September Featured Title: Lead Like a Pro

This month’s featured title is Lead Like a Pro: Effective Leadership Styles for Athletic Coaches by Dr. Matthew Raidbard!

Drawing on over a decade spent as a college basketball coach and original research conducted on what leadership styles and behaviors help athletic coaches be successful, Lead Like a Pro provides the resources for coaches to transform leadership practice and reach their full potential. This book is for all leaders who want to gain insight into different leadership techniques and develop a strong leadership style that fits their personal values and beliefs.

We chatted with Matthew about what leadership training looks like, what professionals in other fields can take away from this book, and more.

How did your experience as a college basketball coach inspire you to write a book about leadership?

When I was a young college basketball coach, I spent a lot of time watching other more experienced and successful coaches. I would always try to model my leadership behaviors after what I saw them doing, which led to very mixed and inconsistent results. For a long time, I struggled with the feeling that I wasn’t being authentic and that I didn’t actually know what my leadership style was.

Later in my coaching career, I enrolled in the Educational Leadership Doctoral program at Chicago State (where I was working as a coach at the time), and over the course of my time in that program gained foundational leadership knowledge and the tools to practice the leadership behaviors that aligned best with my personal values and beliefs, not someone else’s. My leadership journey and Doctoral research led me to realize that coaches, at all levels of sports, were not receiving the necessary leadership education and training. This realization, as well as my own leadership experiences as a coach, were the inspiration for my book. I wanted to provide athletic coaches with the leadership tools they need to be effective and successful coaches for their athletes and team.

What do you think are some of the essential tools and resources that coaches must have to be successful leaders? What does this leadership training look like?

Coaches need to have a strong foundation in leadership knowledge in order to determine the best leadership style and behaviors for them to practice. They also need to understand the importance of making intentional leadership choices so that the leadership style and behaviors they choose to practice align with their personal values and beliefs. Lastly, coaches need to learn how to practice the leadership style and behaviors they believe are right for them. I structured my book in this way so that I first provided coaches with foundational leadership knowledge, and then used examples from my experiences to show coaches the positive and negative effects their leadership choices can have on their athletes and team.

What can other readers who are not coaches take away from your book? How are the leadership techniques you offer in Lead Like A Pro applicable to them?

I am a strong believer in the gathering of information and different perspectives. I am always reading books and articles or attending webinars on leadership topics unrelated to sports. There is so much that coaches can learn about leadership practice from people who work in other professions, like teaching, business, retail, etc.

Likewise, I believe that there is that same opportunity for people who are not athletic coaches to learn about leadership from my book and see a different perspective. I hope they discover an approach to leadership that they would not normally have the opportunity to have known if they solely read books on leadership related to their specific profession.

How do you think the recent NCAA name, image and likeness policy will affect how coaches approach their team? Will this change the attitude and leadership behind sports?

I think the new name, image, and likeness policy will lead to more emphasis on the individual athlete and potentially take away from the team concept. With certain members of the team receiving endorsements while others are not, this could lead to rifts or other types of negative feelings within the team. I definitely think coaches will have to look for ways to adjust their leadership practice by emphasizing a team-first mentality through servant leadership, or by promoting direct and open dialogue so that issues don’t fester under the surface and erode the team culture. Additionally, I think that charisma, a key aspect of transformational leadership, will also be key for coaches because it will help them develop strong individual relationships with their athletes. This will be something that the coaches can call upon later when they feel like any one individual might be rising above the rest of the team.

What do you hope this book will accomplish for coaches and leaders, in sports and in other fields?

My hope is that after reading this book readers will be firmly committed to the idea that they are a leader, and that every decision, big or small, that they make for their team or organization is an act of leadership. I also hope that readers will be inspired by the book to be more intentional about their leadership choices and continue to look for ways to learn about leadership practice and improve themselves as a leader.

My last, and greatest, hope is that readers will see that there is no such thing as a perfect leader and that there is no perfect leadership style that will guarantee success. I want readers to know that if they are constantly working to practice the leadership style and behaviors that align with their personal values and beliefs, then they are a successful leader who is doing everything they can to best lead their team or organization.

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September Book Releases

It’s back to school time, and our September release day! Have your child head back to the classroom with a children’s book on brilliant scientists or a young adult novel about moving away from home. And for yourself, check out some of our adult titles on coaching leadership and the music industry!

Children’s Books

Ava and Abel Learn They Are Able

By Jami Colgrave Harland

Ava and Abel search for their special talents on their way home from school. Along the way, they meet children who already know their special abilities—some of which Ava and Abel may not have expected. Join Ava and Abel as they learn that what makes us different makes us special. What’s your special talent?

This book is meant to be a tool for beginning the conversation with children that, regardless of our differences, everyone can still have a great and special talent.

Ava’s Arch: Cooking Capers and Creations

By Ava Ventrella

Join Ava in the kitchen to make family cooking fun! She is assisted by her companions, Luca Bear and Sergeant Captain Burt. Social cues and some tasks are not easy for Luca Bear, and he relies on Ava to help navigate sticky situations. With her lead and his trusted friend, Burt, Luca Bear finds confidence and reassurance in helping out his sister in the kitchen. Family favorites, lots of tasting, and a few messy situations make for enjoyable and lighthearted cooking adventures.

Ava Ventrella created the Ava’s Arch initiative for kids like her who have a sibling with special needs. She is passionate about helping to improve mental health services that support siblings and further enrich family connections. Kids working together with a common understanding can sometimes be more powerful than talking to adults or family members. Everybody needs a voice, some help, and a safe place to land. Ava’s Arch helps communities and contributes to a wide range of organizations that improve mental well-being for kids.

Bear’s Braid

By Joelle Bearstail

Bear and his friend Ben feel like they are living two lives: one, where native traditions—like long hair—are a crucial part of their identities, and the other, where indigenous expressions are mocked and treated with ignorance. When the boys encounter bullying because of the braids they wear, these two worlds collide.

Seeking guidance from his beloved grandma, Bear confides his doubts and questions himself and his heritage. Bear’s grandma knows about the strength it takes to overcome hardships, and with her help, Bear and Ben develop a plan to strengthen their connection to their roots while also bridging the gap between their schoolmates and their families.

Seamlessly blending discussions of modern indigeneity and universal experiences of bullying and resilience, Bear’s Braid is an essential and of-the-moment book that belongs on every bookshelf, and fits in easily with the classics of social justice children’s literature.

Better than Best be Respectful

Jim Waite

Respect is something that we all should show
to all we meet, wherever we go—
to the elderly, vets, and others, too—
for showing respect will reflect back on you.
So, respect your parents and what you’re asked to do;
respect places and things, both old and new.
A respectful person is something important to be.
Respect one another, and their respect you’ll see.

Bravo Anjali!

Sailaja Joshi

For Anjali, playing the tabla is something that comes naturally. She loves the feel of the drum beneath her fingers and getting lost in the music. But when a boy in her class gives her a hard time for being better than him, she messes up on purpose.

