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PUBLISHED: 1:50 PM on Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Author gives publishing a try with first children's book

It can be said that each person has a story, but sometimes it's an animal that can inspire a literary creation. When P.T. Custard of Juneau was looking for inspiration for her first public children's book, she didn't have to look far to find a story in Jules, her Bernese mountain dog.

Custard moved in 2005 to Juneau, where she came from San Diego. She said tourists who visited the Pt. Loma lighthouse often saw Jules, a 130-pound lap dog.

"Over time he just became known as the lighthouse dog," Custard said.

Custard's book, "Jules the Lighthouse Dog," follows Jules as he tries to uncover what job he would excel at to decrease his boredom. After a series of ideas that fall through, Jules finds a job for himself at the very lighthouse he once found to be dull. The character dog finds several roadblocks to his dream jobs, which include the real hobbies of Jules, such as napping, squirrel chasing, sniffing and people watching.

After writing the book, Custard said she started the challenging task of finding a publisher. After she found the process to take too long, Custard started her own publishing company, Black Plume Books.

"I just decided to go out on my own, and I enlisted the help of some friends," Custard said. "Now I'm learning that the producing is much easier than the marketing. The writing came very quickly to me. It was done in a day."

Friends Ana Greet and David Pearson contributed the colorful and youthful pictures that make up each page of the adventure Jules endures.

"I wanted something whimsical and accessible to children," Custard said. "It was a really pleasant surprise for me because the artists interpreted it differently, but I liked it. I'm really pleased with how it turned out."

The illustration portion started in March with the goal of sending the book to the printer in September.

"It was a pretty rapid turn around once we decided to do it," Custard said.

After having a difficult time finding a printer in the United States who would ship to Alaska, Custard did some research and found a printer in China. She said the cultural differences created a variety of unexpected situations.

"Who knew that colors were different there than here? The day we tried to send the book, the e-mails kept coming back to us. It was national day there, and the Internet had shut down," Custard said. "It was interesting, but I'd work with them again in a minute."

With the printing troubles behind her, Custard was delivered 3,000 copies of the book in December.

"It was frightening. I was scared to death the day the books arrived," she said. "We're bound and determined to get them out there."

The books are currently available online at www.blackplumebooks.com and at Hearthside Books in Juneau. A book signing will be held from 1-3 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 10, at Hearthside Books in Nugget Mall.


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