#Creative #Children, #Writing #Friends, and a New #Publishing #Adventure

Let’s start with something sweet, shall we?

Matching shirt day!

Blondie finished the school year with a straight-A report card. She was particularly proud of her last story for writing class: “The Invention that Changed the Chicken World.” It’s a suspenseful tale of action and intrigue as Zach, a lowly chicken residing on a dairy farm on the slopes of Mount St. Helens, discovers that special rocks from the volcano will help him build a jet pack. He successfully builds a model only to be discovered by a nefarious squirrel…well here, you read it:

Little did Zach know that two sinister eyes were watching from the trees. Later Zach was walking back to the coop when suddenly, a squirrel jumped in the way! He was wearing an eyepatch on his right eye! Worst of all, he was pointing a GUN AT HIM!!!

“Gimme your rocks, sonny. Then you can have anything you want,” said the squirrel calmly.

“What do you want with MY rocks? Go get your own!” shouted Zach. The squirrel leaped at him, took the rocks, adn sprinted away. Chickens, you might say, aren’t very fast. Zach, however, was just the opposite. Zach ran like a lightning bolt and caught up with the squirrel and took the rocks.

Blondie, “The Invention that Changed the Chicken World”

The tale continues, but Blondie refuses to read it out loud for me, the stinker. 🙂 Her story was such a hit with Biff and Bash that Biff even started his own story:

“a chick who makes a space ship”

Blondie’s promised us all more stories about Zach the chicken this summer, and I’m excited to see Biff truly enjoy drawing and writing. Bash, meanwhile, is turning out some amazing creations with Lego; even we will set them apart so that no one else can wreck them.

The little droids meet Chopper and Orgo. Orco. Or-something.

Next week the boys will finish their school year with an end-of-year party at the carnival on the edge of town–the one that leaves its bones bare to the winter months, and where Biff fell from a platform and took a steel girder to the head.

You can imagine how excited I am for all of this.

GIF appropriately from Kindergarten Cop

But even though the kids are wrapping up their school year, my current term at the university has a ways to go. Plus, I’ve taken on a new job as substitute teaching aid at another town’s school district. It’ll help the family income, plus it gives me a chance to work with kids aged 4-18. If I want to write for these people, I should probably, you know, hang out with them’n’stuff…

(Side Question: Why the heck does anyone think four-year-olds can learn to walk on stilts? These kids can barely remember to use a kleenex, let alone tie shoes, and we trust them to walk with GIANT METAL RODS?!)



Let’s move on to the lousy news next.

In January of 2018 I announced Aionios Books would be publishing my novel Fallen Princeborn: Stolen.

The plans had been to publish the entire series over the course of a few years, starting with Books 1 and 2 to come out pretty close to each other. We individually published six short stories over the summer and fall to help promote the first novel, and on October 31, 2018, Fallen Princeborn: Stolen hit the shelves.

Well. You might have noticed the second novel’s not out yet.

The folks at Aionios Books chose not to continue with my series.

Am I bummed? Of course I am. It feels like that moment in A Fistful of Dollars when Clint’s caught by the baddies after helping a girl escape. They beat him to a pulp, taking extra care to cripple his shooting hand. One look at him, and you’d think he’s a goner.

Only he’s not. He manages to escape despite his injuries and hides away in an old mine. Over the course of his recovery, he slowly, surely, tenaciously, teaches himself to shoot with his other hand.

Yeah, I may be down, but I’m a professional, dammit. It’s a wild world out there in indie publishing, and every fighter’s got to do what he/she can to survive. Aionios made the call they felt was best for them. So, we just need to do our own parts in helping Fallen Princeborn: Stolen stay alive while also adventuring off in our own directions.

In my case…well, first I’m learning to shoot with the other hand.

Publishing solo.

This means I’ve got to do a complete overhaul of my platform: website, social media, the whole kit’n’caboodle. Don’t be surprised if a link’s down one day and up the next–we’re talking years’ worth of posts to revise.

I intend to rework and re-release my six short stories of Tales in the River Vine.

