WINTER OF THE BEES REACHED THE END.
Writing WOTB was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced with a project. So a blog post it is.
TITLE: WINTER OF THE BEES
GENRE: Middle grade, magical realism, contemporary
ROUGH BLURB: Thirteen-year-old Niles Filzbin moves in with his ailing grandfather and spunky grandmother in podunk Tennessee. While everything in his life falls apart, like his sister running away and his parents filing bankruptcy, he tries to find meaning. And maybe, if Grandpa’s bees really are magical, they can help. But Niles misses their warning.
LENGTH: 28,621words (draft 1)
DAYS TO COMPLETE: 16 days
SONGS ON REPEAT: make of it by halfalive, ophelia (instrumental) by the lumineers, car radio by twenty one pilots, rain by hollywood undead, freaks by surf curse, where you are by kodaline
CUPS OF COFFEE: I lost count
BEHIND THE SCENES
This is the first completed work (besides short stories) where I did not have a thorough outline. I had one page with three paragraphs: one paragraph brain dumping what I thought the intro should look like, one paragraph brain dumping what the climax should look like, and one paragraph brain dumping the ending. I didn’t outline chapters or scenes or anything major. I had a very rough idea of a few points I knew I wanted to happen and I ran with it. And it went well, actually.
I’ve never written a middle grade book before. Ironically, middle grade has been my favorite genre since before I was in middle school, and I still read middle grade to this day. Winter of the Bees was the first middle grade book I’ve written, making it also the twelfth full length book I’ve completed since the age of twelve. I’m twenty as of last week.
The magical realism + contemporary setting was difficult for me. First, magical realism has many forms, but the most popular (especially among younger audiences) is in the vein of Narnia, where children are quite literally transported to a magical reality apart from their own. This isn’t the angle I wanted for this book so I wrestled with how the magical realism part should be incorporated. I also don’t write a lot of contemporary, with the last contemporary novel I wrote Seek (ya/adult thriller) that was published in 2018. So overall, it took a few days of redoing my intro chapters before I settled on the fact the story did not need a complex plot, haha!
However, overall, all of these details, every bit of this story… was unlike anything I have written before. Every book is a different experience with its own trials and beauties. Winter of the Bees is close to my heart: Niles must face rejection in the form of his own sibling leaving him. He must also face a goodbye that is different but just as painful. Writing Niles’s journey was similar to opening myself up and letting memories and my own thoughts and lessons fall onto the page.
It hurt, but it was also, in a strange way, exciting.
Kids deserve truth. They deserve encouragement. They deserve to be seen and to be heard. That’s what this book is about: being seen, feeling what we feel, and choosing hope, too. And writing the story from the eyes of a middle schooler shook me slightly, because that’s the age I struggled with these very things, too.
It was a wild ride in 16 short days as I looked back on my own fears and struggles and tried to write a story that would mean something to readers. In the words of Daniel (Robin Williams) in Mrs. Doubtfire, “Don’t patronize kids. If it’s something you’d enjoy, they’d enjoy it.”
Random fun facts:
- This was the first book I could “live” the aesthetic for. The novel is set in Tennessee and has a bee-centric theme: so nature, yellow, and such were aesthetics I could really gather around me. A theme of the book is also living in the moment, so I really pushed myself to do the same in my own life as I wrote!
- This is also the first book I’ve done with CHAPTER TITLES because it is middle grade and I LOVE CHAPTER TITLES. Some of the chapter titles are also inspired by songs.
We shall find out. I intend to pitch Winter of the Bees. Of course, if no one wants it, I still have my self-publishing plan ready to go, and I trust God’s path for the novel. But this book has taught me a lot about courage already.
But before I can pitch it, I need some beta readers! Wanna beta? Check it out HERE! I truly appreciate the help.
Thanks so much for reading!