Author Archives: T. P. Jagger

Memories-Part 2 (& Book Giveaway!)

A few days ago, I blogged about the important role that memories play in life and in writing. Today, I’d like to spin-off from that and look at a handful of middle-grade novels in which memories—shared, stored, hidden, and lost—play key roles in the stories’ plots.

written in stoneSHARED
Written in Stone by MUFs very own Rosanne Parry: Historical fiction that explores the importance of sharing memories as part of the cultural survival of the Quinault and Makah Native American tribes in the Pacific Northwest.

STORED
The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling: People’s memories can be drawn from their minds then stored and viewed through the Pensieve. And those stored memories—Dumbledore’s, Snape’s, and others’—hold more than just a few surprises.

rules for stealing starsHIDDEN
Rules for Stealing Stars by Corey Ann Haydu: Magic mingles with mystery as 11-year-old Silly (Priscilla) and her three sisters discover their closets are doorways to both dreamscapes and dangers…and to hidden memories of family secrets they never imagined.

LOST
The Remarkable Journey of Charlie Price by Jennifer Maschari: After Charlie’s mother dies, his sister, Imogen, discovers a parallel universe where their mother remains alive. But something’s wrong. And if Charlie doesn’t figure out the truth, he could lose himself, the true memory of their mother, and Imogen…forever.

Dork-Diaries-11Finally, any booklist focused on memories would feel incomplete if it didn’t acknowledge the ultimate recorder of memories—a diary. That’s why MUF (thanks to Simon & Schuster) is giving one lucky commenter a free copy of Rachel Renée Russell’s latest book in the New York Times bestselling Dork Diaries series—Dork Diaries 11: Tales from a Not-So-Friendly Frenemy.

Do you have a favorite middle-grade book that fits into this memories-focused booklist? If so, leave a comment and tell us about it . . . and earn a chance to win a free book in the process! (The winner must have a U.S. street address and will be drawn on Saturday, 19 November 2016.)


T. P. Jagger The 3-Minute Writing TeacherAlong with his MUF posts, T. P. Jagger can be found at www.tpjagger.com, where he provides brief how-to writing-tip videos as The 3-Minute Writing Teacher plus original, free readers’ theater scripts for middle-grade teachers. He also has even more readers’ theater scripts available at Readers’ Theater Fast and Funny Fluency. For T. P.’s 10-lesson, video-based creative writing course, check him out on Curious.com.

Memories-Part 1

When I realized my MUF post fell on Veterans Day, I immediately thought I’d create a short blurb about the history of the day and provide a related booklist. Then two things happened. The first thing was that I sifted through MUF’s old posts. Jennifer Swanson beat me to my Veterans Day idea by three years. The second thing that happened was I thought about my grandpa.

1943 US Marine-WWII VeteranMy Grandpa Jagger served in the United States Marines during WWII. He drove a tank and was injured on a battered and bloody beach during the invasion of Saipan in 1944, earning a Purple Heart. Over 60 years later, I sat beside his chair, rested my hand in his, and listened as he shared about his military service.

Up until that day, I hadn’t allowed myself to consider that my grandfather held memories I would lose when he was gone. The only memories that wouldn’t fade would be those held by others. In that moment, I realized I wanted more than my memories of him; I wanted his memories, too. But those memories would soon be grains of sand swept to sea by the tides of time.

Unless I allowed myself to slow down and engage. To listen. To be present.

So that’s what I did.

Today, Veterans Day is the tide that carries those memories back to me, and I find myself reflecting on how my need to engage in the present also applies to my efforts as a writer.

In my fiction, it’s easy to get caught up and swept away in the “reality” of my own creation. However, even a fictional world and characters and events must feel real. They must ring true. To achieve that, I can’t allow myself to get lost in my own mind and musings. I need to pull memories and details and emotions from the very real world around me. I must be a participant in the world and an observer. A giver of truths and a collector. A sharer of memories and a gatherer.

I must take the time to slow down and engage. To listen. To be present.

That’s what I learned from my grandpa.

I hope you come back on Monday to read Part 2 of this post—a booklist of middle-grade novels in which memories (shared, stored, hidden, and lost) play key roles. In the meantime, take this Veterans Day to remember and honor the millions of men and women who have served and continue to serve our nation. And take a moment for memories, too.

To share them.

To build them.

To be present.


T. P. Jagger The 3-Minute Writing TeacherAlong with his MUF posts, T. P. Jagger can be found at www.tpjagger.com, where he provides brief how-to writing-tip videos as The 3-Minute Writing Teacher plus original, free readers’ theater scripts for middle-grade teachers. He also has even more readers’ theater scripts available at Readers’ Theater Fast and Funny Fluency. For T. P.’s 10-lesson, video-based creative writing course, check him out on Curious.com.

How to Create Complex Characters

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about complex characters. You know—those memorable folks who inhabit our favorite books and keep us awake past our bedtimes. But what is it about these characters that makes them so memorable? What writing tricks have the authors employed to compel us to follow their characters from beginning to end, even if it means sacrificing our sleep?

These are questions I’ve asked myself as I’ve sought to improve the character development in my own stories, so I thought I’d share a writing tip that I’ve found helpful. However, even though it’s probably safe to assume that everyone who reads the MUF blog loves to read, I figured I’d give your reading-brain a 3-minute break today. So instead of an in-depth written post, I’m presenting my writing tip as part of my video series as The 3-Minute Writing Teacher.

If you’re a writer, I hope the video will prove useful as you continue to improve your writing craft. If you’re a teacher, consider using the video as a launch point for a writing mini-lesson. And if you’re neither a writer nor a teacher? . . . Well, maybe you’ll want to watch the video anyway, just to see what Luke Skywalker and a school bully could have in common.

How to Create Complex Characters

Do you have an example of a memorable, complex character from a book you’ve read? What was it that made that good character a bit bad . . . or that bad character a bit good? Feel free to post in the comments below.


T. P. Jagger The 3-Minute Writing TeacherAlong with his MUF posts, T. P. Jagger can be found at www.tpjagger.com, where he provides brief how-to writing-tip videos as The 3-Minute Writing Teacher plus original, free readers’ theater scripts for middle-grade teachers. For T. P.’s 10-lesson, video-based creative writing course, check him out on Curious.com.