Greenwood Girls

When I was in fifth grade, I discovered a book. A book so perfect that if I could write one of my very own, I'd fashion it from this one. Mandy for Girls was basically a hardbound comic book. A bit like the graphic novels you see today. I loved it. The book was made up entirely of illustrations and was clearly for girls only...I mean, it said so on the cover!
One of the stories involved a group of models who...well, it doesn't matter what the story was about. I only cared about the drawings. After reading the story, an idea came to me. What would it be like to go to a glamour school where you could study and model? What if you could do gymnastics, too? What if only the best athletes in the country were allowed to attend? Greenwood Academy was born.
I bought a binder from Woolworth's, a stack of looseleaf, some pencils and got to work. The first thing I had to do was create my roster of girls and arranged them in yearbook photos. I decided to begin in grade seven and go to grade eleven. Why not grade twelve? I think when I was ten, the idea of drawing seventeen year olds was a bit daunting.

Coming up with the names was fun. Most were combinations of my friend's first and last name. Although one character, William, was the middle name of my next door neighbor's baby girl. I had never heard of a boy's name for a girl before, so that was the beginning of my love affair for strong girl's name. My own daughter is Elliott!

Now that I had over fifty girls, I needed to know something about them. With a notebook and pencil, I re-drew their yearbook photo, and added stats, like how tall they were, whether they had brown eyes or blue, who they looked like (I had a lot of Tatumn O'neals and Kristy McNichol look-alikes!) and what their likes and dislikes were. Okay, and I admit it, who their friends were and who they didn't like made the list as well.

After developing this, I sorted the girls into houses, picked their roommates and plunked them in the middle of World Championships competitions.
On some nights, my dad would let me come to his work and let me use his secretary's typewriter.  I'd get to work straight away, typing up the results of the national chamionships and using complicated mathematical equations to devise the winner. Sometimes, I wouldn't know who won until I tallied up the final scores.  Obviously, this is long before computer games and XBox Live.

Many years later (like thirty), my husband and I went on a trip to Scotland. Inside a used children's bookstore, I found a set of Mandy for Girls. I hadn't seen these books since I was ten and they brought back many memories. After walking around all day carrying my stack of memories, and watching boarding school girls parade by in their uniforms...I decided. I'd write a story about my girls. Wasn't sure what it would be about, but as soon as I got home, I joined SCBWI and pounded out a first draft.

Do you have a story that has lived in your heart for years? Maybe it's time for you to write it down.


  1. How exciting for you! My youngest son is nine he draws and writes stories. He talks about his plans for these stories when he is older. Good luck with your dream. Go for it!

  2. Wow, this is so neat that you did this. Thank you for sharing.
    Very inspiring!


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