Have a Marlis Day!

St. Louis Sisters in Crime

Posted on: June 9, 2011

 I received a call from Pam DeVoe with the Greater St. Louis Sisters in Crime organization asking if she could feature my books and me on their website. I felt so honored! She interviewed me on the phone, then posted this on their website. It should be up for a month. Anyway, I just wanted to share it with you.  (Note the pearls. I just had this picture made for our church directory. Do I look like “The Church Lady?” All I need is a hat!)

Sisters in Crime Tuesday, June 7, 2011 Midwest Mystery Authors and Their Writing Tips

Marlis Day, youth and adult mystery author, member of SinC

 Have you been thinking you’d like to write mysteries for a younger audience? Perhaps middle schoolers? But, you aren’t sure what would be appropriate or how the story should be formatted. Do you think a book for fifth graders, for example, is the same as for an adult but with a more limited vocabulary? If this sounds like you, meet Marlis Day, author of The Secret of Bailey’s Chase and Back to Bailey’s Chase. Marlis has penned novels for both adults and middle school aged children, and today we are going to hear about her mysteries for young people. As a teacher and avid lifelong reader herself, she believes passionately in the importance of encouraging a love of reading in the young. Ergo, her writing the Bailey girls’ adventurous mysteries. One of the first things you notice about Marlis’ Bailey’s Chase series is the formatting. She writes short chapters, each a complete mini-adventure in itself, while at the same time allowing for anticipation of future escapades. These bite-size pieces of story take into consideration a couple of things important to consider when writing for a younger crowd. First, ten-year-olds need steps, closure, even as they move along through a novel. These mini-adventures help anchor them in the longer story. And, second, each chapter is short enough to read to a younger child in one sitting. Younger children will also enjoy the mystery, but may not yet have the reading skills to approach the book on their own. A secondary benefit of reading the stories to children (of whatever age) is that while you are developing their love of reading and stories, you are also bonding with them. A double benefit! Other important elements young readers like are: adventure, fantasy, a fast pace, humor, suspense, not too many characters to keep track of, and closure. And, of course, they like the good guys to win. A good writer, as Marlis demonstrates in her Bailey’s Chase series, can serve up all of these story elements — without distorting the child’s world through the use of gratuitous exaggeration or hyperbole, thereby making it more evil and horrific than it need be. In other words, Marlis advocates mysteries that are exciting, but not too graphic. She believes stories should leave young readers with a sense of empowerment (they can face difficult or troubling issues and solve problems) as well as a sense of overall safety. Marlis’ Writer’s Tips Read, read, read: It couldn’t be more clear. If you want to write for juveniles and/or young adults, find out what they are reading and read, read, read. Marlis has years of experience as a teacher, but even if you don’t, you can find out what and why various novels interest your target audience by reading the books that are popular with them now. Connect with other writers: As with many other successful writers, Marlis highly recommends connecting with others who share your passion for writing. Go to conferences, join mystery and children’s writers’ organizations as well as critique groups. You will learn new and useful things to help your own writing when you do, and you’ll also learn more about the publishing world. Everything will be useful to you and to your craft. More about Marlis Day Her books are available through your local bookstores as well as on-line, for example, through Amazon. You will be able to find out more about Marlis Day at http://www.marlisday.com. If you’d like to contact Marlis directly, her e-mail address is marlisday@gmail.com. She loves hearing from her readers, so don’t be afraid to reach out to her. Enjoy! Pam De Voe

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