Ah, Richard Peck!

He has won numerous awards including the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in young adult literature. My favorite book, A YEAR DOWN YONDER, was named the Newbery Honor Book, a National Book Award finalist, an ALA Notable Book, and an ALA Best Book for Young Adults.

Whew! No wonder I love that book so much.

I have gleamed a treasure of writing insights from this novel, but what stands out the most is how Mr. Peck uses humor in the telling of his stories.

And A YEAR DOWN YONDER is drop-down hilariously funny. That teaches me to write with sincerity, to write without getting caught up in the words instead of the content, at least for the first draft and first few rewrites.

He writes from his heart and it comes off genuine. That’s what I hope to do. By doing this it makes me (the reader) feel like I know his characters personally. That’s a connection that is priceless.

I saw an interview with Richard Peck and Lin Oliver from an SCBWI Master Class, and he readily confessed that the most difficult chapter he writes is the first. In fact, he says that most times he just throws the first chapter out all together.

I wondered if I was brave enough to make such a bold move, and after much hesitation – I finally did it. That was the best thing I could do for my story.

So thank you, Mr. Richard Peck. And say hi to Grandma Dowdel for me!