I’m also excited to publish a new tale, a tale that hearkens to those wild days of territories stitched with railways and bounty hunters ready to kill for a few dollars more…

“Between you and me, I doubt they’ve got the know-how to outsmart Night’s Tooth.” Sheriff Jensen narrows his eyes at the poster like he could scare it. “No proper description of the man, and a modus operandi as bizarre as hell.”

“Why bizarre?” Sumac pulls the poster from its pin and stares thoughtfully at Night Tooth’s name.

Now the sheriff goes all quiet again, thinking. He’s really sizing Sumac up this time, like as not making sure Sumac’s not crazy as a loon. “Because they find bite marks in the rail cars’ walls, that’s why. This man’s got a wolf with him, somethin’ big as a bear and twice as smart.”

That’s a whap Sumac’s not expecting. No doubt his lady employer would have a good laugh over that one. “Well, as I see it, Sheriff, some creatures are born into killin’ like others are into dyin’. I reckon Night’s Tooth is of that first camp, wouldn’t you?”

“And yourself?”

The wind whistle-whines against the glass. Another train cries out from the rails beyond La Crosse’s commercial center.

Sumac smiles. He knows he doesn’t have to answer.

And, God-willing, before 2019 ends I’m going to publish the next installment of the Fallen Princeborn series.


The name sucks the air clean out of Charlotte’s mouth. Her lungs shrivel, her mind bleached like bones in the desert—

Someone stands out in the middle of the Wild Grasses. Pale arms hang perfectly still against a sparkly shirt. The breeze plays with red hair too bright to mistake. It carries the scent of bus and berries to Charlotte’s nose and stings her eyes to tears. A pink bubble inflates out of the mouth. Baby blues shine like search lights.

Pop. “I’m still waiting for you, Charlie.” Pop.

The Voice rushes to the bellows within Charlotte, brings air and feeling back to her lungs. One, two, don’t let Orna get to you.

Charlotte heaves a breath as deep as she can. Her legs don’t want to move, she can’t move, but she will move. She forces one foot forward, then another, commands her back to straighten, and she screams, “I know who you really are!” She chews the unsaid words “you bitch!” like gristle, wishing desperately to spit them out at The Lady wearing her sister’s shape like some Halloween costume. But even the shape of Anna forces the hateful speech to stick between Charlotte’s teeth. “Go back to your hole!”

“You should have died in the Pits, Charlie. She’s got something a lot worse planned for you now.”

“’She’?” It was just a tiny word, but its reference jabs the Voice in Charlotte’s heart good’n’hard.

Baby Blues grin like some damn playground secret.

“Don’t fuck with me, Orna.” Charlotte’s walking before she knows it, wading into the Wild Grasses, arms swaying fists, teeth clenched, “You’re the one never leaving this land alive, I swear!”

The berry and bubble gum stink to Charlotte’s nose now, all its pungent sour sweetness driving its way up into her sinuses and stinging behind her eyes.

More and more red hair blows over the Baby Blues, more hair than Anna ever had, and it grows longer, longer. She’s engulfed in hair like some Ginger-fied Cousin It.

Charlotte’s almost close enough to grab a lock and yank it off. “Take my sister off!” She lunges forward—

But Cairine’s teeth close upon Charlotte’s shirt, her nose a sharp chill on Charlotte’s neck. Cairine pulls Charlotte back as a bubble pops under all that impossible hair. A new voice grinds under Anna’s punctuated soprano:

“Let’s not rush. I’m still owed a sweetheart.”

Red hair spins round, tightens, stretches, into a giant red bubble. It floats above the wild grasses and pops to the echoes of girlish laughter.

In the meantime, I’m excited to spend June celebrating my dear friend Anne Clare–she’s releasing her debut novel this summer!

I’ve known Anne for decades, and like me, Anne’s been balancing teaching, family, and her writing life. For years she’s been researching and crafting a story that spans countless miles and years–just like our friendship. xxxxx

I am so, so proud of you, Anne!

