I love finishing projects, tidying up, looking around for something new. When writing a novel which turns into a trilogy, it's not always easy to reach that plane of satisfaction. Over the last few weeks I have seen the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. Books One and Two are in good shape: proofed, critiqued, revised and ready to go. Book Three will require a few more months. But by Christmas, or January at the latest, I expect to be able to put it away for a rest and turn my creative efforts to something new.
Over this past weekend I attended Florida Writers Association's fall conference in Lake Mary, FL. This conference is always a joy. Well-organized with time to "network," enjoy some very tasty food, and learn from the varied presentations, FWA conference gave me a sense of renewal. I was inspired by the speakers, learned several new techniques to enhance my writing, and connected with fellow writers, many of whom are becoming old friends.
An interesting book that I read over the last month is Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt. There are many wonderful things to say about this story. Written in first person, the voice is of an eighth grade boy, Doug Swieteck. Doug's dad is abusive and easily led by a dishonest buddy Ernie Eco. The time period is the summer, fall, and winter of 1968 in upstate New York. The Vietnam War rages, the imminent moon landing in the news.
What is amazing about this story is the way the author reveals so much between the lines. Doug loves baseball, especially the Yankees. He has a cap given to him by slugger Joe Pepitone which is promptly stolen by his older brother, traded to his delinquent buddies and eventually lost. When Doug is forced to move, his friend gives him Pepitone's jacket which had been given to him during the same school visit. Doug wonders at his friend's incredible kindness, but the reader sees why. Doug is a quality kid despite his circumstances. His friend's unselfish act tells the reader this clearly. And this is but one example. Okay for Now is rich in its details of the time period, the relationships of the characters, Doug's struggles to learn. In this story change happens to all of the characters including Doug's brothers and father.
Throughout the book beautiful images of Audubon's Birds of America appear as chapter lead-ins. Doug is revealed as an artist. He sees with an artist's eye and with subtle encouragement, he finally discovers his gift. Gary D. Schmidt is a master at spinning a story that matters on many levels. Okay for Now not only sticks with the reader long after it is finished, it inspires, renews.
Author of Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction
Published by Guardian Angel Publishing December 2014:
Jeremiah Lucky and the Guardian Angel
Jeremiah needs a little help and he gets it with the sudden appearance of his guardian angel. Chapter book for ages 7-10.
Jeremiah Lucky Finds Puppy Love
Jeremiah dodges a kiss from a princess and falls head over heels for a lost puppy. Chapter book for ages 7-10.
Watch for these titles coming soon:
The Whispering Chimney
Eleven-year old Bethany finds a stone chimney and discovers a beautiful but terrifying past. (upper middle grade)
(Beyond the) Stone Eagle Gate
David, age fifteen, flees a false accusation and takes refuge in a haunted, abandoned mansion. (YA, historical fiction ghost story)
The Interplanetary Adventures of Yan Sunnara: Book I Rescue on Lato
Cultural scientist Yan Sunnara rescues an unusual child on the planet of Lato with the help of an exotic and beautiful Uvian archaeologist. (Adult, soft Science Fiction, Rescue on Lato is the first of a series of four novellas.)
Three teens are connected by a mysterious and sometimes frightening ability to cross over from one dimension here on earth to another. This YA novel placed in the top three in Florida Writers 2013 RPLA competition. Speculative Fiction.
Some Great MG and YA books
- Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman
- These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner
- Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
- Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby
- Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
- Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood
- The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
- Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt
- Red Blood Road by Moira Young
- On Little Wings by Regina Sirois
- Nation by Terry Pratchett
- Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
- Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley (Printz 2012)
- The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
- Fire by Kristin Cashore