According to my parents, I have been telling stories since I could talk. I can still remember leafing through each National Geographic magazine and creating stories from the photographs.
My Mom thought I would either be a Psychologist or a Writer.
So no one was entirely surprised when I was accepted to Vanderbilt and got my masters Degree in Counseling. I started writing down some of the stories that I used with the children I counseled.
But I quickly discovered that while I loved working with children, the clinical setting was not for me.
I also discovered that a Nanny with a Masters was a rare and desirable thing and worked with many wonderful families. I enjoyed watching the children grow and develop. And I loved telling them stories.
In 2003, the family I worked for moved to Atlanta, GA, and I went with them. I had more time on my hands, and found myself writing down many of the stories I told the children. I started playing around with the idea of seeking a publisher. But I was unsure of exactly how to proceed. I started reading books about children's publishing and editing my work. After moving back to Nashville, my mother suggested a writer's conference she had seen in the paper. So in 2007, I went to my very first writer's workshop.
It was a mentoring workshop, where attendees had the opportunity to have their work critiqued by professional editors. I had the honor of working with Holly Miller, an editor for the Saturday Evening Post, and published author with many books to her credit. She gave me wonderful support for my writing and suggested that I enter writing contests to help me "break in" to the profession.
In the summer of 2007, a friend sent me information about the Cheerios Spoonful of Stories Contest. It seemed almost too good to be true. The Grand prize winner would have their story distributed by Cheerios, and the opportunity to be published by Simon and Schuster. I worked on several different pieces that I had already written, and even toyed with a few new ideas.
But nothing seemed right.
On the very last day of the contest I had almost given up hope of entering when inspiration hit. I was washing the family dog with the youngest child, who was three at the time. She started singing "Dog Wash, Dog Wash," as we scrubbed away.
It struck me that if she was having that much fun with the words, maybe other children would too. While I fed her lunch, I started writing the first rough draft of The Great Dog Wash. I continued to work throughout the afternoon, and got it entered in the contest a few hours before the deadline.
In December, 2007, I received a call that changed everything. I was informed that I had won the first Spoonfuls of Stories Contest, and that Simon and Schuster wanted to publish my story.
They paired me with an award winning illustrator, Robert Neubecker, who brought the words to life in such a wonderfully fun way.
The whole experience, from babbling my excited words of thanks to a roomful of people in Minnesota, to the launch of the hardback July 7, has been fantastic. Cheerios has given me more exposure than I had ever expected. My story has gone out in 1.5 million Cheerios boxes. And the people at Simon and Schuster have been incredibly supportive and patient with my many, many questions.
It has been a dream come true, and hopefully, there is more to come. I am putting the final touches on another picture book and working on a Young Adult novel. So I'm looking forward to whatever the future may hold.