Today I’m happy to introduce you to the fabulous and creative Karen Robertson.
A little about Karen (your bio):
It all started with a dream.
In 2007, Karen was struggling to get her sons to read for fun when she had a dream that lead to her creating a new kind of book that combined the magic of stories with the fun of toys. She self published “Treasure Kai and the Lost Gold of Shark Island” in December 2008 and was awarded a Gold Mom’s Choice Award for the book in 2010.
When she saw a storybook app on the iPad last year, she knew she’d seen a way to take her love for interactive reading to a whole new level with touch, sound and animation.
In 2011, she launched her first book app, “Treasure Kai and the Lost Gold of Shark Island,” to rave reviews including being named a “Top 25 Essential Children’s Book App” by Digital Storytime last week.Karen’s goal is to create a global children’s content brand with “Treasure Kai,” a character who takes kids on fictional treasure hunt adventures through history.
She now shares her knowledge about how to turn children’s stories into book apps through her website and blog, www.DigitalKidsAuthor.com
Originally from Texas, Karen has lived in Sydney, Australia for 17 years. She lives with her husband and two sons.
1. Why is creativity important to you?
Creativity is magic because you start with nothing and then bring forth something new. It’s the most exhilarating, liberating, inspiring and maddening part of my professional life. Sometimes I delight myself with what I create. Sometimes I want to craw in a hole and whimper.
2. What do you enjoy the most?
There are so many parts of my writing and creative life that I enjoy that it’s hard to pick just one:
1. The time that I spend actually researching, developing and writing a story and then working with my illustrator to bring it to life has to be first!
2. Sharing with kids – I get such a buzz out of doing school author visits and speaking at events for kids and adults. What I find is that when kids meet a “real author,” they start seeing possibilities for themselves to create, and that’s inspiring.
3. Collaborating with others on story ideas, production, marketing ideas. 1 brain +1 brain = much more than 2 when it comes to creativity.
4. Innovating the way kids engage with reading.
I feel so lucky every day when I walk into my office and sit down to “work.”
3. Do you have any fears when creating?
Being interrupted! When I’m writing, I go to a different place in my mind and it drives me crazy to be interrupted. This is a real challenge since I’m a mom of two. I’m not too worried about things like writer’s block because if I’m ever stuck, I just go for a walk. Walking away for a while usually does the trick.
4. Are your family & friends supportive of the things you create?
Very. I’m so lucky to have a supportive husband and children. I haven’t always been a writer so it’s strange for some people who knew me for years as a marketing executive to think of me as a writer. It’s inspiring for them though to see me make a drastic and successful career change. I’ll never forget the first time I wrote “author” as my career instead of “marketing.” I think when I made that mental shift, everyone else did too.
5. How do you find time to create?
I work during school hours. But when I’m writing a story, I need more time and I need tobe able to work when I’m ready. If it’s the weekend, I usually try to leave the house. Or if I can’t leave, I put a red stop sign on the door so everyone knows not to interrupt me.
Words of inspiration to creative chicks:
Creativity isn’t just about writing or art. You can also be creative with inventions or business ideas. So that’s the space I’m speaking from here.
Overall, I say “believe in your idea and go for it.” I have some practical tips as well based on my experiences from going from marketing executive to a children’s content creator who patented a book format, self published a book, launched an app and is creating a global brand.
1. Don’t get stopped by “how”
2. Make a decision
3. Reach out to others
4. Invest in education
5. Be open to feedback
When I first had a dream about a new kind of book where kids got to physically do something to drive the story forward, I couldn’t figure out how to make it work. The dream wasn’t prescriptive so I had to create something real out of a conceptual idea. I decided I wanted to integrate toys with a book in an interactive and reusable way. For months I kept pushing the idea out of my mind because I couldn’t figure out how to do what I wanted to do. Then I heard Bob Proctor say “anyone who ever did anything didn’t know how they were going to do it, they just knew they were going to do it.” That was a life changing moment for me because at that moment, I made the decision to find a way to make my idea work. Within two weeks, I’d solved the problem that had stumped me for months and I’d written the first draft of my book.
Also, I didn’t have any idea how to patent an idea or publish a book so I started reaching out to other people. Networking has been such a gift to me because people like to share their knowledge and help if you just ask them to.
Invest in education. I spent a lot of time and money getting educated about the business I was getting into and it was worth it.
Be open to feedback but stay true to your heart. Being open to feedback lead me to re-write my entire book but I delivered a much stronger concept as a result and am very grateful that I listened.
Check out Karen’s book at www.treasurekai.com book and see a demo video of her app on www.treasurekai.com And if you are a children’s writer or illustrator who is interested in turning your stories into eBooks or book apps, visit www.digitalkidsauthor.com to read her blog, access her free report, “The Top 5 Things You Must Know before Turning Stories into Book Apps,” or download her eBook, “Author’s Guide to Book Apps – a Guide for Children’s Authors, Writers and Illustrators Wanting to Turn Stories into Book Apps.”