My Book Journey – Chapter 1

My Book Journey

Before we embark on this writing journey, I want to clarify one point. 

The reason I want to become an author. 

It’s not for money (although it would be nice!).

It’s not for fame. 

It’s not for hubris. 

It’s because the story, the characters and the world I’ve created need to be shared. 

I realize the odds are not in my favor. The statistics on having a book published are abysmal and would deter many away. 

The book market is oversaturated. 

The average new book sales are dismal. 

The publishing world is a bear to navigate. 

I’m under no illusions that this will be an easy process. It’s a journey that will most likely be riddled with rejection, frustration and no guarantee of success.

Yet, I can’t imagine not trying. 

I hope to look back at this chapter in my life (low-hanging pun fruit there!) and be awed by how far I’ve come. 

If in the end, the only other person to enjoy my book is my son, the inspiration for my story, then I will still consider it worthwhile. 

No matter what, I will write.

My Writing Background (Or Lack Thereof)

My dream was to attend college, major in English and become an author and teacher. 

In reality, I had to pick a career path that ensured I landed a job out of college. One that allowed me to pay back my student loans while affording all of life’s other necessities. Unfortunately, that was not English. 

I settled on a degree in business with a focus on HR and marketing. Oddly enough, it was in an HR class where I wrote my first children’s book. 

The professor of my labor relations course was a mom of young children. For our final assignment, we had to research a famous labor strike and had the option to write a standard 10-page paper or a children’s book. 

It was a no-brainer. I chose to write a children’s book. 

The same level of research, depth and analysis of a standard paper was expected but conveyed in a way a child could understand and enjoy. 

I chose to tell the story of the baseball labor strike of 1994/95 from the perspective of two flowers in right field. 

I never worked harder on an assignment than I did for that one. Taking the intricacies of a labor dispute and breaking it down in an entertaining and informative way that a child could understand was no easy task. 

If you ask me what grade I received on the project, I couldn’t tell you. What I do remember is my professor asking for permission to read my story to her children, the highest compliment I could have received. 

At that moment I knew I was pursuing the wrong career.  

But unlike a feel-good movie, I didn’t switch majors and become a well-known author. Rather I kept plugging away at a degree I didn’t care about to set myself up for financial stability. 

Having worked several years in HR, I was wholly unsatisfied and decided to return to school. In 2013, I graduated with my graduate degree in literature. I could knock a research paper out of the park but still had no clue how to write a book. 

Everything Starts With An Idea

The idea for my current children’s book project has been with me for over a decade. Through the years I would jot down random thoughts here and there but never progressed any further.

In 2021, I took my first step towards learning the craft of writing children’s fiction when I stumbled upon The Writing Barn,  a writer’s haven right in my backyard. 

While I initially saw my book as a picture book, the course that would fit best in my hectic schedule was one on chapter books. I decided to take a chance and enroll in the class. 

Embarrassingly, I didn’t fully grasp the concept of a chapter book. After the first class, I walked away thinking I was in over my head. Not only was I a newbie, I didn’t see how a chapter book fit my idea. 

We were assigned homework and while I felt like a fish out of water, I sat down to work on the assignment. Over the next week, my vision changed. I realized my idea was more suited to a chapter book than a picture book. 

Over the next six weeks, I devoured everything I learned and put my learning into action. By the end of the session, I had a strong grasp of where I wanted my book to go and ideas for subsequent books. 

I was also lucky enough to find a group of amazing writers who became my critique group. To be honest I felt like an imposter since they all had more writing experience than me, but they welcomed me with open arms and have been champions of my writing journey. 

From Rough Draft to Query Worthy

A year after my writing course, I had my first draft. 

I thought it was good. It was not.

I now call it the rough draft of my first draft. 

In the fall of 2023, I took part in a group mentorship program where I shared my rough draft. It got eaten alive. But the two key takeaways were that my idea intrigued everyone who read it and that I had a compelling writing style. Now I just had to figure out all the other components. 

December 2023 was the last time I worked on my book, knowing I needed some time away  to come at it with fresh eyes. 

I now sit with a rough first draft requiring a lot of work ahead and I need to determine the best path forward. I know I still have a lot to learn but am unsure which would benefit me the most – another class, one-on-one coaching or a chapter book mentor? 

To keep the promise to myself to progress forward each day, I bought Karen Cioffi’s How To Write a Children’s Fiction Book to read while I figure it out. 

I’ve also joined The Courage to Create program, a community of other writers at varying points of their writing journey. Not having anyone in my immediate family or friends circle who writes or understands the struggles of the writing process, it’s vital to surround myself, even if virtually, with those who have gone before me and are learning alongside me. 

My big hairy audacious goal is to progress my rough draft to a query-worthy draft by the end of this year. 

Expectations

What I expect from my writing journey and what my end goal is are two different beasts.

While my goal is to be a published author, the path forward is less clear.

I know there will be unexpected twists and turns, moments of inspiration and moments of frustration. 

What I am focusing on are the aspects that are in my control. 

Each day, I will progress forward in some capacity through writing, learning and/or researching. 

Other than that I don’t know what to expect. Will this process take months, years or decades? Will I be one of the few who find the process relatively easy or one of the many that encounter roadblock after roadblock?


With so many unknowns, there is one thing for certain,  I will share my journey here on my blog. 

I need to stay accountable to myself. And I want to share with other aspiring authors the reality of the process. 

I’ve seen too many interviews where authors sum up their struggles in a sound bite when I know there is a back story just waiting to be told. 

By sharing the highs, lows, struggles, and successes of my experience perhaps I can inspire you to tackle your dreams however big, hairy and audacious they may be. 

Our race isn’t predicated on the success or failure of anyone else rather it’s rooted in the steps we take forward each day. 

Let’s get moving!