I am so excited to share, that after 6 years of writing, I am officially a published author! What’s really special about this book project is that I co-authored it with my 14-year-old daughter Anaya. And to make it even more significant, my 16-year-old daughter, Jayda was the illustrator and book cover designer.
We started the project in May 2019 but moved from New York to the south so basically, our momentum and publishing process was completely interrupted.
However, a few months ago, I picked the story back up and now we are happy to present, “Bear Learns to Share” with an accompanying, “Bear Learns to Share Coloring Book.”
Kids will relate instantly with the main character, Little Bear, an only cub who loves to play by himself and is not used to sharing. He becomes terribly upset and engages in a full out tantrum when his cousins come to play. Ultimately, Bear realizes that if he calms himself down, he too can experience great joy and fun when sharing his things.
The girls and I plan on writing a complete Bear Learns series which is geared towards children pre-school through second grade.
Learn more by clicking here.
If you are a writer, the path to becoming a published author can sometimes feel like an impossible task. For writers to overcome the mental challenges placed before them, they’ll need to have 3 important things:
Saying things like, “You don’t know what you are doing.” “You’ll never get published.” “Your work isn’t good enough.”
In order to persevere, a writer must be able to silence the mental naysayers. Speaking back with positive phrases like, “I can do anything!” “I was made for this!” “I am getting better and better!” and “No matter what, my books will be published!” Positive thinking will help you endure the writer's life.
2. Passion For Storytelling
Writers need to have a passion for their stories. They need to be convinced that the world needs and is waiting to hear their voice. Their voice is unique and will have its own impact on the culture and society.
"You have to be burning with an idea, or a problem, or a wrong that you want to right. If you're not passionate enough from the start, you'll never stick it out."
3. Perseverance to Endure
Writing isn’t easy and it’s not for the faint of heart. Sometimes a writer’s career can seem to move along very slowly. Perseverance is an attribute that will keep you on the road to publishing when it seems completely out of reach.
One of my favorite quotes by Charles Spurgeon states:
"By perseverance, the snail reached the ark."
The quote and the video below should encourage you to keep pushing forward. If a snail can do it, so can you!
Play the video!
So it’s been four years since my last blog post. The last post was entitled, “Rejection, My New Partner” and let me tell you so much has happened in my life since that post. I decided then that it was too challenging to keep a consistent blog writing schedule and keep up with my children’s manuscripts. With this in mind, I intentionally took a break from updating the blog.
So what have I been doing for the last four years?
Writing, writing, and more writing! The decision to focus solely on writing has afforded me the time necessary to build my portfolio. I have so many new stories that I can’t wait for you and your families to enjoy.
So to keep this balance, I will only write an occasional blog post. If you follow me on Instagram (Ayanluv) you can get more updates on my author’s journey and you will start hearing about the books that will be coming out very soon!
It was a blow to my confidence. Doubt swept over me. Another “no.” Another pass by a major publishing company.
This week I had to do mental gymnastics to encourage myself in this process of becoming a published author. It has become crystal clear that rejection has joined me in my journey.
What is surprising is that I found encouragement in other author’s rejection letters in order to get out of my emotional slump.
On the website LitRejections it lists many best-sellers and how many times they were rejected before getting a book deal. Some of my favorites were:
Diary of Anne Frank as it was rejected over 15 times and eventually sold over 25 million copies. In addition, C.S. Lewis’ work was rejected for years before Chronicles of Narnia was accepted and went on to sell over 100 million copies.
Even author J.K. Rowling received 12 rejection letters in a row before the famous Harry Potter series was published. And we all know how crazy popular this series has been abroad and in the United States.
According to Scholastics.com, “The Harry Potter books are distributed in over 200 territories, are translated into 68 languages and have sold over 400 million copies worldwide.” Amazing right?!!
So, it looks like rejection is just par for the course!
The biggest hurdle is rejection. Any business you start, be ready for it. The difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is the successful people do all the things the unsuccessful people don't want to do. When 10 doors are slammed in your face, go to door number 11 enthusiastically, with a smile on your face.
In Put Your Dream to the Test, author, John Maxwell says that every dream needs to be put to the test and one way to do that is by asking yourself the question, “Am I willing to pay the price for my dream?”
My answer is yes! I am willing to travel with rejection as my partner. I won't stop but will keep moving forward. I won’t give up because my dream is calling me to continue to press on. And then, one day, rejection will have to go find someone else.
A rejection is nothing more than a necessary step in the pursuit of success.
I am currently doing the research for my next manuscript and I had the privilege of traveling to the place where the story begins….La Hispaniola or as the Native Taino people called it “Ayiti” which means mountainous land.
The left side of the island was later renamed Haiti in 1804 by the slaves who won their independence from France and the right side was declared the Dominican Republic.
The history of Ayati is amazing and from June 15-20th I had the opportunity to visit the west side of the island, the country of Haiti.
I traveled with five other ladies and our purpose was to partner with the organization Share Hope whose mission is to help alleviate poverty through responsible textile trading. Our goal was to partner with Share Hope in order to provide their pregnant factory workers health education regarding the Zika virus.
We partnered with Share Hope’s Her Health educators and visited over 10 factories while speaking with over 300 pregnant women. It was such an honor as a mother of four to be able to travel across the ocean to help inform my dear sisters on how to protect their babies from Zika.
