It's almost done.
Years of writing, rewriting, and months of editing has been completed. Last week I received the galley proofs and I spent the past several days reading the book, making last minute changes (more for clarity than content), and checking for errors that may have slipped through. (Hopefully, I caught them all).
The book is being sent to the printer, and in a few weeks time it should be out.
The past few months have been busy, and the past several weeks have been a whirlwind. Here are a two observations or things I noticed while reading my unpublished book one last time.
- I leave out the "a" article a lot.
- No matter how many times I read the book, ideas for it never stopping coming. This is a good thing while writing, but a frustrating thing once it's finished. I have to stop reading it as its author and start reading it to enjoy it.
So, on Saturday, March 21, 2015, at 10:30, I will be having a launch party for my book to celebrate the past few years of hard work.
Come and check it out! You can also check out the Facebook page for more information. While you are there, you can Like It and get updates!
Since Scott is swamped trying to finish some last minute proof reading, I decided to take the blogging reigns for today. See, last night he was supposed to spend a lot of time doing said proof reading, but got a little sidetracked.
First, he had to get gas in the van, then buy and refill our windshield wiper fluid.
Digression: When I was growing up in the Deep South, I don’t think I really ever remember my parents buying windshield wiper fluid (I mean, maybe they did, I just don’t remember). What I do remember is filling up the windshield wiper fluid tank with water. Just water. Where we live now (in the subarctic region of the United States), that would be foolhardy! Sometime around November, you’d just have a big block of ice in your windshield wiper fluid container that wouldn’t melt until sometime around the end of April.
Back to the story: So, then he’s driving out to his office (Starbucks), and realizes he has a flat tire while he was on the highway. The shoulder on the highway is next to nothing right now because of our tremendous snow banks, so he had to drive really slowly with his hazard lights on to the nearest exit.
Digression: It’s been the coldest month here ever (maybe not, but it’s been really, really cold), and last night when he was out changing the tire, the temperature was probably hovering around zero.
But, he loves the North and the snow and the cold, so this didn’t phase him at all! (Well, I’m sure it did a little, but he still managed to change the tire with minimal cold weather injuries.) All that to say, he didn’t get as much work done last night as he wanted to, but at least his final destination was a coffee joint.
Meanwhile, back at our house, the girls and I made belated Valentine’s Day cookies. It’s sort of a tradition every year since I got a Valentine’s Day cookie cutter set (which I think Scott gave me one year as a Valentine’s Day present). But we’ve been sick for a couple of weeks, so we’re a little behind.
HOWEVER… I finally completed this Herculean task last night. And by Herculean, I mean, it was always a borderline disaster. I mean, the baby is at the age where she wants to do everything the big girls do, so that meant a lot of fun for her, but also frustration for me. Then, the girls were super excited, but that makes them jumpy and crazy acting and that means they tend to get into trouble. I tried to be chill, laid-back Mom and take it all in stride. Overall, I think I did pretty good… I only had to yell once or twice and I don’t even think I had to punish anyone, just a talking-to. Progress.
At one point, Caroline and Emily were both at the kitchen counter cutting out the cookies to bake, and they got into a shrieking competition because they both wanted to stand in the same place and both use the same little heart cookie cutter. Then, the big girls didn’t really care about cutting out the cookies, they just wanted to decorate them, so they kept coming in asking if it was time to decorate yet (NO). The baby kept grabbing at the dough and squeezing it between her little fingers and Caroline was like a little cookie cutting machine. She just kept at it, even when Emily would be physically attempting to grab the cutter out of her hand. Tenacity, that’s what Caroline has.
Well, eventually we got them all cut out and baked and cooled. I made the frosting, cut the tips off the store-bought frosting bottles, and away we went! The decorating involved a lot of me trying to keep the baby from sticking her hands into the frosting, or climbing up on the table and destroying the decorating handiwork of the other girls. And there was a lot of moderating whose turn it was to have the pink frosting, and reminding the girls not to eat too many or sneak too many licks of the frosting or they’ll have a stomach ache (there was a stomach ache later).
All in all, it was an evening of adventure. I hope tonight is really boring.
Once, a long time ago, when we just had one baby, we ran into a friend of ours in the chip aisle of a grocery store. He had several young daughters of varying ages at the time, and offered us this little gem of Child Development to my wife’s question of “What’s your favorite age of your children”:
He said something along the lines of this: “Oh, they’re all my favorite. You get to one stage, and you think that this is the best stage. But then you get to the next one and you realize things are even better.”
