December 17, 2008

How to Write a Book. Part 2

We talked yesterday about how to write books. It isn’t hard. Maisy Jane, my smaller loin spawn, learned how to write books only last week, and she is 6. She learned how by sitting down and writing one. She writes them a LOT now.

Here is her latest, and I think we can all agree it shows the nascent beginnings of a significant talent. My plan was to sell it to my editor at GCP for MILLIONS OF DOLLARS and retire, but alas, I did not think to do that BEFORE I posted it below, so NOW it is already technically PUBLISHED, and I shafted my kid out of a major book deal. Hopefully the movie rights sales will make up for this.



Green Title Page reads, “Liliee’s Life, by Maisy, Illustrated by Maisy”
“Translated by Joshilyn Jackson,” should probably appear, but I did not get a pub credit…ghost translator?

You can see by the cover art that this is going to be an action packed and exciting read. Liliee is screaming (or perhaps laughing?) and her dress is very fancy.
She is not having a good hair day.
The color choices for the cover pull the eye – this is absolutely going to pop when it sits on the shelf at your local book purveyor.


One day Liliee sad, “Oooow thes day is rainy.”
(One day Liliee said, “Aw, this day is rainy!”)

Liliee is not actually HARMED by rain, only disappointed. By “Ooooow” she means AWWWW. Or DERNIT. The picture shows a pink cloud raining pink rain onto a pink fence surrounding pink yard. This hypersplosion of PINKtasticness is forshadowing. The astute reader realizes now that Liliee must be more than she seems…pink…is she a fairy? Or a princess?

The next page tells all:

But Liliee did not no she was a faree.
(But Liliee did not know she was a fairy.)

Liliee thinks she is just a girl with either VERY pointy arms OR possibly no arms and a truly astounding rack. Now the cloud is black and the rain is black, and the central conflict of the book is revealed. This is a book about IDENTITY! Who or what is Liliee, truly? Not even Liliee knows.


Sudinlee a see snak came uq! (Suddenly a Sea Snake came up.)

Liliee: “A!”
See Snak: rrrr!
Maisy’s Translation of See Snak dialog: Trarslaation ---> I’m huingaree!
My Translation of Maisy’s translation of See Snak dialog: Translation (arrow) I’m Hungry!

Sudenlee she groo hre wings and sringkt!
(Suddenly she grew her wings and shrinked!)

The villain appears here, and I think the phonetic spelling of shrinked is both perfectly phonetic and perfectly awesome. I also think that was a HECK of a rain storm, if it could in a single page flood the pink fenced yard to such an extent that a see snak could inhabit it.

Please note here too the preternaturally early understanding of how to use quotation marks. I credit Mrs. P, her first grade teacher, with the fine installation of some of the basic rules of punctuation. HUZZAH to Mrs. P, and meanwhile, you best beloveds (and my copy editor) are blackly thinking, “If only JOSS had had Mrs. P AND hadn’t failed (YES! FAILED! BIG FAT F!) her typing class in tenth grade.” Don’t think I do not see you thinking this. Because I SEE YOU.

It of course helps that Maisy is a total genius. *nodnodnod*


And she floo hoom. The end.
(And she flew home. The end.)

Publisher’s Weekly criticized this final page, with the reviewer implying that the illustrator became bored with the project and wanted to go play on the wii with her brother. AU CONTRAIRE PW, YOU CYNICS!! Do you not recall that Liliee SHRINGKT??? She and her house are merely drawn to scale.

Anyway, that’s how you write a book.

Maisy says, You’re welcome.

Posted by joshilyn at December 17, 2008 9:13 AM

Thank you Maisy! A fantastical and well illustrated tome that brought me much joy!

Posted by: kathy at December 17, 2008 10:05 AM

Hi Joshilyn! Hope all is well. Maisy shows an impressive command of magical realism! My daughter also has started making books. Her latest is called "The Fun Book," and proclaims on the first page that "Fun is playing with your sister." As far as I can tell, it is a work of science fiction. Take care!

Posted by: tiffany at December 17, 2008 10:08 AM

This is great! I love it. My son can't write yet, but we make books a lot and he draws in them and sometimes he will dictate the words for me to write in. I can't wait til he knows how to write!

