In September my first "solo" middle-grade novel, Road to Tater Hill, will be released by Delacorte Press, and I am anxiously awaiting the final product. My personal road to Tater Hill (an actual mountain in western North Carolina) has been a long and winding one, starting as far back as the early 1960s with an autobiographical event. Years later, I chose to write about the premature birth and death of my baby sister as a childhood incident that had a strong emotional impact on my life. This memoir eventually evolved into the fictional story of 11-year-old Annie Winters, who, grief-stricken after the death of her baby sister, finds comfort holding an oblong stone she calls her "rock baby" and in the friendship of a neighbor boy and a reclusive mountain woman with a devastating secret.
An unexpected bonus in this winding road has been my involvement with the Class of 2K9, a group of 22 middle-grade and young adult authors whose debut novels will be released throughout 2009. Like our sister classes of 2K7 and 2K8, we have banded together as a means of promoting our books more effectively nationwide and across Canada. There is strength in numbers. But through our frequent correspondence in the process of setting up our website and planning our seasonal launches, we have also cheered each other's successes, empathized with setbacks and more revisions, learned intriguing facts about our individual lives, and, above all, become fast friends in more than just our literary ventures. We are reading each other's ARCs in order to be better able to promote each and every book and are planning a number of panel discussions and regional group events. Please support our endeavor by visiting our website at http://www.classof2k9.com and asking for our books at your local independent bookstores and libraries. Our first releases for 2009 are Heart of a Shepherd by Rosanne Parry, The Year the Swallows Came Early by Kathryn Fitzmaurice, Bull Rider by Suzanne Morgan Williams, and My Life in Pink and Green by Lisa Greenwald.
Another gem that I cannot fail to mention is my participation in this One Potato...Ten blog and the growing friendship with my fellow "potatoes"--authors and illustrators--each with something valuable to say about the writing life. I have learned so much from you already.
So, my literary hopes for 2009 include all of my new-found fellow authors, my longtime writer friends, and all who write, illustrate, edit, publish, read, sell, and love books for children and young adults. May this year be rich in possibilities and dreams-come-true!