Archive for the ‘Children’s Books’ Category

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I finished my week on a new level! I went to Chicago, Illinois, faced every challenge getting there, crushed my presentation and made an impact!

Up at 5:00 a.m. and ready to rock it! Lynden spent the night with me because he went was going with me. I rocked my morning routine of reading and prepping my mind for the day ahead. My mother also went and we rode with her, even ole Jimmy wouldn’t make it to Chicago with out possibly having a breakdown.

With Fiji water in tow, we hit the road for the five hour drive to Chicago! It began quite cool, so much, I put on my running pants. I wore them to Chicago and realized that it was warmer in northern Illinois from where we left from!

The view upon arrival was amazing! The buildings reached into the fog as morning lifted and we made our way to Navy Pier with hours to enjoy the lake before the presentation! I will be returning to the pier after having a great time and great food from Giordano’s on the pier.

No matter where I go, traveling always takes me out of my comfort zone and I enjoy the rewards from taking my career to the next level! There were so many shops and eateries and the smell of Lake Michigan was so serene! If you travel to Chicago, I highly recommend Navy Pier!

 

Then came time to leave the pier and the crazy adventure began! We headed towards the hotel that had been covered for us. After seeing the firsthand, the insane skills it takes to drive in the city, we made it passed Wrigley Field as a game was closing in on beginning and made it to our hotel.

Upon arrival, we discovered that the room reserved for us would not accommodate three people and that their were no other rooms available. This left us with no place to stay, two hours before my presentation. We drove to the nearest gas station and sat for a hour, working on making other arrangements.  With an hour to go, we made our way to Everybody’s Coffee where I was speaking.

The owner of the coffee shop was super cool and let us hang out for the hour before others arrived. We got juice and a bakery item and relaxed for the hour before I used the restroom to change and prepared to rock my presentation. I gave my presentation and crossed the hurdles that came up that I had not planned for during my dry runs with determination and crushed it!

Chicago 22I gave my presentation just as I had rehearsed and when it was over, I had gone to the next level of my career! Dark and in a rougher neighborhood of central Chicago, we loaded up and decided to find lodging just outside of the city. It was an incredible day that grew my character so much and as I laid down that night, I was grateful for the opportunity to rise to the occasion! In life, we can choose to or not to do something, I chose to because regrets are hard to eat on your death bed! Live With Passion!

 

 

A story many will know…

One day, the master called in three servants and announced that he would be taking a long trip far away and would be leaving his treasure in their hands while gone. The master stood before his trusted servants and offered talents (bags of silver) to each.

The first servant held out his hands as his master placed five talents in his arms and asked that they be well cared for. The second servant stretched out his hands and was given two talents and asked that they be cared for. The servant was honored to have these talents and held them closely. The master walked over to the third servant and placed on talent in his hands and again, asked his servant to care for his talents until he would return.

The master would soon leave and be gone for some time. One servant took his talents into town and invested them. He would go on to earn five more talents as a result of his decision. The second servant also entered town and used his two talents to earn him two more for his efforts. The third servant felt the other two were being foolish by taking so much risk with their masters talents, that he took his one talent and buried it for safety to assure he would not risk losing it before his masters return.

The master would eventually return and upon his arrival, asked to see the three servants. Once they arrived, the master asked his servants about the talents and what became of them. The servants assured their master that the talents had not been lost.

The first servant explained that he had invested his five talents and that had garnered five more talents as well. The master was happy and commended the servant for his efforts. The second servant then explained that he too had gone to town and invested his two talents and had doubled his investment, showing the four talents to his master. Again, the master commended the servant for his efforts. The third servant explained that he had been most careful with his one talent. So much, that he buried it in the ground so it would not be lost until the masters return.

It was here that the master ordered that the talent be taken from the third servant and given to the first. The third servant was shocked as the master explained that if he knew that the master needed the money so much, why he did not invest it like the others and earn him interest on his one talent.

The moral of this story is that to those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. Mathew 25:29

All to often, we are given opportunities that we doubt, fear or simply feel we can’t achieve. Often giving up before we even give something our first effort. If something worries you and you know it is still the right thing to do, there is a reason you should try. If you allow your worries to multiply to the point that you do nothing with your moments in life, you will find the old saying true, ‘If you don’t you it, you lose it’.

As your now reading this, I am 2 days away from sitting in Chicago and preparing to give my presentation to members of the Illinois SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators). Is it a big place? You bet it is! Am I a bit nervous? You bet I am! But that nervousness is the result of working hard for 14 years when most of the time, others had no idea just how hard I was working! As I’m getting ready to invest my talents, I have nothing but faith it will yield a reward regardless of what type it may be. I do this because I want more and will not allow fear to force me to bury my hopes and dreams in the dirt, only to find out one day that I had a chance and lost it.

In 2 days, I will stand on the roof of the hotel and see the lights of Chicago and invest in what got me here. Friday morning my son, Lynden and I will walk two blocks to Lake Michigan and take our run on the beach together.

