How a call from Dubbo shook me out of my corona-daze

We’re all a bit tired after packing and sending all of those books!

So how are you going in this strange time of COVID-19? Feeling overwhelmed, or embracing a slow-down? Missing friends and family, but perhaps also discovering new ways to connect? Out of work and discombobulated, or juggling more tasks than usual? Or perhaps, like me, you’ve experienced a rollercoaster of all of the above.

A week after lockdown commenced here in Australia I was feeling lost and unfocussed. I had just returned from the interstate funeral of a close family member. I had cancelled lots of nature journaling workshops and processed many refunds. I was back at home, with work to do, but finding it hard to get my mojo working. I was probably taking in way too much news and current affairs, trying to make sense of COVID-19 and its ramifications. Then I got an email from Kelly Pfeiffer, Head Teacher of the Dubbo School of Distance Education.

Kelly had a copy of my book Make a Date with Nature: An Introduction to Nature Journaling, and she thought it would be an excellent addition to the Year 7 Sustainability curriculum. But she wanted a version with blank pages that the students could write and draw in. Coincidentally, I had been working on an interactive nature journaling book called Take this Book for a Walk. Pre-COVID, my plan was to have the book ready for release before Christmas 2020. But with social distancing, a lot of my teaching work, markets and events had been cancelled. So I had time on my hands to work on the book.

Kelly was enthusiastic about my concept for Take this Book for a Walk, and thought it would be great for the students. The challenge was to have it ready, and in the hands of each distance education student by 18th May. Could it be done?

I contacted Nicholas Kane from the very helpful MinuteMan Press in Prahran, Victoria, who have printed four of my books over the last few years. I am very firm about printing in Australia, on recycled paper, and MinuteMan Press in Prahran can do this for me at an affordable price. They are also great to work with. But I’d never published a book of this size, and with colour on the internal pages. How much would it cost to print? I thought I could afford it, but financially I was skating on thin ice after losing those workshops, markets and other events. And by what date would he need my digital file to get the books printed and sent to Dubbo in time?

It turns out that it would be possible – just! But that was all I needed, along with Kelly’s encouragement, to fire up the engines and get working again. I worked pretty intensively for a couple of weeks. But it was exhilarating to have a challenge to work towards, and also know that the book would be well-received. 

And finally, last Friday, the TNT van laboured up our hill and delivered the first copies of Take this Book for a Walk to our front door. What a thrill! In a frenzy of packing and sticking on postage labels, and then a 35 minute drive to the post office, I somehow managed to get all of the pre-ordered books dispatched last Friday afternoon. Thank you to everyone who has purchased Take this Book for a Walk so far. It’s been a wild ride, but now I have produced what I think is the first ever interactive nature journaling book in Australia. And it looks like my finances will soon be in the black again 😊

A few hours earlier, about 800 km away, another TNT van arrived at the Dubbo School of Distance Education to deliver their books. Kelly rang to thank me, and to say how awesome the books were. The teachers at the school are very excited to have Take this Book for a Walk as part of next semester’s curriculum. But don’t take my word for it – check out this wonderful photo of the Dubbo School of Distance Education staff ‘Taking this Book for a Walk’! 

Dubbo School of Distance Education staff – ‘Taking this Book for a Walk’ last Friday. Left to Right: Debbie Murray (Principal), Kelly Pfeiffer, Tyler Berrigan, Jacinta Edwards, Jules Marshall and Cara Karakasch.

18 Responses

  1. kris olsson
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    What a great story Paula! And what a fabulous outcome. I know those lovely teachers in Dubbo will have fun with the book (and well, ok, the students too!). Can’t wait for mine to arrive, but I’m patient…

    • Paula Peeters
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      Thanks Kris for all your support and encouragement over the years!

  2. Rhonda J Butcher
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    Hi Paula
    What a fantastic result and a great photo – I hope the word gets out and that you are inundated with more orders. As always I love your work, such an inspiration to so many people. Cheers Rhonda

    • Paula Peeters
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      Thanks Rhonnie! You have certainly helped with your generous order 🙂

  3. Julia Marshall
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    So excited to receive the book and we love what you have created for our students! It is a wonderful practical resource – cannot wait to see our students working with this from next week on. I am sure they are going to enjoy interacting with it! Thankyou! 🙂

    • Paula Peeters
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      Hey Julia thanks for your praise! I am really looking forward to hear what the students make of it too. Cheers, Paula

  4. hello5533
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    What a perfect book for students in these chaotic times. (working from home for some) It has been hard to focus on the usual stuff, so something new in Nature is a perfect solution for students to get out and about with purpose. Well done!

    • Paula Peeters
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      Thankyou, I really hope that more people can get out into nature in these strange times.

  5. Paula Schetters
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    Congratulations! Great news! Another original publishing success.

    • Paula Peeters
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      Thanks Paula for all your support and encouragement!

  6. Marie Bermingham
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    Hi Paula.
    I really enjoy your posts and congratulations on the great work with your latest nature journalling book. I have and love your first one. I am becoming increasingly frustrated at my communications over the years with you never seeming to get there so here I am trying again. I tried to go into your shop to order your new book without success. I had booked for your cancelled Brisbane workshop in March and was hoping face- to -face contact might sort the communication issue but that’s history now. I guess I will just keep on responding to your posts and hope one day I will hear from you.
    All the best to you!
    Kind regards,
    Marie

    • Paula Peeters
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      Hi Marie, thanks for your kind praise about my work. Sorry to hear you’re having trouble getting in touch. I’ve made some improvements to my website which will hopefully iron out any issues. But please let me know if you have any problems. I’ll send you an email as well. Yes a lot of people were frustrated about the workshops being cancelled. Never mind, we may be able to reschedule later in the year.

  7. Sandra Taylor
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    Congratulations, Paula Great work!

    • Paula Peeters
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      Thanks Sandra!

  8. Omkar Bhagat
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    test comment

  9. Louise
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    Well done on fast-tracking your book Paula, I absolutely love it! I’m buying another couple of copies to give to friends as well. The page where you encourage people to draw with ink has been a game changer for me, I’ve improved rapidly because I’m not constantly erasing all my imperfections, just moving on and tweaking. Your drawings and words are inspiring, I only hope you’re able to visit the Mallee one day soon so I can book in for a nature journaling session with you in person!
    Cheers,
    Louise.

    • Paula Peeters
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      Hooray! So glad to hear the ‘drawing with ink’ tip has worked for you. Thanks for your kind words about my book, and thanks for spreading the word. I’d love to revisit the mallee sometime, such a special ecosystem 🙂

  10. […] this Book for a Walk: A step-by-step guide to nature journaling was first published in May 2020 and can be purchased from my online […]