A week into my fifth grade year, my teacher Mrs. Wilks told the whole class how impressed she was with the reading journal I kept over the summer (something all students had to turn in). It was embarrassing, awkward, and one of the most important moments of my young life.
It seems silly now that such a simple moment could have such a huge impact. But it did, because at the young age of ten I discovered something that would take a lifetime for most people to figure out: stories are important.
This is a continuation of “Our Story Begins, Part 1”
When I approached my husband with the idea to write a children’s fantasy book series to explain rocks, minerals, and mining, he reacted with the same gentle enthusiasm as my sweet teacher. He seemed to understand the same principle I had learned so many years before. Stories are not only important, but stories also help us to store information in the brain.
We spent weeks hashing out the details, creating the magical world of the Paxterras and the great confrontation with the rogue stoneperson, Sulfur.
And every time we spoke, our eyes would light up with enthusiasm. We had a great idea: using the best elements of storytelling to educate young people about the importance of mining.
But with each conversation also came waves of doubt. Was I really able to do this? I had never written any fiction before, much less children’s fiction. And was the mining community really ready for a story geared towards children?
To combat the fears, we spent the next two years fine-tuning our story. We had friends and family read drafts and give us input. We submitted our work to writing critique groups, editorial boards, and educators who would offer (often very humbling) insights about my writing style, storyline, etc.
By November of 2016, we had a draft of the story which we loved. We laid out a vision for further books in the series, and we even started to illustrate what this world would look like on paper.
But in the busyness of our lives as young parents with young children, the book remained on our desktop, collecting digital dust and living simply as a dream.
That is, until, Move Mining.
In its inaugural year, the Move Mining competition gathered teams from all over the country to promote different concepts about how to educate the world about the benefits and efforts of the industry. When Ryan discovered the competition we had only 12 hours to submit a concept paper about our story.
“Well babe,” I said to my husband as I frantically put the final touches on our paper, “I guess it’s now or never.”
I knew that regardless of whether we won, the momentum of the process would be the kick in the pants we needed to finally introduce our story to the world.
And through the doubts, the fears of the unknown, our ignorance about the publishing industry, and all of the marketing snafoos, we journeyed forward together: the bright engineer and the girl with a big dream.
We have encountered so much encouragement, love, and support from people who are genuinely excited about our project. We have discovered fresh ideas from folks around the world who want to teach younger generations about geology and engineering. And most importantly, we have simply loved our story.
We love its spirit of adventure and courage. We love the characters and their fearlessness. And we love that it is unapologetically educational, because we know that from the earliest age children have a genuine love of learning.
This story has been such a huge part of our lives the past two years, and we can’t wait to share more of it with you. Tune in next week for more! J