Thursday, December 12, 2013

Beginning the Next Big Adventure

Our son has finally arrived and left me with little time to keep up with blog posts. But I am back in action now and ready to report on what is happening next in The Odie Series of children's books.

I am so proud to say that Odie the Stray Kitten has been well received by friends, family, strangers, fans and their children, which encourages me to continue forward with the series. I am so appreciative of the support I have received through this whole process. I am continuing to promote the book through a Facebook business page and in the process of setting up readings and signings through local libraries. A full website is in development as well as a few other marketing tools.

Now on to the more exciting news. The next installment of the series is about to begin production! The next book will focus more on the story of Odie's best friend Bandit and how he came to live on our farm. That's all for now, but there will soon be many more of Odie and Bandit's adventures to share.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Why Children Appreciate the Animal Stories

As I both nervously and calmly await the arrival of our little boy, I have again gone back to thinking about why certain stories stay with certain children. Why are they drawn to a certain book and request that it be read to them over and over again? And more recently, why are animals such a big part of children's literature? Not only are they a part of the stories, they are often the main focus and are given many human characteristics and qualities.

I have come up with three reasons why I believe children appreciate and relate to animal stories more than most adults.

1. Animals provide some type of connection. Maybe the child has not yet felt connected to a person in their young life (other than Mom and Dad or siblings). Children can recognize the spirit of animals and can perceive an animal's energy and can connect to that sometimes more so than with another person. Not only that, but the stories can provide the child with a connection to the real animals of the world as well.  

2. Animals are more imaginative. It is easy to think about a child in a story doing chores, going to school, making friends. This is not new or original in a child's mind. These are things that they themselves do. But when an animal is accomplishing these tasks in a story, it becomes more imaginative and vivid for the child. What child doesn't want to imagine a raccoon learning to cook or a frog getting married?

3. Animals are magical. And it's not just those magic dragons of faraway lands. Children can appreciate animals more so than the average adult. I almost equate it to the whimsical nature of a child's perception of Christmas. As we grow older, we lose the magic of the holidays and become overwhelmed with reality. Some of this is by our own doing, allowing the world to beat a sense of monotony into us. Some of it just happens by accident as we grow up and transition into the real world. As adults we cannot believe in the human characteristics of animals and therefore we cannot fully believe in the stories the way children can.

There is by no means any scientific evidence behind any of these points. It is simply my musings on why children can appreciate animal stories more so than the average adult. Looking back on my own childhood, I can remember some of the books that I liked as a child. And most of them happened to be about animals:

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff (1985)
Clifford the Big Red Dog (Series) by Norman Bridwell (1963)
The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister (1992)
Corduroy by Don Freeman (1968)

Animal stories also have staying power. All four of the books I listed above are on the shelf in my son's nursery, just waiting to be read to the next generation and hopefully instilling an even deeper connection to the real animals of the world. And I want to use this very important connection to the animals in the stories and books that I create for children.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Animal Benefits from Marketing

Now that the book is actually a live title, the tougher work for me begins: marketing. Writing and editing was the easier part. Not easy, but easier. I would like to see this book and its following series reach a wider juvenile audience, becoming recognized more than just locally. But I would like to mention that I have been overwhelmed by the support I have felt from friends and family the last few weeks and I thank you all for your wonderful responses.

Besides creating a Facebook page for the book/series, I donated my first autographed copy to the silent auction for Tinsel & Tails Holiday Petacular, an event benefiting the Humane Society for Hamilton County. I can't think of a better opportunity to both help animals in need and to get the book out there. After all, it is a story that I hope encourages a younger generation to take an interest in the needs of stray and rescue animals, an issue very close to my heart.

Humane Society for Hamilton County

Tinsel & Tails Holiday Petacular

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Odie's First Adventure

It has finally happened, the book has become real! I received the first printed copy of Odie the Stray Kitten in the mail yesterday and now the title is live on Amazon. It has been an adventure, becoming a published indie author, but it has all been worth it.

The book is currently only available through Amazon, I have posted a link below. The title is listed as currently out of stock, but that is just because it is a print-on-demand book. It is not actually printed and stocked until an order has been placed.  The title will be available at and within the next few days and ebook formats will follow shortly after.

Odie the Stray Kitten on Amazon

I have enjoyed this publishing process. But the work continues as I am currently working on a promotion plan through local independent children's bookstores, a website and other social media. I have already written the next several books in the series, I'm just waiting for the opportune time to begin the publishing process again. They will all be a part of The Odie Series. I am looking forward to continuing to share Odie's adventures with the younger generation.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Children and Their Stories

It has been a while since my last update on the saga of this book dream. And now after many months of hard work, Odie the Stray Kitten is almost complete. This week I gave final approval for the book cover and all of the interior text and images. It should be available at all online retailers within the next 2-3 weeks. Just in time for holiday shopping. That might have been a shameless plug for the book, I can't really be too sure.

