“The Star. . .” Newsletter 7, Sept. 2013

It’s hard to believe how time flies.  The kids are back in school…and before you know it they  will be breaking for Thanksgiving and then Christmas.

Photo of crafting materials and promotional materials to build awareness of the book
Busy, busy, busy. A tp of sugar a dash of salt. . .I mean a spritz of paint, glitter here, glitter there. . . promotions and letters, letters, letters! Whew.

I returned to Rogers Park Presbyterian Church in Chicago in July to hand out copies of the book to the children in their summer program and to provide a lesson to two groups based on the book and being a peacemaker.  It was fun!  Unfortunately, I didn’t get any good pictures.  I had set up a video cam. . . but was focused on interacting with the kids.  I did not have a wireless mike so the sound is not good.  And honestly I think I need a partner to take pictures when I am doing these events!  Any retirees out there who are good with cameras. . .and need a little something to do now and then?

While I was away at this event, my granddaughter was delivering my first great-grandchild.  A very exciting day.

In early Sept. I finally managed to send those introductory letters to churches in and around Bloomington-Normal and Champaign-Urbana.

The Star is Coming2

Along the way I got quite an education in post office rules and regulations and am beginning to work with a direct mail company!  This first mailing is a bit of a teaser with hopefully just enough info to peak interest.  I plan a second ‘post card’ type mailing to give advance notice that they will each receive a copy of the book “The Star Who Almost Wasn’t There” for the children of their church.  Once they have received the book and had time to digest the content, I will follow up with a detailed letter about the mission and fundraising/distribution opportunity we will provide for their church.

I placed a large order of books committing part of that retirement check I received to support the effort to get books to churches and create awareness.  This order will be printed on offset press.  I just got the proofs and I love the new heavier semi-gloss pages.  .  .but there is a mistake.  I think/hope it is in the printer’s setup.  If not, the order will be pushed back and that will disrupt the plans for 2013!

I did send copies of the book to a handful of famous persons also known for their faith. . .Oprah of course, Dolly Parton, First Lady Laura Bush, Michelle Dugger, Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, Tyler Perry and Kirk Cameron.  Two have come back.  And I received a gracious letter from the office of George W Bush on behalf of Mrs. Laura Bush.  It’s kind of cool to have a letter with the presidential seal.  It is not surprising that it is a policy of Mrs. Bush to not review or endorse books.  I hope the others actually make it past screeners!  Please pray that someone is moved to provide some publicity.

I have put up a new home page for www.thespiritoflight.com web site and added a page to preview the book.  I’m in the process of enabling acceptance of payments to buy the book via PayPal merchant services.  And I’ve begun work on a new site to support the Star Gift mission to get copies of the story to children everywhere.

While the book is available on B&N and Amazon, there is more profit to donate to the Star Gift Project and the start up of a community for developmentally disabled adults when it is purchased directly from me or my agents/web site and my publisher www.westbowpress.com.

The Baby Fold is interested in reviewing materials for participating on the Star Gift Project web site as a distributor of the book to children. . .but it looks like I will not be able to have a youth flash mob at the Festival of Trees because of poor acoustics.  I have chatted with the Eastland Mall Manager to see if it’s doable there and am waiting for a response.  I fear that by the time I get a decision it may be too late to organize for this year.  But at least it will put it in the realm of possibility for 2014.  I really have to start thinking about a great holiday season fundraising event for the Star Gift project. . .where I can surprise participants with a youth flash mob!  I welcome your ideas for great fundraisers.

This week I heard that a dance teacher who will be participating in the Festival of Trees may be interested in choreographing a dance based on the story!  So perhaps I’ll get some publicity there after all.

I’ve drafted two forms to support the Star Gift mission:

  • One is a permission form to use the story in a creative event for Christmas.  I am not charging for this but I need to validate that they are true to the message of the book and ask for pictures or videos of the event.   I hope many churches are interested in this.  But I think Second Pres will be the first.  Do you participate in a local church?  You might want to use my web site to bring this opportunity to the attention of the persons who plan the Christmas programs.
  • The second is a form for churches/faith-based nonprofits to register to participate in the Star Gift mission by distributing copies of the book, provided by donors, to children in their mission networks.  Donors will be able to provide the book at well under retail, the participating churches will receive half the remaining profit to support their own works, and the remaining author’s portion of profit will be donated to start the nonprofit organization for developmentally disabled adults in central Illinois.

I am starting to book appearances for the season.

  • I will have a mission display at the Presbyterian Womans dinner meeting Sept. 17th and I hope to identify some folks who are interested in contributing time. Got to prepare my display!
  • I will be doing a reading/book signing at the LeRoy Crumbaugh Museum for children on Saturday, Nov. 23rd.
  • I’m sending letters to libraries in/around Bloomington-Normal and Champaign-Urbana this week. . .and I need to be sure to have some time for any churches that decide to participate in the mission.

I’ve started working on decorations for a tree for the Festival of Trees.  I will attend a designers workshop on Oct. 12th.  I have a plan for the tree but it requires:

  1. Creating a ‘milky way’ to drape around the tree [iridescent semi-sheer fabrics. . .tons of twinkle lights with wires behind the fabric and the lights peeking through]
  2. Creating ornaments with images from the book.  Thank goodness my daughter Tiffany feels she can help with this.
  3. Creating glowing star ornaments and a bright star topper!  [Create molds for casting resin stars showing the star before his adventure and as he glows brighter and brighter. . .and then one large ornament for the topper to be extremely bright]

Will I be able to create all of this in time?  If not, I guess I’ll be looking at next year.  But the theme of the Festival of Trees this year is “My Christmas Story”. . .so how can I not try to pull it off?

I am doing a lot of clerical. . .data entry. . .organizational and crafting work.  If you would like to share some of your time to help get this started, please contact me at:  309-962-2238.

Or volunteer to reach out to your church or nonprofit organization with information!

Watch for an announcement for a Youtube Challenge!  You’ll have fun being creative and you may win $100.00.