My dog Max and I attended dog training classes in Klamath Falls, Oregon. During one of the sessions, our trainer learned the I’m an author and asked if I would write a children’s book all about his therapy pug, Xander. He explained that it would be a book that would be distributed to the 500 children who Xander visits each year.
Max and Some of the Neighbors
Xander has his own Facebook page with over 9,000 fans and hundreds of photos are in his photo collection. That is super impressive! Apparently, pugs are popular and this pug is extraordinary, so that equals a lot of fans.
I saved photos of Xander at special events, such as the annual Humane Society gala fundraiser, and I copied photos of Xander with children. I edited them into paintings, wrote the text, and completed a sample for Xander’s owners to review. If you’re wanting to write and illustrate a children’s book, this method is one way to do so.
One evening, I met Rodney, Marcia, Penny the pig and their nine pugs (all but one of the pugs is a rescue) in their comfortable, suburban home in Klamath Falls, Oregon. They reviewed the sample book and, pleased with it, invited me to write a children’s book that could be published and sold. Part of the profits will go to the work of a local non-profit organization that teaches kindness.
I said yes, of course. How could I say no? Rodney and Marcia’s dream is to put an end to bullying and violence in their county. The work that they and Xander do is part of the solution. I like their vision. It’s good and noble and possible. My heart for kids is like their own. I would also love to help children learn kindness.
Over a year ago, I began working on the book about Xander. As you can see in the photo below, he has no eyes, a characteristic that makes him an unusually special therapy dog. The book features him and the remarkable work that he does alleviating anxiety in children, showing that kindness is cool, and bringing comfort to children and adults around the Klamath Basin.
Xander (Yes, that’s a pig behind him. Her name is Penny.)
Since that evening with my new friends, their nine pugs and Penny the pig, the vision for this new project has come alive in my heart. So far, I’ve completed phase one of the text. And currently, I’m drawing freehand and painting the drawings with Prismacolor wax pencils.
Okay, so, if you’ve used Prismacolor pencils to “paint” your artwork, then you know that the process from drawing to completed artwork is laborious and not without challenges. Learning as I go, I’ve made several irreparable mistakes. But I’m like the little train climbing a precariously steep grade. Just like the Little Train that Could, my motto is, “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can. I can. I can. I can!”
Each page of Xander the Wonder Pug will have colorful illustrations that children young and old will enjoy, and simple text. If needed, I can reach out to artist friends to give me a helping hand. If I start sliding downhill, I may resort to photoshopping photos from Xander’s Facebook album. At this moment in time, however, my little engine is chugging uphill…slowly.
I think I can. I think I can. I think I can…
I need to keep the coal in the hopper so that I don’t lose momentum as I keep chugging up hill. To do this, I’m journaling the process, and will share with you personal journal entries along with some of the illustrations.
To follow along with me, visit the website you’re currently on, www.pamelakoefoed.com and look for the page, The Journey to Becoming a Children’s Book Author, Xander the Wonder Pug. It can be found on the left hand side of this website.
My next entry will be the first completed illustration. It’s of Xander and his friend Penny Pig. I’ll include with it my journey and process from the idea for the illustration to the completed artwork.
If you have encouragement, tips or ideas, send them my way. If you’re working on your own creative project, I’d love to hear about it. And if you have a few minutes, please say a prayer for this first time children’s book author and for the book that I hope will touch thousands of hearts around the world.
Xander teaches us about the power of kindness and this is the message that his owners and I hope to instill through Xander the Wonder Pug, a book for children.
Pamela Koefoed, Author