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feeding change — blogging learning & creativity for young minds

feeding change

blogging learning & creativity for young minds

I’m writing a Minecraft novel! Wait, I’m writing a Minecraft novel?

July 13, 2014

praxis--crops-students-gamingedusThey say write what you know.

I know Minecraft and I know writing for kids. Combining the two seemed like a natural fit and the beginnings of a really fun project.

The Battle for Minecraft  saga begins . . .

With an idea brewing, I sat down and spent the last month plotting and writing. The result is the Battle for Minecraft saga, a three book series for Middle Grade readers (age 8 – 14 years) set in the world of Minecraft.

It’s still a working title and much could change, but my goal is to have Book 1: Assault on Overworld, available in ebook by September 2014, with a print edition to follow very quickly.

What’s it about? Excellent question. Here’s a blurb for Assault on Overworld:

Things got serious when the creepers blew up the school cafeteria.

Before that Hamid, Ant and Jaina were three typical Minecraft-loving kids. Now, they are trapped inside the mysterious Minecraft world known only as the Seed racing to stop more monsters from spilling out of the game and into the real world.

The Battle for Minecraft has begun . . .

The first book in the series is finished and ready for Beta Readers. Speaking of which, I’m looking for Beta Readers.

Being a Beta Reader means a sneak peak at the book before it is finished. You read the book and offer feedback on things like plot, character or whatever you like or don’t like. It’s lots of fun and you’ll get a free digital copy and thank you in the finished book.

I’m hoping to get feedback from as many Minecraft fans as possible, so sign up to be a Beta Reader and tell your friends about it, too.

How is this even possible?

When I tell people I’m writing a Minecraft book, they’re usually suspicious. And rightly so. Here’s how I came to the decision that  a Minecraft book is something I must write.

In the last few months, I’ve been contacted by two separate publishers about writing Minecraft books. Both books were “unofficial” projects, meaning they were working under Mojang’s generous Brand & Assets Guidelines.

Both deals also fell through, which actually turned out to be a good thing.

I had already been thinking about a Minecraft novel for young readers. I had seen Minecraft novels for kids like this, this, and this appear on Amazon and waited for them to be taken down for copyright infringement by Mojang (the makers of Minecraft).

But they didn’t. More books appeared and readers seemed to like them.

Turns out Mojang is pretty open about using the name Minecraft and their creations (like creepers, endermen, etc). That’s why you see so many Youtube channels with Minecraft content. As long as you don’t claim to own the Minecraft name and characters, it seems you can build on their universe.

That freedom got the mouse in my head working overtime. The result is my upcoming Battle for Minecraft series, which I’ll publish through my publishing company Feeding Change Media.

I’m not sure where all this will lead, but I know I’m having fun. And for writers (and GI Joe fans), that’s half the battle.

What do you think? Would you read a Minecraft novel written by me? If you’re a teacher, would you share with your students? Let me know in the comments below.

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This is why I write for kids

June 18, 2014
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Does Hugh Howey get fan mail with googly eyes? No, he does not.

I know authors for adults get letters from their readers, but I doubt Margaret Atwood’s fan mail is created with crayons and comes with googly eyes. And that’s her loss.

I love getting letters and emails from readers and recently an amazing teacher in the US contacted me to say two of her students, Zoya and Elijah, were big fans of my Max Finder Mystery you-solve-it comic series. They love watching the short comic mysteries on Tumble Book Cloud Junior and they wanted to tell me all about it.

In addition to the amazing covers to their letters (seen in the photo above), Zoya and Elijah each took the time to write me and let me know exactly why they liked the mysteries and which ones were their favourites.

Check them out (click on the image to make it bigger):

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An awesome letter from an awesome fan! Click image to make it bigger.

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Max Finder fans write amazing letters! Click image to make it bigger.

 

Thanks for making my day with your letters Zoya and Elijah! There is a package of Max Finder goodies on its way to you. Enjoy and happy reading!

