Saturday, September 7, 2013

Despatches: First draft of YA novel completed and an e-book of adult short stories on Amazon

First draft of next YA novel completed. Aha! Of course I planned to write another blog right after the last. However, this time I have an excellent excuse. I was writing! Yes, I was! I was writing the first draft of my next time travel book which I started about a year ago, I believe (hush!). It was bothering me so much that I had not got past the first few chapters. So now I wrote frantically, stopping only to eat, sleep, etc. supermarket, bank and so on. And  then plop into the bed cross-eyed to watch TV for relaxation. I think I got that done in about a month. Lovely! However I still have things to reconcile; still lots of work to be done: time line - Is it dark in this scene, or not? If it’s not dark how are you going to see them by light shining on them in the dark? If it’s already dark then how are they going to see that next aspect from the air …? (important scene).

The conversation with myself continues. Which character turns out to be the villain? Hello! Why? (you’d think I’d know by the end of the first draft, and of course I do). So give us the rationale. Oh! and what is the purpose of that character, now that you’ve given most of her lines to another character, because you were going to cut her from the story, and now you’re not sure you want to anymore?  So when did they discover the blueprint so they could fix the machine? Oh really?  

Not to mention real structural aspects like: Too much dialogue here and there? Is it moving the story along, or is it slowing it down? Too much narrative/explaining/ background here and there? Can we break it up and give this info in some of the dialogue? But didn’t you say the dialogue was slowing the pace? So time out to have someone read it and for me to work on something else, like this blog, while I wait for insights to appear. It’s a scary but interesting/stimulating time in the process.

Enlightenment, validation from trip to Barbados. Watching school videos of the grandchildren (no, this is not a grandchildren story); the older is 7 and ¾; the younger, 6 next month. Of course, since the older one went  to 'big school' first there is more of her in plays, etc. We see her doing all sorts of things, dancing, playing the recorder, etc. She is  suitably delighted and gracious, as only first children can be. (We always belong!). The younger cannot see himself in the videos. He walks away, sad, face screwed up,  arms folded, to show that even though he is hurt, he still has some dignity. “Come!” we say, “See you here!” He returns but is  so upset he cannot see himself in the school play. We have to stop the video and say, “See you there! See you there!” He laughs with heartfelt delight at the discovery that he is also in the pictures. “It’s me! It’s me!” All is well.
The purpose of this anecdote? Well it came to me, this is what happens to a child when they cannot see themselves in books. This is what we do to Caribbean children when they do not see themselves in books. Do we wonder then that solving of our problems is so difficult? How do you solve problems if you don’t exist? A new insight comes to me even as I write this. Is it because the gatekeepers did not see themselves in books that they do not see its importance, that they fear it? Are they really only comfortable with the books of the colonizers, old and new, or the books that the developed countries tell us are acceptable? Scary thought! If so, hush! We cannot tell the gatekeepers. It will make them angry with us, ... and you know what that means. (This last sentence may just be a carry over from the sci-fi YA novel, of which first draft mentioned above. The mind is like that, as you know.)

An educator recently read Island Princess in Brooklyn, and liking it, asked: Is this book in the schools? Why isn’t it in the schools?  

A children’s writer publishes a book of adult short stories: This I did, and it’s called The Land in the Purple Evening, and is an e-book on Amazon. My friend, Hazel Campbell, who is also a published author of  adult short stories, put an e-book on Amazon last year. I was supposed to do so from then, but I didn’t. Hesitation! Procrastination! So it was an achievement to finally have it done. The book is under the name Diane Aiken Browne, to make some distinction between that and the children’s stories. It will probably only cause confusion.  Some of the stories have been published already in anthologies or journals. The purpose was to see if putting a book on Amazon can work  for us in the Caribbean, and it has got two nice reviews. I haven’t done much marketing on social media, mostly because I feel shy. I sent out the announcement, using my address book, and that caused me enough anxiety. Anyway, I will continue to press on with the technology of today’s world. I hope to be able to put out a children’s as an e-book also, to see if it works. Before Christmas! Really? And the artwork isn’t even given out yet, and it’s September. Ah my friends, what can I say? I press on.

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