Winners' Circle - Mary Esparza-Vela

February 22, 2019

Welcome to the Winner's Circle where we celebrate the success of our ICL students. Today we are celebrating multiple award-winning author and graduate of ICL, Mary Esparza-Vela!

GREAT NEWS! Mary Esparza-Vela just learned that she is a winner in a contest sponsored by the actor, Edward James Olmos. Her book, LITTLE BROTHER’S TEMPER TANTRUMS, has the potential to be turned into a future animated series or movie.

Published by LUV-BEAMS®, the picture book has already received six awards, including The Latino Books into Movies Award.

•    Book of the Year Award from Creative Child Magazine
•    Family Choice Award
•    Readers’ Favorite Award
•    Moonbeam Award
•    America’s Best Book Finalist Award
•    The Latino Books into Movies Awards

NOTE:  The book is also available in Spanish with the title, Los Berrinches del Hermanito.

The story characters are Kyzzie, the older sister, Sweetz, the middle brother, and Hunee, the baby. They love to explore the universe looking for adventure and fun.

Tell us a bit about your path to publishing, from idea to submission to published book.

After ICL reviewed four of my children's picture book stories, I submitted them to a publisher. Before I knew it, I had traditionally published 12 picture books and a number of them received awards. This motivated me to continue writing.

How long have you been writing?

I first started writing flash fiction and short stories online in 2010. Then I moved on to children's stories which I really enjoy.

What's your favorite genre to write and why?

Picture Books. My books are entertaining and deal with subjects like bullying, lost teeth, crossed eyes, acceptance, fears, patience, disabilities, overeating, responsibility, teasing, faith, imagination, respect, cleanliness, pets, etc. I also write in Spanish and Bilingual for the benefit of Spanish readers.

What ICL courses have you taken?

My classes at ICL dealt with writing for children.

How has taking our course helped your writing and/or career?

ICL classes definitely helped with my writing. The instructors are superb!

Have any of your class assignments been published?

Four of my ICL assignments were not only published, but they received Book of the Year Awards and Five-Star Seals.

Do you have a favorite writing tip you'd like to share?

Write what you know, and show, don’t tell.

If you could travel back in time and give yourself one piece of writing advice, how far back would you go, and what would you tell yourself?

My grandfather was a great storyteller. His advice was, "When you tell a story, always act it out. If you can't act it out, that means that you have a boring story." I still remember the faces and gestures he made while telling his stories.”

Please tell us the best or most valuable thing you learned from your experience with ICL.

When I first submitted my work to ICL, I knew I had a lot to learn, but the instructors were patient and gave me guidance that has been priceless in my writing career.

What do you think of self-publishing?

If you have a good foundation and take classes, you can succeed in self-publishing. However, it is important that you edit and rewrite until the story is perfect.


Mary Vela has traditionally published 12 picture books, 20 children's books, and 14 short stories. A number of her picture books received awards, including Book of the Year, Family Choice, National Finalist, Parents’ Pick, Moonbeam Awards, America’s Best Book award, and Five-Star Seals.

While working as an Editorial Assistant, Mary received monetary awards and was selected as “Civilian of the Year.” Her winning short stories include three Honorable Mention from Writers Digest and a 1st Place online entry. Chicken Soup for the Soul recently published her inspirational short story, “Visiting Nurse.”

You are welcome to see Mary's books at

To start your own path to the Winners' Circle, show us a sample of work and let us help you become the writer you want to be. Click here.


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