“Your First Garden” is my first book that we’ve published in printed form. This fantasy book is a children’s fantasy story narrated by the animals. There are not a lot of books on the market today that show children what the first garden may have looked like. Letting the animals tell the story, seemed like a fun idea. I believe the first garden of mankind was very loving and friendly; at least the one shown to me as a child by an incredible Sunday school teacher looked exciting. Then later in life, I read Jean Auel’s book, “Clan of the Cave Bear” and loved this book so much it formed many images in my mind. Her writing provided a goal for me to someday be able to write about the beginning of time. The two ideas blended together and the outcome became “Your First Garden”. My book allows children, parents, grandparents and caregivers to journey through and meet Freesia (1st woman) and Jeddah (1st man). Both of the first humans had a natural love for animals since they were brought to Earth with a direct mission to care for them. The animals have a natural bond with both Freesia and Jeddah, as will the readers. There are fun antics and sweet times had by everyone in the first garden. Readers will learn how Sally and Samuel the Seagulls continued to spread the word of the coming miracle that promised to change all the land. Skills of caretaking and skills of friendship are paramount in “Your First Garden” and while you find these traits dear, you will also enjoy the young couple, as they fall deeply in love with one another. Soon, that fateful day arrives and Freesia and Jeddah marry. A star is seen in the heavens presenting news of their Son, Jathan, who is born to carry out God’s wonderful plan.
2. Why did you write this book?
Though I’m not a storyteller usually in the ordinary sense, there is a very loud creative vein running through my blood and in my brain almost 24/7. To this day, my hope is that children will read “Your First Garden” and fall in love with God and not have to do so in a traditional manner. They will see the animals, plus first man and woman wrapped in the playful way that the book is shown. The book provides fun for everyone. Also, we (Entry Way Publishing) published this book in order for me to revisit a fond memory of mine as a child. In the interim, our companies ended up with a product to use as a sample of the quality of books we publish. “Your First Garden” is a book we ship out to possible future customers of Entry Way Publishing or Digi-Tall Media, as well as to the purchasers of the book. You never know in publishing what books will sell and which ones will be slower sellers. I’ve been surprised with the amount of sales we have had of this one. Potential customers can quickly see the end result of Entry Way teamwork. In this particular case, the team consisted of: me the writer, me the publisher, a new artist, an illustration colorist, an editor and a proofreader. Combined talents brought about an extremely high caliber sample of a children’s book containing 4-color illustrations (600 dpi) printed with quality binding by Fidlar-Doubleday.
One day in a conversation with one of our poets, I mentioned my idea about a children’s book covering the Garden of Eve and she introduced me to a perfect artist for this project. My dream of finding an Anime artist was not coming true. So I became more open-minded about the way we would show my story. The introduction of Justin Paul Valdivia of California was just what we needed. He first drew a sample of what he imagined my book to portray as far as Freesia was concerned. At first, I wanted him to try the Anime style character, which I just love love love…instead, his drawings brought my writing exactly the images it needed. He was instantly hired. Linda T. Phillips came in as an incredible colorist – bringing to life all that Justin drew. Together they were a miraculous team for me and everyone is elated with its outcome. Elga Haymon White consented to being our proofreader and “Your First Garden” was born.
4. What drew you to writing for children instead of for adults?
Well, I had written a book of poetry and a book about a very scary demented family and neither of these really fit the idea of us having a product to show ‘most’ potential customers. Not everyone loves a macabre story and not all readers love poetry. Our company specializes in children’s books, plus this was such a colorful genre to choose. Children are so lively and easily pleased when they read books about nature and animals.
5. How does the collaboration with an illustrator work?
Sharing my imaginations with Justin took a few drawings for the miraculous flow to stick. Even though his talent was quickly discernable, there was a bit of tweaking that came next. I’m certain following my ideas could not have been easy as I have a high multi-task mind that flits from one side of the spectrum to the other in seconds. Justin grabbed my attention one night when he drew Freesia. The rest of the drawings came one by one in black and white, with little change from that point on; even though I provided him revision feedback and instructions from time to time. Afterward, Linda T. Phillips joined us to showcase Justin’s incredible drawings. She knew I favored pastel colors and after her palate was put in place, all the drawings finalized in such a way, my dream came true, thanks to Justin, Linda and Elga. You cannot imagine how excellent it feels to see every tiny detail from my mind placed first in draft and then in full color – this just seemed a true fantasy come true for me.
Jean Auel had a woman in “Clan of a Cave Bear” who was a character living out being a pioneer alone in this world. She learned how to communicate through animals and learned how to make fire and search for food. I was captivated by her story. This is how I saw Freesia in my mind’s eye while reading Ms. Auel’s book.
6. You have a background as an event coordinator. What’s the most successful event you’ve staged for your book?
The most successful event I’ve staged in my career really has not played out in book format yet. But thanks for the idea – maybe I’ll start on that before 2011 is over. The outdoors to me is a wonderful way to see so much of creation which includes colors, sights, sounds, smells, etc. My favorite event was when I helped to coordinate and follow through with the adoption of 100 children through CASA quite a number of years ago. Handing Teddy Bears to new families as they hugged their adopted child and took them to their new homes was truly one of the things in my heart that remains dear to this day. Taking hundreds of people to enjoy Six Flags was a blast too. And I’d love to tell you about being in New Orleans mucking out houses for people who were homeless after the ‘great storm’. This was so rewarding for me, I would have stayed forever if possible.
