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A Writer’s Journey

IRONTON — If someone could ever be the standard-bearer for determination, dedication and never giving up on a dream, author Wendy Mass would be the obvious choice.

In a speech that could have doubled as a pep-talk, the award-winning author told those in attendance about her extensive journey from library junkie to aspiring writer to published author. A journey Mass said could never have happened if not for perseverance and persistence.

The New Jersey native, whose books are geared towards adolescents, spoke Wednesday to students and faculty at Ohio University Southern promoting her recently-released novel “11 Birthdays”. The book signing was sponsored by the university’s English department.

A writer most of her life, Mass, 42, spoke first on her inspirational voyage to become published and then on the growing list of novels she has penned. “11 Birthdays” is Mass’ ninth fiction piece and 18th overall since her first novel in 1996.

Her key: Learn as much as you can about a wide variety of topics.

“I wanted to write about interesting things, so I needed to experience interesting things,” Mass said while detailing several of her “interesting things” such as travels to a top of a volcano, to America’s oldest tree in Oklahoma and to the world’s largest McDonalds in Orlando, Fla.

Following graduation from Tufts University in Medford, Mass. and with several manuscripts under her belt, Mass began the often discouraging journey of finding a publisher. That’s where her undying resolve came to the rescue in receiving rejection letter after rejection letter.

“One thing I was taught was perseverance and the value of what you want to do and never giving up,” said Mass who always wanted to be a writer despite her parents wishes of a nine-to-five position at an insurance company.

And the reminder about her constant rebuffs – a handmade scroll of the more than 100 rejection letters she received from dozens of publishers dating back to 1992. Rolled out on the floor of the Spriggs Auditorium, the laminated list extended more than 30 yards.

However, despite saving every single rejection letter, Mass joked with students that the letter she waited years for — an acceptance letter – was lost. Mass is currently under contract with publishing house Little, Brown and Company, which also publishes the highly successful Twilight series.

Masses’ most successful book to date is “A Mango Shaped Space” which won The Schneider Family Book Award in 2003. The novel introduces the readers to a 13-year-old girl living with synesthesia – a rare subjective sensation or sense (as of color) condition other than the one (as of sound) being stimulated and her deceased grandfather’s cat named Mango.

The root of the novel focuses on the girl’s synesthesia that causes problems in school, with friends and even her parents while confiding with a boy inflicted with the same condition.

Another of Mass’ popular novels is “Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life” released in 2008. The novel focuses on a teen who is devoted to time travel so he can go back in time five years and rescue his deceased father from the car crash that took his life.

The novel became such a hit for Mass that Julia Louis-Dreyfus of “Seinfeld and New Adventures” of Old Christine fame is in the process of optioning the rights to the book for a possible movie.

Mass currently lives with her husband Mike and twins Griffin and Chloe. Her next novel, “Finally”, is due in 2010.