Socializing (Internet Style!)

Hi all,

Just a quick note that I’ve finally joined the world of twitter!  I’ve loved connecting with writers, agents, and all those in book world.

My, uh, handle (in trucker speak, I guess) is @APearson_Writer

Here’s the actual link to my page

And a few bits of news…my latest counseling book, Counseling with Color was released earlier this year!

CWC

I’ve also been writing manuscripts like crazy!  Hope everyone has had a great summer, will hopefully be able to bring some more good news soon.

Anthony

The Writing Process–Author Blog Tour

Hi everyone!

Let’s let the blog-roll keep on going.  Thanks to my friend Dev (go visit her website when you get a chance…I linked it over there to the right) for asking me to participate on the Author Blog Tour.  It’s a quick few questions for authors to answer.  Short, sweet, and a little chance to get to know what’s happening in the author’s world.

Ready?  Ready!

Question Number ONE

What am I working on?

Oh how the fish have nibbled, but how they haven’t quite taken the big bite.  A while back, I received a kind rejection letter from a gaming company regarding some possible  freelance work for them.  One of my sci-fi pieces made it to the editor’s desk, they asked me for a follow-up piece, and then passed.  Close but no cigar.

This thing is called Eli 1.0.  It’s from Fantasy Flight Games  Android Netrunner.  If you play the game and see Eli, he can cause you problems.

In regards to picture book world, I’ve been working on a few different projects.  One of the editors at Two Lions (who now owns my book Baby Bear Eats the Night) and I have been going over a few manuscripts to see if they are ready to move forward.

Good people work here. 

Finally, I’m working on another School Counseling workbook with Youthlight Inc.   I’ve signed that contract some-time ago and the publisher and I are working through the details of getting it ready.  The turn-around time for workbooks are A LOT faster than picture books, so if all goes well, I’ll have a new school counseling book out in August or September.

Yup–that’s my School Counseling workbook!

As you can see–between Science Fiction Gaming Companies, Picture Book World, and School Counseling World, I like to put a lot of eggs in different baskets.  I think if I sold toasters for a living, I would probably try to write a Toaster Selling Handbook for Beginners.

I mean, I just love writing.

Question Number TWO

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Great question, Author Blog Tour!

I love writing about an Accepted Reality.  Why can’t a bear eat the sky?  If you take a look at my “Writing a Story Series” you’ll see that one of my favorite styles is to take the fantastic and make it an accepted idea.  Of course monsters are real!  Why wouldn’t they be?  The problem isn’t that monsters are real–the problem is that my main character can’t catch one!

To me, it’s fun to flip up the idea of the “profound.”  Rather than be surprised by the unnatural (or supernatural), I love it when characters are more like, “…But of course…”

Perhaps they even say that with some type of smarmy accent.

Question Number THREE

Why do I write what I write?

Shall we get existential?  No?  Oh.  Okay.

I think I write for the same reason that I enjoy a good fantasy fiction story or playing chess with a friend.  It kind of scratches that itch in my brain.  When I write, it’s like I get swallowed up into the screen.  There are times where I stop seeing the words on the page…I just see STORY in my mind.  It’s exciting and makes me feel incredibly happy to see ideas, worlds, and dreams happen.

For what it is worth, I think I would write even if the only people reading my stories were friends (and those in my critique group).  Writing makes my brain feel happy.

[side note--especially if you haven't read my Writing a Story series...FIND A CRITIQUE GROUP!  You will be a better writer for it.  Maybe even a happier human.  End side note]

Question Number FOUR

How does my individual writing process work?

Sorry for bringing this up one more time…but, I kind of touched on this at length with my 6 part series on writing.  But if you don’t want to read six parts of someone’s writing process, I can give you the more fun, slightly exaggerated version:

It starts with a small image or a small event.  And then turns into something I can’t stop thinking about.  Then it becomes something I just knead and knead inside my head.  Images show up.  I hear possible sentences happen.  Sometimes a story arc even appears.

