G4G - Readers

If you enjoyed reading about Derek's adventures, then why not go on one yourself. Below are some activities as well as and interview with the author explaining her adventure writing the story.

Learn to Juggle
Visit Flow Circus Tube (our YouTube channel) to learn how to juggle and play with other skill toys.

Scavenger Hunt
This Scavenger Hunt uses books and on-line resources to learn more about movies and other items referenced in the story.

Discussion Questions
  1. Why do you think the author titled the book Grounded for Good?
  2. At the beginning of the story, Derek tends to jump to conclusions about people and make fun of them. How does that change throughout the story?
  3. Are Derek’s community service hours at the library a punishment? How does it impact him?
  4. How is Mrs. Johnson different from other adults in Derek’s life?
  5. Which of the characters in the story would you want to hang out with? Why?
  6. What are the challenges and benefits of being part of a team?
  7. Why do you think there is tension between Derek and Sean throughout the story?
  8. Do you think Derek is a good role model for Jared?
  9. Do you think Derek should have gone to Boston?
  10. In what ways does Derek feel more connected at the end of the story?
  11. What cool, old buildings in your town do you want to learn the story about? What do you think they were originally used for?
  12. If your school or library hosted a talent show, what skill would you like to learn and perform? Why?
Frequently Asked Questions/Interview with the Author

How long did it take you to write Grounded for Good?
The first draft of this story was written in just thirty days! Really. I participated in an event called NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writer’s Month). Last year over 36,000 adults wrote over 50,000 words each in thirty days. It happens every November and they have a program for kids and teens too. I had to dedicate time every day to writing, but I liked having that kind of structure. It gave me the discipline that I needed to get the story down on paper.
Of course, the whole process of creating the book took a lot longer. Before I started writing, I spent about a month brainstorming about the characters, setting, and plot. That part was a lot of fun because I just got to daydream and explore the possibilities. I watched a bunch of movies and read like crazy during that time, too.
After the first draft was written in 30 days, the tough part began: revision. I’m sure teachers are always telling you to revise your papers for school and they are right! When I look back at earlier drafts, it’s a little embarrassing. But that’s just part of the process. When I was first trying to get down the story, I tried not to worry too much about spelling and grammar because I probably never would have finished. It ended up taking another year or so working off and on until I was happy enough with it to put it out there for other people to read.
Where/when do you write?
Although not naturally a morning person, I found the best time for me to write was in the morning before I got distracted with all of the other stuff I had to do that day. When writing/revising, I get up and give myself a little time for the caffeine to kick-in and then spend the next few hours working. I set up a table away from my usual desk which became my writing table. I worked on a laptop where I couldn’t check my email or look at Facebook (again, I had to eliminate the distractions!)
On the other hand, when I struggle with a scene or need a new idea, I do my best work sitting outside in sunshine with pencil and paper. I like to call it my outdoor office. I also get lots of good ideas while running or walking.
Do you listen to music?
For me, music is distracting because I focus too much on the words being sung and that messes up the words I am writing. Music did play an important role in the process, though. I would listen to music related to the story and characters during a walk or while vacuuming during breaks in writing.
Are you working on another book?
Not currently. But I have an idea for a second story involving Derek in the back of my mind. I may try to do NaNoWriMo again this November.
Where do you get your ideas?
Everywhere! Seriously, I’m a pretty observant person and have a good memory for details. And you never know when a random detail from a few years ago may come in handy with a character or scene. Movies, TV shows, and books are also great sources for sparking ideas.
Is Derek based on a real person?
Yes and no. His style of juggling/performing and some of the ways in which he gets in trouble at the beginning of the story are based on one person. As the story evolved, however, Derek became his own person. The same is true of the other characters.
What did you read when you were little?
Oh, I loved all sorts of books. I loved solving mysteries along with Nancy Drew and Encyclopedia Brown. I also like reading about the misadventures of Ramona the Pest. I’m pretty sure that I read most of Judy Blume’s books.
When I was probably around eight, my dad made a deal with me that for every ten books I read, he would take me out to dinner. I think he was surprised by how many times he had to take me.
What did you like to do when you were a kid?
I’ll admit it, I liked school! I did. School came pretty easy for me and it was where I could see my friends. When I was in middle and high school, I played field hockey and ran track (although not very fast). My first job was at an ice cream store in my town.
During the summers, I spent almost every day at the town pool. I would go in the mornings for swim team and swim lessons. Then I would ride my bike back to the pool in the afternoon to hang out with my friends. I eventually became a lifeguard and taught swim lessons there during high school and college.
How did you know how to end your book?
I’ve heard that there are two types of writers – ones that plan out the story ahead of time and ones that just wing it. I’m a combination of the two. I need to start with a pretty detailed outline of where the story is going. Once I have that in place, I can give myself the freedom to play with it.
For example, the ending took a variety of forms in the brainstorming phase before I started writing, but when I started on November 1st, I knew it would end with a talent show. I didn’t know, however, about Sam’s talents and their role in making it all happen.
Is writing hard? Do you like it?
I love brainstorming and writing the first draft. It still amazes me that by just putting words on paper, you can create people and stories that can affect the reader emotionally. One of the first people to read an early draft of the story emailed me after reading a scene that had made him so angry (with Derek’s mom, I think). Other readers said that a few of the scenes made them get teary eyed. That’s the power of words and stories.
It is time consuming though and I wish I had more time to spend doing it. The other part that sometimes felt like work was certain parts of the revision process such as having to let go of a scene or change something that you like, but just wasn’t working for the story.
All in all, I look forward to doing it again.