by Brenda Reeves Sturgis

As writers, we must ALL strike while the iron is hot. Every writer tries to get into the castle (the publishing houses) over the drawbridge. The drawbridge however is crowded, heavy laden from the weight of writers that would love a meeting with the Queen or the King, (the editors). It is necessary, and beneficial to keep your eyes wide open for a secret passage that presents itself to you where nobody else is looking.

still-a-family-final-cover

This is EXACTLY how my newest picture book, STILL A FAMILY, Albert Whitman & Company, illustrated by Jo-Shin Lee, was conceived and transpired. I was trolling on Facebook one day, and there was a conversation that began on the wall of Tracey Adams, co-founder of the esteemed literary agency, Adams Literary. Josh Adams was my first agent, and so we have a wonderful relationship still, and I frequently read their posts as they are the most amazing people and such incredible agents. Tracey was in Maine visiting, and her daughter made a comment wondering why there were so many homeless people in Maine.

Tracey wondered why a book about the homeless, and how to explain homelessness to children, hadn’t been written yet. I was circling the castle and I saw that small light in the window of opportunity open. Nobody else had yet discovered it, and so I sat down and wrote a first draft of Still a Family. In doing so, I struck while the iron was hot.

It was quick writing session, 30-minutes maybe. I originally didn’t write STILL A FAMILY to sell it. I wrote it because I truly wanted to write something for Tracey’s daughter. It was a story written in rhyme, and I posted it on my Facebook wall.

Immediately…within seconds, I got a message from a Facebook friend who works in a homeless shelter saying, “This is GREAT! Can I share it with people at my shelter?”

I was encouraged by this response, and answered with, “Let me run this by my agent, the beautiful-friend-to-all Karen Grencik, of Red Fox Literary to see if there might be a calling for a book like this,” and I took the story off my Facebook wall if there were indeed a need for this story.

I sent Karen a message. “Do you think there is a calling for a book about a child living in a homeless shelter?” She pinged back a response…”No, I don’t really think there is a calling for a book like this, sorry.”

Well, I continued walking around the castle, and I saw another door open that nobody had yet seen, as two editors had responded on Tracey’s Facebook wall post. Their commentaries went like this. “I would LOVE a book like this for OUR house.” “YES, us too, we would like a book like this.” I scribbled down names, and found out what houses the editors worked at. I ping-ponged back another message to Karen. “There are two editors asking for this manuscript, will you send it?”

And just like that, before the day was over, we were out on submission with STILL A FAMILY.

I know this is highly unusual, I know the way this happened was nothing short of a miracle, but in saying this, had I not been open to getting into the castle other then over the drawbridge, had I not been willing to write something on cue, to write to what a specific editor had requested, STILL A FAMILY might never have come to fruition.

albertwhitmanKaren and I received immediate responses (within a day or two) regarding this manuscript. And within 6-weeks, STILL A FAMILY was sold to Albert Whitman & Co, this is record speed in the land of publishing. The manuscript changed a LOT, it was revised and revised, rewritten and tweaked, it went from rhyme, to prose. I had never written in prose before and it was a scary process for me, but I listened intently to my editor, Andrea Hall, and I was able to write the story (which took just about a year of revision) and is now being released on January 31st.

Albert Whitman wanted the story to be about a family, and how a family STAYS a family while living in different homeless shelters. Oftentimes families are separated, the mom lives with the children in one shelter, and the dad lives in a different shelter with men. I researched and wanted to write a story that would speak to the homeless, but also to librarians, educators, parents, grandparents, depicting the story compassionately, and with respect, it is a story of hope but most of all it is a story about LOVE.

I wrote the story to bring the plight of the homeless to light, to humanize this epidemic that is taking over our country and enveloping our world. 2.5 million children are affected by homelessness every single year. Sometimes the ONLY thing that separates the homeless from people with a home is a medical crisis and/or a few paychecks.

still-a-family-1 still-a-family-2

One thing led to another, Kirkus and Publisher’s Weekly have given STILL A FAMILY glowing reviews. There is a news anchor in New York that is going to blog about this book and report on it, and I have paired with Schinnell Leake, an Oprah Woman of the Year and founder of Extra-Ordinary Birthdays, an organization that provides birthday parties to children in homeless shelters. This is quickly becoming my life’s work, getting STILL A FAMILY to the children that need it most, to the children in the shelters, to the families to give them hope, to the schools for understanding and educational purposes…this is my new mission.

In closing, I reiterate to you to keep looking, keep searching, keep writing, and keep walking around the castle trying to get an audience with the Queen or the King. Keep your eyes open for trap doors, for a different access, for another way in, because you just never know how wonderful it all might be and how what YOU have to say can make a difference. Not only for people that you didn’t even know needed you, but for your own life, your unique purpose and your individual writing journey as well.

A percentage of every sale of STILL A FAMILY will be donated to homeless shelters across the country.


cover-still-a-familyBrenda Reeves Sturgis is the author of 10 TURKEYS IN THE ROAD,  illustrated by David Slonim, THE LAKE WHERE LOON LIVES, a cumulative rhyming book, illustrated by Brooke Carlton, and TOUCHDOWN, illustrated by Trey Chavez.

Brenda is the winner of the 2007 Smart Writer’s contest and the Grand Prize winner of the 2014 MeeGenius Author Challenge contest. Her latest picture book, STILL A FAMILY, will be released by Albert Whitman & Co on January 31st, 2017. You can visit her at BrendaReevesSturgis.com, or on Facebook, and you can see the trailer of STILL A FAMILY on You Tube.

prizedetails

Brenda is giving away three copies of STILL A FAMILY—one to a winner here, one to a homeless shelter of the winner’s choice and one to a children’s library selected by the winner.

Leave ONE COMMENT below to enter. You are eligible to win if you are a registered Storystorm participant and you have commented once on this blog post. Prizes will be given away at the conclusion of the event.

Good luck!

As a children's book author and mother of two, I'm pushing a stroller along the path to publication. I collect shiny doodads on the journey and share them here. You've found a kidlit treasure box.

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Wonderful story of a story that needed to be told!

So proud of you and your courage to write this book. Wishing you all the best of success! XOXO

Beautiful story! So glad that you were the one chosen to write it!

Brenda this is so deep in the heart touching. Congratulations on such an important book – may this book always find the children and families who need it the most.

As a former librarian, I’m delighted with your success on multiple levels. Thanks for the hope and dignity you will bring to shelter families, from both sides of the shelter.

    Pat, thank you. It was so important to me that this story be told with the compassion that it deserves, as I feel as though I have a responsibility and a deep desire to make a difference somehow. ❤

This month I’m going to wear out these keys on my computer: I-N-S-P-I-R-I-N-G! But it’s true! And today in such a deep way. Thanks, Brenda!

Great story Brenda. Glad you circled the castle to get Still A Family published. Thank you for posting.

I’ll be buying this book wether I win or not… but I really want to win. Who doesn’t like winning?! 😉

I’m glad you found the secret passage! I believe your book will touch many lives, and I’m looking forward to reading it.

What an inspiring post! Your story sounds incredible.

Brenda, you’ve used your head and your heart to do important work. Congratulations, and thank you for sharing your inspiring story and very helpful advice.

Brenda, in my past life I was a social worker. Thank you for writing this book!!! Thank you also for the reminder to take advantage of all opportunities we see.

This post touches my heart; not only is it inspiring to read about how the story started and it’s journey to completion, but also how this book is making a difference in the lives of all who read it!

I’m so inspired by your story. Way to go! I hope STILL A FAMILY does all of the great things that I imagine it will. Your gift of three books as a prize is very generous! I appreciate that generosity. Best of luck and I can’t wait to hear more about STILL A FAMILY!

What a great story of a way to storm the castle! Brenda, this is such an important book. Thank you for your persistence in finding a way in.

Fortune favors the prepared and this worked out beautifully for Beth! What an awesome book to build empathy and understanding for the plight of the homeless!

