Friday, January 31, 2014

And I Dreaded 2013

I really dreaded the year 2013. I'm a tad superstitious. Okay, more than a tad superstitious. But it turns out 2013 was a big year, a REALLY big year! (Sound familiar? Remember Ed Sullivan?!) Maybe I need to rethink my fear of the number 13, black cats, walking under ladders, throwing salt over my shoulder when it spills. You get the picture.

To prove my point, here are three big highlights from 2013 (in order of occurrence):

My first-ever holiday picture book, SANTA'S SECRET, was published and I had several book signings in Springfield and Branson. Barnes & Noble even carried my book! I enjoyed school visits, especially going back to my former elementary school, York, where I donated copies to first graders.

My novel, THURSDAYS AT COCONUTS, was picked up by Soul Mate Publishing. This is a life-long dream. I'm still pinching myself and cannot wait to see my cover art and hold that book in my hands! My release date is tentatively Summer 2014 (I asked that it be moved back. Crazy, I know, but read the next bullet point for an explanation.)

My daughter, Amy, got engaged! She and Chris will be married in Los Angeles on May 30, 2014. We couldn't be more thrilled! I'm having a shower for her in April and am trying to assist her long distance with wedding preparations. It's a fun, life-changing time for all of us.

Now, we're well into 2014. (Where did January go?) So, what's up for this year?

Several events will carry over from 2013--the release of THURSDAYS AT COCONUTS including marketing, book launches, launch parties, book signings and conferences.

The WEDDING in May and all the happiness that will ensue for my precious daughter and her soon-to-be husband.

And either another children's picture book, finishing the sequel to THURSDAYS AT COCONUTS, continued work on my haiku collections or my non-fiction marketing book for authors. Decisions, decisions.

What were your top three events in 2013 and plans for 2014?

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Going Back to Elementary School

As a children's literature writer, I love giving back to kids.
I say we embrace the new year by declaring to change the world one book at a time! Right before the holiday break, I had the pleasure of visiting my former elementary school, York Elementary, to read to two first grade classrooms.

I read my new holiday picture book, SANTA'S SECRET, to 38 children and three teachers. The kids were great listeners, asked several questions about writing, and were delighted to receive free autographed books. I also gave them crayons, coloring books, and Christmas candy. One classroom informed me they had researched me in advance by reading my blog and Amazon author page! I sure hope they visit again and see themselves here.

Going back to my former elementary school proved to be a delightful, nostalgic day. I visited the cafeteria and saw the stage where I played Mary in a Nativity scene. Guess that wouldn't happen these days, sadly. I also visited several classrooms where I once sat as a young girl eager to learn as an extremely shy student.

Afterward, I watched the yellow school buses line up in front awaiting excited children and looked longingly across the street where Andy's Grocery Store used to be. I told one of the teachers that Andy's always had a glass case full of penny candy and students would fill the store the minute school was over. Andy wasn't exactly a "kid" guy. In fact, he was a big grouch. Still, we loved his penny candy and his sour mood never kept us away even if we were slightly afraid of him.

Going back to York planted an indelible smile on my face for weeks afterward. I can still remember the students' smiles, applause, questions, and especially the little girl who hugged me and whispered, "I've never had my own crayons before." Tears sprang to my eyes as I gave her a tight embrace and wished her a Merry Christmas.

I'll never forget that day. I hope all kidlit authors do the same and visit their own schools.

Even if you only donate one book to a surprised child or to the school's library, you'll improve someone's life. Try it. Sprinkle some of that fairy dust. It's fun and what a great way to start 2014.