Mindy Hardwick's Blog

Author Mindy Hardwick Muses about Writing

The Year We Were Famous

on April 4, 2011

For about the last four years, I have participated in a YA/MG Book Club. There are five of us. Two librarians (one middle school/one high school), and three writers. Each month, we meet and discuss the YA/MG book we read.

This week, I’m happy to announce that one of the book group members, Carole Dagg, has a new book coming out: The Year We Were Famous.

Carole’s story, The Year We Were Famous, begins in Mica Creek, Washington when the family home faces foreclosure, and seventeen-year-old Clara Estby and her mother, Helga, need to raise a lot of money fast—no easy feat for two women in 1896. Helga wants to tackle the problem with her usual loud and flashy style, while Clara favors a less showy approach. Together they come up with a plan to walk the 4,600 miles from Mica Creek, Washington, to New York City—and if they can do it in only seven months, a publisher has agreed to give them $10,000. The story is based on the true story of Carole’s great-aunt and great-grandmother. The historical adventure is set during the time of the suffragist movement, the 1896 presidential campaign, and the changing perception of “a woman’s place” in society.

There is a great interview with Carole about the process of writing the book at Authorlink.

In the interview, it is mentioned that Carole’s manuscript was rejected 29 times, and when asked: How did you stay motivated? Why didn’t you give up? Did you revise after every rejection? She responded: I took each rejection as a sign I wasn’t ready yet, took more classes and workshops, revised, and submitted again. I became so obsessed with getting it right that I quit my job as assistant director of Everett Public Library to spend more time researching and rewriting. I didn’t inherit Clara and Helga’s physical endurance, but I guess I did inherit the stubborn Norwegian persistence gene.

That endurance paid off and The Year We Were Famous was a winner of the SCBWI Sue Alexandra Award for Most Promising New Manuscript.

Upcoming places you can meet Carole and learn about her book and the story behind it:

April 5, 2011 – Launch party at Secret Garden Bookstore in Seattle., 7:00 p.m.
2214 NW Market St., Seattle, Washington 98107
(206) 789-5006

April 9, 2011- Everett Public Library, 4:00 p.m.
2702 Hoyt Avenue, Everett, WA 98201
(425) 257-8030
University Book Store Mill Creek will provide books

Also, be sure to check out the website for The Year We Were Famous as there are links and resources to the historical context in the story. Carole Dagg was an Everett Public Librarian, and has created a fabulous website and resources about the book.


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