Brenda, congratulations on following through on this. I look forward to reading this book, and seeing it become a well-accomplished one that wins awards and helps to open eyes and hearts to the great need out there.

    From your mouth to God’s ears. It is my hope that this book touches many hearts and lives, and the award has been won already, which is the fact that I got to be the one to write it. A huge blessing, and an even bigger honor.

I have been trying to explain homelessness to my own 5 year old daughter for the past month, because we give money and food out the car window when we see homeless or needy individuals at corners. It’s such a hard concept, why some people don’t have a home. Because kids that age don’t get money yet either. “Why don’t they just go buy one?” she keeps asking. Uh, it breaks my heart. Absolutely a need for this book, for kids on both sides. SO glad you wrote it and that it got to meet the king and queen. Thanks for the blog…and your mission.

    Brianna, I totally hear you here, it is heartbreaking and difficult for children to grasp and understand. It is my hope that children won’t be afraid of homeless or people in shelters, that this book will help them to understand that a family is a family is a family and home is where the heart is.

If there is a will, there is a way. It is certainly an important story to tell. Thank you.

Wow! Fantastic story about getting to the publishing house and a wonderful topic to put before children. Very inspiring!

Seeing opportunity + the right motivation + persistence. What a winning formula.

    Yes, that’s me. I can be persistent, and I have always set my eyes on the prize and run through any and every door that God opens, and on the way through I shout, “Thank you very much! Use me somehow.” So I appreciate your kind words and hope that it will be a winning formula.

What a wonderful story about taking a spark of inspiration and turning it into something so wonderful!

I love this story, the book it created, and I’m sure I’d love Brenda! Things do fall into place in serendipitous ways when we stay open to possibility.

Beautiful story on how you found your new life’s mission as well.

    Tracy, I am most excited about how things will unfold. My life’s goal is to get to every shelter in the country and give Still a Family to EVERY child in every shelter. A lofty undertaking, I realize. But…what the mind can believe, the heart can achieve.

Wonderful post, and I think it applies to people trying to break into other fields also. Congratulations on recognizing the opportunity and seizing it!

I used to think of the homeless as an adult living on the street or under a bridge. But sine the economic downturn in 2009, I learned that many families are homeless. I think I knew that before, but it took me a while…. Your book is important, and thank you for your advice.

Awesome! Just awesome! Can’t wait to read this picture book to my grandchildren and to their classes at school.

What a magical story this book has. You’ve written an important book for those who live in shelters and those who have a better understanding of families who do. Congrats.

Thank you for making a homeless child’s story a must read.

That’s a wonderful story and I’m excited to read your special book. I’m So happy for your success! I, too, find amazing inspiration on social media that have led to some really good story ideas.

Perfect post for my current project. Thanks for the nudge.

The right motivation and determination, a dynamic team.

What a wonderful and inspiring story.

An important subject to tackle. Congrats on your successful book and for getting into that castle!

WOW. I am, of course, impressed by your storming of the castle, but even more than that, I am so touched by the respect, compassion, and love here. We need this now more than ever. Thank you, Brenda.

I can only imagine how much this book is appreciated. I can’t wait to read it! Makes me think of when my daughters asked why santa overlooks the kids on the Salvation Army angel tree. What a great question and what a hard thing to answer on the spot.

Wow! What a whirlwind, Brenda! What an important story to tell, too. I love the idea of writing on command. It’s like an assignment. I’m a landscape designer and I’ve found that the more parameters I have, the more creative I have to be. Congrats and thanks for the great post!

Thank you for the wonderful post. You taught me that there is more than one road to getting a book out.

Oh, wow, what a story for you and getting into the castle as well as what good this will do for homeless children and for the issue itself. I will be sharing this book when it comes out and adding it to my list when I present at the 2017 Virginia Hamilton Multicultural Conference in March. BRAVO.

Very inspiring! So many lives will be touched. Congratulations!

What a beautiful and compassionate story! Thank you for sharing it from it’s inception, through the publishing process, to now–which is clearly the beginning of a whole new chapter. A new chapter that I hope leads to wonderful things for you, your book, and the many families facing homelessness in our country.

Sounds like a wonderful story. I can’t wait to read it.

Great post! Congratulations of the book and good for you for telling such an important story in such a sensitive way…

This has so many layers of lessons. And finding a story that does good for the world while supporting your writing…that’s golden. Thanks for the tip and best wishes with this book helping raise awareness.

Great stories: Yours and the book’s!

Love the story of how Still A Family came to be. What a wonderful idea! Thanks for sharing!

Great advice, and a wonderful topic. I’ve worked in our local homeless ministry where families stay in churches on an alternating basis and are helped with finding jobs and permanent homes. It’s amazing how many children attend school even without a permanent home.

Way to go! Kids will benefit from your agent augmenting bravery.

    Ginger, Karen and I have such a lovely wonderful relationship. We have been together for almost 7 years and I trust her judgment and she trusts mine. She is an amazing agent, friend, and cheerleader and works so hard for all of her “kits” at Red Fox Literary. I am blessed to be represented by her.

Thank you so much for your inspirational words. I am constantly looking for that secret door or path. And congratulations on your book!

My heart is still pounding with compassion after reading about your journey to write this meaningful picture book about such a serious subject impacting so many. I am particularly touched by the irony of the castle analogy for the challenges to get a book published when a “castle” can also symbolize an idealized home for someone without any real roof overhead. Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this book to increase awareness for the plight of the homeless.

Brenda, I really appreciate you sharing not only your writing story but of your time and dedication to the plight of homelessness. I can’t wait to read STILL A FAMILY!

What an interesting backstory, Brenda! Congrats on this timely story with such an important message. 🙂

Great topic, very important. Thanks for sharing.

Brenda, what an amazing story. What a gift & blessing to give voice to families who find themselves in struggling. The gifts of hope & love. I’ll make sure we order it at the library if it’s not already in our “cart”!

Good for you, Brenda! I was just talking to a neighbor the other day whose daughter teaches private music lessons at our local homeless shelter. I had no idea there were so many students in our school district that are either living at the shelter or not with their parents. What you’re doing is necessary! I’m proud of you. 🙂

Great post on circling the castle and finally getting in! Sounds like a very much needed book for children and adults. Can’t wait to read it.

Thanks Brenda…you gave wonderful insight into the process of getting a book out there! I’m looking foward to reading your book…and appreciate your giving back to such a worthy cause!

What a remarkable story! Thanks for sharing it.

Looks like a beautiful story. I can’t wait to read it!

I am so incredibly touched by these posts, tears streaming, chills up and own my spine. THANK YOU everyone, for taking time out of your day to post these words of affirmation that mean so very much to me. Please reach out, friend me on facebook, we can never have enough friends, right? I am honored and humbled by the posts here, and it feels like such a dream. Thank you for thoughtfulness and kindness.

I had to smile when you wrote going from rhyme to prose was scary. For those of us who write in prose, the thought of moving into rhyme feels the same. I’ll keep my eyes and ears alert for that secret passage. I’m looking forward to reading your book.

    Writing in prose for me is like pulling teeth. It’s not something that comes naturally to me it was tough, rhyme is my thing normally, so I hope that I will do it justice, and I hope the storytelling will touch some hearts. Thank you.

This is such a wonderful story. We need that book in our house, too.

What an important book! Thank you for tackling the cause and for encouraging us to look at things differently.

Good on you for recognizing a need, then being both quick to address it and persistent in filling it!

Thanks for bringing light to this topic.

Inspirational, in many ways! This is an excellent reminder to us authors, to keep our eyes open for the needs of our audience and for the opportunities to provide what’s needed! Thank you, Brenda, and congratulations on your much-deserved success! I firmly believe that when we focus on others, it comes back to us. 😉

Touching way to start the morning. And wonderful ideas like this beget other inspired ideas…I reached right out to our shelter here locally, they do wonderful work and provide programs to help people up, and to grow, I want to make sure to secure a few copies of Still a Family as soon as it’s available! And that Brenda is a Mainer also, will make them more special! thankyou! Lolo

Paying attention pays off! And what a lovely and much needed book for the world!

