So What Is Missing?

Last week, I made available an online version of “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens,” and while I was waiting for feedback, I uploaded the files to make a print copy with Amazon. I wanted to make sure that the cover and interior color images would print as expected.

I was pleased with the cover shown in the photo to the left. Though I must admit that I don’t like the “Not for Resale” that Amazon uses. (Barnes & Noble does not do this.) I was also pleased with the interior color illustrations as shown in the photo on the right.

The shorter length of only 8,000 words and lower page count allowed for color illustrations throughout, and that was good. But there was something missing. The book didn’t have the same “feel” as the old books I had saved from when I was a child.

One of my favorites was “Wood Woodpecker Drawing Fun For Beginners.” If you have followed my work for any length of time, you can probably guess why! (I have always enjoyed drawing.)

Most of the books saved from my childhood were about 25¢. This particular book has “29¢” printed on the cover, and so it appears to have been a bit pricier and more special than my other books. After all, Woody Woodpecker was quite popular back in 1959 when this book was printed! Fortunately, the  J.M. Fields Department Store sticker says “6/97¢” which may be why I was able to take it home with me. Either price certainly seems like a real bargain to me these days!

How do you know a book is truly treasured by a child even when you don’t know anything about the child or the adult they grew up to be? Where does that feeling begin?

As it turned out, the thing I thought of last was the thing that I should have been thinking about from the beginning. Can you spot it in today’s photos?

Next Time: Four Perfect Words To Begin Any Beloved Book

In keeping with the topics of drawing and coloring, for our Facebook fans, we have a free coloring page that you can download and print. Just go to our “My Life With Gracie” Facebook page and click the link there. It’s pinned to the top to make it easier to find. The coloring page will open in Dropbox, but you do not need a Dropbox account!

P.S. It is okay to print and color even if you are a grown-up!


My Life With Gracie…Sunday Surprises!

This weekend, my chickens and I have been enjoying the strong beautiful fragrance of the sweet osmanthus (tea olive) tree which is now taller than me even though I planted it only a few years ago. We have also be enjoying the beautiful color of the beauty berry bush’s fruit.

Most of these berries will be eaten by the songbirds, but a few will sprout and expand their territory just a bit farther out into the shady parts of the yard. You can probably see where an insect has already been eating the beauty berry’s leaves here and there, but that’s just part of life in the garden.

A soft rain overnight gives everything a wet shine, and I think the raindrops hitting the osmanthus blossoms release even more of its sweet indescribably perfume into the garden. At times I can even smell it from inside the house!

I hope you will find your own Sunday Surprises to delight your senses and give your heart a bit of rest.

A huge amount of appreciation goes out to my volunteer test readers! This option is now closed while I prepare the files.

Rethinking, Revising, And Rewriting…But Hopefully For A Better Story

I must admit, I thought the story would not be as good after such a huge revision, but it is actually much better than before. It is much more focused with fewer things to explain and with a much faster pace.

As Pearl would surely say, “I have probably had more failed plans than anyone, but a failed plan simply means you are closer to the solution.” And so I remained as persistent as Pearl and treated each day of rewriting as a new opportunity.

The character called The Bottle Cap Lady has been completely rewritten. She is no longer a shadowy and possibly scary character, and she now only collects soda pop bottle caps. She is more like a human version of Pearl because they both like collecting things, wearing hats, and doing silly things. They have both always felt like they were never quite loved and accepted like others. Most importantly, they both have felt the loss of someone they loved very much.

There are still happy things and sad things because a chicken’s life (and a person’s life) can be that way. Blanche still becomes sick and dies on Easter Sunday in this version because that is what happened in real life.

But her illness and death bring into sharper focus The Promise of Easter, the promise that Love makes all things new.  Then rest of the book is built more on The Promise of Christmas, the promise that Love gives its very best even to those who have nothing to give in return. These reinforce Blanche’s original message about laying an egg. “Laying an egg is all about giving. Light and Life and Love are all about giving too.”

What was once a 40,000 novel with an undetermined audience has become an 8,000 chapter book with a 3rd grade reading level. This seems to be where it belongs best. There is also a happier ending with Pearl and The Bottle Cap Lady becoming friends with the possibility of future adventures together.

Honestly, I could really use some test readers to make sure the story works as it should and also remains true to how sweet and wonderful Pearl truly is. As I tell her each day, “No chicken has ever had a better heart than yours.”

A huge amount of appreciation goes out to my volunteer test readers! This option is now closed while I prepare the files.