Editing schmediting

“I’m writing my life story, and no one knows it better then me. So what can an editor do that I can’t do for myself?”

Polar bear OYFor openers, a good editor can help you avoid looking foolish, and that assumes you’re pretty good at the basic stuff like spelling, grammar and punctuation. For most memoir writers, the task is the first long written work they’ve ever done. The assumption that living your life qualifies you to write about it in a way folks will eagerly read is misguided at best. While it certainly helps to have lived the story, that kind of experience doesn’t automatically make you a good writer, though it will undoubtedly help.

Fortunately, it’s not that difficult to cobble something together that reads smoothly, covers the topic, and won’t annoy readers–all good things to strive for. There are endless lists available on the internet which profess to warn the unwary of the “Ten Most Dreadful Mistakes Writers Make” or the “Five Things Keeping You from Becoming a Bestselling Author,” etc.

Many of these sites are more interested in getting your name and email address than they are in helping you patch up a leaky manuscript. They’re eager to sell you more lists and/or software so you can solve your writing problems without investing any effort on your part.

Psst! There’s a special going on–today only. Just two meager payments of $19.95 (plus shipping and handling) will net you a Magic Writing Wand. Simply wave it over your manuscript, and a horde of editors and agents will storm the castle gates with offers too good to believe. Seriously. We’re not kidding. Hurry–don’t delay!

[Cough, wheeze.]

I also have a list of things to look for and/or change, and I suspect it’s not all that different from the other 9 gazillion such lists you can choose from. What most of those lists don’t have, however, is a plan for actually doing the updates. Oh, yeah, and my list is free. I don’t want your name and address, just your attention.

What follows is my Top Ten Fix List for writers of non-fiction (which is similar to but shorter than my list for novelists). Do yourself a favor though, write the best stuff you can, first. Only then should you work your way through the list. Here ’tis:

  1. Replace adverbs with active verbs. Even if you limit your search to words ending in “ly,” you’ll spot the worst of them. It’s easier for a reader to visualize someone jogging or racing than it is to imagine them moving swiftly.
  2. Replace clichés with your own expressions. Why re-use something trite like “dog tired” or “hard as a rock,” when you could bring your text to life with originality. Why not “leg-dragging weary” or “hard as a fanatic’s heart?”
  3. Whack weasel words. Start with “really” and “very,” then hunt down other empty expressions like “rather,” “started to,” “nearly,” “almost” and the rest of their ilk. Why be satisfied with flabby expressions such as “she began to wonder” when you can leave out the fat and simply go with “she wondered.”
  4. This about “that.” The word “that” is almost always unnecessary; delete it whenever you can, and make sure you don’t mean “who” when you’re writing about people.
  5. Break up long, convoluted sentences. Go for a mix of sentence lengths.
  6. Double negatives are double awful. Whether intended or not, double negatives can make your writing seem amateurish.
  7. Beware of “was.” It usually signals passive voice, and you don’t want that. In passive voice, things happen to people. It’s better to show people doing things. Don’t tell me Alonzo was really tired; paint me a word picture of Alonzo dragging himself into bed, too exhausted to undress.
  8. Be specific. A ’48 Ford sans muffler is way more interesting than a “noisy, old car.”
  9. Get rid of pet phrases. We’re often unaware of them until someone points out how repetitious they are, and then it’s too late. Learn to recognize your pet expressions so you can nuke ’em. They’re easier to find when you read your work out loud.
  10. Dialog is your friend. Long paragraphs can be visually daunting. Imagine a page or two with only an occasional indention or two. It looks like a solid mass: frightening. Break it up with dialog, even if it’s internalized speech. Find someone and make them say something!

So, how do you actually use this list? Don’t memorize it and try to find and fix everything in one exhaustive editing session. Take it one item at a time, and check off each one as you complete it. Go through your whole manuscript ten times. Yes, ten! Focus on each of the topics and deal with it exclusively. Then move on to the next.

a-pro-writer-isUnless you have a deadline that actually involves someone’s physical demise, take the time to do the job right. Who cares if it takes an extra day or two? Who cares if it takes an extra month or two? If you cared enough to write it, isn’t it worth the additional time required to make it worth reading? The number of people who’ll read it just because they love you is horribly limited. So write for everyone else, too! Make your story the best it can be. It’ll be around a lot longer than either of us.

–Josh

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A different “take” on audio memoir

The audio part isn’t so hard, but the pix….

