Backstory 5: “The Star . . .” – Lifted by Spirit

Hi Friend!  You came back again.  I’m so happy to have you visit.  Let’s see, where were we:

The walls were closing in.

One day I would feel the walls closing in, another day I would feel I was nearing completion of this book. I t was becoming quite a roller coaster ride, this process of creating illustrations that needed to come together in a cohesive whole to engage young children, children who might not even be reading alone yet. Each time the walls moved in they left a little less room to breathe.

I was working with a contact from the publisher who was charged with helping me to meet all of their requirements and gathering the page content. Along the way I learned that I would not be able to get any professional artistic input until I had the whole package for my contact to submit to the Art staff.  From the perspective of the creator, I wanted to get some input as I worked.  But I understand that as a publisher they have to know they have a viable product before they commit resources.

I was on my own!

Continue reading Backstory 5: “The Star . . .” – Lifted by Spirit

Backstory 4: “The Star Who . . .” – Up, and Down, and the Walls Close In

Good to see you again.

Now just how did the timeline for “The Star Who Almost Wasn’t There” change from post retirement to “NOW!”? Brace yourself! This is a long blog.

One month after my initial conversation with the publisher, I received another call. I had been playing with sketches and ideas . .  .but I didn’t really have a plan or anything that would guide me into turning a short manuscript into an enticing visual experience for children.

The voice on the phone said “How is that book coming?” I was more than a little surprised because I had not made any agreement to publish.So we chatted about where I was with it and the voice said: “How long do you think it will take you to finish the lllustrations?I’m pretty sure I actually pulled back from the phone. I know I said I had no idea how long it would take. And the voice told me: “It would be wonderful to have this book ready for the Christmas season.”

Backstory 3: “The Star . . .” – Another gift!

Hi Again.  Welcome back.  I’m beginning to feel like you are a friend.

By now you know how I got started on this particular mission . . . this project . . . this story “The Star Who Almost Wasn’t There.” And you know that I was not ready to attack creating a publishable book quite yet; not until I retire.

But, stuck at home with little I could do, I started making preliminary sketches and trying out some sample illustrations. You know, creating art is much like  designing systems or applications . . . the design process is the same . . . there are a lot of trade-offs to consider and sometimes you have to do a proof of concept. You can think of the sketches and trial illustrations as proof of concept. . .some would be retained and refined. . .some, many in fact, would get tossed.

Along the way I had an idea to make my grandchildren a part of the book.  Since the hero is a little star, I would need to create a lot of sky scenes . . . the background for his trials and his great joy. Being a former Art Educator, I knew I wanted the skies to be different from one another. The sky is always changing and you can visualize it any way you like. That’s part of the fun of creating art.

Backstory 2: “The Star . . . ” – 47 years! Why now?

Welcome back!  You may be wondering, if I wrote “The Star Who Almost Wasn’t There” in 1965, why is it being published now, 47 years later?

Back in February, I had my second rotator cuff surgery. If not for that, I doubt I would be sharing this blog with you now.

I was not allowed to work while I recovered at least for the first couple of months. That gave me time to think about my retirement goals, personal missions really, and how I might be able to fund them. These are no longer just casual thoughts because retirement is almost a reality!

OK, let’s back up a minute. For several years I’ve been thinking about what I will do when I retire. Initially I was thinking that I might have to augment my pension. But in more recent years, I’ve thought that I need to give back for all the blessings I’ve received.In the last couple of years, I’ve felt an increasing urge to help create some not-for-profit organizations to fund services for special needs adults and would be college students struggling with funding. More on those later. I also have felt a strong personal need to provide some help to my 15 grandchildren to achieve their higher education goals. Yes, I said 15 grandchildren. These are indeed urges. I feel pushed. But that too is another blog.Sitting in my big recliner, swollen arm in a sling, ice bag on my shoulder, I considered what would be the thing I might be able to do, the thing I should focus on first, something that would provide income that might support the start of these other missions.

Backstory 1: “The Star . . .” – 47 years ago

Welcome Readers! This is the beginning of the back story of “The Star Who Almost Wasn’t There.”

In 1965 I was a college student at Illinois State University. My oldest brother and his wife were expecting a child . . . my first niece or nephew. Well, actually my sister-in-law had had two miscarriages. Each pregnancy went a little further. And this baby had made it to six months. A good sign.

Stacey Ruth was born, weighing in at a whopping 3 pounds and I believe 2.5 months premature. That may not seem so dramatic today, but in 1965, as I recall, Stacey was given a 50/50 chance of survival. But survive she did and today she is the mother of three.

It was an exciting but stressful time. Stacey was released from the hospital and brought home after 6 weeks, when she weighed 5 pounds. She looked like a perfect little doll.

That was in the fall. I was thrilled to be an Aunt and I wanted to give Stacey something special for her first Christmas. I guess it’s a good thing that I was a college student with virtually no income. Because as I thought about what I could give to her, it occurred to me that I had been given a gift of art that I could use to create something special. That is how it works. At some point, I decided to write an illustrated children’s story for her.

One decision! Now I had to come up with an idea for a special story.

I don’t know how the idea formed, but once it did, the storybegan to unfold rather magically. The words flowed easily . . . most of the time . . . and in rhyme; a fun reading experience for a child. And as the words came. . .new ideas formed and the story evolved.

I hate to put my name on it because I feel that this story was spiritually inspired and guided. You’ll learn more about that later.

“The Star Who Almost Wasn’t There” is the story of a little star, who could not glow. And that affected his life . . . but not his attitude.

Here is a small clip:

“Each other star has a child somewhere,
A child to love, for whom to care,
A child to make wishes by evening starlight,
A child to be watched over late at night.”

Of course I can’t reveal the entire story, but if you continue to visit my blog, you’ll learn more about the journey from 1965 until 2012 . . . when this story is being published. I’ll tell you about the plans for this book, how it will continue to evolve with new versions, and how it will hopefully help fund some missions.

Thank you for visiting. Please come again. . .meet the hero of this story. . .and learn more of the back story.