“My hope is that each child that reads this first book in the series, that they would walk away with the knowledge that they are worthy just because they’re on this earth.
Just because they’re here.
They’re here for a reason, they’re here for a purpose, and they have a calling on their life.”
– Gia Lorraine, today’s guest and author of Growing with Gerti: Gerti Learns Her Worth.
Some of our topics today as Gia Lorraine and Michelle Vandepas discuss Gia’s debut book, Growing with Gerti: Gerti Learns Her Worth.
1:05 The process of creating Growing with Gerti.
2:46 Gia’s advice to other authors looking for an illustrator.
7:28 The hope for children – and anyone – who reads her new book.
8:33 Do you think kids now feel less worthy or are we just talking about it more?
11:37 Discussing alternative education.
15:39 Being worthy just because we are here.
20:10 Final thoughts from Gia
Find Growing with Gertie by Gia Lorraine in the GracePoint Publishing book store at https://gracepointpublishing.com/bookstore/books-cards/growing-with-gerti/
Find Growing with Gertie by Gia Lorraine on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Growing-Gerti-Gia-Lorraine/dp/1955272492/
Created by GracePoint Publishing to amplify our authors voices to the world.
Theme song arranged and edited by Mark Packard.
Intro: Welcome to the Gracepoint Publishing Podcast. Come along with us as we get an exclusive look into what really happens as we co-collaborate with our authors to craft and publish their books. Please see the show notes to find more ways to connect with our creators.
And now here’s your host, co-founder and publisher of Gracepoint Publishing, Michelle Vandepass
Michelle Vandepas: Hello and welcome. I’m Michelle Vandepass with Grace Point Publishing, and I am so excited today because I’ve got Gia, Gia Lorraine is what you go by, right? You’re, and I’ve got this fabulous book Growing with Gerti: Gerti Learns Her Worth, and it’s a children’s book. Look at these, if you. Can see on Amazon or on video, any of these illustrations.
Michelle Vandepas: They’re absolutely fantastic. Welcome to the show.
Gia Lorraine: you. I’m so honored to be here. And what a pleasure.
Michelle Vandepas: What a fun book this is, and I know the process wasn’t fun every step of the way. I’m hoping it was worth
Gia Lorraine: It was a two year birthing process that was worth every moment and every penny.
Michelle Vandepas: It is. I’ve heard it’s just like birthing children. That’s what I’ve heard. So what was the biggest thing that you’ve come away with from this whole process? Like patience or creativity or, cuz I know it was, it was a
Gia Lorraine: Yes. I really came away with the full understanding of what it takes to create. And to, to get good, um, creative content from an illustrator. Um, and really mapping out really that teamwork between not only you getting coaching on how to even find an illustrator, but also getting, um, the illustrator to create what’s in my head because I hadn’t mapped out what I wanted Gerty to look like, what did I wanted her personality to be like, you know?
Gia Lorraine: And then just mapping out those thumbnails for each part of the story. That was my favorite part, just going back and forth with the illustrator each time, each time, each time. So I really took away, um, just the, the whole excitement of the process. I really loved that part.
Michelle Vandepas: And you had written all the text early on, right? You had that finished before you ever went and looked for an illustrator, and I think everybody does it a little bit differently, but that’s certainly a common way to do it. What are a couple of things that you would help other authors? What would you advise other authors looking for an illustrator?
Gia Lorraine: Um, well, first and foremost, I make sure that they have a clear understanding of what they want their character to be. Like if there’s gonna be certain key characters in their book, um, you’d really wanna find an illustrator that can make that character come to life the way that you envisioned it. So whether that’s on fiber or running a contest or, um,
Michelle Vandepas: Which you did. You did both. I happen to know. So I wanna get specific, like did you like her clothes are so cool. Did you have the clothes in mind? Did you have the hair color in mind? Did you have her boots, her shoes in mind, or was that all open for
Gia Lorraine: No, that was me because, um, I really wanted to pattern the character out from what I looked like when I was a kid because the whole, this whole process was birthed out of my own struggles with managing my own emotions and feeling like, These strategies and tools need to be taught to kids. So I’m like, okay, if I was a kid, you know, what did I run around looking like?
