Five Minute Writing Tip
Cave Art Press's latest book, Youth in Wartime: Recollections of WWII, arises from publisher/owner Réanne Hemingway-Douglass's collection of firsthand accounts from people who experienced the war. Her goal was to include these stories in an anthology. So, we called for submissions, and the guidelines were simple: WWII experiences; maximum word-count of 12,000; and first-person point of view. We realized these submissions would be from people who were probably not writers, but we were prepared to coach them along as necessary.
Our file gradually increased over a few years until we had collected enough stories for a book. But a problem arose. They were all so different, and we realized we had to progress from an idea to a theme, to find a common thread that ran through all of them. This wasn't easy because we couldn't agree on what that should be. After several staff meetings, we decided to put the project on hold.
Réanne was a foreign exchange student in 1954, living with a family in Grenoble, France. Over the years, she developed close relationships with other families in the area who were directly affected by the war. Many worked in the French Resistance, and Réanne became passionate about preserving their stories. This resulted in her bestseller, The Shelburne Escape Line. But she knew there were more stories to be told, not only about the French involvement, but other countries as well. Even with the project on hold, giving up on it was not an option.
A few more submissions came in, and we began to see a commonality. After much discussion, we decided to focus on stories told by children and teens who were affected by the war. Editor/researcher Lisa Wright compiled the stories and outlined a manuscript. Once it was completed, we discussed the title and cover image. Again, we couldn't agree. We viewed several dozen images, but none seemed right. After Lisa found a simple but stark image of a poppy field, we felt we'd struck gold. Through numerous titles-ideas, we but couldn't come up with one that reflected the content of the book. It had to include our WWII theme, stories told by young people, and structure/word-count (personal recollections). We made our decision, and once we changed the title print color from black to a poppy-orange, the book was ready for the printer.
Youth in Wartime: Recollections of WWII was released on June 10, 2019, and we feel it's one of our best.
If you have an idea for a book, you've taken the first step to making it a reality. Don't give up.
For a limited time, we are offering a free copy of The Shelburne Escape Line with each purchase of Youth in Wartime. Go to our website to purchase a copy.