Carol Wulff, LSW is a Licensed Social Worker and mother of a child with anxiety. Remembering how painful it was to witness her child’s mind racing just to get through the simplest of tasks, she vowed to one day write a book to help others learn how to tackle those annoying “what-if ” thoughts. Cognitive reframing — seeing the same situation in a new way — empowered her child to manage the anxiety and approach new situations with confidence. She created William, The What-If Wonder to help children learn how to use their power to change their view and see past their worrisome thoughts. Carol lives in Medina, Ohio with her husband and three children.
What inspired you to write William the What-if Wonder? What do you want readers to take away?
My son was my inspiration to write this book. At a young age he worried about every new situation. Birthday parties, sleepovers, and going to school were difficult for him. But once he learned how to manage his worry thoughts through “cognitive reframing” (or seeing the same situation in a new view), he began to conquer each new situation like a boss! It took a lot of courage, but the end result was that it allowed him to be a kid again. The worries no longer managed him, rather, he managed his worries. I wanted to help other children believe that they too can conquer their worry by “bossing it back.” The book sends the message to kids that they have the power within to think past their worries.
Why did you choose to publish it independently?
I try to think that it’s not because I’m a control freak, but maybe it was! With the subject I address in my book it was important that I always had control of how it was presented. I was also very sensitive to how I wanted William to be portrayed as I did not want a gloom and doom looking character. I was afraid by turning him over to a traditional publisher I may lose control of his image. I have the utmost respect for traditional publishing but for me independent publishing made the most sense.
What were some of the challenges you faced with publishing it?
To begin with, I knew nothing about publishing. I only knew I had a message to kids and parents that needed to be delivered. The road to publishing is overwhelming when your first step is turning to Google and typing in, “how to publish a children’s book.” The flood of information to sort through was at times unbearable. So honestly, in hindsight, it was sorting through all the steps and understanding all the choices that are in front of you. Just learning the terminology of the industry took time. It was also challenging to balance business with passion. This means I had to become my own CEO. CEO’s have to care about things like image, budget, strategy, and outcomes. That’s a whole different role than that of “author”. But it was a good challenge and I came out of this feeling rather accomplished that I was able to wear both hats. It was a learning experience for sure and I could have never done it without partnering with those that have gone before me in the indie publishing world. They were an amazing support system throughout the journey.
What is your writing routine?
My best creative time is when I’m mowing the grass! That doesn’t help in the winter months of course but I have at least 90 minutes a week in the summer to let my creative thoughts wander. I also think a lot while driving. I have note pads in my car, by my bed, in my kitchen and I jot my thoughts down as they float through my head. I do not write every day but it’s always on my mind. My writing area is in the office at home and it’s usually late at night when I get the most accomplished.
What authors inspire you?
Allison Krouse Rosenthal. I was very saddened by her death. She brightened the world with her words. I especially like her book entitled I Wish You More. Her words are inspiring and will leave a mark on your heart.
What are some of your favorite books?
I love the book Sophie’s Squash by Pat Zietlow Miller. Her subject matter hits home with me as I collected baby potatoes in my sock drawer when my Dad and I were harvesting the garden back in the day! Also, another book by Allison Krouse Rosenthal, Dear Girl. I gave this book to both of my college age daughters. It’s so hard to pick favorites!
When you aren’t writing, what do you like to read?
Any children’s book of course, but on the flip side I enjoy reading autobiographies, and biographies.
What are you working on now?
I decided to make William, The What-If Wonder a series. I have been asked by parents, grandparents, teachers and therapists to create more books that deal with the many worries that an anxious child might experience. Currently William, The What-If Wonder, On His First Sleepover is in the making! Our illustrator is now working on it as we speak. My goal is a 2020 release. We have several other topics to cover so I think I will be writing for a while!
What has been one of your most rewarding experiences as a writer?
That’s a big question! The subject of anxiety can be emotional when talking to a parent and how it affects their child. I have spoken with many parents and witnessed many tears including my own. But my most rewarding experience took place at a book signing. A first-grade teacher was buying a book for her class. Her husband asked if she would buy him one. She chuckled and said, “you can read mine when we get home.” He replied, “No, I want my own, because this is the first time I have learned what I can do to help calm the worries in my head.” He came back to me before he left the book fair and hugged me. He told me that in all the years he has struggled with anxiety, my book has provided him the words he needed to help himself. It was humbling to know the message in my book was so far reaching.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
If you feel there is a story or message inside of you that needs to be told, then tell it. Passion will drive you to the finish line. Meet others who have gone before you in this publishing world. Their insight is valuable and they “know the ropes.” Attend a workshop on how to write a book (lots of local offerings). Do not rely on family to read your material and provide feedback. They will tell you it’s good even if it’s not. You must reach out to strangers who will be brutally honest. Your worst critique will be the most valuable. And yes, it will hurt, discourage you, and probably make you really mad. But it’s that type of feedback that will take you to the next level.
Short and Sweet:
Pantser or Plotter? Pantser - the momentum of building the story keeps me motivated.
Guilty Food Pleasure? Merry Mint Sundae from Mary Coyle’s in Akron, Ohio. (Peppermint candy ice cream with hot fudge sauce!)
Favorite Hobby? Star gazing. Is that a hobby? I can’t keep my eyes off the sky no matter what time of day it is!
Dog or Cat person? Dog!
Who would you like to have dinner with (living or dead)? I would like to have dinner with Benjamin Franklin!
Do you do your best work in the morning, afternoon, or evening? I do my best work in the late hours of the evening.
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