I wrote in my last post that Sela had a surprise... Sela has written a book: Summer Stories. The project began in August just after returning from Canada. I noticed Sela spending a lot of time at the computer but not for the purpose of playing video games or watching YouTube. Sela was typing something. I asked her what she was writing to which she replied, "a story." This went on for a few days then I asked Sela how many stories she thought she could write. Sela asked why. I suggested we put her stories into a book. I showed her some picture examples. Tess has completed many digital picture books in the past so the concept was not entirely new to Sela. Groupon had a special on with Moleskine, too. I bought the coupons. We missed the deadline.
Sela typed her way into November, all the time hiding the project from Tess. Sela's goal was to have the book be a surprise for Christmas. Everyone was in on the game. Even Sebastian, Jasper and Carys kept it a secret and let Sela use the computer whenever Tess was out of the flat and Sela wished to write. Very close to the publication date (i.e. when we were about push "print") Tess and I had a parent/teacher meeting during which I found another short piece by Sela. I took a picture of the story, later showing it to Sela.
"Do you have any other stories like this, Sela?" I asked. Carys jumped in... "Yes Daddy. You should read THIS story! It is soooo good!" Carys exclaimed, pushing a notebook into my face. I read the story. Indeed it was very well done. By that point Sela was spent. Close to the end of November, a long tiring term coming to a close, and while all the other stories were typed, this one Sela hand wrote.
"I dont think I have the energy to type out this story. It is really long," Sela explained.
"I'm your publisher, Sela," I replied. "I'll quickly type it out and make sure it is included. This last story is terrific." I went to work that Saturday afternoon madly transcribing the story into the book while Sebastian was off at his Colour My World practise. Sela and I then finalised the pictures, dedications, acknowledgements and off to the printer the book went. We obtained critical reviews from Sela's class teacher and my sister, Penny, also a writer and editor.
The net result is a 60 page book containing five short stories (approximately 7,500 words) written by Sela and a host of pictures from our summer in Canada. Alterations by the publisher and assistance from Penny was kept to a minimum in an attempt to capture the quality and age-related nuances of Sela's writing. The above picture is the cover.
We also shipped a copy to Sela's grandparents, Maureen and Blake Lyons, who have encouraged Sela to read and write to her heart's content. (About a year ago Blake gave his own Kindle to Sela as a present.) I had pre-arranged a Skype call to take place on Christmas morning between our Hong Kong family and Blake and Maureen in Yellowknife. The two ends of the Skype call opened the book together while I captured the moment on video. (Videoing the opening was really good advice, John B, thank you!)