Books on Botox is back!
This week we take a look at Yours Truly, a contemporary romance by Abby Jimenez as an example of how to succeed with dual Points Of View.
And why Jake Burt's novel The Tornado is a dazzling example of how to write authentically about bullying in middle school.
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Books on Botox is back Today. How do you write a story from multiple points of view and make it work? And there are lots of bullies in middle grade fiction. How do you make yours authentic and relevant? Stay right where you are. Details coming up next. Hi everyone, welcome to episode 42. This is a Books on Botox episode where we talk about books we love that are good examples of some kind of writing. I actually love the book I'm going to do today, but first I wanted to talk about this weird thing that happens to me, and I'm curious if it happens to any of you out there where I go through phases where I can't read. I just can't concentrate, or I can't finish a book, or I don't care, there's nothing I like. Everything seems like a chore, and then I panic right, because reading is probably my primary source of entertainment. And then I come back around and literally in the last month I've read like six books, whereas most of the two months before that I read like none. So it's weird. Does that happen to you?Lisa Schmid:
I go through phases, definitely. Sometimes I just maybe if I've got other stuff on my brain and I just can't concentrate, and then I'll just go watch a BBC murder mystery, and that I think it has a lot to do with your emotional state. I'm like what's going on with you, beth, let's talk. I think. No, I think.Beth McMullen:
I just felt really fragmented because I was running all over the place this summer. I was traveling so much, I was never home, I was living out of my suitcase and I just felt like I couldn't hold a thought in my head that was more than 30 seconds. It's like a Twitter disease that's what we should call it where you're like I can only think in 148 characters and beyond that. It's just impossible. But it feels. I don't like the way it feels and it's funny because I have the same problem. So when I can't read books, I can't watch TV either. I can't watch movies, I can't focus long enough. I mean, maybe I should be medicated. It's probably something out there to help people like me, where I'm like nope, I only have a minute of concentration and then I'm moving on. It's bad.Lisa Schmid:
I just think that's normal.Beth McMullen:
It's just been a little bit of a crazy phase, but I'm hopeful that now it's over.Lisa Schmid:
So my panicky feeling came yesterday and you got the phone call because I don't know why this is like such a well, it is a big deal. So of course, I've had forever to write the acknowledgments for this book and I knew that they were going to ask for it at some point, but I don't know why I just put it off. I'm like, oh, I'll just get to it, because I feel like it's such an emotional moment like writing your acknowledgments. So, of course, nothing happens forever. And then it's like we need your acknowledgments by Monday and so, of course, sat down, I'm like I know I'm going to forget somebody. And then I was so concerned with how I was wording it. So then I made the huge mistake of reading other people's acknowledgments to see how they did it. Like you know, it's not this is just my second time writing acknowledgments and I'm like everyone's, they're like, they're like writers.Beth McMullen:
Leave it to you to get like imposter syndrome on the acknowledgments. Like, you already wrote the book, somebody bought it, they're going to publish it, but no, you're like I'm gonna have a crisis over the acknowledgments. I feel like that's very in character for you, though, right.Lisa Schmid:
You know, I was just so worried about how it was worded. So then of course I called you and asked for your take on something. And it's like I literally sat there, I was a day late on turning it in because I was lamenting over one word and and even now I'm like they're so boring it's just like thank you, special thanks. And then I read other people's and they're like lyrical and deeply moving and I'm like hey, thanks a lot.Beth McMullen:
I love to read the acknowledgments of people I don't know like. Let's just throw James Patterson out there, because he's written a thousand books and by the time they're writing Acknowledgments in their like seven hundredth book. They're like I'd like to thank the woman who walks by my house with her dog, who I've never talked to. I'd like to thank my first grade teacher, whose name I don't remember. Like they're just. They're like scraping the bottom of the barrel, coming up with people to think it's kind of funny. They just, like you, run out of people. It happens in the dedication to when they're like I'd like to dedicate this to the staff of my local Starbucks, you know, I mean because they're they're just like they have so many books. They run out of people that are relevant to them. I always crack up when I see that and then I'm like it's it kind of. I always think of the Acknowledgments as this prayer that you're sending into the future because you are going to forget people. But it's this confidence that you're going to someday write more Acknowledgments. You're going to publish another book and you're gonna name those people then.Lisa Schmid:
Well, it's funny. You should say that because there's a squirrel that lands outside my window on the fence and he always looks at me like why are you writing? Like why are you staring at me? Yeah, I mean, we have a stare off like every day he comes.Beth McMullen:
I almost included him in my Acknowledgments when you publish book 432, it's gonna be to the squirrel who sits outside my window. It makes me feel guilty and then people will know that you just ran out of humans that you want to fake in your book.Lisa Schmid:
I Can say that I did work Taylor Swift into the.Beth McMullen:
I would have been so disappointed if you didn't.Lisa Schmid:
