A young ballerina crippled by anxiety finds healing in the world of competitive Irish dancing.  
Florencia del Lago’s immigrant parents raised her to be a go-getter, an over achiever. So of course everyone was thrilled when she landed the part of Clara in The Nutcracker. But on opening night, Florencia suffered an anxiety attack and couldn’t perform. Now, eight months later, Florencia’s anxiety rules her life. Her only consolation is that she still has her best friend in the whole world—Selena. 
For her twelfth birthday, Florencia agrees to a shopping trip to the mall with Selena and a group of girls. When Selena is caught shoplifting and blames Florencia for it, Florencia’s world comes crashing down. 
Betrayed, friendless, and heartbroken, Florencia sees an Irish dance competition. The music ignites a determination buried deep inside. She enrolls in lessons and finds she’s actually pretty good at this Irish dance thing—especially for a Latina with not a drop of Irish blood. She’s so good, she might even have a chance to make it to the Irish Dance World Cup.
Plagued by her anxiety, her jealous ex-best friend, and the memory of the fateful Nutcracker, Florencia sets out to conquer her self-doubt. With the help of an Instagram celebrity, a boy fighting for the Irish Dance World Championship, a rescued cat with a crooked neck, and a pen-pal who lives in a rest home, Florencia will fight to vanquish her fears, forgive her enemy, and, hopefully, believe in friendship again. 
A Chair of Every Color, a middle grade novel, is finished at 57,000 words. I’m a member of SCBWI and a contributor of the Utah Children’s Writers blog. My two daughters are Irish dancers and, like me, children of many cultures. 
Thanks for your time and consideration. 
Yamile Saied Méndez

250 Words:

 I was once a star. A shooting star. Una estrella fugaz, like Mamá said in Spanish. I was bright and beautiful and high, high in the sky. 
Like all shooting stars, I fell down. To reality. When I landed, well, I was just a piece of rock. Tiny, bumpy, unimportant. 
When I was practicing to be Clara in the Nutcracker, I loved the promise of the spotlight, the sound of clapping hands, the thrill of pushing myself just a little more to make a perfect arabesque or pirouette. 
The spotlight, the clapping, the pushing myself must have been a little too much. I didn’t last three minutes on the stage that opening night eight months ago, that terrible December 20th.
I froze. Forgot my steps. Failed everyone. 
I fell so fast, no one had time to make a wish. Not even me. I didnt even dare dream that Id dance again, that Id ever step on a stage.  
These days I didn’t wish for much. 
When Mamá asked me whatever I wanted for my twelfth birthday, I didnt think twice. 
All I wanted, all I thought I could handle, was a late-night with my best friend, Selena. Shed saved the night and the Nutcracker. She made a perfect Clara. 
My friend, a movie, pizza and ice-cream, and me. At home. 
Simple as that.
When she heard me, Mamá choked on her chamomile tea. She gasped as if I had asked for a pony and the moon.

Filed: The Voice

20 responses to “Entry for the Voice: A Chair of Every Color”

  1. Copil Yanez says:

    Love the potential for culture clash and the heartbreak of a best friend betraying you. The feels! Good luck in the contest!

  2. Kathleen says:

    I love this premise. Since this is a public blog, I'd take off your email and phone number though! Good luck!

  3. Fifi Islaih says:

    OMG! This story sounds so GOOD!! I wish you the best of luck with it! (:

  4. Good luck in the contest!

  5. Beautiful! Good luck with this one!

  6. Claudia says:

    Whoa, we need more Latina-centric books in the literary world. This one sounds beautiful. I love the whole ballerina fall from grace theme. Anxiety is a huge issue nowadays, so I like when people are talking (and in this case) writing about it.

  7. Naomi Hughes says:

    You've got a really cool theme, and I love the multi-cultural aspect of it (and I'm always a sucker for Irish anything, of course). Plus, your voice in the first 250 is lovely! Good luck!

  8. Mara Rae says:

    really unique premise and i love the first 250! good luck in the contest 🙂

  9. Hi, Yamile! I'd really like to see the first couple of chapters. Could you e-mail them as an attachment to kvandolzer(at)gmail(dot)com?

  10. I WANT YOU! Krista and I both love your concept! I mentor Latino teenagers and my last YA sci-fi novel had a Mexican-American heroine, so any time I see a pitch with a Latino character I perk up a bit. Plus, Krista has sold 3 MG books and really knows what works. That said, we think you might be starting in the wrong place, so we want to work with you on that. But we think your entry has a lot of promise, so as long as you're open to some revisions we would love to have you on Team Liz & Krista aka Team Rock Star!

  11. Yamile says:

    This email made my year!!! Thank you so much for your faith in me! I already have some ideas. Anxiously waiting for yours and Krista's 🙂

  12. Yamile says:

    Thank you for the support!

  13. Yamile says:

    Thank you, Naomi! Your words mean a lot!

  14. Yamile says:

    Yes! #WENEEDDIVERSEBOOKS for sure!

  15. Yamile says:

    Thank you!

  16. Yamile says:

    Thank you for the updates, Annette!

  17. Yamile says:

    Your suggestion was spot-on! thank you so much for your support!

  18. Yamile says:

    You're a rockstar! You supported every single participant! I know I'll hear great things from you. Keep on going!

  19. WELCOME TO TEAM ROCK STAR! Please email your query and first chapter (as an attachment) to and also CC We can't wait to work with you!

Yamile Saied Mendez

Yamile (sha-MEE-lay) Saied Méndez is a fútbol-obsessed Argentine-American, Picture Book, Middle Grade, and Young Adult author.

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