Friday, November 13, 2009

A Prologue


“Well you’ve got to admit, the girl has sparkle.” Mama thought as she backed down the driveway.

Sparkle was Mama’s word for when someone seemed to shine with pride and happiness and she was right. Anyone who knew Clementine would agree that she has never looked as good as she looks today. Both Mama and Clementine looked beautiful. That’s because today is an extra special day.

The two ladies turned onto Walnut Street and headed west. As they passed the library, Mama realized that it had been years since she had taken Clementine there.

“Actually,” She thought after double-checking the math. “It’s been decades” Mama felt a bit guilty, but also knew that just because she had known Clementine for the past forty years, did not mean they were always friends.

Even on the day they met for the very first time, Mama made it no secret that she wanted nothing to do with Clementine.

“But honey,” Her father pleaded, “she was born the same year as you” He was tying to convince Mama to look past the obvious, but the obvious was just too big to miss.

That’s because Clementine had the biggest rear end Mama had ever seen. Not only was it ridiculously large, it was also quite possibly, the smelliest rear end in all of Walnut County.

If Clementine was born the same year as Mama. that meant that she had just turned nineteen. For a young lady like Mama, nineteen was a perfectly respectable age, but there was nothing respectable about being nineteen years old when you are a farm truck that smelled like wet goat and gasoline.

This truck was Mama’s birthday gift, and her father was very proud to have painted it special just for her. He had remembered how his daughter had loved her bright orange rain boots when she was little and unfortunately assumed that orange was still her favorite color.

With the brightest orange paint he could find and a brush, He painted the old farm truck from bumper to bumper. Unfortunately for Mama; her father had never been very good at painting. Unfortunately for her father; Mama had never been very good at hiding how she felt.

“I can’t drive this” Mama said in a panic. “It looks like a short school bus.”

Her mother smiled and said “But Honey that’s a good thing. School busses are very safe and you know how we like it when our baby is safe.”

“You don’t understand.” Mama said, and she was right. Her parents did not understand. “The only thing worse than your first day at a new school was showing up to that new school in a bright orange short bus.”

After three hours of arguing, two hours of begging, and one full day of what her mother had called “The Silent Treatment,” Mama climbed into the truck. Thirty seconds after that, she knew her social life was over.

Mama had discovered that every time the truck bounced, the driver’s side seat would “toot”. Normally, a “toot” like this would have made Mama giggle, but she was not giggling that day. The way she saw it, her parents were forcing her into the world’s only farting four-wheel drive, Mama was not happy, not happy at all.

But that was forty years ago and as we all know, bad feelings and bright orange paint fade with time. Today, Mama loves that old truck. She calls her Clementine and considers her part of the family. The two girls are connected to each other and it is only right that they be together on this extra special day.

It was one year ago today that both Mama and Clementine lost the only thing they had in common.

One year ago today Papa passed away.

Mama knew that papa had dreamt of a day like today, when his two girls could go for a long drive together. She only wished Papa could be with them. She wished he could see Clementine shinning in the sun.

When Papa passed away last year, Clementine was still covered in rust and in no condition for a drive. Of course, neither was Mama. It had been a very hard time for Mama, and she was sure nothing good would ever happen to her again, but Mama was wrong.

Just one week after she lost Papa, something very good happened to Mama, Something very good indeed.

It started with a knock about half way up the screen door. That knock was quickly followed by small giggles.  When Mama came to unlatch the door her three grandchildren were waiting for her. Ronny, Samantha, and Jack were lined up and smiling. They were ready for their salt-water taffy.

This was part of a long standing family tradition. The first thing anyone did at Papa’s house was find Mama and give her a big hug and kiss. If Mama was happy with the quality of your hug and kiss, you would get to pick out a piece of salt water taffy from the basket by the door.

“Your never too old for taffy or kisses” Mama said to her two middle aged sons. They were the last two in line to give their hugs, kisses, and of course get their taffies.

Things had finally calmed down since the commotion of Papa’s death, and Mama was happy to have her children home. They had gathered to help Mama sort through the back shed and the detached garage.

Papa’s parents had grown up during the times when nothing was wasted and Papa had grown up with that same rule. When he and Mama got married, they continued to save together. They saved anything they thought might be useful in the future.

         Their sons however, thought Mama and Papa had saved too much. They considered all of that stuff to be junk. Anytime one of them was sent to the shed or garage, they would come back complaining about the pack rats.

No one was complaining today though. Today was about helping Mama. Everyone had their work boots on and was standing in the driveway ready to get to work.

Mama pushed the two buttons that swung up the two garage doors, and everyone was stunned. In one side of the garage was the old farm truck. It was covered in rust, missing all of it’s windows, and leaning a bit to the left. In the other side of the garage was the most amazingly huge pile of junk any of them had ever seen.

There were snow skis and tennis racquets all made of wood. There was a canoe filled with snow tires and buckets that had been filled with boxes that had been filled with bolts. There was a washing machine that was the same color as guacamole, and a big bag of kitty litter even though the entire family was allergic to cats.