We not only informed them about the latest research on the virus but gave them practical ways to fight against the Aedes mosquito. We gave out over 300 mosquito nets and taught them how how to make their own mosquito repellent and cream. Here are the directions to making your own mosquito repellent:
I’m not sure how this trip will influence my story, but I will not forget the beautiful Haitian people. Although they live in very oppressive circumstances they still exemplify a strength that I have not witnessed before and I hope to share that with the world.
How do you respond to rejection? This week I received my first “no” from a publisher. Rejection never feels good but I took it pretty well.
I am so amazed that I’ve made it this far in the process of becoming published and I really believe my day will come. The story I’ve written needs to be told and with divine help, it will make it out into the world!
No word yet. It’s been a month since my editor sent my manuscript out to publishers. So far at least five major editors in New York have my story.
I’m really hoping that the right person, at the right time will read it and connect with the message. Here’s a video that shows the process once an editor chooses to pitch to the publishing house:
In the publishing industry a month is not a long time. So in the meantime I’m waiting patiently and researching for the next book!
I keep dreaming about the day when I will become a published author. I can’t wait to speak at schools and libraries to share my story.
I’ve always looked up to authors and although I haven’t met most of my favorites, I still consider them mentors. Authors and illustrators have a great influence on their readers and this truth came to life just last week.
I took my kids to see award winning author and illustrator Brian Pinkney at the public library. The room slowly filled up with young and old waiting in anticipation to hear him speak.
Once he arrived, Brian shared about his family life and his journey in becoming an illustrator. He initially learned his craft by watching his famous father, Jerry Pinkney illustrate in their home. The kids in the audience were very engaged and asked questions like:
“When did you first start drawing?”
“How long did it take you to draw all the pictures in that book?”
“What art tools do you use the most?”
It was so cool to see the kids hanging on his every word. My daughter Anaya said “ I was so surprised when he shared that it took him over 8 years to write one of his books. I guess the process can take a long time.”
In addition, the kids were really shocked when Brian stated “I have over 120 sketchbooks.” As he showed one of his books, he explained that he would always travel with a sketchbook because inspiration could come at anytime.
I didn’t realize how influential that moment would be for my daughter Jayda. In fact, later that evening, around 9pm (an hour before her bedtime) she approached me timidly, “Mom, I was wondering if I could have one of your sketchbooks? You know, one of the ones in the box.”
I also love to draw and paint but have been too busy to make it a priority---so most of my supplies have been collecting dust! Anyway, Jayda’s request was a big deal considering most of her drawings were done on scratch paper littered around the house!
Well you know how I replied...“Of course! You know what Brian said earlier--he uses sketch books all the time.”
The next day this is what she showed me:
I couldn’t believe it! An hour with a professional illustrator and my daughter became a drawing machine! The power of Brian’s story was immediate and powerful! I only hope that in my future I will be able to do the same--inspire the next generation to keep pursuing their dreams!
Thank you Brian Pinkney for making time to visit us at the library. Your story and willingness to share your experience has influenced my daughter in a powerful way and who knows where she will take this passion!
You can learn more about Brian at: http://www.brianpinkney.net/main.html
You can learn more about Brian’s father, Jerry at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FknKcmsZPzQ
And you can learn more about Brian’s wife, Andrea at: http://andreadavispinkney.com/
This week I’ve hit a huge milestone in my journey to becoming a published author. After two months of revisions, my manuscript is now ready for the submission process! This week my agent will start submitting the manuscript to publishers for possible acquisition. This process can take a while as the following video explains the steps to acquisition:
Editorial Director, Donna Condon with Harlequin Publishing house said that she receives approximately 100 book submissions per week from agents and only accepts 1 in every 400-500! This is just reminder that getting published is extremely difficult.
Now all I can do is pray, wait, and start working on my next book!
“If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” Toni Morrison
As a homeschool educator I am responsible for selecting the curriculum my children use for school. As their history teacher I want them to have a well-rounded perspective of world history and not just learn it from one perspective.
History taught only from the majority culture will exclude many experiences from the narrative. I want my children to be able to analyze historical accounts and to have the skill to determine whose voice is missing from the story. They can gain this skill simply by asking questions.
Asking questions can be a powerful way to discover new thoughts, ideas, and perspectives. In fact, I started writing my first manuscript after sitting in a bookstore and viewing about about 40 children picture books on display about New York. None of them featured an African American. So I posed the question to myself: How did African Americans contribute to the development of New York City?
“I, myself, write to change my life, to make it come out the way I want it to. But other people write for other reasons: to see more closely what it is they are thinking about, what they may be afraid of. Sometimes writers write to solve a problem, to answer their own question. All these reasons are good reasons. And that is the most important thing I'll ever tell you. Maybe it is the most important thing you'll ever hear. Ever.”
This one question led me on an exciting journey. Not only did I want my children to know the answer to this question but I felt it was significant enough to share with the world.
I began to dream about the potential ripple effect this knowledge could have on the children in the United States. The pride, the dignity that could be transmitted through my story. There is so much power in the written word and it is my hope and prayer that my passion for history will make a difference in the world.
"Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world."
So my question to you is this: Is there a book you really want to read but does not yet exist? Start asking questions and you never know where that simple exercise might take you!
Ayanna is an author that enjoys writing fiction, historical fiction, non-fiction, and poetry for children. She has written over 15 stories and hopes to publish them in the near future.