My book will be published on April 28, 2020! In thirteen months! I am so excited!Read More
Back in December, I participated in #PitMad, a pitching contest on Twitter for authors. For those who aren’t familiar, authors tweet out pitches for their books. Agents and editors then favorite the pitches that they are interested in reading, and authors email them part of their manuscript. Then they wait, hoping that they hear back soon.
I pitched Grace’s Ghosts and got several requests. I sent off my query letter and partial manuscript to most of the people who requested it. And then, I waited. There’s a lot of waiting in publishing. After reading my initial query, a handful wanted to read the whole manuscript.
One of these was an editor at a small press called Immortal Works. After reading my entire manuscript, the editor emailed me with some feedback. She liked my story, but thought it needed a few tweaks. In publishing, this is called a “revise and resubmit.” It’s not a guarantee that a publisher will offer a contract if you make the changes, but it is a great sign. I made the requested edits, and soon thereafter, the editor told me she was going to take it to her board to recommend publication! Again, the book could be shot down at this stage, but I was pretty excited!
Two weeks ago today, I was getting ready to take my daughter to dance. On the way out the door, I checked my email on my phone. There was an email from the editor. I could tell from the preview line that it was good news. They were offering to publish my book! I let out a happy scream, jumped up and down, and hugged my confused kids. When I was able to verbally express what was going on, they screamed and hopped around the room with me.
The release date is not set as of now, but I will keep you updated. I can’t wait to share more news about my book with you all!Read More
To say the past week has been insane is an understatement.
It was about 9:30 am. I was talking to my mom on the phone. My kids were supposed to me watching a documentary about Africa for their homeschool geography lesson. About five minutes into the call, I heard my boys stomp up the stairs, but I decided to let it go. We could watch the documentary later. Moms, we’ve all been there, right? Sometimes you just need a few minutes of peace.
Shortly after they came upstairs, a scream rang through the house. “Hold on,” I told my mom, thinking that my youngest son was being dramatic. He’s prone to scream at the drop of a hat, and I was sure it was nothing major.
He pounded his little fists into my door, screaming again. I flung it open and asked, “What’s up, buddy?”
Tears streamed down his round cheeks as he sobbed, “I don’t want to die! My brother shoved a needle down my throat.”
“I gotta go,” I told my mom, and hung up without waiting for a reply.
“He shoved a needle down my throat!”
“And you swallowed it?”
“Yes!” he wailed.
“Get your shoes on,” I shout so all three kids can hear. “We’re going to the hospital!”
The kids scrambled to find their shoes, and I called the pediatrician to confirm that the ER was the place to go. She urged us to get there ASAP. I sent a quick text to my husband before pulling out of the driveway letting him know what was going on and asking him to meet us at the ER.
I spent the 30 minute drive filled with a stomach-roiling combination of fear and anger. What in the world were the boys doing? Why would my oldest put a needle in his brother’s mouth? Would my attempt to talk on the phone in peace cost my six year old his life? Shouldn’t my eleven year old have known better? I attempted to keep these thoughts to my self. Some of them stayed inside. Some of them I shouted at my eleven year old. “What were you THINKING??!!”
We were whisked back to a room faster than I ever had been in an ER. About 15 minutes later, my husband arrived. The staff took my son to get an X-ray, which I hoped would prove that he only thought he’d swallowed it. He bravely held still for his “picture”as the tech called it. I stood behind a small wall next to a computer monitor, which lit up with the image almost instantly.
I have zero medical training, unless you count watching every episode of Scrubs (which you shouldn’t). But I knew the second that screen lit up that there was a needle in my six year old’s abdomen.
“Oh dang,” I said looking at the screen.
“What did he eat?” the tech asked, a hint of shock in her voice.
“A sewing needle.”
“Oh, wow.” The responses stayed like this the entire time we were at the hospital. Lots of shock from the people who’ve seen it all. Another tech later seemed excited to get a chance to meet “The boy who ate the needle.”
Gathered back in the small ER patient room, my husband sternly asked the boys to explain how on Earth a needle ended up in my youngest’s abdomen. What they told us defies explanation.
Do y’all know what a stomp rocket is? I posted a picture below in case you’ve never seen one. Basically, it’s a tube with a pedal on one end. You put a foam rocket ship on the other end and when you stomp on the pedal, it shoots the rocket like 30 feet into the air. See those shocked little boys in the picture? They’re not amazed because their rocket went so high. No, no. They are flabbergasted that my boys removed the rocket from the end, shoved what turned out to be a sewing pin and not a needle (so one side is pointy, the other side has a plastic ball on the end) inside the tubing for the rocket. Then, they PUT THE TUBE IN MY SIX YEAR OLD’S MOUTH and my eleven year old stomped on it, launching it down his brother’s throat.
There just aren’t words for this. Why in the world did they do that? I’ll never know. To make it worse, they did it multiple times. The first few times, my six year old caught it in his mouth, spit it out, and handed it back to his brother to shoot in his mouth again. It was the third or fourth time that they misjudged and it flew down my son’s esophagus.
