A country girl at heart, with fond memories of the dark desert sky, purple mountains and freshly cut alfalfa fields in her hometown of Blythe, California, budding author Elsa Takaoka puts her pen to paper and creates a fun and heart-warming story. Spinning words with natural creativity, Elsa discovered her love of language at a very early age. She then pursued a career in Speech Language Pathology and English as a Second Language until the birth of her first daughter. Reading to her own little girls sparked her whimsical journey through children’s literature and dropped one more goal into her bucket list. Her dream to write and publish a picture book was achieved with Goo and Spot and The Do Not Wiggle Riddle, her first of many books to come. Currently, Elsa lives in Fukuoka, Japan with her sources of inspiration- her loving husband and their two adorable little girls.
What inspires you to write?
The happy memories I hold of reading as a child and having experienced the cozy, warm feeling a good book creates. I aspire to replicate that in my writing, whimsy, wonder and wholesome picture books for kids.
Tell us about your writing process.
I storm up a handful of ideas but do not write them down until I can visualize one of the ideas converted into a picture book. I jot down the initial idea and the “heart” of the story, whether the story will be silly, serious, melancholic or humorous. I tie in a tiny educational aspect be it basic concepts or a subtle life lesson. I set the notes away and think of the details during spare time throughout the day, while I’m washing dishes, going for a walk, showering (etc). The beginning and ending usually come first to me, I jot those notes down usually on my smart phone. I occasionally read my notes and build on them. My favorite part is writing the middle of the story, the problem and the problem solving aspect of a children’s story is challenging. I strive to add realistic personality and detail to the characters while keeping the innocence and mischief of childhood. When I feel I am ready to polish a draft I sit down during the wee hours of the night while everyone is sleeping. I write, set it away for a couple of days and return to it, usually I toss that draft away and start over! After three or four drafts I send it over to my editor, we start over… I think of details during my spare time….
What advice would you give other writers?
Be prepared to work hard, do not lose sight of your passion or dream, making mistakes is part of learning so be ready to accept harsh criticism. If you know that you have it in you to be a great writer do not let anyone tell you otherwise, yet listen carefully and improve.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I jumped into self-publishing as a way of meeting a goal- of publishing a picture book- and quickly became absorbed in the indie-world, there is something charmingly vulnerable about indie books that appeals to me. The freedom of complete success AND complete failure is exhilarating. I loved every aspect of creating Goo and Spot, my first picture book and found the liberty of being completely involvement satisfying.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
It is difficult to say, however like in all businesses the savvy move ahead. If you must self-publish you must also learn the business side of publishing. Once indie-authors catch on to the critical importance of producing work that is indistinguishable in quality from the traditionally published ( while still keeping the charm, the originality and freedom of indie-work) the publishing world will change drastically. It’s exciting.
What do you use?
Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?
children’s picture books
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print
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