Gia Lorraine: You know, what did I, what did I look like as a kid? What did I wear? So, um, I sent all that information to the person on Fiber, and then they created Gerti and she came to life. So, um, that was the first step. And then the color palette actually came from me investigating. I looked at other children’s books and I looked at watercolor.
Gia Lorraine: I looked at, um, different types of, Um, digital art and, and I looked at different color schemes throughout the books and I decided, hmm, what is, what do I want my color palette to be for my book? So, um, I went on Pinterest and I looked for color palettes that would match the blue jeans cuz I knew she had to have blue jeans on cuz I just live in blue jeans all my life.
Gia Lorraine: I’ve always lived in blue jeans. So I knew I wanted her to have like blue jean overalls and, um, I tried, we tried a little bit like with a skirt overall, and then we tried, um, like pants and I just really didn’t like it. I really liked the, the short overalls. So we went with that. And then, yeah, the color palette, she did amazing pulling the colors off that I wanted to be consistent throughout the, um, digital, um, the digital illustrations.
Michelle Vandepas: Yeah, so I, I know it’s a process and, and I, you know, I was with you. Every step of the way on this process, but I hear this from other children’s book author. It’s like you have a vision and the illustrator doesn’t always quite match the vision and you have to go back and forth. How much of that two year process do you think was working with the illustrator?
Gia Lorraine: Um, I think it would’ve gone a little bit quicker if my illustrator wasn’t still in high school, so she was finishing up her senior year of high school and so, um, it pushed our deadline back a little bit. But, um, I would say it took a good year to get all the illustrations and go back and forth. Um, she was really talented, really talented about.
Michelle Vandepas: she is very talented.
Gia Lorraine: she was able to, any expression that I was looking for on BIP or gerdy, like she just, she just knew she would take notes on what I was looking for and she would just go for it. And I was never dissatisfied, like, I would have little tiny tweaks here and there. Like we had on page one, her foot on page one always looked like it was the shoe on the other foot, you know?
Gia Lorraine: So that was like one of the, literally like one of the only things that I kept going back about, you know? But oftentimes not. I would say, oh, can you put a little bit more dirt on her face? Cuz she’s still supposed to be dirty at this point, you know, and things like that. And it was just, it was really great, really great to do the process.
Michelle Vandepas: And has she seen the
Gia Lorraine: Yeah, I gave her a copy. She has her copy. And we’re gonna work on, during this summer, we’re gonna do a Barnes and Noble signing in our local area.
Michelle Vandepas: Al. That’s fantastic. Good for you. And where is that?
Gia Lorraine: we are in the Montclair Place right next to, um, the Ontario International Airport in California. So we’re like about
Michelle Vandepas: Nice. Okay. So,
Gia Lorraine: International Airport.
Michelle Vandepas: okay, so if you’re closer, even if you’re not closes close to an airport, fly in and support and, and come to the book signing, what are you hoping that kids will really get from this?
Gia Lorraine: My hope is that each child that reads this first book in the series, that they would come away and walk away with the knowledge that they are worthy just because they’re on this earth. Just because they’re here, they’re here for a reason, they’re here for a purpose and they have a calling on their life.
Gia Lorraine: They have gifts and talents and they’re worthy. And I wanted each, each of the kids to like understand that, you know, Gertie’s just like them. She feels the same things they do cuz a lot of, you know, we have that negative self-talk all the time. And in this, in the story you see, you know, she’s having that negative self-talk and.
Gia Lorraine: You know, firefighter Nell comes to the, to the rescue, you know, so, you know, he just really puts it into perspective on encouraging her and making her feel that she was worthy to be saved. So
Michelle Vandepas: You’ve been in education a long time, right?
Gia Lorraine: over 30 years.
