OVERCOMING TRAGEDY LEADS AUTHOR AND ENTREPRENEUR, REBECCA CROWNOVER, TO CELEBRATE HER “TEXAS FARM GIRL” ROOTS
The Overwhelming Response To Her Award-Winning Children’s Book Debut Leads Rebecca – Partner In Lone Star Family Farms – To Create A Popular New Series and Brand
Growing up on her family farm in the tiny Texas Panhandle town of Sunray, Rebecca Crownover dreamed of one day becoming a successful author and - inspired by the hard work and entrepreneurial spirit of her dad and two grandfathers - owning her own business.
Now, drawing on the true-to-life stories and great life lessons that came from her special relationship with her “PawPaw” and helping him run the farm, Rebecca celebrates her cherished roots as a “Texas Farm Girl” with an exciting new series of inspiring, award-winning children’s books and a growing brand of related products, including tank tops and rhinestone-studded T-shirts for kids and adults.
Published in 2013, the first book in the series (titled Texas Farm Girl) found the protagonist – a young character based on Crownover’s childhood – learning from her PawPaw the hard work that goes into farming. She comes to understand how devastating it can be when a big storm comes through and rips it apart. Crownover imparts key life lessons as the young girl learns how to focus on the positive even under dire circumstances.
Quickly creating a regional and then growing national sensation, Texas Farm Girl was a Christian Literary Awards nominee in the Children’s Book category. Rebecca was named 2014 Mascot Books Author of the Year, and won the coveted 2014 “Moving America Forward” Award, presented by Retired Rear Admiral Kevin F. Delaney, for being an innovative entrepreneur. This was presented to the author on William Shatner’s “Moving America Forward,” a national TV series that celebrates the achievements and contributions of businesses and entrepreneurs across the U.S. From numerous cities in Texas to Los Angeles, Rebecca has also been featured in many national media outlets, including Progressive Farmer Magazine (Cover December 2014), Successful Farming Magazine, Texas Farm Bureau’s national marketing in agriculture and numerous local radio and TV shows.
In early 2015, Rebecca – a single, widowed mother of eight-year-old Acie – who provides executive leadership in new business development as a partner in the increasingly profitable Lone Star Family Farms – followed up with the series’ second release Texas Farm Girl: Reap What You Sow. In this story, TFG learns from her PawPaw the meaning of that phrase when she makes a big mistake overlooking key details when she’s planting corn. With this story, Crownover’s goal is to show how the lesson applies to everyone so that “we can overcome adversity and shine like a Lone Star Pearl.”
Always finding ways to combine her freewheeling creativity and entrepreneurial energy, Rebecca found a unique way to complement the conventional animated “book trailers” she created to promote the series: by developing the song “Texas Farm Girl” with her childhood friend, Nashville-based rising country music artist, Billy Dawson. Grammy Award-winning producer, Skidd Mills, produced the track. Mills has worked with ZZ Top, Saving Abel and Daughtry, among others.
“Texas Farm Girl is about a girl who loves to farm, who doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty, who has integrity, works hard and consumes her life with her passion for farming and business,” says Rebecca about the uniquely autobiographical concept. “We use the song to bring more excitement to the brand. When I do author events at schools for kids, we play it and it gets them more excited and involved. They sing along and put their hands in the air. When we shot the video, we included people from our community in it. So much of country music these days shows farm girls in their Daisy Dukes and I didn’t want to portray that image with my brand. ‘Texas Farm Girl’ is something the whole family can enjoy with a wholesome and positive influence!”
When Rebecca shares the importance of overcoming adversity and finding hope amidst the most trying of challenges, she’s not talking abstractly. The growing Texas Farm Girl phenomenon grew out of Rebecca’s success with her first children’s book, My Daddy Is In Heaven With Jesus – an inspiring, award-winning story that chronicles the personal tragedy that she and Acie experienced when Rebecca’s husband Adam, was killed in an ATV accident in 2009.
When Acie lost her dad, Rebecca sought out something simple and to the point to help her understand and cope with the very personal loss. Most of the books she found were too complex for the then two and a half year old to understand. So, she wrote her own. Since its release in 2012, My Daddy Is In Heaven With Jesus has helped many children around the world find comfort in a time of loss; it continues to be a life-inspiring book for children and adults that have lost a parent. Market research has indicated, in fact, that even adults who have lost a parent find comfort in reading Rebecca’s very personal but truly universal story of loss and hope.
Though it was published by a secular publisher, it was a 2013 award-winning finalist in the USA Best Books Awards in the Children’s Religious Category and a 2013 Christian Literary Award winner (Henri Award and Reader’s Choice Award) in the Children’s Book category.
