Well, this morning, I will write something about the other artistic venture I am involved in…. Creating a Happy World of Stories for Kids Everywhere. Since 1996, a good friend and now business partner of mine, Rebecca Raymond and I have been writing books for young children. In 1976, I created some cartoon-like characters called “Happis”. I wrote a few stories and sent them out to publishers and got them back. So I went on with my life of raising 3 sons as a single mom. When I showed them to Rebecca one evening, in the winter of 1996, she got very excited. She declared, “We could write books, do activity pages, and more with these!” She was teaching kindergarten then. By the time I got home that evening, she had written the first story, Huckleberry Happy’s Houseboat Home, an “H” focused book about a funny little Happy and his houseboat. And we were off and running. We both wrote stories – they just poured out of us – and I illustrated them. I have loved doing illustrations since I was a little girl and this was like heaven for me.
As I began, I did all of the illustrations by hand. I did the words on the computer (an early Mac) and then pasted in the illustrations. We made books by going to the copy center and copying the pages, collating them, and stapling them together. We sold them to anyone who was interested, and Becky took them to school and used them with the kids. We did many, many pages of activities – write letters, find the words that begin with “a”, which one is different, etc…. all of which I illustrated by hand. A few years later, and at least one computer upgrade, I began to illustrate on the computer using Adobe Illustrator. Now we had books in color. We made them smaller (1/4 page size), printed them on my printer, cut them, collated them, and stapled them together. We took them to school fairs, the Lafayette Apple Festival in Lafayette, NY, and book fairs. I made stuffed Happy dolls, called Pocket Happys, and we put the books in their pockets and sold it all as a package. I also made tiny Sculpey Clay Happys, and we made the books very small. These were put into jewelry boxes and sold as A Book and a Buddy. We were having such fun.
Always, our goal was to have fun ourselves and to have children all over the world have access to what we did. Sometime around 2000, my son, Tom, told me about a site on the internet called Lulu.com. I explored that site and we began to put our books on Lulu. Now more people had access to them. They were 8.5″ x 11″ in size, and we sold some from the site and bought many ourselves and resold them.
Then in October of 2010, I got an email from BarnesandNoble.com telling me that there was an opportunity to turn our books into eBooks and sell them on that site…. I jumped on it and the rest is history! From October 2010 to October 2011 we sold 36,000 eBooks!!!!! Currently, there are 65 of our children’s picture eBooks on BarnesAndNoble.com and Amazon.com priced at 99¢ each. We get 40% of that as our share. Since October 2011, I’ve kind of lost count. I spend my time illustrating stories that we have already written, as well as new stories that Becky or I write quite regularly. We aren’t collaborating on stories as much as we did when I still lived in the Syracuse, NY area (where she lives). Mostly one or the other of us just writes a story and then reads it to the other for refinement. I know that I, personally, will never get them all illustrated in this lifetime – because we just keep writing them. Someday, there will be a group of illustrators working away at our books and then there will be hundreds of them for you, your children, and your children’s children to read! So check them out – search Chris Morningforest – and tell the world. They are great for parents, teachers, and everyone who loves Happy stories. They are positive, uplifting books that support the values of caring and sharing in a world alive with wonderful things. Thanks for spending time with me today… I’ll write again next Sunday… have a great week!