About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

Romance and our Middle Grade

I’ve been dipping into other pools lately, and even though I still have no focused direction, I have lots of questions about what kids are reading now a days.

  1. who reads middle grade?
  2. who reads YA?
  3. What do kids want in a story?
  4. What makes a story compelling?

So, One at a time because I like how these questions have answers that also lead me into a deeper understanding of if this is something I want to do. Who would I be writing for? What is my target audience?

1. Who reads Middle Grade?  Word on the street is that 8-13 year olds are reading middle grade. That’s the standard, so to speak. And I imagine they are!! But I also remember reading a lot as a kid. When I pick up a MG book and it is about an 1/8 – 1/4 of an inch thick, I stop imagining it. Avid readers, at this age, are well beyond this story… A 5th grader is 10 or 11, and even my own kids had started in on Harry Potter by then. Okay…

2. Who reads YA?  This one is also broad, because we all know the twenty-something who loves YA. But technically, YAers are 14 – 20[ish]. I think the appeal of YA holds the readers into adulthood. [just an opinion, of course…maybe I need to do a poll!] I’ve never quite gotten into YA, so no matter what I discover about this genre, I can’t imagine writing it. However, is there an overlapping spot between MG and YA that I could squeeze a book into?

Overall, I feel like both of the labels are skewed and depend too much on the markets and namecallers to be valid. What do I mean by that? I mean people–kids, teens, young adults, and adults–are never going to be pigeonholed. So, what do we do? We balance between writing what we want to read and writing for the market. Selling the book is important if we want people to read it. And publishers want to know WHO is going to buy your book!!

3. What do kids want in a story?  This one is tricky. I know what I want in a story. I know what I wanted when I was in 3rd grade and reading trixie belden mysteries, when I was in 6th grade and reading Agatha Christie…and in 10th grade and reading Michael Phillips. Part of me hopes that kids still want a riveting story, characters who bring depth, and emotions that jump out from the page and make us feel. And something fun. I found a blog post answering the question “Can my middle grade book have politics?” Besides the fact that the answer is YES, I would question, why? I’m bored already and I haven’t even read the book. The matter of a book should be so ingrained in it, we don’t see it until we’re done and we step back and go…wow. For me this is where Christian Fiction goes wrong. There are a few good Christian fiction authors who can put a story on the page without slapping me with the dos and don’ts. [hey, Beth…you’re rambling now!] Ooops.

4. What makes a story compelling?  Nothing like asking a question that has a million answers!!! However, I’m going to wrap it up in one word, CONFLICT. Emotional, moral, relationship, external…no matter what you choose to highlight, there better be the idea that something better or worse is out there, waiting to ruin everything.

 

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

Happy Birthday, ME!

Every time I hit a new decade, I hear the sweet whispers about how awesome this decade is going to be. Well, so far, 40s have been awesome.

The 20s were uncertain and scary, but in a good way! The adventure of becoming an adult, striking out on my own, having sex for the first time, learning my limits and expanding my boundaries. Questioning everything…and not always learning.

I spent my 30s tired. Seriously tired.  Matt was working his tail off to support a growing family. Yet, our 30s were where we came into our own. We started the decade drinking on the weekends and smoking, working to pay the bills, and wondering what the hell we were doing. But as our 30s came to end, we’d made concrete goals for the future, joined the Army, quit smoking and drinking, and had our last kid, too. Our lives had finally melded into one, and even though we were exhausted in those goals, we were happy…and still married! I was writing. He was soldiering. Two dreams made into a reality.

So, here I am at 42 this year.  It has taken me two years to understand what this decade would be about. But this one is mine. All mine. This past year, especially, has made me realize that I need to take care of myself as well as everyone else. My writing is important. My health is important. I’ve lost 30 pounds this year. I’ve written more since 40 than I have in a long time. I’m driven to do so much more. I volunteer for Sunday School classes, am president of the Catholic Military Woman’s group, and also [sorta] help out with the FRG–family readiness group. In my 30s, relationships with other women wasn’t a key that I needed in order to unlock anything important in my life. Now, they are. I crave strong, independent, opinionated women–like myself, like the friends I have here at Passionate Critters and Through Heart-Shaped Glasses. I have eight more years in this decade. And I can’t wait!

Life is like our books. We start with an idea. We develop it and work at it for a long time. And we might even hit that point where we just want to throw it all out the window! But if we keep going, keep searching, keep learning, keeping loving, we reach the other side and suddenly the book makes sense again and we actually like it! Ha!

Share with me: What decade are you in? What is the theme for your life right now?

With Love,

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

Looking to the Future

I have a time travel. It’s a YA–so far. It’s set between now and World War Two. I only mention this because I titled my blog post, “Looking to the Future.” Which I’m doing, in a way. Back in January I registered for Thriller Fest XIII, the big convention every year in New York City. Did you know International Thriller Writers is free to join? I joined back in 2015 after meeting another member and being convinced it was worth it! It has been worth it. Even more worth it, though, was the friendship I made which lead me there. And that makes me think of all the connections I’ve made in this industry.

Here at Through Heart-Shaped Glasses. In my critique group, Passionate Critters. Through Romance Writer chapters, writing groups online, and social media Promotions. It’s a huge big world. And I find myself loving the connections. Friends all over the world…

Writing is a solitary struggle about 80 percent of the time. The other 20, it’s the connections. There is nothing like the camaraderie of the writing industry. From writing to publishing to marketing–there is a place for you! Someone will side with you and then commiserate with you when your career turns south for a time and then cheer you on as you kick-ass back on track.

