Cancer, cataracts and kids: How I wrote a children’s book

When people ask me how I published my first children’s book last summer, they’re usually asking about the technical details.

But the question always makes me think how my attitude about life has shifted.

That shift in perspective is how I built up enough gumption to just got for it.

I’ve written stories on scraps of paper for as long as I can remember. When I was a cashier in college, I used to write them on receipt tape during boring morning shifts. Something drove me to put my writing out there for the public to read, instead of secretly squirreling it away.

These last few years, though — I think I went into a bit of a personal crisis.

First, my middle son was born with a congenital cataract. (He’s doing great, and we are managing the health issue well.) We have spent significant time in children’s hospitals and doctors waiting rooms, where we’ve seen children and parents fighting unfathomable battles.

children's book, kids book
Co-authors! My son Will and me.

That experience really makes you think about life: What is precious? What holds value? What is worth your time?

Then, my mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

It was a rough year.

Now, she is thankfully cancer free. But we sat in oncology offices and in hospitals with countless other people receiving chemo. These people are literally fighting for their lives. They are fighting for their time.

It really puts life into perspective. What am I doing? Why am I doing it? How will my children remember me?

I felt like cogs started exploding in my brain, like my brain waves changed direction and rerouted. I don’t want my children to remember me as someone with great ideas who was too frozen by fear to execute them.

Something I call a fear monster lives inside my head. It can stop me in my tracks.

“Who am I to think my words are valuable enough to share? People will think I am stupid, redundant, and not worthy.”

I beat this back.

I envision myself taking a broom and sweeping this monster back into the deep corners of my mind. Fighting back panic, fear and anxiety, I submitted a story I had written three years before to my awesome cousin who owns Nico 11 Publishing.

My cousin encouraged me to adopt a “Why not?” attitude. Why not try?

I recruited my amazing artist friend from high school to create the illustrations.

Honestly, I think we were both shocked we did what we said we would do: We published a children’s book, just like we said we would almost 20 years ago.

children's book, kids book
First sketch to real thing!

For me, it was a real test of will against my own internal fear.

Unbelievably, the day we debuted our children’s book we hit #1 bestseller in several categories on Amazon! It took hustle on our part and the help of some very wonderful and supportive loved ones and friends. Our dream came true!

The best part was showing my kids to go for their dreams and make them happen.

The book didn’t make me rich. It didn’t make me famous.

It did make me a children’s author.

I have wanted that for as long as I could remember.

Please, dear reader, go for it! Go for that thing that makes your heart sing!

Even if it’s not going to be your day job, now or ever. It will add personal value to your life. It will add a richness to your experience here on Earth and show those kids that look up to you to really go for it!

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