When her teacher announces a contest where the winner will get to perform with him at his next concert, Anjali is distraught. Winning the contest would be a dream for Anjali. But it seems like the better she gets, the meaner some of the kids are. In this follow up to Always Anjali, Anjali realizes that she should never let anyone make her feel bad for being good at something.

An important story for all children to remember to ‘never dim their light.’

Buster and the Brain Bully

Christina Pellegrino

My name is Buster, and I’ve got a Brain Bully.
It affects my mood, and I don’t understand it fully—
like during a storm, when I get so very scared,
or—during a test—when I feel unprepared.

Read along with me as I discover how to cope,
by helping others realize that there is hope.
We all have bad days, but together we face our fears.
Brain Bullies, be gone! You’re not welcome here.

Curious Minds & Great Voyages in Science

Sameet Sreenivasan

These are the tales of a brilliant bunch
who endeavored to describe:
chimp societies, the pull of gravity,
x-rays, the moon, and the mind.

They show us that the discoverer’s path
is seldom easy or clear,
but nature spills her secrets
when you gently persevere.

So for all you inquisitive minds at work
with a scientific inclination,
the spunky heroes tucked within
offer loads of inspiration!

Five Mile Charlie: A Special Pony for Carly

By Kimberly Adams

Wishes don’t always come true the way we expect them to—but they can be brought to life in a very different way!

Carly lives on Five Mile Farm in Oklahoma. She has many pets, but has always dreamed of having a pony. The magical bees in the valley know about Carly’s wish. Will Queen Bee Nora and her best friend, Journey, find a pony for Carly?

Grief Came to Visit Today

By Sydney Ford

A mysterious guest shows up after the loss of a family member. This guest calls himself Grief, and he brings a lot of unexpected emotions with him. Read along to see how each emotion brings something new, and how becoming more familiar with Grief can help one heal.

Hurts Like a Jewish Mother: A Cautionary Aleph-Bet

By Ruby Rosen and Rosie Rubin

“I laughed aloud at Rosen and Rubin’s hilarious take on maintaining traditions in a modern world. Ultimately, a joyous and uplifting celebration with beautiful illustrations to behold—Mazel Tov!”

— Rose HaShana, author of Jewish Jews and the Jews who Love Them

“A perfect gift to celebrate every Jewish milestone. No Jewish home should be without one!”

— Chava Negila, author of Jewish Humor for Humorous Jews

“I saw myself on every page!” — Hannah Kah, winner of the 2019 National Latke Award

I Am Loved: The Gift

By Hope Murphy

Could you give up the one thing you’ve always wanted? Matthew has read the Bible story of Jesus’s birth, death, and resurrection, but he’s about to discover the true meaning of Christmas for himself. Join Matthew as he experiences God’s love and faithfulness firsthand through simple interactions and friendships with others. By viewing compassion and sacrifice through the eyes of a child, Christmas will never be the same again.

Like Me: Leaders

By Quinn Woodard

It’s career day again, and Zoey has always been told she’s a leader in the classroom, but she’s unsure of what type of leader she can be when she grows up. As Zoey says, “It’s difficult to see what I can be when no one looks like me.” With the help of a friend, Zoey learns about all the leaders who are right here in her community! She also learns about a few pioneers who came before her. Like Me: Leaders, the second book in the Like Me series, lets children know that they’re often surrounded by leaders who make daily impacts in their lives!

Not Like Other Bears

By Shelby Huff

What difference can one bear make? Not Like Other Bears follows one real-life grizzly bear named “399” throughout her life. Because the main highway that connects Grand Teton with Yellowstone cuts through her home range, 399 possesses a tolerance for crowds that other grizzlies do not have. This makes sightings unusually reliable for the park’s annual five million visitors—so much so, that she is the most photographed bear in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

Due to her location and longevity, 399 has been a household name in Wyoming for more than two decades. At least twenty-two bears are descended from her, including the four cubs she birthed in 2020 at the mature age of twenty-four.

Not Like Other Bears allows children to gain insight into 399’s incredible tale, providing a rare glimpse into the extraordinary world and significant impact of one grizzly bear and her cubs through a heartwarming journey that will delight and captivate readers of all ages.

The Living Christmas Tree

Kristin Sponaugle

During the day, the Miller family’s Christmas tree stands tall in their living room, sparkling with lights and ornaments. Little does the family know that their Christmas tree is anything but ordinary. Each evening, the magic of Christmas brings their tree to life—much to the delight of Hannah and William Miller. Follow along as Hannah and William experience the magic of Christmas in a whole new way.

The Tree House Detectives and the Missing Crown of Thorns

By Kristy Andrews

The Tree House Detectives are on a mission to save the Easter play! Join Kristina, Kaity, and Lizel as they search for clues to find out what happened to the crown of thorns. Experience the mystery along with them as they question possible suspects. Would someone really steal something from the church? Will they find the crown in time for the Easter play? Come with them on their adventure as they try to solve their very first case: The Tree House Detectives and the Missing Crown of Thorns.

Where is Winston?

By Dr. Olivia J. Hodges

Winston is a lovable little boy who is popular and is often invited to visit with friends, attend birthday parties, and play games in his diverse neighborhood. That is, until one day, when one of his best friends bullies him and makes Winston cry. Who will Winston turn to during this time? Can Winston and his friend-turned-bully repair their friendship?



Deserve’s Got Nothing to Do with It: Five Elements That Will Help You Survive Your Emotional Journey to Success

By Charlie Midnight

Deserve’s Got Nothing To Do With It takes you on a journey from Charlie Midnight’s no-nonsense childhood in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, with a mother his friends called Bella the Barracuda, through his successful music career, working with and for celebrated artists including James Brown, Barbra Streisand, Joni Mitchell, Joe Cocker, Cher, Billy Joel, Hilary Duff, Jamey Johnson, Idina Menzel, and Christina Aguilera. Charlie writes about being in the studio with James Brown recording the song “Living in America,” and thinking, If only the guys in the old neighborhood could see me now, I would finally be cool. He shares his wonder at how Joni Mitchell serendipitously covered his song, “How Do You Stop” (a duet with Seal), and how after an unsuccessful album on Columbia Records, his career was salvaged and kick-started by the brilliant artist and record producer, Dan Hartman. Deserve’s Got Nothing To Do With It follows Charlie’s circuitous odyssey filled with dead ends, reboots, and perseverance, and shares the Collaboration, Relationships, Ambition, Passion, and Persistence (CRAPP) that helped him survive until he found himself at the door of success.

Lead Like a Pro: Effective Leadership Styles for Athletic Coaches

By Dr. Matthew Raidbard

Athletic coaches are asked to wear more and more hats with each passing season, and in many cases, they are not receiving the support or training necessary to help them succeed in their ever-expanding roles. Drawing on over a decade spent as a college basketball coach and original research conducted on what leadership styles and behaviors help athletic coaches be successful, Lead Like a Pro provides coaches with the resources to transform their leadership practice and reach their full potential.

