Yesterday was a busy and different day than originally planned BUT we had fun and there was much laughter, and exercise. To celebrate the release of my first children's book, YOU are a Rainbow, I planned a celebration at the local farmer's market. Why a market? For a couple reasons. First, I'm there on Monday afternoons from 3 p.m. - 6 p.m. anyway, and two... why not?
The way I saw it, in addition to sharing my new book, it would also get the word out about our small town's cute market, located on State Route 104 in the heart of New Haven. One thing none of us planned on was the severe thunderstorm warnings and watches for the afternoon.
The threat of rain and high winds kept half the vendors home, and our usual flow of people. Life is about choices, so those of us at the market decided to enjoy the cool breeze and become a team to hold the tents down when the large gust came through. We kept looking for a rainbow so we could take pictures but it didn't rain hard enough, which is probably a good thing.
Since the announcement of this book, and then yesterday's release chatter on social media, there have more asking, "So what is your children's book about Lisa?" Yesterday's blog shared a little and today, I'll go a little deeper.
A Closer Look at the Process from Idea to Book...
Mary and I spent time taking photographs of different flowers fitting in the ROYGBIV color pattern. While enjoying walks, driving around, and spending time together...we looked for just the right color and flower for each page.
We took nearly 80 photographs, of different flowers, with different angles and lighting. Once home, I downloaded the pictures so we could view them on a larger screen. Some had us return to the same flower for a different angle or different lighting to capture what I saw in my head. Mags helped me narrow it down to two of each color and then I selected the flower of choice for each page.
This collage of the photographs, taken by Mary Buske, represent the main photos I used as a visual aid to sketch and paint each flower used in the book. Thanks Mags.
I emailed the photographs to my Kindle Fire so I could work on the sketches during my breaks, while sitting at my parents, or wherever I might be. A benefit of bringing them with me via the Kindle Fire, was the ability to re-size the photo for a closer look.
With the sketches complete, it was time to start painting. This process required more time than I thought. I have a new appreciation for painting and the artists that create them using water colors. I never thought it would be easy but I hadn't expected the necessary time and variety of strokes and techniques. I learned so much.
Supplies: The trip to the store proved to be interesting because I've only seen water colors in the tray we use in the elementary school. It was amazing to see the tubes of water color. I picked up the starter kit, water color paint brushes, a basic $.99 paint tray, and a pad of water color paper. I returned home apprehensive yet excited.
I laughed a lot in the beginning. Laughter is a nervous reaction of mine. I wanted the flowers to be just right and I had an image in my head and prayed to transfer it to the paper.
With the completed flower, it was time to prepare the rainbow back drops. Each page is a rainbow, different on each page - just like each child is an individual and unique. Once the watercolor was dry, I cut around the flower to remove the white background. Some of this required using an artist's exacto knife (not sure of the official name of this tool) to get between the petals. The cut flower was then glued on top of the coordinating page.
For instance, the red flower went on the paper with the thickest line in the rainbow being red.
An underlying lesson in the book, each page is organized to match the color scheme of the rainbow: R - red, A - orange, I - yellow, N - Green, B - Blue, O - Indigo, and W - violet.
I allowed time for the glue to try before going to the next step.
With the page graphics ready, it was time to add the words. I spent too many hours to count for the research for this part of the book. My initial lists for each letter had many words, as I thought of them, I wrote them down. I carried my notepad for this book with me wherever I went, just in case. In addition to the words brainstormed, I looked up characteristics I saw in the kiddos in my class, that didn't start with R, A, I, N, B, O, or W, in my handy thesaurus.
For some of the letters, the list of words was overwhelming where others lacked the oomph I was looking for. More time in the research and word play. In order to narrow down the word lists to a reasonable and fair number of adjectives per page, I looked up each word on my lists and hand wrote the definitions.
With definitions in hand, I read and reread them, eliminating words that didn't work and highlighting the ones that I new MUST be included. Then the tough calls needed to be made. How many words? Could one have more than the other or should they be the same? I decided each should have the same number of words, but how many words? Yikes, more decisions to be made.
The way I determined how many words tied into the research I'm doing for the sequel to Where's Heidi? One Sister's Journey. While reading and praying, a common number came to mind so I decided this would be the number of words in the book and on each page for my first children's book. A quiet and soft reminder to forgive without listing "forgiveness" as an attribute, since there are no /f/'s in the word, rainbow. Matthew writes, "Then Peter came and said to Him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and forgive him? Up to seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven." in Chapter eighteen, verses twenty-one and twenty-two. While there aren't hundreds of words, there is an aspect of seven.
With the painting, cutting, research, and writing complete, it was time to scan and upload each into my computer. Once scanned, I used my computer to add the "You are..." to each page.
One of my favorite things with each page is the 3-D effect the flowers have on the page. I purposely didn't tape my watercolor papers so they would lift, I hoped the dimension would maintain its integrity when scanned, it did! From /R/ to /W/, the colors order of the rainbow is modeled and positive characteristics are displayed.
A rainbow complete and ready to shine and inspire others...especially the kiddos.
My hope was for the kids to finish listening to this story and see the rainbow with his or herself. One way I planned to make this notion a reality was by painting and creating a page for you to paste/tape a photo of your kiddo in the circle and have him or her read, "I am a rainbow".
After they've heard you read the story to them, when they start to read it to themselves or their younger relatives and friends, they will be speaking these positive truths into their hearts and mind. I pray it helps them to be the child God designed and created them to be.
As I waited for the proof book to arrive and reread my notes and the draft ideas came to mind of how this book could be used in different ways within the elementary classroom and even into the middle and high school settings. By the time my first proof arrived, I had the "Ways to use This Book" page finished and added it to the book and submitted the revision to the publisher. I like this addition and its one reason a teacher order multiple copies to gift to her fellow teachers. I'm in the process of putting together an actual "Additional Resources" guide to go along with this book - copy ready activities. This should be available next month.
Release and read...
The first child to the market today, Kaleb, made my afternoon. He and his mom, Tiffiny, encouraged me more than they might realize. It brought such joy to read some of the book to him, picking a few of the positive attributes from the book I see in him. The cherry on top of this great moment, his mom captured it with her camera and shared them with me on Facebook.
Has this filled in some of the blanks and mystery about YOU are a Rainbow? I hope so. May this book encourage our future...the kids.