by Bryan Patrick Avery
One of the first manuscripts I sold as a children's book author was THE FREEMAN FIELD PHOTOGRAPH. It won a Golden Ticket in a Children's Book Academy class which eventually led to a contract offer. The book came out in 2021 and I’ve had the opportunity to talk with classes and community groups about the book, the famous photograph, and my grandfather (who took the photograph). Through all of this, I learned a valuable lesson: often, sharing the story is more important than selling the book.
I realize it sounds weird. I get it, we all want to sell more books. So do I. I simply mean that I find it incredibly rewarding, and important, to share my stories with young readers whether they buy the book or not.
This January, my fifteenth book will be published. I’ve been privileged to write short stories, poetry, picture books, chapter books, and middle grade. Each new release has reinforced this idea in me. When I meet readers, they are interested in my books and that’s great. They also tell me things like “I’ve never met a real author before”, “when I read your book, it made me want to be a writer”, and “I want to learn more history because of your book”. For me, that makes writing worth it.
Now, let’s jump back to the FREEMAN FIELD PHOTOGRAPH. A while back, someone contacted me through my website about the book. It tells the story of the 1945 Freeman Field Mutiny, a key event during World War II where 101 Tuskegee Airmen where arrested for refusing to submit to Jim Crow regulations in the US Army. My grandfather, himself a Tuskegee Airman, took a now famous photo of the arrested officers which, when published in the Pittsburgh Courier, led to more the 50,000 letters being written to the War Department demanding an end to segregation in the U.S. military.
It turns out, a monument to commemorate the event, and its impact on U.S. history, was being built at Freeman Field. I was asked to come and speak about the mutiny, and my grandfather. Last week, my wife and I traveled to Seymour, Indiana for the unveiling of the memorial. There, I met many people who were thrilled to meet and author, and even more thrilled that I had come to speak about such an important event. Many of them bought books, but even those who did not wanted to learn more about the event and about me.
While I was in Indiana, I even got a number of ideas for new projects! The trip was a great reminder that I write to share my stories with the world and to expose people to ideas and stories they might not otherwise be exposed to. For that, I am grateful.
As your books go out into the world. Think about what your stories might mean to others, and see if you can come up with ways to share yourself, and your ideas, with others.
That’s all for this month. Happy writing, and have a magical month.
Bryan Patrick Avery is an award-winning poet and author of more than a dozen books for children. His middle grade collective biography, BLACK MEN IN SCIENCE, illustrated by Nikita Leanne, was released in 2022. Bryan is also the author of the middle-grade story, “The Magic Day Mystery”, which appears in SUPER PUZZLETASTIC MYSTERIES, THE FREEMAN FIELD PHOTOGRAPH, illustrated by Jerome White, and the early chapter book series, MR. GRIZLEY’S CLASS, illustrated by Arief Putra. Bryan lives in northern California with his family.
We are so excited to be mixing things up at CBA, beginning with some delicious additions to the Blogfish. Meet our awesome bloggers!!
Here's our lineup:
1st Mondays begin with awesome Aussie debut author and former student Amanda Lieber who will be focusing on Aussie kidlit.
2nd Mondays will feature super smart Melissa Stoller whose career is taking off with several new books.
3rd Mondays will feature our new blogger coming soon.
4th Mondays features new blogger, the fabulous Brentom Jackson, who has a beautiful approach to blogging.
And 5th Mondays we'll be taking a break