Thursday, March 29, 2018



By: Christina Weigand

For the last couple of years, I have been writing a series of Middle Grade books. It was an interesting adventure since up until that point I had been writing Young Adult. There were so many lessons I learned while on the journey. One of the lessons I learned is that moving from YA to MG is not as easy as it sounds and even though I managed to write six MG books it is not where my heart lies. But this lesson is a story for another day. The one I want to talk about today is “Inspiration.”

I think I mentioned in one of the comments to one of the posts on this blog, is that I struggle to find my inspiration. Writers use anything from music to photos to nature and the list goes on. For me, like I said, I don’t know what lights that spark that becomes a finished novel someday.

 So, what do the MG books have to do with this. When I agreed to take on the job of writing the series, a gentleman, the creator, supplied me with a list of plots, a group of characters and a script for the first book in the series. It was up to me to take these things that had been the spark for a children’s series and age the stories up to middle grade. For me even though I had the basic bones still proved to be a daunting task. One thing I learned very quickly was that working with someone else’s ideas and characters is not something I do well. I felt fenced in.

This led me to create a character for the stories that was my own, adding him to the already existing framework. Once Sir E. Robert Smythe was created and approved then I was able to move onto the list of plots. They were all simple since they were geared toward a younger audience than I was now writing for. This is where the inspiration comes in. With each book I would take the simple plot and see what other things would come to mind supporting and expand that plot.
The first book I wrote “Sir E. Robert Smythe and the School Bully” didn’t go much beyond bullying, which in and of itself is a serious subject. The main characters that were being bullied chose to try and discover the reason behind the bullying and then try to befriend the bully.

The second book “Sir E. Robert Smythe and the Lost Detective” was a little more fun. We started out with teaching kids about listening to your parents. After some discussion we decided to explore homelessness so one of the characters was a homeless. We also dealt with death, summer reading clubs and had a dog that was training to be a rescue dog.

The third book was about back to school shopping. “Sir E. Robert Smythe Goes Back to School Shopping” had one rich girl with self esteem issues, a middle-class girl with a little bit of a weight problem and the third girl was an orphan with no money to speak of. All three girls were friends and navigated the world of back-to-school shopping. I explored upcycling and dealing with friendship and parent issues.
In “Sir E. Robert Smythe Goes Back to School explored the effects on kids after their best friend commits suicide. There were some foreign students who moved into the neighborhood and some video game writing by a younger brother.
The fifth book “Sir E. Robert Smythe is a Good Sport” started out being a story about winning and losing at sports. I decided to take it a step further and explore the gulf between sports and the arts in schools.
The final book in the series “Sir E. Robert Smythe and the Substitute Teacher” explored a student with ADHD and how she reacted when a well-loved teacher was replaced by a less than understanding teacher. When the town is hit with a hurricane and an aftermath of flooding the teacher and the student had to learn to work together before they both lost their lives. While researching ADHD I found an interesting therapy involving horses that I was able to weave into the story.
A little seed of an idea can turn into a full-blown tree. A little inspiration turns into a remarkable story. It reminds me of a puzzle, you have many small pieces that when put together properly turn into a beautiful picture.
So even if you’re like me and not sure about where your inspiration comes from, just know that it is in you and with a little prodding it erupts.

Sir E. Robert Smythe and the School Bully

Nathan and Paul have a bully problem. Billy, the school bully, has chosen them to be the target of his aggression. Paul, along with Sir E. Robert Smythe of the Galactic Safety Council, discovers the root of Billy’s issues and strives to convince the bully to change his ways.

When Billy runs away from home, Paul goes after him. Billy’s dad, the cause of Billy’s anger, finds the boys and threatens them. They are rescued but not before each are injured and Billy’s dad escapes.
During their recovery they learn more about each other and face Billy’s dad once again. Can they overcome their differences and confront the bullying going on in their school before someone gets seriously hurt?
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Sir E. Robert Smythe and the Lost Detective
During summer vacation, while Anna and her brother Ben along with Bridget and her brother, Sam are participating in the Summer Reading Adventure at the local library the town council announces that they are building low income housing for the homeless. While the housing is being constructed a tent community has been established on an old soccer field on the other side of a haunted swamp. Sam is upset by this turn of events, but his anger is only beginning.
In the meantime, unbeknownst to them, the girls befriend Zoe, one of the homeless people living in the tents. The girls spend time together tracking down clues supplied by the books they are borrowing from the library that will eventually lead to a prize at the end of the Summer Reading Adventure.
When Bridget and Sam’s grandfather dies in a tragic car accident Sam’s anger increases it is discovered that Zoe’s father was the drunk driver in the truck that crashed into grandfather’s car. The family lawyer reveals in the will that the farm and house have been left to the community to build low income housing for the homeless.
Sam’s anger reaches a boiling point and he directs it at Zoe and hatches a plan to get back at the people he thinks are taking away everything he holds dear.
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