ETA 10/23/12: Since I first wrote this post, Little Bahalia brought on a new illustrator for TROOP. I’ve updated my comments and the illustrations I’ve shared as a result.Β 

How LONG I have waited to write those words!!

And now I can, because my picture book – A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS will be released as an interactive app for the iPad in December of this year by Little Bahalia Publishing. I cannot express in words how excited I am and how much this means to me. But since I am a writer, I’ll try. πŸ™‚

TROOP was one of the first books I wrote once I decided to try my hand at children’s picture books.Β  My husband proposed the idea after he found a website with a list of some Β collective nouns for animals. He thought I should write a simple book with just the group names. A group of monkeys is called a TROOP. And so on.

Once I started researching collective nouns, however, I was surprised to see how few of the group names I actually knew. I’d heard of a pack of wolves and a herd of buffalo.Β  But aΒ floatΒ of crocodiles? AnΒ ostentationΒ of peacocks? I also found that the group names tended to describe either the animal’s appearance or behavior. So I decided to write the story as a concept book (rather than one with a plot), and use rhyming couplets to teach both the collective nouns and a fact about each of the animals.

A couple of years ago, after putting TROOP through a few rounds of critiques, I submitted it to a few editors. I got a couple of “helpful” rejections, but no offers. I shelved it and continued working on other projects.

I never stopped loving it though, and two years later, the world of publishing turned upside down as a result of e-books, e-readers, and apps. I knewΒ TROOP would be a great candidate for an interactive app. I could envision kids pressing on the owls and hearing them hoot, or tapping the peacocks and seeing them shake their tail feathers. I submitted it in a contest with MeeGenius, and although I was ranked #16 in the popular vote (out of 400 entries) I did not win a publishing contract.

Still I persisted. I attended conferences on digital publishing. I wrote a storybook app proposal for TROOP (which I later used to create my Template for Storybook App Proposals). I got great feedback from a well-respected agent at one of those conferences who told me the story was worth pursuing as an app.

Enter Stacey Williams-Ng, Creative Director at Demibooks and the author/illustrator of one of the first interactive apps for the iPad – Astrojammies (which my kids ADORE). I submitted my TROOP proposal to her and we had a consultation at the New Jersey SCBWI conference. She loved the story and the concept, and her energy was infectious. When the bell rang (literally) announcing it was time for us to finish the consultation, we were mid-sentence. We had such a great discussion and shared so many ideas, my head was buzzing afterward (and not just because of the bell and I hadn’t even had a cocktail yet!).

Turns out she was soon to be launching an e-publishing company called Little Bahalia. She wasn’t sure she had room in her production schedule for TROOP immediately, but wanted to keep in touch. And the rest, as they say, is history. When I contacted her for a testimonial on my Template, she not only gave me one, but said she wanted to publish TROOP.

In addition to the fact that I new working with Stacey and Little Bahalia would be a blast, I was also excited and relieved that she had the art direction and app production expertise to bring TROOP to life – skills I most definitely do not have. Stacey selected an AMAZING illustrator who could hardly be more perfect for this project – Pamela Baron. Pamela is an artist with a strong belief that art and sustainability go hand in hand, and she is a master of painting animals in their habitats.

Imagine my glee when I saw the “cover” (first screen) of TROOP! Add to that the Parliament of Owls I’ve included for your enjoyment and you can see for yourself why I am overjoyed.

So I guess the moral of the story is that it really does pay off to hard work, persevere and always believe in yourself and your story.


Stacey Williams-Ng is the founder and Creative Director for Little Bahalia Publishing, a transmedia press based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. An author/illustrator herself, Stacey is the creative force behind “Astrojammies!“, one of the first children’s book apps for the iPad, released in 2010 (later released as a hardcover in 2011). Stacey is a former full-time instructor in multimedia, and began her career in the production of interactive e-learning materials in the mid-1990s. For over 15 years, Stacey has built a career on harnessing digital media to tell stories. She is a part-time Creative Director for Demibooks Inc, and a trusted consultant for McGraw-Hill Education.

