Amelia On The Wild River

Some kinds of missing can creep up on us gradually. Life goes along from one day to the next with everything the same. Then an event or a memory triggers a reminder that something or someone is missing.

This was not like that. We missed Amelia immediately.

Amelia had always been the one to stand guard while everyone was scratching and pecking in the yard. As the leader of the flock, Gracie would sometimes join her, but she appreciated Amelia’s willingness to give the gift of her time. Amelia would stand silently and only make an alarm call when she sensed something might be dangerous and hiding in the shadows.

Here on the wild river, there was nothing but shadows. It was so late, and she was so tired. The moon was so full and bright. As it had risen in the sky, she thought that she was getting closer. It had to be closer. It just had to be.

She had flown almost the entire day from tree to tree. This was not flying the way she had remembered it. With an entire flock, flying is different. By herself, she was more aware of her limitations.

She realized she was not like the Canadian geese who had moved into our neighborhood and had flown so high and for such great distances. Even though she had always been the best flyer, she realized that even at her best, she could only fly like a chicken.

Amelia was glad Emily was not there. Emily had always looked up to her. Emily would not look up to her if she saw her there alone in the middle of the wild river searching for a safe place to roost for the night.

There was no way of knowing what was in the hollow of the tree. That would not be safe. The limbs above would be safer perhaps, but if she closed her eyes, what might grab her while she slept?

For a moment, she longed for the warmth and safety of home. Then she remembered why she was doing this. It was not for herself. It was not to prove that she could fly to the moon and back. It was for Emily.

Emily had leaned on Amelia for too long. Emily had a gift within herself that would never be fulfilled until she learned to stand on her own. Amelia did not know what that gift was. She only knew she had to let Emily find it on her own.

Amelia was not lost. She had made her map of the world, and she could find her way back home any time she wanted. She was not afraid, not yet. But she was alone out there on the wild river.

I still need to find out if I can be lost and not afraid, she told herself. I need to know that as surely as Emily needs to discover her gift.


This Is So Bessie Will Stop Standing On My Foot And Telling Me What To Do

My first big goal for the new year is to make a two-year anniversary revision to my first-ever book, “Seasons Of Friendship.” Although I love that first book because it’s something I wasn’t sure I would ever be able to do, I have learned so much since 2019.

This revision started as only an update of the inside illustrations. Below you can see a comparison.

The drawing on the left is from “Seasons Of Friendship.” It was made using the Sketches app on an iPad Mini (with my finger).

On the right is a newer style drawing using the Affinity Designer app on an iPad Pro (with an Apple Pencil). This updated drawing uses the same line and fill techniques as “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens.” The lines are much lighter even though most of the colors are the same.

There are also more color pictures throughout the book. This was at Bessie’s strong recommendation.

“If people are going to pay for a book that is in color, then there needs to be color on almost every page,” she told me while standing on my right shoe. (She does this whenever she really wants to make a point.) “People want to feel like they are getting their money’s worth.”

I did not argue with this, but I did wonder how she ever found out about money.

I should also add that Bessie pecked my shoe as she told me, “And don’t try making it anything except sweet and wonderful just like Little Bunny because that’s what the readers want too.” (They do love Little Bunny, and this was Bessie’s even stronger recommendation.)

Another big change has been with the writing itself. “Seasons Of Friendship” was written as a story collection based on many of my blog posts. They were loose and rambling but all centered on some aspect of friendship.

Writing “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens” helped me to learn more plot-related skills. So the revision now has a plot. Just like Pearl and the others learned what Christmas is about through a series of events, I will learn what A Most Wondrous Place is about.

All of these things make it an almost completely different book, and so the title has been changed to “How To Find A Most Wondrous Place.” (You might remember how last week’s post ended with “You know, Gracie, this really is A Most Wondrous Place just like you have always said.”)

What started as a one-time collection of stories just may be developing into a little series of books! But that will require some continuity throughout the series so the books look like they belong together. Back in 2019, I had not seriously thought of doing a series. It seemed just too monumental for me. But now, I want to give it a try with these 64-page full-color “How To” books.

If you have any feedback concerning the draft version of the cover for “How To Find A Most Wondrous Place,” please let me know.

You’ll notice the font has been changed to a more “chicken-made” style. I’ve reworked the background to one that can be more consistent but different by changing just the colors. (This one is green because spring is a great time to start raising baby chicks. But blue would be good for the book about Christmas.) The image on the front also appears within the pages of the book.

I would truly appreciate your thoughts about the font, overall design, color, and whatever else you may want to share. You are our loyal readers, and I want to hear from you. (And it will keep Bessie from standing on my right foot and telling me what to do!)

The New Ink Pen

“What are you doing?” asked Gracie.

”I’m trying out the new pen I got for Christmas.”

“That’s Pearl, isn’t it?”

“Yes, it’s a drippy and messy pen sometimes. Sort of the way Pearl can be. Even though it’s not perfect all of the time, it still makes beautiful lines. You just have to know how to look at them.”

“Messy but beautiful, just like with Pearl,” Gracie said with delight. “But who are the baby chicks? We don’t have any baby chicks here any more.”

“I know. Pearl wants to be a Momma Hen more than just about anything these days. She misses having Blanche at her side. She would like to have some baby chicks that look like her. So I made this drawing.”

“It’s like you’ve said before. Drawing lets you do things you would never be able to do any other way.”

“And that is how you and I will dance in the streets of Paris even if we never get to travel there together. But that is many drawings from now. I still would like to really go to Paris with you, Gracie.”

“Is there a reason why you did this drawing without any bright and pretty color? Besides Pearl being mostly white, I mean.”

“You and I both love pictures. And our readers love pictures too. But books with pictures in color are very expensive to print. So all of our books with color have to be short. No more than sixty-four pages. But it’s going to take more than sixty-four pages to tell some of the stories we want to tell.”

“So these books with black-and-white pictures mean more adventures?”

“Exactly right.”

“Even though you didn’t stay inside the lines all of the time?”

“For me it’s harder to go outside of the lines than to stay inside the lines.”

Gracie laughed, and we smiled together. It didn’t make much sense to either of us, but it didn’t matter.

“What kind of more adventures?” she asked.

“Adventures like Amelia flying to the moon and back. Adventures like you dancing at the Paris Opera Ballet. Adventures like maybe even Pearl having her own little family.”

“And some baby chicks wearing little tutus would be very nice. Can you draw that too?”

She nudged me with her head to make sure I was listening.

“That would make both Pearl and you happy, wouldn’t it? Yes, I can do that. But it will all take some time. A drawing that shows how much I love you takes time to get just right.”

“We can wait.”

“You know, Gracie, this really is A Most Wondrous Place just like you have always said.”