In kindergarten, the same year I acquired the nickname Little Miss Vocabulary from my regular babysitter, I wrote my first book, "My Dog Cody." (Comic strip-style execution required for this high-intensity action sequence)
In third grade, I won a school-wide writing competition - earning the opportunity to serve as Bethany Grade School's representative at the Young Authors Conference at the Illinois State University - for my story "The Soda Fountain." (Illustration accurately featuring 1980s exhaust emissions)
In fifth grade - the year I created my own handmade thesaurus and wrote a fairly comprehensive dictionary for a fictional world - I also penned the story "Unicorn Land." (Very on-trend)
Basically, from the time I could hold a pencil, I knew I wanted to write stories. But I didn't know how to make it happen. "DON'T major in English," everyone said. OK... Then what? Since writing every day was a must, I went to the University of Missouri-Columbia and got a degree in magazine journalism. That way, I could focus on long-form pieces and keep the stories rolling.
My journalism degree led me to a reporting post at The Kansas City Star... then the Sun-Times News Group in Chicagoland... which led to speech and press release writing for Chicago Public Schools... which led to brand storytelling at PR firm Henson Consulting... and ultimately to starting my own communications consultancy.
All the while I was writing plenty, but not stories. Not quite how I dreamed.
About one year ago, my friends Heather and Chaz and I were chatting over vino about how we, as parents, plan to negotiate Santa territory with our 5-and-unders. It was in the midst of this conversation that I remembered: I had written a poem on this very topic in a midnight advent fog.
Honestly, I had forgotten all about it. But with this conversation, memory of the manuscript came rushing back. LUCKILY I was finally able to find it tucked away in a folder on my hard drive.
The first draft of my "Santa truth book" was written between midnight and 5:30 a.m. on a mid-December morning. I couldn't sleep that night. I kept tossing and turning, thinking of my niece Carsyn and the ROUGH Christmas she was having, after having put all the pieces together and confronting her parents (my sister and brother-in-law) about Santa.
I shared the manuscript with Heather and Chaz. They were instantly supportive and suggested immediately that it could be a book. (Adding that we would need to celebrate its publication with an annual girl's trip to France. Obviously.) Here we are, practicing our French on the Geneva Christmas House Tour...
A book? REALLY? I wasn't sure. But a persistent feeling just kept growing inside. You know that feeling:
WHEN you step up to the plate. WHEN you exit the huddle. WHEN it's your turn to speak. WHEN someone hands you a microphone. WHEN the spotlight hits your face. WHEN you open that long-anticipated email...
Nervousness. Excitement. Opportunity. Purpose.
For the past year - ever since I pulled out the manuscript and committed myself to finishing it - I've had the sensation that something was coming. In faithful service to that feeling, I've done these things, in this order:
- Finalized the manuscript (on a weekend trip to Alton/Grafton with my mom last spring)
- Got engaged with kidlit writers on Twitter
- Read the Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market book, edited by Chuck Sambuchino
- Researched and wrote a 17-page book proposal
- Wrote a query (aka: pitch) for my book
- Read Create Your Writer Platform, also by Chuck Sambuchino
- Created an author website via Squarespace
- Launched a blog on said website
- Registered for a writing conference (Kansas City Writing Workshop #kcww)
- Designed and printed business cards
- Rehearsed presenting my query pitch
- Met fellow writers and chatted with three agents at KCWW
- Received an agent's invitation to submit my manuscript
And then it happened. THAT EMAIL arrived. An agent interested in my manuscript. An agent interested in representing me. A contract to sign... which I SIGNED!
So now I'm represented by METAMORPHOSIS LITERARY AGENCY in Kansas City. In normal non-publishing speak... I have a literary agent! It's my honor to be working with Stephanie Hansen, owner of Metamorphosis (@metamorphLitAg).
Now we're off and running! I'm researching target publishing houses this weekend. That's the first step. I'll continue to share my "Pathway to Published" journey here on the blog, if you'd care to join me. And I hope you will!
Two industry all-stars - who surely have NO IDEA how helpful they've been to me: 1) Chuck Sambuchino (who created THE toolkit for prepping yourself for authorpreneurship... THANK YOU Chuck!!).
If you are interested in pursuing publishing, these are #mustread books by @chucksambuchino:
And 2) Andrea Beaty (author of Iggy Peck, Architect; Rosie Revere, Engineer; Ada Twist, Scientist) for her inspirational kidlit work, smart and persistent characters, perfect rhymes and overwhelming kindness to her fans, LIKE ME! (@andreabeaty)
And to my Lord above: I know beyond a doubt that you are guiding this opportunity and using it for your good and for your name. I pray that you continue to work through me in this endeavor!