“As my life went on,” Rebecca reflects, “I knew I wanted to fulfill my dream of writing a book, but I never knew what I would write about. The tragedy ultimately gave me a purpose to start on that road. A few years before Adam died, we also lost my father-in-law in a train accident, so there was so much loss to process. I wanted to write a personal novel based on these difficult chapters in my life, but I found it hard to get everything out. I read children’s books to my daughter every night, and the epiphany came when I couldn’t find the right book to help her deal with the loss of her dad. One night, I felt this story was put on my heart and it just flowed out. I found a publisher and they found a very talented artist in Italy to illustrate the story.
“The idea was to impart the ultimate message of peace and hope,” she adds. “Even though Acie’s dad left us early, God was not being mean to us, He just had another plan for our lives, and we can’t wait to see what that future is. It’s about learning to accept things and having something to hope for as we move forward. The first time I read it to her, it was very emotional – but it soon became her favorite book and she really enjoyed being part of my book tours and signings. Sharing this with my daughter really turned everything around for her and allowed her to be at peace with the story and the real life emotions that were part of it.”
Despite the widespread acclaim, an array of in person appearances and media exposure Rebecca received, she encountered some unexpected shut doors as well – but these served to fuel her to discover what kinds of stories she was truly passionate about relating as a newly celebrated children’s author.
“When you’re trying to promote a book these days,” she says, “nobody wants to listen to someone who is not an expert. Although people started coming to me for hope and inspiration, I realized that I was just one person who had experienced grief but was no expert on the subject. I was not qualified to professionally advise people on how to cope with and survive it. So I began to ask myself, ‘What am I an expert at?’ And the simple answer, of course, was farming. I’ve been around it all my life and it’s what I know. I wanted to keep writing children’s books so Texas Farm Girl was the perfect way to share the world I know with everyone.”
Rebecca’s growing success with Texas Farm Girl has also helped her forge her own identity as a writer and entrepreneur in the wake of Adam’s passing. “When you lose your husband,” she says, “your whole identity changes. In our community, he was well known by people who didn’t know me. I asked myself who I was, and what I wanted to be. These books have given me that identity. I went from being known as Adam’s wife, then widow, to being known as Rebecca. All of these endeavors have been an opportunity to find new interests and passions and put all of my energy into them.”
As a partner in Lone Star Family Farms, located in the Texas Panhandle, Rebecca is also part of a team (with her in-laws), running a successful diversified grain production farm that revolves around the operation of irrigation. Growing everything from corn and wheat to sorghum, cotton and canola over 30,000 acres, Lone Star is devoted to the profitable and efficient production of high yield crops and premium seed products through the dedication of their experienced personnel in addition to superior management practices and the adoption of the latest agricultural technology.
The incredible growth of Lone Star Family Farms over the past few years runs as a parallel inspirational story to Rebecca’s books and outside entrepreneurial efforts, showing how the courage people muster in surviving a tragedy can open a door to hope and prosperity down the road. Rebecca is pleased to note that Lone Star Family Farms – originally formed as the combination of three distinct businesses – has developed exponentially in the years since Adam’s passing. In 2009, they had eight employees and now there are over 42 as part of a completely structured organization. While handling business insurance and environmental certifications, Rebecca’s dedication to strategic new project development has been a key ingredient in this success story.
As a partner in a thriving farm organization and via her books and other entrepreneurial efforts connected to Texas Farm Girl, Rebecca – who has a business degree from Texas Tech University and launched her professional life as a global technology consultant - aims to paint a positive picture of farming in an era where the media has often cast skepticism and negativity on the industry.
“Because consumers have become more aware of what types of ingredients are put in their food and a curiosity about where it comes from and the methods of how it was developed, there’s been a trend towards mistrusting the farmers who dedicate their lives to growing and harvesting the food people eat,” she says. “It’s great that people want to be more educated about the food they eat, but at the same time to realize that as farmers we want to grow exactly what the consumer wants and put the best quality product on the market that they prefer. The last thing we want to do as farmers is to put something on the market that is harmful to the consumer.
“My mission as a farmer and the creator of Texas Farm Girl is to show a strong image of farming while educating, entertaining and inspiring children through my work at Lone Star Family Farms and also through the stories of my character,” Rebecca adds. “This is an exciting time for agriculture, and I want people to know it! Both of these endeavors engage my passion for business and entrepreneurship, and I love getting to do what I love in so many fun and exciting ways. I’m thrilled by all of the opportunities to give back and bring joy and hope to people.”