I have wanted to write children’s books for forever. Probably since I started teaching. Maybe even before that, back when I was in grad school and totally immersed in amazing children’s literature. Except, everyone wants to write a children’s book and everyone thinks it’s like, so easy. Because you know, they’re short. When you’re immersed in the world of children’s literature though, you know how difficult it is to write quality children’s literature, how unsolicited manuscripts go to the bottom of the “slush pile” and are often never read, and how unlikely it is that an unknown, unpublished author will get a book contract.
So, I put off writing anything for years. I had some ideas that I never did anything about beyond jotting some notes. I took a few continuing ed/professional development courses on writing children’s literature and completed prompts and assignments for them, and saved my work in file folders somewhere. Eventually, in one course I took, I had to write two chapters for a children’s book. I completed the assignment and had it saved as a Word document. About a year later, I accidentally opened the file on my computer and reread what I had written. I was like, “Hey you know what? This is actually pretty good.” Over the next couple of months, I finished the rest of the book, just because. When I was done, I figured it couldn’t hurt to send it to some publishers. I knew the chances of it being accepted were slim but I’d done the work, so why not?
The first publisher I sent it to got back to me two or three months after I’d submitted it. They told me they couldn’t accept it for publication, but that it was a good manuscript and they would encourage me to submit it elsewhere. The week before Will was born, I sent the manuscript to Pauline Books and Media. Will was born (early) later that week and I promptly forgot all about my book. (I’m sure you can’t imagine why.) When Will was 9 or 10 months old, I heard back from them. They were interested! It took us another 9 months to get to this point, but….I have a contract for my book!
I know I’m a nerd, but just typing that is super exciting.
So, what’s the book about? It’s a non-fiction book for upper elementary and middle school students, generally aimed at the Catholic market but would probably be useful for others as well. The inspiration came from my thesis when I got my Master’s in Curriculum and Education. My thesis was about character education, and focused on refuting the “values clarification” model of character education and instead promoting character education that focuses on formation in the virtues. In that vein, my book is about the virtues. Instead of just offering an explanation of what each virtue is and why you should be __________, I tried to illustrate what that virtue looks like when lived out in the life of a young person. Each chapter showcases an individual virtue with an anecdote from the life of a saint (or blessed/venerable) when he or she was young. It’s not a compilation of mini-biographies- each chapter is really just one, detailed story from an individual’s life.
Since it’s my first time at this particular rodeo, I’m not sure exactly what the editorial process will look like from here to printing but I’ll be sure and keep you updated. (You can thank me later.) In all seriousness though, if anyone is interested in the details of submission, the contract process, the editorial process, and then publication, I’m happy to write about it as I go and let you know how it all works. I am so nerdy that I really can’t wait to get started on the editorial process, and then eventually see a book with my name on it. On bookstore shelves. And Amazon. Eek!