As promised, today I have Kieryn Nicolas, who is the 15-year old author of the YA novel RAIN. When I was 14 or 15, I had an interest in writing fiction and was developing YA novels, but I had little idea what to DO with them when I finished. I know there are a lot of teens out there who think, "I want to be a writer, but I'm just too young. I'll break in later. When I am older, people will take me seriously."
This is not the way to think! You need to take yourself seriously, first. And whenever you start doing that, whether it be at age 8 or 80, you can make things happen.
Maturity and professionalism can be had at any age. And if you don't have them, they're easy to fake (sometimes I feel like I'm twelve, but I talk a good game). Talent may not be easy to fake, but most of what people think is talent is actually hard work and determination, anyway. So if you work hard, keep focused, project a professional image, and don't give up, you CAN make it, no matter what your age. Here's Kieryn:
About a month ago I was in Chicago for the annual Printer’s Row Lit Fest. Echelon Press—my publisher—had a tent and many of Echelon’s authors were standing by their book displays, chatting with people milling around the festival. I was one of them, holding a stack of bookmarks advertising RAIN and saying, if someone looked interested, “Hi! Would you like a bookmark for my novel?”
The most common reaction I got from this was an absent-minded “Sure” as the person took a bookmark and went on their way. But many of the people I talked to would say “Sure” and take one and continue a step before they did a double take. “Wait—your book?”
The expression on their faces when I nodded made standing by a tent for nine hours a day totally worth it.
“How old are you?” would be the next thing out of their mouth as they glances at copies of Rain stacked on the table.
“Fifteen,” I’d say, unable to hide a small grin.
Okay, take what I said above back. The expression on their faces after that was what made the sore feet totally worth it.
In all honesty, though, I’m still just as shocked myself. When my mom told me over a year ago that she found a writer’s conference she thought I should go to, I didn’t expect this to be the result. (Maybe I dreamed that something like this would be the result. But I didn’t exactly get my hopes up.)
My mom emailed the president of the Greater Lehigh Valley Writer’s Group, as it was their annual conference, and asked if I could attend despite my being fourteen. The answer was yes, I could definitely attend. Not knowing exactly what I was in for, I registered.
The day of the conference found me a very nervous fourteen-year-old. I was dressed in semi-professional (or what my mom and I could best figure was “semi-professional”) attire and clutching the folder they gave me at the sign-in table. The obvious fact that I was the youngest attendee by a good ten-year buffer was stuck in my mind as I made my way to the first seminar.
Luckily I was able to find my voice during the day, and I met some pretty neat people. One of whom was David Lubar, who was running some of the seminars. At my middle school his book “Hidden Talents” was a 6th-grade read-aloud, and I’d read the sequel, True Talents, about five times. Overall it was turning out to be a really neat experience.
Then I realized that my pitch session was coming up. I was to meet with Karen Syed, the CEO of Echelon press, and I had little idea what one does at a pitch session. Was I supposed to have brought samples? Prepared some witty dialogue? All I had were some business cards that my tech-savvy grandma had whipped up the night before.
I walked into the bar area of the restaurant, where the sessions were taking place, with nerves doing somersaults in my stomach. I sat in front of Karen Syed, who gave me a friendly smile and introduced herself. I got through saying my own name okay. Then she looked at me and said, “So what do you have for me?”
I froze. My mind wasn’t much help. It just went, “Uhhhhhhhh.”
Come on! I told myself. Say something! Talk about Rain!
I frantically searched for my voice. Upon finding it I started speaking in a manner that was probably much too fast, describing the story that I had written about a girl at a spy school whose friendship with another student challenges what she knows about herself. I must have been somewhat coherent, because we were able to carry on a conversation for the remainder of the ten-minute session.
When the time was up, Karen shook my hand and then passed me a business card. “Send me your manuscript,” she said.
At that my voice fled again, and I could only nod, gripping the card.
In the past year I’ve gone from a nervous fourteen-year-old at her first writer’s conference to a much-more-confident fifteen-year-old talking about her novel in the middle of Chicago. It's been an amazing year!
Synopsis of RAIN:
LOCATION: Rochester, New York to Brisbane, Australia
ISSUED TO: Mel: tough 15-year-old female spy
ASSETS AND PERSONNEL: Thomas Syme [AKA: Shadow] principal of Watson Institute and Mel's guardian
Ray: meteorology prodigy and Mel's best friend
Caidy: jealous student who may know more than she's letting on
Bonnie Robar: Ray's mom, also a meteorologist, whose whereabouts are unknown and who may have left behind a project with dangerous potential.
MISSION: Follow the trail of stolen birth certificates (including Ray's) which uncovers a plot that involves more than anyone had anticipated.
Kieryn Nicolas resides in central Pennsylvania with her parents, younger sister, their lovable yellow lab, black cat and ten hens. Kieryn was a competitive figure skater for nine years and is currently working hard to advance in Taekwondo. She is considering a career as a forensic scientist or crime scene investigator, and has eleven novels in the works. Kieryn enjoys spending time with her close friends, and also loves to read, write, eat chocolate and travel with hopes of someday seeing Brisbane, Australia for herself.
RAIN is available for purchase at Amazon.com here.
Visit Kieryn's website and read the prologue of RAIN here.