Another Column at MyShelf.Com

Babe To Teens, Past
A Youth Column
By Beverly Rowe

And tips for writers
New book suggestions
Web sites to check out


Author Clyde Hedges
I first met Clyde Hedges on Facebook, and we discussed his books. I thought my readers would be interested in a young adult Christmas story, and his take on the writing world. Here is what he has to say:


Bev: Thank you, Clyde, for interrupting your busy schedule to be interviewed for Tell us about yourself and your journey to publication.

Clyde: My wife and I are retired teachers, Bev. We taught in the Clark County School System for 27 years and for several years in Massachusetts and Indiana. We have two daughters, one who is a teacher in the Boston area and our second, who lives in Reno with her husband and baby. We fluctuate back and forth between New England and Nevada. My journey to publication started years ago when I wrote a novel, The Lost Weekend, with an 8th grade English class. It was quite an experience, and I've been writing ever since.

Bev: What made you decide to begin writing?

Clyde: I always wanted to write. I think the early conscious thought I had of it was thinking one day on the way home from school that it would be fun to write someday about my escapades. I never wrote the novel, but I had the thought.

Bev: What authors do you enjoy reading? Has any other writer been a particular inspiration to you?

Clyde: There are so many great writers. Hemingway had beautiful prose and great short stories. I didn't really care for his novels, and I thought The Old Man and the Sea was greatly overrated. Still, he was a very great writer. Hardy, Maugham, Dickens, Steinbeck, Rawlings, Avi, and a host of others. There are so many books and great writers. The book that has influenced me the most is Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls. It's a simple little dog story, but it offers so much more and teaches so much about life. It's just a really great book. I'm really fortunate to have read it.

Virtual Christmas by Clyde Hedges Bev: I just finished reading Virtual Christmas. Jake is difficult to like as the story begins, but he goes through a huge psychological change and by the end of the story, he's a great guy. Tell us about developing this character.

Clyde: I pretty much knew what I wanted to write when I sat down and started Virtual Christmas. Jake is bitter and frustrated at the beginning of the story, and I tried to create a mystery about him and as to why he was acting like he was. At this point, I disliked him, but when I learned about his losses, I felt sorry for him. There isn't any real character transformation in Jake. His character at the end of the book is what he always was on the inside. It took his deceased grandfather and the three ghosts to bring it out again.

Bev: What were your main plotting problems in writing this novel?

Clyde: I really didn't have any plotting problems with this novel. The novel I'm writing now, A Matter for the Courts to Decide, is a different story. It's been a bear, but I pretty much knew the story of Virtual Christmas before I sat down to write it.

The Boys of Chattanooga by Clyde Hedges Bev: You have published one other novel, The Boys of Chattanooga, a Civil War historical novel. I have not read it yet, but I just got the Kindle edition and plan to read it soon.

Clyde: I was taking a Civil War course at the University of Evansville when I learned about The Battle for Chattanooga. At that point, I wanted to write a novel about the battle, but mostly about the men who fought it and our greatest president, Lincoln, and General Grant, one of our greatest generals. Mostly, The Boys of Chattanooga is a story of three young men who fight the battle. There isn't that much difference in the ages of the boys from Jake's in Virtual Christmas. Just a hundred and fifty years in time and one of the most important battles of the American Civil War.

Bev: Virtual Christmas is quite a change from your first novel. What made you decide to write a young adult novel with a lot of fantasy overtones?

Clyde: I decided to write Virtual Christmas one Christmas Eve when I looked for A Christmas Carol on television. Not one station was showing it, and I decided that it was time for a modern version of that classic. So, I wrote it.

twelvetinglytales by Craig Hoskins Bev: Have you also published an anthology of short stories, Twelve Tingly Tales under the name Craig Hoskins?

Clyde: I usually just sit down and start to write. Once, years ago, I wrote a twenty page outline for an adventure novel, and then I never wrote the book. I already knew the story, so why write it again. It's interesting to read about the different great writers and how they wrote. No two were the same.

Bev: Tell us a bit about how you work.

Clyde: I usually get up and have coffee and exercise for most of the morning. I used to love to jog, but now I ride my bike and hike in the mountains with our daughter's dogs. After I've worked out and had lunch, I usually work in the afternoon. Two hours is about all I can do. I marvel at the prolific writers who can write for hours on end. I never could.

Bev: Do you have plans for any other young adult books?

