Please welcome Elizabeth Stevens Omlor to the Tuesday 12 x 12 series.  With her trademark wit and charm, she shares her own banana peelin’ moments on the way to calling herself a storyteller. 🙂

I’ve never thought of myself as a storyteller. Well, that is until I began to share my picture book manuscripts with other poor kind souls outside my family. Someone mentioned it casually, you see, my name in the same sentence along with the term storyteller. I thought, “Who, me?” It might seem obvious to some that they’re storytellers, but for me I really had to think about it for a couple of days or seven months. I had to roll the idea around in this little noggin of mine for a while, each roll slowly dusting off memories of my storytelling self, starting way back when, yep, back in the olden days. I believe it was 1988.

It was an eventful year, what with my parents’ divorce (don’t be sad, it’s been awesome), my introduction to Roald Dahl (and therefore the onset of my obsession with unwrapping chocolate bars), and my brief law breaking stint having to do with my friend Annie H., clean desk checks and a delicious/tempting Starburst reward (long story that basically ends with me living a law abiding existence for the rest of my days). The memories I really have had to struggle to recall though are the tall tales I began telling at this age. I had tall tales of me having ten siblings, of me speaking other languages, and of someone else carving my same exact initials into our staircase’s wooden banister (How could they!).  I say tall tales, because it sounds more literary than white lies. Mostly, however, to think of myself as a storyteller, I must believe that these tales were a sign of boundless imagination, not moral corruption.

With my tall tale days behind me, still trying to persuade myself that I, Elizabeth Stevens Omlor might somehow be a storyteller, I began my search for more evidence that would prove that I had in fact been bit by the storytelling bug. Ashamedly, I love being the center of attention. Family dinners were and still are, my family sitting in silence, nodding, smiling, gritting their teeth, as I recount events I deem humorous, complete with big arm gestures, a loud voice, and dramatic endings (think Gone with the Wind meets Carol Burnett). When I truly think about it, I guess I can see myself as a storyteller, and what better way to channel that love for telling stories than through writing?

Involvement in Julie’s 12 x 12 in 2012 has been an absolute gift. This challenge has inspired me to break out of my shell (well, online shell that is). Previously, writing was such an isolated practice for me. I sat on the sidelines during Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo 2011, just dipping my big, chubby toe in the water by writing new ideas every day. I still relied on my in-person peeps for feedback. My first peep, my husband, the poor, poor man, was previously forced, guilted and yes, sometimes bribed to read my manuscripts. He, along with my mom, my sister, and a couple of kind and gracious friends, even though they may not know you, they all thank you 12x12ers. And I thank you. I can now pretty much guarantee that the relationships with my peeps will last and stand the test of time since I have found others to suffer  read through my manuscripts and with whom I can talk shop.

In December of 2011, after downing several glasses of wine mustering up enough confidence, I felt it was time to unleash the beast, the blog beast that is. Well, it was more like a sleepy and shy blog beast who wandered lost into the cyber forest with her wicker basket filled with embarrassing moments from writing and mothering, complete with  seven followers: a sister, a few supportive friends, a cousin, Lynn Davidson from Canada (I’ll never forget you Lynn!) and some occasional hits from Russian spammers. My blog, Banana Peelin’, was the perfect avenue for me to share my own banana peel moments, moments where I had felt confident and on top of the world only to slip on a banana peel or have a huge piece of spinach dangling from between my teeth. I had come to the conclusion that some people were just born cool. But were they, really? Older and wiser, I now choose to believe that others, even the cool ones, have experienced humiliation of some kind. And thus, the Banana Peel Thursdays blog series was born. With published children’s authors giving accounts of their very own banana peel moments, we learn:

a)     what mistakes we should try to avoid along the road to publication

b)    that these authors are in fact human

Did you hear that Universe? THE COOL KIDS ARE HUMAN!

I am so grateful to have stumbled upon the online children’s literature community. The relationships that I have been lucky enough to make in this short amount of time have been life altering. My blog has become what I consider to be a part-time job. I choose to put time into it because I love doing it. It’s my baby. Personally never a big fan of the idea of giving birth alone, one might say that each author, artist, follower, reader, commenter, Russian spammer, who has contributed to the progress of the blog these last few months has basically helped me to give birth. There you have it. And for the record, ANY individual who has assisted either with the birth or nurturing of my “blog baby” basically has me on a short leash for the rest of my days!

Julie’s interview with Sandi Hershenson was poignant in that she mentioned the beauty in the authentic relationships she has created through the building of her online presence. In an attempt to create this online presence for myself, I had no idea how much I would learn, what sense of community I would feel, and with how much gratitude I would be filled through the kindness and generosity of others. I am sure fellow wanderers in the cyber forest feel the same. For me, storytelling is this amazing dream and nothing could be greater than to have the support of one’s peers in the pursuit of their dreams.

From the bottom of my caffeine-pumped heart, THANK YOU!

