Dear readers, today I am pleased to host Nicole Lataif, author of the new picture book I Forgive You: Love You Can Hear, Ask For and Give, as part of Pauline Books and Media’s Back to School Blog Tour. Nicole is a great friend–we first met up in Boston at a mutual friend’s birthday and got to talking our mutual love of writing children’s books. A few years later, her manuscript was the first I’d read as an Editorial Assistant at PBM. Eventually, I joined her writing critique group and am always so happy to tout her work. Nicole is a lovely, godly woman with a great talent for writing and an incredible spirit as she follows God’s call for her to share His love with children–no matter how young. In an email interview, she shares about writing, answering the call, and using your gifts and talents.
- Why write about Christian topics, like the soul and forgiveness, and for such young kids?
I think that kids rarely get the credit that they deserve when it comes to complex topics. With the right context, examples and words, most (I said most–haha) adult subjects are absolutely relatable to children. If a child has the capacity to be angry, they have the capacity to understand forgiveness. If a child knows that they have a body, then they can understand that they have a soul. Communicating this effectively is less about subject matter and more about using the right examples.
- How do you balance your call to write with your other calls in life?
Prayer, organization, and time management. I work at praying before writing anything. I pray with my fiancé. I pray about my calling. I just try to listen to God. Practically speaking, I use technology to get me through the day. If I’m on the road and an idea comes to mind or I need to schedule an appointment, I pop into my calendar (once parked, of course!) and it appears on every other platform within seconds. If that isn’t a daily miracle, I don’t know what is! Lastly, I have learned how to say no. Saying yes to something when I am too busy is saying no to my current responsibilities. I just try to keep a balance going!
- What is your experience like in secular writing groups, especially when sharing books with faith content?
Most people have been supportive, thank God. However, during one instance a few years ago, I was chastised for my Catholic beliefs by almost every single critique group member (there were 4-6 of them). I only said one thing in response: “If I wanted to disagree with your beliefs, I would never treat you this way.” I was truly hurt. I called the leader after the meeting and expressed my dismay. I later received an apology from the ringleader, which was nice, and she featured me in her next newsletter!
- Where can other aspiring authors go for resources for writing–especially when writing on Catholic themes, topics, and issues?
If you are a children’s book writer, join SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) and the Facebook group, “Catholic Children’s Books.” I would also recommend joining the Catholic Writers Guild to meet other Catholic writers!
- How can young women use their gifts and talents to spread God’s love?
Young women can use their gifts and talents to spread God’s love just simply by using their gifts and talents! Nothing is more upsetting to hear about an artist who was forced into medical school by their parents. Or, a scientist who was forced to play the piano their whole life, yet hates music. I agree that education is important and that children should be exposed to many facets of life, but as a young woman, you will shine brightest when you are being who God called you to be! And, just like there is no flower without a stem, prayer and talents go hand-in-hand. Be sure to talk to God and ask him what he might be calling you to do. His answer may surprise and delight you! Lastly, allow the Blessed Mother to be your mother. Turn to her in prayer–woman to woman–and she will guide you as well.
Award-winning author and speaker Nicole Lataif is the Founder and Editor of KidsFaithGarden.com and author of the 2013 Catholic Press Association Award and 2013 Christopher Award winning book Forever You: A Book About Your Soul and Body, published by Pauline Books and Media. Forever You is released in Spanish as “Siempre Tu.” Her second book, ”I Forgive You: Love We Can Hear, Ask For and Give” is for kids ages 5-8. Nicole has extensive training in writing for children. She has been active in various children’s writing circles, including membership in the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Nicole was a “First Authors Panel” speaker at the January 2013 SCBWI Miami conference and continues to speak around the country to both kids and adults on Christian virtue. She substitute teaches at a Christian school and leads an SCBWI picture book writers group in Boston, MA.
Nicole is available for speaking engagements, school visits, interviews, and guest blogging. Media inquires may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.