Back in May of this year, a friend and I vacationed to Portland, Oregon.
Even though I knew of the riots back in 2020 I was completely shocked at how the city was still affected.
Never once in my life had I feared walking the streets of a big city, so the fear I felt, even midday, was unreal.
But our itinerary wasn't all in the middle of the city. In fact, the day we took the subway to the outskirts of town, my fear lifted as the forest emerged.
Growing up and still now, my friends and family have always described my essence as 'nature'. I never understood what they meant as often times I could be found at home or hanging out with friends. But as the tree line emerged on the edge of Portland, I finally understood what they meant. I was safe and I was home.
That's why I'm so excited to have on author Teresa Davis as our guest today. Keeping our forest's safe not only for the creatures who inhabit it but for us to enjoy years to come is something she is not only passionate about but willing to share with others with her children's book Fiery Fox Learns About Fire Safety. Check out what Teresa has to say about her journey.
Fiery Fox Learns About Fire Safety
By Teresa Davis
You could say creating stories is something I have always enjoyed, from as far back as I can remember I told bedtime stories to my younger brother, until he was old enough to do it himself. I even wrote a play at the age of about 10 for the children in the neighborhood, which we performed to the parents and pretty much anyone that would watch. My poor younger brother was even made to be a tree. We all dressed up, had music playing from my tape player and provided drinks for all those that came. I remember that feeling of accomplishment I had at the end, which I rediscovered when I wrote many of the end of year plays for the children at the preschool where I worked many years later.
Creating a book wasn’t something I had planned my whole life; it hadn’t even occurred to me I was even capable of such a thing. But one day, after running a forest school session involving cooking on a fire, I came to the conclusion having a book to read to the children before cooking, would help me and others, introduce fire safety to children in a fun and visual way. I set about looking for a fun book focused in the woodland and aimed at the children I was teaching. After an extensive search online, in shops, and in libraries, I was not able to find such a book. It was then I decided to write one myself, as having worked in childcare straight from school meant I had spent many years teaching children about fire fighters and fire safety. Once I started writing the story, it just flowed, I’m not even sure where it came from, but as I read it back to myself more and more just kept coming until the story finally took shape. I then went back a few times with fresh eyes until eventually, I was happy with the end result. I shared this version with a work colleague who told me I should make that into a story book. I laughed it off, but something inside me kept making me think ‘What If I did?’.
It wasn’t until I had the possibility of having redundancy money to fund this project, that I thought this could actually happen. I thought long and hard and finally decided to take a leap of faith. Once my story had been read by many friends and family members, I eventually gave it to a teacher friend who I knew would be brutally honest to do the final edit for me. Next, I discussed with a work colleague about my plans for the future. They told me about a talented artist, whose dream was to create illustrations for a children’s book. I researched her style and from the moment I looked at her work I knew this was exactly how I envisaged my book illustrations. Excitedly, I contacted her and straight away we hit it off. We had several planning meetings where I shared a little booklet comprised of the page layout. Between the two of us, we shared lots of ideas, and after a couple exchanges of back and forth with her illustrations, we eventually had everything we needed to go to print.
All set with illustrations, we meet Steve Tusin at the CBF Group ltd where it finally hit me. My vision was going to be turned into reality, my book was going to be made and possibly shared with many children just hit me. Full of ideas, we all went to the drawing board, incorporating my vision and possible page layout as well as materials. I wanted interesting text to engage the children, a look and find page that would help parents, careers and teachers etc. reflect on the important messages shared within the book, a poster page with a short poem about not touching lighters and matches, and I even included a page for parent/teachers for tips regarding fire safety and having fires. The front cover was designed early on but deciding on the font and the color took a little bit of experimenting until I was happy with the end result.
Next, I purchased ISBN numbers and bar codes so Steve, who was getting the book ready for printing could add everything, formatting it so the pages were set correctly for printing. So, with everything exactly as I wanted it, I set a date to have the books printed. This was the point of no return. It was going to be printed on the Monday, so anything found after the 5 pm’s deadline on the Friday, would be too late. I was out shopping during this last hour when for some reason, I took one last look at 4:50 and noticed a comma where a full stop should be. I could not have the book printed knowing this, so I tried to ring Steve who was going to give the go ahead, but I couldn’t get through. I then emailed and text, and eventually I got a response. The comma was changed so all was well in the end.
The next stage was waiting for a delivery date which only took a few days. Once set, the lorry arrived, 2 weeks before Christmas. I nervously and excitedly came to the back of the lorry where I saw boxes and boxes of books. We eventually got all the books into my house and after the initial panic of “What an earth have I just done?!” then “What if no one likes my book?” had passed, the excitement kicked in and what a special moment, opening the first box and seeing as well as holding my finished book for the first time. It was like all my Christmas's had come at once.
Marketing has been the hardest part of the process for me, but slowly I'm learning and even starting to really enjoy this part. I created a website first as a platform to sell, as well as got in touch with many of the families that lived locally. Just before Christmas I managed to sell 100 books in less than a week. I did village drop offs and my husband being a postman, was able to get the word out there about the book too.
I had got in touch with a local fireman who was raising money for charity, and a local shop whose owner just happened to be a fireman let me sell my book there, donating some of the money from the sells to the charity. I created coloring competitions, have done book signings at different events, I have completed several school and library visits, sell on Etsy and recently started selling through Muddy Faces, a forest school resources shop. I have also written several pieces about fire safety as well as outdoor learning at forest school for magazines and papers, all of which has been
a great opportunity to get my book out there as well as a chance to write.
Now with families, nurseries and schools as well as hundreds of forest schools around the UK, and further afield, such as Canada, America, Japan and Australia all reading my book, children are learning this important message of fire safety which to me is an incredible feeling. It is also being used in Canada by fire fighters as part of an activity, who are educating the younger children about fire safety.
I'm currently working with Eli Rees-king putting book 2 together, which is due to be published by the end of this year. This second story is another Fiery Fox adventure in the woodland, with just as an important message to share so watch this space.
Guest Post Wrap Up
If you love nature and the conservation of our forests, go check out Fiery Fox Learns About Fire Safety! You can never be to safe and teaching children this concept at such a young age is crucial.
You can also check out some of the last guest posts including self-publishing authors Christine Skippins or Danielle Ignace. If you would like to be featured on the blog, please feel free to reach out at email@example.com.