By Glenda McCarthy
Kayla LaSaga has always been a creative person and could often be found writing on a post-it note or a napkin. She always loved to write and the ability came to her naturally – although ironically she admits her grammar and spelling could use some work.
“I remember writing a lot of poems as a child; poems I wish I still had in my possession to read again. I also remember writing a lot of stories. I have a habit of writing everywhere I go, whether it be on a post-it note, a napkin, and most often in an email draft – I just can’t stop!”
Kayla completed the Digital Animation program at CNA’s Bay St. George campus and went on to the Vancouver Film School, scoring a position as a production assistant in the entertainment industry after she graduated. Since that time, Kayla has worked on the likes of blockbusters Rise of the Planet of the Apes and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn as well as hit television shows Supernatural and Secret Circle.
Now the Stephenville native can add author to her impressive list of credentials.
“I had a very long and exciting run on Supernatural from Season 7 to the beginning of Season 11. During that time I enrolled in an evening creative writing course at Langara College, falling in love all over again with the writing craft; getting lost in words, wonder, and the therapy it provided me during my beginning stages of depression,” Kayla says.
“Not even a year after completing the writing course, I had to take some much needed time away from work to manage my deteriorating mental health. It soon became clear that I was ready for some major change. Taking a total of seven months away from my 12-hour work days, I found myself back to work all too quickly on a brand new television series, only to wrap, and move right onto the next.”
It was during her seven-month hiatus that she found her purpose, and she completed a children’s book called Roar Baby Dinosaur.
“Working my way through what now turned into clinical depression, I decided to build on the idea of Roar Baby Dinosaur shortly after the arrival of my godchild, Grace; dedicating the book to her. I didn’t know what the future held for me, or where life would take me. All I knew was that I wanted a tool to stay connected with her, as I couldn’t predict the days ahead of me. By writing this book, I wanted to make sure she knew how important it is for her to stay true to her unique self. Consequently, I wrote a book that saved my life.”
Roar Baby Dinosaur is an inspirational children’s bedtime book written for children from the ages of newborn to age three, which shows the diversity of the world through the use of rhythmic words. Printed only in hardcover and standing proud at 8.5 inches by 8.5 inches in size, Kayla says the book shows how important we all are in our own unique way.
“After many occurrences of feeling as if everything was going wrong in life, it became a trend to humorously recite a sound similar to Robert Munsch’s Murmel, Murmel, Murmel every time another challenging situation came into play. Eventually, the ‘murmel’ began to sound more like a baby dinosaur roaring. That’s when I thought, ‘Roar, Baby Dinosaur’, implying to just let everything out authentically instead of letting it brew inside.”
It was a struggle to stay motivated during the writing process while fighting her depression, but Kaya was determined to finish the project for her godchild.
“I knew as long as I worked on my passion project, depression wouldn’t get the best of me. I had days where all I wanted to do was pull the plug on the entire thing, and other days where I was so grateful I had kept going. It’s from the completion of this book that I found my will for life again.”
While Kayla had hoped to have the book printed for Christmas 2015 to give away as gifts, she ran into some delays with the setup process ahead of the holiday season. The first printing was made up of 50 copies in January 2016 and primarily given to family and close friends.
“Initially, I had no intentions of publishing or self-publishing Roar Baby Dinosaur, but with my first 50 copies being successfully received, self-publishing just felt like the next natural step; as an ISBN already came with the printing of my book at no additional cost. After receiving a positive reaction towards my first book, I moved forward with a second printing with the help of a successful Kickstarter campaign.”
Fundraising through Kickstarter was a very unpredictable business venture for Kayla because the entire funding goal had to be met before any financial transactions were made.
“If the campaign was not successful, no funds would be transferred and my project would not be supported by any dollar amount. I took a chance on Kickstarter and became that annoying Facebook friend with multiple posts asking friends and family to contribute to my passion project. At that point in my life, I had nothing to lose.”
Kayla had great success through Kickstarter – reaching people across the globe who shared an interest in her project.
“It’s not there for the creator to make a profit, but rather to get their product out and recognized. By using Kickstarter I was able to offer my books at the lowest rate possible along with limited edition products such as stickers and colouring books. Surprisingly, my Kickstarter campaign didn’t just draw attention from my family, friends, and co-workers, but from around the world! With backers located in the USA, Australia, United Kingdom, and Singapore, I couldn’t have even predicted the kind of global support I’ve received, so far.”
And while she did consider approaching traditional publishers, in the end self-publishing was the best fit for the first-time author.
“After giving away the majority of my first print, people told me I should look into finding a publisher. I considered the idea, but after a lot of research the idea of self-publishing worked, and still works, best for me. I’ve moved forward as a self-publisher by starting up my own business, Be Proud Publishing. The great thing about self-publishing is how much control I have as the author. Now, with branding, social media, and regular giveaways to our followers, I’m able to create more than books, it’s a community.”
Be Proud Publishing was founded in June 2016 and focuses on mental health and well-being through the gift of story.
Eventually, Kayla hopes to make the publishing business her main focus.
“Although the film industry has been a great experience, my ultimate goal is to help people through my writing and moral support. So, one day soon, I plan to make Be Proud Publishing my primary career.”
In the meantime, she is continuing her work in the entertainment industry and is about to order the third round of printing for Roar Baby Dinosaur, which already has 150 copies printed. And while Kayla has considered using platforms such as Etsy and Amazon to sell her product, she says it isn’t manageable with her current 60-hour work weeks. For now, she plans to connect with local bookstores and shops to make her books more accessible because there will be more coming in the not-too-distant future.
“After experiencing the self-publishing process, I want to continue creating books. I have a publication list with pending projects for children, teens, and young adults ready to be developed, including my second children’s book due to hit Kickstarter this year, and my first novel for young adults due for sale in early 2018. As for my depression, it’s taking a back seat as I see it as the silver lining to my new happiness.”
For more information, or to order a copy of Roar Baby Dinosaur visit www.beproudpublishing.com.