There were boxes stacked to the ceiling and junk from wall to wall. The garage looked like a museum, a workshop, and a landfill all squeezed up into one.
Standing in front of it all, waving a jolly hello was a life size light up Santa Clause. He was smiling, big, and happy and he was obviously unaware of the impending avalanche behind him.

Someone said “Daylights Burning Boys.” Just like Papa used to say, and everyone started in.

The first thing to do was to haul the old farm truck off to the junkyard, but they had to get it out of the garage first. Almost as a joke, one of the men climbed into the truck and pumped the gas. When he turned the key the most amazing thing happened.

The truck started right up. It sounded good and strong and it made everyone laugh and smile with surprise. Even Santa Clause was smiling.

The truck was put into gear and pulled out into the sunlight. It may have sounded like a dream, but it looked like a nightmare. Every window was missing. The body was rusted so badly you could see through it in places, and the passenger side fender was missing.

 It was obvious that Papa had done an excellent job restoring what was under the hood and between the wheels. He had just run out of time before he could fix the way the truck looked. It would not be that hard to finish the truck if they all chipped in.

After diving into and under the truck a list was made. It was a list of everything there was left to do on the truck. It was a long list but not an impossible one. Papa had done most of the hard work himself.

As the adults huddled over the list, someone said “It sure would be nice to do this for Mama”

 “Lets do it” another voice agreed.

There was a vote and a decision was made. They called it “the Sunday plan.” The family would gather at Papa’s house every Sunday to work on the old truck. They would do it for Mama.

Ronny, who was the oldest of the grandchildren, was the only person who was not happy about the Sunday plan. Ronny was stuck between too old, and too young. He was old enough to help with big projects, but his parents thought he was too young to be trusted with anything important. He wanted to help restore the old truck, but knew he would never be asked to join in. He and his little cousins, Samantha and Jack, would be stuck at Papa’s house every Sunday with nothing to do.

Ronny was upset about the Sunday plan for another reason too. He was upset because Sundays used to be Ronny’s favorite day of the week.

On Sundays, Ronny would ride his bike from his house to Papa’s house to play “AND THEN”. That was Papa and Ronny’s favorite game. They would play it for hours and hours while Papa worked on the old truck.

Papa always started the game by asking Ronny a question. It would be something like “What did you learn in school this week?” but it was a trick.

Just as Ronny would start to answer the question, Papa would interrupt him.

Papa would say “AND THEN” in a loud and dramatic voice, and then say something like “your teacher turned into a bull frog and hopped up onto the overhead projector”

The only rule to the game was that each “AND THEN” had to be even sillier than the one before.

Ronny and Papa would tell each other stories about dragons, or space men, or little farm animals with big city jobs. The stories were always very silly and never about anything real.

Now, Papa was gone, and silliness was gone too. Ronny had realized that his Sundays were ruined. He missed Papa, and he was going to have to find a new favorite day of the week.

Ronny wandered away from the garage and into the back yard. The only thing he could think to do was sit on the back porch and wait for the day to be over.  This was something he found himself doing a lot lately. For Ronny, the more days that were over, the better.

Ronny was tired of being a kid, and had spent the last couple of months waiting for a growth spurt that, in his opinion, was already 2 years overdue. His height didn’t matter that much here, where the only other kids were his little cousins. But at Walnut Elementary, He was a foot shorter that every other boy in his class.

Samantha, whose favorite day of the week was Thursday, was thrilled about the Sunday plan. So was Jack, whose favorite day of the week was Saturday. This was not just because of Mama’s salt-water taffy either. Samantha and Jack both looked up to Ronny. He was the only big kid they knew and spending Sundays at Papa’s house meant spending Sundays with Ronny.

This Sunday however, Ronny just wanted to be alone. He was sitting on the edge of the back porch kicking at the dandelions when Mama saw him. She was looking through the kitchen window. She saw Samantha and Jack kicking dandelions too. They always wanted to be doing whatever Ronny was doing.

She knew something was wrong, but also knew better than to go out and ask what it was. Instead she did what she had done for years. She put a pot of water on the stove.

Mama had a special recipe for situations like this. The first thing she needed was her special dollar store mugs. They were bright blue and each had a name on it. There was a Papa mug, a Mama mug, a Ronald mug, a Samantha mug, and a Jack mug. Mama had painted the names on with white puffy paint.

The five blue mugs hung on five hooks. Papa and Ronny had installed the hooks a few years ago. They were under the cupboard by the sink, just where Mama wanted them. Those five mugs were special. They were only to be used for “Mama-chocolate”

Other than the mugs and the water on the stove, Mama needed to gather 3 spoons, some instant hot chocolate mix, and a whole lot of marshmallows. The marshmallows were very important. You had to have a very large bag of very small marshmallows, and the marshmallows had to be frozen.

