Elaine Marie Alphin’s last blog post, dated Thursday, July 28th, 2011, begins: “Honor, Honesty, Integrity—these are the virtues I have always admired and aspired to.”
Elaine was a fellow SCBWI member, and I first met her at an Indiana SCBWI conference, and was inspired. She was the author of many books for young readers which included fiction and non-fiction, beginning readers, middle grade novels and novels for young adults.
Her first published book for young readers was a middle grade novel. The Ghost Cadet (1991) was followed by Ghost Soldier (2001) —published by Henry Holt. Both books received several awards, and Ghost Soldier was nominated for the 2002 Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Juvenile Mystery. Those were the first of many awards to come for her writing for children and teens.
Elaine passed away on August 19th, 2014, following a long illness. She is remembered by many for her kindness, and for her enthusiastic advice to other children’s writers.
Author Mary Ann Moore shared a memory on facebook: “I've never forgotten her example during a workshop. She said she always looked at publishing as like a football game. She expected obstacles and tackling, but got up, put her helmet back on and kept going. The game wouldn't last long if the players went home every time they got tackled. Thanks, Elaine, for your wise, heartfelt books and your generosity to new writers.”
In her book, Creating Characters Kids Will Love (Writers Digest Books 2000), Elaine talks about ‘Believable Kids on the Page.’ She says, “Characters are rarely passive; they take action. And the reader, as well as the other characters in the story, forms an impression of this character based on his actions.”
In an interview with Cynthia Leitich Smith on her blogsite, Cynsations, in 2007, when asked about the challenges of starting a novel, here’s what Elaine had to say: “The biggest challenge is getting an idea that will support a novel--the second biggest challenge is holding off charging ahead with that idea before you have a chance to work out what you really want to do with it...”
On her author profile at Lerner, Elaine shares this advice for future authors: “Read—read many different types of books. Read a book once for the wonder and the pleasure it brings you. Then read it again to see how the author did the things that made you love that book: the believable characterizations, the descriptive details, the exciting action, the thought-provoking theme. And write—…”
It’s good to have known you, Elaine. Blessings to you and your family.