Loveable Lappy: The Fish with the Golden Coin… Now available on Kindle!

Loveable Lappy: The Fish with the Golden Coin!Your kids will love this imaginative story about Lappy, based on Matthew 17: 24-27. Written by Howard Pastorella and Illustrated by Cynthia Croce Smith.

Limited Time Sale on Kindle: $2.99
Soon available in hardback at a store near you!

It Always Pays to Give.

Lappy’s coin treasure was his heart’s delight. He displayed the coin in his room for all of his friends to see. He took the coin to school for Show and Tell.

Around that same time on the shore near Capernaum, Jesus told Peter, “Go to the sea and catch the first fish that comes up, open his mouth and you’ll find money inside to pay our taxes.” (Matthew 17:27)

Lappy cheerfully volunteered to give Jesus his coin and be a part of the miracle. Find out what happened in this delightful story, Loveable Lappy: The Fish with the Golden Coin!

Storytime reading of The Tiniest Tree, Christmas Eve 2013

Storytime reading of The Tiniest Tree, Christmas Eve 2013

Author Ann Banco Reade read her newly published OWL of Hope book, The Tiniest Tree at Barnes and Nobel in Savannah, Georgia. Surprisingly, the store wasn’t as busy as the previous two days, but a crowd of kids still enjoyed the story!

We’re looking forward to a great year promoting The Tiniest Tree in preparation for Christmas next year! We plan to take the book to Christmas tree farms, holiday shops, the Children’s Book Festival, and many more places!

El Arbolito = The Tiniest Tree


I’m happy to report that the Spanish translation is complete! Thanks to a great team of volunteers who helped me make sure everything was top notch!

The Spanish translation went through several revisions. It was a much longer process than I anticipated, but having a quality product is the most important thing. After the initial translation, three Spanish speakers (one university professor and two native speakers), went through the entire story at least five times.

I am so grateful for Ruben Barerra, Steve Rogge, and Holvin and Marilyn Galindo who spent hours of their time volunteering to make The Tiniest Tree a bilingual book. I am looking forward to the day I will be able to pay translators and editors to help perfect bilingual books. For this project, each volunteer will receive their own copy of The Tiniest Tree, El Arbolito.

I can not express how grateful I am for their hard work. I’m looking forward to the future and producing more Spanish/English literature!

My visit to a Christmas tree farm!

I had so much fun on my first visit to a Christmas tree farm! I have never been before as far as I can recall. My family always sets up a “fake” tree and it looks great! My favorite of our fake trees is my Dad’s retro-tree. It’s silver and very glittery as a colorful, spinning light shoots beautiful rays onto the branches.

A new acquaintance of mine invited me to go Christmas tree shopping with her and her family. I brought the dogs and we spent a few hours at Grant Christmas Tree Farm & Syrup Mill in Grant Parish, Louisiana. The trip was very timely and inspired me as I am currently finishing up The Tiniest Tree, a story about a little tree for sale at a Christmas tree lot.

Here is a picture of me and my babies Darla and Danny near one of the tiniest trees at the tree farm!

tree farm

A bilingual children’s book

The first day I sat in Spanish class in college, my professor said it would be the last day we would speak English in the classroom. I knew at that moment I would not be coming back to that class. Even in high school, I struggled with Spanish. My brain just doesn’t work in Spanish! I have a horrible overwhelming feeling when I think about trying to learn the language, or any other foreign language!

I do, however, have several Spanish speaking friends, and a love for the Spanish culture. I’ve attended many Spanish church services, and I have always felt a connection to the Spanish people in my life. And of course I love the food!

As a child and teenager many of my best friends were of different cultures, Mexican, Bolivian, Russian, Chinese, Taiwanese and Indian to name a few. I always connected with people who had immigrated to America. Looking back, I think the connection may have happened because we were the new kids, the quite ones, well-traveled, slightly anxious. I have always been a traditional person, so that may have been a drawing point as well. Therefore we connected. It really didn’t have anything to do with language.

Unlike myself, my dad and brother have a knack for speaking Spanish. They both have Spanish-English Bibles, and are interested in missions. My brother once went to Honduras all by himself to meet with some of our parent’s missionary friends.

Deciding to publish The Tiniest Tree in a bilingual book came to me about a month before I started the process. I was speaking with staff from the Migrant Students office at the local school board, and they couldn’t stop talking about bilingual books and how important it was for migrant children (who are not all Spanish) to have bilingual books. I made the decision that day.

