The Journey of a Book

Hey, Team!

We recently sent out our first children’s book, Peas and Luv, so I wanted to use this week’s post to go into the adventure of making it.

I had posted this to our Patreon before the Kickstarter, just to show the process of making the pages of the book itself.  Well, the art at least:

The prose had been edited by my mother, along with a few friends…  But I was still really nervous about it.  I was nervous about my art too.
I tried my best to have contingency plans for every step.  That meant scanning every single pencil sketch into my computer, JUST IN CASE I messed up the watercolor so terribly that I’d have to do the whole thing digitally instead.

This was an actual thought that lived in my brain.  Thankfully, that isn’t how it went down.  Either way, I had to power on through regardless.  It had become a matter of principle.

So, this happened:

By August 2nd, we were already at 36% funded for Peas & Luv!  And I was STILL really scared.

I used that first Kickstarter update to say thank you and to show everyone something dear to me.

See, a million years ago, Mom and I took a knitting class together.  My goal was to make arm warmers, but I wound up using it to make the body of a self-portrait doll instead!  (I had streaks of red in my hair at the time.)  I suppose it’s another example of how arts and crafts were always such a big part of the time Mom and I spent together.

I thought about using this image as my author picture toward the end of the book, but eventually opted to put the dedication to Mom there instead, and kind of leave me out of it.

The dedication itself mentions Mom’s love of teaching and the lives she changed along the way.  I made the corresponding picture as though I’d made a doll for her.  It’s digitally done but still in the style of the book as that’s… just how I draw, regardless of medium.

Orange was Mom’s favorite color, with blue as a close second.  I took care to pose the doll to have her look curious and friendly.  Above all else though, this doll needed to have a BIG heart!

We were 45% funded at day 5, which was amazing.

The Kickstarter update that day was about the cover design.

I mentioned that the most editing done was eliminating some errors from scanning, or any glaringly obvious pencil marks in the original paintings, but otherwise the pages were as painted.  The cover was a little different.

The cover needed something to really pop.  As a result, the original painting for the cover wound up more like a painted sketch.

I wanted the text to be bigger, and my husband realized that the background was awfully plain, given that the pages inside are all full illustrations.
Also, the original has my pen name on it.  I used my real name for this project because so much of it is for my mother.  Since marriage, Micki Groper and I obviously don’t have the same last name anymore, but it still seemed like the right way to go.

Eventually, my husband Rob and I (mostly Rob, but he’ll say it was mostly me) came up with this:

Otherwise digital, the heart itself is still watercolor scanned in.

This worked as a nice medium ground too, because the dedication for my mom has that digital image near the text.

On day 7 and we were 50% there!  This didn’t keep me from feeling overwhelmed and terrified.

Since Team Manticore is known for making plush toys, having dolls in this campaign was no surprise.

Here, you can see the process of prototyping until we get our final version:

Ultimately, the final is somewhere between the painting and the prototype, with a better overall shape, and eyes that fit the head a bit better than the painting actually had.

By August 25th, your support helped us reach our goal!

After that, we didn’t reach our stretch goal, but that doesn’t really matter.  The book got made, and we still have enough books on hand to give to charities like I wanted, even if it isn’t as many as I would have liked.

Then, we got the PROOF!  Kinda.

Generally, a proof means it would be exactly what we’d be getting 500 copies of, so we approved it.

The company then let us know of some possible printing issues, and asked us to fix the files.  This was a little confusing, as it meant the proof was not actually manufactured the same way the final books would be.

The company was very helpful though, and did eventually send “samples” from the larger print load… but by then they were just nice to have, and not actually useful as a proof per se…  BUT WHATEVER, they got here and they are good.

The printer was in China, which meant the books would need to go through two different sets of Customs before they made their way to me.

It was a long wait, but we used the time to get to work on the dolls to accompany the books for those who gave for that tier:

There were eleven pairs of dolls to do, plus a couple custom (not Peas and Luv specifically) dolls to make.

All the books got here, safe and sound.  16 boxes total!  I was worried about water damage from the snow, but this printer packages everything with a separate layer to prevent exactly that!

Books for daaaaayssss.

So that was it!  We packaged everything, shipped everything off to where it needed to go, and I’m exhausted.

In March, there will be a reading at my temple, and the Parenting Center will be dedicated to Mom.  Let’s see how well I hold together for that.


OH!  If you missed the Kickstarter, you can still buy the book at !


Thank you and rock on,


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