A Different Kind of Collaboration

H-CUn2Sometimes, collaborating on a story is easy; sometimes it’s unbearably difficult, even impossible. And sometimes, it’s magical. My current collaboration is a perfect example. And because such magical opportunities are rare, I’m stepping away from my usual sort of post to talk about it.

It began when two, lovely and perpetually young, great-grandmothers enlisted my aid in the development of a children’s storybook. The tale, “Hopper and Amos,” is an adventure featuring a baby bird and an intensely curious cat. The story itself is simple and reality-based: an event which unfolded in the garden of the author’s home. The book is intended for children lucky enough to have A-02Bnparents or grandparents who will read it to them.

The author, Ceil Ramsey, and the illustrator, Joanne Davis, are long-time friends who, fortunately for me, both reside fairly close by. They told me they had a story and some watercolor artwork to go with it, but they weren’t sure how to put it all together in a finished form. “Will you help us?” they asked.

Despite being knee-deep in writing another textbook, teaching in three different venues, editing and/or proof-reading for a dozen other writers, and helping my bride to get our house ready to sell so we can move in the fall, I agreed.

And why not? It isn’t like I was busy or anything. Geez.

Ceil sent me the text of the story which, by itself, isn’t terribly moving. I’m a good 65 years older than the target audience, so it shouldn’t have moved me. Then I saw the preliminary illustrations Joanne had done. I quickly realized what a wonderful match the two were, bio pic 3and how they so perfectly complimented each other. A simple story coupled with simple artwork became more than the sum of the parts.

It needed a text font to seal the partnership and a layout to emphasize the theme. The font had to be unusual enough to stimulate and satisfy the reader, and it had to guide the non-reader’s search for the illustrations that made the story click. I took a stab at it with a fanciful font and did a nearly full layout, all the while keeping my fingers crossed that I hadn’t gone overboard.

Fortunately, they liked the results, and after tinkering with some of the details, we were ready to move on. Ceil modified some of the wording, while Joanne revamped some of her watercolors. I revised the layout, pulled a cover together, and we ordered proof copies.

Cover white bkgdThey arrived last week, and we’re delighted.

We’ve still got some things to do before we’re completely happy with the final product, but we’re very close. We’ve hit upon a number of marketing ideas we’re eager to test, but we don’t want to jump the gun.

This post could be considered our opening promotional salvo, but I’m really sharing it to brag about my great good fortune in connecting with Ceil and Joanne.

We are eager to find review-writing first readers. If you have a child or grandchild, or know one who isn’t reading yet, this might be a great chance to entertain them and assist a pair of wonderful and talented great-grandmothers in their first commercial publishing effort. If you’d like to help, please reply and let me know.



About joshlangston

Grateful and well-loved husband, happy grandparent, novelist, editor, and teacher. My life plate is full, and I couldn't be happier. Anything else I might add would be anticlimactic. Cheers!
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10 Responses to A Different Kind of Collaboration

  1. lloyd langston says:

    This sounds like something Jake could read to Lilly, and Wendy to Brooke.   Both Crystalle  and Wendy could, maybe, write a brief review.  How do  I get copies of the book?  Another job well done on your review of this collaboration.    Later, L.

  2. Sonya Braverman says:

    Hi Josh, The cover is fabulous. I’d love to read it to my 2-1/2yo great-nephew. Sonya

    Sent from my iPhone

  3. Faith Tyldsley says:

    Hi Josh, This sounds very exciting. What age group is the story targeted for? Sounds like 3-6??? I have a ‘late reader’ grandchild (she is being tutored…supposed dyslexic) in that range I’d love to test it out on for you all… She may be too old for the content??? In any case, I greatly enjoyed your collaboration story! Faith

    • joshlangston says:

      We think the book would be appropriate for most young, non-readers–your grandchild included. We’d love to add your name to our list of First Readers. In fact, I just did. We’ll be in touch when the final version is ready. Thank you!

  4. An-l says:

    Josh: Congratulations to you, Ceil and Joanne! I wish I had great-grandchildren to read this book to–it sounds outstanding. I do have great nieces and nephews in other states and can hardly wait to buy copies to send off to them. Good luck to all of you. Annel

  5. polinto says:

    Love the watercolors!

  6. Patricia Baldwin says:

    Sorry, our youngest is first grade, and has been reading a couple of years. She lives in Douglasville and we don’t see her very often due to her too-crowded schedule of soccer, cheerleading, gymnastics, tumbling, etc. When she was younger we went over and got her one day a week, from infancy until pre-4K, and since then she has been too busy for us, sorry to say. Sounds like you and the great-grandmothers may have a winner.


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