Libbie the Lobster

To purchase the children's book "Saving Libbie the Lobster" go to www.LibbietheLobster.com


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So How Do You Write a Children’s Book Anyway

When Heather Chalmers and I decided it would be fun to write a children’s book about our adventure of saving Libbie, the rare yellow lobster, from our local supermarket, we had very little idea what the job would entail. We were still speeding along on the roller coaster which had lifted us into the air in a very short time. The dizzying heights were clouding our minds with grandiose ideas of writing a book that would become famous because of the enormous amount of press that had already been done about the story. But in our hearts, we cared little for becoming rich or famous. We wanted to make kids happy by reading a book of our amazing journey with Libbie the Lobster. unnamed (3)

Because Heather is a former first grade teacher, she  had a myriad of supplies to begin our project and a plethora of children’s books from which to define a plan of action. And so we set forth with excited determination to write the true tale of our beautiful yellow lobster, named Libbie.

Heather and I were not new to the writing world. Heather has written poetry and I had begun work on a novel a year prior. However we were new to each other, having only met briefly twice before we joined forces to rescue Libbie. Therefore brainstorming about our book was often interrupted with intermittent getting-to-know-you sessions. We liked each other instantly and became fast friends. If anyone had been listening in on our conversations in those first few days of planning our book, they would have heard much laughter interspersed with quite serious discussions about our lives. Overall there was a sense of having met by design for a greater purpose.

Looking back, I recall that there were moments when we doubted we could actually produce a children’s book we could be proud of but we forged ahead, encouraging each other when doubt crept in. Neither one of us could have imagined the incredible children’s book we were going to produce. And it all began in what now seems a flurry of activity to find our way.

That first day, we had decided to meet early in the morning and keep going until we thought we had made a good beginning. Heather had stacks of children’s books for us to go through for ideas. We soon realized we had many questions: How long should our book be? What age group are we writing for? Do we want words and pictures on every page or pictures on one and words to follow? Should the pictures run across the center of the book or be different on each side? What is the moral of the story? Do we want the words to rhyme? What type of illustrations and colors? And who will we get to illustrate our book, anyway? How much will all this cost????

It was a daunting task but we had the experience of working tirelessly to rescue Libbie and get her to a new home, so we pushed on. At times we were tackling several things at once, seemingly haphazardly but within a few days, we began to see results. Within one week, we had an illustrator and a publisher and our story boards were laid out around a large table to tell our story. We were learning the process of creating and producing a children’s book at lightening speed.

We solicited help from our author friends and began making several difficult decisions, i.e. self publishing vs. indie publishing, cover designer, web design, graphic design, contracts (between Heather and myself too), hard cover vs. soft cover, size of the book, printer, bios, and photographer. We were making important decisions together and we were only two weeks into our project.

All the while, Heather and I were working hard and having fun. We were motivated by the desire to “strike while the iron was hot!” People were talking about Libbie the Lobster everywhere and we were building quite a following. My fondest memory of those first two weeks was of Heather and I standing around the table writing the words to our story. Because I have been far removed from children in my later years, Heather had to remind me that the words I suggested would not be understood by little ones. The wonderful rhymes in our story were entirely Heather’s doing. She later told me that she read Dr. Seuss books before going to sleep. She would awake in the morning with rhymes for our book. I loved the rhymes and laughed heartily when we added them. (I am laughing as I writing this.) photo (6)

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The entire process was not without its difficulties. We did not always agree but our respect for each other deepened and our friendship grew even stronger. Looking back on it now, I can only speak to the incredible joy we both felt when we finally received our book from the printer a mere four months after I first laid eyes on that special, rare yellow lobster in Publix Supermarket. We were both so very proud of the children’s book we had created together. And the best part is that children love our book!!!

Feel free to comment and ask questions. And thanks again for reading.

http://www.libbiethelobster.com/

https://www.facebook.com/LibbieTheLobster

https://twitter.com/MJeitner

 

 

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Why Write?

I stood behind an eight year old girl at our first book signing event as she read our book, Saving Libbie the Lobster, to her friend. As I heard her gentle voice read the pages and saw her look lovingly at the illustrations, my eyes filled with tears. I had only heard myself and Heather Chalmers, my co-author read it aloud. My whole being became sure that the book we have created would be enjoyed by the very people for whom it was written–children.

