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My daughter Lily texted today with the news: Just finished my last exam of the semester!
That can mean only one thing: Summer will soon be upon us!
Or read on here...
It was an amazing, exciting, incredible first week!
We had a memorable party to kick it all off at KidLit TV in NYC, which we can all now relive here.
We reached 60% of our pledged goal in 6 days!
Now we enter the campaign’s inevitable “murky middle."
I WANT YOU TO JOIN ME AND TEAM TTT&T ON
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
You're the first to know: We’re going for it. Finally. There’s still a long way to go before we achieve a thriving and successful venture. But after years of foundation building, we find we can't truly grow without capital.
So we’re organizing a crowd-sourced funding campaign on Kickstarter to raise money for the production of the next Story App Tour to be released by Time Traveler Tours & Tales.
I'd like to say: “We’re kicking off with a Kickstarter campaign,” because of the fun alliteration. But it feels more like we’re taking a plunge, because of the inherent risk. To be honest, this adventure is super scary most times (especially at night when I'm tired and still haven't managed to reach the end of the to-do list). But each morning I wake up and dive right into the task again. Why?
I want you to teach us what you do. What you did, for example, in Beware Madame la Guillotine to make Charlotte so real that she seems to speak to us directly from the grave.
The theme for the Renaissance retreat would be “writing from a sense of place.” Our backdrop: Florence, Italy.
I said "I'll do it!" Wouldn’t you?
Ever since, I’ve been on a personal quest to understand what exactly my writing process is -- specifically for developing stories for Time Traveler Tales & Tours -- so that I might well explain to others.
Start with a Sense of Place
Along the way, I’ve tapped into my primary sources: authors much wiser than myself, such as Mary. Though she and I work in slightly different genres -- historical fiction and creative nonfiction, respectively -- it turns out we share a similar jumping off point.
We start with a sense of place.
We research our focus era like crazy. We steep ourselves in the setting and time of our eventual stories. We read everything we can get our hands on. We visit. We talk to others who know about it. We visit again. We start broadly with secondary sources; then drill deeper with primary ones. We look for the holes in the research and seek to fill them. We chip away at our metaphorical blocks of marble, until our characters emerge. Because it’s in truly knowing your place that your characters might then rise up to tell their tales themselves.
A few of Mary's historical novels found in the local English-language bookstore.
Now that we're all in Florence and following Michelangelo's footsteps, I'm reminded of his process of carving the David. As I learned from Mary’s book of the same title (a must read, BTW), Michelangelo had tripped over the same discarded block of imperfect marble for years before winning the commission that would allow him to carve his famous statue.
He’d already studied the block, kicked it, drawn on it, smiled at and frowned upon it. He’d made many sketches and changed his mind several times about the character the stone contained.
...and a Dash of Plot
Likewise, when Michelangelo was finally ready to pick up his chisel and hammer to strike the first blow, he was certain there was a story hidden within. He only had to chip away at what was not needed, he would later state, so that David, tense, concentrated, and poised in the moment just before toppling Goliath, might step from his giant marble home.
I'd been researching for two years before meeting my narrator for Beware Madame la Guillotine, Charlotte Corday. By then I had read everything, attended every guided visit and lecture, and visited every monument and location related to French Revolution that I could. One day, while wandering through the birthplace of the Revolution, the Palais Royal, for the umpteenth time, I came upon a chalk picture portrait of dear Charlotte. Suddenly, it was as if she'd reached through the ages. She grabbed me by the lapels and begged me to let her tell her story as she had never been allowed to in life.
Once Charlotte had taken hold of my imagination, and my pen, and thanks to my now encyclopedic knowledge of her place and moment in time, I was confident enough to strike my first blow. Charlotte easily sloughed off her bonds and stepped out of history and onto the pages of my future app and interactive book. Her story indeed told itself.
From from our hotel roof terrace of Brunelleschi's dome.
Here in Florence, as I tune into the murmurings of Michelangelo and his contemporaries, I travel back to the time of de' Medici with Julie and Mary and the Writers' Renaissance gang. You bet I boned up on my Renaissance history before arriving. And a good thing, too. For I can now use my renewed understanding of this extraordinary place as a lens through which to chip away at the marble that encases my personal journey, and Renaissance, as a writer.
One thing's for sure: There's nothing like a new place -- a new vista or point of view -- to get one's creative juices flowing again. If you feel the need for a personal Renaissance, first try a new place.
Or plan to attend Julie's Writers' Renaissance Retreat next year. You won't regret it!
Plus, she knows all the best gelaterias in Florence!
This week's Hat Tip goes to Julie Hedlund and Susan Eaddy for their delightful picture book to be: My Love is the Sun.
Both Susan and Julie credit me for having brought them together. And while I can't deny introducing them one fateful day in 2012 at the Bologna Children's Book Fair, I can claim no credit for what they have accomplished as collaborators since that time.
It was Julie's genius to include Susan in her inspired hybrid publishing scheme to bring My Love is the Sun into this world. Their aim: to finance the production of this 24-page picture book with Little Bahalia Publishing through crowd-sourced donations raised via Kickstarter.
This post was meant to give the team's campaign a boost at the half-way point. Yet, they've pulled off the inevitable without my help, and in record time too! Their campaign, in less than two weeks, is already fully funded!
But that doesn't mean you can no longer lend your support. Oh no! There's still plenty of time to contribute to the campaign. And no donation is too small for this worthy effort.
Worthy? You ask. Well, just take a look at this video interview with the illustrator, Susan Eaddy, and decide for yourself!
I think you'll agree that this is one picture book that -- fo' sho' -- deserves to sit front and center on your child's bookshelf. Even mine. And she's already 17!
If you liked my interview with Susan then you will absolutely LOVE this quickie video of Susan at work birthing her fantastical clay beasties!
Click Here for more information about Julie and Susan's Kickstarter Campaign to raise production funds for My Love is the Sun in collaboration with Little Bahalia Publishing.