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Hello Scratch

Thank you for all of your kind comments about the book on the blog and on Facebook and Twitter.  The kids (and I) are really overwhelmed.  We’ve been over here on this figurative island, building the space for so long, and it’s nice to now have a bridge running over here so everyone can walk over and see what we’ve been doing, which is teaching people how to code by making cool retro games.

And we would really really really appreciate your help spreading word.  Tell your friends, tell your family members, tell your nearby schools, tell your grandma who always wanted to learn how to make Intellivision-like games.

I realized yesterday that I originally linked to the Deal of the Day page and not the book itself, so here is a link to Hello Scratch.  Additionally, there is a forum for the book where you can post questions or comments.  The kids check that every day.  And I’m going to start embedding the games they make in future posts so you can play them, too.

The whole experience has been really eye-opening.  They’ve seen me publish 5 books, but I don’t think they fully realized what went into the process even though they’ve been privvy to dinner time conversations and riffled through everything from contracts to page proofs.  When it’s your own book, it’s a different story.  Literally.

It’s stressful, writing a book, and they’re little.  It’s also amazing to see the way their minds work, and we’ve gotten really really good at working together as a team.  Though…. as I write that… I am listening to them upstairs, shrieking and laughing hysterically when they’re supposed to be editing.  So… there’s that.  What I mean is that they are still kids, and writing with them is a little bit like wrangling cats AND a little bit like cuddling up with your favourite cat.

I built them chapter templates, so they know the information they need to include, and they can type out all of their notes accordingly.  Then we sit down and record the chapter.  This is because they are (1) slow typers and (2) it’s easier to record it and type later because I’m usually taking screenshots while they’re talking.  But there is also a third reason I do this.  I really miss them during the day, and this is (selfishly) a chance to feel like they’re in the house.  I am sitting here, alone at my desk during the day, but I’m also listening to their voice.

And maybe that is the reason I agreed to all of this.  Because they are growing up and apart, which is a good thing, but I want them to also remember this as a bonding experience.  We’re a team — the Retromakers — and writing a book together means spending a lot of time together.  It’s the epitome of roots and wings.  I want us to feel grounded to each other, but I also want to nurture those skills and passions so they fly away towards whatever fulfills them.

[That is a complete lie.  I want them to remain mine mine mine all mine.  I’m just being honest, kids.]

You may have questions about the process, or your kids may have questions for my kids about writing a book.  So ask away.  All of us are happy to answer.


1 Twangy { 09.01.16 at 9:52 am }

Well done! A wonderful achievement.

2 Cristy { 09.01.16 at 10:45 am }

First off, as someone new to computer programming, I’m so glad to see this book. Literally. Because the one thing I want the Beats to have is coding experience and I have zero idea how to do this. Now I will have some help.

Secondly, it’s interesting thinking about having your kids go through a process you’ve been through yourself. How similar and yet how different. It makes me wonder how they see things, both before and after experiencing it. Also if it differs over time.

3 Tigger { 09.01.16 at 11:36 am }

Let them know this: My husband is a computer science major. He’s got his associates, working towards his bachelors. We purchased this book…for him. Not for the kiddo, but for the husband. 🙂 He’s interested because it’s gaming and while he’s written one mobile app, and taken some classes on it, this is more his style – learning to code for games!! He was like “get the book, I want the book, it will be good for me. And we’ll support the kids!!”

4 a { 09.01.16 at 12:20 pm }

I will definitely be getting my hands on the book, for me. Maybe I will share it with my daughter, but I want to figure it out first!

I can’t imagine collaborating with my child on anything – she is too much like her father for that too work out well. When we do similar things at the same time, it works fine, but to work on one project? Suffice it to say that someone is always trying to elbow someone else out of the way. 🙂 I’m glad to hear that other people do not have this problem…and what a wonderful thing to share with your kids!

5 Jess { 09.01.16 at 2:28 pm }

So awesome. Every part of it. I love the family collaboration to make the book, and the family collaboration to do the games in the book. I am so in awe of the younger people (like my students) who are so savvy in computer programming and grew up with it. I shared the links on my Facebook page, as I know I have friends who would love to do this with their families! I love your process with them, too. I love that they’re doing this big thing but still staying young within the process and having fun with it.

6 Charlotte { 09.01.16 at 3:32 pm }

So I guess (one of the reasons) why it’s so amazing to me that 11-year olds got a book deal and are actually writing a book that is getting published is how you describe it :a lot like wrangling cats. It seems like a TON of discipline for an adult to sit down and get pages and chapters done on a timeline, let alone keeping kids focused enough to do that. You either have very mature behaved kids or a ton of patience or both. I can’t ever imagine this senario happening in my house!!
I have very little knowledge about the publishing world, so I would have a million curious questions about the process. One thing that comes to mind is rejection…did they experience any of that and if so how did they handle it? How did you hep them get through it. I would imagine as their mother that part was difficult, if you had to experience that at all.

7 Mel { 09.01.16 at 5:33 pm }

Thought I (or they) would answer questions here in case other people were wondering the same thing. So… Charlotte:

They did experience rejection, but I don’t think it weighed down on them as it would an adult. I think they have very skewed expectations, and they always expected that things would work out. And it did, but I never thought it would.

When they were ready to shop the proposal, they went to the bookstore and our bookshelf and made a list of publishers they wanted to approach. I sent the query for them, so I was always seeing the rejection (or, ultimately, the acceptance) first. I read it aloud to them, but I also would deliver the news when I thought it was a good time. And could help them process it and talk it out. But while I cried a lot trying to get my first book published, feeling totally down every time I got a rejection, they kept saying, “Okay, well someone will want it soon.” See, very skewed expectations.

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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