You might have remembered that last year I was planning on launching a course around using social media for illustrators and creatives. I created notes, worksheets and even a few hours worth of video. But then I discovered that while online courses try have the best interests for everyone, the people using them are incredible sly. They purposely give bad reviews to courses and then good reviews to their own, in a bid for the top slots. They employ others to spend their days creating accounts and just ruining it for everyone. So I decided against it. I deleted my videos and worksheets and moved on.
For months I sat, doing other projects, working on other things, when I came across my notes. I looked at them. Over 40 pages of information, already typed up and ready to go.
That’s when I thought – why don’t I just convert this into an eBook?
In Pink Camels and Floating Grannies I stayed away from having a villain type character. The story was based around Monkey’s grandparents coming to visit and spending the weekend with her, so I didn’t feel like it needed a direct conflict character. It was more a series of family events that everyone could relate to (well – at least a little). My grandmother was a main character and she created a lot of explosive interactions which I felt was enough. The feedback I have been getting from children who have/are reading my story confirmed that I was correct. They are all adequately embarrassed about my Grandmother.
In the second book, my feeling are a little different. In this book, my focus is around Monkey and her friends as they embark on a school camp. All my favourite teachers will be there, including Mrs Pelliot and maybe even Mr Trousers. I have also included a new teacher, Mr Mefer, who is the gym teacher (with a large moustache, of course). During the trip to their camp, Monkey, her friends and Mr Mefer stop for a lunch at a petrol station.
It was at this point that I felt like something needed to happen. I stopped writing.
I didn’t know what needed to happen. Did Mr Mefer relate an interesting story? Did something happen at the gas station? Did something happen to the Kombi they were driving in? I let these ideas float around in my head as I carried on my day.
At 5:30am on Sunday, my youngest cat – Gandalf – started scratching at the bedroom door wanting to get out, which my husband does. Of course then I am now awake. I could toss and turn till a decent hour, but that’s just going to irritate everybody. It then hits me.
Last year I tried a lot of things. I launched products, checked out craft markets and tried to find my niche in the world of freelancing. I also did a yoga teacher training course that ended with me at a fire ceremony, with turmeric on my forehead, coughing from the smoke created by everyone throwing strange looking spices into a pot of fire (yes – you read right- a pot with a fire in it) surrounded by palm leaves, multiple fire-hazards and a circle of people chanting endless Sanskrit. This was supposed to be meditative and calming exercise. Maybe it was calming. I don’t know. It was a little hard to tell, as before this whole thing had began, I had various ‘yoga people’ complaining for about an hour on politics, traffic, global warming and the best place to get lye for their home-made laundry detergent.
I recently decided to self-publish my first book (very excited! You can see my first book here). I asked an editor friend of mine to assist me with my spelling errors and set about creating illustrations. I then started doing some research into my self-publishing options.
I have assisted a number of other self-published authors and having worked in publishing myself for 10 years, I had a good idea of what my options where. Since I already had the editing sorted, I could do my own illustrations, and typesetting a book is something I have done a million times, my only real need was to find a printing and distribution facility.
I found everything I needed, but on the the way I stumbled over self-publishing options and I was horrified.
I knew a lot of publishing houses were offering and suggesting places for self-publishers, but I had never read the fine print or looked at the cost. I discovered that almost all of them were (as far as I was concerned, knowing the rates of the industry) overcharging. Not to mention also charging for things they shouldn’t, for example ISBN’s. This is a free service the South African National Library offers. All you have to do is email them with a few details and then they email back, yet a lot of these packages were wanting to charge authors a few hundred rand for this.
I chatted with Heather Davidson, self-publisher of Choo Choo Park. I was so impressed with Heather with what she has managed to accomplish with her children’s book, that I thought it would be great to interview her to pass on knowledge to other self-publishers out there.
Celeste:Hi Heather! Thanks so much for chatting with me today. First of all, congratulations for being an author! Can you tell us a little bit about when you had this idea about writing children’s stories and what inspired you that this was it?
