During a snorkel off the coast of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, I had a big "teachable moment" with my daughters who are six and four years old. We were snorkeling right off the beach at our resort and had the magical experience of swimming alongside four sea turtles completely wild in the open ocean. My kids shrieked with joy and excitement as we watched these beautiful animals glide through the water, pop their heads up to the surface for air, dive back down to feed on the algae and seaweed underwater. The girls were completely in awe, as was I. And then we saw plastic bags floating in the distance near one of the turtles. The girls immediately shrieked for a different reason, they knew we needed to get the bags out of the water and away from the turtles right away. The turtles think the bags are jellyfish and mistakenly eat them. So, we quickly swam over to remove the plastic bags from the ocean and were on the lookout the rest of the snorkel for anymore trash that needed removing from the ocean.
The girls were very proud of themselves for helping save the turtles and they saw an immediate affect that they had on those four sea turtles. They learned that even though they are small and young, they can make a big difference in the world.
The girls had an incredibly fun time in Punta Cana with our family: they participated in trapeze lessons, Zumba, putt putt, tennis lessons, swimming a ton in the ocean, pools, and kids water parks. When we asked them what their favorite part of vacation was, both of their answers were, "saving the turtles."
It's so important for kids to understand at a young age that they can make a difference. We are so proud of our girls for caring so much about our planet already.
It's so special to me since this is the subject of one of the books I have written and I am on my to getting it published. It's incredible to see the impact that this message has had on my own children already and I can't wait to see where it takes us!
Thanks for following along.
Ok, so I've written and polished three stories. That's a HUGE accomplishment on its own... but now I have another big goal ahead of me, to be published. I have to begin what is called the "querying" process. This is another concept I had no idea about... but have learned quickly that it will take time and a lot of thick skin! I say thick skin because apparently, I am going to get a lot of "NO's" and that is something that I just will have to get over. I am leaving my pride at the door, I actually left it there a long time ago, and I am pursuing this next goal with excitement. I am also working on my 4th story and will continue to write and query until someone picks me up.
So, where am I now in this process? I have spent the past 3 weeks researching agents and publishing houses tirelessly to see who would be a good match for me. There are manuscript wish lists for agents and some publishing houses post what they are looking for as well. Not all publishing houses accept un-agented submissions, but some do! Everyone has told me it won't be easy and that it takes time. That couldn't be more true! I have found matches that I personally think are perfect for my story and their publishing house, but who knows what they will think! Time will tell. Some agents and publishing houses don't reply to queries ever. Some take up to 6 months, from my experience, I'd say most ask for about 8-12 weeks to reply.
I'm already well on my way. I have received my first few "no thank you's, your story doesn't match what I'm looking for right now". The first ones were more exciting to actually hear from someone! The next few stung a little as the "no's" are flowing in. But, all it takes is one YES, and I know I'll get there. If there is one thing I've learned in life, just because one person or a few people say no, it will not deter me from my goal. I know my stories are good and will make children and families laugh together, help spread environmental awareness about plastics in the ocean, and bring joy to homes and classrooms. Rosie taught me to have 5-7 queries out to agents and publishers for each story at a time, this is a lot to manage, but I currently have about 40 queries out there. That is the magic number I will work with until I get that yes.
Thanks for the encouragement and following along for the ride... I always get my strength and determination from the ocean and salt air... so I'm thrilled we are headed to the Dominican Republic tomorrow. Send me all the positive vibes, please! Cheers y'all!
It all started back a long time ago really. It was a lot of years of "Can I do this" and "I want to do this one day" and "I know I could be great" ... but what actually pushed me to learn HOW to do this was an incredible community of writers led by an incredible author and mentor Rosie Pova. I had NO idea what I was getting myself into when I joined an 8-week class with Rosie along with a 3-month mentorship. All I knew is that I was going for it. In the middle of an ongoing pandemic, what better time to finally bite the bullet and just FOCUS ON ME and MY GOALS?!
So, I found out pretty quickly that I knew next to nothing about writing children's picture books ... or the publishing industry, AT ALL! The 8 week: Children's Picture Books from Creation to Publication class started with weekly lessons. Each week touched on a different area that helped inspire new ideas and character development. Every week, no matter the lesson, Rosie had us reading reading reading, and reviewing. I was able to go to our local Barnes and Noble and spent so much time reading children's books in the cafe. It's important to know what is selling currently to know what publishers are looking for. So, I read and reviewed each week. I found new books that I love, new books that I know my children would love, and some books that I didn't really love!
I feel like the most important and helpful part of the course was the feedback from the other authors in the class. You could take it or leave it, but the peer critiques were such a fun part! I loved seeing their ideas and watching their own stories come to life each week. There were some hard weeks in the class though. I did have trouble pushing myself to write in prose. I tend to write and think in rhyme and I really struggled at first to just get the first draft down on paper. Once I sat down uninterrupted I forced myself to put the pen to the paper and just start writing. It got easier as time went on...
Overall, I found it an unbelievably helpful first step in my career as an author. We will see how I use the tools I learned in the course independently without my peers giving me their feedback! If it doesn't go well, you can definitely bet that I will be back in another writing class as soon as possible! Thank you so much to Rosie and Writing Workshops for providing such a jumpstart for me!
The next step in my journey is the querying process... stay tuned! Thanks for reading!
Blair has travelled extensively all over the world. She and her husband enjoy taking their kids on big adventures together. Blair writes children's picture books for all ages! Most of her stories are inspired by life events. They feature kid’s curiosity, love of the environment, laughter, and fantasy.