My First Ever TV Interview!
The day after we released Messages From Maryam, I took to Twitter determined to get Maryam's story in the public eye. I tweeted at a few friends, colleagues, and my Alma Mater, James Madison University. I was on a roll, so I thought, "Why not tweet at the TV stations while I'm at it?!" Imagine my surprise when just a few minutes later, I got a personalized message from my local news outlet, WHSV, asking me to come in for an interview.
This morning, I woke up and gave myself a pep talk to prep for my big interview. Excitement and nervousness filled me as I walked through the doors of the news station. While I don't plan on making any more TV appearances any time soon, I was really happy with how the piece turned out.
THANK YOU to WHSV for the opportunity to share Messages From Maryam. Find the interview here:www.whsv.com/content/news/New-childrens-book-inspired-by-Harrisonburg-refugees--408617915.html.
"Messages From Maryam" is now available!
After months of anticipation and some bumps in the road, yesterday was a big day! Messages From Maryam is now available via our independent publisher at www.lulu.com/shop/lauren-pichon/messages-from-maryam/paperback/product-22999350.html. The book will also be available via other online distributors such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble. I expect that the book will be available via these outlets by the end of the month, although I have no control over how long it takes these companies to update their inventory! I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the process of getting the books to major retail distributors will go as quickly as possible.
I can't wait for Messages From Maryam to reach your doorsteps! As I see people purchasing the book online, my anticipation builds to hear your opinions and feedback.
I will keep you updated about the availability of Messages From Maryam. In the mean time, stay warm, and enjoy this holiday season with your loved ones!
"Ms. Pichon, I hope you win a Goldicott!"
Those were the words whispered to me as I told some of my first grade students about Maryam! Their innocence and excitement upon seeing illustrations of her filled me with so much joy! Their exclamations about winning a Caldecott (or "Goldicott" as he called it), saying, "she looks just like my mom's friend," and, "I think she lives in my neighborhood," made me all the more excited for the upcoming book release on the 19th!
Today, I had the opportunity to share Messages From Maryam with multiple groups of students at St. John the Evangelist School. This was my first time sharing the full story with any group of students. I had a wonderful time! It was fun to see how students connected with Maryam and Aila and the ways in which they were able to empathize with these girls whose lives were much different than their own.
As a first-time author, I have learned a lot about the publishing process. One of the most joyous parts has been being able to share my writing with children and other groups of people. One of the most challenging parts was the layout and design of the book. While the book will be available via our publisher on December 19th, there is a possibility that there will be a slight delay in making it available on Amazon. Check this page on the 19th for more information and for a link to buy Messages From Maryam.
Thank you for your ongoing support and enthusiasm for our book. I can't wait to reveal the final product!
It's Almost Time to Meet Maryam!
<div class="fb-like" data-share="true" data-width="450" data-show-faces="true"> </div> In exactly 28 days, Maryam will be on her way to many of your mailboxes to meet you! On December 19, 2016, Messages From Maryam will be available on Amazon- just in time for your last minute holiday shopping! The final countdown has begun, and Kendra and I could not be more excited (or nervous) to share our work with you!
These last few weeks leading up to the release will be jam-packed with putting finishing touches on the illustrations and layout, as well as fact-checking our background information one last time. We are planning to canvas our town with posters about the upcoming release of Messages From Maryam. Keep your eyes open if you live in the Shenandoah Valley!
Kendra and I are so thankful to have had the opportunity to share Messages From Maryam with a captive audience at our home church today. We had a great time sharing with the students what it means to be a refugee, how to befriend refugee children at school, and, of course, talking about Maryam. We are grateful to have a church that supports our vision of publishing a book, and more importantly, a church that supports refugee families! Today, the children's ministry created medical kits to be distributed to local refugee families like Maryam's.
We are anxious to see how Messages From Maryam will continue to increase awareness about the lives of refugee children and call to action the people whose lives have been touched by refugees.
Q & A and Upcoming Speaking Engagements
Wow! Time has been flying by! When I looked at my calendar today, I couldn't believe that we are down to just 49 days until Messages From Maryam makes its debut on Amazon!
Last weekend, I spoke at the Virginia Teachers of Speakers of Other Languages Conference. I was really nervous going into it, but once I started talking about Messages From Maryam, I got really excited and things started flowing. I loved having the opportunity to share about this project with other teachers of refugees and children like Maryam and Aila, the main characters in Messages From Maryam. I was so thankful for how warmly it was received, and the questions people asked were really thought-provoking.
Here are some of the questions and answers we covered at the conference, as well as a list of upcoming speaking engagements Kendra and I will be presenting at. We can't wait to share this project with you all!
Where did the characters' names come from?
Many of the characters' names are names of the Arabic-speaking students at the school where I work. There are two students whom I think of as Maryam and Aila in my head, but for confidentiality purposes, I couldn't use their real names. Many of the characters are named after my students' siblings and friends. I also Google searched Arabic baby names, which is how I stumbled across the name Aila. I don't know anyone named Aila, but I thought it was a beautiful name!
Have you considered translating this book into Arabic?
I would love to! As of right now, I do not have any solid plans to have Messages From Maryam translated into Arabic, but it is something I would like to pursue following the initial release in English.
What age range is "Messages From Maryam" appropriate for?
Messages From Maryam is targeted for readers in second through fifth grades, but it could be appropriate for all ages and grades with adult guidance. Teachers can also use Messages From Maryam to teach a variety of subjects, or to spark discussion during class meetings. There will be a list of suggested activities for using Messages From Maryam in the classroom in the back of the book.
Which parts of "Messages From Maryam" are factual and which are fictitious?
While Messages From Maryam is based on a true story, parts have been changed to make it more kid-friendly, more entertaining, and to keep the plot moving forward. There will be a page in the back of the book detailing some factual and fictitious parts of the story.
Upcoming Speaking Engagements:
Sunday, November 20- Lauren Pichon & Kendra Yoder at Eastside Church, Harrisonburg, VA
Tuesday, December 13- Lauren Pichon with Lisa & Kurt Schick at St. John the Evangelist School, Warrenton, VA
Please contact us if you're interested in having us speak at your school or organization! We would love to have the opportunity to share Maryam's story with you.
Saving the Best 'til Saturday
Messages From Maryam is a story that has been on my heart for a long time. When I began my career as an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher, I couldn't wait to meet my Iraqi refugee students whom I had heard so much about! On my first day of school, I was filled with nervousness and anxiety. I would be spending the majority of my day with these children, and I didn't speak a word of Arabic. Luckily for me, these children were hard-working, studious, and well-behaved! They were thirsty for knowledge, and so was I.
As the weeks and months passed, I formed a unique bond with my students. Each morning, they would walk by my classroom, peeking inside, calling, "Good morning, miss!" As they acquired more and more English, our knowledge of each other grew. It is this small group of children that inspired Messages From Maryam and the characters that will soon be jumping off the pages at you!
While in the grand scheme of things, the process of publishing Messages From Maryam has gone relatively quickly, the release has been a long-anticipated event. Although I have told many people about this special story, I will be giving my first ever presentation on Messages From Maryam this Saturday, less than two months before the book is released! I will be speaking at the Virginia Teachers of Speakers of Other Languages Conference, which will be held at my Alma Mater, James Madison University. At the conference, I will be presenting about the story behind Messages From Maryam, how it was illustrated, the facts and fictional pieces in the book, and the uses it could serve in the classroom. It will also be the first time I have ever read an excerpt of the book to a large audience!
I am nervous but really looking forward to the conference this Saturday. I hope to get more and more people pumped up for the Messages From Maryam release on December 19!