Piratess Tilly Book Launch + Cure SPG47 Fundraiser

The Piratess Tilly Book Launch and Cure SPG47 Fundraiser on Saturday, May 13th, 2017 was a beautiful success. The location could not have been more appropriate than in the “Hall of Ships” at the Custom House Maritime Museum in Newburyport, a room in which a painting of ship Tennyson hangs proudly. For it is this ship that a woman – Mary Newton Lunt Graves – in 1860 took control and safely brought it to port when her husband, Captain Alexander Graves, became disabled. How could we not launch Piratess Tilly’s second girl-empowering sea adventure in this maritime museum with such inspiring historical stories!

Author Elizabeth Lorayne with Kasey Edwards, co-founder of Cure SPG47 and her daughter, Robbie.

Author Elizabeth Lorayne with Kasey Edwards, co-founder of Cure SPG47 and her daughter, Robbie.

The Custom House Maritime Museum itself was so generous with their support that admission was free for the length of the event! Guests got to not only get their books signed, work on a book related craft (coloring pages and a paper hang glider), grab an organic lollipop, watch the slide show of the book itself, and browse the overflowing totes for the raffle, but they also got the chance to peruse the museum and soak in a dose of history. 

I would like to take a moment to thank Newburyport Montessori School because it was there that I first met Kasey Edwards and her two children, Davis and Robbie. Kasey is the kind of person who radiates love, patience, strength, and perseverance. I am in awe of her grace and determination. I encourage you to follow their story on Curespg47.org and on their Facebook page. Their fundraising journey to study and, hopefully, find a cure for hereditary spastic paraplegia, type 47 has just started and I am thrilled to be writing them a check that includes nearly 100 book sale proceeds and raffle ticket sales of $1,858. Siga Snipas and Gretchen Stone of Bean Group will be writing them their own checks ($5/book sold at the event) for a grand total of $2,233! No doubt Piratess Tilly and koala Yuki are just as proud!

When I first had the idea exactly 2 months prior, I had no idea how generous and encouraging Newburyport shops, businesses, and friends would be in supporting the book launch and Cure SPG47 fundraiser. From newburyport.com sharing the story, to a childhood best friend flying from Seattle, to Siga Snipas and Gretchen Stone of Bean Group jointly pledging $5 per book sold, I feel truly fortunate and grateful – it was a magical morning and experience. As a keepsake for those who attended the event and even for those supported Cure SPG47 through online book sales that week, people received a double-sided bookmark featuring the businesses that contributed and a red ribbon tassel. 

From the moment the party started until shortly after the raffle drawing, there was a wonderful and continuous line of families wanting books and raffle tickets, but one family I will always remember, for they are related to another child in Seattle who also has hereditary spastic paraplegia, type 47. Signing the Piratess Tilly books in her honor was truly special.

Robbie Edwards drawing 1 of the 3 winning raffles!

Robbie Edwards drawing 1 of the 3 winning raffles!

As a child, I had watched my mother organize rather grand fundraisers. It was particularly meaningful for me to have my own young daughter see the work and passion it takes, no matter the scale, to orchestrate a successful fundraising event. And I couldn’t think of a better way to include the children related to myself and the Edwards family than by having them draw the winning raffle tickets! 

Thank all of the businesses who donated products, services, and gift certificates:  Shanti Salon, Repose Yoga StudioPort City Integrative HealthGreater Newburyport Mother's and Family ClubWillow Event PlanningButtermilk BakeryBrooke Whicher PhotographyPretty PoppyCustom House Maritime MuseumKaren Watson ArtSoufflesInterlocks Salon + SpaSoakGrand TrunkMotivateBC Essentials, Seacoast Sweets, & Joppa Fine Foods

And a huge rounds of thanks to each of you who attended the event or ordered books online through the Piratess Tilly shop to support Cure SPG47! This was a truly beautiful morning and I thank each of you from the bottom of my heart. –Elizabeth Lorayne

Macaroni Kid's Interview with Elizabeth Lorayne

Meet Piratess Tilly at the Custom House Museum Family Fun Days

By Emily Cowan, Editor/Publisher
Apr 11, 2017

April's Family Fun Days sail into the Custom House Maritime Museum next week, along with a special appearance by Piratess Tilly, the heroine of two critically acclaimed books by local author and Newburyport mom Elizabeth Lorayne. We caught up with Elizabeth to find out more about the book series and its focus on a smart, strong female character who loves science and exploration.

Newburyport Macaroni Kid: Many children's-book authors are inspired to write because they perceive a gap in representation for a certain kind of kid. Did you feel that there was something missing from bookshelves?

