Teaser Tuesday

This is the first paragraph of a story that’s been floating around in my head for a while now – it’s a fairy tale … a bit different for me… though I’m not sure yet just which fairy tale. Anyway, I don’t have time to write it right now, as I’m pretty busy with various other projects, but I thought I’d put it out here and maybe you, dear Reader, could leave some sort of inspiration in the form of a comment?

*****

I believe that all this nonsense started with my christening, although some might argue that I was doomed from the day of my birth. I was the youngest child and only daughter of the Chieftain of Alagonia. I had three elder brothers, the youngest of which was fully ten years my senior, and they all doted on me from a young age and probably did their best to spoil me. Had I been any more inclined towards vanity, I probably would have soaked up their attention and been quite intolerable. As it was, I took their regard for granted, but never allowed it to go to my head.

~ jenelle

Dragons: Legends and Lore of Dinosaurs

Of all the books that I’ve gotten through the blogging review program, this one has to be up near the top of my list. Some of you may remember the blog post I did a while back concerning why I believe dragons once actually existed? Well, apparently I’m not the only one. This book combines all sorts of facts from history with many legends about dragons with verses from the Bible that indicate the existence of dragons at one time (many of those verses are the same ones I used in my post, which you can read here).

However, all that is not why I love this book. I love this book because it is so cleverly constructed. With text at an elementary or jr. high reading level it clearly explains that dragons and dinosaurs may have been one and the same type of creature, making dinosaurs seem even more intriguing than before. It boasts amazing illustrations that even a very young child will be fascinated by. Beyond that, this book has something fun and “hands-on” to do on almost every page.

Page two boasts a page covered in six little envelopes, each with the name of a different country or realm on it (Babylon, Greece, China, America, United Kingdom, and South America). Inside each envelope is a folded piece of nice, glossy paper. Unfold this paper and you can read about a dragon legend that exists (or existed) in that part of the world.

Turn the page and you get to unfold the page and look behind the flap at some pictures of dragons depicted in ancient art. On the other page you can open a small book-within-a-book and read “Eyewitness Accounts and Encounters” – humorously labelled “Open with Caution.”

This trend of opening things, lifting flaps, and unfolding pages continues throughout this short, 22-page book.

The true test? My 2.5 year old daughter loves this book. And although I don’t let her play with it unsupervised, it is interesting enough that I love reading it to her. (Even if I just read her a paraphrased version, or narrate the pictures for her).

Many thanks to New Leaf Publishing Group for providing this book for review. They did not ask for a positive review, just an honest one. Many thanks to them for their patience as well, as this review should have been up months ago.

~ jenelle

Bittersweet Moment

As of yesterday morning, The Dragon’s Eye has been pulled out of circulation (there are, of course, still copies available for the moment through amazon, but only a limited number of copies). I went to my account and changed its status to “incomplete” in preparation for the new version.

It was an oddly bittersweet moment. I mean… the version that is out there is nowhere near as polished. It’s not as well thought-through. Certain characters are not as well developed. What I’ve done in the past year and a half with re-writing and editing has really changed the feel of the book. It’s still the same story, but there’s a lot more depth there now. There’s a direction to the book, which makes sense, since the first version was written before I knew the book would turn into a quadrilogy. I did no outlining for the first book, I had no idea where it was going, I just wrote 10 pages every day and let the story lead me wherever it wanted to go. It was a great ride… and it taught me a lot about writing. It taught me the value of outlining… a great author (I can’t remember who it was, it might have been Terry Brooks) once said that you’ll either do the work at the beginning of the writing process or at the end… but you’ll do the work either way. I love the surprise of letting the story twist and turn on its own, I love the not-knowing exactly where I’m going to end up… but I don’t love the re-writing that inevitably follows that sort of writing.

I’ve since learned that your story can still surprise you, even with an extensive outline to follow. In the midst of the writing process, a character may show up where you didn’t expect him to be, and you decide on the fly that it’s better this way than the way you had it in your outline, and that’s just fine.

If I’m honest with myself, now that I’ve done all this re-writing, I’m a little embarrassed of the first edition. And yet, it’s my first edition. The first truly book-length novel I ever wrote. The first book of mine I ever saw in published format. A lot of hard work went into it getting it written, having a friend design the cover and edit it. I will keep a copy of it on my shelf. But it’s time to say “good-bye” to The Dragon’s Eye, because I’ve moved on as a writer. I’m no longer a 19-year old college freshman, and I no longer write like one. This book is the first of a quadrilogy, a series of four books in which my writing style improved and grew and in which I found that all-important writer’s “voice.” I had to do the re-write to get it up to the standard of the rest of the series. Perhaps if it were a stand-alone I could have let it be. But it isn’t, so I can’t.

