As a child, I made up bedtime stories for my brother Chris. He would have been around 4 and I was about 10 years of age. This is a photo of my mum with Chris at 6 years of age.
I made up Chris’ bedtime stories on the spot and he was always interested in hearing about a new adventure. Telling bedtime stories to young children is such an intimate time. My brother would allow me to snuggle up to him while I unravelled the story. This was always a special time for me.
When Chris married and had children of his own…I would like to make up bedtime stories for them too. I would take them into worlds where they could become as small as mushrooms and where they could play with fairies or find themselves in a land of foodie delight
Unbeknown to me, this ability to tell stories was a gift from God. It stayed buried inside of me until many years later. Watching a ‘million times seen’ video about a Christian writer’s own journey…it got to the part where she lay in a hospital bed. Her friends asked her why did she think that God had allowed this to happen? When she replied, ‘…so that I could finish the book that I had started’….it was then that I had the thought- ‘I wonder if God wants me to write a story?’
After I had written my first draft – I read it back to myself. It was then that I realised that it was evangelical and that ‘I had to get it out there!’ I didn’t have a clue about the publishing world but I thought ‘it can’t be that hard-it’s just a matter of googling publishers!’ So that’s what I did….
I went for all the Catholic ones that were taking unsolicited manuscripts (manuscripts without an agent) – like Pauline Books and Media; Sophia Institute Press and Ignatius Press.
There were several rejections from Catholic publishers and one of them even kept me in the ‘publishing process’ for 2 years! I was so naïve – I finally realised that they were never going to publish my book.
All this while, I tweaked my story – editing it and re-editing it. I took the advice of fellow Catholic authors from the Catholic Writers Guild whom I was in touch with. Slowly, but surely, I developed a story arc- who knew a story needed tension!!
Every time I thought I was done…I found something else that needed changing. As a picture book, the number of words should ideally be 750- but I just couldn’t say all I needed to say in so few words!
By 2020 I thought I was finally on my way, but the publisher I had at the time had to let me go because of a personal crisis and the illustrator didn’t work out either
Crawling into 2021 without a job, a publisher or an illustrator I felt like throwing the towel in- for the second time. But then things took a completely different twist…
Watching a video from Youtube encouraged me to question who my audience was. It has always been young children in Catholic schools. I wanted to be able to show them how easy it is to start a relationship with God. That it’s just about chatting and listening to His voice. For very young children – God’s voice/ answer to their prayer/speaking will often come as something happening to them. For example, if a young child asks God for a shiny red bike, God’s answer will be in finding this bike wrapped up as their Christmas present! With this Epiphany of who my audience is, my desire to keep going with the whole publishing thing grew – I was back on track!
Then through a conversation with a close friend, I realised that a good route to get Catholic primary school children to read my book would be to firstly talk to the Bishops and Archbishops. They greatly influence what Catholic schools buy in book-wise. So, my marketing plan now involves trying to influence Bishops!
By May 2021 God had led me to a Christian illustrator who would illustrate my book. Other members of ‘Christian Editing and Design’ are also helping me to self-publish! Self-publishing was never part of my plan- but it turns out that it is the best way for me! With self-publishing, I have a greater say in the illustrations. I can ensure that what God had told me should be included in this book, can come to pass: the Holy Trinity’s omnipresence and Jesus’ cross visible with Jesus. Kim Merritt has done a wonderful job of this. Dixie Phillips took my story and added a few tweaks here and there and made the whole thing flow like a gentle river. Shannon Herring has designed the entire book from cover to cover and pulled it together beautifully.
I am grateful to them all.