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How I Wrote my First Children's Book

Updated on August 12, 2015
BlossomSB profile image

Bronwen was a teacher for over forty years. Degrees include School Librarianship, Psycholinguistics and Theology, and Applied Linguistics.

Two Grandchildren on the Gold Coast, Qld. (Pandanus Trees in the Background)
Two Grandchildren on the Gold Coast, Qld. (Pandanus Trees in the Background) | Source
It Won a Prize!
It Won a Prize! | Source

Family Tree Research

When we retired my husband and I soon took up several hobbies, some together, some separately. One of them was a mix of both - we both researched, but we each worked on our own family trees. We had been doing them, off and on, for some time. We moved to the Gold Coast to be nearer one of our sons. After a few years, sadly, my husband, who was also my best friend, died.

As a member of Castlemaine Historical Society, from time to time I received a mail-out. One was for a competition that included the Malcom Blume Awards for a book on a local family tree. Entries were to be sent in about six months' time. I thought,

"This could be good therapy. I should try to finish my Family Tree research and write it all up.That would give me a goal to work for."

I immersed myself in this and, almost at the last moment finished and sent it off. It felt good that at least I had achieved something. What was my delight when the Awards were announced! I received First Prize and a cheque. The only sad thing was that my husband wasn't there to help me celebrate. Part of the comment on the award was

'Sets a very high standard...very well written and well presented.'

One of my daughters, Amanda Thompson who is a Finished Artist, designed the cover and I used the prize money towards having the book printed by The University of Queensland Printery. I even had orders from James Bennett, Sydney booksellers who sell to libraries.


The Pandanus Seed Looked like a Face
The Pandanus Seed Looked like a Face | Source

The Pandanus Tree Fruit Seeds

Now, I truly had the writing bug! But what to write about next?

Then, one day when I was taking two of my grandchildren for a walk along the beach, we picked up one of the seeds from a Pandanus tree fruit. It was strange, something appeared to have bored into it, so it seemed to have two eyes. We looked for more. Some others seemed to have two eyes. There were even markings that could have been a nose and mouth. We decided that the bumps on the top was the pandanus person's 'hair.'

So, the stories of The Pandanus People were born.

What is Beetle Doing?
What is Beetle Doing? | Source

The Illustrations

There were five stories, mostly about Billy and Jilly who lived in a Pandanus fruit house with their mother and father, grandmother and grandfather, and, as I had been an infant teacher at one stage long ago, each story includes some sort of moral teaching.

Then, as my first degree was School Librarianship, and I had loved those years of my teaching, introducing children to books and stories, I made full-page illustrations for each story. Each picture told a little more about the story than just the words - they were also intended for language work and observation with the young child being led by the teacher or parent.

The houses were the fruit - with chimneys, windows and doors; the Pandanus tree branches were the paths to the houses, some of the furniture was made from rubbish that human people left lying around or shells scavenged from the beach, and their pet was a beetle. Beetle appears in every illustration, but he is sometimes hiding and needs to be found, for example, when they are seated on small toadstools around a dining-table, which is a larger toadstool. Beetle is having his tea by hiding under the table and eating it!

The Front Cover of 'The Pandanus People'
The Front Cover of 'The Pandanus People' | Source

Have you ever found Pandanus seeds with eyes like this?

See results

Notes for Parents and Teachers

As the book was intended to be educational as well as fun, the last few pages of the book include notes with ideas for parents and teachers. There is a brief introduction about the aim of the book, then each story is looked at from the point of view of

  • The underlying theme of the story
  • What to help the child to observe
  • A suggested follow-up activity

The Back Cover of 'The Pandanus People'
The Back Cover of 'The Pandanus People' | Source

How to Publish?

As a young children's book, this did not seem appropriate for the University to print, so I looked online and found a publisher in the USA. who was willing to print it. One of their workers designed the front cover, using one of my illustrations, and the back cover.

Yes, the lamp over the matchbox dressing-table was two shells we found cemented together, so the fan shell is the 'mirror' and the other the 'lamp.'