In working on my memoir textbook, I reached the section about doing a recorded version of one’s story, which I reasoned wouldn’t be terribly difficult. The content is the same after all, even if the delivery method is completely different. I assumed the biggest problem might stem from the idea that most people haven’t spent much time, if any, doing “dramatic” reading. When our kids outgrew having us read to them, most of us packed away the voices we used to separate the big, bad wolf from the three little porkers.

Dollarphotoclub_33938903 smBaring some unfortunate physical limitation, there’s no reason those voices can’t be unpacked. Reading with feeling isn’t that hard. We’ve all heard voice-overs on television and in movies. We know what an unseen speaker sounds like: they sound the way we’d like to sound if we were telling the story. Only, in most cases, with more feeling. They are all pros, after all.

But that isn’t the point. This is: the most compelling aspect of a recorded memoir is the person reading it. It’s their story, and not just in their own words, but in their own voice!

In order to demonstrate this, I pulled up a tale from my own life, the Barber Shop Story. I cranked up the built-in voice recorder on my discount PC and started reading. The owellesplayback quality wasn’t great, but I couldn’t be sure if it was due to the machine or the voice. In either case, the volume was way too low, and the freebie software didn’t include anything to edit or enhance the recording.

So I abandoned my first effort–coughs, sputters, mispronunciations and all. Instead I downloaded a copy of Audacity (available here) and made a donation to the wonderful folk who make this program available. I also dug up an old microphone. It’s not great, but it has a stand so I could record without actually holding it. (Leaving me free to reach my Manhattan.)

That recording came out better. Far from perfect, but better. Better still, I completed a five-minute recording in less than 30 minutes. Based on my limited experience, crude facilities and inherent laziness, it was enough to convince me that audio memoir has a great future. It’s wonderful! There would be a recording that someone might listen to long after I’m gone. Holy moly–I’d live on!

Alas, I didn’t stop there.

Nope. I started thinking about how much better I could make the recording if I only added images. What I really wanted was a slide show. Not only could I tell my toddler tale of adventure, I could bring it to life with pictures! How cool would that be? Only, the Howdy Doody TV 1953question I should have asked was, how long will that take?

As it turns out, it took too long. Less than twenty hours, but way more than ten. And almost all of that time was spent looking for acceptable illustrations, enough to fill up the five minutes of audio. These included: photos of myself at age three (I found one), photos of my family when I was three (I fudged those), photos of the town where it happened (Lombard, Illinois, in 1953), plus vintage photos of barber shops, elevated train tracks, old Plymouth sedans, and candy from the days of Howdy Doody.

I used slide show creation software called Photo to Movie (available here), with which I was already quite familiar. If I’d had to learn all the software from scratch, the process would have taken even longer. But, I hasten to add, not so long that it would prevent someone from doing an entire memoir this way. One would simply have to budget their time, do a little bit each day, and compile a wonderful and unique life record.

Anyway, here’s a link to that show on YouTube. I didn’t take the time needed to repair damaged photos, nor did I re-do the sound track to repair the obvious glitches. But this will give you a good idea of what I had in mind. I’m sure I’ll go back and make the updates it needs one day, but right now I’ve just got too much on my plate. This, however, qualifies in my mind as a darned good start.

–Josh

 

Posted in Memoir, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

What you need is…

…A Time and a Place

49985024_sI’ve often heard people talk about something called “writer’s block,” but the ones doing the talking are rarely writers, by which I mean folks who spend a good deal of time, day-to-day, stringing words together with the aim of publication. The condition, as I understand it, prevents writers from writing. The causes aren’t physical, like writer’s cramp, or writer’s bowel (where one’s digestive tract is too closely aligned with one’s keyboard), or writer’s ass where one has simply been sitting in one spot too long.

Writer’s block is something else. Fortunately, I’ve never suffered from it. I don’t know if this is a genetic thing or not, but I can almost always find something to write about. It may not be worth reading, but that’s a judgment best left for others to make. I’ll continue to spew out words anyway.

What I have suffered from, on occasion, is a lack of desire to write. That’s a whole different critter, and one which I can’t blame on anything else. Sometimes I don’t feel like writing. Maybe I’d rather be drinking, or playing golf, or horsing around with my grandkids. But none of that is writer’s block. It’s writer’s excuse, maybe, or just simply writer’s day off.

