Special Gift for a Happy New Year

by Marilynn Halas on January 5th, 2012
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Happy New Year to all; Merry, Happy and Whew!  We made it.  Another Holiday Season is over and more memories are made to be treasured.  As a special treat, I would like to introduce Liz Lezama, our guest blogger this week. She is a wonderful writer and we here at 4 Sunflowers feel blessed that she is on our team.


I’m a big believer in story writing as communication that is not just external, from the writer to the reader, but internal as well, from the writer’s heart to the writer’s mind.  I asked Liz to write a story for children and blog about what that process was like for her.   Her story is adorable and a New Year’s gift to us all.   Thanks Liz for your time and talent.  It is our privilege to have you as our first guest blogger.  Always keep writing and keep your face to the sun so all shadows will fall behind.


Toby the Teddy Bear

            Toby is a teddy bear. He is nice and soft and a very good companion. Toby is just like you.


Toby likes to be held, just like you do. He feels safe and warm in your arms and knows that you will never let go. How do you feel when you are being held?


Toby is afraid of the dark. It is dark and scary and very lonely. Toby likes to have a night-light, just like you do. He feels safe and not alone with a night-light. How do you feel in the dark?


Toby loves to be happy. He is always happy when he plays. Toby likes to play games, just like you. He has fun and is never sad when he plays a game. What do you like to play?


Toby loves to be loved. He feels safe and warm and happy when he is loved. Toby loves to be loved, just like you. How do you feel when someone loves you?


Toby is a teddy bear. He is brown and soft and a very good companion. Toby is just like you.


When you want to be held, Toby wants to be held.

When you are afraid of the dark, Toby is afraid of the dark.


When you want to be happy, Toby wants to be happy.


When you want to be loved, Toby wants to be loved.


You are just like Toby. You are nice and soft and a very good companion.


When you are held you feel safe and warm in someone’s arms, just like Toby.


When you are afraid of the dark, you want a night-light. You are just like Toby.


When you play you are happy, just like Toby.


When you are loved you feel safe and warm and happy. You are just like Toby.

Just like you always take care of Toby, someone will always take care of you.

Did you ever think about the logistics and mentality required for writing a children’s book? I didn’t and here I am, an intern at 4 Sunflowers Media, and beginning my first endeavor as a children’s literature author. My initial thought, when I sat to write something down, was to come up with a name for the story. I believed that with a name would come a coherent and imaginative story that would not only entertain but also send a message. Luckily enough, it came to me on the first try. Though, if I were to attempt this again, I think it would require a little more effort.

I named my story Toby the Teddy Bear. Obviously, I have a soft spot for alliteration so the Teddy Bear half of the title derived from the name I chose. The name on the other hand happened to be my boyfriend’s favorite name and it was the first thing that popped into my head.

After coming up with the title, the character was formed. I used my past experience and retraced my long lost memories of carrying around a stuffed animal. Words like soft, safe, comfort and company where the first things to come to me. I used these words as a sort of outline for my story. I wanted to make sure that the child as well as the parent felt soft, safe, comfortable and in good company when they read my story. I used my past experience of dolls and teddy bears to think of different situations in which a child would involve their teddy bears. Scenarios such as being afraid of the dark, playing games and loving the teddy bear were used as a basis for my story.

The next big step for me was ensuring that my story would be interactive. I wanted to make sure that the child was a part of the story. What better way to teach a lesson than to involve the child and teach him or her through experience? In order to create this experience I added questions at the end of Toby’s statements. In this way, the child and the parents are learning together and creating a bonding experience, which in my opinion is the way story telling should be.

The last step was ensuring the message could be found easily. For my message, I had used the experience of seeing a baby latched on tightly to his mother’s chest while I was working one day. All I could think about at the time was the vulnerability of that child and the immense trust he had for his mother. I decided to make the story for him and thus the message became one of always having someone that will love you.

When I finished writing the story I felt proud. I felt like I had accomplished something and in the process had learned the lesson of the story myself. However, I know this story is not complete. This was my first attempt at a children’s story and therefore it could definitely use some tweaking.  I want to document my journey of writing for children because I want you to understand that it is a process. Writing for children is not easy. Their minds are extremely impressionable so you always want to make sure that the lesson you are sending is powerful and clear. Through trial and error and edits and re-edits, I hope to expand my horizons as a writer–I’ll let you know how it goes.


-Liz Lezama


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