What a beautiful storyline. Homelessness is not something people plan for in life and is so difficult to explain especially to young people. Looking forward to reading this book.

Thanks for sharing the journey of your book. It sounds like a great story.

What a wonderful story! Kudos to you. Very inspiring. Your book sounds wonderful and so helpful to so many.

You have a very inspiring story of how you broke into publishing. Thanks so much for sharing and thanks for showing us how writers truly can make a difference.

I thought this myself recently, so I’m glad you’ve done it! I look forward to reading your book. We creators hold much power and have the chance to make a difference.

I look forward to reading your book. I know families enduring this now — and they have little hope. I fear the situation is only getting worse, and is being forgotten. I hope your story brings those children in need some comfort, and those living in stable situations, compassion.
Congratulations! And thank you for sharing.

    Denise, please tell them about my book. This is BUT A SEASON in their lives. They will make it out to the other side, and they have each other, and they are Still a Family! And THAT is the most important thing. ❤

Beautiful, important story. My son has run a lemonade fundraiser every year for Family Promise (an organization that helps homeless families secure housing). I would love to get this book for them.

Thanks for telling us to watch, write, and wiggle in. Congratulations on your book and trailer- touching my heart ❤

Keeping an eye on the windows and back doors, Brenda. Congrats on the book and nice to see part of the proceeds going to the cause.

Your post is beautiful. Thank you.

What in inspiring story of how a story came to be! You’ve touched upon a subject that’s definitely an elephant in the room and addressed it with love, THE most important emotion to humans. Thank you for writing this book, Brenda, and I look forward to snatching a copy!

This makes me cry. Wonderful story.

What a touching story. We recently moved from the upper Midwest to Atlanta and it was the first time our children saw this sad but true situation for many people. Your book will help me explain it better to my little ones. Thank you.

    Amanda, we see the homeless on the corners, and we avert our eyes because it touches close to home for all of us, and it’s scary to think about. The illustrator that Albert Whitman selected depicted this story innocently, perfectly through the drawings of the child. My hope is that this book helps us ALL make eye contact and realize these people have children too, and we are but a few paychecks away. Family is family, and home is where the heart is.

Thanks for sharing your amazing story!

Wow, really inspiring on so many levels! Thank you, Brenda!

Very inspiring story!

What a great story. Good Luck. Truly putting your heart and soul into this.

Wow! What an inspirational story!
Last year one of my son’s classmates home (with all their belongings) burned to the ground and they had a tough time for months. All his classmates tried to help out donating clothes and blankets etc… Fortunately they found a new home now. But there are many children in this situation. Books like yours are a great way to reach out to them and to explain homelessness to others. I can’t wait to read it!

Wow, incredible author and I’m sure an incredible book.

Brenda, thank you for this heartfelt post and your work on behalf of homeless families. I love the birthday party idea and wonder if children’s writers could join with you to donate books as presents. I’ve been thinking of donating books from my overflowing library to a local shelter and visiting as a reader and reading coach. Hooray for Albert Whitman for partnering with you to bring Still a Family, such an important book, to us all.

    This is a wonderful idea, thank you! Also, feel free to connect with Schinnell Leake. She is the founder of Extra-Ordinary Birthdays, (an organization that provides birthday parties to the homeless) she was featured in Oprah’s magazine and was chosen as a Woman of the Year. We have paired up together and I know she would appreciate your support.

What an amazing hopeful story! Thank you.

Wow! What an amazing story about how THIS story came to be! Thank you for sharing! I visit downtown Portland every December, and in 2015 saw a child walking with her family pause as they passed a homeless person huddled in a ball so small, I had to look twice to determine what it was I was seeing. I heard the little girl question her parents about him. You have truly filled a void and addressed a very real and important topic. Homelessness is a terrible situation no matter where you happen to be, but homelessness in December in Maine is unfathomable! My husband and I tracked this particular homeless person down when he was no longer in the same spot when we passed by later, and bought him a hot breakfast & a little financial help, but it was really heartbreaking to not know what would become of him after we returned to CT…..I will keep my eye out for your book.

I so glad you found an entrance into the castle. Your idea is fabulous and I thank you for your dedication to those who find themselves homeless. Truly inspirational post!

WOW, this is an amazing story. And it’s so much more than getting published. Congratulations and continued success to you. I can’t wait to read your book!

Wow! Kudos to you for finding a need and pursuing it. What great inspiration! Thank you for sharing. T

Brenda, your story is truly inspiring! Thank you for sharing it with us and on January 31st, the world!

It is so nice to hear how stories develop and change. Thank you for sharing your story.

looks like a fine book. Congratulations! Now, if I had an agent who had the connections to sell picture books…….

    It’s all tough, with an agent and without. Picture books are so difficult to sell in this economic climate, and I have hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of rejections. Keep on writing and keep on believing it will happen.

Such a great idea! Thank you Brenda for this post!

An important story that needs to be told…glad that you got the opportunity to do so.

Brenda – thank you for sharing your story with us.

I can’t wait to read Still a Family to my students, many of whom can relate to living in alternative family arrangements when times get tough. Thanks for looking for the open passage and for making this a mission, not just a book.

Thank you for sharing the remarkable journey of Still A Family. Wow.

Thank you for your persistence! This is an important story. Last month, a family from Maine that moved to New York City and lived together in a homeless shelter suffered a terrible tragedy. And by the way, I sold a novel for older middle grade readers by seeing a call from an editor and then passing it along to my agent.

I have always wanted to help the homeless, years ago on a frigid December day I purchased a coat, a hat, mittens and a meal for a homeless woman. The next year I saw her again, she was wearing the coat, I felt that I did some good. Maybe didn’t change her life, but cared enough to try. Everything we can do helps. Even before I was a published writer I started a movement to get books to shelters and had many wonderful authors donate books so that I could send them to shelters across the country. We all can make a difference, and everything we do matters. If one million hearts care, then one million hearts reach a million people, it’s a trickle down effect. One random act of kindness begets another.

Wow! What an amazing story! Thanks for sharing it.

I’ve had several students who’ve been in this situation. Certainly a delicate topic to discuss for sure!

To begin, your gift is quite generous. And the prize is over the moon kind. I am so glad I read this post. It makes me think of how we have be our own advocate as writers wanting to share our stories. Well done. I love the trailer too. Great post. Great job.

Beautiful! Thank you.

What an amazing story! Thank you so much for sharing and congratulations!

This is such a beautiful story . . . so glad you persisted. I will surely get it when it comes out. I know place that would love it. Congratulations!

How you found your secret passage is inspiring, Brenda! What a wonderful way to help bring awareness and to help young readers understand the homeless problem.

Wow Brenda! What an inspiring story! Great job! Can’t wait to read STILL A FAMILY!

Looking forward to reading this. We have some homeless children at our school, and I hope your story will speak to them as well as spark empathy in others.

This is definitely a miracle story, Brenda! How inspiring for us all. We must keep pressing through barriers or make a new way in to have our voices and stories heard.

What a wonderful story! I look forward to reading, Still A Family. Thank you for sharing.

Wow! What a story of perfect timing and perfect answer to a very current problem! Thank you for reminding us to be aware and ready to go. Best wishes with your book!

I love, love, love that you wrote this story. I have tears in my eyes from reading this. I have served meals in homeless shelters and helped with ministries to the homeless in many other ways through my church, and yet writing a story for kids never even crossed my mind. I know this is needed by kids on both sides. Thank you!

Thank you for this post. Thinking about getting ‘in’ over the bridge across the moat but finding other ways to slip inside is an interesting way to explain how to get one’s stories onto the desk of an agent or editor. Still a Family sounds like a wonderful book.

Love that analogy…Looking for “trap doors!” Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

This gives me goosebumps! I love the analogy you made to entering the castle. And, I especially love that this beautiful idea is being made into a book. As a former guidance counselor (and now librarian) I see the need for this topic to be in books on bookshelves. So glad you found your way into the castle!