My goodness–it sounds like a hallucinogenic experience.

Thanks for reading…onto the next author!  Who will it be?  Who WILL IT BE?

Writing a Story Part 6-Submitting, my two cents, a few websites to visit, and some final thoughts

Here we are in Part 6 of the writing process.  We’ve had the seedling of an idea.  We’ve conceptualized the story.  We’ve drafted.  We’ve edited.  We’ve rewritten.  We’ve edited some more.  We’ve rewritten some more.  And now it’s time to ship this baby off to the world.

So let’s talk about submitting.

Keep in mind, that as you enter this step of the process, there are “rules” and there are “RULES” but at the same time, the “rules” are not rules, but just “rules.”

Got it? Have no idea what I’m talking about?

One of the recent discussions I’ve had in my writer’s group (hopefully you’ve tried to join one by now–as per my constant nagging bringing it up), is the best way to start off your query letter.

Ultimately, there are some universals (the rules) and ways to make your query letter better (“the rules”), but sometimes I think what gets lost in the shuffle is that the STORY MATTERS THE MOST.

Here is a great link to the ins and outs of it.  You’ll notice that the article is just under 3000 words long.  What that means is there are resources on the internet that can point you in very specific directions that I won’t retread on here.  Heck…if you google, “How to write a query letter” you can get all your advice that you need.

But since I’m doing this series on writing a story, I do want to add my two cents.

Cent 1: Keep it short and sweet

Cent 2: Be professional

If you have a relationship with the individual you are querying, then obviously you can make it more personal.  However, if it is someone you have no knowledge of outside of your research, then keep it professional.

YES, you should try to show your writing style.  YES, you should your best to grab the attention of the agent or editor, YES it is important to know the types of books an agent is interested in representing.

BUT don’t over do it.  Keep it short and sweet.  Be professional.

In my mind, it’s the story that matters the most.  While I do think you should try to win over an agent or publisher with your query letter, the “winning” really occurs when you write a story that they can’t stop thinking about.  It must be a story so strong that they can literally turn the pages in their minds eye and see the illustrations unfold before them.

Hehe, see, Love does trump all other things!

Which leads us to the next question: where do you get your information to submit?  It really depends on whether you are looking for a publisher or an agent.

If you are looking for an agent, one great place to start is Agent Query.

If you are looking for publishers, check out Jacket Flap.

When I first started submitting, Jacket Flap was my go-to sight.  Since I was (and am) unrepresented by an agent, it’s important to know which publishers take Open Submissions and which ones don’t.

Similar to auditions for movies, there are many MANY times where you can’t “audition” your work without an agent.  Just like a movie agent would get you an audition, a book agent will be the one trying to sell your work.

However, there are some publishers who take Open Submissions.  As you bounce around on Jacket Flap (or other useful websites that you can come across), you will learn about whether or not you can submit to them.

For me, my goal is to find a certain number of agents or publishers (I like to create a list of 5 to 10), make sure that my stories fit their guidelines, craft a query letter, put it all together, then submit!

Hmmm…looking back on what I’ve just written, I don’t want it to come across as too cavalier (and if it does, please know that’s not my intention).  My hope is that from my previous entries you see that the thing I am the most passionate about is the story.

I’m not saying that the knowledge of querying is unimportant, because  the best ways to get your stories in people’s hands is by submitting.  And you don’t want to fall totally on y our face during this component.

But as I stated several hundred words ago–I believe if you write a competent letter AND write a wonderful story, you’ll have a significantly better chance with your submission than an AMAZING query letter but a story that doesn’t back it up.

After submitting comes the waiting.

And the waiting.

And waiting.

But what should you be doing while you are waiting?  You should be WRITING!  If I’ve made it to the submission stage of a story, I’ll let that story rest after submitting.  I’ll give those characters a break and I’ll let my mind “unfocus” so I can start the writing process all over again.

And that, dear friends is how I go from taking a story from a little seed of an idea to something I’m submitting out to the world.

