I started writing my children’s book in March 2020. At the time I wasn’t sure why. Princess Tess is cute, funny, and it was definitely fun looking after her, but why did I write about her? Looking back, I think I have the answer. The world, as I knew it, was beginning to fall apart. The coronavirus was slowly rearing its ugly head. My husband was in Italy, and I wasn’t sure he’d make it back, luckily he did. As the year continued, the US suffered the worst racial problems I’d ever witnessed, and being married to a Jamaican, that worried me. I was scared for my husband and for my daughter. I’d never seen such hatred displayed in public. It was ugly and terrifying. Last, but not least, there was Brexit, which threatened our move to the Italy as British Citizens. We hadn’t planned to move until 2022, but Brexit forced our hand. When I look back at last year, and the stress of it all, I wonder how I survived. With the help of some great friends and colleges, I made it through some very tough times. We sold our family home, which to my surprise and horror, was snapped up quickly. We gave away, sold and donated all of our furniture. I left a job I loved and moved to Italy. Most of this was condensed into three months. So why did I write a children’s book about a funny mixed up pup? It was my great escape! Watch out for “Princess Tess Mess”, which is currently being illustrated by my daughter.
Yesterday I got my manuscript back from my editor. She has completed the first set of edits. For some reason I love reading through the stories again in edit mode. Not sure why. It gives me more pleasure with red lines and dots that it ever did when I read it prior to sending to her. Maybe I’m reading the story in a different way. Maybe subconsciously I’m happy it’s on its way to being finished. Or maybe I’m just a freak, yes, I think thats more likely. This book has been fun to write. I enjoy writing short stories, and this was surprisingly easy to pour from my brain onto the keyboard. Tess is a real living dog. She’s cute and funny, which coming from a “cat person” is a huge compliment. I hope to follow this first book with two more, and then what? Do I return to fantasy/thrillers? Or do I write another children’s series? It remains to be seen!
My first children’s book is finished. I didn’t think about it much, just wrote. Finally finished it and re-read it, then I edited it and re-read it again…you see a pattern here? Finally I decided to jump in with both feet and send it to my editor. She responded immediately with “What age group is this for?” “What?” I’d never given it a thought. I just wrote. What was I thinking writing a children’s book? What do I know about children’s books. I was hit with about twenty minutes of nail biting anxiety. Then I took a deep breath and asked myself some questions. 1. Did I enjoy writing the book? – YES 2. Am I expecting to sell a million copies? – NO 3. Why did I write the book? – Because I had a story in my head that needed to get out If nothing else, in years to come when I’m dead and gone, my daughter will be able to tell people I wrote a book about her cute little dog. Writing is an addiction, but not a bad one.
My move to Italy slowed down my writing a little. Settling into a new routine took a while. Finally I’m there. As many of you know, writing isn’t something you can force yourself to do. It has to flow. As I re-read my book I realize I’ve rambled a little to much, it needs to be trimmed to 10,000 words or less, I’m currently over 11,000. Short stories have to be just that, short! I’ve also changed the name. Originally it was “Queen Tess – a Short Shaggy Dog Story”, but after chatting to my daughter (Tess’s Human), I’ve decided the book will be called “Princess TessMess”. This is a much better title. Tess is a bit of a mess and “Princess TessMess” is perfect for a children’s book. Stay tuned, my work is progressing! Writing will never make me rich, but it does make me happy!
“Tess, where are. You?” You just shooed me away, now you are calling my name. I’m going back to bed. Sandra worried when she couldn’t see Tess anymore and finished her shower quickly. “Oh, there you are. Sleepy dog!” I’m not sleepy, I’m bored. “I need to get ready for work.” I’ve heard the work word before, I don’t like it. “OK time to make the bed and get the spare room ready for you, I really hope you’ll be alright on your own all day.” Once she’d covered the bed with Tess’s fluffy blanket, she threw toys around the room and made sure Tess’s bowls contained enough water and dried food to last the day. I know what’s going on now, you’re getting ready to leave me alone aren’t you. Just me, with no Fendi to keep my company, just me. All alone! “Oh dear, I don’t like doing this! Come on Tess, one more quick walk before I go.” Rabbits! Let’s find some rabbits! It was a very quick walk because Tess watered the grass as soon as they got outside. “Good Dog! Now I really need to leave for work.” I don’t want to go back inside. I want to play with rabbits. Tess had to be coaxed back through the front door. Sandra found one of the puppy toys you could hide treats in and put something in the shape of little chickens inside it. Tess picked up the scent immediately and followed her closely, until the got to the stairs, and then she had to be carried. “Oh Tess, I’m sorry I have to do this.” Sandra rolled the treat filled toy across the room. Tess ran after it immediately. Sandra shut the door and hurried downstairs. Silence! “Phew.” She got into her car and went to work!
