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  • Writer's pictureKali Kuzma

The Snowy Owl: A Guest Post by Gulistan Yildiz Mentes

The Love of Animals

Something I haven't spoken much here on the blog is my love of animals. In fact, Steve Irwin was my childhood hero.

I've worked with many species including dogs and cats to socialized wolves and brown bears. It's crazy to think I've worked with such amazing animals, but what's crazier is I haven't written a children's story with the main character being an animal.

Shocking right?!

Well, our guest blogger today does a great job incorporating unique animals into her children's books while also getting positive messages across at the same time. This makes reading time great for both the parents and kids alike. Take a look at what she has to say!


The Wise Snowy Owl

I was born and grew up in a small village in the eastern part of Turkey. When I look back on my childhood years, I didn’t have many children’s books around me to spark my imagination as a kid. I only remember reading a few books of Nasreddin Hodja (a Seljuk satirist in the 13th century) and some short stories from my textbooks. In a way, I wasn’t a lucky child to have many books, but the stories and tales my mother told me at night were like books in my imagination. Although I didn’t have a chance to read lots of books, I was lucky enough to run and play freely in fields and orchards. I was bestowed with an environment to help me be creative and imaginative. I made my own toys with mud, stones, and wood. I loved to go to bed at night because the moment I put my head on the pillow, I found building many stories in my world of fantasy. As a child, I was extremely curious about what was happening around me, so I was a great observer. I had a thirst for new knowledge. As a result, becoming an author is not a coincidence in my life. It has been a long journey for me.

As an author, I always intend to create books that spread love, knowledge, support, kindness, and positive outlooks around. Being a mother of two children, always keeps my imagination alive to write new books. I feel like my brain is a non-stop producer of turning instant ideas into books to spread inspiration over our planet. In short, creating a character with a story is not hard for me.

I started writing instructional books in English for children and adults, but my heart always beat for literature. I took the first step of writing a proper children’s book many years ago. I made up a bedtime story (The Gold-Hearted Tiger) to tell my sons at night. My kids loved it, so I told them the story over and over as it highlights the importance of kindness, empathy and understanding. Then I decided to share my story with the outside world. I found an illustrator and it turned into a book in a couple of months. However, I put my ready to be published book aside for three years. When I shared my story with some people, I had incredible reactions, so I thought it was time to take a concrete step. That was how I started with Amazon.

Then I added five more picture books to my Amazon bookshelf. The Friendly Tamarin is my second picture book which focuses on strong family ties and friendship via a unique animal. After searching through the internet, I decided to have a cute tamarin as the main character of the book.

Then, my third picture book, The Jolly Toucan was born. As we can understand from the title, the story is about staying positive no matter what happens and looking at problems from different angles.

The Wise Snowy Owl is my fourth picture book and focuses on curiosity, scientific facts, and friendship. Telling about the midnight sun in the Arctic via a snowy owl was an instant idea. I thought it would grab children’s attention to find out more about this fascinating natural phenomenon. When I created this book, I worked with both an illustrator and editor. You see, an author who writes illustrated books needs a professional illustrator since the work is uncomplete without gripping illustrations. I wish I could illustrate my own books, but I've never had a chance to focus on it, plus it was not easy for me to find a good illustrator. I searched online and asked friends and acquaintances to find someone who could illustrate. Finally, I was lucky to find a great illustrator who I still work with now.

Apart from an illustrator, working with a professional editor is extremely important to complete your book. I found a great editor through an acquaintance. I receive professional support from her in order to create an impressive piece of literature.

I have various reasons to go for self-publishing. First of all, you feel more comfortable and independent in this way. You are your own boss in self-publishing, nobody tells you what to do. It’s a good feeling to be in control of what you have created. Another important thing is, traditional publishers receive loads of submissions, and it's a long process to wait for them to get back to you. Self-publishing is an affordable way for authors to send their books into the market.

However, there are some disadvantages of self-publishing as well. Marketing your book can be extremely painful. Even you write great books, there is a big competition out there and you are all alone. It is almost impossible to increase the visibility of your book among millions of others. You need to be very active on social media and set a budget for promotions and advertisements. You also need to visit schools and attend events to scream out your books.

After The Wise Snowy Owl, I wrote The Curious Woodpecker in the same style. The story revolves around friendship and being curious about different places. That is why I chose a woodpecker to fly to unknown places.

The Helpful Deer is my last picture book. Like the other five, it is full of positive energy and valuable life lessons.

Besides children picture books, I also published my first chapter book Will You Be My Pet? a few weeks ago. In this book, I wanted to help children broaden their minds about wild animals, pets, and street animals.

My books are available on Amazon, but I live in Turkey. It is a big challenge for me to introduce my books and reach organic readers in America or other countries. I wish I could do real author visits in America, England, Canada, and Australia. Maybe I can get this point in the future.


Guest Post Wrap Up

I hope Gulistan is able to spread her positive message through her children's book more in the future. I think it is something we as a society are needing more and more every day.

If you haven't already, go check out her stories and unique animal characters. Tell me which one is your favorite! I know mine is The Wise Snowy Owl.

If you are a self-published author who would like to tell their story on the Kali Kuzma Author and Storyteller send me an email at Check out other guest posts by Britta Whitmer, Yannick Atambona, or Donna Howard to see if it is something you are interested in pursuing.

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