I asked my oldest what he was thinking. He responded, “He should know better than to trust me.” Ever the big brother.
The GI team tried to get the pin via endoscopy, but it moved out of their range before they could get it. Up to this point, I had stayed strong. We have medically complicated kids, so doctors and hospitals are not uncommon in our lives. When the surgeon walked way, I started to sob.
In the post-op room, my son woke up happy, thinking we were going to go home. The nurse sweetly explained that they couldn’t get the needle out of him. He looked at her and asked seriously, “Don’t you think it could damage my immune system to leave it in me?”
How can he be so smart and do something so dumb? I thought.
Then, for a horrifying 30-ish hours, it was stuck in the ileocecal valve, a valve between the small and large intestines that can be reached by neither endoscopy nor colonoscopy. We were told if it didn’t move, he would have to have invasive bowel surgery. Also, if/when it did move, it could perforate the bowels, in which case he would need to have surgery.
So we waited. And waited. And waited. My son was given a feeding tube that pumped massive amounts of something called “Go Lightly” into his stomach. And it made him go. Lightly would not describe how he went. I’ll leave that there. And we had to search though his poo. You know the expression, “looking for a needle in a haystack?” Yeah, I’ll take the haystack over the poostack any day.
He was unable to have anything but clear liquids, much to his chagrin. This boy loves to eat. I skipped as many meals as I could, not wanting to leave him alone to eat in the cafeteria and feeling too guilty to eat in front of him.
Eventually, the needle left the ileocecal valve and moved into the colon. Debate went back and forth for a day and a half about if he should pass it naturally or if the GI team should go back and get it via colonoscopy. I wanted them to take it out that moment, but they decided that it was best to keep him there, observe, and hope it came out. He had many, many x-rays tracking the pin’s movement. Finally, after four days, an x-ray showed that the pin had “evacuated,” and my son was allowed to go home.
In the middle of all of this chaos, something very major happened in my writing career. Stress and situation prevented me from being able to celebrate it, but I will share that news with you all soon.
I am beyond relieved that my son is okay. You would never know anything bad happened to him. I tried to make some jokes in this post, but in reality, it was terrifying. I am so thankful that my sweet son is safe.
But I took his stomp rocket away from him.
Our First Week of 2019
If I am going to be completely honest, our first family adventure of 2019 almost didn’t happen.
I had plans to visit a specific nature center Thursday or Friday. But it was raining Thursday and the forecast for the weekend was great. I decided to rearrange our plans to go on our adventure on Sunday. But then, on Friday I woke up with a cold. I spend Friday and Saturday feeling pretty awful. My throat felt like someone shoved a wire brush down it. My nose was clogged, and my head throbbed with every movement. But Sunday morning, I woke up and felt better.
But my six year old didn’t. My poor youngest son started feeling sick on Saturday and was not doing well Sunday. I thought about skipping this week. Or going on two adventures next week to make up for it. But here’s the thing. There will always be obstacles in the way of my goals. Skipping the first week was no way to start my challenge. Even if the whole family could not go, I knew I needed to start this challenge off right.
So I made the choice to visit a nature preserve closer to home with the older two kids. It’s been on my to-do list forever. And I am so glad we did!
Turnipseed Nature Preserve is beautiful! The 265 acre preserve is located in Wendell, NC, about 25 minutes from Raleigh. There are a few different trail options, but we took the Boulder Trail.
A sign at the beginning of the trail showed us how to spot signs of the wildlife that lives nearby. While we saw a few birds and squirrels, that was it for spotting wildlife. But we did see lots of beaver lodges and dams! The kids were so excited! Once, years ago, a friend of mine who works at the Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma, WA gave us a private viewing of some animals, including a beaver. The kids loved the beaver and have continued to think that beavers are pretty cool animals ever since.
After observing the lodges and dams, we decided that we’d dedicate some time learning about beavers this week.
Even though our adventure was not what we planned, we had a great time. The kids are so excited to learn more about beavers, and they can’t wait to come back with their dad and little brother. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year will bring!
I am already working on more free printables for hiking and learning about animals! If you’re interested in getting your hands on these free printables, be sure to follow my blog!
Have you started your own adventuring for 2019? Tell me about it in the comments!
Planning Can be Overwhelming!
When I decided to to embark on 52 adventures with my kids this year, I wondered if it was too much. It’s hard to plan so many day trips, hikes, road trips etc. Even though I was overwhelmed, I knew that I really wanted this- for my kids and for myself. I started googling and found so many resources that have helped me get started on my new journey. I’ve heard from some of you on social media. A few of you have expressed an interest in trying your own 52 Weeks of Adventure challenge! I am sharing some of my resources. Hopefully, they will inspire you!
When in Your State / Only in Your State
When in Your State has listings for each of the 50 US states. There are categories for everything from gardens, to waterfalls, to “haunted” places. Only in Your State has a very similar set up. Thse are great not only for finding fun places to visit nearby, but also for seeking out adventures when you’re on a a road trip.