Michelle Vandepas: Yeah. Yeah. So have you, do you think kids now feel less worthy or is it just that we’re talking about it and more aware of it?
Gia Lorraine: Hmm. That’s a tough question. I think it’s a combination of both. I think the stresses on kids today is completely different. And the negative self-talk is different than it used to be because nowadays kids are comparing themselves to the world instead of comparing themselves to, you know, little Susie that sits next to them in class.
Gia Lorraine: You know, they’re looking at YouTube and going, oh, I wanna be like that influencer over there. I wanna be, you know what I mean? And they’re. Comparing themselves to these perfect things that they see on Instagram and Facebook and be real and all this stuff, and TikTok, you know, and it’s not reality. So it makes them feel less than.
Gia Lorraine: So our society’s inundated with the less than you know, mentality. And we have to fight against that as people who educate others and. Um, encourage others to really understand who they are and their place in the world. Um, I think it’s, it’s our job to continue to, to shift that mindset and help people understand like, social media’s not, not your educator.
Michelle Vandepas: Well, you know, people that know me, I’m on social media quite a bit and then, you know, if they know me personally, it it’s, it’s a different persona right. On social media a little bit. And, um, when you’re a kid, it’s hard to understand all of that, right? What age do you think gets the be is the best
Gia Lorraine: I would say age five to 11, and even actually, my middle schoolers have connected to it. I’ve had them read it and they, I had one girl close the book and go, all right, where’s book two?
Michelle Vandepas: now? That’s validating. So let’s, let’s go into that. Where’s book two?
Gia Lorraine: Well, it’s still up here.
Michelle Vandepas: it’s, yep.
Gia Lorraine: in the middle. I’m in the middle of, um, I know what the theme of the story is. I know what tools she’ll earn for the first book. Um, I know what strategy’s gonna be taught in the book. I just have not mapped out the whole story yet. So, um, I got a new job this year. I’m an alternative learning classroom teacher for a middle school here in California in Ontario.
Gia Lorraine: And um, so I’ve been putting a lot of my energy towards my new job. So I really haven’t finished the book completely writing the storyline. Um, but it’s, it’s, it’s brewing.
Michelle Vandepas: Yeah, and it probably won’t take two years the first time you do anything. It always takes a long time. You learned a lot as you have told me a few times in this process and you know, I learned a couple different ways of working with an illustrator in this process, so, um, I’m sure the next book will come when it’s perfect.
Michelle Vandepas: It’s intriguing to me that you’re doing alternative education. Does that mean finding ways for some students to learn? That’s not like lecture style? What
Gia Lorraine: Alternative learning classroom essentially is an opportunity for kids to come in a classroom and learn about themself. They come in here, they learn social emotional learning strategies. They learn where they’re at with even self-regulation. They learn where they’re at, with what tools are they using, what are they, what are they doing that’s sabotaging themselves like.
Gia Lorraine: A lot of these kids, they’re middle schoolers, they’re not eating, they don’t understand that skipping meals throughout the day is, is affecting how the choices that they’re gonna be making throughout the day. So they’re not eating, they’re on social media really late at night. They’re not drinking, they’re not eating pro enough protein.
Gia Lorraine: Just the basics, you know? And so I get to educate them when they come to me on like, instead of learning San science, instead of learning math, instead of learning social studies, you’re here to learn about you. So if the class is boring, then you have to ask yourself like, then I must be boring. No, I’m just kidding.
Gia Lorraine: I tell them all the time, like, you’re gonna get what you put in. You’re worthy of the effort that you put in in my class. And I teach them all different kinds of mindfulness strategies to support their nervous system health. And I love what I do every day.
Michelle Vandepas: I think everybody needs that these days, right? We all need that. Everybody on the planet needs that. So this book, Should be in every classroom like that. Right?
Gia Lorraine: Yes.
Michelle Vandepas: Yeah. And you, you mentioned you shared this with your middle schoolers and they’re already waiting for book two, so I love that. What made you think about like just jumping in and getting this written and published?
