Guest Blogger: Pamela Tuck
Today's post is written by Lee & Low's 2007 New Voices Award Winner, Pamela Tuck. Grog sent Pamela some questions and here are the answers.
GROG: What is AS FAST AS WORDS COULD FLY about?
Pamela Tuck: As Fast As Words Could Fly is a historical fiction picture book that highlights 14-year-old Mason Steele, who takes pride in turning his Pa's excited ramblings about the latest civil rights incidents into handwritten business letters.
One day Pa brings Mason a gift from his civil rights group: an old manual typewriter that Mason cherishes.
When the civil rights group wins a school desegregation case, Mason discovers that he will attend a formerly all-white high school. Facing his fears and adversity from students and faculty, Mason excels in school -- particularly typing. Mason decides to bravely take a stand at the county typing tournament, using his typing talent to break racial barriers.
This story is based on the life of my father, Moses Teel, Jr.
GROG: Why do you want to share this story?
Pamela Tuck: I wanted to share this story because I enjoy enlightening children with stories that expand their knowledge beyond what they’ve been exposed to. It’s an honor to add my father’s story to African-American history, but my main focus is to encourage children to always strive to do their best and to believe in themselves. I hope that my story will demonstrate to children that they don’t have to do something big to do something great, and they don’t have to be famous to be recognized.
GROG : How did you put it all together?
Pamela Tuck: In writing my father’s story, I first interviewed him and LISTENED to each emotion, conflict, failure and triumph he expressed. I wrote a loose outline for the story and chose a focal point to build around. I also referred to Paula Yoo’s Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds: The Sammy Lee Story, and Mildred D. Taylor’s Mississippi Bridge for dialogue and concept ideas.
GROG : How can this book be used in schools?
Pamela Tuck: As Fast As Words Could Fly is set in 1960s Greenville, NC, and is full of historical, social justice, and human themes, which are outlined in a downloadable teaching/discussion guide annotated for the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts. (Teacher’s guide can be found on the Lee & Low Books website: www.leeandlow.com )
GROG : What advice can you give new authors?
Pamela Tuck: I think the most common piece of advice that has worked for me is to READ! READ! READ! It's important to read books in the genre you're interested in writing. Pay attention to the author's style and how the characters, plot, and flow of the story develop. I would also suggest joining a writer's group. I am a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), and they have a wealth of information for writers that range from generating story ideas to marketing your book. Open yourself up to criticism, but learn to sift it: take what will make you a better writer and let the rest go. Try to develop a routine of writing a little (or a lot) each day to keep those creative juices flowing more readily. And last, but not least, believe in yourself. That belief with resonate in your writing.
GROG would like to thank Pamela M. Tuck for sharing her book with us. If you have not read this book, you should. Please visit and like Pamela's page https://www.facebook.com/asfastaswordscouldfly. Visit and like our GROG page https://www.facebook.com/GROG.writers. And do not forget to comment below so you may receive an entry in the GROG give-away.