I agree with him. Every stage that a child goes through is unique and brings with it a new and different aspect to your child. You spend your life raising a child as you get to know her. It's a life of discovery.
For example, last night, we taught our older girls how to play 9 Card, a card game that we play a lot with friends and family. It’s a fairly simple game, and they picked it up immediately. So… now we don’t have to wait for others to come over to play it. This is one reason why we bought so many board games for 4 or more players when we were first married. The goal was to one day be able to play them with our kids.
Well, here we are now, 11 years later, having that first game night, not playing kid games. It’s my favorite age, in that respect.
But then, I look at our four year old, Caroline. She’s finally getting out of that 3 year old angst, and, instead, fully inhabits that funny and clever stage that is the Four Year Old. The things she says are priceless. For example, last week, my wife was reading The Little Mermaid book to her. Caroline interrupted her at one point and started comparing and contrasting Ariel to herself and my wife. Their conversation went something like this:
Caroline: Ariel has long hair like me!
Wife: Yes, she does.
Caroline: But Ariel’s hair is red, and I’m a blondie.
Wife: That’s right!
Caroline: And her lips are red! But not like yours, yours are bland.
Wife: (trying not to laugh) You’re right, her lips are very red.
Bland lips. Point taken from a four year old. Interactions like that make this age my favorite too.
Then, there’s the One-and-a-Half year old. This age sometimes really is my favorite age, even with all of her destruction. Nothing is safe with Emily around right now. Nothing. She rips up books and colors over her sister’s schoolwork and dumps out whole bags of potato chips.
A few weeks ago, she stepped on a mini cupcake with blue frosting and then managed to walk all over the living room, smearing that frosting in large quantities all over our (already tremendously stained) carpet. Blue food coloring does not scrub out. My wife has sworn to never buy mini cupcakes from Walmart again.
I'm not sure why she did it in the first place. (I guess my 9-year old convinced her.)
But then, she’s so cute when she’s copying her older sister’s dance moves or making them up all her own. Or when she’s trying to help wash the dishes, or when she lectures the cat. It’s such a fleeting time. Maybe that’s what makes it my favorite age.
Sometimes when kids are having a hard time with life, it’s easy to get bogged down with the negative attributes with which they are currently struggling. It’s encouraging to realize that the stages they go through aren’t permanent. That’s why you can just hang on and wait some of it out. On the other hand, it's sad that they move on. Growing older and the passage of time strikes me as really sad. These moments are brief. We should hold on to them as long as we can. If not, they'll probably be broken by the 1-year old. Oh well, move everything to the top of a closet until they are about four... unless it's the carpet.
You'll just have to eventually change it.
In June of 2012, I was talking to my wife about a novel of mine called Child of the Downers and all the ideas I had for it.
I began developing the story in 2005-2006, and wrote the first draft in 2007. After that, I spent a year working out the history of my world, splitting the original book (130,000 words) into smaller books, and other rewrites. But in the end, I was never satisfied with the final product, so I put the project away.
In 2008, I wrote another book called The Last Rose of Innod. Then, in 2009, I began another novel called The Drowning of Martin Ashby. In the intervening years, I edited, and worked on other projects. But there I was in 2012, stalled, unable to get past the 30,000-word mark in my Martin Ashby novel.
But during those five years, ideas for Child of the Downers were springing up. Pieces of the story I was never satisfied with began to work themselves out. Holes were being filled, and characters were becoming more defined, while new characters were emerging.
So as I was discussing this with my wife, she suggested something that I strangely didn’t feel free to do. She said, “Maybe you should put the Martin Ashby novel away and try working on Child of the Downers.”
Without hesitation, I agreed.
It was as if I was waiting for her to suggest it all along. It had been five years since I wrote a sentence in and for that book. Once I began writing it again, I enjoyed my writing more than I had in the past year. I always loved the story. I love the world I created and the characters that inhabited it. I loved the changes I made to the story and the world, and I hope that others will love it just as much. (MARCH 10th, 2015)
Since then, the name to my novel has obviously changed (Scar of the Downers) and I’ve written another draft to another novel (The Cry of Kilhaven).
As I’ve thought about this, it made me think that sometimes in life, when things are not going as well as they should, we need a change. Sometimes, it’s all we need. The smallest change can make the biggest difference. You just have to know it when you see it, and hope that when you don’t, someone will point it out for you.
You can check me out in the following places:
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Scott Keen is the author of two young adult fantasy novels, Scar of the Downers and Rise of the Branded. His third and final book of the Scar of the Downer series, War of the Downer King, will be released in July 2019.