If you think this is going to be a pity-party blog post, you can take your violin and cup of tea somewhere else. This is about being in the circle of writers; having friends who are like-minded about getting the stories in their hearts out on the page. I am fortunate to know of three in my circle who are blazing a path toward success with awesome talent and enough chutzpah to keep going when they hit brick walls. Let me tell you about them and their stories…
Sheila Redling: When I joined Book Cents Literary, I entered a great group of writers who shared like kin. Our leader, Christine Witthohn, kept a “loop” online for us to communicate through, and it was by way of this portal that I met Sheila. A long-time radio show host for WKEE in Huntington, WV, Sheila was a fun-loving, real person who enjoyed the silly shizzit in life while porch-sitting with a bottle of Rioja and two cats (one of which yowls for chicken). We got along like two introverts in a pea pod (err, you get what I mean). This Aries woman had more dark in her thoughts than her listeners ever knew of, and it translated into otherwordly dystopian stories with strong characters who carry the truth to light.
Last summer (after I was so LUCKY to meet her in-person and sleep in her cool house!), Sheila began writing just such a story called Flowertown, about a small place in Iowa contaminated by a chemical spill that traps people in the area for years. More than a simple containment story, Flowertown (FT for us impatient people) is a place of conspiracy and ulterior motives that lead character, a brash and cussing Ellie, must uncover.
I begged for chapters. Gimmee more chapters. Sheila, got any more? Are you gonna send them tonight? They didn’t come through! Send them again! I cannot wait. This is how it went, until I read the whole enchilada and felt that longing hollow sadness that comes when you finish a book you can’t put down. I knew FT was going somewhere… and it is being considered by a heavy hitter in the publishing world after making the go-round for too long. More details to follow when I get them.
Trisha Leaver: My first real beta reader was a champion for my book, SWELL and someone who liked pinot noir as much, if not more, than I did! Trisha has an honesty when it comes to reading. The daughter of a copy editor, Trisha’s edits are awesome and helped me to see things I did not. After six weeks of working with her, SWELL was completed, polished and out the door. At the same time Trisha helped me with that story, she was working on Cedar, a young adult story about a girl determined not to follow in the violent and poverty-stricken footsteps of her family in the mountains of West Virginia. Trisha made me feel Cedar’s thoughts, her pain, every cut and bruise to her body and spirit. It was an amazing story and I wanted more.
Through this tale, Trisha found her first agent and later went on to write Fatum, a YA story from a male POV that “explores how the real evil is in the way everyone loses their humanity in the face of survival,” with her writing partner, Lindsay Currie… and snag a Curtis Brown agent. I am eager to hear news on who picks up this story!
Erin Jade Lange: I love butter – literally. I will eat chunks of it and relish in the fattening goodness that it is. So, when I was cruising absolutewrite.com I came upon a writer who wanted her peers to have a look at a NaNoWriMo story she’d been working on. Erin Jade had me at the title, Butter. Oh, I had to have me some of dat! I immediately volunteered to beta read Erin’s story. It was still rough, it wasn’t quite done, but I didn’t care. The moment I got a few chapters in my hands I knew the story was going to sell somewhere. Butter is about an overweight high school boy who is in love with a girl… who barely notices him. So he starts an online romance with her, although she is none the wiser that Butter is actually who she’s chatting with (BTW, he got his name when a few bullies forced him to eat a stick of butter – a gut-wrenching moment in the guy’s life that forever colors how people perceive him). In spite of everything, Butter’s had enough and decides to “eat to death” on camera on New Year’s Eve and strikes up a following among his peers.
Erin’s story went a few rounds with a top-name literary agent, before it was snagged up by an agent at Andrea Brown, and bought by a publisher. I look forward to seeing the final stick ‘o’ Butter when it comes out.
I am proud of these gals and excited about what is happening to their stories and their lives. While I do not have a deal on my own stories, I do have a great deal of happiness that some awesome stories will soon be in your hands. I wholeheartedly encourage you to read them with the same wonder and warm fuzzies that I did.
Please pay Sheila, Trisha and Erin Jade a visit… you won’t be sorry!