I’ve been working on the same book for about 15 years. The same three books, actually. The sidekick in the original book kept trying to take over the story, so I told her she could have her own book after so she would pipe down. Then I wrote another book during National Novel Writing Month several years ago and decided the male sidekick in that one would be a great partner for the sidekick in the original and that book became the middle of a trilogy.
I have great beginnings for all three books and some cool stuff that happens in the middle of each, but I can’t seem to figure out the end to any of them. I’ve started other books and abandoned them because I can’t get the trilogy out of my head. It’s infuriating. Frustrating. Grrrr.
And then, as I said in my last post, I stopped writing altogether for a few years. As frustrating as not being able to finish a book was, it’s so much worse to not be able to write at all.
When I started writing again, I knew I needed a different approach, but I didn’t know what that would look like. I thought about hiring a freelancer to just write me a climax scene for the original story so that I’d have something to write to and revise when I got there. I thought about hiring a book doctor to tell me what’s wrong and how to fix it. I thought about making them a series of short stories instead of novels. But short stories still have to end, they just end faster.
Last July I heard about a course on writing a best selling children’s book. I can’t seem to finish a novel or a short story for adult fiction, but maybe I could finish one for kids, so I took the course.
At the start of the course, I thought I would have to write a book for older children because I can’t draw, but then they suggested hiring an illustrator to do the drawing. That seemed crazy and out of reach when I heard it, but then they explained how to do it and I thought, “I could do that.”
I decided I wanted to write a rhyming book like the ones our speech language pathologist used to help our kids learn about syllables and rhymes and phonemes. Those books, the good ones, can be so hard to find. Most of them drove me crazy when I read them to our kids. Kowalski reminded me how I used to take a Sharpie to them to fix them, chastising the writers under my breath the whole time.
The course I was taking showed me how to look at what was popular in the market and take inspiration from that. I also looked back at one of the series our SLP recommended, since that was the kind of thing I wanted to write. What jumped out at me from both was sharks. One of the SLP books was called Shark in the Park. That one always bugged me a little because there wasn’t really a shark in the park – sorry if I spoiled that one for you. But, really, how would a shark even get to the park. What if he went in a car – what if he could drive – what it he wasn’t in the park, he was trying to park.
And, so, Shark Must Park was born.
I put Shark in his car and started rhyming and throwing obstacles in his way and…it was really fun. I enjoyed looking for the rhymes and the story just flowed out of me. And it had an ending; a real ending that felt satisfying to me. It only took me two weeks to write it.
As I was writing, I looked around the recommended freelance site – fiverr.com – for illustrators whose style I liked. When I was almost finished writing, I hired two illustrators I liked to draw an image of Shark driving around in his car. They both came up with lovely drawings, but one of them was like the illustrator had taken the image right out of my head. She had read my mind, so I chose her to do the rest of the drawings for the book.
We finished with the drawings and revisions last week. I formatted the ebook and uploaded it to Amazon over the weekend. It’s available now on Amazon here in the US, here in the UK, here in Canada, and here in Australia (let me know if you need a link for a country I didn't list here). I used the pen name Shelby Ward. It’s free to check out if you have Kindle Unlimited. I think I have made it so that it will also be free to download and keep from 11/20/18 through 11/22/18. I say I think I did because I’m new at this and I can’t tell if it’s going to be free or just discounted. Learning curve is steep, dude.
The print-on-demand version will be up for sale this Thursday, 11/22/18, given I can figure out how to properly format the cover by then.
I would greatly appreciate an honest review on Amazon.