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Today I’s so lucky to have Stephanie here to share about her new book, The Cookie Jar Parable, and answer some questions about the writing journey.
As the parent of a curious toddler I spend most of my days answering “why?” and explaining things. I never want to dumb my answers down to him, but I do want to answer him in a way that he can understand. I can almost predict when I say something or something happens what part he is going to question. So, sometimes I try to prepare my answers ahead of time to give him the best response.
Recently our family experienced the loss of a loved one, Eli was a little too young to understand this time. But, it did cause me to start wondering how I would appropriately answer the question of death when the time came.
After reading this book, I knew I had found my answer. I’m so glad to have this valuable tool when I’m faced with explaining such a difficult issue. I was so moved by the message of this book. I was almost in tears while reading it, not tears of sadness but of joy at the celebration that awaits us one day.
A little about Stephanie:
Stephanie is a mom of three and a former elementary school teacher who lives in Pennsylvania, just outside of Amish Country. She blogs at Binkies and Briefcases and has also been featured in the Amazon best-selling humor anthologies I Just Want to Pee Alone and You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth. She is a regular contributor to Smart Magazine in York, PA and has also been featured on The Huffington Post and In The Powder Room, as well as on The Today Show’s blog. She is the founder of the BlogU Conference. The Cookie Jar Parable is her first children’s book. It is available now on Amazon and through Tate Publishing.
I’m so excited to be here on Life After Laundry! Brenna was one of the very first bloggers I ever met in real life. We met last spring at Bloggy Boot Camp in Charlotte, North Carolina and are still in touch online. It has been so fun to watch Brenna’s blog really take off this year, knowing all the hard work she put in behind the scenes! I’m thrilled that she is allowing me to share my first children’s book with you.
Q: What was your inspiration?
A: Unfortunately, my inspiration came from a real tragedy. My friend Mary Joy was in a terrible car accident with her entire family. They lost her husband and she and both of her boys were all in critical conditions, separated in different hospitals. The book is dedicated to them. They live far away and I was unable to be with them in person. I did what I could and sent some money to try to help with medical bills, but I was just heartbroken. I was left trying to explain this terrible situation to my children. I didn’t know what else to do, so I prayed. I asked for a way to explain it to them so that they could understand the grief I was feeling, but it would not be scary or intimidating to them. That’s when the story came to me.
The Cookie Jar Parable is about a little boy named Elliot who is sad because his grandpa has just gone to Heaven. His grandma tells him a story about a jar full of cookies that helps him feel better. This is how it is described on the back of the book:
Elliot’s grandpa is in Heaven now, and Elliot is sad. He is a little nervous to visit Grandma’s house since Grandpa won’t be there anymore. Will she be upset? Is she lonely?
During their visit Grandma shares a special story with Elliot. Her story is about a jar full of cookies that have been created to be part of a great celebration. Through “The Cookie Jar Parable” Grandma is able to help Elliot understand that it is all right to be scared of death and loss, but on the other side there is a wonderful celebration waiting for us.
Q: What have you learned from writing a children’s book?
A: What a hard question! I think the most important thing I learned was how to let go and trust other people to do their jobs. Writing is my art form. It is hard to turn it over to editors and other artists and let them put their mark on it as well. Imagine you are a quilter and you have just finished what you believe is the best quilt you have ever made. Then you present it to a store to sell and they take your hard work, your hand-sewn project, and tell you that in order to put it on the shelf they need to hand it over to some other quilters who will put their marks on it as well. It makes you nervous, but it comes out looking better in the end than you ever could have done all by yourself.
Editors, illustrators, and graphic designers all have jobs to do that make the book better in the long run, but it is hard sometimes to let go of your original vision.
Q: What advice do you have for someone who would like to write a book?
A: Just do it. I know, I sound like a Nike commercial, but so many people come up to me when they hear I am a writer and say things like, “I always wanted to write a book.” I always wonder why they haven’t done it yet. Even if no one but your family ever gets to read it, just put the words down on the paper.That said, the actual writing is the easiest part of being a professional writer. Writing is about 10% of what I do. The other 90% is business and promotion. The real work starts after the manuscript is finished and you start submitting queries to publishers. Patience and dedication are essential for a writer, as well a thick skin for rejection. You will get rejected far more than you will be accepted.It took about a year once my manuscript was selected to have it go through the process of transforming into a real book. I worked with the illustrator about color schemes and small details, like whether or not my main character should wear a Band-aid. We went back and forth about the font on the cover. I worked with the voice-over artist for the audio version. I worked with a marketing manager writing the promotional copy and press releases. And now that the book is released, I will be working on promotional events, using the book as a fundraiser for churches and schools, doing book signings, interviews etc. It is a very cool job, but it is a lot more work than people tend to expect.
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