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Chris Parsons

Chris Parsons

 
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Be that Spark.com

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Speaker 0 00:00:03 Welcome to the Southwest life podcast with your host, me Vicki, DeLuzio where we will talk about things to boost your health, improve your relationships, find new things to do with your family and talk with business owners in the area and more. Thanks for being here and enjoy the show.
Speaker 1 00:00:27 Hi guys today, Chris Parsons. Um, thank you Chris, for joining me today. And he wrote a book called a little spark, um, and I have it with me and, uh, Chris, thanks for joining us. Uh, can you tell me a little bit about your family and your background?
Speaker 2 00:00:43 Well, first of all, thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate the time. Uh, my family, my background I’m originally from Newfoundland, which is a province in Northern Canada. Grew up in a little fishing village. My father was a fisherman. The whole family business was around the fishery. A lot of Irish influence Irish music, music was front and center. Storytelling was a big thing like in Ireland and that’s, that’s where I grew up. Um, and I went to school there, uh, for a number of years. Uh, went to college, got a job, uh, actually in a technology company that everyone was familiar with. IBM. And then I left and I traveled all over the world doing different technology, things, innovation, business development. Uh, but I always had this itch for the storytelling, uh, from, I guess from my father, grandfather. And when Kathleen and I had kids, we’d, we’d read all the classics, all the ones, but I started creating my own little stories and they liked them.
Speaker 2 00:01:46 And then it grew from my kids to nieces and nephews. And pretty soon I had a little following and I loved the storytelling. Uh, they grew up, uh, the stories weren’t as appealing, like in my travels and business, different places. I lived, always carried those little stories with me and three or four years ago, a little longer, actually I came up with this idea of spark and, uh, and that’s how that whole thing, uh, evolved. Then I’ve since left the technology world behind me and had been focusing on creating the story and the music. That’s now a little spark and two kids. And my wife, we live in Dallas now long way from flat rock Newfoundland, uh, very different, uh, great people, wherever you go, you know, there’s fantastic people if you really want to look. So that’s my background and a lot of things in the middle of that.
Speaker 1 00:02:48 Yeah, just a few just here and there. Um, and your books come with music and QR codes. So in the book you have a QR code, you can scan it and then music, it brings you to a website that plays music. Um, so did you come up with the music? Did you make it yourself? You did.
Speaker 2 00:03:06 Yeah. So I tell you how that, how that started. I, you know, so this is five, six years ago. I had this idea spark, which is basically this lowly mouse who is given an opportunity and he saves today, which is an opposite. There’s a lot more to the story. And as I worked on that and I developed that every day, I used to work out when I flew on a plane. So probably between DC and London quite a bit, and rather than doing my emails and all this sort of stuff, I’d, as I watched everybody doing their thousand emails, I’d pull out my laptop and work on spark. And so as I developed it, and I sort of really got into the characters, the music started coming to me because I really wanted this multimedia experience around the book. And I came up, I can’t sing, I can’t play any musical instrument.
Speaker 2 00:03:55 And that has been, uh, been agreed to, by a lot of people, at least to the singing part. I cannot say about these characters, the music started to feel its place in the book. And so I take out, um, my, my iPhone and I’d come up with a melody and I did at that. Uh, and then I’d come up with lyrics. And so I had these three songs, I had the book sort of in development. And then my thing was okay, what do I do? Where do I go? So of course, where do you go, Google? And I Googled music studio and I found the studio within a mile of my house. Oh, wow. Yeah, yeah. Little studio. And I walked in one day and Lisa was there and I was just coming out. I was at a ride my bike and have some neon bike Jersey on.