 

 

 

 

Writing a Story-Part 5b: Monster Hunter v.5

So I’ve got the characters and monsters doing essentially what they need to do.  This draft is full of small little tweaks that cut my word count and fix other little odds and ends.  Enjoy!

Monster Hunter

by Anthony Pearson

The hairy foot.  The long curling toe-nails.  The scraping sound on the floor as it shuffled through the house.  Jackie checked The Beast Menagerie.  (Fast fact: it was her favorite book.  Times read: like a million)

It had to be the Ancient Gray-Footed Troll.  (Favorite food: goldfish.  Sleeping habits: nocturnal).

“Jackie, what are you doing back there?”  It was mom.  With breakfast.

“GAH!  You let him get away!  Can’t you see when I’m trying to catch an Ancient Gray-Footed Troll?”

“Sorry, dear.  I made you toast.”

Jackie could barely eat because she was so excited.   Today was THE DAY.  The day  she would, FINALLY, catch her first monster.  She would be the youngest monster hunter in the history of history.  They’d probably even put her picture in the back of The Beast Menagerie, right next to all the other famous monster hunters.  (Jackie’s favorite hunter:  Artimus Finkle.  Claim to fame: He had caught 9 monsters in one year!)

The Squid-Tooth Crunchbone (Likes: shiny sharp things. Favorite food: metal) was known to lurk in dark corners near musty old clothes.  Surely the basement was a great place to catch a monster.  And there were no clothes mustier than dad’s yard clothes.

Jackie heard the the chunkachunkachnunka of the Crunchbone chewing through old power tools and the sewing machine.

“This is it,” She whispered to herself.

It was Michael.  Washing clothes.

“Hey squirt.  Whatcha doing?”

“You aren’t the Squid-Tooth Crunchbone!  You scared it off! ”

She moped her way to her room.  This wasn’t going to be easy, but Jackie couldn’t give up.  That’s not what the next great monster hunter would do.

Where to go next?  Where would a monster build it’s lair?  She flipped through The Beast Menagerie.

“There!  That’s it!”  Jackie dashed out of her room.

She pulled the cord on the attic door.  Thump.  She pulled down the ladder.  Clomp.  Dust trickled and must stenched its way down the ladder.

Jackie smiled as she stared up into that dark space.  Of course!  Why hadn’t she thought of the attic before?  It would be a perfect place for the twitchy-legged, bug-eyed, Marmalark (Sleep habits: never. Favorite drink: coffee).

The Marmalark was quick.  It was twitchy.  She knew it was no time for lurking.  Sneaking was out of the question.

CHARGE!

[art note: next pages in total darkness except for the small light from the attic entrance]

“I GOT YOU!”

No!  It was getting away!  She crashed around in the dark.

The light flipped on.

Dad said, “Jackie, please tell me you have a good reason for destroying the attic in the dark.”

Jackie let go of the coat tree.

She explained it the best she could.  “The only way to catch the Marmalark is to move fast. I’m sorry.  I’ll clean it up.”

A million hours later, Jackie moped in her tree house.  What a terrible day.

Then a sound drifted in…”Ma-Scree!  Ma-Sckaw!”

Ma-Scree?  Ma-Sckaw?  Could it be? [art note: consulting her Beast Menagerie]

She called back, “Ma-Scree!  MA-SCKAW!”

And there, nesting in her mother’s prized rose bushes, was a Flying Wombus (Habitat: Prickly places.  Favorite Food: Petals).

Jackie slowly walked out of her tree house.  She slowly got the butterfly net.  She slowly stepped through the garden.

All the while calling to the Flying Wombus.

“Ma-Scree!  Ma-Sckaw,” she said.

“Ma-Scree!  Ma-Sckaw,” it said back.

This was her chance.

One…Two…THREE!

 (An explosion of petals and a few feathers.  Image of her leaping, lunging at the Flying Wombus’ wing, but then it spins and flies away.  Jackie gets tangled up in the thorns)

Her mom and dad had many words for her.