With the book in its final stages and arriving around the same time as our little boy, I have been thinking about the connections between children and their favorite stories.

My husband Philip is an elementary school teacher, so we have accumulated quite the collection of children's books, most of which are now sitting on a bookshelf in the nursery, awaiting the arrival of our baby boy. He is due sometime in the next four weeks, roughly the same time as this book. Although I have slightly more control over the arrival of the book than I do of his arrival. Each night Philip picks out a new book and reads it to my belly. Each book is different, just as most adult books are, with different characters, environments, plots and morals. Some children become fascinated by one story in particular and want it read to them over and over. What is it about certain stories that draw the attention and imagination of a child? Why are they drawn more to certain images or characters? Does the child have a deeper connection to a certain story and how was that association created in the first place?

As an adult now submerged in the world of children's literature, I find that I myself feel connected to all stories about animals. And I also appreciate a good moral, lesson or stance on an issue. I can't tell you now what five-year-old me would have thought about Odie's story, but I hope that this book will connect with at least one child out there.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Adventures in the World of Indie Publishing

Entering the indie book publishing world has been quite a ride, and the journey is not even close to over yet. Having complete creative control over the publication of my book is both a blessing and almost a curse. Almost. I get to decide exactly what I want on each page, but then again I have to decide exactly what goes on each page.

Don't get me wrong, it would be nice to be paid up front for a manuscript from a traditional publishing company, and believe me I'm working on that too. But making an initial investment into launching this book will be worth it (and potentially returned in future royalties). It is worth it to have a story so close to my heart be reflected on each page in just the way I imagined it would.

Today I approved all of the final artwork for the illustrations for this book. It is almost overwhelming to see this simple, true story come to life once again on pages after having lived it. And to tell a story, no matter how simple, will stir both emotion and thought.

Here is another indie author's reflection on self-publishing vs. traditional publishing:

Self-Publishing a Children's Picture Book: Sharing My Experience

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Bringing the Story to Life

This week I have been in the process of revising the initial sketches sent to me by my illustrator. It was a very surreal feeling, seeing those images for the first time. Seeing my story brought to life by an artist who can actually draw with ability and perspective was very humbling. Mostly because I cannot draw. I would love to illustrate my own books, but it would just end up as the same figure in the same position on every page. Very boring.

The initial sketches were wonderful, almost exactly what I had envisioned for the story. We needed to revise some of the details of the animals since it is a story of the real animals here on our farm. (See image below for two of the minor but definitely not small characters). I am unable to post any of the initial images yet, but stay tuned.

We are ready to move forward in the process to finalized line art and color. As the final product progresses, the story becomes even more real. Even though the story describes events that actually did happen to real animals, events that I have replayed over and over, seeing them in text and illustrations brings the story and the animals to life on the pages. I created and wrote the book in a way that children can appreciate, and hopefully inspire a love of animals in a younger generation.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

An Introduction to Inspiration

I have always thought of myself as a writer. I love to write, mostly fictional stories and inspirational ideas. And I have always wanted to write and publish children's books. Maybe because I have a bleeding heart for sweet stories about talking animals, or maybe because I like the morals and themes of most children's books. Either way, I have wanted to do it myself for a long time. I have tried to write decent children's stories for years, but my brainstorms and ideas never seemed good enough.

Then last winter a little orange kitten showed up in my barn on the coldest day of the year. I took him in and now he is a great barn mouser and is best friends with our other barn cat, Bandit. I named the kitten Odie, and just recently found out that it's an old Nordic name that means "inspiration." And everyone just thought it was the dumb dog from Garfield. Even though I took Odie in, and I would like to think that I saved him, he ended up saving me more. I was in a dark place in my life when he showed up and he gave me new hope. Not only that, but true to his name, his story inspired the children's book I had always wanted to write.

So after pouring over and editing this children's story more times than I thought possible, I have finally started the process of self-publishing. The manuscript and all cover text is completed, now I am in the process of working with an illustrator for the images in the book, based on the real animals. I am hopeful that the completed product will be available for purchase within the next three months. It will be available as a soft cover book that can be ordered through Amazon and as well directly though the AuthorHouse Publications website and other online retailers. It will also be available in eBook format for the Amazon Kindle, Sony Reader, Google eBookstore, Barnes & Noble nook, Kobo Book, and iBookstore.

I will use this blog as a means to keep my potential readers up to date on the progress of the book in its publication process and to share the events and ideas that inspired Odie's story. Since that original inspiration that Odie provided me, I have written many other stories that I hope to see in print someday too. My hope is that this book is just the beginning of a series of books about one cat's life on a small farm.

These images are of Odie and Bandit, then and now.