Monthly Archives: January 2013

Step 1. Just start writing.

As people began to ask me about writing Kevin and the Seven Lions, several people said “Oh, I’ve always wanted to do that!” or “I want to do that but just can’t come up with an idea.”  The best advice I can think of for ideas, is just write.

 You want to write a book.  So write.

That’s how the book was born.  I just started writing.  This sentence came to mind “Kevin slept in class.”  That was the sentence that I first wrote down.  For the longest time the story didn’t have a name.  The story just sat in my hard drive as “Kevin slept in class,” because Word saves the first sentence of anything you write as the title until you change it.  “Kevin slept in class” as a sentence didn’t make it into the book, it was changed along time ago in some editing phase.  But the book was started by one simple sentence.  Don’t make it a big deal.

I know it sounds slight and condescending to say “just write.”  But it is what I learned in this process.  Don’t over think it, don’t think about what would the kids want to read or your audience.  Write what you would want to read.  Write for you.

Writing your own made up story should be fun.  If it isn’t, for crying out loud, stop.

Okay I’ve written something, but doesn’t someone have to publish it?

I originally shopped my story around to different agents and publishing houses.  More than anything I just wanted to learn how querying agents worked, maybe I could get some feedback.

I got nothing.  I lost count after contacting 20 or 30 something agents and houses.  It was a lot of work keeping track of who I sent the manuscript to and looking for people to send it to.  It was too much work, a spreadsheet was involved.

But now in the 21st century there are no more gate keepers.  

No one is going to come down from on high, lay hands on you and ordain you a writer.

And that’s a good thing.

If you are a teacher, like I am, you read a lot.  Reading a lot helps with writing.  Stephen King wrote in his book “On Writing” that writers need to read, a lot.  I read a lot of children’s books.  I mean a lot.  On an average, vanilla day, I read four different picture or story books.  That quickly adds up.

It is this math of books that lead me to writing a children’s book, as opposed to say a spy novel.  I do read lots of James Bond books, but I read more children’s books.  Lots more, it is a consequence of my job.

All that should help people that want to write a book, to well, write a book.

What if no one buys it?

So what if no one reads it.  Upload it to Createspace make a paperback and bring it with you to an interview, and automatically you stand out more than the other people competing for the same job.

Post it on Amazon, and then order a copy from Amazon.  Having the UPS man drop off one of those boxes with the smile on it, with YOUR book inside, is an awesome feeling.  I know, I took a picture of the box before I opened it.

Kevin and the Seven Lions in Amazon Box

Knowing that your book is inside of Amazon box is a pretty cool feeling. You should try it sometime.

But step 1 is, just start writing. The ideas will come.

Whoops. I wrote a book.

I wrote a book.  I am still surprised that.

Kevin and the Seven Lions

As Steve Martin once said something like “I always wanted to be considered an author, so I figured I needed to write a book.”

Thoughts are always better when it is attributed to someone more famous than you.

But let’s not get too crazy, it’s a 1100 word picture book.  The illustrations, which I didn’t do, are better than my writing.

But my little side project project has surprised me.  People told me they liked the book.  I thought people would pat me on the head and say “isn’t that cute.”  But they didn’t, they asked questions instead about how I did it.  I got asked a lot.  So I did a very 21st century thing and began a blog.

By day I teach, or I try to teach first graders.  And trying to teach for the 21st century is still a very anxious thought process.

But I will attempt to show how writing and publishing your own book, and education for the 21st century are connected.

I haven’t completely figured it out yet.  Luckily this is a blog.