Jul 10, 2010

Manuscripts: They're like your baby, like a dating relationship, what next? I have an idea!

For me, I usually think of manuscripts as like a boyfriend since I tend to cheat on my main ones with SNIs. Also, now I'm two-timing between Limelight and Always With Me.

But as I got to thinking about it, I started to think of manuscripts as sheep. I bet you're laughing right now. What? A sheep? Are you kidding me?

No, actually, I'm not.

I think of manuscripts as sheep because of these main reasons.

When you first start out your manuscript, it's born as a cute little lamb. It's so adorable and soft and you just want to pet it all the time. Then it starts to grow. You plump up your manuscript with words, and these words are like sheep's wool.

You can:

... let your sheep's wool grow fluffier and fluffier with writing lengthy descriptions and when you finish writing, now your sheep is so fluffy, when you start to revise, you have to cut just enough to keep the manuscript coherent.

...  keep your sheep with barely any wool because you like to write bare scenes and expand in the second draft.

... keep your sheep's wool at a decent length because you're either revising as you go or you try to write just enough words. 

You can also consider the overall look of your sheep's wool like when you're editing and revising and trying to perfect it as much as you can so it looks clean.  Otherwise your sheep/manuscript will look like a mess if you try to edit too fast for your ability or if you don't work on it enough.

So yes, I went with sheep as manuscripts when you think of over-describing, under-describing and making it look as clean as you can in the end result!

Jun 30, 2010

Author Interview: Simone Elkeles

Q: What inspired you to be a writer?

I didn’t like to read as a teen. I didn’t like English class, either. I fell in love with reading as an adult, when it wasn’t “assigned reading” from a class or teacher. I fell in love with reading so much, ideas for books started running through my head so I decided to start writing a book. (I have a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Psychology and a master’s degree in Industrial Relations – both of which don’t have anything to do with writing a book.) Seriously one day I sat down and just started writing.

Q: What is your writing process like? What was your publishing process like?
Q: How often do you write? Do you have a writing schedule?

I need peace and quiet, which is hard to get with two kids and two dogs (and one husband) so I rent an office space to get away. I write when my kids are in school and when they’re asleep. I really have no habits or routines, but my goal is to one day be organized.

It took me five years to get published. I started writing in 2000 and sold my first book in 2005 (it wasn’t released until 2006, but I signed the contract in 2005). It took me five years to get an agent, but she sold my book within two months.

Q: What inspired Perfect Chemistry and its main characters?

I base Perfect Chemistry off of Highland Park High School, which is near my house. It’s a high school that mirrors Fairfield. I wanted to explore what might happen when a boy and girl from different sides of town and a different socioeconomic status fall hard for each other.

Q: Which one of your characters are you most like?

All of my characters are completely fictional, but I would say I share the most experiences with Amy. My father is Israeli and I went to Israel when I was a teen. I even participated in a boot camp, just like Amy does in How to Ruin Your Boyfriend's Reputation! I also met my future husband while I was there. . .

Q: What are your thoughts on sex and language in young adult books?

I try to write the way my characters would really talk and act. I don't clean it up (or dirty it up for that matter). If Alex from Perfect Chemistry smashed his finger, he wouldn't say, "Oh golly gee." So, that's not what I write. I think the reason my books are so popular with teens is because they don't feel like they're reading an adults opinion of how they should speak and behave.

Q: What's your secret for getting into boys' heads writing from a woman's point of view?

I love bad boys. They’re my weakness. Find me a hot and sexy bad boy and I melt. I think it’s my “female gene” that makes me want to fix those bad boys. If I can fix a bad boy, I can fix anything! (females are natural people-fixers, in my opinion) What were my inspirations for Alex or Carlos? They really are a mixture of a bunch of boys I know or did know throughout my life… I’m totally sarcastic and “get” guys like that. And just like behind a good man you’ll find a good woman, behind most bad boys you’ll find a good heart. (Not all bad boys are redeemable in real life, but I write fiction and my bad boys are ‘curable!’)

Q: What's your best piece of writing advice?

Finish the book! The reason more people are not published authors is because they never finish the book they started. Persevere through your writer's block and FINISH THE BOOK!

