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 . . .)