Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Blog Tour: Skipping Stones at the Center of the Earth


Skipping Stones at the Center of the Earth
by Andy Hueller

Because most of us are writers, published or hoping to be published, Andy wrote a special guest post for us. It's a wonderful and personal article sharing his writing journey. I LOVE it and really appreciate Andy taking the time to share his story with us.
 
Expected publication: August 8th 2011 by Cedar Fort


This morning, I accompanied my wife as she rode her bike to work. It’s a lovely, green, breezy, up and down ride along the river. Plus, my wife is quite a sight on her white bicycle with pink wheel covers. The bike sports a horn and a basket with flowers (blue, yellow, purple, pink), as well. And then there’s my wife herself to pay attention to. She’s a marvel to watch. She takes her time up and down the hills. She stops halfway up a hill for a long drink of water. She rides her breaks going down big hills. She’s a joy to ride with because she’s a character through and through.

Actually, I wrote my first published children’s novel about her. Or at least it was inspired by the girl I knew her to be through pictures and stories. The girl Debbie Fine in Dizzy Fantastic and Her Flying Bicycle is creative and a daydreamer, she has parents who own and work hard at a small store, she has more moxie than she knows, and she becomes a superhero when she learns to fly on her bicycle. You can say the same about my wife (except for the superhero part, though I swear she’s close). I wrote about my wife, as I do all my characters and scenes, to get to know her better. From a lost-in-her-head girl my wife became the most organized, productive person in my life. And yet she has a lot of daydreamer in her still, and I’ve always loved to watch her ride a bike. (Though I admit the bike with the pink wheel covers came after the publication of Dizzy Fantastic.)

I put a lot of thought into this guest article. Shannon said her many of her readers are also writers, and they enjoy reading about writers’ paths to publication. Truthfully, though, I’m not sure my path is all that interesting. It still brings a smile to my face, but it’s much like the path many of us take. I queried agents, got a couple to look at my manuscripts (and then reject them faster than a kid does broccoli), and kept at it (though frustrated) until a wonderful publisher (Cedar Fort) saw promise in my work. Don’t get me wrong: I jumped for joy, praised the heavens, and did everything else every oh-so-fortunate, first-time author does upon hearing the happy news—but I don’t know that I have any insight to offer. I’m lucky. But I feel I understand a lot more clearly my path to writing than I do my path to publication. Though I guess I am writing exclusively about my published writing, so I suppose this article deals with both topics.

Cedar Fort will soon release my second children’s novel, Skipping Stones at the Center of the Earth. It’s a story that’s been with me for six years. The first draft took me four and a half years. Aside from marrying my wife, it’s my life’s greatest accomplishment—a book featuring the intersection of four stories, mystery, humor, and thrills (as I see it, anyway). It all began when I was a boy, vacationing in northern Minnesota. From the window of a restaurant, I watched a man—a southpaw—skip tones farther across Lake Superior than anyone I’d ever seen. He was so smooth it all seemed mysterious and even magical. The memory stuck with me. I wonder, now, however, despite being so very pleased with the outcome, how I ever finished writing the novel.

Why did I spend six years writing a story, most of them without any promise of publication? And the bigger question: Why, again, do I write? I have a terrific home life and a spectacular teaching job. Is writing really worth all the hard trying?

This is my article, so I get to answer my own questions (hah!): I write because I, like many of you, I’m sure, am an observer. I see interesting things all around me (people and places), and for some reason I feel the need to share them with others—to show others these marvelous occurrences.

The narrator of Skipping Stones at the Center of the Earth says this about the main character, Cal Cobble, and observers everywhere: 
A true observer, after all, is always curious. As the observer observes, he asks: How does he do that? How and why does that happen? And, inevitably, Can I do that? Cal, against all odds, was an observer. He asked himself these very questions as he watched Mr. E pace Robert’s beach, so thoroughly engaged in his remarkable hobby of skipping stones across the biggest lake in the world. (68-9) 
My first two novels come from moments that keep playing in my head: my wife riding her bike her way. A man skipping stone after stone with enviable ease. I’m sure my next story will come from the same place.

Skipping Stones is the most lyrically written MG story I've read since Kathi Appelt's THE UNDERNEATH--almost musical at times. The story is totally original, the characters and setting are strange and unique, and the ending was not what I expected. When reading this story, there were times I wasn't sure what I was feeling; it almost needs to settle a while, like Thanksgiving dinner. By the end, I was a fan. Andy Hueller won me over with his unique style and storytelling ability!

You can learn more about Andy and his book here:

21 comments:

Natalie Aguirre said...

Congrats on your book Andy. That's awesome you stuck with it for 6 years. It's inspiring to the rest of us who need to stick to it. And I can totally relate to why you write when you already have a job and happy home life. Good luck with your book.

Jen Daiker said...

What a wonderful story! Great guest post!!! It sounds like you and your wife are very lucky people! Love spills all over this post!!!

The cover art alone is gorgeous Andy! I'm loving the concept and the fact that you were with it from start to finish for 6 years is just incredible.

Congratulations on the accomplishments with Cedar Fort. I've heard nothing about good things with them and I look forward to many more books from you!

Old Kitty said...

Love as inspiration!! Thank you Andy for such a lovely post on who and what inspires you and thank you Shannon for hosting. Good luck with Cedar Fort!! Take care
x

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Sounds fantastic. And I love the title.

Heather said...

What a wonderful story Andy, thank you for sharing it with us! I love how your wife inspired your first novel, so sweet!

Leah (aka Mary_not_Martha) said...

Great review - you certainly have me curious!

Andy Hueller said...

Thanks, Shannon, for hosting a leg of my blog tour, and thanks to others for your wonderful comments.

Andy

Jemi Fraser said...

Adding this to my wishlist NOW! I agree - as writers, we are definitely observers. Love it!

Crystal Collier said...

I adore men who love their wives. =) I'm married to one of those.

Andy, congrats on your 2nd book! The title alone grabbed my interest, and I'm going to throw it at my ten year old, and maybe read along.

Carolyn V said...

Congrats on your second book Andy!!! I hope it does super well. It's on my tbr list. =)

Hey Shannon! How's summer going? (I've just gotten back to the blogging.)

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Awesome guest post!

Only my daughter rejects broccoli. My sons don't. Hmmm two requests out of three ain't bad. :D

Stephen Tremp said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stephen Tremp said...

Its great to meet Andy Hueller and best wishes for the success of Skipping Stones! And I have an award for you Shannon at my blog today.

Karen Lange said...

Thanks for the info, amigo! Hope you and your gang are doing well. :)

Susanne Drazic said...

Great guest post. I'm adding the book to my TBR book list.

Lenny Lee* said...

hi miss shannon and mr andy! cool post! for sure im thinking i could love that book. skipping stones is so fun and you gotta practice to get good at it. for sure im a observer and some times i ask so much questions i could get ever one crazy. ha ha. i got that good message from this again and it write cause you love writing. :)
...hugs from lenny

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

I love the title! Best of luck to Andy!!

Jennie Englund said...

That really is inspiring.

An absolutely incredible title.

Shannon, when are you coming back?

Ishta Mercurio said...

This book sounds great. Thank you so much for telling us about it.

I can understand why Andy feels the need to write. I think a lot of us do - it's just something we're meant to do.

Andy, thanks for sharing your story with us. It's a good reminder to be patient when we just want to hurry up and be published.

Theresa Milstein said...

Shannon, thank you for hosting Andy.

Andy, you're inspirational. I'm going buy your book.

Michael G-G said...

Thanks for this post, Shannon, and for introducing me to Andy's work. I'm going to look him up!

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