My entry into children’s publishing

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.

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.