Leah Cypess likes that her four kids (ages 6, 10, 12 and 15) are the right age for her books. “Once I have a first draft, I read it to them, and they see what they like, what they don’t like, and what gets them confused,” says the Silver Spring author. “I have in-house readers right here. I get to combine my work life and my family life, which I love.” Her latest middle grade fantasy book, Glass Slippers (Delacorte Press, April 2022), is the second in the “Sisters Ever After” series of six she’s writing about the antics of younger sisters of fairy tale characters. This volume focuses on Tirza, one of Cinderella’s younger stepsisters. During the pandemic, with her children learning remotely from home, Cypess often worked in 15-minute increments here and there, sometimes taking her notebook to a playground or Brookside Gardens to write. 

Potomac journalist David Hoffman says he has long been fascinated by the courageous life of Cuban democracy activist Oswaldo Payá and his 2012 death in a suspicious car accident. Give Me Liberty: The True Story of Oswaldo Payá and His Daring Quest for a Free Cuba (Simon & Schuster, June 2022) is a biography chronicling the door-to-door campaign by Payá to get Cubans to sign a petition demanding free elections, free speech, free enterprise and freedom for political prisoners. “He asked them, ‘Be for real. Stand up and be counted here for democracy,’ ” says Hoffman, a contributing editor at The Washington Post. “To do these things in a dictatorship, that’s tough. Payá succeeded at motivating people. He got 35,000 people to sign. To me, the how—how do you do that?—really tweaked my curiosity.”

Mindy Carlson says it was at a writers retreat in Maine that she worked on an outline for her book and met friends who gave her the support to finish it. “We formed kind of a virtual writing and accountability group,” says the author, who lives in Kensington and is the administrative head of Rock Creek Montessori School in Silver Spring. “We would send each other how many words we’ve written that day via text. It really helped.” Carlson’s debut novel, Her Dying Day (Crooked Lane Books, June 2022), is about the disappearance of a mystery author. She says she got the idea after reading an article about Agatha Christie going missing in the 1920s (the author was later found). Carlson crafted a tale of suspense centered on a search for what happened to a writer who never returned. 

The Great World of Days (Day Eight Books, March 2022) features 56 poems by writers from Washington, D.C., Virginia and Maryland, including Anne Becker of Takoma Park, who coedited the book. For the anthology, she worked with Gregory Luce of Arlington, Virginia, and Jeffrey Banks of D.C. to select the best work published in the online poetry magazine Bourgeon from 2007 to 2021. “So many people come and go in Washington, and they come from all different places,” Becker says. “I think that adds to the diversity of the poems.” The book includes “The Shallows” by Jody Bolz of Bethesda, “Suitcase” by Anne Dykers of Silver Spring, and Becker’s “Lament for Bob Dylan,” about the musician who she says was one of her muses beginning when she was a teenager.

This story appears in the July/August 2022 issue of Bethesda Magazine.

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