Thursday, April 20, 2017

Sometimes the Stories Choose Us

     When you are a writer, you rotate between writing, editing, and revising.  But you are also, at all times, thinking about what your next story will be.

     Many times, we choose the story we are writing.  We may get a spark of an idea, and work to develop it into a full story.

     But sometimes, in those rare moments, a story finds us.

     Almost four years ago, on a visit to New York City, my sister and I got to experience the 9-11 Memorial.  During our visit to the gift shop, I discovered a book about the 9-11 Survivor Tree.  Until that moment, I had not realized they had a survivor tree.

     Their tree has a much different story than ours.  It was recovered from some of the rubble and replanted, nursed back to health and transplanted to the grounds when the memorial was finished.

     I decided to buy that book, and then find the book about our Survivor Tree.  I came home and began to look for one, and that was when I discovered there wasn't one.

     There needed to be.

     That idea sat on my heart for a couple of years.  The seed of the idea planted itself there, and wouldn't go away.  And  I knew that a story had found me.  A story that needed to be told.

     I wrote the story from a third-person narrative.  It was ok.  It might be picked up and looked at in the terms of a narrative account of the bombing on a children's level.  But it didn't strike a chord in my heart.

     Then I knew I needed the tree to tell the story.  So I wrote it from the tree's point of view.  And cried. 

     The publishing industry is highly competitive, and many great books are not published because they don't find their way to the right literary agent, or the right-fit publishing house.   I began to submit my manuscript to agents in New York City.  But they didn't understand how significant this tree is.

     Then, I found out about Roadrunner Publishing.  It is an award-winning Indie press here in Oklahoma.  The editor, Jeanne Devlin, was on the staff of Oklahoma Today when the bombing occurred, and was on the team that published the Oklahoma Today that was released soon after.  She knows the heart of this tree. 

     The wheels began rolling, and after a couple of illustrator changes, things were on track.  Then, a friend of mine and fellow writer and SCBWI member, Amy Stephens, contacted me about her interviewing me for the Oklahoma Outlook/Edmond Outlook magazine.  They were interested in the story about the book.  We did an interview, and some pictures at the Memorial.  I am so grateful to Amy for seeing the significance in this story.

     Abigail Ogle, anchor and reporter with KOCO-TV saw the article and contacted me to do an interview.  Abigail did an incredible job of catching the spirit of this tree, and the journey to tell its story.  And that's how this all began.

     I can't even begin to thank all of you enough for your support and heartfelt interest in this book.  More than anything, I am grateful that this story, this tree, this horrible tragedy, and the people whose lives were changed forever, will not be forgotten.

     I am humbled and honored, for I know I was chosen to write this book.  I know the story chose me.

     Many of you have asked me when and where you can buy it.  And more than one person has said, "I want it in my hands right now!"

     But, we want the story, the illustrations, and the book quality to do it justice.  To pay honor and respect to the tree, the victims, and the survivors.  So, it will take some more time.

     The publication date is currently set for October 10.  Hopefully that will stay firm, but sometimes things happen.  However, please know that when it is available for purchase, I will definitely let you all know!  I am sure that it will be in most Oklahoma City bookstores.  I am not sure about nationwide.  However, there's always online ordering.

     It is available to pre-purchase at  But, if you would like to wait, I feel quite sure there will be at least one, if not several events and book signings.  It's not about me.  It's about this amazing story of heartbreak, survival and hope. 

     So, thank you to each and every one of you who have given me encouragement.  It validates to me the journey I've taken to bring this story to you, and to our children.