Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

Vintage reads

 

 

Anthropomorphic. What a mouthful! But many children’s stories are anthropomorphic. Simple definition: a literary device attributing mrs_frisby_and_the_rats_of_nimhhuman qualities to animals or objects. However, Robert  O’Brien’s Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH an anthropomorphic story, is not merely fantasy. or in my mind, science fiction, because many of the human characteristics of the rats originated with a science experiment in a mental health laboratory at the National Institute of Mental Health.

Synopsis

Mrs. Frisby, a widowed mouse, seeks help from a band of odd-behaving rats who are extremely intelligent. As she becomes acquainted with them, she learns they escaped from the laboratory at NIMH. The rats help save her son’s life, and she in turn, is able to save theirs when danger hunts them down. I suppose that’s more of a hook than a synopsis, but I don’t want to give a whole lot away.

 

Because we have moved book reviews to the new website, you can see the pros and cons and more regarding the Rats of NIMH at scriblerians.com. You can read more details about the new site right here on the News Flash post.

 

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Interview with S.D. Grimm

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I’m interviewing S.D. Grimm on her debut release Scarlet Moon. Oh my goodness I loved this book. I had it on pre-order and started reading as soon as I ran in from the mailbox. It has perhaps one of the best opening scenes-ever. No spoilers.

I picked it up expecting to like it, I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did. The story world sucked me in and pulled me along on Jayden’s quest. The multiple points of view help us see the world from various angles. Ethan is probably my favorite character, but Ryan’s arc may be the most fascinating. I don’t like love triangles and had reservations about the connections between Jayden, Ryan, and Ethan. It’s not exactly a love triangle, so it works.

You can buy Scarlet Moon here:

Scarlet Moon on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Scarlet-Moon-Children-Blood-Book/dp/1683700503/

 

I had the privilege of interviewing S.D. Grimm and found out some interesting things about her. In Scriblerian fashion we ask for a fun picture, usually a “way back picture”. S.D.’s is more recent but features another author from the Scriblerian’s Wall of Fame, Kerry Nietz.

grimm-and-nietz

So when asked, Marvel or DC?

BOTH! (True too! I’ve seen pictures of S.D.’s customized Captain America Converse)

In what ways does your faith impact how you approach writing?

I think in the same way it impacts the way I approach life. It’s a living part of me, alive in everything I do. And I look at writing as a partnership with God. I hope he’s alive in my stories in a way I could never put him in there. I invite him to make himself a part of them in the only way he can—which is better than I could ever attempt to write him there on my own, I think.

How would you like to be remembered?

Wow. Going deep. I would love to be remembered as someone who showed love and let the light of Christ shine through her. As a writer, I’d like to be remembered as someone whose books—no matter how dark they got—always ended in hope.

Do you have a favorite Bible verse?

A few. One really good one is Micah 6:8 He has shown you, oh man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

When did you start writing?

In elementary school. I wasn’t serious about trying to get published until seven years ago, and that’s when I started writing Scarlet Moon.

What has your journey to finding an agent and the road to publication been like?

Hard. Crazy. The thing about this business is it’s not for the faint of heart. You better your craft all the time. You build your social media presence. You try to send the right work at the right time to the right people. You attempt to stay ahead of the curve without knowing where the curve is. You survive getting your heart broken again and again and again. You don’t give up. You make connections. Friends. Partners in writing who help and encourage you. You have fun. You learn a lot about writing and about yourself. And when something good happens and you take another step forward down this path, all those people celebrate with you. You find community. You work your heart out and wear it on the pages of your work. People will crumple it up, step on it, and some will even use it wipe the snot off their own faces. And then there will be those who feel what you’re trying to say. They’ll cherish it, and they’ll recommend that others read it. Some will misunderstand it. Others will get it. And still that journey—probably on the road less traveled—is just beginning.

What was your inspiration for writing Scarlet Moon?

I love animals. The novel I wrote prior to this one (which sits in a proverbial dark, secret drawer) was about animals. All the characters were animals. And one day I decided to get serious about publishing. Then I decided I was going to write about people. I still wanted animals to be a big part of the story so I chose to write about a race of people who can commune with nature. These people basically get certain talents or abilities from animals—and they reciprocate, giving animals certain abilities too. Then I researched some really cool animals, including mythological ones, and the story world really grew from there.

