Today I’m delighted to have children’s author and poet, Liana Mahoney, as my guest. Liana and I met through the Poet’s Garage. She has a beautiful poetic voice and a keen eye for nature. She’s joining me today to celebrate the launch of her debut picture book, FOREST GREEN, a rhyming non-fiction circle story, published by North Country Books. Take it away, Liana!
I have three beautiful children. And like every woman who has brought a living being into the world, I have riveting stories about their births. The doctors who delivered them all articulated what I already knew– that each of them was a true miracle. “You’ve defied the odds,” the doctor who delivered my firstborn told me. Regarding my middle child’s birth, the doctor said, “Astounding, really. Just, such a shock…don’t see this kind of thing happen very often with positive results.” I awoke from a nap shortly after delivering my third child in the OR to see my doctor staring silently at me with a look of awe on his face. “So blessed, you are,” I remember him saying. “I am looking at one very, very lucky woman.”
I am happy to say that although each of my three children came into this world under less-than-perfect circumstances, they are perfectly perfect today. (Well…except for the fact that they are now teenagers, but that’s a different story. Sigh…) Worth the wait, worth the worries, and worthy of the blessed miracles that brought them into this world. I love happy endings, don’t you?
I’m excited to share with you another happy ending–this one much more recent, and far less miraculous than the births of my children, although on some levels, I do feel like I’ve given birth once again against ridiculous odds.
This month–six years after its acceptance (yes…SIX!) –my debut picture book, Forest Green, was finally released. On the afternoon of August 4th, 2014, the UPS man handed me a precious package weighing…umm…well, it was heavy-ish…and gave me a friendly “congratulations” on his way out the door, hurrying off to make other deliveries. I squealed, and smiled as my husband cut the packing tape, beads of sweat shining on his forehead. I lifted a copy from the box and admired it in all its beauty. It was just as I had imagined it: so new…stunningly beautiful. I gently stroked the cover. I sniffed the pages (awww…that new book smell!). I held it close for a while just to be sure it was real. Then the cameras came out, and the ogling began. Calls were made to family members; announcements made on social media. Forest Green had finally made its grand entrance into my world. Like a new mom, I was giddy over its arrival, and rightfully so. The path to publication was not an easy one.
Flashback to 2008: I was waiting to hear back from a small press about the status of my manuscript. I had received letters months before indicating that the manuscript had made it past the first two rounds of consideration, but it had been more than six months since I had received any further communication. I knew from prior experiences that this most likely meant they were going to decline, but nonetheless, I decided it was time to status query.
About two weeks later, an envelope came in the mail, addressed to me. I read the return address, and my heart sank. Another rejection. (They would have called, otherwise.) I added it to the junk mail pile and refused to open it until after dinner. At this point, it had already been a year since I initially submitted my manuscript. I could certainly postpone the sting of disappointment a few more minutes.
Hubby insisted I opened it after dinner. (I wanted to throw it out!) So I forced myself to read the bad news while he read over my shoulder. Moments later, we were both laughing hysterically, occasionally catching our breath to re-read key phrases out loud: “manuscript mangled so badly”…”car traveling at an estimated eighty miles an hour”…”freak accident”…”your manuscript directly in the path”…”under serious consideration…”
The stranger-than-fiction summary goes like this: a drunk driver had crashed through the brick wall of the building in which my manuscript had been kept on a table in the office of the publisher’s CEO for what was to be the final round of decision-making on its acquisition. The car went through the office and their showroom before stopping at another brick wall on the opposite side. (No one was hurt…thank goodness this happened after hours…another blessing and happy ending, if you disregard the driver’s jail time!) The CEO’s office, and my manuscript, was destroyed.
Hubby: “You mean to tell me…”
Hubby: “…you wait all these years for good news…
Hubby: “…and just when you get thiiiiissss close…”
Hubby: (insert sound of a racing car here…) “…your book manuscript gets…”
Both: “…RUN OVER!!!!!” (insert loud, out-of-breath, doubled-over belly laughter here)
Isn’t this a great story?
It doesn’t end here, though. I re-sent the manuscript and waited, once again, for more news. About two months later, it came. THE phone call. (!!!!!) 2010, the anticipated publication date. (Remember how bad the economy was at this time?) A year later, the date was pushed back to mid-2011. When that date came and went (some trouble with the original illustrator), it was pushed back again to late 2012. And you’ve probably already predicted that that date eventually got pushed back as well. Spring 2014. (Delay at the printer’s…) And finally, on to the happy ending in the summer of 2014.
It’s true. I am “one lucky woman.” In spite of the odds and the seemingly unnatural forces that worked against it, Forest Green is finally here, and its arrival has made me feel like a proud mama all over again. This was a labor of love with a twisted, tortured path to its realization, but it was no miracle. My three true miracles are listed on its dedication page.
LIANA MAHONEY is a nationally certified teacher from upstate New York who writes children’s poetry, educational materials, and non-fiction. She has numerous poetry credits, including the SCBWI Bulletin, various children’s magazines, online publications, and a poem in the award-winning sports-themed anthology AND THE CROWD GOES WILD. Liana’s poems also appear in various curricular materials with School Specialty, superteacherworksheets.com, and the Core Knowledge Foundation. She believes that a walk in the woods is one of the best cures for writer’s block, second only to teaching kindergarteners. FOREST GREEN, a rhyming non-fiction circle story, published by North Country Books, is her first picture book. To find out more visit her website.