Q: If you were still a teen, which one of your male characters/love interests in any of your novels would you date?

I have to say that I have a crush on Alex Fuentes. I wouldn’t be able to write a young adult romance without also falling in love with my hero…hopefully if I fall in love with them, my readers will also fall in love with them. When we were casting for my book trailer for Rules of Attraction, I wanted to really find “my Alex.” When Alexander F. Rodriguez agreed to be Alex Fuentes and he walked on set the day of the shoot, I melted. I took tons of pictures of him and Giancarlo (the gorgeous actor who played Carlos Fuentes) that day. They were my heroes come to life…who wouldn’t have a crush on the heroes they created? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GhEx0kaUlrU

May 14, 2010

I write to live and live to write

I came up with the line I just used for my title I think three years ago.

What does writing mean to me?

I answer this in a poem:


Writing is the beat of my heart
The thrumming and the drumming
The whirling and the twirling of the baton 
As the marching band marches on

 Writing is the night
That lulls me to sleep
Rocking me like a tiny baby
The lullaby is the words 
That pour forth onto the blank page
The beautiful words that waft through the air
Sung on the night's dark wings
Soft, sweet, serene

Writing is the day
The rising sun saying hello
The light shining into my soul
Pushing me to write
Inspiring, motivating, fulfillment

Writing is love
The soft caress and gentle kiss
Of words coming together
Of words making beautiful sentences
That turn into paragraphs and scenes
Full of wonder and excitement

Writing is my passion
I write to live
And live to write

So yeah, that was kind of lame, but that's how I feel about writing, my one true love. :)

Apr 29, 2010

Author Interview: Deb Caletti

Because Deb was swamped with emails from bloggers wanting to do interviews, I had to get a document from the publisher instead. They also sent me a free review copy of Six Rules of Maybe! So awesome!

Here is the Q&A they sent me!

Q: Your main character, Scarlet, is deeply involved with everyone around her--her mother, her sister, her brother-in-law, and her neighbors. She says, “I thought it had worked for me, looking after everyone else. But it didn’t. Not anymore.” In your opinion, what is it about being a young adult that causes them to put others before their own wants and needs?

A: I think it isn’t so much a “young adult” thing as a human being one. Some of us just come with the “giver” gene, or else we develop it for a million complicated reasons. Scarlet, like most of us, starts this behavior waaay early. She’s the one who always gets paired up with the bad kid, and she’s the one who walks the sick girl to the office when no one else wants to. Sometimes it’s all about being kindhearted, but it can also spill over into being unassertive about what’s right for us. It’s an important balance--how much of our life is “other” and how much of our life is “self.” Often, too, the folks who are mostly takers are magnetically drawn to givers (huh, no wonder, right?). Givers don’t think too much about this until they are resentful and exhausted, as Scarlet finally becomes in SIX RULES.

Q: Scarlet discovers what she believes are The Five Rules of Maybe. It isn’t until later that she realizes there are actually Six Rules of Maybe. The sixth rule catches her off guard: “Most importantly, know when you’ve reached an end. Quit, give up, do it with courage. Giving up is not failing – it’s the chance to begin again.” Why is this an important rule or lesson?

A: I think giving up is a hugely important lesson, and an overlooked one. We’re so into the rah rah ideas that YOU CAN DO ANYTHING! YOU CAN BE ANYONE! That we forget that it’s often not true. Sometimes we can’t. I don’t think that’s bad news. Not at all. I think it’s important news. I worry that lately we’ve forgotten how critical it is to see ourselves realistically. Quitting, moving forward, being resilient about failure--those are all things that haven’t gotten much air time lately. And yet, this is perhaps the most important rule of all. It’s the way we can ride out the bumps without crashing.

Q: A common theme of self-discovery develops for all of the characters as they consider what they really want for their future. Did you draw upon any of your own experiences to create these realistic journeys?

A: Self-discovery, finding “home”, dealing with being a mostly good-hearted but flawed person in a complicated world--yep, those are all repeating themes in my work. And, yes, absolutely--I draw on my experiences for all of my books. I have never stolen an old lady from a rest home (like in Honey), or been given an enormous sum of money from a stranger (like in Indigo). But I HAVE lost faith in love and have felt my world turn upside down and have had to rethink and rethink my future. Writing is always my therapy, the attempt to work out particular events and questions I’m trying to understand. (Too bad no one actually gave me that fat sum of money, though. )

Q: Why do you write for young adults?

