What One Special Mother Did to Bring the World Alive for Her Blind Daughter

What One Special Mother Did to Bring the World Alive for Her Blind Daughter

What sort of people do we want to be?
What sort of people do we want to raise?

The answer to both these questions came to me when Tanya Savva approached me with her children’s book, The Adventures of Kenzie-Moo.

I created Little Wings Books, the children’s book imprint of Joanne Fedler Media if only to publish this gem of a book.

Tanya’s life changed when her daughter Mackenzie was born blind and with a range of other physical challenges. As a single mother, she knew there was more to working herself to exhaustion and not having enough time to spend with her daughter.

‘I know she deserved so much more,’ Tanya says.

In 2016 she decided to turn her life around. She packed up their lives, bought a caravan and for five months took Mackenzie all around Queensland, Australia, where they had all kinds of adventures. During this time, Tanya kept a leather-bound journal to capture their experiences and document Mackenzie’s reactions to everything she ‘saw.’

One night she wrote the book from start to finish and found a wonderful artist, Emma Stuart to do the illustrations.

The book asks us to imagine seeing a dolphin, walking through a rainforest, flying in a helicopter and swimming in the ocean without the use of our eyes.

As Kenzie-Moo delights in the sounds and sensations around her, she invites us to explore the world in ways we’ve never experienced before.

‘Next time you’re on an adventure, close your eyes to see.
Sense the world a little differently. Maybe you’ll see it just like me.’

Tanya and Mackenzie

This book is everything a book should be:

It has been written by a remarkable woman about a remarkable child; it’s a testament to the kind of love that makes this world bearable and ridiculously beautiful in the face of overwhelming challenge; and it holds a message that reminds us – no matter our age – to grab life with both hands and do that thing we’ve been wanting to do but have been putting off.

“My daughter isn’t an excuse for why I can’t follow my heart’s desires – she is the reason for why I should.”
Tanya Savva

The Adventures of Kenzie-Moo 5

Please help me to make this book a HUGE success and support this extraordinary mother-daughter duo.

You can do that NOW by purchasing copies of a limited hard-cover edition, signed by Tanya and beautifully packaged (they make outstanding Christmas and Channukah gifts, so you can stock up).

And if the story and illustrations aren’t enough to melt your heart, you will also receive a link to the audio version of the book spoken by Mackenzie (trust me, this kid is something else).

Tanya is in my Masterclass where she is writing a memoir about raising a child with special needs as a single mother, and the choices she’s made to live aligned with her soul purpose, in the face of adversity. She is passionate about empowering women who care for others to create inner freedom and joy no matter their circumstances and runs carer retreats for mothers with children with special needs.

Mackenzie is a magical and confident imp of a girl who continues to triumph through challenges she has faced since birth. She is an exceptional storyteller, horse rider and piano player, and creates joy and laughter wherever she goes with her cheeky and hilarious disposition. A true creative spirit, she shares her unique vision of the world with all those whose lives she touches.

To follow Tanya and Mackenzie’s journey, visit www.tanyasavva.com


If you order your copy now, you will receive a limited edition of The Adventures of Kenzie-Moo in this gorgeous packaging, signed by the author. As a special bonus, you will also receive a link to the audio version of the book spoken by Mackenzie. 

How can you resist?

(What better Christmas or Channukah gift can you think of for a child in your life?)

What Every Writer Needs on Her Shelf

Finding the right word may take more than just a click of a mouse... I inherited a Roget’s Thesaurus from my late grandfather. It has one of those hard-covers made from cloth. My grandfather’s signature is on the front page with the date 10-3-36. A few pages in is a...

I Have Not Said Enough

I work as a journalist in South Africa, a country known as the rape capital of the world. Every afternoon I switch on my computer, make sure my WiFi is working, and begin to trawl the web for news stories about criminal cases that have reached the courts. It is...

Catching Up to the Stories Inside

Catching Up to the Stories InsideI recently went to see A Star is Born at the movies: the remake with Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga. Bradley Cooper directs and also plays the lead male character, Jackson Maine - a singer/songwriter and alcoholic.The morning after...