Elizabeth Lorayne: When I first felt inspired to create the character of Piratess Tilly, I had observed a huge gap on the bookshelves. I saw far too few picture books with strong, intelligent, compassionate, relatable (to me), adventuresome heroines, let alone ones interested in science and history. And I therefore wanted more for my own daughter and for myself – I even wanted to see someone who represented pieces of myself as a child because I imagined I wasn't the only one who was was curious about nature. Or who cared about saving the animals and the planet. Or who was a leader. Or who loved being outside – on the water sailing. 

Continue reading the full interview here!

Newburyport Maritime Days Recap!

Somehow between the end of the school year and the beginning of summer, the last few weeks have flown by! I am most excited to finally share the wonderful reception The Adventures of Piratess Tilly had at the Newburyport Maritime Days event over Memorial Day weekend.

I first want to say 'wow!' The entire week that the 16th Century Spanish tall ship, El Galeón was here in Newburyport was not just exciting for our city, but it ended up being an incredibly magical experience for me. Through the Custom House Maritime Museum, I had the opportunity to meet with the captain of the ship - the only female captain of a tall ship in the world! I presented Captain Rosario Fernandez Rodriguez with a copy of The Adventures of Piratess Tilly and from that moment, time melted away as we spoke for over two hours. I've written an article about this interview and you can read about it here.

With that experience of meeting Captain Rosario Fernandez Rodriguez coupled with the backdrop of a tall ship in our port, I went into the 3-day event beaming - and I couldn't be more thrilled with how it unfolded! Although the weather was rather finicky, one day being 90 degrees and the next being cold and windy, the overall reception was incredible.

People whole-heartedly loved the entire concept of Piratess Tilly - the haiku, the art, the girl-empowerment, the conservationism. They loved the dolls and the blank greeting cards - all of the add-ons I've created.  And lastly, but in no small way, they seemed to love meeting me - the author and publisher. I always offered to sign the book and the look of excitement the children got was not just meaningful - it was magical.

I started prepping for this 3 day event a few weeks before. As it was my first outdoor event, I was starting from scratch. I bought an E-Z UP Envoy Instant Shelter Canopy and it truly was easy to set-up. I scouted Marshalls for baskets to hold the books and plushies, picture frames for prices, industry reviews and awards, and a tray to hold the blank greeting cards I ordered from Moo that featured Karen Watson's artwork from the book.

The second line of business was all of the signage and extra add-ons. I used one of the images from the book to create a tapestry through Society6. The tapestry made a perfect, eye-catching table cloth!

 

maritime days prep 3 blog 

I designed a  2.5'x4' banner through VistaPrint and kept my fingers crossed I'd be able to easily hang it up. ;)  I then employed Kendra Shedenhelm to create a coloring poster with her doll and tool illustrations, with the idea that kids would stop and color it on their way to the ship. Inspired by the poster design, I created coloring postcards to hand out to kids who stopped by my table. Although the coloring poster didn't work out, the postcards did! One side featured either Piratess Tilly or Yuki, while the other was a collage of her tools. I ran out of the 100 postcards by the middle of day 2 so started to pass out Piratess Tilly and Yuki stickers instead.

maritime days prep 1 blog

Just a few days before the event, I felt inspired to create a small, double-sided card to enclose with each purchase. One side featured the Australian Koala Foundation, of which a portion of sales go towards, and the other had a condensed definition of a "Piratess." These I printed myself on my laser printer and cut by hand.

maritime days prep 2 blog.jpg

I also had information displayed about the other artists and crafters who have helped to create the Piratess Tilly and Yuki plushies and the custom-made Piratess Tilly rag doll by Phoebe&Egg. A special thank you to Gretchen Joy for her work as local seamstress and a big thank you to Kendra Shedenhelm who worked with me for a year to design the plushies!

Thank you to everyone who came out and stopped by the Piratess Tilly tent! It won't be our last event, that is for sure. So please, stay tuned!

maritime days thank you

 

 

All Hands on Deck for Girl-Empowerment: My Interview with Captain Rosario Fernandez Rodriguez of El Galeón

Captain Rosario and Elizabeth Lorayne_150 rgb web.jpg May 27, 2016  Interview with Captain Rosario Fernandez Rodriguez of tall ship El Galeón docked in Newburyport, MA written by Elizabeth Lorayne.

There was magic in the air that morning of Friday, May 27th. Not only was the 16th century Spanish tall ship replica, El Galeón, in Newburyport’s harbor, but I was scheduled to meet the captain, the only female captain of a tall ship in the world. The synchronicity of this opportunity left me feeling giddy as I walked the enlivened streets of Newburyport to the ship. This special meeting was arranged by the Newburyport Custom House Maritime Museum because of my children’s picture book, The Adventures of Piratess Tilly. Piratess Tilly is the captain of her own ship and leads her crew on naturalist expeditions. It felt all too pertinent that I give a copy of the book to a real female captain. 