Congrats. I’ll look forward to seeing the book when it comes out.

The analogy of the castle with a moat and drawbridge speaks volumes! Thanks for sharing your secret passageways with us!

What a great story to read. Thank you.

I’m glad your book will find the kids who need it!

Thanks for writing this book and providing a voice for the homeless. I can’t wait to read your book!

Thanks for providing a voice to the homeless! Can’t wait to read it.

Thanks for sharing this inspiring and touching journey, Brenda. I love that it sold quick but then you and your editor took so much care with it. I’m looking forward to reading it. The trailer is wonderful and I loved getting a glimpse of the illustrations.

This is so great to read!!! I have been homeless (briefly) and have had several friends who were homeless with children. This is a beautiful and wonderful thing!!!

My take away from this is to be persistent with your agent — sometimes you see opportunities they don’t.

    Karen Grencik and I have a very wonderful relationship and we have been friends and have worked together for almost seven years. I have the utmost respect for her, and often times, most times actually, if she doesn’t think something is a good fit for her editors she passes, BUT she always listens to me if I can show her that I know of an editor that is interested and she always sends my work out if I know of somebody it might be a good fit for. It works because we trust each other. If I don’t know of an editor that has interest I always defer to Karen because she spends countless hours working so hard for her clients and friends at Red Fox Literary. I was glad that we were able to sell this book to Albert Whitman, and I couldn’t have done it without her.

Great story, Brenda! Even now that I’m published, I’m always scouring the Internet for opportunities to write books that I know an editor wants. Thanks for sharing this!

Beautiful journey in helping others less fortunate. Our circumstances can change in a heartbeat and you are going to help many get through tough times. Kudos for your generosity and heart. I look forward to reading STILL A FAMILY ❤

I appreciate your post – the metaphors that are lighthearted as well as sincere and meaningful.

Thank you for your post. What a wonderful and much needed story! I look forward to reading your beautiful book.

Brenda, I needed this bit of inspiration today, thank you!

Wow! Way to take the ball & run with it! Good for you!

Great tip! So amazing to hear how this worked out for you. You are right though, we need to keep our eyes and ears open to the whole writing community to look for those “back door” openings. Thank you!

Reblogged this on To Wonder at Beauty and commented:
This is an inspiring story in so many ways!

What a wonderful book to add to the world! I am hesitant to try to tailor stories to what agents and editors are looking for, as it seems inorganic. However….! It just might also be a good place to look for ideas that truly spark something in me. Might as well mine for ideas in a place that might also reveal a trapdoor.

Thanks for sharing your wonderful and inspiring story. Finding an opportunity, following through and making a difference for people all in one–it doesn’t get much better than that! Congratulations!!

Remarkable, inspiring, beautiful are words used by the people responding to this blog and I agree.

Two glad you and your story found a home.

Inspiring story. Thank you, Brenda!

A great job of writing for children to fill a special need.

Thank you for sharing this incredible post with us, Brenda. Your journey with this book is impressive and the good you are doing for people in the world is even more impressive.

Brenda, what a beautiful story. Thank you for making the world a better place❤

Thanks for sharing your journey! You are an inspiration!

Nice job seizing the opportunity. And beneficial to so many. Saw something today that I’m going to write about. Thanks for the inspiration.

What a wonderful idea and way to share this great problem and in a way to convey it to children and parents everywhere. I want to keep this and remember the circuitous route you took to publishing. I never knew that agents had posts or a wall to read. And the places you looked in and around to find a need for this story. Very helpful post.

    Sheri, more than any other business I’ve been in, Children’s Publishing is rooted in friendships and relationship based. Editors, and agents become friends through thoughtful submissions, or through conferences, and oftentimes they post about things they want or need and that is how we find the needle in the haystack that can become a picture book, oftentimes.

Thank you for the inspiration Brenda! I love that you saw a need and pursued it.

Powerful story and inspiring post. Thank you, and congratulations on this much needed representation. I look forward to reading the book.

Brenda, you found a way in that can truly make a difference. Thank you for sharing this experience. Congratulations on STILL A FAMILY’s upcoming debut. I hope it will quickly be accessible to all children, but especially to those who so need the support.

Brenda, if any story deserved to be on the fast track, this one is it. Thank you. I will keep an eye out from the bridge.

I love finding books on topics and people I’ve never seen out there in libraries or bookstores. We need more books that cover a wider range of topics, the world is so diverse.

I think what you did was very brave. Homelessness is a heartbreaking reality and one that can be difficult to address head on. I look forward to reading this book and sharing your mission with others.

Your post is inspirational in regard to writing what gnaws at your heart and helping writers find ways to cross the many moats outside the many castles.

So glad you found a home for this much needed story! Thanks for the great post!

Thanks, Brenda! Wonderful initiative and I’ll be looking for those trapdoors from now on.
Congrats and good luck!

Way to go! Your story is very inspiring for all of us still waiting for that one “yes.” Look forward to reading your book.

You wrote a story that needed to be written. Thank you for the inspiration, Brenda!

I love to hear success stories. I hope this book brings comfort to many homeless children.

Wonderful post! The story behind the story is very inspirational.

Thank you so much, Brenda…the story of your book’s journey…and your passion for your mission…are inspiring! I remember hearing an interview with actor Will Smith…someone asked him how he had become so successful. “See what the people need/want…and then give it to them.”
You saw what was needed/wanted…and you acted on it…and followed through, even when you meet with a discouraging response from your agent. So glad you believed in yourself and in what you had written!

What a joy it was to read this post about two great stories– your success story with this book, and the lovely warmth of your new upcoming picture book about a very important issue in the US. Thank you for sharing this with us!

What an incredible story, thank you Brenda. I look forward to buying it for my children. And a great analogy to keep walking round the castle looking for a secret trapdoor or ladder….

Wow. Just wow.

I love that this story was able to be told. Thank you for sharing this with us. (I also love the possibility of donating one to the local homeless shelter and to a local library as well… What a generous and thoughtful prize.) ❤

What an amazing story of serendipity and inspiration. Thank you for sharing!

This is one of the best stories I’ve heard about getting a picture book published. What a wonderful cause! Congratulations, Brenda!

Thank you for being a voice for the homeless who are often misunderstood. Thank you for giving them the gift of hope in your new book.

There are a few PBs about homelessness but not many, so congratulations on persevering to fill this niche; a FL librarian once bemoaned the fact that there weren’t more (ever notice how many homeless hang out in the library?) and I once proposed a story on the subject, but it elicited no interest.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading how this story came into fruition. What a great subject also. Thanks for sharing the journey of this picture book idea with us.

Thanks for highlighting a few of the trap doors and windows. I can’t wait to read this book and I love your tale of how it came to be. Congratulations.

Thanks for sharing your story! Very inspiring! Congratulations on your success!

Touching post. I hope the book will do good for the homeless people.

Brenda, I can’t wait to read your book. I have an idea about a story that – like yours – might not get a lot of positive response. It’s a story I think needs to be told, and I’m trying to find how to tell it. You give me hope. Thank you.

This is a remarkable story and how you followed your heart to success all the time helping others. YOU are amazing! Thank you so much for sharing your story and for the opportunity to win copies of your book for our local library and shelter. I’m adding your book to my “must read” list now.

I am new to Storystorm and the writing world. I really admire you for coming up with an idea that nobody seems to have written about yet. That’s awesome! Very inspiring. Thank you.
~Sharon

Very touching…thanks. Also, a creative perspective on getting published.

An inspiring look at the right story at the right time. Not to mention all the wonderful collateral things happening because you recognized a need and filled it, Brenda. Hurrah!

    LeeAnn, one thing I am NOT is shy. So when I saw Schinnell Leake inside the pages of Oprah’s Magazine, and I read about Extra-Ordinary Birthdays I just reached out and e-mailed her. I figured, as I always do, what’s the harm. What’s the worst thing that’s going to happen? I am always respectful and try to be thoughtful, and so I reached out, and she reached back. I am a firm believer in giving everything I have and a little bit more because you just never know who you’re going to help that day. Life is cumulative!

