Summer Giving Way to Fall

 I started work on my first children's book on a whim, but it's grown into something, which happens with writing.

I had finished my next novel and was in the process of doing the writerly thing and sending it out to agents and publishers for rejection. My plan was to give them a few months time to categorically refuse to help my latest story get into print, say New Year's Eve, before doing what I've done in the past and going it on my own, with the help of Kindle Desktop Publishing (KDP). At that point, I'll self-publish "The World Beneath the World" and get serious about writing the next one.

Until then, my plan was to noodle around with various side-projects: a collection or two of refurbished and expanded shorts and novellas, a website to help people on a semi-guided MFA-like experience, a serial for the new Kindle Vella program, a couple of articles about tortoises for reptile magazines, writing a grant proposal for an educational program I'd like to design, and connecting with local bookstores and schools and libraries... in addition, I jokingly talked with my wife Gail about writing a Children's book about Chili, the male Russian Tortoise that I live with.

It turned out that the story about Chili was first and foremost in my mind, and was apparently ready to come out. I did the artwork using a cool painting app and a few dozen of my photos of Chili and a few of the other tortoises that I live with, and ended up producing a nice little story, with a nice little message, that turned out to be a nice little book (if I do say so myself).

I've sold a bunch of them online via Amazon's website, and a bunch more signed copies through my home office. The book's gotten great reviews so far, from readers all over the place, and it's those reviews, along with pictures like the ones below, that have me working on the next book, which will deal with the Redfoot Tortoise that I live with, Darwin.

The first book allowed me to do something magical and fun, to blend a number of interests of mine into a cool package that can hopefully entertain and teach, or at least make people stop and think, at the same time.

That first book takes a look at Chili's grumpiness in a light-hearted way, but also makes the point that it's OK not to be happy (or to have to pretend to be happy) all the time, but that even when you're grumpy you can enjoy some of the things and beings in your life.

The second book is taking the same approach, through one of the tortoises that I live to examine a subject that some readers may experience and struggle with... in this case, sexual identity and its role and importance in placing you in society and the world.

My hope is to keep having a good time with the books, keep exploring serious issues in a fun way, and to keep producing children's books with lovely artwork of the gorgeous animals that I live with in my creep.

Besides that, I'm planning on moving forward with those other projects mentioned above, as well as pushing ahead with the second book in the new detective series.

Thanks for reading - Jamie