Which direction?

Where should Jimmy James go next?

With the first draft of the first Jimmy James book done, I’m thinking about the next book…

The list of possibilities is longer than my arm and my kids arms put together!!

It specifies at the start of the story that there will only be one adventure in a month, so this next book would be some time during February – in Australia.

Speaking with my kids, they came up with the following points to consider:

  • school will have started. Jimmy James would be in grade 5.
  • it will be hot as it is still Summer
  • after school activities will be starting up
  • Football (Aussie Rules) hasn’t started yet

As with the first story, I’m looking for ideas of a modern day activity that can trigger a trip back to the past to learn something.

I’m in the process of sorting through all the ideas so I can start researching… and I thought I’d ask all of you for some ideas.

Please suggest some ideas – both a modern day activity and an historical event. Preferably, the modern day activity would be a run of the mill event, rather than something extraordinary. I look forward to hearing your ideas.

Happy Dance Time!

Time for a happy dance

I was starting to think it would never happen… but it has! The first draft of the first Jimmy James book is done! And the deadline for the Chapter Book Challenge is tomorrow.

This calls for a happy dance. (It’s OK, my kids already think I’m completely nuts!)

The story is currently 10 chapters – and it still needs work. Though writing the story I know the holes in my research and what I need to clarify to make the story much better.

I’ve also discovered a few things I missed in the earlier chapters – such as one of Jimmy James’ birthday presents…

I have just sent it off to the two people who have been reading it in stages and am now waiting on their feedback, and I’m about to print it out for my kids to read and comment on.

Last night, I got a lot of writing done and went to bed at the end of Chapter 9. Mr N, age 10, asked this morning whether or not it was published. He just wants more books!!!

So, challenge 1 of the Chapter Book Challenge is DONE!

Fun day of research

Fun day researching

Today has been amazing. I spent the afternoon with my godfather picking his brain about Magic Lanterns and came back with pages of notes.

As well as that, I got home and did some image searches on magic lantern slides, and came up GOLD!

The Brooklyn Museum has put a couple of collections of slides on Flickr. Click here to check them out. This is exactly the sort of thing I have been looking for. Having them in front of me is helping me describe the images.

From what I learned today, most magic lantern shows were lectures of some sort, many of them were travel talks. Magic lanterns brought education to the working classes and opened up the world to them.

For a modern day kid, they would look primitive and odd, but the technology would be fascinating. I know that as I’ve talked to my kids about it all they have been excited by it. Until recently, they had never heard of a magic lantern.

I’m sorting through all the information and putting it together in some sort of order so Jimmy James can discover it.

Got to love those brain waves!

For at least a week, I’ve been trying to work out what sort of adventure Jimmy James can go on in his first big adventure. Do I give him one big adventure, or lots of little adventures? Either way, where do I take him?

Trying to work this out took me to the library, Internet, even the Museum, and no inspiration was forthcoming.

Until this morning. In the shower. (Got to love those shower-induced flashes of inspiration.)

This is what I came up with:

Source: etsy.com via Melissa on Pinterest



This is a magic lantern. They were the precursor to movies. We saw them at the Museum, but that wasn’t the first time I’d heard about them.

My godfather introduced me to Magic Lantern years ago. Going to an old fashioned Magic Lantern show was a lot of fun, a lot like a slide show, but much cooler. It’s something my kids hadn’t heard of before, and I guarantee a lot of other kids wouldn’t have heard about them either.

I now need to rewrite chapter 3 of the story, but that’s OK, because I now know where he is heading.

Tomorrow afternoon I’m off to visit my godfather to pick his brain to get some information about Magic Lanterns for the book. I can’t wait.

Looking for an adventure

Looking for adventure

The first Jimmy James book is taking shape, at last! The first two chapters are written and he has his socks. Now to find an adventure for him.

There are so many different adventures I could take him on… and some I have already started and sharing on this blog as part of different writing exercises, but I need some help.

What sort of adventure would you like to see Jimmy James go on in his first book?

The series starts in January, with Jimmy James’ birthday (the socks are a birthday gift), and he goes on his first adventure. I want something that will hook kids in and want to keep them reading this book, and want to get their hands on the next book.

Please share your ideas and suggestions with me so I can hit the library and do some research. Even if a flash of inspiration comes to me in the shower, I still want to hear your ideas, they will help with other books in the Jimmy James series.

