First I want to thank Clarissa and all of the Gems for having me here today. I love the posts and the beautiful photos – so inspiring! I’d like to share my writing journey from rehabilitated women’s fiction writer to a full-fledged middle grade writer.
I was rocking my youngest son at some Gawd-awful hour in the morning when it hit me: I need to write a story. I have all of these “people” and stories in my head and they need to get out. That was easier said than done – as I’m sure we all have experienced. It’s hard to just sit down and write a story – especially when you’re not taught the correct way to tell a story in school. I don’t remember any of my high school or college courses talking about point of view, scene and sequel, and definitely not story question/problem.
That night I concocted a story about a young girl who visits her grandma and wants to play outside, but can’t because a huge thunderstorm rolls in. Her grandma, wise as can be, tells her a story about a cloud fairy and how they grow rainbows during thunderstorms. When the storm passes, a rainbow appears.
Corny, I know. But it was the first time that I actually put those quirky little stories down on paper (well, screen). I edited and edited, and then I submitted it directly to publishers. I learned that picture book authors rarely had agents. Well, I was rejected a couple of times-far less than when I would query agents for my women’s fiction story. I decided that maybe writing kid’s picture books wasn’t for me.
But I had gotten the writing bug and wasn’t about to quit. I honed my craft with a few online courses and then started a women’s fiction story. It was about a woman who found out that basically her whole life had been a lie. I felt more comfortable writing about women than kids because at that time, my two boys were very young (3 and 1 ½). I still had this nagging feeling that I was writing for the wrong audience, but I didn’t know any better. I completed a manuscript and started querying. I spent a long time querying agents and was continually rejected. I decided to write another story.
When I started to query the second women’s fiction story, I came across the Book Cents website. It was a relatively new agency at that time. I wasn’t biased (old vs. new), so I submitted. I received the best rejection letter ever! Christine Witthohn said that the story wasn’t for her, but that she’d be interested in any other of my stories because she liked the way I wrote. I quickly submitted that very first manuscript and a short time later was offered representation.
Christine was never able to sell that women’s fiction story. She told me the market was saturated and that I should consider another genre. There had been a kid story in my head ever since we’d moved into our new house (which was just before the story of rocking my son). Since my kids were now older, close to 8 and 6 ½, I figured that I pretty much had my audience right around me. I decided to write a fantasy story about a young boy who is whisked away to save a world that existed inside his bedroom’s wallpaper. Even though Christine wasn’t able to sell Saving Redwind: A Wallpaper Adventure, I felt like I’d found my voice. The stories came naturally and the words seemed to flow.
Since completely Saving Redwind, I finished two other middle grade stories. Each story has a boy as the main character who plays hockey. This stems from the fact that I spend so much time at the rink with my older son. With the marketing changing as it is, Christine suggested that I self-publish Saving Redwind. I was reluctant at first, but finally took her advice; while we waited for the stories on submission, I may as well get Saving Redwind out there. I took the plunge and officially started selling Saving Redwind in July. I’m having fun introducing myself and my book.