The urge to take a break — technically known as “goofing off” (from old Greek, gewph, referring to a slovenly low-life, and middle Teutonic, auf, meaning… uhm, “off”) — is well known and afflicts word merchants, brain surgeons, sanitation engineers, and everyone in between. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. It just is. Calling it by some other name doesn’t change anything. I believe writer’s block is closely akin to this malady.

The only way I know to sidestep writer’s block is to park one’s posterior in a chair and resume writing. (If you absolutely can’t think of anything to write about, try writing about not having anything to write about. Sheesh.) It helps immensely to have an actual place where one can do this. It could be a room dedicated to the purpose, but if such grand space isn’t available, one can press a corner into service.

Sadly, even such limited efforts are out of reach to some writers, or would-be writers. In which case, temporary space should be defined. A kitchen or dining room table could be commandeered, for instance. The effectiveness of this technique can be greatly enhanced by establishing a certain regularly scheduled time when the area is reserved for the writer.

20162045_s_txtI’ve known writers who, on a regular basis, lock themselves in their private space be it closet, cubby hole, or tent and refuse to respond to anything but absolute emergencies. The definition of “emergency” is, of course, left entirely to the writer. The one thing such folks aren’t doing is waiting for the muse or some other mystical entity to materialize and whack them upside the head with the brainstorm stick.

If you happen to be living with someone like this, you have my sympathy. My bride, by the way, is one who has such sympathy. Alas, it can’t be helped. Writers must write, after all. This need shouldn’t be held against them; they have no choice. It’s like an itch; it can only be ignored for so long, and then it must be given a hearty scratch.

If you’re tired of scratching, admit it. Don’t blame it on some delusional disease. Seriously, that’s not fair to people who really aren’t well.

–Josh

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My writing partner’s view on our collaboration

Uh, Josh. About that….

There's a reason we didn't argue much....

There’s a reason we didn’t argue much….

I asked my former writing partner, Barbara Galler-Smith, to read and comment on my recent tirade about collaborations. I couldn’t think of anyone more uniquely qualified to add her two cents worth. She was not only kind enough to respond, she blew me away with it. I’m damned lucky to count her as a close friend, and I urge my readers to absorb her advice and counsel; it will serve you well. Here’s what Barb (aka: Barbara and BJ) had to say:

Painting is not my department.

Actually it used to be.  Imagine trying to paint a kitchen with a talented painter. Imagine that kitchen.  Now ask that painter what kind of kitchen is it, because you know it’s important to know whether it’s Grannie’s Bake shop with a wood burning stove, a brass and glass with all the modern big city conveniences, or the kind of galley kitchen you had when you first moved away from home and didn’t know there was any way you could fill up all that storage space in the pressed wood panel cupboards.

And that painter says it’s a kitchen… stove, fridge, sink. Kitchen. And for that painter it’s enough because after all, it’s not about the accoutrements; it’s about the painting. But, you say, the tile on the splash board is orange and brown (yes, 1960s), and he wants to Dollarphotoclub_62241220 txtpaint the wall pink with mauve trim (yes, the 90s and my real kitchen). And somewhere along the line you begin to trust the painter knows how to paint, and he knows you know about colors, and pretty soon he’s slapping on the paint, and you’re changing the paint pot and when he objects, you just argue.

Then something really cool happens.  The painter develops a better eye for color, and you get a better hand at painting.  And violá! You have a fantastic kitchen exactly the way you both like it.

Collaboration is nothing like that.

It’s hard work. But with the right collaborator it’s also a joy.  It’s being a parent.  You birth something in pain and suffering, with love and joy, and feel thrilled and impatient and vindicated, and hurt, and exhilarated and competent, and free, and talented and over your head. And when you’re done, it’s not perfect–what child is–but you love it.

And it was worth it.

I think writing a book is the hardest thing anyone could ever do.  For every hundred who have a book in them, fewer than ten will sit down and start to write it.  And of those ten, probably only one or two will actually finish it.

I agree with Josh that collaborations are harder still.

Barb and me in Ohio CU

Barb displaying patience; Josh displaying bourbon.

They take more patience and tolerance, and require more swallowing of all those things born out of fatigue or frustration for the greater good–the work in progress.  And trust. Without that trust that you can work through every disagreement, from the minuscule to the huge, you will fail. Josh once complimented me on a scene I wrote. I recall he said it was moving and brilliant.  Before the smile could form a home on my face, he also told me the scene had to go–the critical element (a character’s death) happened far too soon in the story, and the way he died wouldn’t work.  Josh made his point well. Sure I argued some, but he was right and with barely a second thought, we dropped it. I was right when I argued the reader can’t wait 18 chapters to get back to Rhonwen in the middle of book two–we needed to write what she’d been up to! He agreed. Trust works both ways.

