Today, my 7-year-old niece asked me if I could publish her book that she had just finished writing. It’s a picture book about her and her best friend taking a dream vacation. Naturally, since Uncle Kevin is a writer, I can also publish her picture books. Of course, I gave her an emphatic ‘yes, I sure can!’

At that moment, I realized she has a 23 year jump on my own picture book writing career. I didn’t even attempt writing one until my first daughter was born and I was on the verge of 30. That was a pivotal year for me – the year I lost my invincibility and realized I was now living and working for this beautiful little baby who chewed through three playpens before she was one.

It was also the year I was inspired to write a book for her, something she could appreciate when she was older. It was a cute little Christmas tale full of longing for a little girl to be with her father on Christmas and a dash of Santa’s magic to make her wish come true. I even had a friend, who is a fantastic artist, draw up a dozen pictures so I had the makings of a real picture book.

I gave copies to family and friends, knowing it wasn’t a timeless classic, but prouder of that than anything else I’d written up to that point (and when I say copies, I mean black and white pages stapled together – this was years before self-publishing became as easy as making brownies).

Now, here I am years later, just months away from having my first bonafide picture book published through Schwartz & Wade. And no, it’s not my Christmas book. I’ve been working on others since The Dandelion’s Tale was accepted and have discovered that writing for children is possibly the hardest profession one can take on if writing is your gig of choice. I realize it’s going to take a lot of practice and infinite stores of patience.

Well, my niece has started at a time when I was busy playing with Star Wars figures. I hope she keeps it up. Maybe one day I’ll be the one asking her to put in the good word to have my books published.