Creating the “Crew”

Putting pen to paper and writing your book is just one step in the writing process.  One of the most important tasks in writing a book and appealing to kids is creating the characters, their personalities, likes, dislikes, etc. Usually this is done after your manuscript has gone through the 3rd and final edit.  Well, I normally find a reason to gently buck the system if you will and I knew that I needed to get my website started so that I could begin marketing myself and my upcoming book, Bentley’s Fantabulous Idea, so I knew I had to bring these characters to life as soon as possible.  I was very adamant that my website was not going to be just a basic website with a blurb about me and a page about my book and order links.  I’m rarely as basic as this.  I’ve always been a go huge or go home kinda girl and my author website wasn’t going to be any different. 

I didn’t want to just create a website I wanted to create a funny, crazy colored, creative funiverse known as Bentley’s World where Bentley, Betty & Mr. Bee (Bentley – the main character in all my books, his bestest, not-furry human friend Betty and their trusty sidekick – Mr. Bee) will take you on zanified crewventures around the globe where the funtabulousness never ends.  Sounds like a huge undertaking, but for me, it has been an ABSOLUTELY AMAZING SMILE CREATING xperience. 

I live in color.  I have very few pieces of clothing that are black, navy, grey, or brown (navy though I guess I need to admit is a somewhat dominant staple because it is one of the Auburn Tigers colors – #WarEagle).  My closet and house is an array of color.  Even the couch in my family room is a couch where every piece is a different color with different colored trim.  There isn’t any question about it, my favorite color is PURPLE and a fun-fact, some people believe that purple isn’t really a color because it isn’t on the spectrum.  I, of course, totally disagree.  I think there isn’t a better color in the whole entire huge universe!!  I was also lucky enough to have my youngest daughter, Miranda, fall in love with the color purple and it was the backdrop for her absolutely magical Charleston wedding. Color makes me smile, brings happiness to my heart, brings me peace and I knew before ever writing even one word that I wanted the books I write to be fun, funny, light, crazy, imaginative, entertaining, educational and absolutely 1,000,000% colorful because those things brighten my world and after a long dark time in my life the last thing I wanted was to see muted colors and write in a way that isn’t all of those things.  I want kids to fall as much in love with these characters as I have.  I want the kids to find my website a fun place to go to do super de duper funtastic activities and interact with the characters and set their imaginations soaring, so the website & the characters have to be out of this world, and I think it is off to an amazingly awesome start.     

Ok, ok, getting a little off topic but wanted to share a little color history with you and why color is so important in my life before moving on to the character stuff.  Bentley was super easy, he is based on my bestest real life furry not-human sheepdoodle also named Bentley so it was easy to give him a personality, share his likes, dislikes etc.  Betty is a mix of me and my Mammalw who passed away in December 2020.  I wanted to honor her in some way besides just a dedication, so I called Bentley’s bestest not-furry human friend Betty after my Mammalw, and it was actually perfect because it is all “B’s” (Bentley, Betty, & Mr. Bee).  Her personality and likes are a mix of mine and my Mammalw’s.  Mr. Bee, as mentioned in my first blog post, he was a big bumble bee that kept coming around when I was house training Bentley and picked up on his personality when he came around EVERY time, we were outside and even landed on Bentley’s head one time.  That is the mini story behind the three main characters. 

Now, how did I create “The Crew”.  Right now, there are 21 members in the crew.  I bet you are getting super xcited about “Bentley’s Fantabulous Idea” coming out now that you know there are so many characters in it!!  I first started with a list of animals that I wanted to include.  Then I worked on their names.  I wanted to have names from different nationalities and did research to find some really amazing names and I have to say I love them all and hope you do as well.  Then before I sent them to the illustrator, I had to give them personalities, dreams, likes/dislikes etc.  This was another really fun part for me.  I pulled inspiration form my family, favorite personalities on tv and life in general.  I gave them a “career” path or a dream for the future and then gave them a personality. 

Some of my inspiration came from my daughter Miranda and her husband Kyle.  They both went to Auburn and were both on the swim & dive team, so KaiKai Kangaroo has some likenesses to him, and my granddaughter also calls him KaiKai.  Miranda has always been a dog person and wanted to be a vet/work with animals so Eloise Elephant is dressed in purple (also Miranda’s favorite color) and is the Pet Vet for “The Crew” and other strays.  Miranda & I both love to cook/bake so Molly Moose & George Giraffe are both dreaming of becoming a chef/baker.  My mom loves rabbits and has collected them for as long as I can remember so I had to include a rabbit.  Back in November I started taking painting lessons, so I had to make one an artist and I had to have a tiger because of the Auburn Tigers!!! We used to live in Maryland, and they are known for their crabs, so we had to have CiCi Crab.  I’m a travel advisor and Milo Monkey loves geography and is obsessed with travel.  Sakura Sloth is all different colors because she gets confused about her feelings and doesn’t know how to express herself and that is the stage my granddaughter Mila is in right now.  My oldest daughter was a nanny for many years so Coco Centipede is the nanny/babysitter in “The Crew”.  These are just some of the places that I pulled inspiration from to create these fun fantabulous characters, but the creation process didn’t stop there, now that I had them created on paper, it was time to bring them to life and that is where my illustrator comes in. 

Stay tuned for my next blog about working with my illustrator and bringing these characters to life.    

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