New Gator McBumpypants Picture Book Now Available!

Gator McBumpypants in Shelley Comes Out Of Her Shell is a sweet story about the challenges of making new friends. It also covers themes such as empathy and knowing when to ask for help.

Last year, I designed and made a little box turtle. I had an online contest to name the turtle and the winning name, contributed by Amy Chesler–Thank you again, Amy–was Shelley. Shelley first appears at the very end of Gator McBumpypants Doesn’t Say Goodbye. If you haven’t read it yet, it is a story about Dee Dee the duck flying south for the winter and having to part with her friends.

In this new book, Shelley gets her own story. She is finally convinced to go on an adventure with Gator McBumpypants and Herman, but she gets a sliver and then is stuck in her shell! Shelley was very fun to work with. Her fabric has a little shimmer when the light is just right. I also designed her so that she tucks into her shell.

For those of you who have been following along with my writer’s journey here at Experience Writing (and Maria Berg’s Writing Life before that), you may recall that Gator McBumpypants was inspired by a photography assignment. I needed models and didn’t have anyone readily available. I grabbed a couple of my stuffed animals and took them outside. While I posed them and photographed them, the story of how they met and became friends came to me. That was the birth of Gator McBumpypants Hears A Scary Noise.

Since publishing that first picture book, I have designed and made two new characters, Dee Dee the duck and Shelley the box turtle. Creating the characters and stories is fun and challenging, but I also continue to use these books as photography projects.

Each year I focus on a specific technique. Last year I tried out colored filters, a wide angle/fish-eye lens and a difficult setting. Though the images using the colored filters and fish-eye lens did not make it into last year’s book, the techniques may be incorporated in the future. The setting was too beautiful to distort and the fall colors did not need a bit of enhancement.

This year, I learned bokeh shape photography. The word bokeh comes from Japanese and literally translates as “blur”. Using a hand-cut filter, I am able to create shapes with every point of light in the unfocused area of my photograph. I incorporated some of the bokeh images into the book and I think it brings another dimension of magical fantasy to the already fun mix of photography and play.

As the characters and stories progress and grow through the series, I, as a photographer, grow as well. Each year is a new adventure. I hope you will think about bringing the joy and play of Gator McBumpypants books to your family this year.

Happy Gator McBumpypants Day!

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Dee Dee The Duck and A Thousand Words A Day

Mt. Rainier and puffy clouds

The last month has been very busy in my writing life. I am happy to say that I reached my goal of sending out a draft of my novel to first readers on August 28th. I have already received some invaluable feedback and I am excited for more over the next couple of months.

In the meantime, I set another major goal which is to write and publish the next Gator McBumpypants book. For the third book in my picture book series I wanted to design and build a new friend for Gator and Herman and she is finally finished. Meet Dee Dee the duck.

Dee Dee the duck stands by the water

Dee Dee Wings Tucked

Dee Dee showing off her wings

Dee Dee Wings Out

This week I’ll start taking the photographs for the book, but I want to keep making progress on my other stories as well, so I joined Robert Evenhouse over at Part-Time Novel for his Novel Recommit. The goal is to write 1,000 words each day this week. I’ll admit I only reached 581 words yesterday, but I was inspired to get up early and write 863 more. Since I usually have trouble writing anything at all on the weekend, Robert’s challenge has already inspired me to write 1,444 more words than I would have written. However, the day is not done. Robert and I agreed to hold each other accountable by writing a blog post with our word count for each day. Hopefully, this is my report that I wrote 1,444 words for Saturday and tomorrow I’ll report at least 1,000 words for Sunday. This should be a fun and productive week.

Stay tuned.

New Book! Gator McBumpypants in Herman Learns to Fly!!

Front Cover Herman Learns to Fly

Front Cover of new book Gator McBumpypants in Herman Learns to Fly

Back Cover Herman Learns to Fly

Back Cover of new book Gator McBumpypants in Herman Learns to Fly

Now that the second book is finished and available in both paperback and kindle, I will be back to my regular blogging schedule, finishing up my free guide to self publishing children’s books and exploring guest posts (activities that went to the back burner to simmer while I finished my book).

So, today being Monday Marketing, I am happy to report that my marketing efforts with Gator McBumpypants, specifically with facebook and a targeted email list, resulted in first day sales. Because knowing what works is the only way to wade through all the money traps for self promoters, I am glad I found some freebies that actually work. Be careful with both facebook and email lists to make sure you target to trusted friends and family, then groups specifically interested in your genre — your target audience, then (hopefully) fans, and people who truly want to work with you.

