Eagerly Awaiting!

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I ordered the proof of the second edition of my first children’s book on Friday. Later, I received an email stating it will arrive on Monday, which is tomorrow. I can’t wait to hold it in my hands and leaf through its pages. There are great feelings of enjoyment and empowerment when holding your own book in your hands. When you create something, you feel more deeply for it. I’m just hoping I won’t have to redo the illustrations, but I’ve been working on sharpening my sketching skills just in case I need to.

Illustrating a children’s book can be difficult work, because you need to study the anatomy of the animal or people you intend to draw. You also need to capture each character’s expressions based on their emotions at a particular point in a story. Then you must decide how many illustrations to include in your book. You don’t want to make the book too long depending on the age range of your audience, so you are constantly counting and limiting everything in the book.

Finally, you must decide between using color illustrations or black and white illustrations. Color illustrations cost more to print, so your book price may be higher. The younger the reading audience is, the more they rely on pictures to comprehend the story, so illustrations become very important when doing this kind of book. So do I revamp all the illustrations, add more illustrations, or just leave the illustrations as they were? Seeing the proof will help me answer that question.

Below are some YouTube videos about illustrating children’s books:

This guy shows how difficult it is to illustrate a children’s book. He is quite talented!
Some people hire illustrators like this one, however, it can be very costly to hire a professional illustrator.


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For the last two days I’ve been working on revising and editing my book. It’s been difficult work, but I’m passionate about getting my new edition out soon. The editing process can be tedious and time consuming. If you’d like to have a little help with speeding up your editing process, you can use free tools like Grammarly or ProWritingAid. You can also hire an editor to do the job for you. By now you know I like to do things on my own, so I’ve finally finished editing my book. Now I have to format it.

I hope you find those links to be helpful. Oh. I just finished formating my book. I’m ordering a proof right now. I’ll publish after I’ve read the proof. So wish me luck!

Revisions and Character Development

You might have noticed I took a day off from blogging yesterday. I wanted to work on my manuscript for a few hours instead of blogging. So I located my file on an old USB and opened it. Then I proceeded to read through my story more than ever before. My eyes were like lasers doing a detailed surgery on my text. The main thing I noticed was the text needed better character development.

So I zoomed in closely on my main character’s traits. I wanted the audience to feel like they might know him or at least understand his point of view. I needed to use more adjectives, only I didn’t want to overdo it. I am not writing this book for adults, so I have to control the level of the vocabulary I’m using. I also need to control the length of the text in terms of the number of pages it will be when I’m done enhancing the characters.

Here some YouTube videos that you might find helpful if you’re developing the characters in your book:

This YouTuber shows how to create characters for childrens books.
This YouTuber shows you how to brainstorm character traits to build a strong character for your book.

So You Want to Self-Publish a Book!

My first book was self-published on Createspace years ago. As of 2019, Createspace has merged with Kindle Direct Publishing. So I’ll revisit my first manuscript today and make a decision about whether or not I want to pay for editing, formatting, and a new privately owned ISBN number. I want to take my book to the next level this time. So it’s time to take the book out of the attic so to speak, dust it off, and make it ready for resale.

For those of you out there who are considering following suit, that is you are trying to publish a book through a free source you can watch the video below for a few tips.

Here’s to happy writing! I’ll be back with updates on how far I’ve gone in the process soon. Until then keep writing!

What’s Next?

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I was on a natural high after my mother’s event, but what was I going to do next? Well, I’d self-published a book a few month’s after my father passed away, however, I’d kept the release of the book pretty secretive and low key. I was a bit afraid of the criticism I might get from people who knew me directly. So I only disclosed this venture to a few of my closest friends and family members. My mom wanted to take a truckload of the books no matter what their condition to sell at a family reunion she was attending that May. You know how mothers are. Anything that their children create is considered a masterpiece no matter what other people think of it. Well, I was able to convince her not to take the books with her. I said I don’t think my book is ready to be released to a large audience yet. I just want to do a trial run on Amazon for now.” As you can imagine my book didn’t sell well. However, I didn’t take it personally. I was just beginning to focus on an old passion I’d had since my childhood. In addition, after losing my dad I just felt like giving birth to something. I knew I wasn’t going to have another child at that age, so why not give birth to a book. I digress.

So one of the things I intend to do now is really working on my writing. I want to rerelease my first book and also publish my second children’s book this year. Writing this blog will also help me to improve my writing by actually writing almost every day. I’m also planning to build a bigger network, audience, and readership so my coming publishing endeavors will be more impactful. I want to encourage people who are beginning new chapters in their lives like me to pursue their passions. Pun intended for the use of the word chapters.

Bumps in the Road

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Well, the RSVPs were rolling in quickly and everyone seemed excited about attending my mother’s 80th birthday celebration. I was so thrilled with how the planning was going. Then things started to take a few turns for the worse. My order for the first set of favors had to be canceled due to the company stating they didn’t have any more of the favors I’d ordered in stock after I’d paid in full. The favor company then wanted me to choose a different favor altogether when I had my heart set on getting the color, design, and style of the favor I’d originally chosen. So I had to have my credit card company fight to get the money back from that company while I frantically searched the internet to find a similar favor to order from another company. Luckily the turn around time on that glitch was quick.

The next bump in the road came when my mother’s first cousin became very ill and could not travel to our town to attend the event. He was one of the key speakers listed on the programs that I’d already designed and printed. So I had to become a speaker in his place on my mother’s birthday. Little did I know that there would be more bridges to cross on the road to planning such a meaningful and deserving event for my mom.

