Kellisa's Path blog has been online for more than 7 years and it still surprises us that 49% of the people reading the blog are from outside the United States. Second place historically belongs to Israel with Russia, France, Ukraine, and Germany rounding out the top 6 places where viewers originate. India, Brazil, Canada, and the United Kingdom round out our Top 10 countries.
As we approach 150,000 views, I thought I'd check our "stats". Most of the recent views come from the United States, but then Vietnam comes in second. With China, Indonesia, and Cambodia coming in 4th-6th respectively, it's exciting that Kellisa's Path is somehow growing in this part of the world.
We are very excited to be reaching new corners of the globe and as always, appreciate everyone who finds Kellisa's Path. Hopefully, more than a few have been inspired to go out and find a trail.
Rugged Access for All is the working title for our book project under contract with Rowman & Littlefield. 90,000 words are due to the publisher on November 1, 2019. One question we've been asked is about the book's content.
There are thousands of hiking books on the market (and we own hundreds) that cover just about every topic: guides, reference, how-to, memoirs, best sellers, books made into movies, narrative non-fiction, hiking with families, hiking with babies, and even a few are written about accessible trails.
The only thing missing is a book written for families who have a member that uses an all-terrain jog stroller for toddlers and families with a child or adult in a wheelchair who use special mobility chairs designed for trails that don't meet ADA requirements.
With Rugged Access for All, we intend to fill this gap considering there are millions of families in the United States that fall within this all-terrain jog stroller and mobility chair category. Pushiking (One person pushing another in an all-terrain jog stroller or mobility chair while hiking) is the word we like to call our hobby.
Rugged Access for All will be a mixture of trail guidebook w/pictures and maps, how-to for those just starting out, and a little narrative non-fiction mixed in to make the book a little more personal.
Even though Kellisa has traveled and hiked in all 50 United States, we didn't hike those trails with the intention of writing a guidebook. Therefore, we will be heading back out across the United States to find the best rugged trails for wheels to include in the book. From mountains to oceans to deserts to swamps to forests to canyons...the United States offers just about every kind of wilderness experience you can imagine. The trails will range from easy to extreme and everything in between. Some trails will be short, while others will be long. We might even backpack a few. We'll hike in all four seasons and in all weather conditions. At the end, we hope to include a little bit of everything our beautiful country has to offer those who want to get out and pushike!
After summiting North Dakota, I drove south towards Harney Peak, the highest point in South Dakota. I decided to take a detour to see The Devils Tower. I decided to go for an evening hike and noticed a couple of climbers high on their route. They ended up spending the night on the side of Devils Tower while I had a comfortable evening spent in my tent in the shadow of the famous rock formation.
The following day, I enjoyed a couple roadside waterfalls on my drive to the trailhead for Harney Peak. The hike to the summit tower was uneventful, yet beautiful as the trail weaved around and over countless boulders and rock spires. The views from the top were endless, including the backside of the rocks that were carved in the shape of four United States Presidents.
After, my third highpoint in three days, I spent my last couple of hours sightseeing. I drove the Needles Highway, passed through Custer State Park, and ended my day with a quick trip through Badlands National Park.
My itinerary called for flights from Jacksonville, FL to Minneapolis to Duluth after work, but my second segment was canceled and rebooked for the following morning. I was on a tight time frame with a lot of miles to cover, both driving and hiking and I couldn't afford flight delays. I changed my rental car reservation to start in Minneapolis instead of Duluth and despite the late evening hour, I started my drive north. I stopped just short of Duluth around 2am to sleep in the car at a rest stop. It's been 12 years, but for some reason I did not have a hotel reservation for that night. The cold woke me up several times and I used the car's heat to warm myself. Despite the lack of sleep, the cold made it easy to get an early start on my drive to the highpoint of Minnesota. Along the way, I enjoyed the sun rising above Lake Superior and I stopped at several roadside waterfalls.
12 years ago...I had the opportunity to get away on a solo hiking trip for a few days. Back in 2006, I only hiked a few short trails with Kellisa and had no idea what the future would hold for us. Kellisa spent from her birth (May 23, 1999) through early 2006 as a very medically fragile child with only a few outdoor adventures. I had been afraid to leave Kellisa for such a selfish trip, but finally felt comfortable enough to recharge my batteries on a quick trip to reach the highpoints of Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
I had the entire trail to myself on White Butte except for one prairie rattlesnake that was blocking the path. The snake was not afraid of me or at all intimidated by my presence. I even tried unsuccessfully to use my trekking poles to convince the snake to move. I really didn't want to go off trail in the high grasses where I was convinced even more snakes lurked, but I had no choice if I wanted to continue.
