Deborah Jackson

Friday, March 23, 2012

Update on the Time Meddlers Series

All good things must come to an end, but sometimes you can end bad things on your own.

I know I promised Time Meddlers fans a March release of the latest book in the series but, as you can see, March is almost over and no release. This forced me to step over the threshold of making a major decision for the series. I decided to pull it from the current publisher before the release of the third book.

The focus of this publisher has been increasingly geared toward books that are not kid-friendly, and it’s become an inappropriate atmosphere for a children’s book series. I’ve felt my ire grow as the books were often pushed aside or nestled side-by-side with adult romance or “other  adult” books. Not that there’s anything wrong with  “other adult” books, they just don’t belong with kidlit. I also encountered several problems within the organization that I won’t go into any detail about,  but which impelled me to  pull the series. This decision has been costly for me (to break a contract always is); I didn’t make it on the spur of the moment and without a great deal of pain and trepidation. It’s very difficult to find a new home for a previously published series.

I apologize to my fans. I know you were looking forward to the release of this book, as was I, but I’m hoping in the long run you’ll have better access to the books and no further delays when a release date is announced. I'll do my best to make it up to you as I search for another publisher.

If you haven’t read Mars Maze, I have that available for free on my blog—a tongue-in-cheek mini-adventure based on Time Meddlers. (The premise is rather silly compared to the other books, but the point of it is simply to laugh and enjoy.) For those of you who haven’t read Ice Tomb, message me and I’ll give you a code to obtain a free copy. If you’re interested, I might release a few chapters of Time Meddlers on the Nile over the next few weeks.

I currently have two other unpublished manuscripts that I’m working on, so once this mess is sorted out, I hope to provide you with a great deal of reading material :)

Feel free to ask me anything you like regarding this decision. I welcome your thoughts and concerns.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Reluctant Reader/The Defiant Child

For the Love of Reading
Irony is a part of life.

I am a writer (in case you weren’t aware.) I love reading (in case you think I could possibly contemplate writing books without reading them.)

I have two children, a boy and a girl (oh, yes, the perfect family.)

I have ONE reader in the family, besides myself.

This is how it works, or how it worked for me. My first child was born, a girl, and she loved books. It stands to reason that a mother who absolutely adores reading will pass on that passion to her child.

She never liked dolls, or Lego, or fuzzy stuffed animals. She loved books. She used to go to sleep surrounded by her favourites: Curious George and Dr. Seuss, Charlotte’s Web and The Berenstain Bears. (We’ll miss you Jan.)

As she grew older, the stacks migrated from the protective wall around her body (I don’t know how she ever woke up without creases and striations all over her skin) to the night table, but the stacks never diminished. She eventually took a literary arts specialty in high school, and although her true passion is now visual art, she will never grow out of her love for books.

Four years after my daughter was born we had another child, a boy.

Now don’t think that I agree with the gender bias that suggests non-readers are all male; this is just a fact in my life.

The boy didn’t like books. In fact the boy didn’t like hockey either, or skiing or anything his parents adored.

My husband is crazy about hockey; well, he’s a Canuck, so what else do you expect. So . . . my son was required to learn this exciting, demanding sport as soon as his feet could properly support him on a single blade, not two. At four we enrolled him in the Mite Hockey League. He stood on his skates, quite well. And that’s all he did. Stand in the middle of the ice like an obstinate rock while the ebb and flow of four-year-old hockey magic zipped around him. (They stumble-skated back and forth on the ice and managed to flip a few pucks beside the net.) He would not move.

Next we tried skiing. I’d developed a passion for this sport in my university years and thought, what kid wouldn’t love racing down the slopes with wind in his face and gravity doing all the work? The sense of freedom and exhilaration, the blistering speed. What kid wouldn’t? My daughter did.

Every Saturday we’d truss him up, beg, borrow and steal (well, not really steal) ski equipment and set him up with lessons for an hour with the option of a full day of free skiing after that. One hour  later, when the eager-to-escape ski instructor returned our son to us, the whining would begin and wouldn’t end until we stripped off the skis and fled the slopes.

I don’t think my son hated hockey or skiing. He was simply determined to loathe anything we loved. We had bred a defiant child.

When it came to reading, though, the refusal just wasn’t acceptable. My son had to learn how to read—literacy is essential to success in this very difficult world. Plus, I was a writer. How could I explain an illiterate child? I had to ignite in him a passion for reading, if I did nothing else.

Thus began the endless parade of books.

This isn`t endless, because we`ve donated most of books to the school library, but I`m sure you get my point.

My son will never love reading. I came to accept that after a number of years, although it was painful for me. His teachers would chuckle at me kindly, at my hopeless efforts with full understanding and sympathy. Eventually he did learn to read, although never to love it, and that’s a reason to rejoice in itself.

This is what worked for him:

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

Hugo Cabret—a book that tells a story through illustration rather than simply text.

Nonfiction titles of topics he’s passionate about: gardening, plants, the universe and planets, rocks and minerals.

Wimpy Kid—not my favourite, but a Best Book of the Decade according to a children`s survey. Basically comics and graphic novels. If your reluctant readers like humour, try to interest them in a Wimpy Kid style of book, if they enjoy adventure and movies, furnish them with graphic novels.

I failed to entice my reluctant reader into the world of books, but he does love movies. We don’t share many passions, but at least we both appreciate stories (in whatever format), and we’re avid gardeners and amateur geologists too. I’m not a failure and neither is he; we’re just somewhat different and that’s okay. Not everyone can be a reader.

If you`ve had similar struggles, I invite you to share them. If something drew your reluctant reader to books, let me know. If you're a former reluctant reader and now adore books, what ignited your passion? I’d like to assemble a list of helpful advice and potential books, if not to create an avid reader then at least to awaken a spark and keep kids literate.