Bio Talking Points:
- Jacqueline has worked with children from a young age. Her first job at the age of 15, as a daycare center caregiver, encouraged her passion for entertaining and educating children.
- Jacqueline received a degree in Writing from Valdosta State University. She wrote for local magazines as well as the University paper. She currently freelances for multiple publications and is now a successful Children’s Author.
- Privately, Jacqueline is wife to Matthew (an Air Traffic Controller) and mother to Marshall (born in 2013) and June (born in 2015).
A Busy Mother who Followed Her Dreams, How Other Parents Can Do the Same
Parenthood is filled with busy schedules and hectic days. We aim to put the wants and needs of our children first, in doing so, we place our dreams on the back-burner. Jacqueline is (some what) successful in juggling parenthood with fulfilling her wish to publish a children’s book. She wants to encourage other parents to do the same, to follow their wildest dreams.
Eliminating Fear Associated with Sleep May Improve Toddler Bedtime Behavior
Toddlers and young children have a sense of fear and anxiety when it comes to bedtime. Jacqueline wanted to provide a picture book for parents and children to enjoy together, before bedtime. Young minds will live through Ford and Red as the two journey through the adventurous world of dreams. The hope is to promote healthy and happy sleep through the excitement of this book.
The Many Factors that Encouraged Jacqueline Leigh to Publish her First Book
Writing is not only a career, but a passion for Jacqueline. After the birth of her children, she wanted to gift them with something that would last a lifetime. After 10 manuscripts, Jacqueline landed on one to publish. She pursued a development editor, publisher and illustrator to turn the script into a book. She later planned marketing initiatives and events to promote the book.
How did you become interested in writing for Children?
I adored writing as a little girl. In fact, I wrote my first book in the second grade. It didn’t amount to much, other than a prized collectible for my mother. I jumped into the art of professional writing in college, where I majored in Journalism and Creative Writing.
Tell me about your book, how did you come up with the idea?
My son is an expert at battling sleep, no seriously, he’s an expert. The idea was born one night when my son asked me what a “dream” was. I knew right away the I had a picture book on my hands and I quickly wrote the first draft. The book is a journey. It’s an adventure through dreams. There are multiple dream scenes, in hopes of each child finding a favorite.
What research did you do for this book?
I delved into sleep disorders and sleep associations. I quickly found that fear was a leading factor of falling asleep. The second distraction toddlers have is the worry of missing something exciting if they fall asleep. This book let’s children know that sleep isn’t something to be afraid of, it’s thrilling and often times, when we experience our greatest adventures.
Is there a message in Time For Bed With Ford and Red that you’d like readers to grasp?
Promote warmth and enthusiasm when it’s bedtime. Children feed off of your emotions, this book is simply a tool guide for parents and children to let their imaginations run wild. Why does fun have to stop, just because we’re going to bed?
Who is the illustrator of Time For Bed With Ford and Red and how did you choose him/her?
Mackenzie Fink from Mackenzie Fink Designs is the illustrator of the book. I had a few illustrators submit sample drawings to me and I was immediately drawn to the beauty of her work. She is extremely talented with pen and watercolor, her imagery simply jumps off of the page. While her and I went to high school together, this is the first time we’ve really chatted, I’m so happy for the connection. We work beautifully alongside each other.
What sets Time For Bed With Ford And Red apart from other picture books on the shelves today?
The children’s book industry is a saturated market. It’s important to set yourself apart, otherwise, you will be lost in the sea of kid lit. A few traits set our book apart; for one, it’s written in rhyme. Many authors are avoiding this once popular way of writing. The second trait is the point of view. Our story is told in first person, whereas many children’s books are written in third person. This gives our main character, Ford, a big voice in the book. Lastly, we merged the dreams and reality. For instance, when the boys are riding with the cowboys in their dream, their bed (where they are sleeping in reality) is saturated with dust. It’s completely authentic.
What books and authors encouraged you to write?
Rachel Bright, author of Love Monster, was a huge inspiration to me. What an adorable book, if you haven’t read this one, pick it up now! Her writing technique is witty and charming. I find myself laughing a lot while reading her books. The other big inspiration was Bear Snores Onwritten by Karma Wilson. Wow. What a lovely book. Her story is told in rhyme, and her writing is absolutely pristine. I hope to achieve that level of writing one day.
What were the challenges you faced when publishing your first book?
I’m a first-time author, that was a massive challenge. There were many times I found myself shaking my head, wondering what I got myself into. There’s a misconception that writing children’s books is easy, that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, it took me nearly 6 months to get the manuscript ready to submit to publishers.
What’s a typical working day like for you? Where and when do you write?
Many authors write to the sound of classical music, or if they’re lucky, complete silence. My background noise tends to be the soft cries of a 1 year old and the constant chatter of a 3 year old. I squeeze in writing during nap time and bedtime. I was brave enough to put my desk in the playroom, talk about juggling right? Once in a while, I can toss some legos in front of the kids and get down to work. It’s important for my children to see me working, I want them to value working parents as well as stay at home parents, they get to see the best and worst of both worlds.
How do you juggle the demands that come with being a wife, a mother of young children and a first-time author?
That’s just it, I juggle. First and foremost, I’m a wife. Secondly, I’m a mother. Once my daily obligations are met for my husband and children, I can write freely and without guilt. It’s crazy to think that I am a first-time author with a 1 year old and 3 year old, but they are my inspiration. My ideas stem from their daily happenings, it’s a blend of chaos in my life. In fact, I’m writing the answer to this question while sitting in the preschool parking lot, waiting on my son. My daughter (strapped in her car seat behind me) is very disapproving of this process.
What advice would you give other busy parents, looking to fulfill their own dreams?
Whatever your dream may be, it’s never too late to see them through. Life is so incredibly short, it’s time to put yourself out there. You may fail, and that’s okay, it’s a stepping stone to better avenues. Or hey, you may succeed and have a life of great achievements ahead of you. I myself have no clue if this book or career will succeed, but at least I’ve taught my children to put faith in themselves and to take a chance with their wildest dreams.
If you had to do it all over again, what would you change?
Right now, not a thing. I have a great manuscript, a great development editor and a wonderful publisher. Ask me the same question three months after the book releases. I’m sure I will have a notebook filled with things I would’ve done differently.
What are you working on now?
My publisher and I just signed the contract for my second picture book, The Spill. The tale follows a steadfast little girl on her journey for the perfect cup of milk.
One morning, Faye wakes with an unpleasant feeling of thirst. She is filled with determination for a full cup of milk, one that will surely send the dryness out of her mouth. The trouble really begins as she races to her favorite sipping spot. Can she hold tight to her beloved cup of milk as she comes across many obstacles?
A light-hearted and whimsical tale, The Spill is sure to make readers chuckle. The familiarity of need, willpower, hardship and finally, satisfaction, will resonate with parents and youngsters as they experience Faye’s story.
Erika Wilson of The Tired Mama Project is currently illustrating the book, this is her first picture book.