Medomak Valley senior pens first novel

By Beth A. Birmingham | Nov 20, 2018
Courtesy of: Elizabeth Flanagan

Waldoboro — A senior at Medomak Valley High School in Waldoboro has made her dream come true early on in life by writing, editing and publishing her first novel.

Books were a very important part of Elizabeth Flanagan's childhood -- with her parents and grandmother constantly reading to her.

"At some point I guess I went 'I can do that,' and decided to write a story," she said.

In October 2017, Flanagan was accepted into the Young Emerging Authors Fellowship at The Telling Room, a writing center dedicated to young voices, according to a press release. She and three other high school students were challenged to a novel in only one academic year.

Elizabeth and her father traveled to Portland from Waldoboro once a week for her entire junior year, culminating in the publication of her novel, "The Secrets They Left Behind."

In May 2017 Flanagan first learned about Young Emerging Authors.

"I saw four high school students talk about their books and I said, 'I want to do that,'" she said; she still has the program from that life-changing night.

The next morning Flanagan walked into her favorite teacher’s classroom and said, “I want to do this” and the teacher said, “OK, let’s make it happen.”

Flanagan's gifted-and-talented teacher, Jennifer Goode, has been instrumental throughout her education, the student said, pushing her to always do her very best and reach for the stars. The book is dedicated to Goode.

Flanagan's assigned mentor in the program, with whom she worked from January to May, was Deirdre Fulton McDonough, a Portland-area author.

"A lot of what would be flushed out during an extensive editing process in normal cases, was flushed out in our conversations," she said. "She got to know my characters and my story almost as well as I did, and our brainstorming resulted in some of the best ideas."

A synopsis of her book, as given in a press release announcing her book talk at Waldoboro Public Library Nov. 14, says, "One fateful night in May 1957, 14-year-old Clara Rollins loses her father, Andrew, in a tragic house fire. Heartbroken, Clara takes a vow of silence. But when a mysterious stranger comes to Deep River, Iowa, carrying a letter written by Andrew, Clara’s image of her father is suddenly shattered.

"As Christopher and Clara work together to untangle an intricate web of past secrets involving two small-town brothers, an infamous bootlegger and his beguiling wife, they realize everyone keeps secrets, and most of the time it’s to protect someone they love very much. This is a tale of love, loss, and loyalty."

Flanagan offers other potential young authors this advice -- "Dream big. Just because we live in a small town does not mean you can’t have big dreams and achieve them."

She said as far as writing goes, aspiring authors should just keep doing it, get words down on paper, then learn how to share their work with people, learn how to take constructive criticism, and always work to improve their craft.

She also suggested looking for competitions or literary magazines to submit writing to.

"There’s nothing like that first letter that says someone you have never met thought your writing was good enough for an award, no matter how small," Flanagan said.

The recipient of several writing awards, she is proudest of receiving the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards Honorable Mention in Poetry, her sophomore year, and Gold Key in Essay and Silver Key in Short Story her junior year. This is a national competition in which she received regional recognition.

She also placed third in her sophomore year, and first in her junior year, in the Philbrook Speech Competition, a school-wide persuasive speech contest.

And it was at the Telling Room’s annual "Big Night" celebration in May 2017 where she launched her anthology, "Sparks."

In addition to her writing, Flanagan is captain of the math team, manager of the girls basketball team, a member of the MVHS Players, and plays the flute in the band.

She plans to attend college next year, hoping to study creative writing and/or English with an open mind to possibly branching out into some other liberal arts path.

"Writing will always be a part of my life; this is just the beginning," she said.

Flanagan's book can be ordered at tellingroom.org. In December, copies will be available for purchase at the Waldoboro Public Library.

Courier Publications reporter Beth A. Birmingham can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 125 or via email at bbirmingham@villagesoup.com.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Nov 20, 2018 13:04

Good for you! You have the world reading wonderful stories with many accolades, I am sure!



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