Whether you are a volunteer coaching your child’s team, a part-time high school coach who’s also a teacher, or a full-time college or professional coach, this book will teach you new ways to enhance your leadership style and become a better coach for your athletes and team. All coaches should be constantly working on improving their leadership abilities, but not all coaches have the time or opportunity to attend leadership conferences, training sessions, or classes. Lead Like a Pro provides insight into different leadership techniques, and teaches coaches how to evaluate their current practices so they can develop a strong leadership style that fits their personal values and beliefs.

Young Adult Fiction

State of Grace

By Sydney Walters

Growing up in Centralia wasn’t easy for Grace, who was just four years old at the time of the coal mine eruption that nearly destroyed her hometown and took her father with it. Her days were clouded with ash and despair until her mother, Rita, fell for the warm and heroic Bill. Together, Bill and Rita had a child of their own, a boy named Sam, who quickly became the light in Grace’s eyes. The pair grew up together in a world of uncertainty, until fate decided it had other plans: Sam slipped into one of the many sinkholes in the crumbled town, which led to the still-burning hellfire below him.

As tragedy envelops her family and her sanity again, Grace fights to make it out into the real world outside of Centralia. But where will she go, and what will she do? With a college scholarship, the help of her new friends, and the opportunities of academia, Grace struggles forward, trying to find a balance between letting go of the past and honoring where she came from.


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5 Ideas to Sell Your Books Fast

You’re ready to sell all your books in our warehouse as fast as possible, but you’re in a marketing rut. It happens to all of us, especially when it’s been a few years since the book’s release. But don’t fret because we laid out five marketing strategies to get you back on track! 

Read more below on relaunching your book, getting your audience excited, and selling the last of your copies in no time.

A Sale!

What better way to grab someone’s attention than a sale? Through your Mascot marketing contact, you can set up a promotional discount on your Mascot listing for whatever percentage and time frame you’d like (we usually recommend anywhere between 10 and 25%)! This can be something you activate for a particular holiday or for a reason related to your book (ex. if your book is about rescue dogs, you can start a sale for National Rescue Dog Day). It could be something as simple as starting a sale for the start of fall. Either way, everyone loves a good sale. Build some excitement on your social media platforms and in your community, and get consumers ready to type in the promo code when the sale has begun! 

Amazon Ad Campaign

Purchase an ad that we’ll run for you! The Amazon-sponsored product advertising campaign is an effective digital marketing tool to generate Amazon sales and drive traffic to your listing. A Mascot marketing person would list keywords on the backend of Amazon that relates to your book’s content and themes. We try to think of the phrases that consumers are typing into the search bar. For example, if your book teaches children to accept everyone’s differences, we’ll add keywords and phrases like “children’s books promoting acceptance” or “picture books with diversity.” Once it’s activated, the ad will bid with other ads to appear on a consumer’s screen!

Media Spotlight

Try re-launching your book in the news, even if it’s been a few years! Tying your book in with hot topics in the media can be a successful game plan to getting your book out there again. Compile a list of local media outlets, or outlets that fit your book’s audience, and reach out to them with a persuasive pitch. One of our authors has been a big hit in the news. In the last year, as much of the national conversation has been swirling around children getting the COVID-19 vaccine, Mascot Author Kat Picarde has appeared on major outlets telling parents how her book The Little Ouch can help children overcome the fear of shots.

If you can find anything in your book that can connect to current events, go for it! It can be as easy as telling outlets how your book is perfect for back-to-school. 

Pitch, again!

Pitch your book again to schools, organizations, reviewers, and bookstores. Sometimes it’s about emailing the right person at the right time, and completing another round of pitching can increase your odds of a response. Like with media outlets, find a way to make your book relevant again. Why is it especially important for children or your target audience? Why is it a must-read today? Why should a bookstore shelf it? Give it another shot, and see what happens. Approach these locations directly if needed!

Wear Your Book

Don’t just sell your book; BE your book! Think about ordering t-shirts, hats, canvas bags, pins, stickers, or any kind of gear that you can wear when you’re out and about. We can even design bookmarks and postcards for you to always have on hand. People WILL stop and ask questions! This is a fun word-of-mouth marketing technique to meet new people, talk about your book, and get some sales.

And although we’ve hit five ideas already, there’s one more thing you should always make sure to do: keep up with your social media channels. Stay on the minds of your readers by posting consistently and engaging with your followers. 

If you have any tips or questions for us, ask and tell us on social media by tagging @Mascotbooks on:





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August Featured Title: Life…According to Z

This August’s featured title is Life…According to Z by mothasistah!

What happens when your daughter introduces herself to you as your son? And he’s only seven years old? Life . . . According to Z is a “truth-tell” series revealing the painfully honest path of a maturing boy in the wrong body and his early life leading up to coming out as transgender. Z is a child who has the same hope ALL children do: to be accepted.

We interviewed mothasistah about starting conversations involving the transgender experience at a young age, her journey as the parent of a transgender boy, what she hopes readers will do after reading her book, and more. 

What was the inspiration behind writing Life…According to Z

The inspiration behind Life…According to Z is one of the strongest human beings I know: my son, Zion.  Not only did he dare to share his truth with me, but he also lost friends, risked his safety repeatedly, and still stood tall despite family, friends, and community members frowning down on who he is.  This book series shows the power children have to teach adults and that our “selves” are worth the fight. I always wanted to write a book, and Zion was right here with a life story worth penning.

Why do you think it’s important to have discussions and read about the transgender experience at a young age? How do you think books about the transgender experience have evolved? 

It’s crucial to have discussions with children because we must begin the practice of respecting the intelligence and self-awareness our children behold.  Many transgender people knew who they were as children. To be a child is to be inquisitive – to want to know how you fit in.  But where do our children go when the world doesn’t make room for them? Our children deserve and need to be affirmed in media, literature, and safe environments where discourse surrounding differences is prioritized.  My son felt more comfortable in telling me who he was after we discussed a video about a fellow transgender male who was the same age as him. Our identities are not one-size-fits-all.  Children need to know this. 

Exposure is everything. It can prevent children from feeling alone, feeling that their “differences” are unnatural, and most significant, feeling that suicide is better than the pain. Unfortunately, we dismiss children’s words and begin the process of rejection, only to justify it under the guise of “children aren’t mature enough to…”. By doing that, we destroy our children methodically.  Books have evolved in covering the transgender experience because the truth is a hard reality to keep hidden – and unapologetic children are making themselves heard. There is nothing shameful about being who you are. I am overjoyed that literature is now catching up to reflect the lived experiences within a beautiful movement of movers and shakers – many of them too young to drive or vote. 


What are some of the ways we and our communities can support transgender people? 

Community members can support the transgender community – especially children – by doing the following:

1. Do YOUR homework and research. This includes attending forums where transgender persons are the people leading the conversation;

2. Listen. You don’t have to always have a response;

3. Respect pronouns and names.  Practice asking new contacts how they wish to be addressed;

4. “Transgender” is one of many labels.  Underneath all labels, there lies a human being with a story. Have a conversation with a transgender person as you would ANYONE else;

5. Go beyond the “safety” of allyship. Be an accomplice – use your privilege to stand up when you hear or see discrimination against transgender people and make it your business to actively tear down systems created to harm our children. Be a co-conspirator by asking how you can support and proactively show up, respecting the work that’s been done, and if needed, putting your reputation and/or name on the line for social justice.

