When did you become a children’s book author?
Recently! The Only Me is my first children’s book, though I’ve been a writer for a very long time. Writing a children’s book has been a goal of mine ever since I was a little girl, however.
Do you have a writing background?
I certainly do. I honestly can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t write. I have bins and bins filled with old notebooks and journals from when I was a little girl, and recently found a “book” I wrote when I was perhaps in the 3rd grade; it was a story of a little girl who wanted to go white water rafting but her parents said it was too dangerous. I made the cover out of cardboard and covered it with gift wrap so it looked like a real book.
Professionally, I’ve also been writing for a long time. I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Indiana University back in 2002, and since then have worked in many fields of communication, from marketing, to grant writing, to copy writing, to freelance writing, etc. I currently write for Lucie’s List, which is an online resource and newsletter for expectant and new parents; I serve as their Multiples Editor and mental health writer.
Writing truly is my passion; it helps me make sense of the world and my place in it. I’ve often said that I don’t know what I think until I write it down.
How did you come up with the story?
The Only Me is definitely personal. I’m the mom to a set of very different fraternal twins who are always being compared and contrasted to one another, and never just seen for who they each are as individual people; this has definitely played a role in how each of them sees, thinks and feels about themselves.
So often people lump twins together — even referring to them as “The Twins” as opposed to their individual names — which makes it hard for them to differentiate themselves and build their own identities. For many sets of twins (especially identical twins) It can feel like they don’t even have individual selves, but are just one unit. By the way, the same can hold true for all kinds of siblings, not just twins (you can read my article on the importance of treating each of your kids uniquely here).
This was really the inspiration behind The Only Me. One day I opened up a blank Word document and the story just started pouring out of me. Stella and Paige, a set of fraternal twins, are somewhat modeled after my own pair, and my oldest daughter was the inspiration for the character of their big brother, Robby.
How do you select names for your characters?
Such a great question -- I say this because I honestly have no idea! Well, that’s not entirely true, actually. My husband’s name is Robb, and everyone used to call him Robby when he was little. I just thought that was cute, and a fun way to incorporate him into the story as well. But Stella and Paige? They just sort of… came to me! I love both of those names and honestly, they were the first two girl names (other than my own kids’ names) that popped into my head!
Did you hire an illustrator or do the illustrations yourself?
I hired an amazing illustrator named Arlene Soto, owner of Intricate Designs. Arlene is beyond talented. She just “got” the characters right away – almost better than I did! When she sent me her first sketch of Stella and Paige, I actually got teary-eyed. It was so perfectly spot-on. This was how the rest of the process went, too. Everything she sent me was terrific. She brought this book to life!
Are you self-published or published through a publishing company?
I am self-published.
From the day you came up with the idea for the story until you were holding your published book in your hand, how long did it take you to complete this book?
I started working on this book in September of 2021 and I was holding a completed copy in my hand by August 22nd, 2022.
What is one thing you wish you knew before beginning your book publishing journey?
How much I would learn! Writing is just one piece of it, but once the book is actually completed, the next endeavor begins. Working with an editor, illustrator and formatter. Learning the ins and outs of self-publishing (and all the nitty gritty details and lingo that go along with that!), launch preparations, how to actually launch a book, and finally, marketing and PR tactics. I am so grateful to have had this experience – I’ve truly learned a ton and am excited to continue the education!
What is the best reaction from a reader, so far?
The best reaction is from a parent who said The Only Me is their child’s favorite bedtime book, and that it’s helping her learn to feel more confident in herself.
What is something you’d like people to take away from your book(s)?
The overarching goal of this book is to help young children -- not just twins, but all kids -- learn that they have value and an identity as individuals, and to honor, appreciate, accept and celebrate their uniqueness and differences.
Where do you get ideas for your stories?
Real life. Always real life. Whether it’s something I or my children have gone through or are going through... I always pull from real life.
What’s your writing process like?
When I’m writing, it's almost as if time doesn't exist. I literally enter this zone -- I've heard it referred to as "Flow" -- as I’m click-clacking away on the computer keys, and when I look up hours will have passed. Once I get an idea, I have to start working on it right away… and I often don’t stop until I have a completed outline or even a rough draft.
Do you have any other books in the works?
I have just started outlining my second children’s book!
What does literary success look like to you?
Literary success looks like connecting with and helping others through my stories, articles and books. I’ve always been passionate about writing, and sharing my own personal narrative in an effort to bridge the gaps between people, expose our similarities, and increase acceptance of one another. I call this “the shared journey.” This notion of “the shared journey” has always been the inspiration behind the topics I choose to write about. Through my words, I aim to illustrate that despite any differences we may have, we’re all in this life together.
Do you read all of the book reviews you receive?
Yes, I do! I appreciate all comments – even critical ones – because I think this is a helpful way to learn and grow as an author.
What is your favorite children's book(s) of all time?
My favorite children’s book of all time is Goodnight Moon. I have the best memories of my mom reading this to me before bed when I was little. I was always a little concerned that there was an “old woman” rabbit rocking in the corner (a little creepy, no?), but even so, I begged her to read it to me nightly. It was my favorite. As an adult, I realize that it wasn’t so much the book that I loved (though I did really enjoy it), but the special one-on-one cuddly time with my mom each evening.