The publisher did all the work, although I did go to Beijing as an author with them to advertise my book at a Booksellers' Trade Fair. It was very expensive, and I have since found that this is called 'Vanity Publishing,' but it definitely was fun. I did another children's book with them, but since then have written in a variety of genres and have self-published.

My latest book is the second in The Joan Murray Series intended for children aged about 10 - 12. The first in the Series was a girl's life and experiences during the Great Depression of the 1930s. The second is set in the years when the Depression was lessening, and there were rumblings of war. It is called 'Joan: Sunshine and Shadow' and hopefully it will be available in August and on my online 'Blossom's Bookstore.' It will be my fourteenth book.

The Pandanus 'People.'
The Pandanus 'People.' | Source

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    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 12 months ago from Victoria, Australia

      norlawrence: It can be about things that interest you - they're likely to interest other people, too. Also, make more friends on HubPages and comment on their work, then, hopefully, they'll comment on yours as well. Also, when they comment on your hubs, reply to their comments; this means that your title will come up again on more people's lists and might encourage others to look at your work, too. Best of everything to you!

    • norlawrence profile image

      Norma Lawrence 12 months ago from California

      Thanks for the advise. My life has not been that interesting.

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 12 months ago from Victoria, Australia

      norlawrence: Good! When you do, write a hub about your experience, people often like to read about such things and it's an encouragement for them, too.

    • norlawrence profile image

      Norma Lawrence 12 months ago from California

      Thank for your comment. Many people say may work is good but I get few views and very few comments. I have article that only have 2 comments and some with none. I may try someday.

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 12 months ago from Victoria, Australia

      norlawrence: Thank you, I'm so glad you enjoyed it. Judging from your HubPages work, I think you could very well write a book, you are good at doing research for your articles. You seem to prefer non-fiction as a genre and useful information is often needed on a great variety of topics. I'd love to see you try.

    • norlawrence profile image

      Norma Lawrence 12 months ago from California

      Great article. Loved it. I do not think I could write a book of any kind. Thanks

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 14 months ago from Victoria, Australia

      norlawrence: Thank you! It's such fun to write - and to encourage others to do it, too. I'll look forward to reading about yours!

    • norlawrence profile image

      Norma Lawrence 14 months ago from California

      Great hub. I loved it. You did a great job. Thanks for the share.

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 19 months ago from Victoria, Australia

      Peggy W: What a lovely thought! I guess that's the teacher coming out in me; those seeds were so interesting. I still have a couple and when I showed them to a friend she couldn't believe I hadn't drawn the eyes on them, they looked so good. Thank you for your comments.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 19 months ago from Houston, Texas

      I think that your husband would be beaming with pride on your success as a published author. Those books sound wonderful as a teaching tool and the illustrations are so cute. I had never heard of a Pandanus tree nor seen a seed from one. Those seeds are certainly interesting looking. I can understand why they reminded you of a face. Congratulations on your success! Sharing and pinning.

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 21 months ago from Victoria, Australia

      gerimcclym: Thank you for your lovely comments. I do hope you write some children's books, too, and wish you every success.

    • gerimcclym profile image

      Geri McClymont 21 months ago

      I am sorry your husband was not there to help you celebrate the award you received for your book about your family tree research but I can only imagine he would have been extremely proud of you!

      It was fun as well as well as interesting to learn how you got started writing children's books. I would like to write a few myself, so thank you for sharing your experiences and your knowledge with us.

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 2 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      teaches12345: How could I have missed your comment? My apology - I've been wrapped up in my current book. Thank you for your lovely comments. May God bless you!

      Chin chin: Thank you! Keep encouraging her, but children learn best by imitation, so do have a try yourself as well - you may surprise yourself!

    • Chin chin profile image

      Chin chin 2 years ago from Philippines

      Your hub is very inspiring and you're really a great writer. I have not published any book, but one of my little girls like writing stories. Maybe someday I will have a children's book author in the family.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 2 years ago

      Congratulations on your successful writing career. I am inspired through your words here. I will have to look into your library of books for my own keeping. Thanks for sharing from your experience on how best to publish. Self-publishing is an option highly favored these days. God bless!