“When your tired, it’s a sign that your almost at the end of your fight!” – TD Jakes

*Catch me Live on Facebook @levibfoxbooks Thursday, Sept. 14th between 7-9 p.m. CST!

 

A Way, When There Seems To Be No Way

 

Have you ever put time into something and as time past, felt that you were spinning your wheels or grinding your gears trying to make something happen? I have! You see, my writing career didn’t start yesterday, I didn’t wake up this morning and just sell 1,000 copies of Barney & Lexi: Lost In Lawrenceville. I wasn’t traveling to schools in the early stages of my career either, in fact, I can’t begin to count how many times I felt like I was spinning my wheels with opportunity and there were a few times that I really felt like my gears were grinding for sure!

My career as a writer began in 2003, when Lynden was born. I would get up with him throughout the night and once he began to have a fairly regular pattern of sleeping, I began spending the time in between his waking up, writing my first book, The Adventures of Marky, Slash & Levy. Those moments were usually very late at night, by myself in a room with only a desk lamp on and just plugging away at my keyboard. No one knew what I was doing, no one outside Lawrence County knew my name or even knew I was a writer.

In those years that followed, I wondered if I would ever make it happen. Would my work ever be read by young readers? Would I ever do a book signing? Would I ever get a big break? All three answers are YES! Although I had no idea in those early days. I have sold over 1,000 books this year, done dozens of signings and my big break will come on September 14th when I travel to Chicago and speak to the largest children’s literary group in the United States.

Sometimes, I get told that I’m ‘just lucky’, or that ‘success just happens overnight’. I actually don’t believe in luck in the manner that it is viewed today. I believe that luck is the moment that preparedness meets opportunity. I also believe that success is no ‘overnight’ thing. I thought about quitting a few times and sometimes, had to walk away from my desk for a few months to take everything in and find clarity. Then it was right back to it, because I knew what I really wanted and had to see it through.

For years, I felt like I had little money, few connections and even less opportunity. For years I had no Facebook page, and then I finally created one and only used that to connect with others for the next ten years. I look back now and see that I had so many outlets but let fear keep me from using them. Then, one day, I looked in the mirror and told myself, “There will be doubters, you will be laughed at, mocked and ignored. Levi, your going to fail and that’s alright because you will learn and grow stronger. Carry those fears right into battle and watch them disappear!” I remember that day well.

I sat down and began learning Social Media. I began with no media and now use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube to put my passion out there. This has given me so much back and while I could spend the time wishing I had done that sooner, I won’t waste my time with the past. I’m heading forward and refuse to look back.

I feel like it is a perfect time to retell the story of the Japanese Bambo Tree. The Japanese Bambo Tree remains a nut underground for five years. During that time, it must be watered and fertilized daily to survive or it will die. For five years, there will be no results (much like when we feel we are spinning our wheels and grinding gears). Then, something big happens and the tree sprouts through the surface and will grow 90 feet in one year! It took five years to actually grow that 90 feet though. It may have only seemed like a buried nut but during that time underground, that nut was earning its right to live and grow.

You may be sitting right now and wondering what else you can do to keep moving towards your dream. One thing for sure is to keep doing what your doing if it is yielding any type of result. If it isn’t, can you change anything about it to help it grow? Are you using Social Media to your advantage? Are you letting fear keep you from one avenue or another? Look in the mirror and tell yourself that regardless of any outcome, YOUR GOING TO MAKE IT, and the doors will open up as you press forward. I can’t explain it but the harder I push, the more doors that open for me, something I doubted years ago. Never doubt that there is a way, when there seems to be no way!

“Everything is IMPOSSIBLE, until someone crazy enough comes along and makes it POSSIBLE!”
– CT Fletcher

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Today, I completed my outline for my SCBWI presentation in Chicago next month. 10 pages of, what I feel, a well laid out blueprint of what makes my elementary school presentations so successful. Now that it is printed and covered, I’m ready for 27 days of run through to get it down! I’m gonna crush this one come September 14th!!

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Now, the summer vacation for kids around my home is over, it is back to the evening shift at my job. That’s a good thing! I will now have time to travel to schools!! Here we go and I love it!

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I am now 75% through writing my presentation for the SCBWI of Chicago, I am looking into what I need to do to make a photo slide show to play during my speech. Once I have it written, I am going all in on the slideshow!

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I am excited to have my bookmarks and postcards in for Barney & Lexi and they look spot on with my hopes. I am excited to get them out to schools in the U.S. and help give Barney & Lexi more push!

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I woke up to a busy morning, having three orders for Barney & Lexi to go out. Florida, Georgia and Kentucky readers will be receiving their copies this week. Just swung by the post office and got my daily mail sent out.

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Also got an email from Two Tomatoes Records, in appreciation of my gifting copies of Barney & Lexi to them during the trip to Moline with my kids. I was grateful to read the email and thank them for their kindness.

