11 years ago we lost a close family friend to Cancer. It was incredibly tough on the family, particularly my mom, so she came to live with us for a while. We went from a family of six to seven, counting 4 kids ages 15, 9, 4 and 3. Mom spent a lot of time with them, spoiled them rotten, and read oodles of books daily to the two youngest.
I realized they enjoyed changing the storyline to the books they were reading. Loud outbursts of infectious laughter would reverberate through the house! It was a joy to listen to and became contagious.
They decided to write a book of their own, as they were good at conjuring up stories. Several months later, they had a book! Although my son had helped, he soon lost interest and my youngest daughter helped write the book from the eyes of a child.
Carmen, an old friend, illustrated the book. She had just retired and loved art. Her colored pencil sketches were amazing!
Finding a way to publish was virtually impossible. Mom found a tough, competitive market as she searched. She declined anyone that wanted to make changes to the book.
A year later mom moved out and the publishing idea was literally shelved to a drawer. Occasionally it appeared, to be read and enjoyed.
One day a friend asked me to come work with her during her company’s busy season. Questioning the position, I discovered it was a place I had done business with online. Intrigued, I accepted the offer. I soon found myself working in Shutterfly’s customer service department.
Being the family historian, I was always had a camera in hand. It wasn’t long before I made my first photo book, and was immediately hooked! Most people were making scrapbooks, which were becoming popular. I admired them, but I didn’t have the patience to make one. Photo books were my style.
Christmas was nearing, without a gift for mom. I considered my options. Mom already had tons of pictures of us…. I wanted something personal and unique, not store bought.
An idea formed one evening as I watched the kids retrieve the tattered copy of their book from the drawer. I COULD get that book in a printed, bound and published format!
Nervous and excited, I uploaded the book illustrations to my Shutterfly account. After trying on several book sizes and layouts, I finally found a good fit. I added the story text to each page, and decided on no auto correction to keep the colors true. The final step was a picture of mom and my daughter to add to the back cover with a small bio of them.
I ordered 3 copies; one for mom, the kids, and Carmen. I was very surprised and pleased after seeing the finished product. It looked just like a real book! It was a unique, beautiful and a one of a kind gift. I was so anxious to give them their gifts that Christmas, I could hardly contain myself.
On Christmas morning I presented all three gifts to them at the same time, to open together. I’ve never been able to properly describe the emotions at the moment my mom opened her photo book gift and finally realized what it really was. She cried as she recognized it, like an old friend. The kids literally squealed in delight and bounced up from the floor at the sight of their book, “The Adventures of Charlotte and Jane” that they had written together, years before………