Why I Wrote A Children's Book

Illustration by H2 Alaska

Illustration by H2 Alaska

 

In early August, I sat down at Torchy’s Tacos for two hours and wrote the rough draft of a children’s book. Mitch's parents were keeping the girls. This story had been brewing in my brain for over a year. I had already tried to write it a couple times. Each attempt fell flat. 

But that day, fueled by two enormous tacos and a sense of urgency and freedom (I had finally sent my YA novel out to agents), I wrote something that felt good. My bakery book.

I called it a book from day one because before I even wrote it I dreamed of it sitting on the table at every local coffee shop.

Over the next few months, the bakery book came to life. Draft after draft, refined into something true and beautiful. Now it will be published! My first children’s book!

But why did I write it at all?

(To ask an old question, “Why is there something rather than nothing?”)

The painting by H2 Alaska of the place that inspired it all.

The painting by H2 Alaska of the place that inspired it all.

 

Love Love Bakery: A Wild Home For All tells the story of a day in the life of bakery and coffee shop where all are welcome. The tiny kitchen warms up, crusty bread rises in the oven, customers pour in, coffee sloshes, people in the long line holler and harrumph. From open to close, the bakers, Jane and John, greet every person (and every dog!) with a hearty hello, terrible puns, and a place to come and stay awhile. 

Love Love Bakery will be published in early spring 2018 by Lucid Books out of Magnolia, TX. In fact, the entire project was inspired and created in the Houston area. The bakery and the bakers were inspired by Jane & John Dough, a real bakery and coffee shop in Tomball, and it’s owners. The illustrator,  H2 Alaska, also lives in Tomball. You can see her work on the walls of J&JD. My lettering/design gal, Sarah Dossey, is from the small town of Montgomery. And I, as you know, live in The Woodlands now. 

I wrote this book out of my love for coffee shops and the community I have found in them wherever I roam. From Cleburne's first coffee shop, to Crooked Tree, Mill Street, Pearl Cup, Common Grounds, Stellar, Third Gen, and the shops we've traveled to all over the country. This is to you. 

Jane, the magical inspiration herself!

Jane, the magical inspiration herself!

I wrote it because of how magical Jane from Jane & John Dough is. She is a connector and a creator filled with light and love. And her Dough House is filled with beauty from the flowers on every table to the giant cakes and loaves of bread she makes with John. 

I wrote it inspired by the home bakers I know like my Aunt Sarah and my friend Helen Thompson. And by their children who grow up eating and making real, delicious bread, knowing such words as wild yeast, rising, and sourdough. 

I wrote it as a love letter. It is my way of creating a place where everyone is seen and loved exactly as they are. To the everyday. To the marginalized, the vulnerable. The weird and the invisible. 

I wrote it as an act of resistance. It resists all manifestations of hate, exclusion, terrorism, dehumanization, and fear-mongering. It resists shutting up and keeping your real thoughts to yourself. There are disagreements and hurt feelings and apologies and dancing and rejoicing and connecting in Love Love Bakery. It is a real place filled to the brim with real people, young and old. 

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But why did I write it as a children’s book?

I love children’s literature. That is what I studied in graduate school. I edit children’s books for Lucid. And I read them constantly at home with the girls. It is a genre that is challenging. You can’t overburden a children’s book with too many words, too complex or abstract of ideas. It can’t be preachy or vague. It has to get to the heart of things. Things we understand from a very young age— like friendship, and home, and dancing all crazy crazy. It entertains without putting on a show. It is true without agendas, moralism, or manipulation. 

Children's books make space for everyone. And they have no room for despair. 

And picture books are works of art! You can probably recall in half a second what some of your favorite ones look like. Writing stories for picture books provides an opportunity to collaborate with artists (and I love working with artists!) to create something more than just words, more than just pictures. A picture book creates something new for every reader who brings the pictures and words together in their mind. And sometimes those words and images get planted like seeds in young imaginations. And who knows what wild flowers, what tall trees will grow?

Love Love Bakery: A Wild Home For All is live on Kickstarter until December 20. I invite all of my readers and friends and anyone who supports this vision to back the book.

In just two weeks, over 130 individuals and families pledged to fund my book! It was phenomenal and humbling. With nine days of the campaign remaining, I'm aiming to hit my ultimate stretch goal of $16,000 which will allow me to do some really fun things with the book and help it to be more successful when it launches. 

Pledge to bring the book to life and I will forever remember and be grateful for your support. You can pledge as little as $10 and as much as you want. Rewards for backers include chai tea, copies of the book, enamel mugs with quotes and illustrations from the story, and print acknowledgements. All the info to almost every question you might have is on the Love Love Bakery Kickstarter page. And there's a cute little video to watch as well. 

Whee! So fun to be an author and illustrator team! 

Whee! So fun to be an author and illustrator team!