It’s More Than a Book

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I thought it was just about writing a children’s book.  I thought it would be easy. Boy, was I wrong!

For me, writing and publishing Life with Bobby and Bonnie is a journey, and it’s far from over. By now, I feel like Bobby, Bonnie, and I are traveling companions.  Thankfully, Bobby and Bonnie are very trusting since I’m not sure where our adventures will take us next.  Let me tell you how our journey began.

About five years ago, after leveling books for my elementary classroom, I concluded that I could write children’s stories, too.  Couple that inspiration with the motivation of our two year old granddaughter, Annalyn, who was beginning to really enjoy books, and we were off.  (Reading that, it’s probably safe to say there was also just a touch of vanity, and hopefully a bit more talent.)

First, I wrote “books” about and for Annalyn, rediscovering the wonder of words and discovering the marvels of media.  After writing a few books for Annalyn, a couple of endearing bunnies started weaving their stories in me.  At first, I let them scamper around without giving them much attention.  Annalyn was loving her books, and when I gave her a complete set for her fourth birthday, the extended family also seemed pretty impressed.

By now, our big girl was beginning to read more and more on her own, and was exploring more and more genres with more and more expertise.  The time seemed right to invite the bunnies into my stories.  And so it began.  They had already introduced themselves as Bobby and Bonnie.  Their stories seemed to almost write themselves, and their characters developed so quickly and distinctly, that it was like I had known my little friends for years. Sometimes it was all I could do to keep up with my energetic pals.

Originally, I imagined each of Bobby and Bonnie’s faith-based stories as an individual book, but sadly, I’m not illustrator.  That said, I know exactly what they look like to me, and how each setting should appear.  I had a decision to make: compile their stories into a single book, or try to figure out how to secure an illustrator then effectively communicate my vision.  Time for a reality check: time and money can be the hovering gatekeepers to even the most inspired writer. I chose the compilation. Since the message of Bobby and Bonnie’s stories is one best shared between adult and child, it wasn’t a stretch to make sure the text was written accordingly and could stand without illustrations.

Last summer, I read The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson, which has had a powerful impact on my life.  It helped me to focus on what I really wanted to accomplish with my life and how I wanted to serve in the Kingdom.  Prayer and passion convinced my husband, Tom, and I that I should retire from public education to write and share faith-based books with at-risk kids.  Ten years of serving in an urban school district had broken my heart and given me a sense of mission, and urgency (another reason for wanting to get my book into print asap).

Retiring at the end of last May, I had no idea that Life with Bobby and Bonnie would be published in less than six months.  In order for that to happen, we chose to go the self-publishing route with Xulon Press, having no idea how costly it would be in time and resources.  Our final deciding factor was that Mark Batterson had published his first book through them as well.

Self-publishing means self-editing, self promotion and marketing, not just writing.  Writing is the easy part.  The only time I’ve been remotely successful or felt comfortable in sales was when our daughter was an infant and I worked for a short time at an infant and maternity shop.  

Promotion and marketing have meant learning about platforms, networking, blogging. Talk about teaching an old dog new tricks.  Thankfully, my own adult kids have been my best teachers.  I still have a lot to learn, but feel like I’ve at least begun laying a good foundation.

Life with Bobby and Bonnie is like another child to me.  Sometimes we stumble, sometimes we soar.  We’re learning together.  It brings me a great deal of joy and I love sharing Bobby and Bonnie with others. It also requires lots of commitment, patience and investment. Our individual stories may differ, but I’m betting most authors will tell you, it’s more than a book, it’s a journey of exploring, discovering and learning as much about ourselves as about our craft and characters.

Have you started a journey towards a goal only to discover detours and do overs that alter your original course?  What motivates you to pursue your goal?

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