just the beginning
Writing is alchemy. We learn how to take emotional pain and transform it into artistic and spiritual gold.
That was always the philosophy I embraced for my "adult writing." But one day, a children's story came into my mind that was both heartbreaking and hopeful, and I knew it needed to be told.
That story, JUST THE BEGINNING, won me my first major writing prize: "Most Promising" (First Place) in the Picture Book Contest held in conjunction with the 2016 SCBWI (Society for Children's Book Writers & Illustrators) Central California Writers' Day.
I'm currently seeking a loving home for this unpublished manuscript with the right agent and publisher.
Here is the blurb from the contest judge:
Written with an extremely sensitive and tactful hand, the story of Billy and Nathan, two well-developed and spunky characters, contains heart and evokes sincere emotion. The progression of Nathan's cancer is swift, and is tactfully shown through his lethargic behavior and loss of hair. Although Nathan's death is heart-rending, it is so sensitively written that it will make it easy for even young children to understand. The gentle butterfly ending comes full circle and gives readers hope by showing how Billy has coped with the death of his sibling. Any family with a terminally ill child will derive hope and comfort from the story. Congratulations to Christina McMahon for her manuscript, JUST THE BEGINNING.
© Christina Sian McMahon 2016
MIDDLE KID MAGIC
This was my first picture book manuscript. It was inspired by my own childhood, and the long road to finding my voice and losing that famous middle kid angst.
I developed the story by reading various versions aloud to the adorable second graders in Jackie Lapkin's class at Franklin Elementary School in Santa Barbara, where I was a reading tutor. Most of them connected with my plucky protagonist. I asked them, "So what's Ophelia's problem?" One girl said, "She doesn't feel special. And sometimes I don't feel special either!" Basically, any kid with a sibling can relate – there's always someone else around to steal our thunder...
MIDDLE KID MAGIC gives ‘birth order blues’ a girl-power twist. In this picture book for ages 5-8, Ophelia feels invisible to her parents. Not the baby and never in charge, she seeks solace and a solution from the mysterious Woman in the Moon. Amidst a solo journey to an enchanted meadow, where she confronts a staggering crisis, she unlocks the power of her individuality to light up her whole world.
Ophelia lived with her family in a magical, moonlit place called Luna-Landia. Every day at moonrise, Ophelia would race down to the river with her two sisters for an evening swim. It was always the same.
“Your older sister’s in charge! She’s the biggest,” her father said.
“Hold your baby sister’s hand! She’s the littlest,” her mother said.
Ophelia grew sad. She wasn’t in charge, and she wasn’t the baby either. What was special about her?
© Christina Sian McMahon 2015
CAT TALES FROM THE CAPE VERDE ISLANDS
The idea for this book came when I was living on the Cape Verde Islands in West Africa doing research for my doctoral dissertation. I missed my 4-year-old nephew so much. My brother-in-law suggested I write him actual, pen-and-paper letters about all the things I was doing there. He and my sister read them to him. I filled the pages with things he loved: funny animal stories, the beauty of the natural surroundings, and vibrant descriptions of children's games and dances. My sister said: "You've got the tone down. Why not publish this?"
10 years later, this middle-grade novel is on its way! It is my love letter to the people and animals I grew to love on the islands during my many years of living there.
No jungles. No lions. Not a single drum. Just the quirky simplicity of life on the Cape Verde Islands, where kente cloth and cell phones co-exist in perfect harmony. This book portrays a West African country as it really is: utterly modernized yet charmingly traditional, with people and animals not so different from those in our own backyards. The islands are seen through the eyes of a spunky brown cat named CIMBOA and the Cape Verdean girl she adores, ARLINDA.
Cimboa yawned and stretched. The warm West African sun soaked into her soft brown fur, and the salty island breeze tickled her pink nose. So completely calma was she feeling that she didn’t even hear little feet creeping up behind her.
“GOTCHA!” Cimboa was heaved into the air and crushed against a bony rib cage. “REE-OWW!” she screeched. Her heart exploded in panic as she was whisked further and further away from Arlinda’s doorstep. Cat-napped by the boy next door! How could this be happening?
© Christina Sian McMahon 2015