Thursday, July 21, 2011

The One Where I Confess My Literary Sins

This will not be a Madonna-esque diatribe of all my wrong doings. Not even close. What I will be confessing on the blog today is the absence of literature in my teenage years. Ahem, ALL of my teenage years. That's right, if I remember correctly the last book I read as a kid was when I was twelve and in the seventh grade. It was R. L. Stine's Prom Queen. I didn't read another full book until...well...Twilight.
*slaps palm to forehead* The shame!
How did I get through junior high, high school, college as an undergrad, and then two rounds of grad school (master's degree and specialist's degree) without reading the classics you ask? Well, we had textbooks in junior high and high school that provided excerepts of novels such as Of Mice and Men, The Scarlet Letter, Pride and Prejudice, etc. Someone decided these bits and pieces were the most important parts.
Thanks genius.
(Side note: When it came time to buy a new reading series at the school I taught at, I pushed crazy hard for novel sets instead of texts.)
As far as college, if I was assigned a novel to read I would probably just rent the movie. What? I had sorority functions to get to! During my grad school years I was working full time.
(I'd like to take this opportunity to say I devoured magazines like jelly beans. I didn't simply NOT read, I just chose small, quick, fare.)
Moving on...
When I became a teacher, I did skim some of the Mark Twain award nominees so that I knew
enough about them to recommend them to my students. But that's it.
And then I read Rules by Cynthia Lord. (This was a Mark Twain nominee in...2007, I think. I'll have to look that up and amend) This book made me want to start reading again! (Thank you Ms.
Lord!) But I'm a girl who really likes a series; and I couldn't really find anything. Also, I don't really like adult books with all the gratitious sex. I'd always been a fan of Jackie Kennedy, so I read everything I could get my hands on about the Kennedy family.
Then Twilight...
It fit the bill: no gratuitous sex (no matter how hard Bella tried), it was a series, and I loved it! But, alas, it came to an end and I was lost without all my vampire and wrewolf friends. I had to find something else to read.
But this time things were different. My life was different.
I was a fifth grade teacher and reading books wasnt just about my own entertainment anymore. As I said, I wanted to read middle grade books (like Lord's Rules) so that I could make recommendations to my students and reluctant readers. I fell in love with this genre of fiction! In middle grade (by the way, that's where the title of the blog comes from) there is a life lesson, a happy ending, and a bunch of series!
The more I read the more I thought, "Um, I soo could do this." Not long after that thought, an entire story began to form in my mind. I waited until summer vacation to pound out my manuscript.
It took me about six weeks.
Because it didn't take me very long, I figured my MS was crap. So I shelved it for two years before letting anyone read it. Only in the last four or five months have I let anyone read it. Surprisingly, I've gotten a lot of positive feedback, and I asked people who I knew wouldn't mind being ruthless :)
Unfortunately, I'm now trying to write a query letter for it (thanks Becky for your help!!), research on agents, the authors those agents represent, oh! and by the way, I have five works in progress.
And my face is breaking out.
I think that's related.
Truthfully, I believe if I was at least querying agents on my finished MS, I would feel...better? I'll say this now and probably regret it later, but even if I get rejected by each and every middle grade agent out there, I think I'll feel better that at least I took that next step.
I predict that this will be like when I used to take gymnastics and was learning to do back handsprings. My first one was super awkward, but at least I worked up to it and got it done. Each back handspring after that was better than the one before...
Until one time I landed on my neck.


  1. Cynthia Lord's book RULES was a 2008-2009 Mark Twain award nominee.
    That year's winner was Rck Riordan's SEA OF MONSTERS.

  2. Hi kelly, I found you on writeoncon, and was wondering if you are looking for anymore crit partners.... um yeah, I feel like the dork in class who missed the teachers announcement about picking a group and everyone's already paired up. My husband was on vacation during writeoncon, and my 3 year old and 3 month old weren't much help either... :)So just recently i've been going through all the comments/threads/etc. Anyway let me know if you're interested! ebarrus @ yahoo(dot)com