CONGRATULATIONS! Kristi Veitenheimer is the winner of MY BIG TREE! Please email your address to me. Thanks.
Maria Ashworth has agreed to offer a book giveaway for her new book, MY BIG TREE. All you have to do to get in the running is to leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you did to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you. Please make sure you check back on September 1st to discover the winner. Make sure I’m able to find your contact information, in case your name is drawn.
One bluebird has found her favorite tree to nest in until other animals realize it’s their favorite tree also. It all starts when two back bears love to nap in the big tree. The story continues as more multiple of colored animals (counting to 10) fill the tree and push the one little bluebird and her nest all the way to the top of the tree. She doesn’t want to share her big tree so she sets out to find a new one. She discovers there are a few things missing in her new home. In the end, it’s not the tree that makes it so special. It’s her new best friends.
Genre: Concept Picture Book
Synopsis: Think Brown Bear meets Where’s Waldo.
Maria’s Book Journey:
As a child I don’t remember being read to by my parents. I don’t think it was purposeful on their end. My parents were young and not readers themselves. I don’t think they saw the importance in sharing a good book and making a life-long reader. I didn’t have a shelf full of books. I maybe had a few. The one I do remember was an old Snow White book with the scary witch offering the young girl an apple through the window.
In my elementary years, I didn’t love reading so I found it difficult in school. My comprehension wasn’t where it needed to be so I fell behind. We had SRA boxes in class. I cringed every time I had to pull my reading assignment from the color-coded box. An embarrassment as I was stuck in the sky blue level. I wanted purple. I hoped to be in anything besides the low-leveled colored cards. It was like a competition. I hated them.
When I got into high school I realized I could express myself and my teen frustrations through writing. I wrote short poems on my free time. I wish I still had the composition book that held my thoughts. I have one that’s been stuck in my brain since I was thirteen which may never get out there. So here’s my chance. No title.
The sun rises joyfully through the clouds.
After it rises it will eventually come down.
The lake before it shows sorrow and grief;
for the sun is leaving until the next dry leaf.
The flowers stop blooming.
The birds stop chirping.
For the winter is near.
Ta da! It’s published. Ha!
In 2006, I journaled about my crumbling marriage and impending divorce. I believed someday I would publish it to help other woman to become empowered. Someday, I hope to get it out there. I left it on the back burner after I remarried.
The new man in my life had five children. I had a boy and a girl who loved him, but once my daughter knew his boys would occasionally have a place in the house she wasn’t thrilled. I wrote a picture book about it and my family loved it. Especially my daughter since it was her story. That’s when I knew I would make writing my career. I had to perfect my craft if I was going to be an author. I went to my first SCBWI conference in 2009 and became inspired.
I had an agent for two years where she tried to sell My Big Tree and Tommy James, a cowboy series. I received great accolades for both. Tommy James, The Littlest Cowboy In Reckon’ got all the way to the editor’s table in NYC. It fell short when they said, “…we’re already fluxed with cowboy books.” I enjoyed the agent/writer relationship but felt it was a long process. With forty-eight manuscripts waiting for homes I’d be in the grave before they came to life. After the two manuscripts exhausted the industry I went out on my own.
After nine years of writing, being agented, a hundred and seventy-five rejections (from a bulk of my work) and the IRS telling me my profession was now a hobby I decided it was time to take responsibility for my career.
I found an illustrator and we began collaborating on a book that I was told wasn’t marketable. With fifty percent of the nation being blended I knew it needed to get out there. My blended family book, Step One, Step Two, Step Three and Four was born in January 2016. It has been received well by many and will now be in the children’s theater in 2017 with the Katy Visual Performing Arts in Katy, Texas. They hope to share it with other schools and theaters all over the country. With September 16th as National Step Family Day and I hope to connect with those with blended families so they can share the story with their children.
I loved having control of my destiny. I started working on My Big Tree since it had exhausted the industry and I believed it was an adorable concept book that needed to get out there. I acquired an illustrator who had nailed down the drawing of animals, especially dogs. Even though a dog wasn’t in the story line I wanted him in. So I created a way to get readers to question the dog’s existence to the story. It works.
I went to the TLA in Houston 2016 in hopes to sell my blended family book. While it didn’t fly off the shelf I met some great people and loads of connections. A gentleman came to the booth and introduced himself and his publishing house. He mentioned my name to an editor of a small press. She contacted me. We met for a three hour meeting and the rest is history.
My Big Tree was picked up by Spork, and imprint of Clear Fork Publishing. It’s warm watercolor illustrations make the story come to life. Each page filled with lovable animals paired with a wonderful message about friendship.
So I look back at my journey and how it all started. No matter what the challenges I faced, if I wanted it, I knew I could have it if I worked for it. One must never give up on hope.
Maria is the author of Step One, Step Two, Step Three and Four. She lives with her family in Richmond, Texas. Her picture books are inspired by her children and her own personal experiences. When not writing you can find her at the gym, in the garden or digging through a pint of ice cream, especially chocolate chip.
Congratulations Maria. Wishing you the best with your book.