Wow! That is an amazing story. Still a Family sounds like a timely and much needed book. Thanks for sharing your inspiring story.

A story that needed to be told. Thanks for writing it when you heard the idea.

Your book was featured at a recent SCBWI North & East Bay Intensive, and I want to thank you for leaping toward that lighted window. You heard a call and you answered.

So inspirational. Thank you Brenda!

I am so glad your story found a home. It was meant to be — I can envision this changing someone’s life. Truly. Brava!

what a great story about a story. Thanks for sharing your experience of sneaking into the castle. and thanks for writing about a topic people would rather not see.

    We avert our eyes from the truth sometimes, because it is easier than facing what is right in front of us. We lock our doors, and look away, fiddle with our radios, when what we should be doing is showing compassion and understanding and it is my hope that Still a Family will do just that.

Amazing back story to publication. Important lesson to us all to listen to our instincts and follow through. Thank you for sharing.

I’m a teacher in a Title 1 school and more often than not I have students tell me they’re homeless from time to tume. It breaks my heart. They could certainly use a book like this! I look forward to reading it.

Such meaningful work you are doing. Congratulations on STILL A FAMILY!

What a great lesson! I can’t wait to read Still a Family! Thank you!

Beautiful.

Thank you for noticing an opportunity and seeing it through to completion. How inspiring! Here in the Seattle area, we have a huge homeless population. I am glad to know about Still a Family.

Wow! I bet you were on Cloud 9 for months! I look forward to reading your book.

Thanks for sharing your path to publication here! It sounds like a book that was needed by all – I look forward to reading it!

Thank you for caring about under represented families at the margins of society. There is so much more needed to create empathy for those who are ” different ” inorder to see how we are all the same. So much so in the new era of Trump as president .

    Desperate times call for desperate measures. We are ALL one, whether we live in a homeless shelter or a gilded apartment. We come into the world the same and we leave the world, and what we do to make a difference while we are here is what matters most.

What an amazing and inspiring journey! I truly hope your book brings both joy & comfort to all its readers 🙂

What a great story about determination and hard work to get an important story out into the world.

You’ve given us all a spark of hope that each will find a mission and a reminder to keep an eye out for that open window.

Brenda – this is a beautiful story on so many levels. Thank you for sharing and I look forward to reading Still a Family and your other books.

What a perfect post for today — MLK, Jr. Day — in recognition of every human being’s equal value and worth simply because of their existence, not because of their skin color or economic class. Congratulations, Brenda, on writing a story that needs to be shared over and over again.

This is wonderful, Brenda. I love your nontraditional route to publishing, and I love the message your story is sharing.

Wonderful story idea. Now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure I haven’t read a picture book about homelessness…

Thanks for sharing how your idea went into publication and I love that it also helps those who are homeless. What a publishing story! Congratulations.

This is an inspiring story and a worthy cause. Thank you.

Can’t wait to hold this one, Brenda. You figured out how to open the castle door. Congratulations, my friend!!!

What an inspiring story! I can’t wait to read your book.

Great post – very inspiring. Thanks.

Thanks for sharing how a critical eye can create opportunity. Wonderful to have another book that fills a hole in the market. Cheers!

Sounds like a wonderful book and I cannot wait to read it. As a reader I am so happy you stumbled upon that post and followed up!

Not to be a contrarian, but I find that social media actually dulls people’s social awareness and makes them more insular.

Wow. Just wow. I am sharing your book title with the people I know who work with those who are homeless. Although this is a story that’s almost more important for those who aren’t.

Wonderful advice! I look forward to your book. I could have used it while I taught first grade.

That is awesome! I need to think of a few story ideas like this. I know there are things I want to talk to my kids about, but there are so many subjects that just aren’t in picture book format yet!

An inspiring story and a great reminder to be open to getting inspiration everywhere.

Incredible story! Very inspiring. I can’t wait to read Still A Family! Thank you.

As a teacher, I see a desperate need for this story. Our school encounters this situation every year. Thanks for your caring heart to write it and to share it with others.

Brenda, your post gave me chills. Can’t wait to read it!

Homelessness is a topic we all need to hear about. Thank you.

Great post! There is such a need for these types of stories.

Love the serendipity of how this book came into being!

This is such a fantastic story. It’s full of heart.

What a wonderful story. I love reading how books become published, often the story behind them is an original story in itself :o)

Wonderful story, Brenda–you are inspiring!

I am in New Zealand and while we don’t have the same shelter system as the US this book would still be so valuable.

Well done for writing such a difficult story subject! Congratulations on publications do wishing you every success!

Love hearing about a non-traditional path to book publication! Great story!

What a wonderful story! I love how the concept for your book came to be. Writing about the homeless plight could not have been easy, but it’s a story all people should read, not just children. Congrats on this inspiring book!

    It was VERY tough. It went through many many changes and revisions. It had to be just right because it is a difficult subject matter, so it needed to be told thoughtfully with compassion. I hope you will like it.

Wonderful post! I love the awareness that this brings to children about the plight of the homeless. I’m glad you put together a story that could reach young readers and give them an insight into this very real condition that has affected so many people. And thank you for sharing your thoughts on getting into the “castle”. I always love to hear how other writers have gotten their work published. Looking forward to reading your book.

So inspiring! So instructive! And, yes, it helps to have connections and be agented. Thank you for this post!

    I couldn’t do this without my agent, but I didn’t always have an agent. In fact, I queried for many months, got my first agent after winning a contest and then we were together for 2.5 years. We parted ways amicably. I queried agents for 8 more months, many many agents. Rejected at every turn. Signed with my second agent and that wasn’t a good fit so we parted ways. Queried for many months, hired Emma Dryden as a consultant to see what I was doing wrong, and then landed ever so happily and gratefully with Karen Grencik of Red Fox Literary and we’ve been together almost 7 years. It is an effortless love match. I am very blessed and very lucky to work with her.

What a wonderful story! I love the idea of it, and am sure that it’s one that is much needed, both as a mirrior, for those who have lived or are still living in shelters or are homeless, and as a window for others to see, to have compassion for and to empathize with others. We are all still families, no mater the circumstances. So looking forward to reading it, Brenda!! Congrats & thank you for writing it, and donating proceeds– ❤

Wonderful post, Brenda! Happy to hear your persistence – sharing the story your heart wanted to tell – paid off.

Congratulations! Would you have been able to do what you did without an agent? Just curious.

    Probably not, but it all depends if I had the connections with the editors myself, if I had met them at a conference or was friends with them on facebook. I might have been able to submit to them on my own, but in all honesty doubtful. Having an agent is a blessing in this business. Read the above post, it explains how I got my agent. It took me 6-years to find her!

I am inspired by your post! Thank you for using your voice to help others.

I love this journey to the moon and back. Thanks so much for sharing it.

Wow, just wow! You found a need and spoke to it. Miracle indeed–the kind of miracle that is meant to be. Thank you for sharing.

Thanks so much for this, and your keen eye to get this going! More impressive is your tenacious, yet kind way of nudging. So proud of your place in the children’s lit world, and beyond-congrats!

Thanks for sharing! This is wonderful!

What perseverance you have, Brenda! I, too, have a particular idea that will one day find a home but until then, YOUR story inspires me to keep looking at that castle for a new way in…

Great post!

Good luck with your new mission! It is a truly inspirational one. Yes, I will look for the non-traditional methods to getting published

Thank you for writing this book for all of us.

Thanks Brenda for sharing your wonderful story. I loved how a conversation on Facebook inspired you to create your magic. I’m looking forward to reading your book.

I can’t wait to read this book. I have actually wanted to write about a child living in a homeless shelter for over a year now – it’s so important for kids to see themselves in books and there are plenty of kids without permanent homes these days. Thank you for a great post!

Thank you for remembering and honoring this forgotten segment of our society.

What a great story, so inspirational!