Heather: Hi Celeste, thank you so much for this opportunity to talk about my book. I have always loved reading and writing. I started writing stories for my son, James, when he was about 3 (he’s now 21), he loved them and used to take them to school for his teacher to read. I didn’t have the confidence to try and do anything further with them at that stage of my life. About two years ago now I decided that I wanted to make writing a priority in my life and I happened to come across The Choo Choo Park which I’d written when James attended the Choo Choo Park Playschool. I still loved the story and decided to try and get it published.
Celeste:You decided to self-publish your first book. What kind of research did you do into this before you started? Did you do any courses, or chat to other self-publishers? Did you try publishing your book through regular publishers?
Heather: I did submit The Choo Choo Park to two south African publishers but it wasn’t what they were looking for so I decided to go the self-publishing route. I had heard a lot about self-publishing in writing circles and enrolled for a correspondence course on Self Publishing. I then met Katherine Graham at the Society for Children’s Bookwriters and Illustrators (SCBWI) meetings and she had successfully self-published a number of books. I had many discussions with her and she gave me very valuable advice. I also attended a half-day Self Publishing workshop that she presents. Read more
For those of you who follow me on social media, you might know that last weekend I was holding a table (well, half a table) at the Thriving Sustainable Craft Market, in Wynberg. Next weekend, Michelle and I will be doing another market, this time in Hout Bay. I got into the Christmas spirit somewhere between then and now and decided to create some happy elves to sell.
These elves were inspired by the little Santa Helpers in the movie ‘Rise of the Guardians.’ They have individually crafted faces and ears, from clay, come in green and red, sport a little bling bling belt and have a bell on top. Oh, and don’t forget their little details on their shoes! In the video below you can see me crafted one of the faces and then the end shot is my prototype that I made. It’s going to be a very, very busy week!
The craft market we will be at is the Green Faerie Market, Sunday 6 November 2016, 10am to 5pm at Kronendal Primary School.
I will be making about 15 – 20 elves for the fair (will see how it goes!). If you can’t make the fair and would like to have one of the elves, please feel free to contact me. I’ll be selling them for R100 each.
I have also started a page on facebook for my arts and crafts items, called ‘Inspired Things.’ If you would like to be informed via the social media platform of all my bits-and-bobs, then please go and like the page to stay updated. Read more
I am currently doing the last illustrations for my 8-Limbs of Yoga Calender, 2017. The calender is inspired by my own activities this year, where I launched into full time illustration work, as well as starting studying Integral Hatha Yoga, with the Yoga Academy, here in Cape Town.
The characters in the calender are animals, which has sort of become a bit of a trademark with me, as I have gotten a lot of animal books this year, including Penguin Palace by Helen Brain, Collective Nouns by Julia Richman and Three Detectives by Vi Le Roux, to name a few. I have sported my yoga-happy creatures in official asana’s (poses), from an apanasana pig, through to a giraffe in chakrasana. Each one is also presenting one of the 8-limbs of yoga, according to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra. These 8-limbs form the structural framework for yoga practice. Read more
Jules Richman, who you might remember wrote Katya Cat last year, has this time put together a wonderful tale of Sam who finds collective nouns everywhere on a safari. I have been having such fun painting Jule’s imagination of robbing mice and hugging hippos. Here is just a sneak peek of some of those landscapes. If you would like to pre-order the book, at R100 a book, you are welcome to drop me an email (mrsbeckerling <at> gmail <dot> com), with ‘Collective Nouns’ in the subject line. Read more
On the 29th of October, I’ll be hosting a stall, along with author, writer and cat-lover Michelle Ainslie, at the Thriving Sustainable Community Market (it’s a mouthful, I know), at the Novalis Ubuntu Institute in Wynberg. Michelle will be selling second hand books from her personal collection, along with amazing ‘blind-date’ books – these are books wrapped in brown paper with a simple keyword on them. You buy them without knowing what they are, until you get home!
I will be selling a collection of book-related crafts, from bookmarks, to large candles (it’s all about ‘reading’ ambiance), amongst other things. As the craft market is all about Sustainable Living, which means everything is second hand, organic, natural and home-made, I can inform you that all the bits and bobs on sale at our stall will be 99% made-up of bits and bobs in my home (with the exception of thread, that I needed to get from the beads shop), mostly left over items from my Creative Workshop I run, along with left overs from personal projects. I have even utilised space on the side of my children book illustrations I am currently working on, to make original illustrated bookmarks. Read more