This is my first children’s story. Inspired by Tess, a cute pup that belongs to my daughter and son in law. I looked after her for three weeks back in January 2020, before the world was turned upside down. It was an experience for me, never having taken care of a dog before. She won my heart and I found myself leaving work as early as possible because I worried about her. COVID/Trump/2020 sucked me dry. I had no imagination left. What spare time I had was spent getting my US house ready to sell. My heart ached because, although I really wanted to move to Italy, I was sad to leave my daughter and her pups behind. I was sad because I would be leaving my job and all of my friends, but it was time. Now I’m writing again and as I re-read Queen Tess – A short Shaggy Dog Tale, I realize I wasn’t capturing her character. She was a baby when she stayed with me. I had portrayed her as a much older dog. Now, as I re-write the story, I’m making her childlike, which of course she is. The re-write is fun. I laugh out loud sometimes as I remember the things she did. When my book is finished, what next? Who knows, maybe back to thrillers, or perhaps a travel story. Thanks for stopping by, I hope you’ll visit again! Stay safe.
Yes, I’m finally writing again! I must finish this Children’s book. It’s dedicated to my beautiful daughter, her husband and TessMess, the fluffy bundle of cuteness that is part of their family now. Fendi, the older, smarter and not so patient pup in chief, should get a mention too. I usually write supernatural thrillers, but this is fun! Below is a taster of Queen Tess – a short shaggy dog tale.
An irresistible aroma wafted into Tess’s nostrils. She stood motionless, watching the slim slivers of delicious meat being peeled from the plastic. Hey, I’m right here, right next to you, don’t forget me. Tess stood on her hind legs, but still wasn’t able to reach the countertop. Hello, puppy dog eyes, right below you. Look at me. “Perfect, I feel like I’m in Italy again.” Sandra said as she wrapped the meat and put it back in the fridge. Tess rubbed against her legs. Hungry pup down here. “Tess you can’t possibly be hungry!” Why not, you are. Woof! “Hey quiet, no need to make a fuss. OK, just a bit though, I’m not even sure if you can eat prosciutto. Don’t want to make you sick.” Tess, who had already gone through the motion of sitting and lying down, now stood on her hind legs and placed her front paws on Sandra’s knees. Her mouth was wide open in anticipation. gimme, gimme, gimme Sandra put the prosciutto back on the counter top and carefully tore a couple of small, thin slivers from the meat. She dangled them above Tess’s nose before letting them drop into her mouth. “You are a good little pup aren’t you!” You’re not so bad yourself lady!
“Tess, good girl, you peed. Good girl.” Oh Lordy, of course I peed, don’t make such a fuss. Does anyone make a fuss of you when you pee? They continued to walk. “I could get used to this, it’s nice having company while I walk. Wait, what are you doing now? Oh no, dog poop.” Tess squatted a little and did what all good dogs do at least once a day. She looked up guiltily, or was she smiling. Sandra put her hand in her pocket and pulled out the special green plastic bag that was used for this purpose. She gingerly scooped up the fresh poop, tied a knot in the bag and held it at arm’s length. “Oh no Tess, its warm, let’s get rid of this now, yuk, it smells.” Tess stood still and looked up at the dangling bag of poop. Lady, I just pooped, isn’t that why we came outside?
Woah, what do I smell, sniff sniff… What’s that? If I stand perfectly still, it won’t see me. Now I’m going to walk very slowly and maybe I can catch that fluffy little thing. It isn’t paying any attention to me at all. Alright here I go. Ahhhh!
Sandra tugged on the leash, “Come on Tess, we’re out here so you can pee, not bother the rabbits.”
Rabbit, that’s what it’s called? Alright, be quiet now, I’m going to play with the rabbit, slowly, slowly…going to get you…
Tess launched herself like a missile. Who knew the chubby bundle of silliness could move SO FAST!
“Tess, stop, I almost let go of your leash. I’d be in trouble if you got away.”
Tess watched in dismay as the rabbit disappeared into the thicket. It turned around to look at its pursuer.
“Ha ha, can’t get me now can you?”
I nearly had you.
Yes, I know, this isn’t my usual demented ghost tale, bit I see a story in everything. From the time I get out of bed in the morning, my world is a narrative, so writing about my experience with taking care of Tess came natural. I really hope someone enjoys it. Children’s stories are fun.