Part 1 – I Receive an Email
My friend Rochelle messaged me this summer. I asked her to work on my Neil Armstrong book, but it didn’t work out for us back in 2018. We were both disappointed.
Rochelle is an artist. She specializes in painting animals, and her work is gorgeous! I think the idea of putting her art into a picture book got her thinking. This time she asked me about working together. She suggested an animal book, and I thought why not!
Part 2 – Brainstorming Animal Ideas
I started thinking animals. I thought about real animals and fictional ones. Then I started thinking about the places animals lived and the kinds of adventures they got into.
I thought about farm animals, like this herd of sheep. They’re cute, but I’m a city girl. I know very little about farm animals and the kinds of problems they might have so I moved onto another setting.
I thought about my pets. I’ve had dogs, a cat, a gerbil, and fish as a kid, and later as an adult. But none of those pets inspired a story. I have a manuscript about my best friend , my dog Leia. I want to see it through before I move on.
Then – I hit pay dirt!
Part 3 – Inspiration Found – At the Zoo!
I didn’t think zoo right away, but the longer I thought, the more I liked it. You can find zoo animals that come from all over the world.
It’s easy to look up the animals on search engines. You can find facts and figures, photos and videos. I found these two photos when I was searching for images for this post.
I had a place, the zoo, but now I needed a way into the story, a problem. I started thinking about the ones that real zoo animals face. Then I thought about my own experiences at the zoo.
That’s when inspiration struck! Did you know what it is? No? Here’s a clue . . . Have you ever gone to the zoo and had trouble finding the animals? I have!
Idea #1 – Did you guess – Hide and Seek? I thought it was brilliant! Remember how the animals hid from me? I thought I could turn that idea into a book. I started with 13, but my critique group said too many. They also said I needed a thread, a theme, to run through it.
Gradually I pulled myself down to 4 animals, and I had the first act written. It wasn’t perfect but 3 rounds of critiques made it way better. That’s when I hit a wall – the agent audition challenge. There was no way I could finish my zoo story by February, and perfect three others. Good writing takes time!
I saved it, in my computer. When the challenge is over, I’ll open it and work on it again. Soon, I hope. Sometimes stories demand attention, and this one feels like it’s receding into the background.
Idea #2 – Can you guess what it is? It’s a scavenger hunt for kids who visit the zoo.
I got the idea from LAKE FUN FOR YOU AND ME. A critique partner suggested turning it into a series, but I forgot all about it when the book flopped.
Now ZOE’S SCAVENGER HUNT FUN is ready to come out. Look to the left. It’s a sneak peak of the hunt in my new book. The Mom in this story is like me – She wants to get her kids out enjoying the lake and all the fun it offers. She also wants to give them a chance to draw and write about it.
I tossed around the idea of taking Zoe and her family to the zoo. Then I decided to pitch it to Brooke at BiblioKid. She liked it! She said write a draft, and then we’ll look it over.
Guess what I’ve been working on since December – Zoe’s Scavenger Hunt at the Zoo! I started with the questions. Then I picked my animals, outlined the chapters, but I’m still not ready to write . . .
That’s because I’m doing animal research on the internet, and at the zoo. I visited the one in Cincinnati and took tons of pictures of animals in their habitats. I have to be able to picture them, to write about them.
This was one of my favorite animals at the zoo. He’s a poison dart frog, and he’s part of both stories. I’m halfway through the research. That means I’m edging closer to writing. I’m beginning to picture the story. Soon the words will come, then the editing. I’ll fill you in when I get there.
When I write, I can only have one voice in my head, mine. A little noise is fine. But too much, or worse yet, WORDS, and I must change rooms or pull out headphones. Then I can write on!