Updated: Nov 23, 2020
Have you ever asked yourself: “How did I get here? What events or decisions have shaped who I am today?” Well, this blog is dedicated to answering that question: “How on earth did I become a children’s book author?”
Three years ago, if you had told me that I was going to spend 2020 learning how to edit, illustrate, design, publish, and market a children’s book while raising a feisty toddler, I would have found that very hard to believe. Then again, three years ago, my life was very different.
August 7th, 2017
The day started out just like any other. I woke up early, put on my uniform, and drove to work. At the time, I was the CSI Field Supervisor at the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office in Omaha. It was a busy morning, and we were short-staffed. I responded to two crime scenes in an effort to take some pressure off of the primary investigator who was working that day. As I finished up the second scene, I hurried back to the office to disposition evidence before I had to leave for a medical appointment. I was 25.5 weeks pregnant with my first child, and I was due for an ultrasound.
Little did I know, that ultrasound would change everything. Afterward, my doctor asked me if I was having contractions. Surprised, I said “no.” Then the doctor explained that he could see contractions happening on the ultrasound monitor, and he recommended that I be hooked up to a machine that measures contractions just to be safe. Sure enough, I was having contractions, and they were coming fast (one every 1.5 minutes). Basically, I was in labor and had no idea. (I was told that when labor occurs that early in a pregnancy, it is not uncommon for it to go unnoticed. My belly was not yet big enough for me to feel the contractions.)
"Basically, I was in labor and had no idea."
So, one minute, my husband and I were talking about which restaurant we were going to order dinner from, and the next minute the doctor was telling us that I could not go home. The nurses proceeded to pump me full of medications to stop the labor and steroids to facilitate the baby’s growth in case she arrived that early (she wasn’t due until November 16th).
Luckily, my daughter, Avery, was not born at 25.5 weeks. However, I ended up being in the hospital for nearly three weeks, was put on bedrest following release, and still ended up having her 6.5 weeks before her due date. We spent 2.5 weeks in the NICU following her birth, and we were extremely lucky that it was not significantly longer than that. I partially attribute it to the steroids that she received when I was admitted to the hospital in August, but Avery was a rockstar in the NICU world and, thankfully, has been healthy ever since. Still, this whole experience really put things into perspective for me and made me realize what’s truly important in life.
Fast forward to May of 2018, and I was back at work. I was juggling the 24/7 job of managing a CSI unit with the 24/7 job of caring for a 7-month old baby who needed even more nurturing due to her premature delivery and who refused to sleep at daycare. After a number of crime scenes called me out of bed or away from home and required 12+ hours of processing and follow-up duties, I realized that I could not give 100% to both jobs. Knowing that I only had one chance to spend Avery’s early years with her and knowing that no one was going to love and care for her like I would, I decided to give up the career that I had worked incredibly hard for in order to stay home with Avery full-time. It was by no means an easy decision. (There were a lot of pros and cons lists being made in those days.) Ultimately, though, I could not be happier with the decision I made. It was the right move for our family.
"I realized that I could not give 100% to both jobs."
Fast forward to the Spring of 2019, and I had been home with Avery for almost a year and had no plans of going back to work anytime soon. Avery and I had developed a cozy routine and were enjoying our time together. By this point, we had also developed a mutual love of reading picture books. Every Friday, we’d go to the library and would come home with a hefty stack of new books to enjoy.
One random day, I was feeding Avery bananas for a morning snack when I came up with a clever rhyme about babies eating bananas. (This sticks out in my mind because it’s rare when I come up with anything clever on the spot.) We both giggled about it and moved on.
Sometime later, I thought to myself: “I could turn that idea into a children’s book.” Then I started thinking: “I used to write a ton of children’s books when I was in grade school, and I loved it. Maybe I should give it a shot.” Having recently read so many great picture books by so many talented authors, it seemed to me that a lot of people had navigated the challenge before. I figured if they could do it, why couldn’t I?
So, I gave it a shot. Over the course of a few hours while Avery was napping one day, I sat down and wrote the first children’s book of my adult life. It was very short and would lend itself best to a board book for babies, but I thought it was a cute (and very relatable) idea for a book.
"I figured if they could do it, why couldn't I? So, I gave it a shot."
Since then, I have found myself thinking of ideas for stories much faster than I can actually write them. To date, I have written approximately 10 stories, but I have a list of at least 20 more ideas that I have not yet had time to write. Perhaps someday I’ll have written (and maybe even published) them all…who knows. I’ll start with one and see where it takes me. For right now, I’m just enjoying writing, learning about everything that goes into publishing a book, and creating something that I hope other families will enjoy as much as ours.
If you'd like to learn more about the starting point of my self-publishing journey, click here.
That’s How I Got Here
So…that’s how I became a children’s book author. In the end, there wasn’t a single momentous occasion or monumental decision that directly led to me deciding to write children’s books. Instead, multiple events and decisions- some big, others quite small- have gradually led me to this point in my life. Three years ago, I couldn’t have imagined that I would be in this position, but I’m really happy with the way that everything has worked out. It’s been an interesting and eye-opening journey so far, and I can’t wait to see where it goes from here.