Thursday, September 24, 2015

A Nine Year Journey - Heather L. Montgomery

A Nine Year Journey

Nine years ago . . .

I didn’t know I had humor in me until I launched a book at Springmingle. A Southern Breezer came up to me afterwards and said, “Hey! You are funny!!!”

I didn’t know I had a unique voice until I attended an SCBWI international conference. A Regional Advisor said, “I love your voice!”

I didn’t know I could really be a writer until I entered a Southern Breeze contest. My manuscript took first place.

The things I didn’t know.

The things that Southern Breeze has taught me.

You see, nine years ago, I wrote one of my very first nonfiction manuscripts. Since then, I’ve published eleven nonfiction books for kids, but that manuscript – the one that was my passion – wasn’t one of them. I toted that manuscript in and out and in and out and in and out of every conference I went to. I had formal critiques, wrestled with it in intensives, attended the poetry workshop because of it, and subjected many of you, Southern Breezers, to early drafts in need of critique.

Now, people ask me how many times I revised it. I couldn’t tell you. It was nine years of work. I can tell you that I tried it as a rhyming book, an alphabet book, from a child’s point of view, from a bug’s point of view, a chapter book, a poetry book, and more. I have folders of “old drafts” and folders of “older drafts” within those. You writers and illustrators, you understand.

And then, it happened. All of the learning – all of the input that you gave – made it happen. I found the humor, I found the voice, I found the knowledge that I was the right person to write this book.

How Rude! Real Bugs Who Won’t Mind Their Manners has finally become a book. This fall, eight flimsy pieces of paper will carry my passion to a child somewhere in this country. Eight pieces of paper inked with my words, slathered with silly illustrations. Pieces of paper stretched across the nation like stairs to my career. Stairs held up by a Southern Breeze.

Thank you.

Head shot by Sonya Sones Leaning Forward

Heather L. Montgomery uses yuck appeal to engage young minds, inspire reluctant writers, and empower research bliss. Heather has published twelve nonfiction books for kids on topics ranging from snakes (Capstone) to scientific discoveries (Scholastic). She is the past ARA of Southern Breeze SCBWI.

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