The start of school in my district looms in the very near future, and I’m trying to transition from Summer mentality to Subbing mode. Amazingly enough, this year will be my fourth year as a Substitute Teacher…an anniversary shared with my career as an author/illustrator of children’s picture books.
In truth, the latter exists solely because of the former.
Before I became a Substitute Teacher, I’d already been a published author of Sci-fi Romance with two novels under my belt. I was working diligently to establish my brand and promote my books. I carried business cards with me everywhere, but I also special-ordered a phone case with my first book cover on it. What better way to begin a conversation about my romance books than to have someone notice my phone case!
Unfortunately, the only people who noticed my sexy phone case were elementary students I was substitute teaching. Ack! Big-time F****-Up! I depended on my phone’s alarm to keep me mindful of subject transitions, recess, lunchtimes, etc. And thought nothing of the instrument of my timekeeping…until kiddos started to comment.
A few “that man’s neck is really long,” “I can see that man’s chest,” and “Who is Ava Cuvay and why is she on your phone” was all it took. I snatched a little story bobbing around my head and wrote it down, then I drew pictures to go with it. I ended up with Slow Squirrels for Old Dog, a sweet first-grade level book to honor my 14-year-old dog who had passed away. Not the most cheerful idea for a book, but it was a cathartic step in my personal grief, and the death of a beloved pet is something any owner deals with at some point. Loss isn’t something we can or should pretend never happens, and I’ve found young children are, for the most part, resilient and pragmatic on the topic.
So! Children’s book published and new, school-age-appropriate phone cover in place, I thought I could leave it at that and get back to my Romance books. But the interest and enthusiasm from the students kept pulling me back to make more. This last June, I published my third children’s book, Soaposaurus Rex Versus Poop Ninja. A special request for a friend’s 7-year old son, it’s an action-packed, humorous story to encourage handwashing.
When I attend author signings, my three children’s books are as popular as my romance novels. When I substitute teach, they are a great starting point to talk about writing and drawing and encouraging students to pursue their dreams.
Four years later, I’m so grateful I F****’d Up and neglected to consider what was on my phone case that first year of Subbing!
About the Author
Ava Cuvay w/a Tippi Hickey: Tippi lives in central Indiana with her hubby, kiddos, kitties, and a love of all pets furry, fuzzy, feathery, and scaly!
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