Illustrator Kristin Gjerdset is a real nature lover, and an animal expert too. In addition to her work as an Associate Professor of Art at the Wisconsin Lutheran College, she has produced many beautiful artworks for schools, corporations, state parks, and even the U.S. National Park Service. As an artist-in-residence at the U.S. National Parks, Kristin observes animals in their natural habitats alongside park rangers and zoologists to produce murals, paintings and illustrations that help teach kids from all over the world about how animals live. Kristin lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with numerous pets, including her very own pandemonium of parrots.

Categories: Apps, Authors, Children's Books, Digital Publishing, ebooks, Goals, Picture Books, Poetry, Publishing, Rhyming, SCBWI, Storybook Apps, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,



  1. Congratulations! I knew it would become a book the first time I read it. πŸ™‚

    • Sharon, I remember your comments on this story very well, and they helped me to continue to believe I had something here. So thank you!

  2. This is SO exciting! Congratulations!

  3. Love it that you believed in your story and never gave up. That alone makes my day to know that if you know it’s good , you’ll find a medium for publishing. Congratulations!

    • Pat – I really do believe good stories will find their homes. And I am also grateful that we live in a time when opportunities abound for writers in many different forms.

  4. Congratulations! Doing a happy dance all the way in Korea for you, Julie!!!!
    So if you don’t mind this question…do u have to pay for the illustrator, or does the publisher do that?
    When are you expecting this to be out? I’m soooo excited for you!

    • Thanks Tina! Every app publishing experience is different I think. There are no standards, but in this case the publisher hired the illustrator, which was exactly what I was looking for.

  5. oops…just saw that it’s to be out in December… Never mind my question.

  6. Yippee, yahooiiee, woot, woohoo. Yay Julie. So excited for you and Troop. I loved it when I read it and am thrilled for you woman! πŸ™‚

  7. Oh. My. Goodness. This is so wonderful! Congratulations Julie! What a creative idea and perfect concept for an app. That illustration is GORGEOUS! I mean stunning. I am so proud of you and to be part of this first year of 12 x12. We can all say, “Yesirre, I knew that Julie back in the day before she had ‘er template, a gazillion apps, and all them picture books. Yep. She’s purdy awesome.” πŸ™‚ Congrats!!!

  8. I am thrilled to hear it, Julie…of course, in my mind, you were already a published author.
    A giant CONGRATULATIONS to you!!

    • Ah, so now I know my evil plan worked… just ACT like you are already published and then you will be. LOL. Seriously though, thanks Jarm!

  9. AWESOME!!! Congrats, Julie! Well-deserved and so excited for you. πŸ™‚

  10. Big congrats, Julie! (I remember reading your story at Meegenius–SO cute!)

  11. I KNEW I should have bought a bottle of wine this evening. Well, here’s raising a virtual glass of champagne to you, Julie! I haven’t read the ms, but I had NO DOUBT you’d be shouting this good news. Congrats! I’m so happy for you!

    • NO WINE IN THE HOUSE? Carol, we must correct that immediately – LOL. We will raise a virtual glass together nonetheless. πŸ™‚

  12. How fabulous, Julie! Congratulations! And I have a little collection of hippos so I can say for sure — yours are the most adorable hippos ever!

    • Diane – I’m so glad to get confirmation that mine are the best hippos ever, especially from a superstar such as yourself. πŸ™‚

  13. Yes!!!!!! Congratulations on the first of many contracts. You deserve it. This illustration looks awesome. I’ll bet the final app is gorgeous!

    • Hannah – after seeing this one illustration, I feel quite confident the final product will be stunning. I have so much admiration for Kirsten’s art. So wish you were going to be in Denver next weekend to celebrate for real, but I’ll be toasting to you!

  14. POP GOES THE BUBBLY!!!! Thrilled, Julie! And just in time for all those Christmas iPads!
    Now YOU are the greatest testimonial of your Storybook App Proposal!! And the monkeys and the hip-hip-hooray-ippos!!!
    Perseverance, tenacity, and STORY. So awesome.

