It's time to welcome another wonderful creative to the Chitchat series--author Nikki Bergstresser is here! I'm excited to learn more about her sweet picture book, LILA LOU'S LITTLE LIBRARY that was just released from Cardinal Rule Press, and I'm also curious to know what Nikki's journey to becoming an author was.
In addition, Nikki's lovely publisher is kindly giving away a copy of the book to one lucky winner, so make sure you enter! (Details at the end of the interview.)
Welcome, Nikki! Thank you for joining us on the blog. Please briefly describe your journey to publication.
NB: Throughout my elementary teaching career, I often incorporated my love for writing into the classroom. Whether it was writing poems for special occasions like Grandparent’s Day or creating scripts for Christmas concerts, it kept my creative energy flowing to use what I wrote with my students. When I left the classroom to have children of my own, my writing took a back seat for a while, but it was replaced with the joy of reading countless books to my daughters throughout the years. I remember sitting at a coffee shop with friends sharing that I wanted to pursue my writing in a more serious way. Folks, find yourself friends who cheer you on in your writing journey! I can’t say it enough about the importance of having cheerleaders when pursuing your dreams.
So with the encouragement of friends and family, I began to write. I researched writing for children, learned about the writing community and even joined Twitter. Then I got the news my dad was diagnosed with cancer. I was provinces away and felt discouraged with how I could be of support to him, but one day an idea came to me. My dad loved to write, too. In fact, he shared his love of words with me ever since I was little. So I collected small, flat stones and painted a meaningful word onto each stone along with a tiny flower. There was one stone for each day of his cancer treatments. I packaged up the stones and mailed it to him. Each morning he chose a stone and that would be the word he would focus on for the day. During this time, I wrote and wrote. It was a difficult season for our family. SEASONS FOR STONES, my debut picture book with Brandylane Publishing, came out years later, based on the idea of what I had shared with my dad. Oodles of rejections, lots of tears and then the offer of publication. Mailing the book to my parents for them to hold was something I will never forget.
During that time, I had also worked on many other manuscripts. When submitting and waiting, be encouraged to... “just keep writing, just keep writing”. There was one story in particular, I had worked over a lot. It was my manuscript that had gone through the most changes. Cardinal Rule Press had open submissions. One year before I had submitted to them and received the kindest of rejections. I spent more time looking through their website to make sure I would submit my best manuscript to align with their publishing focus. I submitted right before their submissions’ window closed. One month later, Maria Dismondy offered me a publishing contract for LILA LOU’S LITTLE LIBRARY. I’m counting down the days until my picture book with Cardinal Rule Press is released. It’s about a spunky girl who loves to read, but her house is filled to the brim with too many books and she needs to make an important decision. Lila Lou dreams big, creates a plan, gets to work and takes action to make it all happen, all while sharing from her heart and connecting the community. As soon as I saw Sejung Kim’s illustrations, I loved the vibrant colors she used in her storytelling and how she brought out Lila Lou’s character. Did I mention the cover has glitter? The best surprise was when I opened the box with my copies of the book. I’m a sucker for anything with glitter!
I'm beyond grateful to the entire team of Cardinal Rule Press, including the previously published authors. I was warmly welcomed into the CRP family and the enthusiasm they have shown towards Lila Lou’s Little Library, has touched my heart. It has been such a time of valued learning and growth for me.
Q: What do you find most challenging in this business, either on the creative or publishing side of things? What do you find most rewarding? What helps you stay motivated?
NB: The author's journey requires that we wear many hats! There’s so much more than just writing. It’s working on your current project, keeping track of queries/submissions, revising other manuscripts, supporting the kidlit community with reviews and critiques, posting relevant content on social media to connect with readers, professional growth by listening to podcasts for writers or attending conferences and continue to market upcoming and past publications. As well, many of us have other jobs. It’s all wonderful things! For me, the most challenging aspect is finding that balance between my author role, online classes I teach and my precious family. I’m learning more and more that I need to be intentional when blocking out my weekly schedule. I can’t just say, “When I have time.” I need to make the time by scheduling the time. It’s my autumn goal. After all, pumpkin spice lattes go perfectly with creating organized schedules, right?