Gia Lorraine: Well, I had had the, the, the idea of her for like three years. I was like, I really wanna write this book. I mean, I’m learning all these tools and strategies and I think that they would just be so great for kids to know. And so I had her in my mind and I knew I wanted her, that each tool I knew, I wanted her to collect tools along the way, kind of like.
Gia Lorraine: Kind of like Dora the Explorer, but for mindfulness strategies, you know? And I wanted her to have a little sidekick and I didn’t know who that was gonna be, if it was gonna be a turtle or if it was, you know what I mean? Cause I’ve always liked turtles, but then I thought, no, I think I’m gonna make it a frog.
Gia Lorraine: So it’s kind of like symbolic of, my husband’s name is Jeremiah, so it’s, Jeremiah was a bullfrog. So you know, he’s been with me through this whole process. So he makes two guest appearances, like B, the Frog, and then, Uh, firefighter Nell is also after my husband. He was a firefighter, so, um, so it just really, I mapped out like, okay, book one, she’s gonna learn her worth cuz all of the other tools, all the other mindfulness strategies need to, to hang on a child’s understanding of that they’re worth it.
Gia Lorraine: They’re worth learning all these strategies and tools to implement in their life, you know what I mean? To support themselves. So just understanding their worth. That’s why she earns the tool belt, you know, of worth. And then, um, each book, you know, I just mapped out like book two. She’s gonna earn this tool, book three, she’s gonna earn this tool.
Gia Lorraine: Do you know what I mean? For her tools of life.
Michelle Vandepas: So you mentioned, I just wanna kind of. Conceptualize that for a minute and then take it in. You have to learn your worth first before you can use any of the tools yet. I think the tools sometimes help you connect with learning your worth and and under. It’s not even learning your worth, it’s accepting your
Gia Lorraine: yes. Yes, and the tools, I think help you go deeper with that Worth. Yes.
Michelle Vandepas: And you know, kids and adults everywhere struggle with this, right? Especially if you walk even as adults, when you walk into a brand new sit situation, you can be nervous and not sure if you deserve to be there or whatever it is, right? If it’s something, I mean, even adults go through this. So how, what is something that these kids can do to help understand that they are worthy just because they are here, right?
Gia Lorraine: think the first thing is tuning into their feelings and thoughts. Just really being aware of what am I thinking? What am I feeling right now? Because a lot of times our culture doesn’t lend itself very well to paying attention and having those antennas up regarding. What am I feeling right now? How do I label it?
Gia Lorraine: You know? So emotional intelligence is huge, and really being able to expand our emotional vocabulary. I think El I saw an interview years and years ago with Elani Vanzant, uh, fix My Life. And one of the things that she said, the nugget I grabbed from her was, expand your emotional vocabulary. Because our, our ex, my kids aren’t allowed to use happy, sad, mad, or angry in my class.
Gia Lorraine: I’m like, Nope, sorry. Here’s the chart. You gotta go deeper. You have to, Be more specific with what you’re feeling and what your body and tuning into your body, because our kids are so used to just using happy, sad, mad, that like, you already have that in your repertoire. Let’s, let’s expand you. You know, you need to start expanding your emotional vocabulary so that the more, um, research shows that the more that you can label it, then you can kind of step away from it and create some space between you and that emotion, and then you can manage it.
Gia Lorraine: Um, so if kids aren’t really even paying attention to what they’re thinking or what they’re feeling, then they’re not really gonna be able to manage it. So that’s where I would start.
Michelle Vandepas: It it, this is definitely new, although of course it’s probably really old too. I think most. Old cultural traditions may have had more of this openness and emotional intelligence and tuning into your heart and knowing who you were, but at least in the US and many other, um, Westernized nations. Like my dad is from the English, you know you, he’s English.
Michelle Vandepas: You never talked about emotions. And you had the silent generation, right? The wars, world War I and World War ii. You never, you just sucked it up and lived through it. And then the baby boomers. Right. Who grew up with parents that grew up in the depression and all, and it’s like, no, you don’t talk about any of it.