Once the water started to whistle, Samantha and Jack came running. They were already in their chairs when Ronny finally came through the door. He had his hands in his pockets and his eyes on the floor, but he still managed to give Mama a quick smile as he sat in his chair. Mama smiled back. She knew that no one could resist a hot mug of “Mama-chocolate”

Mama poured three mugs half full of hot water and added an ice cube to two of them. She stirred in the hot chocolate mix and grabbed the big bag of frozen marshmallows. The magic of “Mama-chocolate” was in the marshmallows.

First Mama would ask you how many marshmallows you wanted. Then she would repeat the number back to you. She wanted to be sure she was right, but Mama was never right. Mama would always “accidentally” double the number of marshmallows you asked for.

Ronny said “Five marshmallows please.” and got ten.

Samantha asked “May I please have seven?” She got fourteen.

Jack smiled extra big and said “Twenty.” but Mama just looked back at him and raised one eyebrow.

Jack soon realized he was not going to get any marshmallows if he did not change his request.

He smiled big again and said “Twenty please.” Mama obliged and filled his mug to the very top.

Mama filled the “Mama Mug” with tea and joined the children at the table. She looked around and said “Well Sundays in this house are supposed to be special.” Samantha and Jack looked up from their mugs. They each had bright eyes and a Mama-chocolate mustache.

Ronny did not look up at Mama. He was busy picking at the “A” the “L” and the “D” on his mug. He thought Ronald was a kids name and had spent the last few trips to Papa’s house picking at the letters.

He wanted the mug to say Ron, but he wanted to make it look as though the dishwasher was doing the damage. He did not know that Mama was extra carful with those mugs, and washed them by hand.

“We keep our Sundays reserved” Mama continued, pretending not to notice Ronny’s picking. “We call them Fundays at this house, but it doesn’t look like you three are having any fun at all”

Samantha and Jack looked at Ronny who finally shrugged his shoulders and said “We’re Bored”

“Well, Mama replied, “we don’t keep the fun out were the neighbors can see it. We keep it hidden”

“Where do you keep it Mama?” Jack asked.

“Yeah Mama” Samantha added, “Can you tell us if we whisper?”

Mama smiled “We don’t have to whisper” she said “Fun is all over the place. You just can’t see it unless you are looking for it.”

She lifted her head, looked out the back window and said “In fact, I can see it right now” The two younger children turned to see what Mama was looking at, but Ronny did not. He knew that there was nothing there.

“Do you know what I see when I look at that folding chair and am looking for fun,” Mama asked.

Samantha and Jacks eyes got big with wonder.

Mama said “I see the mighty thrown of Back Porchland”

Samantha and Jack’s jaws dropped but Ronny’s eyes just rolled back to his Co-co.

Mama saw Ronny’s reaction and puffed herself up. She proclaimed, “Go forth my knights and defend my thrown. It is being attacked by the rebel grasshoppers and their dragonfly army”.

Samantha and Jack abandoned their Mama-Chocolate, hopped down from the table, and ran for the screen door. They shouted “Charge” as it slammed behind them.

Ronny got up too. But he was dragging his feet.

“Those two need your help Ronny” Mama said as she put her hands on his shoulders.

“I know Papa taught you how to use your imagination,” She added “but he is not going to be here to teach them.”

Ronny looked up at Mama. She said “Papa used to tell me that you had the best imagination of anyone he had ever met. He told me once that you turned a cardboard box into an airplane and then flew that plane to the moon.” Then she asked “Is that True?”

Ronny nodded and looked away. “Samantha and Jack don’t know how to think like that” Mama said, “ You have to show them how.”

Then Mama asked Ronny “Do you remember what Papa used to call it when you would think so hard your tongue would stick out?”

“Yeah” Ronny said, avoiding Mama’s eyes

“Well” Mama said “Go show those two how to think like that. Go show them how to look at things with their Imagination Eyes”

Ronny smiled big and looked up at Mama. He didn’t know she knew about his Imagination Eyes. He liked that she did.

Ronny started for the screen door but then he stopped “Mama?” He said.

“Yeah Ronny?”

“Next time you make Mama-Chocolate” Ronny paused “I don’t need any marshmallows. I think I like it just like Papa liked it. Straight up”

“OK Ronny” Mama Said “Straight up it is. Now go forth and remove your cousins from the thrown of the high and mighty Mama before she decides to throw them into the moat”

Ronny smiled at Mama’s joke and turned to look out the window. Sure enough, Samantha and Jack were both squeezed into the folding chair. They were arguing over who was going to be king of Back Porchland.

Ronny rolled his eyes and shouted “Silly Knaves.” He smiled back at Mama and then ran to the recue. As the screen door slammed behind him, Mama gathered the half empty mugs from the table.

As she washed the mugs in the kitchen sink, Mama watched through the kitchen window. Her two boys and their wives were in the driveway. They were huddled around a big box marked ‘Clementine’s Parts”
Her 3 grandchildren were on the path to the back shed. They were huddled around a loose paving stone. They had flipped it over and were collecting Roly-Poly bugs. They were going to use the bugs as spies in the battle for Back Porchland.

