I just finished writing the acknowledgements for THE BOY, THE BOAT, AND THE BEAST, and they’re extensive! Nothing we do in this world is done within a vacuum, and this book has been blessed by a lot of people during its life so far.
With Thanksgiving next week, I thought I’d highlight some of the amazing people who I am so thankful to have in my writing life.
SCBWI — I joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators back in 1998, as soon as I found out about it. The organization has chapters all over the world, and no matter where you go, you can visit one of their events and feel at home. SCBWI was started by and still head up by authors Lin Oliver and Stephen Mooser. These two people are among the most loving and supportive people I’ve ever met, and their enthusiasm is infused throughout SCBWI. I started volunteering around 2008 by running a critique group and made fast friends with the regulars. Five years ago, I became the Regional Advisor for my local Austin chapter and got to know more of our amazing members. Then I met all the other RAs, Assistant Regional Advisors and Illustrators Coordinators from around the world—especially Austin’s own P.J. Hoover and C.S. Jennings—and I can truly say they’re like family now. I’m very thankful to have SCBWI and its wonderful staff, volunteers and members in my life. If you’re a writer, I hope you can build up your own community of support, and this is the best place to start.
Critique partners — My critique partners have meant growth and support to me over the years, and I found them through SCBWI. My earliest critique group included some amazing women who I admire so much, like Sara Joiner, Grey McAllister, Kimberly Garcia, Laura Rackham and Mary Ann Hellinghausen. We don’t live near each other anymore, but I’m honored that they’re still my friends.
Authors — As I’ve already said, the kidlit community is incredibly supportive, but I was blown away by the generosity I was shown by the authors who agreed to give a recommendation quote for THE BOY, THE BOAT, AND THE BEAST. I can not express how amazed, honored and thankful I am that these authors, all of whom I admire so much, took the time to read and respond to my book. Thank you to Kathi Appelt, Katherine Catmull, Janet Fox, Liz Garton Scanlon, Bethany Hegedus, Nikki Loftin, Jennifer A. Nielsen and Susan Vaught. They all amaze me. (Read what they wrote here.)
Agent and Editorial Team — My agent Rachel Orr at Prospect Agency found my work through a recommendation by another agent, Liza Pulitzer Voges at Eden Street Literary, who had read my books after being at our Austin SCBWI conference. THE BOY, THE BOAT, AND THE BEAST and the rest of my stories have found their home with Rachel, who has helped me dig deeper as a writer and championed my words in the industry. Thanks to Rachel, my book sold to editor Sarah Jane Abbott at Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster, and I couldn’t be happier to be in the S&S family. Sarah Jane, Sylvie Frank and Paula Wiseman have been fantastic, and my art director Laurent Linn (who I also coincidentally met at an Austin SCBWI conference four years ago) has done an amazing job in putting my book to print. Laurent partnered with illustrator Justin Hernandez for the book’s wonderful cover and interior illustrations that I love so much. Thank you to all of these people for loving my book as much as I do.
Parents and Family — My parents, Paul and Fay Anne de Freitas, and my family are spread across the world, which makes me feel a little like everywhere is home. Mum and Dad instilled a love of stories in me when I was really young. My mum taught me how to read before I even started school and made visits to the library a regular treat. My Great Grandmother always made sure there were books in their house when I visited. And when I was a teenager, my dad gave me my first sci-fi book (Orson Scott Card‘s ENDER’S GAME), making me a fast fan of the genre. I was a shy kid who was often the new kid in class, and books made my world much better. Thank you to my parents and family for giving them to me.
Husband — And I can’t say thank you enough to my husband, Jamie Clark. He has believed in me more than I’ve believed in myself. He helps me brainstorm plot points, he puts up with me writing in the middle of night, and he listens to my constant obsessing about my stories. He also created graphics for this website and the book to help me get the word out. Thank you, Jamie.
Who are you thankful for in your writing life?
Not everyone has support from their family or friends (I had plenty of those times too), but every kidlit writer can find their tribe. If you’re writing children’s books and haven’t checked out SCBWI yet, please do. Even if you live by yourself on an island in the middle of nowhere, you’ll be able to connect with people through SCBWI’s online discussion board (hopefully you have wi-fi out there). And if you’re not sure where you can find your people, contact me and I’ll try to point you in the right direction. You’ll be thankful you found them.