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Welp, off to work. My goal, this being the last year that I work for anyone but myself. Let’s go get it!! Have a great day guys!!!

With the new week on the horizon, my things are packed as my son, Lynden, and I prepare to head out for Columbus, Ohio tomorrow. He and I will be attending TEDx Hillard, a motivational seminar where my good friend, Dr. Coyte Cooper will be speaking. I am super pumped to help support a friend, get my son in a circle of positive experiences and continue my own growth towards success!

I have also placed the order with the printers, regarding my postcards and bookmarks for Barney & Lexi. It is my hope that I will get word before heading out tomorrow, that they are done. I had the opportunity to see what they will look like in person, and they sure do look amazing!

I have also been contacted by the Chicago SCBWI, and it looks like they are being so gracious and picking up my tab for my room while there for my presentation in Septemeber. I’m close to the halfway point with my speech and soon will work on putting the slideshow together. All-in-all, this is going to be an awesome event!

Now, its time to set my things by the door, get a shower and hit the sack for a long drive tomorrow. More post to come through this week!

Back in April, I submitted Barney & Lexi to Kirkus Review for a book review. Kirkus Review is a longstanding organization that gives unbiased reviews on books, looking for a boost from having a favorable review from them. Some books gain positive reviews, while some gain not-so-positive ones. Kirkus Review has earned a reputation over many, many years of being a pulse on books ability to sell in the literary marketplace.

Today, (Monday) my review came back. When I first read the notification, I cleared my mind and told myself, “Regardless of the outcome, I did it and didn’t let doubt hold me back.” Knowing that Kirkus Reviews are straight up and favor no genre, author or any other mean in the literary world, I knew that what they saw in my story could be different from what I saw in it. However, forward progress only moves in one direction, and that next step was to open that review and be proud, regardless.

I read through the review, and when finished, closed my eyes and thank my God above for His favor. Kirkus Review of Barney & Lexi: Lost In Lawrenceville was positive and while being unbiased, the end result was that Barney & Lexi walked away being considered, good characters.

*Following is two excerpts from the Kirkus Review and for professional purposes, I need to let it be known that in no way, have the excerpts been altered from their original review. *

“Fox (The Adventures of Marky, Slash & Levy, 2014) brings out the personalities of his animal characters well.” – Kirkus Review

“A mild story with good characterization.” – Kirkus Review

Positive reviews from Kirkus Review can often be a boost for any author and is one reason I paid for my review. That’s right, I paid for this review. Kirkus Reveiw builds its reputation as being unbiased but only reviews works done by authors who pay for their services. While it cost me a bit of money for my review, to have a favorable review of Barney & Lexi made the cost irrelevant compared to the benefit of having a review with Kirkus Review after it.

This review is great and I am honored to be given my review for Barney & Lexi, but this review didn’t happen because I paid a service fee and out popped a review. This review came because I spend many, many nights up after everyone else was sound asleep, writing, editing and working hard to bring Barney & Lexi to life. The result of hard work was a great review. The result of believing in my work and not allowing anything stop me from succeeding or, at the very least, learn from the steps I have taken.

I am not sure what it is that you may be thinking of doing in your life, but I want you to know that it is 100% possible. The only thing stopping anyone on this Earth is not their parents, their friends, their boss or the system. Its the person in the mirror…YOU! You are the result of the hard work or lack of work you put in. If I had sat around at home an thought, “Oh man, $450.00 is too much for a simple review,” then I would have never done it. What I did believe is that, “This 450.00 review could lead into a career, earning $850,000 a year.”

The truth is, most times, the people closest to you will not always see your dream the way you see it. You may start out and feel your all alone. I can’t begin to tell you what 12 years out of 14 was like when no one knew my name or could even guess close to it. If your willing to put in the late nights, the early mornings, if your willing to go all in, despite the naysayers, it will happen. It may not happen in six months, it may not happen in a year, (in fact, mine beginning to see the light has taken almost 14 years,) but if you put in the hard work, the result will be ultimately your dream come true!

In one week, Lynden and I will be on our way to Columbus to sit in on TEDx hillard. My good friend, Coyte G. Cooper PhD. will be speaking at TEDx for the first time. In a seminar of positive mindsets and elevated focus for achieving success. I am proud to support Coyte in what will be the first of many presentations given at these events. I’m proud to have spent the last year and a half learning from Coyte and taking my own success to an entirely new level!

Part of that level has been seeing signs everywhere as I work hard to succeed. Today, one sign revealed itself! As you know, I will be presenting to the SCBWI in Chicago September 14th. This is the largest organization for children’s book writers in the country and hand down, so very generous. I was informed that as part of my presentation, the SCBWI will be renewing my membership for next year! That’s $100.00, just for showing up and doing what I love doing! Success is not always a dollar in the hand but reward of value given at the climax of hard work paying off.

What ever you are wanting in your life, chase it and make it your reality. You really can have what you want!

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