I think I’ve mentioned before that I do some writing work for Rick Walton. One project that I helped him with was typing manuscripts he wrote for beginning readers for a publisher in Korea to teach Korean children how to speak English. Rick wrote three books for the series, each with a target sound or letter of the alphabet. As you can imagine, if you aren’t careful writing a book with several words starting with the same sound/letter means you’d end up with one long tongue-twister, which is not what the publisher wanted. Writing these books is almost like writing a puzzle due to the specific requirements. Rick is really good at that kind of thing!
Rick was contacted by the Korean publisher to write two more books for the series. These were review books, so though the requirements were still specific, they were a little easier because they combined more than one letter of the alphabet or sound.
During WIFYR, Rick asked if I had time to take a shot at writing the review books because he needed to make his deadline. I’ve learned from other writers, that you never say “no” when asked if you want to or if you can write a book. So, of course, I said “yes.” Plus, in past years, I’d thought it would be fun to write early readers. Here was my chance!
First, I wrote a draft for the Qu,V,X,Y,Z review book. The requirements were to use words from a list that included about six words beginning with each target letter of the alphabet, except some words (like Queen and violin) that had been used in previous books were not to be used again. The publisher also wanted:
Sentences that were six words or less,
A total of 14 lines (14 spreads or pages),
Repetition of target words,
A fun plot that small children would enjoy reading,
And include notes for possible illustrations.
Quite a list! I came up with the idea of Quin and Zoe planting violet and yellow flowers in the yard in a zigzag pattern. The title was Flowers for Quin and Zoe. I tried to make the book have a funny ending by having the children wait and wait and wait for the flowers to grow. My final lines were:
“How long will it take?” asks Zoe.
“I don’t know,” says Quin. “Let’s go get a vase.”
The book went through some revisions with Rick and then on to the publisher, which responded with an alternate plot using a few different target words and cutting out Quin. The title changed to Flowers for Zoe. Zoe, the violet flowers, the yard, and the vase stayed, but the plot changed to include a fox that wrecks the flowers and Mother who comforts Zoe.
The same week, I wrote a draft for the Sh,Ch,Th,Wh review book. I titled it, Thursday at the Zoo. My idea described Whitney meeting her friend Charles at the zoo and riding the zoo train around to see some animals. After Rick’s revisions and then the publisher’s revisions. The childrens’ names morfed to Shelly and Charlie and they saw more animals but the title, the plot, and some of my favorite lines remained:
Chug! Chug! The train wheels turn.
Choo! Choo! The train whistle blows.
The process of writing these books was a great experience for me! I learned a lot about working with a publisher/editor and I enjoyed the challenge of writing the books. Someday, I hope to see them in print. Without Rick, this experience wouldn’t have been possible. He has the know-how, and the contacts, and he pays me to work for him! How great is that? Thanks, Rick!