#Day 12: Writing for Children – Post II

Illustration cover by Emilia Dziubak: https://www.behance.net/emiliadziubak

Today I feel like sharing what my children book is about, and why I decided to write it.

It’s important to know why you came up with your story and how it will connect the writer and the reader. 

I explained in a previous post why I choose children as the audience of my first book. The inspiration that guided me through the process of writing it, comes from the nostalgia of childhood recollections.

The main character is called Julie. A 10-year-old little Vietnamese girl who recalls her tales and memories growing up in a small village in the French countryside.

Julie relates her thoughts and memories in the form of a diary. She narrates little fleeting anecdotes that come together to create something moody and memorable. The book evokes what it is like to look and feel different from other kids, and how children can react to life in an adult world.

I wrote this book through a child’s point of view. I choose words that reflect how children speak. I aimed my book to remain as true as possible to a child’s language and attitude.

Looking after 4 children aged 6 to 12 for a year, definitely helped me to capture their world. This was the inspiration I used to come up with my own story.

My book depicts the memories of my childhood that I want to keep alive. From picking mushrooms and chestnuts with my dad to punching a boy at school because he said I was yellow, I value and nurture every single memory of my childhood that makes me feel warm inside.

These memories remind me of what I used to love or dream of and the true appreciation of simple and honest moments. When we grow up our sense of wonder diminishes and we forget the little boy/girl we once used to be.

I like to think that all grown-ups keep a child’s mind buried inside, despite the toughness of life.

As a true nostalgic, I have dedicated my first book to my childhood because I don’t want to forget my memories. I want to remember the little girl I used to be. The things that I used to do, the walks in the woods with Dad, Mum’s perfume when she gives me a goodbye kiss, and the love letters I used to write to a boy who never noticed me.

For my first book, I want to pay tribute to my childhood and hopefully, make all my readers remember their own.

 

 

 

 

#Day 11: Picture Book – Post I

Another one of my dreams is to publish a Picture Book for young readers.

I really want to make it happen, as I believe pictures and words are meant to be together.

One day my roommate handed me a book to learn how to draw. I loved how simple and cute the design was. The teaching method was accessible and fun. No pretention at all. It was perfect and appropriate for me.

I ended up buying the whole series of Sachiko Umoto: Illustration School. She draws the most adorable illustrations I’ve ever seen. Each drawing is filled with wit and poetry.

Her originality made me want to create my own world and explore my whimsical side.

I started to draw every day, using my illustrations to teach French to children (another passion of mine for which I will dedicate a few posts).

I’ve always thought that I was incapable of drawing. My skills aren’t outstanding but I’ve managed to develop my own style. At least, I think I do.

I don’t care if my drawings aren’t perfect. Perfection is not something that I aim for. I find that there are more emotions and feelings when something is imperfect and has flaws. It feels more authentic and real.

I’ve started to draw child caricatures of people who are close to my heart. Friends, family members, people who inspire me. My main source of inspiration comes from nostalgia and childhood. I like capturing the essence of what a person used to be and what they dream to become.

Love is also a major source of inspiration in my world. I am a true romantic. Because my boyfriend Ezra was in NZ and I was living in Sydney, I started to draw our love story.

I created our child caricatures and put into drawings our happy memories.

For his birthday’s present, I put all the drawings together to make a book.

One day I will publish a picture book about the Love Story of a little boy and a little girl who dream big together. 

Click here to discover Julie & Ezra’s Special Book! 

 

 

 

 

#Day 10: Writing or Working out?

Writing or Working out?

Do both.

I’ve never really been into sports or working out. I stopped being an “athlete” (I was actually not too bad) at the age of 20. When I left the world of formal education, and sport was not part of my timetable anymore.

I went to Uni to study Modern Literature. More of a workout to stimulate my brain. I spent a lot of time talking about philosophy and the existential meaning of life with my friends. Going to cafés, reading and writing have become my only sport.

I don’t know how I have not ended up being fat. Lucky genetics? A fast metabolism? I am not sure. But just because you’re not fat, doesn’t mean that you’re healthy!

Thinking and writing are exhausting for my mind. As a writer, it is part of myself to over think things. It is how I create. But when I over think too much, my brain can’t function anymore, and my creativity goes down.

I’ve found that working out was my best way to switch it off. For real. 

I’ve had to push myself A-LOT to install some self-discipline. Find the strength to put on my gear and go to the gym after a long day of work. I have no excuse, there’s a gym room where I live. It’s just a question of will.

When I work out, I don’t think of anything else but the sets and reps I am doing. My brain is empty and can revitalise itself.

I challenge every muscle in my body and rest my brain. The opposite of what I do throughout most of my days.

The feeling is powerful! The pain is intense, my muscles hurt so bad but the sensation is so good. This is the same pain that is strengthening my body.

I am not thinking anymore, I am only feeling. And it’s a great way to boost my creativity.

 

 

 

 

#Day 9: Writing for children – Post I

My appetence for writing has always been part of me, but choosing young readers as the audience of my first book is surprisingly related to a life-changing event.

The idea of writing a children’s book came to my mind, after having experienced an ‘Au Pair lifestyle’ for a year in the far-flung lands of Australia.

After my sophisticated Parisian career, becoming a nanny, chasing 4 hyperactive kids on a 20-acre Australian farm, sounded like the challenge I needed to spice up my life.

I remember the day when I hugged Mum and Dad at the Charles de Gaulle airport with my blue backpack. It was the 14th of June 2013, Mum was crying, Dad was holding his tears because he never cries in public. And me, I was excited and scared not knowing where this new journey would take me.

Part of it led me to this beautiful farm nestled on the banks of the Hawkesbury River near the Blue Mountains. For a year, I put all my heart and soul into looking after these kids. From jumping from the top of a tree into the muddy Hawkesbury River, despite my fear of heights, to cleaning little Eli’s vomit when he eats his breakfast too quickly.

It was hard sometimes, but it was also so much fun. These 4 little monsters were so smart, cheeky and funny. Very funny.  I’ve never laughed so hard in my life. They welcomed me into their funny little world and I turned into a kid again.

I love how children see things in a simple manner. Their feelings are authentic and real. They aren’t scared of showing their emotions. They can be tough, loving, caring, mean at times but everything about them is pure. The words they use are simple but strong.

They are also interested in all sort of things. I feel a greater sense of freedom when I write for children. Nothing about them is boring, they usually have a sick sense of humour and a sick sense of criticism – just like me.

When it comes to writing for children, my best advice is this: Keep It Simple. Write vividly with all your senses and create memorable characters. 

#Day 8: Thank You Gecko Press!

I’ve received something that has made my day today.

I am not talking about a publishing contract (yet) but it made me smile. I thought it was some lovely attention that very few publishers give to their book submission applicants.

I’ve sent a hard copy of my children’s book as a manuscript to Gecko Press. An award-winning independent publisher of children’s books, based in Wellington New Zealand.

Have a look at their website, it’s beautifully creative.

Gecko Press is one of the NZ publishers I’d like to work with the most. Their submission guidelines hinge on whether a manuscript ‘is curiously good’ and demands to be read hundreds of times. They choose ‘books of good heart and strong character.’

This is how I want my book to be seen. And this is how I do hope, publishers and readers will see it.

When I checked my mailbox and found this, it made me want to work with them even more.

It’s the prettiest acknowledgement of receipt I’ve ever had!

I love the personal touch, it’s creative, original and very cute. It feels good to see that some publishers do care and take the time to show their appreciation.

Thank You Gecko Press for your lovely postcard!