This year’s Writer’s Voice contest is live, and I was chosen by the Rafflecopter as one of the entries. Even though I’ve decided to pursue indie publication for my longer books, I still haven’t entirely given up the idea of traditional publication for my much-shorter books. The contest is again hosted by Cupid’s Literary Connection, Brenda Lee Drake, Mónica B.W. of Love YA, and Krista Van Dolzer. Twelve agents will be judging the finalists.
This year I’m going to be using my first Atlantic City book instead of Jakob’s story. I just decided that Jaap’s story probably works better as adult than YA in the current North American market, in spite of how he ages from 14-20. I’ve been calling this The Very First since its genesis in October ’92 and have a hard time thinking of it under any other title, but I’m open to suggestions on a more original title! Note: I deliberately made Sparky and Cinni’s age ambiguous during the radical rewrite and restructuring, though it’s stated that they’re under 12.
When German-born Katherine Brandt immigrates in 1938, her dearest wish is to become a real American girl. She even accepts the American nickname Sparky to try to gain acceptance. But before she can realize her dream, she’s going to have to learn the ins and outs of the unusual town and group of friends she’s joined.
Sparky is taken under the wing of Cinnimin Filliard, who teaches her a thing or two about American life and their strange Atlantic City neighborhood. Sparky wants to believe Cinni is steering her right, but Cinni has some conflicting attitudes. Cinni is nice and intelligent, but she often cops a superior attitude just because she was voted Most Popular Girl. Particularly to neighbor Violet, whom Cinni is convinced is after her title.
Sparky will do almost anything to fit in, except compromise her Judaism. She longs to be Sparky to her friends while remaining Kätchen to her family and staying true to her values. But along the way, Cinni, who tries to tempt her into wearing shorter skirts and eating non-kosher food, slowly begins realizing that there’s more than one acceptable way to be a real American. Only one thing is for certain—on Sparky’s upcoming birthday, she’s going to wish to be a real American girl, and she wants that wish to come true, even if she has to make some modifications she once thought she’d never make.
THE VERY FIRST, a work of upper MG historical fiction with elements of social satire, is complete at 60,000 words.
I have a BA from [redacted] in history and Russian and Eastern European Studies, with a focus on 20th century Russian history and the World War II/Shoah era, and worked in the production room of an Albany, NY-based newspaper, The Jewish World, for five years, writing, researching, and proofreading articles.
Cinnimin Filliard reached for the candy bowl on her father’s desk and popped a handful of gumdrops into her mouth. Her father had said the five longterm houseguests they were expecting would arrive today, and she figured indulging her sweet tooth would help get rid of her nervousness and put her mind on other things.
“Can I see your photo albums, Daddy? I wanna know what they look like before they move into our house. I hope they’re nicer houseguests than Aunt Lucinda, Uncle Jasper, and stupid Elmira.”
Mr. Filliard smiled indulgently at his pet child, his deep brown eyes twinkling. “You know you never need my permission to do anything.”
Cinni took a photo album and plopped down on the floor. “Oh, brother, this Katherine girl really needs a makeover. No one wears long skirts anymore.” She pushed her long curly hair out of her face. “Who better than the Most Popular Girl to make her over?”
“They’re religious Jews, I told you. They do things a little differently. I’m sure Katherine will tell you she’s got reasons of her own for wearing clothes that look a little out of fashion to you. You know most girls these days have much shorter hair than yours, but you have your own reasons for never wanting another haircut.”
Cinni went to the front window and raised the curtain. “I don’t see their taxi yet. Do you think they got lost?”
“Maybe their train was late, or their taxi got caught in traffic. They’ll be here soon enough, and you can start getting to know them. I hope you don’t mind sharing your room with Katherine.”