I Know What Stops You from Writing

    I asked God if it was okay to be melodramatic And she said yes I asked her if it was okay to be short And she said it sure is I asked her if I could wear nail polish Or not wear nail polish And she said honey She calls me that sometimes She said you can...

Memoir Is a Moving Target

I thought I knew what my memoir was about. I was there after all. I thought it was a matter of working out where to start and where to end so I could settle my story down somewhere in between. How difficult could it be? So I started writing, in earnest, in the place I...

Unrequited Love

The first time my heart was broken, my mother, who’d never read a single self-help book in her life, passed me a tissue, and informed me that no man in the universe was worth one of my tears. I was going to wallow, write tormented poetry and spend six months in my...

How to Make Readers Part of Your Success When You Launch Your Book

How to Make Readers Part of Your Success When You Launch Your Book

How to Get Your Readers to Become Part of Your Success as You Launch Your Book

 

The purpose of launching you book is to get people to buy your book after all your hard work.

To do this properly, you need to understand why people buy books.

People buy books either because:

  • they care about you, the author (friends, family, fans) and want to see you succeed;
  • they care about what you’re writing about (the topic of your book) and want to understand more about it.

You probably have no control over the first one, but it is your job to execute on the second one. Getting people to care about what you have to say is all about how you communicate the value of your book and market the book.

Marketing your book is about expressing how your book will:

  • help your reader,
  • solve a problem for them,
  • somehow enhance their lives / inspire them.

When asking people to support you, remember to think about what’s in it for them and make sure that you articulate this.

Otaku is a Japanese word for ‘those who are obsessed and recommend something as a result.’ Your job is to try and find a fan base who will become such promoters of your book, that they will share and talk about it. Seth Godin claims we need 1,000 true fans to get our book out into the market – and they will do the work for us by telling others how fabulous it is (of course, this means we have to write a remarkable book in the first place).

Joanne Fedler

Joanne Fedler

Author, writing mentor, retreat leader. I’m an internationally bestselling author of nine books, inspirational speaker and writing mentor. I’ve had books published in just about every genre- fiction, non-fiction, self-help, memoir – by some of the top publishing houses in the world. My books have sold over 650 000 copies and have been translated in a range of languages. Two of my books have been #1 Amazon bestsellers, and at one point the German edition of Secret Mothers’ Business outsold Harry Potter- crazy, right?

Five Factors to Consider About Our Readers

  1. Even if our book is called ‘How to Become Happy, Healthy and Wealthy’ – we cannot assume that readers will understand what’s in it for them. We must express why our book is unique and different from other books in the market and why readers should buy it (if not for them, then for someone in their life who may need the book)
  2. People are busy – we must make it easy for them (one click, an intuitive landing page)
  3. Everyone wants to feel part of something – people like to feel included in an inner circle, so we can offer this as an option where readers can get extra value for buying or reviewing our book early
  4. We shouldn’t assume readers understand why it’s important to buy our book on a particular day or review it before a certain date – we need to explain the process to them so that they understand why we are asking them to do things
  5. I operate on the assumption that people are generous – they want to support us so we must be able to ask for help (early readers, reviews, sharing on social media, buying more than one copy of our book).

Insights from my Early Adopter campaign when I launched my book, Love in the Time of Contempt:

  • During the writing of the book, I shared my thoughts, insights and asked opinions of my Facebook community – what do you think? What were your teenage years like? So many people shared their stories that I was able to include these in my book (always ask permission to share someone’s story and if they are okay about you using their real name, and make sure to thank them in the acknowledgements)
  • I got buy-in from the start from a small, committed group of 200 readers who were excited about the topic
  • Though not everyone can write a book, everyone likes to feel part of a book – this is because we are no longer in the Author as Oracle era, but rather in the Author as Spokesperson era. If our book does a good job of expressing how others feel about something, readers are gracious and generous about sharing it
  • I set up a secret Facebook group for Early Adopters – I asked readers for help (they got a free PDF copy of the book a month before the book came out and in return, I asked them to simply leave an honest review on Amazon – this alone got the book to #1 on Amazon in its category for a few days)
  • I explained why I was asking people to review the book before a certain date and how this would help me get visibility in an oversaturated market. I explained to my community how Amazon works and that to rank high you need reviews and sales within a short period of time – people were then informed and keen to help
  • I created a competition and partnered with others who have the same target market (mothers of teenagers). They donated prizes which I was able to give away in the closed Facebook group.

