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Dr. Alena Holmes holds the position of Professor and serves as the Coordinator of Music Education at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. In addition to her academic role, she is a songwriter, composer, producer, researcher, author and the director of the Music Creativity Lab—a music education, production, and performance company located in Apollo Beach, Florida.
Dr. Holmes has recently created an original musical titled "Florida Christmas." This musical revolves around the diverse wildlife of Florida, featuring animals, birds, and underwater inhabitants. The premiere of "Florida Christmas" is scheduled at various venues across the Tampa Bay area.
In conjunction with her musical, Dr. Holmes has authored a new book titled "What Do You Wish for Christmas?" This book is inspired by one of the songs from her musical. For more detailed information about the musical and the book, please visit https://www.musiccreativitylab.com
What inspired you to write your first book?
What inspired me to write my first children's book was the realization that, despite having authored numerous research and professional articles, as well as contributing a chapter to 'The Oxford Handbook of Assessment Policy and Practice in Music Education,' I hadn't delved into the world of children's literature. As a professor of music at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, my role involves not only imparting knowledge but also fostering creativity among my students.
The idea for this book originated during my teaching sessions with aspiring educators. I consistently encourage my students to embrace creativity and become innovative thinkers. However, I believe that teaching is not just about imparting knowledge but also about modeling the behavior we advocate. If teacher does not create, how would you expect your students to create? This philosophy prompted me to create and publish my first children's book, serving as a tangible example of the creative thinking and innovation I encourage in my students
How did you came up with title?
The title of my book, What Do You Wish for Christmas?, was inspired by the title of a song featured in my latest original musical, 'Florida Christmas.' While composing this musical, I found myself contemplating a unique perspective: what would Florida pelicans and seagulls wish for during the holiday season? The question arose as part of the creative process, and I wanted to inject a humorous twist into the lyrics, creating a playful parody of the classic song 'All I Want for Christmas"
Do you see writing as career?
Yes, I do see writing as a significant aspect of my career. I have definite plans to create numerous children's books and songs in the future. My passion lies in both teaching and the creative process, and I envision myself continuing to engage in these pursuits for as long as I am alive. The joy I derive from teaching and creating is unparalleled, and I view them not only as integral components of my career but also as lifelong endeavors.
What was the challenges in bringing it to life?
Finding a talented illustrator was a challenge. I approached approximately 20 illustrators, requesting sketches to gauge their suitability for the project. Eventually, I connected with Juliet Frost, a highly creative and skilled artist from Kyiv, Ukraine. I am super happy with the outcome; her illustrations have truly brought the book to life.
While the artistic aspect has been successfully addressed, a new set of challenges has emerged in the form of marketing and promotion. As a professor and creator, my expertise lies in crafting engaging content rather than navigating the intricacies of promotion and marketing. I approach this phase with optimism, hopeful that this wonderful book, song, and musical will carve out its niche in the already saturated world of children's literature and music. It's a reminder that creating a great book is one aspect, but effectively selling it poses a substantial challenge. I am committed to the journey, eager to share this creation with a broader audience and confident that it will find its rightful place among the myriad options available to young readers and music enthusiasts.
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