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by Claire Annette Noland

The announcement was posted in Publisher’s Weekly. The cover was revealed. The date was set and events were scheduled. My debut picture book was ready to launch.

Or was it?

Evie’s Field Day: More Than One Way to Win, published by Cardinal Rule Press and illustrated by Alicia Teba, features a competitive girl set on winning her school’s field day events. The book’s release was scheduled to coincide with end-of-the-school-year activities. In March, when the pandemic caused us to shelter at home, we thought it would soon be over. Then reality set in. Schools, bookstores, and parks closed. Suddenly, my calendar was empty. But the book was being released and I wasn’t going to give up on my dream of it reaching children. It was time to make a new plan:

Call On Community

My critique group listened to my pity party and then provided moral support and encouragement.

My regional SCBWI team stepped up with ideas.

I’m a member of the 2020 Debut Crew, a group of authors and illustrators debuting throughout 2020. We continue to promote each other’s debut releases through social media and reviews.

My immediate and extended family and friends became my cheerleaders.

I review children’s books on my blog as well as Goodreads and Amazon. I reached out to people I follow and am now being featured on blogs and podcasts.

Be Flexible

My remarkable publisher, Maria Dismondy, and I brainstormed. Children were still attending school but not in the traditional way. They were bravely facing changes and unknowns. Didn’t they deserve to celebrate the end of the school year with a bit of fun? We decided to hold a virtual launch and then a “National At Home Field Day.”

Launch sign-ups were slow at first but my supportive community spread the word. I posted a picture of my puppy with the book and the numbers jumped. On the morning of May 1, I was almost in tears when I saw that nearly ninety people were online to celebrate the book’s release.

Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone

The “At Home Field Day” was scheduled for the following week. Families were encouraged to play games and post pictures on Instagram to be eligible for prizes generously provided by Cardinal Rule Press.

I reached out to teachers, school districts, friends, and families on the local navy base. I did Zoom readings with classes and wrote blog posts suggesting easy family activities and included free downloadable printables. My publisher organized an Instagram teacher-influencer tour.

Sensory Rock, a gym serving children with sensory issues, partnered with us and held a Zoom class. Thankfully, the event was a great success.

It’s Not Over Yet

Hopefully, cancelled events will be rescheduled. Field day will come again. I’m breathing a sigh of relief. Evie’s Field Day has made it into the world.

For information on SCBWI-CenCal events (open to all SCBWI members!), go to cencal.scbwi.org.

For more fantastic content, community, events, and other professional development opportunities, become a member today! Not sure if there is a chapter in your area? Check here.

Claire Annette Noland writes picture books and early readers for children from her home in Central California. Because she knows that everyone who reads is a winner, she is passionate about connecting children with books through the library collections she is developing in Nicaragua, her local women’s shelter, and her little free library. Her debut trade picture book, Evie’s Field Day: More Than One Way to Win, was released by Cardinal Rule Press in May of 2020. She loves to travel but these days she is visiting new places via books. She blogs about books, places, and books that take you places on her blog, A Field Trip Life.

Images provided by Claire Annette Noland.