Maureen Sherbondy's Lucky Brilliant
Please welcome Author, Maureen Sherbondy this week to the Writer's Journey Blog. Featuring the release of her YA novel, Lucky Brilliant to be released on September 10, 2020. The book is about family, friendship, and neglect. Black Rose Writing is the publisher. The book will be available in both print and ebook.
When I was in elementary school in New Jersey, I had to write and illustrate a book for a language arts class. Other students complained about the project. Not me. Write a book? I could think of nothing more fun to do. After my tale was bound and protected with a laminated cover, along with all of the other fifth-grade books, it was shelved at the local Metuchen library. I still recall seeing the book I had created, The Dog That Didn’t Have a Home, alphabetized and displayed on the shelf, an official looking sign-out card glued inside the front cover. I imagined little kids reading my book.
Books were my first writing teachers. As a child, I spent many hours at that library. I read voraciously: Dr. Seuss books, Charlotte’s Web, A Wrinkle in Time, poetry. In my house, I was also surrounded by books—from the pile of Nancy Drew mysteries on the floor of my bedroom to the shelves in our family room filled with adult novels. As much as I loved escaping to worlds between covers, I couldn’t wait to create my own worlds. I learned how to write stories by reading.
When my grandfather discovered my passion for writing, he gifted me his Remington typewriter. I loved the feel of the metal keys beneath my fingers. How worlds and characters took shape before my eyes. When I finished a new story, I couldn’t wait to read it to my first audience, my mother. She listened eagerly, asked questions, and encouraged my early efforts.
I returned to the Metuchen library once again in high school as an employee. My duties included shelving books. In addition to that task, I was shown how to fix bindings. The worn pages and broken spines made me sad. I took great joy in repairing these bound universes. This task seemed weighty—as though I were nursing creatures back to their happy places in the neighborhood of other books.
In high school, I moved up to retail as a bookseller at a chain store in the local mall. Here, I memorized authors’ names and titles. On Sundays, I absorbed the book review section of the newspaper. I also read as much as time permitted. In school, I submitted poems to our high school literary journal, The Scriblerian. My big day came when two poems were accepted. When other students told me they saw my poems published, I felt elated.
Later, at Rutgers University, fearing I would never be good enough to be a writer, I decided to major in psychology. Once in a while when my schedule allowed, I would sneak in a poetry or creative writing class. A voice in my head would spout negative things: You can’t make a living as a writer. Be practical.
So I graduated, tried a few different careers—one as a sales representative for the State Compensation Insurance Fund. My favorite part of the job was meeting business owners and taking tours of their print shops, farms, truck stops, machine shops, plastic manufacturing plants— and asking about their life stories. What made you want to start the business? What troubles have you had along the way? While I toured the shops, I observed the machinery and the employees, always taking mental notes, filing those images away for later. In other words, I was drawn to their stories.
Eventually, I left the business world to become a full-time mom, where at night I read the same Dr. Seuss books to my children that I had once read. Slowly, while the three boys were sleeping or watching Sesame Street, I began writing poems and stories again. But seriously this time. I retrieved the mental notes I’d stored away. Don’t get me wrong—I love being a mom— but I had very few grown-up conversations during this time. Twenty-four hours a day was filled with diaper changing, cooking, cleaning up, and making sure that three sons thrived emotionally and physically. My brain was starving for intellectual stimulation.
When I was not exhausted, I typed up my creations and sent them out for publication. In the first year of submitting work to literary journals, I received several acceptances. My favorite part of the day became walking to the mailbox, knowing that an acceptance letter might await me. My world suddenly became larger and more exciting. The possibility of publishing my own book now seemed realistic.
As my children grew older, I had more time to write. While they attended school, I ran errands, took care of the household, and made sure I wrote and revised. Every single day. I worked in bits and pieces, in stolen patches of time. Eventually, after years, I had a short book of poems accepted by a small press in Charlotte, North Carolina. From 2007 to 2020, I had ten poetry books and one short story collection published.
I made another leap. I wanted to see if I had the endurance to write something longer, so I began a novel. I mapped out plot points and invented characters. I read books on conflict, character development, and pacing. Finally, I had the rough draft. There were many missteps along the way. I thought my book was an adult novel. I had several different points of view. There were also tense issues. In other words, it was a hot mess, so the revision process took quite some time.
Finally, I realized my manuscript was a young adult book and that it should be told in first person. After much revision, life got busy. My poor book was put away for some time. When I took it out again, I was ready to edit some more and send it to publishers.
One morning, I was driving to work at the college where I teach. Stopped at a red light, I quickly read my messages. Black Rose Writing had accepted Lucky Brilliant for publication! I sat in my car and cried. My mind raced back to that first book, The Dog That Didn’t Have a Home .
I now pictured Lucky Brilliant, my first published novel, finding a home on the shelf of that same library. I imagined a teenage girl picking up my novel and losing herself in those characters on the pages that I created.
Bio: Maureen Sherbondy’s poems have appeared in, Calyx, European Judaism, The Oakland Review, Prelude, and other journals. Her poetry books include Dancing with Dali, Eulogy for an Imperfect Man, Beyond Fairy Tales, The Art of Departure, and six chapbooks. Lines in Opposition will be published by Unsolicited Press in 2022. She has also published a short story collection, The Slow Vanishing. Lucky Brilliant, her first novel, will be published in September. Maureen, who teaches at Alamance Community College, lives in Durham, North Carolina with her husband Barry Peters. www.maureensherbondy.com
My first YA novel, Lucky Brilliant, will be released on 9/10/20. The book is about family, friendship, and neglect. Black Rose Writing is the publisher. The book will be available in both print and ebook.
When Lucky Brilliant’s charismatic father is murdered for his winning lottery ticket, secrets unfold that shock Lucky and her mother. The novel explores the question: Do we ever really know our loved ones?
There will be a GoodReads Giveaway from 9/10-9/30.