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 2 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      rebeccamealey: It's a great hobby. Thank you for your lovely comments, I hope that you do well and enjoy your writing, too. The cover for the new Joan Murray book, Joan: Sunshine and Shadow, has just reached me, so the next stop is the Printer. It's beginning to get exciting!

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 2 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Fourteen books is quite an accomplishment! The Joan Murray series sounds interesting and the Pandanus story looks very charming. Congratulations on all these achievements!

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 2 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      MarleneB: Thank you. They are fun, especially the children's ones, although those in the Joan Murray Series take quite a bit of research, too, as it's important, even in fiction to have the facts right!

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 2 years ago from Northern California, USA

      I wish you much success with your books. They sound so fun and exciting.

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 2 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      AaudreyHowitt: Thank you. That's very kind of you. I enjoy seeing you on Facebook, too. Happy writing!

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 2 years ago from California

      Congratulations! You should be proud! And thank you for sharing your journey with us--

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 2 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      suzettenaples: Well, congratulations on writing your book, but do go ahead and get it published or self-publish and start marketing it! I'm sure there are people who would love to read it. Thank you, too, for your comments.

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 2 years ago from Taos, NM

      Well, Blossom you have authored 14 books! That's 14 more than me ! I'd say that's accomplished! Actually Inhave authored one book but it is not published so I don't count it. Lol!

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 2 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      midget38: Sorry I missed your comment before. I do hope that you have lots of fun doing it and I wish you every success!

      suzettenaples: I'm not so sure about your first comment - each one is a new venture, but it's certainly enjoyable writing for children - we can let our imaginations go! Thank you so much for your comments.

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 2 years ago from Taos, NM

      What an accomplished author you are. Your children's books sound so interesting and so imaginative. Congratulations and you are an inspiration to all of us!

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 2 years ago from Singapore

      I will be embarking on this soon, and am book marking this hub for advice!

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 2 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      travmaj: I'm so glad you enjoyed reading about my first children's book - I enjoyed reading your comments. Thank you!

      sgbrown: How lovely! Yes, as a teacher-librarian, I often found that a new book was fun, but that it celebrated naughtiness, and thought that it was better for adults than helpful for the children.

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      Sheila Brown 2 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      Congratulations to you and your husband. I am sorry that he is not here to celebrate this with you, but you know he is smiling down. There should be more books like these written for children, there are many good lessons to be learned that don't seem to be taught to children these days. Kudos to you!

    • travmaj profile image

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      I'm delighted to read this and many congratulations on your well deserved success. I know how difficult writing for children is, where every word is important and somewhat meaningful. Enjoyed reading this.

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 2 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      bonda: Great! Thank you for letting me know, too. You've made my day!

      midget38: Lovely! I wish you well.

      LeslieAdrienne: so glad you enjoyed it. Hope those new books go well. It's a lot of work, but fun as well.

      aviannovice: Thank you so much for your lovely comments. Perhaps I should write more about my books, but I'm usually so busy working on new ones!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      You have done a lot of wonderful work. Kudos to you, and I am hoping to hear more about your endeavors. Well done!

    • LeslieAdrienne profile image

      Leslie A. Shields 2 years ago from Georgia

      Wonderful and very encouraging.... I have self-published one book and am working on several more.... I really enjoyed this hub. God Bless you!

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 2 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks for the tips. I will be embarking on this too!

    • bonda profile image

      Nonqaba waka Msimang 2 years ago from Canada

      BlossomSB, done. Got in from Amazon. Thanks for the info. Ta ta.

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 2 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      bonda: That's great! Thank you for your good wishes - I hope so, too!

      phdast7: I think I'm surprised too! : ) It was varied and interesting, although sometimes I would have preferred to stay, rather than move on, but things like that happen with a family. God bless you.

      bonda: oh, dear! The ISBN and publisher are displayed on the back cover image in the hub, or you can get from Amazon or from my online bookshop: www.bscott-branagan.org That would be lovely of you to buy it. Thank you!

    • bonda profile image

      Nonqaba waka Msimang 2 years ago from Canada

      Oops! Clicked on e-bay to buy the book, but they are selling pandanus balansae seeds.

