Collaborating on Illustrating The Story

I finished the initial draft of my first children’s book, Violen 15 years ago but didn’t know how to publish it or even how to share the story. Today’s technology with the explosion of social media gives me the opportunity to share my writing to a much wider audience than I ever had before. I don’t have the drawing skills to illustrate my own photos, but not too long after I got hooked on mobile photography, I realized that I could illustrate my stories with photography.

I asked Albert Montes to photograph my first story. We had met years ago through church, then we reconnected on Instagram. After seeing Albert’s incredible work, I asked him to be the main photographer for the story. We shot in 4 locations in different parts of Long Beach, California. I wanted to illustrate the story in black and white. Albert shot with Hipstamatic on his iPhone 4S. Now, looking back I realize that I should have been shooting a lot more behind the scenes. I only took a few, and this one was during our first photoshoot.

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Violen p. 11

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Those who sat closer to the stage mentioned that they saw tears in Uncle Tim’s eyes as the song came to a close. At the end, the audience roared with approval. The entire crowd gave Lenny a standing ovation!

Lenny looked at the audience, but the spotlights were too bright for him to see his classmates. All Lenny could see were dozens of small silhouettes. He recognized at least one of the shadowy figures with fists pumping the air. It was Miguel.

As Lenny bowed, the same boys who once jeered him now cheered him. He smiled towards the source of cheers and took his final bow as the curtains closed.

Notes: You are reading an excerpt from my 1st children’s picture book, Violen. Violen is a story about a young boy who has an extraordinary gift and passion to play the violin. Even though this may be the last page, keep following along for more pics and notes, and if you like my story, please share it. Thanks for your support. Image shot by Albert Montes and edited by me using Glaze.

Violen p. 10

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Violen p.10

The sound the Lenny and his wooden instrument filled the auditorium and entered the ears and hearts of all those present. With each pass of the bow, the strings sang a song that brought delight to his audience. Lenny played his song with grace, power, and flawless execution.

Mr. Trumbo nodded his head in approval while standing just out of view from the audience. Ms. Richards broke her own class rule to tell her students sitting closest to her, “This is the perfect song.” Lenny’s classmates looked with amazement and admiration at the sight and sound of Lenny playing his violin. Miguel thoroughly enjoyed watching his friend play with all his heart and soul on a stage in front of all those people.

Notes: You are reading an excerpt from my 1st children’s picture book, Violen. Violen is a story about a young boy who has an extraordinary gift and passion to play the violin. I will be sharing a page or two a day. Follow along, and if you like my story, please tag your friends or share a link of this post. Thanks for your support. Image shot and edited by me.

Violen p. 8

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As parents, teachers, and students began to fill the auditorium, the principal emerged from the curtains with a microphone in hand. He asked for Lenny to go backstage! The tall man met Lenny and escorted him up the stairs onto the stage. His classmates gazed in amazement and anticipation
as they saw their classmate disappear behind the curtain.

A still moment blanketed the audience as they heard a man behind the curtain laugh and call out Lenny’s name. The children in Lenny’s class leaned forward in unison to listen to the faint, muffled voices of Lenny and his uncle. The curtains opened and the audience applauded their special guest. Mr. Trumbo introduced Tim as the featured musician who then played his violin to begin the concert.

Notes: You are reading an excerpt from my 1st children’s picture book, Violen. Violen is a story about a young boy who has an extraordinary gift and passion to play the violin. I will be sharing a page or two a day. Follow along, and if you like my story, please tag your friends or share a link of this post. Thanks for your support. Image shot by Albert Montes and edited by me.

Violen p. 7

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Violen p. 7

Len was so overwhelmed with excitement, that he didn’t know what he was supposed to feel or do. He had some questions, but decided not to call Uncle Tim.

The very next day, Len brought the invitation to his teacher. Ms. Richards was elated to share the news with the class that Len’s uncle was going to be the guest performer at the school concert.

On Thursday, Len arrived to class wearing a blazer with his violin in its case. The classroom full of students welcomed Len with smiles as he quietly took his seat and started his assignment. The other boys whispered “Violen,” to get Lenny’s attention. They all gave him thumbs up in approval. When it was time for the assembly, Lenny lined up behind Miguel on the walk to the auditorium for the special concert. Lenny didn’t say a word. nor did Miguel, except for complimenting his blazer.

Notes: You are reading an excerpt from my 1st children’s picture book, Violen. Violen is a story about a young boy who has an extraordinary gift and passion to play the violin. I will be sharing a page or two a day. Follow along, and if you like my story, please tag your friends or share a link of this post. Thanks for your support. Image shot and edited by me using Hipstamatic and Glaze apps on an iPhone.

Violen p. 6

IMG_0598.JPGLenny’s mom loved going to the beach, and it only took them fifteen minutes to walk to the beach from their house. Whenever his mom went to the beach, Lenny brought his violin. It was his favorite spot away from school. The park was also one of his trusted spots. Lenny and his new violin had become inseparable.

