Updated: Nov 29, 2021
WOW! I can't believe the first book has been published. Let me tell you, this has been a long road! I'll take you back to 2008. In my early twenties I was a first grade teacher. I loved all the things that involved cute, thematic units, that taught my students about the different events throughout the year. It was the applesauce we made in September after reading about Johnny Appleseed and the little owls we created in October after reading nonfiction and fiction books about owls that made my heart swoon. Or, maybe it was the turkey we disguised for Thanksgiving to protect him from the Thanksgiving Feast that made me smile. I could go on and on. It didn't take long for me to realize that there were not any specific books about each month of the year. I quickly created monthly files to keep all of my monthly units organized, but something was still missing. The "wrap it up piece". This is where I started to dream up a series of characters who were named after the months of the year, like myself.
I also loved reading stories. The funnier the voice... the more giggles I got. I adored a group of 6-year-olds and a good silly book. Sometimes we would grab some stickers and slap them on a page and just write stories about our stickers. We called them sticker stories. I loved helping students write more elaborate stories. Teaching writing and reading stories were some of my favorite moments in those first grade classrooms. This is where the stories of those characters started to come to life.
During center time in my classroom, I had an art center. You can't be in a first grade classroom without a weekly art center in my opinion! I loved to teach those little sponges different ways to craft or draw. We created all sorts of fun art. Kites, handprint crafts for parents, you name it. I also loved to teach them to draw. We would turn letters of the alphabet into different animals and shapes. I often said, I should have been an art teacher, until I taught an art class. WHEW! This is where the characters started out with a sketch in a drawing book.
I then bought a book about writing books and bought another book on who to send those books to. The process seemed SO daunting. It brought me to a halt. So, this is where the dream took a break. I married, had two children, and moved around... a lot. Teaching got put on the back burner all those years, but my dream of writing a children's book series, did not. They were always on my mind. After about five years of being a stay at home mom I finally began to make the dream happen. I sat down and wrote my first book, Meet January. Except, it was originally titled January and the Winter Break Blues. It came FLYING out. Nine years all cooped up in my mind, it shot out like a genie ready to make your wish come true. "Well, that was easy!" I thought. Then, I started to dig around on how to get published again, and once again I was overwhelmed with what to do.
Another year went by and by this time I decided that I was 100% going to be the illustrator for my books. I did all the research and bought an iPad pro and an apple pencil, downloaded an app called Procreate, and started to work. I quickly said to myself, "Uh, this isn't quite the way I envisioned it coming to life." Let me tell you, those illustrations needed some help. I had no idea what I was doing as far as using the program. So, once again my dream was halted... not to mention my book was about the month of January and each year I knew I wouldn't be ready in time to publish and market a January book.
I finally made the commitment out loud for all the world to see that I was going to be a published author.... and ANOTHER 3 years went by. Something happened during those years though. Slowly, I began learning about procreate, slowly I found better tutorials, a pandemic began and creatives everywhere suddenly started producing the most amazing and helpful tutorials. (Shout out to Art with Flo on Youtube!) I finally learned enough where I felt confident in my skill to be able to draw just about anything. I still wasn't at the level I wanted to be at... and this I feel has been the most important part... I studied illustrations I admired. I paid attention to those tiny details, the textures, the expressions, and finally after studying many books, my book was born.
January 2008 Sketch Pad vs January first try on Procreate vs January now!