Island Girl Musings: Good Boy Milo – One Year Later

One year ago, on April 6th 2023, I officially introduced and launched my second children’s picture book Good Boy Milo. The days leading up to the launch were a rollercoaster of emotions, but nothing compared to the wild ride that this journey has taken me on. But, as you should know by now, I’m always up for an adventure!

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Holding my second children’s book, Good Boy Milo

 
While Good Boy Milo was published in 2023, the journey to the book that you can now hold in your hands started in September 2017 at a workshop facilitated by Grenada Schools Inc. The goal of the workshop? To create culturally relevant picture books for Grenadian children that are written and illustrated by Grenadians. Milo’s story was the first one I wrote during the week-long workshop, but it was my second story, Carla Dances Soca, that was chosen for publication. 
 
Check out my Behind The Storybook video to learn more about the inspiration behind Good Boy Milo and my desire to write for children.
 

 
After Carla Dances Soca launched in October 2018, I promised myself that I would find a way to get Milo’s story published. But, truthfully, there was something holding me back. A tiny part of me felt that if Milo wasn’t good enough to be selected for publication, then the story just wasn’t that good. And the file remained unopened on my computer for the next 2 years.
 
In 2020, with the world closed and my travel plans on an indefinite hold, I finally opened my writing projects folder. Over the next several months, I revisited a few of the stories, Milo’s in particular. Then in June 2021, I boldly proclaimed, during an interview on a television morning show, that I was aiming to have my second book out in the world by the end of the year. Lol, what? 

In the Author’s Room at Morrison House hotel in Old Town, Alexandria, Virginia. I booked myself a few days to finish off my writing projects…which I did!

 
I finished Milo’s story in August 2021 and decided I was going to self-publish Good Boy Milo. But first, I needed to find an illustrator. 
 
It’s not like I didn’t know any illustrators. But there was that little voice again. 
 
One afternoon in October 2021, while catching up with two of my childhood besties, I mentioned that I had finally finished a story and my next step was finding an illustrator.
 
Gabby: Oh! You should ask Lizzie (her sister)

Me: Oooo, I should! 

Gabby: She’s actually coming to meet me, so you can talk to her today.

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Elizabeth Lander is the talented illustrator responsible for Good Boy Milo.

Bringing Milo’s garden to life

 
The thing about being a children’s picture book author is that when it is time for the illustrations, you have to hand over all control and trust that the words you have written are strong enough to guide the illustrator. I teared up when I opened Elizabeth’s character sketches for the first time. And I bawled when I saw the colour preview. 
 
With my illustrations steadily progressing, I had to figure out how to create a physical book. I scoured how-to guides and blog posts. Many self-published authors use Amazon’s KDP platform; I also considered IngramSpark. Print on demand or print in bulk? The more I read, the more overwhelmed I became. I didn’t know about paper weights and binding. Forget bleed and trim.
 
But then I remembered something important: just because I’m self-publishing doesn’t mean I have to do it all myself.

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Caesar Gangadeen expertly handled the book design and printing!

 
Pro tip: If you’re reading this and considering self-publishing a children’s book, you should decide on your book’s dimensions before engaging your illustrator. It’ll save you from dealing with any formatting issues later. 

The race to the launch

 
After considering all of our printing options, we decided to print in Trinidad & Tobago. This is a truly Caribbean endeavour, I remember saying. Since Good Boy Milo is essentially about a dog that tries to fly a kite, I figured Easter would be the perfect time to launch. That left us with just under two months to get the proof approved and send the book to print. Could we do it?
 
We really tried. 

Y’all see the timestamp on this photo? We were cutting it close.

 
Despite our best efforts, my book was going to launch with just a few display copies, which didn’t get to Grenada until THE DAY BEFORE THE LAUNCH. Minus the book signings, the launch was still everything I dreamed it would be.

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Fighting back tears. I published a book, yo!

 

Storytime with Auntie Neila

 

My event coordinator and MC who made my launch absolutely perfect.

 
The delivery date for my books changed two more times before my 25 boxes of books were finally on their way to Grenada. By that point I had stopped stressing. There was nothing I could do about the printing delays. I just hoped to have them in time for Unleash in May.

Unleash

 
As part of the government’s commitment to the creative economy, the newly established Grenada Office of Creative Affairs hosted Unleash, the first national cultural and creative industries conference in May 2023. Held over 3 days, Unleash was an epic gathering of Grenadian creativity with presentations, panel discussions, breakout sessions and, on the final day, a creative expo. 
 
Except the day before the expo, I STILL DIDN’T HAVE MY BOOKS. The only thing I didn’t do was cry. 
 
Oh, wait.
 
But Milo was meant to be at Unleash. 

Hon. Dickon Mitchell, Prime Minister of Grenada, was among the first people to get a copy of Good Boy Milo. Photo: The Office of the Prime Minister of Grenada

Milo goes on tour

 
During the last two weeks of June, I took Milo on a school tour. We visited 12 schools total,  even hitting 3 schools in one day. I wasn’t at my best, health wise, and each reading drained me. But seeing the excitement on the students’ faces was so worth it and kept me going.

Hats off to reading on Read Across Grenada day in June 2023.

 

Storytime at Hillsborough Pre-Primary School in Carriacou

 
In addition to readings at schools in Grenada and Carriacou, Milo and I visited schools in Virginia and Washington, DC. 

Bush Hill Elementary in Alexandria, Virginia

It gets mushy now…

 
My gratitude cannot be fully expressed within the confines of a blog post. But I’ll try my best. I continue to be blown away by the love and support Good Boy Milo receives. I try not to burst into tears every time I hear that Good Boy Milo is someone’s little reader’s favourite book. It means the world to me and I hope to never forget what that feels like. 
 
This book would not have been possible without my parents who encouraged me to write from an early age, and who have consistently supported this journey to writing full-time. And my brother, who is probably the reason I started reading so young and who was instrumental in making this a truly Caribbean project. 
 
I am grateful to the local retailers who believed and took a chance to stock Good Boy Milo in their stores. Good Boy Milo is also on Amazon, which would not be possible without my sister-in-law who manages my US fulfillment. 
 
My speech at my book launch had an underlying theme: it takes a village. And my village has grown over the past year. As an author, especially a self-published one, community is necessary, and I am grateful for the community that I have found in the Grenadian Published Authors, Inc. 

There’s a diverse collection of books published by Grenadians. Look out for the GPA pop up sales!

 
And finally, thank you to every single person who has bought a copy of Good Boy Milo, recommended it or shared one of my posts. Grenadian literature has a bright future because of you.

Speaking of the future…

 
So what’s next for Good Boy Milo? To start, I want to get Milo into the hands of even more children in Grenada and the diaspora. I also want to take Milo on a regional tour. I’d love to do school visits in the neighbouring islands. I know we can make that happen.
 
Will there be a Good Boy Milo part 2? Yes! Stay tuned.

 

PS: If you don’t already have a copy of Good Boy Milo, here’s where you can purchase. Thanks in advance!
 
good boy milo

 

 

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3 Comments

  1. Winnie April 6, 2024 at 9:45 pm

    Good Boy Solo next?

    Reply
  2. St Rose April 7, 2024 at 4:49 am

    Congratulations
    I love Milo❤️
    Can’t wait for book number 3
    Hugs
    Jan

    Reply
  3. Katherine A MacNeil April 7, 2024 at 9:14 am

    Thank you for sharing!

    Reply

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