Today, we’d like to introduce you to Arielle Haughee. Arielle was introduced to us by the one and only Sharon Lane Holm.
Hi Arielle, we’re so thrilled to have you sharing your story with us today. Maybe we can kick things off by having you introduce yourself to our readers? We’d love to have you go into your story and how you got to where you are today.
I had always dreamed of owning my own business. I enjoy project management, marketing, long-term planning, and networking. But I thought it would always be just a dream. After having my kids, I’d started writing as a way to keep my brain occupied. I sent in short stories to contests and publications and started having luck. I dreamed of traditional publication by a big press.
Then two ideas hit me at the same time. The first was for an anthology of true love stories. The second was something I’d never anticipated, a children’s picture book. I had been an elementary teacher but I loved writing fantasy. I wasn’t going to write children’s books. But then why was this idea driving me crazy? I decided to write it just to get the dang thing out of my head.
The first thing I realized was that I didn’t know a thing about writing for kids. It’s a completely different type of writing than for adults. I should just walk away…but even more children’s ideas started coming. A real problem. Fine. I would take some classes and learn about it. Couldn’t hurt.
In 2018, I started Orange Blossom Publishing so I could get my anthology going. As I was putting out calls for stories for How I Met My Other, I also signed up for a mentorship program with Gloria Rothstein, author of Sheep Asleep. I penned many terrible picture books while I practiced. Towards the end of the program, I wrote a new picture book called Grumbler. This was it. This was the one.
Now, I had already started OBP. So do I go for the big publisher or do it myself? As How I Met My Other was moving along in its timeline, I learned more and more about publishing. I fell in love with all the details and decision making. I finally owned my own business! And I would do whatever it took to make it succeed.
My dream expanded to becoming a small press and publishing other authors. Today I have published four of my own picture books, am on my third volume of How I Met My Other, started a line of journals, published a YA by another author, and have signed eight authors for upcoming books.
Please tell us more about your brand, Orange Blossom Publishing.
We are a small press located in Central Florida that publishes adult and children’s books. Our focus is on stories about love, wellness, and humor. Our mission is to create unique books with a focus on quality with our stories and the physical look of our books. We welcome authors of all genders, ethnicities, and backgrounds and appreciate the opportunity to specifically share more female, LGBTQ, and neurodivergent voices. Our press caters to a mostly female audience and also features children’s books.
So, as we mentioned to our audience earlier, you were introduced to us by Sharon Lane Holm and we really admire them and what they’ve built. For folks who might not be as familiar, can you tell them a bit about your experience with Sharon.
I met Sharon through a group for children’s writers and illustrators. I loved her art and knew I wanted to work with her, but wasn’t sure which story would be best for her art style. I had many ideas and several manuscripts I’d written. One of them was for an exclamation point that was the main character of the book, jumping into the story. I knew the concept was a bit different and would need an experienced illustrator to interpret it. Aha! Sharon.
I sent her the manuscript for Pling’s Party the way I normally do for illustrators–no picture notes of any kind. Completely open to interpretation. I love giving artists freedom to interpret the story and create the world. They always come up with something even better than I imagined. And this was certainly true with Sharon. I was delightfully surprised by how she visualized Pling and made him a part of the story.
She was a true professional and easy to communicate with. I absolutely loved the project we made together. Pling’s Party: An Exclamation Point’s Story was released on March 28, 2020 and has received a Five Star rating from Reader’s Favorite and a Story Monsters Approved seal. It is currently a finalist for the 2021 Royal Palm Literary Awards.
Photography by The Inspired Storytellers