Prince Tarkten, a fable for those who are no longer children.
Swept away from the castle by a wind fueled by anger and injustice, Prince Tarkten is found by a cruel army captain and renamed Rud. This tender fable follows the prince’s struggle to find his true self, and along the way, true love.
It’s a story for anyone of any age who’s ever felt they might be in the wrong place, with the wrong people, living the wrong life. Prince Tarkten is about coming home to who you really are.
I wrote this story for the man I loved who adored me, hoping it would help him heal. I wanted him to know what happened wasn’t his fault. The story is based on events from Trent’s life. If we were in Battle Creek, Michigan, I could show you the house with three rocks.
The fable came to me quickly, in two nights. I scribbled it as if taking dictation.
The first time I read it to him, both of us in bed snug under the covers, Trent was quiet but my heart was pattering. When I finished, he said, “That’s a good story, Sweet Baby.”
After reading it a few more times, Trent asked if it would be okay to make some changes. I said of course, it was his story. There were two:
1) Change Bulgar’s weapon, because a bow and arrow didn’t fit the conditions.
2) Change the description of the injury caused by the weapon.
I made the changes. Trent was right. He was also prophetic.
We read that story until the pages curled. Then, because I wanted Trent to have a real book, I painted some illustrations and had it printed as a paperback. But I’m not an artist and the finished book was a flimsy disappointment.
After Trent was gone but still wanting the book to be better than it was, I hired an illustrator. Khrystyna Lukashchuk is a talented artist whose illustrations are beyond anything I could have imagined. Working with Krhystyna was a delight.
Now, this is the book I wanted for Trent. It’s hardcover. Sturdy. It’s only 36 pages, so it’s skinnier than it looks in the photo above.
It’s gorgeous and I love it.
I wrote it for Trent, but it’s for all of us who ever felt we were better than how we were treated.
I hope you like it.
“True stories are the best kind.”
– Trent Price
Sweet Baby Lover
Trent was my partner until he died, unexpectedly, at age 46. I loved him immensely and he adored me. After he died, my friends encouraged me to write out my grief. So I did, on a blog, because it was 2009 and I thought it would be cool to have a blog.
My plan was to make blog posts about my time with Trent until I ran out of things to say. Then I would quit. Every time a memory came to mind, I wrote a brief reminder about it on a post-it and stuck the post-it in a composition book. Yellow and orange post-it notes covered four pages.
When I had written the final story from the final post-it note, I stopped writing blog posts. I let the blog languish. But something didn’t feel right. The blog posts weren’t in chronological order, they were written in the order of whatever memory tugged at me when I sat down to write. Because the posts weren’t chronological, it wasn’t possible to read the story as it unfolded.
So, with a ream of printed posts, I headed to the hills of the Smoky Mountains. For two weeks, I lived in a tiny cabin where I rearranged the story order. This revealed holes where stories should have been written but weren’t. Then I wrote the missing stories.
When I came home, I studied how to self-publish a book. I hired a developmental editor, then a line editor, then a copy editor. I hired a cover designer but saved the interior design of the book for myself. Then, on the anniversary of Trent’s birthday, I published it.
I’m proud of having written it and proud of the fact that when I brought it to a writer’s retreat, the NYT bestselling author who ran the retreat said, “This doesn’t look like a self-published book. It looks like a real book.”
A friend asked if I could make it into an audiobook, so she could listen on her commute. It took me a long time to do that, at first because I didn’t want to revisit those hard times, and later because I wanted the audiobook to be in my voice but didn’t know how.
I took a podcasting workshop and learned how to record quality audio. Then I started a podcast. People say I have a nice voice.
When I was finally ready to record the book, I spent two months in my podcloset, recording and re-recording. Even though I know how to edit audio, I sent it to a professional so the quality would be top-notch.
Then, while visiting my mother, her 93-year-old friend Betty told me she would like to read the book, but she needs it in large print.
Sweet Baby Lover now comes in 4 formats: ebook, paperback, large print and audiobook. Which one is right for you?
“This is a love letter, a memoir,
a beautiful book about what it means to go on the journey of a lifetime.”
– Seth Godin, Author
Are you a storyteller? If so, you probably already have a shelf or a Kindle full of books on story structure. But maybe despite all those books, and despite your heartfelt desire to tell a good story, you struggle to tell a story that works.
Good news—The StoryWheel can help!
(For those of you looking for the StoryWheel Garage, there it is!)
My story was stuck.
It got off to a slow start, then a mediocre middle, and was on its way to grinding to the wrong end. To get unstuck, I needed a better understanding of what—at the plot level—makes a story work.
My books on structure came off the shelf. I’d already read them, but this time I studied them. Fellow writers suggested additional sources, and I buried my head in those. I closed my blinds to watch and re-watch Gladiator. I met with book editors and attended story workshops.
Friends asked how my novel was coming along and I told them I was working on structure, that I had to understand structure to write my novel.
My friends smiled politely and I wondered if they thought I was avoiding my novel. I wondered about that too, but pressed on.
After sinking my head into an ocean of story structure, I emerged with a bone-deep understanding of what makes a plot work. And I don’t want to keep this treasure to myself.
If you’re having issues with the structure of your story—if the plot feels off, or if you have an empty crater because you don’t know what should happen next—The StoryWheel can help.
The StoryWheel is a visual model that illuminates story structure, backed with explanation and examples.
Story is complex but it need not be complicated. And if you’ve ever felt ignorant about how to structure a story, that’s not a reflection of your intelligence. It just means you haven’t—yet—found a method that works for you.
I believe the StoryWheel could be your method. If you’re a visual learner (as I am), I’m positive this 67-page ebook will give you a fresh perspective.
I hope The StoryWheel clarifies what may have been confusing and allows you to spend less time structuring and more time creating, that the result is a story born into the world with more ease and assurance.
“Practical, visual and effective storytelling magic.” —Seth Godin
It’s for you.
It’s free. (You don’t even need to provide your email address.)
“The StoryWheel has been helpful to me and many others. It combines so many theories and makes them useable.”
– Carole Wolfe, Author
In the works…
I’m working on a novel. I thought it would be easy. It hasn’t been. I am experiencing what Ira Glass calls The Gap—the difference between my taste in the kind of thing I am making and my ability to make it.
What’s tugging at me right now is another illustrated fable: The Rocking House. When I was married the first time, I wrote a song. Years later, I wrote a story around the song for the niece of a friend whose father was an alcoholic.
While Prince Tarkten was for Trent, The Rocking House is for me and anyone who grew up in a home that wasn’t safe. I’m currently finessing the ending. When the story is ready, I’ll giddily reach out to Khrystyna Lukashchuk, the illustrator of Prince Tarkten, to say, “Let’s do it again!”