The Jade Serpent is Published! Get it NOW

Hi Friends!  I am so excited to let you know that I have just published the second book in The Treasure Chest Mysteries: “The Jade Serpent.”

You can find it on Amazon in print and Kindle formats.

I’d like to ask your help in spreading the word to all your friends who might be interested (or know someone who might be interested) in a fun adventure story for approximately a 3rd grader (7-9 yrs old).

ALSO If you purchase one on Amazon – I’d be oh so grateful if you would write a review as that is how books get noticed and ‘suggested’ on Amazon.

Thank you so much for your support!  I hope you enjoy.    Gretchen

Outsmarting looters, crawling into dark, dripping caves, and escaping spear-throwing villagers is only half the battle when‘afraid-of-heights’ Koen is forced to jump off a giant temple, climb to the top of the tallest tree in the rain forest, and swing for his life – like Tarzan – through the jungle.

Putting his trust in: a medicine man, a monkey and a mouse…
No Problem.

Koen and Titanus are off on another adventure.
But it’s a race against time.

Can they find the stolen treasure before the thieves get their dirty hands on it and it is lost forever?

Diving into Myanmar History

As I wait for final proofs on “The Jade Serpent,” I have started outlining my next project – a nonfiction story about the history of Myanmar intertwined with my year of teaching in that very complicated country.

With current news of the mass migrations of Rohingya into Bangladesh (NY Times), women and children barely able to walk from sheer starvation and desperate fear, it feels important to share my experience with the kind, loving people I encountered as well as show the realities of bias and strong-armed governments.  I am looking forward to this next year of reflection and research.  You can follow my non-fiction blog as I develop this book here.

I will also be starting Book Three in the “Treasure Chest Mysteries” which has a preliminary title of “The Black Tortoise.”  It will take place in the exotic country of Vietnam:

Join Koen and Titanus as they journey deep into the heart of Vietnam, where conspiracy and danger await at every turn.

 

SCBWI Inspiration

Hi All,  I hope Spring has sprung in your neck of the woods.  It is lovely here in Sacramento, CA.  I’ve been out gardening and enjoying the lovely weather on hikes around the area. I’ve also been making some changes to The Jade Serpent. My protagonist is now a young writer.  He is documenting his adventures with his co-conspirator through his retelling of their escapades in writing.  I really like the idea of a young writer.  Maybe I’ll have him sketch along the way too!

Last Saturday I went to the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Spring conference (#SCBWISPSP17).  It was my first writer conference and it was packed full of great advice.  I had the chance to speak with Kate Sullivan of Delacorte Press (an imprint of Random House) and learn more about what an editor does.  I also went to two talks by Beth Phelan with the Bent Agency and Peter Knapp with Park Literary – both agents.  Everyone offered such great advice and were so nice.  I left not only excited to write, but also determined to submit The Jade Serpent to an agent this spring – yikes!

So of course I came straight home and started reworking the opening, and changed up parts of my protagonist.  So now Koen is a young writer (and illustrator perhaps).  His adventures with Titanus McDuff, the Keeper of the Treasure Chest are still forefront.  But I like the added dimension of his character.  Not only is he afraid of heights, he loves to write.  Here is a doodle I did thinking of Koen awhile back.

Happy Spring to you all!

~Gretchen

Revamping to Make New

Hi All!

Summer is just gorgeous here in Oregon.  So gorgeous in fact that I am finding so many things to do that I have not been focusing on writing as much as I had planned.  But I have taken a few odd hours here and there to revisit some of my “old” stories.   Now that it has been a few years, I am reading them with new eyes and finding that I like, for the most part, their nuts, bolts and flow.  So I have started to revamp to make them fresh, with more twists, and more highs and lows.  I am also researching illustrators – as a couple of them are definitely picture books, via the website FIVERR, where I am finding some amazing artists.

But no worries – The Jade Serpent is still happening.  Apparently I need(ed) to work on something fresh for a bit.  I’ll return to fleshing out the parts that have me hung up once I have a couple other stories out on the market.

