March 26, 2021
Welcome to the Winners' Circle where we celebrate the success of our ICL students. Today we are celebrating published author Lauren Persons and the publication of her book Lost But Found: A Boy's Story of Grief and Recovery.
Give us a short summary of your book.
Lost But Found takes adults along a boy’s journey as he works to make sense of his loss—and, in turn, their own.
Tell us a bit about your path to publishing, from idea to submission to published.
Lost But Found was written to help explain the unexplainable. How do you tell a child about the death of a loved one? With the simple, touching pictures of illustrator, Noah Hrbek, this story was written as a starting point for children to ask questions, explore their feelings and celebrate their loved one. Once the story was written, I really wanted to get it to children who might need it. I purchased 2020 Edition Book Markets for Children Writers, did some research, wrote letters, got rejections, wrote more letters, submitted to publishers that were a match for Lost But Found, got rejections, submitted again. Victor Volkmann of Loving Healing Press sent a contract the same day of submission to begin an exciting, respectful, and professional publishing process of Lost But Found to life.
How long have you been writing?
I have been writing forever. As an English teacher, newspaper columnist, and playwright, I have had a lot to say over the years. As a creative writing teacher, I had to practice what I preached!
What's your favorite genre to write and why?
I love many genres. Poetry and children’s books allow me great liberty to let my imagination and child-like spirit run wild.
Please list the course or courses you've taken with us.
I took the Institute’s Writing for Children and Teens course.
How has taking our course helped your writing and/or career?
I can honestly say from the time I took the writing [assessment] and was accepted to the Institute, that not only has my writing markedly improved but so did my teaching. The Institute provided resources, an outstanding mentor, challenging assignments, and an on-going relationship after graduation to this day.
Have any of your class assignments been published? If so, where and when?
Yes. One of the assignments was to create a character. I wrote about a young man with Cerebral Palsy who had been bullied by a fellow student. When I wrote about him, my mentor, Pegi Deitz Shea, suggested I use this character in a play. Little did I know that challenge would be an incredible learning experience for my students and me. To make the play “real,” I spent several weeks doing research, shadowing the young man as he maneuvered his way to class, accompanied him to a physical therapy session, and even took to a wheelchair to see the world on his level. When I cast the show, the bullied and bully became the main characters. Several students with special needs performed in the show. I can say that it was one of the most inspiring, most eye-opening, and exciting experiences in my entire teaching career.
Do you have a favorite writing tip you'd like to share?
Just write. Telling one’s story is the most important gift we can give. Write on…
What is your favorite piece of writing advice?
Some of the most valuable writing advice I was given goes back several years ago when I was teaching creative writing to high school students. I was using Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott as our chosen text. Her advice to break writing down, take one’s time, find detail a little at a time, be disciplined and know that it is okay to write “shitty first drafts.” It is those drafts that may evolve into brilliant second and third drafts!
Please tell us the best or most valuable thing you learned from your experience with ICL.
The Institute does an amazing job of individualizing one’s training. From the beginning of my coursework, I felt like I was valued. I can still remember completing an assignment, mailing it off, and waiting for the critique. I was so excited to see the big, white envelope in the mailbox. I was a bit nervous that my mentor wouldn’t like what I wrote. In the envelope, I found a lengthy letter of specific corrections, ideas, encouragement, and resources to improve. It made me want to write even more. The Institute was indispensable to my progress as a writer.
"What do I write about?"
This is the question I have heard a lot, and even said myself. Just write. As I said to my students, “Put your pen to paper. Break the white. Just write.” My students would laugh, as many of them preferred to type out their ideas, they understand how important it is to JUST WRITE.
As William Shakespeare aptly wrote, “All the world’s a stage, and the men and women merely players.” Lauren Persons has had many rich and varied roles as actor, poet, newspaper columnist, teacher, playwright, wife, mother, grandmother that has prepared her for her latest role—author of Lost But Found.