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Manuscript Process

Some of you have been asking, so I thought I'd share an update on my companion guide to the Little House books. The manuscript is due May 1. That is soon! At this point it's tentatively called Laura's Prairie Companion. It'll be out spring 2020 with Chicago Review Press. (Update: The book's final title is The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion. You can order it now.)

Getting Started

Over the course of the past five and a half years, I've read each of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books at least three times. I created charts for each of the books and took notes within those charts. I also read widely about Laura Ingalls Wilder and even took a research trip to the Almanzo Wilder Homestead in New York. (It's only about eight hours from me, so it was the easiest home site to visit.)
(A side note: I found this book (monograph) fascinating. Nancy Cleaveland's research is meticulous. If you're curious about the truth behind Laura Ingalls Wilder's own education and teaching experience, you'll want to read this. My favorite part was the teachers' exam. I suspect many certified teachers today would only pass it with some serious studying (including me though my certification has expired). You can get this book through the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society.)

Drafting Process of Laura's Prairie Companion

I devoted one chapter to each of the nine  Little House books in my book. (I did include The First Four Years which Wilder didn't share with her editor and didn't intend to publish.) I've included information to help readers understand the Ingalls family history and American history. I also include a lot of additional information related to the real Laura Ingalls Wilder. Several readers have commented how they appreciated the "Fact vs. Fiction" sidebars.

Readers can "Live Like Laura," with about 75 activities and recipes. I didn't forget Almanzo in Farmer Boy. Lots of activities are included for him, too, including Mother Wilder's self-turning doughnuts!

A lot of words in the Little House books are unfamiliar to young readers today. So I defined nearly 500 words!

I also included a brief biography chapter for Almanzo, Laura, and the Ingalls family.

Manuscript Revisions of Laura's Prairie Companion

Initially I revised each chapter individually. It helped me to focus on one Little House book at a time. Some chapters I revised as many as 15 times!

This month I completed even more revisions by looking at the whole manuscript at once. I also consulted with a couple of Laura Ingalls Wilder experts. (Though I've been researching Wilder for about five years I am not an expert.)
At just over 45,000 words, my manuscript is 109 pages long, single spaced.

Final Revisions of Laura's Prairie Companion

In addition to some fact checking based on suggestions from my experts, this month I also made changes to the manuscript to make it ready for submission. Publishers need manuscripts formatted to their specifications, and my publisher, Chicago Review Press, is no different. It takes time but will help the designer make the book pretty!

For my readers across the world, I've added metric conversions for all of the measurements--including about 75 activities! Many of the activities will have an illustration (or many) to help readers with step-by-step directions. I took photographs of the activities. My photos won't be in the book; they're for the illustrator to use as models.

Another important part of the book will be historical photos. At this point I'm researching and purchasing rights to use historical photos in my book. (Yes, I am required to pay for them myself. Thankfully I have a bit of an advance to help with this.)

I'm Excited

I hope you're as excited as I am for this book to come to life! If you know others who might be interested in my book, please tell them about it or this blog. I also have my author blog and I'm active on social media. There's even a newsletter I try to send out once a month. 

Happy Trails!
 ~ Annette

 Annette Whipple is a nonfiction children's author. Learn more about her books and presentations at

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