On Episode 34 of the Writer’s Way, I chat with author Angela Murphy about her 8-week journey to a published book!
Joining me for the first time? Start at the beginning HERE!
Find the episode on YouTube HERE!
Would you rather listen on the go? Go HERE!
RESOURCES We Talk About!
Find her on Facebook HERE.
Find her on Instagram HERE.
HERE is a link to the Canadian editor that Angela used for her book.
Link to the Profitable Picture Books: 30 Day Action Plan
Hey everyone! While we were chatting, Angela talked about the Profitable Picture Book course, which is the one that she took, and how she got her book out in eight weeks. It doesn’t always happen that fast, but I have something even better for this summer. It’s a 30-day action plan, still the same information, but broken it down into 30-days of an hour of work every day, so that you can still enjoy your summer and get your book out there.
Find me at lauriewrighter.com, find me on Facebook as Laurie Wrighter, and find me on Instagram as Publishing Strategist, if you want to know more about the 30-day action plan.
A Little Bit About Angela
Laurie: Hey listeners and watchers. Welcome to another episode of the Writer’s Way Podcast. I’m here with newly published Angela Murphy. Yay!
Laurie: Woohoo, look at that! Congratulations.
Laurie: I wanted to have you on while it’s all so fresh and new.
Angela: It’s so fresh.
Laurie: So fresh. Why don’t we start by just tell us who you are, your background, that kind of stuff.
Angela: Okay, I’m Angela Murphy and I live in Chula, British Columbia with my husband and two dogs. I’m actually from Nova Scotia originally, that’s where my parents are. But I am an educator. I was teaching in schools for six years and then I became a school psychologist and a complex trauma coach in the last two years actually.
So I work within a school mostly. So at a First Nation School here in British Columbia and I’m so fortunate to be there full time. And then on the side I do complex trauma work for children, usually children in foster or adoptive care. So I work with the caregivers of children who are in care primarily.
Laurie: Oh, heavy.
Angela: Yeah, yeah, heavy. But it’s great work.
Laurie: We need people like you so that’s fantastic.
What inspired you to write?
Laurie: So was it that work that inspired you to write or have you always, like are you somebody with journals of stories?
Angela: I really think it was the work. I have kind of professional reasons and personal reasons behind my book writing. But mostly I’ve been teaching what I call the I message in classrooms for 12 years now. And every time I teach the lesson, so it’s three steps to stand up for yourself in a positive way, I’m looking for books to go with the lesson and I can never find anything on the I message. So then eventually with the teaching and then working with kids in care and then getting my dog, so Zane is a foster, was fostered and then adopted, that led me to writing my own book.
Laurie: So I had a teacher, also a Canadian teacher, in the fall and so she teaches grade three and she said, you know, there’s no books on Peru. Because they have to teach that right?
Angela: Yeah, that’s right. Amazing.
Laurie: Yeah, and so you’re very similar. You needed a book and you wrote it.
Angela: And you’re in Calgary right?
Laurie: I am just south.
Angela: So I was teaching in Calgary for my first three years and I did teach grade three as well and I was teaching Peru and I could never find books.
Laurie: There you go. Yeah, it’s a real thing. Where were you in Calgary? Like north, south?
Angela: Wildwood Elementary, southwest I think? It’s been awhile. I moved ten years ago, so.
The Picture Book Publishing Process
Laurie: Ah, okay. Okay, so let’s talk a little bit about the process. So you decided, hey, I could never find a book to help me with this lesson so I’m gonna write it.
Angela: That’s right.
Laurie: Where did you start?
Angela: Okay, so I had these ideas in my mind for over a year, I think, and I just was thinking, you know, since it really came to fruition I think after we adopted Zane and then I had been a year into the trauma work and noticing in the classroom that we were in need of more self regulation books.
So I started in March. I had March break, we went to Maui which was amazing, and I said to myself, okay, I am going to start writing things down actually. So I was there for about 10 days, I was writing things randomly, and then came back and you offered your course, The Writer’s Way. And it was perfect timing because it was April fourth and it was an eight week course so I had just gotten back from March break and then everything went from there.
Laurie: Holy cow, that’s fast. Like this year, 2019, you went to Maui and started writing.
Following in Laurie’s footsteps
Laurie: And where did you find me?
Angela: I found you because I have your book, I Can Handle It.
Laurie: Oh, right.
Angela: And I had taught a lesson and then I have an Instagram account as well so I had posted, sometimes I post teacher things on there, about my lesson that went with the book. And then I looked at your name and I found you actually and I tagged you in it.
Angela: And then I read your story that you were a kindergarten teacher and I thought, wow, she did exactly what I want to do. How did she get there? And then I started asking you questions and you were so friendly in getting back to me right away and then you said, well, I’m giving this course soon so let’s do it. I said, yup. And for me it was gold. I wouldn’t be here without it, so.
Laurie: That’s really fast. Yes, I did it but not this fast as you did it.
Angela: The ideas were in my mind for quite some time though.
How to Find an Illustrator
Laurie: Yes. And then talk about the illustrator because there’s been a few people in the same course as you who were not as successful or as quick and I think a lot of it, most of it has to do with the illustrator.
