Ellen Langas

Essay

What book is on your night stand? the reporter asked. I struggled for a reasonable answer. “Gone with the Wind?” I meekly questioned. The reporter seemed satisfied, and I confirmed my choice with a nod. Other than a “Little Bear” book, it’s the only one I recalled owning. The truth was I rarely read and I didn’t own books.

When the story came out in the paper, I marveled that I was described as author of the Girls Know How┬« series. That confirmed it, I was officially a children’s author.

Growing up in a family of direct descent from “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” it didn’t occur to me that I would have much choice in my education or career. But with the encouragement of a college professor, I realized I had a voice and worked hard to finish top in my class and land a corporate marketing job.

I promised myself I would pay that kindness forward and had a nagging need to help youngsters pursue their potentials. Watching my tween daughters devour chapter books, I knew that was the ticket.

Announcing my plans to write delighted my children, but with no writing experience or knowledge of publishing, the goal was a stretch at minimum. As a single mom, I started a marketing communications company to provide flexibility to raise my girls. I decided it was now or never and took the plunge.

Armed with a notebook, I wrote wherever and whenever I found spare time between my “real job,” soccer games, assorted maintenance disasters and yard work. Within a year, I was ready to secure a publisher. I sent my pride and joy to 27 publishers and received 27 rejection letters. Thus was born the publishing division of my company! I secured a printer and published 5000 copies of my first book, Will Stephanie Get the Story?, a fictional chapter book that encourages young readers to explore the careers of their dreams. And it resonated with readers!

I attracted a distributor and launched at Barnes & Noble. Five years later, we have sold thousands of books and released two additional books with the national launch of the Girls Know How® series on QVC.

I think of my dream that seemed unrealistic years ago as a fearless choice to follow my passion. That’s exactly what I hope to pay forward, as I help children find and follow theirs.