Time stood still in that moment. I no longer heard the band, the lights seem to dim and I no longer heard the crowd around me. With my hands on my young friend Blue’s shoulders, I felt a childlike joy that has stayed with me since. Her little friend looked up at me with wide-eyed wonder and said pointing to the illustration of me with my dreadlocks, “Is that you?” I smiled and nodded. I knew in those precious moments that I was meant to write this children’s book.  861b203dcb17081df49ba1f2675719c0

I had been writing a literary fiction for over a year and was not far from completion of the first draft, when I found Libbie the rare yellow lobster in the supermarket that began the incredible journey of co-authoring a children’s book. Never had I imagined writing a children’s book. My novel is dark. It is the story of a young woman who suffers from mental illness and addiction. After several stays in a psychiatric hospital for attempted suicide she marries and has a child only to leave her husband and son in search of meaning and purpose. She finds herself even deeper into a dark, drug addicted world from which she barely escapes with any semblance of sanity. So how did this happen that I have co-authored a children’s book that is bright and happy and fun? What a dichotomy!

Perhaps my own incessant search for meaning and purpose is culminating in the incorporation of these two extremes of writing–one for children and the other releasing the dark side of myself which craves to be heard.

I wonder, do most writers experience themselves through their writing as I am doing?

Comments are welcome. What do you think? Why do you write?

And thank you for reading.

 

https://www.facebook.com/LibbieTheLobster

http://www.libbiethelobster.com/

https://twitter.com/MJeitner

 

 


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Achieving Co-author Balance

We saved a rare yellow lobster from a local supermarket and within a week decided to write a children’s book about the adventure. We barely knew each other, Heather Chalmers and me, having met only briefly a couple of times at functions for writers. Two very different people, 070_pp we came together because we have compassion for all living things which led to the liberation of Libbie the lobster. Leaping into a co-authorship of a children’s book was exciting but even more, it was a process of achieving a balance whereby we could work together efficiently and effectively to create a work of art.

Achieving that balance was not always easy. Now that our book has gone to print, I look back over the last couple of months in amazement at how well we blended each other’s strengths and overcame our weaknesses. Moving beyond the difficulties that arose served to strengthened our resolve to produce a book we could both be proud of.

In my practice as a psychotherapist, I facilitated many groups. My education had prepared me for the common stages through which groups evolve. They are as follows: and roles

  1. Forming
  2. Storming
  3. Performing
  4. Adjourning

 

I have considered that even two individuals coming together for a common purpose often develop through these stages as well. Heather and I certainly did. This is how I see the process:

In the beginning, Heather and I would often be distracted from brainstorming ideas for you book and have “getting to know you” conversations (Forming Stage). We found that we have many things in common. We both love writing, reading, children, nature, beach living, spirituality, healthy living, and having fun. We laughed often at our differences too.

As our book began to take shape, important decisions needed to be made. As is the case in groups, where people begin to vie for position and take on roles, i.e. leader, rescuer, agitator, distractor, etc., we began to disagree (Storming Stage). We each dug our heels in about a couple of things and stood ready to fight albeit Heather in her quiet way while I was not so quiet. Many people and groups give up at this stage, but Heather and I made it through and the experience made us better.

We entered into a working relationship whereby we communicated freely and openly (Performing Stage). Each of us seemed to naturally gravitate to things we each were best at doing. Heather coordinated the people involved in the production of our book and I got the word out though social media marketing. We were both learning tremendous skills for future writing projects.

Whether it is a group or two individuals who have found a way to perform effectively, when the relationships end, there is a sense of sadness and loss (Adjourning Stage). For now however, Heather and I are a long way from adjourning. We are brainstorming ideas for our second children’s book! We have achieved a balance in our working relationship (our labor of love) and have become great friends meanwhile.

I would love to hear your thoughts about what I have written here. And thanks for reading!

https://www.facebook.com/LibbieTheLobster

https://www.facebook.com/LibbieTheLobster

https://twitter.com/MJeitner