And to get back to the painting analogy, you really do need complimentary styles. They can be very similar or they can be sufficiently different that you fill in where the other may miss. It’s not a contest–it’s a creation greater than the two writers separately. You let go of your writer-ego, and then you create something only the two of you could make together. The voice of the author is a new, third unique voice.

Writing four novels with Josh were the hardest and most satisfying work I’d ever done, and most of my memories are sweetened with the good stories. He knows what he’s talking about.  I still don’t agree with everything he says, but then that’s what makes novels so fun — there’s something out there for everyone.

And did I forget to mention outlines are essential?  But that’s another whole blog.

By the way, Josh is a pill (unlike me), but he’s one talented pill.  And I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Barbara Galler-Smith

druidsCover_v06FRONTrgb300dpi-c12 CaptivesCover_v03FrontRGB-200dpi Warriors-270px-100dpi-C8

The Druids Saga: Druids, Captives, and Warriors, a historical adventure with a fantasy element, and Under Saint Owain’s Rock, a contemporary romantic comedy.

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My View on Collaborations

“Know whut? We should write a novel!”

And thus, all too often, are collaborations born.

Collab01How many times this has occurred is unknowable, although I’d guess the thought has crossed the minds of nearly every writer at one time or another. The number of projects actually completed is minimal, and the number of publishable works is even smaller. Because collaborations are just so darned difficult.

One could liken the task to painting a large building. There’s great enthusiasm in the beginning. “Look at all the shiny cans of paint!” The brushes and rollers are laid out in neat and orderly fashion, the drop cloths look so tidy all folded up inside their plastic wrappers. The sun is out; the sky is clear, and the temperature is absolutely perfect for painting. The two, equal partners survey the surface, do a high five and a quick change into painting togs.

“You start here, and I’ll start over there,” she says.

“Okay, but y’know, I’m way better at trim and detail stuff,” says he.

“No problem. I’ll just dig in with the roller. I’ll do the broad strokes, and you can fill in the gaps.”

And just like that, they embark on a job that could take a very long time. That assumes, of course, that the excitement they started with remains intact, and that they both keep working at close to top speed, which, sadly, won’t happen.

As his painting skills improve, he’ll find things he doesn’t like about his partner’s performance. She goes too fast and misses spots, or she goes too slow and can’t get anything done unless he nags her. Conversely, she’s thinking the same things about him.

When it comes to artistry, she’s clearly superior, at least in her mind. She doesn’t need him to come along behind her and touch up anything. She liked it the way it was! Ah, but the temptation to tweak his work is fully justified, because… well… just look at it. Right?

Collab02Now imagine trying to pull off the intellectual equivalent of painting a big building — a stadium, for instance. That’s what a novel is — a good one, anyway. It’s got multiple floors, compartments of all sizes, interior issues and exterior issues, variable color schemes, and a potential audience of millions, each of whom is capable of finding the slightest error.

Beginning to get the picture? Now imagine painting that massive structure without a plan. “Oh, we’ll just jump right in and start painting. What’s the big deal? We’ve discussed the color scheme; we know where the cheap seats are and what kinds of things the sky box owners will want. We’ve got this!”

What you actually have is a dream. Making it a reality is next to impossible. And I’m speaking from experience. Canadian writer/editor Barbara Galler-Smith and I finished four novels collaboratively. We sold the first three to a traditional publisher and put the fourth one out independently. (Additional info on all four books can be found here. You’ll have to do some scrolling.)

Amazingly, they’re all quite wonderful books, and we’re equally and justifiably proud of every one. But it’s unlikely we’ll ever attempt another.

Why? Because it’s just too darned hard!

A successful collaboration begins with each partner surrendering his or her ego. If that can’t be done on Day One, there’s no need to move on to Day Two. Period.

Next, both parties must agree on a plan — who’s going to write what, and in what order. Might as well decide on edits, feedback and update formats while you’re at it. If you don’t use a word processor that records ALL changes in an Accept/Reject format, your project is doomed. (We used MS Word’s Review function. But the technology isn’t exclusive to Word by any means.)

