How My Debut Picture Book Found a Home
Be still my heart.
After ten years of staring my writing journey, I can finally say that I will be a published author in 2022.
*Shouts from the rooftops*
For those of you that are writers, you understand the joy, the tears, and the perseverance needed to make such a dream come true. And for those that may be new to this world, or on the other side of the book (i.e. our lovely readers), I have to share that becoming a published author is NO easy feat.
In fact, you have to suit yourself with some heavy duty armour to make it through ALL the rejections that you will face. Because the truth is that unless you are a celebrity or an influencer, the likelihood is that your path to publishing will feel more like climbing a VERY steep mountain.
You see, the truth is that many beautiful stories never see the light of day because the competition to have your work traditionally published is fierce. Not only do you need to have an excellent story (regardless of the genre), but you also need to have the RIGHT person interested in your story at the RIGHT time and willing to champion your story.
I personally know plenty of authors whose submissions have been rejected in the past, only to be accepted by the very same editor a few years later. It’s just part of the process.
So dear writer friends, keep the faith, keep writing, and share your beautiful stories for this world is in dire need of positive creativity!
Since childhood, I loved reading books. Some of my happiest moments were spent at public libraries with my parents.
As they did research for their cases (both were lawyers, as well as law professors at different points in time), I would pull out a pile of books and read them from cover to cover.
Not only did I enjoy getting lost in different worlds, but I loved making them up as well! I remember being Glitter Girl, the powerful superhero that combatted evil with glitter, as well as numerous other characters from my imagination.
It was my wonderful grandfather, Barnet, who would always remind me to write down my stories. You see, he believed in me before I even did.
Although writing was a huge passion, I also had other interests as well, such as science and math (I call myself a multi-passionate learner). In fact, I liked math so much that I was even on my high school’s Math team.
Yes, Math Bowls are a thing. : )
It was that love of science and math that took me to study Brain & Cognitive Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Once there, I realized that it was okay to try out different things. That’s why, after graduation, I headed over to New York to work in the world of finances (numbers were a big part of it too).
Fast forward a few years later, I found myself working in London. As I rode the the tube home from work one evening, I saw an advertisement in the Evening Standard. It was for a creative writing course by Faber Academy. It said, “Bad writing can always be improved, but a blank page will always be a blank page.” There was something about those words that shook me to the core.
I didn’t want my life to have a blank page.Anna Orenstein-Cardona
That’s what prompted me in 2012 to sign up to their six-month writing course, Writing a Novel with the super talented Richard Skinner. Luckily, it took place in the evenings and Saturdays so I was able to balance it with work.
Oh boy! That course literally changed my life. Not only did I meet the most wonderful group of creatives (that are to this day my dear friends), but I realized that my love of stories was still live and well. It just needed a little nudging!
After that course finalized, I signed up for another one, Writing For Children with the brilliant Anthony McGowan.
It opened up a whole new world of possibility and I felt my calling for writing children’s books.
So, I dived in and learned as much about the industry as possible. I read incessantly, wrote in the evenings and on the weekends, attended SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators) conferences in the UK and USA, and absorbed everything I could about the children’s publishing world.
Soon enough, I had written various manuscripts. I even submitted some of them to literary agents.
Agents are like the guardians of the gates in the publishing world, as most publishers do not accept submissions directly from authors.
There were even a few times that some of those agents requested a FULL MANUSCRIPT, which was REALLY exciting. However, no offer of representation (where an agent takes an author on as a client) was made and so, I busied myself with life…
The Turning Point
Then 2020 appeared with its full heart-breaking force…a year that marked many of our lives forever.
In my family’s case, it wasn’t only because of the pandemic but also because we lost my beloved Mamá, after a brave fight against cancer. She was our rock and my family’s world was turned upside down.
To be honest, it still is for grief has no expiry date.
The period after her passing, was a time of deep mourning and reflection. A time of renewed appreciation that we must live each day to the maximum, follow our dreams, and consider the legacy we wish to leave in this world.
My mother’s legacy was her love of familia, culture, and having the courage to live our values. I was blessed to have a successful career in finance for more than two decades, but the cost of it was silencing my creativity. I had put my writing in the back burner for long enough!
My soul was telling me that it was time to give it another go.
That’s why when I heard about #LatinxPitch – a kidlit pitching event for creators of children’s literature who belong to the Latinx community – I immediately penciled in the date in my calendar & went off to prepare my Twitter pitches.
As the say, the rest is history.
My picture book pitch for THE TREE OF HOPE received a few likes from various editors and agents, but it was the amazing Naomi Krueger (acquisitions editor at Beaming Books), who really stood out. She provided me some excellent feedback and editorial suggestions.
So, I did an R&R (revise and resubmit) and although the process took almost a full year, I am excited to share that my debut picture book will be published in August 2022. Wepa!
You can check out the Publishers Marketplace Deal Report below.
It’s been such an incredible experience and I am full of gratitude to Naomi and all those that championed this story, including my Mamá in heaven (because I’m pretty certain she had something to do with this too).
If you wish to learn more about my experience with #LatinxPitch and about my debut picture book, you can check out our interview HERE.
Getting published takes focus and patience, but above all it takes perseverance, much like the story of the jagüey blanco, the banyan tree, that inspired THE TREE OF HOPE.
So friends, Never Give Up!
Go after what you love and believe in yourself, with a heart full of love and faith. For friends, dreams do come true. I promise.
I leave you with two words my mother always told me…¡Pa’ lante!
P.S. You can check our my website here: http://www.annaorensteincardona.com/
PRE-ORDER LINKS can also be found at: https://linktr.ee/annaorensteincardona