How do you think transgender discrimination has changed over time? What differences do you see now, as opposed to ten years ago? What will the future look like? 

For certain, Stonewall and other powerful demonstrations even before that lent a needed push for transgender folx to be seen and listened to.  Ten years ago, I wasn’t very familiar with the term “transgender” – I heard it, but it wasn’t relevant in the larger scheme of my world. Our older systems seemed less concerned about recognizing human rights on the playing field in terms of healthcare, housing, schooling, hate crimes, and the like.  The playing field is different now.  But despite efforts and successes that we now enjoy, I want us to be cautious in cheering wins. 

With exposure and conscious rebellion comes a price – especially when it threatens the status quo enjoyed by the fearful. Intersectionality, race, and class still hold us hostage even within the LGBTQIA++ community.  The rise in killings of Black and Brown transgender females is still not a priority; it is a slap in the face to question transgirls’ right to participate in school sports; and why are we still engaged in the battered argument about public restrooms?  Transgender people have been using public restrooms for decades.  There just wasn’t an announcement – nor should there have been.  And in the name of denying a real quality of life, state leaders and legislators are going in hard to eliminate life-saving trans care – to the extent of jailing doctors or taking away their credentials.  I am thankful for battles won, but work still needs to be done.  And that unapologetic work by the trans community, allies, accomplices, and co-conspirators will frame a safer future that is enjoyed by those who are continuously made to feel invisible.  We WILL enjoy genuine, inalienable rights sooner than we think.  I feel it.

As a parent of a transgender child, could you tell us a bit about your journey? What advice do you have for other parents who are having the same experience?

When my son first introduced himself to me, I was confused, angry, blameful, hurt, sad, scared, and pretty selfish. My reaction had little to do with my son’s truth.  I made it all about me.  I was afraid of what others would think.  Even when my son shared who he really was, Zion never mentioned the word, “transgender.” He just wanted me to recognize that the doctors got it wrong and that I needed to do an “about-face.”  My world was extremely binary and I had little tolerance in seeing the “grays.”  Things were either black or white in my life experiences.  But Zion forced me to get it together by consistently communicating with me and challenging me to re-evaluate everything I was taught.  Instead of judging in a tunnel of fear and ignorance, I started to listen.  I asked my son questions.  I gave him room to be him – even when it was uncomfortable and scary. We joined support groups and had communion with other families with trans children. From there, the daily conversations flowed effortlessly.  None of this was overnight.  It was difficult, but we stand strong now because I allowed Zion to take the lead.  I am a better mother, educator, and person because of it. 

My advice for fellow parents of trans children is to not be hard on yourselves.  YOU ARE HUMAN. No matter how many books are out there; no matter the number of stories shared with you…this is your child and your experience. 

Listen to your child FIRST. Love them through the process and/or pain.  Trust that our children feel what they are up against, just as we parents do.  It may not be the same type of pain, but hurt is hurt.

Admit when you don’t understand. It’s okay.  Your child won’t have all the answers, either.  Research and ask professionals and fellow families when you need clarity.

Be prepared to stand up for your child.  Whether it’s family, friends, school community members, or strangers, show your child that you have their back – even if you’re confused.  Witnessing your leadership and courage does wondersfor your child.

If you or your child needs help, seek support.  If you need to cry, let it out.  If you are disappointed in “losing” who you knew as your child, this is normal.  I admitted to Zion that I was mourning whom I knew as my first and only daughter, but I still loved my son.  Zion embraced me.  We talked about it and went through pictures together. He was fine with my keeping old photo albums in storage. We dealt with my tears together.  He saw me as human and got a front-row seat to my pain amidst my acceptance.  It was then that I realized I didn’t “lose” anything.  My same, loving child was still present and that was so pivotal in our progress.  Again, your support allows your child to be free in how they express and define themselves in this world. 

Your child may change their mind on a lot of things (i.e., non-binary vs binary vs agender vs wearing boys’ clothes on M/W/F and wearing girls’ clothes on T/Sat vs wanting to be called a particular name one day but the following week, asking you to call them by their birth name vs changing pronouns).  Yes, it can be that complicated.  And it can be so simple.  Please follow their lead. 

Finally, expect to make mistakes, and going back to my first recommendation– remember that you’re human.  Self-care is PARAMOUNT to anything you can do for your child.  Go for walks. Talk to a trusted friend. Yell. Meditate.  Talk out loud when you’re angry.  Take care of YOU to be a better resource and support for your child. 

What do you hope early readers will do after they read your book?

After reading my book, I hope children – and parents/adults – start having conversations.  I want early readers to talk about the “what ifs,” the “what would you dos,” and the “wow, I sometimes feel like that.” Any progress begins with dialogue.

I want children to model “normalizing” behaviors that are welcoming of trans children. Adults can be so rigid and stuck in their toxic ways.  After all, the common denominator of Zion and his peers is that they are all children.  They all want friends; they struggle in their studies; they love to play; they all desire acceptance.  That seems pretty normal to me. Every environment has the capacity for learning. I hope that “Z” will be a welcomed teacher to many.

I’d also love it if children could take a picture of themselves with the book and post it to #life_according_to_z or #mothasistah. 

And lastly, if you can, gift a book to an LGBT center or LGBT-serving health care clinic, public or school library, k-12 schools and/or their guidance offices.  One story, one conversation at a time, we can begin to educate, heal, and save the lives of our children.


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July Featured Title: Emerson’s Exquisite Eyes

This month’s featured title is Emerson’s Exquisite Eyes by Nikki Hennek!

In this storybook with coloring pages, Emerson’s exquisite eyes are what make her unique! Although she grew up learning how to do things differently than her friends, they all admire and like her for who she is. Emerson’s happiness and bravery show how children of all abilities are superstars! Emerson’s Exquisite Eyes lets the reader color along with Emerson as she experiences the world around her.

We chatted with Nikki about the benefit of storytelling through an activity book, the challenges she faced in her publishing journey, and more.

What inspired you to write Emerson’s Exquisite Eyes? Did you always know you’d be a writer or was it a new discovery?

My family was my inspiration for writing my new children’s book! My nephew loves books and it has always been a fun family bonding experience getting to read with him, especially knowing that it had a beneficial impact on his development. Knowing my love and interest in creative writing, my family suggested and supported the idea that I pursue writing one myself. As I brainstormed book concepts, I knew I wanted to write something more inclusive and unique than many of the popular books kids have been reading for decades, which is when Emerson’s Exquisite Eyes was created.

I have always had an interest in creative writing, which was verified after taking a few classes in high school and college. I never thought I would officially publish my work or pursue anything this far, simply because I never really knew the process. However, I am so happy and proud that I can share my story with families across the nation!

As an HR professional, how did your work influence the themes and content in your book?

