Thanks to my lovely writer friend, Kimberly Newton Fusco, for inviting me to participate in this online literary blog, My Next Big Thing. I am honored to be a part of it. You can visit Kim's blog at www.kimberlynewtonfusco.com, and read about her books, including her latest, BEHOLDING BEE.
This blog is based on questions about my work-in-progress and gives readers a peek into my work and life as a writer. National and international writers have been involved with this blog series, which makes it quite exciting. I am happy to announce that I'll be tagging three other writers at the end of this blog post.
My Next Big Thing is a novel about thirteen-year-old Melody who loves to sing almost as much as she adores her little brother, Max. But when she loses the two things that matter most, how will Melody ever find it in her heart to sing again? With the help of her zany lunchroom friend, Zach, and the home-schooled boy next door, Wing, Melody searches for her voice without her Max. A story of hope and finding your way in a world torn upside down by sadness, MELODY'S SONG is the story of one girl finding inspiration in the transforming power of music.
What is the working title of your book? MELODY'S SONG
Where did the idea come from for the book? I knew I wanted to write a story about loss and how a family deals with it and finds a way to live again. This story is dear to my heart and was a hard one to write. I have dealt with loss of my own and wanted a way to express my experience in a way that is hopeful and life affirming. I hope I was able to do that in MELODY'S SONG.
What genre does your book fall under? Middle grade novel for young people 8-12.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? I certainly haven't thought about this, but if I had to choose I guess I would choose Abigail Breslin to play Melody. She is a brilliant young actress.
What is a one-sentence synopsis of your book? When a young girl feels responsible for the loss of her beloved brother, she learns to forgive herself and find her voice.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? That's an interesting question. My story has gone through many, many changes, including a draft in verse. It's been a long, hard process and I'm hopeful that it is now in a draft that is publishable, realizing, of course, that I will be revising it even more, if and when I find someone who wants it.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? Well, I must admit, when I read SEE YOU AT HARRY'S by Jo Knowles, my first thought was, Oh no! My story is similar in that the main characters lose a brother but it really ends there. Her book is so well written and the family so quirky, that I really hate to compare them. But it's the only one I can think of off the top of my head.
Who or what inspired you to write this book? Well, I think I already answered why I wrote this story, but to answer who inspired me, I'd have to say my parents. My parents are writers and readers and have always encouraged me, and my siblings, to do what makes us happy and to be creative. I will always be grateful to them for surrounding me with beauty, books, and music.
What else about your book might pique a reader’s interest? A sweet romance blooms in the story after Melody meets Wing, the home-schooled boy, who plays the guitar and makes her feel special. She also has a good friend in Zach, who makes her laugh and builds her confidence. This is a story of finding hope in the face of adversity. It's a story that shows no matter what you're going through, you can find someone to confide in and find solace with. It's a story of a family who, after being torn apart, finds a way to come together and make a new start.
When and how will it be published? That is a good question. I am tweaking the synopsis and reworking the first few pages and will be sending it for critique at the SCBWI Whispering Pines Retreat in RI, coming up in March. I am currently looking for an agent.
It is with pleasure that I tag and introduce three fellow writers. The first is my sister, Robin Smith-Johnson, who has been a poet since she was six. Next, is my good friend and children's writer, Mary Pierce. And last, but not least, is Liz Dubois, another good friend who is a children's author and illustrator, and product designer.
As a long-time resident of Cape Cod, Robin Smith-Johnson has been involved with several local poetry groups including the Lead Pencil Poets (Falmouth) and the Guyer Barn Poets (Dennis). Her poems have been published in “CapeWomen,” “Sandscript.” “The Larcom Review,” and “Yankee.” Her book, Dream of the Antique Dealer’s Daughter, is forthcoming from Word Press, an imprint of Word Tech Communications, LLC. She lives with her family in Mashpee, MA.
Mary Pierce works full time at reading, writing, and playin around with the images on her camera and in her head. She has published short stories and essays. Her passion is children's literature. She is currently working on revising a fantasy novel for middle graders. You can find her blogging about whatever is on her mind at http://marydpierce.com.
Liz Goulet Dubois is an author and illustrator of books for young children, and also a prolific product designer. She graduated with an illustration degree from the Rhode Island School of Design, and has worked steadily in the arts since then. Her favorite books are ones designed for the very young, including picture books and novelty formats with pop-ups, flaps and touchable areas that are well integrated into the story. Her first preschool book, What Kind of Rabbit Are You? was published by Simon and Schuster. Another interactive book, What Does a Seed Need? was published by Penguin Putnam. She has illustrated two books in Scholastic's My First Biography series. Other clients include Highlights Magazine, Houghton Mifflin, and Golden Books. She lives in Scituate, RI with her husband and three girls. Hobbies include designing, directing and writing for theater, co-leading a troop of Girl Scouts, gardening and creating handmade dolls and crafts. Visit her website at www.lizgouletdubois.com.