As much as I try to write a blog each month and keep our customers updated, there always seems to be one more thing to do. Looking back the last blog I wrote was in July!
One of the things that slowed me down was the size of our export card order to Switzerland in September. We sent out approximately 40,000 cards and card packs all packed by hand. ( Well done Samantha on packing the largest part of the order) There were 4 pallet loads on a lorry that went out to Geneva and every single card had our 'fame' seeking reindeer Wayne on it.
Yes Wayne Dear and his mates 'The O'dears ' seem to be growing in popularity each year, not only at home , but also abroad.
So much so that in March of this year, I sat down to write what I thought might be a few nice words about Wayne.
This had been largely prompted by the fact that last Christmas Eve he'd dropped in to visit us rather unexpectedly.
And I mean literally dropped in!
I’d woken up with a start around 3 am, expecting to see Father Christmas. I looked nervously around the sitting room , wielding a flashlight in one hand and a poker in the other.
I carefully inspected the chimney and yes the old boy, or be it his reindeers had already been. There was soot down the chimney, reindeer hoof marks everywhere, half eaten mince pies and the carrots outside in the garden had been munched. And of course there were loads of presents for the children.
So what was going on ?
There was another loud clatter of what sounded like hooves trying to get a grip on the roof and then suddenly a large crash in the garden!
I peered outside into the dark night.
There was Wayne all tangled up in the clothes line with flashing lights in his antlers.
"Whatever are you doing?" I hissed at him."Arn't you supposed to be with the other reindeer?" "By the look of it they've been and gone quite a while ago"
"Erm ... well its a bit of a long story " blurted out Wayne whilst untangling himself and at the same time almost pinning me to the wall with a flashing antler.
" Give me the short version " I said as I needed to get back to bed and I also didn't want him to wake the children.
And so he did.
His story; the 'short' version was all about his life growing up with his friends and family The O’dears at the North Pole . It actually went on for half an hour.
After 5 minutes into his story, I decided it was better we both take the weight off, so I beckoned him to a chair and we both sat down, cross legged by the still warm chimney and munched on leftover mince pies , port and frozen carrots.
He was really happy and excited about his story and kept talking about an urgent present he needed to deliver before Christmas morning .
He thanked me for the carrots and asked if I'd write a little bit about him when I had time. And then with the usual reindeer magic and flashing antlers , he was gone again into the night.
And so I thought about his story and the pictures I have of him and his friends and slowly a few words turned into a few more .
I mean I wouldn't really have called myself a writer or author as such, until now. Yes, I can draw and illustrate , but I must say I enjoyed writing about Wayne Dear,as he's such a fun character. I put his story together in rhyming sentences to make a little uplifting and courageous story all about family and friendship.
Its an odd thing sitting down to write a story, it doesn’t just happen all at once, it sort of evolves over time. I devoted all the month of March to it and developed the pictures around a loose story I had in my head. But all the rhyming couplets had to then be worked into the plot. And the pictures had to register in turn with the words. And all that to get a story that is told over 26 story pages and about 1000 words and one that can be read at bedtime in well under 10 minutes.
I stress under 10 minutes because I consistently recite The Ugly Duckling, by Hans Christian Andersen , which I know by heart from reading it so many times, and that's how long it approximately takes me, unless I add in a few duck quacks and rooster noises . I can usually get Sophie and Edward to sleep in around that time. It must be like a hypnotist listening to me, "now listen to me.. you are getting very sleepy" droning on in a monotone and boring voice. But it works every time and depending on my own tiredness level, I can put myself to sleep before I get to the last few sentences.
After I'd finished illustrating and writing it, I then chatted to our printer and I thought we'll try and turn the story into a little book for this Christmas. Of course all this got held up with the busy year we've had and all our shows and packing orders and before you know it , we are just a month away from Christmas!
Well it is now finally finished and is on sale. So I’m going to be very interested to see what response it gets and hopefully Wayne will find his 'fame'.
I think possibly Wayne and I have defied the boundaries of traditional children’s books , maybe not a wise thing to do, but we like doing things differently. I had been told that children's books have to appeal distinctly to a specific age range, and fall into certain categories, or they won’t sell.
I hope to prove the traditional thinking wrong. You see I believe my book can be read to Edward who is 3 years old , who will get excited over the pictures that daddy has made. It can also work for an older reader like Sophie at 8 years old, who will read the rhyme herself and delight in the language, alongside the pictures.
But there’s also some big overgrown kids out there like you and me, who get to do the reading and who’ve still got a part to us that’s never grown up.
And Christmas being such a very special time, well I think there's a part in all of us that still seeks the imagination and magic all over again. Much like watching a Disney/ Pixar film like Toy Story , there’s something else in there quite unique, just an extra bit of dry humour, with a bit of a twist and a happy ending for the grown ups as well as the little ones.
And that's where our reindeer book comes in , (like our cards and the dry humour attached to them) I think it can work on all levels and age ranges and transcend those traditional boundaries.
A BIG CHEER FOR WAYNE DEAR is out now and priced at £6.00
The book is 23CM X 23CM in size, glued and section sewn (to handle the rough stuff from kids) and is printed on uncoated paper.( it fits the square format and look of our cards) It totals 36 pages front to back, with a glossy cover and is all printed in Sheffield.
So thats my blog now complete for November .
In December , well the blog might be another ‘story' all together. I'll have to let you know!
Either the book becomes a runaway success story; or I might get paid a... "I know where you live! " roof visit at 3am by not just Wayne Dear , but all his mates demanding royalties in carrots . Or worse still asking why the book hasn’t sold and them all pinning me to the wall.
So please have a read of some of the extracts on our website and various other blogs that are happening soon. And if you happen to buy one between now and Christmas Eve please give us a mention and let us know what you think on social media.
As I say we've gone about it in a non traditional way and keeping it quite select we'd like it to gain traction in an organic way, rather than it going straight onto a mass Amazon style site and being swallowed up.
Hopefully if I can get a few nice comments back from customers, I can then pass them onto Wayne in good time to avoid being roughed up and lynched by his reindeer mates before the big day.
Here's hoping we get A Big Cheer For Wayne Dear.