Michelle Vandepas: You just fuck it up. And it only feels like in the last 20 years, like you said, Ms. Za, like she’s, she was like really big like 25 years ago or so, right? And so it’s, that’s when it all st and heart math, that’s when it all started exploding. Um, but it’s taken all this time to do the beautiful work you’re doing, actually bringing it into the
Gia Lorraine: Thank you. I’m honored to do what I do every day.
Michelle Vandepas: It’s gonna be amazing what the world looks like a couple generations from now.
Gia Lorraine: I hope it’s more tuned in. Looking forward to seeing
Michelle Vandepas: Well, yeah. I mean, it has to be more tuned in because everybody’s more aware. I mean, we certainly talk about emotions more in our workplace than we ever did 20, 30
Gia Lorraine: I agree.
Michelle Vandepas: Yeah. What would you like to see happen with this book in your wildest dreams?
Gia Lorraine: Um, I would just like to see the whole series come to fruition. Like all these diff the, you know, each, each adventure she goes on. I’m just excited to see, you know, I don’t care if it takes 20 years, you know, or 15 years or it doesn’t matter, like, um, I just wanna see, you know, another adventure come to life and, and, um, go from there.
Gia Lorraine: I’m really excited.
Michelle Vandepas: Do you know how many books there are
Gia Lorraine: I think there’s, um, I mapped out 10, um, but there, um, I could probably end up combining a couple strategies into one book, just depending, so,
Michelle Vandepas: Yeah, but you’ve got a few coming. You have, and they’re all gonna be gerdy, right, of course. Cuz she’s gonna go through life. Does, does she actually get older in the books or do you know? Yet?
Gia Lorraine: I haven’t thought about that. I don’t think
Michelle Vandepas: I don’t think gets older. Dora is the same age for years and years and years. Right? Yeah. It’s not like a TV show,
Gia Lorraine: I don’t think so. I think I’m gonna keep her young.
Michelle Vandepas: Yeah. Good, good. What else would you like to leave our audience with today?
Gia Lorraine: I think I would just like to leave them with the nugget that. When you feel a stirring inside of you and you’re scared, a little bit scared, like, how is this gonna work? What am I gonna do? You know, I wanna encourage you to, to journal it, go with it, and explore it. Because in my wildest dreams, I had never imagined that I would be an author, you know?
Gia Lorraine: And so, um, it, it was. A beautiful process. It was a hard process and I had to take a risk and spend a little bit of money, but it was completely worth every penny and everything I went through because I learned so much about myself, about the publishing world, about ev how to do a book, you know, uh, self-publishing versus publishing with a, with a publisher.
Gia Lorraine: I just learned so, so much and I’m so grateful for the process and, um, yeah, so I just encourage you to just go for it. Just don’t give up.
Michelle Vandepas: I love that. I love that. Thank you. So the book is Growing with Gerti: Gerti Learns Her Worth. Um, if you can see, I’ve got it here. It is a amazing, yay. I feel like we’re doing a duet on TikTok, right? Get on and do a duet. We’re both holding our books up. For those you who can’t. Can’t see us. You can get this book obviously on Amazon everywhere.
Michelle Vandepas: Books are sold. Also at the Grace Point Publishing website, we always encourage people to support small support local. If you buy on our website, everybody, especially the author, makes more money. But if you buy on Amazon, go for it. We just, it’s available anywhere. Books are sold and we’re so excited to be representing you and your.
Michelle Vandepas: Book. It’s fabulous. Thank you for being here today.
Gia Lorraine: I’m so glad you guys had time today to hang out and chat. I’ve had a really good time with you and, um, I look forward to just whatever Gerti has in the future,
Michelle Vandepas: Nice. Thank you. Take care of those kids. Bye.
Outro: Thank you for coming along with us today on the GracePoint Publishing podcast. Join us next time as we introduce you to another one of our incredible authors.
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