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August 2013

The Glass Slipper Revelation

JoAnna GraceDo you remember the first time you heard the phrase “dreams come true?” Well for me, it was about the time I was thinking how cool a fairy godmother was. How sweet would it be to wave the wand and Bibbidi-BobbidiBoo: you’re a success!

We all seem to forget that before our dear Cinderella was a Princess, she was a lowly household servant! She worked hard, labored, took flack from her family, and she did it all with humility. But she had an abundance of faith that things wouldn’t be hard forever. And I would say her efforts paid off, wouldn’t you?

It’s easy to think that the real world can’t hold a bit of magic. The trials and troubles of every day life can turn us cold and cynical as our experiences grow. We tuck our dreams away for a more opportune time and some forget them entirely.

I was raised in a single parent household. My mother worked hard to give us what little we had. But my brothers and I learned that if you wanted something, you worked hard, saved your money and bought it yourself. Practicality was the name of the game. We didn’t live frivolously nor did we go off chasing rainbows and pots of gold. By the time I was ten years old I was going odd jobs for the people at church. I babysat for some and watered acres of flowers for others. What ever needed to be done.

From that upbringing came the philosophy to find a job/career that put food on the table and gas in the tank. Dreams? Dreams were for people who could afford them. I had to be realistic.

It took a long time for me to break out of that way of thinking. After I met my husband and we had our first child the dreamer in me surfaced again. I knew that I would teach my daughter that she could be anything she wanted to be, that she could make her dreams come true; the sky was the limit. I would do anything to see her soar.

But didn’t that make me a hypocrite? I had to really examine my thinking. Why was it ok for me to teach her to chase her dreams when I didn’t do that myself?

That’s when I had The Glass Slipper Revelation. I was working as an in-home spa girl when

I received a plastic version of Cinderella’s famous footwear. I still keep that token on my shelf as a reminder that all it takes is some hard work, a lot of faith, and a big dream to bring the magic back to life.

Divine-Destiny-joanna-graceWith the release of Divine Destiny, my debut novel, I will have achieved my dream. Whether I sell one copy or one million copies, I will be able to tell my children (there’s a couple more now!) that I took a chance and made my dreams come true.


What’s your Glass Slipper Revelation? 

by JoAnna Grace



Vacations are my favorite summer pastime, starting with the first trip I took as child to taking my own children on our annual summer vacation.  I’m often reminded of vacations past, those fun weeks camping with my parents, brother, and sister. We saw beautiful sites, despite a few bumpy roads along the way, and I want my own daughters to experience many of those places firsthand. Luckily, my daughters enjoy travel just as much as me.

As we traveled through Wisconsin on the way to our final destination in Minnesota for this year’s vacation, I was dazzled by the spectacular views of rolling farmland, forested hills interspersed with marshy wetlands, and even a couple of cranberry bogs. The perfect weather made the scenery even more breathtaking, with its resulting bright, blue skies and puffy, white clouds. We sped along Interstate 94, trying to make time, but I knew that the back road scenery would be even more impressive. With pristine rest stops situated every hour up the road, we stopped to stretch our legs, and at one stop, we even took a brisk hike along a trail lined with white pines and several oak species.

My husband drove while I navigated. In between route changes and rest stops, I typed away on my laptop, making use of some rare downtime to review and edit my latest work in progress, When Nature Calls. I’m really excited about my newest book, the first book in the Nature Station Mystery Series. While writing a cozy mystery is a far cry from the Rachel Raccoon and Sammy Skunk educational children’s books I’ve already written, both series focus on nature. When Nature Calls is a fictional book, but hopefully readers will enjoy learning tidbits about nature, while they attempt to solve the murder mystery.

I can’t wait for this book to be finalized and released, but I know I must be patient, as I finish self-editing it before sending it to a professional editor. Layout will follow, and I’m anxious to see the book cover, which will feature two of my own photos. I already have ideas for my second book, A Natural Selection, and can’t wait to start writing it.

Nature’s beauty inspires me to write and photograph, and nature is the main theme of all my books. Everything is connected in the natural world, and there are many natural cycles. The same is true with my life. One thing is relates to another, and what goes around comes around. I believe that life is a journey, and travel plays a large role in my life. I love to see new places and experience new cultures. Reading, writing and publishing books is also a journey, and it’s hard for me to imagine my life without the ability do these things, since they help enlarge my mind and world. I like to think that my appreciation for nature and writing began on those early family summer vacations and hope that my daughters will gain something from our trips as well.…



Linda-BoydenEvery writer’s journey is unique. Mine started with an accident of birth: for nine years I was the only girl in my family. Ask any mother of three and she will tell you, one is always left out. My two brothers had each other plus all the neighborhood boys. They all played in the backyard with cars and trucks, or built G.I. Joe army forts in the nearby swamp and did other things I didn’t like. There were girls in our neighborhood, but they were too young. So I was alone, but the advantage of that? I had a room of my own. I had my dolls and paper dolls and solitude. I created stories and had my dolls act them out. Or I pretended I was this or that, a princess or a queen, anything but what I was, a girl with only imaginary friends. That changed when I was old enough for school and met other girls my age who shared my interests, some of whom became my lifelong friends.

Also in first grade, I discovered something huge: the little squiggles on paper stood for letters, letters stood for words, words that I could read! Books entered my life then and have never left.

            By the time I was in fourth grade, I walked to our local library most afternoons after school. It had a Children’s Room. It was quiet, serene. I sat on the floor in the corner of the fairy tale section and read and read and read. I would then check two or three books out and read them later to my dolls or my little sister. My mother’s pet name for me became, “Bookworm.”

            The love of reading led to the love of writing.  I wrote in diaries and on pads of paper. Poetry. Stories. Lists. After college I got my first teaching position and fell in love with picture books. I taught primary grades for almost 30 years during which time I must have read thousands of them. Doing that made me itch to write picture books, too.

            In 1997, when circumstances “forced” my husband and I to move from Virginia to Hawai’i, I left teaching and decided to put my money where my mouth was. Could I become a real writer? Perennial student that I am, I did research and started to join writing groups: the Society of Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers, as well as many local groups. I attended their conferences to listen to and learn from the best. I also studied the market. I learned to craft a query letter and wrote, wrote, wrote and read and submitted and was rejected and learned to cope with that. By writing everyday I produced a slew of picture books, many of which are simply embarrassing, but all these experiences became my college, my way to become a writer.

            Now I am blessed to have four picture books in print, three of which I have also illustrated: “The Blue Roses” (Lee and Low Books, 2002); “Powwow’s Coming” (The University of New Mexico Press, 2007); “Giveaways: An ABC Book of Loanwords From the Americas” (The University of New Mexico Press, 2010) and “Boy and Poi Poi Puppy” (Progressive Rising Phoenix Press, 2013).