Celebrating BRAINSTORM!’s 1-Year Birthday! Five surprising things I learned during my first year as a published PB Author + GIVEAWAY!

Happy summer, Everyone!

When Jill handed out the blog schedule and I saw that had been assigned Aug. 15th, I was like: “Why does that date seem SO familiar?!” And then I realized: it’s the 1-year birthday of BRAINSTORM!, my debut book, illustrated by Kate Kronreif! Talk about time flying!

I asked Jill if it would be okay if I celebrated with all of you and she said “Of course!” and I said “Great!” And she said “Maybe you could talk about some things you learned during your debut year?” and I said “Sure!” And she said “Great!” And here we are!

So, without further ado, I give you…




One of the things I was most excited about when it came to becoming a published author was getting to share my books with kids at book festivals. As I talked with my husband about it, I showed him this baseball cap I’d proudly bought and thought would be perfect for me to wear as I promoted my book about brainstorming…

Super cute, right? Well, my husband looked at me sideways and said: “Seriously? No. You need something WAY BIGGER and BETTER than that!” Next thing I know, he’d found this:

And guess what? He was TOTALLY right! I wear this storm cloud hat EVERYWHERE when promoting BRAINSTORM!, with amazing results. Kids see this weird poof on my head and the lights flashing (oh yes, there is lightning!) and they either come over to ask me about it or give me a weird look, which gives me an opening to say: “Wanna hear about why I’m wearing this silly hat?!” It helps me break the ice and connect with them every time.

When it came time to promote WHATEVER COMES TOMORROW, I’d learned my lesson…


As excited as I was about attending book festivals, I was NOT at all excited about doing school visits. I am TERRIFIED of public speaking and of being the center of attention and I was adamant that I would NEVER do them. But I’d also promised myself this year that I would push myself to do things that scare me, so when a few local librarians reached out and asked me to visit their schools, I said (GULP!) “Um…sure?” 

To be honest, I’m a true introvert and I’ve learned that school visits take a LOT out of me and are a TON of work, BUT the kids are so welcoming and kind and their questions are so insightful. I surprised myself by really enjoying the experiences. And then I received these….

…and, well, that sealed the deal. I know I won’t ever be an author who does hundreds of school visits a year, but I am now looking forward to doing more of them in the years to come!


I was so surprised to discover how much time promoting my books took away from my writing. Among the new tasks sucking up my days: looking up, applying to, and attending book festivals, emailing bloggers and podcasters to see about being a guest, writing those blog posts and preparing for those interviews, designing and buying swag, learning Canva and creating slide presentations and social media posts, setting up, preparing and practicing for author visits and bookstore readings, posting and responding to social media posts, hosting  giveaways, keeping my website and newsletter current… and that’s just scratching the surface! It’s been a LOT.  And while I found most of it fun and, of course, it’s important for getting the word out, I’ve learned from the past year that I have to be much more choosy about which promotional opportunities I participate in moving forward or I’ll never have time to write anything new! 


Of all the promotion-y things I did, however, joining a debut group was the best thing I ever did. I am so lucky to be a member of the phenomenal KidLit Caravan. 

We are a group of 13 authors who had our debut picture books released in 2022. What a gift to be a part of a team who supports one another in so many ways — from reviewing each others’ books and requesting them from our local libraries, to sharing tips and tricks from our launches and promotional wins and failures, to simply just being there for each other through the emotional roller-coastering of it all. Many of us have gone on to release our second books this year, and we are still each others’ cheerleaders. For anyone who has a debut on the horizon, I highly recommend finding or starting a group like this. What a gift it was to have these incredible people in my corner.  


I really thought that once I had a book or two out in the world I’d feel like I’d “made it!” But I was surprised to learn that every single day, I still feel like I’ll never write anything worthy again. 

Editors are constantly passing on my work (I’ve had 4 books on submission this year and they’ve all been passed over) and it still stings – a LOT. BUT, I really want to believe that if I keep at it, eventually the stars will align once again. Or, if not, then they won’t. I have no control over that. All I can control is that I keep growing, learning and doing the work. I will continue putting my Butt In Chair and doing what I love because… well, how can I not?

Thanks again for celebrating BRAINSTORM!’s first birthday with me!

To add some more fun to the party, I’d like to do a GIVEAWAY!

Please comment below and share this blog post on social media for an extra entry (tag me @WriterRebeccaGL on Twitter or @RebeccaGardynLevington on Instagram), and you’ll be entered to win:

**A Signed/Personalized copy of either



**A 30-min Ask Me Anything Zoom call!

I will announce the winner in my next post, scheduled for Sept. 12th.

Thanks for reading this far! Have a fabulous rest of the summer!