What did this book teach you about writing or about yourself?

To never give up. Sometimes things look bleak and impossible. Keep persevering.

What do you hope readers will take away from Scarlet Moon?

Persevere. And real love always protects, no matter the cost.

 

S.D. Grimm’s links and social media contacts

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/SDGrimm/

Twitter http://twitter.com/SDGrimmAuthor

Website, blog, and newsletter. http://sdgrimm.com

Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/SDGrimmAuthor/

Author Bio

SD Grimm.jpg

S. D. Grimm’s first love in writing is young adult speculative fiction. She is represented by Julie Gwinn of the Seymour Agency and her debut novel, Scarlet Moon, is slated to be published in October 2016. When she’s not writing or editing, Sarah enjoys reading (of course!), making clay dragons for her Grimmlies store on Etsy, practicing kickboxing and Brazilian jiu jitsu, training dogs, and doing anything outdoorsy with the family. Her office is anywhere she can curl up with her laptop and at least one large-sized dog.

Vintage Reads: Summer Queens and Frontier Scenes

Vintage reads

If you’ve been a reader of our blog for long, you’ve probably noticed that each Scriblerian maintains his or her own personality, not only in how they write, but their choice of topic. Maybe you’ve wondered what the unifying factor is. What can you expect to find on this site? Our slogan off to the right says it all: “Writing for Non-Adults of All Ages.” We love YA and children’s literature. We love to write it, love to read it. We’re kids at heart, and we know there are plenty of readers out there who feel the same way.

You’ve heard from Gretchen who will cover healthy lifestyle in body, mind, and soul. If you’ve ever met her, she HAS to run off that energy! She can talk at warp speed and some days literally bounces with youthful enthusiasm.

I’m pretty sure I’m the oldest in this group. I don’t think any other Scriblerians have children closer to forty than thirty! My columns have always been written for the purpose of introducing a younger generation to the wonderful stories from yesteryear. Since any item that’s been around for more than two years is considered obsolete in our instantaneous society, I choose to share books from my childhood, from my sons’ childhoods, and the best of the best from the last ten years. Classic KidLit.

Here is my choice for today, a blessing of our American Heritage.

Alfred Jacob Miller - Fort Laramie - Walters 37194049.jpg

Alfred Jacob Miller – Fort Laramie – Walters 37194049.jpg

As a child, I could read anywhere any time. As an adult too, come to think of it. During the school year, I had to take time out for school and homework, piano and dance lessons, but when summer arrived… FREEDOM!!

Now, most kids celebrated summer with the daily kickball/baseball game or hikes in the woods or a run to the ice cream shop. I dedicated my mornings to reading in bed, reading at the breakfast table, reading on the porch, and in the afternoons, reading at the pool, reading in the shade, read… you get the idea.

I had a health-conscious mom, though. She forced me outside for exercise and vitamin D, so I got my fair share of sports, nature, and ice cream. As the oldest members of our neighborhood crowd, my best friend and I ruled as queens of the pack. We were gracious, beneficent rulers (yes, you may roll your eyes) and allowed input from our subjects as to what games would be played each day.Thanks to all my reading, the neighborhood kids enjoyed some unusual imaginary games, all based on plots from my favorite books. When we played Cowboys and Indians, according to majority rule, the cowboys were always supposed to defeat the evil savages. (Keep in mind this was the early 1960’s).

sillyeaglebooks.com

sillyeaglebooks.com

I thought the status quo was unfair, but I held off from wielding my scepter like a club. Instead, I tried to persuade with logic. The Indians were on American land first. Shouldn’t the colonists have shared the land with them? If somebody took away my home, I would fight, too! The boys were not convinced.

Thus began my burgeoning interest in American history. I discovered the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I must have scampered through each volume two or three times. And THEN I read Caddie Woodlawn.

