One spring afternoon in 2020 I had what I like to call a divine appointment with one of our neighbors. I had heard of her and knew she lived close by but never in my wildest dreams did I think she'd be standing on my front lawn. My husband and I had begun another COVID-19 house project, this time, in our back yard. One of the tasks at hand was removing the river rocks from the back to create an Italian, Tuscan feeling back yard. So I put this message on our neighborhood FB page "Free river rocks U-haul and enjoy!"
With a chime on my FB messenger, I received a reply that would change my life. Thank you Barbara Jean Hicks for the lovely chat on my front lawn that beautiful spring day. Thank you for introducing me to Mascot Books. Your gentle words of encouragement inspired me to step out of my comfort zone and sail on my dream. I'm incredibly grateful!
As a writer, I have so many titles and storylines in my head. With The Dream Tree, I had no idea where to even begin to get it published. I had done a lot of research on self publishing and big publishing companies but was overwhelmed on how to navigate where to start, let alone finding an illustrator and layout the images and story together.
Going back to the moment of introductions on my front lawn, of course wearing masks and socially distant, I let Barbara Jean know how special it was to meet her. She graciously smiled and said, "Did you write a story?" I had the chills and welled up a bit and said, "Yes, and I have no idea what to do next and I feel lost." She handed me her card and said, "Mascot Books" and began to share their process in a nutshell. She encouraged me to reach out to them and send my manuscript to review. I had a few questions before doing so and Barbara Jean was right there to mentor me through.
With my heart beating I sent in my manuscript to Ben at Mascot Books. Swoosh went the email into the unknown. "Would they like it? Is it good enough? What will they say?" A couple of weeks went by and I was on a phone appointment with Ben. Tears in my eyes and my hand shaking as I took down notes. The nostalgic story was a go!
Ben introduced me to Claire, my editor. What an amazing partner on this journey she has been. Emails back and forth, phone appointments to discuss the project, and helping me find a beautiful illustrator that captured everything I could ever imagine about this story. She also, introduced me to the Mascot team members along the way. She's been there through it all with me every step. Big hugs Claire! Thank you again and I can't wait to work on another project with you!
Without further ado join me while I celebrate opening my first box hot off the press of The Dream Tree children's story book! What an emotional and surreal moment.
If you pre-ordered your own copy of The Dream Tree through Mascot Books you should be receiving it soon! If you'd like to purchase a book click on the link above or reach out to me directly!
Thank you to everyone involved on this incredible journey! I couldn't have done it without you. Your encouragement and support throughout this process been hands down - incredible!
To my husband Marty, daughters Katie, Meg, and Abby, son Calvin, and grandson LP, my family and friends, Maria Ballarin, and the Mascot Team without you - The Dream Tree would still be on my laptop. Thanks for dreaming along with me!
To my Dad (Popi) and Mom - Thank you for making your dreams come true and breathing that belief into your own children. We have and will continue to pass on the dream legacy.
Dig deep, never give up, and go for it! The impossible can be made possible - one step at a time.