I’ll be interviewing Anne and the impeccable James J. Cudney, who has another cozy mystery on its way to bookshelves next month.

What else lies in store? Oh, some world-building craft, methinks, and a study of the incredible Italian composer Ludovico Einaudi. I shared one composition of his weeks ago, but it haunts me still. Let this song carry you on its magic into next week, where we sit, and listen, and imagine together.

Read on, share on, and write on, my friends!

55 thoughts on “#Creative #Children, #Writing #Friends, and a New #Publishing #Adventure

      • The thing is, can 4 year old kids tie laces in shoes. I was telling the truth when I said I’ve never been able to do that. I guess it’s a bit of a laugh. Can your twins do it? ~ George

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hey, no need to laugh. I’ve never worked out diving, so plenty of kids can put me to shame out in the pool. Come to think, there’s always going to be that one thing we never get around to doing, isn’t there?
        Nope, the boys don’t know how yet, but velcro options will be running out pretty soon because they’re growing so damn fast. We may be forced to give lessons soon…

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Hi. Yay to all the good things here. And I’m very excited to be part of your site next month!

    I’m so sorry on the news for your next book. It happens… but, you will push through it. I will definitely help promote you and answer any q’s I can along the way. Good luck with all the efforts this summer. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. You are such an inspiration! Talk about grace under pressure:)). Fabulous, fabulous article, Jean – I would honoured to review your book and feature an interview with you at an appropriate time to help spread the word, my friend.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Top top work from blonde. You must be so proud. As one door closes you get the chance to kick open other doors. Harry Potter, Carrie, Lord of the Flies – all rejected multiple times and they ended up selling a few copies. I don’t know the publishing world, I’m not an author but I read books and I can see writing talent. You have it in bucket loads. Can’t wait to be part of your next literary journey. Sending hugs from Yorkshire. xxxx

    Liked by 1 person

  4. omg, I’m so sorry that the publishing company did that, it’s not fair. Wishing you all the luck for the next step. What an amazing imagination your children have, chickens who build spaceships and rocket packs, just amazing. xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Forget those publishers! You’ll do a hundred times better on your own. You write like the house is on fire and you’ve already developed the marketing skills from the last go around so if you can just not try to take on too much at once so you don’t burn out — and your 2019 lineup sounds a teensy bit like too much to me, but you’ll figure out the balance — and you will be FINE! It’s a setback, yes, but a good one and one one those things you’ll look back on someday — like a divorce from an abusive husband — and say, oh, wow, thank goodness that happened. I have no doubt you are going all the way, Jean. Email me whenever you need a pep talk. :0)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. We really need to get Blondie to Mount St. Helen’s NOW- it’s research, after all! I love seeing your kids’ brilliant creativity!
    The publishing thing… I mean it sincerely when I say that the publishers are missing out. But I’m so proud of you, friend- with your talent and drive AND the ability to do this they way YOU want to, I see so much success for you in the future!
    Thanks for the shout- out, too. Your encouragement means so very much. It’s been a joy to get to share some of this craaaaaaazy journey with you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh shame about the publisher, but as they say, there is more than one way to skin a cat (but don’t, obviously). I’m sure, even with everything else going on you will come through and bring us “Chosen”.
    I loved the start of Blondie’s chicken story (being a keeper of hens myself). Fortunately my girls are far too large to be intimidated by any squirrel they come across. And thumbs up for the Lego. I always loved the stuff. Still do. I’ll come and play!

    Liked by 1 person

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  9. Well, congrats first to the children for their lovely creative work. And to you for getting your first book in the series published. Glad you don’t despair: this happens to many authors, but you can’t stop! Keep on being fabulous.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Blondie sounds like she’s following your example. I love her title, and the idea of a chicken in a jet-pack. I’ve three hens, and one of them is continually finding her way out of the pen, even with a clipped wing, perhaps she has a secret jet-pack, too.

    Good luck with the self-publishing, and the new teaching. It sounds like an exciting new move.

    Liked by 1 person

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