Two dear friends of mine, Miranda and Ruben Barrera, agreed to work on the initial translation. Then my boss agreed to edit the translation. He is the Rapides Parish Library Director, Steve Rogge, and is also a Spanish Professor at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana. I’m hoping to find one of my friends who is a native speaker that will read through the translation once the editing is complete.

Editing is quite a process! I edited the English version of The Tiniest Tree several times, and my boss still found a few mistakes in the English as he was verifying the Spanish! I’ve made the corrections and am now nearly finished with the editing process for both English and Spanish.

This weekend, my job is to finish the layout and start designing the cover!

Beginning the layout for The Tiniest Tree

Now that I have the art scanned and saved as large .JPG files, I am ready to begin the layout for the book. I started by going to my printer’s website and following their instructions for making an InDesign file suitable for the book’s size.
I’ve been comparing other children’s books in order to get an idea as to how I wanted to put the book together. Since I’ll be paying for a full premium color on each page of the book, I want to make the most of it. The entire page will be in color, as well as the text.

I played around with making the background a light red color, but because it turned out looking more like pink than red, I decided against it. I wanted to choose a text and background color that weren’t too distracting from the book, but still added to the overall feel.

I haven’t fully decided on the colors yet, but I was pretty happy with how a background of light green looked with navy text. The colors seemed to compliment the art, and I think they will flow will throughout the book. Because this is a Christmas story, and a lot of it takes place outside I think green is a great choice.

The book is about the tiniest tree, the grumbling tree and the wise old tree as they discover the Christmas spirit is a matter of the heart and attitude. It’s a heartwarming story that reminds us to share Christmas with those less fortunate than ourselves….

Scanning large artwork

As a new publisher working on my first children’s book, I was shocked at how expensive it is to have large pieces of art scanned. I’m not talking about heavy duty paintings, just simple 18X24 watercolor paintings.

I found a high quality art scanning company in Houston. They charge $11 per square foot to scan art on their extremely high quality art scanners. That was going to run me about $500 to have the art scanned for The Tiniest Tree. I was feeling a bit shocked at that number, considering that I need about $800 next month for my first print order of the book.

I decided to see if I could purchase a scanner. My wonderful illustrator, Sandra Burnett, took me to Fry’s near Galveston to check out the scanners. We found one that said 18X22 on the box, and it was marked down from $400 to $250. We split the cost and planned to keep the scanner at Sandra’s place in Texas City since I’m running out of room in my little house in Alexandria, LA.

Once we opened the scanner at Sandra’s, we were upset to find that the 18X22 referred to the size of the scanner itself. The screen size this massive machine was only capable of scanning a legal sized sheet of paper. That will never do. There is no way I was about to scan all of those paintings four times and try to piece them together in Photoshop. I’m sure it is doable, but it would put me behind on my schedule by several weeks. I would rather go to the $500 expensive art scanning place downtown H-Town.

I decided to Facebook some friends and ask for any suggestions. A couple of them said Kinkos, which turned out to be a much better option for what I was trying to accomplish. I called Kinkos and the woman quoted me a simple $87. Wow. I’ll take it!

Later that day, I drove about 45 minutes across town and dropped of the art. The very nice lady behind the counter began to process the order. “Uh oh…” She began. “What did I quote you on the phone?”

“$87,” I reminded her.

“Oh, well, I was about $100 off. How did I do that?” She really was very nice. I was willing to pay the $187. It was still cheaper than the fancy art scanning place. To my relief, she ended up making the order for the amount she quoted me for. Yes, it was a happy day.

A visit with Sandra Burnett, the artist

I’m working on my second book project, The Tiniest Tree. It’s my first children’s book to publish and the first time I’ve worked with an outside writer and illustrator.

Sandra Burnett is the artist. She painted 19 full pictures for The Tiniest Tree using watercolor and some chalk. The pictures turned out beautifully. She has worked on this for the past few months. We’ve been talking and texting every weekend about the details.

I went to Houston this past weekend to pick-up the art. While I was there, she put the finishing touches on each painting and created a couple of more scenes we needed. It was amazing to watch her work. All I had to do was say what I was looking for and she was able to produce it. The woman is an amazing artist and I’m so thankful she decided to work with me on The Tiniest Tree.