A Journey from Blogger to Children’s Author
If you noticed a break in my blogging, it’s because I had an idea for a children’s book. My sister was pregnant, and I wanted to share my passion for beekeeping –and my love of the outdoors – in a novel way with my future nephew.
After writing some initial drafts, I received helpful feedback from local children’s book author Amy Young and my friend Angela Dunn. Carol Rickey –another friend who happens to be an amazing watercolorist– also agreed to do the illustrations, and before long, we had the beginnings of a real book.
Next, I needed to find a graphic designer to combine my text with Carol’s illustrations. Thanks to my friend Julie Greene at the Muskegon Surgical Center, I connected with Eric Hettenbach at Hettenbach Graphic Design. Eric took the time to really listen, and pulled everything together. His finished work exceeded all of my expectations!
Finding a publisher through Twitter
When it comes to self-publishing, authors have a lot of options these days. I wanted to choose a publisher that manufactures their books in America. Through Twitter, I was fortunate to develop a relationship with Terry Ortolani at Pint Size Productions.
Now, I couldn’t be happier with our finished book, “Everything Beautiful Begins with Love.”
‘Everything Beautiful’ travels to Vermont
My nephew was finally born, and I made a special trip to Vermont to personally deliver my book. My sister says Max loves looking at it, and spends a lot of time chewing it over! Based on his feedback, I decided to order more books to give out as gifts to family and friends.
‘Everything Beautiful’ in Ireland
Life got busy, and I didn’t think much about the book again until a recent family trip to Ireland. While in Connemara, my family and I went to a farm to see a sheepherding demonstration where we had the pleasure of meeting Joe Joyce. Joe moves his flock of Blackface sheep up and down the mountains with the aid of several highly trained Border Collies and a couple of very active young girls.
We all watched in amazement as Joe used his calls to instruct the dogs where to move the sheep. I think what impressed me most is he how did all of this while parenting. The calm demeanor that he displayed with his dogs, sheep and, most importantly, his daughters was truly inspiring.
After the demonstration, we were invited into Joe’s home for tea. I happened to have one of my books in my backpack, and felt moved to give it to the mother of the girls. I explained to Mrs. Joyce that just as the sheep and dogs were a part of their family, honeybees are an important part of mine.
A Girl, a Book, and her Dog
Then, something truly magical happened. One of the girls took the book outside and began reading it to her dog.
As a writer, I can’t even put into words how heartwarming and special this moment was for me. Amid a backdrop of ancient mountains, stone walls, green grass, water and sheep, this moment marked one of the highlights of my first trip to Ireland.
A Gift that Keeps on Giving
I’ve learned a lot of things in my children’s book adventure. Most importantly, I’ve learned that books and reading can connect people and build relationships, unlike anything else.
I’d like to see the book be used to continue to build relationships, and am happy to announce that “Everything Beautiful Begins with Love” is currently available for purchase at The Bookman in Grand Haven, Michigan. The Bookman has generously agreed to donate all proceeds from the book to support Reading Enables Adult Development, or R.E.A.D., an adult literacy non-profit, that serves Ottawa County, Michigan. The book is also available at the Hackley and Mercy Campus gift shops of Mercy Health in Muskegon, Michigan. Proceeds from the sale of books at these locations go to support our local hospital.