Rebecca Gardyn Levington

Rebecca Gardyn Levington is a children’s book author, poet, and journalist with a particular penchant for penning both playful and poignant picture books and poems – primarily in rhyme. She is the author of BRAINSTORM! and WHATEVER COMES TOMORROW and has six additional rhyming picture books forthcoming, including AFIKOMAN, WHERE’D YOU GO? A Passover Hide-and-Seek Adventure (Penguin Random House/Rocky Pond Books, 2024), LITTLE DREIDEL LEARNS TO SPIN (Scholastic, 2024), and I WILL ALWAYS BE… (HarperCollins, 2025). Rebecca’s award-winning poems and articles have appeared in numerous anthologies, newspapers, and magazines. She lives in New Jersey with her family. Find out more about Rebecca and sign up for her monthly newsletter where she answers subscriber questions and shares tips learned throughout her writing journey at www.RebeccaGardynLevington.com.


  1. Books look great, I think my twins would love them!

  2. Congratulations Rebecca!!! And thank you for sharing some of the things you’ve learned. I love your new hat and butterfly wings!!! How FUN!!! Keep on keeping on.

  3. Rebecca, You’re an inspiration, especially for those of us still in the trenches. Thank you for your honesty! I am loving BRAINSTORM (giveaway recipient from K. Temean blog) – so please pass me over.

  4. Thanks for sharing these insights, Rebecca! I LOVE your brainstorm hat and butterfly costume. So much fun! Congrats on your book birthday!

  5. I loved hearing about what you did to promote your books!
    Congratulations on your book anniversary!

  6. Fun post…it was great to hear about your “first year!” We are always learning!

  7. Congratulations on your books!

  8. Becky Scharnhorst

    What a great post! Thanks for sharing what you have learned. I feel the same way about school visits. I absolutely love doing them AND they take a lot out of me. Both are true!

  9. Happy Brainstorm Birthday! If I win, I’ll take the ZOOM call just to talk and chat! I love your book and hope for lots more. The costumes are brilliant, and marketing is a time suck, but look what you’ve accomplished this year!

  10. Great post, Rebecca! So interesting to learn what’s involved that first year after a debut publication. Some it sounds daunting but most of it sounds like a lot of fun!
    Congratulations on your books!

  11. Oh happy day! Thanks for sharing!

  12. Happy anniversary! Thanks for sharing!

  13. danielle hammelef

    I love the book-themed costumes! I’m so happy you have a supportive husband who celebrates your victories. Congratulations on your book birthday!

  14. Thanks for sharing your experience! Happy 1st anniversary!

  15. Great post! Thank you, Rebecca, and congrats on the 1 year anniversary!!

  16. Awesome article and thank you for your honesty about the process!

  17. Debra Kempf Shumaker

    Great post and great insights! I found so many of those same points my debut year, too. And you’ve got me thinking that I should maybe embrace crazy costumes more. I wear fun earrings and necklaces that some kids usually notice, but a fish or primate costume would get noticed way more, LOL.

  18. Interesting insights into your debut year, Rebecca! Love that brainstorm hat!!

  19. This was so fun to read and it has been so fun to watch you on this journey. So proud of you my friend and great job! It has been a busy year and I look forward to many more busy years. These books are so great!

  20. Rebecca, Congrats on your book birthday! And thanks for the fun article talking about all that you learned during this exciting and busy year! Love the hat, BTW! Quite ingenious!

  21. Congrats on the book birthday, Rebecca! And thanks for the interesting post about all you learned during this exciting and busy year. Love the hat, BTW. It’s genius!

  22. Congratulations on your book birthday and publishing a second! Thank you for the great tips. As unpublished writers I think that we all assume once you have been published everything just comes together in a neat little package. Obviously not the case! Love your hat-husbands are our biggest resource and inspiration. Looking forward to reading your books.

  23. Congratulations on both your books and many to come, I’m sure. I must know- Did you buy your amazing cloud hat or craft it yourself?

  24. Janet Frenck Sheets

    I love your tip about costumes! That never would have occurred to me. I bet putting on the storm cloud or butterfly wings makes it easier to switch into “extroverted author” mode, even if that’s not your natural inclination. Thanks for sharing what you’ve learned!

  25. A book about brainstorming…yay!…Cute costumes!

  26. Congrats on a very successful book launch year, Rebecca! 🙂 Thank you so much for all that you share!

  27. Congratulations on your book anniversary! You are an inspiration! As an aspiring author, I am realizing the impact authors like you make just by sharing your journey. Thank you for showing me by example that the work beyond the book has its own valuable purpose.

  28. Congratulations, Rebecca! Your insights regarding book promotion are very helpful! Not everything is comfortable, and you are kind to share both your struggles and joys!

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