Being Focused and New Products!

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.

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Self Publishing

Pink Camels and Floating GranniesI 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.

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Interview: Author Julia Richman

Julia Richman Interview

I chatted to Jules Richman about writing, her books and future projects. I have had the honour of illustrating two of Julia’s enchanting books and look forward to creating future stories with her.

Celeste: Hello Jules! Congratulations on your latest book ‘A Huddle of Hippos.’ Before we chat about it, can you just tell us a little about yourself?

Jules: Thank you, Celeste! And thank you again for your fantastic illustrations – collective nouns have never been so exciting, vibrant and fun!

I’m Jules Richman. I live in the glorious Mother City (Cape Town) with my husband –  Tim, son – Nicholas, and cat – Katya. Nicholas is 18 months old and loves exploring and being outdoors, so I spend most of my time these days running after him making sure he doesn’t swallow a stone or pull out my pansies…

I love writing colourful stories for children and I also love art, interior design, flowers, food and wine! I am an animal lover and a sensitive soul, in search of kind, caring hearts.

Celeste: Your first book, Katya’s Hairy Tales: The Bacon Chase was published last year. What lead you to try out for children stories? Continue Reading

Interview: Heather Davidson on Self-Publishing

Heather Davidson

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. Continue Reading

2017 Yoga Illustrated Calenders

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. Continue Reading

Interview with Michelle Ainslie – Online Writing Course

south african children books

Celeste: Hi Michelle! First of all, thanks so much for chatting to me. Can you just tell everyone a little about yourself to kick off?

Michelle: Hi Celeste! Thanks so much for having me.  I am a freelance writer and have been in the publishing industry for over a decade now.  I have surrounded myself with authors and books and writing my whole life.  I have recently started to join my 3 passions which are writing, books and depression.  The last bit sounds weird, but you will be amazed at how many authors and creative people battle with depression on a daily basis.  So, as you will see in the image below, I have found ways to join my skills and interests into a really fantastic career.   Continue Reading

Projects Old and New

Collective Nouns

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. Continue Reading

Letting Go and Writing What You are Comfortable With

Illustrator South Africa

Somewhere between being a child and an adult my writing got stifled. I don’t know whether it was all those articles I had to produce for clients, amazing books I read by other people or finding out that other writers always have these epic, deep, character building, thoughts and I just had a few mushrooms and bug-spray, but somewhere, some time, at some point, things took a wrong turn. I keep looking at books that have whole worlds created by authors and thought ‘I can do that.’ I looked at stories with epic endings and thought ‘I can write that.’ I looked at characters that blossomed and changed and thought ‘I have that.’ And it was true, I did have it. But I never finished it. I wrote out story plots with twists and turns, worlds with pink candy floss for trees and orange bumble bees. I even tried my hand at limericks and prose. But did I finish it? Nope.

Well that’s not entirely true, I did finish one here, another there. I then got excited that I had finally completed it and would email it off to publishers. Slowly over months I would get emails dribbling in sort of saying it needs more work. By this stage I wasn’t interested in it any more. The truth was, these stories were not my favourite. Within a month of completing the few I did, I realised I didn’t actually like them much myself. Sure there was a paragraph here, and a chapter there that brought me joy, but the story line just didn’t feel right. Continue Reading

Paint and Sip Review

Paint and Sip

Last week I attended Paint and Sip – an event based in town, where you ‘uncork your creavitiy’ with a local artist, raise money for an NPO, and get a meal (including glass of wine) thrown in. Sounds amazing right?

In fact, it sounded very similar to my Creative Workshop, except for the wine part (and I serve cake, not supper and there is no charity). So I thought it would be a good idea to go and see what they were doing to maybe get inspired for my own workshops, maybe do something like this next year with my ‘creatives’ attendees. I am sure they wouldn’t complain if I replaced their tea with a glass of wine.

My blue-haired friend Tessa came with me to the event. She was a fantastic distraction for all that sat near us, so I could assess everything secretly. The artist that was to be starring at this month’s Paint and Sip was local artist Laura Wenman, who I must say was a delight. She was filled with humour, joy and I just loved her.

The venue on the other hand, I didn’t love so much. Before I tell you all about the good things, I think it best we get the ‘pink elephant’ out the room (why must the elephant always be white?) and tell you that the venue was actually terrible. You enter this weird space that is sort of a bar, but a craft market, with a hotel reception desk. Weird, right? Welcome to 91 Loop street. Continue Reading