Getting Off My One-Acre Island

How one author’s children’s picture book unfolded out for her in real life eventually making a fictional place real for social good.


On Corte magoreFifteen months ago, I had an “AHA” moment that, at first, involved marketing my book, Samuel T. Moore of Corte Magore, an epic children’s tale about a land and sea fiddler crab who wandered onto a beautiful island called Corte Magore. Sam wanted to stay and live there forever, but had to first overcome obstacles like building himself a home before the tides came in to sweep him back out to sea. He also had to work around naysayers and the big, bad beast, the Great Tidal Wave.  Sam was a dreamer and a hard worker. He made mistakes but each time he failed, learned to pull himself up again and again by his bootstraps.

If you know me well, you’ll know there are some parallels between Samuel T. Moore of Corte Magore and my own life. Like Sam, I’m tenacious and a hard worker. Also like Sam, I too was once searching for a home. At the age of fifteen, I was placed in foster care. Mine was a dysfunctional family living well below the poverty line and things were often difficult for me growing up. The naysayer in my life was the system – the statistics that said I wasn’t supposed to break the cycle. Many children don’t, but I fortunately did. I’m resourceful, entrepreneurial, and when I’ve failed, I learned early on to pick myself up gracefully and work to get myself right back on track – just like Sam. I broke the mold and I know, in my heart of hearts, that it’s my duty to share with others that they can do it too. Despite their circumstances.

I tried to ingrain many pearls of wisdom throughout Samuel T. Moore of Corte Magore. If only I had a book, growing up, that told me it was okay to be searching for something, that acknowledged that my dreams had validity, that being punctual and minding the time and deadlines were important, and that though there would be bullies and naysayers in my life trying to squelch my dreams, it was up to me to tackle them anyway. Somehow, early on, I learned I’d have to do most everything for myself and on my own and that being independent can be incredibly empowering, even for a child faced with life’s difficulties.

My story was one I HAD to tell. But just telling it wasn’t enough. I had to figure out a way to market my book in a big way to children so they could make my story and Sam’s story, about overcoming obstacles and persevering, their own.

One morning, right before I woke up – a time when being “almost” lucid often brings clarity to my problems – the way to market my book in a big way came to me in an “AHA” moment. “AHA, I’ve got it,” I thought as I sat straight-up in bed. “If you can name a star in the sky, then why can’t I find some postage-stamped-sized island, somewhere in the world, and name it Corte Magore?”

That crazy, absurd, half-cocked idea put me on a personal journey that has changed the course of my life – rallied even my own family, one that’s forced me to get off my own personal, one-acre suburban “island” in Southern California, a life I eventually built for myself, step out of my cush comfort zone – and onto a real life, 29-acre, living/breathing, bio-diverse island along the devastatingly poor, Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua. That “AHA” moment, caused my passion (writing books for children) to be met with its purpose – having an island work to somehow keep an impoverished nation of child drop-outs in school. One adventure lead me to the next, just like in my story. And that “AHA” moment has snowballed into a new tale that now involves an ambassador, universities, conservation, eco-tourism, environmental learning, ocean science, crowdfunding, grant-writing, television/film, real estate development, and much, much more. In the course of a year, I’ve traveled to Nicaragua three times and have fallen in love with its people and possibilities, but most importantly, I’ve fallen in love with the journey to “Finding Corte Magore”.

Over the next few days and weeks, my team on the Finding Corte Magore project and I will attempt to break down this amazing adventure for you. Look for videos, pictures, and blog posts as we unfold the story from varying perspectives.

I promise that when it’s all over, you will be inspired to get up, dust off some of those old dreams of your own, dare to get off your own islands and realize that nothing at all is impossible.

See you on Corte Magore!

Tonia Allen Gould

http://www.findingcortemagore.com

Coming Soon To a Technology Device Near You


Jacob, age 6, with his Samuel T. Moore of Corte Magore App on the iPad
Jacob, age 6, with his Samuel T. Moore of Corte Magore App on the iPad

Bi-line article written for Today’s Parent USA by Tonia Allen Gould

This fast-paced media environment we are experiencing today is continuously changing and has everyone confused. Parents too, are having a hard time catching-up on evolving trends. Like everyone else, they are trying to figure it all out, while their children seem to adapt and grasp onto technology without even a glimmer of thought. Look around you—in airport terminals, at outdoor cafes, and at the nearest Starbucks, it’s not uncommon to see a child, sometimes as young as two years old, sitting quietly and comfortably, glaring through the glossy screen of an iPad. One thing is for certain; these children are engaged and consumed by the technology they are accessing from the palm of their hands.

Today, there are an abundance of apps that can be accessed through general purpose tablets like the iPad. With only a touch of a finger, and a few moments of time, you can browse through books, games and educational apps for children from the iTunes App Store, for example, on your device. With so many options in front of you, it’s important to understand the landscape of where book media is today and where it is going, especially in the education and entertainment arenas. Picture books, for instance, on technology devices have turned into interactive, engaging “experiences,” complete with digital animation, narration and music. While we all hope that conventional books in the library will never really be replaced, it’s true that in just a few short years, book apps and eBooks have already changed the publishing world and redefined how books come to market. In fact, some book apps are starting to look something more like a Disney/Pixar movie than an actual picture book, and the book market will only get better from here.

Also, it’s important to understand that there are significant costs that go into the production of a single book app and this is why the good ones can’t be purchased for the price of a song. Still at $1.99-$7.99 or higher, the cost of a book app may be a much better value when compared to printed and bound books stocked at brick and mortar retailers like Barnes and Noble, where you can expect to pay at least twice the price of a book app or eBook. It’s these very same electronic books that can be found at other retailers, like Amazon, that are partially responsible for those big retailer’s declining sales.

