This is definitely more of an uplift than an update. First, news from the team in brief...
I wanted to tell you all how incredible everyone working on this project has been.
Lisa has been creative, energetic, influential, honest, inspirational, funny, generous, warm hearted - all while learning skills in a whole new industry AND dealing with chemo and stage four cancer. Oh, and did I mention raising two young kids? Hats off to a wonderful woman. I really hope she manages to get another book in the offing while she's with us. There's always room on the shelves for writers with heart.
Catalina Echverri and Tim Budgen have been the most incredible illustrators. They've worked like troopers to meet an insane deadline, and are set to finish early in huge style. Their work speaks for itself, but what we never see in a finished book is what went on behind the scenes. Cata and Tim have been receptive to direction, changes and evolving ideas - all the while finding the spirit and energy to bring their own wonderful ideas to their work. #OnlyOneOfMe has been a challenging project emotionally and physically. This pair have risked exposing any (perceived!) weaknesses in a very public way. I hope they both feel strengthened by the incredible things they now know they're capable of. They're the nicest human beings. I will be forever grateful to them and I can't wait to work with them again in the future - hopefully at a more relaxed pace!
James Catchpole is a legend. But I suspect most of you already knew that. If you're a talented new author, please don't submit your work to him? I really do want him all to myself.
Peter Gill an Graffeg: Your support has been incredible from the off. Thank you for seeing the potential in Lisa's book and for making it become a reality. You and your team are doing an incredible job and making the most beautiful book.
Thanks to Emily Lamm at Orchard Books for her editorial guidance on the logic and flow of the text. Thanks also to Dee, Maria and Tanya at Walker for additional support, meeting space and crisps! We love you.
Thanks to the team at WHY We Hear You for advising and guiding us along the way.
And finally, thanks to every one of you who has shared, donated, auctioned art and cheered us all along. We're almost there! News on how, when and where you can buy the book will follow soon.
Happy Monday, all! Thanks so much for your continued support, it means so much. Here's what's in store for - and from - the #OnlyOneOfMe team this week...
Hi folks - here's a brief(ish!) rundown on what's been happening over the past few days with the #OnlyOneOfMe team...
WATCH THIS SPACE FOR DETAILS OF WHEN, HOW AND WHERE YOU CAN BUY A COPY OF #OnlyOneOfMe!
Thanks to Tracy Hager for suggesting making pre-orders a possibility - we'll look into it. The entire project is being run by a very small team of volunteers, all with full time jobs, clients and deadlines to satisfy on top of making this book - which is a full time job in itself!
Fear not! It's all running smoothly and on time. Now we've hit our fundraising target we're focussed fully on creating the very best book in Lisa's name.
I'll be sharing insights and the occasional sneaky peek of art from Catalina Echeverri and Tim Budgen as we go along. Please carry on cheering our fantastic artists along on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. It's a mammoth task but they're more than equal to it.
♡THANKS AGAIN FOR YOUR SUPPORT! ♡
Good morning, friends of #OnlyOneOfMe - or should I say...
...while Catalina is making a dummy book and planning very rough thumbnails before creating a finished, beautiful sample. Panic not! The final book will not contain a single blob person!
What a wonderful whirlwind #OnlyOneOfMe is turning out to be! Yesterday (Tuesday 7 August) was a day for starting balls rolling. A lot of balls. BIG balls. All rolling at the same time.
Thank heaven for Jane and Roger, my mum and dad, who spent the last two days at my house looking after my kids while I’ve been practically chained to my laptop and mobile co-ordinating the project. It’s been intense but it’s all coming together – hooray!
First thing on Tuesday we had a three-way Skype call to introduce our illustrators to one another and to Lisa.
Lisa and her gorgeous girls, Ava-Lily and Saffia came round to my house (she lives a couple of streets away from me in Frome, Somerset). Meanwhile, Tim joined us from his holiday in Italy (sorry, Tim!) and Catalina managed to find someone to look after her own eighteen month old daughter so she could squeeze in our chat before attacking two looming deadlines.
Before Lisa joined us we discussed a lot of the technicalities: the pros and cons of human over animal characters, layout considerations (when and if to use double page spreads or whether single pages and vignettes would be better suited), use of white space, typefaces or hand lettering – the list goes on.
Each and every pen stroke in a picture book represents a thousand decisions, deliberations and choices. For #OnlyOneOfMe, we have to make as many of those choices up front in very little time with the confidence to commit to them.
Catalina and Tim need to have all their work finished and delivered by August 30th. Artwork will be delivered to our printing partner, CPI Antony Rowe of Melksham on September 7th. #OnlyOneOfMe will be published by Graffeg on September 21st. Yes, I do mean 2018.
I hear a collective *clunk* as the jaws of publishing folk everywhere hit desks. We can do this! Thankfully we are able to call on the expertise of our charity partners WHY We Hear You to ensure our decisions tie in with best practise in cancer counselling. (More on that anon!)
