Joanne Otto

Author

Tag: The You-Song

Kirkus Reviews

You may remember I blogged recently about Taking the Plunge when I submitted my books to Kirkus Reviews. It was a big step for a first-time independent author to take. In fact, Kirkus has only recently begun reviewing indie books at all. So picture rookie author Joanne discovering the links to her reviews on her iPhone and being unable to access them because she has no idea what her Kirkus user name and password might be! Continue reading

Taking the Plunge

You may not have heard of Kirkus. Until several months ago, neither had I. But among publishers and booksellers they have been well respected since the 1930s for their intelligent, unbiased book reviews. A fee is charged for these reviews, but there is no guarantee that they will be favorable. Kirkus’s reputation rests on their being honest.

I had been undecided as to whether to submit my books to them for a review. It seemed expensive and a bit daunting. But this afternoon I took the plunge, encouraged perhaps by a discount they were offering this week. After a seven-to-nine-week waiting period, I should be hearing from them. If nothing else, the results will provide a learning experience. But, of course, I can’t help hoping for more.

The Visual Dimension

For over ten years after “The You-Song” first rolled off my pen, it remained simply a draft. I tweaked it from time to time and shared it with friends and family–including, of course, some children. But without the visual dimension, it obviously was not going reach the hearts and minds of its young audience.

When our daughter Meghan Williams, a talented professional graphic designer, was working from her home, we began the online search for photos that would truly represent the kids “The You-Song” was all about. One by one, they found their way to just the right page of the book, leaping, smiling, laughing, dancing, hugging, writing, painting, swimming, swinging, reflecting, discovering. Just letting the beautiful songs they are ring out, they brought “The You-Song” to life. I don’t know their names, but somehow they feel to me like very loved friends.

A Heartwarming Launch

Last Thursday I had my first opportunity to share The You-Song  in a school setting. I was invited to the Principia to read and discuss it with two small groups of preschoolers. As they clustered around me with eager expressions on their faces, my colorful little book about their uniqueness was coming to life before my very eyes. And its message actually helped them make some steps forward. One little girl at first resisted moving to enable another girl behind her to see the book better, but as we encouraged her to show how she could “blend with other songs” around her, she did the right thing. Later on an unhappy boy was reminded that he didn’t have to let “the world’s jangle” muffle his song, and he brightened up right away. I left there that day showered with hugs and heartwarming memories.

How does it feel?

How does it feel to get your books published? To me it feels a lot like motherhood. No kidding. My books are my babies. And they have a life of their own.

Like most mothers, I delighted in the early stages of their development. They often surprised me, as children do their parents, in the amazing process of becoming what they were meant to become. But they were still safe at home, still not fully formed, still able to be molded as further intuitions came.

Then the day arrived when it was time to let them go. It’s remarkable how difficult that can be. I began to realize how much I’d enjoyed having them around as “young” unfinished projects, how much my sense of life-purpose had come to evolve around them. But the only way they could fulfill their purpose was for me to release them. So, of course, I did.

And like every mother, I wish them well on their journey into the world and hope that they will meet up with some good friends along the way. I hope you will be one of them.

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