It’s coming! To say I’m excited to launch my second book doesn’t scratch the surface. It feels like so much time has passed between my first release and I’m so excited by how many people have started following my writing since then. So with that, I wanted to do a blog post specifically to talk about Captain Acorn Returns and all things writing based on your questions from my Instagram poll. Read on to learn a thing or two!
What can we expect in Captain Acorn Returns?
I started writing Captain Acorn Returns while The Fantastic Adventures of Captain Acorn was in those long, drawn-out final stages of publication. Buckling down for nitty-gritty work of fine-tuning the book, while obviously necessary, is not exactly my happy place. So to distract myself from the less fun side of publishing, I started working on a sequel to the first book. A bad choice for staying focused on the work in front of me? Maybe, but I am getting a second book launch out of it now, so I feel like that ultimately works out in my favor. Armed with my favorite snacks and a notebook. I started scribbling a list of all possible adventures Captain Acorn could go on this time. And there are some good ones!
Captain Acorn will be up to all her usual hijinks and adventures and all your favorite characters from TFACA will be there too! Acorn will be her confident self, Pounce will still be leaping before she looks, and Bunnerton will still be sweetly looking out for others. Some new friends will be showing up too, including a suave business squirrel, a quick-thinking meerkat, and a tiny, little ferret in a spot of trouble.
It’s hard to say exactly what I’m most excited for people to read, but I do have some personal favorite moments in the book and I’ll be sharing an excerpt soon!
Where did you first get the idea for Captain Acorn?
As a character, Captain Acorn goes all the way back to when my sisters and I were just wee kids in the back our the family car. Since we lived in a tiny town in Southern California, everything was a fairly long drive to everywhere. To pass the time, my sisters and I would cart around an absolutely massive tote bag full of stuffed animals and one such animal was a small, caramel squirrel that had no idea how important she would become.
It was so fun to include that bit of family history in the structure of the first book and pay homage to my sisters and our childhood. You’ll see that continue in Captain Acorn Returns with little asides to childhood imagination at play.
Was Captain Acorn Returns easier or more difficult to write than The Fantastic Adventures of Captain Acorn?
The short answer is definitely both. But I don’t know how to give just short answers so let me explain. Captain Acorn Returns was easier to write because I was already so familiar with the structure and tone from the first go around. I knew how I wanted the book to flow and I knew how to replicate that tone. It was really easy to just fall back into the world of Acorn and pick up right where I’d left off.
That being said, Captain Acorn Returns was a bit harder to write than TFACA because I was really trying to push myself to go further and a little bigger. There seemed more room to play and I really wanted to lean into the characters that I’d already established and play with the world of Captain Acorn a bit more. I was actually well into writing the book when I realized that something felt a bit off with the structure of it. It took stepping back, looking at it from all different angles, and doing a complete reorganization and rewrite to get it back on track, but the time spent doing that was truly worth it. After that, I really felt I was able to take the new book where I wanted to and the rest of it flowed from there.
How do you decide if something is a for-publishing work or a just-for-you-piece?
That decision often boils down to my personality. A lot of my ideas come from walks or drives in the car listening to music. It’s a sort of mental playground for me where I just run around and think up little scenarios and then when I’m back in front of my laptop again, I start writing them. From there, the ideas really start taking off and my excitement goes one of two ways. I either get really excited to share it with someone else or I just get excited by the feel of it. That excitement and the direction it takes is really what determines the audience. Although, if I’m being honest, it most often goes that I’m running around eagerly looking for someone to show the newest bit. That being said, I do have some things that I write for me and just for me.
Where’s the strangest and/or most memorable place you have ever sat down to write?
There have been a lot of memorable places I’ve written from. Trees, moving cars, and lakeside boulders all come to mind.
Perhaps the strangest place I’ve ever written was not just by the lake but in the middle of it. I love to paddleboard and I’m always joking that I wish I could take my laptop out with me to write on the water. This year for my birthday, my sister and brother-in-law seriously made good on that wish by gifting me a waterproof notebook. So this summer I got to pull that out of my dry bag while out on the lake and jot down some notes and ideas while floating around. It was just as strange and surreal and lovely as I always hoped it would be.
If I had to pick a most memorable, well, this probably isn’t a ringing endorsement for paying attention, but here goes nothing. I once had to attend a three day orientation for a job I was starting. I brought along a notebook to jot down anything important I need to remember because homeschooler notetaking habits are hard to kill. However, on day two it became abundantly clear that the entire day’s course of lectures were going to cover material for departments I would never even interact with and I was just stuck. So I kept the notebook open and just started working on my writing instead while keeping an ear open. I got about seven pages of new material that day alone and looked to everyone else like I was the most fastidious notetaker to ever live. Win-win!
Do you think your faith and your creativity are connected?
I definitely feel they are. While the fiction I write does not fall into the category of Christian fiction, my motivations for writing and sharing my creativity are very much a result of my faith.
I have been through some very hard, horrible things in my short life, and in those times I truly leaned into God for comfort and strength. Even in the midst of those times, I felt that I wanted to not just survive those hardships, but show other people that joy, beauty, and hope were all possible despite the pain we may feel in a moment. Between my brain injury and losing my mother very suddenly, I was aware of how precious those little moments of light can be and those events really changed the way I approached creativity. I wanted to write things that could either help people understand what they’re going through or help them put down all the hardship for just a moment to escape and smile.
So in that way, my faith and creativity are very much connected. Writing is my ministry and it’s really important to me to create things that can give a little light and mirth or a little hope and perseverance because you never know who will need to hear those things from someone who knows what it is to be without them.
Do you have a writing routine or schedule? Or do you write when you’re feeling inspired?
Another question that can best be answered by claiming both! I definitely have those moments when inspiration hits like a lightning bolt and I’m left racing around for a notebook or my laptop to get it all down. Just ask my poor roommate who has been the unfortunate witness to many such occasions. I love those lightning bolt moments, but for me, they aren’t reliable enough to build my writing around so I have to take it a little further.
Instead of a schedule or set writing time, I actually govern a lot of my writing by word counts. I have monthly and weekly word count goals that I try to stick to as closely as possible. What this gives me is a really reliable structure while also allowing me to be flexible and follow the creativity. Not having a daily word count is a conscious decision to give myself some grace. I write every day, but sometimes I have a truly off day where nothing is happening. Other days that lightning bolt hits and it’s go time. By having a structure that’s based around a weekly and monthly goal, I’m allowed to have an off day without slipping into beating myself over the head for it. And more often than not, by giving myself that grace, it paves the way back to a creative mind much quicker than if I were berating myself for a lost day. Little victories add up to the big ones!
Captain Acorn Returns will be available for preorder on January 31 and releases on February 15! Mark your calendars to get your copy!