Writing From the Right Side of the Stall

Carefully curated musings about the writing life, horses, bitterness and crushing career disappointment. Fun, right?

Archive for the tag “Bubba to the Rescue”

Middle Grade Fiction: Is it a Genre?

Young Adult author Jennifer Walker has kindly contributed this, my VERY FIRST GUEST POST, as part of her virtual book tour for Bubba to the Rescue (reviewed here on March 9th).  Does this mean my blog has arrived?

Welcome, Jennifer, and take it away!

MIDDLE GRADE FICTION:  IS IT A GENRE?

By Jennifer Walker

When I was a kid, I think there was basically three main age groups fiction could fall into: children’s, young adult, and adult. Times were simpler then. I read young adult books by the pile, mostly about horses. The stories were pretty simple and wholesome, the characters were morally upright, and the formula was pretty predictable.

Now, life has gotten a little more complicated. Kids have lives that are more complex, they deal with mature issues when they’re younger, and they’re interested in more mature themes. You have vampires falling in love with mortals and getting married and having babies and werewolves falling in love with mortals and getting married and having babies, and wizards falling in love with other wizards and falling in love and making babies and God knows what else. These are definitely aimed at the older teens, but what about the younger teens and tweens?

That’s where I come in. I’m not into writing about vampires and wizards, I like to write about good little girls and horses. My characters do have their flaws, of course, and they deal with some modern issues like dead or absentee parents, parents remarrying, and first loves. However, it’s all on a scale that’s more appropriate and approachable for the younger set. While I have a good deal of readers who are young teens or adult women, there seems to be those few years in between where readers’ tastes want something a little different. I am happy to say, however, that I’ve had some 16- and 17-year-olds who loved it, and that was very gratifying!

So, how best to write for this tween audience? I don’t profess to be an expert, although what I’m doing seems to be resonating pretty well with most of my readers. My main strategy has been to read a lot of books read for this age, but since most of the ones I’ve read (Saddle Club and Thoroughbred) are a bit outdated, I try to update a little by adding in some character flaws (making bad decisions and learning from them) and modern issues (parents remarrying). I try to keep the language simple, although there are certainly a few words in there the kids will have to look up, and focus on what kids aged 10-13 or so might be interested in.

I really enjoy writing for this age group, because I really enjoy wholesome stories with good hearts. Writing them brings me back to my own youth, when life wasn’t so hard and when my biggest problem was whether I’d get to go to the big dance. I like writing characters that are a good influence on my readers, teaching them life lessons — hopefully without them noticing so it just slips into their subconscious and becomes a part of them.

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Jennifer Walker is a freelance writer, editor, and novelist living in northern California. Her two books, Bubba Goes National and Bubba to the Rescue, are both available in print or digital editions from Twin Trinity Books and other online retailers.

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Bubba Goes Blogging: A Book Review

Oh, gentle reader, you have arrived on an auspicious day indeed.  Not only is this my very first book review (on this blog, anyway), but my very first giveaway, too!  You have to read to the end for the freebie part, no cheating.  

Featured author Jennifer Walker is the author of Bubba Goes National and Bubba to the Rescue.  Her stories have also appeared in the anthologies Elements of the Soul and The Ultimate Horse Lover. A full-time freelance writer and editor, her work has appeared in numerous magazines and websites including the Yahoo! Contributor Network. She resides in northern California with her husband, cat, dog, and Arabian stallion. 

There’s more about Jennifer and her YA novels here , or visit her Facebook fan page for the Green Meadow series.

This post is part of Jennifer’s very cool two-week Virtual Book Tour.  Jennifer will also be contributing a guest post right here on March 13th on writing for the Young Adult market, so mark your calendars, peeps!

BOOK REVIEW:  BUBBA TO THE RESCUE

As Young Adult fiction for horse-crazy girls goes, Jennifer Walker’s Bubba to the Rescue, the second in her Green Meadow series, has a lot going for it:  beautiful Arabians, an adrenaline-pumping forest fire, an intriguing mystery … and two perfect guys who love horses and horse-crazy girls so much that they never complain about all the time spent in the barn!

The latter two – one, teen protagonist Leslie Clark’s father Dan, the other her devoted (and maybe just a wee bit two-dimensional) boyfriend Alex – may be the most fictional elements of Bubba to the Rescue.  Where the story really comes alive is in Walker’s depictions of Green Meadow Stable and its equine residents, which is absolutely as her tween and teen readers would want it.

From her heart-wrenching description of Leslie’s Arabian gelding, Lucky (aka Bubba) suffering a potentially career-ending injury in the forest fire, to the ethereal appearance of the mystery horse, Spark, who materializes out of the flames to gallop home safely with Leslie, Alex, and their horses, Walker provides vivid portrayals of her equine characters, the routine of barn life and horse shows, and authentic details of stable management that reveal her extensive background in that world.  When a friend’s horse suffers a bout of colic, Leslie’s anguish is palpable, as is her pride when her mystery horse excels at his first show.

Leslie also wrestles with some typical teen challenges:  adjusting to a blended family when her father (widowed in the first in the series, Bubba Goes National) remarries, testing the murky waters of dating and formal dances, peer rivalry from a mean-spirited classmate, and feeling helpless when a friend comes under the influence of a controlling boyfriend. In the saddle, however, she is skilled and her horses perform perfectly; if I were to quibble, I would say I would have liked to have seen her struggle with her blossoming horsemanship skills just a smidge!

There also seems to be little focus on Lucky once his veterinarian declares that his recovery will be slow (as realistic a part of the horse industry as that circumstance might be).  The horse who was the heart of the first Green Meadow book gets turned out in a field and seldom mentioned afterwards; I kept waiting for his re-entry to the story, though I suspect Walker is planning Lucky’s triumphant return in the in-progress book three!

In an age where dark forces seem to be almost obligatory in teen novels, Bubba to the Rescue is refreshingly free of supernatural influences, R-rated themes, and bad behaviour.  Leslie and her cohorts are normal, modern teens, the adults in their lives provide gentle moral guidance, and there are subtle life lessons taught without hitting the reader over the head.

Although this is the second book in the Green Meadow series and builds on characters introduced in Bubba Goes National, it does well as a stand-alone volume. The pacing is brisk and never bogs down, making Bubba to the Rescue not only a page-turner, but quite an incentive to pick up its sequel just as soon as it becomes available.

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Published by Twin Trinity Media, Bubba to the Rescue (and Bubba Goes National) can be purchased here.

Digital versions for Kindle, Nook, and more can be found at Smashwords and Amazon.  And an audio version is now available here.

$1 from the every sale of Bubba Goes National and Bubba to the Rescue, between now and July 1, 2012, will go towards a fund to send a deserving young lady, Zoe Deaton, to the Arabian Youth Nationals in Albuquerque, in the last year she is eligible.  Purchase a copy today and not only will you get to read a great story, but you’ll help this young rider fulfill her dream!

BREAKING NEWS!  Comment on this post for your chance to WIN a FREE download of Jennifer Walker’s short story from the Green Meadows series, Leslie and the Lion.  Just make sure you comment, with your e-mail address, by midnight (Eastern Daylight Time) on  March 16, 2012!  One commenter will be chosen at random.

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