Groaning, Growing, and Glowing!

Has it really been over a year since I posted a Write from the Heart blog? Yes, and quite a year it has been. If you are looking for tales of fire works-uh, wrong blog! However, if you stay with me, I will try to help you see that mighty things happen in and around us as we live our daily lives and stay focused on our passion and vision.  If you are a new or experienced author or even business owner, you may relate to the title: Groaning, Growing, and Glowing!

In 1997, I was given the inspiration for my award-winning children's book, Ivan Becomes a Hero. When the inspiration came (see previous blog post), it was unexpected. Actually, it took me years to finally feel deep inside that I had done everything possible through prayer and effort to finish the manuscript with excellence. To me, that meant if I added or subtracted anything to it, at that point, I would mess it up! The writing endeavor was 10 years (as time permitted), 11/2 years to co-publish (Yes, too long, I know now!), and over 4 years running this new business of writing and publishing. It has been a journey of almost 16 years from the start ... to today!

The purpose of writing this blog is not to go over the WHOLE process of publishing, but to first explain my GROANING stage. It started with questions of self-doubt, for example: And who in the world would read my book? What am I thinking? When and how can I get this book published?  Who would I trust with my precious manuscript? Where will I obtain the money?  I felt inadequate, inexperienced, and fearful of the unknown.   

For me, this GROANING stage meant asking God if this was His will. Then coming to the reality that the potential publishing of my book was so much larger than me.... that it had to be a God idea. That meant it had to be God's heart. Since it was His idea, He would use the gifting He gave me to reach out to children needing hope and encouragement in the midst of being bullied and rejected. He would increase and I would decrease. My experience would point to Him and His love, goodness, and mercy.


The GROWING stage included stepping out into the unknown one step at a time.  It meant the daily co-publishing of my manuscript with some "just grin and bear it" days of frustration and joy while holding tight to the vision God gave me for children.  GOOD NEWS: A new confidence and boldness replaced the self-doubt. I believed I could design and lay out my first book from cover to cover. Hey, a teacher has to be a "jack of all trades" so I reasoned if could obtain a master's degree (reading), write curriculum, and lesson plans, then surely I could lay out the text and illustrations/design the book. As I said, I found a new boldness! After the text was confirmed by my editor, then I worked with the illustrator using my "dummy" book to record where the illustrations/text would meet. Also, I put into my "dummy" book the emotions I felt my characters might display, and then spent hours with the illustrator going over this book. Lastly, I spent hours working with the graphic artist. You have to understand that meant getting inside Ivan's heart and soul. Wonder why an author absolutely loves her character(s)? For me, it was  because I emotionally bonded with my Ivan character as he came alive within my own heart, soul, and emotions. He was real to me before he was real to the children!  I was blessed that my illustrator could do the same thing. 

The "real time" effect of the GROWING stage was watching the huge UPS truck deliver over 5,133 babies-I mean published books-to a storage unit that I rented monthly. At this point, it hit me hard that a mentor would have been a dream come true. Someone who would guide me closely as an experienced friend. Yet, I understand now that taking one day at a time and lots of prayers would be my mentor! Big learning curves were around the corner. I encountered some people who would take financial advantage of my passion, starry eyes, and inexperience as I found my footings.   

Marketing, sales, and social media (facebook,twitter, pinterest,linkedin, website) were a huge new mountain to conquer. Book signings at schools, churches, book stores, homes, the zoo and a variety of events throughout the community were all a part of my new world. That does not mean that sales were always the priority. Sometimes giving back meant author speaking/book talks for hours to crowds of children without a fee or large sales at book signings. At other times, book sales were clearly encouraging. I learned that a balanced approach worked best for me. Social media in the comfort of my home was great, but out in the community was where I connected with the public and how I stayed in business. Am I making a living off sales? Not yet anyway. Am I loving the experience? Most of the time it would a YES!  However, some days are more challenging than others! 


Understanding the value of the process I went through, including the roller coaster learning curves, worked for my good eventually. As I look back, I realize that when God gave me the inspiration for my book with Psalm 139:14 as the life message of being "fearfully and wonderfully made by God for a purpose", self-acceptance and to celebrate differences, I could NOT and did NOT fully comprehended the positive impact Ivan would have in this culture of bullying. Very often, I hear testimonies of hope and changes in young lives.  

As with any season of planning, planting and plowing-thank God-there is a season of harvest. I am NOT GLOWING because things have been perfect. On the contrary, trials, tears along with much joy and a feeling of accomplishment welcomed me. Now, I accept that I will always be GROWING and on a learning curve.  Mostly I am GLOWING because at this time, almost 4300 books are in children's hands and hearts nationally and internationally.  That equates to many hours of laboring with love in the public eye including numerous hours of laboring on the phone, writing letters, fb posts, etc.  At this stage, that equates to hundreds of testimonies of the way Ivan has encouraged children with hope. One powerful testimony was of a little girl who opened up about being sexually abused. No, Ivan Becomes a Hero is not about children being sexually abused but that is how she bonded with Ivan's story of bullying/rejection and could express what happened to her. For this little girl, Ivan's journey of being bullied spoke to her and gave her courage to tell her mom what happened to her at the hands of a family memeber. This little girl will receive help and further healing.  

In the GLOWING season, gratitude is everywhere. I am grateful for Frank, my husband, who is working by my side, and my son, Stephen, for many fresh, creative marketing ideas. Just weeks ago, my son, Jason guided me through my new Square sales device. I see how valuable it is for family and friends to believe in Ivan's mission. WithIn this GLOWING season, I can recount numerous new public friends who graciously held my hand and opened their hearts and doors of business to Ivan Becomes a Hero. Also, I am grateful to some brave pastors because they understood and supported the vision of Ivan ministering to their children.  

I am still GLOWING because this journey has brought me to a different season of publishing my NEW product through Brocato Publishing.  It has been a leap of faith in publishing a multi-facet softcover book, How Ivan Becomes a Hero Safari Coloring Adventure with drawing pages. Children will enjoy Ivan Becomes a Hero's story, coloring pages and writing about or drawing pictures focusing on heroes in their lives. "You can be a hero, too!" is our message.  Meet the Characters in beautiful color portraits and Fun Giraffe Facts are two big surprises!      

I am GLOWING in God's favor and plans.  I know life goes though cycles and I will again go through some of the GROANING, GROWING, and GLOWING stages with each book lovingly birthed.  However, God has a plan and I am willing to follow His plan. I am a testimony to His grace everyday. I believe many of you are in one of these stages also or have experienced all of them. GROANING, GROWING and GLOWING are a part of fulfilling life's purposes while gathering wisdom from experiences, pressing through, believing in your vision, and reaping the fruit of your labor. I am learning about unknowns every day. I pray we all keep the faith. One day at a time is my motto. I would love to hear about your GROANING, GROWING, and GLOWING seasons and experiences.    


 Linda Rossetti Brocato/BrocatoPublishing/Touching Hearts...Changing Lives/December 10, 2014