Both authors had been published in the same era, 1935 for Caddie Woodlawn, and 1932-43 for the Little House books. Both stories were based on real people. Carol Ryrie Brink faithfully wrote down the tales of her grandmother, Caddie Woodlawn. Laura Ingalls shared her own story. While several volumes of the Little House series earned the “Honor” status of the Newbery Medal, it was Caddie Woodlawn that won the award in 1936. I think I understand why, now that I’ve reread the books as an adult.

Caddie Woodlawn

Don’t get me wrong. Children will love to read the Little House books for years to come as Laura tells the story of her childhood, painting vivid pictures of family life on the frontier. Caddie Woodlawn goes beyond family and into the contentious issues of the day from a child’s perspective, namely: how do you deal with irresponsible people, and how should pioneers treat the Indians who still roam portions of the land settled by the white man.

Notice, I use the term “Indian.”  “Native American” was a re-label once it became politically incorrect to call the indigent natives a name that made it seem like they were from India. In 1935, the common term was “Indians,” and it wasn’t derogatory in nature. Unless a person’s tone of voice made it so. In Caddie’s case, friendship and peace won the day. Her interactions with Indian John inspired nine-year-old Linda. This was a girl after my own heart!

Her story put history on my side.  The queens of Castle Road decreed there would be no massacres of Indians when we played make-believe. If our brothers insisted on going to war, they could fight the Nazis.

Was there ever a time you used stories from your reading experience to act out or use in a game? It would be fun to learn what you were like as a kid.

 

 

Interview with Amy Brock McNew

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Amy Back in the day

 

Nickname:  I have a few, most I haven’t heard in a while. “Sista Mildred” was one. (Came from the DC Talk song, “Free at Last”. Long story!) There’s also “Bigfoot” “Ski Feet” and “Ina C. Stein”.

Genre:   Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance

Personal Philosophy:  There are two principles I live by. Always remember that what you give, how you treat people, and what you put out into the world comes back to you, and always protect those weaker than yourself.

Favorite scripture: Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not, for I am with you. Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you. I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

Favorite quote: “Even the very wise cannot see all ends.”

In high school I was a… bit of everything all rolled in one. Part jock, part nerd, part music/band geek, part grunge girl. I like to defy labels. And I had friends from all groups. I’ve never been in to excluding people.

Do you see yourself a Christian author or an author of Christian fiction? What do you think the difference is? I am a Christian author. The Reluctant Warrior Chronicles is definitely a Christian series. The next one I have planned is not. Again, not much on labels. I find them restrictive. I write what I feel; the stories that invade my brain and won’t let me sleep. The difference? An author of Christian fiction only writes what can be classified as Christian fiction, in that there is always a strong Christian element and usually a “come to Jesus” moment. A Christian author may write something that wouldn’t be labeled as Christian fiction, but their faith informs their writing.

How long have you been writing? Since I learned the alphabet. I’ve always loved to make up stories.

Rebirth is about spiritual warfare and select people who can see angels and fight with them against demons. What inspired you in this story?   I’ve always been fascinated by the supernatural and paranormal. I’d read Frank Peretti’s books and they got me thinking. What if people had to actually physically fight demons instead of only fighting through prayer? What if there were a select few who had a gift that allowed them to see into the spiritual world? What if some of our greatest fears and biggest problems actually became corporeal? What would that look like? In dissecting the interactions between humans and spiritual beings and trying to figure out what that would be like, I learned a lot about myself and my own beliefs.

I wanted to bring the battles to life, give those issues a face, and show that they can be beaten. That you are never alone in your battle. That there is always hope. As I was writing, I found myself believing that even more than I did.

How are you like the heroine, Liz? How is Liz different? Our past is almost identical. We’re similar in appearance. We both have issues with anger. We’re both very protective of those we love. And the biggie, we both had a call on our life that we were running from. How we’re different? Liz sometimes has a hard time articulating her emotions, at least, the mushy ones. I have no problem in letting people know exactly how I feel. She tends to shut down and shut people out. Often. My inner circle is always in the loop. Though, sometimes they have to pry things out of me. All in all, we are more alike than not.

Who is your inspiration for Ryland? As far as personality, likes and dislikes, the way he “handles” Liz, and the fact that he drives a big Dodge truck, my husband, Brian. Everything else is bits and pieces of people I know or have known.

