In the summer of 2012, my parents came to New England to visit my children and me. During this visit, after I casually mentioned that I enjoyed writing my blog more than I enjoyed my job, they suggested that I write a children’s book. Their encouragement helped me to realize that I really did want to write a book; the only thing that prevented me from starting to write was that I didn’t know what to write about.
I didn’t have a lot of free time to brainstorm storylines or think how different plots might unfold. Fortunately, a mini-vacation was on the horizon. At the end of my parents’ visit, the two of them, along with my two children and me, met up with my younger brother and my older brother, his wife, and their two children so that the 10 of us could get in a few days of quality family time. I thought that with lots of free time, I’d surely come up with a couple of great story ideas during the getaway.
But somehow, the tranquil days lounging poolside, lost in my thoughts about book writing that I had envisioned never materialized. Instead, I found myself playing Marco Polo in the pool, creating a scavenger hunt for kids, and making sure none of the four got a sugar high—my mom always travels with chocolate chip cookies.
On the second night, my older brother and my sister-in-law were busy handling some administrative matters related to their upcoming move. So, when bedtime rolled around, my niece and nephew asked me to tuck them in. Who could refuse those faces? I sent Aidan and Ava off to change into their pajamas, and then I supervised while the two brushed their teeth and washed their faces. I was about to walk them to their bedrooms when Ava looked up at me and asked, “What about a bedtime story?” Aidan, two years older, wanting to postpone the inevitable bedtime just a little longer, chimed in, “Yeah! We want a bedtime story!” So, the three of us walked into my bedroom, and Aidan and Ava sat down on my bed while I looked for a book. There were none to be found. A quick search of the other bedrooms yielded no books.
Not wanting to disappoint, I realized I had no choice but to make up a story. I sat down on the edge of the bed and looked toward the headboard, where my niece and nephew had leaned up against a mountain of pillows. They smiled eagerly awaiting a great tale … and I had nothing! But I had to get the show on the road, and so, still not sure what I was going to say, I started, “Once upon a time …” Panicked, I thought, “What now?!” I decided to go with the tried and true story about kingdom in a faraway land, where the townspeople were troubled by a dangerous, fire-breathing dragon. As I began to spin the tale, my two listeners didn’t seem too impressed with the story, yet I so wanted Aidan and Ava to love the bedtime story they requested.
Then, it occurred to me that Aidan might enjoy being the fearless dragon-slaying prince; naturally, the slightly younger Princess Ava would play an important role in that victory as well. As soon as I uttered the names Prince Aidan and Princess Ava, a smile flashed across their lips and their eyes lit up as they looked at each other in amazement. The simple act of making my niece and nephew the stars of the bedtime story unequivocally drew Aidan and Ava into the adventure. At that moment, I knew I was onto something.
Even though the vacation hadn’t provided me with the leisure time for hatching a plot for my first children’s book, it provided me with something even more valuable: the genre. I now knew that I would write bilingual personalized children’s books, whatever the theme might be.
Eventually, I did write my first customizable children’s storybook in both bilingual and single-language versions. And if you’re curious how that story unfolded … well, Snowflake Stories first personalized children’s book Dance Recital turned out pretty well, earning four book awards. More information about this book is available by clicking on the link above.