Tiny has been a mischievous dog since the day we brought him home. A little while after Ramzie (our large pit bull-mastiff mix) passed away, we took Chloe to a pet store to get some new gear. The pet store happened to have a pet adoption day sponsored by a local pit pull rescue agency. There were two large pens staffed by volunteers. One had several dogs laying about, and the second had one dog frantically trying to escape.
I still remember the day we brought home Chloe, our little princess. About 14 years ago, my wife and I were both working in the office. She texted me a picture out of the blue of a sad looking dog cuddled up against her in her office cube. The text that followed was about how a coworker brought the pup, a nine-month-old mixed pit bull named April, to the office. The story was that the coworker’s neighbor didn’t want the dog anymore because they just had kids and didn’t want a dog in the house. I don’t remember my exact response back (via text), but I think it was along the lines of, “so you’re bringing her home?”
I recently received the 8th completed art page, marking the halfway point of the story. I’ll share one of my favorite pages at the end of the post, but first I’ll continue describing my journey to this point.
During the hunt for literary agents described in Part 1 of this blog, I tried to implement Plan B for the artwork – do the artwork myself. While I freely admit to having no artistic ability, I do have some basic graphic design and photo manipulation skills. Could I take existing photos, apply some artistic filters, and manipulate those images to serve as my artwork? As we’ve taken thousands of photos of the kids and pups over the years, I had a lot of material to choose from.
Over the last two years, I’ve written nine complete Princess and Goose stories and I have a list of half a dozen more story ideas. I’ve had a lot of time to think about the characters, stories, and settings while I’ve gone through my publishing journey (which still isn’t over, but I’m getting close).
Recently, I set out to formalize the world in which these stories take place. I started by writing down some of the areas mentioned in the stories: the spooky Tasman Forest with the old trees where we’ll meet Sir Logan in book two; the Valley of the Dinosaurs from book three; Port Gilbert from book six; William Forest, which is the setting for many of the stories close to home; and of course, Crystal City. I even snuck in a volcano to mark where the dragons come from, shown on page two of the first book.
This was an exciting week – I received my first completed page of The Adventures of Princess and Goose Book 1: Chase Away the Dragons. I’ll share the publishing journey so far before sharing the final page and the artistic process that led up to the page.
I started to focus on writing a full story in October 2019. I didn’t have any experience writing a children’s book. I had a few general ideas of what I wanted to write about, only I didn’t have the whole idea worked out. My writing method was pretty simple – as my son (three years old at the time) napped on me, I would use speech to text on my phone to jot down some ideas and a basic script.
Self-publishing a book isn’t easy. I think writing the book was the easy part. Once my book is done, I’ll have a post or two about my publishing journey. For now, I’ll just share some local advertising – my first attempt to get my book some attention. The Facebook page started with zero followers. I don’t even have a personal Facebook account myself. It started with my wife creating the page and sharing articles I write for my website’s blog. From there, without a book to sell yet, I need to somehow draw people to my page and build excitement for the book.
It’s a theme you’ll see frequently in the series – Princess and Goose snuggling with Queen Isabella and Sir Logan. But do Chloe and Tiny, the inspiration for Princess and Goose, really love to snuggle? I think it’s fair to say that the only thing they love more than snuggling is eating treats. Although our dogs are large (by most peoples’ point of view) at 60 lbs. each, they don’t think twice about laying on you and demanding tummy rubs.
Queen Isabella and the real-life Isabella: both are brave, kind, and smart. I already used the nickname Princess in the story, so Isabella became a Queen.
I did my best to channel Isabella as I put these stories together and add more personal touches for the characters. She had a role in defining the basic look of her character, including the necklace, crown, and armor skirt, but it took Tony to bring these ideas to life through the character designs, page layouts, and final artwork in the stories. Isabella had final approval on the designs so we could make sure she was happy with the complete series.
The Adventures of Princess and Goose is a fun new children’s fantasy series that chronicles the exploits of a band of friends from the beautiful Crystal City.
In this first story, Chase Away the Dragons, readers meet the young hero, Queen Isabella, as she joins with two brave adventure-seeking dogs, Princess and Goose, to stop an invading dragon army. These heroes join forces for the first time, devise a plan to overcome the dragons, and put their plan into motion.