Boogie and Monster book characters by Jamie Bills
July 25, 2020

A Little About My Writing Journey

By Jamie Bills

If you read my “About” page, you know about the quest I embarked on to read every picture book in the Norman, Oklahoma library. Months after beginning that goal, my daughter was having a hard time breaking the habit of picking her nose. I know, gross. In her defense, she was pretty little.

I started to make up a song I would sing to her. I called it “Boogie Monster Nose.”

“I have a Boogie in my nose, a little Boogie in my nose. A tickly, prickly, ickly, stickly boogie in my nose; but I do not want to put my finger in my nose…because I also have a Monster in my nose…”

Hahaha, the song goes on, but I will stop there. It is a little silly, but it worked and she loved it. I decided to paint some art and make it into a little book I could read to her. Haha- my husband teased me during those long days painting monsters, noses and boogies (for obvious reasons). 🙂

Picture Book Character Monster sitting down to eat.
Monster Ready For His Lunch

Writing Other Books

I had so much fun writing and creating “Boogie Monster Nose” that I decided I really wanted to try my hand at writing other books. I wrote a few other stories. I re-worked, had friends review my work, re-worked and started to submit to a few agents and publishers. Unfortunately, I did not get any bites.

Time to Move

About the same time, my husband was graduating with his PhD and we were planning to move to a different state. I had a 4 year old, a 2 year old and I was pregnant. I promised myself I would get to our new house and start writing again.

It didn’t really work out as planned.

I had my 3rd baby and it rocked my world. Three was hard for me and I was super busy. I promised myself I would get back to writing later.

Time to Move Again and Again

We moved to a new state a few years later and I continued to keep myself buried in preschool teaching, raising kids, home projects, etc.

Four years later, we moved yet again to a new state. Moving takes a crazy amount of time and energy.

Enter Coronavirus

When the Coronavirus hit, my world changed completely.

Biggest change, my kids sports stopped. I was no longer driving my girls all over the place for practices, games and camps. I was no longer coaching basketball.

Also- my church volunteer responsibilities almost vanished, volunteering at the library halted, volunteering at the school ceased. All of my kids other activities disappeared.

And then I remembered the promise I made to myself. I remembered my Dream.

I came across the following picture-

A Little About My Writing Journey

and it almost took my breath away. That little hand in the photo belonged to my daughter who is now 9 1/2. How had I let so much time go by? What happened to my dream of publishing picture books? Was it still something I wanted to do?

YES, YES, YES!!!

I decided the time is NOW. No more putting off my dream. I needed to keep the promise to myself that I would pick it up again. My girls needed to see me work hard for something I care about, even if the odds are daunting.

Taking Action

So I signed up for the next conference I could find. The Detroit Writers Conference. I signed up to pitch my manuscripts. I was excited. I was nervous. But I was also determined.

The conference was SUPER informational and inspiring.

I LOVED talking to agents about my books and received VERY helpful feedback.

I learned about the importance of an “author’s platform”, which prompted me to start this website and join instagram (@jmebills).

I started studying the book “Writing Picture Books” by Ann Whitford Paul.

I studied rhyme on the website Rhyme Weaver (fabulous).

I joined SCBWI.

I have been watching seminars on the industry and on tips to improve.

I have written a few new stories and re-worked old stories.

I have poured over 100’s of picture books in the past several months.

I am attending the large SCBWI conference next week and I have a paper out to an agent for professional critique.

I feel alive-

Reviving this dream has filled me with the same passion I felt years ago. I look forward to working HARD and improving my craft.

My next goal in this journey is to find an agent who believes in me and my stories as much as I believe in myself.

Wish me luck! (and if you are on the same journey, I wish you the best of luck as well)

Jamie Bills