Her kids said the darndest things, so she wrote a book
Oct 30, 2019 04:18PM
● By Heather Lawrence
Writer Crystal Liechty and illustrator Steve Heumann sign copies of their book “Educating Mom” in Sandy on Oct. 5. (Heather Lawrence/City Journals)
By Heather Lawrence | [email protected]
When Crystal Liechty, of West Jordan, became a mom, she had no idea that her three kids would provide her with enough humorous material for a book. But they did. A signing for Liechty’s book, “Educating Mom,” was held at the Printed Garden Bookstore in Sandy on Oct. 5. The book features writing by Liechty, illustrations by Steve Heumann and a foreword by James Dashner.
“This is the first event we’ve done that’s just about us and this book,” Liechty said. “I brought all the kids, though I’m afraid of them spouting off at the mouth. But if you’ve read the book, you know they do that.”
“Educating Mom” is written as a graphic novel. The text is supplied by real-life situations at Liechty’s house. Heumann then illustrates comics to go along with the text.
Liechty got the idea to turn her trying and funny moments as a homeschooling mom into a comic several years ago. After working as an editor for the Valley Journals (which became the City Journals), she wanted to publish her own paper.
“Because my kids were so funny, I wanted to make what they said into a comic,” she said. “So, I hired Steve to help me, and we’ve been working together ever since.”
Liechty asked her friend James Dashner to write a foreword for the book. Dashner is a New York Times bestselling author. He’s best known for “The Maze Runner” books, which were made into movies.
“Crystal and I met at the Storymakers Conference 15 years ago,” Dashner said. “We support each other as writers, so when she asked me to be here, I was happy to do it.”
Heumann said this is a good time for the medium of graphic novels.
“I’ve been into comic books since I was a kid, so I always thought it was a legitimate art form,” Heumann said. “One thing I like about comics that you can’t do in a traditional novel or movie is that you can control time. The way you sequence the art can force the reader to pause or look longer at a frame.”
Heumann said he goes to a lot of “cons” — comic conventions — and does a lot of illustration work in that area. But working with Liechty is a natural fit. Heumann and his wife live in Liechty’s neighborhood, and both families homeschool their kids.
Liechty sends Heumann material, then he’ll go through and pick what he thinks are the funniest parenting anecdotes.
“I figure out which ones are best suited to a comic,” Heumann said. “Then I’ll plan it out — if it’s short I use four squares [of illustrations]. If it’s longer, I can put in a ‘reaction’ square without dialogue.”
Liechty’s supporters filled the Sandy bookstore at the Oct. 5 signing event. Owner Aaron Cance said he likes to support local writers.
“I think events like this are good for a bookstore,” Cance said. “I try to have one to two events per week. Having a local writer in here is good for everyone. I’m a writer myself, and this gives me a good vehicle to support writers.”
Among Liechty’s fans was her sister, Tiffany Pyper of West Jordan.
“The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of my sister is that she is hilarious,” Pyper said. “When we were growing up, she did comedy in talent shows. And she’s always been a good writer. She was just finding her niche.”
The Liechty kids, Griffin, AJ and Hazel, got to sign books with their mom and Heumann.
“I think my mom is really good at writing,” said Liechty’s 10-year-old daughter AJ. “It’s pretty cool that she writes about us, but it can also be scary. We’re talking, and then all of a sudden what we just did is on Facebook. So, I guess I’m kind of famous.”
“They’re kind of getting to an age where they won’t let me share what happens anymore,” Liechty said. “We’ll be talking and they say, ‘Don’t put that on Facebook!’”
So, she wrote a book instead.