This past week I took the final photographs for the book. These full-page color photos are the “beauty shots” that will divide the patterns into sections.
Hodge, Podge, Eric, and I decided to make an adventure out of it and head up to the mountains with all of our props. We went to one of our favorite places: White Ranch Open Space Park. It was a beautiful, blue-sky day (it didn’t even feel like winter), but it was also really, really windy. We were determined not to let the wind spoil our fun, so we carried our baskets of Big Acorn Race goodies over the mud and snow until we came upon some picnic tables in the sun.
I had sketched out my ideas on how to lay out each scene before we got there, but I hadn’t really prepared for the wind. I set everything up, taping some things down and holding others down with rocks! Then I waited patiently for the wind to die down and tried to snap as many photos as I could in between gusts.
Hodge and Podge and Eric got to model their accessories in the first photo we took. The first group of patterns you will find in the book include instructions to make the squirrels plus their accessories and inventions. The new and improved squirrel amigurumi pattern comes complete with photo tutorials and detailed instructions on how to embroider their faces, how to create their eyes, and how to sew their tails. I think you will appreciate finally being able to find all this information in one place! There are also patterns to make Podge’s apron, Hodge’s baseball cap, and Eric’s jet pack.
Next we used the picnic scene to display the Oak Leaf and Acorn Garland, Acorns in Six Sizes, and Oak Leaf Clutch. I have had the garland hanging in my bedroom for a few months now, and I love the way it adds a pinch of woodsy charm to my room. I had a lot of fun making the Oak Leaf Clutch in particular. In addition to the instructions to crochet the clutch, I show you how to add a lining and a zipper.
Eventually we couldn’t compete with the wind any longer. I really had to fight against the wind to get back to the car, so I had to admit that we weren’t going to be able to take any more photos on the mountain. We packed it up and headed back down to one of my favorite parks in Arvada. Here, I set up the scene for the flower section, which includes patterns to make accessories for you and your home inspired by Podge’s solution to the Big Acorn Race challenge… the Tall ‘n’ Fast Flower!
Next was the photo for one of my favorite accessories. The book also includes patterns to make an award medal for you and your squirrel friend! Aren’t they darling? Danielle Duncan teamed up with Podge to gracefully model their award medals. Thank you, Danielle! You are a natural. You and Podge will make everyone want medals of their own.
Now that the photos are taken care of and amazing artist Sylvie is finishing things up (bless her heart, she is more than amazing!), I get to start working on promotional things… like giveaways! I’m hoping to have several throughout the month of March, so keep a lookout—the details on how you can win a copy of The Big Acorn Race are coming your way! (If you’re looking to purchase a copy, I promise it’s almost here. Friends of the picnic will be the first to know, so be sure to pay attention to your email, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram in the week ahead.)
I can almost see the finish line from here, and after a year in the making, it is really hard to believe that it isn’t a mirage! There are just a few more branches to climb, and this little squirrel book will be ready to hop out into the world.
My designer has been diligently working on the graphics and layout. She’s even scheduled a photoshoot with a professional product photographer to take some final photographs later this month.
Meanwhile I’ve been busy proofreading the first few drafts. You’d think this would be a piece of cake for me, since I’ve been working professionally as a proofreader for almost a decade. However, this was probably the most difficult part of the process so far. It might be because I am too close to the project, so I have enlisted the help of some friends I used to work with at the greeting card company. It will be really nice to have their talents and fresh eyes to look over the manuscript.
I’ve also booked a venue for the launch party – well, it’s really more of a thank-you afternoon tea for all the people who have helped to make this book possible. It will be April 16 at the enchanting and whimsical Beatrice & Woodsley in Denver. I wish I could invite you all because with your support and encouragement you each have also played a hand in making this dream come true. I will be sure to take plenty of pictures and share them here with you!
It’s all looking very spectacular. These final stages continually call me to reflect on what it has taken to get here. When I look through the book, I am amazed at how much information I have been able to include. I think you will be very pleased. Just to give you a taste of what you can expect to find in The Big Acorn Race, here is the final Table of Contents.
As we get ever closer to crossing that finish line, I’ll have plenty more behind-the-scenes stories and photos to share with you. Join me next time when I’ll share images from our final big photoshoot, accolades from some rather prestigious reviewers, and information on how you can win a free copy of the book during The Big Acorn Race giveaway in March.
As I write the title for this edition of the book update, “Roadblocks and Speed Bumps,” I find myself thinking about some bad luck I’ve come upon lately, and how I hope that by writing about it I’m reversing a jinx. What I’m talking about is the superstition that catastrophe comes in threes. You see, I’ve encountered a roadblock and a speed bump so far on my journey toward publishing The Big Acorn Race, but I’m hoping that doesn’t mean that a third obstacle — perhaps in the form of a speed trap, giant wall, washed out bridge, or cow crossing — is waiting ahead of me. Maybe if I think about it hard enough I will find that I’ve already encountered more than two impediments in recent months and the curse will be lifted!