A: Becoming a YA author was actually a lucky accident. The first book that I published, The Queen of Everything, was written as an adult book. I thought it was an adult book, anyway. When it was picked up by Simon & Schuster for the young adult market, I found myself here. This is the route for many YA writers, but I think most of us will agree that it is a happy and fortunate detour. I found myself in a great place, with these readers I love for their honesty and true passion for books. Fate plucked me up, I’m sure, and set me down where I belonged. What’s cool, too, is that because I didn’t (and still don’t) know how to write a “young adult book” (whatever that is), I have an audience that varies in age from 11 to 91. I hope my readers can also feel that I don’t treat them as “teens” (a word that too often is used in some weird kind of quotation marks), but just as the fine people and kindred book lovers that they are to me.

Q: What were some of your favorite books growing up?

A: I was as much a book addict then as I am now. I think I’ve spent a great deal of my life so far lugging huge, unwieldy stacks of books home from the library. How to even choose favorites, you know? I loved Ramona the Pest. I loved Little Bear. From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. The Incredible Journey. The Chronicles of Narnia. Okay, I’ll stop there.

Q: Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

A: Always. Since I was about seven years old. Except for that brief period of time when I wanted to be Nancy Drew.

Contact: Taryn Rosada 212-698-7185

This interview is provided by Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing and can be reprinted for publication either in full or excerpted as individual questions and answers, as long as they are reprinted in their entirety.

Apr 26, 2010

Why I write about love....

I write about love because it means so much to me

Because I love how sometimes you just wonder if that special someone feels the same way as you do, "He loves me" and "He loves me not"

I dream....

....about a love so true....

....that lasts

Because what's shared between a boy and a girl (or girls, or boys)

....is something so special

....is something so unique

....is something so beautiful

Because love is full of rainbows....

....and kisses....

....and happiness

And even through the pain, hurt, and sadness....

....love triumphs

And that my friends, is why I write about....

Hope you enjoyed!

Apr 8, 2010

Author Interview: Susane Colasanti

 I have Susane Colasanti, author of When It Happens, Take Me There, Waiting for you, and upcoming book which will be released on May 4, Something Like Fate.

Q: What is the most challenging part of writing? Easiest? Most fun?

Good writing requires good choices. What I probably find most challenging while writing a new book is deciding which choices are the best. There tends to be at least one point in the story where I can see a few possible paths to take, all of which look good to me. Which relates to another challenge: deleting scenes (or even whole chapters) that are difficult to part with. While revising, there are inevitably parts of the story that need to be cut. The bad parts are easy to delete. Then there are parts that are good, but they’re just not right for that particular book. I have a file of cut parts from past revisions that can maybe be used in another book somehow. The easiest stage for me is going over copyedits. Although it’s an extremely tedious job, I’m a detail-oriented person and love when I finally get to polish my manuscript. I always have a fun time integrating random, weird things from my own life that have spoken to me in mysterious ways. Or taking annoying experiences we all can relate to and making them look hilarious. There’s a scene in Take Me There where this dude is ordering a very complicated drink at Starbucks, all yelling into his cell phone and just being generally obnoxious. We’ve all encountered That Guy.

Q: I love to write young adult romance as well. What about romance (writing, reading, and/or in general) do you love the most?

You know, it’s funny. I had no idea I was writing teen romance until people started classifying it that way. It makes sense that my books are associated with the romance genre since the main plots all focus on a boy-girl relationship. All of my books are about soul mates. Soul mates are fascinating! I love taking the concept of two people who are destined to be together, who have this instant connection they can’t explain, and convincing readers that they have to be together. If readers can feel even a fraction of the passion that my characters feel, that’s awesome.

Q: I actually have a number of novels involving male POV, and my secret to getting it right is being a good listener when I’m around guys. Your male POV is very believable. What’s your own secret?