Boarding El Galeón, walking topside, past the hundreds of salt water infused lines, and simultaneously ducking while stepping over the lip of the doorway; immediately sent me back to my formative years sailing and boating 60 miles northeast of Seattle, WA in the San Juan Islands. Upon meeting Captain Rosario Fernandez Rodriguez, I immediately felt a kinship, while her gracious confidence reminded me of my task at hand.

Once seated on the wooden benches in the galley, I presented her with my book. Her eyes lit up at the cover showing young Piratess Tilly at the helm of her own tall ship. Rosario immediately related to the many purposes of the book. She loved the poetry and the art, but mostly she loved the girl-empowerment and the educational features of Piratess Tilly and her crew’s life aboard the ship.

Tucked inside the book I had a few questions I hoped Rosario would be willing to answer. Little did I know we would speak for the next two hours, discussing her own childhood sailing and some of her experiences becoming a female captain.

Was there a specific moment from your childhood that contributed directly to your desire to work on and eventually captain a tall ship?

Rosario grew up in Arcos de la Frontera, Spain, where her family lived some 300ft from a lake. It was on this lake that her passion for sailing was born. When Rosario was a child, her father and his friends often sailed a 420 sailboat,

“I remember being seated on to the top of the box for the keel and I remember perfectly the color of the hull, and also the shape of the sail completely, full of wind. I remember that I liked it a lot.”

From that formative moment she seized the opportunity to sail her father’s friends windsurfing board. She didn’t know how to sail, but she persevered and managed to sail across the lake. When she reached the other side, she didn’t know how to return against the wind, so she paddled atop the board! From that moment she knew she needed to learn how to sail properly.

Her father took his own passion for sailing and worked to build a sailing club, the Arcos Sailing Club. Rosario explained that because Arcos de la Frontera is 70 miles from the coast, it took some time to show the local community and councilmen the advantages of sailing as a sport. Her father was determined and after receiving several donated 420 sailboats from clubs on the coast, his own sailing club took flight.  Pride overfilled her eyes as she told me about the hours she spent helping him repair the boats in preparation for their club. A few years later, when she was 13, in conjunction with a club on the coast, they were ready to offer sailing lessons. Rosario quickly decided she wanted to become a certified sailing instructor, which she accomplished a few years later.

When did you decide to become a captain?

While attending courses in art history at university, Rosario spent every free moment teaching. Once she finished school, she quickly realized she was truly happiest on the water.  She then decided to make sailing her way of living, saying she,

“wanted to have my own ship, I want to charter my own ship, I want to become a captain of my ship, but I didn’t think of being a captain of a tall ship at that moment,” laughing with amusement at the major role she eventually attained.

What are your favorite aspects to both working on and captaining a tall ship?

When meeting and spending time with Rosario it is not hard to see how seriously she takes her role as captain, from how she oversees her crew, expecting them to always be maintaining the ship and learning, to her own willingness to learn,

“I like that I am all of the time teaching, I like that, but also I am all the time learning. And also I get to know many many different places and many different people. It’s also a way of knowing myself or trying to know myself and I try also to learn about everything to be a better person and captain. I try.”

What would you say to young girls who have big dreams and goals?

With the girl-empowerment aspect of The Adventures of Piratess Tilly, I was curious to hear what this real life female captain would say to young girls,

“Everything is possible if you work towards it. I mean, if you work, focusing, you can get it, you can get it.”

Rosario explained to me some of the hardships she’d experienced as a woman trying to become a captain. She often faced disbelief by boat owners, who would instead offer her jobs as a stewardess. Her perseverance and patience endured and she went from captaining a dredger ship to captaining the Nao Victoria and El Galeón. Even as our time together was coming to end, it was clear to me how important this question was to Rosario as she came back to it saying,

“If you work hard, if you focus on what you want and if you are full of what you want, you can do it. And if someone wants to restrict you, just try to smile and look to the other side and go the other way. Take the other door - the other paths - there are many, many paths. Just try another one.”

Elizabeth Lorayne is the author of the award-winning children’s picture book, The Adventures of Piratess Tilly. A native Seattleite and the granddaughter of Admiral Walter T. Griffith, she feels most at home near water, which makes living in Newburyport, MA most appropriate. She is an artist and writer, who enjoys hiking and creating art with her family. You can contact her by email ElizabethLorayne@gmail.com or through her books website PiratessTilly.com The sequel to The Adventures of Piratess Tilly, taking place on Easter Island, is due out this October.