If you are a fan of old black and white movies, you’ll understand the reference, “Let’s put on a show!” It comes from the classic Mickey Rooney Andy Hardy series of movies where the answer to solving a problem was gathering his friends and putting on a show to save the day. And it always did.
So when I said (to myself), “Let’s create a children’s storybook app,” my next thought was, “Who is going to write the manuscript?” My own common sense, confirmed by successful children’s writers and editors, told me that it begins and ends with the story. You can have the best illustrations in the world and, in an app, the most exciting interactivity and cool features but the story—the manuscript—is the foundation that must be rock solid or you’ll end up with an expensive, resource draining waste-of-time.
Telling a Universal Tale in an Authentic & New Way
Over the years I’ve worked on so many projects for clients and what excites me the most is finding an emerging talent and giving them the opportunity to rise to a creative challenge and prove to themselves (and the client) that they can deliver. So when considering who to ask to write our first manuscript, I chose my daughter—a twenty-something, recent college graduate, whose creative energy knows no bounds.
Molly is an emerging artist specializing in playwriting and music, so writing a children’s story was out of her comfort zone, but I knew she could bring a fresh voice to the genre…and who better to write about the real adventures of her big brother? She’s grown up with his Aspie view of life and can write stories from his perspective with a quirky sense of humor and respect.
Write, Edit, Write, Edit…
Molly is use to the process…you write a draft and it gets edited. You re-write and it gets edited, and so on, until you know that every “i” is dotted and “t” is crossed. For the editing process, we chose Laura Backes. For nearly 20 years, she has been writing about children’s books, critiquing manuscripts, speaking at conferences and teaching workshops. She was an agent and an editor. Currently, she is the publisher of the Children’s Book Insider and founder of the CBI Clubhouse. Point is, she’s experienced!
When giving her critique, she was surprised to discover that Molly had never written a manuscript for a children’s book before. She really liked Molly’s “voice” and was impressed with the first draft. She offered valuable feedback and edits. After reviewing an updated draft, she only had a few additional edits. We were good to go!
Off and Running with a Completed Manuscript
“The Mighty League, Vol. 1: The Terrible Taunting” is a composite of some of the bullying situations Jonathan experienced from Kindergarten through the fifth grade (before we found a better school for his unique needs). The manuscript is a comic book, graphic novel and classic story hybrid. It’s an interesting combination that allows the reader inside the mind of protagonist, JMan, to understand how he navigates his way through day-to-day living.
Next up…bringing the manuscript to life and how we were blessed with two incredible illustrators to make that happen!
Update 5/27/18: We made the decision to turn our app into a digital comic book to make it more accessible. It still has interactivity including the super secret notebook with age-appropriate information on autism and Asperger’s Syndrome.
Read more about the making of our book app: