Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of writing (and the motivation behind) her paranormal novel, is brought to you by YA author Anna White.
Bring the Magic
I am a longtime reader of YA fiction, and one of my favorite genres is paranormal. I love the idea embedded in those stories that there is something magical, something mysterious and intangible, burning just below the surface. Books like Harry Potter and Twilight capture this feeling well. Just on the other side of the subway station, or in the next class over, there is something amazing.
As an author I hope to bring that magic too, both in my characters and in real life. Sometimes though, real life is hard. Growing up my vision of adulthood was to graduate, move to Africa, and work for an NGO. My parents thought I was crazy, I bought a map of the continent and hung it over my bed. Fast forward about twenty years, and I am married. I live in a brick house in a medium sized town. I have two children and a dog, and I have worked the same job for the past seven years. I am far, far away from Africa.
It was a post on a wonderful blog called Momastery that helped me reconcile my past goals with my present reality. In a post called “On Writing Your Life”, Glennon Melton described a family in crisis. In an effort to bring the family together and change the trajectory they were on, they made one common goal. They decided, as a family, to build an orphanage. And they did it! They raised $25,000 to build an orphanage all by themselves. Incidentally, not only did they have a significant impact on others, but the process of reaching this goal transformed their family.
At the time that I read this, I was almost finished with my novel. I had subbed it out, and been rejected with the feedback that it was a little short for the genre, but I couldn’t let it go. I love the story and the characters, and I also started writing it when my second daughter was only five weeks old. It took me about two hours per page, so the fact that I have a finished novel means that my whole family made a lot of sacrifices. After a lot of prayer, thought, and nail biting, I made the decision to self-publish the book and donate all the proceeds to a cause closely tied to my childhood dream.
The Water Project is a highly rated nonprofit that build long-lasting, sustainable wells in Africa. They involve the community in the development of the projects, and train members of the community to maintain the wells once the project is completed. I chose The Water Project over other, similar nonprofits for a few reasons. First, they have a 100% donation option where all funds go directly to a project (meaning no funds go to administrative costs). They will also send updates and pictures of the project as it progresses from development to completion, a process that can take up to two years. This was important to me, because I want my family and my readers to see the impact that is being made, and of course to know that the money is being appropriately used.
I believe the desire to do something real and meaningful and lasting, something bigger than ourselves, is what YA fiction taps into. As a teenager, I felt like making a big impact was definitely possible, but the more I learn about the complexities of the world, the harder it seems. It’s true that the world is filled with huge problems, and it’s also true that I can’t solve them. But I can use what I’ve got, and right now that’s not money or time, it’s my novel. My new dream is to fund an entire well, which costs around $5,000. My novel has just come out and so far I’ve made about $30, so I have a long way to go. Baby steps! To be successful this truly will be a combination of the efforts of myself, my family, and the community of readers, and I look forward to seeing what happens.
Thank you, Anna, and I hope you reach your target quickly. It’s a very generous thing you’re doing.
Anna is an author and counselor. She lives in Louisiana, USA with her husband and two daughters, and can usually be found reading or writing something with a cup of tea nearby… her current work is ‘Divide the Darkness’, the next book in the Chronicles of the Nephilim series.
If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please”.
The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with YA, science-fiction and horror author Kenna McKinnon – the four hundred and twenty-seventh of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (my guests love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.
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Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are weekly episodes, usually released Monday mornings UK time, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.