When Matthew and I changed the format of our School to be independent study as well as more financially accessible, our hope was that folks would take full advantage of all the numerous materials to support them and their publishing endeavors.
Publishing a children’s book, whether through traditional means or self-publishing, can be huge. Not just the physical creation but also powerful for the body, heart and mind too. It’s why I teach the way I do and why I focus on a holistic framework.
We weren’t quite sure whether our hopes and changes for the School were manifesting. Many times we don’t hear how the work affects people until years later. So we couldn’t have been more pleased when after a school check-in email we were contacted by Sandra expressing how much she was getting out of the school.
Sandra was using the materials in exactly the way we had hoped, self-publishing a book and starting her own press! She was taking action and she was bringing her whole family along for the ride. We were lucky enough to connect in person when I was at the LA Times book festival and I of course had to ask if we could do a short interview to hear more about her, her book and press, and how the School has supported her on her journey.
Maya: Welcome, welcome, so first off I always like people to introduce themselves.
Sandra: Hello. I’m Sandra. I’m an author of bilingual children’s books. I write books to share with families, English and Spanish words that tickle the tongue, words that enchant the mind, and words that tease the ear. I proudly parent two kind-hearted and creative human beings. I am the daughter of brave Mexican parents who brought me to California when I was 3 years old.
I am a community activist for social, economic, and racial justice…
I was raised with the deepest love, respect, and encouragement that a child could have. I am a Danzante – Aztec Dancer. I connect with Tonantzin, Mother Earth, through this “kinesthetic prayer” that has been practiced for centuries. I am a community activist for social, economic, and racial justice because the balance on our wonderful planet that promotes love and happiness is off. I am a professional in the early childhood education field. I am passionate about family literacy and early learning where young children of color expand their vocabulary with sophisticated words because this enriches their life.
Maya: Exactly the kind of person we had hoped would use the school and materials! So, what led you to join School of the Free Mind and what courses are you focused on?
Sandra: I learned about you in 2013 when I was researching bilingual children’s books written by Latino authors to develop literacy tools for families during my graduate studies. I created a Family Conversation Guide based on your book, “My Colors, My World/Mis colores, mi mundo” because the robust vocabulary words in your book aligned perfectly with the goal of my school project.
The way the action steps were set up seemed doable for me and I could not have been more convinced that I’d finally make progress on my goal to self-publish.
Late in 2016, as I sought resources for publishing my book, I went to your author website. It was then when I first learned about School of the Free Mind and I signed up for your mailing list. I was enthralled to read the details of all the courses you offered.
In January 2017, I signed up for the School and specifically for your Make Books NOW! course. The ten-step action program caught my attention immediately because it had been about two years since I was “working on” publishing my book, but wasn’t getting past Step 1! The way the action steps were set up seemed doable for me and I could not have been more convinced that I’d finally make progress on my goal to self-publish.
In addition to focusing on the Make Books NOW! course, I have also spent quite I bit of time on The Heart of It course. My favorite part of this course is how incredibly inspiring it is for authors to create children’s book that truly do have the potential to change the world. And it does so with such lovely language!
Maya: I have to say this definitely makes me smile. So from your perspective as a person of color, what did you find at School of the Free Mind that you didn’t find elsewhere?
I found recognition and validation.
Maya: So my “evil plan” is working, lol! I know you’re working on publishing a book this year and starting your own press! How have the courses supported you in this?
The manuscript was pretty close to complete when I enrolled in January, but I didn’t have a clear understanding of the editing process, book layout, or illustration details.
I do now.
Maya: That’s so sweet Sandra. We’ve always felt compelled to share anything we learn with our community. We felt like if we could do it, then others could too.
Speaking of which, since the school has an independent study format and publishing a book is a big endeavor, I’m curious if you have advice about how you stay focused and motivated on your path?
Sandra: A HUGE endeavor indeed! Since I work full-time outside of my home, balancing my time and maintaining a strong focus has been a tremendous challenge. However, I did implement a few strategies that helped. This year, colleagues at my office started somewhat of a “self-care club”. During the week, we practiced five minutes of meditation and three minutes of visualization each afternoon. My visualization was dedicated to seeing my book published and out in the world! I even planned my book-launch party during those three minutes!
Definitely, being accountable to my word is keeping me motivated.
Another strategy was to share my release date with as many people as I could. Definitely, being accountable to my word is keeping me motivated. It also helped that my colleagues asked me to do a read aloud of my manuscript and give a small presentation on my self-publishing journey. My smile shines with encouragement when I have people asking if I am taking pre-orders of my book! Also, I made a promise that I would not skip my lunch break and I use those hours during the week to view the course webinars and read the material. Finally, I scheduled every Sunday as an “author work day” on my calendar. It doesn’t always unfold as such , but I still appreciate the notification on my cell every Sunday at 9:00 a.m. because it reminds me that I’m on a mission!
Maya: Fabulous suggestions! I’ve always been very disciplined myself but I know it can be tricky in the mix of life so hearing strategies from others is always helpful. You’ve shared with me that your kids have been involved in the process in different ways too, can you tell us more about that and why you think it’s important to have them be a part of it?
It’s important that they hear the truth. It’s important that they know their role in helping this world become one where many other worlds fit.
Maya: The statistics are sobering which is what makes me so happy to see you and your family taking such amazing action. So, tell us more about your book and press and how people can find out more and stay in touch.
Sandra: The name of our press is Skillful & Soulful Press. Our family created the following vision and mission statements:
The books we publish will promote the Skillful & Soulful Movement. This movement is about living a balanced life. Skillful refers to living in a logical and analytical way – fully in our masculine energy . Soulful refers to living in tune with our intuition and creativity – fully in our feminine energy. We believe that our best, most blissful, experiences as human beings will be lived when we master the art of living in a way that is both skillful and soulful.
The name of our press is Skillful & Soulful Press. Our first book, “Mommy, Tell Me Why I Am Radiant” is a bilingual picture book.
Maya: Sounds amazing and powerFULL. I can’t wait to see the final book in print and I anticipate many more to come! Is there anything else you’d like to share about you or the journey so far?
Maya: Thank YOU for sharing and for giving us a window in to your process, Sandra. I look forward to checking back in again once your book releases and your website is live!
Definitely keep an eye out for more from Sandra and Skillful & Soulful Press. And get her debut book “Mommy, Tell Me Why I Am Radiant” when it hit shelves in November!
We’ve reduced the registration fee for these last 5 months of 2017.
A great time to get started on your book and get the creative juices flowing!