It’s not often that a children’s book writer can make such a difference in so many children’s lives. Congratulations.

OMG! I love this story about how you book came to be. Congratulations!

Homelessness is close to my heart as well. So pleased, more than that, thrilled you took this on and stuck it through to publication (I couldn’t say to the end, because this feels much more like a beginning).

Awesome story! I get a lot of ideas from Facebook, too.

Your story idea brought tears to my eyes. I recently had a conversation with a coworker who told me she and her children were homeless for 4 years! I couldn’t believe it. You seem like the perfect ambassador for the mission your on. Good luck, and congratulations on this very important book!

I love this idea and it’s amazing how quickly things can turn around when you least expect it. Thank you for sharing!

Brenda, I loved the trailer to your book, Still a Family. It’s touching but yet sad that families can’t be together in times of crisis in their lives. I’m always on the lookout for new things to write about. Thanks for your story about your publishing success.

Thank you for sharing your story. What a wonderful journey you are on. You made me feel like I was on the journey with you and we picked up quite a variety of takeaways along the way. Thank you again, and congratulations. May this new found mission help the many homeless children and families out there. 💞

What a beautiful story. I can’t wait to read it.

What a story. What a mission. Love it! Thanks for being alert and diligent in carrying forth a story that needs to be told for all of us.

How inspiring! And congratulations on your book. I look forward to reading it.

What an important story! Glad you found the way in.

This is such an important book for raising awareness!

What a great post on hope — both for aspiring writers wanting to find a way into the ivory tower past all the various gatekeepers, but also for people everywhere who don’t yet have a voice who may only need an alert writer to bring attention to their situation. Loved this!

I’m choked up. It’s lovely. I was surprised when I read the bit about…there wouldn’t be a market for this. I definitely think there is and I am relieved to know it was published! Thank you for writing a book for these people who do not have a voice. I can not imagine what it feels like to spread awareness and do it in such a beautiful manner. Congratulations!

Hi Brenda,
This is such an uplifting post and we are all grateful for your book and efforts for our vulnerable fellow citizens.
Just so wonderful on so many levels! Congratulations!

Such an important topic! Thank you for sharing.

I may or may not have teared up just reading the synopsis of your story. Beautiful.

This sounds like a great book on a topic on which I spend much of my free time. I serve as the Chair of the Board of Directors of a nonprofit organization that is a medical respite facility for homeless men who also have medical needs. Many of them have been separated from their children during their homeless stint. I’ll be ordering some copies for the men to give their kids. Thank you for writing on this topic.

Such an inspiring post Brenda. I am going to keep looking for that opening!

I have often gotten blog post ideas from Facebook posts, but I had never considered them for story ideas. Thank you for opening up my eyes to new possibilities. And you are right. Homelessness can come to all sorts of people through no fault of their own. It can happen through a bad set of circumstances.

Brenda, thank you for this heartfelt story of your book and now your mission. Doesn’t this tell us all to get out there and live a full life, but always be on the alert for need that needs filling whether it is story or action. Again, thank you!

I can’t wait to read your book! I have worked with families who are homeless for years and could not find books for the children that would reflect their lives yet focus on the love of family. Thank you.

Thanks for sharing your story’s journey over the drawbridge!

What a wonderful story about finding inspiration and writing. Congrats on all this has will become!

How wonderful! I can’t wait to read your book! Thanks for sharing with us.

Sounds like you have found your raison d’être. I hope your story sheds some light on the plight of homeless people.

An incredibly important topic, Brenda – so glad you wrote this book!

An inspiring post. Thank you for sharing.

A timely topic! Thank you for sharing this;)

what a great backstory and even greater giveaway! Thanks for sharing 🙂

Wow, Brenda! Talk about making the world a better place. Your words are doing just that for homeless families everywhere. The ripple effect of the impact this can potentially have is mind-boggling. Thanks you for your inspiring story.

I love this idea and can’t wait to read the book with my family ! My seven year old son and I were talking about this over Christmas when we were buying gifts for children currently living in a shelter.

wow! amazing story! thank you for sharing and for writing about something so important!

So inspiring…can’t wait to see this book!

So interesting that your backdoor to the castle led to the front door of a homeless shelter. And how heartwarming that your story, written with grace and wisdom, will bring smiles to children who need happy birthdays and books to read.

Truly moving and inspirational. I look forward to getting a copy of Still A Family. Thanks for this post!

Wow! What a great post! Both “Still a Family” and the story behind it sound wonderful.

Thank you, Brenda, for sharing your process.

What an amazing story – about an amazing story! The world does need a book like this, and it’s so wonderful that you created it!

I am super excited to share Still a Family with my kids. It can be hard to explain these kind of tough issues to little ones and I am glad you, your agent, and the editors recognized the need for it.

Thank you for sharing this! There are students at my school who are bused from a homeless shelter. This story would brighten their day! You have given them a chance to see themselves in a book. Than you!

    Jamie, I would love to have you read this story to the children at your school, and get their comments, maybe on video and send it to me so I can see if it helps them, if that is possible and okay with their parents.

What an important book–thank you for sharing the behind the scenes story!

Brenda, What a great example of how to make a difference with a book, and good advice about the castle. I was beginning to think the king and queen had moved out. Thanks.

For those of us looking for an opening to fit in with an agent or a publisher, this post shows the real way – we have to look for an opportunity that might fit us as writers and illustrators, and then we have to work to make that opportunity into a snug fit for ourselves.
Plus, it’s great that Brenda’s book works for such a good cause as keeping families together. 🙂

What a great story! There are so many out there to be told, so many topics to be written about. Can’t find it? Write it!

What a nice story – the one you wrote and the one you’re living. Even your prize furthers your mission. Thanks for sharing and inspiring, on this important national day of service honoring MLK!

Social media is full of possible ideas and story inspirations. Thanks for sharing this story!

Perfect day for this post celebrating MLK and service !
Perfect book on a deserving topic! 🙂

Incredible story! Thank you so much for the inspiration and thank you for writing something so important!

Oh, I am definitely going to keep an eye out for this one. Looks fantastic!

Brenda, thank you! Thank you! I am a retired educator/school counselor. Thank you for showing such compassion and understanding to families/children that need a hand up. Kindness is always rewarded.! Continued success!!

What an absolutely incredible story. I am so inspired! Congratulations and thanks so much for sharing. This is such an important subject and I cannot wait to read your book.

Inspirational post. Thanks for sharing your story.

I love your analogies. Thank you for the visuals and affirmations. I’ll keep storming the castle.

Thank you for this post. This is why networking is so important and I try hard to stay active within professional and contest circles. Thank you for sharing this post and encouraging us. STILL A FAMILY sounds amazing!

Thank you for recognizing and filling the need for this book in the world. I’ll be looking for this one!

Great inspiration, thank you!

Fantastic to read about your swift and responsive journey on this story!

Thank you for sharing your incredible story, Brenda. This book needed to be written and I’m glad you listened to heart and followed the call. I look forward to reading it.

This is inspiring. Thank you!

What an amazing story. Thank you for sharing and inspiring us to look for more ways to share our stories to help others see what is right around us.

What a cool story…thanks for sharing!

Thank you for writing about homelessness.

Beautiful.

Thanks for the inspirational post! Congratulations, too, on your book and best wishes in your mission to help those facing this challenge.

Thank you for sharing your story and for the great work you’re doing, Brenda! Truly inspiring!

Wow! What a story. Congrats.

I can’t wait to read this book!

Thank you so much for this post and your wonderful work! I can’t wait to read your book and I love the prize you are giving away! Thanks for sharing in many ways!

Thank you, Brenda, for sharing this journey, and shining a light on homeless shelters and families everywhere. A huge congratulations on STILL A FAMILY, and the well-deserved recognition it’s already receiving. As a psych nurse, I’ve seen the impact of homelessness, and I’m so glad your book will touch so many lives.

I loved learning about STILL A FAMILY. Of I win, I already know where my donation books will go! Thank you.