We have the same technique! I did a lot of spying on boys when I was a teacher. Not even spying – just listening very carefully to the way they talk and how their speech patterns are different than girls’. To write realistic dialogue, it must be influenced by dialogue heard in real life. All of my books contain lots of dialogue. When I’m writing a new book, I write the kind of story that I would have liked to read as a teen (which actually hasn’t changed, except that I also read more adult novels now because I am apparently a grownup). I love listening to conversations – inflections, word choices, slang, everything. I’ve absorbed a decent amount of boy conversation, which makes writing realistic boy dialogue much easier.

Q: I almost died when I found out Sara from When It Happens liked Creative Visualization by Shakti Gawain. In a previous interview, you said a lot of your own philosophy factored into When It Happens. What are some other things from your own life that inspire different aspects of your novels?

I’m very into green living, a concept I’ve been wanting to incorporate into one of my books for a while. Something Like Fate was the perfect opportunity to do this. The main character, Lani, is president of One World, her school’s environmental club, and is all about healthy lifestyle choices. I’m hoping that my readers will be inspired to make healthier, more sustainable choices as well. Also, I believe in karma. If you are someone who puts positive energy out into this world, good things will come back to you. Karma is a concept that can be found to some extent in each of my books.

Q: It is so clear in previous interviews I’ve read that Sara is the character you identify with the most. But to switch things up on you ... if in some alternative universe you were a guy, who would be the male character you’d identify with the most?

Ooh, interesting question! I’d have to say a cross between Tobey Beller from When It Happens and Danny Trager from Take Me There. Tobey is sensitive, introspective, quirky, and listens to The Cure when he’s depressed. That pretty much describes how I was in high school. While I’m not a political activist like Danny, he’s vocal about what he believes in and is trying to make a difference in this world. I try to make a difference with every book I write, to hopefully help my readers feel less alone. And I’m very opinionated. If I believe in something strongly, you’ll definitely know.

Q: In previous interviews, you said you didn’t know if you were “allowed” to write a book based on college characters when asked if you could write a sequel to When It Happens. What are your thoughts on the “New Adult” genre that has been getting some interest from St. Martin’s Press?

The whole concept of “teen for adult” books is evolving. More adults are reading teen novels, which I think is the result of greater exposure and selection. The YA market is expanding in so many creative ways. Some novels that are now shelved in the teen section used to be classified as adult, like Girl by Blake Nelson and Forever by Judy Blume. It feels like the time is right for a new crossover genre to grow. When I was a teen, I would have loved to read about characters in college or in their early 20s. Not many books out there are about these early adult years. So I think that writing a book with college characters would be a welcome concept at this point (although I still haven’t decided about a When It Happens sequel!).

Q: What is your favorite moment from high school and is it included in any of your current published works?

Graduation day. That was the day I was free. That was the day I looked forward to for so long. I clearly remember walking across that stage, going down those steps, and knowing that my ties to high school could be completely over. When It Happens has a graduation scene that was not unlike my own experience.

Q: What authors did you look up to when in high school?

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton was the only book I read in my entire junior high/high school experience that I loved. It inspired me to write my own book that would hopefully help others the way The Outsiders helped me. I still have that original copy from 7th grade, sitting on my shelf next to a newer edition of the book (published by Viking), which sits next to my own books (also published by Viking). Cool, right? Stephen King was also popular with me. Even though some of those books scared me so badly I had nightmares, I could not stop reading. One of my high school English teachers argued that his books were trash, but I was like, “Really? Then give me something good to read.” Which of course he couldn’t do because everything I had to read for English was a total snore. The authors that I loved were ones I discovered in libraries and bookstores. I looked up to them because they inspired me to dream about a better life. When life got unbearable (which it did a lot back then), I could always count on picking up their books again and again and feeling comforted.

Q: What is your best piece of writing advice for aspiring writers?

Read. Then read some more. The more you read, the better your writing will become. You should write about what makes you feel alive. If you feel passionate about what you’re writing, you will be compelled to keep going.

Q: If you were still a teen, which one of your male characters/love interests in any of your novels would you date?

Tobey Beller from When It Happens will always have a special place in my heart. It seems like an author’s first book is usually the most autobiographical one. The first book is what you pour all of the emotions and experiences from your whole life into. Tobey was inspired by a real boy in my life. I want my readers to know that boys like Tobey actually do exist!