7. Do you have a favorite “fan” story? (describe)
No, I don’t. But then ‘yes’ I do. As you see, even though I would tell you I have only a few fans, as an author (not yet anyway), I am certain that my best friend, co-worker, editor, and artist, Linda T. Phillips would call herself a fan of mine. She is…other than my own family members…my closest sister from another mother. She and I will love each other, work alongside each other and continue to inspire each other forever. Yes, I too am her fan. To me, she does flawless work with a drawing, has learned to edit better than a large majority of editors out there; and, I don’t believe there is anyone like her anywhere. Together, we are the Texas Gals who yell, Howdy to hundreds of writers and have a blast in the meantime.
8. Which garden plant ranks first on your list? Why?
A rose. Yep, I know that’s a flower and not a garden plant; but, still I love the thorns as much as I do the flowers and they grow on a vine. Could this possibly be a plant? Anyway, a red rose reminds me of my life. The thorns depict so much of what has come about from my very busy and eventful life. Some roses smell really sweet (representing the good times). Thorns have stung (representing my trials and tribulations) me more times than anyone can count (ouch). The color red represents the energy running through my blood. My favorite song is “Lady in Red” by Chris De burgh…and my pen name is RoseMeade. So it is nice that you’ve asked this question of me, thereby allowing me to share intimate details about myself and in such a detailed way.
9. How did you meet your husband? We love a romance.
My loving and devoted husband, Thomas and I met in a writer’s website in November of 2000. At the time I had been divorced six years and had made up my mind not to ever fall in love again. Talking me into lunch was out of the question at first. Still, he pursued me first through emails (smart fellow) and then by writing love poems to me (yep, even smarter). Of course, I too wrote poems back. “The Flowers Came Too” was the poem I wrote to share about our first date. Our first date – a blind date, was at Red Lobster. This dashing sweet man walked inside the restaurant lobby carrying a bouquet of flowers for me. My heart fluttered right away, knowing instantly he was my date. We quickly realized our Internet relationship had flourished and grown via emails. Clear too, was the fact that our phone calls also were never going to end. Within three months, and after meeting his large family, I realized our lives were destined to be together. In April, Thomas and I celebrated our ten-year wedding anniversary. We are more in love with each other now than ever. What an honor it has been to be given an opportunity to be accepted by his family. I’ll be grateful always and it’s awesome to be able to tell people that meeting a husband on the Internet is fun and most definitely possible. Try it, after all, you just might find your match.
10. Tell us about your hometown — we love to travel.
My hometown to tell you the truth…is the Internet. My life travels have been many. You see, when our authors come to us with books that are about their travels, we get to go there literary-wise. Too, I’ve been able to travel many places. My birthplace was Colorado but as an infant, Mom brought me to Texas, where I’ve lived in many cities (Beaumont, Houston, San Antonio, Denton and Irving. After marrying Thomas, I finally settled in a beautiful suburb in north Dallas. In my past, I have ‘stayed’ in Panama Canal Zone Balboa (a story I’ll write someday) for awhile and have spent some time in Louisiana, California and Iowa.
11. What’s your favorite Southern food? (give us a story about why or when you first had it)
Have you ever tasted ‘the best potato salad’ in the world? Where does your mind go when you think of this question? Well, my mind goes to the potato salad that my mom, Evelyn taught me how to cook. To this very day, at all of our family functions and on special dates, everyone says, “VicToria, please make your potato salad; no one makes it quite like you.” Oh, and who on earth doesn’t like Mexican food at El Fenix? Is this the type of Southern food you mean?
12. What is your next writing project?
With this article for Dames of Dialogue and its listeners, I am divulging another Entry Way/Digi-Tall secret. Though it is not a secret to Ms. Phillips or to Elga Haymon White (a close client of mine who we’ve done a great many books with). This particular project is a book about birds. One day I was chatting with Ms. Elga on the phone (which we’ve now been doing for 7-8 yrs) and I admitted to her that I wondered ‘what happens to the birds when it is very very hot or ice cold outside?’ And, I asked her if she knew a lot about birds. Elga began sharing little stories with me and had me giggling with delight because her style of writing always touches my heartstrings. We thought of some very interesting birds and one by one, Linda T. Phillips brought them to life by perfectly illustrating them. Gorgeous artwork, fantastic stories, along with my editing and researching some facts, we have now almost finalized another Entry Way Team’s effort. This book will be another way to show a different Team Work adventure. My goal is to be able to utilize the talent of many of our writers in projects where they get to know each other’s skills and have fun with it. Now, I ask you…isn’t that why we all love to read and write as much as we do?
Thanks, Maggie, for this opportunity to share about my book, “Your First Garden”. Book buyers can visit any of our sites or go to the ever-popular ‘Amazon‘ for a copy. We have an e-Book of this book available in several different retailers. Plus, if you visit Bookie Jar, you will find a fun way to read a bit of the book before you purchase a copy.