When I first began learning to write fiction a few years ago, I worked on a novel that could have fallen into either the middle grades or the lower-age end of the young adult (or YA) market. I was completely new to fiction but the pages I submitted to my first novel writing contest actually finaled and went to the second round judges. (Can you say, God is gracious?!) I knew I still had much to learn, but one of the final judge’s comments cut deeper than my not-yet-very-thick skin and wounded me for quite a while. Those comments made me question whether God really could use me to write for that age group and I ran in the opposite direction to adult fiction. I spent time fiddling with stories in several genres — contemporary romance, romantic suspense, historical romance.
Then everything changed in the spring of 2010.
I started feeling a definite nudge to move back to writing for kids. Several things happened within a matter of weeks that I know weren’t coincidence since nothing comes by “luck” in God’s plan. So, although I can be slow and hard-headed sometime, I got the message after a lot of prayer and searching.
The result? I pulled out that first manuscript and discovered that some of what I’d written a few years ago was actually salvageable. Now, several years later, I’m still tinkering with that manuscript plus a few other things. Here’s the latest rundown:
- A contemporary middle grades novel about a sheltered seventh grader who has to finally learn how to live her faith in the real world when her dad loses his job and she transfers to public school
- A historical YA about a shy teen who discovers a gift for dance and the courage to be herself when a former ballerina moves to town
- A middle grades time travel novel about a brother and sister who receive a special gift from their grandmother that seems pretty lame — until they learn the whole story
If you’re thinking, wow, that’s a lot — you’re right (and that’s not even counting some other ideas rattling around in my head!). Each one is very different from the others, but that’s part of what makes it fun. I decide which one I’m in the mood to work on and step right back into the character’s world no matter which story it is. I would finish sooner if I would stick with one story at a time, but this keeps things interesting. It lets me explore different worlds and gives me several projects to talk with editors or agents about when I go to writers conferences. I’m sure I’ll settle on one or two age groups and genres once I get further down the writing path, but for now I’m just enjoying the journey.