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HomeArts & CultureLiterary ArtA Toes-to-Nose Adventure

A Toes-to-Nose Adventure

Photos Daniel “Keebler” McKay

To a parent, the journey of raising a child is filled with countless moments that are both amusing and heartwarming — as those of you who are parents well know. For first-time author Kama (pronounced Kam-ah) Shell, these everyday experiences with her son served as the inspiration for a delightful children’s book that imparts valuable life lessons, in a way that is both entertaining and edifying for young readers and their families.

It all began when Kama’s son, at the tender age of four months, developed a curious habit of putting his tiny feet in his mouth. Amused, Kama found herself repeatedly cautioning him, “Don’t do it, just don’t do it; don’t put your feet in your mouth.” What started as a basic “don’t do it” transformed into this fantastic, giggly song that Kama repeatedly chimed to her little one with joy and love. 

One day, Kama realized that this amusing song could be transformed into a charming children’s book. The story would revolve around a little boy named Bruce K., who, like her own son, engages in silly antics, but always has his mom close by to guide him. To add an extra layer of whimsy, the feet in the mouth transformed into toes in the nose, making the tale even more endearing.

The idea was sparked, but how would Kama go about making it a reality? The transition from personal experience to children’s literature came with its own set of challenges. Finding the right illustrator proved to be a hurdle, and the wait for the completion of the illustrations was a test of patience. Yet the joy of seeing the story come to life through vivid illustrations made the entire process worthwhile for Kama.

“Toes in the Nose” features three main characters: Bruce K., the imaginative little boy; his ever-present and guiding mother; and an adorable dog that adds an extra element of charm to the storyline. Kama explains that the aim was to create relatable characters that resonate with both children and parents alike.

While the primary audience for the book is young readers, Kama crafted the story to engage a wide range of ages. The simplicity of the language makes it accessible to early readers, while the themes and humor ensure that parents will enjoy reading it during story time.

Incorporating life lessons and values based on the author’s own parenting experiences, the story touches upon health, safety, cleanliness, respectfulness and learning to do things the correct way. Although Kama’s son was too young to grasp these lessons at the time she wrote the book, they serve as valuable insights for parents and young readers alike.

The ultimate goal of the book is to provide an experience filled with lessons, laughter and love. Through the characters and their adventures, Kama hopes the book encourages positive interaction between parents and children regarding the importance of rules and values.

But wait, this is not the end of the story. Kama didn’t stop with just one book; she created a whole experience of giggles and a truckload of entertainment for the little ones. She also created activity books that add some fun and creativity to the whole experience. Packed with adorable coloring pictures of the main characters from “Toes in the Nose,” the activity books turn reading time into a whole adventure. 

Kama’s  journey is one that showcases the beauty of finding inspiration in everyday moments and then transforming them into tales that captivate and help turn everyday experiences into bonding moments for both children and parents. 

Looking ahead, Kama envisions turning this initial book into a series, with plans for six to eight more installments. The decision to continue the series will depend on the reception and success of the first book in terms of sales and reader feedback. So scan the QR code in this story and get yourself a copy or two, or gift them to your favorite little family. 

Turning an Idea Into Reality

The creative process behind this children’s book involved a significant learning curve for Kama. Joining author groups, listening to podcasts and seeking advice from experienced authors were essential steps in understanding the world of children’s book authorship. Her collaboration with illustrator Tyrus Goshay brought the story to life, with regular meetings to review completed illustrations and work on other aspects of the book. This collaboration was essential in bringing the book to life. 

And this is the reality of embarking on the journey to publish your first book, especially if you’re looking to self-publish. It requires a healthy dose of realism, grit and strategic thinking. 

To start, cut through the noise by honing in on what truly matters: your story and the audience it speaks to. Start, as Kama did, by immersing yourself in writing communities online, where practical advice and shared experiences can be invaluable. Learn from the pitfalls and successes of others, understanding that the road to publication is often paved with hard work and resilience.

Writing the manuscript may seem like the hard part, but it’s just the beginning of the process. Once your manuscript is complete, be ruthless in your self-editing. Don’t shy away from constructive criticism; instead, seek it out. Find beta readers from your author groups, and don’t be precious about your words. Writing is rewriting, and the strength of your final work lies in its ability to evolve. Even the simplest of stories can have dozens of revisions. 

In navigating the publishing landscape, research is your best ally. Traditional publishing has its merits, but don’t overlook the autonomy and speed that self-publishing offers. Understand the business side of things — contracts, royalties, marketing — and approach it with a discerning eye. Knowledge is power in an industry that can be both opaque and competitive.

Cover design is not a place to cut corners, as Kama can attest. A well-crafted, genre-appropriate cover can be the difference between catching a reader’s eye or being lost in the sea of titles. Invest time and, if possible, resources into creating a cover that reflects the essence of your book and stands out in the market.

The journey to become a published author is not for the faint of heart. It is for those ready to face challenges with a never-give-up attitude. Keep your goals in focus and your writing sharp, and remember that ultimately, the power to bring your book into the hands of readers lies in your own hands. Overnight successes are never overnight. 

Learn more about Kama and purchase Don’t Stick Your Toes in Your Nose and activity books on her website.You can also purchase Kama’s book on our Shop page.

Tamara Graham
Tamara Graham
With an adventurous spirit and a burning desire to make the world work for all of us, Tamara encourages others to embrace self-love, compassion, empathy, understanding, and an ever important sense of humor. With over 30 years of diverse marketing experience, including a decade in publishing, she brings a fresh and innovative perspective to the industry. Her concept revolves around experiential magazines that captivate both online and in print. Tamara's visionary project, LIVE. LOVE. LOCAL. MICHIGAN™, unveils the wonders of our breathtaking home state, igniting love and admiration among Michiganders for where they live. By fostering this deep connection, she inspires a genuine appreciation and love for where we live!
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