I know it’s silly. You’re sitting there reading this and scratching your head thinking, “Um… am I missing something? Didn’t you just edit your first book? It’s not like it’s gone.”

True.

But it is gone, sort of. Although the characters and the story are the same, so much of it is different inside now that it feels brand new to me. The book isn’t The Dragon’s Eye anymore, it has truly become a totally different book: King’s Warrior.

So keep an eye out, because my goal is to get King’s Warrior published this fall and into circulation in time for the holidays! (And maybe a mid-West book tour!) I’ll keep you posted on the details of all that, never fear.

Thanks for listening to my ramblings. :)

~ jenelle

Second Picture Story Saturdays

THE LAUNDRY CHUTE ADVENTURE: PART II

“Oh come on, Gwenny! Please!” We chorused convincingly. “We promise we’ll be right behind you.”
    “Cross your hearts and hope to die?” Gwenny glared at us fiercely, binding us to the deepest oath we knew.
    We nodded and promised. After a few more moments of hesitation in order to make certain of our earnesty, Gwenny grinned and headed carefully down into the darkly yawning chasm. When she reached the bottom she whispered the news of her success back to us and we began our cautious descent. One by one we let ourselves down; the older cousins helping the younger cousins reach the floor without incident. Muffled giggles and suppressed laughter filled the little laundry room and woke up Annie and Dannie, the household Labradors. Eager to join in the fun they wriggled and writhed, wagging their tails and pressing their cold, wet noses into our faces.
    After a few minutes of giggling and playing with the dogs, we turned back to the lower end of the laundry chute. What had been our escape route from the orphanage now became our secret tunnel out of the Nazi concentration camp (at least one of us had seen “The Great Escape” a few too many times). The laundry room with its concrete floor and the dog cages and the “instruments of torture” (the washing machine and dryer) was the perfect spot for our new scenario.
    Going up was much harder than going down. It was like climbing up a tunnel slide that was far too steep, and the sides were perfectly flat and straight and offered no purchase to little fingers and toes. Once again the older ones helped the younger ones clamber up the chute by boosting us up into the opening, and then we younger ones reached down and helped pull the older ones up and out of the laundry chute and back into the closet.
    At long last, only valiant Gwenny was left downstairs. Thinking only of her cousins, she had remained below at the very end to help everybody back up the chute. Now she began her own precarious climb. She got up on the washing machine and tried and tried without avail to pull herself up into the laundry chute. It was all but useless, however, with no one left to give her a boost she could not quite pull herself inside. One of the older cousins, Gayle or Wendy, lowered me down headfirst into the opening by my legs and told me to grab Gwenny’s hand. Terrified of heights as I was, I would have walked through fire and jumped from a plane to help save our courageous Gwenny. We could leave no one behind for the evil orphan keeper or the strict Nazis to find and flog! However, even with my five year old body stretched the length of the laundry chute, precariously being hung head-down by my feet and stretching my arms as far as I could, I still could not quite reach Gwenny’s hand. Our fingertips touched for an instant, but that was all. It was then we realized that it would never work.
    Heads older and wiser than ours would have at that point lowered bed sheets down through the chute to pull our stranded friend up the laundry chute; however, we had watched “Annie” that night, not “Anne of Green Gables.” There was no other choice. In order to return to us, Gwenny would have to walk across the basement, climb the stairs, and run the gauntlet: walking directly through the living room where our parents were gathered. There was no other way around, no way to avoid it, and nothing left to do but accept our fate.
    There were no tears. Gwenny lifted her chin and squared her shoulders bravely as she prepared to face this most terrifying fate. Whispering words of encouragement and support, we watched and waited until we heard Gwenny leave the laundry room. In fear and trepidation we listened and imagined we could hear her climbing the wooden steps on the other side of the basement. Then we heard a stir in the room next to us and the voices of our parents grew louder. We heard Gwenny attempting to explain and then we heard the awful footsteps in the hallway approaching the room where we were supposed to be sleeping. The door opened and our parents looked in on seven little girls lying in bed in a semblance of angelic and innocent slumber.
    Afraid for our very lives, we were more than willing to abandon our valiant comrade to her sad demise. With a stern reprimand, Gwenny was told to get in bed and go to sleep, and then the door closed once more. With a quiet sigh, we cautiously cracked our eyes open and peeked at our beloved cousin. She was glaring at us fiercely.
    “Well,” Kim said timidly, “at least it was an adventure!”
    Gwenny and I often fought and sometimes held grudges, but no one could ever stay mad at Kim for long. Gwenny tried to hold a glower for a moment more, but then she began to shake with badly concealed laughter and broke into a wide grin and bounced onto the bed where we whispered and giggled excitedly until one-by-one we drifted off to sleep, exhausted by a full day of daring exploring and dangerous adventures.

~ jenelle