This Is All for You, Sweetie. This Is All For You.

For the past several weeks, I have been reading and thinking about what is called “personal branding.” It’s sort of how you present yourself to the world.

I had been playing around with some of the free tools on Canva.com and came across this series of videos on “Personal Branding with Dr. Talaya Waller” in what they call their Design School. Each video is short and gives good information. At the end, there is an additional explanation of how you can use the Canva.com tools to apply what you have learned, BUT you don’t have to pay anything for most of the Canva.com tools.

I began to realize this was what Gracie had been trying to tell me months and months ago when I was figuring out how to draw friendship. We were discussing some of my recent drawings of her and Bessie.

“Well, I guess they are okay. If that’s what you’re going for. I like it better when you draw on paper with a pencil.”

“What’s the difference?”

“You’ve got everything in there and it doesn’t fit together. Too many big colors. Too many little shapes. Too many of everything! People aren’t going to be able to find us.”

“You’re sure? I took art classes, a lot of art classes.”

Gracie shook her head sadly. My drawings just weren’t going to receive her approval. But I did trust what she had to say. I wanted her to be pleased with my drawings, even if no one else was. These were drawings of her and for her.

“So what do you suggest?” I asked.

“Well, the colors are the main thing. You’re picking colors you like, not colors we like.”

“I see. So what colors do you like?”

“Colors that go with our feathers. Colors that go with our eggs. Soft colors. Hen colors, not rooster colors.”

“I think I see what you mean.”

So that’s what I’ve been thinking about lately. Gracie is a very smart girl, particularly when it came to her advice about color. I’ve begun to think about how color can carry emotion, and part of building a personal brand has to do with emotional value as well.

This morning it began to make more sense to me when I took everyone’s breakfast salad out to them. There was some really nice organic Swiss Chard at the grocery store yesterday and they got a whole bunch of it all chopped up just the way they like it.

Everyone is always eager to see what’s in their breakfast salad, but Pearl is the most eager of all. She is the only one who jumps and kicks out her feet in midair when she is excited. I could not help but say to her, “This is all for you, Sweetie. This is all for you.”

So I went inside and pieced together today’s illustration from different things I have been trying out for backgrounds, drawings of chickens, fonts, and of course, a color palette. All of this is because I am beginning to think more and more of my stories and illustrations as being less about my chickens but for my chickens.

My hope is by doing that, I will also make it for our readers.

There is always room for one more under the shade of the camellias in our little backyard garden. It’s friendly and peaceful here. Chickens and people like friendly and peaceful. – Gracie

Just wanted to let everyone know that I spotted two errors in the eBook text for “How To Explain Christmas to Chickens.” The first was a stray capital “I” on the dedication page. How it got there, I’ll never know! The other was a really weird and awkward sentence in the epilogue.

So I got both of those corrected and uploaded a new interior file for both the Amazon eBook and the Barnes & Noble eBook. While I was at it, I also changed the cover to better match the one for the paperback book. It now has a “softer, fluffier, more chicken-y” chicken on the cover! If you have purchased either of these, they can be reloaded through Kindle or Nook.

We are still anxiously waiting for the paperback proofs from Amazon and Barnes & Noble before making those available. In the meantime, I suppose we should spend more time working on our “personal branding”!

Now Available: The Most Long-Anticipated Pair Of Chicken Novels Of The Century! Perhaps Of All Time!

More people than a chicken can count have been clamoring for a really good chicken novel. It’s likely you’ve heard someone wondering aloud in a dejected sort of way, “Will I ever find a good old-fashioned, feel-good novel about a chicken?” Well, the waiting is over!

These novels contain the same story, just with different titles and different covers. The text is the same with only a few differences in the preface, introduction, and epilogue which reference illustrations. Pick the one that suits you best! (And save the author the difficult decision of choosing just one audience and genre!)

You might want to think of “The Bottle Cap Lady” as children’s fiction pretending to be adult fiction. It is the unillustrated version of the story and placed in Adult Literature. In the same way, you might want to consider “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens” as adult fiction disguised as children’s fiction. It is the illustrated version and placed in Children’s Literature.

Both books tell what happened one Christmas when the world of The Bottle Cap Lady intersected the world of a little white hen named Pearl who has always had a “heaping helping” of curiosity.

The Bottle Cap Lady has served up more Deluxe Chicken Dinners than anyone else at The Chicken Place restaurant. Pearl does not want to become a Deluxe Chicken Dinner, but she hopes The Bottle Cap Lady can explain Christmas to her. Even though The Bottle Cap Lady is strange and often dangerously unpredictable, she has more Christmas lights and decorations than anyone, so surely she must know more about Christmas than anyone. Right?

