Wednesday, January 25, 2006

My Book

Most people view books like I view chocolate: I pick it up in the store, buy it, and enjoy it, but I have very little idea of how it ever got mixed and made and into that pretty package and onto the shelf.

In the same way, the publishing world is a big mystery to most people. I have been known to yammer for five minutes on how I self-published my first book and then I found a royalty publisher who is working on revising and publishing it, and my audience looks at me in complete confusion and asks something like, "So, is that your first book or your second?" and I know I lost them long ago.

My explanations are complicated by the fact that I did sort of have a publisher even when I self-published, since I worked with Pleasant Word, who designed several covers and let me choose (great job IMHO) and insisted on editing it (terrible job IMHO) and put it into the book-buying loop so people could order it through their bookstores.

Now I am working with Good Books. It is a relief to have someone else deciding which chapters go where and doing all the marketing.

On the other hand, it’s a bit scary to have someone else making all these decisions about my "baby." They decided on a different title (Ordinary Days—Family Life in a Farmhouse), and also decided to pull five chapters from the original book and replace them with columns I’ve written more recently.

The latest step was designing the cover. The main editor, Merle Good, made the decision to have an artist paint a cover illustration rather than use an actual photo of our house. The good news about this is that they hired Wendell Minor who is a well-respected artist who, among 2000 other book covers, did the cover art for "1776" which happens to be on the bestseller list. (I am downright vain about this connection.)

I received a copy of my cover yesterday, and it is beautiful and warm and professional-looking. Merle Good believes it will greatly increase the sales of the book. The only trouble is, the farm in the illustration doesn’t look a bit like Oregon. The house looks somewhat like ours, but the rest of it had us all giggling. Emily said, "How would they ever get a combine through all those fences?" and Paul said, "It looks like Ohio."

Emily then started listing all the people who are going to take one look at the book and say, "Hey! That doesn’t look like your place!"

Hopefully people will understand that this was simply a Connecticut artist’s concept of a Willamette Valley grass seed farm and most people in Tennessee or Arizona don’t really care if the picture is authentic.

But I still don’t quite know what to tell people who ask if this is my first book or my second.

Quote of the Day:
"Mom, you’re as bad as Mrs. Virtueson!"
--one of my children, when I called Paul "Mr. Smucker," which I do on occasion because I get his attention a lot quicker than if I call him Paul or Honey or anything else. Both Paul and the children have been steeped in ACE curriculum for years


  1. So your children use ACE. I assume that is what your school uses? You aren't homeschooling right now are you?
    We are planning on homeschooling our oldest daughter next year - 1st grade.
    We are leaning towards using ACE, but would love to hear your opinion about it. Do you like it? If you homeschooled would you use it?
    Would love any help you can give us. Thanks.

  2. I used the ACE Learning-to-read program for two reasons--it was easily available to me, since Paul was teaching at an ACE school. And it prepared the children for using the PACES.
    That being said, I know there are reading programs that are much better than ACE's. I don't like how they make the children dependent on the little marks above the letters.
    However, in the long run, what really matters is that they learn to read.
    Actually, Jenny learned to read on her own, just from being read to and wondering what sound this or that letter makes. That's my favorite way of teaching reading.
    For homeschooling older children, ACE would be good for people like me who have a hard time planning ahead and following through. When I taught Emily at home in 7th grade I had all these wonderful plans for doing research and writing papers and so on, and I had a very very hard time actually making it happen.
    I get annoyed at ACE's perfect little cartoon children and a few other things, but overall my children learn what I want them to learn academically. You do need to supplement with field trips, science experiments, extra writing, penmanship, etc.

  3. Q: "So, is that your first book or your second?"

    A: Absolutely.

  4. "I get annoyed at ACE's perfect little cartoon children"

    yeah I used to get very annoyed with them when i was going to school.
    I was talking with a young firend in third grade in ACE curriculum and she told me yeah you can tell which ones are the good one and the bad ones Ace and Christy are always perfect, Sandy and Racer are naughty and Ronny and Susie are the BAD ones!

