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15 July 2009

My Terrific Transformation


I recently signed up to receive updates from a funky little clothier called ModCloth. I love their retro-vintage fashions and really enjoy browsing the quirky things they offer. I also like the way they market - they’ve created a fun community with contests to name their clothing, post themed pictures wearing their clothes, and this latest one - to write about a Terrific Transformation.
     Well, I’ve been through a few in my life and one is actually on topic - my transformation to becoming a children’s book author and illustrator.
     I often mention how I always wanted to create picture books - if only the journey had been as easy as the dream.
     In college I studied Graphic Design. Upon graduation, freelancing wasn’t a realistic option for a single girl out there on her own (and who wanted to keep a roof over her head). So for twelve years I was a corporate in-house illustrator and graphic designer. But I stayed somewhat on course - most of the companies I worked for were child-oriented. I drew Snoopy for Buster Brown apparel, created characters for candy wrappers for Brach’s candy - I even created animations for the Stone Mountain laser light show. But all the while I dreamed of one day creating children’s books.
     During my last corporate position I actually started taking my dream seriously and started creating very rough (very bad) picture book dummies on the side. And then I met my wonderful husband who saw what the dream meant to me and told me to go for it. Long story short - I quit my day job (I’d been working since I was fourteen, this was no small decision), and continued to freelance while I researched the heck out of my newly claimed industry. I also had to figure out what my illustration medium/style was (I was great at creating other people’s looks but had no idea what my own was).
     I worked, I experimented, I sent out mailers. I tried to figure out everything I could to break into what turned out to be a very difficult field to break into. (Who knew?)
     THREE YEARS into my efforts (and after dozens of rejection letters and late night gut-checks - what the heck was I doing!?) I received a call to illustrate my first trade picture book from Shen’s Books. It was a Cinderella story written by Renee Ting - The Prince’s Diary. Wow!
     Since then things have gone pretty well. Not easy, mind you (not easy at all!) - but well. I’ve illustrated several more books. And after SEVEN YEARS of rejections, my first picture book as both author AND illustrator comes out this Fall from Raven Tree Press! Woohoo!
     It’s an adaptation of the classic Appalachian Jack Tale SOAP, SOAP, SOAP! and comes in both English and bilingual versions.
     The dream is finally reality. I am finally what I was was always meant to be - a children’s book author and illustrator.
     This has definitely been “career/life number two” for me - but the one I wanted all along. And it has required every ounce of my dedication, resolution and stubbornness (yes, there can be a good side to that trait).
     So, yes ModCloth and the world - I was transformed - from the life I had to the life I dreamed. And I continue to work very hard to make it as sweet as possible. Thanks to ModCloth for getting me to talk about it!

     ModCloth went through their own transformation. It’s a sweet story too and you can read about it here. (The flower graphics are from their website.)

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