Sunday, August 24, 2014

And some people . . .

thought Cuttyhunk Island was remote.

Earth's 'Remotest' Island Is Predictably, Awesomely In The Middle Of Nowhere

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Located over a thousand miles from the nearest landmass, Tristan da Cunha is really remote.
This little group of isolated islands is surrounded by miles and miles of the South Atlantic Ocean. It's 1,750 miles away from the coast of South Africa and 1,500 miles from the nearest landmass, making it the most remote inhabited island group on earth. There are six total islands there: Tristan Da Cunha (the main island), the aptly-named Inaccessible Island, Nightingale Island, Middle, Stoltenhoff and Gough.
Early explorers passed over Tristan da Cunha because of its rugged landscape, lack of natural harbor and harsh climate with heavy winds throughout the year. The island was settled by the Brits in 1816 and has since played important roles in various wars.
Today, the main island is inhabited by about 275 residents, and no new residents are currently allowed. The island's population is made up of 80 families with just seven surnames, meaning mostly everyone is kind of related.
Visiting Tristan da Cunha is a trek, but it's worth it if you want to experience true remoteness. All visitors must receive permission before they embark on their adventure. The island is only accessible by ship via a 1,750 mile, six-day boat ride from Cape Town.
Once on the island, visitors can explore the settlement area, called Edinburgh of the Seven Seas, which boasts shops, a golf course, houses, a school and the harbor. While remote, the settlement isn't totally disconnected -- there's television, radio and an online newspaper. AnInternet cafe opened on the island 2006.
The island is also brimming with wildlife and natural wonders include penguins, albatross, whales, a volcanic park and a variety of vegetation.
tristan da cunha
A visit to Tristan da Cunha is a true adventure. From the island's unique history to its extreme isolation, there's really nothing else like it.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

We interrupt our story . . .

For the first throwback Thursday:
nina hands over the keys to my birthday four wheeler (circa maybe 1985)

the original wooden alert

corner phone booth, famed of song and story

Saturday, August 16, 2014

When last we left our author . . .

She had just dusted off her old middle reader book manuscripts-

And was appalled to realize how badly they were written.  Passive in voice, boring verbs, and a severe lack of attention to detail. 

But the plot line was strong and the characters fairly well drawn.  There was some good stuff there, and the books were, I felt, worth saving.  Armed with my newfound knowledge in how to write decent prose, I immediately set about attempting to rewrite all three novels at once.

Right.  Well it seems like a good idea at the time,

continuity girl
 given that I was going to have to make changes in the first novel that would run through the other two.  And in theory it was a good idea.  It’s just impossible to rewrite three books at the same time and keep everything straight.  At least it was for me.  I either needed to go back to rewriting the novels one at a time, or hire a continuity girl.

There’s never a continuity girl around when you need one.

So I started with Coyote Summer, both because it was originally the first book in the series and because it felt the most complete. I’d played with switching the other two in the series around a bit, and even taken Hurricane Summer out of the series entirely and re-written it as a YA novel. They were going to need some major work.

I re-wrote Coyote Summer 
sentence by sentence. 

Literally.  I tightened and restructured, and moved my heroine's age up a year.  I’d read that kids liked to read books where the hero or heroine was at older than they were, and I intended this book for the 8-12 year old average age range. 

I then sent the book off to my editor for Cuttyhunk: Life On The Rock, and held my breath.

She liked it. Oh, she had many editorial suggestions, and I ended up paying her for a professional edit of the book.
I wanted Coyote Summer to be the strongest possible story when I sent it out this time around. I gave the professionally edited manuscript to  my partner Deborah, and waited rather breathlessly for her opinion. 

It had been quite a while since she’d seen the book.

Her comment? “The end is too rushed. You need two more chapters.”

Surprisingly, this proved to be very easy. I think I must have had the same thought brewing in the back of my mind for some time.

Finally, it was as done as it was going to be. I had researched publishers who would look at this sort of book without an agent, and made a small list. First on the list was a publisher whose work I’d seen at the VA Festival of the Book when I read there the previous year. I’d taken a copy of his catalog, and Coyote Summer seemed a good fit.

I composed an appropriate introductory letter and sent off the first three chapters.
to be continued . . .

Friday, August 1, 2014

I've been very busy

Not writing this blog, as you may have noticed. Or, perhaps not. Either way, it has been not happening here, right under your collective noses.

I have been writing postcard poems, instead. One a day, for the 31 days of August. And haikus, some of which you've seen on my facebook page, if you read that sort of thing. 
And trying to master social media to promote Coyote Summer. 

I did begin to write the story of how the Summerhood novels came about, but it's kind of a long and twisted tale. So I am taking a page from those young upstarts Dickens and Twain and serializing it. 
Here we go- Part the !st.

I first started what has now become the Summerhood Island trilogy (Coyote Summer, Summer of the Ghost/Thief, Hurricane Summer) more than fifteen years ago.  I had been away from Cuttyhunk Island just long enough that I could begin to think about using it as the background for a story. 

I’m not sure why now that I decided to write what was then called a “middle reader.”  Perhaps it was just an age I felt most comfortable with, that period just on the cusp of adulthood, those last few moments when you are convinced that anything is possible if you try hard enough, if you want it enough.  That brief moment when you’ve got full control of your body, 

before the judgments and restrictions of adulthood begin to settle on your shoulders.

As I began to write, I quickly realized that my heroine was largely the girlchild I wish I had been; the child I believe I could have been had I been allowed that freedom.  I actually reined my character in somewhat, as I wanted her life to be  more believable than my imagination.

After I had written the three books in the trilogy I began to shop them around, and quickly discovered there was no market for books like mine at the time.  The bottom had fallen out of the children’s book market, although there was still a small market for picture books.  No one was taking chapter books and the concept of a young adult market was still on the horizon.  Even the classics, the Newberry winners, the Caldecott medalists, were dropping in sales.  

After forty-two straight rejections of any or all of the books, I resigned them to the top drawer of an old file cabinet

where they languished from 2002 until 2012. Meanwhile, I went about my business, writing poetry, opening and closing restaurants, and in general, acting like the adult people told me I had become.  I didn't leave Cuttyhunk Island completely behind, however; I made island the subject of my first nonfiction work, a memoir about running an inn, cooking, and the great people who lived there.

Heartened by the significant if small in scope attention that this work engendered and by the upswing in interest of YA and ‘tween' novels (as middle readers are now called), I pulled my manuscripts out of their dusty file cabinet to see if they were worth saving.  I still remembered and cherished my main character, a strong girl named Jessie, and hoped she would have something to say to a new generation of young readers.

(to be continued . . .)