One of the things I have always enjoyed about working in HR was that part of my job was focused on initiating a more inclusive workplace to welcome different perspectives and influence a kinder culture. When I started to write Emerson’s Exquisite Eyes, I thought why not bring this same passion and message for kids to learn and enjoy as well. 

Emerson’s Exquisite Eyes is both a children’s and coloring book. Why did you choose to do both? What’s the benefit of storytelling through activity books?

As I wrote my children’s book, I wanted it to stand out from others, not only with an inclusive storyline but also with the overall experience for the reader. I wanted my book to be interactive, providing a fun experience for the book lover and peace of mind for parents knowing their child is spending time expressing themselves creatively as an alternative to watching TV or playing video games. I felt the benefit of this would show the value of spending quality time together, as well as ensuring my book wouldn’t sit on a shelf after a few weeks and instead be an ongoing favorite based on their contributions to the illustrations. Also going along with the inclusive storyline, the reader could bring the characters to life how they would like to interpret them! If the reader has light or dark skin, blonde or red hair, freckles, a scar or birthmark, they can bring their representation to life. The fun part is that there are an infinite amount of looks my book could have!

What was the publishing process like for you? What were your favorite parts and what challenges did you have to face?

As a brand-new author starting from scratch, Mascot Books has been very helpful in navigating me through the publishing process! Everyone has been extremely friendly and knowledgeable, which has taught me a lot about this new and exciting journey. One of my favorite parts was identifying my illustrator. I got to look through dozens of amazing artist portfolios Mascot partners with and then narrow down my selections from there. Eventually, the finalists got to bring my character, Emerson, to life, which was incredible, fun, and rewarding to see!

A challenge that I faced during the process was in the early marketing stage since I’ve never marketed a children’s book before. I created my Instagram page, @Emersons_Exquisite_Eyes, and advertised it across other social media pages to kick it off. Along the way, I have been able to connect with many other children’s book authors and learn where they have had successes, too. Now, I get to come up with fun, creative content to help spread the word about my book!

What advice do you have for parents to start teaching their children about disabilities and special needs?

I believe it is important to expose children at an early age to an inclusive environment where everyone is treated equally and those who may be slightly different than them can still succeed! My book has a message that can help parents raise kind people. Have open conversations about how being different is nothing to be afraid of or uncomfortable with, but rather an opportunity to learn. Encourage your kids to always be a friend to anyone in need and lead by example to remove any stigma associated. I would also recommend researching some very accomplished disabled individuals to prove how they have done great things in their lifetime for inspiration!

What do you hope young readers will learn from Emerson’s Exquisite Eyes?

I truly hope that my message about the importance of inclusion resonates with my readers and teaches them that Emerson is capable of living a normal life despite not having her sight, just like millions of other disabled people in the world. The goal for this book is also to encourage readers to ask more questions, especially if this is their first exposure to someone with a disability, so they can understand that many people with disabilities can achieve as much as anyone else.

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June Featured Title: East of Hell

Our June featured title is East of Hell by Whiskey Emerson!

Maintaining a five-star Amazon rating, Whiskey’s sequel continues the story of Thomas, a man who is seeking vengeance against a powerful organization after discovering that his mother’s death was not the accident it appeared to be. Taking place one hundred and fifty years ago in New York City, Thomas, Madame (his distant guardian) and the rest of her renegades have yet to discover who their true enemy is, or rather, which threat must be dealt with first. With everything at stake, alliances are tested. Trust is broken. And war is on the horizon. 

We interviewed Whiskey about her intricate plot, the research required for historical fiction, how long a book should be, and more!

East of Hell
follows an elaborate and suspenseful storyline. How did you come up with the plot?

When I originally began composing West of Hell, my aim was to write a novel about a 19th-century hitman with a conscience; however, slowly over time, the story built into a spiderweb that stretches far beyond just Thomas’s battle for vengeance. Every character in this series has their own journey, their own demons to overcome, and their own deep connections to one another. While West of Hell might be the origin story of this trilogy, East of Hell is when we truly see our cast of renegades come into their own, and rather than limit the scope of where the novel could go, I did the opposite. I followed every thread in the web to paint a picture of a world that needs multiple unique and diverse perspectives to truly bring the colors to life. 

And that creates a very, very elaborate plot.

Your new book is the much-anticipated sequel to West of Hell. When did you realize this story goes beyond one book?

There was a moment when I finished Part I of West of Hell when I was able to grasp that the story was far bigger than I originally anticipated. So rather than worry, I let my imagination run with it. Within a week, I had a basic outline for the trilogy, and while daunting to undertake the task of writing three 800-page novels, I knew I wouldn’t rest easy until the trilogy was complete.

Both West of Hell and East of Hell are over 800 pages, but most Amazon reviewers said they couldn’t put it down. One said “…don’t be intimidated by the page count. There is never a dull moment…Probably one of the best historical fiction novels I have read in ages.” How do you keep readers engaged with a longer book? How do you know what is the perfect page count for a story, not making it too short or too long?

Every writer has their own vision of the story they want to tell, and while sometimes it does need either expanding or trimming down, I don’t think page count matters when it comes to a damn good story. I have read ten-page shorts which leave me speechless, goosebumps running down my arms, feeling captivated and enthralled. I have also read 2,000-page epics that pull the reader in and slowly build up a world they never dreamed of, providing deep emotional connections to characters, and thus giving them the opportunity to invest their heart and soul in their imaginations. 

Almost every rejection letter I received from agents while trying to initially publish West of Hell was due to the magnitude of book size and page count. I kept every rejection letter during that year of outreach, and from time to time, I read through them and am relieved I didn’t listen. If I had, this novel wouldn’t be half as good as it is today, even if it would then both literally and figuratively fit the ‘mold’ of what agents are looking for. Go with your gut. Trust the story. 

East of Hell is an action-packed historical fiction novel taking place one hundred and fifty years ago in New York City. What research did you have to do for the historical background? What made you choose New York City and the time period?

Before I began writing, I spent about six months learning everything I could about New York City during this time period and became absolutely fascinated. My research covered an immense amount of ground: political corruption, gangs, immigration, the Vanderbilt’s, insane asylums, Tammany Hall, Chinatown, steamships, Civil War artillery, the history of brothels, opium addiction, and the list goes on and on. Why did I choose it? To be honest, I can’t be sure, other than being quite the history nerd and feeling wholly ignorant of what the latter part of the 19th century was like in America. And it was quite the education.

What would be your advice for people who want to write a historical fiction novel or a series?

Take the time to do your research – the details go a lot further than you initially perceive. Still, remember it is also fiction, and to have a little fun with it. History offers a great starting point, as well as endless tools in your toolbelt for constructing a world, but at the end of the day, try not to let it inhibit your plot or character development. You are in the driver’s seat; feel free to explore!

Can we expect a third book or any more books from you in the future?

