Some time after draft three…

I’ve revised my draft over the course of several months (three drafts so far), with the help of some awesome test readers and my ever-willing editor husband (well, willing to an extent. I think I did detect a slight groan the last time I mentioned we should do another edit, just in case we missed anything).

My book is almost formatted for printing, and we are just planning to do one more read-through before we get 8 test-reader paperback copies. It will be exciting to hold a physical copy of my book, but I’m not stopping there—I plan to see it traditionally published! These copies are intended for getting more valuable feedback, especially from kid readers.

Between revising dialogue and adding in some more character descriptions, I’ve also been sketching out ideas for the goblin characters in Beyond the Bramble: 

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Early on, I had contemplated doing my own illustrations but had changed my mind after reading an article about the creation of Yoda (see An interview on the topic of Yoda). There were so many different visionaries, artists, fabricators, and puppeteers that were involved in creating Yoda. This is why he was so dimensional and lifelike—he wasn’t just the figment of one artist’s mind. For my characters, I have already given each of them a voice, a name, and a general description. I wanted a brilliant illustrator to take it from there. Fortunately, I know an incredible illustrator who also appreciates the world of goblins and all things magical. But more on that later!

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When one of your main characters is broken…

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Annette after surgery

…in real life.

I haven’t been neglecting writing. Actually, I’ve been writing and revising non-stop for all of June and now July. Since my initial blog post, I finished my first draft, took an amazing two-week road trip to Portland, revised a second draft, and then life went insane somewhere between getting home from our trip and right now.

Along with a slew of other crazy things going on, Annette had a major surgery last Thursday. She just turned 9 months old and she needed to have a corrective surgery for her luxating patella before she stopped growing. That means 8 to 12 weeks of recovery for bone and flesh to heal. She’s a tough little pistol, but she’s only a little thing and surgery terrifies me. She isn’t technically “broken” but that little skip in her step could lead to worse things if we don’t repair it now.

I know this post isn’t strictly book-related, but Nettie is officially a character out of Beyond the Bramble, so anything pertaining to her is legitimate. My next post will be more visual and story-focused!

A bit of the backstory behind “Beyond the Bramble”

This blog  should have been up and running months ago. It was certainly haunting me at the back of my mind, but when you’re knee deep in college finals and family matters, well… blogs tend to get ignored and placed on the back burner.

I’m going to use this blog  to introduce the different goblins who live in the Bramble and to share some of the concept art and story plot with you. This is the place for those who’d like to follow my journey as I attempt to take my book from a rough first draft all the way to publication. What this basically means is that you’ll hear from me on the good days when the creativity is flowing, as well as the bad days when the rejection letters flood in!

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Concept art for “Pim”, one of the books main characters

But before I jump into the book, I thought I could share some of what has prompted me to even write a children’s book, especially one packed with mischievous goblins and secret worlds.

The ideas for this book have been gathering since my own childhood and it was only a matter of time before I gave in and put them to paper. Fantasy films like Labyrinth, The NeverEnding Story, and Willow gave me vivid worlds to escape to. Books by Mercer Mayer, Lewis Carroll, Avi, Brian Froud,  and Maurice Sendak have given me wonderful and unusual friends to escape with. All of these influences together have been busy saturating my brain with inspiration!

Also lurking in my brain were the memories of my grandparents’ basement, packed with boxes of antiques and endless shelves of books. Everything about that basement was magical and mysterious to me.Their backyard was no different. In my grandparents’ backyard were several overgrown, thorny bushes, which we called the “Jungle.” I cried the day they finally cut them down, because it was the place where I was certain these fantastical creatures lived. That tangle of bramble inevitably became the start of my book’s setting.

The characters that appear in Beyond the Bramble are un-apologetically stolen from real life. The story’s main character was drawn from two real girls I know, who would never harm a book, let alone think twice about being a little quirky. The book is both written for them and for every other kid who could use a creative friend like them.

The final little element that couldn’t help but creep into my book is my constant companion and the most ornery of dachshunds, Annette. She found herself on the first page and proceeded to wriggle her way from one page onto the next. But if I’m being honest, I wouldn’t have it any other way, nor would the other characters in the book.