I just love Chit Chat Fridays! It's my favourite day of the week on the blog. I love getting to know creative individuals a bit more and finding out how they got to where they are now. It's very encouraging for me and I hope it is for you too! And I just love promoting new brands, ideas, etc.
Last Month Edith turned 1 years old and I was looking for a special gift for her first birthday. I came across Just For You Stories and thought this is it, this is the special gift for my special Edith. Just For You Stories is exactly that, a special story written for your special little one. Elestren the owner and writer of Just For You Stories writes the cutest story for your little one based on a questionnaire you fill out. After recieving Edith's, I went home and read it out loud to my family and we all just fell in love with the story and the story describe Edith so well! It was fun, cute, silly, and made you want to dance. It is Edith's own special story that she will keep forever and ever and one day share it with her kids and there kids, etc. It's also a great capturing of what they were like at that time in their life. It's like capturing a beautiful picture but in words.
Check out Just For You Stories and have Elestren write on for your special one!
You can check out Edith's story here, it's called Edie had red lipstick all through her hair:
Edie Bear had red lipstick all through her hair....
This is a story commissioned for a little girl's First Birthday. Her Mummy gave me a lot of information about this wonderful girl. I got a fantastic idea of who she is and this is what I came up with. Happy Birthday Edith!
Edie Bear didn't care that she had red lipstick all through her hair. It was far too splendid doing Olga's make-up, just like a grown-up, to have a scowl across her face, it was Ace!
Now, Olga on the other hand, didn't seem to understand, her smile went from up, to upside down. Edie Bear tried to cheer her up, despite still doing her make-up. First she tried to dance around to the sound of birds in the background. But still, Olga Owl had a scowl.
Edie Bear showed her a book, but it was no good, she wouldn't look! Not even the one about the Owl Moon! No hoot, twit twoo! Olga Owl still had a scowl.
Edie Bear sang a song, hoping Olga would sing along. She knew it well, so Edie Bear started to yell …If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands. If you’re happy and you know it clap your …but her wings didn’t do a thing. Olga Owl still had a scowl.
Edie Bear then tried to sing a different one: Row, Row, Row your boat gently down the stream, if you see a crocodile, don’t forget to scream … But she didn’t hear a scream, not a hoot for her favourite nursery rhyme. Olga Owl still had a scowl.
Edie bear enlisted help; she got Louis off the shelf. Perhaps his monkey-ing around might do the trick …he swung from side to side and around her head, while Edie played her shaker and jumped on her bed. BOUNCE … SHOOKSHOOK … BOUNCE … SHOOKSHOOK …But still they couldn't make her turn that frown upside down. Olga still had a scowl.
Then … Louis had a good idea, he smudged lipstick on Edie from ear to ear! As Edie Bear danced and pouted, smiled and sang and was happy about it,
Olga Owl 's frown turned upside down....they had stopped her scowl!!
Together they went, hand in hand and hand in wing, to make it down to the gathering. All could see the mess of red, but as it was her Birthday, nobody said, and just sang Happy Birthday to Edie instead!
I had a lovely Chit Chat with Elestern and this is what she had to say:
Tell me about yourself, what is your background?
Hi, I'm Elestren (it's a Cornish name - it means Iris- as in the flower) and I'm the founder of Just for you Stories. I'm originally from Devon but now live in Muswell Hill. I live with my husband, my daughter Nora (who is snuggly but is becoming a menace :)) and our pet Rabbit, Archie (who has always been a menace! :))
I have written all my life, in various forms and have a background in English (literature and language) and have taught English. I love words and language and how you can play about with the feel, context and sound of words and their interplay and meaning. When my daughter was born I started making stories up for her and enjoyed doing it so much that I started writing them down and writing them for others.
How did Just for you Stories come about?
When Nora was first born, she would be awake from 1am to 5am, every night! She just wouldn't settle. So one night, to keep me sane, I made up a story for Nora, which I repeated and repeated. It did indeed keep me sane, and Nora learnt to sleep. This was my first story: Snuggly, Buggly, Ruggly Nora, goes to find a Polar Bear.