She was in trouble for a billion years.

But worst of all was the fact that she never caught her monster.

After dinner she went to bed.  What an awful day.

“Some big time hunter I turned out to be,” Jackie said to herself as she turned off her light.

And on top of all that, she was going to have to spend all day tomorrow raking petals and picking up thorny branches.

(image of Jackie in the morning in the backyard; rake slung over her shoulder.  She’s looking at the destroyed rose bush and sees a nest there.  Inside the nest is a cracking egg with a little Flying Wombus beak sticking out)

Of course…some big time hunters have to start small.

Writing a Story-Part 5: Less is more!

Howdy everyone,

Onward!  Upward!  Snip and cut!

So my crit group did a great job once more of stepping up to the plate.  As a matter of fact, I took nearly all of the suggestions that Fanely Gouguet made.  Why?  Because less is more in picture book world.

As I sat there staring at my screen with her suggestions in place, I kept asking myself, “Do I still see in my mind’s eye what I need to see without those words there.”  And nearly every time I asked myself that question the answer was “yes.”

Except, that sounds a lot more specific.  My brain really said this: “Sheesh.  Why didn’t you think of that already?  Make sure to buy Fanely a cupcake if you ever get to meet her.”  [which by the way, if I hadn't mentioned--my crit group is completely online and we're from all over the world.  I think the closest person I am near in my crit group lives in North Carolina.  Or Maine.  Did I already tell you to join a Crit Group?  Do it.  Do it now.]

Ahem.  Where was I?  Oh yeah–keeping the word count down but having the story seem as “big” as possible.  While I don’t want to lean on the pictures, I do have to remember that a MAJOR component of the picture book is, well, the pictures!

There’s no need to over-describe how a room looks or how an action is done when there will (hopefully) be a big beautiful picture doing all the describing.

Please take the time to look at Fanely’s critique.  Not only did it tighten up my story, but it is a great example of how you can take lots of sentences and words out of a story and the story becomes even more clear.

I present you–one fine critique.  Right here.

Next on my Monster Hunter punch list is to start my submission letter.  Believe it or not, it’s almost time to buy some stamps!  Or at least send out some e-mails!  Woot woot!

 

Writing a Story-Part 4b: Monster Hunter’s Latest Draft

Hi all,

Thanks to some great feedback, I’ve made several changes.

  • I “jump started” the story rather than talk about Jackie hiding behind the couch.  That would be explained from the pictures.
  • I fixed the parenthetical comments so they are more consistent
  • I pulled back Michael’s character from the ending
  • I did a pretty big rework of the ending so Jackie does find/catch her monster (YAY JACKIE!)
  • Grammar got cleaned up a little bit more
  • And probably other things I’m forgetting to mention here.

That said, I’m okay with the final two lines, but still want something a bitter stronger.  Feel free to toss out some ideas!

So without further ado–a new version of Monster Hunter!

 

Monster Hunter

by Anthony Pearson

 

The hairy foot.  The long curling toe-nails.  The scraping sound on the floor as it shuffled through the house.  Jackie checked The Beast Menagerie.  (Fast fact: it was her favorite book.  Times read: like a million)

It had to be the Ancient Gray-Footed Troll.  (Favorite food: goldfish.  Sleeping habits: nocturnal).

“Jackie, what are you doing back there?”  It was mom.  With breakfast.

“GAH!  You let him get away!  Can’t you see when I’m trying to catch an Ancient Gray-Footed Troll?”

“Sorry, dear.  I made you toast.”

Jackie could barely eat because she was so excited.   Today was THE DAY.  The day  she would, FINALLY, catch her first monster.  She would be the youngest monster hunter in the history of history.  They’d probably even put her picture in the back of The Beast Menagerie, right next to all the other famous monster hunters.  (Jackie’s favorite hunter:  Artimus Finkle.  Claim to fame: He had caught 9 monsters in one year!)

