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From Green to Gold

Updated: May 17

May is set to be a watershed month for Mr. Hoot’s Fables—the official launch of my debut children's picture book series is finally here. Hoot, hoot, hooray! 

It’s been a tumultuous five year journey filled with victories, false starts, abrupt stops, and countless delays—indie publishing is a bumpy road complete with potholes, roundabouts, and wrong directions. Nonetheless, the scenery along the way has never failed to induce tears of joy, make me smile, or gasp in awe. 

It’s fair to say that I began this book project a little greennot to the intricacies of the publication process; I'd worked in magazine publishing for years as an assistant editor, and later became editor-in-chief across various print and digital publications, so I was confident that the complementary skills and experience would shepherd me through the uncharted waters of picture book publishing.

The Fluorescent Glare of Fear 

I was, however, naive to the turbulence of delays and detours that I’d encounter at every turn which pushed the series release date back by eighteen months. Here lies the problem: when you shoulder all the risk for the sake of autonomy and creative control, there’s no safety net of a well-oiled corporate machine or trusty team behind you to fall back on. 

You’re a lone wolf and the torment of having no buffer can be overwhelming at times. The tumbleweed silence is deafening. It's at this juncture of the journey—the anxiety, stress, and self-doubt—that I wasn’t entirely prepared for and found myself floundering under the glare of a fluorescent green spotlight. 

The tightrope of fear is a peculiar thing; it compels you to move at lightning speed to dodge an epic fall, and this is where it gets tricky, because time is a construct. You can meticulously manage deadlines, do everything in your power to meet project milestones, though sometimes there’s a greater plan at play that works to its own schedule. 

A Blast from the Past

The best way to describe my experience with this project is through an anecdote; it began when I was seven years old and comes full circle to the present day. So, here goes . . . 

If you’ve ever read Aesop’s Fables, you’re aware this classic collection of tales offer wise lessons for readers of any age. I was introduced to Aesop’s Fables in elementary school and it left a lasting impression on my young mind; I especially liked that each story had a moral. Years later, this genre influenced me when I set out to write children’s books; a powerful pillar of the Mr. Hoot’s Fables series is built on the foundation of stories which carry meaningful messages for kids.  

I vividly remember the day my second grade teacher read our class The Hare & the Tortoise. The nimble hare mocks the slow tortoise, though when it comes to competing in a race, the tables turn; the hare foolishly stops to rest and falls asleep, while the tortoise continues its steady plod and eventually wins the race. 

This tale quickly became one of my favorites in the Aesop’s Fables collection. I wasn’t sure why I liked the story so much. From a child’s perspective, perhaps the beauty is in the basics: who wants to be the hasty hare when a plucky tortoise, against all odds, wins the race? Everyone loves a dark horse!

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

The story’s moral– slow and steady wins the race—also resonated with me. I sat back in my classroom chair thinking, “Hmm, I love that!” It’s bizarre that I remember my reaction, which is why I feel there’s something esoteric at play here. Being seven, I didn’t have the experience to understand why that moral made an impact, other than it sounded sensible: you can be more successful by doing things slowly and steadily than by acting quickly and carelessly.

Little did I know that years later, this lesson would hurtle from my past to crash-land in my present during this project to make me truly grasp the gravity of the concept. If I were to use The Hare & the Tortoise as an analogy, the race symbolizes my goal—following my dream of becoming a children’s book author. Meanwhile, attributes of the hare and tortoise represent my own transformation during the publishing process. 

I started the race similar to the hare. Being a Type A personality, I’m an impatient perfectionist; I thrive on moving quickly and confidently to achieve my goals, dislike wasting time, and want everything done yesterday. I'd never voluntarily stop like the hare did in the fable, though. When I had to pause during this process, it was due to obstacles or delays out of my control, which ultimately forced me to slow . . . down . . .  

The Metamorphosis to a Hybrid

When you can’t sprint to your destination, the transition to a resilient tortoise unwittingly emerges. You need a sturdy shell along with a resolute mindset to keep going, one step at a time. At every stage of the process—writing, revision, editing, illustration, design, printing—there were times when I had no choice but to reluctantly shift gears to a steady plod. 

In retrospect, the slower pace served as an anchor, allowing me to catch my breath, troubleshoot with objectivity, pivot to an alternative path when necessary, and graciously armed me with the clarity to overcome the next hurdle, and the next hurdle, then the next hurdle . . . until I finally reached my goal—a complete series of eight picture books! 

The day that I held the series box set in my hands was a surreal moment. I’m not the same person who started the marathon all those years ago; I’ve crossed the finish line as a hybrid of the hare and tortoise–still nimble, but wise enough to realize that some steps of the journey required the patience of a slower march, even if it was difficult and uncomfortable to accept at the time, because the ‘sprint’ inherently lives in me. 

A Dark Horse with a Gold Mane

Five and a half years down the track, with lessons learned and skills honed, I’ve transformed from fluorescent green to gold when it comes to indie publishing. It’s no coincidence that yellow is the signature color of Mr. Hoot’s Fables’ logo!

What does this book mama wish for her family of eight book babies? It’s simple: to make children smile, laugh, learn, be inspired, feel safe, and recognize aspects of themselves in the characters—whether it’s Tullulah’s humility, Maximus’s empathy, Frankie’s confidence, Ziggy’s tenacity, Lebron’s flamboyance, Poppy’s moxie, Ruby’s resilience, or Hippi and Happi’s exuberance—this picture book series has something for every kid.  

The time has come to enter a new marathon: marketing and distribution. Does the Mr. Hoot’s Fables series have the potential to be a dark horse? Anything is possible! Time will tell. If there’s one thing I'm certain of, it’s this: slow and steady wins the race.

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