I am thrilled to announce that OLD to JOY has been acquired for publication by Gnome Road Publishing and is slated for a Fall 2022 release date. From the moment acquiring editor, Sandra Sutter and I began communicating about my story, I knew Gnome Road was the best place to help me introduce the characters of Joy and her grandmama to the world. Sandra Sutter fell in love with Joy and this story and has been a champion to see it in the hands of as many children, parents, teachers and librarians as possible.
This journey began when I wrote the first draft of this story in 1999. Of course that was back in the days of snail mail and authors would mail their manuscripts to publishers in hopes they would acquire and publish their story. I wrote numerous other stories over the course of the next several years, but when my mother, Janie became ill, I took time away to help care for her. Although she passed away in 2002, a part of her joy and zest and love of life and nature is in this story. Between then and now I have been working on my craft and never lost the desire to write and illustrate books for children.
Twenty-two years after writing that first draft, and after a dozen or so revisions, Old to Joy has found a home. A huge part of my own zeal and zest for realizing my dream of becoming a children's book author comes from my mother, grandmother and my mother's sister, Margaret Washington. What they instilled in me is that you never let your gender, age, race or past stop you from accomplishing anything. They instilled in me that with God all things are possible. They instilled in me a love and appreciation of family traditions, values and history. These were lesson taught during holidays, at church, fishing on the river bank, preparing meals, during good times and tough times.
Although I studied as an artist at Parson School of Design and took other art courses, I did not have plans to illustrate my stories. But it was during the early days of the pandemic lockdown that I started to work on my art again. It was during this time that I connected again with the children's writing and art community. It was during this time that I came to know that I absolutely should illustrate my stories. I knew that my artistic ability was not a gift I could ignore. So I set out to educate myself on children's book illustrating and created my first book dummy (a layout of what a finished book with illustrations might look like). I knew I was ready to begin my second round of submissions - some 22 years after my first round.
There is so much to this this journey, and I will be sharing more in the days and months ahead. But let me briefly say thank you to my family and friends who have believed in me and supported me from the beginning, especially my husband and children who know the long hours, late nights and early mornings often necessary to realize one's dreams. So many people to thank and I am truly grateful for everyone who supported me along the way. I have anymore stories to be made into books and I look forward to a wonderful journey and career as an author-illustrator.
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