Collab03A detailed outline is critical, and neither party should deviate from the outline without a profoundly good reason, and they’d best be ready to defend any such changes for the good of the overall story. The outline will then have to be amended, and all resulting plot problems identified, discussed, and resolved in a mutually agreeable fashion. Don’t think for a moment you can come back later and tidy up. You’re just kidding yourself.

And then there’s the whole matter of research. If you’re writing historical fiction, you’ll need to agree on sources and how to resolve disputed views. We chose to write about a period that was only documented by ancient Romans, though our story was told from the viewpoint of the Roman’s arch rivals, the Celts. Whether you’re extrapolating from actual history or just free-wheeling from your imaginations, you’ll need to agree on a framework that works for both of you. Just calling it “magic” won’t cut it.

There may be other ways to approach such a project, but this is the formula Barbara and I adopted, and luckily for us, it worked. And, based on the foregoing, it should come as no surprise that it took 17 years from the time we started the first book until the last book came out.

If you’re considering such an effort, I urge you to take some time to think it through. You and your prospective writing partner can always work on two different projects simultaneously and offer critiques and encouragement to each other along the way. Writing a novel by yourself is a difficult and daunting task. It takes time, patience, perseverance, and drive. Yes, of course it takes talent, too. Writing a book collaboratively requires even more time, greater patience, and the sort of drive and determination long distance/open water swimmers need in order to succeed.

Collab04Creating a top quality novel as a collaborative effort is like swimming the English Channel without a wet suit. Tethered to an anchor. In the winter.

Dorothy Parker’s comment about wannabe writers applies to budding collaborators, too: “If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.”

Her words are worth considering. If writing solo is tough, imagine how much tougher it is when done in concert with someone else.

–Josh

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You want me to do *what?*

For two long months, my memoir-writing students sat through my critiques of their work. Finally, they’d had enough. “Show us what you can do,” they said, in various shades of unison. So I did. The following is my answer to a descriptive writing assignment featuring a place or thing with great personal meaning.

I Can’t Forget My First Car, Damn It

18 and oh so wise

Hard to be humble when you’re 18 and know everything.

The day I bought my first car was somewhat less than exciting. I had just celebrated my 18th birthday and thought pretty highly of myself. After all, I’d worked a couple jobs and saved some money. As a senior in high school, I managed to put most of the hard classes behind me. College lay ahead, somewhere, somehow, but the prospect didn’t interest me all that much. What I wanted was transportation of my own.

My folks had been pretty good about letting me use one of their cars, to get to work mostly and occasionally for dates. But I still had to ask for permission to use it. Independence demanded the ability to go from one place to another without anyone’s approval.

I needed wheels.

And I eventually got some.

Sorta.

My first car, a 1956 Ford, was only a few years younger than me, but it showed a great deal more wear and tear. The original two-tone paint job remained largely intact and consisted of a white that had faded to cadaver gray and a blue-green color that didn’t appear in nature. Peppered here and there in varying sizes were rust spots, dents, scratches, and dirt. Lots of dirt.

How my car looked to me.

How my car looked to me.

The interior looked even worse. Cigarette burns in the cloth seats could not be hidden by the stains from whatever the previous owners had spilled. Clean up seemed not to have been on any of their agendas. Nor did air fresheners. Rather than sporting a new car smell, my Ford’s aroma was more reminiscent of vagrants and wet dogs.

Boiled down to its essence, the only thing my car had in its favor was the fact I was the sole owner. I paid cash, $450 as I recall, plus the towing fee to haul it to my address where it hunkered down in a corner of the driveway and continued to decompose.

After a few nervous weeks I became resigned to the idea that the “friends” who swore to help me restore the vehicle were loathsome liars, utterly feckless fiends undeserving of my trust, to say nothing of my remaining assets, paltry though they were. The aging Ford was mine, and mine alone–leaky oil pan, “Baldini Supreme” racing slicks, and vile vinyl interior included. I knew, with complete certainty, I was on my own. The cavalry wasn’t going to appear over the hill, at the last moment, to rescue me from my folly. Life sucked.

Ditto, the Ford.

56 Ford ugly 2

How my car looked to everyone else.

“Pride goeth before the fall” ‘tis said, but I had no idea it would make a beeline to the JC Whitney catalog, where parts were available for virtually anything that ever sported wheels or laid claim to the description “automotive transport.”

