Rick Starkey

Published Work: Blues Bones

Rick is a graduate of Institute for Children’s Literature. View Course Catalog >

Welcome to the Winner’s Circle where we celebrate the success of our ICL students. Today we are cheering on Rick Starkey!

BluesBonesCover-72-at-500Congratulations on getting published, Rick! Tell us a bit about your road to publishing success.

After completing the ICL course in 2012, I started submitting to magazines. I received a hand written note on a form rejection from Highlights for Children. It said, “Keep writing.” I did, and finally received my first contract from them for a game. After four more contracts from Highlights, I decided to work on Blues Bones, a novel I had started before I took the course at ICL. I received a contract from Leap Books for Blues Bones the day after my birthday in 2015. Blues Bones was released March 7, 2016.

How long have you been writing?

I had been interested in writing since high school, but only became serious about writing and started submitting my work after I completed the ICL course in 2012.

How has your ICL course helped with your writing?

It taught me what a story is and is not. It also gave me deadlines so I
could not say to myself, “I’ll do that later,” I tend to put things off.

What will you do with what you’ve written during the course?

I will revise and submit some of the material I wrote during the course. 

Where is your favorite place to write? Do you have a specific time of day to write?

I usually get up between 5:30 and 6:00 and write at the kitchen table. In the evening, I write at my desk in our spare bedroom.

Do you have a favorite writing tip you’d like to share?

It’s not original, but “keep writing” was the tip that kept me going. The biggie is to finish what you start no matter how bad you think it is. You have to have a first draft to be able to revise.

What’s your favorite genre to write for?

Right now, I like contemporary for middle grade. With a touch of spooky thrown in sometimes.

If you could travel back in time and give yourself one piece of
writing advice, how far back would you go, and what would you tell yourself?

I would go back to seventh grade and tell myself to pay attention in all classes dealing with writing and language arts, and to pursue a writing career as soon as I finish high school. Before I enrolled in the course at ICL, I made myself take an online course in grammar and punctuation. I was one of those reluctant readers. And a reluctant learner.

Please tell us what you enjoyed most about your ICL experience!

My instructor was April Lurie. I loved her personality and her feedback on my work. Not only did ICL teach me how to construct a story, but also the friends I made through their message board are always there for encouragement and feedback.

Why did you choose ICL? 

I had looked at the ICL course before but thought I could not afford it. My wife told me one day that I had so many books about writing that I should become a writer. I had read those books, but decided if I was going to get serious, then I should take the course. It’s something I should have done years ago. If not for the ICL writing course, Blues Bones, my debut novel would not exist. I would still be dreaming.



Rick Starkey is a graduate of the Institute of Children’s Literature. His main interest is writing novels for middle grade. Rick has sold short pieces to Highlights for Children including a game, magic tricks, and a short story.

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© 2024 Direct Learning Systems, Inc. All rights reserved. 

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