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The  Missouri region Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators just announced that the winner of the Fall 2013 writing contest is……Jessica Wilson (me)!  The prompt given was “Follow Your Dreams” and the required word count was 500 words.  I entered my fictional work after editing and revising.  Later on I received a call from the regional advisor and she told me that I had won.  The prize is a free registration to the fall conference that SCBWI in Missouri holds every year.  My choice of break-out sessions.  Along with this I will be submitting work to be critiqued by Executive Editor Krista Marino from Delacorte Press.  Very exciting!

Last month I had the privilege to speak with Editor Emma Dryden by phone for a consultation.  She gave sound advice about sticking to one genre and writing about what matters to me.  Ms. Dryden told me that the important thing was too keep writing new material so that if an agent asks what else I have written that I could show my other works.  If not I would be stuck way down the road with old manuscripts and no prospects.  Emma Dryden is on the advising board of SCBWI and is a freelance editor at http://drydenbks.com .  She was at a conference at St. Charles last year and is where I first met her.

It was great to receive recognition for my writing.  Here is the winning piece:

 

THE CHOICE”
by

Jessica Wilson

Today is the day.  No more will I have another chance.  Spring has come at last and with it an open door and window.  The sky and trees looked so inviting through the glass.  As the air wafts through the house I smell the sweet scent of lilacs blossoming.  The trees have tender green shoots on their limbs adding more color to the pale blue sky.   Clouds drift by slowly on the sweetened air.  Mother Nature is putting on an inviting show just for me, tempting me with visions I only dream about, seducing me with smells I hardly ever detected before.  I watch with nervous tension as the people come in and out of the house.  They carry brown paper bags and other containers.  Cleaning and sweeping making their tiny nest ready for the new season.  One proceeds to the flower garden and selects a few tulips to place in a vase on a table.  I watch, breathing in the intoxicating smell of the newly cut flowers.  I take a drink to calm my nerves.  The cool water does nothing but sit at the bottom of my quivering stomach. 

The lady of the house pulls the rug out of the room and moves some of the furniture.  She does not even come near me.  They both know I am here.  They just choose to ignore me at times.  I do not mind and even welcome the solitude.  But I also grow lonely.  I need companionship.  I need someone to talk to.  The people do not allow me to sing when I feel a song bubbling up inside of me.  The song I sing is an old tune I heard over and over again when I first became aware of sounds.  The people like to hear the deadening silence in the middle of the day.  The silence feels as if I am wrapped tightly with thorns.   Days have gone by like this and I become tired of eating and drinking.  The food is just sustenance to keep my torture prolonged.   I have glimpsed the outside world before when I have had a bad day and they put me near the window to let the sunshine brighten me, like an awakening flower my head slowly rose from it’s resting place to peek out at the light.

As the people proceed with their cleaning I know my time will come when they will focus on me.  They will need to care for me and I must be brave.  She approaches me and gathers my dishes leaving the door open.  Here is my opportunity.  My shaking legs spasm as I hop down after she leaves.  They do not suspect what I am doing.  Before they know it I am flying above their heads and out the window.  I have escaped my prison and ventured out into the world.  I have followed the bright temptress and made my dreams a reality.  My wings expand as I soar into the boundless blue full of possibilities.

 

Garden flower

 

Thanks to Emma Dryden and Prof. Henderson in believing in me.

 

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51YM9XSWEKL__SL500_AA300_SONGCATCHER

The “Songcatcher” is a beautiful story about historical culture that changes a woman. Sweeping views of the mountains brings to mind the Ozarks in Missouri. The mountain people have artists of all kinds; basket weavers, painters that capture the scenery, and musicians.
The “Songcatcher” is an independent movie. Written and directed by Maggie Greenwald. With actors Janet McTeer who plays Dr. Lily Penleric, and Aidan Quinn who plays Tom. In her first appearing role in a movie is Emmy Rossum who plays the part of Deladis, the assistant to Dr. Penleric. The genre is a drama and sentimental movie. The time era is early 1900’s and the setting is the Appalachian mountains.
The beginning starts with Dr. Penleric who is an assisting professor at a university teaching music to students. She is a musicologist and is very passionate about her work. She is under paid and wants to become a full time professor but the board does not want a woman professor. Quitting she leaves to visit her sister in the Appalachian mountains. Lily’s sister is a teacher at a small school there in the mountains, along with her partner. There she discovers that the mountain folk have the original English-Scottish ballads that she has been studying. Lily employs Deladis to sing for her so she can record the music. Dr. Lily Penleric travels around the mountains lugging her huge gramophone and recording from different folk the ballads they sing. Lily believes that this true form of music should be recorded and shared like a great archeology find. Lily meets Tom who is a hardened mountain man that came back “from the other world” to be a talented musician. He doesn’t want her stealing their music just to have her book published but Lily says she is willing to pay them. Soon after he warms up to her and sees that she is helping the mountain people feel proud of their traditions and culture. They see that their artwork and music is more than entertainment but a legacy that should be recorded for others to hear and see.
When Dr. Penleric receives a letter from a colleague from the university saying that she will be Whittle’s assistant in the research, she becomes upset. Lily had worked hard for all the music she had gathered from the people. She learned to love their cultures and understood them. She saw how hard they work to live on the mountains. They suffer with starvation, no medical doctors to help with illnesses or the birth of babies, and poor education. Plus they have business men coming knocking on their doors wanting them to sell their land so they can modernize the mountains. The business men want the untapped coal mines to fund the progress of towns and schools to be built there.
The climax of the movie stems from hatred, discrimination, adulteress, and misunderstandings. The school is burned to the ground along with their house next to it. Lily’s work is destroyed. Rather than start over and collect the music again for the book Lily decides to leave the mountains. Dr. Penleric wants to start a new adventure and she must convince Tom to leave his home in the mountains to be with her in the city.
Beautiful songs abound in the movie along with the breathtaking scenery. The mountains are a wonderful place to live, and the people there have a way of life, with folk music at the heart of it. Four stars for this movie.
This movie can now be rented at : https://movies.netflix.com/WiMovie/Songcatcher
Or to buy on: http://www.amazon.com/Songcatcher

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