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I Have A Dilemma

I have a dilemma I’d like some help with.

I have decided to have a go at NaNoWriMo this year and am torn over which project to go with. Perhaps you wouldn’t mind having a quick look at the rough outlines for each and letting me know which one you vote for?

1. Jimmy Gingerbeard – a children’s novel.  

Sam Simpson is a bit of a handful. His mother, Professor Simpson, is an expert on dinosaur poop and has to go to Bolivia to study some newly discovered samples. But who will look after Sam when she is gone? Granny won’t take him again – last time he fed her goldfish to the cat; Aunty Jo won’t take him – last time he gave her new designer shoes to the charity shop; she is stuck and knows that if she can’t find a live-in nanny for the duration of her trip, she won’t be able to go. So Professor Simpson puts an advert in the paper, “Nanny wanted for one small child. He eats anything and likes to be busy” but everyone who calls is unsuitable for a variety of reasons. Then, just before she is about to call off her trip, Jimmy Gingerbeard turns up at the door. Jimmy is a Glaswegian pirate and soon proves that he is able to handle her wayward son. The Professor heads off to Bolivia with  a packed holdall and a promise to write.

Together Jimmy and Sam have a series of adventures through which Sam learns to handle life and behave while learning and having fun with Jimmy – who soon shows that he is not all Sam originally thought.

And when professor Simpson comes home she finds a very changed little boy.

2. 29 Tollbridge Street


Glasgow’s east End  in the 70s was a hotbed of gang violence and change and the residents of 20 Tollbridge Street were experiencing it on their doorstep.

This Glasgow tenement had six flats, each housing a family or occupant with their own story to tell.

Ali lives with his brother and parent. He works in the local garage where the boss has some shady gang connections and his brother, Liam, is more involved in the gangs than Ali or his parents would like.

Mr & Mrs McPherson moved into Tollbridge Street when their old Bridgeton tenement was demolished. They hanker after the ‘good auld days’ when neighbours looked out for each other – and are pleasantly surprised when their new neighbours take more interest in them than they expected.

Jamie Clark is gay. He is still in the closet, but his mincing ways and constant procession of young male visitors set tongues wagging and he soon grabs the attention of the local hard man, Jack ‘The Knife’ MacPhee. But what is the nature of Jack’s interest?

Mo Patel and his wife Shaheen are the only coloured residents and being different in the Glasgow of 1976 isn’t a good thing. They run the local newsagents and the constant vandalism of their shop soon follows them home to Tollbridge Street.

Marie and Gary Walker have a new baby. Marie is a stay at home mum and Gary works in the steel works. Marie feels she is too good for Tollbridge Street and encourages Gary to work long hours so make enough to pay for the lifestyle she wants.

Malky Johnston is a quiet man in his thirties living in one of the top floor flats. He keeps himself to his self and has almost no interaction with his neighbours. Ali and the other residents are always trying to get him to open up and they often gossip about what his big secret could be.

The lives of the residents intersect during the course of a summer and culminate in an act of gang violence that will change life at 29 Tollbridge Street forever.

So, there you have it. Should I go with Jimmy Gingerbeard or 29 Tollbridge Street. I need some help to make my choice.


Writer, photographer, creative fantasist.

24 thoughts on “I Have A Dilemma

  1. I vote Jimmy Gingerbread. The reason simply being that I wrote a children’s book for my first NaNo and it feels good to get to the end of the month (which is tough, by the way) and have the word count you need for a children’s book pretty much done and dusted…

  2. Nettie – These are both terrific story ideas!! I vote for the Tollbridge street story, though. I’m just already caught up in the characters, and I haven’t even read your novel yet…

  3. Oooh…I want to read them both, tbh, but I would prefer 29 Tollbridge Street. I like interweaving stories…

    Whichever you choose, I’m sure it will be excellent.

    C x

  4. I vote for Jimmy McGingerbread. Arrhhh, me hearties, so I do. Observe how I have helped with the name too, to give it that extra Scots feel.

