Loving Lulu: An Author's Story
Today, I’m chatting with an author that wears many hats. Awilda Rivera Prignano, has been a featured author in Follow It Thru – Obstacles Equal Opportunities, The Real Journey of the Empowered MomBoss, and Your Shift Matters - Resistance to Resilience.
I was fortunate to join her and other authors in The Real Journey of the Empowered MomBoss and this author doesn’t stop when it comes to pursuing dreams and getting things done. Today, Awilda Rivera Prignano, has dived into the world of children’s books and her book Loving Lulu will be available soon. In this interview, we’ll find out why she wrote the book and the special meaning behind it.
CSW: Awilda, it’s great to be talking with you today and I believe Loving Lulu will touch many lives, young and old.
ARP: I appreciate it and happy to be chatting with you.
CSW: Let's get started. Would you describe to our readers your journey in creating and the publishing world?
ARP: After having been published in several anthologies, in January of 2019, I committed to working on developing my own projects, the first to be a children's book. I reached out to an illustrator whose art I'd admired for a while and was confident she would be the person to create the images to tell my story in illustrations. At that point, I had three stories written, but I chose, Loving Lulu to be the first one to move forward with as it is inspired by my journey with my mother and her progressing transformation with Dementia. Initially, I was looking to work with a traditional publisher. I had attended a couple of writer's conferences, of which I was able to meet and present my work to several literary agents. I had writing samples on hand as well as a mock-up of Loving Lulu. Everyone that I met with was interested in my stories but not my illustrations. Each commented they had their own in-house illustrators they worked with and would only be interested in working with my stories. This frustrated me because I had a personal attachment to the illustrations. The inspiration my illustrator used to create the characters of Lulu and Abuelita were images of my mother and daughter. It was at that time I decided to proceed and self-publish under the name Sapphire Daisies Press. This way, I maintained creative control and ownership of my brand.
CSW: That’s an incredible journey and what made you decide to write a children’s book?
ARP: I’ve had a passion for writing for as long as I can remember. As a child this was something I would fantasize about. I didn’t know in what capacity I would be doing this, but I’ve always known in my heart that this was my purpose in life and how I am meant to serve others. I’m a storyteller and storytelling is widely used on many platforms to convey messages and lessons through connecting the reader or listener to a personal story. It’s in sharing personal stories that we’re able to heal as well as inspire others through our own experiences. I decided to utilize the format of writing a storybook for children because in my mind, this was the best way to relay an important message (lesson). And not just to the audience the book is intended for, but also in the hopes that the message will be embraced by those reading the stories with children such as parents, teachers, and caregivers.
CSW: I like that you’re conveying the message to children and to those reading it with them. That’s a touching, yet powerful way to get your message across to so many people. I feel your personal connection to the story. Why was it important to write Loving Lulu?
ARP: This story is very personal in that it is inspired by my family’s journey with my mother and her transformation with Lewy Body Dementia. I never mention the word Dementia, in the story or dedication, as I want this to be a story about discovering how to express and communicate love utilizing our senses in what we see, hear and feel.
CSW: I’d like to say what you just said again, to allow it to resonate, with the readers. I want this to be a story about discovering how to express and communicate love utilizing our senses in what we see, hear, and feel.
ARP: I think many times, people find themselves in a situation with a loved one where a significant change has occurred, and they struggle with how to cope and move forward in what has become the new normal.
CSW: And that's when it’s important to communicate with our loved one, utilizing our senses.
ARP: Correct. Sometimes, it takes a gentle reminder that we don’t always have to express what we feel in just what we say with words, but those feelings can be shared and expressed in our actions through the giver, as well as to the receiver. I want this to be a story that is relatable to any individual or family who may be having a similar experience and be exploring ways in which to cope. The transformation doesn’t necessarily need to be due to an illness such as Dementia, but a significant change could happen with someone who has suffered a stroke, heart attack, survived some kind of accident or even communicating to those with disabilities. People, no matter what capacity they are in, will always remember how they were made to feel. Doing activities together that are familiar may also trigger memories in which the receiver may find comfort.
CSW: I’m sure this story will connect with people who are currently going through it with family or friends or have already. To enlighten everyone, can you tell us what Lewy Body Dementia is?
ARP: Lewy Body Dementia (LBD) is one type of Dementia that’s similar to Alzheimer’s but has many of its own unique challenges. LBD is a type of progressive Dementia. It can lead to a decline in thinking, independent function, and reasoning, which is due to abnormal microscopic deposits of a protein called alpha-synuclein and can be damaging to brain cells over time. Researchers continue to study and analyze to get a better understanding why, the deposits form.
CSW: Is there a cure for LBD?
ARP: Currently, there is no cure for this disease. And I’d like to add, October is Lewy Body Dementia Awareness Month. I posted a recent post on the Loving Lulu Stories page on Facebook. I’d like to note that this post is the one that has had the most engagement on this page and reached over 4500 people and has been shared 40 times.