Check out Susane elsewhere on the internet!

Thanks to Susane for a wonderful interview!

Mar 24, 2010

Author Interview: Alex Flinn

I have my first author interview ever! Alex Flinn! I've read only one of her books, Beastly, but I'm planning read her first novel, Breathing Underwater, sometime within the next two weeks or so! A review of Beastly found here. Without further ado, here's the interview!

Q: What sparked the idea for Beastly and its characters?

I often get ideas for books from things I wonder about. I was really curious about the beast. What happened to his family? Why was he alone in a castle in the woods? Also, why does Beauty's father let her go live with the Beast? So, that was what inspired me to write the book.

K: I get ideas like that as well!

Q: What was the biggest struggle for you in the writing process with your first published novel, Breathing Underwater?

Getting the viewpoint right. I started writing it about the girl.

Q: What is your favorite part of writing?

When it's going well, it's a lot of fun.

K: I most certainly agree!

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Write what you want to write, not what you think will sell. I mean, it's probably better if you don't write about your cats, but if you write something that doesn't have your heart in it, because you think other people will like it (e.g., think, "There are a lot of vampire novels out; I should write a vampire novel too," even though you've had no previous interest in vampires, for example), it will show. It's better if you're genuinely excited about your subject matter.

Q: If you were still a teen, which one of your male characters/love interests in any of your novels would you date?

Michael in Nothing to Lose. He's a great guy.

K: I'll have to read that! 

A big thanks to Alex Flinn for being able to answer some questions! YAY! :)

Also, stay tuned for tomorrow's blog post in celebration of my 100th post about something very special!

Jan 16, 2010

My Love for Words

Words. Oh how I love you.

Oh how you somehow appear before my eyes on a blank document.

Click, clack, clickety, clack.

Clackety, click, clack, click.

My fingers pound against letters.

Click. Clack. Click.

Caps Lock L-O-V-E.


Love. Love. Love.

And I am like the Cookie Monster.

But I eat words.

Om Nom Nom

But words are like cookies.

Their delicious sentences flavorful on my tongue.

Oh. But that's talking, right?


Om Nom Nom.

Even when I write you by hand it's absobloominglutely luverly.

You're the reason I keep my sanity

The reason I get those novels written down


Karla is . . .

The end!

Nov 15, 2009

Writing with Ease

Wouldn't it be so amazing to just write and write without any trouble at all? What if you were to write a brilliant manuscript the first time around? Only having to tweak this or that.But writing is harder work than it seems. There are so many different elements that must be put all together to make a piece uniquely your own. To make a piece beautiful. Writing has many difficulties, that's for sure. But here is a blog post dedicated to some tips and tricks.

What's writing when you're not sitting down to write? 
First tip: Keep your BIC. Butt in Chair. Sit down and write. For a specified amount of time each day at the same time. Heck, you don't need to write creatively, just as long as you're writing. I got this advice from Ridley Pearson, an author who spoke at my local Barnes and Noble a few years ago. Okay, maybe I don't listen to it all the time. I am, after all, a college student with lots to do at different hours of the day. I don't even write every day. But I am promising myself to work on it. If anything, set yourself a goal--3 days, 5 days, a week, or more--to keep your BIC for that amount of days. If it works out for you, then great job!

What if you can't find the right word to explain an idea you see clearly in your mind but can't translate into words? 
Second tip: Use a thesaurus if you have an idea of a word that is similar. Or get this, use a "reverse dictionary." Google it. Click the first link. Should be OneLook. Seriously, just describe the concept and voila! You get a list of words that could possibly have the word you are looking for. Sometimes I use it as my thesaurus lol

What is this darn thing called writer's block?
Third tip: In The Writer's Little Helper, the author, James V. Smith, Jr. says he believes it does not exist. That is is a "form of laziness" or "distraction." He says that it's a "lame excuse to not write." I have to agree wholeheartedly. He has some great advice in this little helper book, and I am going to quote.