It’s true that just a few short years ago; kids were snuggling up next to their parents to have a book read to them when their parents could take the time to sit down with them. Today’s kids are getting their books on demand and being read to by professional narrators, when mom’s lap isn’t available, and they are doing this right from the comfort of their own electronic devices. For parents, the reality is you don’t need to draw a line in the sand, and purchase your child’s books one way or the other. What’s most important is that your child is reading. Books of any kind are a good way for kids to start thinking and speaking early, but I for one, am looking forward to the positive influence technology can bring to those young minds.

Tonia Allen Gould is the producer and author of Samuel T. Moore of Corte Magore, an electronically published book app, available in the App Store on iTunes, and is also available by audio on CD Baby and through other media outlets. Published by Skies America, Gould creatively directed and hand-picked the celebrity talent to make this eBook/app an engaging experience for children ages four to eight-years-old. The app was illustrated by Marc Ceccarelli, a SpongeBob SquarePants storyboard director. It was narrated by two-time Marconi Award nominee, and radio personality, Mr. Steve McCoy. The original musical score was produced by country artist, Robby Armstrong.

Conventional Print Publishing or Electronic Device Book App?


Why App Developers Need to Be Looking Long and Hard at the Children’s Book Market

Wikipedia reports according “to an IDC study from March 2011, sales for all e-book readers worldwide rose to 12.8 million in 2010; 48% of them were Kindle models, followed by Barnes & Noble Nook devices, Pandigital, Hanvon and Sony Readers (about 800,000 units for 2010).” In 2012, the study shows that e-book sales slumped with a “26% decline worldwide from a maximum of 23.2 million in 2011. The reason given for this alarmingly precipitous decline is the rise of more general purpose tablets that provide e-books along with other apps in a similar form factor.”

Enter 2013: General purpose tablets, like the iPad, continue to offer more engaging and interactive experiences for the reader. As parents continue to streamline their own book purchases onto these types of devices—it’s no surprise that their children will expect to access their books similarly. App developers need to stop and take notice that there is an existing and increasingly popular book app market for parents looking to educate and entertain their children in much more visually engaging ways.

Before a developer can begin to tap into this market, they should understand four important things first:

• Understand that the market already exists: Legions of unpublished children’s book authors are looking to get their literary works published conventionally or digitally. It’s a crowded marketplace, coupled with significant barriers breaking into conventional print. If developers can figure out how to publish, distribute and market books so these unique “voices” can be heard, they’ll be onto something big. You can find these unpublished authors on Twitter in droves searching through hashtags like #picturebooks #kidlit #childrensbooks #author, etc.

• Understand the need for creative people to help successfully deploy a book app: Developers will need quality authors, illustrators, copyrighters, animators, stock music houses and voiceovers, not to mention a creative director with graphic designers at her fingertips who can pull all of those contributions together seamlessly. If you bypass any one of these things, your app may come up short. Remember, parents expect a professionally published book, just as they expect the same when they pick up a book for their children at Barnes & Noble. The only difference is that they expect an “experience” with a book app.

• Understand that the market is evolving and changing: Be prepared to keep on your toes. Already some book apps have cropped up that look something more like a Disney/Pixar movie production. Constantly improve and nurture your network of contributors and stay nimble with the changing publishing market. Make sure you understand that a few years ago, kids were snuggling up next to their parents to have a book read to them when their parents were ready to take the time to sit down with them. Today’s kids are getting their books on demand and being read to by professional narrators, when mom’s lap isn’t available, and they are reading right from the comfort of their own electronic devices.

• Understand the conventionally printed book isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Real books belong on shelves in libraries and in homes, and kids will always need them and should have access to them. It will be a sad day if electronics replace them altogether. Book apps are a vertical market to the conventionally printed book. Lines don’t need to be drawn in the sand about which is better.

Tonia Allen Gould is the producer and author of Samuel T. Moore of Corte Magore, published by Skies America (July, 2013) an electronically published book app, available in the App Store on iTunes, and is also available by audio on CD Baby, Amazon, iTunes, and other outlets. Gould creatively directed and hand-picked the celebrity talent to make this eBook/app an engaging experience for children ages four to eight-years-old, leading up to the animation where Skies America Publishing Company picked up the project and launched it on iTunes. The app was art directed by “Mr. Lawrence,” the voice of Plankton and an original storyboard director of SpongeBob SquarePants, and illustrated by Marc Ceccareli, another SpongeBob storyboard director. It was narrated by two-time Marconi Award nominee, and a top radio personality and broadcaster in the country, Mr. Steve McCoy. The original musical score was produced by country artist, Robby Armstrong. Gould is available for consulting projects and can be reached via http://www.toniaallengould.com, or at toniaagould@icloud.com.

Finding Corte Magore


Check out this teaser video for Samuel T. Moore of Corte Magore, an animated children’s picture book with narration and an original musical score.

Where on Earth is Corte Magore anyway?


Release date Poster
Where on Earth is Corte Magore? One author wants to make a fictional island a real place, to show children that it is okay to dream.

Until now, you wouldn’t have been able to find Corte Magore on any map. Now that Samuel T. Moore has discovered this beautiful place, we had to have a map created just so kids could find it. In the coming months, be on the lookout for more news and information on Corte Magore, and how this fictional place may actually become very real one day…because the author of Samuel T. Moore of Corte Magore, wants to teach children that its okay to dream.

Can your kids find Corte Magore on the map? Look closely and they might actually find Sam’s hut.