  5. The pirate nanny, Jimmy Gingerbeard for me. Apart from having a fun concept that is really appealing, there is a real story shape there already and you have your character arcs for both Jimmy and Sam, which will make your life SO much easier. didn’t quite feel that you were quite as near the starting line with the Tollbridge Street option.

  6. Think you probably already know my vote. I want more Daft Derek please. Although I think there’s a really great book for kids in Jimmy Gingerbeard, I want a book for me please, so my vote goes to 29 Tollbridge Street (even though I still think of it as Tenement Tales, and probably always will).

  7. Hi Nettie,
    I have tried and failed at Nanowrimo several times now and strongly recommend you see where the seafaring Jimmy Gingerbeard takes you (maybe all the way to Bolivia-who knows?). Having read both your summaries I think it is the one which has the most potential for you to be able to develop into a 50k word 1st draft inside 1 month (and the most fun).
    29 Tollbridge Street, while an interesting project, may have too many heads, too many narratives to be able to maintain focus-it may be one to work up from a series of interrelated short stories-with time to reflect upon the complexities of the narrative-the period details-relationships-politics etc.
    Whatever you decide, best of luck to you!
    Come and see me win at Nanowrimo this year (1st time for everything!).
    You can’t keep a good idea down!
    Simon Million.

  8. Oooh Jimmy Gingerbread – love, love, love it! Fabulous idea, engaging story and captivating characters. Also, I think you’d have great fun writing it. Since it’s such a short time frame, you can let loose your silliness and childishness!! I can’t wait to read the whole thing! xx

  9. Jimmy Gingerbeard! No question for me. I think you’d have huge fun writing it and I can so hear his voice just from your blurb.

    Plus I’m trying a kids’ book so we can cheer each other on 🙂

  10. Hi Nettie!

    I love both ideas, but I prefer Jimmy Gingerbread by a whisker. I think the fewer characters will be easier to write, and because you just have a month, a quick write is a good write. I’d love to read Jimmy Gingerbread, and I know my kids would, as well.

    Good luck with making your decision!


  11. I love the sound of both of these and would happily read either but I think you should go with Jimmy Gingerbread. Pirates always get my vote! It sounds like a really fun project, and is something you can let rip with which fits with the spirit of NaNoWriMo.

    I agree with what some of the others here have said about 29 Tollbridge St. I would love for you to write this, but think it might be much more of a headache to try and juggle all the different strands during such a full-on month as NaNo apparently is.

    Good luck whichever you choose!

  12. I vote for 29 Tollbridge. Partly because I’m not personally interested in children’s books, and partly because I do love to read about intertwining lives. I would love for someone to get murdered. 🙂

  13. Hello! I wrote my vote on Twitter and then saw everyone’s on here so I figured I better add it here too!
    I vote Jimmy Gingerbeard. It sounds fun and exciting and I would love to read it!

  14. If your intention is to write the novel in a month but then go back and add depth & refinement later then I think 29 Tollbridge St. is the better option as there is much more possibility for character enrichment etc. here than in the children’s novel. If, however, you want it all done in a month go for Jimmy Gingerbread.
    Both sound great .

  15. I like both these outlines but for this project, I think you’d find it more productive to go with Jimmy Gingerbeard, who, interestingly, morphs into Jimmy Gingerbread…..
    A Scottish setting for your children’s novel gives you the opportunity, when you achieve publication (see how positive I am?) for entering the Kelpies Prize.

  16. Hi Nettie
    I vote for Jimmy Gingerbread, cos everyone loves pirates.
    And why are pirates great? They just AAArrrrgghhh.

  17. I just read back through the responses, and it was only when I got to Sandra’s that I noticed all the Gingerbread/Gingerbeard variations, which I typically was first to do. Whoops, I do apologise. You have to wonder if that’s worth incorporating into the story somehow!

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