Today I welcome Robert Vescio onto the blog, to chat about his latest book, Ella Saw a Tree. Welcome, Robert!
What was your inspiration behind Ella Saw the Tree?
My children are easily distracted with television and video games that it can be difficult for them to focus. We often tell our children to ‘pay attention’ but we don’t often teach children HOW to pay attention. So I wanted to write a story that does that in a fun way.
Mindfulness is about training yourself to pay attention in a specific way. We spend so much time thinking over stuff that happens, or worrying about things that might happen in the future, that often we forget to appreciate or enjoy the moment. Mindfulness is a way of bringing us back to experience life as it happens.
What message do you hope this book will bring its readers?
Ella Saw the Tree is an entertaining story about mindfulness and living in the moment. It teaches a simple but important lesson. By taking a moment to slow down and really appreciate your surroundings even the simple things can be surprising and fun.
Mindfulness can help treat people with anxiety and depression. When a person is mindful they are focused on the present moment, not worrying about anything that went on in the past or that might be coming up in the future, concentrating on what’s happening around them and to them and not being judgemental about anything they notice.
When you’re mindful it gives you a clear head, slows down your nervous system, lets you relax and helps you cope with stress.
Ella Saw the Tree will delight all readers. Teachers and parents alike can use this story as a starting point for discussing the concept of engaging all senses and being mindful of the little things in life.
For children, reading this book will open new perspectives on the world and being present in the moment. This is a great book to be shared with children of all ages.
Can you share a bit of your journey of Ella Saw the Tree, from the initial spark of inspiration, to signing the contract, to release date?
Parents have told me that they’ve seen their children read a book and realise they have no idea what they’ve just read. They’re there in person, but their mind is elsewhere.
I’m sure a lot of parents can relate to this as well. In today’s society, children are bombarded with so many distractions that it can be difficult for them to pay attention and focus on what is important.
The hardest part about writing Ella Saw the Tree was trying to write a story that was fun and exciting for children. I didn’t want to write a story that pushed children into seated meditation and sounded too much like a lesson.
So, I started writing my story – a story that would appeal to children and make the practice of mindfulness fun. In the story, Ella interacts with a tree and sees the beauty of life through her own eyes. So, in a way, the tree is actually Ella’s teacher.
When I felt comfortable enough with the story, I plucked the courage and submitted it to a few publishers who I thought would be interested in this topic. Then out of the blue, I was contacted by Diane from Big Sky Publishing who loved the story. The story appealed to her and she felt that it was a good fit for her list.
A few months later, I received the contract and Cheri Hughes was appointed as the illustrator. It was great to work with Cheri yet again.
Between signing the contract and waiting for initial character sketches, there was some editing and tweaking done to the story to suit Big Sky Publishing’s in house style. There are always changes to be made to manuscripts. It’s to be expected.
Cheri went on to complete the internals for the book. Once they were approved, the text was added to the pages and the overall design of the book, including the cover, was finalised.
The whole process from acceptance to publication took just under a year.
The journey was both magical and exciting. Just like all of my other picture books.
You’ve had a number of books released in the past two years. What has been the most exciting part of this particular book launch?
Sharing my story and its journey to publication. I’ve really enjoyed working with Diane and Sharon from Big Sky Publishing again on this one. As always, I was involved in every step of the way. They listened and supported me. Sharon was always there when I needed her.
It was a wonderful creative collaboration between myself, Cheri Hughes, and Big Sky Publishing. Everyone has their own views and ways of generating ideas and we all learn a little something. Collaboration is an important part of the creative process because it leads to the birth of powerful ideas and products like picture books – yay!
Also, it’s great to see so many of my fellow authors keen to help, share, support and promote my work. Asking for support can sometimes feel intimidating, so it’s great to see writers and authors go that extra mile to help out when someone asks for support. We are very fortunate and blessed to have a thriving community of writers in Australia that are willing to help and support and promote our work which is just AWESOME! I am so grateful to each and every one of you. I cannot thank you enough.
What else do you like to do?
Apart from writing and spending time with my children, I love to read.
I am obsessed with Disney.
I love chocolate cake with chocolate icing.
And … I love gelato!
Ella Saw the Tree is available now to purchase through all good bookstores and Big Sky Publishing: http://www.bigskypublishing.com.au/Books/Children/Ella-Saw-the-Tree-HB/1172/productview.aspx
You can follow Robert's blog tour:
Just Write For Kids: Robert Vescio’s Story on Mindfulness Opens our Hearts
Kids Book Review Giveaway: Giveaway: Ella Saw the Tree
Kids Book Review: Review: Ella Saw the Tree
Emma Middleton: Sharing 'Ella Saw the Tree' With Robert Vescio
Pass It On: Ella Saw the Tree - Blog Tour
Boomerang Books: Doodles and Drafts - With Robert Vescio
Creative Kids Tales: Tour at the Tales. Ella Saw the Tree
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You can find more about me, and read my children's stories at Creative Kids Tales
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