After two and a half years, hundreds of hours spent staring at a computer screen, countless Wednesday nights reading pages aloud to my critique group, after all this time, it’s done. Bone Girl is finished and made available to anybody with $2.99 and an e-reader.
I began writing this book in 2011. From the beginning, the beauty of this story took my breath away. I don’t know where on earth the main character came from, what corner of my imagination gave her breath, but wow. If any author ever loved a character, I love Josey Miller.
I have so many doubts about this book. I think that’s probably a common feeling for writers. I wonder if anybody will read it, and if they do, will it inspire or offend?
I’m currently listing it as a book for readers ages 9-12, but I don’t know if that’s accurate. Because to be honest with you, I don’t have anyone in my life that fits in that age group. All of my readers have been adults. And does the fact that the main character is 11 years old necessarily make it a kids book? I don’t know. I find myself using those words a lot: I don’t know.
This book takes place in small-town Missouri, a fictional town I created called Bennett Springs. Ah, yes, the Missourians among you say, Bennett Springs is real. It’s a state park and one of my favorite places on this earth. I love Bennett Springs State Park. I often watch their web cam while I write. Yes, they have a webcam, or to be more accurate, a trout cam. Here’s the link: http://mostateparks.com/content/trout-cam
Horses play a huge role in this book. I named the leading horse, Chief, after an American Saddlebred gelding my grandparents owned. I was afraid of this horse and with good reason. He injured my grandmother, who was an experienced horsewoman, and she spent a night or two in the local hospital because of him.
Some of the scenes I wrote, including the first time the farrier trims Chief’s hooves, were based on experiences with my own horse, Lacy. She struggles with the farrier too. Her front legs are deformed, and she has difficulty balancing her weight. The patience and kindness shown to her by my farrier, Jay Healy, is recounted in my book. And like Chief, she loves peppermint candies and eats an apple one bite at a time.
There’s no story without conflict, and I’ve included two bullies, both an adult and a child version. The child, Andy Barton, gets his comeuppance in one of the latter scenes of the book. The adult bully is the banker who owns Chief and holds the note to the family farm. I don’t tell the reader exactly what happens with this character. I leave that hanging, but by the end of the book, Josey’s father find himself in a place where he can tell the banker to please go away now.
On Thursday, I received an audition snippet from a voice actor who may narrate Bone Girl. He is reviewing the manuscript now. As I sat listening to him read my words, I was struck by how this small dream of mine is growing wings and wants a life of its own. Without me.
Meanwhile, I rise at 5 a.m., make a cup of coffee and sit here at the computer, writing and revising A Year with Geno, my next novel. After this book is finished, I return to Celebration House to write the sequels. But I can’t move forward with these projects until I let go of the book that’s occupied my imagination for so long. I’m ready to do that today. I’m letting go.
This is Bone Girl.
Hands and arms inside the cart. Next: a reminder why pleasing the reader is all that matters.