Friday, August 24th, I am on my way to the Columbus Writers' Conference in Columbus, OH. This is my first big conference. To prepare I have immersed myself in middle grade fiction, something I hope to successfully write and publish someday soon. My dream is to write books like the ones I loved when I was a kid.
Well, almost like those books. You see, I grew up way, way back when the boys were still the heros of every story and the girls were nothing more than nosy sisters, distractions, or just plain nuisances. It annoyed the socks off me. I wanted to change the world. With very little help from me, the world has changed, and girls have progressed beyond nosy sisters and know-it-all's. I still want to write these stories---a whole series of them where the girl solves the mystery and takes care of herself.
I signed up late for the conference so I did not get an appointment with Stacey Barney, an editor at Putnam Books for Young Readers. Note to self: sign up early next time. But I want to be prepared in case an opportunity arises to tell someone about my middle-grade mystery.
Who am I kidding? It's a writers' conference. Everyone will be sharing stories, ideas, and inspiration at every turn.
The first lesson a writer learns is to know the market, so I'm reading the competition this week. A notable selection I just finished was The Wedding Planner's Daughter by Coleen Murtagh Paratore. What a lovely book! Much to my delight, I have discovered Willa, the heroine, is now the star of her own series. Even when the research is over, I want to find out what happens next. If you have a young lady in your life or just want to see how to write middle-grade fiction well, don't miss this book. It's a smart, funny treasure that reminds you how magical and terrible it is to be 12-years-old.