Lee McAvoy

Children's Book Writer
Licensed Mental Health Counselor

Inspiration for Writers

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Write with Empathy

Posted on February 16, 2016 at 2:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Just returned from the SCBWI conference in New York City, an amazing event with 1,150 attendees from 48 states and 19 countries. Many of the best authors, illustrators and editors spoke on panels and/or gave amazing critiques and presentations. I was most inspired by Gary Schmidt, author of many children's books, including one I just finsihed entitled Orbiting Jupiter, a middle grade novel about an abused boy with a kind heart who gets his girlfriend pregnant.

Gary challenged us to "Write for the kid on the log who is waiting for the first person to come along because no one ever does." After teaching elementary school for 30 years and working as a therapist for 20, I know the cycles of abuse will not end until victims are given a chance to speak their truths and to heal. Books such as Orbiting Jupiter, that deal empathically with controversial topics, have tremendous power to reach kids who are suffering in silence. A child who finds his or her story in a book is no longer alone.     

Attend Readings and Author Events

Posted on February 6, 2016 at 8:25 AM Comments comments (0)

Last night I went to a reading of five women writers in my area, including Sonja Livingston, creative non-fiction author of Ghostbread and Queen of the Fall. This gave me the opportunity to sit and relax, let the words flow through me and remember why I write. I was moved and inspired by the readings as well as conversations with other attendees, whether old friends or new acquaintances. 

I had read most of the books the women were reading from, but hearing them read aloud was a whole new experience. Authentic, commited writers have a kinship based on their sensitivity to life in general and people in particular. It took me many years to find my own personal rhythm, which is slower and more observant than the pace of the world. I learned that accepting my true nature as a writer goes beyond carving out time to write. It's celebrating my courage and the courage of others to continue this art which requires solitude, silence and sometimes doing nothing.

I invite you to enter this gentle space where you can hear the power of words and just as important, the power of the spaces between the words. Attending the readings of your favorite authors will rejuvinate you in unforeseeable ways.

Persevering as a Writer

Posted on February 3, 2016 at 8:15 AM Comments comments (0)


If you want to be a writer, or artist of any kind, without perseverence, it's extremely unlikely to happen. If perseverence is not easy for you, this blog will be helpful. If there is one thing I know and understand, it's perseverence. 

The one constant in my life has been my desire to write. As a child I loved to read. We didn't have much money but my grandmother bought me a Golden Book about a character named Tom Terrific when I was three. I remember sneaking the book under my pillow so I could read in bed and sleep with it at night. I slept with that book the way other three year olds sleep with teddy bears and to this day can't fall asleep without reading. 

This leads me to my first tip for those who want to persevere long enough to succeed as a writer: FIND ALLIES

My grandmother was my first ally. She saw the artist in me early on and nurtured me. This made it OK that most people in my life were not interested in understanding this aspect of who I was, or even made fun of me. Because being a writer is about way more than writing things down. It's looking at the world honestly and understanding the importance of seeing all that is beautiful as well as all that is harsh, even ugly. When you are able to see the world with this kind of integrity and write about it, with practice, you can become a good writer. With every day practice and perseverence you can even become a great writer.

Just one ally can give us the strength and faith to be who we are and to continue writing. I began my life with one ally. Now I have many. If you don't have allies, you can find them. Take a writing class. Start a writing group or a school club. Find people online. Find people you can trust and who believe in you. Above all, every day, especially the hard days, believe in yourself and keep writing.