My husband and I with our first two kids and my in-laws (Nana is on the left), April 1999

Seminal moment for me today: I filed a Doing Business As (DBA) application with the county clerk’s office. Turns out that is necessary in order to legally operate a company with a name other than your own in the state of Illinois. And that’s what I want to do:

I’ll be publishing my books under the company name Nana’s Books.

I only found out about the DBA certificate requirement when I checked what I needed to open a business bank account (which is what Amazon requires). Turns out you don’t get that DBA certificate right after filing the application. No, you must first advertise a public notice of your business’s “assumed name” with the Law Bulletin. That notice must run for three weeks. Only then do you get the certificate needed for the bank account. So I got all the paperwork done to establish Nana’s Books and now I have to wait three weeks.

Why Nana’s Books?

I knew all along that I’d name the publishing company I would have to pro forma establish after my mother-in-law. Although she had the beautiful name Natalie, all her life she was called Nana. She once told me she actually didn’t like being called Nana as a kid. Back then it was a riff on her being chubby. In the long run, however, she must have give in, or simply gotten used to it. When she became a grandmother, she insisted her grandchildren call her Nana, not “Oma” (the German term of endearment for Grandma). Living in Germany, and not speaking English, it was of no consequence to her that “Nana” was a common short for grandma in the U.S. It all just worked out splendidly!

So why did I name my publishing company after her?

Initially I thought my second book would be a children’s book based on several stories Nana had told me from her childhood as a hidden child in the French countryside during the Holocaust. I thought the Nana-Grandma connotation might work well for children’s books. In addition, Nana loved to read. The second floor hallway of her house in Munich was crammed with a huge bookshelf. So, all in all, I figured “Nana’s Books” would be an apt tribute.

In the meantime it worked out that my second book won’t be that children’s book. Rather, it will be a how-to on Writing Family History into Compelling Stories, based on the workshop I have been teaching since Jumping Over Shadows came out. And the hold up, at this point, to getting it out there is that three-week waiting period to get the DBA certificate!

In any case, Nana’s Books stuck in my head as my publishing company’s name. So I went with it. The children’s book is still in the offing. In any case, Nana, who sadly passed away from lung cancer in 2010, would be proud of whatever book I put out there.