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Nancy’s Reads & Reels: Writing My First Book

A book about a dog named Lucky, written by a retired church secretary and illustrated by a homeless handyman.

Okay, I’m a retired church secretary and my friend, Juarez Claytor, is a homeless handyman but we did it! I wrote a book titled "Lucky" and he illustrated it. I don’t know if our story is about a dog losing his way or how two such unlikely people became friends and then decided to create a children’s book.

Juarez and I met at Oglethorpe Presbyterian Church where I worked as a secretary. At the time, Juarez had come to the church’s food pantry. He was selling his drawings of musicians and finding work where he could. My family and others hired him to do odd jobs so we maintained our friendship even after I retired and moved to Decatur.

Some years after we met, Juarez became a grandfather for the first time and I became a grandmother for the third time. We kept in touch and would talk about our grandchildren and brag a bit as grandparents do.

Juarez and I were talking about books for our grandchildren when the proverbial light bulb went off in my brain. “Hey, I can write the book and you can do the illustrations.” How hard could it be?

Turns out writing and illustrating a children’s book is very difficult. Writing a few hundred words was easy enough (although several revisions were necessary) but then you have to figure out how the illustrations and text will go together. I sent revised drafts out to my daughters for their input and came up with what we agreed was a good story.

Juarez, who is primarily a musician but has been to art school, illustrated the book over a period of several weeks. Some illustrations worked, some didn’t so he had to go back to the drawing board on a few occasions.

One of my daughters is a photographer so she joined in on the project. She photographed the ink drawings and then colorized them. All this was new to her so it took many hours to come up with something near to what we wanted. We could go over and over it and not be entirely satisfied but at some point you have to let it go.

It’s taken us a year but "Lucky" is available on lulu.com.

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Ralph Ellis September 28, 2012 at 06:05 PM
This is a good blog. Read it.

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