This Little Miggy Stayed Home: I've Written a Children's Book + It's Getting Published

Monday, March 05, 2018

I've Written a Children's Book + It's Getting Published


I am so excited to be able to finally spill the beans on this! I have written a children's book that centers on disability and it is getting published. It will be available in March 2019! 

I'd like to tell you a little about the book, how it came to be and why I felt the desire and a push from the Universe to do such a thing when I had never, ever thought of writing a children's book before.

In her book Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert talks about ideas as a sort of esoteric spiritual matter that float around in the ether choosing a person to land on to help bring them--the idea--into existence. And if that person acts on that idea, great! The idea has a chance of coming to fruition. But if the person chooses to ignore it, the idea will go find someone else to land on to bring it to pass. I can remember the exact moment the idea for this book landed on me. I was actually at Alt Summit, in Salt Lake City at the time. I was standing there talking to some women about what I do when someone said, “You should write a book.” And I said, “Yeah…I want to do that, I’ve actually started…” And then she said, “No, I mean a children’s book.”

Boom. The heavens parted, angels sang, and a glorious light filled the room. (I feel like I should clarify for all my Mormon friends that I don't mean any of this literally. It's just a metaphor.) But right then and there I knew that I was going to write a children's book and I knew exactly what it was going to be about. I knew the plot, I knew the characters (mostly) and I just knew. 

Now, one could argue that the idea was hardly floating around in the ether, because a real live person told me that I should write a book. But that is just one of many ways ideas come to us and in my personal experience it is a common way that ideas, the Universe and God communicate with me--through other people. The woman who spoke those words was just half of the equation, the other half was the force with which the idea hit me. That force, was the Universe slapping me on the back and yelling in my ear, "Wake up! We're talking to you Suga'!" (In my head this voices sounds a lot like Sally Struthers.) So in that sense, it was my idea. It picked me. It landed on me.

And because the Universe is wonderful, all sorts of amazing things happened over the next day and a half while I was still at Alt Summit to prod me forward in this endeavor. For example there was a well known illustrator there who was drawing portraits of attendees for free. When I went to stand in front of her she stopped and said, “Is your name Amy and did you live in Hawaii 20 years ago?” Yes and yes. Stunned she said she just had this flash of recognition as soon as I stood in front of her. I realized at that moment that I was going to ask her to illustrate my book.

Later, this same illustrator also passed along a contact who lives in NYC and who also works in publishing. I wrote him a few times and he was so kind and helpful. When I was writing my 3rd email to him, it suddenly hit me. I emailed him and said, “Forgive me if I’m wrong, but I think you may have been my manager at Los Hermanos (a restaurant) in Provo many years ago.” We both couldn't believe it, but I was right. Chills.

That same Alt Summit as I was leaving for the airport and headed home, I prayed and begged the Universe for more help and good karma even at the airport to help make my idea a reality. As luck would have it, I was in the very long security line next to a woman I recognized from the Alt circuit, but had never spoken to before because she is a "big deal." This "big deal" has had collaborations with Anthropologie, Target, and is just a wildly creative and successful person. But I knew exactly what the Universe was doing so I started chatting with her. When I told her about my brand new baby of an idea she excitedly told me she thought it was wonderful and that she had all sorts of contacts in the publishing world and she was going to connect me with them. She gave me her business card and and I promptly treated it like the golden ticket it was and carefully protected it with my life. (Life tip—I also took a photo of her card with my phone.)  


I was so giddy about the whole thing I started writing my children’s book on the plane ride home. I contemplated how long it would take to get going. Hmmm, let's see....it might take me a week or two to write the book, I’ll contact the illustrator and the "big deal" lady and if all goes according to plan I bet I’ll have a book deal in 2 months.

That was a little over 2 years ago. Here's how things actually went down.

I spent about 2-3 months writing the book. I went through about 15 drafts and reached out to a close friend of mine who is a writer and asked for her feedback, which she gave generously. I emailed my Alt contacts who were very supportive and wonderful. My illustrator friend agreed to do the illustrations but also educated me in the process of pitching a book to a publisher and let me know that unless you’re an author-illustrator you usually don’t pitch together. The other contact emailed me to let me know that when I was ready she’d send her contacts my way.