Find a Park
The National Parks Service website will help you find a park, trail, battlefield, trail, or memorial near you! Better yet, if you have a fourth grader, all National Parks are free with the Every Kid in a Park program!
Museums USA has a database of museums in every state! There are subheadings for Zoos, Nature Centers, Planetariums, and more!
Macaroni Kid has listings for several cities. Each area is covered by a different publisher, so content varies from city to city. Many areas have great coverage and are full of info on day trips, local parks, events, and more!
January Adventure Planner
I have created a fun, free printable for anyone who signs up for my email list before 1/5/2019. It will help you plan your first month of adventures!
Sign up for my mailing list here for your free printable! Be sure to check your spam folders. It may take up to 24 hours for your free printable to arrive.
Do you have any resources you like to use to plan your roadschooling/adventures? Let me know about them in the comments!Read More
The World is Our Classroom
As a homeschooling mom, I love to take my kids on adventures. We go on lots of day hikes. If we get the opportunity, we will hop in the car for a road trip or board an airplane for far-away destinations. We spend many days in museums, at festivals, or attending local performances. Our homeschool motto is “the world is our classroom.” We try very hard to make sure that we live by that idea.
We’d love to roadschool or worldschool full time, but it’s not possible at this point for our family. We have medically complicated kids and need to be near a home base regularly to meet their medical needs. We’ve made it a point to be sure that these medical complications don’t limit their experiences.
In 2018, we worked hard to expand our horizons and explore the world as much as possible.
We flew to Seattle twice. Our road trips took us to eight states. Our biggest trip of the year was my favorite to date; we flew to Saint Croix in the US Virgin Islands. Not all of our trips were big, of course. We visited the Botanical Gardens at Duke University, many local museums, and visited the Jamestown Settlement to learn about colonial history.
Adventure as a Way of Life
I truly believe that these experiences are vital to the growth and development of my kids. Children who spend time in nature will learn to value our planet. If kids see the world beyond their front door, they will understand diverse cultures and learn to respect then. Kids who are exposed to the arts will appreciate not only the beauty behind art, but the importance of art in our culture. Exposure to museums, zoos, and aquariums can bring science and history off of the page. My kids learn more from these experiences than they do from textbooks.
My Challenge for 2019
This year, my family will have fifty-two adventures. I will post an adventure every Sunday evening at 52familyadventures.com or you can just check out the home page of stepheniepeterson.com to find the newest posts. For the purpose of my challenge, an adventure can be as simple as a hike in the next town, or as grand as a trip to France. I mean, I don’t currently have plans to go to France this year, but who knows! If I did fly to France, I could use a trip to the Eiffel Tower as one adventure and exploring Norte-Dame another adventure. Because of this, though I will post one adventure a week, they might not be chronological. Be sure to follow me on Instagram for more frequent updates. I’ll be posting with the hashtag #52familyadventures so be sure to follow the hashtag too!
Do you want more adventure in your life? I’ll be posting tips, printables, and ideas to help you experience adventure with your family! I hope you’ll follow along as we dedicate 2019 to adventure!
Here’s an update for those who like to keep up with my writing. I am currently querying three manuscripts. If you’re not a writer, you probably have no clue what that means. Querying is the process of trying to find a literary agent. It involves a lot of emailing a lot of rejection.
Querying works like this: an author gets a short email to pitch their book, and then, depending on the agent’s guidelines, 5-50 pages of the manuscript are also included. Hopefully, the agent likes the pitch well enough to read those pages. If they really like the pages, the agent will ask for more. Finally, if the agent loves the rest of the manuscript, they will offer to represent you and try to sell your book to publishers.
It sounds simpler than it is. Agents get hundreds of emails a month. Most only take on a few new clients per year. The vast majority of the time, the answer from the agent is no-if they even reply to the query at all. Because they get so many emails, a lot of agents no longer reply to rejections. The author is left to wait and assume that they’ve been rejected.
There are some agents out there who choose to take time out their busy schedules to explain why a particular project isn’t for them, however an author can’t expect this kind of feedback. The agents are just too busy.
I’ve met authors who sent more than 200 queries before they found an agent. I’ve met authors who only queried a few agents and they all said yes. It’s a crazy process, but hopefully, in the end, a rewarding one.
These are the projects I am querying right now:
Grace’s Ghosts is a middle grade fantasy novel. It’s a little bit creepy and full of magic adventure, humor, family, and friendship.
Toby: The (Mostly) True Story of a Former Bad Dog is a humorous chapter book. It’s a fictionalized story inspired by dogs I’ve known and loved.
Bigfoot in Space follows the Bigfoot Family as they leave Earth behind and search for a planet with more privacy. It’s a picture book.
I did self-publish my other books. Unfortunately, I have regretted that from day one. It’s hard to break into the children’s market as a self-published author. While the Nellie Nova series has done well for an Indie project, I feel like I’d rather have an agent and a publisher on my side for future projects.
I’ll keep at the querying process and hopefully, with time, I’ll find the right agent. I can’t wait to see my manuscripts become published books!
Are you an author? Have you been in the querying trenches? Tell me about it in the comments!Read More