I took a small break during the 18 months of the pandemic and wrote a sci-fi novel titled Rationem, which I’m hoping to have released by the end of the year or in early 2022. The story takes place in a post-apocalyptic world following the ravages of a global pandemic, wherein a small fraction of women battle for survival against rogue army units, cannibals, and other tribes of warring humans in what is left of their town of Bend, Oregon. It is a super fun ride, which proved to be a great outlet during the waves of COVID-19. As far as the third book in the West of Hell trilogy, you can expect South of Hell to be complete and in your hands by Fall 2023.

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Answering Your Most Burning Questions

It’s totally normal to come into the publishing industry with a hundred questions. There’s a lot to know! But at Mascot, we work diligently with our authors to give them all the information they need throughout the entire publishing process.

As a reference, our departments answered some of the most commonly asked questions that we get from authors. Read away and come back to us if you have any more questions!


Do I need to copyright my book before sending it? 

No! The electronic time stamp on your manuscript acts as your copyright until a book is published. You can always fill out a form on the Library of Congress website to obtain copyright before sending it, but it is not necessary to. 

What does the submission process look like?

You can fill out a form on our website or email info@mascotbooks.com with a book synopsis idea. Once we receive your submission, an acquisitions editor will reach out to request a manuscript if we are interested in the book and a manuscript draft was not sent. We then review the title, provide feedback, and set up a phone call if we’d like to move forward with the project. 

Are all books accepted? 

Mascot Books does have a selection process for titles so, unfortunately, not all titles are accepted. 

Is the acquisitions editor the main point of contact?

The acquisitions editor is your first point of contact and they handle the submission process and creating your contract. They become part of your team if you end up signing with us, but you are also introduced to a production editor as the main point of contact for that stage in the process. 


Board and Children’s Books

How will I find the right illustrator for my picture book?

Your production editor will guide you through the illustration process so that you can be matched with the best fit for the style and content of your book. By browsing through curated lists of artist portfolios and getting test sketches from different illustrators, you’ll be able to winnow down to a list of contenders from which you will ultimately pick your book artist! Your production editor will also work with you to come up with storyboard ideas so that when the time comes to begin the storyboarding process with the artist, you’ll already have a headstart on preparing descriptions and ideas for the artist (who will also bring their own unique spin and technique in conjunction with your own preferences).

Does it take longer to produce a board book than a picture book?

Yes! Because board books are made of sturdier paper stock, they take longer to print. On average, board books take about ~3 months longer at the printing stage than picture books or standard adult hardcovers and paperbacks. 

Adult & Chapter Books

How long does production take/last?

Production can take anywhere from six months to several years, depending on the project! The average time is about a year, and depending on the length of the manuscript and other factors like cover design, layout, and editing, it can be pretty variable. The shorter and cleaner the manuscript, the faster it can go through the production process. For longer, complicated books with appendices and bibliographies, we project more than a year. It all depends, and every project is unique in its own way!

Can I work directly with my editor/illustrator?

We prefer to keep editing in-house, but when we do pull in ghostwriters, freelance copyeditors, or writing coaches, our authors can work directly with them for a customizable and interactive experience. Communication between authors and illustrators is usually mediated by your production editor, but you’ll always be kept in the loop and have your vision represented during the artist process. 

Do I get to give feedback on my cover?

Absolutely! Our authors are always deeply involved in the cover process. We often ask for cover “mood boards” or “wishlists” to get us started, and we use our expertise, the content of the book, and your guidance to craft cover mockups that you will be able to review and revise. 

Registration & Marketing

Why did I originally think my release date was earlier? What is the difference between book-in-hand and release date? Why does the release date have to be so far out?

Book-in-Hand date is the date when you will receive your own physical copies of the book. This stock is yours to do with as you please, whether that’s selling to bookstores directly, giving them away to charities, or handselling to customers who have contacted you. The retail release date is the date that the retailers and distributors Mascot works with can start shipping out copies of your book for online orders.  

The 2-3 month gap between when you receive your books in hand and when they are officially released is needed to allow ample time for distributors to order, check-in, and prepare stock for online orders. Otherwise, we run the risk of your listings going live before the retailer is ready to fulfill orders. 

Why won’t my listing appear on Amazon or another retailer site when I type in the title?

Amazon’s search results are generated based on their SEO (search engine optimization) system, which is ultimately an algorithm that takes into account common products customers are searching with specific keywords. Your title has *this word* and *this word* in it, which is/are commonly searched words and most likely the main reason why the search results are showing a wide range of random products. As you begin to generate pre-orders and more people are searching specifically for your title, this will correct itself and you’ll begin to see your book higher on search results. It also makes a difference if customers are searching in a specific department or category versus through the main search bar. It’s very common for customers to try a few different searches by switching up keywords or departments if it doesn’t work the first time, so it shouldn’t affect too many customers specifically seeking out your product. 

How do I get my book into retail stores like Target and Costco? 

Some of our distribution partners onboard all of our book titles automatically once they’re registered, while others work on a pitch system. That said, we can only expect to have our titles on certain online retailer sites: Amazon and Barnes & Noble. If you want an in-store placement or an online listing with another retailer or independent bookstore, you would have to reach out to them directly. 

What does pitching look like?

I’d first start with a pitch email that includes your retail price, market fit, ISBN, book description, distributor information/purchasing options, and a request to have a discussion via phone call or meet up. If you plan to meet with them, I would bring a sample copy of your book and all the information about your release date and registration. I’d also attach or bring any marketing materials, specifically the press release (since it formally announces your book) and one-page flyer (since it contains all the information they need straightforwardly and concisely).

What is NetGalley?

NetGalley helps authors promote digital review copies to book advocates, industry professionals, and readers from many walks of life (bloggers, librarians, members of the media, etc). This platform is a wonderful way to get your book discovered and recommended by a large audience, and get reviews! 



Why does the shipping date keep changing?

Any shipping date that we receive from our printers is always going to be an estimate. Therefore, these can change by a few days or even weeks. If we give you an estimated ship date, we recommend that you don’t plan anything around it since there’s always a chance it can change. 

What is included in the sales report? What about the royalty report?

The sales report, which can be generated any time after your book-in-hand date, shows every order from distributors and consumers who purchased through the Mascot listing. Please keep in mind that not all the numbers are a reflection of how many books have been sold since distributors order copies for their stock inventory. Distributors and retailers are not required to disclose sell-through numbers and have varying degrees of transparency. Many distributors do not release which retailers have ordered through them, so you can only see the distributor name on the sales report.

The royalty report, which is sent out quarterly from when your book arrived at our warehouse, summarizes your sales and earnings. This includes the net number of paid sales and returns, the individual paid sales and returns (similarly to the sales report), and the remaining unpaid sales from the author.

When will preorders be shipped? How long does it take after they’ve arrived at the warehouse?

Any preorders made through the Mascot website will be shipped once we receive stock. Usually, the warehouse needs a few days to check in and process the stock before they can start shipping orders. Then, it depends on the mailing address location and the number of books to determine how long shipping will take.

How many books should I have shipped to me, and how many should I keep for sellers like Amazon, Mascot, and Barnes & Noble?

