Inspired by Her Grandchildren, Carol Novis Publishes Her First Book

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Winnipeg-born Carol Novis always knew she wanted to write and publish a book of fiction.

She just didn’t know it would be a fairy tale.

Or that she would be retirement age when her first book was published.

Novis graduated from the University of Manitoba and moved to London to work for the Canadian government in the swinging ‘60s.

For the past 30 years, she’s lived in Israel, in a suburb of Tel Aviv and, for many of those years, worked as a writer and editor for the Jerusalem Post.

Fiction, though tantalizing, was something she postponed.

But after leaving journalism “because it wasn’t fun anymore,” she says, “I felt like I was losing my identity.

“I thought, ‘How could I have done this? How can I just be nothing?’ “

She did enjoy “not going into work” and discovering “a whole world out there.” She took on volunteer writing and editing jobs. And she committed a lot of time to helping her three daughters with the seven grandchildren.

But she still felt a sense of no longer accomplishing anything significant, of not testing herself and of being identified only as an aging, retired grandmother.

However, it was grandmothering that led to her book, The Adventures of Mary Fairy.

“My oldest daughter and her family stay with us about every three or four weekends,” she explains. “I try to let my daughter sleep in, and so I drag the kids to synagogue on Saturday morning. Since the family is observant, they don’t drive (on Sabbath) and the walk is about 45 minutes. Naturally, they kvetch, so I started telling them this Mary Fairy story to get them to move. And so it developed. Each kid has a character in the book.”

When Novis was casting about for something to do, her daughter suggested writing a children’s book based on Mary Fairy.

“By that time, I’d forgotten much of the story,” she recalls, “but the kids remembered everything.”

Novis found that the kids didn’t really like hearing too much about school in the stories, but they loved hearing about naughty children.

Unfortunately, she also found that publishers weren’t interested in children’s books about fairies by unknown authors.

“It seems they want books about vampires and gay families,” she says ruefully.

Nevertheless, Novis went ahead and researched the next steps in having her book published.

She engaged her niece, Sara Israel, who is studying illustrating for children, to do the pictures which are lovely watercolors.

Then she investigated the options for self-publishing.

“What a world out there!” she exclaims. “There are so many shady operators.” One, based in Singapore, she says, wanted to charge outrageous not just for selling the book to you but for editing, for the cover, even for the ISPN number. They also kept calling and pestering her.

Instead of signing up with one of the dubious operators, Novis signed up for a course for people who want to publish their own books.

In the end, she self-published through CreateSpace, a subsidiary of Amazon.

“It was quite an easy process,” she says.

Novis opted to engage a children’s editor to copy edit her book even before submitting it to publishers, and that cost about $200. She also paid for formatting the book which some people do themselves. And she paid her niece for the illustrations.

But the cost to her of each printed book from Amazon is $2.15 U.S. and she’s free to set any price she wants.

The book is now available on Amazon for $5.90 while the Kindle version costs $3.33.

“The idea was not to make any money (I’ve given lots away),” says Novis, “but to have something that my grandchildren would enjoy.”
My 8-year old granddaughter was enchanted, too.

“Please, please tell the author to write a sequel,” Allie insisted.

Carol Novis,