Anyway, all right, we should talk about books on Botox. We're crazy.Beth McMullen:
All right books on Botox. Woohoo, we are only doing these episodes now once a month, so I like, kind of, I'm excited. Okay, this book, this is one of my like six books that I've had in the last couple of weeks. It is called yours truly, it is by Abby Jimenez, it is published by forever and it was published in February 23. So it's fairly new. This is a contemporary romance and here is a quick summary that I lifted from. Where did I lift this summary from? Oh, I think from Kirkus. So ER doctor, doctor Brianna Ortiz has our has enough on her plate. She's in the midst of finalizing her divorce and her brother's on a deadline to find a kidney donor. Now she has to worry about the new doctor. Jacob Maddox is there to nab her promotion to chief of emergency medicine. Admittedly, jacob, who has social anxiety, doesn't make the best-person impression, telling her off or bumping into him in the hall To make amends. He writes for a letter to explain himself and apologize, and the tension between them softens as their letters to each other keep coming. Bri realizes Jacob isn't there to undermine her and Jacob gets to see her more vulnerable side when Jacob offers to be Bri's brother's kidney donor and Bri agrees to be Jacob's pretend girlfriend for a wedding. It's easy to understand what. It's easy to wonder what kept these two apart in the first place, and that's a pretty good summary. That's like the gist of the story. But what I love, and why I think it's interesting from a writing perspective, is that this is the kind of book that elicits all sorts of warm, fuzzy emotions in the reader, even if on a logical level it's kind of ridiculous, and by that I mean you want to shake these main characters and say like, come on, already, you're both pretty smart people. How can you not see what's so obvious? There's a lot of little twists and things that don't feel at all believable, but you don't care, and that is because this author is bringing these emotions out in you, and she does it so well that you just overlook the stuff that seems, you know, not that realistic. So I think that's one reason why it's interesting from a writing perspective. The other is that there are two protagonists. So you have Jacob and you have Brie, and they're alternating chapters. Each chapter is written in the first person. This is really hard to do well, because you have to be really confident in the difference between the voices of the two leads. As an author, you have got to make sure they are distinguishable and that they don't bleed together in any way, because that's not so great to experience as a reader. So this author has got her arms around these characters so well that you don't see any of that overlap. They're very distinguishable on their own and even though they're both first person so you feel like you're in their heads you definitely aren't getting confused about who you're reading at any given time. That's a pretty hard thing to pull off. I've seen a lot of books recently that have been written with multiple lead characters, but one is first person and the other one or two is third person. That allows the author to approach each of them very differently, so you don't get that overlap and that bleed between the voices. But this one with both of them in first person, it's way more of a challenge and she does it really well. So if you're considering that type of format for your contemporary romance or thriller or whatever you're doing, I would read this book because it is a good example of how to make sure you're not having that overlap. So Comps, catherine Center, the Bodyguard, which I think I did on Books on Botox at one point. Anything. By Ali Hazelwood, the Love Hypothesis is a good one. Fun Read Beth O'Leary. The Road Trip. That one takes place on a Road Trip to Scotland. So if you want a little UK flair to your book, choose that one. So that is my book, it is yours truly.Lisa Schmid:
Ooh, that sounds good.Beth McMullen:
I think it would make a really good movie. I think all these books would make great Netflix movies.Lisa Schmid:
It's funny that you should say that there's so many good books out there that I just think always why aren't they tapping into books more? But I think we all have that thought when books are written with different points of view. There's such a skill to that. I just read Jenny Lundquist's new manuscript and she's got more than three points of view it is. Each one is so well-defined I never had to say wait, which one is this? It's probably one of the best I've ever read, and as I was reading it I just kept you know how I do this. I was texting her as I went along because it's so brilliant. I'm like your head must have been exploding while you were writing this and all I kept saying to her was auction, auction, auction. I think this book is going to auction.Beth McMullen:
It's very popular now too. It used to be, I would say. If we go back 20 years, 25 years, you did not see that many books that had multiple points of view. But now you've got this sort of thing where you've got two or three or four or more, and they're summer first person, summer third person. It's all over the place, and I think, because the practitioners are getting so much better at it, the writers are so much better than they used to be, that it totally works. I mean, yes, you do see the ones where it doesn't work, and that's really obvious, but you have a lot of them where it's a really it works really well and it just gives you a different reading experience.Lisa Schmid:
I think you know when somebody is doing it. Well, if I get irritated when they switch the POV to the next person because I'm already so much into this story and also they switch back over, and then I get irritated, I'm like, oh, and I just want to skip over that chapter, that's when I feel like they haven't done a good enough job, maybe, or no, that is a really, really good point, because I think there are a lot of times where the author clearly favors one of the characters and that's the character that they're developing and the other one is a bit of a throwaway.Beth McMullen:
