In today’s post, children’s author Lee Y. Miao will share with us a little bit about her newest book in the Ellie & Co book series, as well as some perspectives on her writing process.
Thank you, Jan, for asking me to do a guest post on your lovely blog. I’m delighted to discuss my second middle-grade novel, It’s a Rhap, Cat.
This book continues the Ellie & Co book series. However, the setting, primarily in the Los Angeles area, actually takes place about six weeks before the first novel, Wei to Go! Readers can also enjoy each book as a standalone with some recurring characters.
When twelve-year-old Cat, a history nerd, discovers her look-alike in a portrait by Raphael, she can’t wait to research this mysterious lady from the 16th century. But sparks fly when she signs up for the Renaissance History and Art Project (RHAP).
To win, Cat needs to ask her one-time rival, Trey, to team up with her. She’s distracted by softball. He’s distracted by lacrosse. They’re both distracted by the class diva.
Will she find clues in old letters handed down over generations? Or will the lady’s secrets in a Rome art gallery remain undeciphered? It’s up to Cat to solve the riddle. If only more than five hundred years didn’t stand in her way!
Writing Process Perspectives–The Outer Line of Defense: Indispensable Characters
The job of a main secondary character is to help propel the protagonist’s goals forward. These characters get oodles of credit, often being named in book descriptions or a synopsis or even on a coveted book jacket. An entire slew of lesser secondary characters may also appear who are not as prominent but still indispensable. First, I’ll digress into my rookie mode in spectator sports.
Baseball infielders put out runners attempting base hits. Outfielders, though, play a valuable role backing them up as well as catching long-fly balls. In football, aside from the defensive heavyweights, the secondary line is trained especially to thwart long passes. The lacrosse defense is aided by versatile defensive midfielders in transitioning the ball to offense.
In this spirit, I added an outer line of defense in my novel to further assist both the protagonist and the main secondary characters. The scenes with this cast provide depth, tension, and humor.
Let me introduce my line up:
- Fun Chum’s Little Brother: Ellie from book one is the to-die-for bestie. This quirky friend is the sidekick encouraging Cat to follow her instincts about a mysterious painting by Raphael. Additionally, Ellie’s little brother, a lacrosse player, provides comic relief when Cat confronts the antagonist and when she faces up to her feelings about a crush.
- The Crush and His Bros: Speaking of the crush, Cat has to persuade her classmate, a lacrosse player with awesome art skills, to get on board in the school’s Renaissance project. Except, well, middle-school social dynamics make a linear path impossible for puppy love. Forced to go the zigzaggy route, she leans on two athletic bros in the crush’s orbit to ease the way and lend a hand in related subplots.
- A Mentor and One More: Cat’s history teacher provides wise counsel on the school project. But when she throws down the gauntlet to “study history to learn about yourself,” Cat struggles to dig deeper. Just in the nick of time, the teacher introduces her art historian sister who becomes a second mentor, both in Rome and back in Los Angeles.
- Family Ties Plus: Amidst the school drama and mystery of the painting, Cat aims to get closer to her workaholic, weekend-only mom. In this regard, her normal home life centers around her dad and her aloof teen sister. The tangles among the three provide both a spark and unexpected key assists integral to Cat making headway in the book’s plot.
How do all the heavyweights and outer line of defense converge to support Cat in the mystery? Read the book!
Lee Y. Miao grew up in a small Pennsylvania town and lives in New York now with her family and a tireless dog. After working in financial jobs and writing K-12 educational material, she turned to middle-grade fiction. Her stories are about contemporary characters who discover connections to their cultures and families from their pasts.
Lee’s novels are published by Clear Fork Media Group and illustrated by Penny Weber. Please sign up for her email newsletter at her website, http://www.leeymiao.com, for updates and announcements about her writing life.
Here are some bookseller links if you’re interested in purchasing It’s a RHAP, Cat.
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/its-a-rhap-cat-lee-y-miao/1142851937?ean=9781950169849
Thank you Lee, my readers and I wish you all the best with It’s a RHAP Cat!