Wednesday, December 30, 2015

In Which I Brag (Just a Little)

- a post by Jeanna Mason Stay

My awesome 8yo girl Vanna White-ing the project
Today I am here to brag, just a little bit. I was so excited and proud of this project that I had to share. I’m not even bragging so much about me as just about how pleased I am with how it turned out.

Around May of last year, I started thinking about this idea I had.

It started small. I was reading a bedtime story to my kids from a big collection and thought, “I could write this—or probably better.”* So I started dreaming up the idea of my own collection of stories, just for my kids.

And then it got bigger. My husband is a hilarious storyteller. His stories are goofy and nonsensical and pretty much wonderful. So of course I would need to include plenty of his writing as well.

Then bigger again. I have a brother who would like to write but simply has bigger priorities in his life right now. I bet I could get him to write a couple of small stories. And while I’m at it, I have a sister-in-law who writes. And I have nieces and nephews who write and draw. And and and . . .

The epic conclusion. I will compile a bedtime story book, in time for Christmas, composed of stories from members of my family of origin (hereafter called “foo”) and my hubby’s foo. Parents, siblings, nieces, nephews. And also illustrated by all these people too. Anyone who wants to join in can. It will be awesome.
And also my son,
because he's a natural.

And so my project, Here Be Dragons,** began. 

However, I really didn’t count on being pregnant. Also, I’m not much of a designer. Also, it’s surprisingly difficult to solicit illustrations for stories from five-year-olds. In grand creative fashion, I kept on pushing back all my deadlines. First it was August to have all the content so that I could thoroughly edit everything. Then it was October. Then it was the end of November. Then it was really, truly, absolutely December 7th***—because I had a coupon from the printer that expired on the 11th, and you had to order by the 11th to get things shipped by Christmas anyway.

So November (which is usually NaNoWriMo for me) turned into CraProCompMo (Crazy Project Compiling Month). And so did the beginning of December. All the way until December 11th, around 5 p.m., when I finally started uploading and ordering the thing.

Lots of silly stories--and also some
pages where the reader gets to
write or illustrate their own!
It came in time for Christmas, and it is utterly gorgeous. I may or may not occasionally just hold it in my lap and stare at it, stroking its cover. Also, because I’m a copyeditor by nature and by previous profession, and I didn’t have all the time I wanted for editing, I may have already discovered four mistakes that I’m trying not to think about too much.****

One of my favorite spreads, with art
by my lovely grown-up niece
Anyway, I realize that for most people this would not be as exciting as a publication/sale/contract notice, but for me it is such a thrill. I’m so proud of the work everyone did, and the stories and illustrations are so fun and silly and lovely. It’s not professional, but I love it. So I had to take a minute to brag. Thanks for listening!

* Note: This is not an insult to children’s authors. Children’s lit is hard and awesome and important. This was merely a commentary on the specific book. But the point is that the kids still loved just being read to, regardless of quality.
** Though it was not yet named.
*** One brother got around this by telling me that he had made the deadline—if we were in Hawaii.
**** Fortunately, all mistakes so far have been fairly minor things that most people wouldn’t notice. However, my husband thinks I should never actually look at the text again, just to preserve my sanity.


  1. It would be awesome for you to post a digital version for the whole family to enjoy.

  2. This is wonderful! I think it turned out beautifully :)

  3. You should brag you did bloody awesome to get it written and such, high five to you

  4. Love, love, love this idea (and your article was fun to read)! Huge pat on the back, Jeanna. All your work paid off. The book will be a treasure for generations to come. I want to do it with my quirky, creative family (but maybe in 2017)!



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