The Life and Times of Lilly the Lash ®, a beautifully illustrated children’s book series in which an eyelash utilizes her charm and mystique to playfully explore important life lessons, and empower audiences everywhere to build strong self-esteem and good character.
Changing the World in the Blink of an Eye
An Author’s Unexpected Journey
by Julie Woik
IT ALL BEGAN ON MY WAY TO THE BATHROOM
Well…have I got a story for you! My name is Julie Woik. I’m the author and creator of The Life and Times of Lilly the Lash ®. Let me start by explaining that becoming an author was most certainly NOT on my bucket list! Life was good; really good. I was happy, healthy, had a great job, a terrific husband, friends I could count on; I truly needed for nothing – or so I thought. Then late one night in May 2006, while strolling down the hall to my bathroom, I wiped an eyelash from my face. As soon as I looked at the eyelash, it became Lilly the Lash. Within seconds, a poem detailing the recent struggles of a good friend began to fill my head.
It was only after a few days passed when a woman with 19 years of experience as a publishing executive overheard part of the poem. She encouraged me to use the eyelash fairy concept to do something remarkable for children, and with that I decided to give it a whirl.
I distinctly remember wondering to myself if this poor lady had sipped a few too many martinis with her gal pals at lunch! Though the poem had most definitely come from me, I had not considered myself to be any kind of writer.
Although I took her advice, all I kept thinking was “this could be disastrous!”
It was almost with the greatest of ease, the words began tumbling onto the paper. Like a child carelessly tossing alphabet blocks onto the floor in front of them. Simultaneously forming all of the right words in all of the right places. I found tapping into the profound experiences I had encompassed while working with young children. In the field of psychiatry, and combining them with my own personal struggles and triumphs. I was overcome with enormous inspiration, lo and behold, right before my eyes, out popped one book, and then another, and yet again, another.
Should ever decide to write a book, and you want to take the steps to actually see it in print. You basically have two options. You can either seek out a literary agent, who will approach and pitch your idea to various publishing houses. Or you can take things into your own hands and self-publish.
We chose the latter. Honestly, it was Chris Caswell, a helpful and well-informed entertainment lawyer who introduced and then led us down this path. My husband and I met with Mr. Caswell to explain my vision regarding the books. We discussed my thoughts on making them into a full length series. More specifically, offering children and their families something more than just a book. Mr. Caswell felt strongly that this was something really special, and encouraged us to take it on ourselves. After some extensive investigative research, we took the plunge.
My books are what people refer to as Picture Books.
The stories are in rhythm and rhyme, and the illustrations are designed to give the reader a visual overview. But in our case, you can’t even talk about The Life and Times of Lilly the Lash® without calling attention to the breathtaking art work.
Created by Marc Tobin, are so visually stimulating, they appear to pop off the page in 3-D style. The cinematic-like images have been a key component in the success of the series. Every page carries an element of allure that draws a child’s interest again and again. From the very onset of this project, I felt if I could provide a book that grabbed their attention and empowered their imagination, that power, in turn, could be used to promote good choices and positive behavior. From what our customers have been reporting…I think we’ve hit the mark!
THINGS AREN’T ALWAYS AS THEY SEEM
While I felt my life was progressing quite happily prior to the inception of this series, and I felt that I lived my life appreciating most things as many people do. I have to say the experiences I’ve had over the past ten years have left me nothing short of grateful. Grateful for every moment, and every single person I’ve encountered along the way. There are of course, millions of creative people doing millions of magnificent things all around the world every single day, and there’s a story to accompany each and every one of them.
I’m no exception. However, what I’ve come to discover is that people aren’t only enamored by the tantalizing tale regarding the birth of Lilly the Lash, but they also want to be part of the journey moving forward as well. Lilly takes us back to basics by teaching old fashion values with a modern day twist. People want to be connected to that. Lilly the Lash has this way of engaging virtually everyone she comes into contact with. Leaving them with a lasting impression of down-home goodness and heart-felt hope. They believe that together we can make the world a better place. And THAT, I have deemed, is what really makes my story worth telling.
