April 13, 2021

The "Virtual Book Launch" Part of the Writing Life

Today marks the book birthday for my 20th picture book! 

I'm so grateful to everyone who has had a hand in the making of this book, from my family members who inspire, encourage and support my writing life, to my critique group and fellow SCBWI members who helped me shape and polish the manuscript, to the wonderful team at West Margin Press that acquired the manuscript, paired me with a fantastic illustrator, and provided TLC and immense talent throughout the editorial, art direction, and book design process. I'm also grateful to my friends and colleagues who have helped shine a light on this book, and now to the parents, grandparents, teachers, librarians, and booksellers who will help get this book into the hands of young readers. Thank you all. 

Lucy's Blooms was written and revised over a period of several years. West Margin Press acquired the manuscript long before the pandemic hit, and the editorial process wrapped up pre-pandemic as well. Alice Brereton's beautiful illustrations were created and shared with me during (what I now realize were) the early months of the pandemic. Seeing the thumbnails, sketches, and final art emerge during months and months of quarantine (and amidst pandemic-related disappointments) helped me focus on the future and focus on the positive. 

During this time, another positive experience was working with the incredibly talented musician, Maiah Wynne, to create Lucy's Song. I wrote the lyrics in collaboration with Maiah, then she composed the music and performed and recorded the song. After the book illustrations and song were completed, I created the animated video for Lucy's Blooms:

Lucy's Blooms created happy places and spaces for me to retreat into, and these creative tasks kept me grounded and focused during an otherwise uncertain time. 

I've launched many books into the world, and I've long created and curated enrichment materials for young readers, teachers, and librarians who utilize my website as a resource, but this is my first virtual book launch experience. The situation we find ourselves in caused me to push myself outside of my comfort zone and learn and do new things, such as: 

Conducting a Goodreads giveaway (with 1810 entrants and 1651 readers adding Lucy's Blooms to their "Want to Read" shelf.) I've not done a giveaway on this platform before, so I don't know how it compares with others' experiences, but I feel pretty good about it!

Collaborating with author friends and colleagues to create enrichment materials for my books. For example, my friend and colleague, Lora Heller, and her team at Baby Fingers LLC created video clips of sign language interpretation of Lucy's Song. You can find those on the Lucy's Blooms playlist on my YouTube channel.  (Lora and her team offer a wide range of classes for Deaf and hearing students of all ages--and their classes are now available on virtual platforms from anywhere in the world. I encourage you to check them out!) Likewise, my friend and colleague, Kathy MacMillan recorded a wonderful flannelboard rhyme activity that teaches several ASL signs and is a great pairing for a story time featuring Lucy's Blooms. (Kathy has heaps of other story time resources on her StoriesByHand website!)

Writing press releases (that resulted in at least a couple of local newspaper articles.) 

Sending postcards to friends, family, and "book people" in my network.

Recording a virtual story time hosted by Green Bean Books--you can view it at 11 AM, Tuesday, April 20 (Pacific Time), or afterwards via Green Bean Books' YouTube channel.

Preparing Grab-n-Go activity bags for Portland-area readers who participate in the virtual book launch event at Green Bean Books.

Creating GIFs, videos, and images for social media posts, such as:

Much of what I learned in this process required patience, perserverence and love, similar to what Lucy and her Gram cultivated in Lucy's Blooms, and much of what I've learned will be incorporated into future book launches. Thank you for walking with me through this journey. May your seeds of love take root and grow, Lucy's Blooms! Happy Birthday to you!


  1. Thanks for the insight into what it took to get the book to publication and then launching it during the pandemic. What, no dandelion seed giveaways?! :)

    1. Thanks for reading, Christine. I enjoyed sharing my experiences. And the dandelion giveaway is in a yard near you : )