This week we are featuring mom Jodi Murphy who is quite inspirational in that she is creating a book and storybook app from characters that her son dreamed up. I love how she is the type of person who looks at life as the glass being half full – if not overflowing. She demonstrates with her Can Do attitude that anything is possible and that with love and support magical things can happen! I had a chance to speak to Jodi about the process of creating Geek Club Books and she provides some insight on steps she took to realize her dream. The message of Geek Club Books is about accepting yourself and others for who they are – just as they are . This message is such an important one to teach kids. I think you will find her story quite fascinating and encouraging for those looking to write that book that has been hanging around in their head for years!
Tell us what was the inspiration behind creating Geek Club Books?
My son Jonathan is a 27 year old with Aspergers Syndrome. He’s my hero! When he was younger he struggled socially and dealt with a variety of learning disabilities and OCD behaviors. He managed the outside world by having a rich inner-world of superheroes and villains he’d take on a host of intricate “episodes” (that’s what he called them) or plot lines he invented and acted out every day. When he discovered theater, his entire life changed! Now he could BE those characters (or similar ones) and tell their stories (or similar ones) on stage. And performing Shakespeare, he could legitimately wear a cape!
The “don’t notice me” attitude and the pacing in the corner, gone! And the changes spilled over into his real life, and he began and continues to engage in the real world. Don’t get me wrong, he still has his challenges but he lives independently, has an agent, and is successfully working as a commercial and voice actor.
He is the inspiration behind Geek Club Books. It’s for him, about him, and for other children like him.
Jonathan embodies our theme…BE who you are, ACCEPT who you are, and don’t be afraid to SHARE who you are with the world. YOU matter.
Your whole family is involved in creating the Geek Club Books app and book – tell us how this process has been.
I made the decision about two and a half years ago, to stop working for clients and my digital magazine at www.nestingnewbies.com, so I could help Jonathan manage his career. Even with an agent, an actor must do his own marketing and promotion to generate opportunities…authors, sound familiar?
From seemingly unconnected sources, I had an AH HA moment and realized that our family had the creativity and resources to produce a series of storybook APPs based on Jonathan’s real life experiences growing up with Aspergers. We’ve never done anything like it before but I always prefer the challenge breaking new ground! My husband was behind it, 100%.
I asked my 23 year old daughter—a playwright, songwriter, musician—to write the manuscript. In new territory again since she’s never written a children’s book, but I felt it needed to be written by someone who has an emotional connection to Jonathan. Molly and I were both pretty nervous when we sent a draft off to a professional children’s book editor for review. Our first conference call went better than expected and I can’t tell you how proud I was when the editor was genuinely impressed to find out that it was Molly’s first manuscript in the genre.
I’m the one who’s doing all the project management and marketing. I’ve really enjoyed building our team: publisher/developer (Customizabooks- brothers who came from the video game industry), illustrators (Kim Johnson who created our main characters, JMan and Mr. Redge, and P-Scott, our story app illustrator who worked for Walt Disney Feature Animation), and our composer/lyricist/musician (AndyZ, a popular Bay Area kindie artist).
I’m letting Jonathan do what he does best! Michael (our audio engineer) and he are getting ready to head into the studio and record all the narration and characters.
From beginning to…almost…end, this process has been the greatest experience and joy of my career. I leap out of bed every day looking forward to building community and working on the storybook app. It’s hard work, but so much fun!
What are some tips you would recommend to an aspiring writer/author who is looking to create a storybook app or book.
- What are you waiting for? GO for it!
- Study, observe and learn from those who have done it or are doing it successfully. One of my best resources has been Karen Robertson over at www.digitalkidsauthor.com. She’s walked the walk and is teaching other authors how to do it. Definitely start there and your path will be straight forward.
- You can’t just create a great storybook app; you MUST do your own marketing. Seek out and find people who can help you build your platform. My pick? Melissa Northway and Allison Hinkle through Polka Dots Publishing (http://melissanorthway.com/polka-dots-publishing/). Over the years I’ve worked on brand building with several professionals and Melissa and Allison are two of the best, hands down.
- If you need freelancers—illustrators, web developers, graphic designers, audio engineers—use Elance www.elance.com. I’ve had tremendous success in finding really talented and responsive individuals. You can post a job and receive proposals, but I spend time narrowing my search, reviewing portfolios, looking at client reviews and checking experience and then I only invite my “short list” to make a proposal.
- Hire my son, Jonathan, to do your voice over. J www.jonincharacter.com
Any news you want to share with dandelion moms?
I’m bursting with news!
I chose Customizabooks (Blackfish Children’s Books) as our publisher/developer because they can do all sorts of cool customizations. One that I am most excited about is that the reader can change JMan into a girl—alright girl power! Our illustrator P-Scott just sent me a rough of what she’ll look like and I haven’t shared it publicly so dandelion moms you are the first!
Also, we’re sponsoring a Dandelion Moms/Penelope and the Purple Pirate Facebook Party on April 17th. In addition to the autism awareness theme and the oodles of goodies and code drops that will be given away…I have something really awesome to give to EVERYONE who comes to the party! We’ll be officially launching something at the party, so please stop by and invite other moms and dads to join us too!
Thanks Jodi! You are a true inspiration and love the good vibes you send out into the world! Here’s to a fun party!
You can find Jodi and read more about her upcoming book and app here:
Geek Club Books
I’m unique. I’m a geek.
April 17 at 5:00 PM PST