Lilly the Lash and everything she stood for
It’s imperative that I take a moment to express that from the very get go, though I loved Lilly the Lash and everything she stood for, I had a “happy-go-lucky/I’m in this for an adventure” type of attitude, and my thinking was that of “this is going to be great fun selling books.” Clearly I had no indication as to where this was headed. I was completely unaware of the intense emotions that would spill over me on this wonderful whimsical ride.
In the days to follow, I went about the business of selling books. I arranged book signings at craft fairs and art shows, farmer’s markets, and seafood festivals. If there was going to be an opportunity to meet customers and sell my books, I was going to be there meeting customers and selling my books. But then there was this strange turn of events; and after the first, twenty-seventh, and hundred thirty-fifth time, I began to see a pattern. It was then, through the eyes of the people I was meeting, I realized that I wasn’t selling a book at all. I was offering HOPE.
“Oh my goodness, you have such passion.”
From there, everything changed. Each day my world would twist and turn in such a way that I no longer saw the books as a commodity. What I had, I declared, was precious cargo, and people were excited about that. I was excited too! And out of the excitement, I even managed to have a revelation. While there was no doubt that all of this made me feel really good inside, people kept saying over and over to me, “Oh my goodness, you have such passion.” Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I didn’t know what the word meant, but that always seemed like such an odd thing to say, since I really didn’t see it that way.
As far as I was concerned: I simply worked for Lilly. I know that statement may sound like I need to be carted off in a little white jacket, but I believe anyone who has had a passion for anything will understand why I would say something so ridiculous. The thing is, you don’t really pick a passion; a passion picks YOU. It lives within you. And then one day, usually rather unexpectedly, it is unleashed. Slowly it fills you with a kind of happiness you never knew existed. Hours melt from the clock, weekends disappear from the calendar, and wrinkles form on your face from the endless years of joy. It’s something that just feels right.
This silly little eyelash has brought me a tremendous amount of love, and because of her, I’ve now come to realize my passion, and my purpose on this planet. I may write the books, but Lilly the Lash’s lessons are Changing the World in the Blink of an Eye!
The Life and Times of Lilly the Lash® series offers more than just books. Inside each one is a captivating, value-based adventure, a list of fun facts, 20 things hidden throughout, and an important cause which a percentage of the book sales support. On Lilly’s website, we offer an array of FREE entertaining, educational activities, perfect for the educational community, as well as the family structure at home.
The “self-read” for the series is 4-10, however Lilly’s customer base is actually 0-10. The sing-songy rhyme, coupled with the mesmerizing images, also makes for a popular “read-to” choice for babies and toddlers. For more information, visit Lilly’s website www.lillythelash.com
Julie Woik is a writer and poet who has created the character-building children’s book series, The Life and Times of Lilly the Lash®. Having worked in the field of psychiatry and as a teacher’s aide earlier in her career, Julie discovered her innate ability to connect with others. Her dynamic personality and inherent sensitivity enable her to relate to children of all ages, and her relaxed demeanor allows her the opportunity to instill the important life lessons found throughout each of her books.
In addition to the writing of the anticipated fifteen book series, she applies her meticulous attention to detail in all aspects of the books’ development; from art direction to design layout, printing to distribution, and ultimately advertising and promotion. Julie is also the creator of the educational activities and motivational board game that accompany the series.
Julie’s tremendous energy and her own child-like playfulness helps her bond with children at book signings and author presentations around the country. Whether she’s presenting to an entire school or speaking to a single child, she’s driven by a passion to empower children to make the world a better place. A proud native of Wisconsin, however, Julie has lived in Sarasota, Florida with her husband since 1984.
Who could imagine that something as seemingly insignificant as an eyelash could change the course of one’s life forever? Or that the simple act of wiping one’s cheek could yield an encounter that would produce the future star of successful children’s book series, play, and educational programming?