Tell Maisy good job and she has a new fan in Arkansas.

Posted by: Wendy at December 17, 2008 10:24 AM

Miss Maisy Jane is clearly a budding literary genius. Not surprising, given her lineage... but impressive, nevertheless! Four stars!

Posted by: Aimee at December 17, 2008 10:26 AM

I heart Maisy. Please let me know when I can purchase a signed copy. ;)

Posted by: Mir at December 17, 2008 10:27 AM

Aw, so cute :) And a great story! Thanks to having helped out during "kid writing" in my son's kindergarten class, I needed no trarslaation.

Posted by: Laura at December 17, 2008 11:04 AM

So cute!

Posted by: Jess at December 17, 2008 11:22 AM

*gives Maisy a standing ovation*


Posted by: Dory at December 17, 2008 11:24 AM

Don't let anyone kill that child's creativity with lectures on punctuation and spelling. Those things will come with time and lots of reading. The creativity? Priceless and irreplaceable. Bravo, Maisie!

Posted by: kmkat at December 17, 2008 11:37 AM

Maisy Jane, you have great artistic flair; I am IMPRESSED that Liliee keeps her looks in every drawing! Thank you for sharing this delightful story!

Posted by: Marty at December 17, 2008 11:54 AM

Wonderful! I was on the edge of my seat!

Just for fun, I tried to read without the translation. I totally nailed it perhaps because I speak little girl (having one of my own). I hate to say it, Joshilyn, but if the target audience of this book is mothers of little girls, you may be out of a translating job.

Posted by: Em at December 17, 2008 12:30 PM

Your daughter is blessed to have a mother who lifts up her efforts! Very sweet, her imagination and your encouragement of it.

Posted by: pendy at December 17, 2008 2:10 PM

That has everything -- drama, suspense and a happy ending. Not to mention it's about the perfect length at this busy time of year. My own 6-y-o loves to write stories as well, although lately she's moved on to letters. Thanks to you both for sharing.

Posted by: Terri at December 17, 2008 8:48 PM

That's an exciting read! Maisy is very skilled at pacing events in her books, isn't she? I hope to do so well one day.

Some of my greatest treasures are the books that my sons wrote when they were about Maisy's age. One of Josh's teachers would have the members of the class write a story every week or so and bind them into books. Then each child in the class would get to bring the book home one night to share with his family and allow them to comment in writing. It was great to read about things they were learning and wonderful things they imagined, as well as seeing their handwriting and spelling improve each week. At the end of the year, each child got to bring home one of the books to keep.

Posted by: Cindy Ericsson at December 18, 2008 1:35 AM

And on her FIRST draft, too! You must be both proud and envious.

Posted by: Brigitte at December 18, 2008 5:32 AM

I only wish my 8th graders could write with such passion and conviction and creativity and joy. Maisy gets a 4 out of 4.

Posted by: Roxanne at December 18, 2008 9:33 AM

I loved this! Awesome job, Maisy!

May I self-indulgently share the first book my own sweet girl ever wrote? It's here:

Posted by: Debora Silkotch at December 18, 2008 11:24 AM

Warm fuzzy puppy hugs for Smart Maisy and her Book!! Perhaps Liliee's Life may be continued in a future tome?

Posted by: Jennifer at December 18, 2008 11:30 AM

And, now that I think about it, it took a Sea Snake(actually, its metaphorical equivalent) to trigger me to grow my wings and fly home, too. Little girls sometimes have a good grasp of big truths!

Posted by: Jennifer at December 18, 2008 11:38 AM

Thank you, Maisy, for showing us how to write a book. I still think that it's too hard for me to do it, however, so I hope that you will continue to write them and allow your Mother to share them with us, unless, of course, you get a great big fat publishing contract, in which case I'll pay big bucks for it at the bookstore. See, I told you I can't write a book - I would only get 3 sentences in before I used up my word (and page) allotment!

Posted by: Deborah P at December 18, 2008 12:07 PM

It's a best seller for sure.

Posted by: nik at December 18, 2008 12:27 PM