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Summer Beth

Born and raised in Piqua, Ohio, writing has always been a passion for Summer Beth. At a very young age Summer and her twin sister would spend hours writing to see who could come up with the better short story. In fact, talk of becoming an author began when she was just six years old. Born with physical limitations which have bound her to a chair, Summer has overcome many obstacles in life where writing became a positive way to deal. Unfortunately, her creative writing had to be put on hold while she attended college and then graduate school where she pursued her other passion; helping others. Recently receiving her Master's in Clinical Psychology, she finally has time to focus on her writing. As you'll see from her short "Dear Mary", Summer often sets a dark and serious tone in her stories. She enjoys writing about real-life issues and is known for writing on the most difficult topics. Give her story a read and don't hesitate to find her on Facebook (facebook.com/summer.beth.1) and Twitter (summer_beth).

Story: Dear Mary

Interview

Each week authors will be given a new question to answer which will lend additional insight into their story and writing process. Do you have a question you'd like to see the authors answer? Tweet it to @aNextAuthor!

Q:
What is the best writing advice you've ever heard?
A:
In the end, make the reader think.
Q:
When you start a new story do you prepare an outline in advance or do you just jump right in?
A:
I almost always prepare at least a mental outline of each of my stories. Doing so helps me stay focused on what's most important in a story and the main thing I want the reader to take away.
Q:
How do you deal with writing criticism, apart from just ignoring it?
A:
Criticism can only help an author. It is both needed and beneficial. I see honest criticism as a way to enhance my stories for the better. When it comes to criticism, nothing is ever perfect, and there's always room for improvement.
Q:
America's Next Author has been running for almost 8 weeks. If you could re-submit now, would you change anything about your story?
A:
Nothing big, just minor editing issues with the past/present tense. I also wrote this same story from Mary's POV which I would have liked to have somehow added in.

Reviews

MattBird

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Wow! What a great read, having had bad experiences in school, this is something I can totally relate to! You have a fantastic future in writing and I know for sure I'll be first in line to buy your books! I can't wait to see what the future has in store for such a talented writer as yourself!

Colleen Raymond

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Summer, as I read through some of the stories in this contest, I often find myself scrolling through large sections of text because they do not always hold my interest. However, this was not the case with "Dear Mary." I found it to be incredibly compelling. It was such an interesting idea to write from the perspective of the bully and to get a deep sense of her motivation. I taught high school English for 5 years, so I often witnessed first hand the shallow maliciousness of teenagers who would stoop to any amount of cruelty to fit in. I feel that your story really captured the peril of both the bully and the child being bullied. I think the emotions were well conveyed and pretty spot-on. As far as any criticism (in the interest of being helpful), I'm hard pressed to think of anything major. I thought perhaps you could spare a few lines to give a physical description of Ashley. Also, while a lot of bullying does go unnoticed, I thought maybe if they were caught in the act even once (but persisted in bullying Mary) it may show how vicious of a cycle it is as well as make the situation a little more realistic; it's a little difficult to imagine that no responsible adult ever saw any of these things happening. As I said though, these are pretty minor things. I really enjoyed your story, and I think your writing is grammatically much cleaner than most I've read. Thanks for a great read! If you get a chance to write another review, my story is "Vanessa and the Milkman."

Renee Rose

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i was bullied in school, so i know how Mary felt. Powerful story! I would change the phrase 'my girls' to something else, mabye use different phrases to describe Ashleys friends. All in all, a great story that gets thinking in the end!

Mike Gasaway

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Loved hearing this from the bully's perspective. Her change in emotion rung through and made for a powerful narrative. Your vivid imagery propels your work to another level.

Deepscribbler

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Interesting. I feel her longing and regret. You tie the beginning and the end very well. I wondered, at first, how the weather connected with the story but right at the end I nodded and smiled. Very well done. If you have time, take a peek at my work 'He who finds a wild cat' and leave a word or two :) Thanks.

USNessie

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It was so powerful, hearing the story from the bully's POV. Knowing the differences between what is going on in her head and what actions she takes is enlightening. Very moving.

Tamy Burns

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This was a great read. I love the fact that you chose the point of view of the bully. And, that bully's come in all forms and dish out all kinds of things.

My Write Side SAM

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I know absolutely nothing about this girl--none of her background, none of her story, just this moment in high school. It didn't matter though, I felt just as strongly about her as I did Mary Margaret. Both characters were developed very well, and the story played out like a movie in my head. Very well written.

