We did it!
We pushed the button and released our book last night.
From late summer 2022 until now, a dream has become reality.
The dream wasn’t a new dream. I can’t pinpoint when exactly it began, but it might have been…
… in second grade attending the Young Authors’ Conference.
… in junior high, as I dealt with feeling on the outside by writing angst-ridden poetry and stories
… in high school as I wrote many articles for the school newspaper, but dreamed of the day when I would write a book of my own.
The dream was put on the back burner for many years, as I chased a different dream: to be someone by achievement. By attending and succeeding at elite universities, by achieving career targets.
Even as I went through a career and life crisis in my mid-30’s when I realized that the more I chased and reached achievement, the emptier I felt, the dream remained on the back burner.
But it was there. I wanted to write a book. I wanted to be an author.
The ache started to become more real as I watched friends do it. As I visited my favorite local bookstore in Lysekil and saw the authors there for book signings. As I was inspired watching others make their own dreams reality.
It was an intersection of several events that made me finally take the step to make the dream reality:
Due to re-organizations and a return to office after the COVID pandemic, the online training business I had declined. My usual clients weren’t able to book any activities for Fall of 2022 and I wasn't bringing in new ones
I thankfully had the practical and economic freedom of not needing to work because of my husband’s international assignment
I taught a class for adults where I realized the futility of opening some “matured” minds to the power and value of differences, and wanted to be able to impact minds that were more flexible
With those factors coming together, I called up my sister. We had dreamt together for many years about how fun it would be to do a children’s book together. She loved to draw and I loved to write.
We would write about a little stuffed bear that she gave me when I first traveled internationally on my own and I continued to carry for many years as a good luck charm and a bit of comfort. We imagined the adventures she would have, if she explored while I worked.
We could also draw from the research and theory that I apply and teach, including:
Intercultural differences (Erin Meyer’s Culture Map, Hofstede Cultural Insights, Jürg Wittwer, etc)
Growth Mindset (Carol Dreck)
Positive Psychology (Martin Seligman, Angela Duckworth, Adam Grant, …)
We could also share our own wonder in the world, in our differences, with the purpose to know them and make them less scary or weird. We could share and hopefully encourage our passion for travel, for experiencing the unknown, and for challenging ourselves.
Through months of hard work, we also built an amazing team around us. As I sometimes say, we are a team of sisters and “sisters”. Our core team of author, illustrator, editor, and graphic designer are either biological sisters or sorority sisters. On one level, we are similar
(white middle-aged women who attended top-ranked universities), but we are also different on many levels. We are an IT product owner, an automotive chief engineer, a teacher, an opera singer. We are different religions (or not at all). We have different hobbies and interests. We think differently. We move quickly and impulsively, or cautiously and deliberately. We see things differently. We disagree. And our book is better because of it.
As our work and scope grows, our team grows.
In addition to the core development team, we have our Ambassadors, who help us on as many different fronts are they are unique with outreach, marketing, editorial insights, and content.
We have our translators, for Swedish, Spanish, and Arabic, who help us reach more children, particularly for two immigrant groups in our countries of Sweden and the United States.
We have our Marketing Consultant, who helps us reach out and identify markets.
We have our Book Coach, who shares her years of industry experience and connections, and gave us all the information and prod we needed to make this happen.
We have our Chief Cookie Officer, who makes our launch events so much tastier as we can bring the different cultural tastes to you in the best possible way and is perfecting a cookie recipe for each country book.
We have our Chief Bear Maker, who has worked with us to develop an ‘ittle Bear who can travel with you.
We also have our friends and family who don’t have specific roles, but are so critical. They are the ones that encourage us, that pick us up after a disappointing event, who believe in what we are doing and help us in so many ways (a card, attending our launch, asking how it’s going, buying books to donate to schools, connecting us to helpful people).
I can absolutely say that we wouldn’t be here without our team of all the people above (and some who aren't pictured). Making a dream reality is scary. It isn’t easy. There are a lot of days that it feels a lot easier to say, “Nope, this doesn’t work. I failed again.”
With the right people around us, we have the courage to keep going. We also have the benefit of their knowledge, skills, insight, and experience. I regularly hear from potential customers and book stores how professional, how impressive, how well-done and high quality our book is for a self-published book.
I can say with certainty that it wouldn’t be where it is if it were only my sister and I. We are good at our respective roles, but we aren’t enough. We benefit and we do better with others on our team.
It definitely isn’t as easy. Especially when we disagree. It’s easy to work with others when they agree with you all the time. But you don’t get better. In fact, I would say it has been through some of my most uncomfortable moments that we saw the most progress.
I’ll never forget the first edit review on the first book when I was told that the concept was good, but it was a bit boring and needed a problem to solve.
I had worked for weeks on the book (that was about 2-3 pages in Word). I thought it was brilliant. It was meaningful. It had purpose and all I wanted to convey.
It was also boring.
My first reaction was anger. Thankfully through years of practice and training, I channeled the anger (because of hurt) into curiosity. I asked “Why?” I learned it wasn’t enough to set the background and theory, I needed something to happen. I needed a problem to solve.
That conversation made all the difference in the first book. Kids relate to the packing problem. They laugh that ‘ittle Bear tries to take her bed because they know it’s ridiculous. But they also identify with her dilemma on how to decide what she needs to feel secure, versus what she will find new when she arrives.
It is our second book where we introduce our first country: France. In this book, we have a small cultural understanding and we hopefully introduce different aspects of French culture and language to wake a spark of curiosity to encounter and experience different things.
It’s now, as I look through our print proof with pride, that I realize, we have made our dream a reality.
I am an author.
Now, what is your lifelong dream? What do you need to get there?