If you’re a teacher or a parent who knows a fan of any of my books, I would love to hear from you. You can email me at: mail [at] liamodonnell [dot] com to say hello or to get my mailing address. I will always write back!

 

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Meet Tank, a mystery-solving, tech-tinkering troll young readers will love

June 7, 2014

imageLast week, I sent the manuscript for Tank and Fizz #2 off to the amazing folks at Orca Book Publishers. To celebrate, I thought it’d be fun for you to meet another character from the series.

Today, we meet another one Slick City’s dynamic detectives: Tatanka Wrenchlin, the tinkering-troll!

Tatanka “Tank” Wrenchlin

Ten year old Tank is a troll who shares Fizz’s class and his desire to get to the bottom of mysteries. The two make an odd pair, with Tank standing head and shoulders over her goblin best friend, but there’s no duo better at finding lost mittens or missing lunches in all of Gravelmuck Elementary.

Like all trolls, Tank has an unquenched desire to know how things work. She cannot resist taking things apart to see the gears, pulleys or circuits inside. Due to some unfortunate events, like rewiring the school PA system to broadcast the MudBall Champions instead of Principal Weaver’s daily affirmations, Tank is forbidden to bring tools into school.

In fact, in most places in Slick City, trolls are regularly relieved of their screwdrivers, circuit testers and I/O receiver modulators, due to their inability to resist tinkering. Tank’s knack for building contraptions, writing code and generally hacking the network connecting the computers in her school, is a boon to a detective like Fizz.

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Ganked gets non-gamer goodness on Amy’s Marathon of Books

June 1, 2014

Ganked-drop-shadow2525-500W Support Amy's Marathon of Books

One of my biggest worries when writing Ganked, was that non-gamers wouldn’t get it.

Ganked is a straight-ahead YA mystery, but steeped in the world of video games and as a result packed with gamer terminology. But I didn’t want all the talk about MMOs, PvPing and Ganking to get in the way of the story and make it unreadable to non-gamers.

After reading Amy Mathers’ review of Ganked on the Marathon of Books site, I think I’ve unlocked that achievement (that’s another gaming reference.)

Amy isn’t a gamer but that didn’t stop her from enjoying the book. Here’s some of the nice things Amy said about Ganked:

“From witty humour to dramatic action scenes, it was an entertaining read with a great mystery. Definitely a must read for teen gamers.” – amysmarathonofbooks.ca

I couldn’t be happier.

I’m also very happy (and honoured) to be included in Amy’s Marathon of Books project.

Amy is reading a new Canadian YA book every single day during 2014 to raise money for the Canadian Children’s Book Centre and establish a Canadian teen book award. Her inspiration comes from two Canadian icons:

Inspired by Terry Fox’s and Rick Hansen’s Canadian journeys, Amy Mathers decided to honour her passion for reading and Canadian teen literature while working around her physical limitations through a Marathon of Books. Realising that Terry Fox could run a kilometre in six minutes during his Marathon of Hope, she figured out that she could read ten pages in the same amount of time.

Thus, on her journey, ten pages will represent one kilometre travelled across Canada. Amy will be reading teen fiction books from every province and territory, exploring Canada and promoting Canadian teen authors and books by finishing a book a day for each day of 2014.  – amysmarathonofbooks.ca

It’s an inspiring challenge and one I’ll be watching (and supporting) for the rest of the year, as Amy travels west across Canada.

I encourage you to check out the many ways to support Amy on her marathon of reading across our great (and large!) country.

Thanks, Amy for including my little addition to Canadian YA lit to your amazing journey!

 

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Having a blast creating comics with kids at Toronto Public Library

May 17, 2014
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My mug at the Toronto Public Library. Thankfully, there’s been no reports of patrons running away in fear. Yet.

I’m mid-way through running a four week writing workshop for kids at the Toronto Public Library and I’m having a blast.

This is the second year I’ve run the Get Graphic: Writing Comics (When You Can’t Draw) workshops and I’m having more fun than ever before.  The kids are bursting with ideas for comics and are natural writers – diving into our writer’s challenges, bouncing ideas off each other and generally being awesome.

