Writing and reading my way through the summer of 2013 cause me to reflect on two important ideas that keep me going: encouragement and inspiration. Encouragement for me comes in many forms and through many people. My family's support, suggestions and praise from other writers( both close and far), a trusted and skilled writing coach, even friends and neighbors--all serve to bolster my confidence when I need it most. An occasional accolade helps, too.
Just recently a short story I submitted to Florida Writers Association's "It's a Crime" Anthology not only made the cut to be published in the anthology, but was deemed worthy to be listed in the "top ten" best stories, number four to be exact. To admit that this honor sweetens the pot of my ongoing writing efforts is an understatement. I did not think at first that I would enter this year although another story I wrote was published in last year's "Wheels" Anthology. Crime did not seem to be my forte. But the contest only requires that the story have a "link" to a crime, and when I participated in a writing exercise with the renown YA writer Ellen Hopkins at the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators conference in Miami this past January, a kernel of an idea came to me.With that inspiration, I wrote the story entitled "Family Lies," shared it with two different critique groups, made many changes and sent it in. Including all the elements of a good story in twelve hundred words or less is a challenging exercise. Although I write longer works as a rule, being limited to such a short length sharpens my focus, helps me make every word count. To have the story recognized by such an esteemed group certainly encourages me to keep writing.
For the first time, I am working with a writing coach for my YA novel Cross Over. Joyce Sweeney specializes in helping young adult and middle grade fiction writers hone their craft on the bumpy road to publication. For my story, Joyce pinpointed a need to strengthen one of my characters so my readers will be as engaged with him as with my other two characters. I've written several more chapters doing this and I am pleased with the result. Another reminder was to stay in close point of view and not stray into a more narrative voice. Joyce's suggestions resonated with me all the more clearly because she pointed out specifically those places in my story where I was successful. Encouragement and constructive criticism? Absolutely.
Besides the useful information and idea sharing at conferences like those of the SCBWI and FWA, reading other writers both published and in my critique groups is the best inspiration a writer can find. It thrills me to read a description or a bit of dialogue that is beautifully written. And this happens every single week in my sharing group! How lucky I am to be a part of this family of writers! I am inspired by the careful attention to detail these writers demonstrate and their genuine desire for all of us to improve. In a subsequent post I plan to write more about some of the wonderful books I am reading this summer. If you are searching for some excellent choices, take a look at the list on this blog. Inspiring? Definitely.
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