Friday, August 24, 2012

Writing From a Child's Point of View - K.G. Wehner - Kindle Fire Giveaway

Dr. Von Thistle's Curious Concoction: The Miss-Adventures of Amy & Tracy
by K.G. Wehner

It’s 1958. Eleven-year-old cousins Amy and Tracy Cimino are burdened by pounding drums only they can hear. Amy feels it’s linked to her recent nightmare. Although Amy often has dreams that come true, Tracy isn’t worried. She’s much too busy coming up with a talent she can showcase on a popular radio show.

When a well-known scientist shows up at their mothers’ big gala, all their guests are smitten with him. Except Amy, who feels he is the man in her nightmare. Tracy thinks Amy is making a big deal out of nothing. What would a famous scientist want with ordinary ol’ them?

Except Amy and Tracy are anything but ordinary. They can speak with each other telepathically. And while Amy predicts the future through dreams, Tracy discovers she has her own amazing talent…one she can’t share with the world. In trying to escape the evil scientist who is intent on kidnapping them, they find time portals that send Amy to the future while Tracy becomes stuck in the past.

Amy’s nightmare does seem to be coming true after all. Can they escape the evil scientist once and for all, or might they be trapped in different time periods separated from each other forever?

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Writing from a Child’s Point of View
by K.G. Wehner

When my sister and I were four and five respectively, we morphed into characters we named Amy and Tracy, even invented their history. Thanks to our mother allowing us to watch a movie where a person is swallowed by quicksand, Tracy’s mother met the same fate. Amy’s mother died from a heart attack walking in a forest. The motherless girls were sent to an orphanage and adopted by abusive parents. Finally, after being returned to the orphanage for noncompliance, both girls found a home with two rich sisters who lived together in a mansion. (Years later my mother admitted feeling concerned that we killed off our characters’ mothers and pretended that their adopted mothers treated them cruelly. She was relieved to know we didn’t need therapy.)

Since my sister and I were not up on American history as youngsters, we placed Amy and Tracy in the 1400’s, living in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (much to my Cousin Helen’s amusement). Their fathers were Vikings, we decided. That’s why they were never around. (No wonder their mothers were rich…all the pilfered gold and jewels!)

Of course, when I wrote my book many years later, I had to be historically accurate. I decided to use the year 1958. That way the characters could travel back or forward in time, and I could sneak a little history into the storyline. Other than that, I tried to keep the story as organic and honest to our childhood stories as possible.

I thought I’d managed to do it, but when I paid to have an agent critique my first ten pages at a writer’s conference, he said, “Your child characters sound too adult, and I can’t differentiate Amy from Tracy. They sound like the same person.”

That was my first of many “aha” moments. He was right. The kids spoke too formally. They were too similar. I spent the next few years learning how to be a child again. I gave my characters distinctive personalities. Tracy is the dreamer: impulsive, imaginative, and a little bit sloppy. Amy is the thinker: a planner, likes things tidy, and follows through on the goals she sets for herself. Together, they can solve any problem.

Being an adult means being creative in a different way. I have to invent ways to get my kids to finish their carrots and devise clever methods to make brushing teeth and putting on pajamas fun. I still have to think like a kid, but I do it in spurts. When it comes to writing a story from a child’s point of view, I have to dig deep into my memory to find the child inside of me that longs for adventures. I think that’s what I like about writing for kids. I can return to that place where I felt the most happy, loved, and secure. I can relive the days when my sister and I would pretend to be two adopted kids, every possibility a road leading to who knew where, every day a fresh opportunity for imagination. 

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  1. Thank you, erlessard! And thanks for hosting me, Tami. I really appreciate it!

    -K.G. Wehner



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