NOTE: This is the third post in a series,where I hope to capture the stress, heartache and rewards of writing a book with characters from the Camelot mythology. The title of my upcoming book is The Camelot Kids.
Catch up with part one and part two in this series for a complete picture.
Writing is hard.
Writing about famous figures is harder.
Writing about Camelot is downright dangerous. The consequences of taking creative license with something that has Ivy League programs dedicated to it invites wrath that’s usually reserved for atheists writing about God. But, really, can you think of a more exciting hill to climb?
When I started researching The Camelot Kids, I’d never read any of the classic Arthurian tomes. I’d never seen the racy Excalibur flick or Disney’s Sword in the Stone. But somewhere along the line I’d become so familiar with the gist of the key characters that I spontaneously grew an appetite to consume their stories, old and new.
As I immersed myself in the myth of Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table I’ve been struck by how familiar it is. Where did I ingest the story so deeply that I could tell you about Mordred or Morgan Le Fay? How could I recall the young Arthur pulling the sword from the stone? Why was Lancelot so burned into my mind’s eye?
When I read A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, I was surprised to find that it was good to see these old stalwarts, these staples of fantasy. It wasn’t quite the same as seeing a new Indiana Jones movie, or picking up a new Harry Potter, but it was still a tug at the heart which is the sole domain for old favorites.
But how could a myth that I’m unfamiliar with mean anything to me?
Well that didn’t go as planned.
After months of preparation for the launch of my new chapter book series, Shirley Lock, I released it to the world on the 3rd of July, 2012. A big day!
I’d put off writing professionally for decades, in my quest to make a lot of money doing boring work. The pent-up desire to tell stories was reaching critical mass. So, as I pressed the “publish” button on CreateSpace and Amazon KDP, it felt like losing 450 pounds in a split second.
I always knew that it would be tough to put my neck out there with a book. It’s hard for every writer and artist to release their work into the big, bad world. I was nervous. But I was ready!
Or was I?
One hour into promoting my newly released book, I got two messages on Facebook from “Friends”. The messages were posted on one of my promotional posts announcing Shirley Lock & The Safe Case.
One comment read, “What the HELL…”
The other comment read “Do you have something you want to tell us?”
Since my wife knew them better than I did, I asked her if she had any idea why these two were posting such cryptic messages on the first promotional post for my book. She said she was chatting with one of them on her computer.
He was claiming we stole his idea.
The following is an excerpt from my new book, Shirley Link & The Safe Case, now available for sale here! Enjoy, and please review on Amazon, if at all possible.
On our first day back from vacation Mr. Brown asked the 8th grade English class to write a report called What I Did This Summer. The title may be elementary, but for good reason.
“I don’t want to hear that the assignment is unclear from any of you,” he said. Mr. Brown knows us well.
I thought I knew him well, too. I took a chance. I wrote an accurate account of my terrifying summer.
He gave me a D.
“It’s not a creative writing assignment. You were supposed to write about what actually happened, Shirley.”
“I did,” I say, louder than I mean to. I’m tapping my pencil on his desk. It’s a nervous tick I have.
“No. You gave me a gripping account of that stolen painting fiasco at the museum that I read about in the paper.”
“Yeah, I spent a whole week solving the case,” I say. “ I mean, I knew it was the curator’s wife within minutes but I needed proof.” He thinks I’m kidding.
“Be grateful you got a D. I didn’t give you an F because it was well-written. Next time, check the attitude at the door and do the assignment. That’ll be all, Shirley.”
This is how it is to be Shirley Link, the best detective in the world, if I do say so myself. I can spot a lie like most people spot a zit. I see connections where they hide best. And I get in trouble every time I try to tell people what I do with my free time. Only a handful know about my talent. I usually prefer to keep it that way. But when I trust someone, well, I just feel like telling them the truth. Is that wrong? I guess Mr. Brown has provided the answer to that mystery.
I’ve always had an eye for what evades us. My mom likes to tell the story about how the family got lost in one of those haybale mazes that Mr. Jones builds on his farm every Fall. Unfortunately, a twister suddenly whipped up that day. We could hear it beating hard on the corn crop nearby. It made sense to me that if we hugged a wall, headed right and traced one path then we’d find the exit. Mom caught the whole thing on her video camera by accident. It was dangling from her wrist so you can’t see much of what’s going on, but you catch glimpses of me walking with a big smile on my face even as the tornado came down on us. You see Dad scoop me up and run for the shelter when we escaped. Mom posted the clip to YouTube. It got two million views last I checked. Search for “3 Year Old Saves Her Family From Twister!”
So, the good thing is that I can always help Dad find the TV remote. The bad thing is I have to pretend to be someone else to fit in.
I don’t blame Mr. Brown, though. It’s my fault. I should have known better than to tell the truth about my life in a class paper.