When Lisa and Saffia joined us (Ava Lily went to play with my kids, supervised by legends Jane and Roger), we talked about Lisa’s wishes and dreams for her book. How does she see the books looking? What little quirks of her family life can Catalina and Tim draw upon to bring the reality of family life to the scenes? All the while, baby Saff demolished a choc chip brioche and a croissant. Would you look at the adorable curl on top of her head?!
Once our call was over I inhaled a cup of tea and made contact with the small but perfectly formed team at WHY We Hear You. I needed to update them on our progress and get another big ball rolling – the #OnlyOneOfMe Launch Party needs planning! Again, Lisa’s wishes for this are key and we’re lucky to have WHY’s resident fundraising and event planner on board to pull together a blinder of a bash. We’re going to have copies of the book at the party so guests can buy and donate them directly to charity.
We still need all the help we can get to make all of this happen! How can you help? So many ways!
– Donate! Funding currently stands at 75%. Every donation basically gives us some float and budget to pull all of this together. Thank you for your donations! Every single penny will go directly to making this happen and if we end up with any spare, they’ll go to printing and distributing additional copies.
– Spread the word! Share links to the fundraiser (cut and paste this text: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/onlyoneofme) and to this blog, talk about the project – and talk about what is underlying it. We need to be open and brave about death; it’s part of life. It’s not easy, it’s not fun – but if Lisa can do it, so can we.
– Hold an auction! Perhaps you can raise funds to donate by selling or offering something special? Many thanks to Steven Lenton, Paula Bowles, David Roberts, Sophy Henn, James Brown and Anne Booth who are already on this or planning it! Apologies if I’ve forgotten anyone – BUSY BRAIN.
– Send encouragement! Please cheer Catalina and Tim along as they head into what is sure to be a very intense few weeks. They deserve all the love and applause they can get.
I also want to thank my agent, the wonderful James Catchpole who has not only been pulling strings behind the scenes to get this project running but has also been shadowing everything I’m doing so that I can hand over some of this next week while I’m in Canada. (Timing! I’ve had a holiday planned for a year, and it has to coincide with the BIGGEST ROLLING BALLS OF MY LIFE).
Loads more happened yesterday too, but this post is already long enough and you’re now on top of the main things.
Hi everyone! Firstly: THANK YOU for reading, donating (you can do so here) and sharing. THANK YOU for your lovely messages and for your offers of support. Lisa and I have both been overwhelmed (and at times both a little tearful – in a good way).
Special thanks to each and every illustrator who got in touch to offer their time and expertise to bring Only One Of Me to life. We considered every submission, of which there were hundreds.
**Understatement alert** There’s a lot to consider when you’re making a picture book, and finding the right illustrator is just the beginning. We needed someone who would:-
We will be producing a Mum version AND a Dad version of Only One Of Me. Naturally, mums tend to look different to dads, so we need to consider our options. Two entirely different sets of artwork would mean taking twice as long, and a lot more work for one illustrator. Could we use one illustrator drawing just one set of gender-neutral animal characters that could be used for both versions? Possibly. But is animal characters the right way to go from a clinical perspective? Depends on the age of the child affected.
We’re still debating this – but won’t spend long doing so. Time is tight. Thankfully our options are open: we’ve taken on two illustrators!
Massive love and respect to Tim Budgen and Catalina Echeverri!
Their submissions came in very early in the process. They were both heartfelt and sincere and showed the one thing upon which this project relies: love and goodwill in spades.
Catalina said, “Being a mum of a little one and having friends who have battled with cancer it is a story that touches my heart profoundly. I feel so privileged to be chosen by you and especially by Lisa who is the reason this is all even happening In the first place.”
Tim added, “I’d be delighted to help. My mother had bowel cancer which led to lung cancer so I’m more than happy to help. Let’s really make something truly wonderful.”
That’s exactly what we’re going to do – and we’re going to share the process with you. I’ll be blogging here as the project progresses. I know a lot of you will be following this story not just because of Lisa’s remarkable magnetism but also to gain an insight into the picture book publication process. I can’t state strongly enough that this project is CRAZY UNUSUAL!
You don’t normally aim to make a picture book in just a few weeks. You normally have a large team coordinating everything as you go – and a budget! Could you stop work for a month, unpaid without serious repercussions? I doubt it! Thanks to your donations we’ll be able to cover costs and help our illustrators pay their bills while they give their lives over to this project for the next few weeks.
Tim and Catalina will be burning the midnight oil to get this done. They will doubtless have times of frustration and anxiety, not to mention jaundice from not seeing daylight, severe wrist cramp and stiff necks! I’ll be mopping their brows, sending coffee and basically cheering them along. I hope you’ll join me in sending them your love and encouragement along the way!
Watch this space for more updates, including that all important decision on animal/human characters. We’re having a team Skype call early this week. It might be a record breakingly long call!
Please continue to share our story to help make noise about #OnlyOneOfMe – you are our publicity team!
Thank you again – I’m waving my cheerleading pompoms at you, Tim and Catalina!
Michelle Robinson is a