I made a book! And here’s the cool thing: it’s my second one.
Many of my readers probably know that my side hustle is writing and illustrating children’s books. I won’t lie, it’s a lot of work … and fun … and work. I released my first book, “Heyward the Horse Loves Charleston, Of Course!” in 2019. It was a hit and continues to sell to this day.
So, you might think with one book under my belt, the second one would be a piece of cake. In some ways, it was. The process was familiar and it was easier to navigate the myriad of little decisions (e.g. getting barcodes, formatting, printing, marketing, etc.) that have to be made.
But in other ways, it was a lot harder. I gained sympathy for the movie scriptwriter tasked with writing the Sequel: a totally new story that captures the magic of the original. It’s a nearly impossible task. For myself (and my readers), the pressure was on to write a book of substance – something worth picking up, buying, and reading.
ICYMI: Heyward is a carriage horse in downtown Charleston. In my first book, Heyward takes readers on a carriage ride past a variety of Charleston area landmarks and attractions, including Riley Waterfront Park, Rainbow Row, historic churches, and the Charleston City Market. With his magical bow tie, Heyward is able to fly his carriage over the Holy City, pointing out the marshes, plantations, and beaches.
My first book was an opportunity to show off well-loved landmarks and the scenery that makes Charleston so special. This time, I wanted to go a little deeper into Charleston’s roots. I wanted my book to be more educational. But where to start?
A couple of years ago, my wife and I started taking our three young kids to Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site on the reg. If you haven’t visited this park, you need to – it’s Charleston’s best-kept secret. Wonderful trails meander through gardens, marshes, and fields. There’s an “old” ship, a zoo, cannons, tons of history and it just so happens to be the birthplace of Charleston. I don’t recall the exact moment, but around that time I decided the Heyward sequel would focus on Charleston’s founding.
Making the Book
Writing a young children’s history book, I came to discover, is no small undertaking. On the plus side, the story has all the exciting elements kids love: pirates, great ships, cool maps, cannon fights, and Native Indians. On the downside, writing about history (which isn’t G-rated) for children is tough. It was challenging to boil it all down to something age-appropriate, relatively historical, educational, and fun.
Undeterred, I got to writing, drawing, and researching. I also did a bunch of research. And did I mention research? I even hired a local historian to fact-check my work. I started on this book in February 2019, expecting it to be done in about six months. Well, more than two years and a worldwide pandemic later, I’m done.
The result is “Heyward the Horse and The Founding of Charleston.” You can learn more about the book by watching this book trailer I made with the help of my daughter, Lucy.
Now the Hard Part … Selling Books
As of this writing, I’m embarking on a Charleston area book tour. Several book signings are scheduled for October and November. I can’t wait to meet readers and get their feedback on the book. If you’re local to Charleston, check out the list of upcoming events on my website.
Thank you to everyone who has helped me along the way. Have a great week,
Purchase your copy of “Heyward the Horse and The Founding of Charleston” online or at Charleston area retailers. You can also order child and adult T-shirts online – a perfect holiday gift!