There is a Christmas gift that only Pearl can give to The Bottle Cap Lady, but will she dare…even if it means giving up her own Christmas wish…and perhaps even her life?

Amazon eBooks

“The Bottle Cap Lady” is now available as an eBook novel for $2.99 through Amazon! Go there for “The Bottle Cap Lady” eBook!

“How To Explain Christmas To Chickens” is now available as an eBook novel with 10 full-color illustrations for $2.99 through Amazon! Go there for “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens” eBook!

Barnes & Noble eBooks

“The Bottle Cap Lady” is now available as an eBook novel for $2.99 through Barnes & Noble! Go there for “The Bottle Cap Lady” eBook!

“How To Explain Christmas To Chickens” is now available as an eBook novel with 10 full-color illustrations for $2.99 through Barnes & Noble! Go there for “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens” eBook!

Special Note: Both novels will be available as paperbacks once the printed proofs have been reviewed and approved!

Super Special Note: With the current global health and economic crisis, even just a few dollars could be a huge amount for some of our readers. We will be releasing a FREE limited-time-only read-on-line version of “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens” (the version with illustrations) soon!

Two Titles, One (Hopefully) Unforgettable Story

Special Note: Since this post was first published, several changes have been made to both covers. Nothing that was too drastically different though!

Are my stories adult fiction disguised as children’s fiction or children’s fiction pretending to be adult fiction? On which shelf do they belong? These questions have perplexed me for some time. Adult fiction? Children’s fiction?

Neither of those labels accurately fit my latest book. After all, books with strong characters are like strong people. They don’t like to be labeled and put on a shelf. And both The Bottle Cap Lady and Pearl are strong characters.

The original planned title for my next book had always been “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens.” That is the title of the original two-part story about Pearl and The Bottle Cap Lady from which the novel was developed.

But I have had second thoughts about the title. It worked well with the illustrations I had planned, but accompanied by illustrations, particularly my preferred cover illustration, it also gave the impression of being strictly a children’s book.

So I began considering “The Bottle Cap Lady” as a title because she is a main character. Though not in every chapter, she is as important to the story as Pearl. In fact, the ending could not have happened as it did without The Bottle Cap Lady.

Fortunately, as a self-publishing author, I realized (after Gracie’s gentle reminder) I am able to publish two books instead of one.

“How To Explain Christmas To Chickens” will be modestly illustrated and placed in Children’s Literature. (“Modestly” means each major book part will have an illustration rather than each chapter.)

“The Bottle Cap Lady” will not be illustrated and will be placed in Adult Literature.

They will have different titles, different covers, but the same story text. The only difference where text is concerned will be in the preface, introduction and epilogue. In these sections of “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens,” the illustrations are referenced and so these parts must be slightly different. (Yes, there will be things hidden in the illustrations!) The story itself will be the same.

One of the things I like about having different titles and covers is how it forced me to think differently about what I was writing. It’s not just a story about a clever little white hen. This is a story about how we think and feel, how we find value and purpose in life. Even though Pearl and The Bottle Cap Lady might be “natural enemies” because The Bottle Cap Lady has served up more Deluxe Chicken Dinners than anyone, they are more alike than what either of them realizes. They are both outcasts and looking for something “out there” when all they need can be found in their own hearts.

The unanimous vote by my own chickens went to “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens” because it has “chickens” in the title and they can only read the pictures. They have not noticed the cover of “The Bottle Cap Lady” has a waitress is carrying a tray with a fried chicken leg. When they do spot it…well, that is another one of those awkward discussions which I have been avoiding. It will be particularly important for them to understand that a Deluxe Chicken Dinner is not for chickens or a really fancy dinner given to chickens, you know?

But when it comes to book preferences, people are not chickens.

It is possible that a good number of readers would prefer one version over the other, and that preference may not necessarily match the shelf labeled for their age group.

Whoever decided that adult fiction is just for adults and children’s fiction is for children was certainly not a chicken!

I hope to have my final proofreading done within the next few days after completing the “read-aloud-to-chickens” test. (Gracie seemed quite delighted with what I shared with them yesterday evening.) Then both will be available through Barnes & Noble and hopefully Amazon as well as eBooks.

Once I have received proof copies of the paperback books, then those will be available as well. (Because of the global health crisis, the printing process will likely take longer than usual. So it may take a bit longer for those to be available.) It’s very important to me that the colors be right for the cover and the printing clear on the interior illustrations. I just don’t want to offer a book for sale that I wouldn’t consider buying myself.