Teen Angst, Baseball Bubblegum and Susan Spencer Wendell

A Teenager Living in Two Worlds

I have to admit, my teenage years are not something I really wish to recollect. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t as if I had a horrible life. On the contrary, it was really a rather ordinary life. I lived through many of the same problems and challenges any teen experiences; zits, pop quizzes, bullies and getting girls to pay attention.

In Crissa-Jean Chappell’s book, More Than Good Enough,  I had to return to my teen years and it was uncomfortable but fascinating. There’s a part of me that kept thinking, is that what we’re all like as teens? You can tell I don’t read many young adult books.

GatorCrissa

Chappell grew up in Miami. But, not the Miami of South Beach, Ferraris and droves of half naked beautiful people. She grew up surrounded by trees, high grass, chirping crickets – she grew up closer to the Everglades.

She takes us into that world in this book. Because the hero, Trent Osceola, is half Micosukee, we spend much of the story on the reservation.

Chappell1Trent has the typical teen problems, but multiplied. His parents, now divorced, are from two worlds. This leaves him existing between those worlds; tough to do when you’re a teen trying to find a sense of identity. Trent is half caucasian and half Micosukee.

We begin the story with him returning to the reservation to be with his drunk father.

Chappell gets into the mind of a teenager and beautifully recreates that almost unhinged feeling of anger and hate and fear we have to live through at that age. She says she prefers hanging out with young people because of their views of the world and their sometimes brutal honesty. She’s also a teacher.

Chappell3

In the podcast Chappell shares with us how she likes to sketch and draw her characters and setting before she begins writing. She also shares the simple, yet profound lessons she shares with her students.

Chappell’s book won the Bronze Medal for the 2014 Florida Book Awards. Her book Narc will become a film. Filmgate begins production in late 2016.

 

Finding Inspiration in a Pack of Baseball Cards

As a writer, you can understand the struggle of trying to find a great idea for a story. That anxiety is made worse when editors are circling above you like vultures. It can feel like death. Come on, what’s the first half of the word deadline?

Truth is, there are a lot of ideas out there. Actually, I would say we are being overwhelmed by avalanches of ideas every day. It’s just that we’re not paying attention.

Brad1

Meet Brad Balukjian. Scientist. Professor. Writer. Traveler. He recently returned from a journey that took him across the country and put close to 12,000 miles on his car. He was searching for people for a story, which he is now turning into a book.

4fdbbd2debeb54fab68cfc24562cde80It started with this. That’s a pack of 1986 Topps Baseball cards Brad purchased on Ebay.

He was a collector growing up. He came up with the idea to find each player in the pack and see where their lives had gone.

He found all but one. And he didn’t just interview them, he hung out with them. He bowled with them. He barbecued with them. Brad wanted to know how the super famous turned out and what ever happened to those other players, no one remembers.

In the podcast he shares a fascinating experience trying to find the most famous player in the deck. And, he gives us one of his favorite pieces of writing advice.

By the way, I asked him if he ate the gum inside the pack. He did. He told me it was a horrible experience, not something anyone should try. Well, I found a pack of 1987 Topps cards and I ate the gum. You want to see my reaction?

 

 

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