Santa Maria Sun / Art
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 14
Hooray for hugsLocal author and father Scott Washburn reads and signs his new children's book at an upcoming Father's Day event
BY JOE PAYNE
Publishing a first book may seem like a daunting task, but to someone who’s achieved fatherhood twice, the endeavor seems more than possible.
Scott Washburn isn’t just a self-published local author; he’s a father as well. His two young children were the inspiration for his first book, The Best Bear Hugs Ever.
“Right now they are 3 1/2 and one will be 5 in a few weeks,” he said. “This story came to me when I would come home from work and they would give me hugs, and I thought they really were the best hugs ever.”
Washburn, who graduated from Cal Poly, SLO, with a degree in architectural landscape design, worked locally until the housing bubble shrank his job prospects. Serendipitously, he found a full-time job at home when his wife gave birth to his kids.
“I kind of grew up thinking that as the father you are going to be going to work and providing for your family,” he said. “But it’s nice to have the opportunity to be able to stay at home with your kids.”
Not one to stay idle, and filled with inspiration, he began his own publishing company, Sensible Knowledge, to publish his book—but first he had to get it made.
“I pretty much did it myself as far as finding an illustrator,” he said. “I used a website called elance.com where you can put bids for graphic design or illustrations.”
The project was simple enough. The story relates a father going to the zoo and asking each animal where he can find the best bear hugs ever.
Washburn received several bids, a few of which he vetted, before deciding on Venezuelan illustrator Laura Liberatore.
“The language barrier wasn’t too bad; it was overall pretty good,” he said. “I wanted to go with the watercolor because it gave the book a different feel, and then I gave her pretty much free range.”
With his book written, illustrated, and laid out, Washburn noticed he had room for one more page. He decided to add a song at the end of the book. He put out a commission on craigslist.org, which was answered by local composer Lucas Denzer.
“I think kids really relate to music well,” Washburn said. “It helps bring the story to the children. Children, my kids especially, like to sing little jingles that they can repeat themselves.”
A free sheet music download that includes piano accompaniment is available on Washburn’s website, thebestbearhugsever.com. There’s also a playback file for kids and parents to sing along to on the website.
“The Internet is huge, not just for finding an illustrator,” he said, “but I hadn’t written a book before—it’s all new to me—and all of the things I learned were on the Internet, like how I decided to publish and print.”
After hearing about Washburn’s book from an Orcutt librarian, Altrusa International, Inc. of the Central Coast invited him to read it for an upcoming Father’s Day event at the Orcutt library. The event will feature Washburn reading and signing his book, as well as passing out free “Best Bear Hug Giver Ever” certificates. Following the reading will be a Father’s Day card crafting time, as well as raffle prizes for the kids to give their dads.
“The book portrays a father going to the zoo and looking for the best bear hugs ever, and as far as the Father’s Day event, it’s a great chance to celebrate family and being together,” Washburn said. “If it wasn’t for my kids, it never would have happened. They were the sole inspiration.”