The basement was a great place to catch a monster.  The Squid-Tooth Crunchbone (Likes: shiny sharp things. Favorite food: metal) was known to lurk in dark corners near musty old clothes.  There were no clothes mustier dad’s yard clothes.

Jackie heard the Crunchbone eating.  The chunkachunkachnunka of it chewing through old power tools and the sewing machine.

“This is it,” She whispered to herself.

It was Michael.  He was home from college.  Washing clothes.

“Hey squirt.  Whatcha doing?”

“You aren’t the Squid-Tooth Crunchbone!  You scared it off!  Thanks for nothing!”

She moped her way to her room.  This wasn’t going to be easy.  The life of a monster hunter was not easy.  Jackie couldn’t give up.  That’s not what the next great monster hunter would do.

Where to go next?  Where would a monster build it’s lair?  She flipped through The Beast Menagerie.

“There!  That’s it!”  Jackie dashed out of her room.

She pulled the cord on the attic door.  Thump.  She pulled down the ladder.  Clomp.  Dust trickled and must stenched its way down the ladder.

Jackie smiled as she stared up into that dark space.  Of course!  Why hadn’t she thought of the attic before?  It would be a perfect place for the twitchy-legged, bug-eyed, Marmalark (Sleep habits: never. Favorite drink: coffee).

The Marmalark was quick.  It was twitchy.  She knew it was no time for lurking.  Sneaking was out of the question.

CHARGE!

[art note: next pages in total darkness except for the small light from the attic entrance]

“I GOT YOU!”

No!  It was getting away!  She crashed around in the dark.

The light flipped on.  Jackie had not caught the Marmalark.

Dad said, “Jackie, please tell me you have a good reason for destroying the attic in the dark.”

Jackie let go of the coat tree.

She explained it the best she could.  “The only way to catch the Marmalark is to move fast. I’m sorry.  I’ll clean it up.”

A million hours later, Jackie moped in her tree house.  What a terrible day.

Then a sound drifted in…”Ma-Scree!  Ma-Sckaw!”

Ma-Scree?  Ma-Sckaw?  Could it be? [art note: consulting her Beast Menagerie]

She called back, “Ma-Scree!  MA-SCKAW!”

And there, nesting in her mother’s prized rose bushes, was a Flying Wombus (Habitat: Prickly places.  Favorite Food: Petals).

Jackie slowly walked out of her tree house.  She slowly got the butterfly net.  She slowly stepped through the garden.

All the while calling to the Flying Wombus.

“Ma-Scree!  Ma-Sckaw,” She said.

“Ma-Scree!  Ma-Sckaw,” It said back.

This was her chance.

One…Two…THREE!

 (An explosion of petals and a few feathers.  Image of her leaping, lunging at the Flying Wombus’ wing, but then it spins and flies away.  Jackie gets tangled up in the thorns)

Her mom and dad had many words for her. (image of dad and mom fussing and yelling at her, Jackie is dangling in the bush, scratched and disheveled)

She was in trouble for a billion years.

But worst of all was the fact that she never caught her monster.

That night after dinner she went to bed.  An awful day.  A terrible day. She was the worst monster hunter ever.

And on top of all that, she was going to have to spend all day tomorrow raking petals and picking up thorny branches.

“Some big time hunter I turned out to be,” Jackie said to herself as she closed her light.

(image of Jackie in the morning in the backyard; rake slung over her shoulder.  She’s looking at the destroyed rose bush and sees a nest there.  Inside the nest is a cracking egg, little Flying Wombus beak sticking out)

Of course…some big time hunters have to start small.  They just have to keep looking.

Writing a Story-Part 4: More Crittin’!

Hi everyone,

Let’s dive in!

So there’s a bunch of different ways to write a critique.  Some do a general synopsis.  Some look through with a fine toothed comb.  Some critters are looking for more grammatical issues while others are focused on NPLQ (which stands for Nit Picky Logic Questions).  Today I’d like to send your attention to my friend Alayne’s critique of Monster Hunter.

