The secret lies within…

Can you believe it

Image

Can you believe it’s only a week until Christmas? It feels like just yesterday it was summertime and this project was barely off the ground. Now it’s 7 days until Christmas, and we’re in the final stretch!

If you asked me a few years ago whether I thought I’d be writing a blog post promoting my children’s book about a misfit reindeer, the answer would have been a resounding “no.”

Simply put, I didn’t think it was a realistic goal for someone in my stage of life. As you know, I seemed to have lived multiple lives, having completed two successful careers in both the Military and IT. Image

Despite this, about four years ago, the idea of writing a children’s book began percolating in my head, and resurrecting itself each holiday season. Finally, around Christmas of 2011, I convinced myself to put pen to paper and draft a story around a germ of an idea that I had been developing.

Yes, “Ranger” may not be published by Random House, and I don’t expect to win a Pulitzer anytime soon, but the creation of Ranger has been a big personal success. I am happy to say that (with your help) this book has raised thousands of dollars  for the Antonia J. Giallourakis Endowed Fund in Art Therapy for Children with Cancer and brought countless children a happy Christmas. That is what I set out to do, and I am so proud to say I’ve accomplished this goal.

Actually, I should say I have just begun to accomplish this goal. The book became available on November 1st which is really way too late in the year to have an impact or achieve solid sales over the Christmas shopping period. But we have been accumulating a substantial set of great reviews, extremely encouraging feedback from families who are reading the story, and a lot of lessons learned about how to market it.  All of which is to say that we have had a successful launch in 2013, but 2014 is the year that we can exploit the book and let it “be all it can be.” The period of February through June is the time to get bookstores, toy stores and other outlets interested in stocking it for the 2014 holiday season. Therein lies the future of Ranger and his mission of helping kids fight cancer.Image

You really do define your own happiness. The secret to success, happiness, gratitude… and everything else really does lie within.

As I’ve said before, our children and grandchildren will quickly become exposed to one of the most powerful influences in their lives: peer pressure. The best defense for our children being misled by misguided peers is to teach them how to be leaders and define their own standards of ethics, success, and happiness.

Individuality and finding true happiness – that is what Ranger teaches us in his story.

Wishing you all a beautiful holiday season.

Advertisements

The Story BEHIND “Ranger”

Image

In many of my recent interviews, one question seems to come up again and again.  Why, considering my age and professional background, did I want to start a new career writing children’s stories?  

 

Of all the titles I have held through my career (and I’ve had a few), the one I treasured most was “Daddy” (although more recently, “Gramps” is giving “Daddy” a run for its money).  My wife and I raised two fantastic daughters and both are now mommies in their own right, juggling career and family. My grandchildren range from 2 to 10 years old, with three boys and one girl. (Guess which one is boss?) What goes around comes around and these days I, once again, find myself reading bed time stories to sleepy grandkids.  

So why did I decide to write my own children’s book?

My own writing has been professional, with many magazine articles, professional papers and such over the years.  One book (you don’t want to hear the title) to my credit, a computer design reference book.   About four years ago, the idea of writing a book for children began percolating in my head, and resurrecting itself each holiday season. Finally, around Christmas of 2011, I convinced myself to put pen to paper and draft a story around a germ of an idea that I had been developing.

It was only during the actual process of writing the story that I realized that I was weaving some important messages for children (of all ages) into it.  They come from my own life experience and from many leadership situations I experienced during my career. The Army had the best possible recruiting slogan, designed to attract the best and the brightest: “Be All You Can Be.” Those five words encapsulate a philosophy that every individual would do well to internalize. If I were writing a college application essay, I can’t think of a better topic to explore.

My new book, “The Legend of Ranger: The Reindeer Who Couldn’t Fly,” is a Christmas story set in the North Pole region, but  it could just as well be set at any time of year and in any place.  It has been described by reviewers as a heartwarming and inspirational story, as it follows young Ranger through his quest to learn the secret of flying and join the Christmas Eve team. I also wrote a companion song titled “Dream and Believe.” The message of the book and song are succinctly stated in the concluding line of the song, “You can accomplish whatever you dream, if you just believe in yourself.” My purpose in writing the book and the song has been to teach children to think big, to set objectives and goals for themselves, and then to believe in their own hearts that, if they work hard, they can accomplish whatever they put their mind to.

Many Colonels and Generals (OK, Admirals too…) from the military have written books about management and leadership and left their constructive mark in the professional world.  I applaud them for that. I chose to target children instead.  Why children?  