    • And as soon as you get your first contract, I’m thinking a weekend girl’s getaway to celebrate with REAL bubbly might be in order. πŸ™‚

  15. Wonderful news, Julie. congratulations

  16. Julie, my heart is singing for you! Determination, hard work and a passion for your writing do pay off…you are an inspiration to the rest of us!

    • *blushing* Thank you Vivian. You’ve been a huge source of encouragement and inspiration for me this year. Thank you for believing in me!

  17. CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Oh, I am just over the moon for you and this news! I hope you go out and celebrate BIG time. Doing a giant happy dance for you and that adorable book that I fell in love with months and months ago!!

  18. This is such wonderful news, Julie! Congratulations! I’m so glad that A Troop is a Group of Monkeys is getting its “day in the sun.” Here’s to your success!

    • Thank you Beth! You have been such a wonderful champion for me and for all the writers in 12 x 12 and CBH. Here’s to YOUR success too!

  19. I remember your MeeGenius entry too! Thought it was great…didn’t really know who you were then, and now thru 12×12 you’re already endeared to many, including me…and NOW I have to go buy an i-Pad for myself for Christmas! JUST so I can buy TROOP… (any chance it will come out for Nook?). Super congrats Julie, thrilled for you.

    • PS…LOVE those hippos, Kristen! They are fantastic…can’t wait to see the rest of the illustrations for Troop.

    • Damon, I’m so flattered you remembered the story even though we didn’t “know” each other then. And yes, what a better reason to buy an iPad? πŸ˜‰

  20. Wow! Such fantastic news, Julie! Congratulations! Your hard work really has paid off. And what a wonderful illustration!

  21. So cool, Julie! Big congrats and just love those hippos. Can’t wait to get it for our ipad!

  22. Kathy Cornell Berman

    Wow! What fantastic news Julie! I ‘m so happy for you. It goes to show you– hard work and determination does pay off!!

    • Kathy, I’m glad to discover that all those stories of perseverance in publish can, in fact, be a reality. πŸ˜‰

  23. Congratulations Julie! It is so encouraging to hear good news from time to time! Now we need to know the collective noun for a group of writers…… Enjoy!

    • Hmmm…. I’ll have to think about that one. Last year I did coin a group of bloggers a “windbag.” πŸ™‚

  24. Exciting, Julie! What an inspiring story too. I can’t wait to see it in December. That is such a great story concept! Oh, and I have to tell you, I am using your template and am getting ready to submit one of my stories as an app. I can’t thank you enough for your template and the hard work you put into researching for it! Thanks you! You deserve that contract!!!

    • Romelle, it makes me so happy to know you are using the template and are going to submit your work. It was always my intention to help other authors and illustrators organize their ideas and proposals without having to do all the ground work I did. Thank you, not just for buying it but for actually putting it to use!

  25. That’s so great Julie! Big-time congrats. Can’t wait to see the finished product.


  26. So thrilled for you Julie! You are an inspiration for your hard work and perseverance.

  27. Awesome, awesome news! Huge congratulations on this major step in your writing career. I look forward to seeing your PB app later this year.

  28. Hearty Congratulations Julie! Spreading the news on Twitter, FB, G+ & MySpace

  29. Exciting news and very well deserved!

  30. Woo-hoo!! Congratulations, I am so happy for you. Looking forward to seeing the final product. I hope you are celebrating!

  31. Fantastic, news, Julie. And with illustrations like that it’s going to be beautiful. Just wonderful. I’m so happy for you. Yippee!

  32. Tanti tanti auguri!! This mmakes me so happy. I love this story and felt sure it would find a home somewhere. I think it is very well suited to being an app. I also felt that you might get a publishing deal this year as so much seems to be happening for you. You have created a great momentum. Well done, my friend!

    • Thank you Joanna! Your experience with uTales was certainly an inspiration for me to keep going. Three cheers for digital publishing!

  33. THAT is going to be one gorgeous app and I can’t wait to get it. And you know what’s great about the app world? You don’t have to wait 2+ years to see your work come to fruition. This is fabulous news, Julie – way to go!