Speaker 2 00:04:47 And I walked in and I say, I have this idea. And she just looked at me and said another crazy one on the street. And I told her a little bit, I showed her a video of me singing and this melody and this lyric. And she said, okay, I’ll set up a meeting with, with Bruce, who was the producer, the studio. So a week later I met Bruce Faulkner and that was two years ago. And we’ve had this incredible partnership where now we have a full soundtrack. Uh, the book comes with the QR codes, which are embedded, they’re short versions of the song, but there’s 12 full songs that we produced. So I came up with the melody, the lyrics, he wrote the music. And then we brought in all this talent, some incredible voices and musicians. And over a period of 18 months, we produced the soundtrack and Bruce is, he’s done everything.
Speaker 2 00:05:43 And he’s, he’s like me in the music world. He’s done everything from producing for TV to orchestra. He was the soundtrack. He did all the sound of dragon ballsy, which is the biggest cartoon ever 15 years ago, critics of dragon ball Z. I’ll never point to the cartoon. They always talk about the incredible music. And Bruce created that and he has this following all over the world. So through that process, we created the album and then I embedded the music. So as you go through, you get to a point, you’ll see a QR code. You scan the QR code and a song was up on the phone timed. Exactly for that moment in the story. The kids love it because they’re in anticipation. Whenever they see a QR code with a different video on the phone, different illustrations. And, um, and that’s all the way through the book.
Speaker 2 00:06:40 And then we use QR codes where you can actually go to the website and talk to the characters. So we have a talking dog, a talking cat, which are modeled after my animals using some software. So it’s very interactive, but music, uh, has turned out to be the combination of the text, the story, the illustrations, and the music is what is really appealing to people. And I get so many, so much feedback, uh, where people are sending me what their favorite song is, favorite character. And it’s really, uh, it’s really interesting because we know about reading, reading aloud and how important that is for kids. We also know that music is core to the development of beyond minds. There’s a lot of research and when you put two of them together, uh, and not overdoing it on the technology and making it easy for a parent to sit with a child, read the book, listen to the music, it creates a whole new experience.
Speaker 2 00:07:36 And then in the book, uh, at the end of the book, there are lessons, there are six lessons and they’re core to, you know, the overall theme of the book, which is be that spark, which is ties into the character spark. And it was parents didn’t have a discussion with the kids around those lessons, you know, and that’s an, a very important part of the interaction and, and how that happens, but it was a journey it’s taken. And then we rated, of course, we created the audio book. So if you look on the inside of your book, you’ll see a URL, be that spark.com. You go there and you can download the full soundtrack, the 12 songs and the complete audio book. And the audio book is incredible. Yes, I’m a little biased, but Brandon McGuinness is the voice actor. We did all the sound effects studio. It has the music, and now the kids can listen and actually hear what Oliver the owl sounds like. And he’s one of the characters. He’s got a British accent. Well, he’s really funny. And you can only get that on the audio. And so when you combine the audio, the music, the texts, the illustrations, you get this, you get to know the characters and that’s how it, and, and, uh, we released the book in October 1st and it was a lot of people excited about it, not just me.
Speaker 1 00:09:04 Well, I mean, I know when my oldest was a young, they had the books and they had, you could press the little buttons and characters would say something, but eventually the battery would die. And then, then you couldn’t do anything. And sometimes it would play songs. But then now this is, this is a perfect thing because, uh, you know, mom and dad usually have the tablet or, or a phone. And so your battery doesn’t really die. And, you know, then the book doesn’t get thrown out because before the book was kind of worthless, now the book still lives on and you know, the story isn’t is still there. And, you know, you can still use whatever device you have to play. The music that’s perfect.
Speaker 2 00:09:47 Well, the music is meant to live on and the music, the gambling, is there a chance you’ll listen to some of the voices like WT Greer was one of the, he did four songs out of just amazing. I was in awe, this is my first time ever in a studio. So it was all new and fresh. And we bring these, we get the music. And then we, we do all the technology, the recording, and, and listening to some of the talent that Bruce brought in. Cause he knows everyone and say, we need this kind of soulful voice with this song. And he said, double duties, line them up. But it was an amazing process. And when you listen to the songs, the quality of the production, you know, which is Bruce does craft combined with the voices because they got into it as well. They’re excited about creating something for children and meaningful message.
