Timi Bliss wanted to use her daughter’s name as the main character for her children’s book, “In Search of the Sandman.” But that got vetoed.
“I love my name so much,” said her daughter, Landis. “My name is so unique.”
Instead, Bliss settled on her granddaughter’s name, Charlie. The book appears to be a success, despite the change. Bliss has sold more than 375 copies since she published it in April and has it stocked in all seven Creative Kidstuff locations.
“I didn’t have any idea that this sentimental, personal story that I told my daughter would morph into something that’s loved and cherished by so many other people,” the Kenny resident said.
It’s a story Bliss created a generation ago when Landis was a kid. Bliss would tell her about the sandman, a mythical character who puts people to sleep by sprinkling magical sand into their eyes. Landis said she was so fascinated by the story that she would pretend she was asleep to try and get a glimpse of the sandman.
Bliss eventually fleshed the story out and entered it in Half Price Books’ annual bedtime story contest in 1995. It earned semifinalist honors.
She finally turned it into a book this past year, inspired by Charlie’s birth.
“She was working three jobs at the time,” Landis said. “I guess having a grandchild gave her the motivation, that extra push.”
Bliss was going to work with an illustrator but decided to create her own pictures after the illustrator bailed on her. She drew from the illustration skills she’d picked up in her work in nonprofit development producing annual reports and newsletters.
She also drew inspiration from the world around her. In one case, she created a drawing of a tree based on a cartoon she watched with Charlie.
“It was shot in an angle I hadn’t even considered,” Bliss said.
It took Bliss six months to finish the book. She said the most satisfying part is seeing the finished product and that it’s surreal to watch someone else connect with it.
She’s not done writing kids books, either. Bliss is working on a sequel called “In Search of the Gingerbread Man” with her friend and Salty Tart bakery owner Michelle Gayer.
Bliss will write and illustrate the book, and Gayer will create a gingerbread man recipe that both kids and parents can enjoy.
“One that’s easy for moms to do with their kids,” Gayer said.
Gayer has known Bliss for about 12 years, after meeting her while both worked for the Franklin Street Bakery. She said the two have stayed fast friends and added that she thinks it’s important for children of color to connect with and see children of color in books.
Bliss’ daughter, Landis, said she thinks it’s amazing that her mom published the book. She said she’s most impressed that Bliss taught herself the necessary illustration skills.
“She buckled down and taught herself how to make all that stuff,” Landis said.
Landis and Charlie live with Bliss and her husband in the Kenny neighborhood. Landis said Bliss has turned into the stereotypical grandma, baking cookies and banana bread with Charlie.
“She’s just all into arts and crafts and baking,” Landis said.
Landis didn’t expect more books from Bliss at first, but now she does. Bliss is already halfway done with “In Search of the Gingerbread Man” and has been talking about a series.
“It’s been a good time,” Landis said. “Now she definitely will be making more.”
Visit timibliss.com to learn more about Bliss’ work.