There’s this hope that someday, I’ll get to meet all my writing friends and associates face-to-face. For now, COME ON, JULY! HURRY UP AND GET HERE!! You’re just weeks away, and I have plans…

Tell me, what are you looking forward to this summer? Do you have any conferences or workshops on your schedule? What kind of connection will you make with ‘the industry’? Will you pitch to an agent? Garner interest from an editor? Buy a drink for that coveted marketing professional?

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

Last Day of School!!!!

On April 17th this year, I received a notice from my son’s school. Text book turn in will be from May 7-11. Please be ready to turn in your books on May 7th.

And I got really pissed.

Do you know when school ended this year???

Today.

Yup. TODAY!!

And what have these kids been doing since May 7th?

WHO THE FUCK KNOWS????

For a school district that has become so incredibly pushy and anal about having an excuse to be absent, I found this announcement to be a complete outrage. I will, from now on, ignore all notes, memos, and whatnot, telling me my son has an unexcused absence on October 3rd.

If they can ignore the last 13 days of school,… UGH!!

That’s it. I’m so done with this ridiculousness!!! I love teachers. I have HUGE respect for teachers, who put up with the asinine behaviors of administration and bureaucracy!

That is all.

Have a good day. And happy flipping summer.

With Love,

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

the Anniversary Month

You don’t realize how awful March is for an anniversary until you are married in it…and then must spend the next 50-75 years celebrating a wedding anniversary there.

My husband and I have spoken on the idea of getting divorced so we can remarry in July. July 14th is the day I wanted to get married. My parents were married on that day…and so were my grandparents. Alas, my husband and I did the shag-a-lag [thank you to my friend Mary for first using that word in front of me], which pushed up our wedding date to March.

March, a month smack dab in the middle of tax season, which is a big deal when the groom is an accountant. March…too cold for a “fun” honeymoon at Myrtle Beach. March is part of this hibernating season when we just want to curl up and wait for April…or even May.

How did you pick a wedding day? Did it seem like a big deal to you at the time? Or was it more like a random shot in the dark? When you consider dates for your characters, are there always significant reasons–birthdays, anniversaries, deaths?

P.S. Although I sound morose, I’m still happily married. We rarely celebrate our anniversary in an official manner anymore. We’re lucky to get a date night. But, it hasn’t changed the fact that we love each other…

So, maybe the date doesn’t matter. Although, let’s be honest. I’m going to ask my priest about the divorce and remarrying thing. 😉

Happy Spring!

With Love,

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

A Month for Beheadings

February is the month we celebrate Love. Isn’t it funny that Saint Valentine [the first and the second] were both beheaded? So, I did a little digging to find out more…why do we celebrate love and couples and this bond between two people on a day where we also remember the life of people who were beheaded for doing what was right? [so much more on that in a minute, btw!] [Also, excuse the history lesson. I don’t mean to bore you.]

And I read this, “Today is the feast day of St. Valentine.  Did you know St. Valentine was a real person?  Well, actually there are at least 2 St. Valentines in the ancient martyrology of the Catholic church.  While very little is known about Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni, we do know that Pope Gelasius declared February 14th his feast day in 496.  He is the patron saint of happy marriages, engaged couples and young people….

It is believed that Valentine was a priest arrested by the Emperor Claudius for marrying Christian couples secretly during a time of persecution in the Church.  Legend has it that while he was imprisoned and waiting for his martyrdom, he sent letters to his fellow Christians signing them, ‘From Your Valentine.'”

Okay. I get it now. It makes me think of this odd world we live in where people are persecuted every day. Through history, since the beginning of time, we have needed a HERO. Someone who would break the rules for justice, for belief. I think, as romance novelists, we see those stories. We find hope in the memory of the people who fight–hero or heroine. Already, I’m thinking of people from the 6th century who wanted to get married but weren’t allowed! LOL 😀 There’s a story there.

I kept reading….and found so much more!

During the Medieval Age, a common belief in England and France was that birds began to pair on Feb.14, “half-way through the second month of the year.” Chaucer wrote in his “Parliament of Foules” (in Old English): “For this was on Seynt Valentyne’s day, When every foul cometh ther to choose his mate.” For this reason, the day was dedicated to “lovers” and prompted the sending of letters, gifts, or other signs of affection.

Another literary example of St. Valentine’s Day remembrances is found in Dame Elizabeth Brews “Paston Letters” (1477), where she writes to the suitor, John Paston, of her daughter, Margery: “And, cousin mine, upon Monday is St. Valentine’s day and every bird chooseth himself a mate, and if it like you to come on Thursday night, and make provision that you may abide till then, I trust to God that ye shall speak to my husband and I shall pray that we may bring the matter to a conclusion.” In turn, Margery wrote to John: “Unto my right well beloved Valentine John Paston, Squyer, be this bill delivered. Right reverend and worshipful and my right well beloved Valentine, I recommend me unto you, full heartily desiring to hear of your welfare, which I beseech Almighty God long for to preserve until His pleasure and your heart’s desire.”

Such passionate writing for a woman of those times… or is it? The idea that passions are greater now because we are freer now, seems to be a myth, yes? I love hearing stories from other centuries about love and the call to become one with another soul.

It makes me smile to know that humanity is ingrained with the need for a soulmate and meant to share life with a person. Centuries have gone by and more centuries will pass, and romance and love and the pain and conflict that comes with it, will thrive…it will make stories worth reading.

Aren’t you so excited?!

Now, I must go document another wonderful, powerful story of Love.

Have a great week!

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

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