Back in October of 2001, I attended my very first Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrator's conference in Birmingham, Alabama. At that time, I was a newlywed living in Atlanta, and everyone was still reeling from the shock of 911, grieving the loss of our fellow countrymen and concerned for those dealing with the tedious aftermath and recovery process.
At the conference, I had the privilege of listening to Jane Kurtz, one of the distinguished speakers. Jane, a highly acclaimed author of children's books, spoke about how life's challenges are often the source for our storytelling. The Golden Kite Award Book, River Friendly River Wild, published by Simon & Schuster, was a great example of how something beautiful and inspirational can come out of a traumatic event. River Friendly River Wild was based off of Jane's real life experience during the Red River flood of 1997. With all that was going on with 911, I found the timing of her story to be a source of comfort.
Jane was inspiring with her transparency, and she invested in me with her encouraging words. She had no way of knowing that I was nervous and felt out of place. Nor did she know that I had just heard another speaker talk of how it took most writers about seven years to get their fist book published, so I was a little overwhelmed.
At the time, I had a manuscript for a picture book to help children deal with the death of a loved one. That idea came to me after several sit down talks with my little brother about the loss of our mother to breast cancer in 1989. I could relate to what Jane was saying about using grief and loss in the writing process to help others. Below, she signed the following to me.
In the fall of 2020, after finally having my first children's book published after all these years, I came across her encouraging words once again, and the timing was perfect. Publishing a book during a global pandemic is in no way ideal, but there is always hope to hang on to and things to learn. Challenges, I believe, are meant to grow us and help us encourage others. I want to thank Jane for the encouragement she gave me all those years ago, and I hope to encourage others in the same way.
So make some investments today with your words. You never know when they might come back to encourage you!
Here is the link to River Friendly River Wild by Jane Kurtz.
Here is the link to The Little Boy Who Wouldn't Eat Cheesecake.
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Stay humble & be BOLD!
"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." Psalm 119:105
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11/3/2020 04:45:13 pm
Such a great reminder of the power of encouragement!
11/3/2020 05:44:58 pm
What a beautiful testimony on the power of encouragement!! Thanks for sharing.
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