I noticed early in my marketing, my responses came from other marketers who weren’t marketing anything to help me and would have loved to have my money for no reason whatsoever. This almost turned me away from blogging and self publishing, but then I started finding good blogs with my interests. I also focused  my reason for marketing which is selling my Gator McBumpypants books to support my writing and photography obsessions.

I hope my readers will find what they need here on this blog and my other sites as I continue to focus my time on publishing all of my projects. Next steps: An agent for my middle grade fiction book and revising my adult fiction novel while writing the novel all of this has been practice for: Within the Lahar.

Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise

Picture Book Cover 00 Back Cover Yellow

I am excited to announce that my children’s picture book Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise is now available on my create space estore. It is also available at amazon and can be purchased for Kindle.

Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise is a full color picture book  about a friendly stuffed alligator who investigates a noise that is interrupting his happy day. Unlike most picture books these days, Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise is illustrated with photographs. My favorite response I’ve had to the book so far was from a little girl who asked, “Are there really alligators in the lake?”

For those of you who are interested in self publishing a children’s book, now that I have a nice product I am proud of, I will write up a detailed account of the steps I went through and make it available to you as soon as I’m finished.

Finishing – Making a Picture Book

Gator McBumpypants and Herman in the shady placeContinuing with my theme of finishing what I begin, I’ve been spending most of my time finishing the picture book I started in January. At the moment, I sit in the 24 hour waiting period of review from Create Space (Amazon) before I can get to work on my ebook. While I wait, I thought I’d give you some tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way.

1. PATIENCE– Be patient and multi-task. Unlike what the rate of celebrity picture book publications might make you think, making a picture book is hard and incredibly time consuming. You have to love your idea and see it through while you work on two, three or four other things. The pictures for my book, influenced the story, which then influenced the pictures I took. Over time my ability to photograph my story improved which made me take more illustrative pictures. If I had rushed the process, my characters wouldn’t have had time to come alive.

2. Make your book  for a child who wants it (can be you).  I think it would have taken much longer to finish, or maybe I wouldn’t have finished at all, without my niece wanting her finished copy. She gave me perceptive feedback on my pictures and shared the pictures with her younger cousin, telling the story in her own way, which was the best feedback ever (though I’m still a little confused where some of her story fit with the pictures).

3. Know your Tools – If patience and inspiration weren’t so important, I would have put this first. It is my own fault this keeps taking so long. Sometimes when I work this hard, it seems like the majority of Western Society instantly found ways to buy all of the newest technology, and left me out. It took every tool I had to make my picture book, including gifts from every loved one since 2006. But I did it, so I want to share the things that hung me up. I started being frustrated by the difference between what I saw on the screen (RGB) and what my printer printed (CMYK). I spent a lot of time trying to make my Microsoft laptop video card adjust to match the printed images, but that was awful. I have a Mac with Photoshop CS. I got everything I needed from Photoshop CS and learned what I needed from youtube videos. I have many specific pointers based on specific technical issues, but I will save them for when my book is successfully printed.

4. A Book Is Forever – I started this project with the idea that I wanted to see what the pictures of my stuffed animals exploring my world would look like. Now, I’ve made a children’s picture book and I realize I have to take responsibility for my creation. As I face the final stages of self publishing and prepare to release it into the world, I hear my nagging inner voice say Are You Ready? Are you doing your best?

Just last week my mom called saying she found a box of children’s books in my old room. I think, but don’t trust, I put them there on purpose long ago. She wanted to know if I’d mind if she give them to my niece and nephews. I loved the idea. I pictured paperbacks of the Ramona series and some Judy Blume. I remembered reading the entire series of the Rescuers mice on an airplane and Ralph the motorcycle mouse at camp. But then I also saw me reading Dickens, Jaws and A Clockwork Orange. I raided  Dad’s desk to find real books to read. I wasn’t allowed in Dad’s den, and I didn’t sleep so well. I convinced Mom to look through the box, just in case. She found Ramona books and Ralph on his Motorcycle. Talking about them made me want those books back. Maybe when the kids are done reading them, they’ll let me borrow a few. I hope my efforts bring similar joyful reading experiences as the books in that box brought me.