"I've learned two things about creative writing. First is that creativity doesn't strike sparks in you like a bolt from the ionosphere. Yo can't expect much from wandering around idyllic settings waiting for an inspiration.
 The most effective aids to creativity continue to be a simple pen and a blank pad. You create sparks by striking one against the other. Write an idea down. develop that idea. Turn the idea inside out. That's where creativity comes from.
"The second thing I've learned is that writing does not occur by thinking about it. Writing only happens when you do it, so plant your butt in chair (YAY!) and get busy. Keep busy. After you create a million or so words, you will have established yourself as a serviceable writer simply from the experience. If you've worked hard at learning from your experiences along the way, you'll probably be a creative writer. That's how it works.
And by the time you've written those million words, you will have, like me, forgotten the condition of writer's block even exists, except in the minds of dilettantes." 
"My writing sucks...."
Fourth tip: Um, that is so not true! If you are being doubtful of your writing, have someone read it, if they are in love with it, problem solved.
"But I got negative comments on it...."
That is OK! If you work on those problem areas more, this will help make your writing even better, right?
And if you really think it is sucktastic, I will forward you to Parametric's post about this particular issue.

"I am new at this... what do I do?"
Fifth, sixth, and seventh tip:
  1. Know your market. Read books in your genre. And if it's literary read that. Seriously, if you read and get to know your market, it helps you know what sorts of things are available to you to write about in your genre. I am a contemporary romance writer. So I read those sorts of books. It helps. A lot. 
  2. Research the publishing process! I am not going to go into detail about the publishing process. Instead, I leave that up to you to explore. Check out books like Writer's Market or sign up online here. There are also other books to check out at your local bookstore or research stuff online. there are so many resources out there for you!
  3. Check out some self-help writnig books. There are some great ones out there. The Writer's Little Helper is my fave. Here is something I had posted on AW.
The Curious Case of the Misplaced Modifier: How to Solve the Mysteries of Weak Writing by Bonnie Trenga. Haven't sunk my teeth into this one yet but from the ToC we get passive voice, nominalizations, vague -ing words, weak verbs, misplaced modifiers, super long sentence, wordy writing and more!

The Writer's Little Helper by James V.Smith Jr. PHENOMENAL book I love it so much. Talks about pretty much everything you want to know about writing. Characters, scenes, POV, flashbacks, dialogue, pacing, some publishing tidbits and lots more!!!

The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman. This one is more for revising/editing, but it could still help you avoid the mistakes that most writers make. Adjectives and adverbs, showing vs. telling, viewpoint and narration, characterization, hooks, subtlety, tone, setting. Really great book too! (also written by an agent) There is also another book by him.. The Plot Thickens which I need to get my hands on... That one is more for the writing of a novel me thinks. Must google it later...

Keys to Great Writing by Stephen Wilbers. Haven't sunk my teeth into this one yet either. But it talks about some things such as: economy, precision, action, music, personality, purpose, POV (but you've heard of that) organization, support, coherence, the writing process. If you want more info on some of those chapter titles, look into the book there's a lot of nice info in those chapters.

Between the Lines by Jessica Page Morrell. Really goes in depth into some subtle elements of writing, backstory, cliffhangers, thrusters, epilogues, epiphanies, flashbacks, foreshadowing, imagery, pacing, prologues, sense of place, sensory surround, subplots, subtlety, suspense, tension, theme and premise, transitions.

All of these are really great. Then of course get your hands on a grammar and syntax book! I have a pocket book from Random House Webster's that cost like 6 bucks.

Last WoW (no not World of Warcraft but Words of Wisdom =] )
  • Think of writing as something fun, something you love to do, something you are passionate about instead of a means to make money off it. Without using your love to write to put forth your best attempt, no money for you I am afraid. 
  • The writing process is a journey. Take the road less traveled.
  • Never give up! You can't fail if you don't give up! 
  • No matter what, keep your dreams in sight.
  • And lastly . . . go forth and WRITE!
Okay, well these are all the tips and tricks up my sleeve! Hope you have enjoyed them! 

Oct 25, 2009

The Beginning: A Cinderella Story in Its Own Way

This is from a narrative I wrote for my freshman writing class.

