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

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Getting Started

I have decided (for now) to skip the very long story of how my book got to where it is today.

I am very interested in moving forward, and have convinced myself to just jump right in.

This is scary for me because it does not allow me to justify my decisions. But, scary is what I need, and justifications of past actions tend to come out sounding like excuses.  So, no excuses, and no more delay. Here are some of the basics you should know about the book before I throw you into it.


This will be cross between a “Chapter Book” and a “Graphic Novel”.

Each page will be fully illustrated in full color from top to bottom.

The Text will be in small paragraph form placed within the illustrations.

On pages with a lot of action, there will be more than one illustration. (similar to graphic novel format)

Spoken words will remain in the small paragraphs (not in bubbles above characters)

It will read like a book but look like a graphic novel.

It will be told as a series of flashbacks.

The Narrator's identity and personality has not been decided yet, but "He" will speak from a third person lightly omniscient point of view.

The current action of the story will be simple. A woman running some errands on a Sunday afternoon.

That current action will be regularly interrupted by flashbacks of herself, her husband (who has passed) and most significantly, her grandchildren, and their adventures in her detached garage.

The story focuses on family, teamwork, and the power of imagination.

Every time the grandchildren use their imagination, the style of illustration will change from a very realistic gritty and muted pallet, to a bright, bold, comic book style.

Each chapter will be an adventure the grandchildren have together and will be able to stand alone as a bedtime length story.

Each chapter will have a lesson in it as well as a focus on teamwork and imagination.

Only when the book is fully assembled will the larger theme of family be visible.

My Next post will be a timeline. It is not complete yet, and tomorrow is Luzma's Birthday..... Wait. No Excuses... My Next Post Will Be A Timeline Of The Action Of The Story.  Expect It Soon!

Thanks 4 Reading,

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A series of books

I have been working on a children's book for a very long time.
It is not the same children's book I started almost 10 years ago.
It is not even the same children's book I was working on 1 year ago.
But it has always been a children's book,
And it has always been luke warm on the back burner.

For financial reasons, the book idea has to stay on the back burner, but for personal reasons, that burner just got turned up to a simmer. Now all sorts of things are finding their way to the surface. Things I forgot were in the pot. Things I am excited about want to share with people.

This blog is my way of sharing these discoveries with you. I need people to bounce ideas off of and brag to. I need people to ask me how it's going and get excited about the progress I make. This blog will help keep me accountable and inspired.

For the time being, please consider this blog private. Do not link to it in your own blog, or discuss it with other people I know. Very few people know that I am moving forward with this project (only 7 in fact) and I would like to keep it that way.

If you are reading this, it is because I want you to be a part of this process. I am choosing to share this with you because I value your opinions, your criticisms, and the support you have offered in the past. It's not that I love the others less, I just need your informed opinions more than I need their curiosity and attention.

I have deleted all of my previous posts. This is the first entry in a new blog about finding the energy I need to fallow my creativity and ambition all the way to a finished product. This is day one... again.