Author Potential Profile Assessment

Discover your hidden strengths as well as the areas you need to build on to become an author.

Principles to Live by as You Launch Your Book

  1. Connect with your readers – your readers are your greatest asset – make sure that you keep them in mind at all times. Change the focus of your thinking – your book launch is not about you, it’s about your readers and how your book will make them feel and enhance their lives. If your book promotes certain values, ways of thinking or sheds light on a particular topic or marginalized group, then talk this up.
  2. Say please and thank you – ask for help, acknowledge those who help you and reward them when they do
  3. Give before you ask people to give to you. Generosity and service are the core values that should always be at the heart of everything we do as authors.

Ageing Songlines

I find myself wondering more and more about her warning. Is it really obscene to grow old? I mean, what are a couple of white hairs, a bit of sagging skin, leathery arms and the odd stray facial hair? Really.

How’s That Cynicism Working for You?

I went to law school. I got not one, but two law degrees – one at Yale. Yippee for me, right? Actually, my entire life since then has been a recovery from legal thinking. Not that I don’t value logic, clarity, causation and an understanding of what it means to think...

The Biggest Birthday Yet

Good lord, it is two days to my 50th birthday. I am not ready to own such a majestic number, never mind have to blow out that many birthday candles. Also, it means I have to stop ‘turning’ 50 and just be 50. I have literally devoted my entire 49th year to getting to...

Is the Black Dog Jewish

If ever the human psyche held terrible secrets, and untouchable emotions, the language of modern psychology has opened its dungeons and let those dark hounds loose. We now have words (‘manic depression,’ ‘bipolar,’ ‘seasonal affective disorder,’ post-traumatic...

You Could Make This Place Beautiful

I wanted to share a story that always gives me strength and faith to keep working for a better world, even when it seems pointless and hopeless.

How to Make ‘I’ Contact

One of the first rules of public speaking is to make eye contact with the audience. That’s how we connect and earn trust. In writing, our challenge is to make ‘I’ contact. We have to be connected in with our own story in order to connect people in to our story. Who we...

The Long View of Creativity

The Long View of Creativity

How long is my vision? Does it have a depth that can rival oceans? Has it curiosity akin to a child’s? Will its manifestation mean something even if I never get to see those results? These are questions I ask as I embark on a new writing project. Queries exploring the spirit and purpose of the art. They are the unwritten portion of each literary venture, inked in inquisition and resolution upon the parchment of my consciousness.

As a writer, I must see the long view of each letter I type. I need to comprehend the immortality of character, the timelessness of setting. I acknowledge that whatever I put to paper might inspire relief from suffering, or instigate it. I may just as easily alienate readers as unite them, depending upon how I incorporate theme or voice into a work. I have to understand the permanency of every paragraph or stanza, and the way each story potentially endures long after I have set down my pen.

Our words are a legacy.

Several years ago, a home in my neighbourhood sold, and the new owners dug up the entire front yard, justifiably intent on changing the area to suit their tastes. As the landscaping progressed, however, I was flabbergasted as their preferences become apparent to the neighbourhood.

Enormous, stark white slabs of stone were installed vertically like obtrusive, glittering sentries at a number of points across the corner property. The large gaps between each conspicuously erected monolith were then dotted with a few tiny plants, leaving the ground largely unadorned and the great stretches of mulch desolate. The visual effect of these seemingly pretentious columns left me wondering if the outlandish garden was a cry for attention or simply an unsightly display of status.

I had failed to see the role that time would play. But the new owners had not.

.

About Jennifer

Jennifer wrote her first poem at the age of six, and she has been involved in the world of words as an editor, a blogger, and an article writer. She is published in and shortlisted for a growing number of local, national, and international electronic and print publications.Most recently she had an essay, titled Bairnlorn, appear in the Globe & Mail, placed first in the My City, My Words poetry contest, and wrote and handcrafted a board book for her son.

She also tells terrible jokes.