Clyde: I finished a book two years ago, On Top of the Mountain, which is a dog story that was inspired by the death our daughter's yellow lab. That was when I reread Where the Red Fern Grows and realized what a fine book it is. I'd like to get my novel published and I'm working on another dog story about terrorists trying to use a robotically enhanced dog to attack the United States. I took it as far as I could get it, but then I stopped. When I get it going again, I'll finish it.

Bev: What has been your biggest writing challenge?...And your biggest writing reward?

Clyde: I think plotting is my biggest challenge. My latest novel, A Matter for the Courts to Decide, has been a real challenge. Then, like all other writers, I just hit blank walls. Then you have to work your way out of it.

Bev: Tell us about your current writing project

Clyde: My current writing project is A Matter for the Courts to Decide, which is about a young public defender who is forced to defend a suspected terrorist. She doesn't want to do so, but as she gets to know him, she finds herself irresistibly attracted to him. Then it becomes a matter for the courts to decide. After that, i think I might work on an anthology of short stories again.

Bev: Do you have any other thoughts you would like to share with your fans?

Clyde: I hope you like Virtual Christmas and that you give my other works a try. Learn to reread good books that really impress you. You learn so much more about construction and plotting and how writers put their thoughts on paper or into a computer in such a way that they keep their readers interested. I forgot to mention that the best beginning I've ever read was To Kill a Mockingbird. It grabbed me immediately. The second best beginning was Where the Red Fern Grows. It also has the most poignant ending I've ever read. I love to read books, think about them, and I love especially to discuss them. If I can encourage and get one person to like to read, then that's something I want to do.

Bev: Thanks so much for joining us here at, and we are hoping to see more Young Adult stories from you, though I'm sure A Matter For the Courts to Decide will be a great story.



New Books ...check these out:


A Tale of Thievery, Villainy, Sorcery, and Shoes
Written by Stacey Jay
Illustrated by Mary GrandPre
Knopf for Young Readers
ISBN: 0375856005
Ages 10 & up
The blue shoe was ruined, the girl Hap Barlo had been trying to help was missing, and he’d been branded a thief—again! And now he was in a cell. He would be banished to the far side of Mount Xexnax in the morning.

But, perhaps a dreamer, a doer and a thief is just the kind of boy who could challenge this mountain—and win! He might be able to rescue his father, who had been banished last year. No one has ever returned from Xexnax, but he is willing to try.


by Peg Kehret
Dutton Juvenile
ISBN: 9780525421771
Ages 10-up
192 pages
Sunny Skyland longs to be reunited with her twin sister, Starr. With only an old photograph, taken a few days before the girls were separated at age three, to guide her, Sunny begins the cross-country journey that she has dreamed of during her 10 years in foster homes. But, she will be faced with a whole new challenge.


By Sarah Weeks
Scholastic Press
Ages Ages 7-10
176 pages
Oggie Cooder has never set foot in his neighbor's swimming pool. But now he has his chance—it's Donnica's birthday, and her mom has forced her to invite Oggie to the pool party! Donnica has a plan to keep Oggie away. But what she doesn't count on is the unexpected visit from a local rock band, a cherry picker, a dog that tweets like a bird, and a boy in a bear suit Oggie will get in that pool yet!


Written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco
Philomel Books
ISBN: 9780399250774
Ages 8-up
96 pages
In a story of pre-Civil War slavery and the quest for freedom, The Crosswhites—including young Sadie—must flee the Kentucky plantation they work on in the middle of the night. Dear January has been beaten and killed by the plantation master, and they fear who may be next. But Sadie must leave behind her most valuable possession, the wooden sparrow carved for her by January. With the help of the Underground Railroad, the Crosswhites make the journey to Marshall, Michigan, where they finally live in freedom. And there they stay, happily, until the day a package shows up on their doorsteps. It is January’s sparrow, with a note that reads, "I found you."


Websites to check out:



Tips for Writers


It's so complicated...and perhaps writing for children is the most challenging of all kinds of writing. Coming up with just the right premise, and developing characters that your readers will really care about in a well plotted story that they will always remember. That's what all of us who write, or want to write, children's stories are striving for, isn't it? The next great Harry Potter or Twilight.

And then after we have our literary efforts perfected, what about finding a publisher for it? Check out this audio by John Bard.

2010 Past Columns


© MyShelf.Com. All Rights Reserved.