For many years I served on the board of the Challenger Center for Space Science Education that was established as a living memorial to the seven Challenger astronauts who perished in January of 1986 when their space shuttle mission exploded on launch. This was to have been the “education mission,” carrying the first citizen astronaut, elementary school teacher Christa McAuliffe into space, from where she would beam lessons (and inspiration) to children on earth.  Christa summed up her own philosophy this way:  “I touch the future; I teach.” She recognized that children are the future, and the direction that future will take depends on where our children will take it. 

Christa McAuliffe exemplified the Army’s motto of “Be All You Can Be” through her own career, and set an example that all children would do well to emulate.  It starts with dreaming and working to realize those dreams, and developing the self-confidence to believe in yourself and make your dreams come true. What better lesson can we impart to our own children? And I am convinced that we cannot start too early in a child’s life to begin to shape their self-perception and ambition.  

Before we know it, our toddlers and preschoolers will be off to school for many hours a day where they are out of the protective envelope that Mom and Dad would like to wrap around them. They will quickly become exposed to one of the most powerful influences in their lives: peer pressure. Some kids will be the “leaders” and many more will be the “followers.” The best defense against our children being misled by misguided peers is for our children to themselves be leaders who have the self-confidence to say, “no, that’s wrong, we should do this instead.” 

The lesson that Ranger’s adventure teaches is a good place to start.

Thank you!

Thanks to all who helped put us over the top for our Indiegogo project, with over $4000 in advance sales!  Your support of our project has meant so much, and I know it will mean even more to the children who are benefiting from these donations.
Now that our advance sales are behind us, all of the Ranger suite of products can be purchased from our website, www.opusonestudios.com/store.  Of course, there are many other web site where the book can be purchased as well.  Buying from our web site maximizes the amount per book that goes to MassGeneral Hospital for Children.
Image
You’ll be happy to know that even our Opus One Studios fulfillment provider is a ‘worthy cause,’ so shipping and handling charges are put to good use.  The mission of MVLE in Springfield, VA is ‘to create futures, one person at a time, for people with disabilities through employment and support services.
Once again, I just want to share my sincerest “thanks” for all of your support.  We really couldn’t have done it without you.  Thank you for helping us make a difference for all of these children.

Meet the Gang!

Now that we’re over halfway through our IndieGoGo goal, I’d like to take some time to introduce you to the main characters of our tale.

Image

Ranger

Ranger is the hero of our tale.  Like most reindeer, he dreamed of pulling Santa’s sleigh.  However, even when he turned  three years old, Ranger had not yet proven himself as a flier.  In fact, Ranger couldn’t fly at all.  It was a sore point for him. Not every reindeer could fly, of course, but his own brother, Rudolph, could.  Determined to fly before Christmas, Ranger was asking everyone in Santaland for the secret to flying.  However, before he was able to get his hooves off the snow, Ranger was put on an important assignment which required him to pull a sleigh all the way to the village of Krystalwite.  All of Santaland was depending on Ranger to make the trip there and back in just 2 days!

Image

Carlanna

Carlanna is the daughter of one of the toymaker elves.  More importantly, she is Ranger’s best friend in all of Santaland.  Like the other elf children, Carlanna spends most of her day in school. But when school lets out, she usually heads right for the workshop or the warehouse to find Ranger. She had made it her job to keep him well groomed.


Image

Norgrum

The oldest and wisest elf in Santa’s workshop.  As Ranger’s friend, he gives Ranger some important advice regarding the secret of flying: “The secret lies within.” Ranger wants to know “within what?” but no one will answer that question.  So Ranger decides to search everywhere in Santaland for the secret.

Sergland

An older toymaker elf, Sergland (like most of the other toymakers) has a nicely embroidered apron he wears over his clothes in the workshop.  Like Norgrum, Sergland gives Ranger the same flying advice: “The secret lies within.”

Rudolph

You probably already know the story of Rudolph, but what you didn’t know is that Rudolph is Ranger’s older brother.  As a dutiful big brother, Rudolph insists that Ranger find the secret to flying on his own.

Zarvett

 

Zarvett

Zarvett is the head reindeer keeper in Santaland.  It’s his job to make sure that the reindeer are healthy and ready for their Christmas eve mission. Zarvett and Ranger make the urgent trip to Krystalwite together.

Arjenna

Arjenna is a pharmacist elf in Krystalwite, as well as a long time friend of Zarvett. It is Arjenna that holds the key to getting the reindeer well in time for Christmas.

Our newest song

Now that “Ranger” is ready for the bookshelves, I’d like to take this time to give away Ranger’s theme song, if you will.

“Dream and Believe” is sung by Mary Allen, and this song perfectly encapsulates the entire store.  Please enjoy this song and share it with your friends.

 

About The Antonia J. Giallourakis Endowed Fund in Art Therapy for Children with Cancer

The Legend of Ranger Products

To follow up our initial post, which explained what Opus One Studios does, it seems only fitting that our second post describes one of the “Worthy Causes” one of our “Creative Products” is supporting.

