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Some time in early 2004, I'd say either February or March, I was supposed to do an advertising assignment for my fifth grade class. I was grouped up with two boys (I was the only girl in the group), and we all had a hard time coming up with ideas on what our "product" should be.
And then it occurred to me.
I thought I had the perfect idea! I have always been good at coming up with weird names, but Rockybado? That had to be at the top of the list. After several persuasions to get the rest of my group to like my idea, we went with it.
At first, it was just Rockybado Video Games, our "product." I basically took an old video game console and taped a picture of Rockybado, a robot, to it. I eventually took the picture off and continued to play the video game. And then, a few weeks later, Rockybado was going to turn out to be much more than what we had made it out to be in the assignment.
The idea of Rockybado grew on me from that point on. However, there are a lot of differences in both versions. When I first started writing Rockybado, it took place in a fictitious town called Nesterville, Michigan. And the boys had different names. Adam, Alec, and Alex Levistad were brothers. And then their best friends, Matthew Wickenden and Michael Malakins, came with them to visit Texamilio. And Jacob Gemenz and Kevin Maxwell make brief appearances in the original novels. Also, the original Texamilio took place on Mars. In the published version, Texamilio is an island by Hawaii. In keeping with the similarities of all three novels.
I wrote Rockybado from March 2004 until November 2004, around the time that my grandpa had his third heart attack. From November of that year until early July of 2012, I walked away from writing Rockybado. Well, actually, I briefly returned to writing an excerpt or two in 2009 and then again in early 2012, but even the excerpts were nothing like my published version.
Now, the story takes place in Crown Point, which is actually an existing city not too far away from my house. I could basically get to Crown Point in about thirty minutes. But that's unimportant. In the published novel, David, Brody, and Toby Ingram are brothers. Andrew McCalsky is Brody's best friend, and Adam Levistad is David's best friend. And John Garfield makes a brief appearance.
In the published version, I also have a "comic strip," if you will, as a chapter. And, as a matter of fact, I wrote that comic strip for a 4-H exhibit at the fair in 2004. I wanted to put a comic strip in anyway, but I didn't know what I wanted to do in terms of that. And then, a few weeks ago, I found my 4-H writing project, with the actual comic strip in it!
That was going into my novel.
I believe that I have learned a lot by writing the same novel over the years and then building on it. If I had published my original Rockybado book, I highly doubt that I would even have 100 pages. Let alone 50. But I let myself build on my original work, change a few things (names, settings, etc.), get rid of parts of the story that I didn't think were all that necessary, and I realized that I could basically build a bigger sand castle (if you will) than I would have, had I done nothing to what I had written nine years ago.
And thirteen years later, I am here, and I am happy for that.