Tag Archives: beryl young

What An Inspiration!

What an inspiration!  She signed her first publishing contract when she was 66 years old.  Just like me! Now at age 85, Beryl Young’s seventh book will soon be out in bookstores. It’s a poetry picture book for children about whales.  In June when I began talking with Heritage House about the contract for my novel Lost on the Prairie, a writing friend suggested I call Beryl Young whose book Miles to Go had been published by Heritage House in 2018.  It was actually reading Beryl’s book Miles to Go that gave me the idea my novel might be a good fit for Heritage House. Miles to Go is a middle-grade novel about two girls growing up in 1948 in a small Saskatchewan town. They are good friends, but their life circumstances couldn’t be more different.  

Beryl who lives in the Vancouver area could not have been kinder or more helpful as she told me about her own career as an author and offered words of wisdom regarding contracts. She filled me in on her experiences working with various publishers.   I obviously wasn’t the first budding children’s author to ask her for advice. She seemed to take delight in sharing her expertise with others.  

Beryl has published all kinds of different books for children. 

Would Someone Please Answer the Parrot? is the catchy title of Beryl’s first picture book published by Peanut Butter Press. It is about a family pet who is at the heart of all kinds of rollicking adventures. 

Beryl has written two biographies. Charlie: A Home Child’s Life in Canada chronicles the life of her father Charlie who came to Canada as an orphan in the early 1900s.The other is A Boy From Acadie and tells the life story of Romeo LeBlanc, Canada’s 25th Governor-General. In Beryl’s novel Follow the Elephant a thirteen old boy from Canada gets lost in Delhi India and in Wishing Star Summer an eleven- year old girl named Tanya visits Vancouver after her family has been impacted by the Chernobyl radiation disaster in Ukraine.  

What a diverse canon of books Beryl has to her name!

I gleaned so much expertise and insight about writing and publishing during my phone conversation with Beryl and from looking at her website. Here are some key things I learned that I want to keep in mind as I work towards the launch of my own book. 

  • Beryl belongs to six different writers’ groups and associations. She takes her commitment to the profession seriously. 
  • She has become something of an expert at finding niche publishers just perfect for her books. 
  • She is an advocate for herself. She makes sure her opinions and ideas are heard and respected during the publishing process. She isn’t afraid to nudge her publishers when she thinks it’s time to move forward on things. 
  • She very actively promotes her books and speaks to all kinds of different groups about them. 
  • She has an attractive, up to date author website.
  • She networks with other authors. 

In fact, Beryl connected me to Harriet Zaidman, a writing friend of hers in Winnipeg. Harriet and I had a delightful lunch together and I had a chance to pick her brain for ideas about writing and book publication. 

Before our phone conversation ended Beryl had invited me to drop in at her British Columbia home.  I just may take her up on that invitation once it is possible to travel again. 

Beryl Young is such an inspiration.  Could I publish a half dozen more books in the next twenty years?  Who knows? 

Other posts about my upcoming novel Lost on the Prairie………..

Thank You Mystery Editor

A Published Novel! Can You Believe It? 

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Filed under Books, Lost on the Prairie, Writing

Giving A Child Away

I just finished the novel Miles to Go by Beryl Young. Inspired by a true story it is narrated by two grade seven girls Anna and Maggie. They are best friends growing up in a small rural Saskatchewan community in 1948. Sadly right near the beginning of the book, Anna’s mother dies in childbirth. Anna who is just twelve must step in and care for her two pre-school sisters and the new baby. Anna has to keep house, make meals and do laundry. Anna is a promising student but she has to drop out of school.

Eventually, the father comes to realize the whole situation is untenable. He can’t afford to hire help, and he really wants his oldest daughter to go to school. His job requires him to travel and doesn’t allow him to assist with household responsibilities. The father makes the difficult decision to give away the baby for adoption and put the two younger girls in foster care. Anna is devastated her family is being split apart.

I think what Anna’s father did was fairly common seventy years ago. With birth control not available and knowledge about women’s health not what it is today, many women died in childbirth and families were left in the situation Anna’s was.

A friend of mine has written a memoir about her father in which she reveals his parents sent him to live with relatives for five years.  His family would grow to include 13 children and his parents simply couldn’t manage to feed and care for them all. 

Hopi woman with her children 1940s- image from the Digital Public Library of America

When we lived and taught on the Hopi First Nation in Arizona we learned about a custom in the past whereby women gave their childless sisters one of their own children. This was considered the right thing to do. We met a Hopi university professor who had been raised by her aunt and uncle in a situation like this and she had no hard feelings. She realized that in many ways she’d had a better life and more opportunities than her siblings because she was raised as an only child by parents who had been desperate to have children and gave her every advantage.

Making a decision to give a child away would be such a difficult thing to do, but in the past, it was something parents sometimes felt was their only option.

Other posts………

Common Threads- The Hopi

Thirties Prairie Portraits

Learning How to Write Historical Fiction

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Filed under Books, Childhood, Family