Categories: 12 x 12 in 2012, Authors, Goals, PiBoIdMo, Picture Books, Works in Progress, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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70 Comments

  1. I’ve enjoyed your banana peelin’ moments on your blog! You have a great sense of humor and voice! It IS wonderful to know that great authors also have had humiliating moments! Best wishes on your writing career!

  2. Elizabeth, I loved this post and the chance to get to know you better. I feel we are somewhat kindred spirits as both our blogs, in their different ways, look for the humor in being a writer, in living life, and – something that’s always been important to me – in showing that the “cool kids” are human too, and accessible. It’s not easy for anyone, and it’s good to feel on equal footing with EVERYONE in the kidlit community, published or not. Your blog helps us do that. 🙂

  3. Tall tale storytelling with a twist of humor. Perfect recipe for picture books :~D
    Laughing at one’s self before others can . . . an awesome personality trait!
    If we can’t laugh at ourselves, the world will make banana mash out of us :~O

    I remember Gone the Wind meets Carol Burnett episode 😀 Hi*lar*i*ous!

  4. Elizabeth, I loved your post. I especially liked when you said, “Mostly, however, to think of myself as a storyteller, I must believe that these tales were a sign of boundless imagination, not moral corruption.” I will have to remember this when my own kids are tellig their white lies. 🙂 (My kids are brilliant storytellers!) 😉

  5. Your blog is great, Elizabeth. Humor is so important, well, just cuz it’s so much fun. So thanks for adding in the fun to this sometimes isolating and yes, sometimes embarrassing kidlit world.

  6. Howdy kindred spirit. 🙂 My family’s teeth looked like someone took a saw to them, they’ve done so much teeth grittin’! I totally get ya! So enjoyed reading. Thanks for sharing. *waving* *and downs another glass of wine*

  7. Wonderful blog post, Elizabeth! It is so great to read about someone coming out of their peel, I mean shell. And humor is a wonderful gift. I don’t know how people survive without it! Thanks for sharing your stories, and all the best on this writing journey!

  8. I really enjoyed your post Elizabeth. I look forward to your Banana Peelin’ Thursdays because you’re right, it shows we are all human and it shows what mistakes to avoid.

  9. Elizabeth, it only took me one read of your blog to see what a storyteller you are! I can’t believe you’ve only been blogging since December. Crossing fingers there aren’t too many banana peels on your road to publication.

  10. Look at you, friend!!! I think it’s official… YOU are a cool kid!!!!! Just watch, you’re going to be the writer we ALLLLLL will be able to say, “We knew her back when… she thought she was JUST an annoyance to her fam, and a quirky ‘storyteller’.”!!! I am so so sososososososososososooooo (yes, that is now a word!) proud of how far you’ve come. Brav-to-the-OOO! 🙂

    Ps, I think my tea was a little too caffienated this morning!

  11. Reading this I get the feeling you talk fast and furious too! Great blog and I wish you all the best.

  12. Oh! I’ll have to dash over and check out those banana peel moments. I love a good laugh in the morning–or anytime, really. 😉

  13. I have said it before, but I will say it again, I love your blog! One of my favorite things to read about authors is how their ideas became books — the story behind the story. You found another way to allow authors to tell stories of their experiences with their books. The best thing about these new banana peel stories is that they are able to teach those willing to learn more about the “business” of books. Thank you so much for the work that you do. It is much appreciated.

    • Okay Eric. This is the 4th time I have tried to respond to your post. I seem to be having techinal difficulty. Please pardon me if you have received my responses in some secret way and are suddenly inundated with messages from me!

      I think your ideas are extremely impressive, so to have your support behind my blog is a huge compliment! Thank you so much for your feedback and enthusiasm. =)

      P.S. We bought your book for the iPAD! Awesome way to teach colors!

  14. This was such a great post, Elizabeth! Funny and *real*… and it’s so good to know that the cool kids are human, too. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that.

    Thank you!

  15. I loved this post, Elizabeth! you are so funny – you always make me laugh right out loud, so that if anyone else is in the vicinity when I’m reading your words they look at me like I’m totally nuts 🙂 I had to actually stop reading for a moment at Carol Burnett meets Gone WIth The Wind 🙂 Thank you for sharing your story. Anyone who writes posts like these must have a brilliant future in writing! And may I say, I love your picture and choice of reading material 🙂

    • Susanna! I can’t beleive I make you laugh out loud! What an amazing compliment! Thanks so much for your kind words. =)

      There was no quesiton as to which reading material I would choose! You were my first celebrity and therefore played an integral part in the birth of this blog baby! Thanks so, so much for your support Susanna. YOU ARE AWESOME. (Oh, and Phyllis just arrived!)

  16. LOL! Enjoyed reading this post. I, too, enjoy being the center of attention at the family (and every other) table.

  17. Great blog! I especially love the “ME ME ME” tab. And congratulations on all your cool – and well-deserved – blogger awards! Thanks for this post.