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Blossom! Your fourteenth book. I am so impressed. And I love the Pandanus story and your wonderful illustrations. :) You had such a varied and interesting teaching career --- I think I am a little jealous. :) Blessings. Theresa

    • bonda profile image

      Nonqaba waka Msimang 2 years ago from Canada

      Yes indeed. My first follower. I really appreciate it. All the best for the Pandanus book.

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 2 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      FlourishAnyway: Thank you for your kind comments. Although I write in several different genres, I think the children's books are the most fun.

      Larry Rankin: Thank you. Children's books can really bring out our creative ideas.

      bonda: Was I really? That's great! I won't guarantee to comment on all your hubs as I do rather get my head into a book and forget about other things sometimes, but the intention is there!

    • bonda profile image

      Nonqaba waka Msimang 2 years ago from Canada

      I'm pleased to announce that blossom was the first person to follow me on this platform and always supports me, so her success is also mine. Just kidding. Bravo Blossom.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      Wonderful insight into this genre.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      "Dr. Blossom," congratulations on your success as a published author. It is encouraging to hear how determination and creativity can come together to fuel success. I've never seen one of those seeds, but I like the format of your book with the moral teachings and activities. Voted up and more.

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 2 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Michael-Milec: God bless you for your beautiful comments - of which I am all unworthy, but I do try to do my best.

      thumbi7: Thank you for your comment. Yes, it does help.

      Genna East: Thank you for your kind comments. The fourteenth book is still waiting for its cover design, so it's not quite there, yet. It should be some time next month.

      Jodah: Congratulations on you ebook of poetry! That's great!

      I'm sure you'll have pandanus trees around your way. The seeds can be a lovely polished brown, like a chestnut, and are about two inches high and about from two to three inches wide -oops! should have said that in centimetres (shows my age!). As they lie around and age, they become very fibrous at the bottom and PNG men used to use them as shaving brushes! Yes, the message is important, too.

      Frank Atanacio: Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed those illustrations, they may look fairly simple, but they take a while to do and it's fun doing them.

      Marie Flint: Multicultural would be very useful and welcomed, I'm sure. Do let us know when your book is published. Blessings to you, too!

      bonda: Thank you so much. In this journey of life we never know what is coming just around the corner - just as well, too! I'm glad you like the illustrations.

      poetryman6969: Thank you for your congratulations. Everything usually is there, but we need our eyes and minds wide open to see it, as you will know with your poetry.

    • poetryman6969 profile image

      poetryman6969 2 years ago

      Congratulations on your success! Your experience shows that sometimes everything we really need is right in front of us.

    • bonda profile image

      Nonqaba waka Msimang 2 years ago from Canada

      What a wonderful journey that led to this destination! Pandanus? Now i know, a little bit about your corner of Australia. I just love the illustration titled "What is a Beetle doing" the mushroom table is cute, and i like the family ambience in that illustration. Bravo.

    • Marie Flint profile image

      Marie Flint 2 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida USA

      I'm another potential children's book author. Multicultural would probably be my genre, however.

      You're imaginative approach to an existing seed of nature deserves much credit.

      Blessings!

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 2 years ago from Shelton

      first congratulations.. the illustrations look just amazing.. I thin children would really enjoy this book.. up and shared my friend :)

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      I thoroughly enjoyed this hub Blossom. Well done in your publishing and thank you for sharing about this delightful book. I actually don't think I have seen a pandanus seed. I have just self published my first eBook of poetry so that's exciting, and have ghost written the text for two children's book by a different author. I love that your stories have a good message for the kids too. Voted up.

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      These are the kind of books I want my grandchildren to read. What a delight! And congratulations on the release of your 14th book; what an impressive accomplishment for a lovely, inspiring lady.

    • thumbi7 profile image

      JR Krishna 2 years ago from India

      Congratulations on writing childrens' stories. You must be feeling wonderful now

      Voted up and shared

    • Michael-Milec profile image

      Michael-Milec 2 years ago

      Hello BlossomSB.

      Uplifting and joyous read. Following your experience toward praiseworthy goal, you are " a city that is set on a hill..." May the grace of the Almighty lead you and strengthen in your being a blessing to humanity.

      Voted up,useful and beautiful.

