Vidor author publishes 1st children’s book, launches Book Flourishing Publications
Published 12:30 am Sunday, April 24, 2022
VIDOR — In 2020, during the first phase of the Coronavirus Pandemic, Carolyn Kondos pursued her dream to become an author as she stayed at home with her children.
Two years later, her dream turned to reality when she published, “Calix and the Three Wicked Lizards,” a story inspired by her son, Calix, and his picky eating habits. She published the children’s book through her company, Book Flourishing Publications on the Amazon website.
“In 2020, when everyone was at home for the first three weeks to ‘flatten the curve,’ my son, Calix, hit his ‘picky’ eating phase hardcore,” said Kondos, a local travel blogger. “All he wanted to eat was junk food and turned his nose up at all vegetables. I was already brainstorming ideas for my children’s books, with my children being the heroes of their own story, and his stubbornness about what food was going down his throat gave me the inspiration I needed to write his story.”
Instead of trying a scare tactic to get him to eat greens, Kondos made his character learn from other people, and in this case, wicked lizards’ mistakes, and come up with a creative solution to his problem, winning back his toy puppy, Rex.
“This empowered my son to break out of his comfort zone and try new things,” she said. “He found a love for pita bread, and even though hummus is not his absolute favorite, he likes to dip his bread in it from time to time. He even prefers salads dry. That was not my doing, but at least he is eating vegetables.”
Her goal is to show her children they are the heroes of their life story.
Kondos said imagination is a preview to life’s coming attractions.
“As a parent, you have to lead by example, and by publishing these books, and presenting them to my children, I want them to realize that if mommy can do it, so can they,” she said. “As an author and publisher, I want to convey the same message to students at readings and workshops I have the pleasure of being invited to. Someone must be the one to inspire them – I endeavor to be that person. But it all must begin at home.”
Kondos presented the book to her son, Calix, April 16 at the book release and signing at Belle Reeve Book Company on Boston Avenue in Nederland.
“I am the worst at keeping things a secret, and so is my oldest son, Achates,” she said. “We wanted this first reading to be very special for Calix and were able to pull this off for the reward of seeing his face full of wonder and excitement. I put my heart and soul into this endeavor, and it was worth the wait. My heart filled with so much love and pride when I handed my son his book.”
Kondos said Calix did not jump up and down with an outburst of excitement because he was too full of emotion.
The look in his eyes and a grin that spread into a smile were telling. When they were driving home, mom looked through her rearview mirror and saw him reading his book.
When they pulled into the driveway, he said, “Mommy, I finished reading my book, and I love it.”
Vidor High School teacher Kelli Boyett-LeBeouf illustrated the book.
It is her second time creating illustrations for a book.
She have been doing artwork for as long as she can remember, but it was mainly portraits.
“Carolyn introduced me to the project, let me read the story and shared her vision of the characters with me,” Boyett-LeBeouf said. “She was very descriptive and had an idea on how each character should look, down to the clothing choices.”
All three lizards look completely different from the first few sketches created.
Character design of this magnitude was something she had never attempted before, so there was a lot of trial and error, Boyett-LeBeouf said.
“Each change in a character I would send a picture to Carolyn to make sure she was happy with it before I continued,” she said. “Her enthusiasm helped me in this process. I studied a lot of facial expressions, body poses, gestures, and facial reactions.”
The illustrations took seven months from beginning to end.
“There were 21 illustrations total, with quite a few characters to design, along with houses and scenery,” she said. “After the designing process, each character was drawn with pencil, outlined with a liner pen, then painted with watercolor. Once they were all done, I scanned them, edited any stray pencil marks, and took care of little details I wanted to add or remove. I also converted them to a different format and resized them, so it was an involved process.”
Kondos is now a full-time children’s book author and publisher.
“Book Flourishing Publications came about when I learned schools will not buy directly from individuals,” she said. “I spent a week getting the paperwork filed, and all my ducks in a row to turn this dream into a reality – getting my children’s books into the hands of students across the U.S.”
When it comes to marketing her children’s book, she is working full-time to be successful.
Kondos is now a vendor for three school districts: West Orange-Cove, Beaumont and Silsbee.
“I have been invited by four school districts to come do readings and writing workshops with their students,” she said. “One school being as far as 95 miles away from my home, and another event reading at a summer camp this year. Every school I have contacted has been very helpful and eager to work with me. This has been a dream come true for me, and I am loving every moment of it.”
Kondos said the next two children’s books involve her children learning from harpies and dragons.
“My daughter’s story is already written,” she said. “The title is, “Theron and the Hapless
Harpie,” and there is a double moral to the story: To stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves in the face of adversity, and just because someone looks different doesn’t mean they are evil or bad – just different. I feel like these messages are universal and should be taught to children of all ages.”
Kondos said her son, Achates, always thought of himself as a knight.
“I am still in the brainstorming stages with Achates’s story,” she said. “The title is, ‘Achates and the Two Wise Dragons,’ and the moral of his story is learning the importance of accountability and responsibility. Growing up, Achates always fancied himself a knight in shining armor, but he never wanted to slay dragons, since he loved them so much. In this story, I decided to make the dragons wise teachers, instructing the young knight on being accountable and responsible for his decisions and actions, and why this would make him a better person, and a better knight.”
Visit bookflourishing.wordpress.com to buy the book.
For more information on Kelli LeBeouf’s illustrations, visit KelliAnnArt.com.
For more information on Arc Imagery photography, call Angela Carmane at 409- 658-6088.
— By Sierra Kondos