It’s hard to believe how fast 2017 sped by! It was certainly a productive year for writing, capped by the release of my picture book One Leaf, Two Leaves, Count with Me by Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin in September. The book turned out wonderfully! Clive McFarland’s illustrations are gorgeous, and the book earned great reviews from School Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, and Kirkus Reviews. It has not yet become the bestseller I had hoped, but I plan to do another big publicity push for spring, as the book’s descriptions of leaves growing on the tree in the spring and dropping in the fall make it appropriate for both seasons.
I also wrote several other books in 2017. I did books on the First Amendment, Fourth Amendment, Children’s Legal Rights, and Decoding Propaganda for Capstone, and I wrote books on Teens in Prison and the State of Wisconsin for Cavendish Square. All are slated for release in 2018/2019. I have other projects in development as well, but they are not very far along yet, and I don’t want to jinx them by talking about any of them in detail.
When I left the International Literacy Association in 2011 to pursue life as an author, I set a goal of publishing 50 books before I retired. At the time, I had 15 books to my credit, and 50 seemed a long way off. I often wondered if I was being unrealistic. Entering 2018, I have 44 books either in print or in process, and it seems likely that I may reach 50 books well before I turn 65. I guess I’ll need to set some new goals!
I enjoy the process of writing books (most of the time), but even more rewarding are the related activities: visiting schools, libraries, and day care centers; speaking at conferences for educators, librarians, and other writers; and doing signings at bookstores. In November, I visited Rupert Elementary School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, where I grew up. It was especially meaningful to me to share my writing and my experiences as a writer with youngsters from my hometown. I hope it inspired them to follow their dreams, just as I did.
For 2018, I look forward to several school visits that are already scheduled for the winter and spring, as well as speaking at the SCBWI regional conference in Maryland in March. I’m sure other opportunities will arise, and I look forward to those as well.
Like most children’s book writers, I supplement my author income with other writing work. I continue to do editing and writing work for the Global Reading Network and Read to Them. I feel fortunate to be able to support literacy-related efforts and continue the interests I developed during my many years working for ILA.
In short, I am blessed to be able to continue to do work that I find both meaningful and rewarding. As the classic Jimmy Stewart holiday movie points out, “It’s a Wonderful Life.”