Speaker 2 00:10:38 It wasn’t just come in, spend four hours and walk out the door. They got into it. And even to a point, which was really cool because my son Keelan was involved in helping me put character profile. So someone’s coming in to sing on the Oliver songs. So they’d read the whole profile of Oliver, who he was, what he’s personality, and they’d get in that personality for the song. And it sort of comes out. So it was a real collaboration on the music, you know, with, uh, Bruce, uh, the vocalists, my family has been very involved with Maggie. My daughter’s done a lot of the logo and a lot of the Instagram posts we started, we had no social media presence whatsoever now. Um, you know, it’s growing very quickly, so she’s been involved, my wife. So we had that family side of it in, you know, and then we’re bringing in some of these incredible people as part of the overall project. So it’s been a lot of fun.
Speaker 1 00:11:40 That’s awesome. Yeah. And the sound quality is wonderful and you’re not getting the, the crinkly crackly NIS of those old, uh, those old buttons that you would have of the old books. So yeah, it’s definitely different than, than the old books that you might get at Walmart where you press those buttons for a week and then they’re gone. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Um, uh, dear CA and we, we were, we did talk about this, but, um, with the animals, but do your characters also resemble people in your life?
Speaker 2 00:12:14 Yeah. There’s bits and pieces of, of a lot of different folks, you know, in business, you know, um, the social and sports. So there’s a few in there. I don’t mention exactly. I don’t let people know, but yeah, all kinds of personalities in there that are, I draw on experiences, uh, some of the animals are based on my own animals. So net new and Ned NOV is everyone’s favorite. Obviously spark is the mouse, who’s the hero, but there’s this incredibly loving friend. If you wanted a friend, a trusting friend, it would be net new. And that is based on my Newfoundland dog bear. And Nina is based on my other Newfoundland dog. So I’ve been able to put, you know, some of my animals in there and they know who they are, or they don’t mind really a collection of a lot of different people and different qualities, different accents. Uh, there’s a, uh, a raccoon, a wheeling daily rock Hill called Vinny and from the movie Vinny. And he sounds like Vinny from the moon. So there’s some elements of that. And then Oliver, I mentioned as a sort of West London kind of acts a proper English accent based on some people I knew with that. You know? So there’s, there’s elements of, of that. It’s a really a collection of a lot of people.
Speaker 1 00:13:42 Um, uh, do you have any tips for aspiring writers because you weren’t always a writer you moves.
Speaker 2 00:13:51 So exactly. So I told stories and I, the first story I really wrote down was this story. And so I learned a couple of things along the way. Uh, I have a really, I have an excellent editor now who works with me, who helps me on book design. You look at that book, if that’s the third version of the book and a lot of time on the prototype and look and feel. So it’s really important to surround your people, surround yourself with the right people. And in this project, obviously the music, some of the editing book design is really, really important. You can’t do it all yourself. Uh, I had on the publishing front to your point, I had no idea. So now I’m going to, I need to create a book. So what are you going to book print? How does that work? Cause I’m, you know, there’s publishers, we all know these literary agents and all that.
Speaker 2 00:14:44 So I had to navigate through all of that. And what I ended up doing was self publishing. But what a difference, because I’ve now created a team, I have an editor and a designer. I have the publishing, this company called pathway book services in New Hampshire. They deal with all the distribution across the world. At one point I was lying in bed, talking to my wife and saying, I think I’m going to have all these boxes in my garage. And then through, you know, meeting people, I ended up with this incredible company and then the printing, where do you get the printing done? Because it’s, it’s a real book. It, you know, it’s a hard cover book. It’s not a digital that needs printing. It’s not, you know, a digital like Ingram spark kind of book it’s you need a real, real, real, real term printer.
