|Actual illustration for "JP Trouble"|
Because "JP Trouble" isn't just a story I couldn't be prouder of, it's also a family story. And to me there aren't many worse things out there than letting your family down. Except for maybe accidentally letting out a little squeak the first time you meet your girlfriend's parents ... not that I've ever done that.
For those who are wondering, yes JP Trouble was a real dog. My dad's first dog, to be exact. And everything nasty and horrible that happens to "Little Johnny" in the book really and truly happened to my dad as well. He told me the story back in 2002 while I was still a student at N.C. State University (GO WOLFPACK!), and I immediately thought it would make an amazing children's book.
Setting out to make JP Trouble a possible series of books, I mapped out a town, which kids lived in which houses, everything. I knew this town backwards and forwards. Then I sat down to write the story. Once "JP Trouble" was ready, I sent it out to some publishers and agents, hoping for some interest. There wasn't any. Nowadays, I laugh at rejection ... from agents, publishers, and girls alike. I'm used to it. Ten years ago? Not so much.
So "JP Trouble" was tucked away into a drawer until mid-2011, when I came across a small publishing house outside of Charlotte, NC that looked like it could be a perfect home to Trubbie dog. After doing some more research, I found that -- oops -- the original "JP Trouble" was too long by half to be a good children's book. Look. Details are not my strong suit. I'm a writer, not an editor!
Breaking out the surgical knife, I sliced that manuscript down into the proper size, and it was as lean and mean as Oscar de la Hoya in his prime. A month after submitting the book to the publisher, it was accepted. And now, come February 28, a decades long dream of mine -- and my family's -- will come true as "JP Trouble" is unleashed upon the world.
As exciting as it is to see this book become a reality, any writer will tell you that a book coming out is a zillion billion cotrillion times scarier than you can possibly imagine. What if nobody likes the book? What if nobody BUYS the book? What if I'm ... gasp ... forced to get a day job? NOOO!!!!!
As the release date moves closer and closer towards us, more goodies will be made available, including a Youtube reading of the book by yours truly. For now, enjoy this little slice o history of what is hopefully about to become a LITERARY JUGGERNAUT OF STAGGERING PROPORTIONS.