Addai Agyemang

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Wow. Your story was really touching I absolutely loved it. I loved the framing and the repetition you did of Dear Mary and I love how you took the unconventional method of righting from the bully's point of view. I could feel the feeling of regret emitting from the narrator and overall it was really heartfelt. The only thing I had a problem with was when Mary uttered 'you'll be sorry' to the girls. I didn't have a probable because she said that, it just felt like when she said that she was going to take her life not because the girls had made it so miserable but because she wanted revenge against them. However, later on when you go on to explain Mary's circumstance this is cleared up. Excellent story and if you have the time could you please review my story "The Freedom of the Stars" thanks. :)

JulieNoble38

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I love stories that reflect reality and it is good to hear it from the bully's point of view. It was very painful in places, especially as I've known children like Mary, and seen their frightened faces. I think fiction like this is sends an important message and agree with AL Motsy about mandatory reading. You will find if you have time to read my story, 'Taking Leave', that we have similar feelings about using our writings to give insights into some difficult subjects. Good luck in the competition! I looked for you on Facebook, hopefully I will find you to hear more about your ethos!

Margaret Alice

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Very interesting that you chose the point of view of the bully. Life is precious and I think your story captured that concept well. Could you review my story, "The Fate Continuum?". Good Luck!

Peter Lahanas

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Very touching and well written. The sad reality of an age old problem within society.

Busyfingers

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This was brilliant. Gave me an eerie feeling. Written from the bully's perspective, it was an interesting POV. I found myself feeling sorry for the bully, at the tug of war between wanting to be popular and wanting to be nice to Mary. Ashley showed understanding and compassion too late, and for that even, we felt sorry for her. It was a poignant piece, well done. A few typos, but easily overlooked. Please take some time out to read my story, Double Take, and tell me what you think.

Alyce Wilson

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This story does a great job of capturing bullying from the bullies' point of view. I like how it turns, and while that turn is somewhat unexpected, it's also believable. My only suggestion would be that, aside from showing that the protagonist does have some feelings about what she's doing, it would also be good to show some of her own insecurities that led to her behavior. Nice job!

Megs

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Loved reading this, not only did I feel sorry for 'Mary' but in a way I also felt bad in the end for Ashley.

Scarlet

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You already know how I feel about your writing, I think you are amazing and this story shows how truly talented you are. Even if you don't win this thing, don't give up your dream. You were born to write!

JackandJill

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Well done! When can I read more?!

SJ

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aww, this story really touched me summer! i thought you did a great job with showing emotion in every sentence. keep writing!

Kellene Killmer

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This is one of the best coming-of-age stories I have read, partially because we find our antagonist and protagonist in the same person, which I think reflects the reality and duality of adolescence. Kids are so often their own worst enemy, and nothing in high school is black and white. No matter how much Ashley wanted to do the right thing, fear is a powerful motivator, and she has the result of unpopularity right in front of her. She either had to participate in tormenting Mary, or face the prospect of becoming Mary. While the subject isn't new, it is timely and topical, and refreshingly honest from the bully's point of view. I think it is very true-to-life and well-constructed.

D.Roth

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Really good story, Summer! Very deep and engrossing. It's a shame, it seems, that Mary's tale is becoming more and more common these days. Excellent work!

A L Motsy

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I can only add my praise along with the others who have leaft thier comments. It is a beautifully written story and one I would love to see in schools. It should be a madatory read for all students.

Jill Amber Menard

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This story was very captivating, emotional and powerful. I can feel Ashley's growing guilt and how it is in conflict with the never-ending desire to fit in, to be popular, to be liked by the cool boys. I was able to identify with Mary as I was the kid who had mismatched clothes and glasses that were too big - and believe me, I got my share of being picked on!! You captured the essence of bullying really well and I would love to read more of your work. My story, "The Odd Duck" is kind of similar (about a young girl who doesn't fit in). Keep up the good work!!

incitetowrite

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I really like the fact that you chose to discuss bullying (and bullycide) from the mean girl's point-of-view. Often, we only hear the voice of the victim. Perhaps if we heard from more bullies, we could figure out how to deal with the issue better. I love that it ended with the reading of the letter. Great job!

MakeYourOwnLuck

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This story had me drawn in from beginning to end. Aside from the very few grammatical errors, this piece was well-written and with such creativity. Well done!

anonymous

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I liked this story, and I thought that the topic is something that is very relevant. It is, unfortunately, something that happens too often. I like that Mary was what I think of as a stereotypical bully victim. Also, as soon as you called the girls the "fab four", my mind went right to Mean Girls and the plastics. Although, right from the beginning, I figured that Marry would kill herself so it was really obvious to me and nothing caught me by surprise. I did really like that you ended the story with the note that she wrote for Mary. It's true that most of the time people realize too late that they are hurting people in a situation like that, and I am glad you didn't have a happy ending.

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DECEMBER 18th, 2012
The winner of America's Next Author 2012 has been announced! [...]
DECEMBER 7th, 2012
Questions and answers about the Battle Round. [...]
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America's Next Author is the first social writing contest. Friends, family, fans and publishing industry experts will read authors' submissions and nominate their favorite to be America's next major author. Everyone can participate!