“I once had an agent tell me, ‘You’re persistent. I’ll give you that.’ It wasn’t meant as a compliment. But it has proven to be true.”
— Laurel Houck, author of The Girl With Chameleon Eyes
Today's blog isn't about how to use "they're" or "their" or "there." It has nothing to do with setting or plot twists. It doesn't even have much to do with ability (or lack thereof).
It does have bunches to do with character, though.
I'm not talking, "Sally's raven hair whipped about her face, the scar at her temple a shadow of her past" character.
I'm talking about personal character—STRENGTH of character—the type of character in one of my favorite childhood stories, "The Little Engine That Could," by Watty Piper.
We'll call my writing critique buddy, Laurel Houck, The Little Writer That Could. She's not only little (cute as a button, really, and feisty as they come), but just about the most determined writer I know.
“I once had an agent tell me, ‘You’re persistent. I’ll give you that.’ It wasn’t meant as a compliment. But it has proven to be true,” says Laurel.
Laurel is talented. REALLY, really talented. I've been listening to her stories for years, always just a little envious of how effortlessly her writing seems to leap off the page. As a critique partner, it has been hard for me to find something, anything, to improve upon. Instead, I get so lost in her words that I forget to take notes. But, effortless as her writing seems, I know just how hard she works at it. She puts in the time. An incredibly prolific writer, over the years she's produced a historical YA mystery set in a graveyard, a snarky middle grade, beautifully lyrical picture books, a heart-wrenching story set in a Nazi concentration camp, an epic YA trilogy, and so much more. ALL of it ... great stuff.
It wasn’t easy for her to get here, but I am thrilled to see Laurel's first ghostly, romantic, angst-filled YA, "The Girl With Chameleon Eyes," now available for public consumption.
About the book:
Summer is “The Girl With Chameleon Eyes.” She knows that she’s a ghost, and that something in her past has prevented her eternal rest. But what she did and how to expiate that guilt is a mystery—one that must be solved by her seventeenth birthday or she will roam forever. Kota, unhappy and at odds with everyone, feels an instant attraction to Summer. She recoils at the mere sight of him. Yet they are drawn together in a dance of mutual need, choreographed by the ages. When both of their lives begin to unravel and intertwine, will love be enough to save them? Or will evil consume them both?
For Laurel, getting a novel published has been years in the making. Often, even the most talented of writers must face unexpected obstacles. The ins and outs, the ups and downs, of Laurel’s personal writing journey are not for the faint of heart.
“My first sale to a major publishing house, a YA trilogy, made me swoon,” says Laurel, who saw her dream turn south when the parent company overspent on a well-known author’s latest book. “We unknowns were cancelled because they needed to save money.”
Laurel’s next sale, again to a major house, was a co-authored MG series. When edits were almost complete on book one, the editor decided to remove Laurel from the project and retain the other author. Laurel’s partner, also a member of our writing group, refused. The two writers (both equally talented) sold it to another big house.
“Same scenario, except this time they wanted him off the project,” says Laurel, who also refused to leave her partner in the dust. The series has never found a new home.
Over many years of putting her work out there, Laurel has had the ubiquitous rejection letters and the increasingly popular no response at all. She has been agented and un-agented. She’s experienced hate tweets on what some considered non-PC subject matter. There have been promises made and broken and even a fellow writer who tore her work apart in front of an editor at a writing retreat.
“A rare occurrence,” says Laurel, “but there you have it.”
And yet, through it all, here she is. Still writing. Still doing her thing. Still putting out wonderfully crafted stories like, “The Girl With Chameleon Eyes.”
She is grateful to Melissa Keir at Inkspell Publishing for this opportunity. And for the many friends and family who have believed in her and been supportive since the beginning of the journey.
Every writer has a different idea of what his or her personal best can be. Anyone who wants to see success at the end of the journey may have some uphill battles to get there. And the downhill plummet from the top may not be as easy-breezy as one would expect. The key is to put in the time, work your way up that hill, and take the plunge. If it is something you feel committed to, persevere.
“I’ve had no special knowledge or thoughts that someday I would certainly be published. But for whatever reason, I simply kept on keeping on,” says Laurel.
Be Laurel. Be that Little Writer That Could.
Congrats, my friend.
Laurel has been writing since the age of six when Crawls the Caterpillar inched across her wide-lined yellow notebook paper. She has published magazine articles in Skipping Stones, Westsylvania Magazine, The Tribune Review, The Loyalhanna Review, and SEAPC magazine. Blog posts have appeared on All the Way YA and at seapc.org. In addition to The Girl with Chameleon Eyes, Inkspell will publish her next YA novel in March of 2020. She lives in the Pittsburgh suburbs with her husband and their fur baby, Mable. And she’s the world’s biggest fan of chocolate milkshakes.
Facebook: Laurel Houck
Amazon link to order The Girl With Chameleon Eyes.
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