Since I'm new to this whole writing with a publishing agreement thing, I thought it would be all fun, planning, pushiking, traveling, researching, writing, and clear sailing to my deadline.
I was wrong. It's still new and exciting (I'm still on cloud 10), but also scary and intimidating. I have to have 90,000 words (others will want to pay to read) completed by November 1, 2019. That's a lot of words since I currently have exactly zero written.
In addition, I thought it would be easy after signing the 6 page publishing agreement, but I have a lot of homework to complete for Rowman & Littlefield before I can focus on my writing. I have to complete a 4 page Author Questionnaire, study and follow a very detailed 11 page Manuscript Guide, learn about permissions and artwork specifications, and create an Art Log. Nothing too hard, but I need to balance this with family, my career, and sleep. If I have to give up one for my new endeavor, guess which one it will be?
I'm not complaining, just sharing the next step of this whole process since it's all so new to me and maybe it will inspire others to pursue or continue their dream to write professionally.
It's been 7 1/2 years since I started down the path of seeking a publishing contract to write a book about Kellisa and I finally realized the dream by signing with Rowman & Littlefield. The journey has been long and filled with a lot of hard work with few results. I considered self-publishing in this modern era of dwindling book sales and therefore fewer deals for authors, but I was driven to go big or not publish at all.
I'd say I received hundreds of rejections, but most of the time you don't even get a reply from the literary agent or editor on the other end of your email book idea pitch. I've spent hundreds, if not thousands of hours over the years on pitches, queries, and proposals. I'd like to say I never gave up, but I did several times, but always came back with a new determination because I felt strongly in Kellisa's story of survival and breaking stereotypes.
My book idea grew to include Laurel over the years and I would change a few slants to the story each time I tried to find a publisher. I always imagined a non-narrative book weaving between the medical history and outdoor adventures. I would question myself every time I was ignored. Was I crazy? Was I the only one who thought we had a story worth sharing?
Lisa pitched the idea of writing a guidebook for pushiking many years ago and while I loved the idea, I always saw that as a follow-up book after laying the foundation with more of a memoir style book. I had given up or at least blocked the idea of publishing a book out of my head for close to a year when it started creeping back into my head earlier this year.
But, something was different this time. I started to embrace the idea of writing a guidebook. I have dozens of files from my previous efforts, but pitching a guidebook was almost like starting over. I convinced myself that this would be my last attempt and if I couldn't find a publisher, I would either put this book madness out of my head once and for all or maybe I would self-publish something.
As I was bouncing ideas through my head, I did a little research and sent off one quick query email to Rowman & Littlefield. Because I wasn't expecting a response, I broke the number one rule- sending a query without having a completed book proposal.
While this query was hanging out there, I came across a post on Facebook from a friend back in Chicago who was making a major change in her life and was looking to start a business that included editing. Up until this point, I was doing all the writing and most of the editing and proofreading myself. I knew that if this really was my last effort, that I needed to give it my all and that would include seeking outside help.
I reached out to Gin and pitched my book idea and what I might need as far as help. Gin immediately liked the idea and we discussed a plan. To my total surprise, within a couple of weeks, I received a response back regarding my query and it was my worst nightmare- they wanted a full book proposal.
I was embarrassed when I had to admit I didn't have a finished proposal (this rookie mistake is often a deal breaker in the publishing world), but I was given some time to complete it. With Gin on board, we were on an incredibly tight timeline. I had just a few weeks to create the perfect book proposal. Sleep would have to wait. Gin was huge in keeping me on track by seeing the big picture of the entire proposal and helping guide me with the perspective of someone removed from our story. In the end, we had a completed proposal of over 8,000 words and submitted the book proposal on June 4, 2018.
It was a long summer of not knowing if this would finally be my big break. Then, in mid-August, I heard back that it was looking like the book might have a chance, but a little more time was needed. It was hard to sleep or function knowing I was close and this would be it, one way or another.
September 5th rolled around and I received an email from Rowman & Littlefield with an attachment...a contract offer. It was six pages long and I read every word on my tiny cell phone screen (I was traveling for work and eating lunch in a Chinese restaurant). I was so excited, I was ready to sign right there before the offer could get away. But, I thought I should print it out and really read every word when I could see them clearly and also have Lisa look it over.
I would have signed just about anything at this point, but I had a few questions. We went back and forth and I was able to sign my first publishing contract on September 15, 2018.
I could go on and on, but I have a book to write!
Don't worry, I'll be sharing more details about the book in future posts.
Kellisa's friend Jenny, is also professional photographer Jenny Sloan. Our mountain lake swim turned into a photo session in a breathtaking natural studio. Look at these amazing pictures and if interested (especially our friends and family in NE Florida), Jenny's work can be viewed on Instagram at @julyfifth1957.