If you take the time to look through it, she really hits on tons of ideas, issues with grammar, and NPLQs all over the place.  This, my fellow readers, is a home run of critiques.  If you want to do someone a favor, try to hit a critique from as many different angles as possible.

Of course, there are “rules” that one should consider.  For example, if I see that a story isn’t all that fleshed out, it makes more sense to give some general ideas.  If I have a “brain-pop” when I’m critiquing, I may stop my critique and just offer some thoughts on ways to break the story down and put it back together in a different way.

Also, one should respect what the author is looking for.  For me, I’m happy with my story and the “mechanics” of what I’m trying to tell–what I need to make sure is that the story is as tight and fun as possible.  I want to know where things drag.  I want to know where things don’t make sense.  Other writers might simply say, “Hey gang, this is a pretty first drafty kind of story, let me know if I’m off in the correct direction.”  I’m a bit past that point.

Overall, as the critter, the main focus is to have respect to the author–but not respect like, “I’m not going to hurt your feelings.”  The way I want to offer respect AND the ways that I feel respected is when someone takes there time to point things out that I am clearly missing.  There’s no sense in having someone, in essence, judge your work, if you don’t want to hear the judgement.  That’s no way for a story to get stronger.

Did I agree with all of Alayne’s critique?  No, of course not.  But I sure took TONS of her ideas to heart.  So much so that I had to really sit on my story for a while before starting to make the newest draft changes.

And because of her work (and the work of all of my critique group), my story is that much stronger for it.

Without further ado–Alayne’s Awesome Critique

Read HERE!

Updated story coming very soon.

By the way, if you are serious about writing and aren’t in a critique group yet–please here my plea: For the sake of all the stories and words on your screen…JOIN A CRIT GROUP!

Writing a Story-Part 3: Crittin’

I cannot understate how important it is to have other people look at the story.  There were many times that I used to think that if I read (and re-read) my story enough, I would be able to notice all the adjustments that would need to be made.

This of course in nonsense because after a certain amount of time working on a story, it just starts to appear PERFECT.  I could see everything from my story so clearly I would start to visualize the little award emblems that would be placed on the jacket-cover.  Most often I see Jon J Muth illustrate my stories in my head (because one day if that became a reality, well, I think I might just explode from joy) and everything just comes into place.

That’s why it’s important to have people read your work.  Because what is PERFECT in your head actually needs, how shall I put it, TONS OF WORK.

So let’s talk about Monster Hunter.  More specifically, let’s talk about what Julie Falatko (see the sidebar website list to learn about her) and Sabrina Marshal said.  Both Julie and Sabrina are in my Critique Group and, like all of my group, I greatly respect their opinions.

Check out what they think:

Julie’s Critique

Sabrina’s Critique

You can see that Julie caught some of the inconsistencies with my “parenthetical” comments.  She also caught a few sound effects that I need to think about.  When in my first draft, I was trying to figure out what a repetitive dryer/washing machine sound might be.  Womp Womp Womp was the first to come to mind. Julie questioned whether or not it was the “sad trombone” sound in writing.   I might change it to a more fast paced wompwompwomp.

Sabrina points out the fact that I start the picture book in an almost “prologue” format.  After that, we learn her specific goal: she wants to catch a monster.  While I like how my story starts, she makes  a very good point that many picture books “launch” with the goal of the main character within the first few pages.   I’ll need to consider whether or not Jackie’s action is evident enough of the story’s plot device.  I’ll probably even play around with the opening to see how it reads with Sabrina’s idea in mind.

Of course, what I think is my biggest area that needs fixing is the end.  Both Julie and Sabrina recognized that right away.

Julie pointed out how the ending isn’t consistent with the pattern of events in the rest of the story.  The ladder and chimney scene (total fantasy) don’t fit with the basement or attic scene (uncertain reality).

Sabrina recognized that Jackie’s feelings at the end don’t quite make sense based on her brother’s letter.  Why would Michael’s letter give Jackie a feeling of contentment?  She wasn’t out to prove the existence of monsters–she was out to catch one!

