Sometimes, you know in your heart that a story needs to be written. In Amanda Morgan’s case, this moment came when her family saw a bear swimming in the Lake of the Ozarks.

Sometimes, you know in your heart that a story needs to be written. In Amanda Morgan’s case, this moment came when her family saw a bear swimming in the Lake of the Ozarks.

She says it was a Sunday afternoon and her family was out on their boat. On their way home, her husband noticed something swimming in the water nearby. Initially, Morgan says they thought it was a deer. Upon closer inspection, they realized it was a bear. Stunned, the family watched as the bear swam off and captured a video that would gain some virality around the area.

“It was the last thing we ever expected to see,” Morgan said.

Morgan says she and her husband sat and talked about the event for multiple days still in awe of what they had seen. Later that week, she says the inspiration came to write a story. After completing a draft, Morgan attempted to paint some watercolor pictures to fit with the story, but decided she needed to turn to a professional artist to achieve the vision she had in mind. This is when her aunt Linda S Sickman came into the process.

Sickman lives in Kansas City and works for Hallmark on a number of projects, primarily as an ornament sculptor. Sickman had never done full illustrations of this kind before, but eventually agreed to work with Morgan and complete the book. After months of work, the words and illustrations finally came together into a 48-page children book titled “Lake Bear”.

Morgan says the process of writing the book, gathering and organizing illustrations and then self-publishing the copies was a learning process. Working with editors to structure the book went through a number of drafts before they landed on what would be the final product.

When designing the characters in the book, Sickman was inspired not only by the bear in the video that Morgan captured, but also by her small lake cabin outside of Kansas City.

“I watched the video multiple times, seeing the bear paddle across the water and go up on the dock,” Sickman said. “Even though my bear doesn’t look exactly like that, I was definitely inspired by the event and tried to keep things similar.”

Now, Morgan hopes to continue working in the children’s literature space and already has some ideas in mind. She says that Sickman and her have discussed ideas around stories based on the lake and the many unique qualities that it possesses.

“Since we’ve moved down her, we’ve seen a bald eagle grab a fish out of the water and a group of foxes that the kids would go see every night,” Morgan said. “There’s just a lot of other natural things that lend themselves to great kids stories.”

Currently, the book is for sale online on Amazon and at the lake at Big Thunder Marine Family Boating Center. Morgan says that she hopes to get the book into more local outlets soon.