Guest Post by Kyra Richter
If there are two things that define me, it is my love of nature and my love of illustration. I have my mother to thank for inciting that passion for all living things. Growing up, my mother would always take time to go exploring with me. She would point out all the little creatures and tell me stories about their tiny but busy and important lives. To this day, I always step over an ant line or let a beetle cross the sidewalk. My mother would tell me they had places to go, other bugs to see and important roles to play in nature.
Later, as I fell in love with art, and began illustrating, she always encouraged me by saying “you need to make a book!” But we often think moms just say these things because they only have eyes for their children. As time passed, more and more people would encourage me to illustrate children’s books. I just didn’t have the right story. Well, the character and the story finally came the day I met Luci.
A year ago, I arrived at work to find someone had left a bucket on my desk. Inside it was a baby pigeon. I work in the environmental department of a power plant, so I guess they figured I’d know what to do. I had no idea what to do. I had never interacted with a bird before, much less a pigeon. But here was this little face looking at me with no fear and absolute trust. Thank goodness for Google, who let me to Palomacy; and Youtube where I watched videos of people feeding squabs! I learned quickly and little Luci was a good teacher too. All my intentions of rearing her to return to freedom failed as Luci very quickly took to us (me and my husband) as his new parents. We did our best to give Luci as much freedom as (safely) possible. Part of having a free roaming bird at home meant we had to locate and purchase little “pigeon pants” so Luci would not make messes all over the place. One day I was at the grocery store when I got a frightened call from my husband who said that Luci had gotten out an open window- while wearing pants. All I could picture was a pigeon landing on a wire with other wild pigeons and being mercilessly teased beacause: pants! It’s comical but we were very worried. This was for naught as Luci came back within the hour. We were all very lucky and learned our lesson. Luci had changed our opinion about those plain gray birds people often call “rats with wings”. Luci is intelligent, has a very unique personality, and is very playful and loving. Caring for one rescue quickly turned into fostering and caring for more pigeons, mostly so Luci would not be alone (He now actually has a wife- Stella- another hand raised rescue).
Here was my story at last! In addition, I was inspired by how beautiful pigeons are, once you take a moment to look at them you can’t take your eyes off them. So I started to draw them, and as I did so the story fully developed. This story has been lovingly illustrated in watercolor and ink under the careful supervision of Luci and Stella (you may have noticed that Luci is a “he” and not a “she”, something which took us some time to figure out and hence the odd spelling of his name). In this story, I hope to share the wonder and beauty of the smallest and plainest things. I hope children will be interested in the adventures they can have in their own back yard, observing ants, busy bees and butterflies, and see the joy that can be had from the simplest friendship- be it with a bird or with that one kid who does not look like the rest. Ultimately, that we are all unique and special and friendship can be found if only we are open to it.
Publishers tend to not be interested in publishing total unknowns. It is easier to self-publish. Did you know Beatrix Potter self-published the first edition of Peter Rabbit? I decided to self-publish, but in order to do this I need to crowdfund. So I began a Kickstarter campaign to help me collect the funds necessary to publish this childrens book.
With your pledge, I will be able to publish this book as an 11″ X 8.5″ hardbound book with a dust jacket and coated matte paper so that the 24 pages of illustrations can look their best. The book will be competitively priced and once this is up and running and 10% of profits will go to Palomacy, who provided me with the guidance I needed to be able to raise three healthy and happy pigeons, and successfully rehabilitate four others this past year (see my endorsement on Great Nonprofits).
The pledges also come with little extras, like signed 8″ X 8″ high quality prints of my watercolors, thank you cards illustrated by me, and even original illustrations from the book (that will be hard to part with!). A limited number will also receive an original watercolor pigeon portrait (mine, or yours if you have a pigeon you want me to paint a portrait of)! Should I be fortunate enough to overfund the project, I’d print more books but also be able to improve the rewards (like a T-shirt or baby onsie, for which I have designs!).
As many of you know, shipping across the Atlantic or, pretty much anywhere outside of the US is costly, and I aim to ensure you get a pristine book. Packaging and shipping will be part of the experience of getting a quality product. I have estimated approximately 4% for changes in pricing (I have my estimates but shipping costs could change) or, given that this is my first time, any errors in my estimation of costs. As mentioned above, at this point in time, any profits will be donated to Palomacy.
Please visit the Kickstarter Campaign for details on pledges, rewards, and an explanation of risks and challenges and how crowdfunding campaigns work.
I am so delighted with this project, and loving every second of this experience. I believe the story, as simple as it may seem, has a lot to impart to children. I already began layout for more stories. It is my intention that this is the beginning of a new path for me: illustrating stories and helping to draw attention to these most lovely and special birds. As an environmental manager, I have lived the frustration of how some birds are protected but the pigeon, which is not (and often considered a pest) suffers all the indignities. Their history is so unique, and long, and amazing. Their loyalty and love is an honor to witness. And they may seem plain and grey but they are truly beautiful creatures. My life will never be the same thanks to Luci. This is the least I can do.
I work at a nuclear power plant as an environmental supervisor. Before that I was a commercial diver and also a recreational dive instructor. But no matter where I am or what I am doing, all my free time is spent with my beloved pets, outside or inside, painting, doodling and writing stories. I was best known for my octopus themed illustrations and art until my little pigeons stole my heart and became my models and inspiration. My dream, and I am working toward it, is to be able to dedicate myself 100% to my art. Children’s books, cards, prints, and custom helmets and motorcycle gas tanks for starters!