Saturday, April 30, 2011


A month ago, I attended my yearly writing retreat at Whispering Pines in W. Greenwich, RI. It's a weekend filled with presentations on children's writing, illustrating, and marketing from some of the industry's most influential editors, agents, authors, and illustrators. It's a time to network, meet up with old friends, make new ones, and have some plain old fun. This year was no different. As a matter of fact, I'd say it was one of the best ever.

I had a one-on-one critique with Ammi-Joan Paquette, an agent with the Erin Murphy Literary Agency, about my YA novel, Melody's Song. I sent in 25 pages of my manuscript for one of the mentors to read and critique, and I was fortunate to have Joan as my mentor. She was thoughtful, honest, and gave me some positive feedback. One of her suggestions, making my main character, Melody, 13 rather than 14 because she sounded innocent rather than edgy, was a good idea. Interestingly, when I began reworking the story, a new voice emerged, one I hadn't heard before. It was a slightly younger Melody and her words poured out onto the page.

Sometimes when life feels too good to be true and everything is lined up in a row like baby ducks following their mama, you can’t help but think that something’s about to go wrong. That’s exactly how I was feeling last summer. And, bang, did I turn out to be right.

The first time my theory started to take a shape was on a Monday, a beach day. Mondays in the summer are the only days we get to go to the beach together. The only day Mom closes the antique shop for the morning so we can hang together. Summer is her busy season and on the Cape you make the best of it when you can.

Mom’s packing a picnic lunch with egg salad sandwiches, juice boxes and grapes. She places them carefully in an old wicker basket from the shop, the one with handles, puts the checkered napkins on top and closes the two wooden flaps. “Let’s go! We’re leaving,” she shouts, twirling around, nearly bumping me. “Here, Mel, you take this. Tell Mia we’re ready and I’ll get Max and Dad.” I smile at Mom, happy to take orders now that she’s finally ready.

“Mia!” I shout, sprinting up the stairs, “The bus is leaving!”


  1. I'm SO excited for you! This feels like it's meant to be. And I love your scene; I can picture it in my mind so easily!

    The world is waiting for Melody....

  2. Oooh, Laurie. It IS a different voice. Nice details. I cannot wait to read where this is going! Feels like you're on your way!!

  3. I love the younger fresh voice of Melody! Also I could really picture the scene as if it came right from our own childhood -- which I believe it did. :)

    Egg salad sandwiches packed into an antique wicker basket straight out of our mother's shop. Uh, yes.

  4. Hey Laurie. I love that you found a new voice, or remade your earlier voice stronger. Keep on keeping on.

  5. Thanks, everyone! It's fun to see where new Melody is taking me.
    Hey, Cindy, write what you know, right?