Kin Ship: Moustache on the Moon – Part One by d.k.snape
We believe in life on other planets. We believe they visit us from time to time. What if life also evolves in the vast empty space between galaxies, among the very stars themselves? What would it look like? What would you do if it showed up in our skies?
Marnie is your average teenager. She goes to school every day, hangs out with her friends, and tries to stay out of trouble. One morning, while suffering through another boring class, her world is turned upside down when two intergalactic strangers come to collect her.
And it’s not just Marnie’s world, but her whole family’s too. It seems that random kids and their moms and dads have also been scooped up and taken to the hidden mountain valley far from their homes. No one knows why they’ve been selected or what’s really going on…
How Language and Word Count Matter in a Middle Grade Novel
I never realized writing fiction took as much research as I ended up doing for Kin Ship, part one of Moustache on the Moon. I mean, it’s a story, fiction, I made it up. Right?
I know that fiction has to have a certain amount of realism. After all, it is about a person, place, and time with scenery and community. What I never realized is that I’d spend years researching. Not just in a lump of time, but constantly checking facts, reading science sites and weather reports. I even had to email NASA a few questions.
Once I decided my aliens did need their own language, and admitted to myself if I tried to create my own I’d never get my story finished, I researched all the isolate languages on Earth. Did you know there are only three?
I chose Basque, not only for its very foreign sounding words, but for the mythology I read about. It fit my aliens to a T. Now I had to research original Basque. Ok, I didn’t have to. But my inner creator insisted. My Euskadaz would speak the original language, darn it.
That settled, and with words and phrases found, I wrote, edited, wrote some more, finally realizing my little story seemed to be getting a little out of hand. I figured, in the beginning, when I was mapping the story – I like to know the beginning and the end of it – I likely had a three book series.
But stories go their own way. I just follow and try to keep up.
Moustache on the Moon had turned into a rather longer story than I had originally planned. And I hadn’t even gotten anybody off Earth at one hundred thousand words! In the end, I had to go to the bookstore and look at all the novels for my age group. Moustache on the Moon was a bit weighty for a middle grade novel. It was definitely too long…
I decided to leave it alone, realizing I still had to look at the grade level of my word usage. It was bad enough that I was introducing a whole new foreign language in a book for kids. I can only say: thank goodness for the internet!
I found several sites that gave me a decent overview of words middle graders should know. More words that bright kids probably knew and a handle on the few words I’d used that maybe, just maybe, might cause my readers a slight problem. I thought about taking them out. I slept on that conundrum. I reread where I used them and decided to leave them in because kids like to be challenged. But I did make sure I used the words in sentences where context told the meaning.
Now I had way too many words for the first book. My story mapping showed me I needed another two books of the same length to finish the tale properly. I read it over and over looking for any way I might pare this tome to an acceptable size for the age group I directed it at. I did manage to edit out about fifteen thousand words. The story needed every single part I left in. I loved all of it!
So... Rather than cut it down to a reasonable fifty thousand or so, I sent it to a publishing house.
Thankfully Sirens Call Publications came up with a sound plan and the entire series will now be comprised of 9 shorter, more manageable novels. Now I just have to finish the story. Don’t worry, I have it all running, movie form, in my head.
I grew up in a small town just north of Toronto. I always had a vivid imagination. Ask my mother. It’s not that I don’t like to tell the truth. But isn’t the world a brighter place when fairies and aliens populate the local neighborhood? Being an intelligent, non-girlie girl, I didn’t fit in well with my peers. Instead I found books! I read everything I got my hands on. And I mean everything. I contracted some ugly balance-affecting disease at twelve. Stuck in bed for months, my family and neighbours rallied, bringing me books of all kinds once I finished the encyclopedia and dictionary, cover to cover. They just wanted me happy. And quiet. But boredom struck. You can’t just read all the time, I tried copying some of my favorite stories, embellishing them as I saw fit. And one day, I wrote one of my own, all by myself. Personally thought I’d done a good job. When it didn’t receive rave reviews from my family, I decided to try harder, not give up and leave it to the experts like my parents wanted. I’m finally ready for the world to decide.