Around this time last year, I posted some outlines for the first two sessions. You can check them out below:

Writing Comics Workshop for Kids Session 1: Brainstorming and Story Seeds

Writing Comics Workshop for Kids Session 2: Creating Characters

This week, we’re building the plots for our stories and getting our characters into big trouble! Watch for the Session outline here in the coming weeks!

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How my talk on comics got hijacked (and then saved) by that blocky game

April 29, 2014

So, here’s the scene:

It’s a busy Saturday at the Toronto Public Library’s Book Bash children’s festival. There’s kids running around everywhere in the TPL’s Northern Branch. There’s stacks of books (obviously). There’s busy balloon-animal maker.  And then there’s me talking comics to a room full of kids.

I have a lot of fun giving my Panel Power presentation to libraries and school groups around Canada and last Saturday’s Book Bash talk was no different. I was about halfway through the talk, showing kids how I come up with my ideas when disaster struck.

The Power Point presentation on my laptop crashed.

I’m talking one of those, crash-so-you-can’t-click-anything kind of crashes. It just froze. And to be honest, so did I.

I made a few uncomfortable jokes, which the adults in the crowd laughed at politely. I clicked a few buttons and generally tried to look like I was in control.

I wasn’t.

One of my clicks must have gotten through because suddenly Power Point closed and my desktop wallpaper was projected on the large screen behind me for all to see.

This is what they saw:

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This is what I heard:

“Minecraft!”

Instantly, the frozen laptop was forgotten. Many of the kids in the audience were suddenly sitting up in their seats, eyes wide and ready to talk. And talk we did. Ender Dragons, Withers, World Edit plug-ins and more.

For a few minutes, we chatted back and forth excitedly about video games, that other alternative literacy that, like comics, is big with reluctant readers everywhere.

While my laptop sorted itself out and I chatted to the kids, I was struck (once again) with just how important these other forms of literacy are to young readers. Parents might roll their eyes, librarians and teachers might scoff (but many don’t!) at the mention of video games in general and Minecraft in particular.

I remember when the same could be said of comics in the classroom and the library. And I’m happy to see this attitude changing.

I’m also happy in my choice of computer wallpaper.

As a gamer-geek and  elementary school teacher, I often have Tech Teaching ideas to share with fellow educators, librarians, homeschoolers and parents/guardians. I deliver these resources and ideas to your inbox in my monthly e-newsletter Reading Change.

If this sounds like something you’d like to receive, then subscribe to Reading Change. You can unsubscribe anytime and I won’t share or sell your data. Honest.

Thanks!

Liam

 

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Feeding Change Media gets a logo

March 31, 2014
» by in: writing news

Since diving into the world of being a hybrid writer (one who publishes through traditional publishing and self-publishes), I have learned a ton of stuff about the business.  Most of it through mistakes. Many mistakes.

First, I realized I needed to give my publishing company a name. That came pretty quickly. I’ve run this blog for over a decade and it’s always been called Feeding Change. It’s a name that, for me, captures the spirit of what I’m trying to do with my writing.

So, it was a natural fit to call my publishing company Feeding Change Media.

The Media bit at the end gives me room to do other things than just books.

Now, all that was missing was a logo for this little venture. For that, I turned to my pal and amazing illustrator Mike Deas. His art has always captured the playfulness of my writing without treading into that area of cutesy-kidness.

I gave Mike a quick brief about what I wanted and he created this:

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I couldn’t be happier with it. There are many other versions, black and white, no text, etc.

I  love the playfulness of the robot eating the book (that’s the feeding bit, get it? ;)

I can’t wait to see this on the spine of Ganked in a few weeks and on all the current Tech Tales and other releases coming soon from Feeding Change Media.

Making that happen is the next learning curve for me in this new world of being a hybrid author.

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  • Max Finder Mystery contains enough intrigue, appeal, relevance, mystery, challenge, and fun to be the ideal travel companion for preteens. — CM Magazine

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