As Mama hung the blue mugs onto their hooks to dry, she saw the unused Papa mug hanging in it’s spot. Then she looked past the mug and saw her entire family. They were playing together in the sunshine. Mama Smiled softly. She knew that Sundays were about to become her new favorite day of the week, and that was something very good indeed.

Thanks 4 Reading

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


It has been a very good week. I am slowly turning the chapter 1 outline into the actual words that might be in the book. It is exciting and challenging and I feel like it is going well. I am excited to share it with you. so keep your eyes open. It will be ready soon.

My question is about my first draft. Is there value in keeping the first drafts, or any drafts I create along the way?

My first drafts will always be hand written and covered in changes, It is kinda neat to look at, but I am not emotionally attached to it and it will soon be on the computer so that it can be edited and shared easily.

I feel like my work is already miles ahead of that draft.
Will I ever need it in the future?

Thanks 4 Reading

Friday, November 6, 2009

Letter 2 the Editor

It was suggested that I separate my bullet points into groups and have one group per illustration.

The thought is that this would help all of us visualize the pictures that will be surrounding the text.

What do you guys think about that?

My thought was to write a story that could stand alone, with or without Illustrations. Then break the story up and illustrate it, but there is a good point in this suggestion that I had not considered.  

I really want this book to be beautiful, but I also want each element to further the story, not just sit next to it looking pretty.

If I decide to mentally illustrate it as I go, will I start to write for the illustrations?

Is that bad?

Should the story be able to stand alone (just text)? 

Can I rely on the pictures to fill in some of the details, keeping the chapters short and sweet.

Other than quick rough sketches, I do not want to actually illustrate the book until it is written, thoroughly edited, and strong enough to send to a publisher.  I want to use Illustrating as a reward for reaching those goals. Also, I may have to go back to school to improve my skills and that is something we cant afford right now.

It has been a slow week for writing, I need to get my butt back in gear.

Thanks 4 Reading

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Chapter 1

This is the first draft of a first chapter. I am excited to have you guys to share this with. Thank You.