They knew what weather would do; how a year of exposure to dust, sunlight, sea air, and rain would stain the impermeable rock. They recognized the simple truth that plants grow and that they need space to do so. They understood the topography of the land and how to place elements that worked with the gentle slope bowing into the street from their front door.

I realized it slowly, over the course of the next twelve to eighteen months. The genius of it.

They had gifted our neighbourhood with a version of the stone circles of Europe.

The bright granite was now darkened with patches of slate, moss, and charcoal, the gleam replaced with the satin finish of aged stone. The heathers had spread into the empty pockets of soil, and the mix of species bloomed at different times, seasonally offering a carpet of tiny purple or white clustered buds. Bees crawled over the foliage, greedily collecting pollen from the bell-shaped flowers. Crows rested on the natural pillars, cocking their heads in response to the gaze of passersby. Sparrows hopped over the ground, darting amid the crevices between the evergreen groundcover in search of shelter or food.

It was a tiny piece of the magic one feels while standing within Stonehenge.

It is into this model of patience, and the twin branches of deliberate unfolding and organic growth, that I write. My creativity is best expressed when I keep these lessons in mind. When I lean into the possibilities that may ripple from casting a story into the waters of the world, I should consider how those vibrations will colour, grow, and bring life to the perspectives of others. Without reflection, I risk creating a literary landscape out of touch with my intention and my readers. But with it, I can hold on to the long view and create something lasting and beautiful.

Author Potential Profile Assessment

Discover your hidden strengths as well as the areas you need to build on to become an author.

The Dynamics of Manifestation… I Get It Now

A couple of years ago, I wrote a book to help other writers get their story into the world called Your Story: how to write it so others will want to read it. My aim for it was modest – I was going to self publish it, and it would be a gift to the writers I mentor and...

Ageing Songlines

I find myself wondering more and more about her warning. Is it really obscene to grow old? I mean, what are a couple of white hairs, a bit of sagging skin, leathery arms and the odd stray facial hair? Really.

The Turning: Reflections on Reaching 50

I am taking the business of turning 50 terribly seriously. I am dedicating the twelve months since my 49th birthday to this incongruous milestone, given that the actual age of my physical body – half a freaking century – and how I feel inside couldn’t be further apart...

What Is My ‘Writing Voice’ and How Do I Find Mine?

What Is My 'Writing Voice' and How Do I Find Mine? Our writing voice is not something that’s lost that if we look long and hard enough for, will eventually turn up like a pair of mislaid spectacles that have been hiding under a pile of unopened mail. It is a fluency...

How to Love Time with Every Passing Birthday

We’re all just walking each other home. – Ram Dass   It's funny how much we fret about nonsense in the light of Ram Dass's insight, isn't it? How different would we behave if we lived each day with that as our premise? So when the 31st August comes around, I...

The Mystery of Inspiration in Writing

When he delivered his Nobel Lecture in 2005, entitled Art, Truth and Politics, the playwright Harold Pinter said the following: ‘I have often been asked how my plays come about. I cannot say. Nor can I ever sum up my plays, except to say that this is what happened....

Grabbing the Reins of Creativity

Grabbing the Reins of Creativity

I remember as a kid thinking creativity was this wild, carefree, easy-going emotion that you just got into, rather like finger-painting. But as I have started using the innovative side of my brain as an adult, I realise what a fragile, ethereal thing creativity really is. I see how strong and confident you need to be in order to truly let your creativity work its magic. For me, drawing on inventiveness does provide an element of magic. When I deeply tap into my creativity and get into a state of ‘flow’, I often finish and have no idea from where the inspiration came.

It also strikes me that, like magic, you need to have ‘belief’ to really get your creativity flowing. I know this from first-hand experience. I have always wanted to write since I worshipped at the feet of the children’s book goddess, Enid Blyton. But, at an early age, I lost my belief and, instead, fell into a rabbit warren of shame and doubt.

In the mid-70’s I was a very shy nine-year-old and a daydreamer. On one occasion I forgot to do my homework, which was to write an essay on “My Horse”. All the diligent, non-dreamers handed in their papers. I was given a day’s grace.

I sat down at home that afternoon and wrote an epic tale about my horse. At least I thought it was epic. He was a beautiful horse and was abducted by communists and locked away in a barn. He rubbed his hooves together on the hay, started a fire and kicked the barn door down to escape. He bolted down the road and left his captors in the dust. He hid on a boat and found his way back from Russia, just to be with me.

