Where have I been off to? I blink and months have passed by. Last September I joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), started setting up shop at local street markets, and had a few promising children’s book leads that I started putting other projects on hold for.
Holidays came and went. Autumn through Winter seems to rush right past me nowadays, jam packed with birthdays and holidays and events and places to be. My birthday happens to land on the first day of Fall every year, a month later is my brother’s birthday and then Halloween, a week later is my husband’s birthday, ten days after that is our wedding anniversary, and then a week later is Thanksgiving. A month after that is Christmas and all the parties that happen when both sides of the family are divorced and there are 4 families that have to be seen and enjoyed, not to mention friends, travel, inevitable weddings, and New Years! A month to rest and then Valentines, my mom’s birthday, more birthdays and birthdays and weddings and HEY! It’s suddenly almost April!? Am I being punked?
Click below to read on for more updates and BIG ANNOUNCEMENTS! ❤
Two weeks before Valentine’s Day, Stephen and I also found out that a larger unit in our building opened up, and after living in one of the studio apartments for the last 3.5 years with only one bathroom between us, no parking spot, no dishwasher or microwave… a one bedroom, 2 bath, garage-parking, dishwasher-having unit sounded like heaven (still no microwave, but at least we don’t have to worry about the extra radiation?). It may sound funny, but we decided that we’d still set it up like a studio apt, with the bed in the living room, so that I could take over the bedroom as the official Oh Melody Cave Illustration studio space. This way I have a dedicated place to create and work, and we’re no longer climbing over art supplies just to get to the couch or over onto the bed. It’s honestly transformed our private space into an oasis of calm.
We moved in on Valentine’s Day of all days, and since then we’ve been slowly putting things away and making the apt our own. In that, I’ve been setting up the art studio and organizing like crazy, trying to find a place for everything.
In the middle of all this, I got word that, unfortunately, the few children’s book deals I was super excited about were going to be dropped or put on indefinite hiatus. I decided not to let the bad news get to me too much, though, because I have sooo many projects of my own that I would LOVE to start in on. I took a week to really focus in on my next move, and I now get to let ya’ll know what I’ve been researching and working on like mad for the last month! Without further ado:
I’m officially starting in on the process of WRITING, illustrating, AND self-publishing my very own children’s picture book story!
Creative writing was actually a way for me to escape even before the visual landscape of art officially took hold of my imagination at the age of ten. I had hundreds of poems and stories constantly pouring out of me, and even though I decided to study art and become an artist, for all intents and purposes, as an illustrator, I’m a visual storyteller. My love for the written word and story is stronger than ever now, I’d say.
I haven’t written in a long time, although I am very familiar with literary devices used to tell a story. And, it just so happens, I’ve been studying up on writing for children extensively in the last few years while also taking the leap to illustrate my first shared effort in the land of children’s publishing with Faye Ellen Hartzell, on our book “Is There Enough?”.
So this story – MY story – has been with me for a long time, and means the world to me. Partially because it sort of IS my story, and sort of is this character Maisie’s story.
I found out I was allergic to gluten when I was 16 years old, and it’s been a major challenge in my life to find a balance of eating right and healthy (and avoiding my long list of food allergies), with feeling normal and enjoying the sweet things in life (baking has always been a beloved pastime of mine). After my diagnosis, I thought my baking days were over, and for years I didn’t bake at all. In college I discovered alternative baking flours, and suddenly the world felt right again and I started giddily baking cookies and cake and pies, with many horrible and hilarious results in those early experimentations.
I had big aspirations in life. I’ve always been creative, and even though writing and baking were outlets that let me be creative, art and image making just grabbed hold of me and has never let go. In this way, I totally GET my character Maisie, who like me, has big BIG dreams in life, and is passionate about what she loves to do. Unlike me, though, Maisie’s main focus is baking. She wants nothing more than to become a pastry chef and one day open up her own patisserie – until she finds out that she has a gluten-intolerance, specifically Celiacs Disease, and the one thing that gives her the most joy in the world… is what is making her sick.
In the book I want to explore her reaction to this life-changing news. This shakes up her entire world, you know? If she wants her dreams to stay intact at all, things need to be switched out, changed up, remixed.
I don’t want this to be a “What is Celiacs Disease? What is gluten?” book.
I want it to be a story, about a child who is faced with a dream-shattering life-event that has to do with her health, and how that reality suddenly and directly goes against her greatest aspirations in life. How does she overcome that? How does she flourish creatively while accepting the fact that everything she’s worked for, and dreamed of, has to change?
I’m busy busy busy researching the heck out of all of this, and am working on the manuscript as we speak. I’ve already spoken with a Registered Dietician / Nutritionalist who is excited to come on board and help me make sense of all of my recipes that will soon become Maisie’s. I want to include 3 recipes in the first book, and (OH! SURPRISE! I want to make this a book series – I already have the plots of the next 2 books figured out) I also want to put out a cookbook with even more recipes in the future. We’ll see I suppose, because I realize for all of that to happen, the first book has to get out there and do well!
All of this to say, also, that I just started taking an online course about self-publishing, as well – so much information and exciting new things afoot! Here’s to new opportunities, new possibilities, and always finding a way to making our dreams come true, even if it’s not quite how we pictured it would be!