Catching An Idea
I have a treat to broaden your smile while you’re savoring the last weeks of summer. My friend, Chrysa Smith, is visiting and sharing an inspirational moment. Chrysa is a very special person – an author of children’s books.
Whenever inspiration strikes, I always imagine myself dressed as if on safari, with camo gear on and net in hand ready to capture the prize. And so it was with me many months ago.
I was standing in a gift shop looking at silk flowers when something down the aisle caught my eye. I turned and walked toward the children’s section, and it was there staring me in the face. It was another ‘Once upon a something’ book. I don’t know just how many of those I’ve seen in five decades. But something about it was different. Something about it struck a chord with me– perhaps speaking to a younger audience, the absolute adorableness of it all, imagining a writer really reaching the tiniest listeners and critics on the face of this earth.
Having an easy-reader series (The Adventures of the Poodle Posse) grow and change during the past eight years has been rewarding. But as one who always welcomes a challenge, I felt inspired to do something a little different; something for kids out of the grade 2-3 range or perhaps on a different topic altogether. For about a year, I’ve been working on a juvenile fiction piece based on a twisted experience I had with growing plants (no, not those kind). But as happens with most of us, the story has been in a deadlock. Good ideas, good character development, but I still need the hook—what magical, fascinating, attention-holding action is going to grab these young readers? Still no clue.
So as the ‘Once upon’ idea took hold, it marinated for while until ready to really cook. Why not go back in time with a prequel to the existing series? Why not make it a picture book that would explain how the initial characters in the series came to be? Why not grab a different age group that would lead to a different market for me? Why not make it an entirely different title, apart from the series? And why not capture little imaginations with a story that might lead them into the easy-reader series down the road?
So as I write, the book is in illustration stage. And it is most exciting to see full color characters come to life, where in the easy-reader/transitional series, they are black and white. The reviews are beginning to come in—so far, so good. The real test will come this fall as the book goes on Amazon(yikes!), my website and down those roads that lead me into classrooms. Fingers crossed. Wish me luck. And kudos to all of you who are out there with nets, busy capturing ideas.
Chrysa Smith has been a lifetime feature magazine writer, and shorter term juvenile fiction author. For more information on her and her scribbling, visit www.wellbredbook.net, and see her featured in the fall issue of Bucks County Magazine.
A special shout to Pat Achilles, the talented illustrator of this book. Thanks, Pat, for allowing us to include your drawings. For more information about Pat Achilles, visit http://www.achillesportfolio.com
I can’t think of any job more important than creating stories and images that help a child’s imagination soar. Kudos to both of you, Chrysa and Pat.