.

About Tanya

Tanya Southey is a people collector, tea drinker, dog lover, poetry junkie and recently published author. Her children’s adventure story Ollie and the Starchaser subtly explores grief and loss. In 2018 Tanya is working on a poetry challenge – #52words52weeks – where she is collaborating with London Street Photographer, Denise Smith, to create a poem a week.  Currently Tanya is pretending to have retired from her corporate career, but work keeps finding her.  Her mission, whether in writing or life, remains to help people reach their full potential.  

You can find out more on www.tanyasouthey.com 

My teacher wrote “What Rubbish” in big, bold, but incredibly neat, red handwriting.

She then read it out to the class as an example of what not to write. She said horses didn’t have communist adventures and I should have written about riding my horse in a paddock. Well, I didn’t have a horse. We lived in a small house in the suburbs of a tiny mining town in South Africa where no one had horses.

But I did have ears and eyes. I was an avid listener and observer, and my dad loved communists. He talked about them all the time. It made total sense to me that a beautiful horse would be abducted and sent to Russia. So there was something in her reading it out that not only shamed me, but also cast its shadow on my Italian dad. I saw how people looked at him when he went on about communism in his broken English.

After that, my writing went underground.

Forty-odd years later, I know the science of shame. It drives us into hiding. For years, if I wrote anything that was remotely creative, I winced when someone read it. I felt sick that it might not make the mark.

Last year I went to Boston to be trained in Immunity to Change, with Harvard alumni Professors Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey. The course teaches why we develop an ‘immunity’ or protection to certain situations. It explores why we have certain ambitions in our lives that become like New Year’s resolutions. We set the goals, and put all the behaviours in place to achieve them, and then we don’t succeed. I had to complete my own immunity map, and I chose getting a book published as my objective. I had all the right things in place – a compelling goal, time set aside and writing courses completed – but I had an unknown, hidden protection in place that I uncovered while completing the map. I had protected myself from putting anything out there because of a deep-seated belief that I was not good enough to publish a book.

Fortunately, the map required a ‘safe test’. I set mine to completing my children’s story. Well, my book is out there now and, surprise, surprise, I am still alive. More than that, I am grateful I took a chance on investing in myself and in my writing.

So now when I want to be creative, I gather up that shy nine-year-old; I give her a hug, I give her the pen and I let her go. Even when the clumsiest pieces turn up, I look her in the eye and say, “We’ve got this.”

And she looks back and asks, “Did I ever tell you about my horse?”

What One Special Mother Did to Bring the World Alive for Her Blind Daughter

What sort of people do we want to be? What sort of people do we want to raise? The answer to both these questions came to me when Tanya Savva approached me with her children’s book, The Adventures of Kenzie-Moo. I created Little Wings Books, the children’s book...

Twelve Things Your Mum Was Right About

There’ll come a point in your life when you’ll suddenly have a flashback to your childhood. And it will be your mother’s voice. And you will concede – graciously or otherwise – that all those irritating things she used to say to you when you were a kid were actually...

On Backstory, Flashbacks and Character Memories

Writing question: When and how do I use backstory, flashbacks and character memories? To bring a character to life, to make them complex, sympathetic and richly conceived, they need context and history. We want to know where they’ve been, what they’ve experienced and...

Patience in Writing

I recently hauled out a box in which I’ve been stowing thoughts, ideas, inspiration and research for a book I have been wanting to write. It was packed with journals, scrapbooks, scribbles and diagrams in several folders which I will need to make sense of to turn it...

Spotlight on Michele Susan Brown

Happy International Women's Day. I hope you're going to make some time for yourself today - to listen in to your heart, and to reconnect with the life inside you that is only yours. Maybe do something kind for your body. Give it a compliment. A massage. A dunk in the...

What Is Worth Being Famous For?

I always wanted to be famous. I once imagined if Ellen DeGeneres just had the chance to meet me, we’d become best friends. And that if Annie Leibovitz got a glimpse of my profile, she’d beg to photograph this nose. And that if Jamie ever got my lamb shank recipe out...