      Shalom.

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 2 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      mactavers: Thank you! Children have enough violence around them without adding to it in books. Castlemaine is in Victoria, Australia, and was one of the early gold-rush places.

      annart: They are fun. I'd never heard of them before I went to Queensland, they're a tropical plant and are also found in Papua New Guinea. There are several different varieties and in PNG the long leaves are used for weaving. You should get those stories of your published, too.

      Phyllis Doyle: Yes, it is exciting, and fun, too. Do try to get yours in print. Perhaps some of your hubs would be suitable. Thank you for those votes.

      billybuc: Thank you, that's very kind of you.

      tobusiness: The fruit looks a bit like a pineapple. Thank you so much for your comments.

      Faith Reaper: I do hope that this has helped you to decide to get into print. You write so beautifully and inspirationally I'm sure you would do well. Thank you for your congratulations and may God bless you.

      always exploring: Well, yes, I guess it is gratifying, but hopefully my books are also helpful. They do look like faces - it's surprising that no one has noticed that before, as they are often around, or washed up on the beach.

      PurvisBobbi44: How lovely! I'd like to think that they think that! Yes, it's a while back now and, as they say, life goes on, but I do still miss him. Families are a blessing - how much harder it must be for those without children and grandchildren when they lose a much-loved life-partner. And yes, you're right! I do always seem to be thinking up ideas for books - there are just never enough hours in a day!

      mckbirdbks: It certainly does take a lot of energy to get a book into print - selling them is something else! I'm not a business person - writing them is much more fun. Thank you for your congratulations.

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 2 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Blossom. Congratulations. An author puts an awful lot of their energy into getting a book into print. I applaud your efforts and your results. Now on to many more.

    • PurvisBobbi44 profile image

      PurvisBobbi44 2 years ago from Florida

      Hi Blossom,

      I voted up ++++ and what an amazing first children's book. Your grandchildren are lucky to have a grandmother like you.

      I am sorry about your husband and I am sure living close to your family is a blessing for you.

      Good luck on future books.

      Bobbi Purvis

      I shared with twitter and Pinterest.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      It must be very gratifying to be able to write children's books. The pandanus fruit do look like they have a face. I admire you. You have filled your life with happiness through your writing....Wonderful!

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 2 years ago from southern USA

      How exciting and wonderful! Congratulations on your delightful children's books. I am sorry about the loss of your husband and his not being there to celebrate with you.

      I have always dreamed of writing a children's book, and being around my grandchildren gives me a lot of inspiration. I have never heard of the Pandanus trees or seeds, so I learned something here too. They certainly do look like faces and your creatively to bring them to life is delightful. I must order your children's books for my grands, as they will surely enjoy them, and I love the faith-based aspect of your books to teach. Your illustrations are perfectly divine.

      Up ++++ tweeting, pinning, G+ and sharing

      Again, congratulations on a job well down and many continued blessings

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      Hi Blossom, I've never seen a Pandanus fruit before, but the images certainly captures the imagination. Congrats on the publication, I wish you every success with the series. My best to you always.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      A wonderful explanation and tutorial. Best wishes with your books and a job well done!

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 2 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hi Blossom. This is great news about your books. How exciting for you. It really encourages me to get a move on and start writing to publish.

      I so enjoyed reading about your experiences with writing.

      Voted Up +++ and H+

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      Up +++ and shared. Wow! What a great thing to have done. I've written a few children's stories and tried writing one with my granddaughter but never published; you've gone the whole hog and written much more besides. Well done, you! I love the look of these Pandanus People. They're such fun.

      I'll keep an eye out for the Joan Murray series.

      I'm a firm believer in educating through stories. I've done quite a bit of that in Primary School and with my dyslexics students; it teaches observation and choices too. I'm with you all the way on that one!

      Great hub about some wonderful ideas. You've kept yourself busy and I've no doubt your husband would be proud of you.

      All the best.

      Ann

    • mactavers profile image

      mactavers 2 years ago

      A very well written Hub, and children need more books without violent undertones. Where is the Castlemaine Historical society? Also, I've never heard of Pandanus trees or seeds, so your Hub was very interesting. Kudos.