Miguel evolved into Lenny’s unofficial coach. All Miguel had to do was give a thumbs up or thumbs down and leave drawings in Lenny’s case.

Three months after Uncle Tim’s last visit, Lenny received a letter in the mail from Uncle Tim. He opened the envelope and to his surprise pulled out a handwritten invitation.

It read,

Hey Lenny,

You are invited to be my special guest performer at your school’s Spring Concert on Thursday, Keep practicing!

See you soon, Uncle Tim

Notes: You are reading an excerpt from my 1st children’s picture book, Violen. Violen is a story about a young boy who has an extraordinary gift and passion to play the violin. I will be sharing a page or two a day. Follow along, and if you like my story, please tag your friends or share a link of this post. Thanks for your support. Image shot by Albert Montes and edited by me.

Violen p. 5

IMG_5821.JPGLen wasn’t alone for very long. Miguel had been searching and found Len at the new practice spot. Miguel didn’t play sports like the other boys. He didn’t speak enough English to carry a conversation with Len, but Miguel loved the way Len played his violin.
 
Now that he discovered his classmate’s secret practice spot, Miguel went behind the cafeteria every morning during recess to watch and listen to Len play his violin. Miguel drew pictures as Len played. When recess ended, Miguel placed his drawings inside Len’s violin case.

For three months, Len  passionately practiced the song his uncle taught him.  He practiced in his bedroom before school, at his secret spot during recess, Mondays after school with Mr. Trumbo, and in his bedroom before he went to sleep.

Lenny’s mom loved going to the beach, and it only took them fifteen minutes to walk to the beach from their house. Whenever his mom went to the beach, Lenny brought his violin. It was his favorite spot away from school. The park was also one of his trusted spots. Lenny and his new violin had become inseparable.

Notes: You are reading an excerpt from my 1st children’s picture book, Violen. Violen is a story about a young boy who has an extraordinary gift and passion to play the violin. I will be sharing a page or two a day. Follow along, and if you like my story, please tag your friends or share a link of this post. Thanks for your support. Image shot by Albert Montes and edited by me.

Violen p. 3

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The next morning, Len was so excited to get to school that he left his case at home and walked through the neighborhood while cradling his bare violin.  Usually, Len  counted the lines separating the concrete blocks on the way to school. He saw those same lines, but all that occupied his head was the song he learned the night before.
When he got to the campus, he showed his note from Uncle Tim to Mr. Trumbo, the music teacher. Mr. Trumbo was Uncle Tim’s friend and had thoroughly enjoyed having Len in his class. Mr. Trumbo told Len, “It’s gonna be Showtime for you!”  He promised Len that he could practice after school every Monday. Mr. Trumbo would personally tutor him and help Len master the song. Mr. Trumbo and Len exchanged high fives before Len went to his class to share the news with his teacher, Ms. Richards.
Notes: You are reading an excerpt from my 1st children’s picture book, Violen. Violen is a story about a young boy who has an extraordinary gift and passion to play the violin. I will be sharing a page or two a day. Follow along, and if you like my story, please tag your friends or share a link of this post. Thanks for your support. Image shot by Albert Montes and edited by me.

Violen p. 2

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The song Lenny learned was so beautiful that it deserved to be played as long as the night allowed, and Lenny’s gifted hands did not disappoint. Yet, their time together had to end. Uncle Tim had to get back to his hotel as he was on tour; playing his violin to packed concert halls around the country.  As the shuttle bus honked announcing its arrival to pick him up, Uncle Tim turned to his nephew and handed him a large and very familiar case.  Tim peered out the doorway and signaled for the shuttle driver to wait a few minutes longer to watch Lenny open the case.  With great anticipation the young boy lifted the lid. Nestled inside was a worn but completely perfect violin. He fixed his gaze at the instrument so intently that he did not realize that his uncle was saying his final goodbyes.

The thud of the sliding shuttle door snapped Lenny out of his trance. Lenny silently waved as his uncle stepped into the van with the door sliding shut behind him.  The young boy read the note that his uncle had left behind.  

Dear Lenny,

This is the first violin grandpa  bought for me.  I want you to have it. You’ve been practicing for 3 years now. It’s time that my favorite violinist in the world owned his own violin. Here’s my iPad. You can have it as long as you watch the video on it to master our new song. Practice everyday! I will be back in a few months to do a concert at your school, and I want you to perform with me.  Get ready!

Much love, Uncle Tim

Note: You are reading an excerpt from my 1st children’s picture book, Violen. Violen is a story about a young boy who has an extraordinary gift and passion to play the violin. I will be sharing a page or two a day. Follow along, and if you like my story, please tag your friends or share a link of this post. Thanks for your support. Image shot by and edited by me using Hipstamatic and Glaze apps on iPhone.

An Excerpt from Violen

This story is currently sold on Blurb as an eBook and printed book.