Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Rewriting "Jimmy and Cinder" - again

I've been working on the "Jimmy and Cinder" manuscript, off and on, for about three years.  I thought it was ready to send to an agent when I took it to the SCBWI winter conference in January 2009.  I learned a great deal at that conference, the most important thing being that this manuscript wasn't ready.

My formal education is in Engineering, not English, or journalism or any other discipline where I might have to compose anything but a report.  Worse still, I'm a Survey Engineer - I'm trained to crunch numbers.  So, I always liked things in order.  Logical sequence.  Don't speak about things not previously defined.

So, the first thing I learned at SCBWI was that I started my story in the wrong place.  Most people thought my story should have started about page 30 in my manuscript.  Damn!  But what about all the great details that were in the first 30 pages?  I explained the setting, how the characters were related and so on.  Nobody cares, I was told.  It's called "back story".

Aha!  Now I understood.  So I rewrote "Jimmy and Cinder" over the next 18 months while I finished another story that is being published quite soon.  I felt that this time I had it.  I added some more story, I got rid of pages at the start and used them as some to this new fangled back story I had found out about.  Again, I felt it was ready but....

I still couldn't send it to an agent yet.  Something was nagging at me.  Way down deep inside me I could feel something trying to get out.  There was more story in there and it needed to be put on paper.  However, I just couldn't pull it out.  I didn't think I was putting off sending for fear of rejection.  I just didn't feel that it was ready.

Then, yesterday I was reading an article in my favorite writing magazine, Writer's Digest.  It was about great Chapter 1's.  The feeble little light bulb over my head flicked on and I realized that I still wasn't starting in the right place.  I reread the manuscript and realized that, although better than what I took to NYC, the story still started on page 15.

So, I'm starting again with 15 pages of great back story to work with and hopes that in this rewrite, the last bit of story will escape from my head and get on the paper where it belongs.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Book reading at the library

My illustrator/publisher and I were invited to speak at the Riverview Library last Thursday as part of the Town of Riverview's Winterfest.  We were very pleased with the turn out - about 30 parents and kids.  It was about all that little meeting room could handle.

We spoke about the process of putting a book together and how my words influenced her drawings and vice versa.  People are always interested to hear how a children's book is put together and how the two of us work together to get the finished product.  Jennifer worked her magic again with the kids, showing how drawings evolve from her sketch book to the finish product.  Parents and children are equally amazed by her drawings.

I read one of the chapters from our new book, "Emily Finds a Dragon", and showed spots where the text is moved around, but the drawing isn't in place yet.  I spoke a bit about my finished manuscript, "Jimmy and Cinder", which is another middle grade book.  I'm looking for an agent for that one to see if I can get it published by one of the "big" publishers.  With the success this year of self published and small press books, I'm not certain that is the best way to go, but Jennifer thought i should give it a try in the market.

By the end of the evening, we had sold another 8 copies of "Owen and the Dinosaur" and we pre-sold 7 copies of "Emily Finds a Dragon" which is due out by the end of March - we hope.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Man are we lucky!

I look out the window and I see we received another 25cm of snow.  Since Christmas it's been - give us this week our big snow storm ... - .  I hear lots of grumbling but I have been thinking, can you imagine living in Egypt, or Tunisia, Haiti, Darfur, Afghanistan, or poor Queensland, Australia?  Then you would have something to complain about!

Here is Canada, and especially in the Maritimes, we forget how lucky we are to live here.  Watching the evening news should remind us but we grow complacent and forget.  The above picture is a building in downtown Moncton last Canada Day festival.  Lots of people in the streets - just listening to the live music on stage and not a brick being thrown. Priceless! 

The world is in turmoil in so many places.  Lets all hope that when it's all over, things are better for those people brave enough to try to make a difference.