What five words best describe Oh, The Things I Can Be When I See Me?
Writing those words in a sentence: Oh, The Things I Can Be When I See Me empowers girls of color with confidence and self-esteem regarding career options.
Can you share one highlight from the book?
I had the opportunity to speak with Annette Nance-Holt, Chicago’s first woman deputy fire commissioner. She oversees 5000+ firefighters and is responsible for the safety of millions of people. Her advice to girls: “never give up and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it.” I plan to conduct interviews with the other notable women mentioned in Oh, The Things I Can Be including Oprah Winfrey, Dr. Mae Jemison and Lupita Nyong’o. The conversations will be posted at ThingsICanBe.com and the book’s Facebook fan page: Valerie J. Lewis Coleman.
What is the purpose of this book?
To encourage girls, specifically girls of color, to various career aspirations by providing examples of women who have done what they hope to do AND look like them.
Are there themes that turn up again and again in your work? A common thread?
Because I am an engineer, educator and encourager, my books, events and mentoring are designed to help others RISE: Results, Integrity, Service, Excellence. Whether publishing a client’s book, speaking to a room of aspiring authors or hosting a weekend retreat for writers, my purpose is to serve with integrity and excellence to get quantifiable, tangible results.
Which character or part of the book was the most fun to write? Which part was the hardest?
Because #ThingsICanBe is based on conversations with my granddaughters, all of it was fun to write. I learned more about my babies while preparing the list for the illustrator. Favorite colors, friends and toys fill the pages with tiny reminders of what makes them happy. And when the babies are happy, MeMe is happy. The hardest part of writing was consolidating several years of conversations into a single weekend visit. Weaving the message into a cohesive, realistic story required me to pay extra attention to backdrops, clothing and hairstyles.
Can you tell us something that even your most loyal fans may not know about you?
I am an introvert! No one believes me (not even my mother) because I am diligent about promoting my business, my clients and myself. My introversion is not fear of public speaking, which I love, or shyness. I struggle with one-on-one conversations of which I am not a subject matter expert. Small talk is next to impossible for me so if the other person doesn’t carry the conversation, it’s a wrap. I have notes in my phone to help me engage with people at networking events. After connecting with people, I need a few days to decompress, regroup and re-energize. Tonya Baker, one of the singers mentioned in Oh, The Things I Can Be, explained that our common tendencies make us ambiverts. We land somewhere along the introverts-extroverts continuum and blend traits of both personality types.
Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Marketing children’s books is significantly different from all the other books I published. Oh, The Things I Can Be When I See Me debuted as a Kindle bestseller, won the Feathered Quill Award and received five-star reviews from readers and professional reviewers within the first three months of publication. Because I learned lots of strategies, tools and techniques to achieve those accomplishments (with more on the horizon), I shared my journey in a webinar. Your readers can watch the replay of Leapfrog Your Success: How to Publish a Bestselling Children’s Book without Spinning Your Top, Losing Your Shirt or Getting Stuck in the Mud! at https://fccdl.in/lBXx4c1q6c. To serve children’s book authors, I will be hosting book fairs in prisons, libraries and churches. I am also curating lists for book buyers. Authors who want to learn more about these opportunities can connect with me at PenOfTheWriter.com.