It was 2012 and I was a new author with a recently penned rhyming picture book about a boy who liked to fart. Like many of my stories, this one was inspired by my children, especially my three boys, and their fascination with making sounds with their bodies. Reading, writing, and verbal storytelling wasn't new to me. I'd done all of that for as long I could remember.
I learned how to read when I was three and spent my entire childhood reading voraciously. During my high school years, I surprised my teachers with innovative stories I wrote during journaling time. In college, I won a university wide writing contest that I entered at the last minute because I was broke and they offered a cash prize.
Later, I kept my friends, family, and collogues entertained with the recounting of my day to day trials and misadventures. I have always been team "laugh to keep from crying" so most of my stories ended in a funny twist. Because...life. When a close friend suggested I look into joining a professional writing organization, I did just that.
I was in my mid-30s when I joined the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and enrolled in my first writing conference. It was there that I quickly learned some things I'd never considered. Writing for publication was hard. Getting my writing noticed was even harder.
Phoenix Media & Books CEO Katie Otey and COO Leia M. Johnson at an SCBWI conference in 2016.