Wow! Thanks for sharing your one-of-a-kind publishing success and reminding us to find our own mission..

Thank you. What wonderful information.

I am trying to combine my two of my main interests (PB writing and out door education). This post was very inspiring!

This is an important book. And the title alone applies to so many different situations in kids’ lives!

    Thank you. Families come in all sorts. A mom and dad, a single mom, a single dad, two dads, two moms, grandparents, a foster family, a friend, an aunt and uncle. Love is where it’s at and what it’s about.

This message is inspiring. Your book is shedding light on a truth that many aren’t aware of, and bringing dignity to those who find themselves homeless. Every child, no matter the circumstance, should be able to “see” themselves in literature, and feel positive and hopeful about life. Congratulations, Brenda!

Simply wonderful! I needed this. Congrats, Brenda! Glad you made it into the castle with such a kind and compassionate story. Can’t wait to read and share your book.

Sometimes I think that unless we are writing our truth, our stories are lacking. I firmly believe that when you go with your intuition and accept your inspiration/blessings as they are laid out in front of you, this is what happens. Brava on such a heartfelt story being published. I was homeless with my children for a short time once when I left an abusive marriage of ten years. That process is hard. My homelessness was in a different way than keeping a whole family together (we didn’t have the dad with us, of course), but my heart hurts for anyone who is homeless because I know how it feels. Pride leaves you, fear grips you…day by day is all you can do.
Thank you for writing this kind of book, and I applaud your persistence and innovation. Cheers!

Thank you, Brenda, for sharing your journey. Your words of encouragement to “keep looking, keep searching, keep writing, and keep walking around the castle,” gives a writer hope in knowing that there are stories that must be told. All the best as you continue to share your beautiful book, STILL A FAMILY with families that need to see themselves in a picture book.

~Suzy Leopold

What a great story…yours and the one you wrote! Thank you for sharing!

Great advice – thank you for sharing!

Brenda, what a motivational story 🙂 Your writing must be wonderful for all this to spring from it, and what a wonderful way to spend your time—such a worthy cause!

And Tracey is the BEST! 😀

    Tracey and Josh Adams are AMAZING people. Giving, kind and wonderful, professional, and stellar. They work hard for their clients and even past clients like me. I dedicated the book to Tracey because without her the idea would not have been planted. She is a gift to everyone that knows her and loves her.

Fantastic! Thank you for sharing.

Words are so powerful! We can’t forget. With them we can change the world.

Great to see difficult topics handled in picture books.

You are obviously blessed to be a blessing. Thank you!

What a beautiful, inspiring and memorable post! Thank you.

This is such an inspiring post, and I love that portions of your book sales go to charity. Congratulations.

Inspiring post! (And book.)

Looking forward to reading Still A Family!

Wow! Amazing! Glad that you had the perseverance to stick with it and fought through the storm. Congratulations for getting it published. Thanks for sharing the story.

BRENDA: THANK YOU for encouraging us to never give up on our writer dreams! Your story is truly inspiring! I LOVE that your prize give away includes one of your books to a homeless shelter and one to a children’s library!

Looking forward to reading “Still a Family” – what a touching story.

Really interesting story behind the story, Brenda. And I’d love to get hold of a copy here in the UK when it comes out. Clare x

So very sweet!! Just wonderful!

Thank you. The world needs this story.

There is a growing homeless population here in Dublin, Ireland. Concerned citizens took over a government-owned building in December to provide shelter, but they were taken to court and ordered to leave the building. There is hope on the horizon as an Irish- American Millionaire offered to buy the building… this story is still unfolding.

http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/millionaire-made-offer-to-home-sweet-home-activists-to-buy-apollo-house-for-homeless-35368430.html

Of course, there needs to be a long-term plan to help people get out of homelessness, but a shelter seems a good place to start.

    Michelle, THANK you for this post. I’m glad there is something being done. If my book can help in any way, I am more than glad to do whatever I can to make a difference. Thank you for this link, and for this post. ❤

Fantastically inspirational; also a great reminder that the opinion of a single agent, even a trusted wonderful one, is not going to encompass the desires of every editor and publisher. Keep pushing.

From the heart. Thank you.

Lovely story (of your story) — thanks for sharing it, Brenda.

Thank you for sharing your story.

Thanks for sharing your road-to-publication story for this book! What a journey! I’m glad you followed your instincts!

    Thank you, Juliann. Sometimes you just have to jump in and say, if it’s gonna be it’s up to me, and why not give it a try. All they can say is, “No.” Glad I took the leap too. It was nice to meet you here. ❤

This is tremendous, Brenda. You’ve been on a marvelous journey and I’m honored to have traveled some of the path with you.

    EMMA! THANK YOU for this lovely post. You and your advice, your consultation all those years ago set me on this path. I am thankful for you every day dear Emma, and for the introduction to my wonderful wonderful Karen Grencik. Love you Emma, thank you for being such a wonderful friend and mentor.

Your determination is so inspiring! Thanks for sharing your story!

Cool story. Thanks for sharing it here. I also love that you are giving away copies to a library and shelter!

    Thank you Rachelle. I think there are 4 B’s that every child should have. 1. A bed of their own. 2. A backpack. 3. Boots. 4. And BOOK. I can take care of the book.I’m hoping to pair up with L.L.Bean to see if they will supply backpacks and boots. No word back though…yet.

Aww I hope the family has a happy ending!

Brenda, Thank you. As a school counselor, I see great opportunities for sharing your book.

I love that you did this book. Thank you for bringing to light a subject that needed to be explained in a gentle way to children.

Thank you–this is great. I love the aspect of finding a need and addressing it, particularly one that relates to a troubling issue that may be mystifying to children. I’m looking forward to reading this book with my own children!

Great post. We have to write what they are looking for and something different. We have to keep our eyes and ears open to opportunities around us

Beautiful story. Thank you!

What a story! When even the story about the story is so compelling – that says a lot. Good luck.

What a touching story. So glad you followed your heart and wrote this much needed picture book. Congratulations!

Such a beautiful story—both the book and the story of how it got published! Thank you for putting this book out into the world!

This is such an important topic, and I love that it focuses on the family staying together. It’s something I didn’t realize was so hard for homeless families to do. Thanks for telling this story. I also like the image of us circling the castle. Are we wolves?!

What an inspiring story! I can’t wait to read this book.

What a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing.

Incredible, Brenda! Thanks for sharing the story behind the story.

Sometimes a “greater power” whispers in our ears. Looks like the case here. Best of luck with your book and your journey to spread the word about homelessness.

Thank you for sharing

Beautiful story. Thanks for the inspiration 🙂

Brenda,
Thank you for sharing how your wonderful idea was started. I, too- hear voices of what might be needed out there… here’s to writing the unwritten!

Keeping my eyes open and my typing fingers ready. Thank you, Brenda. Best wishes!

Glad you saw that spark of light on the drawbridge. Will have to open my eyes wider, too. Can’t wait to read the book.

I’ve definitely been trying to storystorm diverse ideas such as your story about a family struggling with homelessness. Children deserve to have the “real” stuff too.

Saying your post is amazing is truly an understatement. This is a real issue in society that people forget about unless it is witnessed or directly affecting them. I cannot wait to read this book Thank You!

Wonderful advice about being open to opportunity – and I can’t wait to read this book! Having worked with schools with a high homeless population, I can see how valuable such a story would be to so many children, families, teachers, librarians…thank you!

Brenda… Thank you for your inspiring post! I look forward to reading your book.

Be aware, be aware, be aware . . . I love that you were able to turn a glimmer into a full ray of sunshine. Congratulations!

Thank you for your post. It was inspiring on many levels!

Inspiring story!

How wonderful to have found a new mission in life–very inspiring!

This post got me. Great food for thought for us as writers, but also for us as people. What keeps us from understanding each other’s struggles is lack of space to learn and listen. You created that opportunity. Thank you for pushing for this story and for knowing that it matters!