Your audience, current events, geography, and all kinds of other factors affect this decision. Ultimately, if you plan on doing more events and signings, taking several hundred books in hand is a good start. However, if you plan to do mostly online sales, keeping the majority in the warehouse is likely the best plan. At the end of the day, you know your readers the best, and being able to get a sense of their purchasing reach is very useful. 

Have any more questions for us? Contact us at info@mascotbooks.com or ask us on social media
 by tagging @Mascotbooks on:






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Capitalizing on National Financial Literacy Month

There’s no better time to brush up on your financial smarts than during Financial Literacy Month! Whether you’re fresh out of college or getting ready for retirement, it never hurts to reflect on your savings and spending.

We assembled some of our informative, accessible, and easy-to-understand financial books for those looking to find lifelong financial security, work toward a safe retirement, or move out of their parent’s basement. Find your roadmap to financial success!

Owning the Dash

By Anthony Delauney


The phrase “Owning the Dash” was adopted by fitness guru, model, motivational speaker, and Anthony Delauney’s late cousin, Greg Plitt. A force of nature in and out of the gym, Greg pushed his clients—and himself—to take advantage of every moment and opportunity, making smart decisions now to ensure a healthy future. The more Anthony, a Certified Financial PlannerTM practitioner, became familiarized with Greg’s philosophies, the more he realized that they applied just as much to his field of expertise: personal and family finance.

In comes Owning the Dash, a clear, concise, and accessible guide to finance that makes planning for your future easy and pain-free. Learn how to manage cash flow, knock out debt, minimize taxes, financially protect loved ones, invest with confidence, and save for both education and retirement.

Leaving a lasting legacy is important. Let Owning the Dash help you establish yours.

Middle-Class Millionaire Women: Essential Strategies to Ensure Financial Longevity

By Clark A. Kendall

Being a millionaire used to mean you were really wealthy. These days, one million dollars is still quite a bit of money, but many people will need to save at least that much to be financially secure for life.

The first book in this series, Middle-Class Millionaire, described how hard-working middle-class people could achieve lifelong financial security. This sequel focuses on overcoming particular challenges women may face when it comes to financials—including earning less than men on average, often taking breaks from their careers, and outliving men—to achieve solid financial security.

Written by Clark Kendall, CEO and founder of the successful investment management firm Kendall Capital, and his associate Carol Petrov, Middle-Class Millionaire Women is a compelling guide that includes many practical examples and suggestions for women from all walks of life, whether single, married, divorced, or widowed. Accessible and thought-provoking, this book is organized so that, no matter where you are in life, you’ll quickly be able to find helpful, practical information.

One size doesn’t fit all, but regardless of your level of financial knowledge or interest, Middle-Class Millionaire Women will help you follow best practices and create a lifetime of smart, sensible saving, spending, and investing. Middle-Class Millionaire Women is your guide to lifelong financial security.

Middle-Class Millionaire Women: Surprisingly Simple Strategies to Grow and Enjoy Your Wealth

By Clark A. Kendall

The middle class makes up most of the population. Defined as a household that earns a yearly income that hits above the poverty line but falls shy of the upper class, people in the middle class come from all walks of life, hold various types of jobs, and lead vastly different lives. One aspect does tie them together: they work hard to live well, and without realizing it, may be on the path toward becoming a millionaire.

In this day and age, millionaires aren’t as rare as they used to be, with many individuals possessing at least one million dollars of amassed net worth by the time they retire—including the value of their home(s), cars, financial assets, and other assets. By living within their means, saving well, and spending wisely, members of the middle class can soon be part of a group that is growing by the day: the middle-class millionaire®️.

In this informative and comprehensive guide, Clark Kendall, CEO and founder of the successful investment management firm Kendall Capital, shows you just how to secure your financial future. Middle-Class Millionaire is full of applicable insight into the ins and outs of short- and long-term saving, spending, and investing, for those working toward a safe and comfortable retirement.

Living well in the years up to retirement and beyond depends on your financial preparedness. Let Middle-Class Millionaire help get you there.


A Young Adult’s Guide to Personal Finance (How to Move Out of Your Parents’ Basement)

By Mike McGuinness

Welcome to A Young Adult’s Guide to Personal Finance (or, It’s Time to Move Out of Your Parents’ Basement). No, this book won’t magically make you a millionaire overnight. But it will give you the tools to understand many finance topics, allowing you to ask smart questions to make even smarter decisions in the near future—and over the course of your lifetime.

This guide is not intended to be an overwhelmingly comprehensive review of every personal finance topic. Rather, it addresses many of the key financial topics young (and sometimes older) adults will encounter, highlighting key information that you need to know to understand the workings of day-to-day finance, and how decisions made today can affect your financial health in the future. Actual financial documents are reviewed and explained in an easy-to-follow Q&A format, allowing the reader time to absorb and understand key concepts. You don’t have to read this book cover-to-cover, as individual topics stand on their own and can be easily followed. Let A Young Adult’s Guide to Personal Finance serve as your fundamental financial guide for years to come.

Budgeting is a Breeze: A Stress-Free Guide to Financial Freedom

By Shelta Hopkins

Getting what you want is never easy. However, if you budget your money right, you can make it happen, regardless of your income or your goals. This simple budgeting manual provides crucial financial advice that people from all walks of life can follow and use every day.


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From One Author to Another on the Writing Process

All authors have some kind of writing process: what happens in between writing that first sentence and sending the manuscript off to the publisher. Some might write addictingly for a few days and others might write over the course of a few years. Regardless of the time frame, every author needs somewhere to start and some structure to follow.

Mary Jo Hazard is the author of Stillwater, a highly anticipated novel praised as “compelling” and “thoughtful” by Kirkus Reviews and debuted as a number one new bestseller on Amazon in the category of Young Adult books about suicide. We asked her to share her writing process to help writers find the approach that works best for them:

My writing process is ever-evolving, and it depends on what I’m writing. Over the last eleven years, I’ve written four children’s books and one novel. I’m currently in the beginning stages of writing that novel’s sequel. 

The first book I wrote, The Peacocks of Palos Verdes, was a nonfiction children’s book written about feral peacocks that live in my area in the neighborhoods and canyons. The birds had been on the peninsula since the early 1900s, but when I tried to find a book about them for my grandchildren, there weren’t any. I took a deep breath and channeled my inner Toni Morrison who had famously said, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”

I was a little long in the tooth, a retired marriage family therapist, not an author. I’d written many psych reports, but never a book. Even worse, I knew nothing about peacocks. I asked Laura Henry, our children’s Librarian if there was a need for a book about peacocks, and she said she got requests for books about them all the time. 

At that point, I realized that I had a niche market. I decided to start from scratch, learn a new craft and get up to speed as fast as I could. I signed up for a UCLA class on how to write a children’s picture book, researched peacocks in the library, on the internet, and interviewed city officials, peacock lovers, peacock haters, and spent hours observing the peacocks up close. 