·      Mama and Clementine are driving down the driveway and turn onto Walnut for the first time in decades.
·      She can still handle the stick shift like a pro and remembers learning how to drive this beast on her 19th birthday.
·      It was a gift from her parents, but she was not happy about it.
·      “It was born the same year as you were” Father Said “1950”
·      For a young lady, 19 was a perfectly respectable age, there was nothing respectable about a 19 year old farm truck.
·       It looked like a short school bus, It billowed smelly smoke out its read end, and its driver side seat made a very convincing fart sound every time the truck bounced.
·      Her father had tried to make it better by painting the truck Mama’s favorite color.
·      He painted it bright orange with house paint and a brush.
·      Father was not a very good painter.
·      The only thing worse than driving a short bus on your first day at a new school, was driving a bright orange short bus on your first day at a new school.
·      37 years later and Clementine is that same bright orange, only Mama is no longer embarrassed.
·      Today, Mama is proud.
·      No one thought Clementine would ever be this color again
·      But right after something very bad happened to mama, something very good happened. Something very good indeed.
·      Mama is not only a Mother and a Grandmother, Mama is also a wife.
·      When her husband passed away a year ago, She was sure nothing good would ever happen to her again.
·      But Mama was wrong, because Just one week after Papa passed, she heard a combination of tapping and giggling at the screen door.
·      Her three grandchildren, Ronny, Samantha and Jack were waiting to give her a hug and kiss in exchange for a piece of salt water taffy.
·      This was an Underbilt family tradition.
·      Even the grandchildren’s parents, Mama’s own children still took part.
·      Everyone had come to Papa’s house to help Mama sort through the back shed and the detached garage.
·      Both Papa and Mama were taught by there parent to throw nothing useful away. This was a rule, and they lived by it.
·      For some reason, that lesson did not carry over to the younger generation.
·      The parents often complained that Mama and Papa were packrats.
·      They have been dreading this day for years, but had their work clothed on and were ready to go.
·      When the first garage door swung up everyone saw the amazingly huge pile of stuff that has been stored inside.
·      When the second door swung up Clementine was there, and she was defiantly not orange
·      One of the dads climbed in and turned the key.
·      Clementine started on the first crank, and she sounded good.
·      With that discovery, there was an instant change in the plan
·      The parents decided to finish the restoration of the old truck.
·      They dove into the truck making a list of everything that still needed to be done. It was a long list.
·      It is decided that the family will get together on Sundays and work on the old truck just like papa used to do.
·      Ronny was the only person who was not happy about that decision.
·      Sundays used to be Ronny’s favorite day of the week
·      Papa and he would play “And Then!” for hours and hours
·      “And Then!” was the best game ever, but starting it was a trick.
·      Papa would ask Ronny about his day, and just as Ronny would start to answer, Papa would interrupt him with a loud and dramatic “And Then!”
·      This was always followed by something ridiculous.
·      Something like “The teacher turned into bull frog and hopped up onto the overhead projector.”
·      To play the game, you had to add to this crazy the story until the other person interrupted you with there own loud and dramatic “And Then”
·      Ronny and Papa would always tell stories about dragons, or space men, or farm animals taking over the city.
·      The stories were always silly and never about anything real.
·      But now, Papa was gone and silliness like “And Then!” was gone too.
·      Ronny realized he was going to have to find a new favorite day of the week.
·      The only thing left for him to do was to sit on the back porch and wait his growth spurt, witch was already more than 2 years overdue.
·      Samantha, who’s favorite day of the week was Thursday and Jack, whose favorite day of the week was Saturday were thrilled with the idea of spending their Sundays at Papa’s house.
·      And not just because of the saltwater taffy.
·      Samantha and Jack looked up to Ronny.
·      He was the only big kid they knew.
·      But right now, Ronny wanted to be alone.
·      Ronny was sitting on the edge of the back porch kicking at the dandelions, so were Samantha and Jack.
·      Mama saw the three cousins and knew something was wrong, but also knew better than to ask.
·      Instead, she put on a pot of water and pulled out the ingredients that would make it all better.
·      The recipe was simple, The first thing you needed, were special mugs.
·      Mama picked out 5 blue mugs at the dollar store, and Papa hung 5 hooks under the cupboard by the sink.
·      Mama used white puffy paint to write Mama, Papa, Ronald, Samantha, and Jack onto the 5 mugs.
·      Those mugs were only to be used for Mama-Chocolate.
·      Other than the Mugs, you needed Hot water. Instant Hot Chocolate, and a very large bag of very small marshmallows.
·      When the water started to whistle, Samantha, and Jack running
·      They were settling into their chairs at the kitchen table when Ronny came walking in.
·      He had his hands in his pockets and his eyes on the floorboards but he still sat in his spot at the table and gave Mama a quick smile.
·      Mama knew no one could resist a mug of Mama-Chocolate.
·      She poured 3 mugs half full of hot water and dropping ice cubes into two of them.
·      She spooned in the standard amount of mix, stirred, and then started to add the marshmallows.
·      The key to a good cup of Mama-Chocolate was the marshmallows
·      Mama would ask how many marshmallows you wanted, and then pretend she misheard you.
·      She would always double the amount you said and proudly pretend it was exactly right.
·      Ronny asked for 5 marshmallows and got 10.
·      Samantha asked for 7 and got 14.
·      And Jack, as always, asked for 12 marshmallows and got as many as Mama could fit in the mug.
·      Then, as always, Jack asked for a bendy straw.
·      Mama came to the table with her own mug. This one was full of tea.
·      She sat in her chair (the only one with a cushion) and tended to her tea.
·      “Well” she said, “Sundays in this house are special.”
·      Samantha and Jack looked up, both with Mama-Chocolate Mustaches, but Ronny did not look up.
·      He had decided pick at the “A” the “L” and the “D” on his mug.
·      He wanted it to say “RON” and but wanted it look as if the dishwasher had done it.
·      “We keep Sundays reserved.” She continued. Pretending not to notice Ron’s disinterest “We call them Fundays, but it doesn’t look like you three are having any fun at all”
·      Samantha and Jack both looked at Ronny who finally said with a shrug “Were board”
·      “Well we don’t keep the fun out where the neighbors might see it.” Mama replied “We keep it hidden”
·      “Where do you keep it Mama” Jack asked
·      “Yeah Mama?” Samantha added” Can you tell us if you whisper it?”
·      Mama smiled saying “I don’t have to whisper. It’s obvious if you look for it. If fact” She lifted her head to look out the rear window “I can see it all over the back lawn right now”
·      All three children turned to see the fun, but Ronny was knew nothing was there.
·      Mama continued “When I look at that folding chair, I see the mighty thrown of Back Porchland”
·      Jack’s and Samantha’s eyes lit with excitement, but Ronny’s just rolled  away
·      Mama knew she had to push so she puffed up and proclaimed “Go forth my knights and defend my thrown against the rebel grasshoppers and their dragonfly army”.
·      Samantha and Jack hopped down and ran through the screen door shouting “CHARGE” but Ronny dragged his feet.
·      “Those two need your help Ronny” Mama said putting her hands on his shoulders “I know Papa taught you all about imagination, but he’s not here to teach them”
·      He looked up at her “Ronny, Papa used to tell me all the time about how you could turn an empty box into a biplane and then fly that plane to the moon.  Samantha and Jack don’t know how to do that. You have to show them how.”
·      Then Mama asked “Do you remember what Papa used to call it when you were thinking so hard your tongue would sneak out?”
·      “Yeah” Ronny said avoiding Mama’s eyes.
·      “Well go show them how to think like that, Go show them how to use their imagination eyes”
·      Ronny smiled big and looked at Mama. He didn’t know Mama knew about his imagination eyes. He liked that she did.
·      As he started for the screen door and said “Mama?”
·      “Yeah Ronny”
·      “Next time you make Mama-Chocolate” He paused “ I don’t need any marshmallows, I think I like it just like papa liked it, Straight Up”
·      “OK Ronny” Mama said “straight up it is,  Now go forth and remove your cousins from the thrown of High and Mighty Mama before she is forced to throw them into the moat ”
·      Ronny smiled and looked out the window, sure enough, Samantha and Jack were both squeezed into the folding chair arguing over who was going to rule Back Porchland.
·      He rolled his eyes and shouted “Silly Knaves”
·      The screen door slammed behind him.
·      Mama gathered the mugs and washed them in the sink.
·      As she dried them, she watched through the kitchen window
·      Her children were huddled around an apple box that had been marked Clementine’s Parts and her Grandchildren were huddled around a loose paving stone.
·      They had found some roly-poly bugs and were planning to use them in the battle for Back Porchland
·      As Mama hung the mugs back on there hooks, she looked past Papa’s unused mug, and saw her family together in the sunshine.
·      These Sundays were going to be full of adventure, and that was something very good indeed.