Rewriting/Restarting Jimmy James

A birthday gift

If you didn’t know, I’ve joined the Chapter Book Challenge with the view of getting Jimmy James and his stories out of my head.

A few weeks ago, I started writing the first in the series of Jimmy James books – the one where he gets his socks. It sounded like JJ was a spoiled, sullen & whingy child and not very likable.

Last night, I was inspired. I have changed the birthday to his 10th and based him more closely on my own kids, excited about his birthday. I am also imagining my kids reading the story as, after all, they will be my audience.

I am much happier with how the story is starting and I’m proud to say that chapter 1 is done (at least the first draft). It is yet to undergo the “kid test” as my 10 year old is away this weekend. So he will read it tonight (I hope).

The plans for the other stories are also falling in to place.

It’s such a nice feeling having this book get out of my head and onto the page.

WoW – Write a letter

A dusty pile of letters brings an adventure...

It’s Write on Wednesday again. This weeks prompt is to write a letter, you can read the full prompt here. Last year, Jimmy James wrote a letter, I was tempted to just link to that post again… but I won’t.

Instead, in the spirit of the Chapter Book Challenge, and for planning for that, I started looking at other letters he could write, and how the letter could impact, or be the result of, one of his adventures.

For this, I was toying with the letters that prompt this adventure being the Depression era or World War 2…

To explain a bit, my kids call their great-grandfather “Grandpa” and their grandfather is “Opa”, so there is no confusion. This would also be the end of the story.

As always, comments and suggestions are welcome.

Jimmy James sneezed as the dust settled. He looked at the letters in front of him. Never in a million years had he imagined what his great-grandmother had been through as a little girl during the Depression. While reading the letters, and the following adventure, courtesy of his socks, he had a better understanding of what made his great-grandmother tick.

He ran downstairs and pulled out a piece of paper and started to write:

Dear Grandma,

I have just read the letters you wrote to your pen pal when you were a little girl. I had no idea you had hardly any toys or new clothes and had to share a bed with your sisters.

It sounds like it could have been fun, though, playing with all the kids in the street. There aren’t any kids near my house who come out to play with me.

It’s really different to today. I have heaps of toys and get new clothes all the time.

I hope you don’t mind me reading your letters. They were really interesting.

Love, Jimmy James.

He carefully folded up his letter and took it in to the lounge room, where his great-grandmother sat drinking tea with his mum. He ran up to her, gave her a big hug and handed her the carefully written note.

Grandma read it and looked up at Jimmy James, tears in her eyes caused both by long forgotten memories and the note itself.

“It’s OK, Grandma,” Jimmy James gave her another hug, “I’ll help you in the garden in the morning, just like you asked, I understand now why your veggies are so important to you.”


Write On Wednesdays


Chapter book challenge

Getting these books written

It’s official – I’m going to get my butt into gear and get Jimmy James written!

I discovered a Chapter Book Challenge that is starting in March. The goal is to write a first draft of a kids chapter book each month.

Initially, I was thinking of writing Jimmy James as a picture book, however I’m finding I need more words to write his stories!

Each book will be one of his adventures with his socks, and there is a huge scope for adventures! Right now, I’m researching snakes…

If you love kids chapter books and a challenge, join us. This is going to be AWESOME!

Piquing my Pintrest – Jimmy James

Just for fun, I’ve been going through Pintrest looking at some pictures to inspire stories and adventures for Jimmy James.

This Sunday, I’m linking up with Tina Gray dot me for Piquing my Pintrest & sharing some of the images with you. It might pique your interest to some of the adventures that could be coming up, as well as a reminder of some that have already been written.

Source: duofiberworks.com via Melissa on Pinterest


Source: google.com.au via Melissa on Pinterest


Source: google.com via Melissa on Pinterest


Source: akmining.com via Melissa on Pinterest


Source: pier1.com via Melissa on Pinterest





 Tina Gray {dot} Me

What are kids scared of?

This snake isn't scary...

The story I wrote on Wednesday has passed the kid test – meaning I need to write more!

I’ve been doing a little bit of planning but I need some help.

What scares kids about snakes?

The idea behind this story is that Jimmy James talks to the snake and gets to know the facts about snakes, especially the areas he’s scared of.

Knowing specific things kids are scared of will help me know what things to include in this story.

All suggestions welcome.

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