And as a reader, you get to the throwaway chapters and you're like I'm skipping this because I want to be with the other character, because that's obviously the favorite child. So that's what happens, and so I think if you're doing this, you have to love all of them equally, and it has to come through on the page.Lisa Schmid:
Yeah, and I think, like I said, but this one manuscript I'm reading right now or that it just I'm so Engaged in each person's story and what happened that is fitting into the pieces of the bigger narrative that I just I'm like, okay, wait, worded, and she's got like it's all these different time frames and I'm just like, oh my god, like how did she do this? And she's done it so well. I can hardly wait for the world to read this book because it is. It's probably one of my favorite books right now and I wish I could talk about it and I you can't talk about it anymore.Beth McMullen:
We're gonna have to go and get Jenny's permission to have talked about it at all.Lisa Schmid:
All right. So my book is Called the tornado by Jake Burt and it's published by Square Fish, and this is about four years old, or three years old actually. It was published in October 2020 and I like this years ago and I just I loved it so much. So I'm gonna give you the summary and then tell you why I liked it. Bell Kirby is an expert at systems, whether he's designing the world's best elaborate habitat for his pet chinchilla, recreating Leonardo da Vinci's greatest inventions in his garage or avoiding Parker Helikensen Helikoson the most diabolical bully full of village green elementary has ever seen. Since third grade, parker has tormented Bell, who spent two long years devising a finely tuned system. They keep some out of Parker's way. Sure, it means that Bell can't get a drink of water when he wants to, can't play with his best friend on the playground and Can't tell his parents about his day, but at least he's safe. And Until day Lynn Gower touches down in his classroom like a tornado. Bell's not sure why this new girl with her rainbow hair, wild clothes and strange habits is drawn to him, but he knows one thing she means trouble. It's bad enough that she disrupts Bell's secret system, but when day Lynn becomes the bully's new target, bell is forced to make an impossible decision. He finally has to stand up to Parker. Oh my god, this is such a good book. Okay. So first of all, it takes a lot of inspiration from the Wizard of Oz, so anything that pulls from that classic, which is one of my favorites, I'm already gonna fall in love with. But it is definitely. There's so many books out there on bullying, but this one really takes a thoughtful look at bullying and the impact on its targets and the courage to do something right and it's just a book about real friendship and it has a great stem subplot. But the thing and I just one of the things I especially love it's just like Bell has this little cast of characters. It is very reminiscent of the Scarecrow and the Tin man and Howard Lee Lyon. It's just like this, really fun, like take on everything. But sometimes in middle grade you can kind of get a little cliche with bullying and and this does not happen and the way just everything about it works so well together and it's so clever and so well-written, just his descriptions and just everything about it is delight, jake was in my group of 2017 middle grade debut authors and the book that he that came out in 2017 of his is called Greetings from Witness Protection, which is like one of my favorite middle grade books.Beth McMullen:
It's so funny. He's. I love his books. I think he is he kind of hits the perfect notes of important subjects very readable enough humor to keep you totally kind of in there with him, and he's a school teacher by trade. I think I'm like 80% sure, and I felt like he got a lot of inspiration from watching real kids, so you can tell that he's not making this up. Probably he has seen different elements that show up in his books in the real world and I think that makes it feel authentic.Lisa Schmid:
I was going to say it feels very authentic and it doesn't. You feel like you are immersed in this kid's day and what he really feels like and what really you know what it feels like to be in middle school. So, and I do have three comps, there's Hello Universe by Erin and Trotta Kelly, which is another fantastic book. I love that book so much, oh my God, I love that. Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk and Clues to the Universe by Christina Lee.Beth McMullen:
Can I just mention one other book by Jake that I also loved. That had the unfortunate experience much like one of my books to come out during the pandemic and it's about a pandemic so and he had written it long before we were in our own pandemic, so the timing was a bummer. But the book is called Cleo Porter and the Body Electric. It's really, really good. I just want to plug it because I actually loved that book and I think it should be getting more attention. So that's just my little public service announcement for today. Very good, these are good books. I'm super excited. So those are our selections. Go to our bookshoporg site. They are all listed there, if you forget, and that link is in the podcast notes and also on our link tree. Basically, if there's anything you want to find about writers with wrinkles, go to the podcast notes or go to the link tree. Everything is there, and we will add our blue sky handles to our link tree as well, so you can find us over there. I totally have no idea how to drive that thing, so when I'm looking for people, it's usually hit or miss if I find them. So that is all for today's episode and we will be back next week with Jennifer March-Sollaway, an agent for Andrea Brown, and we're very excited for that. We know that our agent episodes are usually a favorite among listeners, so be sure to join us for that and until then, happy reading, writing and listening. Bye, lisa.Lisa Schmid: