April 16th was the 118th anniversary of the day my grandpa, George Lee Jones was born. It seems impossible that he has been in heaven 25 years already, but it’s true. I can still picture him pouring cream over a piece of pie Grandma baked, sitting on his stool while milking the cow, or bouncing around the pasture in his white Ford pickup, one hand on the wheel. For me, these memories bring inspiration. Memories, they are like gifts that keep on giving.
To celebrate Grandpa’s birthday, I thought I would share a little about one of my current projects. If you have followed my blog over the past several years, you know that my first mystery, The Double Cousins and the Mystery of the Missing Watch was set on, and inspired by Grandpa’s ranch, south of Berwyn, Nebraska. In addition the last book in the series is also set on what was Grandpa’s ranch and the cover has a picture of the ranch.
When we were kids, we spent a week or two several different summers out on the ranch with cousins. It might have been only two summers, but it seemed like a huge part of our childhood. So many great memories.
If you’ve ever attended one of my speaking opportunities or workshops on the writing process, you’ve most likely heard the story about A Boy Named George. That’s because, in order to explain to students why I became an author, this story has to be told. And so I tell it.
Fast forward to the present. After nearly 25 years of writing, editing, publishing, and marketing books I am finally working on the picture book I originally wanted to write. It is the story of George’s Journey, a fictional retelling of the migration Grandpa’s family made from Kansas to Nebraska when he was eight. It involves a covered wagon, cold, dust, and adventures.
The advice I was given all of those years ago about picture books being the hardest ones to write was true. Cramming such a grand story into eight hundred words seems an impossible task. But, it is one I’m determined to accomplish. Stay tuned for more on this topic. Writing a manuscript is just the beginning of the process. After that the real “hard work” starts.
But, like Uncle Jim once said, “Dad (George) didn’t teach us to give up just because it was hard.”