2. Greg, thanks for hosting me over here - I like your way of thinking about Christmas. Funny thing - when I wrote your intro on my blog, I almost wrote "Take it away, Greg!" Then for some reason I changed it to "Heeeere's Greg!" So it's funny that used the "take it away" line for me :-)

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    1. That is funny! Guess we were 'thinking alike!' - Glad you could be here.

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  3. Jack - I wasn't sure about a sequel at first, because sometimes they don't live up. I decided that if I got a great idea, I'd do it. And I'm REALLY excited about the idea I got, so here we go. After all, if you read the first book, you know there is one loose thread we're all wondering about ....SHHH! Don't tell :-). Thanks so much for stopping by and saying HI.

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  4. I think a lot of us long for the Christmases like they used to be and wouldn't mind being transported to the magical Christmas village of days gone by. This sounds like a wonderful story.


    Lee
    Wrote By Rote
    An A to Z Co-host blog
    Twitter: @AprilA2Z
    #atozchallenge

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  5. Hi Kergan and Arlee, thanks for stopping by and saying hi.

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  6. What a fantastic post! Growing up, with times being tough and not a lot of money around, Christmas wasn't as embraced by me as it was my friends. The older I get and the more financially settled I've become, the more I really enjoy Christmas and what it means. For the first time last year, since living on my own (almost 37!), I bought a small Christmas tree with all the decorations and lights! I loved it. Good to know there are people like you embracing it and sharing it with readers. :)

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    1. Thanks for sharing that, Sean. I think we should walk around saying "Merry Christmas" to people today and make them all look at us twice. ;) (And then send them to Melissa's book!)

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    2. Gregory, I think that is an amazing idea! I mean, why not? Not like it will hurt anyone. :)

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  7. Sean, thanks for sharing your story. We didn't have much money when I was a kid either, so it's the candlelit services and singing carols and Grandma's awful Christmas pudding that fuel my fond memories. One of the aspects of my book is that when the hero, Jamie, goes into the village, it's 1932, the height of the Depression. But there's a nice feeling of people helping each other through tough times, and taking joy in the simple things. I'm glad your tough times have eased. I know it can be hard when others are celebrating something that didn't feel like a celebration to you, and it's nice that you feel differently now. :)

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