Thanks 4 Reading

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Jumbled Up Thoughts

Thank you to everyone for all of your support.

This is a process, and I fully expect to read back on these first blog posts and be embarrassed by my own ignorance. (Actually, I just wrote that so future me would stop cringing)  While I have been thinking about this project for years, I have not done my homework and I know I am not fully prepared for what is ahead.

Right now, I am not thinking about what is ahead. Right now, I am crazy inspired. I have a head full of story just waiting to be written. What I want to do is get it out of my head no matter how messy it may be. It is not safe in my head. I will revise it, reject it, or forget it, before it ever has a chance to be put into context. On paper it is safe. On paper it has a chance. When I stumble onto ideas I want to incorporate into later chapters of the book, I write them down instantly. I keep a stack of index cards on me, and when I am struck with an idea, I write it on a card. One idea per card. Those cards get organized every so often. but non is ever thrown out. Those ideas are now safe on paper.

Some of yesterdays ideas were:
The juice of three dandelion stems picked at sunrise (an ingredient in a potion)
Underbilt (a good last name for my oldest boy hero who is waiting for his growth spurt)
Flip Flop (a possible name for one of the back shed rats)
and Jumbleberry Jam (not sure how to use it yet)

Thanks 4 Reading

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Not Comparable

Erin Asked Me "What is the age group you tend to target?" I did not know the answer to that question, so I went to a bookstore today to find out what age kids were reading books like the one I want to write. Guess what!

There are no books like the one I want to write. 

There are Middle Grade Novels that are at the reading level I would like to write for. They contain three syllable words and an occasional subplot, But those have no illustrations and tend to be about more adult themes. 

There are Chapter books that are formatted the way I want my book to be formatted with short independent chapters, reoccurring characters and constant settings, but those are written for a beginning reader and only have the occasional illustration.

And, There are Early Readers that use full page pictures to help the reader grasp the action of the story, like I would like to do, but those tend to be single sentence pages and deal with very simple subjects.

Well Crap! 

I want to write a book that can be read to and comprehended by the children who are too young to read the words themselves.

I want those children to be able to easily fallow along with the reader by looking at the pictures on the page.

I want it to break into short action packed chapters that can hold any child's attention.

I want each of those chapters to contain a lesson, but I do not want to hit them over the head with it. I want the lesson to be pointed out by the parent reading the book, not by the book itself.

I want to create a look to the book that has older kids (those who can read and comprehend it themselves) wanting to read it on there own, even though it is about a bunch of kids playing make believe.

I want this book to be able to compete for a child's attention when it is in the same room as the 36" HDTV

Right now, this type of book is not available

This means that there may not be a market for the book I want to write. I tried to figure out which shelf it would sit on if it was for sale today (other than the best seller shelf) and I was not able to decide.

Publishing is not the most important of my goals with this book, but I would be lying if I did not admit to wanting it.

Erin Also wrote "I think it's unique but also has mass appeal"

It may be too unique. 
Any Thoughts?

Thanks 4 Reading

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My First Time Line

Ok, I am sending this out and holding my breath, I am sorry it is so long, but this is the best way I could think to get you caught up. Please don’t dive into this one if you are in a hurry. It’s gonna take a bit of time.