After I wrote my first draft, I joined the Millie Ames Writing Group at the Palos Verdes Peninsula Library, and I discovered the importance and the fun of having fellow writers read and critique my work. They encouraged me, supported me, and kept my enthusiasm up during the many months I was revising.

When the book was published, I established relationships with the principals and teachers in the area’s preschools and elementary schools. Every child loved learning about the peacocks that roamed our area. Writing The Peacocks of Palos Verdes taught me that a successful writing process involves a lot more than sitting in a chair in front of a computer. There’s a lot to it.

My coming-of-age novel, Stillwater, was a bit different. The book takes place in the 50s in the upstate New York village in the 50s where I grew up. I was familiar with the town but reluctant to rely on memory alone because I hadn’t been back in years. I flew back, met with the town historian, looked at lots of local pictures from the 50s, walked the streets, and took pictures. 

While writing the book, I took several writing classes and workshops at UCLA and attended many writing conferences. I became an expert on the ’50s, listening to 50s music when I was alone in the car and sitting at my desk writing. 

I continued with my writing workshop at the library and started a smaller intimate writers’ group, which met weekly to discuss our work and brainstorm. 

Now that I’m writing the sequel to Stillwater, I’ve become involved with a Facebook group called “Memories of Stillwater.” The members have shared lots of old pictures and memories with me.  I’m also researching the 60s and listening to music from that era.

The pandemic has changed so many things: no more in-person classes, workshops, or conferences. I could attend virtually, but so far, I haven’t. I write three or four days a week in my office from nine to five. My husband and I go for a walk around noon, and then I’m back at the computer until it’s time to start dinner. Sometimes I’m “in the zone,” and it’s difficult to stop writing, so I continue after dinner or get up at four the next morning when it’s quiet. 

When I begin a new book, I make a few notes and develop an outline to understand the characters a bit better. I visualize the world they live in and let the scenes play out in my mind before I write them up. Once I’m four or five chapters in, the book seems to take on a life of its own and I can’t wait to start writing.

Ann Lamott, a writer I admire, said, “The only way I can get anything written is to write really really shitty first drafts,” but I can’t do that. I have to go back before I can go forward. I cannot start writing where I left off when I’m in my office the next day; I have to reread and revise. I cannot write an entire first draft and then go back and edit. I have to edit the last chapter before I go on—often, I revise the last two or three chapters because I’ve thought of things I should have included during the night. 

When I’m done with my first draft, I put the manuscript aside for a couple of weeks before rereading and revising. Next, I have the book edited, give it to some trusted beta readers, take a deep breath and send it off to Mascot!

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February Featured Title: 121 Days: The Corbin Raymond Story of Fighting for Life and Surviving a Traumatic Brain Injury

Our February featured title is 121 Days: The Corbin Raymond Story of Fighting for Life and Surviving a Traumatic Brain Injury by Sadie Raymond with Todd Civin!

On the
morning of July 4th, 2018, Sadie discovered that her son had been a passenger in a car that had collided with a tree and was on his way to the hospital via ambulance. For 121 days, Corbin fought an arduous battle for his life, and, through faith and love against all odds, Corbin won. Featuring real-time journal entries and contributions from other members of Corbin’s family, 121 Days is a revelatory story of the depth of fear, the duration of courage, and, ultimately, the power of triumph.

We spoke with Sadie about putting such an emotional life event on the page, why she included her personal journal entries, and more! 

What inspired you to write about your son’s traumatic, yet revelatory story? 

When my son Corbin was at his worst, in a coma, and with no certainty of surviving, I started searching for signs of hope and survival. Anything that gave me the strength to stay positive and believe he had a chance. As much as I dreaded thinking about the physical wounds that were still so fresh, I really believed everything we went through was intended to help others. Our story could provide others with the hope and strength to not ever give up and keep fighting. 

In your memoir, you take readers through every feeling and moment that you experienced in those 121 days. What was the process like of taking such an emotional life event and putting it on the pages? 

Reliving the events in writing was by far one of the hardest things I’ve done. There were lots of tears and lots of procrastination to get it completed. At times, I didn’t think I had it in me to finish. I had just brought Corbin home from the hospital a few months prior. We were trying to adjust to our new way of life and it wasn’t easy by any means with four children, all the new daily doctors, therapy appointments, and to top it off, Corbin was having health issues we couldn’t figure out. I hadn’t even dealt with all of my own emotions, never mind processed everything we had been through. Yet, I knew if there was a time to do it, it was then when it was still so fresh and raw. I started by rereading all of the daily journal posts I wrote while Corbin was in the hospital. Each one brought me back through the roller coaster of emotions. Every time I wrote, I relived it all. I knew I needed to feel it all over again to give the story justice. I wanted readers to really understand the pain, and in the end, the miracle.  

121 Days has many of your journal entries you wrote during that time. Why did you choose to put these in your book? 

The journal entries were the beginning of the book before I even knew there would be a book. I started writing them the day after the accident to update family and friends after we received such an outpouring of concern and support that I couldn’t begin to keep up with responding to. 

The journal entries became therapeutic to me even though I didn’t know it at the time. I thought I was writing them to our family, our close friends, and Corbin’s friends with no idea of how many people they would ultimately reach. Before I knew it, the site had 50,000 visitors, then 100,000, and then over 300,000. They were such an important part of how the book came to be that I knew they needed to be part of it. 

What are some of the most important life lessons you learned from what happened to you and Corbin? 

The lessons we learned are endless, although the one that stands out the most is to take nothing for granted. When you come so close to having your whole world torn apart, you learn to take nothing for granted, not even the little things like having the chance to say goodnight or knowing everyone is home safe under one roof. Another critical lesson that made all the difference in our case was being your own advocate. I think it is an important lesson in life but especially when it comes to our medical care. We have choices of where we get our care, who provides us with the care, and to go somewhere else and get a second option if you aren’t happy with the answers you’re getting.

What advice would you give to parents or anyone who has a loved one battling for their life? 

Don’t give up! From day one I was faced with being told to say goodbye, followed by one negative test result after another. The negativity surrounding Corbin’s outcome was never-ending, but I refused to believe it. Day after day, sitting there watching him in a coma, I still talked to him like he could hear everything I was saying. I kept his room filled with positivity. Nothing was going to stop me from giving him every chance he could to recover fully.

This memoir isn’t just about Corbin’s miraculous recovery, but it’s about your resilience and love for your son. It’s also about how a community of supporters gathered together to find strength and hope while Corbin was in the hospital. What do you hope readers will walk away with from your memoir?

We were lucky to have so many people rally around us. Our family, friends, and community were absolutely amazing in how they helped us. Lots of my strength came from all of that love and support. My children have always been my whole world, so when faced with having one taken from me, I learned a whole new level of strength most won’t ever have to discover.  

I hope our book gives people strength and hope. I think our story can relate to so many people facing so many different trials and tribulations in life. Hopefully, most people won’t ever experience something so terrible, but no matter what it is you’re going through, I hope our story will give you this: the strength to keep fighting, the hope that sometimes miracles do happen if you keep fighting, the reminder to stay positive, and the courage to not ever give up. 

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