    • Not having to wait 2+ years is indeed a great gift, Renee. It’s wonderful to see the work come alive so quickly!

  34. Congratulations Julie. Your hard work, persistence and love of what you do has well and truly paid off. Wishing you every success.

  35. Congratulations, Julie! This is really, really super news. I knew the TROOP would find a home. I just knew it!

    Wishing you continued success,

    • Sarah, you were the FIRST person to see my proposal once I started sharing it – back in Bologna. Thank you so much for your encouragement and support!

  36. So happy to hear your news, Julie. Congratulations!!!!

  37. PS-Love the first illustration for Troop-perfect!

  38. Congratulations! That is WONDERFUL news! I would have never known about an “ostentation of peacocks” either. lol! My kids and I discuss the terms for groups of animals sometimes.

  39. YAY YAY YAY! That’s a yahoo of yays, for your information πŸ˜‰ Seriously, Julie, I’m so happy for you. I love your concept and all those great ‘group’ words. The art is beautiful. What more can I say? Tons! Enjoy this– you deserve it.

  40. Great news, wonderful success story! Congratulations, Julie!

  41. Congratulations Julie! wow! what beautiful Hippos they are. And here I thought you already were a published author!!! I am so happy for you, and how inspiring for us all to look at the perserverance you undertook to get here. Well done girl!

    • Diane, you’re the second person who said you thought I was already published. Guess I do a good job of making myself seem expert – LOL! Thanks for your encouragement!

  42. Congratulations a million times!!! I can’t wait to see the finished product and what an incredible illustrator they found for your story. Just thrilled for you!!

    • Heather, I take at as a huge compliment (to the illustrator) that you think the illustration is incredible given your own formidable talent! Thank you!

  43. Julie! CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!! SO exciting, and so well-deserved! Troop is a terrific story for app, and those hippos are gorgeous! If they’re anything to judge by, the book is going to be simply awesome! I can’t wait to see the finished product, and will be first in line to snap up a copy for my (husband’s) iPad so I can see it and play it. YAY!!!!!

  44. Wahoo!!! Congrats, Julie!!! Can’t wait to read with my Troop of grand-monkeys ;D

  45. I love the concept of this book and agree that it will make a terrific interactive app. Congratulations! The hippo picture is gorgeous and I can’t wait to see the ostentation of peacocks. How fun!

  46. Congratulations! The only thing that surprises me is that it took so much time. With all your talent and effort the contract and all your future success were givens. So proud of you and happy for you.

    • Shai, they are not kidding when they say publishing takes infinite amounts of patience. But it’s worth it when something like this happens!

  47. Congratulations, Julie! Exciting news! Can’t wait to check out the app!

  48. Julie, I couldn’t be more thrilled for you! Enjoy this moment…then get back to work promoting! Cheers, Miranda

    • Miranda, I think I’ll take one day to bask, but then onto developing the marketing plan forthwith tomorrow! πŸ™‚

  49. Hurray! πŸ™‚ I remember reading “A Troop is a Group of Monkeys” in MeeGenius! It is awesome!!

    • Erik, you were one of the few who featured me on your blog during the MeeGenius contest, so thank YOU for all of your support!

  50. Congratulations, Julie! That is such exciting news, and well deserved. I’m so thrilled for you!! And so nice to see your work illustrated. I know this is the first of many more to come.

  51. Congratulations, Julie!!! So, so well-deserved!!! I know this is the first of many!

  52. Congratulations! My wife owes me on our bet. I told her once I met you online that you were going to be published very soon! You are awesome! Well-deserved!

  53. Looks like I’m part of a long list of congratulators, but that’s good news!

  54. Such exciting news!!! I’m so happy for you Julie. The hippos looks beautiful. Can’t wait to get your book πŸ™‚

  55. Yay Julie!! Congratulations πŸ™‚
    And the hippos look awesome!

    • Thanks @Beth @Jennifer @Coleen – and thanks for loving on my hippos! πŸ˜‰ (Yes, I DO think of them as mine now).

  56. So happy for you, Julie! What a perfect climax to the 12 X 12 challenge! I’ve just posted the great news to my FB page. Congratulations and continued success!