CSW: That’s great because it says that people are interested in getting to know about LBD and want to get the word out as well.
ARP: I’m happy about those results.
CSW: Can you give a quick summary of what Loving Lulu is about?
ARP: The brief description I share is that “Loving Lulu” is the story of a little girl, Lulu, and her Abuelita who spend a lot of time together while Lulu’s mom is at work. As time passes, Lulu notices changes happening and things don’t seem the same. Lulu’s Abuelita is very important to her and Lulu wants to be sure her Abuelita knows and understands that she is still loved. It’s through her own resourcefulness that Lulu discovers the different ways there are to express and communicate love.
CSW: It sounds like an amazing story about love and family.
ARP: Thank you.
CSW: The year 2020, has been challenging for many. While you were writing Loving Lulu, was it therapeutic for you?
ARP: This project has been a labor of love for a while now. I wrote Loving Lulu as well as a few other short stories in 2018 with the intention that it becomes a series. I chose to release Loving Lulu first because of the connection with my mother’s story. The book has actually been in production since February of 2019 and has gone through many revisions. I’m very pleased with how it has evolved, and my hope it that it is discovered by those that may not even realize they need to have it. Loving Lulu has a special message that can be embraced by everyone.
CSW: When you’re passionate about something, it all falls into place. I know many people will embrace Lulu’s message. Are there any charities or social media pages, the readers can find to help support Dementia or Alzheimer's?
ARP: There are many resources that individuals and families can reach out to for information and support and can be found easily via search engines and social media. One that I found helpful with my mother’s diagnosis is lbda.org which is the Lewy Body Dementia Association and is the organization I have committed to donating a portion of the proceeds of the sale of Loving Lulu. Other resources that may be helpful are act.alz.org which is the Alzheimer’s Association website and caregiving.org which offers information and support to care givers.
CSW: Thanks for sharing that information. Let’s shift a little and allow the readers to get to know you, the author, better. What’s your favorite movie?
ARP: Watching movies is a favorite pastime of mine for many years so it’s hard to pick just one favorite, but my all-time favorite is Titanic and my favorite Christmas movies are Christmas Vacation and White Christmas.
CSW: Tell me your favorite season.
ARP: Autumn is my favorite season and I love everything about it. The weather, the colors, the smells, the flavors, the holidays, the hoodies.
CSW: That’s my favorite too. What’s your favorite color?
ARP: Probably inspired by my favorite season, I tend to lean toward earth tones – burnt orange, brick red, terracotta, shades of green connected to nature. Nothing neon.
CSW: Neon has, to come back. I think of the eighties.
ARP: Gosh, no.
CSW & ARP: Laugh.
CSW: Your favorite dessert is?
ARP: A full transparency moment is that I am a sugar-a-holic! It’s hard to pick one but my favorite go-to for comfort are slice of carrot cake or a warm slice of apple pie.
CSW: I love both of those. Last is, tell me your favorite holiday.
CSW: Great answers. Getting back to Loving Lulu, when will Loving Lulu be available for purchase? And where can we find it?
ARP: Loving Lulu release is scheduled for November 2, 2020. I chose this date in honor of my mother. This is the date of her first heavenly birthday. The books will be available for purchase wherever books are sold. In our initial launch however, we will be directing the audience to purchase from http:/lovinglulu.com/ as we will have special offers only available to those purchasing directly from our website.
CSW: That’s sweet to have it available on your mom’s first heavenly birthday. I like that a lot. And will there be more books to follow?
ARP: Yes and with my first book “Loving Lulu” my intention is to have it grow into a series which is why I’ve called the Facebook group as well as other social media pages – “Loving Lulu Stories”.
CSW: Will an audio version be available?
ARP: Yes!! Audiobooks will be available for Loving Lulu and Lulu Amorosa. Also, the book will be available in English and Spanish. I wanted to have the book available for purchase, completely translated into Spanish, to be enjoyed by those, who Spanish is their first language.
CSW: That’s awesome and important it will be available in English and Spanish. If there is one message you could tell children who are in Lulu’s shoes, what would it be?
ARP: An important addition that was made in one of the revisions for “Loving Lulu” was adding a call to action at the end of the story. Lulu proposes to the reader to think about different ways in which they can express and communicate love. Everyone, young and old, possesses the power within themselves to express kindness and love in what we see, hear, and feel. One of my favorite quotes is from Maya Angelou, “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” It’s important for children to learn from an early age that our actions matter. Always choose kindness.
CSW: That message warms my heart is really needed today. I agree, kids should be taught at an early age that actions matter. Well said and a great quote by Maya Angelou.
ARP: Yes, it is.
CSW: Awilda, this has been wonderful, and I encourage all to buy the book on November 2nd at http:/lovinglulu.com/. And as a reminder, a portion of the proceeds of the sales for Loving Lulu will be donated. The last thing is, let the readers know three words that describe you.
ARP: Creative, resourceful, resilient.
CSW: Awilda Rivera Prignano, I thank you and best wishes for future books to come.