On Creating Jasmine Toguchi
by Debbi Michiko Florence
My path to publication was a meandering and bumpy road and for a long while, I felt like I’d never get here. I went to college for a B.S. in zoology with a minor in English and then got my K-8 teaching credentials. I taught 5th grade in L.A. for a semester, and then became the Associate Curator of Education for the Detroit Zoo, a dream job. And yet, all along, I had a secret dream. I wanted to be a writer. It wasn’t until I left my job and moved to Mexico City with my new husband for his job that I seriously considered pursuing a writing career.
In 2001, when I started writing for teens and kids with an eye toward publication, I dove into research with glee. I read books on craft and the publishing business. I became a member of SCBWI and attended conferences. I joined critique groups. And I wrote, revised, and submitted many novels.
On July 11, 2017, sixteen years after I stepped onto the path toward publication, I will have not one, but two books released in the Jasmine Toguchi chapter book series.
I could not have made it here without the support of an entire community. My husband, Bob, has never once wavered in his belief in me. My daughter, Caitlin, watched me work hard and struggle for her entire childhood. Her joy when I told her about the sale equaled mine. My parents and my sister have always believed I could do this, even when I didn’t think it was possible. And this community of writers has kept me afloat all along. I hope you’ll indulge me since I don’t get an acknowledgements section in my books, as I single out a few key people who have made this journey a bit easier: Jo Knowles, Cindy Faughnan, Jennifer Groff, Cindy Lord, and Daphne Benedis-Grab have been with me for over a decade, reading and critiquing my manuscripts, and cheering me on. This is not a full list of the friends and writers who have kept me going all these years, but to list everyone would far exceed my word count. You know who you are (including Elizabeth) - thank you, each and every one of you!
This has been a long, and sometimes difficult, journey, but I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m glad I stayed on this path.