"Keep working on a plan. Make no little plans. Make the biggest you can think of, and spend the rest of your life carrying it out." Harry S. Truman

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Contract in the mail !

I no longer have to remain cool as a cucumber - considering that it's 113 degrees Fahrenheit, here in Hyderabad, it required quite an effort. I can jump, do cartwheels - well, maybe not - and kiss everyone around. I received my signed copy of the contract in the mail, today. I wonder if we are all like that. Worrying constantly that something will happen to make the publisher change their mind. I was. Now, I can safely start worrying about something else. Considering my extended proficiency in that area, I don't expect it will take me more than an hour or so to come up with something new :)

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Publicity, Marketing, Hurray !

Nice morning surprise: I got an email from the person in charge of publicity and marketing, at Tilbury. This is starting to feel so real. I signed the contract, and yet, I think that until I have it back in my hands with the signature from the publisher, I will want to remain as cool as a cucumber - HA ! Still, they are thinking about publicity, marketing, asking for a PHOTO ! It is all so totally, outrageously unreal ! I love it.

About the title : I'm having a change of heart. I have tried to be reasonable. Truly and sincerely, I tried to find another name. I pushed my "authorly" needs and wants aside for the sake of the book. I spent hours on the net, searching Igbo names and their meanings. I exchanged countless emails with my friend in Nigeria, and she sent me more lists of names, even asking her patients to contribute their stories and knowledge about their own names. All to no avail. No other name feels suitable. In the process, I found several sportsmen on the web who bear that same given name. It's Ifeanyi, by the way. One of them is a football player in the Cincinatti Bengals team ! So, I'm trying something new. Hopefully, the editor and the publisher will accept that. Letting go, yes. Absolutely. If it will benefit the story in the end. But I have to be able to live with that. I've been having nightmares where I'm reading my stories to a classroom full of children, and I blurt out Ifeanyi instead of whatever new name I might have come up with. Most importantly, the character must adopt that new name in a seamless way. It must fit him. It must feel natural and obvious. So far, this has not happened. Maybe he's meant to be Ifeanyi, and Ifeanyi only. It's a lovely name, anyway, with a lovely meaning that suits him and the story : "nothing is impossible." More to come about that, I'm sure.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

About foreign names in picture books

I'm currently working on the last edits on my very first picture book, to be published next year by Tilbury House, Publishers. Yes, hurray ! And Yes, I still can't quite believe it. I regularly check the emails I exchange with the editor, reading them again to make sure it's all happening in the real world, and not only in my dreams.

So far, the editing process has been rather smooth. I really like my editor, even though I wish I knew more about her. But of course, she is very busy. Same with the publisher. Only bump on the road, so far? (Of course, there had to be a bump somewhere.) They would like me to change the name of my main character. Change WHAT???

I was first told it couldn't appear in the title. No foreign name in the title, especially one which pronunciation can be tricky. Now, Uma Krishnaswami - my teacher extraordinaire, and someone whose name is bound to appear from time to time in these virtual pages - once said that she regretted keeping Chachaji's name in the title of her picture book Chachaji's Cup. So, I decided to be very mature about it. I said "Fine. No name in the title."

I was already congratulating myself on being so reasonable and wise, when I was asked if I could possibly change the name completely ! That's almost like asking me to start calling my daughter differently, after I spent five years calling her by a name I happen to like or I wouldn't have chosen it, right ? This is the kind of issue that comes up in multicultural litterature. Or so I'm discovering.

I chose to tell the story of a boy who lives in an African country. He has an African name. Sometimes, foreign names are easy to pronounce for the Anglophone. But of course, I didn't choose one of those. I never even thought about pronounciation. I just liked the sound of that name, and that was it and the character must have liked it too, or he wouldn't have stayed alive, I don't think.

I have not yet resolved the dilemma. But you know what? I will again try to be mature and reasonable - now that my best writers friends have weathered the worst of my "freaked out" moment. I will try to find a new name for my boy ; a name that will better serve the story in the end ; either because it will be easier to pronounce, or because I will have found a way to avoid that pitfall. Writing - and being published - like so many other things in life- is so much about letting go.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Blog One, Action !

Alea Jacta Est ! - or how I can't resist showing off whatever remnants of Latin my brain has managed to retain after all these years. In other, simpler words : That's it. I finally created a blog. MY blog. And already, I can see this might just eat up an enormous chunk of that elusive and frustrating thing called "my time." Just coming up with the title of the blog took me well over an hour, and I still wonder about it, but then, I was never good with titles. Still, I feel like I just accomplished something.

So, why did I want to have my own blog? I imagine it as a new tool. I process my thoughts better when I write. I see this as a place to muse and share news - hopefully good ones -information and tips I gather here and there, about the process of writing. As an expatriate writer living in India - until we move elsewhere - I figure this may be a way to continue building my own writers' community.
I won't necessarily visit every day, or even every week. I don't quite know how often I'll be posting. But I like the idea of having my own little forum, of contributing my little message in a bottle to the ocean of our children's writing virtual community.