Speaker 2 00:15:35 So I went through all that and I found this company in Canada, in Manitoba Canada through this other connection. So it’s really important that you have the right folks around you because the words in the, in the story are really important, but people can really make, make a big difference. I have social media again. I started with six friends, Facebook in June, literally, and now we have a very large Facebook following Instagram. I think we’re about a thousand on Instagram right now and growing. And that’s a really important part of the marketing. And I have, I found someone who, who helped with that. And then the foundation of all that is really my family. Um, and they back in 2017, I had this idea and I’m waving my hand what a great thing. But I, I really, I really didn’t take that step. It was my kids, my wife, who said to me, he said, you know, you need to do this.
Speaker 2 00:16:35 You didn’t talking about doing this. And that was the push because everyone has great stories, but you need to get that. You need to move from this hand-waving and talking to me that first step, and then you’ll, and if you surround yourself with the right people, it makes an amazing, an amazing difference. And will Robertson, who the editor he’s done self publishing for over 200 books. I met him through the illustrator. I found online on an illustrator because of course we have bookie illustrations and we’ve created over a hundred different illustrations for the book and for the music. And then he connected me to this guy will Robertson, who publishes a, he does a lot of self publishing or help with publishing. And he’s just the most amazing guy on the planet. So I’ve been working with him for a year and a half. So it comes back to making that first step, uh, surrounding yourself.
Speaker 2 00:17:35 Everyone has incredible people around them and having a destination. That’s awesome. And for me, the awesome destination and all the people that work with me, it’s around creating something that could really be beneficial to children, to help them think about how they could become that spark, you know, to believe in themselves, the lessons from the book, we had an opportunity, which was delightful. So someone read the book, I had a hundred versions of the book, not the book. You have a hundred free versions, handed them out to a lot of people, kids, parents. And that’s the other thing I would point to, if you can get feedback, I’m not a kid, uh, I’m a kid of hurt, but I’m not a kid. And so getting feedback from tear. So we, so we did all that. And then one person who read the book was a teacher.
Speaker 2 00:18:24 This is Ramirez. She had great one class. She said, I want to bring this into my classroom. And so last year we created a program, a pilot program, great one class where they had sparked time in the morning for 30 minutes, she’d read a chapter of the book. They’d listen to the music, they do the video. And that went on just pre, just completed before COVID. And the feedback I received from that class was amazing. We created all the posters to six lessons were around the classroom, and it was an amazing feedback. It was an amazing engagement. And so I changed a lot. Based on that feedback, I changed how I was going to embed the music, how long the music should be to keep their attention. It couldn’t be the two minute version I needed a one minute version. Even the, the, the cover of the book, what I thought was a fantastic cover.
Speaker 2 00:19:16 Now, not at all they had, where’s the, you know, we need the dragon on the cover. So through those engagements, uh, we were able to, you know, refine the, the final product and the cover of the book came from that. And that’s another element of what I would tell people you may think, you know, and have, unless you’re, you know, an incredible visionary of everything around you, but it’s so great to get that feedback from your target audience and the target audience, you know, four, five, six to, and up to, I have an 82 year old, who’s probably the biggest fan of the book. And he was an early reader and he gave, he still giving me advice. He can, me, the book is printed Bob or Doug, but, but it is an important, it is an important aspect of, um, of really taking on something like this. And, and last year I decided that this was it. This was what I wanted to do. And I, you know, gave up my regular job and, and this has become a full-time focus.
Speaker 1 00:20:24 So basically you have to step out of your comfort zone. If you want to become a writer.
Speaker 2 00:20:30 I did. I had people who are natural writers and who’ve done it forever. And this is the first publication that I’ve. And I, I’m still amazed. I look at it that that’s my name on the book, but I also know that that that’s my name on the book, but behind my name are all incredible people who produced it with me.
Speaker 1 00:20:50 But you had to, yeah. You had to step out of your comfort zone many times in that story.
Speaker 2 00:20:55 Totally. Yeah. And I had to take the cold truth. Things like you can’t sing
Speaker 1 00:21:03 Maybe in the shower when nobody’s home or no, one’s within a mile. Wow. Well, we’ll leave the mics off if you just decide to do that.
