Happy 2nd Anniversary, “My Life With Gracie!”

Today, August 1, marks the 2nd Anniversary of “My Life With Gracie,” and so I thought it might be good to do a little reflection. (I have even switched back to our original online theme.) Below is our very first post ever. It started with an illustration. (Because who would want to read a story if it didn’t have an illustration?) It had exactly 121 words. (Because who would want to read much more than than that?) It ended with an illustration. (Because who would want to read all of the way to the end otherwise?)

I was as unsure and uncertain as you see Gracie in the illustration. She was drawn as just one little newly hatched chick in a huge world, and I had no idea we would find friends all over this huge world.

It’s funny how things can change in two years. We have now just published a pair novels (see yesterday’s post), each with 40,000 words, one with illustrations and one without. Imagine that! 40,000 words and not an illustration in sight except for on the cover!

More importantly, we have met so many wonderful readers these past two years who have shared our joys and our sorrows with us. Our readers have shaped “My Life With Gracie” in more ways than I will probably ever know, and so I have a huge amount of gratitude in my heart as a result.

This original post also reminds me of how short life can be for chickens and for people. And I still have a few more books to write before I will feel as if I’ve really said all that needs to be said.

Blanche and Pearl have been at the center of the book pair “The Bottle Cap Lady” and “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens.” I do like the idea of having a pair of books, one illustrated and the other not, and so I am likely to continue the pattern unless I find one version is extremely more popular than the other.

I think the next novel will be about Emily and Amelia and how Amelia was the first chicken ever to fly to the moon and back. (And she was. Emily painted a sign and we posted it in the front yard so everyone would know. Amelia would have never been able to make the trip there and back if it hadn’t been for Emily.)

The third and perhaps final novel will be about Gracie and Bessie and the ballet titled “The Rose Garden Princess.” As I have told Gracie many times, it will be the best book ever and it will be for just the two of us. It is likely to be our last novel because I can’t make up stories. I can’t imagine things that haven’t happened. It’s like now that Blanche has left us, I can’t write an imaginary story that begins “One day Blanche and Pearl…” I just can’t make up stories. So I write what I know and love, but sometimes I do let my imagination get the best of me when filling in the small details.

Although I jokingly write about how the world is clamoring for another great chicken novel, I know we are a very small exceptionality in a huge world. It’s likely most of our huge world is looking for something other than stories about an old man and his backyard chickens, even phenomenally talented chickens who dance ballet and dream the biggest of dreams. But the world is also filled with grace if only you look for it.

An Introduction

People say to be a good writer you should write about what you know and love. For me, that has to be my chickens, and most particularly my Gracie.

She and my other chickens have taught me more about life and about myself than I will ever have time to write. Still I want to put some of it down and share what I can while I still remember most of it.

No story is complete without pictures, and so I will draw those as well. The style is rather simple with a childlike innocence, but hopefully the message will not be.

My Life With Gracie taught me how life itself is filled with grace if you only look for it.

My Life With Gracie...An Introduction

Now Available: The Most Long-Anticipated Pair Of Chicken Novels Of The Century! Perhaps Of All Time!

More people than a chicken can count have been clamoring for a really good chicken novel. It’s likely you’ve heard someone wondering aloud in a dejected sort of way, “Will I ever find a good old-fashioned, feel-good novel about a chicken?” Well, the waiting is over!

These novels contain the same story, just with different titles and different covers. The text is the same with only a few differences in the preface, introduction, and epilogue which reference illustrations. Pick the one that suits you best! (And save the author the difficult decision of choosing just one audience and genre!)

You might want to think of “The Bottle Cap Lady” as children’s fiction pretending to be adult fiction. It is the unillustrated version of the story and placed in Adult Literature. In the same way, you might want to consider “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens” as adult fiction disguised as children’s fiction. It is the illustrated version and placed in Children’s Literature.

Both books tell what happened one Christmas when the world of The Bottle Cap Lady intersected the world of a little white hen named Pearl who has always had a “heaping helping” of curiosity.

The Bottle Cap Lady has served up more Deluxe Chicken Dinners than anyone else at The Chicken Place restaurant. Pearl does not want to become a Deluxe Chicken Dinner, but she hopes The Bottle Cap Lady can explain Christmas to her. Even though The Bottle Cap Lady is strange and often dangerously unpredictable, she has more Christmas lights and decorations than anyone, so surely she must know more about Christmas than anyone. Right?