With both Julie and Sabrina really zeroing in on the ending, it make sense for me to start there.  When I’m done with that, I’ll fix the parenthetical sections, play around with some different sound effects, and finally, spend some mental time and energy looking at the introduction.

It’s not a “shred the story to the ground” punch list, but there’s some important things that need to be done to make this story stronger.

And when all that is complete, I’ll send it off to the critique group and we’ll go through this again.  Which leads to the question, “When do you start looking for agents/publishers?”

I’ll answer that question in my next post.

Once I’ve finished rewriting.  :-)

 

Writing a Story–Part 2b: The Rough Draft

Monster Hunter

by Anthony Pearson

Jackie scrambled behind the couch.  She checked The Beast Menagerie.  (her favorite book.  She’s read it like a million times).  The hairy foot.  The long curling toe-nails.  The scraping sound on the floor as it shuffled through the house.

It had to be the Ancient Gray-Footed Troll.  (favorite food: goldfish.  sleeping habits: nocturnal.  Magic Powers: None).

“Jackie, what are you doing back there.”  It was mom.  With breakfast.

“GAH!  You let him get away!  Can’t you see when I’m trying to catch an Ancient Gray-Footed Troll?”

“Sorry, dear.  I made you toast.”

Jackie ate breakfast.  But her mind was on the day.  Today was THE DAY.  The day where she finally, FINALLY, caught her first monster.  She was going to be the youngest monster hunter in the history of history.  They’d probably even put her picture in the back of The Beast Menagerie, right next to all the other famous monster hunters.  (Her favorite was Artimus Finkle.  He had caught 9 monsters in one year!)

The basement was another great place to catch a monster.  The Squid-Tooth Crunchbone (likes: crunchy animals, favorite food: porcupines) was known to lurk in dark corners near musty old clothes.  There were no clothes mustier than her dad’s yard clothes.

She heard it.  She heard the low grumble of the Crunchbone’s stomach.  The womp womp womp of it chewing through old power tools and the sewing machine.  “This is it,” She whispered to herself.

It was Michael.  He was home from college.  Washing clothes.

“Hey squirt.  Whatcha doing?”

“You aren’t the Squid-Tooth Crunchbone!  You scared it off!  Thanks for nothing!”

She moped her way to her room.  This wasn’t going to be easy.  The life of a Monster Hunter was not easy.  Jackie couldn’t give up.  That’s not what the next great Monster Hunter would do.

Where to go next?  Where would a monster put it’s lair?  She flipped through The Beast Menagerie.

Ah-ha!  That’s it!  She pulled the cord in the hallway.  Thump.  She pulled down the ladder.  Clomp.  Dust trickled and must stenched it’s way down the ladder.

Jackie smiled as she stared up into that dark space.  Of course!  Why hadn’t she thought of the attic before?  It would be a perfect place for the twitchy-legged, bug-eyed, Marmalark (sleep habits: never, favorite drink: coffee).

The Marmalark was quick.  It was twitchy.  She knew it was no time for lurking.  Sneaking was out of the question.

CHARGE!

(next pages in total darkness except for the small light from the attic entrance)

“I GOT YOU!”

No!  It was getting away!  She crashed around in the dark.  There was pushing and shoving–she couldn’t see a thing!  BoomsBangsCrashes!

The light flipped on.  Jackie had not caught the Marmalark.

Dad asked, “Jackie, please tell me you have a good reason for destroying the attic in the dark.”

Jackie let go of the coat tree.

She explained it the best she could.  “The only way to catch the Marmalark is to move fast.  I didn’t want to break everything.  I’m sorry.  I’ll clean it up.”

A million hours later, Jackie was in her tree house.  What a terrible day.

Then a sound drifted in…”Ma-Scree!  Ma-Sckaw!”

Ma-Scree?  Ma-Sckaw?

She called back, “Ma-Scree!  MA-SCKAW!”

And there, perched on the chimney of her house, was a Flying Wombus (Habitat: Dirty places.  Favorite Food: Soot).

