It was the middle of the night, and in the pitch black I scrabbled for my note book and wrote; ‘This book is about your heart, the little bit inside of you that makes you, you’. Those words became this book.
A few days before, one of my kids had come home from school after having a really rough day. I had been processing how to help – part of me wanted to fight against the unkindness, but I knew the kids involved and actually I loved them too. I realised that verbal bullying was almost a cultural thing, a part of life that is almost just expected, that at some point during your child's time at school, verbal unkindness would probably be a part of their experience. That doesn’t make it right and I wanted to help change it, change it for my kids.
About a year later, during the schools annual anti-bullying week, my son took a rough copy of the little book into school to show his teacher. Waiting for the kids outside the school, my son's teacher came out. It was one of those defining moments – when you know that something significant is going down. As he put the book in my hand, he grasped the other, looked me right in the eyes and said; ‘…this book needs to be published, I've just had the best PSHE lesson I’ve ever had…’. That was 7 years ago. (See the subsequent letter below. The book’s original working title was ‘The little big heart book’).
I’ve spent a lot of time re-writing, re-working and page turning, to get the text to where I wanted it. I've also spent significant time teaching myself to illustrate and (probably over 1,000+ drawings later) came up with the characters ‘Pip & Cat’. I've kept working on it all this time simply because I believe in it.
It's now totally ready to publish. I’ve already sent it to a number of publishers, three of whom have said that they love it, one in particular said they wanted to publish and create a series, but when it came to the wire, none of them would commit. So, I've decided to do it myself.
I have now written another four books. some deep and happy – some just a bit bonkers. This is the first one in the series: Words and your heart.
Risks and challenges
Today, the book is absolutely ready to print. To get it out there and do the best job I can to make it as beautiful as it can be will be expensive. Having chosen to print the books in Cornwall, I obtained quotes, had dummies made up and have chosen a gorgeous paper that is made here in the UK.
Currently, printing will be over £4000, plus the cost of post & packaging.
A very generous friend has wonderfully offered a loan to get the project underway, but it's not enough to see the project to completion. Which is why you’re reading this. I’m asking for help.
If the book is successful, and I can pay back the loan from book sales, I’m hoping to produce a Teacher’s Pack. I have lots of ideas, one of which is ‘Pip and Cat’s Word Exchange’. I’ve designed a special letterbox for children to post words that have hurt or undermined them. It could be a word spoken to them by an adult or another child. Each child will be given space to write down the word – for example, the teacher could set up a private space within the class room, and the children take it in turns to post their word into the letterbox, in front of the class. It would have to be done in a safe environment where private words are hidden form anyone else, and the child is made confident that no-one will read their word.
The child then receives a personal envelope from Pip & Cat with affirming words inside, such as: loved, cherished, beautiful, clever, gifted... The teacher can then destroy all the negative words. I have loads of other ideas (this is just a sneaky peak).
I have a gorgeous team of lovely teachers and a well-being & wholeness coach that have agreed to look over and help me write up the ideas I have for a class room pack if the book is successful. My dream would be to build a Classroom Pack that runs alongside the book, using the characters, to help teachers dealing with difficult verbal behavior, and also undoing some of the damage already done to little hearts.
I’m building a website with the help of a friend that will go live any day soon (katejaneneal.com).
The book is also coming out on Kindle for £1.99, but really my dream is to get a hard copy into class rooms.
I’ve done all the work without any financial gain, in fact a lot of financial loss, but just feel called to do this. If the Kickstarter works, then I have set aside the next month to package & post the books, take some into to local schools (one’s in the bag already), and maybe see if I can do a few readings or Christmas fairs locally.
I would love to be able to publish something beautiful and meaningful that children and adults will enjoy. I’ve also written another four books. Some deep and happy - some just a bit bonkers. This is the first one in the series: Words and Your Heart.
Thank you so much for reading this and considering helping get this little book into primary schools.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (21 days)