What is something you’d like for us to know (behind the scenes) about Rebirth?

A lot of the banter and even some of the arguments between Liz and Ry are actually based on interactions between me and my husband. There is a lot of us in that relationship! I can be bull-headed and a spastic mess, like Liz, and Brian is my calm, my rock. He knows just how to get me off the edge of the cliff or chill me out, just like Ry does for Liz.

Also, some of you may already know, but my husband has helped choreograph almost every fight in the book, and we’ve acted out every single battle scene. In the back yard. Our neighbors depend on us for free entertainment.

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Amy Brock McNew

Rebirth:  Book One of the Reluctant Warrior Chronicles
Release Date: May 24, 2016
Paperback: $16.99, eBook: $4.99 (Pre-order Price of $2.99)
Love2ReadLove2Write Publishing, LLC

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“An action-packed tale of classic good versus evil from the depths of human despair and heights of God’s grace. Filled with romance, betrayal, love, loss and ultimate triumph.”

—Tosca Lee, New York Times bestselling author of Legend of Sheba
Rebirth has the sweet and spicy that romance readers love, with the action and intensity of spiritual warfare—but it is ultimately the story of a flawed heroine struggling to hold on to her faith and find her self-worth through the eyes of Christ that will touch this book’s audience.”
—Kat Heckenbach, author of Finding Angel
“With crisp writing, relentless action, and breathless stakes, Amy Brock McNew’s Rebirth will grab readers from the first page and keep them riveted until the last. Liz Brantley is sure to claim a spot on the list of favorite kick-butt heroines right alongside Black Widow and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Fans of gritty urban fantasy won’t want to miss this ride!”
—Evangeline Denmark, author of Curio
Rebirth is a heart-wrenching, intensely spiritual novel. It definitely lives up to Amy’s promise of guts on the page—she is refreshingly raw and honest with her story.”
—H. A. Titus, author of Forged Steel

 

Liz Brantley has a gift she wants to return. Able to see and fight demonic forces, she has spent her life alone, battling the minions of hell bent on her destruction, running from the

God who gave her this curse. Drawn to her abilities, the demon Markus unleashes havoc on her hometown and pulls Liz further into the throes of battle.

She’s desperate for a normal life. When she meets a mysterious man who seems unaware of the mystical realm that haunts her, the life she’s always wanted moves within reach. But her slice of normal slips from her grasp when an old flame, Ryland Vaughn, reappears with secrets of his own. Secrets that will alter her destiny.

Torn between two worlds, Liz is caught in an ancient war between good and evil. And she isn’t sure which side to choose.

Bio:

Amy Brock McNew doesn’t just write speculative fiction, she lives and breathes it.

Exploring the strange, the supernatural, and the wonderfully weird, Amy pours her guts onto the pages she writes, honestly and brutally revealing herself in the process. Nothing is off-limits. Her favorite question is “what if?” and she believes fiction can be truer than our sheltered and controlled realities. Visit AmyBrockMcNew.com to learn more about this intriguing author.

Social Media Links:
Website: http://amybrockmcnew.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AmyBrockMcNewAuthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AmyBrockMcNew
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/26955721-amy-mcnew
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/AmyBrockMcNew/
Purchase Links:
Amazon: http://amzn.to/1Sm5pNZ
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1So45GY
iBooks: http://apple.co/1So4l8S
Kobo: http://bit.ly/213uz67

WONDER — The Spark of Truth

I’ve been working on a memoir of my sister and me covering the first five years of her life. Struggling with author voice and the art of stringing events together in a cohesive fashion, fellow Scriblerian TJ Akers suggested I read Wonder.

Wonder-by-RJ-Palacio-e1387718254694
Wonder, by R.J. Palacio, is a novel, but it reads like a memoir. In both my story and Palacio’s, the subject matter focuses on growing up in a family where one of the siblings has special needs. My sister overcame several physical handicaps. In Wonder, Auggie must tolerate people’s reactions to his facial disfigurements, and he must have the fortitude to become vulnerable to others if they are to ever know the soul behind the face.

