I’ve loved stories and books for as long as I can remember. When I was three, I memorized a children’s book about David and Goliath, and my parents thought I was reading it. I remember them having me read it to several of their friends and our family members. They figured out that I wasn’t actually reading it when I had it upside down once, but I still knew when to turn the pages and which illustrations went with which passages.
I loved being read to, learning to read, and eventually, writing my own stories. American Girl books were some of my favorites, and my parents got me a kit from American Girl with blank booklets and guides on how to write and illustrate my own book series one Christmas. I spent nearly the whole day lying on my bedroom floor, reading up on writing tips and working on my first book in the series. My friend Joel and I later wrote an American Girl spoof called “Rosalyn Learns a Lesson”. I’m not sure what happened to that book, but we still laugh about it and marvel at our early satiric writing skills.
I don’t know about all of you, but we wrote Young Authors books every year in elementary school, starting in kindergarten. We would spend several weeks formulating our own story ideas, writing draughts, and finally writing and illustrating our own little hardback books. The process wasn’t always fun, but boy, was I proud of the end product. I wrote about a girl helping to save a whale (kind of a Free Willy rip off…what can I say, I’m a child of the 90s), a biography of Helen Keller, a girl who gets lost in the woods with her teddy bear, a group of friends pulling a prank on an older brother, and two Shar-Peis who are adopted from the pound and given a new life on a farm.
Even when I wasn’t writing them down, I was always telling stories. My friends would look forward to me getting on the bus in the morning so I could tell them hilarious stories of what happened in my house that morning. I used to make up funny bedtime stories to tell my friends at sleepovers, even in college. One of my favorite things to do when riding in the car as a child with my MawMaw and Cadbury, as we called him, was to start a story, then have someone else in the car continue the story/add to it, until everyone had contributed to the story and it was my turn to finish it. You might say I was a ham, but more than the attention, I just liked to see people’s reaction to a good story.
My sister has been an elementary school teacher for several years and has read my fourth grade Young Authors book, A Wrinkly Dog’s Life, every year to her kids. When I heard about how much the kids loved the story, it inspired me to write a real children’s book. I began researching the possibility, but it seemed more like an impossibility. I just didn’t know if I was good enough, and I couldn’t imagine how I could get it published. If I sent a story to a publisher, it could take years for them to get back to me on whether they would want to publish it, and if I self-published, I would have to come up with the money and an illustrator.
About a year ago, one of my favorite musicians, JJ Heller, started a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for her children’s book, The Golden Feather. She raised even more than was needed to get the book illustrated and published. I saw pictures of her reading to classrooms full of children and sharing her new book at events. She inspired me anew to pursue this dream. She’s a songwriter and performer, yet she took a risk in applying her talents in a new way and believed that her story would inspire children. She believed it was worth the time and effort to be able to share this story with kids, and others came alongside her to make it happen.
This year, I finally decided to go for it. I asked my friend Aynsley Lockridge, who is one of a couple of friends that has stuck by me nearly all my life, if she would be interested in illustrating the book. I shared my plan—the timeline, the publisher, the cost, how the sales would work, etc.—and e-mailed her the story. I told her that it would be a lot of work for very little money for both of us, but I believed her artwork would be perfect for a children’s story. She was immediately all in because she is amazing and caring and kind and giving and selfless and generous and encouraging. AND.
Wilson’s Best Day was inspired both by my favorite Young Authors book and the story of how our adopted dog, Wilson, became a part of our family. Wilson inspires me with how happy he is, despite his sad past; how loving he is, although he was not given the love he deserved most of his life; and how trusting and sweet he is, even though he was abandoned multiple times before becoming part of our family. I have a huge heart for God’s creatures, and I think responsible pet ownership, compassion, and giving second chances are really important values to teach children. Kids will have fun learning these things as they hear the story from Wilson’s perspective. This story is valuable, heartwarming, and entertaining, not to mention sweetly and vibrantly illustrated—all the things I look for in a good children’s book!
We currently have a crowd funding campaign on Kickstarter to raise the funds we need to make this dream come true. Once we get the funds raised, I’ll be able to move forward with getting the book published, into bookstores, and into your homes and hearts. Please check out the page for more information and to pledge now through March 30, 2015! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1541168713/wilsons-best-day
We have had the support of family, friends, friends of friends, acquaintances, and even people we don’t know who found us on Kickstarter. I am blown away. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your belief in this story. We can’t do this without you.
I am so excited to share this little book with all of you. I hope that this is the beginning of an amazing adventure in writing and another step in my journey of sharing inspirational, funny, captivating, and valuable stories.