More months passed and the illustrator had to pull out of the project officially as she had too much on her plate. But again, she had given so generously of her time and information and contacts. The other woman, the "big deal" didn’t return my emails for a while and because she was a busy women with a lot on her plate, I didn’t want to bug her.

Undeterred, I set out on my own. I spent days researching how to pitch a children’s book. I made spreadsheets of publishers and literary agents who would be good people to send my manuscript to. I learned that it's called a manuscript. I joined the SCBWI. And obviously at this point I readjusted my expectations. But I didn’t give up. 

I came to believe that the purpose of those exciting contacts and coincidences from Alt were not necessarily the doors through which my book would get published, but they were the fuel that built the excitement in me to actually do this thing. So I kept slogging away. Eventually, my other contact--the "big deal"--did write me back (turns out she had been ill) and she did send those contacts my way. Again, none of them panned out to be “the one” but many of them were super helpful and gave me a lot of great advice. And, most importantly, continued momentum.

I sent out query letters to agents and publishers and I started receiving my first rejection letters which were quite exciting! People were reading my manuscript! With time came lots of rejections and lots of waiting. 

I had mostly kept my book a secret and told very few people. I didn’t want to tell too many people in case it never happened. It’s one thing to not write a children’s book when no one ever expected you to, but it was another thing to be the girl that told everyone she had written a children's book and then it never actually gets published. I didn't want to be that second girl.

But the time kept passing and in between query letters and lists, I just kept blogging and doing my thing.

Then one day last April,  I wrote a blog post that I was really proud of.  I talked about the need for more representation of people with disabilities in the world around us. I talked about this lack of awareness and how it impacts our family and daughter personally. I wished for more movies, ads, media and children’s books where kids with disabilities were represented. And I published the post.

Then, once again, the Universe tapped me on the shoulder and told me that I had to stop keeping my book a secret. If I wanted to get it published, I needed to release it out into the world, come what may. So I opened the post back up and I added the following:

"I want to see more disabled bodies in the world around us doing everyday normal things. I want to see them in magazines, on TV (thank you Speechless), in children's books, in movies (preferably not committing suicide because they're disabled), in music, in plays, in school, in day-to-day jobs and in places of business.

And while I'm putting my wants out into the Universe I might as well tell you all that I have written a children's book featuring a character with a prominent disability and I have spent the past several months trying to find an agent willing to represent me and this book. I want someone in the publishing industry to realize that we need beautiful children's books filled with illustrations of human children (not animals, not toys) who have disabilities and that it would be very normal--i.e. a reflection of the actual world we live in--to have picture books with such diverse children in them."


Now everyone who read my blog would know that I might be the girl who wrote a book that never got published.

About a week or so later I got an email. It was from a woman named Rachel who was a self-proclaimed long time reader of my blog and who also happened to work for a small but reputable children's book publisher out of Minnesota. Her daughter had been born 15 weeks premature with a number of complications and that's how she found my blog in the first place. She said that she read my post from the week before and felt compelled to reach out to me and ask if they could consider my manuscript for publication. While she couldn’t promise that her company would take it on, she would pass it on to the "decision makers" and we would see what would happen.

I sent my manuscript to her in May and months went by without a word. At some point I assumed they were going to pass and I geared up once again to start sending out more query letters.

And then one day last Fall--almost 6 months later--I got an email from the publishing house telling me they wanted to publish my book. I screamed, laughed, cried and could not sit still the rest of the day. It was really happening. 

The contract has been signed, the ink is dry and in about a year from now I’ll be presenting you with a book that will feature a character who may or may not have hands, who may or may not drive a wheel chair and who may or may not remind me of someone I know in real life, and well, they're both pretty awesome.

The process of writing this book and getting it to this point reminds me of something Oprah said a long time ago, that has stuck in my brain ever since. Sister O says, "I believe that luck is preparation meeting opportunity." Like anyone, I had moments of self doubt. Who am I to write this book? I don't speak for all special needs parents...what if people don't like what I'm saying? And then I remembered that I had over 150 interviews under my belt, known as the Special Needs Spotlight, from other special needs families and individuals with disabilities. The idea for this book may have landed on me about 2 years ago but in reality I had been preparing for years. Yes, I still don't speak for everyone and maybe there will be some people who disagree with the message--I don't know!--but I know that this book didn't just come from me. It came from many of you. Years of reading your stories and hearing about your children, or yourselves, and the challenges many of us in the disability community face are part of the "luck" that brought this book to life.