There is a Christmas gift that only Pearl can give to The Bottle Cap Lady, but will she dare…even if it means giving up her own Christmas wish…and perhaps even her life?

Amazon eBooks

“The Bottle Cap Lady” is now available as an eBook novel for $2.99 through Amazon! Go there for “The Bottle Cap Lady” eBook!

“How To Explain Christmas To Chickens” is now available as an eBook novel with 10 full-color illustrations for $2.99 through Amazon! Go there for “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens” eBook!

Barnes & Noble eBooks

“The Bottle Cap Lady” is now available as an eBook novel for $2.99 through Barnes & Noble! Go there for “The Bottle Cap Lady” eBook!

“How To Explain Christmas To Chickens” is now available as an eBook novel with 10 full-color illustrations for $2.99 through Barnes & Noble! Go there for “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens” eBook!

Special Note: Both novels will be available as paperbacks once the printed proofs have been reviewed and approved!

Super Special Note: With the current global health and economic crisis, even just a few dollars could be a huge amount for some of our readers. We will be releasing a FREE limited-time-only read-on-line version of “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens” (the version with illustrations) soon!

Two Titles, One (Hopefully) Unforgettable Story

Special Note: Since this post was first published, several changes have been made to both covers. Nothing that was too drastically different though!

Are my stories adult fiction disguised as children’s fiction or children’s fiction pretending to be adult fiction? On which shelf do they belong? These questions have perplexed me for some time. Adult fiction? Children’s fiction?

Neither of those labels accurately fit my latest book. After all, books with strong characters are like strong people. They don’t like to be labeled and put on a shelf. And both The Bottle Cap Lady and Pearl are strong characters.

The original planned title for my next book had always been “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens.” That is the title of the original two-part story about Pearl and The Bottle Cap Lady from which the novel was developed.

But I have had second thoughts about the title. It worked well with the illustrations I had planned, but accompanied by illustrations, particularly my preferred cover illustration, it also gave the impression of being strictly a children’s book.

So I began considering “The Bottle Cap Lady” as a title because she is a main character. Though not in every chapter, she is as important to the story as Pearl. In fact, the ending could not have happened as it did without The Bottle Cap Lady.

Fortunately, as a self-publishing author, I realized (after Gracie’s gentle reminder) I am able to publish two books instead of one.

“How To Explain Christmas To Chickens” will be modestly illustrated and placed in Children’s Literature. (“Modestly” means each major book part will have an illustration rather than each chapter.)

“The Bottle Cap Lady” will not be illustrated and will be placed in Adult Literature.

They will have different titles, different covers, but the same story text. The only difference where text is concerned will be in the preface, introduction and epilogue. In these sections of “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens,” the illustrations are referenced and so these parts must be slightly different. (Yes, there will be things hidden in the illustrations!) The story itself will be the same.

One of the things I like about having different titles and covers is how it forced me to think differently about what I was writing. It’s not just a story about a clever little white hen. This is a story about how we think and feel, how we find value and purpose in life. Even though Pearl and The Bottle Cap Lady might be “natural enemies” because The Bottle Cap Lady has served up more Deluxe Chicken Dinners than anyone, they are more alike than what either of them realizes. They are both outcasts and looking for something “out there” when all they need can be found in their own hearts.

The unanimous vote by my own chickens went to “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens” because it has “chickens” in the title and they can only read the pictures. They have not noticed the cover of “The Bottle Cap Lady” has a waitress is carrying a tray with a fried chicken leg. When they do spot it…well, that is another one of those awkward discussions which I have been avoiding. It will be particularly important for them to understand that a Deluxe Chicken Dinner is not for chickens or a really fancy dinner given to chickens, you know?

But when it comes to book preferences, people are not chickens.

It is possible that a good number of readers would prefer one version over the other, and that preference may not necessarily match the shelf labeled for their age group.

Whoever decided that adult fiction is just for adults and children’s fiction is for children was certainly not a chicken!

I hope to have my final proofreading done within the next few days after completing the “read-aloud-to-chickens” test. (Gracie seemed quite delighted with what I shared with them yesterday evening.) Then both will be available through Barnes & Noble and hopefully Amazon as well as eBooks.

Once I have received proof copies of the paperback books, then those will be available as well. (Because of the global health crisis, the printing process will likely take longer than usual. So it may take a bit longer for those to be available.) It’s very important to me that the colors be right for the cover and the printing clear on the interior illustrations. I just don’t want to offer a book for sale that I wouldn’t consider buying myself.