Today truly is a Magical Monday. I get to interview my friend and brilliant children’s author, Sheri Fink!
Sheri and I met at the Southern California’s Writers’ Conference and have kept up with each other via social media. A few weeks back she sent out an email about a great program she’s involved with: Reading is FUNdamental Southern California. Before you get all sad because you don’t live in Southern California, just wait for it… they have locations everywhere! Yep, you can get involved all over the place. Go here to find a location near you.
I admit, I’d never heard of this organization, so I checked it out and fell in love. RIFSoCal brings books to kids who maybe can’t afford to buy their own! That’s 100% pure awesome!
Something I really LOVE about Sheri’s book is that it deals with bullying in a very subtle way. Last week was Stand UP To Bullying Day and Patricia Sands and Natalie Hartford both had inspiring posts on the subject. I was thrilled to realize my interview with Sheri would support the idea and keep anti-bullying strong in our minds!
The holidays are coming up and if you have a child on your list, I highly recommend this uber fabulicious book!
Without further ado, I would like to introduce you to Sheri Fink, beautiful woman, amazing children’s author and super fabulous gal…
Hey Sheri, RIFSoCal is amazing. How did you get involved with them and why is their program so important to you?
Sheri: I first became familiar with Reading Is Fundamental when I was growing up in a small town in Virginia. I always looked forward to the day when RIF would come to our elementary school and each child could pick out a book for their home library. Being able to choose any book, regardless of the price, and to be able to read it over and over again was such an incredible gift … it was like Christmas morning!RIF is one of the organizations I really wanted to be involved with as an author. A fellow children’s book author I met actually knew Carol Henault, the Executive Director of RIFSoCal, and introduced me. Talk about “dreams come true!”
I am so grateful to RIF for the important work they do and the positive impact they’ve had on my life. Today as an avid reader and children’s book writer, I am delighted that RIF continues to plant the seeds of childhood literacy and the love of reading for underprivileged children. I believe so strongly in their work that I recently partnered with RIFSoCal to help over 100,000 children in the Los Angeles area for whom the magic of books continues thanks to their services.
Me: How can others get involved? Donations, volunteering, etc.
Sheri: RIF had been federally funded until this year when they lost a large portion of their funding due to budget cuts. They are now in great need of donations and public support so they can continue doing the important work they do to spread childhood literacy to the underserved children in our local area. Tax-deductible contributions can be made at www.RIFSoCal.org and are much appreciated.
Me: What made you write The Little Rose?
Sheri: I wrote The Little Rose for children who are experiencing difficult circumstances in their lives, such as challenging environments at school or home. Anyone who has felt different, left out, or bullied will identify with the story. I want children to know how precious they are and to love themselves no matter what’s going on in their lives and no matter what anyone else says. Everyone has something unique about themselves and they should embrace that uniqueness, regardless of what others pressure them to feel.
Me: There is a sweet message to the book, was that what drew you to the story, or did that come later?
Sheri: The Little Rose came straight from my heart when I started writing the story. I felt inspired and didn’t know exactly where the story would go, it just flowed out of me. The book is about appreciating your differences and embracing them as unique gifts. By the end of the story, I was crying tears of joy because I could relate so well to what the Little Rose was experiencing and I loved her happy ending.
The amazing thing is that people read the book and interpret it in their own unique ways. Readers have told me that the book is a perfect fit for children who have been bullied or are going through transitions such as adoption, foster care, etc. I’ve also heard that families with autistic children or children with disabilities have particularly enjoyed the story. A Librarian told me that she bought the book to remind the teachers in her school to be Gardeners for the children. Adults have said that they read the book each night to reset themselves before going to bed. It’s been truly humbling to hear the beautiful meanings that The Little Rose has for so many people.
Me: What’s your journey as a writer been like? From writing the book to publication… how long did it take, how did you know to find your illustrator? We really want to know!
Sheri: It’s been an exciting journey so far and I’m looking forward to each new step along the way. Looking back, I always wanted to be a writer. As a child, I often made up my own stories and created books out of them. I would use cardboard and fabric to glue them together. I created a whole library of books. Unfortunately, I lost touch with that desire to create as I got further along in school, college, graduate school, and my career.
The story of The Little Rose came to me unexpectedly several years ago while I was driving to work. I was going through a particularly difficult time and was very emotional. The idea implanted itself in my head and started flowing to me. I frantically grabbed bits of paper and wrote it down at stoplights. I continued to flesh out the story afterward and then put it in a file drawer and forgot about it.
Fast forward a few years to October 2010 and I attending a Jack Canfield conference. I happened to have a conversation with another attendee in which she kept asking me about my writing. I reluctantly told her about the story I had written about a little rose who grows up in a weedbed and thinks that she’s the weed before learning to love herself just the way she is despite her differences. The woman told me that she got goosebumps and that her grandchildren needed the message of the book. In that moment, I realized that my story might make a good children’s book. I was really excited about that possibility, but I wasn’t sure I could do it.