Thank you sweet readers for all your love and support over the years. I cannot wait to share this book with you and your families. I hope you'll love it as much as I do. 

XO, 
Miggy

p.s. The picture above is me on the day I signed the contract. 

35 comments:

  1. Girl this is beyond exciting!!! Love hearing how it all unfolded over the last couple of years in the perspective you’ve got now.. So proud of you for sticking through if, for being vulnerable, for listening to that voice inside you!!! Can’t wait to buy a signed copy and read it to my kiddos, and donate a copy or two to our school!!! ���������� -Nita

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    1. Thank you friend! Always so grateful for your love and support.

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  2. Anonymous1:20 PM

    I can't wait to read your book! What fabulous news!

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  3. tears!!!! I am so so happy for you and excited! Just so you know I will pre-order your book so fast. I can't wait to read it to my children! xoxoxo from IN

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    1. Oh my goodness....thank you! I mean it's been such a special thing for me, but to feel so much love from other people is beyond expectations. Thank you.

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  4. I don't buy many books, thank you library! BUT, I'll be buying yours! Love your perspective & drive! CONGRATS!!! -Jill

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    1. Ha! I totally get it, so thanks!

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  5. I'm so thrilled for you! And thank you for writing about the process-- it is really inspiring to read.

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    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed hearing about the process--I was wondering if people would like hearing that, but it seems they did.

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  6. I'm so thrilled for you and for the WORLD that this empowering art will exist!!! Can't wait! If you decide to do a book tour, I'd love to help set up readings in SLC (and maybe Las Vegas? Austin? Anywhere where I have a contact, I'd love to help!)

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    1. You're so awesome! I'll let you know...a book tour will most likely be out of pocket, so I will most likely travel to places I have contacts there as well. :)

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  7. Just got all teary eyed, I'm so happy for you and so excited for this book! I can't think of anyone better to do it!

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    1. Aw, thanks Mim. We need a special needs mom meet up one of these days.

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  8. Such wonderful and exciting news!! Congratulations, and can't wait to read it.

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  9. Way to rock it Amy. So excited for you!!!!

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    1. Thanks Missy. You're the best. I love you to death.

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  10. I cannot wait to buy your book! I am completely inspired by your “never give up” attitude. You ARE the voice this community needs. I am so very happy for you that this dream has become a reality.

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    1. Oh wow...that is so nice of you to say. I'm not sure about that, but thank you for the huge amount of support.

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  11. I can not wait to read it to my kids. I have learned so much from your blog and your spotlights and family. Your amazing!

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    1. Thank you! I hope your kids enjoy reading it as well!

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  12. This is so so wonderful!! Well done, Miggy (Amy)!! I can't wait to get my hands on it and to read it to my children.

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    1. Thank you!! I hope it gets read to ALL the children. :)

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  13. Yay! This is so exciting! congratulations!

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    1. Thanks. I apprecaite the excitement on my behalf.

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  14. Rachel Z1:18 PM

    I am so excited for this book! :) :) :)

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  15. Congrats! Happy for you and for us!

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    1. That is so sweet of you to say. I just better deliver!!

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    2. AMYYYYYYYYYY!!!! I cannot wait to get my hands on 10 of your books! One for every library in my town. I love you and know you have worked SOOOOOOO hard for this!! Making your happy mark even bigger in the world. xoxoxoxo!!

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  16. Congratulations! That is so exciting! And I can't wait to buy one for my school library!

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  17. CONGRATULATIONS
    I really admire all that you do and especially your perseverance with this project.

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  18. I am so excited to have found your blog. I am exploring children’s books right now for a project called The Beginning of Your Life Book Club. I found you through IG - can’t even remember how. Probably the Universe. ANYWAY! We subscribe to Bravery and loved the article about your daughter. My daughters and I have been talking about limb difference. My 7 yr old is extremely curious about limb difference and I am looking for ways to help her understand more about it. Instead of being startled by it. I had the good fortune to hear the young girl (Jordan?) from Born Just Right speak at an event at Hallmark where I work - she and an ornament artist at Hallmark (who has limb difference) spoke. It was great. Anyway - I can’t wait for your book and I can’t wait to dig in to your blog some more. Thank you!

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  19. Nice blog and absolutely outstanding. You can do something much better but i still say this perfect.Keep trying for the best. Zoo animals for kids

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