I love when my students and writers prove me right.
And Deanie Yasner, today’s Student Success Story star and author of the just-released middle grade novel Essie Rose’s Revelation Summer (Golden Alley Press), has done just that!
It was the fall of 2010 and Deanie, recently retired from teaching special education and working as a behavior consultant, was going for her Dream! She longed to write for children, so she’d sent on her picture book manuscript “Sammy’s Choice.” I recognized her talent instantly. “You,” I told her, “are a Writer, with a deserved capital ‘W,’and a Writer for children.” She was sitting in the right church and in the right pew.
Soon she became the subject of my May 25, 2011 TeachingAuthors Shout-Out:
“A newly-declared and mighty talented children’s book writer, Deanie bravely applied for and won a full scholarship to Highlights’ upcoming Chautauqua. Her first-ever picture book submission brought a response in less than 24 hours!”
Boyds Mills Press’ High Five Magazine published “Finding Room for Teddy” in October, 2012.
Several magazine stories followed, in High Five and Ladybug, but it was her story she wanted and needed to tell to children. As she tells her Reader in her novel’s introduction, "I was an Old Soul child growing up in the deep South in the 1950’s, a member of the only Jewish family in a town where there were so many things I did not understand; for instance, the Jim Crow laws that kept people separated by their skin tone.”
Deanie began writing Essie Rose Ginsberg’s story in 2013. She’d never written a novel, period, let alone a novel for middle grade readers. She’d never written historical fiction.
She knew the time. She knew the place. She knew what the story was about: loneliness, loyalty, bullying, friendship, loss and best of all, courage.
With such courage, Deanie kept on keepin’ on – learning her craft, honing her craft, revising like there was no tomorrow. Rejections and admiring declines almost won out until she and Essie Rose wound up just where they belonged, with Golden Alley Press.
Golden Alley Press’ catalogue copy sums up Essie Rose’s Revelation Summer perfectly.
“There are so many things I DO NOT UNDERSTAND.”
What happens when the lone Jewish girl in a small Mississippi town challenges the rules of segregation in the hot summer of 1953?
Essie Rose Ginsberg, writer, loner, and all-time worrier, is hoping for a carefree summer vacation. But when the family’s beloved housekeeper is suddenly called away, Essie Rose must figure out how to "get on with her business" and make her Pearlie May proud.
When Daddy’s store is vandalized, when mean girls bully her, when her entry in the town’s essay contest is jeopardized because Pearlie May is not a Caucasian, Essie Rose’s worries become a reality.
The Fourth of July comes and goes without Pearlie May's return. Will she make it home in time for Essie Rose's 11th birthday? Will the Ginsbergs remain in Tipton, or will increasing discrimination and danger finally force them to return up North?
Read over her shoulder as Essie Rose captures it all in her Writer’s Notebook, chronicling a summer of friendship, love, loyalty, and “getting on with her business.
Thank you, Deanie, for so generously and bravely sharing yourself, your writing and Essie Rose with our TeachingAuthors Readers. You give us heart and hope.
May your pluck and courage, as well as Essie Rose’s, help all of us keep keepin’ on to tell our stories!
Oh, and don’t forget, Readers, to enter our Book Giveaway to win a copy of Essie Rose’s Revelation Summer! See the details below. Deanie and her publisher Nancy Sayre are offering TWO copies, which means TWO winners!
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It’s been nine years since I first welcomed you to the Children’s Book World, Deanie. And now here you are, after several published stories in Ladybug and High Five, a Highlights Chautauqua scholarship, a contest win and attendance at numerous Writers Conferences, the author of your very first middle grade novel, Essie Rose's Revelation Summer. What might be just a few of the revelations you’ve experienced on this most singular Writer’s Journey – about the writing process, about writing for children, about yourself?
The most significant revelations I have experienced about the writing process itself were the demands it made on me to let go of my own preconceived notions, ideas, and expectations of what and who my characters were. I learned to muster my patience and trust to them to talk to me instead of me talking to them. I discovered that the writing process is simultaneously laborious and glorious, even mysterious.
When it came to writing for children, I discovered how difficult it was at times to take my adult self out of the picture and become a child so that I could experience the world through Essie Rose Ginsberg’s eyes and not Deanie Yasner’s. When those moments actually occurred, the experience was truly magical.
About myself, I discovered that I possessed the kind of courage, perseverance, determination and faith in this project that sustained me during all phases of this journey. I also learned I could withstand the emotional roller coaster of having to dig deep within my soul to make my story authentic and my characters real and pure.
It was June of 2013 when we first worked together on this story. Back then it was a novel in verse. Each meet-up, each iteration brought you a new challenge, something new to learn. What were some of those challenges and new things you learned – and – most important, what enabled you to keep on keepin’ on?
With each meet-up and all the iterations it took to get this story to its completion, I learned the power of letting go of what didn’t work, the power of patience in letting the story unfold in its own way, and to embrace the uncertainty and surprises along the way.
Marion Dane Bauer advises writers: put your story in the story you’re telling if you want it to re-sound in your readers’ hearts. Where does your story intersect with Essie Rose Ginsberg’s?
This story was truly mine to tell. I was, and in many ways still am, Essie Rose Ginsberg. Like my character, I grew up a Jewish child in a small southern town in Mississippi where I felt different, with many things happening around me that I truly did not understand. Like my character, I am still a worrier, an observer, and a writer.
What do you hope Essie Rose's Revelation Summer means to your Readers?
It is my hope that my readers will be inspired and determined to do as Essie Rose did: muster their courage to be their best selves and find their own way to make their voices heard.
The writing process is a whole different animal from the publishing process, with its very own set of challenges. Please share a little of bit of how you worked with your Golden Alley Press publisher/editor and how she’s readied you for this new chapter in your writer’s life?
From the very beginning, working with Nancy Sayre, my publisher and editor, proved to be an exercise in flawless communication as we progressed through our weekly real-time editing sessions. We worked page-by-page and had extra conversations when we needed to resolve specific issues. While challenging at times, the process was both exciting and educational as I quickly learned to trust Nancy’s insightful and creative editing skills. Nancy expertly guided me through all phases from editing to launching. Now we’re working on marketing the book together.
You’re a Picture Book writer as well as a Middle Grade novelist. What do you love about each of these singular formats?
I love the separate challenges each genre demands – the tightness and word constriction of “less” when writing a picture book, and the freedom of “more” when writing a novel.
When you cradle your book, as I know you’ve done often, and pinch both arms to make sure this is happening, what are you thinking now, what words do you exclaim?
That I am privileged to have experienced the exquisite joy of having created something …a book…from nothing…that my soul is alive and well as I exclaim in the words of Pearlie May Gibbs: AMEN AND HALLELUJAH.
Finally, what Words of Advice do you have for fellow writers traveling their Writers’ Plotlines?
I might advise my fellow writers: Trust the process and never give up!
Oh, and since today is Poetry Friday and we connect with Writing the World for Kids, which just happens to be the blog of former TeachingAuthor Laura Salas, who is your favorite poet?
My favorite poet is Emily Dickenson.
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