When I returned from the conference, I pulled the story out of the drawer, typed it, made some tweaks, and asked several people that I respected to read it and provide feedback. I was very nervous to share my writing for the first time. But, I was more excited about the idea of creating a children’s book than I was scared, so I did it anyway. I kept hearing over and over that people got goosebumps when they read the story. At that point, I decided that I was going to publish a children’s book called The Little Rose.
I set the intention to publish my book in early 2011, which was less than six months from that point in time. I had a lot to learn in order to make that dream come true. I started by asking everyone I knew if they knew anyone who was a successful author. I had calls with many wonderful people, attended writers conferences (including the Southern California Writers Conference, which was the best), and asked lots of questions, and talked about my dream with just about everyone I met. Everything came into place as I continued to ask and take inspired action. I had such a passion for the message of my book that I didn’t let minor setbacks stop me. I was determined to see my vision become a reality.
A critical component to my success was that I assembled a team around me that would enable the book to be professionally created. That team included my incredible husband, my business coach, my amazingly talented illustrator, my accountability partner, my editors, my Mastermind Group, a network of positive friends (many of whom are writers) who provided continual support and encouragement, a great printer, and eventually my mentor. Everyone came onboard at the right time and was excited to be a part of bringing my book to life.
I learned a lot along the way. Every day I took action in the direction of my dream. My former career was in online marketing and I believe that helped me launch my book as well. I gratefully accepted guidance from others and did everything that was suggested to me, even when I was nervous. The one thing I didn’t do was allow other people’s perceived limitations to haunt me or slow me down. I knew that I could do it if I just focused on my desired result and tried my very best.
Five months from the date I attended the conference, The Little Rose was published. Within two weeks of the book launching, it became a #1 best-seller on Amazon. It was a miracle! It’s such a great feeling to create something from your heart and have it be so well received. I love hearing from readers that my book has made a difference for them.
A few weeks later, I received an inspired idea for my second children’s book, The Little Gnome, and started writing it while doing the marketing and publicity for The Little Rose. It felt like a huge risk at the time to start out on this path. I’m so grateful that I let my enthusiasm for the opportunity and the possibilities light the way for me to be bold, take action, and have this incredible dream come true. I had no idea of the value of the story I had tucked into a drawer. I feel so lucky every day to get to do the work that I do. I’m so grateful that I’ve created a business that I love.
Me: Do you have a new book coming out soon?
Sheri: My next inspirational children’s book is called The Little Gnome and it will be published on March 22, 2012. It’s a heartwarming tale about a garden gnome experiencing his first winter and helps kids embrace change while learning about the seasons. I’m really excited about it!
I really enjoy writing stories that empower kids to discover something new and magical about themselves while having fun reading. Those are the types of books that I like reading and writing the most.
Me: The holidays are coming up, what special traditions do you have that you celebrate?
Sheri: I love the holiday season! My husband and I decorate our home like a gingerbread house for Christmas and Hanukkah, send holiday greeting cards to our friends and family members, and travel back to Virginia to visit our families during the holidays. My mom has a few special recipes she makes only during Christmas (such as her famous German Chocolate Cake and her homemade fudge) that we always look forward to enjoying. Sometimes it even snows while we’re there!
Me: What’s next for you in 2012?
Sheri: There are many exciting things happening in 2012! In addition to the publishing of The Little Gnome book in March, The Little Rose is being adapted for the stage. I can’t wait to see elementary school children performing the play! I’m also considering debuting merchandise featuring the characters from both books.
From a writing perspective, I have ideas for two new books for younger children and one new series that I’m beginning work on now. I love creating enchanting new worlds and look forward to following the threads of the ideas to see where they end up. It’s a lot of fun for me!
Everywhere I go, I meet so many wonderful people who have great story ideas and who want to write books. I’m delighted to be living my dream and I want to help others live theirs as well. I’m in the process of creating an Author Success Academy that will provide the mindset, strategies, tools, and steps necessary to write, publish, market, and sell books. I’ll be mentoring aspiring authors to transform them into successful entrepreneurs. Enrollment begins in January 2012 at www.AuthorSuccessAcademy.com. I’m really excited to help aspiring authors’ dreams come true!
Here’s a little more about Sheri:
Sheri Fink is the author of the #1 best-selling children’s book, The Little Rose, and an international speaker. Sheri’s first children’s book, The Little Rose, is an enchanting story about a rose growing in a weedbed who learns to accept and love herself despite her differences. Published in March 2011, The Little Rose has been a #1 best-seller on Amazon for over 20 weeks. Her second inspirational children’s book, The Little Gnome, will be published in March 2012. In 2011, Sheri was selected as one of the top “50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading.” She is featured in several inspirational non-fiction books, including the international best-seller Self-Esteem Doesn’t Come in a Bottle by Kelly Fallardeau, and Dare to Dream: This Life Counts by Debbi Dachinger. Sheri is a proud supporter of organizations that make a difference in the lives of children, especially Reading Is Fundamental and the Girl Scouts of America.
I am so blessed to have many writer friends in my life. This year for Thanksgiving, I am grateful for all of you!
I’ve made a commitment to RIFSoCal to donate and volunteer. Are there any reading programs you support? Did RIF make a difference in your childhood?