SPRING 1969 - Mama turns 19 years old and receives a “well used” 1950 Willys Wagon as a birthday gift from her mother and father
·      The truck came with the farm, They think it is cute that it was born the same year as her.
·      They think it will be a good safe car out here in the country.
·      Father painted it orange, with house paint, and a brush.
·      She reluctantly starts driving it to school and back.
·      She is a very embarrassed girl, newly moved out from town.
SUMMER 1969 – Papa, sitting with friends at the feed store, sees cute little mama pull up in her ridiculously large and smelly truck and takes notice.
·      Papa sees the orange truck parked at a roadside fruit stand and stops in to “see what’s in season”
·      Mama works at the fruit stand for the summer
·      Papa asks what the trucks name is, “you can’t not name her”
·      With half Inspiration, half smart ass and without missing a beat, she says “Clementine”
·      Papa really likes Clementine... and Mama.
·      Papas first gift for Mama is a proper drivers side headlamp for Clementine
FALL/WINTER 1969 – Papa uses Clementine as his excuse to be around Mama. Something always needed to be adjusted, or replaced.
·      Clementine gets parked in one of the barns, and that is where Papa works on her. Sometimes even when no one is home.
·      Papa starts leaving letters in the glove box of the truck every time he works on it.
·      He writes them to Clementine about his feelings for Mama, it is very charming.
·      One day, Papa starts Clementine up and she no longer billows smoke. Mama and Papa are in love.
Winter 1971 – Papa and Mama get in a snowball fight after a day of skiing up on the mountain.
·      Mama knocks papa to the ground and threatens him with a snowball in the face.
·      Papa proposes to Mama as a way of asking for mercy. He has had the ring in his pocket for a week.
·      They get a passerby to take there picture together.
SUMMER 1971 – They are married. It is an outdoor wedding with streamers on bean poles and fireflies in mason jars.
·      Mama loves the country now.
·      Father gives them a “Proper Family Car” as a wedding gift a new 1971 Chrysler Station Wagon
·      It is the Town and country model. Father thinks that’s cute.
·      Clementine (still well used) gets parked behind the barn.
WINTER 1978 – Papa still works on Clementine on Sundays, but he is very busy and the seasons take there toll on the truck.
·      2 young boys  use Clementine’s interior as a fort or pretending it is the ice cream truck, while papa  tries desperately to keep her running.
·      None of the Orange paint can be seen now.
SUMMER  1988 – The Family moves into town for Papa’s work. There is talk of selling Clementine, but papa still loves her and won’t leave her behind.
·      Papa uses Clementine to teach their two boys about vehicle maintenance. Oil change, carburetors, breaks, fuses, the basics.
·      Clementine is parked in the 2 car detached garage
·      Clementine is used as potential punishment “ if you don’t clean your room, the Willys will be your first car” it always worked.
·      Papa was the only one who really loved that truck.
SUMMER  1998 – The last child moves out and the first grandchild is born.
·      Clementine is in good working order now and Papa starts to work on the body.
·      He wants to restore her to show condition some day.
·      He is not in a hurry.
WINTER 2001 – Papa is diagnosed with Cancer and begins treatments
·      He continues to work on Clementine
·      Now that he is retired, it is his only distraction from the cancer.
·      Papa’s two Children go in together to buy him a mint condition Willys Overland Horn Button (there were made of glass and very few remain)
·      Now the grandchildren (3 cousins) play Ice Cream Truck while he works on the Willys every Sunday.
WINTER 2002 – Papa’s bed is now in the living room. The family still comes over every Sunday.
·      The three cousins (2 boys and a girl) like to pretend Papa’s bed is a fishing boat.
·      They have very active imaginations.
·      Papa keeps a snowy picture of He and Mama with Clementine by his bed.
Spring 2002 – Papa dies, it was expected and peaceful
·      The service is on a sunny Saturday morning.
·      Papa is buried in a cemetery on a hill overlooking the farms he grew up on and the barn he fell in love in.
WEEK 1 – The first Sunday after all of the commotion of Papa’s death settles down
·      The 2 parents and the 3 cousins meet up at what is still called “Papa’s house”
·      They are there to help with the yard and start sorting through the detached garage and the back shed
·      Mama is and Papa was very sentimental and both were of the generation who threw nothing useful away
·      The children consider their parents to be pack rats, and have been dreading this very day for years.
·      There is a conversation about why anyone would keep all of this stuff.
·      Everyone is in their work clothes and ready when they open the swing up garage doors
·      The first thing the parents see is Clementine
·      The first thing the cousins see is the amazingly huge pile of crap next to Clementine
·      The truck starts up on the first crank, and there is an instant change of heart.
·      The parents decide to finish the restoration of the willys.
·      They will get both families together on Sundays and work on the old truck just like Papa used to do.
·      The parents start in on the old truck, making a list of what is left to do.
·      The cousins get bored quickly and decide to explore the back shed
·      Unnoticed by their parents the cousins get into real trouble and the oldest boy ends up cutting his hand bad enough to need stitches and a tetanus shot.
·      The boy is brought back from the hospital, his hand is wrapped
·      The 3 cousins are told that the back shed is off limits and the oldest boy is told that it is his job to look out for the other two and protect them.
·      All three protest saying that Papa’s House is boring
·      The parents roll their eyes and send the 3 cousins in to Mama for some Mama-Chocolate.
·      Mama-Chocolate is just like normal hot chocolate except that Mama always doubles the amount of marshmallows you say you want and pretends she heard you wrong.
·      When the cousins finally tell Mama that they are bored, She tells them “Use Your Imagination Eyes. When you look at a folding chair, see a mighty thrown. Build a fort and defend it against the grasshoppers. Create a ship and sail it to Back Porchland.
·      The Cousins are inspired. And excited to return next Sunday when work on Clementine will start
WEEKS 2 through ????? – This will be the meat of the story I am just now staring to tackle it.
·      Each week the cousins will have a different adventure.
·      This kids will have to create these adventures out of the found objects in the garage
·      These adventures will be grand and will eventually take on the search for Papa’s special glass horn button.
·      It is missing and the parents charge the cousins with finding it in the amazing pile of crap
·      A box of old ski equipment is found from the days when Mama and Papa would go to the mountain
·      Those goggles become their “Imagination Eyes” when they put them on, the world becomes more Adventure-like
·      They will bobsled across the frozen tundra, unearth a lost civilization, outsmart booby traps, and so on.
·      There will be about more than a dozen chapters.
EACH WEEK –  contains a seemingly meaningless part of Mama’s day, a flashback to a grand adventure, a Mama-Chocolate break when Mama gives them essential advice, a reference to the continuing progress on Clementine, and some of the back story about Mama, Papa, and Clementine.
·      Eventually the cousins will cross paths with  a small group of rats.
·      They are thought to be the infamous “Pack Rats” their parents are always complaining about
·      The Pack Rats are discovered to be friendly
·      They live in an old bath tub hidden in the very back of the garage.
·      The Bathtub is full of objects the rats have gathered
·      Crisco, The skeptical male leader lives in an empty Crisco tub
·      Crocker, The female second in charge, lives in a propped up Betty Crocker Cook Book
·      Tonka, the overweight male brawn of the group, lives in the back of a big yellow dump truck
·      Slurpee, the male innocent wannabe sidekick, lives in a plastic slurpee cup.
·      Smuckers and Jif, The very young male and female twins of Crocker and Crisco, well, you get the idea.
·      The Pack Rats know where Papa’s lost horn is.
·      It is in the MAGNABOX, a very large cardboard box that Mama’s Magnavox tube TV Came in 10 years earlier.
·      The first problem is that the MAGNABOX is in the back shed, Not only is it off limits, It is the scary place where Oldest Boy hurt himself badly
·      The second problem is that the MAGNABOX is the home of another group of rats. Mr. Yuck and the Sour Patch Kids
·      More Adventures together bring the Cousins and the Packrats into battle with the Back Shed Rats
FINAL WEEK - is a day when Mama is not home.
·      Clementine is now complete.
·      The parents have had it professionally painted the same obnoxious orange as in the pictures of when Mama and Papa were dating
·      Mama has not seen it since the paint job
·      She has been forbidden to peek
·      The only thing missing is the Glass Horn Button
·      The whole family is looking in the garage for the horn.
·      They want to surprise Mama when she gets home.
·      The Cousins can not delay any more. They know where the horn is and have to go get it.
·      Oldest boy must balance conquer his fear of the shed and still protect his cousins
·      Mama is not available to ask advice, and the cousins must figure this one out on their own.
·      The oldest boy now sees the pile of crap as supplies and realizes that keeping things the family might need, was Papa’s way of protecting his family
·      During the battle, he also realizes that He, Papa, Crisco, and Mr. yuck have this in common. A desire to protect there families
·      Eventually a truce is called
·      It is discovered that Slurpee has a crush on one of the Sour Patch kids
·      Mr. Yuck hands over the Horn button and the cousins realize that if they hand give it to their parents, Clementine will be complete and their adventures will be over
·      They do the right thing and come out of the shed with the horn in hand
·      Mama is so proud of her families accomplishments