Ah, but what the catalog also contained was a wealth of accoutrements which would make my terminally arthritic auto uber-appealing to prospective buyers. I had my choice of an endless supply of racing pillows, flags, shiny hubcaps, and more chrome “doodadery” than the adolescent mind could possibly comprehend. Naturally, I wanted all of it: every last, glittery, pointless, impractical, preposterous, nonsensical piece of car-related crap I could get my hands on.

vintage auto accessory ad

Why buy tires when you can get tail lights like this?

I wasted none of my precious funds on carburetors, tires with actual treads, mufflers, spark plugs, windshield wipers or dipsticks. Heaven forfend! I wanted a skull-shaped gear shift knob, glow-in-the-dark dice hanging from my review mirror (or, at least the spot from whence a mirror once hung), a chrome steering wheel knob for hard, possibly life-threatening turns, and rear window speakers for the AM-only radio. An antenna would have made more sense, but geez, rear window speakers. Come on!

I even bought a gallon of paint-restoring auto wax, guaranteed to generate a showroom shine. It never dawned on me that getting rust to shine might be tricky.

I ended up with the finest looking pile of fecal Ford that ever graced a driveway. My parents were less than pleased. My alleged vehicle had two tires which actually held air. The other two were disturbingly flat on one side.

“How’s the spare?” Dad asked.

“Spare?” Head scratch. “There’s supposed to be a spare?”

I learned a lot.

None of it good.

With my permission, Dad had the shiny pile of automotive excrement hauled away. He got $200 for it which he gave me in a bank deposit envelope, minus twenty bucks which he claimed as a storage fee.

Sometimes, growing up is hard. Sometimes it’s expensive. The alternative, however, is infinitely worse.

And so that’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it.

–Josh

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A Different Kind of Collaboration

H-CUn2Sometimes, collaborating on a story is easy; sometimes it’s unbearably difficult, even impossible. And sometimes, it’s magical. My current collaboration is a perfect example. And because such magical opportunities are rare, I’m stepping away from my usual sort of post to talk about it.

It began when two, lovely and perpetually young, great-grandmothers enlisted my aid in the development of a children’s storybook. The tale, “Hopper and Amos,” is an adventure featuring a baby bird and an intensely curious cat. The story itself is simple and reality-based: an event which unfolded in the garden of the author’s home. The book is intended for children lucky enough to have A-02Bnparents or grandparents who will read it to them.

The author, Ceil Ramsey, and the illustrator, Joanne Davis, are long-time friends who, fortunately for me, both reside fairly close by. They told me they had a story and some watercolor artwork to go with it, but they weren’t sure how to put it all together in a finished form. “Will you help us?” they asked.

Despite being knee-deep in writing another textbook, teaching in three different venues, editing and/or proof-reading for a dozen other writers, and helping my bride to get our house ready to sell so we can move in the fall, I agreed.

And why not? It isn’t like I was busy or anything. Geez.

Ceil sent me the text of the story which, by itself, isn’t terribly moving. I’m a good 65 years older than the target audience, so it shouldn’t have moved me. Then I saw the preliminary illustrations Joanne had done. I quickly realized what a wonderful match the two were, bio pic 3and how they so perfectly complimented each other. A simple story coupled with simple artwork became more than the sum of the parts.

It needed a text font to seal the partnership and a layout to emphasize the theme. The font had to be unusual enough to stimulate and satisfy the reader, and it had to guide the non-reader’s search for the illustrations that made the story click. I took a stab at it with a fanciful font and did a nearly full layout, all the while keeping my fingers crossed that I hadn’t gone overboard.

Fortunately, they liked the results, and after tinkering with some of the details, we were ready to move on. Ceil modified some of the wording, while Joanne revamped some of her watercolors. I revised the layout, pulled a cover together, and we ordered proof copies.

Cover white bkgdThey arrived last week, and we’re delighted.

We’ve still got some things to do before we’re completely happy with the final product, but we’re very close. We’ve hit upon a number of marketing ideas we’re eager to test, but we don’t want to jump the gun.

This post could be considered our opening promotional salvo, but I’m really sharing it to brag about my great good fortune in connecting with Ceil and Joanne.

We are eager to find review-writing first readers. If you have a child or grandchild, or know one who isn’t reading yet, this might be a great chance to entertain them and assist a pair of wonderful and talented great-grandmothers in their first commercial publishing effort. If you’d like to help, please reply and let me know.

Thanks!

–Josh

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