Summer Explorations

Summer is the time to explore. Time for kids to play outside and to dive into the books on their summer reading lists.

reading poster

Summer is also time to explore hidden talents and try out dreams. Many teens cherish secret dreams of writing their own stories and novels someday. That someday can be now if they are lucky enough to live near a gifted, generous author like Molly Blaisdell.


In Molly’s words, “Where is a teen going to learn the truth about being published in a university town deep in the heart of Texas? TEENSPublish is a program to help teens do just that. They join for eight weeks over the summer to write and produce an anthology. We want world-class programming but have a budget for Skittles not visiting authors.  What a great moment when Janet Lee Carey agreed to meet with our group and share some of her insight into writing!  A large screen TV was purloined for a few hours, and it was a paired with a laptop the size of a giant cereal box.  With our technology in place, Janet magically Skyped in on the screen (larger than even life).”

Molly B class 4

It was great to see all the faces. Questions flew. We got right down to the work of taking apart the writing process, talked about using a journal to plan stories and solve story problems. We touched on the necessity of daydreaming. Something writers simply have to do. It’s part of the job!

Molly B class 2

We explored the nitty-gritty of revising. Yes, published authors revise. A lot. Most of us donate to forestry projects in abject apology to the trees.

Janet and tree branches 2016

Plant a Billion Trees Giving Back page

We all laughed about how hard it is to start page one. Most authors fear the blank page. I shared the fact that I edit my page hundreds of times. It is always the last thing I’m desperately trying to perfect. I work on it up to the last possible moment when the book is in galley form and authors are supposed to keep their hands off! Publishers have to snatch it out of my hands. I don’t let go easily. My advice to those who were stuck on the “right wording” for their openings? “Just go ahead start writing. You will, no doubt, go back and change the opening anyway.”

Chapter One
Falcon Moon – April 1210

         Knife in hand, I crouched under the willow. Father’s dragon skimmed over the river; her crimson scales blazed blood red across the surface. Her searing cry rang through the valley. Dragons live more than a thousand years; their turning eye sockets allow them to look forward and back, seeing past and future, patterns in time we humans can never see. My eyes were fixed on smaller things.
        Today he will tell me. Today I will know.

dragon moon in garden fan pic

After sharing some of my book covers, we discussed the challenges of fantasy. The young writers fired off questions about world building. I could see how aware they were of the exciting and arduous process, and how much they already knew about the complexity of creating new places, societies, cultures, and languages. We discussed the important role research plays in world creation. Fantasy worlds must feel real to the reader. I have shelves of books on life in medieval times for my Wilde Island trilogy. Currently, I’m researching marine life for the undersea scenes in my new work-in-progress. I shared how using songs and symbols can help create a sense of a particular culture or tradition. Another writer said drawing characters helps her begin to imagine the story and the world. During their eight-week course, the class will be creating maps of their fantastical worlds—another helpful way to get into world building.

world building free photo

It was such a pleasure to visit this group of young writers in College TX. I couldn’t fly down to meet with them in person, but Online Author Visits made it all possible. The hour passed far too quickly. I caught the students’ contagious enthusiasm for all parts of the writing process. These teens are smart, inquisitive, and committed to learning the craft. We all clapped when the time was up.

Molly B class 1

Molly Blaisdell “Our group of young writers with burning questions listened and learned. This interactive interview had an informal vibe that suited teens perfectly. Janet shared her books, her humor, and her best advice. The teens had glowing eyes, nodding heads, and more mojo than ever to produce masterworks.”

Special thanks to Online Author Visits for making this magic hour happen, to author and writing teacher Molly Blaisdell for the Skype invitation to TEENPublish, and to Kendra Perkins, Librarian, Larry J. Ringer Public Library, College Station, TX, for helping the setup and for joining in on the Skype visit.

So, OAV readers, here’s a deal!
I’m offering a free Summer Skype to the first OAV reader who pipes up here in “comments.” The secret word is snag as in “I’m going to snag this!” Comment with that word and you’ll snag it. Once snagged, head to my website, click “contact” and email me to set up the Skye visit. Voila!

Summer and Beyond
I’d also love to visit your library, classroom, book group, or writing group to talk about books, the power of story, and the joys and challenges of writing. Hope to see you on my small screen soon!

Portrait photos of Janet Lee Carey in Redmond, WA. Grasslawn Park.
Janet Lee Carey grew up in the bay area under towering redwoods that whispered secrets whenever the wind blew. She is the award-winning author of nine novels for children and young adults including her newest release, In the Time of Dragon Moon book three of the Wilde Island Chronicles. Her books highlight the courage of children and teens and explore the challenges of staying true to your values while following your dreams. School Library Journal starred review calls her work, “fantasy at its best–original, beautiful, amazing, and deeply moving.”

2 thoughts on “Summer Explorations”

  1. Lucky kids to hang out with Molly and hear from the amazing Janet Lee Carey! I always love Janet’s presentations, and I’m so glad she’s part of my writing world. Big cheers to Janet and to OAV for doing such great work for kids and the world.


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