The Story Behind the Story Part 2

March 1, 2021

A burst of inspiration!  After years of trying to find the right thing, a story that described the message better than I had ever been able to before was staring back at me.  I cannot even describe the excitement I felt, which was not a familiar feeling during that time of my life.  I called my mom and read it to her.  She interrupted me halfway through, "I love this!"  She's my mom, I thought to myself.  She has to say that.  After I finished, she encouraged me with all of her motherly love to try and have it published.  "This has to be a book!"  I remember writing down her words of encouragement.  I then read it to my sisters who gave me very similar responses.  Of course, doubt and fear crept in.  I am not an English Major.  I am not a professional writer.  I am a Hair Stylist.  How in the world do I do this?  But in my heart, something or Someone was telling me it was right.

I set out to find a publisher.  I made a list of publishing companies who I felt might respond well to this type of story and would take an unsolicited manuscript.   I did not know much about the publishing process or trying to find an agent, which is probably a good thing, I think I would have felt very overwhelmed.  I submitted the manuscript to two of them (separately), but had a third option if the first two rejected.  I had heard stories of rejections, very sad stories.  It is difficult putting something that means so much to you out there into the world of critique and possible rejection.  Nevertheless, I pushed submit.  One of the companies said they enjoyed the story, but did not have the time to take on any more projects at that particular time.  I received an email from the second publishing company four days after I had submitted the manuscript.  

We were on our way to get movie theater popcorn.  Not like, go to a movie at the movie theater and get movie theater popcorn while we were there.  Our only purpose for going to the movie theater was to get movie theater popcorn.  It might seem like a strange concept, but if you know, you know.  My family was outside in the car, and I was on my way out the door when I randomly checked my email on my phone.  I saw an unfamiliar name attached to the publishing companies email address.  My heart was pounding, I had to remind myself to breathe.  I scanned the email.  The acquisition agent had said, "I read through your manuscript and frankly, I loved it."  He said loved!  He said that he was going to take it to a meeting the following day and reach out to the distributors to see if it was something that would sell.  I ran to the car and excitedly told my husband everything at a million miles a minute.  As he went inside the movie theater, I reread the email probably one hundred times.  It had not been officially accepted, but that was all I needed at that moment.

More details emerged from the next email about the meeting and the overall response.  He said the team really enjoyed the story, but to shorten it as much as I could and send a revised manuscript for them to review.  I was sitting outside of my daughter's ballet class, sometimes the only quietish moments I had at that time, and set to work revising and shortening.  Rhyme is difficult.  I am not sure why I prefer to write in rhyme-I think it challenges me to be more creative.  But revising rhyme means you can't cut certain words or you lose the flow of the verse.  After discussing with my mom what the story could possibly do without, she suggested cutting the last four paragraphs of the story.  Something clicked.  That was it!  The story had resolved, but I had taken it a step further and the little girl in the story applied what she had learned from her mother.  It was even nice to end it where we did because it could open a conversation about what could happen next?  What would the little girl do?  

The acquisitions agent seemed to like the revisions and took it to their final meeting with distributors.  He had told me when the meeting was taking place, and I remember pacing during those hours with a prayer in my heart. I knew that if it was right, it would happen.  I did not hear anything that evening.  Or the following morning.  My husband and I had been in a meeting and my mother-in-law was watching our girls.  The meeting was quicker than we had expected and my mother-in-law told us she wanted more time with the girls, so to go do something fun.  We were on our way to Coldstone when I opened my email to find a contract sitting in my inbox.  I remember screaming.  I could not even speak.  It probably wasn't the nicest thing to do while Jason was driving, but I couldn't help myself.  I finally just said, "I have contract!"  Our Coldstone date turned out to be a celebratory occasion, and I read and signed the contract while I was eating my Oatmeal Cookie Batter.

I was sent a few samples of a potential illustrator at the time I signed the contract.  Although the illustrator was talented, I felt as if they did not quite fit the personality of the story.  I felt bad saying anything, there I was, a first-time author making complaints.  But I had followed my heart up until that point.  Thankfully, they were understanding and agreed with me.  The following months came with an occasional email about the progress of the book.  And one sunny day, these sketches were sent to me.  They said if I liked these concepts, they would try to secure this illustrator for the project.  I immediately agreed.  The sketches of the princess character were exactly what I had been envisioning.  Actually, even better!  They worked with the illustrator's agency and after several long weeks, they let me know she had agreed to do the story.  

The next approval was the cover design.  A masterpiece.  I loved the princess character they ended up choosing.  I thought she was unique, lovable, and with beautiful eyes and a cute little nose.  And when I was finally able to see the drawings, I knew it was exactly how it was supposed to be.  I continued to feel a higher power involved in the process.  It further connected this character to all of the girls I desperately wanted to share this message with.  Who they truly are, and their worth.  I absolutely loved that she really was a princess.  A daughter of a king and queen.  

About 9 months after I had submitted the manuscript, a box of copies arrived on our doorstep.  I shakily opened the box and pulled out the first hardcover book.  It was beyond my dreams and expectations.  I had memorized the cover design, but there was a little surprise.  The crown sparkled!  What began as a message I would share in the salon so long ago was now interwoven in a story with characters and the most gorgeous illustrations I had ever seen.  

I am forever indebted to the wonderful individuals who supported me from the very beginning.  Thankful to those who preordered, came to the book launch event, and sent me encouraging messages.  This whole project was a miracle.  I know that it was a inspiration, a gift from a loving Heavenly Father.  This is His message to His children, particularly His daughters.  I had other signings set up and ready to go before the pandemic that hit a few short months later.  Although I have not been able to promote the book, and it has been a difficult year for so many, it has not ceased to be a miracle.  Somehow it has still sold copies and reached many people.  I have even been told The Princess without a Crown has had a long waitlist at the local library.  I have been overwhelmed with beautiful stories of how the story has touched them personally, or their children, or their families.  Some have said the book started important conversations they had never had with their children.  Some children had been feeling left out, or felt bullied, and the princess in the story gave them courage to go to school the next day.  So many children have identified with this little princess who, by no accident, I left nameless.  These stories of how this particular book has touched them have been powerful.  Honestly, I could have an entire series of posts dedicated to all of the stories that have come from this story, but all I can say is that I am so humbled and grateful to have had the opportunity to share this message.  

A little over a week ago, I learned that the book will now be printed in a soft cover!  I am so happy that it will be more readily available in a format that so many have requested.  It should be for sale on Amazon very soon.  In the mean time, the hard cover is sold online on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Target, Walmart, and Deseret Book.  And is available in many brick and mortar Deseret Books stores as well as the Book Table in Logan.  

Hopefully this gave you a small glimpse into the process of writing and publishing my debut Children's Book.  Can I call it a Best Selling Children's Book if the sticker on the book at Costco says "Best Seller?"  Who knows?  All I can say is if you have a dream, do all you can do see that you do it.  There are so many times we might feel a little crazy putting ourselves out there, trying everything and seeing what sticks.  But if you keep on, you will achieve more than you ever thought possible.  I used to say, shoot for the moon, because you if you hit a star along the way that's better than never having tried at all.  But now I say, shoot for the moon, because no matter if you hit anything, the adventure is worth it.       



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