I just wanted to give you my sincerest apologies for the lack of regular updates on the program. I understand that this was frustrating and that it made program participation difficult and I want you to know that I shared in the frustration – even if I was the source of it!
The original plan was to send out weekly emails with the workshop schedules, due dates, and extra resources for our young authors, but unfortunately – for a million and one reasons – I was unable to do that, and I take full responsibility for it. This summer has presented myself and many others with a lot of challenges, and that made it difficult for me to be able to sit at my desk for more than a few minutes to get things done without something – usually urgent – coming up. I know this caused a lot of confusion and I’m truly sorry for the inconveniences it caused.
I also want to apologize to those who showed up to the Author Event and Q&A on our original date only to find the building closed. That week was filled with technical issues and many other difficulties and despite my best efforts I was unable to announce the postponement of our Author Event and Q&A to the general public or contact special guests who wished to attend in a timely manner. All I can do now is offer a sincere and deeply embarrassed apology.
I’d like to take a moment to commend those who worked diligently to complete their stories, engage in peer editing and receive feedback from myself, and finalize their stories before the publishing deadline. Your dedication and hard work were not unnoticed and were deeply appreciated!
As the deadline got closer, however, it became clear that some of our young authors needed more time to work on their stories, so after talking to some of them and other staff we decided it was best to postpone the author event so that none of our authors were left behind in the program and unable to be included in the final book. It was my goal to ensure that every young author who participated in the program would become a published author at the end of it and if we needed extra time to make that happen, we would figure out how to make it work! The extra time was meant to help me meet with those whose stories needed to be finalized for one-on-one guidance, to help us polish up the remaining stories and get them ready for the publisher, and to make sure we had enough time for the printing of the physical copies for the event.
Originally, I had envisioned the program to last a whole year with more adult mentorship and participation – I wanted to work with the other library staff, teachers from the school, local and non-local big name authors, editors, book designers, etc and have a dedicated person to lead our younger group while I focused on working with the teens. Things didn’t go as planned and it was all a bit overwhelming – not just for me but also for the younger participants who needed more guidance and support with grammar and formatting that I wasn’t able to provide due to already having a rigorous schedule for the teens set-up and committed to. To those young authors who needed more help, I’m sorry. Your work was amazing, but I know some more guidance would have made things easier and more fun for you. I wish more of you had joined us at the finish line, but I understand why some of you chose not to participate in the final stages of the program.
So, what’s next?
Unfortunately, once again I haven’t been able to distribute information as quickly as I wanted to. September’s schedule is surprisingly tricky, and I was only able to fit in one more planning session before the rescheduled author event and the bad news is that it’s tomorrow, September 6th, at 4pm. It’s not required to attend, but if anyone wants to talk about last minute details such as food and refreshments for the author event, final editing details, the book cover, physical publishing, or those who wish to practice reading parts of their story out loud are welcome to join me, if possible.
I know this is short notice, and I understand that many of you won’t be able to make it tomorrow. If anyone wants to set up a one-on-one meeting or exchange emails to talk about questions, concerns, or ideas let me know! Now that I know we won’t be getting any more stories, I’ll speed up the publication process to get back on track for our final event. This includes doing a final edit, formatting the book, finalizing the cover, and sending it to the publisher for proof/example copies and final production.
Our final Author Event and Q&A is now happening on September 23rd, with the public joining us from 5:30 to 7pm. However, I need all the young authors to arrive by 5pm so we can finalize everything before the event kicks off. After a cool conversation with the teens who were looking for ways to do fundraising, I went and got approval for “sales” of the book to go to the Friends of the Upper Skagit Library. The money will be used for future Young Author programs or other cool stuff for the library such as snacks for kids and teens or other items needed in the kids and teen rooms. Each young author who has a story published in the book will get two free copies of the book – one for themselves and one to give to someone of their choice. We’ll have additional copies available for “purchase by donation” at the event, on Amazon, and at the library for checkout.
This program was inspired by the Concrete Young Authors program of the past, and from the planning stages until now has gone through a lot of changes – so much so that it feels like a whole new thing. We had to adapt to all kinds of challenges and learn and adjust as we went, and I’m grateful for the support and patience of all the young authors. Your flexibility and help throughout this process have meant a lot. It was a joy to read each story, even if my editing suggestions were extensive. I got really invested in the worlds you all created, and felt they deserved in-depth l feedback! Your talent is impressive and I’m honored to see it come to life and be part of your journey as a writer.
Once the program is over, I’m going to send out a survey to get your thoughts on how things went. I have my own ideas and notes, and I’ve already heard from a few of you, but I want to hear from everyone – especially the young authors.
Do you think it would be better as a summer or winter program? Would a shorter timeline keep you more motivated, or do you prefer six months to a year to work on your stories? What did I miss? What would you want to see if the program continues next year? Start thinking about these things, because the feedback will be extremely helpful if/when we do this again!
Before I finally finish this very wordy email (sorry!) I want to do a quick shout out to the folks who’ve made what we’ve done so far possible. The American Legion Hall Post #132 funded this program thanks to the advocacy of member John Boggs and we couldn’t have done it without their support. Local Author Nicola Pearson was our first guest speaker for the program and returned for several fun sessions with the teens to help them find their voices and gain confidence in themselves. Author Rosiee Thor taught us such a wonderful brainstorming game in COGS that we loved so much we repeated it with the younger group and spent more time having fun with it than we intended! Author/Editor Katherine Locke had amazing feedback and suggestions on how to go from first to second draft and shared some wonderful insights on what it’s like to have a career in the publishing industry. I’d also like to thank library staff member Haley for helping me adjust the original plan for the program into something that could fit within our two-month Summer Reading Program – it was an overwhelming task I didn’t know how to tackle without her suggestions!
Looking back, we learned A LOT in a short amount of time!
Anyway, again, I really want to apologize for all the challenges we faced in August. I’m hopeful that we’ll get back on track in September and that we’ll finish the program with a book we can be really proud of. I believe in you all, so if you stick with me just a bit longer I think that’s exactly what is going to happen. As always, if you have any questions, concerns, or ideas send me an email. I might not be able to always reply to you super fast, but now that summer is over I’ll do my best to reply as soon as I can!
I’m looking forward to seeing those of you who can make it for our last official planning session tomorrow, and the rest of you on September 23rd at 5pm.
~ Chazlyn, Marketing Specialist & Teen Librarian