(1) Two Sundays ago I was supposed to wrap up all of the props for the story portion of The Big Acorn Race. Before I got started, I went over to the grocery store to get a few things for Thanksgiving and pick up some coffee. I returned to my car to find that my tire had been slashed! Just the day before I had given out a free wallpaper that said “Give thanks for every little thing,” and my first thought after seeing my tire was “Is this what I get for spreading some joy?” I’m not very proud that I had that thought. But I am pleased that my second thought was “It is because I know there is goodness in this world that I’m not going to let this one negative experience color my world black.” I called my husband and he came right over to help me. And then I was reminded to be thankful that I have such a thoughtful and reliable husband, a cup of coffee to keep me warm while I waited, and a car that works pretty well otherwise. When you have gratitude for the good things in your life, no one can steal your joy.
(2) This past weekend, I was plowing ahead, editing the photos for the book with the help of my dear friend, Ranee, who is a top-notch graphic designer. She helped make Hodge, Podge, and Eric look their absolute best by working on their tails in Photoshop until they were fabulous! On Sunday morning (must be my bad-luck time), the fan in my computer gave up the ghost and I had to very quickly transfer about a quarter of my files to an external hard-drive before the computer died completely. I spent the rest of the day trying to find a good deal on a computer, purchasing said computer, and installing everything I’d need to get back in the game. It was a bit hectic and I had to spend money I don’t really have, but in the end I have a better computer now and it felt really good to say, “I’m not going to let a little setback stop me! I will finish this book.” I felt unstoppable.
In case you haven’t gathered, I’m more than a little bit superstitious. There’s a part of me though that knows it’s just all in my head. I believe that if you think that bad news must come in threes, then you better come up with a third thing so that all the bad news is over and done with. In this case, there really isn’t a bona-fide third thing… but just for the sake of breaking the spell, I can think of one last obstacle.
(3) An old injury has resurfaced, sending me back into physical therapy every week for the next few months. This just takes a lot of time away from work I could be doing on the book. And if I imagine myself walking down the road toward getting this book published, I can envision myself with a bit of a limp. But like I said before, I’m unstoppable, so even if I have to drag myself across the finish line, I will publish this book!
Can you hear the bells chiming? I think the spell has been lifted!
Whenever anything bad happens in life, it’s so important to be able to take something positive away from the experience. I believe this is what gives us strength. So after acknowledging that some bad stuff has happened in recent months, I find myself asking, “What have I learned from all this?”
I have learned that difficulty is inevitable. You can be sure that the more you want something, the more obstacles will be laid in your path toward achieving it. It’s like the universe has to test your resilience and ask, “How badly do you really want this?” And your response to the universe has to be perseverance. In any pursuit, especially those that require your wholehearted commitment and passion, you will encounter opposition; you will have to find a way over, around, or through the barricades, and keep the hope that your goal is on the other side.
You will question yourself, perhaps numerous times, and wonder if it really is worth all the hassle. You will want to quit. If you listen to your heart, you will know if you are ready for the challenge. If your heart is in it, it won’t let you give up, no matter what.
Great achievements in your life require great resolution in the face of difficulty. But for everything you encounter, it’s important to remember that it’s these same challenges that make the road worthwhile. If it were easy, the achievement wouldn’t be nearly as sweet. And the trials certainly make the people who believe in you all the more precious.
So to all of you who have been cheering me on every step of the way, you’ll be happy to know that I’ve entered the final stretch. And I don’t think I would be able to say that if it weren’t for your encouragement. Thank you, thank you, to every last one of you for all your support.
In the Big Acorn Race, three little squirrels named Hodge, Podge, and Eric compete to see who can get an acorn out of a tree first, without climbing the tree. Each has to come up with a unique and creative way to get the job done. Of all the tricks they try, my favorite solution has to be Podge’s. It’s clever and simple. She grabs her packet of Tall ‘n’ Fast seeds, plants one in a pot full of soil, and sits back to watch her flower grow.
This past weekend has been spent crocheting Podge’s flower pot and the many stages of growth of a Tall ‘n’ Fast flower. First I crocheted 5 yellow flower pots and 5 brown circles that would become the dirt. Then I shaped 12-gauge wire to form the base (inside each flower pot) and stem. I used cardboard circles inside the pots to add stability. After assembling the first two pots and adding a little sprout to the second one, it was time to crochet the flowers. First I crocheted the blossom which was a lot of fun. I had no plan in mind when I first set out to crochet it. It just sort of took shape as it went — magical! Then I crocheted the flowers themselves in 3 different sizes using the patterns in the book. The smaller flower is crocheted using the motif pattern for the Seed Packet Phone Case. The larger flowers are made using the actual Tall ‘n’ Fast Flower motif pattern. I haven’t assembled the final flower that Podge uses to reach the acorn yet. You’ll just have to wait for the book to see for yourself.
In the meantime, enjoy this gif I made out of all the flowers and pots that I crocheted this weekend. My, Podge, how your flowers grow!