MEET WENDY MCKERNAN
After receiving her Bachelor of Education, Wendy taught overseas and traveled extensively before settling in Vancouver, Canada where she is a television producer. The Thing I Say I Saw Last Night: A Christmas Story is her debut book.
The inspiration for the book came to Wendy in the middle of the night after waking up from a dream with the words The Thing I Say I Saw Last Night in her head. It was such an evocative title that she wrote it down and started to work out the story over the coming weeks.
Wendy said the story naturally progressed into a Christmas story as it was her favorite holiday growing up – although she always found the waiting unbearable. “I was the one who would wake up at three in the morning and rally my sisters to go down to the tree. Then we would open our gifts and re-wrap then so that our parents wouldn’t know.
It became the family joke that no present in the house was safe from me. In retrospect, I think the little boy in the story has a lot of me in him. I was just never able to stay awake long enough to catch ‘you know who’ in the act!”
WENDY’S ONLINE IN THE FOLLOWING PLACES:
FACEBOOK: Little Dragon Publishing
CHATTING WITH WENDY
What was/is your dream or goal?
I wrote The Thing I Say I Saw Last Night over ten years ago and every so often I would bring it out and tweak a word here or there. I’ve written other things – but I always felt this story was special and that I couldn’t let it just gather dust in a drawer.
When pursuing the traditional route of finding a publisher didn’t work, I made the decision to self-publish. A mere 8 months later I was sitting on a pallet of 3,000 books and I could not be happier with the result.
My new dream is to adapt The Thing into a half hour animated Christmas special for television.
What did/do you find most difficult about getting started?
The most difficult part was actually making the decision to self-publish. I gave myself one month to research the self-publishing process, create a realistic budget and then make a decision. Once I actually decided to go ahead and publish the book, everything else seemed to line up to support my decision. I could not begin to count the hours that went into producing the book – nor would I want to! It was a tremendous amount of work, with a huge learning curve, but when you are pursuing a dream it doesn’t seem to matter. I now believe that virtually any project can be tackled if you break it down into
steps. I created an extremely long list of “to do’s” and ticked them off one at a time. Now I need to do the same for marketing and distribution of The Thing!
What have you done/are you doing to work towards this goal?
I’m now turning my energies towards getting it out there in the world – well at least in Canada! Because it’s a Christmas book it isn’t currently in any bookstores. That means I have a few months to submit it for reviews, collect testimonials and most importantly – look for a distributor. I also plan to enter a few contests in the hopes of garnering some publicity. Finally, I need to spend some time blogging and adding features to my website.
What have you found most rewarding about going after your dream?
Seeing the finished project was a major highlight. The illustrations completely captured the look and the mood I had envisioned. As well, my family and friends were very supportive throughout the entire process. Practically every page contains a suggestion from someone that helped improve it in some way. I love looking back at each page and remembering every little tweak and suggestion from the people that encouraged me along the way.
Finally, it’s been very rewarding to see the reactions of the kids when the book is read to them – especially when they figure out the ending! Parents have told me how they’ve come across their child reading the book on their own or how they ask for it every night – it’s amazing to receive that type of feedback after believing in something for so long.
Do you feel the process of going after your goals has changed you? In what ways?
By accomplishing this goal I’ve gained enormous self-confidence. It’s opened me up to other possibilities that I may not have pursued before. I now realize that, if I believe in something enough and am willing to put in the work required, anything is possible.
What have you learned/accomplished so far during this process?
I’ve learned to believe in myself and to trust my instincts. I’ve also learned the power of action over procrastination. Whenever I felt like taking a break – I would ask myself what was most important to me. Was it spending 2 hours watching a movie so I could relax or was it getting one step closer to my goal? That always put it in perspective for me and provided me with the motivation to work until midnight on a Friday night.
What piece(s) of advice would you give to people who are working towards a goal similar to yours?
Do a lot of research so you know what you are getting into – and then simply start! And don’t forget to put a deadline beside your “to do’s” – otherwise it is not going to happen!
Were Crystal and Jared helpful to you in some way, and if so how did they help you to get closer to your goal?
I don’t think you can put a price on receiving advice from someone who has published 30 plus books. Crystal provided me with one on one coaching throughout the process and continues to do so now in regards to distribution and marketing. I benefited enormously from her experience – in our very first session she helped me lay out my entire plan and helped provide me the confidence I needed to realize that it was all very doable.
I also took the website course offered by Crystal and Jared – and in a few short hours I had the beginnings of my site. They completely demystified the process of building a website and gave me the know how I required to build it on my own.
We’re glad we could help, Wendy! It’s great to see someone going after what they want. The Thing I Say I Saw Last Night looks fantastic, and is a great read. It is available in softcover and hardcover, and you can purchase copies:
- from Wendy’s website: www.littledragonpublishing.com
- online from Amazon.com
- online from Amazon.ca
- and at local bookstores during the holiday season.