Posts Tagged ‘middle-grade fiction’

Eight months ago, I published my debut series, The Chronicles of Aden Weaver. Since then I’ve been lying low, recuperating, resting, relocating my will to live. Once restored to my former glory, I assured myself I would be free to start a new story. Fresh fields, new pastures, unexplored horizons beckoned. So exciting. The possibilities endless. Who knew what I would write next? Let’s go!

Writing Woes (for the “pantser”) #1: The Blank Page.

I recall vividly the first morning I sat at my desk, lifted the pen and stared at the blank page. It wasn’t thrilling; it was mortifying. I sweated bullets for a full ten minutes, staring at the page until the lines blurred. There were no words spilling out, no inspiration flowing forth like a fountain. It was sheer torture squeezing one or two words on the page.

I thought, you’re not a writer, you’re an imposter. Had I lost the ability to write? I have always believed myself a storyteller, a writer, ever since I was a little girl. Without my stories, who am I? Writer’s block sucks.

Writing Woes #2: The Free Fall.

Lucky for me I remembered the writing course I had taken with Tiffany Lawson, in 2012, “Method to Madness.”* Tiffany had taught us the benefit of starting each creative writing session with a deep relaxation technique, designed along similar lines as the ones used by method actors to get into character. From then on, I began every writing session with relaxation exercises. I eked out a few more words. What a relief to be writing again, but even that was scary.

Once I was underway, writing a few pages every day, I reached another treacherous stage of writing new copy—the sickening feeling of free-fall when you are literally writing into the void. Of this nerve-rattling process, the greats have said many astute things, including Ray Bradbury, who advised to writers to ‘jump,’ saying their wings would unfold as they fell. Gulp! Easier said than done.

Writing Woes #3: The Trust Game.

Marilynne Robinson is a pantser like I am (we write “by the seats of our pants”), and she once described her method as ‘sitting down with a blank page and a pen, discovering her way to that page’s end.’ In the same way, I try to figure out the characters as much as possible beforehand, then treat writing as an expedition to parts unknown. But just as with any exploration, the process requires extraordinary faith.

For this sort of writing, trust is paramount and courage required by the bucket load. A pantser can pour months even years into a story on the barest whiff of hope that in the end all the disparate parts of the story will come together and eventually make sense.

Writing Woes #4: The Restraint Game

When any author starts a new book, everyone wants to know more. Friends and family pester for the details. Everyone surrounding the author seeks reassurance the creative madcap in their midst is actually working on a story and not doing what Jack Nicholson’s character did in The Shining. I’m constantly prodded for details by well-meaning loved ones. But what the bystanders don’t realize is that it’s dangerous to talk about a new story in the fledgling stages.

I have learned it is unwise to broadcast material while it is still green. Questions get asked, things get said that can’t be unsaid. Gossip has a scattering effect, like picking apart the very fabric of the imagination. As an author who started out talking too much about her books, only to have the energy for them dissipate, I have learned the hard way that silence is golden. So far I have side-stepped and avoided hard-line questioning from everyone, including my best friends and publicist about the new story. I’ll reveal no details until the rough draft is in the bag.

If in doubt, just remember this one rule, never, never, never talk about your story before you’ve finished writing it. Loose lips sink ships!

Duly refreshed as to the terrors involved in writing fiction, I have had to remind myself again, why do I do this job? There are far easier ways of making a living… easy, cushy, boring ways of making a living.

Nah! Give me the terrifying roller coaster of the creative life any day.

Call me crazy, but I still love writing fiction.

How about you? Do you love what you do?

Keep Creating!

Yvette Carol


“Nothing in the whole world felt as good as being able to make something from a sudden idea.”―Beverly Cleary.


*This course is no longer available, but check out the other courses on offer at

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Robyn Campbell, mother of Christopher (who has Sturge-weber), compiled the recently-released middle grade anthology, Kissed by an Angel. Robyn wrote the awesome story which opens the book. She came up with the idea that we should circulate a paperback copy between the contributors to the anthology, for all of us to sign it. Then, this copy would be gifted to Christopher, from all of us, with our love. Bodacious, huh!

Christopher Campbell

We all jumped on board the idea. By signing Christopher’s copy, one by one, in our individual countries, we would bring the group together in a new way. The single signed anthology would then be something special for him and him, alone. A nice tribute to a brave young man, and perhaps, something to give him hope through the hard times.


There I was feeling sad yesterday, thinking how unfair it was that it should be New Year’s Eve and one of my friends, who died before Christmas, wasn’t here to see it, when a courier drove up. I opened the package to find the paperback version of KBAA! Robyn had sent the anthology to me first, with a little personal note of thanks. Aww! My heart melted into gooey blobs.


I signed the inside cover,

Dear Christopher,

This is for you!

With much love,

Yvette Carol



I was struck by the idea that receiving this copy on the very last day of the old year was somehow significant. There was portent wrapped up in this event somehow. I became seized by the thought that it was of the utmost importance to post it on that same day, in order to keep the cycle of the flow of goodwill going. I had done my part. The book was now the proverbial “hot potato” and had to be released to the next recipient.

Lynn Kelley

Re-packaging it and addressing the envelope to the next author on the list, I hopped back into my car and drove back to the shops. Indeed, it was in the post within two hours of my receiving the parcel. Our friend, writer and children’s poet and artist, Catherine Johnson, I pass the baton to you! Don’t forget to take a photograph!

One of the problems faced by Christopher, his family, and other families in their position is that very little is known about Sturge-weber. Christopher and others like him suffer multiple seizures, and endure regular surgical and medical procedures while the experts try to figure out how to help.

Here’s an easy way you can help. Buy our anthology! 100% of profits go to benefit the Sturge-weber Foundation who are currently doing cutting-edge research into the syndrome. Kissed by an Angel, is available on Amazon now:…/dp/151936055X/ref=sr_1_9



Keep Creating in 2016!

