Hop Around the Block

Your correspondent here at Bookseedstudio, Jan Annino,  is in a tag team book blog hop.   
My  thanks  to  the author who tagged me,  Anne Macdonald of the Guppy Listserv & her blog,
Anne’s Writing Life   
At the end of this blog  I tag the next author-hoppers.
And if it’s enabled on your device/laptop/ etc., I hope you like the drifting snow. I’ll see you here again next year – Happy Holidays!

C. copyright notice – as always, all rights reserved.

working title of the current book
 I’m a blithering bundle of contradictions about title choices, especially in non-fiction, where a writer works with actual factual elements. So, the work remains untitled. A contender is “Peaches,” a nickname of the subject, but that likely won’t be it.
how did the idea occur?
I enjoy snooping in accomplished folks homes that are preserved as historic sites, open to the public. My parents brought me to the subject’s farm home as a kid. One family hobby was pulling over on rural drives to read historic markers. On occasion I got lucky & the historic markers actually had sites to climb around. My interest in Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, who won the Pulitzer Prize for THE YEARLING,  hasn’t dimmed. 
what genre does it fall into?
Illustrated biography, also known as a picture book bio for children.These are among the library books that kids in 2nd through 6th grade trudge home with, usually muttering, unless they are from a nerd family, like I am. Students are asked to create & post a movie, make a play, poem, drawing, diorama, poster, or traditional report, about an individual from times past. You may wonder, who asks them to do this? Thankfully, teachers & librarians or media specialists in todayspeak, ask.
a synopsis
In the early 1900s, a future Pulitzer-prize winner who is a little kid as the story begins, delights in days and nights under the wide welcoming sky of the family’s farm meadow, creek and woods.  This immersion in nature prompts the child to perform wolf calls and tell stories for playmates,  when the family is back in the city. She is young – seven, eight, nine – when she holds her neighbor audiences spellbound on the corner steps.  Of course there is a parent hovering around, who frowns upon this unladylike behavior. But despite a fusty Mom, fame and fortune follow our gal years later, as a rugged Florida farmer-writer who introduces the world to the Big Scrub.
will it be self-published or will you have representation?
Expensive -to-produce illustrated books, which come in different colors, shapes & sizes, with a variety of end papers, pull-outs & the like, work well with an experienced editorial traditional press that  teams up expert art direction, top-drawer artists & reproduction. Some time this genre may be created all online & be as heavily downloaded as adult fiction is today.  But for now it remains a standard production as far as I know. Also, recent information suggest that for kiddos, picture books in print form are still overwhelmingly preferred, even by avid e-reading folks. See the TeachingDegree.org info.
For a fun story about the loveliness of traditional, print picture books, please see a discussion about a new book about the beloved school character Lotta Scales, from Carmen Agra Deedy & Michael P. White, Return of the Library Dragon. 
how long did it take you to write the manuscript first draft?
I created a first draft fast, maybe a month, that some folks were kind enough to critique & I realized it needed much more material. Then after a research trip, I enjoyed summer months at work on it. With all the rich added details from the on-site research, which was crucial to inform the writing, the story grew too long. This iteration is in about the 7th draft & I’m able to let go of material.  After idea ignition, revision is a beautiful process.
what other books do you compare this story to, within the genre?
River of Words, about poet William Carlos Williams,  John Muir by Kathryn Lasky, with Stan Fellows, & although it’s fiction, this has some of the feel of  Emerson’s Cook from author/artist Judith Byron Schnachner.
the inspiration for this book was…
Being stuck in other works. I found myself with two in-progress stories, both at a muddy mire. One, a chapter book mystery story, suffered plot stickyness in spots. My attempts at repair weren’t the right fix. The other was a novel for middle grade with a plot that clicked , and  characters who needed crucial issues to be reworked/resolved. That wasn’t happening despite all my overworking it, changes, newvisions, moans…  So I turned my back on both & worked on the picture book biography. It was a joy to be dwelling within a subject’s real life. And to allow the other stories to marinate. Later I went back to the chapter book mystery, which came together well enough to send off for at least a read.  And then back at our key topic today, I sent the p.b. bio manuscript to an illustrator who asked to see it & has generously shared some spot-on suggestions. I am one of those who would rather keep revising & revising & revising…. I always feel there is a way to make it better.
what else about the book will catch a reader’s interest? 
The Florida that readers don’t know – wild bears and boars, strange sinkholes into the earth, a cascade of other curiosities of nature in Scrub Country, a lesser-visited region.  On a political/social justice note,  I find compelling, MKR’s unsung integration writings & individual actions such as overnight stays at historically black campuses in the segregated South – in advance of the civil rights era.
which actors would you choose to play the characters in a movie version?
This is unlikely, but it’s fun to play along. So – Mary Steenburgen channeled MKR in “Cross Creek,” the atmospheric movie and therefore it’s a challenge to think of another interpreter for those years. But I’d be thrilled to see MKR as tackled by Sally Field, who I’ve liked since The Flying Nun & Gidget days & cheered on, as the factory worker, Norma Rae & many other characters she has portrayed.  She  is currently Mrs. Lincoln on the large screen.  For “Peaches,” MKR when she’s in her child years, spying on cows in the meadow and imagining wolves in the woods, it would be a treat to see how Abigail Breslin, Isabella Cramp, Elle Fanning or any of a wide field of talented child actors would enjoy that role.


That’s it for this Q & A. Please visit other blogs next week,  for the Q/As of these tag team authors,  with links (URLs also) below.  I thank them in advance for their contributions:

Wed. Dec. 12 JANET FOX   http://www.kidswriterjfox.blogspot.com

Wed Dec. 12   HILLARY HOMZIE  http://hillaryhomzie.com/

Wed. Dec. 12  M.R. STREET  http://mrstreet.wordpress.com/words-by-wordsmiths/

Wed  Dec. 12  ASHLEY WOLFF  http://ashleywolff.tumblr.com/

C. copyright notice - as always, all rights reserved.


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