I must tell you that having one published book doesn't mean the road for a second book is already paved. Publishing A Thirst For Home was one of the most challenging things I have ever done. It took years, blood, sweat. tears, perseverance, thick skin and tons of support from my family. I remember being deeply dejected and ready to give up only to be surprised when my son Alex informed me that Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, the author of the book Shiloh received two years of rejection letters before being published, and that Shiloh has a Newbery Medal. ( He was reading Shiloh in school) I think of this moment with tenderness and every time I felt like giving up, I would think of Shiloh. Thank you for your inspiration Ms. Naylor!
When I think about the fact that A Thirst For Home is traditionally published by a rock star publisher, and illustrated by Eric Velasquez who is brilliant and ever so talented, I am overwhelmingly proud of this accomplishment. The fact that this story has reached book stores and libraries all over the world takes my breath away. I am even in awe of the wonderful reviews.
You have to remember, I am a small town girl from Connecticut. I don't do reality television and am not famous in any way (which helps tremendously when writing and publishing a book). Before A Thirst For Home, I was living a very quiet life with my husband and children.
The message and story in A Thirst For Home was something that I felt needed to be shared with children: water, the scarcity of it, the unavailability of it, hunger, sadness and also love, sacrifice and hope. The response I have gotten from librarians teachers and most importantly students has been incredible. From my experiences visiting schools, children have embraced the story and message. I see the compassion and concern in their eyes. I see children that want to know more. I have met entire grades inspired by A Thirst For Home, that have taken it upon themselves to raise money and build wells in countries like Uganda! This is my medal and stamp of success in writing this book. A Thirst For Home might never be a New York Times best seller, or showcased in a Barnes & Noble book store, but that is OK. I would choose inspiration that drives children to action anyway. That is all I could and can hope for, a book that teaches and inspires!
This is why I am so darned determined to publish my next children's book which is inspired by two little girls I know very well, Eva my daughter and her cousin Emily. Emily was Eva’s very first friend when she came to our family and they quickly created a bond that is woven together by acceptance, respect, kindness and overwhelming love. The story teaches children tolerance, acceptance and embraces diversity. It is so timely and necessary in our world today.
Emily and Eva have a relationship that is so tender, beautiful and touching. If you knew them, you would understand. I hope you will someday. It has already been rejected by one publisher which is fine. And the story may continue to evolve as it did in A Thirst For Home. I just remember my inspiration.....Shiloh and Phyllis Reynolds Naylor.