I’m a children’s author. I want you to hold one of my books in your hands one day, and share it with your child(ren). Every single day, I work toward that goal. It seems a good way to start this blog, to reflect on what has brought me here. Here’s how my journey began. Don’t worry, I’m not taking a page from David Copperfield: “To begin my life with the beginning of my life, I record that I was born…” And no, I’m not presuming to compare myself to the great Charles Dickens with that reference, but I’ll pull and share the inspiration I find in the very first line of that book: “Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.” Wow. If that’s not a call to action, I don’t know what is. If you want something in your life, identify one measurable goal, and take a step in that direction. One little thing. Or one giant thing, if you’re feeling ambitious. Or one little thing that becomes one giant thing. Own the forward motion of your life. You’ll be amazed at the places you’ll go (Dr. Seuss sure knew what he was talking about).
I read a lot with my kids, just as my parents read to me, when I was little. I was a “library helper” in elementary school. I made a picture book for my brother when I was 13. Now, we have 7 book cases in our house, 5 of which are filled with picture books. To say that we like reading is to put it mildly. And ever since I could form a sentence, I’ve appreciated finding just the right words to say what needs saying.
In January 2017, alight with an idea, I looked at my husband and said, “I want to write a children’s book.” Amazing and supportive man that he is, he recognized that crazed look, and bought me a book on publishing that very night. I read it immediately. And then I read another one. And another one. Every moment that wasn’t spent keeping my children alive, I was reading about the craft of writing, reflecting on my ideas and their origins, and scribbling out some initial drafts. I maintained a 40-60 hour work week for months (usually working after the kids went to bed, because #motherhood).
Fortunately for me, this possession- this consumption- all happened the week before the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators held an annual conference in New York. Talk about kismet! I quickly determined that I needed- NEEDED- to go, and so I did. To say it just “happened” is not accurate. To say that it was lucky, is. Yes, it all came in quick succession, but it didn’t just “happen.” I was fortunate in my timing, but DELIBERATE in snatching up my opportunities, as they presented themselves. In New York, I felt surrounded by minds just like mine, and every word in every presentation felt more than useful. I devoured each syllable. I got that “these are my people” feeling. What’s more, is that my crew was about to expand again. It was at that conference that I learned about Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 Writing Challenge for picture book authors (I joined just before annual enrollment closed). Thank God for that timing. I was off like a rocket, finding every resource just in time to put it to use. By some miracle, I didn’t stumble or backtrack (though it would have been alright to stumble). My path unfolded in perfect succession (unbelievable, I know). But it’s true. That’s how it happened.
In the years since, I’ve immersed myself in intense professional development. I grew my network of colleagues. I joined critique groups. I took classes and webinars. I studied craft. I considered marketing. I read. I read. I read. I participated in contests and challenges, placing among the winners of several. I dabbled in social media. I queried agents, and even secured one for a time, who took me out on submission to the Big 5 publishing houses. (More on that incredible experience, in another post.) And of course, I wrote. Boy, did I write. I wrote at 3 am. I wrote nearly every day. It’s been a time of staggering growth and perpetual excitement. And now I’m certain:
I’m a children’s author.