I’m a few days behind on Julie Hedlund’s 12 Days of Christmas Challenge for Writers where on days 2 and 3, she suggests focusing on Surprises and Successes instead of resolutions. (More about days 4-12 later.) My list of 3 or more surprises and as many successes as I can think of is shared below. I’m sure there are more, but here’s what I have so far. Julie even points out that sharing this list isn’t meant to be bragging, but more as a way to reflect and recognize all of the amazing things that happened instead of wallowing on the goals not yet achieved.
- The best surprise was reconnecting with a family from Carlos Fuentes, the school where I was a teacher in Chicago. After I left, they moved to a different school, had a different phone number, and I had no way to find them. But, thanks to social media, Maria was following my Facebook author page and my Instagram. Shortly before Aliana Reaches for the Moon was released, I became active on Instagram and saw pictures of some of my favorite students, realizing I had a way to reconnect. Tears of relief and joy were shed and I spent time with them when I was in Chicago in March.
- Selling books through serendipities were both surprising and gratifying. I stopped when I saw a man trying to kneel next to a puddle changing another person’s tire. I had an empty box from books already sold in my car and offered it to him as protection from the elements. I asked that they make sure the box get disposed of properly since it had my name and the name of my book on it. They asked about the book and wanted to buy it. Two books signed and sold. There are other people I met at parties, stores, even a bar, who asked if they could buy a copy.
- Amazing reviews on Amazon and Goodreads from people I didn’t know who really loved the book and understood the layers I included to the story.
- People at the library who told me they had read, reread, and loved Aliana.
- Everything listed above could be in this section as well.
- I participated in two events at CCIRA (Colorado Chapter of the International Reading Association) as an author and signed my first sold copy of Aliana Reaches for the Moon.
- I had two book launches in February. The first one, at the Boulder Public Library for many of my friends and critique partners which was wonderful. The weather wasn’t wonderful which kept several people from coming, but it was a happy success.
- The second one at Second Star to the Right Bookstore in Denver which is the loveliest book store with amazing people. But wait, there’s more! Many of my SCBWI friends came out to support me and this really made me feel like an author!
- I participated as an author in the Children’s Festival of Stories which is an amazing event in Denver where I connected with other authors, teachers, librarians, and families.
- I had two bookstore events in the suburbs of Chicago where some childhood friends and more recent friends came out to support me. It was wonderful seeing so many familiar faces and also children who came to story time and were completely engrossed in hearing me read.
- I was author of the month at Timbuk Toys in Denver in April. I sold a lot of books, met some amazing people including the owner, people who work in the stores, and of course people shopping for children.
- I am part of a fabulous group of authors and illustrators in a 2019 Debut group, Picture Book Buzz. Many of our members had books that were bumped to 2020 or have other books coming out in 2020, so we’ve decided to stay together and continue to support each other on this journey.
- I had many fantastic school visits that ranged from single classrooms to the entire school in one room, to an evening program for families. Most of these visits where in and around Chicago, but also some wonderful events in Chicago.
- I was part of Apollopalooza at the Wings Museum in July celebrating the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11. I had a few story times, attended events with inspiring people in the field of astronomy, astrophysics, and rocket science including the big party that coincided with the actual time Neil Armstrong took his first steps on the moon. And the gift shop sold a lot of copies of my book.
- I had a wonderful, space themed story time for Small Business Saturday with another Colorado author, Carmela LaVigna Coyle at Second Star to the Right Bookstore in Denver.
- I entered four writing contests –
- #50PreciousWords : Sitting Atop the World
- Kaitlyn Sanchez’s spring contest
- Cooking Up Halloween Decorations
- Making Hanukkah Memories
- I ran a few different Giveaways with other authors including our #12Books12Winners in August and September and hosted #PBChat on Twitter for two weeks as we announced the giveaway and then, two weeks later, announced the winners.
- I gave away several critiques through #PBChat and Kaitlyn Sanchez’s fall contest which connected me to some amazing writers, some of whom are now critique partners.
- I met some of my Picture Book Buzz friends in real life including Vivian Kirkfield, Lauren Kerstein, Yevgenia Nayberg, and Jolene Gutierrez who I was already friends with in real life.
- I was featured on so many blogs by amazing authors and book bloggers who helped spread the word about Aliana.
- I was hosted by Empwered Publicity and Jonathan Masiulionis to celebrate Aliana in conjunction with the last full moon of 2019.
- I was hosted by Jed Doherty’s podcast ReadingWithYourKids in March.
- I was Featured author on Kidlit411 in September