Some writers say their interest in writing novels has followed them since they were young, writing stories as soon as they could lift a pencil. I think, “Wow, that’s amazing. I’m impressed!” I would have loved to be able to tell the story of harnessing a creative energy that followed me through the years. But one could say that I was a dormant volcano just waiting to erupt. The need and desire to use my imagination to create riveting stories that capture readers’ attention had to start somewhere. And the catalyst came when my fifth grade teacher assigned our class to write a short story.

For fourth through sixth grade, I attended St. Viator’s Elementary school in Chicago. My teacher, Ms. Garrett was young, tall, and lean, with russet hair that went past her shoulders. Her emerald green eyes seemed to always be smiling, even when her lips did not curl up at the sides. Her voice sounded sweet and caring, and I had the feeling that she wanted the best for us, her students. One day in class, she gave us a short story writing assignment, the culmination to delving deeper into the short stories we read in our English textbook. For the short story, we had to retell a favorite fairy tale in a modern way.

The whole short story thing was an obscure idea to me. I felt anxious, wondering if my first short story would be any good. I had written poems before that point, but writing a short story was like trying to eat a humongous sundae before it all melted compared to eating an ice cream cone. The yummy poem cone would be more enjoyable because it was smaller and easier to finish. The towering short story sundae with the plot covered in conflict and with characters sprinkled on top looked like a challenge that I wasn’t ready to take. Despite what seemed like a monumental task, I had confidence that I could finish that sundae.

The fairytale part was easy; Cinderella was a no-brainer. I grew up loving the classic Disney movie. When my dad asked me what movie I wanted to buy at Toys R Us when I was four, I pulled on his hand and pointed at a movie that had a picture of a couple dancing. “You want Cinderella?” he had asked. I nodded. I watched it over and over again, nonstop one day. I remembered these details, so Cinderella was calling to me, the image of the VHS cover clear in my mind. Now, I just had to rewrite the actual story in my own way.

I sat on my bed with a fresh sheet of notebook paper on top of a textbook. I wrote my name on the top right-hand corner and decided to title it “A Modern Cinderella.” I had such vivid scenes in my mind when writing this story. I had the idea that young women were going to run a race to win Prince Charles’ heart since he loved athletic girls, and Kaleigh, my Cinderella character, would win after a push from second place to first place on the last lap. Everything I envisioned, I wrote down onto paper, painting pictures with words. When the due date came by, I turned in the final draft knowing I had done my best.

About a week passed by and Ms. Garrett announced to our class that she wanted to read one of our stories aloud, but she wouldn’t say whose story it was. I mentally crossed my fingers, hoping it was mine. The moment I heard her read the title, my eyes widened at the thought that she had actually chosen mine.
The boy sitting in the back row next to me looked at me. I was stiff in my seat, afraid that my classmates wouldn’t like it.

“Were you the one who wrote it?” Frankie asked me.

I nodded, my cheeks turning pink.

While she read it, I was surprised at how well it had come together. There was a certain fluidity to the story that caught my attention while I listened. I visualized the same scenes that my imagination created. I felt so proud of myself.

After Ms. Garrett read the last word, it felt amazing to hear my classmates’ loud applause. My fifth grade crush said, “Ow! Ow!” I was thrilled; that was his favorite phrase. My cheeks burned even more as I turned a deep shade of red. Everyone looked around the room, and all the signs pointed to me.

“It was really good, Karla!” “Wow, what a great story!” Compliments ricocheted from either left or right of me. I felt good—really good.

Ms. Garrett has had a profound impact on my love of writing, but I never realized it before she left St. Viator’s that year to Michigan. The following year in sixth grade, Mrs. Shutt, my teacher, said I really deserved an A+ on a short story I wrote for her class. It was too bad that I couldn’t thank Ms. Garrett in person for influencing me to be a writer. If she hadn’t read it aloud, then I probably wouldn’t have known that I had an actual talent.

Fifth grade marked the beginning of my interest in writing that later grew into a passion after I finished my first novel in my freshman year of high school. Ms. Garrett has earned a spot on the dedication page of my first book if I ever publish it. Because she read my short story in front of the whole class and I saw how much my classmates loved it, I know that I want to write creative fiction for my career. I am like Cinderella in a way. I started off with nothing, and now I have the passion that can be the driving force toward publishing my first book.