Third Year Anniversary for “My Life With Gracie”

Today, August 2nd, marked the Third Anniversary of “My Life With Gracie.” There have been a lot of changes over the past three years, but one thing has not changed: our appreciation for our readers who have helped us to grow and improve in more ways than we can count.

We especially appreciated our fans who have followed us over to “The Gracie Press Newsletter.” The format there gives us more opportunities to share illustrations and stories with our readers in a “kid safe, non-internet website” format.

To subscribe, just go to newsletter.GraciePress.com and provide your email address. You will receive an email to confirm your subscription. You must confirm to successfully complete your subscription. While you are there, you can read previous issues.

The newsletter is sent out every Friday at 9:20 AM (East Coast Time). We haven’t missed a week yet, but some had been delivered when we were using the popular and busy 9:30 AM time slot. That’s why we switched to 10 minutes earlier.

And if you haven’t followed us over to the newsletter, that’s okay. We still truly appreciate your continued support and encouragement here on “My Life With Gracie”! (We just aren’t posting as often here with new stories and illustrations.)

We like the newsletter because it allows easier sharing with others, but we do miss the conversations that the comments on WordPress allow.

Thanks again, everyone!

The Worm Olympics and a Short Lesson About the “Inner Critic”

This week’s issue of The Gracie Press Newsletter was sent out yesterday morning. If yours did not arrive in your email “inbox,” you may want to check your “junk” or “spam” folders. BUT there were some that were not sent at all, including my own (to a different email address than the one that I used to set up my newsletter account).

I have to say that is concerning! And in corresponding with someone here on WordPress, I discovered it has happened to some people for the past few weeks. That’s not good! We have been consistent in sending out newsletters every Friday at 9:30 AM for the past 14 weeks.

So if you have been wondering, “Where’s the newsletter?”…Gracie and I are going to do our best to get it corrected with the folks at Revue.

In the meantime, if you’ve been missing issues, you can catch up by using the links below.

The featured image, which you also see above, is in black-and-white, just as it will be in our next book. Reader feedback was overwhelmingly in favor of full-page chapter illustrations.

Due to the length of the book which is currently 246 pages, color is not an option. But then again, I don’t think black-and-white illustrations are such a bad thing…unless of course, I listened to my “inner critic”!

And I do think many of us do have an “Inner Critic.” Mine was working overtime about three years ago when I started drawing pictures of Gracie and my other chickens on sticky notes and scratch pads.

“No one is going to want to look at those!” said my inner critic.

But, of course, people did want to look at them.

“No one is going to want to read stories you write to go with those pictures!” said my inner critic.

But, of course, people did want to read them.

“Go ahead and waste your time writing and illustrating those books. No one is going to pay any attention to them!” said my inner critic.

Well, you can see where this is going, can’t you? The Shoebox will be our fourth book and our first book in a series titled Once Through a Garden Gate.

At 248 pages and over 34,000 words, I think it is fair to say, “Don’t listen to your inner critic!” Or as Gracie says, “Dance with your heart, and then take a leap of faith!”

While you are catching up with our newsletter, why not sign up as a subscriber? August will mark the Third Anniversary of sharing drawings and stories about Gracie, and we will have a special gift for our newsletter subscribers! Wow! Three Years!

You may wonder, “What’s different about the newsletter?” The newsletter shares what I am working on directly with our fans. Because it is an email, our fans can share it with others, particularly those who are young readers with no ads, no distractions, and no strange content. In a way, it’s sort of like sharing a bedtime story!

Also, unlike “My Life With Gracie,” there are no health updates like the ones I have given here from time to time. (In the newsletter, Blanche is still with us. Gracie doesn’t need my help to get up onto her favorite roosting spot at night.)

Another way to say this is that the newsletter anticipates these stories lasting beyond the lives of my chickens and well beyond my own life. That is our hope. We want to make the world a better place for everyone. And so we dance and then take a leap of faith.

John’s Reading List For Writers…“Save The Cat! Writes A Novel” by Jessica Brody

Save The Cat! Writes A Novel by Jessica Brody

This book has an unusual title and cover, and to be honest, neither caught my attention in a positive way. (Could I really let my chickens see me reading a book with a picture of a cat on the cover? Cats love chickens, but not in a good way.)

Save The Cat! Writes A Novel is based on the Save The Cat! books by Blake Snyder. His books were written more for screenwriters, but in her own book, Jessica Brody adapted his ideas for novelists.

From reading this book, I learned that the building blocks of a successful screenplay and a successful novel are very much the same. Both are made up of “beats” which are events that work to transform the main character. Each has a specific goal to move the story forward.

Here are several “beats” that come in the beginning of a story.

The “Opening Image” provides a snapshot of the main character and their world. The readers gets a glimpse of what life is like for your main character. Think about the opening minute or two of a movie where the main character is just going about their ordinary, everyday routine while the opening music and credits are playing.

The “Theme Stated” tells what your character needs to  learn and how they need to change. But, of course, the main character is often complacent about their life and isn’t particularly eager to learn any life lessons and transform in any way because change can be painful and is often hard work. They need something to propel them forward into the story.

The “Catalyst” is something that disrupts the status quo world of the main character. It sends them off in a completely different direction whether they want it to or not. It’s what moves them out of their normal life and onto a journey of transformation.

The next time you watch a movie, look for these things. They have been there all along, we just have not been completely aware of them. (That is what convinced me this was a useful book.) The “beats” are built into the screenplay for a movie, and they can be built into a novel as well. They lay the foundation and hold the story together even though the movie viewer or novel reader is often not conscious of them.

This post just skims the surface of the first part of this useful book. A large section describes the different story types and the essential ingredients that make each as effective as possible. If you write only a particular type of story such as horror or romance, this larger section of the book may not be useful to you, only just the parts specific to your preferred genre. In that case, a borrowed copy from your local library might work best for you. That’s where I originally found this book and then bought my own copy.

Save The Cat! Writes A Novel has been a very useful resource for me and may be the same for you even if you choose not to add it to your home library.

Each post shares a glimpse into my journey as a writer and illustrator. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated! I am hoping to have a new “My Life With Gracie” story post each Saturday which seems to be our most popular day with readers. Thanks for reading!