Guest Post

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Hi Everyone!

I am excited to bring you another fun guest post today! :) Please help me welcome Lori to the blog.


 Choosing to Write about Sports

I want to say I don’t remember not reading. That seems like an essential thing for a writer to say, even if cliché. But it isn’t quite true. My first memory of reading is from 7th grade when I read Gone with the Wind. Taking on the breadth and depth of that novel meant I had been quite practiced in the skill. Somewhere, somehow, with someone, I had gotten quite good at reading.

One of the series I remember eating up when I was in junior high was Choose Your Own Adventure. R.A. Montgomery’s Journey Under the Sea and Space and Beyond, as well as many others, fascinated me as a reader. When once I was an observer watching the book unfold as a movie in my imagination, I now had active participation in the story. Even when I “died,” I could go back and try again.
Fast forward three decades. A friend from graduate school and his publisher colleague were having authors rewrite classics, such as Treasure Island, as “Can You Survive” books. I was interested in writing one of these; however, time didn’t allow it.
A year later, I ran into the publisher again. This time, he asked me about writing “Choose to Win” sports books. Before my twins left for college, I had been a sports mom for about fifteen years. I loved watching my son and daughter participate in sports, from t-ball to soccer, hockey to cross country. Writing another sports book—my first documented the history of the Minnesota Wild, a National Hockey League team—seemed like a good fit.

I started Save the Season!, my hockey book, when my family went camping. I asked my son to name the boy main character; my daughter, the girl main character. Because I wanted to write what I know, the boy and girl were twins. The subplot in this story is sibling rivalry, to which many readers can probably relate. After writing scenes and choices, I’d read it aloud to the kids. They were engaged and excited to make a choice. I was thrilled.

Upon my return home, my editor wanted me to shift to the baseball book. I was never a baseball mom, but I have friends who are Minnesota Twins fanatics. I also knew the head coach of a baseball team in town. With these local experts, the Internet, and my editor, I knew I’d be able to write with authenticity.
The subplot in Out at Home dug deeper. In hearing more about the “window vs. mirror” in book publishing, how readers have been looking through windows at the world versus reading about their own lives and families as if looking into mirrors, I addressed a much more serious topic: foster care. I’ve been a teacher for over twenty years; foster care is something some students know. Focusing on the memory of a 1st grader who kept showing up with dirty clothes on backwards, I began the story.

With Goal-Minded, it was important for me to reflect my community. Therefore, the main character is Somali. The subplot is about his wanting to be a writer because he’s not good at math. That strand is autobiographical.
The newly released Back to Pass, the football book, also addresses another serious issue: homelessness. Some readers look into mirrors and see pieces of their lives in print, while other readers unfamiliar with this life are at least experiencing it through words.

It’s challenging to write these kinds of books. For each choice, I had to write the correct answer, as well as the wrong answer. I color-coded my manuscript to keep track of the choices and to assist my editor in following along. He formatted the book and also created the books’ game. Now that four of these middle grade novels are in print, I’m hopeful that readers enjoy participating in the story as I once did, hopeful they’ll remember they’ve always been reading.

Lisa M. Bolt Simons’ publications include over 25 nonfiction children's books, four middle grade novels, and the adult history book Faribault Woolen Mill: Loomed in the Land of Lakes. Both her fiction and nonfiction have been recognized with honors and awards. Originally from Colorado, she's lived in Mexico, Italy, and Japan. She's a teacher by day, a mom to boy/girl twins, and a wife to a guy who also loves to read. Her website is

Happy Reading!

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