Laurie: How did you find yours?
Angela: Okay, so my husband and I own a gym in town, it’s called Murph’s Gym, and the illustrator’s name is Davis Graham. And he’s a gym member actually. Yeah, so he does incredible work and I was following him through Instagram. It’s called Pencil Fingers is his…
So he sketches actual people. He had never sketched cartoon dogs before. So about a year ago when I was thinking about this idea, I had nothing written down, I approached him at the gym actually. And I said, hey, would you be interested in illustrating a children’s book? And he was very interested. And then we talked before my March break and he said, I have time in April. I said, perfect. So I’m gonna start writing in March. Get it down.
Laurie: You had a deadline.
Angela: Yeah, I had a deadline.
Laurie: And how long did it take him to do the illustrations?
Angela: It took him eight weeks. It was really quick.
Angela: I’m just closing my door because the dogs are outside playing. I can hear them.
The Characters of the Book
Laurie: Okay, and why, like, so everybody has the choice which character, how am I gonna do my characters. So you actually modeled your characters like they’re your dogs, your own dogs.
Angela: That’s right.
Laurie: So was there a reason behind that decision? Behind dogs versus actual children?
Angela: Well, I was thinking, I know, you know, being in the classroom for so many years, kids love animals, right? And I thought to myself, animals can be personified. And I bring Draper and Zane, those are the two main characters, they come to work with me. So either one or the other will come and the kids just love dogs. Well, most of them. And they connect that way so I thought they both have a story actually so it would be a great way to make a children’s book.
Laurie: Okay, cool. So is your book there? Can you hold it up?
Angela Murphy: Yes.
Laurie: So we can see the illustrations. So good. Speak Up, Wonder Pup.
Angela: Yes. Yeah, Davis Graham is incredible. He just, so he would meet with me just a couple times and he took pictures of the dogs and then he took some video and then he did some research on dog anatomy. Just to make sure he was getting it right in the book and I think he did an incredible job.
Laurie: Those are the clothes the dogs wear, yeah, okay.
Angela: Yeah, exactly.
Laurie: Oh, that’s fantastic.
Laurie: Oh, look at that!
The Story Behind the Characters
Angela: Yeah, fight, flight, freeze. So Zane actually, he was born under a van in the wintertime and what’s interesting about my dogs is they both have the same birthday, January 27th but different years. And then what’s really even more interesting is that my husband has the the same birthday, January 27th.
Angela: Yeah, it’s wild. So we celebrate–
Laurie: How do you know when Zane was born if he was born under a van?
Angela: Yeah, so I know the owners of the mom who was an outdoor dog. So Zane, they came to me and they said, she’s having her second litter. Can you take them to the SPCA? And I said, definitely. Because I have a friend who works at the SPCA.
So what happened is usually the pups should stay with mom for, I don’t know, six to eight weeks or so but it was four weeks in and they needed to be taken to the SPCA right away. And I was able to do that. And then Zane was fostered for two months, we weren’t expecting to get another dog but we were kinda thinking about it for the summer. And then when they were ready we went in May, I think, and Zane brought us his little green stuffy and we had to leave with him. He’s just so cute. Yeah.
Laurie: That’s sweet.
Angela: Yeah, and then Draper’s eight. So he’s a golden retriever and he’s been teaching him so many things like how to sit, how to jump off the dock, how to swim, how to be patient. So I thought, oh, let’s bring that into the book.
The Ups and Downs of the Publishing Process
Laurie: That’s fantastic. Oh, wow, that’s such a great story. Okay, as I wipe my tears away casually. Can you share, so this was a very fast process, like really eight weeks, but what were some of the ups and some of the downs? Because I’m assuming there was both.
Angela Murphy: Yes, there were. It was kind of like an emotional roller coaster because, I think, I am so passionate about it and it’s my personal project and you kind of feel vulnerable putting yourself out there. So here I am with all of these ideas for over a year and now I’m actually gonna put it out to the world. So it’s nerve wracking.
So I remember even things like with the illustrator, so I have it written, I have this great editor through your course which was amazing and she was helping out, and then sending ideas to the illustrator, not hearing from him for five days and kind of every day wondering, I wonder what it looks like. And then eventually you get that one picture and it’s like, ah, okay, right?
Laurie: We’re on track.
Angela: Yeah. So it’s kinda been like this. And then I’m working full time too so it’s, I’m trying to do my other work without being too involved in this but it’s hard, especially since I launched last Saturday on Amazon. So it’s kind of taken over my brain a bit.
Laurie: Yeah, it does.
Angela: But in a good way. I think it’s actually, it’s stress but it’s good stress. And then the unknown, like I don’t know what the future brings but I’m looking forward to seeing where this takes me.
Laurie: And now it’s done and are you breathing a sigh of relief or are you already like, now what?
Angela Murphy: A little bit of a sigh of relief. I know my plan for the next few months. I’m gonna write the next two books. I have the titles already. They’re more self regulation strategies. And the illustrator isn’t available until the fall to illustrate so this is perfect ’cause it’ll give me time to write, put it through the editing process, and then once it gets to him it’ll be ready to be illustrated in the fall.
