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The City Journals

Local author shares her passion of children’s books, publication process with community

Mar 08, 2021 11:45AM ● By Drew Crawford

Karen Mowrer reads her books with her son. (Photo courtesy Karen Mowrer)

By Drew Crawford | [email protected]

Karen Mowrer’s passion for writing began in her high school Spanish class and although her career as a scientist took her in a different direction, her devotion to telling stories always remained in the background.

Last year, with more time on her hands due to COVID-19, Mowrer decided that she wanted to revisit her former work and make publishing it a reality. 

“My kid became a toddler and I had been reading a lot of children’s books, and I had remembered these stories that I had hung on to,” Mowrer explained. “I made them a little bit longer, sort of fleshed out the story a little bit more based on children’s books that I had been reading, put them into rhyme, and that was the bulk of the work last year is doing all of the illustrations myself.”

Mowrer’s books which are available for purchase on Amazon’s and Barnes & Noble’s website are about a giraffe named Jane who is able to turn her weaknesses into a strength by coming to terms with her clumsiness. 

Originally, Mowrer intended to publish “Jane the Clumsy Giraffe” to be able to enjoy with her toddler, but overtime she wanted to make the joy of her experience available to as many children as possible. 

“Each of them is kind of a funny story, but I also really tried to incorporate lessons that would be really relevant for these times, especially with bullying and self-confidence and the things that kids have to deal with especially now more than ever,” she said describing how the book is about loving each other and people’s differences. 

From the time that Mowrer’s books were published in May and November respectively, she has continued to make others aware of her work on social media and she has seen enthusiasm and support from her readers. 

For Mowrer, children’s books are a unique medium for storytelling, and they contain certain elements that make them memorable. 

“Rhythm and rhyme are really important. Anything that rolls off the tongue and you can sort of build those early literary skills with is a really great feature of a children’s book. I tried in my illustration style to use really bold colors against a mostly white background because really bright contrast is especially appealing to young toddlers and babies,” Mowrer explained. 

“I think if you can appreciate the story as a toddler and as a parent maybe for different reasons, that really makes a quality children’s book in my opinion, too because it works on multiple levels and hopefully you get enjoyment reading it, and your child would too.”

Although producing one’s own book can be daunting, Mowrer has practical advice for those who want to publish a book.

“I was actually a little bit surprised with how many options there are for self-publishing. There are actually a few different platforms for doing it. Amazon is a free process and so is Barnes & Noble. I felt like those would probably have the farthest reach, so I chose those. I would say get started by doing some research,” Mowrer said.

“Depending on what your aim is in terms of distribution and reach, you might want to talk to local bookstore owners or managers about how they go about accepting self-published or local authors and decide for yourself what route you want to go about what system to publish your book,” Mowrer said, describing how requirements for books could change depending on the retailer. 

Ideas for her children’s books came from the quotidian moments that Mowrer has with her toddler. 

“I think that with writing children’s books a lot of things you can get inspiration from are sort of small things in everyday life that are sort of amusing that you experience. 

“It doesn’t have to be something so philosophical or grand to make a good children’s book. It can be the expansion of a small idea that’s amusing,” she said.  

“Jane the Clumsy Giraffe,” and its sequel “Jane the Clumsy Giraffe: Admiring Animals,” are available for download for free with an Amazon Kindle Unlimited membership.