Yvette K. Carol



Think of new things each day (or all day) to be grateful for. “Gratitude” is another word for “abundance,” because the things you are most grateful for become abundant in your life. ~ James Altucher


Sturge-Weber Syndrome is a rare brain disorder. It is characterized by a port-wine birthmark. It can cause seizures, paralysis, stroke, blood clots, glaucoma, and a host of other problems. The Sturge-Weber Foundation is a place where parents can go to find information. ~ Robyn Campbell.


Since meeting writer, Robyn Campbell, through our “tribe,” Writing for Children, over on Wanatribe, we’ve learned about her brave son, Christopher, who lives with Sturge-Weber Syndrome, a rare brain disorder. Though doctors predicted Christopher would not make it to the age of two, he is twenty nine today.


One fine day, in October of 2014, WfC member, Teresa Robeson came up with the idea that we put together an anthology, to benefit the Sturge-Weber Foundation, and in that way, she started the conversation. Lynn Kelley, Catherine Johnson, myself and of course, Robyn, jumped aboard the project.


Robyn loved the idea. She said, ‘The seizures in Sturge-Weber kids are really mini strokes. I really hope that the research finds better treatment options. The slogan has always been, the stronger the wind, the tougher the trees.  Maybe folks will donate and at the very least maybe when they see a Sturge-Weber child or adult, maybe just maybe they won’t stare. 🙂 That’s worth it all.’

Her words galvanized our effort. As we worked on our stories, over the months, more and more writers came on board, from other areas, until we had eleven contributors.


In celebration of the fact that our anthology is soon to be released, I interviewed Robyn Campbell about her feelings and thoughts.

In your own words, what sort of book is KBAA?


First off, let me thank you Yvette, and all the contributors for over a year of solid work for the Kissed by an Angel Anthology. I feel so blessed to know all of you in such a personal way. This past year has been a struggle as doctors have tried to find the reason Christopher is having these latest problems. To me, Kissed by an Angel is a book of hope, magic, love, joy, and the belief that anyone can do anything if they set their mind to it. The stories are the best of the best. You writers are the best of the best. I will miss our family after the launch. That’s what it is, you know? We’re family.


Definitely! I’m grateful to have had something concrete to do, Robyn.

Tell us what this anthology means to you? How did you get involved?


The anthology means so many things on so many levels. This is our chance to do something for research. We know the gene that causes Sturge-Weber (GNAQ), so now we are chomping at the bit for better treatment options and dare I say it? A cure. I want to know that I had some say in this. That I made a difference toward finding a cure. It makes my heart cry to hear of these deaths from Sturge-Weber that we’ve heard about. It brings it too close to home. Way too close. I got involved after Lynn Kelley (who has worked on formatting and everything else, she needs a medal), Yvette Carol (that’s you), Teresa Robeson, and Catherine Johnson (our tribe) started tossing around the idea of doing an anthology to benefit the Foundation’s research. And may I say that Christopher just wants to give all of you a colossal smooch on the mouths. Well, except Erik. Haha Actually, Christopher loves Erik and his family. He KNOWS they pray for him. That means a lot to him. He prays for them and for Sam and for all of you.


Thank you, Christopher!

Robyn, your story starts the whole book. What is your story about and why did you choose to include it?


My story is titled Kissed By An Angel. It is real life turned into a fictional story. But it is very true. It’s about Christopher before he got his black belt. When he was having many seizures. Every day he would have seizures. All day long. He’d end up in the hospital. It was a trying time. Especially, because he was trying to test for that belt.

The anthology stories are about special powers of middle-graders. I wrestled with writing a story on magic. But it didn’t feel right to me. I always believed Christopher had his own special powers. So I decided to write the story that is in the anthology. It was hard. I cried so much while writing that first draft. All those memories came flooding to the surface. I wrote his neurologist into the story too. I dedicated it to Dr. D’Cruz. And to someone else. Shhh. I can’t say anymore. All of those seizures are why Christopher will always live with us on the farm. He will never drive. But he can read and write. He can do much more than doctors ever thought he would. I give all the credit to God. Christopher had a very special request of the authors in the anthology. That they all sign his copy. Poor Yvette lives in New Zealand. But they all agreed. He is so excited to get his anthology.

KBAA, cover art, 2015

Tell us a little about the idea of the charity initiative behind KBAA, with all proceeds to go to the Sturge-Weber Foundation, as a lot of people are unfamiliar with either the syndrome or the organisation.


The Sturge-Weber Foundation is a place where parents can go to find information. Karen Ball started it after her daughter was born with Sturge-Weber. She works tirelessly for the families. The foundation has research irons in the fire. We hope for better treatment options. 100% of the proceeds from the anthology goes to the Foundation. I will set Karen up with CreateSpace as soon as we’re finished with everything. That way, all money goes into the Foundation’s account. I’m super excited. I want this to be huge. I want this to help bring answers. Please buy a copy. It will be in print and ebook. Thank you, Yvette. For everything.

Thank you, Robyn!


The anthology is due for release Dec 13. In the meantime, to whet your appetites, here’s a cover reveal for the anthology. Ta da!

Our hope is that we have given people a simple way of helping an awesome charity. Spend a few dollars on a really great book you can read with your kids this Christmas. 100% of the money goes straight to the coffers of the The Sturge-Weber Foundation.

Easy as!


Yvette Carol


‘Every story started with just an idea in someone’s head. Isn’t that a fantastic concept?’ Bob Mayer

Here’s what other contributors are saying:

Robyn Campbell –

Sharon Mayhew –

Theresa Milstein –

Erik Weibelg –

Vivian Kirkfield –

Ellen Leventhal –