  5. Having home-educated for more than a quarter of a century, I refuse to recommend any one curriculum.

    Rather pick one/s that fill YOUR need, not the need of another family. In other words, if you're a busy mom with other little ones or time is a factor, choose one that is a TV dinner like the ACE. On the other hand if you are creative and have the time to write your own curriculum, go for it. Those are two extremes with everything inbetween available.

    When we started in the 70's there was little to choose from. What is available today is overwhelming. Mix and match is another option.

    So how are you to know what is best for you? As parents, what are your goals for your family/children? With those in mind, after considering the circumstances and perhaps even seeking counsel from others, get on your face and cry out before the Lord for an answer. He WILL give it. After that it doesn't matter what others think. But bear in mind the answer He gives is for your family, not the neighbors. What is best for you may be worst for them and vice versa.

    Needless to say, my philosophy and method of teaching has changed drastically from earlier years. My attitude used to be, "We paid for this curriculum. You ARE going to fill in every blank." Now I would say, "You don't have to be a walking dictionary or encyclopedia, but you do need to know how to use them."

    *Teaching and training the heart must take priority over teaching the mind even in academics.

    Also, one of the priveledges that home education affords is flexibility. In huge amounts! However, flexibility must not over- ride accountability.

    As in all of life, keep balanced and God bless,

  6. Dorcas, Your book... this must be a big 'Trust challenge' for you. I hope your book goes lots of places.

  7. Dorcas,
    You are so blessed to be able to do this. Congratulations on the cover. Ohio's not so bad. :-)

  8. As a certified teacher for CLE and a never quite finished certification teacher of ACE I have to say I love ACE and CLE. My bigget complaint about ACE is the low priority they place on spellin. You hav one spelling test every three weeks. I dont think that's enough. One of the things I can highly recommend is their Language Arts paces. (or was it called language arts in cle and english in ace?) Anyway I loved the English in ACE. It was tough and thorough.

    And I think Dorcas that this would still qualify as the first book. :)

  9. Wowee! I was in such a hurry to catch my train that you'd think I was taught spelling through ACE nyself. Mercy what a jumbled mess I made!

  10. Dorcas,

    I would say the book is the second edition of your first. : )

    Having worked with ACE at school and at home, I prefer other curricula over it. ACE is so much fill in the blank, it's too easy for students to memorize answers and not learn the subject. I wanted my girls to learn to study independently and master their subjects. I guess it worked. Now they are both teachers, one in a Christian school and the other at OSU.

  11. Actually, Susie, Racer and Sandy are naughty until they get saved. After that they do things that are a little bit wrong but no really that bad (like saying that the new coach doesn’t know very much) and then apologizing profusely for it.

  12. Yes, Gokum, this book is a 'trust challenge.' Exciting, scary, etc. I hope you never forget your role in all of this happening in the first place!
    Julana, yes, I feel very blessed. No, Ohio's not bad. It's just that if you're expecting to see Oregon...
    Mrs. Darling, it was great to have coffee with you. I'm still chuckling. I'm also chuckling at your "spellin."
    Mary, I like your suggestion and will use it.
    Sorry, Mark, if I prefer Mary's answer to yours.

  13. Can't wait to see the second first edition. Or is the first second edition? Maybe this summer. What a pity that artists can't appreciate the west when drawing their pictures! :)

  14. As a former ACE student, I highly recommend NOT submitting your child to that. From an educational stand point, the transition from an ACE school to college was extremely difficult simply becuase I had never learned that way. Over all the educational quality is very weak. I don't know how many times I've been in a college class when they said, 'oh you should have studied this in highschool.' and I had no clue what they were talking about. Plus, their theology is a bit sketchy. They cross the line from indoctrination to almost brain washing. Trust me on this one, I've been to many of their regional and national conventions.