OMG (Oh My Goodness)!
When I was getting ready to have my book published, I sent it out to 5 top industry Children's Book editors. I didn't have any set expectations, but I figured, why not go all in with this? My husband, Craig, and I decided to make my first choice a woman named Jennifer Rees. She has edited so many best sellers and previously worked as a Senior Children's Book editor at Scholastic. Two of the amazing books to her credit are War Horse and The Hunger Games trilogy (which my daughter Karly is in love with).
She says on her Reedsy profile that she is highly selective and will only work with stories she feels are exceptional and have a place in today's marketplace. I was telling myself to go for it as I sat with my finger over the submit button, while at the same time telling myself it was silly to set myself up for disappointment. I finally found the courage to hit submit, and then, my mind was flooded with all the self doubts we creative people tend to torture ourselves with.
"She is amazing, why would she choose my story?"
"This is my first children's book, and she is a pro, what was I thinking?!"
"I hope I didn't just make a fool of myself."
It was actually difficult to fall asleep that night. My mind continued to seesaw between hopefulness and resignation. After a few hours sleep, my alarm told me it was time to get my butt moving. My family was going to Longwood Gardens for a much needed excursion outside of our house, so at least I was able to stay distracted.
And then, while we were in the van, a message notification came through. I was very nervicited, but the excited half of that combination won out and I opened it almost immediately.
SHE CHOSE MY BOOK!
Not only did she choose it, but she had these amazing things to say about it.
She also said, "My three boys luckily don’t have any food allergies—and I really feel for children who do—but as small boys they would often question why it was that they couldn’t take any foods with nut products to school and why they couldn’t celebrate their birthdays with cupcakes, etc."
I was jumping up and down on my seat (well, as much as I could while seated and secured in a seat belt). My kids were laughing at me because I was so excited. Not only does she think the book is good enough (which is awesome), but she sees value in the book for kids who do not even have food allergies! That was my biggest hope for this book--that it would help increase awareness and compassion in those who interact with allergy kids and their families.
I'm so glad I made myself click Submit. Maybe this story I am so invested in and in love with really is good enough. Maybe, just maybe, it really will help other parents who are just starting the food allergy journey that Craig and I have navigated through for the past 18 years.
There is nothing quite as awesome as the feeling you get when you take something that felt horrible and overwhelming when you were experiencing it, and then use that experience to help others. It makes it all feel worth it, and reaffirms that everything and everyone is connected.
I look forward to sharing Tad's story with you. This book is the first in what I expect to be a series highlighting the challenges kids face when they have a severe food allergy. Because it is the first, it deals with the tough feelings kids experience when they are coming to terms with having a severe food allergy, but in a fun and lighthearted way. Unfortunately, these kids have to realize that they are not invincible and that they are significantly different from most everyone else: at far too young of an age, and one where they want nothing more than to fit in.