She slowly walked out of her tree house.  She slowly went and got the ladder.  She slowly made her way up the chimney.

All the while talking to the Flying Wombus.

“Ma-Scree!  Ma-Sckaw!  Ma-Scree!  Ma-Sckaw!”

This was her chance.

One…Two…THREE!

(image of her leaping, grabbing the Flying Wombus’ wing, but then it spins and flies away.  Jackie falls into the chimney)

This was bad.

Her mom and dad had many words for her. (image of dad and mom fussing and yelling at her, Jackie is sitting at the bottom of the chimney covered in soot, a la Mary Poppins)

Michael  had to fix part of the chimney she broke.

She was in trouble for a billion years.

But worst of all was the fact that she never caught her monster.

That night after dinner she went to bed.  An awful day.  A terrible day. she was the worst monster hunter ever…

(image of a note on her bed with a large colorful feather taped to it)

“Hey Squirt,

When I was fixing the chimney I found this.  Never seen a feather like it.  Is it yours?

love,  Michael”

(image of Jackie smiling, laying on top of her bed, holding the Flying Wombus feather, her Beast Menagerie flipped open next to her)

But no one ever said Monster Hunting was easy.

Writing a Story-Part 2a: Roughin’ It with Ideas

In Part 1, the conceptualization happened when daughter decided that she was done playing.  Here in Part 2, we’ll be focused on Pre-Writing and the Rough Draft.  With pre-writing, I’ll be jotting down some notions that I’ve had in my mind for the story.  Pre-Writing is also where I set some of the direction for the story.  In the Rough Draft part, I’ll actually put some of those notions into action.

Pre-Writing–have an idea about the conflict

So I’ve got this concept.  A little girl is hunting monsters, but life keeps getting in her way.  I like the concept because the plot of the story seems ready for launch.  For those interested in writing (or writing picture books), it’s important to know where to find the conflict.  You’ve got around 1000 words to tell a story from beginning to end.  Each word counts!

The conflict as I see it, is between the girl and nature (or reality).  She really wants to find this monster.  It should go smoothly if it weren’t for: her mother, the weather, her rotten sister, etc.

Also during pre-writing, it’s a great time to compare what might be similar. There are millions of picture books out there, so it’s important to see what has been done and how it was done well.  Note: this isn’t to say, “That story is already been done.  Think of something new!”  In life, there are VERY FEW new stories.  Comparing your story to other stories is a way to see what that other author did well, what “mechanics” (if you will) work for the story.

Since I’m going to be playing around with Reality vs. Fantasy, there’s a huge selection of picture books to consider.  One quick comparison that immediately comes to mind to me is “There’s an Alligator Under My Bed” by Mercer Mayer

Front Cover

The main character is out to catch an alligator (my main character is going to try to catch a monster).  His parents can’t find it, so it’s up to him.  This little story plays up the idea of what is real and what is not.  Is there REALLY an alligator under his bed?

What is even more interesting, in my opinion though, is how main character doesn’t care about proving there is an alligator, he KNOWS there is an alligator and he wants it GONE.

I think it’s how fast the main character jumps toward solving the problem that I find inspiring.  It’s something I’ll be thinking about while I write.

As for the truth about the alligator?  The reader never gets to know.  I like that too.

The Rough Draft

Oh boy.  Here we go.  So in the rough draft, I’ll be trying to stay focused on simply getting the story from start to finish.  There’s going to be A LOT of re-writing, but I want to keep a couple things in mind.

1)Keep pushing through, even if I feel stuck–even if I write myself into a corner, I can just come back later

2)Be aware of the word count, but don’t be married to it.–the very first rough draft should be about getting the ideas down.  Word choice is essential in picture books, but it’s important first to see how the story flows.

3)Keep in mind, this is the first draft!  Try to keep focused on what I see in my mind, but don’t be so locked in that the story can’t breath and improvise.

Ready?  Ready.  On your mark, get set…GO!