Stacy Nyikos: Class of 2k8

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This is last of a year-long series about those intrepid newcomers, The Class of 2k8. To help marketing efforts for debut novelists, these 28 novelists have banded together to create a group marketing effort. Altogether, it’s an amazing group of debut novels. Use the list at the bottom of the post to review the authors and their books and be amazed all over again at the creativity of these up and coming stars.

Stacy Nyikos: Class of 2K8

dragon wishes
REVISIONS – WHERE THE REAL WORK BEGINS

If the first draft of a book is akin to putting up the frame of a house, then revisions are definitely all about building the house around the frame. They can be extensive – a one storey ranch can turn into a three storey Victorian. They can also be minimal. Some books really are written in less than two months. Jean Craighead George wrote My Side of the Mountain in five weeks. I’m still waiting to write a book like that myself, but I haven’t given up hope.

Until then, it’s rewriting and rewriting. Sigh.

Tongue and cheek aside, with some books, revisions can be fun. For my picture books – Squirt, Shelby and Dizzy – revisions were about taking rhyme and making it sing. I really enjoyed them. Each time I came back to the story and revised, the tale got a little better, and my characters, a little funnier, goofier or more endearing.

squirtDizzyShelby

For Dragon Wishes, revisions were tough. The story is based on a very real emotion for me, loss. My daughters were in a near fatal sledding accident about five years ago. When they crashed into the back of a parked horse trailer, my life came to a crashing halt. I stopped writing. I became depressed. My personal life began to suffer.

It was writing that pulled me back out. I had an emotion, a very real, very big emotion – the near loss of my children – that yearned to become a story. Dragon Wishes was born.

Very briefly, Dragon Wishes is about a twelve year old girl, Alex, and her younger sister, Isa, who lose their parents. They are sent to live with their aunt and uncle. The aunt, who is from Taiwan, tells a story set in ancient China. It is about a young girl, Shin Wa, who begins a quest to find the last surviving dragons in order to save all of mankind. While Alex is struggling to get through each day, Shin Wa journeys across dangerous country, finds the dragons, flies with them, and ultimately, faces the enemy with the dragons at her side. Alex tries to find guidance in the legend, but in all the wrong ways.

The climax of the story comes when Alex can no longer run from the loss of her parents. She has to deal with it. Her aunt wants to help her, but Alex is so afraid of letting anyone into her life again. Despite her fear, she opens up. It is the best moment in the story. It was also the hardest to write and the most painful to revise.

Alex’s fear was very real to me. Rewriting and reworking that section until her struggle became believable meant staying in that fear and molding it. I experienced my characters’ struggle over and over again, as well as my own after my children’s accident. There were days when I got depressed. When I cried while I was writing. Yet Alex’s fear and loss give the story its heart. The rawness of her emotions makes her struggle real, and her choosing to open up to her new family so rewarding.

True emotions make writing hard and revisions really hard, but my hope is that they create characters so real, they linger in the hearts of my readers long after my story is finished.

Read more about 2k8 authors

March: Jody Feldman
April: Zu Vincent
April: M.P. Barker
May: Sarah Prineas
June: Daphne Grab
July: N.A. Nelson
August: Laurel Snyder
September: Nancy Viau
October: Ellen Booraem
October: Kristin O’Donnel Tubb
October: P.J. Hoover
October: Courtney Sheinmel
November: Stacy Nyikos

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