Tag Archives: reluctant readers

Where Should Magda Go Next?


Where should Magda go next?
I’d like to take her to another island. Perhaps she can go by ferry to another Gulf Island, or perhaps she’ll go to Haida Gwai and solve a mystery there.Then again, she could travel across Canada and visit Prince Edward Island and learn about Anne of Green Gables. What about the Greek Islands? That’s a journey I’d love to share with her. There are so many choices among the hundreds of thousands of large and tiny islands on our amazing planet. Where do you think I should take her? Please let me know what you think.

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Beta Reader


I write primarily for kids between 9 and 12,  and my books are mysteries and adventure stories.  I never read or write Sci Fi.  But I’m reading a friend’s first novel to look for things that don’t work.

Why am I doing this?  I’m helping out a friend and fellow-writer, someone who has done the same for me, in fact.  I’m doing it out of friendship and gratitude.

What are my qualifications?   I write.  I can spot grammar and spelling mistakes.  I can tell when the flow in the novel is bumpy.  I can sense when a character does or says something that is “out of character.”  And I know when there is too much telling and not enough showing, which brings me to my next question.

How am I unqualified?  I don’t know how much explaining of technology is acceptable in a Sci Fi novel.  I don’t know how much explanation of the fictional society’s peculiarities is enough.  I don’t know if I can skip over the technical details that I can’t understand.

Please give me feedback if you’re a Sci Fi writer or reader, or if you’ve ever been a Beta Reader for someone’s Sci Fi book, on any other genre of novel, with which you’re unfamiliar.

I look forward to your comments.

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From Draft to Draft


Today I finished the 4th draft of my fourth Magda book. Feels wonderful. I’ve added 4,00 words since the 3rd draft. The plot pieces have moved around and the logic is falling into place.

Is it still a mystery? I don’t know. Is it a love story? Not really, though love is there throughout the story. Is it a book for kids 9 to 12? Maybe. It’s about kids, but perhaps the subject makes the book too painful for kids to want to read.

It’s the book I wanted to write, is all I know.

When I write the next draft, number 5, I’ll concentrate on imagery, mood, suspense, the language that makes up the story’s tone.  This is the part that I love the most.

After the next draft, I hope to be ready to show it to a good editor.  I know that I’ll be doing more rewriting after that.  And so it goes.

Any suggestions?

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Debra Purdy Kong’s Review of Mayne Island Skeletons


Debra Kong‘s review

Jul 02, 13

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Young teen, Magda, has her hands full these days. Not only does she have a part-time job looking after a neighbor’s chickens, but she wants to investigate the truth behind an allegedly haunted house. There are rumors that the deceased owner was a nasty man whose wife and five children disappeared one day. Had they left him, or were they murdered?

Magda’s sleuthing skills are also needed in a very real problem when her friend Brent is accused of stealing First Nations artifacts from someone’s home. Brent’s been in trouble before and his mother has decided that he’s unmanageable, so Brent runs away to avoid jail or a foster home. The police and Magda’s mother pressure her to turn Brent in if she sees him, but Magda refuses. She intends to prove he’s innocent.

Mayne Island Skeletons is a mystery for readers aged ten to thirteen, or for reluctant readers. Mayne Island is one of the smaller southern Gulf Islands between Vancouver Island and BC’s mainland, and a terrific setting. There is a real community feel to this story and a pace that reflects the lifestyle of the 1,000+ residents.

Magda has common traits to any great sleuth: curiosity, intelligence, and bravery, but she also has a lot of compassion. Although this book deals with modern day issues such as neglectful mother, First Nations artifacts, and to a lesser degree, the melting ice caps and endangerment to polar bears (through letters from a friend in the Arctic), this book reminds me of a Nancy Drew novel. It’s partly because of the story’s pace but also because Magda’s so polite and well mannered; something not often see in novels today. On the other hand, you’d never see a neglectful mom or a First Nations issue in a Nancy Drew novel, so I’d call this book a lovely blend of old and new.

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Kids Who Do Not Like to Read


Mystery books are good for kids who do not like to read. Look for adventure books where the action is driven by talk not text. Books with descriptive text bore children. Find books that are two hundred pages or less. This is so the mystery book does not intimate the child, tween and teen reader.”

These are the words of Taisha Turner at Children’s Book Site  I came upon this site today as I was surfing the net.  I hadn’t seen it before, and was happy to find out that the books I write for 8-to-13-year-olds match the description she holds as a model.

I’m in the midst of writing the fourth in my Magda of Mayne Mystery Series. Happily, these books match her guidelines in three important ways:

Check – Like the other three in this stand-alone series, this adventure novel is “driven by talk not text.”

Check – Description plays a minor but special role: that of setting the mood.

Check  – All of these books fall into the appropriate range in length, of 200 or fewer pages.

As in all good mysteries, however, atmosphere in Magda’s Mayne Island Mystery, Mayne Island Aliens, and Mayne Island Skeletons plays an important part in what gives pleasure to the reader.

So, if you know of any kids who “do not like to read” they should enjoy these.

I’d love to hear from you regarding these guidelines.

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