Molly’s Cue TRAILER

Wow. I’ve done it! I’ve learned something about iMovie, and I’ve made a trailer for my new novel, Molly’s Cue, out in May.  mud girl full cover.qxd

I think this should be the new way to create those horrible “book reviews” we had to do as kids in school. I always loathed doing them; they ruined the reading experience for me. But thinking in terms of visuals/symbols, and linking them…now that might be fun!

The toughest part–but in many ways, most enjoyable–was finding images/photos that connected with the story and the characters. Then creating brief pieces of text. They say that you know whether or not a book can be turned into a decent film if you can make a visually-successful trailer.

Okay, here’s what I’m going to do: post the trailer here on my site and Youtube, and I’d like for you to view it, and list the ways that the pictures, the words, and any other elements connect with the book…which means you’ll read the book. The person who can come up with the most connections, I will send a signed copy. Anyone who makes a connection that I didn’t see myself–even if it’s the only connection they list–will also get a book! (So much of the writing process is sub- or un-conscious; sometimes the writer doesn’t recognize what seems obvious to the reader.)

My email is alison at alison acheson dot com. (Please do not post as a comment! A wise young fellow at Jarvis Elementary pointed out that if people DO post as a comment, then others can see the answers! So do send to my email…and I’ll post the winning answers!)

Let’s see what you can come up with!

page 81

…working on the two-pages-a-day, 5 a.m. wake up…stuck on page 81 for too long.

Some days ago I pulled out more pages than wrote, which is part of the process. The following day, I did research. (Fiction writers reading will chuckle: right, research.) The following day, I worked hard on the picturebook I was re-writing. And again, the next day. Novel momentum broken.

Yesterday, I sat and wrote, working on page 57, which is what’s happening with the first draft of this story–so much working with one character, moving to another, working on p. 36, then 62, back to 57. But at the bottom of the page, it continued to read “page 57 of 81.” I swear it went on to read “page 58 of 81.”

Then there it was: “page 59 of 82.” I finished the paragraph. Added a thought, and was done for the day, exhausted.

Today, what will happen? Perhaps I’ll find more to cut than to add. How attached am I to those little numbers? Too mechanical? Writing has its own set of self-deluding mind-games. But I’m no more attached to the numbers than Rita Mae Brown, setting her pages to the side of her typewriter, hoping for affirmation from her cat, hoping the feline will sit on the pages and thereby approve.

All right. Two pages, coming up.

Disappointment…has a taste, like oatmeal with no salt…

What do we do with disappointment?

I never know who might read my blog: ex-students, I know.  Family members, especially those who live far away.  Friends. Fellow writers.

And the people who read my books.  Who are young people…  So, if I write a piece about what it’s like to work very hard toward a particular goal–in this case, preparing (4 weeks) for a job interview (5 hours) for a position I would have loved to have–and then I write about the waiting (4 weeks) for a response and then the disappointment when the answer is “no”…well, it’s not the story we’re supposed to write for kids. Some people like to argue about whether or not books for children should have hopeful or even happy endings.

Over and over, in books and movies, kids see the main character triumph against the odds.  But disappointment, having to change goals and direction, moving on…these are not the subjects of stories for young people. But my new novel, Molly’s Cue, which will be released next spring, IS about a change of direction.

Fact is, disappointments do happen. We do work hard for things…really hard, even…and they still don’t happen. Some people are convinced it’s a matter of what we believe, and how hard we believe in ourselves–as if it’s something you can measure.  Like this: Person A had 20 kilograms of belief in her self, but Person X had 68!  So…guess who got the job…

Or, conversely, Person A had two negative thoughts about not getting the job, but Person W had four negative thoughts. Person W did not get the job.

Anyway.  For whatever reasons–NOT lack of hard work, NOT lack of feeling good about myself–I did not get the job.  So.  No happy ending.  And moments of feeling not very hopeful.

Where is that story? Do people want to read that story? A “change of direction” story? A friend of mine, in her 50s, says that she can’t find anything to read that really speaks to where she’s at in her life–that mirrors her reality. Maybe that’s because we’re afraid to talk about these things. We’re all supposed to be Superfolk, and if we’re not, it’s because we’re doing something dreadfully wrong, and we should keep it to ourselves.

What is the purpose of disappointment? Everything must have a purpose now. One should be able to multi-task disappointment with any number of emotions. Maybe I need to think as a painter thinks: look at what I see before me, and consider what I do see, not what I think I see.

In a close-to-the-end rewrite of Molly’s Cue, I had to cut out a particular line.  A line that an earlier editor had marked as a favourite. A line that I was rather fond of. But sometimes a story calls for something else and, for the sake of the story, you cut. So I cut. Today I use it. As the title for this entry. With changes of direction, it’s entirely possible to find what you think you’ve lost, or even something unexpected.


I came home from Ditch Lake Manitoba yesterday, and found a copy of my new picturebook, Grandpa’s Music, in the mail.  What a wonderful feeling, to actually hold a copy in my hands!  And at the same time, be very aware of how much energy has come from others in the creating of this thing.  Another’s vision has a huge role in a picturebook, and before the vision of the illustrator, there is the vision of the editor.  It is altogether something like a stageplay, with each playing a role in the coming together of a production.

Then today, there’s another slim package in the mailbox.  And I open it to find an upside down book…no a book, with a picture of a house on the front…and I can’t read the title…because it’s in Hebrew, and it’s to be read what I think of as back-to-front, right to left.  And it comes with a slip of paper from the publisher of my stories for adults, to let me know that somewhere in this volume is my short story “Across the Hall.”  I couldn’t tell you which of the stories is mine.  All I can read is the title on the title page, and “printed in Israel.”  Again, someone I don’t know, and in all likelihood, will never meet, decided he or she liked my story, thought it worthwhile to include, someone else (possibly) translated it, decided where it would work in the collection…took all those steps that are part of creating a book…and here it is, in my hands.

Thank you to so many people.  Writing is not quite the solitary work that it is believed to be…


A favourite quote: Wonder is respect for life… from William Steig’s Caldecott speech, 1970.

These words act as a PAUSE sign for me.  They simultaneously make me want to reach up into the stars… and gather into my arms the simplicity of the day-to-day.  How do we do this, with only one set of arms and hands?

Perhaps that is part of WONDER: believing this is entirely possible, and using our minds to do what our hands can’t.

Very young children know about this wonder.  Then we—almost all—grow out and away from it.  Reclaiming it has to be a conscious act.  Which is why I consider these words at the outset of a new writing project, and then again and again, throughout.

Last night, I opened “Sylvester and the Magic Pebble” and for the first time in too long, read it with my now 10 year old son.  Never too old for a picturebook.  Never too old to wonder.  If the planet and our existence requires more respect, we need to wonder to a proportionate degree.  Maybe even more!