when my eight year old became a published author

I don't have many moments where I feel like a really good mom. I feel adequate most of the time and occasionally, really shitty.

We've had our ups and downs with Zack - I've documented some of it here. Whenever he shows an interest in something constructive though, I do my damnedest to encourage it in hopes that he'll redirect his energy into something more positive. Writing is such a great outlet for him. It quiets his mind, provides a way to unleash some of his negativity in a productive way and he has a physical product in the end; something that proves his hard work has paid off.

A couple of months ago, he set out to write a book. It consumed him for hours each week. He made a detailed cover, a few illustrations, chapter and page numbers but mostly - it was words. Lots of words. When he finished it, I typed it up, scanned his artwork, did a little manipulation (per his very specific instruction) and plopped into a quick photoshop template I designed. After much deliberation and some input from friends, I decided to type it just as written - spelling and punctuation intact from his original. He did end up having his big brother proofread it for him but there is still evidence there that I didn't make any changes myself.

I ordered a soft cover copy of the book from Blurb and it arrived on Wednesday. To say he was giddy holding that book in his hands would be an absolute understatement. Seeing an idea come to fruition...that feeling of accomplishment knowing you started with a small seed and nurtured it along. Such a proud moment for him.

And I have to mention Johnathan Rand and the American Chillers series of books. To say Zack is obsessed wouldn't be giving full credit to the extent of this kid's love of that series. He is completely enamored and the fact that the author is based in Michigan only amplifies the feeling. Rand answered both a letter Zack wrote with a letter in kind as well as an email he had sent. You have to admire that kind of devotion to your fans. Rand and his wife run a writing camp for kids a few times a year. Needless to say, Zack is bummed he's not old enough to attend yet but counting down until the time he is. Hope he's just as interested in going once he's finally old enough!

Blurb allows you to use templates but if you'd rather work in Photoshop/Elements and upload the pages as jpegs, you can download the simple layouts I used for Zack's book. I added a slight cushion on the binded edge of each page as well as footer/chapter fields. We ordered the 5x8" to make it most appropriately sized to a softcover novel. I have a left page, right page, combined page and author page set up. Simple designs but good templates for making it easy to copy and paste in from the Word doc I typed the chapters up in. I also added scans of the internal drawings Zack had in his original draft. For the chapters that extended past one page, I just deleted the chapter number field. Here are photos of a few of the inside pages as well as his draft and finished product (after some intense time photoshopping per his artistic direction):

I just added the page numbers, text and photos, flattened and uploaded to Blurb (using their downloadable software) as jpegs. If you want the templates you can download them here :)


  1. THAT i beyond awesome. and YOU are way more than adequate. :)

  2. ERICA- This came out so freaking amazing. I love it. You are such an awesome mama. And your description of you as a mom made me laugh so hard b/c that's how I feel too> I'm thinking of ordering this mug for myself:http://pinterest.com/pin/50735933274361241/

  3. That is so so so great that he was so motivated to do it too ! I think you are being too hard on yourself, look at all the terrific things you do with them and that they do achieve and really as long and they fed, clothed, their needs taken care and they feel LOVED you have done great. Hugs.

  4. WOW! I am so impressed!!! What a great idea! You are a cool mom. :-)

  5. I love, love, love this! What an amazing accomplishment for Zack and one I'm sure he'll remember always. That's some pretty stellar mothering if I do say so!

  6. How great that he wrote a book, and then you published it!

  7. Anonymous6:00 AM

    OMG! That is truly amazing, no wonder he looks SO happy! Well done to both of you for doing it, it is hard sometimes when the children are being 'difficult' or whatever, and I have too many times focused on the negative when perhaps I shouldn't, thanks for giving me a kick up the bum to try and have a better outlook ! Keep up the good work, I love your blog and look forward to seeing the things you produce (all kinds).

  8. OHMYGOODNESS. this is seriously incredible. SO AWESOME.
    you are incredible, mama, and so is he.

  9. I bet you are an amazing mom and just don't give yourself enough credit. This is AWESOME and Zack is awesome! Great that he found an outlet that really works for him. I've had some very rough patches with Alex and writing has been an outlet for her too.



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