When I decided to become a writer in January of 2016, I knew I would want to write for different levels. Initially, I planned to write Graced 1943 as a YA novel, but that changed rapidly for a number of reasons, One was that most of the main characters are too old, as YA is supposed to be about tee-agers. Secondly, common is that people who read YA are not interested in the 1940s, although I don’t know for sure if this is true. Now, the Grace Family Chronicles is aimed towards readers college age and up.
My first middle grade book, Shell’s Amazing App, was also supposed to be a YA book, but I quickly realized that Shell, a sixth grader, was too young to be the main character in that genre. I enjoyed writing about her so much that, later in 2016, I wrote a second middle grade book about a sixth grade girl named Cranberry Wilkes in a book called Christmas Tree Acres.
I’ve always loved pretend play, be it with Barbies or stuffed animals. My first two children enjoyed being read to, by my third is the one who inherited my love for creating character dramas with stuffed animals (we also used American Girl dolls when he was very young; they were evil little witches, and my son insisted that we put heavy on the Tupperware contained they live at night so they wouldn’t get out).
Children’s picture books created a new challenge that the other books hadn’t. I had a cover artist for Graced 1943 and its follow up book, The Atherlings 1944, and for Shell’s Amazing App, but I needed an illustrator for Fluffy & Dot: A Bark Story. I met Julie Leiman Weaver via a Facebook group called Florida Writers’ Association, which is also where I met my editor, Kathleen Rothenberger. Together, we’ve created nine Tales of Bark Story books with a tenth in the works which will be called The Halloweener Ducks: A Bark Story.
I’ve also written two children’s picture books that are not part of the Tales of Bark Story Land series. One of these, called J. J. Super Rabbit, features my son Justin, and the other, Evangeline & Lambie: Rescue Friends, my niece Eva. I had planned to make J. J. Super Rabbit a chapter book, but my first editor thought it read better as a children’s book. I might still make it into a series, as it had additional stories that would have been included in later chapters.
Currently, I’m going over edits on The Train of Thought, the third book in the Grace Family Chronicles. I’m also writing another adult book called Shackledown about the ghost of a 12-year-old girl who haunts the house she died in back in 1917, where another 12-year-old girl lives with her family in the present. I started it as a middle grade book, but then changed it to an adult novel told from the perspectives of the two girls’ mothers.
I can’t imagine picking only one age group to write for, and I’m still hoping to nail that YA category. Seeing as Shackledown about a ghost, and there is at least one familiar, which means witches, it seems I’m sticking to Fiction with a Touch of Fantasy, although this is verging into the paranormal.
NSR: Never Stop Reading