One of the most rewarding aspects in the author role for me has been the support from the kidlit writing community. When I started traveling this road, I printed out a sticky note to put on my wall above my computer that says ABC...Always Be Connecting. Intentional and authentic connections with children’s writers has been a gift I have cherished these past couple of years. Writing can be lonely. Walking alongside others who are also traveling this path gives us encouragement, hope and motivation to journey on. They know how hard it can be and how sweet it feels when success arrives in various shapes and sizes. Look to celebrate the small successes as well as the momentous ones. This past year, I gathered together a group of authors who have picture books releasing over the next couple of years. Our group is called Picture Book Pals and we meet monthly online to chat about all things author related. You can find us on Instagram and Twitter for all our upcoming book news and celebrations.
Q: Could you share any craft tools or techniques that you find most helpful to you when working on a project? What does your revision process look like?
NB: Music motivates me. When I’m working on a specific project, I love to create a playlist. It helps me to find the mood in my writing piece by choosing certain songs to listen to while I write, revise or just go for a walk to think about the project while listening to the music. I’m all about the feels.
Nature nourishes me. I take my folding chair, laptop, venti coffee, and head out to one of my favorite places beside a gurgling stream and large cedar trees to write. Also make sure if you have a venti coffee and sit by a gurgling stream you also have access to a washroom….I’ve learned from experience!
Q: What's coming up for you next? Please tell us about any new releases, exciting news, upcoming events or anything else you'd like to share with our readers?
NB: When Lila Lou’s Little Library comes out October 1, it will be going on a social media tour. Follow along with me on Instagram, you will see Lila Lou’s travels! As well, my family loves building with Lego. With the help of my family and the planning of a talented Lego friend, I just completed a Lego mosaic of Lila Lou’s Little Library book cover that stands over 3 feet tall. I will be taking it to author signings and have it on display behind me for virtual author visits. Join me October 1 when Cardinal Rule Press hosts my virtual book launch and live reading of my book. Classes, authors, and everyone who loves books can sign up: https://cardinalrulepress.lpages.co/october-virtual-book-launch/
Thank you, Nikki, for being my guest. That mosaic looks amazing, and I loved learning about your journey. Wishing you the best of success with LILA LOU'S LITTLE LIBRARY and all future projects as well!
Readers, please support our featured authors/illustrators by following them on Twitter, requesting their book through your local library, posting reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, and of course, purchasing their books.
Connect with Nikki:
Click on the book cover to order a copy
Nikki Bergstresser is an educator and children’s author of Seasons for Stones (illustrated by Kelly O’Neill) and Lila Lou’s Little Library (illustrated by Sejung Kim) releasing Oct.1/21. When not writing, she teaches online book clubs and writing classes to learners in grades 3-7. Nikki makes her home on the west coast of British Columbia, Canada with her husband and two teen daughters. Nikki’s best day has her lost in nature, coffee in hand and a good story to share.
G I V E A W A Y ! ! !
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Booklovers everywhere will love Lila Lou and relate to her predicament--there's no more room for books!
What's an avid reader to do when her piles of books seem to be overtaking the house?
There's only one solution and Lila knew just what to do before yet another pile of books came tumbling down.
As Lila Lou gets to work, a very special library is born. Now, all the books can be shared with everyone, and Lila can find new books to read, too, without creating a bigger space problem.
This is a sweet story that will appeal to bookworms and book collectors alike.
About Rosie J. Pova
Rosie J. Pova is a
award-winning children's author, speaker, and writing coach on a mission to inspire children not only to read and write more, but to use their creativity, follow their passions, dream big and believe in themselves.
Rosie visits schools and shares her inspirational journey as an immigrant from Bulgaria and how she became a published author, encouraging kids to persist, push through rejections, and hold a high vision for themselves.
Rosie's upcoming picture book, Sunday Rain, will be released in March 2021. It's a story that celebrates imagination, the love of books, and new friendships.
Check out her Critique Services here, her Workshops here, and her school visits page here.
Rosie is represented by Jessica Schmeilder of Golden Wheat Literary.