Applause to you, Brenda, for recognizing the opportunity, taking the time to create/craft/revise the story, and then seeing it through to becoming a published work which will positively affect kids’ lives.

Definitely an inspiring story! Thanks for sharing your journey with this book, Brenda!

Oh my goodness Brenda, what a wonderful and inspiring post. I’m so glad everything fell into place for your story, and that you’re helping to make this issue more heard. Thank you!

Thank you Brenda for an inspiring post. Looking forward to reading your book!

What an incredible story! You make a difference in lives– one child, one family, one heart at a time. Thanks, Brenda

Wonderful story Brenda. I cannot wait to buy it. You so beautifully show there is no straight path to our dreams. I am inspired how your story will be of help to so many people.

This is such an incredible story, Brenda. I cannot wait to read it &, as someone who has worked in the not-for-profit sector, I am thrilled that you are donating a portion of proceeds to homeless shelters. Thank you for an inspiring post!

I love how this story came about and not only benefited your writing career, but also gave you a new passion and mission in life!

I work in an inner-city school with children who deal with grown up sized problems like poverty and hunger day in and day out. I feel compelled to write stories that speak to these issues but I’ve wondered if there is a call or need for stories like this. This post is a great reminder to write what’s on one’s heart and the rest will follow. Thanks!

    Erin, I friended you on facebook. Thank you for this post, how can I help?

      Thank you Brenda, for the friend request and very kind offer. I will think how you can help! I work in a reading program that pairs community volunteers to work one on one with 1st and 2nd graders who are reading far below grade level. These volunteers are the 20 minutes of reading a night that these children often do not receive at home. Many of these kids have no books, or no books on-level in their homes. I am so lucky to work with them AND with people like yourself. I love to name-drop when I am reading a book with the kids where I know the author or illustrator even if its just as an online acquaintance. Its like knowing a celebrity! The students’ eyes light up. Thank you for writing a book on a subject that I know will make a difference in so many children’s lives.

      Erin. Let’s do a skype visit!

A wonderful story about what sounds like a wonderful story! Thanks for this very inspring (on many levels) post.

By far, this has been the most inspiring and touching post I’ve read through Story Storm. I love your analogy of the publishing world being the castle- there was no better way than that to describe the struggle. But more than anything hearing about a cause that desperately needs more light shone on it and how you’re doing your part is just fantastic.
I’m also bowled over by the idea of an organisation providing children’s parties for homeless children. THAT IS JUST FABULOUS.

I am inspired on so many levels by your post. Yes, there is a need for this book. Thank you for writing it.

I heard about your story elsewhere – I LOVE the concept and when I heard about it thought – of course! I’m surprised the book wasn’t written before. It is an important issue. Thanks so much for writing and finding the secret passageway.

Thanks, Brenda! A powerful cause and a great story!

I loved reading about the genesis of this story and such a great cause too! Thanks for sharing, Brenda!

NOTE: Please don’t consider this a second comment , but Brenda Reeves Sturgis is having trouble responding over here this afternoon/evening and she wants you all to know-she’s appreciative of your time, heartfelt posts, how each one means to me and how I am overwhelmed with gratitude for all of their love and kindnesses. Part of this is copied and pasted from Brenda.

Wow. This post reiterates to me two very important things: we need to follow our own inner voice, and we need to be persistent when we believe in a story. Can’t wait to read this beautiful book. Thank you, Brenda!

What a powerful theme to write about!

I loved hearing how this moved from idea to publishing contract in record speed, but even more how passionate you are about this cause! I can’t wait to read this!

Thanks Brenda for writing “Still a Family” and sharing your journey with us. Hope to make it through a crack in that castle door . . .

Brilliant! What a wonderful way to make a picture book come about, and how wonderful that you were ready when the universe called on you to fill a need.

I love the metaphor on the publishing process and how you saw an opportunity and worked with it.

Inspiring story. And I want your book in our house, too! Looking forward to its release!

What an amazing idea!

Yeah! I am so happy to hear about this book. For years I had wondered and thought about the need of a homeless book, but I had no idea where to start plus I was still learning the craft. I am so happy to hear this book exists and can’t wait to donate it to our local homeless shelter where I sometimes volunteer. Thank you!

What an inspiration! I can’t wait to read your book.

Thank you so very much for these lovely comments and sentiments.

I am on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/brsturgis. PLEASE friend me, I would love to connect with you. I am also offering author visits in Maine for a very affordable price to get this book to the children that need it. A percentage of EVERY author visit will be donated to a homeless shelter. If you could pass along that information, I would greatly appreciate it. THANK YOU.

I have been eagerly awaiting the release of this beautiful and needed book. Thank you, Brenda for this wonderful post!

Lauren, THANK YOU! How did you hear about it?

What a cool story!

Oh, Brenda! The story of your story warms my heart. Keep shining your special light on the world! xoxo

Wow, Brenda! I am so inspired by your story–the actual story itself AND the story about you. Just <3.

Inspirational! I enjoyed this post. Thank you for sharing.

I’m hooked for books with a cause

Way to stick to your guns! You knew there was a market for your book. Thanks for the post!

This story is so inspiring! Way to seize the day and not give up when you met obstacles. You’re persistence paid off and now so many people will benefit from reading Still A Family. Love everything about this and I can’t wait to read it!

Wow, your experience is inspiring in multiple ways: your ability and willingness to tune in both to editors and to a greater need, your perseverance, and your commitment to getting your story into the hands of the kids who need it most. Thank you so much for sharing!

Congratulations on such an important book!

I liked your advice to “keep looking, keep searching, keep writing.” Thank you, Brenda.

Oh I would love to read this book! Thank you for sharing.

Thank you for sharing your unique experience!

Just as we use story to help us figure out the hard things in life, so much more so for children. What a wonderful post this is! It is so important for us to write these books for our precious children who are sometimes in difficult circumstances through no fault of their own, yet they must still deal with and make sense of the situation. Thank you for reaching out to them.
Susan Swan

Such a needed story. As a counselor, I’d like to produce similar books.

Great reminder about always being open to story ideas and the book sounds wonderful and very needed

Such an important but difficult subject — thank you for tackling it.

What an inspiration, and such an important topic that’s close to my heart. Thank you for posting. 🙂

Great post, Brenda!! Thank you for the behind scenes look at STILL A FAMILY. This is such an important, but difficult subject to write about.

Thanks for sharing your experience.

What a wonderful idea. I wish you success. I’m still looking for those doors. Love how your story evolved. Good luck.

Wonderful post! Thank you!

I wake up excited to read these posts. I had NO IDEA when I wrote this story that it would touch this many hearts. ❤ It is very heartwarming and humbling to me.

A few things have occurred to me, firstly, I am quickly realizing that this is a much bigger mission than I thought it was going to be when I wrote it. I knew I wanted to write a book, I knew it was a golden opportunity, I believed I could do it, and I saw in my mind's eye the future of going into shelters and schools.

What I did not fully realize was how many schools and shelters there are, and my heart is telling me to "GO." Go to the children, go to the shelters, go to the schools. How I'm going to do that? I do not know yet, but I am willing.

It's more than a book to me, it's an inroad to make a difference. You all have shown me that here, and I thank you for that, for each and every comment, for the love you have poured forth in your posts, for your hearts, for your kind words.

Secondly, I don't know how things will unfold, but I believe I was given this book as a gift to write, and so in saying that I'm going to walk through each and every door to try to touch hearts.

If you know anybody that works in a school, in a shelter, at a library, anybody what would want a copy of this book for themselves, for a friend, for a child. if you want to donate a book to a shelter please message me, at bsturgis@metrocast.net.

Thank you very much for these past few days! You all rock, and have made such a difference for me, and I want to make a difference for you, however I can.

Love and blessings,
Brenda

What a great story, Brenda. Thanks for sharing it! Cannot wait to read your book. Your passion is inspiring.

What an amazing story. Hurray for you to have taken the challenge and with courage and heart wrote a book so desperately needed. A wake up call to all of us to see what is needed in the world and just go for it! Thank you.