We are proud to say that our “The Legend of Ranger: The Reindeer Who Couldn’t Fly” project has just gotten off the ground (pardon the pun).  This Christmas story contains a heartening and inspirational message about the power of believing in yourself no matter what challenges lie ahead.

To truly embody the spirit of love and charity during the holiday season, we have chosen The Antonia J. Giallourakis Endowed Fund in Art Therapy for Children with Cancer as the recipient of all of the proceeds from “The Legend of Ranger.”

About Antonia J. Giallourakis

“The power of visual images has had a profound impact on me as a three-time cancer survivor, artist and teacher.”
– Antonia J. Giallourakis, 1944-2004

Antonia Giallourakis was a dedicated reading language arts, and art teacher who utilized her many skills as an accomplished author and illustrator of several educational publications.  As an artist, Antonia experimented with numerous media and even ventured into iconography while studying for her Master of Fine Arts.  Her icons can still be found in private collections throughout Europe.Image

Antonia’s motivation for founding the Children’s Art For Children’s Cancer Foundation, Inc., came after her own cancer diagnosis.  She decided to use her passion for working with children and the visual arts to help others.

Her legacy continues in the foundation she founded and now in the Antonia J. Giallourakis Endowed Fund in Art Therapy for Children with Cancer at the MassGeneral Hospital for Children Cancer Center (MGHfC).

Art Therapy at MGHfC Cancer Center

Unlike other art therapy programs, Mass General is unique for it is has a trained art therapist who provides services to both children and their families. The art therapist offers emotional support as patients and families express themselves creatively. At times, this can lead to the unearthing of emotions related to experiences with illness.

Creative expression can help younger cancer patients better cope with their illness by reducing stress and anxiety, decreasing side effects of their treatment and disease, encouraging movement and providing an outlet to express their feelings.

Art therapy uses various forms of art-making including painting, collage and clay, as well as poetry and journaling, in a supportive setting to facilitate creative self-expression that is healing and life-enhancing.

Image

It goes without saying that The Antonia J. Giallourakis Endowed Fund is the ideal beneficiary for the proceeds from our book and the other Ranger products as well.  We could think of no charity that embodies our message more than this one.

Just like Ranger needing guidance from his elf friends, these children need The Antonia J. Giallourakis fund to allow them to understand the power of believing in yourself no matter what challenges lie ahead.

Our goal for this book is to not only enrich your holidays with an inspirational message, but to pass along the spirit of charity along the way.  We ask you to please help support this worthy cause by contributing to our Ranger Project.

For more information about our Ranger project, click the link below:

http://www.thelegendofranger.com/

How We Came to Be

For this initial post, I think it’s very appropriate to explain what Opus One Studios is all about and how it came to be.

Image
In 1982, actor Paul Newman and a partner  founded Newman’s Own (salad dressings etc.) as a for-profit business, but one of a very different kind. In his own words, “My profits will be divided between a number of tax-deductible charities and causes, some church-related, others for conservation and ecology and things like that.” Perhaps the epitome of what has become known as “the socially conscious business,” Newman’s Own set the bar as high as it can go with its 100%-of-profits-for charity policy. Looked at another way, I suspect Paul figured that philanthropy could be fun if it combined running a fun business with the ability to benefit his favorite causes, and that if he chose the right business, it could leverage the funds he might have simply given away by generating a regular stream of donations for the foreseeable future.

Opus One Studios was created to follow Newman’s model, albeit on a much smaller scale no doubt. I have had plans for some years to follow my creative instincts in music, writing and game development. At the same time, I have long had a number of favorite charities to which I have been making regular donations.  Combining those two interests led to Opus One Studios which I formally incorporated a year ago, committed to the standard of all profits being donated to selected “worthy causes,” as reflected in our tag line.

We had a “soft launch” of the concept over two years ago, with the release of “World War II Songs You Never Heard,” a mini-CD (three original song tracks) with profits going to the West Point Cadet Glee Club which receives very little government support. Now we are ready for the full-scale official launch  of Opus One Studios with the multi-product “Ranger” Project, to benefit the Art Therapy program at MassGeneral Hospital for Children’s Cancer Center. Much more about the Ranger Project in upcoming posts.
A small portion of the gross margin on our product sales will go to offset indirect costs, with the bulk of margin going to the selected “worthy cause.” The hope, of course, is that the public will respond to the products in sufficient volume to make this model work. Marketing is the key to that formula.  While we are making modest investments in marketing, ultimately the best marketing is word of mouth (or word of text….) and if you like what we’re doing, please pass the word!

I welcome your questions and comments on this, and on any and all blog posts in the future.

Alan Salisbury