Becoming a middle grade author
In early 2020, when I had the idea to write a middle grade novel about a small winged being destined to save an ancient forest, I thought; ‘I’m a storyteller, this’ll won’t be hard.’
Nothing could have been further from reality.
I wrote the first 10,000 words in a blistering few weeks, and completed the manuscript in a few months. Ready to publish! I sent it to two publishers, confident I’d land a deal shortly. Even having the arrogance to suggest a good comparison title would be Harry Potter. I know. I’m blushing. I knew zero. Nada.
But luckily for me, one of them, an extraordinarily kind person ventured to give me feedback in his rejection letter. Scott Zarcanis from Doctor Zed Publishing, wrote ‘There is a lot of ‘telling’ i.e. expository, rather than ‘showing’. The books that engage the reader the most are the stories that ‘show’ the reader what’s happening, allowing the reader to immerse themselves into the story and ‘feel’ what’s happening, as if they were really there.’
I had no idea what expository meant.
Soon after, I met Kylie Zeal, who was looking for a new author to work with on an assessment. The first question she asked me was, ‘What challenge does your protagonist face and how will she grow as she does?’ I was less then crystal clear in my answer. Since then, Kylie has taken my hand and walked me through a long and arduous process to understand just how you write to answer that question.
Then I had the great, good fortune to be invited to join a writers’ group. I’m not sure that at the time I’d earned a place, but I am so indebted to Carolyn Tate (check out her fabulous new book, Brave Women Write, Di Percy, Kath Walters, and Yamini Naidu for coming on Min’s journey with me. Their encouragement, cheerleading and straight down the line feedback has kept me hard at the work in my efforts to become a middle grade author.
It’s an incredible journey. I had no idea of the work authors who are published put in to achieve that honoured status. Hats off to them all.
Now that I do know, would I put my metaphorical author’s quill down and walk away. Never. The exploration, mental gymnastics, creativity, fun, connection, and crafts-womanship that leads to good writing is one I wish never to relinquish.
In the process, if I can bring Min Barklin, my wee protagonist into the hearts of middle grade readers, so she brings them hope for their future, and encourages legions of them to become eco-champions, then that will be a magnificent bonus.
It’s October 2022. Min Barklin and the Silver Radiants is complete at 68,500 words and is currently being submitted to agents all over the world. Watch this space which I hope will bring you a copy soon!
Min says . . .
When you lose hope, it is hard to know what to do, and how to act. Here are hopeful stories of brave, smart, dedicated gawples of all ages, over the world working hard to protect our trees, their eco-systems and the environment. Can you share what you learn, or what inspires you, and act where you can?
Here are some of her thoughts as to how you can do that.