But as we move into July, I am determined to carve out a daily routine of writing.  And can you believe I am going to start by taking off on an adventure?  For eleven days I am going to be exploring two beautiful parts of Oregon, one in the mountains and the other at the edge of the Pacific ocean.  And to top it off, I will be with my mom and three cats! Ha! No, I’m not crazy.  I expect it will be full of hilarity more than anything.

First stop: Sisters, Oregon for the 4th of July (US Independence Day) weekend.  We will be hiking in the glorious Deschutes National Forest and wandering the adorable town of Sisters.

I’m expecting the winding rivers and tall trees to breathe creative, new story ideas into my head.  Deschutes National Forest

Then we head over to the coast for a a few days for long walks along the endless beach.  I’m thinking eleven days of fabulous hiking, writing, painting and relaxing.

surftidesbeach

I can’t wait!

So, with determination as my companion, I will be writing to you next with when, where and how my next book(s?) will be heading out into the public.

Happy end-of-June to you all!

~ Gretchen

SCBWI Boot Camp Workshop

I am so excited to head to Oregon for the month of June.  My plan is to hang out with my mom, write, paint/draw and now… take a writer’s boot camp with the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

The focus for this book camp is on novel writing.  As I have a semi-draft of a YA (young adult) novel in the making, I think this workshop will help me build the mystery, the adventure and suspense.  Plus the workshop only admits 20 participants, so a small group to bat ideas around with. Really excited.

BootCamp-logo-fin-150-res

Draft One of Book 2 – DONE!

ouroboros_maya_by_elgallomalo-d33edxpThe Jade Serpent, book two of the Treasure Chest Mysteries is finished.  Well, the first draft is at least. 🙂  I am so excited to have it outside of my head and ready to begin polishing.

I am now giving the adventure a rest while I concentrate on the story board drawings.  In a week or so, I’ll revisit and start the editing process using The Plot Whisperer Workbook and Autocrit.

For now, looking forward to expressing creativity in a different medium for awhile.  I’m playing with water color, acrylics, colored pencils and…this coming weekend…pastels.  Fun.

soft-and-hard-pastelsHappy creating everyone!

Gretchen

Building the Story

Over the past few months I have been working on the ‘Jade Serpent’, the second book in the Treasure Chest Mysteries series.  It has been really challenging compared to the first book.  The first story was so clear in my mind, a simple adventure, a present for my new grand nephew.

This book is a bigger story, full of adventures, overcoming fears and obstacles and perseverance when all seems lost:

Koen is pulled through the mysterious and magical treasure chest to the land of the Maya in northern Guatemala where temples loom tall, jungle abounds and monkeys swing and howl from the treetops still today.

I’ve started writing chapter seven and Koen and Titanus have just now obtained the necessary treasure map to find his great, great, great, great, great grandfather’s stolen gift.

I’ve also been dabbling with different types of art mediums.  Here is one I did first with colored pencils and finally in Photoshop.  Not sure I’ll use it but its fun to start seeing what things might look like.

Koen Swinging Orig

Koen Swinging BW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tikal, Guatemala These 4th century B.C. mammoth Mayan pyramids stand 47m high and are completely enshrouded in dense jungle.This one I started with a sketch and then worked on it in Photoshop.

My goal is to have a first draft done by May so that I can then start editing, tweaking and making it even better over the summer.

Here is a snippet from the first draft towards the end of chapter six:

As the men reached the top step, Koen ran towards Titanus and the edge of the enormous temple. The men were right on his heels. Just as the closest of the men reached out to seize Koen’s arm, Koen grabbed the whip handle, scooped up Titanus and jumped off into the air. The man came to a screeching halt, stones flying into the air, teetering on the edge and nearly falling off. The men cursed the boy with fists in the air but then swiftly turned and started running back down the temple steps.

Koen was dropping rapidly, and the tree was coming towards them with increasing speed. They hit it hard and the wind was knocked out of Koen. Falling, they hit branch-after-branch as they dropped, then a jerk and a thud and both Titanus and Koen were swinging upside down in the air. Shaking their heads, out of breath, they looked up towards their feet and saw two large Howler monkeys had caught them with their tails.  

Until next time,

~ Gretchen