Speaker 2 00:21:16 No, I’m not. I want to watch you dog. My dog seem to like it. They yell when I,
Speaker 1 00:21:22 They sing along. Maybe they’re trying to cover it up.
Speaker 2 00:21:26 Yeah, no baby. But they’re, uh, they’re my only fans they believe. I can say,
Speaker 1 00:21:30 There you go. Um, was there anything else you’d like to tell our listeners?
Speaker 2 00:21:36 Uh, well, we launched on, um, October 1st, so then we did the pre-order and all that. We became an Amazon number one, bestseller, a new release for children’s music book category. So that was fantastic, which is really the category. That’s important, given what we do. Yeah. We, uh, we, uh, received the mom’s choice, gold medal for best at the, in family media. Wow. It’s a big deal. Cause we had to give everything and they have a panel of judges. So out the gate, we’ve had some, some really good success, but what’s probably most warming is what I received something from appearance over the last few weeks, I’ve received a lot of pictures. Um, you know, the mom and dad, uh, with the kid, uh, with the book and it’s just, it just makes me feel so, so good. There’s one little girl Carolee, Charlotte and her mother sends me a picture.
Speaker 2 00:22:37 She’s going to school grade one first day of school, the plastic mask, all the, you know, all the stuff they had. And she’s got this little poster which each kid brings to the school and tells who, what’s your name? Who’s your team or your age, uh, your favorite color, your favorite food and your favorite book. And then on the clock, a little spark. And the mother says that to me. And of course, um, you know, people say what’s success, that’s it. You know, if it ended right there, that would be worth the effort. And, uh, so it’s, it’s good to enjoy, you know, those things. Cause there’s, it’s a lot of hard work and to really make something of it. And we’re focused on a lot of marketing right now, obviously, and I appreciate your time and having me on the, tell the story and it’s available, you know, and Amazon Barnes and noble, you know, a little spark, but Chris Parsons, uh, do on our website, all everything we have is the brand is being that spark, that spark.com be that spark on Instagram. We got spark, which is amazing that I was able to get that. And everyone else copywriters really important trademark and not all, all illegal stuff, but we’re very easy to find we’ve got spark. Um, and hopefully you’ll enjoy the book. You’ll listen to the music and don’t forget the audio book and in the character like Vinny. Yeah. I’d love to hear when you, when you have an opportunity, what your seven year old and you go through the whole experience. Yeah.
Speaker 1 00:24:19 Oh my eight year old already read it. Yeah, she, yeah, she already loved it. So she read it this afternoon and the other two kids were like running around, so I homeschool. So, so they’re, they’re they’re they were running around like crazy boys. Well, that’s good. Yeah. Yeah. And, and I was showing her how to do the QR code. So she was like, Oh, but then she has to be watched with my phone,
Speaker 2 00:24:47 Of course sit
Speaker 1 00:24:49 With. Yeah. But she, she reads that like an 11 year old level. So she’s yeah. Yeah. Well, thank you so much for everything. And I’ll have a link to all your social media and your website, so people can get that and they could see everything on Amazon too. And of course, this is a great gift if you’re already Christmas shopping, so, or holiday shopping, so perfect. Yeah. But thank you again for your time and I hope you have a great one and I believe there’s more books coming today.
Speaker 2 00:25:23 There’s two other books over the next few years. We’re also going to launch that, uh, based on that pilot project with the school. So I’ve got five other teachers now I’m working with to create something that could be used in the classroom. So a teacher would go in and download the digital book, the posters, the lessons, and really focused on teaching character. Uh, so that that’ll that’ll happen in 2021. And right now it’s focusing on getting the book launched. And then,
Speaker 1 00:25:54 Yeah, I know that’s a, that’s a busy process just doing that so, well, thank you again for your time.
Speaker 2 00:26:02 Thank you so much, Vicki. I appreciate.

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