    • Thank you for sharing on FB Sandy – you are an inspiration with your wonderful work. I’m grateful you’ve been part of the challenge!

  57. I am sending a collective bunch of Yipees! I’m am thrilled for you! I, too, loved the book when it was on MeeGenius. It will be an outstanding app! I will definitely have it on my iPad!!!!!! The hippos are amazing! Simply gorgeous! I can’t imagine your excitement!! Enjoy!!!
    Aren’t you the first of the 12ers to get a publishing contract….or not? Since we hope there will be a collective group of us in the future….we need a collective noun for us!

    • Penny, you know I’m not sure if I’m the first to get a contract during 12 x 12. I didn’t write this piece during 12 x 12 though. Hmmm… I think we’re going to have to collect some success stories soon and then definitely give ourselves a collective noun or two!

  58. Oh my goodness, congratulations! This is so well-deserved! I’m so happy for you…and happy for the children who will get to read and interact with your work πŸ™‚

  59. Congratulations, Julie! I am a fellow writer who’s struggled for YEARS too and just recently got a book deal of my own. It’s an amazing feeling to see a life long dream become reality. I’m still pinching myself!

  60. Congratulations, Julie! Inspiring news to start the day-and it isn’t even Sunday!

  61. Congratulations, Julie. How exciting for you. It sounds like a great app. And what a fantastic idea. The artwork is beautiful. Thank you for sharing your experience. It is a wonderful lesson in not giving up on a story you believe in. It is also a good reminder of sometimes it is all a matter of right time, right place. I think this post will be helpful to anyone who has a manuscript that would make a good app. I have shared your link with some other writers that I believe will find this post helpful. I am so happy for you that your hard work is beginning to pay off.

    • Alayne, thank you for sharing the post, and I do hope it is helpful to others who are either still waiting for that first deal or who might want to publish an app.

  62. Starting my morning with your news! I was right there with you throughout your post, feeling your commitment to a worthy piece of work, your persistence, putting yourself in front of professionals who could make a difference, and finally getting the news you’d been waiting for! The illustrations are gorgeous! But just wait until you see it for real on the iPad….that will put you over the moon. It did for me! Thanks for a walk down memory lane

    • Rebecca, I’m honored to have been a part of your morning and that you enjoyed the “story behind the story.” Thanks for your comment!

  63. GGGRRRRRRRRREAT! So happy for you and glad you didn’t give up – the illo is GORGEOUS! Can’t wait to see more!

  64. Julie, this is such wonderful news. Huge congratulations to you!

  65. Hi Julie! I left a comment last night but it got swallowed in the ether. Congratulations! You have been inspiring in your dedication, perseverance, and your absolute generosity in creating the wonderful 12 x 12 community. So now you have an army (a gaggle? a flotilla? you will know the right word) of supporters who will do their utmost to help your app succeed (and count me in that group).

    • Wow, thank you Sylvia! I’ll be sure to get you on my marketing team. I WILL have to think of a group name for us – LOL.

  66. Big congrats, Julie! Your book sound and looks adorable!

  67. Terrific and happy news, Julie! I will be watching how this all develops. Can’t wait to interact with the final app! Cheers and congratulations!

  68. This is fantastic news, Julie! Congratulations!!!
    The artwork is simply amazing.

  69. Congratulations! I’ll spread the word to the clowder of cat folks! *s*

  70. JULIE!!!! This is great. Will be telling every momma and daddy I know!!

  71. Congratulations Julie! What wonderful news! I look forward to seeing your app when it out in the world! And YES! those are a wonderful troop of hippos!!! πŸ™‚

  72. So very, very happy for you, Julie, congratulations! I hope you’re going to have a huge celebration to mark this special occasion. Love the picture of the hippos and am looking forward to seeing how a book works on an iPad app. Very cool. πŸ™‚

  73. Yay, Julie! I’m happy for you–and for the hippos, monkeys, peacocks, and more. The app sounds delightful.

    • Thanks Pat! I’m waiting with huge anticipation to see the rest of the illustrations now, needless to say!