Spring 2003 – Today
·      She is driving a perfectly restored 1950 Willies Wagon named Clementine.
·      It is bright orange and draws attention
·      It is the first time she has driven the truck in decades.
·      She can still handle the stick shift. She is a natural.
·      She is sad that that Clementine, The excuse for the weekly family gatherings on Sundays is now complete.
·      Sunday was the best day of the week for her
TODAY – This Morning – She stops at Papa’s grave
·      She parks as close to the grave stone as possible
·      She wants Papa to see Clementine in all her glory
·      It is their wedding anniversary
·      She places the picture of them together on a snowy mountain on the gravesite
·      Spring 2003 - This Afternoon – She Stops at the grocery store
·      She realize that she no longer needs a cart. Without her family stopping by every week, she only needs a basket
·      She finishes starts to cry in the parking lot
·      She has no tissues in her purse so she checks the glove box
·      Inside the glove box is one last note from Papa.
·      The parents found it while refurbishing the truck and left it for Mama to find herself It is written from Papa to Clementine about his feelings about leaving Mama behind
·      It is Charming
TODAY– This Afternoon – Mama returns to what she thinks will be an empty home.
·      This will be the first empty Sunday since Papa died
·      The family is all there, just as before.
·      They have purchased a 1959 Edsel Convertible and parked it in Clementine’s spot in the garage.
·      It is in bad shape and will need years worth of work.
·      It is what the manufacturer called Tarragon Green
·      It is Ugly
·      The kids ask mama to name the car “you can’t not name it”
·      Without missing a beat she says “Sweet Pea”

Thanks 4 Reading