Lily's Story: A Guest Post by Danielle Ignace
One of my favorite series on the blog, besides Random Generator Short Stories, are guest posts. Hearing about other people's journeys and inspiration behind their children's books is so uplifting.
I definitely felt the emotion while reading today's guest post by Danielle Ignace.
Not only did she create a story for child going through unspeakable circumstances, but she takes it to a whole new level.
Growing up and moving into adult life I had a hard time figuring out how to help people during difficult and trying times. As the years continued, I've come to realize how I help people may not be in a traditional sense but for those who can, do it with the upmost passion. It seems to me Danielle is just that person. Check out what she has to say.
By Danielle Ignace
I have always loved writing. I grew up scribbling stories in my journals, writing stories late at night, and dreaming of one day becoming a published author. My stories as a child all had one thing in common... a child as the main character.
I have always loved children. I grew up playing with dolls, reading to my younger siblings, and helping others caretake. In college, I studied social work and nannied part-time, but somewhere between high school and graduating college I stopped writing stories. Reality had sunk in, and I did not have the childlike faith I once possessed to be a published writer.
I began focusing my energy on other things. I volunteered at children’s shelters and became a first responder for Child Protective Services. The job opened my eyes to the horror and trauma children face, not only from the abuse they encounter, but by the removals from the home. Children are taken away from their pets, home, friends and family, to be placed with complete strangers. Even though the child is placed in a safe home, it's still a trauma for the child who typically has an array of several different conflicting emotions. I was the social worker who took the children out of their parent's arms and drove them away from home. Their stories and cries wrecked me. One day, I decided to decompress after a difficult removal by writing the events of the day through the child’s eyes. I wrote the entire story in one sitting then I closed my laptop.
For almost two years, the story sat on my computer, untouched. Then, one day, I stumbled across it while I was deleting old files and decided to read it to a friend. She recommended publishing it. I quickly dismissed the thought. This was my writing. It was vulnerable and raw. I was scared of putting my writing out there. However, I did have a desire to help children in foster care. My friend encouraged me that my story could help children in foster care as well as educate others about the topic. I finally realized I had to get over myself and place my writing out there if I wanted to make a difference to help children.
Foster care is hugely misunderstood and many of the children feel alienated. After researching for hours, I discovered there were very few books about kids in foster care. Most school libraries and bookstores do not have books they can relate to besides some on adoption and stepfamilies with only a select few of children in foster care from a child’s perspective.
I desired to help kids not feel alone and to help foster parents realize children experience a loss and mourn their family even when placed in a safe home.
I had no idea how to get the money to publish, where to find an illustrator, and which avenue to go through publishing-wise, but I needed to take a leap and begin working hard to find answers. I reached out to a few local authors and asked for their advice. During the next few weeks, I googled and searched the web daily. I began reading anything I could find on publishing and fundraising.
I created a Kick Starter, a great platform to share ideas for projects, and allows others to donate to your project. I explained my dream of helping foster children and for the first few weeks, the project received no interest. I knew it would cost about $1,500 to have the book illustrated and formatted correctly. I kept checking the status daily. Then, after about a month, five generous donors decided to invest in Lily’s Story all in one day. I kept refreshing the Kickstarter page thinking this had to be a joke. It was an incredible surprise! The best part was seeing people believed in my writing, my dream, in Lily's Story.
After checking Kick Starter several times, I realized the book was happening. I began loosely describing my illustrations but still did not have an illustrator. I found a few illustrators through Facebook groups and received over 15 samples. I narrowed it down to three and compared style, cost and designs. I went with an illustrator who was passionate about helping children and also teamed up with another illustrator who, as a child, was in foster care herself. Together, the three of us collaborated and created Lily's Story.
I had no prior experience self-publishing on Amazon, but my illustrator was very kind and guided me through the formatting process in Kindle Direct Publishing on Amazon. I created a Facebook page, began emailing companies while visiting bookstores in person. Lily’s Story was submitted to several libraries for review as well as foster care agencies.
The desire to help foster children went further than writing a book, we wanted to donate all profits to help kids in foster care. Lily’s Story now teams up with foster care agencies and donates books to several different organizations and daycares. We use a portion of the profits to help foster agencies with outstanding needs. Lily’s Story book became a Foundation and is now a nonprofit organization within the United States. I never thought writing a children’s book would lead to being the founder of a nonprofit organization. Writing and publishing a book has been a very humbling experience and I've gained a whole new appreciate for authors.
Feel free to check out our website and Facebook Page: Lily’s Story Foundation! You can also help kids in foster care by purchasing Lily's Story on Amazon today.
Guest Post Wrap Up
I don't know about you, but I loved Danielle's post! This goes to show that even out of tough situations you can make something good come from it. Tell me in the comments below how you took a bad experience and made it into something good. Also go check out Lily's Story to help support kids in foster care!
Check out some of the last guest post including self-publishing authors Ryan Milligan or Massiel Zaragoza. If you would like to be featured on the blog, please feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.