  18. Loved this post Elizabeth and you’ve given me confidence to be a blogger (albeit a baby boomer blogger). I’m looking forward to reading more of your ‘banana peelin’ moments’.

    Tricia

    • Yay! Beginning to blog and put yourself out there is scary. I admire anyone who takes a leap outside their comfort zone. Good for you! Thanks so much Tricia and I hope to hear from you again!

  19. Jarm Del Boccio

    Elizabeth…thanks so much for sharing your journey with us in a transparent way. That takes courage! I love the descriptions of your family dynamics…I can just visualize it! Looking forward to more of your posts…

  20. sunriseovertheiceberg

    I’m so glad you joined 12X12 and started your blog and joined a crit group! We all benefit from your jumping in the pool 🙂 Great post, Elizabeth!
    Signed,
    Heather Newman, who cannot seem to log out of her son’s wordpress account to post this

  21. The cool kids are human??! Yikes! Who would’ve figured…..

    I loved your story. So based on that, yup, you’re a storyteller. Keep it up!

  22. Great post Elizabeth. I love reading Banana Peel Thursdays!

  23. sharon stanley

    I love this post! I’ve been a regular visitor to Elizabeth’s blog for a couple months and find it helpful and FUN! (the fun part is the BEST!) I am loving getting to “know” children’s lit bloggers and writers online…everyone is so gracious.

  24. What a wonderful post, you sure are a great storyteller and I can’t wait to check out the banana peel posts.Nice to meet you. I’m crazy about Roald Dahl too 🙂

  25. Elizabeth,
    love your blog too! Love you humor…laughter is a reading key, opening the doors of delight and wonder that spill out of authors’ closets. You’ve opened your door wide! Thanks.

  26. This is a fun post; you have just shown everyone what a truly good storyteller you are.
    (I would comment on your blog but blogspot won’t let me anymore, and I don’t know why. 🙁 So, I will say here that the excerpt of your current manuscript that you shared there is wonderful!)

    • Yay Lynn! Thank you SO much. I am still learning about this whole social media thing/technology so I probably have some weird setting on my account. I will work on that. I am really flattered you liked my excerpt. Yikes. Scary stuff to share your work! Thanks for your support!

  27. I really liked meeting you Ms, Omlor! I like to read things that have humor in it. I think it is important. 🙂 Ms. Davidson is a great friend to me too!
    Erik

  28. Katrina DeLallo (@CrafterCat)

    It was lovely having you here. I appreciate knowing that nobody’s perfect. Everyone KNOWS that, really, but it’s nice to re-emphasize the fact.

  29. Elizabeth~Obviously, I am Penny-come-lately when it comes to commenting this week! I had fun times with family, so I’m a bit behind.

    This was funny! Funny! Funny! Your personality just shines through.

    I love your blog & I’ll bet that Russian spammer loves it, too! Maybe he’ll slip on a banana peel & live to tell his story on your blog :•)

    Thanks for a great post!

  30. Aw shucks Penny. Thanks so much. I truly do hope that Russian spammer decides to contribute to the series, after all, I think he is responsible for most of my site’s hits! 🙂 Thanks for reading!

  31. Fantastic post, I adore your sense of humour and your ‘Banana Peelin’ blog. What a great idea, to share the flubs and the foibles of other creatives on the same path as us. Not only is it a learning experience, it makes us feel a little better about all the silly mistakes we make, or will be making. I saw a pair of banana peel high heels the other day I thought of sharing with you, knew you would appreciate them! 😀

  32. Oops Elizabeth I missed this on Tuesday. Not my best week, but so glad I found you today. My Hubby does his best, but appreciates the network outside his opinion for my work. I enjoy your posts.

  33. Awesome post, Elizabeth – you already know I love your blog!!

  34. Elizabeth – missed this last week (my daughter had a baby) 🙂 DELIGHTFULLY revealing! I was an only child – so when I carved my initials in the TV tray – they knew it was me! I only came across your blog two weeks ago, (I’m also in 12×12 and trying to get to know everyone) and it has been an encouragement. You are so right about how generous and knowledgeable everyone is. Looking forward to following you! Have added you to my blogroll.

    • Yay new baby! Congratulations. Such a special time! Laura, I am so glad to hear from you. 12 x 12 has been amazing in terms of building support. It is amazing to think of how many people took to the challenge. Thanks so much for adding me to your blogroll and I look forward to getting to know you better here in cyberspace. =)

  35. Oh my goodness! Yet another blog I MUST follow!!!! And another amazing person I am meeting through, as you so aptly put it, this wonderful community of caring, helpful, dedicated picture book writers and illustrators!
    Hi Elizabeth…so very lovely to connect with you…thank you so much for sharing your story…well, after all, you are a storyteller. 🙂
    And thank you, Julie, for bringing these awesome people to our attention!

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