Laurie: And then what’s your plan for publishing, so then before the end of the year?
Angela: I’m hoping to publish my second book in November.
Angela: Yeah, because I really do think, you know, I love that this teaches the I message but I’m hopeful that, I’m looking forward to ten books actually. One for each month of the school year. So each book will be a strategy, a self regulation strategy that educators can use in the classroom. And I’m hoping to have lesson plans to go with each book as well so that this month we’re really practicing the I message and then that’ll go into the next month but now we’re learning about self talk or visualization or whatever comes up in the book.
Laurie: Wow, I love it. So fantastic. Holy moly. And then you’ll have to retire from teaching because… This is gonna take–
Angela: Well, we’ll see.
What advice do you have for future published authors?
Laurie: What advice do you have for other people that, like you, have a need to get a book out there to help them maybe with curriculum or something else but what advice would you give to somebody in your shoes five months ago?
Angela: I would say just write it down. And that was a really good piece of advice that I learned in your course. Because these ideas were swirling in my mind and I was hesitant. Like, I would start writing and I wouldn’t finish the book but I’d go back and change it and change it and change it. So I think the advice would be, just keep writing until you finish it and then you can go back and do the editing.
Angela: So just get it out there.
Laurie: Yes, we do tend to edit as we go right? And then it doesn’t get done. So cool, so you’re not even a week published.
How has life changed?
Laurie: So I guess life hasn’t changed, I was gonna say, how has your life changed?
Angela Murphy: Well, you know what I really noticed is my community support. I put it out there and I’m on Facebook, I’m on Instagram, and all of my former colleagues, current colleagues, friends from the gym, people from home, so Nova Scotia and then Alberta and then here are sharing it with the world which is incredible. And I’m starting to think, okay, how do I get it out there.
So I was looking at my online forums, so I’m in some school psychology forums and this one incredible lady, she’s based, she’s near New York actually, and I don’t have too many friends in the states but I messaged her personally and said, hey, I did this thing. And she said, great. She posted it on her forum and there’s about 33,000 U.S. residents within that forum and then I noticed it had already been shared 40 times and I don’t even know, which is amazing.
Laurie: That’s fantastic.
It Feels Good to Be Supported
Angela: So it feels good to really be supported and I think people love kids and dogs and strategies to help with big emotions and regulations.
Laurie: I think I should have you on in six months maybe with the second book because I think your world is just going to explode as far as people, you know, right now you’re like I only know Canadians. We’re lovely, right. But I now talk with people in Guam, in Australia, in New Zealand, it’s incredible and it’s all just book stuff. You know, books bring us all together and then there’s such a fantastic in the author community that’s so supportive. I think because we all are kind of bootstrapping it and figuring it out and dealing with the ‘Zon as you know. Yeah, so, congratulations.
Angela: Thank you.
It could have taken me years!
Laurie: It’s been such a pleasure to first just chat with you and then seeing you actually take the steps and follow through, be consistent. And I know that you had a couple of minor set backs but persevered.
Angela Murphy: They were minor but they felt major at the time and that’s another piece of advice I would give too. In the moment it feels like a big deal but now looking back, it wasn’t a big deal. I was putting the pressure on myself, nobody else was. And really, honestly, I could not have gotten here without this course.
And what’s interesting is even this morning somebody had messaged me on Instagram, a personal message, and I don’t know her but she was asking, she said, I have all these ideas about a book and kind of where I was a few months ago. And I said, don’t worry, I was there. You need to get a hold of Laurie, she’s already been on your page, she’s been doing research. And I said, you know, these are the things you will learn through that course and, honestly, I think it would take me a few years without it. So I’m very thankful for you.
It’s a Life-Changing Process
Laurie: Oh, good. That really makes me so happy because to me it was a life changing process. Getting my message out there for one thing but then expanding my world so much and getting to meet so many people and help so many kids and it’s just incredible what actually getting that book out there can do for you. I look forward to hearing–
Angela: Thanks so much.
Laurie: You’re welcome, I look forward to seeing and hearing more from you and I will absolutely share your book as well. I have to order it today. I’ve been meaning to do it all week ’cause I knew we were talking. Darn it.
Angela: That’s okay.
Laurie: I’ll share it as well.
Angela: Great, thank you so much.
Where you can find Angela and her work
Laurie: Thank you. Oh, you know what, share where people can find the book or what your Instagram who you are.
Angela Murphy: Yeah, so they can find it on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, or anywhere Amazon is. It’s in paperback and in e-book. Also, if you’re local you can contact me by email, firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find me on Instagram Angela Murphy Author and then on Facebook Angela Murphy Children’s Author.
Laurie: Fantastic. Thank you, thank you so much.
Angela: Thanks everyone. Have a great day.
Creative Wrighter’s new course!
Laurie: Hey everyone. While we were chatting, Angela talked about the Profitable Picture Book course, which is the one that she took, and how she got her book out in eight weeks. It doesn’t always happen that fast, but I have something even better for this summer. It’s a 30 Day Action Plan, still the same information, but broken it down into 30-days worth of, less than an hour of work every day, so that you can still enjoy your summer and get your book out there.