The story that started it all, Lorenzo the Bear, where is he now?

The date was May 14th, 2010. What seemed like a simple idea, developed into something grander than I ever could have imagined. It was on this day that everything changed for me as an artist, what I had always known would now be a thing of the past. Wait! Let me back up, and explain what I mean.

A few months before May of 2010 (I cannot remember the exact month) my husband and I were visiting family. I was approached by my niece and nephew (who at the time was eight and nine years old) asking for me to draw pictures and the other asked for a story. Well, being lazy I figured I would kill two birds with one stone and write a picture book for them. After all, how hard could it be, right? Boy, was I wrong!

I didn’t have the first clue about how to even start the process of writing and illustrating a children’s story. I figured it couldn’t be that hard, there were thousands of books written for children so why couldn’t I do the same. Looking back, I laugh, shake my head, and want to facepalm the old me. I was fooling myself on how difficult this was going to be. Never the less, I persevered! I stared at a blank notebook for days. I managed to scribble a few images down that I thought would make cute characters, but that was about it.

I was facing a brick wall before I had even gotten underway. Having illustrated my whole life, including for other people why was this so hard? When I was working on other projects, and for other individuals, I knew what was expected of me. What colors to use, what the design should look like. I was given clear-cut directions of what images they wanted to be painted on their cars, how they wanted the pinstriping to be (I use to pinstripe cars). This was different. I had to come up with everything entirely by myself for my sweet angels whom I didn’t want to disappoint.

Feeling defeated, I turned on the TV and watched an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond. It was the one where Deborah writes a children’s book for their daughter Alley. My muse had struck.  I was no longer brain locked. After watching that episode I was reminded of this stuffed teddy bear I had as a child, his name was Lorenzo. My father gave him to me to help me overcome my fears of the dark. Just as Lorenzo had helped me, I knew that his mission would be to help out his fellow animals as well.

The original copy of The Adventures of Lorenzo the Bear Journey to Honeysuckle Mountain.

The original copy of The Adventures of Lorenzo the Bear Encounter at Jellyfish Cove.

In one night I penned my first book. On May 14th, 2010, Lorenzo the Bear was created. Lorenzo grew into something bigger than I ever dreamed, he took me places I didn’t even know were possible. Unbeknownst to me, I was heading down a path I never anticipated. It was always intended that my books remain as something private within the family, never for them to go public. Here I am. Eight years later, I was once traditionally published, and I currently have five titles out. I’ve enjoyed the privilege of spending the last five years working with seven different school districts (and Canada too!).  The humbling experience of winning an award, five-star reviews from professional review houses, and being interview on several different media outlets including local news coverage. I have learned so much on my writer road, each day I am learning and discovering new ways of doing things.

From Lorenzo,  flourished a new children’s series I had fantasized about for years. From him, branched Little Katie. Little Katie has become something all on her own. She has gone to the Moon and back, inspiring kids along the way reminding them that only their imagination inhibits them. These are all things I never even dared to dream about. The above mentioned were always outside of the realm of possibilities for me.

Recently, I have had many inquiries about a fourth Lorenzo the Bear book. I would like to take this moment to address this question. I adore my sweet little plucky bear. He holds a very precious place in my heart that can never be replaced by anything, or anyone. That being said, I am a firm believer in waiting for the stories to come to me. In the past, I’ve tried to force stories. They do not turn out well. Allowing them to evolve naturally on their own has always worked best for me.

Since the release of Little Katie Goes to the Moon, I have experienced overwhelming high demand from multiple school districts, educators, parents, and children for more Little Katie books. I receive e-mails from parents and their kids containing ideas for books. Teachers have requested of me to consider working on specific topics that their students struggle with. Imploring me to write something that can help them better explain this to their class.

So with a heavy heart, at this moment I do not have any more stories in the works of Lorenzo and his friends of Poppy Hills Place. I have a few notions that I mull over now and again, but they have not formulated into anything. In the meantime, I will continue to focus on Little Katie books as this is where my ideas are flowing. I am not limiting myself to just Little Katie books. I have some other inklings for stories that I hope will morph into something more. If I can produce more Lorenzo books, know that in a heartbeat I will.

This is not the end of Lorenzo the Bear, this is just a new chapter in my writing (see what I did there). Besides, what’s to say that in the future there won’t be a team up of Little Katie and Lorenzo. Now that, that is something to consider…

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9 thoughts on “The story that started it all, Lorenzo the Bear, where is he now?

  • Rosie Russell

    Great post Carmela!
    It’s it amazing how things work out in this writing and illustrating journey, isn’t it?
    Lorenzo Bear holds a special place in your heart and always will. I like that you won’t force a story, those seldom work. They do have to come to you from a passion from deep within. That in itself is a lesson for us all.
    Little Katie will help many young children learn and make the needed connection in Science in so many ways. I’m looking forward to what she has to offer for us all in the future.

    Best wishes always,

  • K. Lamb

    It’s hard to believe it has been 8 years. Congratulations on all of your success and progress. It is s great sense of accomplishment when you touch the lives of so many readers. It’s why we put our hearts into our stories. Keep writing and inspiring!

    • Carmela Dutra Post author

      When I was writing this post, I was stunned at how long it’s been. Which means we’ve known each other almost as long! You’ve always said, and I cannot agree with you more we don’t write children’s books for the money. We do it for the kids. Every class I visit I’m reminded of that conversation we had.

  • Sandra Bennett

    It was lovely reading your experience that lead to your writing career Carmela. Thanks for sharing with us your thoughts and memories. It’s always interesting to learn where everyone’s ideas originate. Found myself smiling when you admitted to the learning curve when you realised writing a picture book wasn’t simple after all. I also agreed that ideas have to come when they are ready, stories can’t be forced, I think you can tell in the writing if it is. Look forward to reading more of Little Katie’s adventures and maybe one day Lorenzo’s too.

    • Carmela Dutra Post author

      You are right Sandra. This really is a learning curve. One that I find myself still researching. I feel it’s important to be candid about ourselves especially our writing. So many people I speak with believe it’s the easiest thing to write for children. I actually find it challenging. Thank you for the the reply, I do hope to have more Lorenzo books in the future.

  • Tracy Bryan

    Isn’t it cool how our creative energy motivates us and where our paths take us? So nice to learn how you started in your life’s work and excited to hear that new books are in the works for you! Fabulous that you do school visits and are in high demand-yay you! And LOVE even more that you are thinking of exploring new topics to help students with areas they struggle with. It was really great to follow your journey so far-thanks Carmy!