  74. I’m so excited for you! I remember a colleague of mine had a poster on her wall with a list of animals and their collective nouns and it was fascinating. Love the art and can’t wait to see the app and help you promote it! πŸ™‚

    • Thanks Karen! I think people really get into learning the names. It’s a lot of fun. Luckily I have a WHOLE BUNCH of them, so if this app is successful it may be a series.

  75. Author Kristen Lamb

    CONGRATULATIONS! I was so happy you announced on WANATribe so I could come over and offer you a digital glass of champagne. Beautiful illustration and SO HAPPY FOR YOU!

    • Thank you so much Kristen (I feel like I’ve had a celebrity visit!). You have been such an inspiration to me over the past year. It’s largely because of you that I even have a network to share this news with! πŸ™‚

  76. Hooray, Julie! I remember you telling me about this project on the way to the airport. I am so thrilled your MS has found a home, and I can’t wait to buy it.

    • Kirsten – that was a fun ride. Now you need to start working on your own nonfiction app ideas! πŸ™‚

  77. Congratulations Julie!

  78. Huge congrats, Julie! It’s been so fun sharing in your journey. I can’t wait for more. πŸ™‚

  79. Julie,
    Congratulations a thousand times over. That first contract is so sweet!!!!
    Doing my Snoopy Dance for you and your accomplishment.

  80. So happy for you! Congratulations! πŸ™‚

  81. Congratulations! This is wonderful news. Once it’s available, I’m going to recommend it to my best friend who has three young kids.

  82. Congratulations, Julie! Beautiful illustration!

  83. Congratulations, Julie!

  84. Congratulations!! I’m so thrilled for you. I have loads of friends having babies and can’t wait to give your book as a gift. Awesome!

  85. Super news! I’m so glad for you, Julie. You’re an inspiration–your creativity, talent, innovation and persistence have come together to create success. My very best wishes.

  86. I’m just getting the opportunity in joining in the party celebrating your success! Your book sounds amazing! A rhyming concept book? That’s a real winner! An ostentation of peacoks? Yes please! Love it! Each of us is so proud of you, Julie! If you bottled the energy of 12 x 12 , we could rocket to the mooooonnnn!

  87. I’m so excited for you and proud of you. Your hard work, commitment and perseverance have paid off. Loved celebrating with you on Thursday. Can’t wait to see the App! Congrats!!

  88. Julie, I’m late to the party but wanted to add my CONGRATULATIONS to the roar. Good on you for your hard work and stick-to-it attitude! Looking forward to celebrating with you in person next weekend!

  89. Congratulations, Julie!! When I met you in Big Sur (gosh, has it really been two years ago??), I knew that you were someone special and wonderful things were in your future. Your generous and authentic spirit shine through in your work. The illustration is gorgeous and a beautiful compliment to what I know will be your incredible writing. Way to go, girlie!
    A fan down south,
    Julie T Lamana

    • Julie, I can’t believe it’s been two years either! Your comments mean such a great deal to me. We need to keep in closer touch! πŸ™‚ <3 <3

  90. Congratulations to you and best of luck with the book!

  91. Hi, Julie. Just saw your news. Congratulations! I am so happy for you! I loved A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS when I read it in the MeeGenious contest. I’m so glad it will soon be an available for everyone to enjoy!

  92. Way to go after your dreams, Julie. Yahoo!!! TROOPS is the first of a HERD of books “by Julie Hedlund” in lights – on that publishing marquis in the sky. Congratulations!

  93. Julie, I am so very happy for you! Also honored to have been able to stand on the sidelines helping you tweak the story, and watching this go from a manuscript to an app. Your success is so inspiring! Too bad I don’t have an ipad… any plans for a kindle or android version? πŸ™‚

  94. Woo hoo! Congratulations, Julie!!! :0)

  95. September disappeared in a whir and I am so far behind on ‘news’. But this is awesome and exciting news, Julie, and I LOVE the bloat of hippos! I too remember your Troop PB. How exciting to see it come to fruition. Congratulations on the joy and excitement of your first publishing contract! Whoooot!

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