What inspired you to write?
When I had my son in 2010, he had severe reflux. For those parents with reflux babies, they know it is a very traumatic and worrisome time. My son's reflux was so severe, we could not place him on his back or set him down or we could have lost him. So, we held him 24 hours a day for 6 months, only putting him down to change his diapers . . . quickly.
When holding him to calm him, I sang song after song, and nothing worked, until I hummed a tune with a certain melody. After months, I began to put words to this melody, words that explained to him what I would do with him if he stayed alive and fought the reflux. Those words are in my first book "My Mama Loves Me: I'm Her Little Boy".
Did the inspiration to write come to you suddenly, or had you been thinking about it some time?
When the first book "My Mama Loves Me: I'm Her Little Boy" had become wildly popular only 90 days after publication, many Mom's of daughters and Dad's began to ask me "When is the daughter or the Dad book coming out?!" This inspired to to keep going, making it a series, then creating the next two books "My Mama Loves Me: I'm Her Little Girl" and "My Daddy Loves Me: I'm His Little Girl", both outselling the first book.
How did you tell your story? In other words, did you use an outline, or just write your story from start to finish?
When my son was 3 years of age, I thought before I forgot the song, to write it down for him to sing to kids of his own (changing it to Daddy, of course). Never did I know it would later become a children book, which turned into a series, winning national and international medals and gaining the attention of famous people.
Did you receive any encouragement from family and friends, or did you work on your book alone?
My mom was a huge fan when I finally told her about the book when it was published!! Yes, I kept a year long secret from my Mom and Dad! When she saw the book, she was the one who really saw the potential before everyone else. She believes the book was confirmation she taught her children the best qualities . . . to love your children and watch them grow into adventurous great people of the world! Basically, behind one great Mom is one fantastic Grandma . . . and she was so proud this was her baby!!
What was the most difficult part of writing your book?
Not crying through the words of the book. To this day, I can not sing the song I sang to my son for hours on end when he was a newborn. It brings back some powerful feelings I still have a difficult time controlling. My son is fine now, it's just his Mom which remembers every detail.
What was the most enjoyable aspect of writing your book?
The joy I see on children's faces and the tears I see when Moms and Dads read the books. No matter the child, as a parent you want them to know you love them, you are there for them, and give to them without anything holding you back. This book gives the words we say to them everyday in a book, telling them how much we love them and love to be with them, and believe in them. Even adult women start tearing up when remembering their Mom or their Dad that may be elderly or past. This is a great accomplishment . . . to bring someone back to their cherished memories of childhood. It doesn't get any better than this.
Have you received any awards for your book(s)?
The books has been awarded on the "Moving America Forward" show hosted by William Shatner, a Finalist in the 2016 International Book Award for Best Children's Picture Book: Hardcover Fiction and awarded the medal Reader’s Favorite - Five Stars.
Are you working on a new book at the moment? What are you up to nowadays?
The latest book I am working on at the moment with Illustrator Israel Dilean is the Grandma book “My Grandma Loves Me, I’m Her Little Girl”. I just returned from a wonder trip to South Africa and visited the Sekgweng Intermediate Farm School. Those kids were amazing!
Do you have any author appearances coming up and/or are you doing any books giveaways or contests?
At the upcoming Indiepalooza Conference September 2017 for the Houston’s Writers Guild in the Galleria, Houston, Texas, I am the Keynote Speaker. Appearances generally occur often and giveaways as well! Facebook is where we list upcoming events and giveaways. https://www.facebook.com/
Did you experience any personal transformation after the book was published?
It was so odd when the reviews and letters started coming in. Everyone works so hard every day, and to be thanked for doing something in the world . . . I am still in shock some days. Being recognized is the best feeling, and having people all over the world reach out with appreciation drives me every day.
What’s something that gets in the way of your creativity?
Everyday, you see a Mom interacting with her son or a Grandma interacting with her grandchildren, yet how to capture that in an illustration is such a challenge. A Dad placing his hand on his daughter looks or feels very different (yet the same) as a Mother placing her hand on her son. How to capture that feeling in an illustration is very difficult. Illustrator, Israel Dilean's talents can do it this justice. Once I get past the interviews of parents and record all of my ideas, he takes all those thoughts and creates the world you see today. He's amazing.
What strategies do you use to deal with criticism?
Wow, I remember just before the book "My Mama Loves Me: I'm Her Little Girl" was printed, I showed the book to my friend, Sarah, whom has 3 daughters. She quickly realized there were some subliminal messages in the book that I did not see not having a daughter. I quickly changed those items (a day before print), so every girl got the right message . . . they are strong, intelligent and talented. Go for it!
Where did you grow up and what is your favorite/worst childhood memory?
The best one is when my 10th grade English Teacher, Mrs. Eckvall, told me to never pursue a career using the English language. I laugh about this memory now.
Do you have a favorite quote?
Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world. - Marilyn Monroe
What is your favorite show on TV?
The Curse of Oak Island
Jumanji. Robin Williams will never be forgotten
Right now . . . Essentialism by Greg McKeown
Who would you want to meet if you could? Dead or alive.
Though I would love to meet Harry Connick Jr., it's really Andrew Bourdain I'd love to sit down and talk about all of his experiences in life. He has traveled the world and sat at many dinner tables. It would be great to hear his perspective on different cultures and places around the world.
Is there a talent you wish you had?
Reading Body Language
What’s something about you that would surprise us?
When I was a young girl, my mother was approached by Heidi Klum's agent to fly me to New York to start modeling. She turned him down. My mother didn't admit that it was Heidi Klum's agent until she saw him on an interview 20 years later. We don't speak about that too much. *lol
Describe yourself in 3 words!
Passionate, loyal and stubborn