I have always loved to write, but just never had the time to write for myself. With all of the kids in school, I found myself helping them out on their assignments and even if I thought about writing afterwards, I was just too worn out to do it. So, when the last child left for college, I decided that I would set up a blog and begin writing; not only for my personal enjoyment, but to see if I had the discipline it took to possibly pen a book. I must admit that writing the blog has been absolutely so much fun for me that I could never give it up, but that book idea was still rolling around in my head and I just felt compelled to get it out!
I already knew what the title of the book would be since the entire story would be one based on my childhood days spent with an elderly aunt. Aunt Rose might have been old, but boy was staying with her fun. She taught me how to do many things; knit, make crafts and cheese dip...OH, and I never had to take a nap when she baby-sat me for the day(a very important aspect to a young child...)! She lived in this white frame house that was quite ordinary to an adult's eye, but in the eyes of a child...there were treasures to be found everywhere. Behind her couch is where one could often find me hiding with my nose inside a good book. There was a book shelf that ran almost the length of the wall with a section especially for children. Over in the corner by her rocking chair stood a bird cage with a REAL bird in it; now if THAT wasn't impressive to a kid, I don't know what would be. Through the large pane windows, Aunt Rose's true love could be seen...her beautiful yard full of thriving plants, including banana trees. All of these childhood memories inspired me to write this first children's book of mine.
I must admit that writing the book was the easy part. Once I decided to have it published, I had to work with an illustrator, whom I am sure wanted to pull his hair out. I, of course, wanted everything to look as close to what I remembered it to be. I found old photographs of Rose, my mother and me and sent them to him to create the characters in the book. Then, it was on to the landscape in the book. Choosing a color scheme I thought would be simple...I knew what I was talking about when I described the colors I wanted in the book; unfortunately, the illustrator did not. When the first set of drawings came back, I sent them back for corrections on little details. The same was true when they put color to the illustrations. The first color set that came back to me was disappointing...what child would want to read a book with drab colors?! I wanted exciting colors that matched the tone of the book! Each time I sent something back, it took weeks for completion; what I originally thought would only be about a three month period was turning out to be much longer...
Finally, the illustrations and colors were perfect! Now, it was time for the publishers to put the text to the book and it would be almost done. I picked out the font I wanted and waited. When it was complete...I didn't like the layout of the font (sigh...). I worked with them trying to convince them to create the text the way I thought it should be. They fought me a little bit, but in the end I got what I wanted and it looked great! Now, I had to WAIT AGAIN for them to send me my author copies to approve and then we would go to press. At that point, a friend of mine, who owns a local gift shop, offered to carry my book AND give me my first book signing! I was SUPER EXCITED about that until...it got time to actually have the signing. What if no one came? What if no one liked the book? I had spend a LOT of time and money on this book and HEY! I needed to sell some copies. I had been asked to read at several schools around town and decided, although I had some pretty positive professional reviews come back on my book, I would let the kids be the "real" critics. It had been quite a few years since I had been in a classroom so I was a little wary of what the response would be. The children were SO excited to have me there and immediately became caught up in the story of "Rose's Jungle"...they LOVED it! Their teachers did too...WHEW! Perhaps I could sell a few copies, after all.
When I arrived on the day of the book signing, I hopped out of my car and this was the store window display that greeted me...
WOW! I was really impressed...the owner had gone all out! Now, let's just hope some people showed up for the signing. The signing was slated for a two hour period that afternoon, just after school was to dismiss for the day. The store was promoting Teacher Appreciation Week and my book had been promoted on the local television morning show. My books were set up along with some refreshments and YAY! people of all ages began to show up. I spoke to friends and met strangers and the children were the absolute BEST; they seemed to LOVE my book. When I heard people comment on how colorful and eye-catching the cover of the book was, I thought, "All those returns to the drawing board were well worth the trouble and delays."
Publishing a book is not an easy task. I told my sister that it was like having a J-O-B...and one that did not pay until you started selling some copies. I am VERY pleased to report that my friend sold so many books that day that she had to purchase all the remainder of books I had!
To check "Rose's Jungle" out for yourself, go over to my side bar and click on the "Rose's Jungle" Button. It will take you to my web-site, where you can view a video promo about the book, learn more about me and even order a copy for yourself, if you choose to.