Friday, February 27, 2015

Translations, illustrations, and insomnia

I have the best kind of insomnia right now.  I sometimes have a hard time falling asleep because I'm so busy thinking about this book project.  Imagining the images, hearing the translations…

This weekend, I received the almost-final German translation of Moonflower and the Solstice Dance.  It is absolutely beautiful.  When I read it out loud to my kids, however, they looked a little horrified.  For those who don't know, our kids are trilingual.  They can speak and understand English, Turkish, and German.  "Mummy, just give it to me, let me read it," our oldest son said.  He read it beautifully!  The melody and rhythm could have put me into a trance...

As some of you know, I have a 9-month-old baby at home.  Who wakes me up multiple times at night. This morning, he woke me up at 5:45 a.m. and I never managed to get him back to sleep.  He's a cheerful and sweet little guy, and a great reason to get up at 5:45.  And this morning, I really didn't mind because my e-mail inbox contained some new sketches by the illustrator!  It is so exciting to see my visions become reality.  I can imagine, but I can't really draw or paint.  Ok, I can draw and paint, but my drawings and paintings never come out as I want them to.  I can see the final image I want, but I can't get there.  Fortunately, Solongo has been able to read my mind, so to speak, and put into sketches the visions that I have.  Right now, she's working on the cover, and it's magical to see it come to life.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Real translation isn't done by Google

Google Translate is a handy tool that I use quite often to help me quickly understand correspondence such as e-mails from our sons' school.  Its translations are direct, rough, never more than partially accurate, and often hilarious.  It cannot translate books, and certainly not poetry.

This book (tentatively titled Moonflower and the Solstice Dance)  is written entirely in verse, which is exceptionally difficult to translate.  Rhyme makes it difficult to translate word for word, and so it is meaning that must be translated and rhyming attempted.  Word order cannot be maintained, and vocabulary must often change.  But a great translator can maintain the imagery, feeling, and rhythm of a poem.

I am so lucky to have friend who is a talented English-German translator!  I was already lucky to call

Novel vs. Illustrated Children's book - a world apart

When I set out on this new publishing adventure, I didn't realize it was going to be such a different adventure.  Putting together and publishing an illustrated children's story is a very different experience than publishing a coming-of-age novel.  In fact, one has very little to do with the other.  Let me count the ways:

  1. With a novel, you paint a picture with words.  Lots of words.  With an illustrated children's book,

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

And the illustrator is...

Old Man Dalantai Copyright Solongo Drini
When I read The Solstice Dance to my kids, they like it. But they want to see the pictures.  The illustrations in a book can make it or break it.  The text has to start out good - I'm still working on that, trying to make the rhythm correct and the imagery magical - but the illustrations are of the utmost importance.  That is why I am so excited to be working with Solongo Drini.  You can find more of Solongo's work at  She has the education, training, and imagination needed for this particular story, and I can't wait to see what she comes up with.

Now you're as excited as I am, right?  Once I've got the English text finalized, I'm going to reach out to my friends around the world to see if anyone's interested in translating it into other languages.  I was thinking German, Swedish, Icelandic, Japanese… If any of you wants to offer, I would be delighted!  The text is in rhyming prose in English, but I would not expect translations to rhyme.

I've also figured out a timeline for the project now.  Once Solongo has finished the cover image, I will go ahead with the Kickstarter campaign.  If she can manage to finish all of the artwork by June, then I'll work on formatting the book by July, and maybe even have it in my hands by the end of July.  I'll then send it off for its Kirkus review and do the formal release and marketing blitz in the Autumn.  It should be in consumers' hands well before the Winter Solstice.

There has been some discussion about the title… the original title was The Solstice Dance.  Then it morphed into Moonflower's Solstice Dance.  Now, I'm thinking that "Moonflower and the Solstice Dance" might be a better title.  Do any of you have any thoughts on this?

It's coming together!!

Friday, February 6, 2015

A new project!

So…. Things slowed down in the writing department.  I did write a second novel, and have been trying to shop it to agents. There has been strong interest, but still no bite.  I haven't given up, but I'm taking a break. The constant rejections are tough to take.  

Quite a few years ago, I wrote a children's book about the winter solstice.  I really liked the book - it also had some strong interest when I shopped it to agents, but again, no bite.  It's in prose, which is a little bit of a hard sell right now.  One publisher I applied to directly loved it, but they were worried that since it took place in Central Asia, they weren't going to be able to find an illustrator who would make accurate depictions of the people and environment.  I so went into Internetland and found one.  And ever since then, I cannot imagine this story without envisioning her artwork.  

But it costs a lot of money to pay an illustrator.