Do you remember the dance to My Girl by the Temptations that I mentioned a few days ago? Well, that became the next problem to be dealt with. You see my vision was to have my nephews, each of my sister’s husbands, and my son to perform a dance to the song for my mother on her special day. There was a dress code agreed upon and a rehearsal schedule created to be followed by everyone. However, most of the parties involved could not find time in their schedules to meet together at my house for rehearsal each week. So a few weeks before the event only my son and myself had the dance routine remembered. In an attempt to salvage the performance and have it still be an all-male dance group I asked an old friend of the family to step in because he could come to rehearse more often. However, even he could not remember all aspects of the choreography. So I decided that my son and I would perform the dance for my mother as a duo.

Do you think I would let any of those obstacles stop me from accomplishing this goal of planning and celebrating my mother’s 80th birthday in a major way? Well, you don’t know me too well if your answer is yes. I don’t just walk around obstacles in life, I soar over them always landing on the wings of angels. One cousin from Maryland, another cousin from Philidelphia, my oldest sister and myself all spoke at the event. My son and I performed the dance we’d rehearsed, and I sang a solo to my mother, my angel, on that special day. The ambiance, the food, the favors, the video montage, the dancing, the conversation, and most importantly the memories made that day will never be forgotten by those who attended the event I am most proud of planning: My mother’s 80th birthday celebration. The memory of her smiling the entire day while dressed to the nines and being surrounded by loved ones as we all danced and celebrated her life will always be with me. She will be 81 years young this spring.

The Main Event

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I decided to throw my mother an 80th birthday celebration at an exclusive venue in the spring of 2018. It was indeed a labor of love and the icing on the cake, pun intended, was I could integrate all of my talents and creativity into planning the event. The site was available on her actual birth date, so everything was just coming together perfectly. I designed and printed the invitations on card stock paper and mailed them all way in advance to be sure each guest had an extra long time to RSVP. I ordered some of the favors in advance and created the rest on my own. The color scheme for everything was a bright pink and white. I also designed and printed the programs for the event. All of my creative juices were flowing. I secretly downloaded a music track in order to rehearse my surprise singing performance, too. My son and I rehearsed a dance to My Girl by the Temptations religiously every day. I could imagine him saying, ” I don’t know what I’ll do if I hear mom sing The Best Thing That Ever Happened by Gladys Knight one more time.”

I also created a video montage set to music to be played during her birthday celebration. The video contained pictures of my mom throughout her lifetime. It also included pictures of her with my dad who passed away some years ago, and other pictures with my siblings, the grandchildren, other family members, myself, and close friends. I spent days selecting these pictures and I spent days deciding which music would play in the background of the video. Everything had to be just perfect for my mom. Could I really pull this off? What do you think? Were there any bumps in the road?

After the Adjustment Period

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About three months into my first year of retirement I noticed I was a little too relaxed and discovered I now had time to do some really creative things in my free time. I’d always been a creative spirit: the type of person who thinks outside the box. In fact, I’d always tried to integrate all of my talents into doing my job as a teacher. I used my artistic ability to do bulletin boards, brochures for programs, and art projects with my students. I’d use my flair at sewing to make clothing for my students when it was our turn to do assembly programs. I’d use my singing ability to teach students songs to sing for assembly programs, my knack at dancing to choreograph dance steps for students, and I’d use my writing skills to write scripts for our stage presentations as well.

In addition, I’d previously used my talents to assist various family members with events. Many years ago I made my sister’s maternity clothes when she was pregnant with her first child. I even created the invitations for my sister’s wedding anniversary years later. I made photograph montage videos for my nephew’s birthday celebrations, numerous family celebration videos, a wedding photograph video as a present for my nephew and his new wife, and I’d also cut, braid, and crochet hair for family members. Oh yeah, I almost forgot, I also crocheted baby blankets on two occasions.

So as you can see, I just love to create and produce things. This innate desire to use my talents even more so since I’ve retired lead me to organize the event that I am most proud of to date. Can you guess what it was?

  1. Thank you to everyone who liked this blog post. I’ve been away from blogging for awhile. I was working on…

Year One

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During my first year of retirement, I was carefree and unstressed. I’d awaken an hour later than I had when I was working. I’d shower and make breakfast for my preteen and myself. In the past, I’d almost never have any time left to eat breakfast myself. Now I could enjoy the first meal of the day with my child and even have time to have an actual conversation during the meal. Upon retiring the added chore of making my child’s lunch in the morning was even enjoyable. I’d call out, “What would you like to have for lunch today?” I was like the waitress eagerly awaiting an order from my customer who could choose any item from a myriad of dishes listed on my menu and I was also the chef who was confident I could produce any dish upon request. Then came the ten-minute commute to my child’s school. This was a breeze!

After school drop-off, I had about six hours all to myself. There were days when I’d go back home, lounge on the sofa reading a book or I’d sit there watching a movie on Netflix knowing I’d finally be able to complete those leisurely activities. Sometimes I’d just drive 25 minutes away to another borough to meet up with my sister and window shop, chat, and have lunch afterward. Then I’d drive back, pick up my child and proceed to go home. I know you think I was living the life of Riely, right? Or was I?

  1. Thank you to everyone who liked this blog post. I’ve been away from blogging for awhile. I was working on…

So You’ve Retired! Now What?!

In the winter of 2017, I retired from teaching. Though teaching had been my passion and bread and butter for most of my adult life, I chose early retirement in order to better manage my family life and to decrease the amount of stress in my life caused by a very taxing and time-consuming job. It was the best decision I’d made in a very long time. All I could think about was how much free time I’d have. The time constraints I once had would drop like shackles from the feet of a newly freed slave and finally, my time would truly be my own. No time clock to punch in on if I were late anymore. No boss to call and say, “Sorry, but I won’t be able to come to work today because I’m feeling a bit under the weather.”, to either. My life was just beginning again, or so I thought.

  1. Thank you to everyone who liked this blog post. I’ve been away from blogging for awhile. I was working on…