Before I had the good fortune to find a home with an inspirational book publisher, I wrote a number of books for younger readers. Some of them were what might be called chapter books for middle readers. That would be kids eight to twelve or thereabouts. These were “coming of age” stories about a young character facing some crisis in his life that made him or her grow up a little. I liked writing for young people. I was able to explore a lot of different story lines. My first published book for kids was A Chance Hero where my young character thinks he sees a Big Foot. Probably my most popular young reader book was Discovery at Coyote Point. That book about a boy who spends a summer with his grandparents and discovers the truth about his father’s mysterious disappearance got good reviews and was sometimes read aloud by teachers to their students. That was always fun to know.
I ended up with eleven books published for young adults and middle readers, but I wrote several that never found a publisher. That was during a dry period of my writing life where nothing I was writing was finding a loving editor, but I kept writing. That’s what writers do. When one book doesn’t make it, then they write another story with hope that new idea will find readers. One of those often rejected stories for young readers was Freak of the Week. Fast forward several years. I change directions and start writing for adults again and do find that loving editor and readers for my stories.
But I couldn’t quite forget about some of those stories that were on my reject shelf. A few of them I rewrote and did get published. Those were for adults. Then there was that one story I wrote for kids that I really liked. I based one of the characters on a nice guy who used to come out to see my Dad after Dad got older. Dave had some physical challenges but he was always ready for adventure. He tried to fly by getting an old parachute to fill up with wind. While I never actually watched him doing that, I imagined how it might be. And so, I created a character, Old Dan, in my story that was based on Dave. My young character who has a minor physical handicap meets Dan and has his attitude changed. The story deals with verbal bullying at school and how words can hurt. Then I mix in some baseball. I liked the story and it got some nibbles out in the publishing world, but ended up being rejected.
Now with it so much easier and less expensive to independently publish a book, I decided to do just that. I didn’t expect to make much, if any, money on the book, but I wanted to see Dave’s story in print. I really liked the way the book turned out. The cover looks good and if you read the story, I think you’ll agree that the title is perfect. After I had the book available for readers, I entered it into a competition for independently published books for young readers. I’m happy to report that Freak of the Week won the bronze medal award for Pre-teen Fiction-General.
This Moonbeam Award sticker will be fun to put on the cover of Freak of the Week. Awards give a writer encouragement. But you know what is even better than awards? My granddaughter reading my book and telling me she liked it. And then this morning a little girl at church came up to me to say she’d read my book. Each time a reader, young or not so young, says he or she read one of my books and that my story brought a smile or had her wiping away a tear that’s encouragement too.
I aim to make my stories the kind that readers are glad they’ve read. I want to make you keep wanting to turn pages to find out what happens next. I want you to love my characters so much they come to life and make you want to know what happens to the characters after the end. And I do hope that other youngsters will read Freak of the Week and maybe get a change of attitude about how to treat one another.
Thank you for reading. During the month of Thanksgiving, please know that I’m thankful for you.