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  • Writer's pictureMark Meier

Spearfinger Odyssey

By Chuck Suddeth I wrote the rough draft of Spearfinger several years ago. It took several weeks for only 500 words. After months of rewriting and submitting it to 3 critique groups, a writer’s wife read it to her third-grade class in Greenfield, Indiana. The students wrote me letters about what they liked and didn’t like. I spent months revising and sending it back to the critique groups. Ready to submit! 4RV Publishing had just given me a contract for a YA thriller, Experiment 38. Their office was near the Oklahoma Cherokees and Spearfinger was about a Cherokee witch, so I sent it to them. They accepted, and I thought the hard part was over. Ha. Wayne Harris-Wyrick, an editor, asked for a new story beginning. I sent it back to the 3 critique groups until he was satisfied. The publisher’s illustrator quit, so I had to wait. I recruited an illustrator I knew, but he got too busy, leaving me with no illustrator again. I had searched for a Cherokee translator, but while I was waiting for a new illustrator, I located a translator, Tim Nuttle, editor of a Cherokee dictionary. Before the translation began, I almost died from septic shock, ending up in the hospital, rehab, and a daily IV clinic for a total of 9 weeks, leaving Spearfinger behind for 9 more weeks. Then my publisher assigned an illustrator, Carrie Salazar. Her parents are from Ecuador, so and she is of Incan heritage. I loved having someone with Native American heritage work on a Cherokee book. The Art Director, Aidana WillowRaven, formatted the illustrations/English text/Cherokee text. A Cherokee language instructor, Lawrence Panther, was the Cherokee editor. We had another short delay until he edited the Cherokee version. The project was turned over to Children’s Corner Imprint Editor, Renee’ La Viness. A total of 7 people were involved. A large press would have added sales people, a publicist, and probably more editors. In June 2017, Spearfinger was released! Only 5 years after the contract was signed, at least 6 years after the rough draft. It was the first bilingual Cherokee picture book to have a complete glossary.

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