 

 
Published in 2012, Wonder has already been noted as a modern classic, and I can see why. Classic literature takes readers beyond a good story, rich in emotion. It takes us deeper into the meaning of life. Secular or Christian, it doesn’t matter. Humans are made in God’s image, and all of us have been created with kindling in our hearts that bursts into flame at a touch from the spark of truth.

spark to kindling
Palacio’s writing style in displaying Auggie’s courage and honesty is such a spark. She has accomplished what I’m aiming for. I want my sister’s perseverance and spritely spirit to set hearts on fire.

 

 
Many of the books I review here at The Scriblerians fall into the “classics” category. Which children’s books have you read that sparked fire in your heart?

Hall of Heroes

Hall of Heroes

Just over a year ago, I posted a review about Jeri Massi’s Peabody Kids Series, in particular, Derwood, Inc., my favorite title to teach in fifth grade reading classes. I recently found out she has a new book – also set in Peabody, Wisconsin – Hall of Heroes. While she employs a style of humor similar to Derwood, Massi’s latest title goes far deeper than the surface plot of a club of middle-schoolers battling a new gang of bullies.

The ongoing war of pranks between the two groups keeps the mood light even when the gang manages to steal the the Hall of Heroes’ clubhouse, a broken-down old shed. The club members  lose more battles than they win, but “right is on their side,” and they press on toward victory.

dilapidated-wooden-shack

publicdomainpictures.net. photo by Karen Arnold

Meanwhile, Jean, the youngest member of the Hall of Heroes, experiences a serious adventure of her own. She volunteers to help Martha Harris, a reclusive lady in her church. What begins as a do-gooder project grows into a beautiful relationship, and Martha teaches her what it means to be a real hero.

Jeri Massi is able to communicate Biblical truths on a kid’s level of understanding. As Christians, we all know we ought to love God. Massi starts with this taken-for-granted cliché and guides her readers to a clear understanding that loving God brings the beautiful experience of enjoying Him forever.

enjoy God forever

Jeri isn’t content with the standard “Heaven is a beautiful place where Christians go to live after they die.” No, heaven is much, much more. Not only is its beauty incomparable to anything on earth, heaven completes us as creatures made in God’s image.

Jeri Massi has continued to write nonfiction over the years, but I believe this is her first new fiction title since the 1980’s. I love it when a favorite author creates new work, especially after a long hiatus. Welcome back to the world of novels, Jeri!

The Hero Stands

shelob

credit to periannath.com

 

Nothing rings epic like Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy. While I am not a fan who follows every bit of trivia regarding the movies or the books, particular scenes thrill me. One is the battle in the spider’s lair. Frodo the Hobbit lies helpless, wrapped in a cocoon of spider silk. Sam, his friend who sticks closer than a brother, defends him from the spider with light and sword. Bruised and exhausted, Sam does not give up, but presses the fight until he wounds the evil arachnid badly enough to force her retreat. Sam is willing to give his life for his friend. He refuses to desert Frodo even as Frodo is driven toward madness in his the obsession with the ring.

frodo and sam

art by Josi Fabri

Although Frodo is the main character given the responsibility to destroy the ring, Sam is the true hero. In spite of all the magnificent battles and the courage displayed by elves, dwarfs, mythical creatures, and men, Sam loves Frodo and will not turn back, will not abandon him to failure. He can’t force Frodo to give up the ring, but he remains nearby pleading for him to do the right thing.

Ephesians 6:13 tells the Christian soldier to put on the whole armor of God in order to withstand evil, and when you have done everything you can, you stand. Do not retreat. Do not give up. Sam exemplified that soldier. He did everything he could, he refused to retreat, refused to give up. He stood at his friend’s side, and he faced evil even when he was helpless to stop it.

spiritual-warfare 2

credit to nightshade130.wordpress.com

Am I as faithful to my friends? Do I hold up the light of Christ as I pray for a friend who has turned away from truth and has been captivated by the world? Do I wield my sword of the Spirit to battle evil that would dare touch someone I love? Do I exhaust myself in defending him? Do I remain at her side no matter what? Regardless of my friend’s decisions, have I done everything possible to plant my feet and face the Enemy? Oh, may I, like Sam the Hobbit, be the hero in service to Christ!