So. . .What Now?



Page 100!

I just finished writing a book.

A real book.

It has characters, and plot, and conflict, and it made me laugh and cry while I wrote it.

It took me over twenty years to do it, though.

Paper Wrappers was originally a short story called Milly’s Magic that I wrote in a college creative writing course at UNC-Chapel Hill under the direction of Ms. Doris Betts.  I was pursuing a minor in creative writing to go with my English major.  Ms. Betts didn’t particularly care for Milly’s story.  It wasn’t her style or subject matter and she thought I used my characters’ names too often.  Several of my fellow students, however, thought there was potential in the story, especially for children, though they did point out it was a “Dumbo’s feather” story.

It is. I don’t deny that.

The next year, I was in a children’s creative writing course, finishing my minor, under the tutelage of Ms. Ruth Moose.  She loved Milly and wanted me to try to make her into a book.  She suggested some new conflicts for Milly to overcome.  I wrote two chapters before I became a teacher.

Then Milly took a back seat.

I worked on it over the course of my teaching career.  In fact, every time I shared Paulo Coehlo’s The Alchemist with a class, I would publicly recommit to finishing the manuscript.

But, much like Stephen King says in his book On Writing, teaching sucks the creative juice right out of you.  So, often, Milly got pushed to summer.

Somewhere along the line, the title changed to Paper Wrappers.


I guess my name changed along the line, too.

Several years ago, I toyed with changing Milly’s name to Hope.  But I couldn’t.

Some characters did change names.  Some just changed the way they spell their names.

At any rate, now I have a manuscript.  Think EB White and Charlotte’s Web or Stuart Little when you think about the age group of the intended audience.

Today, when I finished at approximately 2:10pm EST, I felt a little sad. But also excited. I have birthed a 28,913 word 100 page book.

I’m proud of Milly.  But I’m also scared for her.  What if no one likes her?

I’m not naive enough to think she doesn’t need some polish.  But, polish often has grit in it to smooth away those rough spots.

Truthfully, I just have no idea what to do now.


Paper Wrappers

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Let’s get back to Milly. . .if you need a reminder, you can start here.  Then go here.  In essence, we’re now to Chapter 2.

Milly, Daryl, and Dad worked hard to get every thing put in place in their new house.  The living room transformed from an empty shell to a cozy room with rugs and a sectional couch.  Dad’s rust colored recliner got an optimal position in front of the TV.  Above the mantelpiece hung a large photograph of MIlly, Daryl, Dad, and Mom.  Milly stared at the picture, burning the image into her memory.  Mom was wearing a royal blue dress, her hand rested on Milly’s shoulder and her smile verged on a laugh.  The picture was only six months old. More

Paper Wrappers continued


Last month, we met Milly, a rising fifth grader who is moving to a new town after a devastating loss.  If you missed the first installment you can find it here.

Let’s continue. . . More

Paper Wrappers–Meet Milly


Fourth Wednesdays will be “Seasoned Fiction.” This means that you will get a little bit of my writing.  Mostly, what you’re going to get is me editing my children’s chapter book Paper Wrappers.  Short synopsis, it’s a story about a little girl named Milly who is lacking in self-confidence for various reasons and the journey she goes on to find it.  I may break it up some over the months and throw in some of my short stories (already written or yet to be created–who knows).

History on the book: it started as a short story called Milly’s Magic in my first creative writing class with Bland Simpson at UNC over 15 years ago.  From there I was encouraged by Ruth Moose (in a subsequent creative writing class) to turn it into a book, with some modifications.  I completed it a couple of years ago, but it’s never been edited.  Hence–fourth Wednesday “Seasoned Fiction.” Shall we get started? More