Weyburn's Tara Keating-Jaap has published a children's book, available for purchase on Amazon. Originally published in 2014, 'Alisa's Journey' is the adventure of a young girl who travels across the Atlantic Ocean from Oban, Scotland to Weyburn.

The book was first printed via Shutterfly, and was hand-mailed, hand-sold, and promoted to publishers to no avail. Now, it can be found on Amazon for direct shipping, and on Kindle.

"I had struggled back in 2014 when I originally wanted to publish this and try and go through a publisher. I had actually consulted Jo Bannatyne-Cugnet about the process that she went through with her A Prairie Alphabet book, and how she came to be published through a publishing company and the steps had not changed very much from the time that she originally published, to 2014 when I was trying to do this," explained Keating.

"I ended up mailing paper copies of my images and paper copies of my literature and my writing to different companies all over Canada trying to get this book published," she shared. 

"I found that a lot of publishers really either only wanted you to be an author or an illustrator. They didn't want you to be both. I wasn't really willing to relinquish control of having illustrated my own book and my own storyline."

She said with Amazon self-publishing and printing not yet readily available, Keating ended up just putting her images and text into Shutterfly out of the United States, so she could print some copies. As a vendor at Art Farm, she sold some of her books and artwork. 

However, "nobody would have had the ability to buy my books around the world. Unless they knew me, and unless they could buy a paper copy from me."

Fast forward to late 2022, when Keating worked through the steps of publishing Birdie's Lullaby. 

"It was only text, and was very easy to upload into Amazon, so I thought, 'I'm going to really force myself to go through these steps and get these images and this book input into Amazon so that people can buy it around the world'. And that is the one amazing thing about Amazon. And I'm sure there are other platforms such as this. But I mean, Amazon is just so world-renowned and so accessible to everybody."

She said a number of copies of Birdie's Lullaby, which is set in Wales, have been purchased in Wales. This has also been the case with Alisa's Journey.

"I've had a lot of people that know me from Weyburn and on social media, Facebook, that never would have purchased this book from me, but they're already buying it online on Amazon through their account. I've had people from Regina that I probably haven't seen since high school that are telling me and notifying me that they've purchased the children's book already, so it's really nice and and I really appreciate the platform of Amazon for that capability." 

The story was inspired by the author's trip to Scotland, and Oban in particular. Also, as Keating-Jaap also attended Souris School in her early years, this book is dedicated to the memory of the school, which was torn down in late 2022 after standing for 112 years and closing as a school in 2021.

"My husband's family is from Port Appin, which is right near there. So we've been over there," she shared. 

The journey involves a boat ride, which brings Alisa to Canada, and to Weyburn via Nova Scotia. In fact, she attends Souris School in Weyburn, which was demolished last year but was still standing in 2014. This is why Keating added photos to the new version showing her at Souris School before it was gone.

Alisa's Journey has become for Keating a journey in being able to get around the learning curve with the digital tech side of self-publishing. 

"Getting the children's book into Amazon is not user-friendly," she commented. "Not as user-friendly as some of these platforms you can use such as photolab.ca or Shutterfly, where you can make a Christmas album for your family. Those are very user-friendly to just plunk your pages in. Amazon is not like that."

She said it's fairly time-consuming and would be daunting for those who don't have proficient tech skills, and noted that she'd be willing to consider offering a tutorial for those who may want to get help with the process.

"There's a lot of reading within Amazon to get to the end result." 

Find the book HERE or borrow it from the Weyburn Public Library.

Keating said she's currently working on her second novel, which is well underway with around 10 chapters written so far, and she is also considering doing some more illustrations for a children's book her sister has authored, now that she has already gone through the learning curve on Amazon.