I made up many more. They were silly stories for my daughter, but I was enjoying it so much that I thought I would write one for a friend's baby's First Birthday. This was the first time I framed and illustrated a story. I did a few drawings of musical notes and swirls. I then decided to do some more ... a few of which can be found on my website. They were all 1st Birthday gifts. They loved them and I enjoyed writing the stories and illustrating them immensely! It struck me that other people would probably love them for their own children or would like to buy them as gifts for children they knew. And so, the idea of Just for you Stories was born. As a child I loved Rudyard Kipling's Just so Stories, so I decided to amalgamate this with, for you, as these stories are above all else, for you; whoever you may be and wherever you are.
What is the creative process when writing a story?
First of all I read all the information from the questionnaire that has been filled in and then I make my own version of a spider-diagram with all the information and any ideas I get at that time. I then spend some time just thinking about this information, forming a picture in my mind of who this child is and what they are like. I constantly carry a notebook around with me with the info in, so that when inspiration strikes, I write! Sometimes I come up with a few different stories in rough and then tweak and finalise the one I think best suits the child and the information I've been given. The questionnaire makes all the difference: if someone has just put one word answers it makes it a lot harder to gain a snapshot of the child and to draw inspiration. I still do, but it's harder. I always do a lot of reading of it out loud, to my daughter and to my husband, to get a feel for the rhythm, the language and rhyme. I always think, a good story needs to read out loud well.
Have you had a request that really touched your heart?
This sounds soppy, but they all touch my heart to be honest. I honestly find it is a privilege writing these stories for people and knowing that they will be a keepsake. I think of them as portraits in words of children, so each one I write is special to me.
What has been the funniest story to write so far?
The funniest story I have written so far is probably one about a little girl who needs to go to the loo (she is potty training). I wrote about the bodily functions and feelings, but in a humorous and light hearted manner (no gross stuff I promise!). I called it, 'It wasn't Ants in her Pants that made her Dance'.
Do you have a favourite children's book?
I have loads! Both from when I was a child and now from reading with Nora. Mine and Nora's favourite is 'Rumble in the Jungle' - it has fantastic rhythm and rhyme (it feels like you are reading a song, almost. The pictures are Fab too! I love all of the 'Just So Stories' and I have a special place in my heart for Roald Dahl's 'Revolting Rhymes and Dirty Beasts' and Michael Rosen's 'You Can't Catch Me'.
How would you describe your writing style?
There is somewhat of the nonsense rhyme (with a bit more story) feel to my writing style. I like to think I write in a similar way to Michael Rosen, Quentin Blake and Roald Dahl (but a bit less naughty :)). Rhythm and rhyme are what are important to me. And of course, having fun with the words.
Do you have a favourite cafe, bookstore etc?
I absolutely love working in libraries. There is something so inspirational and calming about being in a library for me. A little place of tranquillity in this hectic world. (Though maybe not in the children's bit :)!)
I also like sitting in my garden. Something about the fresh air and the birds singing makes me think creatively.
If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be?
I would love to collaborate with Quentin Blake. He is a personal hero of mine and I would love his input and his quirky drawings.
What is your favourite childhood memory?
My favourite childhood memory is listening to my mum or dad read the different rhymes from 'You can't catch me.' They used to fill me with an excited 'terror' that I enjoyed so much! It probably didn't lead to me going to bed nice and quietly (as both were quite animated readers), but I loved it! Stories have always been a very important part of my life, even from a very early age.
What is the best advice someone has given you?
The best bit of advice would actually be from my father (I can't remember where he heard it from): it is to 'Always keep the main thing, the main thing'. It has kept me focussed on what I want to do and kept me going in a direction (even if the main thing changes over time). For me at the moment, the main thing is for me to be able to look after Nora and to keep on writing stories for people, which I adore doing. So that is what I am working on....
Do you have any advice to give us?
To never give up on your dreams, because one day when you are encouraging your children to follow their dreams, they may well just ask you what yours were. What would you like to tell them? So give it a go, you can't climb a mountain without taking that first step. It's not always easy, but as Lynika Cruz wrote: 'Live from that place in you that knows where the light switch is, trust it. Dare to live out loud with what drives you and don't ever save anything for a special occasion. Being alive is the special occasion.'
Where would you like to see Just for you Stories go in the future?
I would love to see Just for you Stories expand and grow. At the moment it is fairly local trade so I would love to see it grow across the UK and then the world....Mwah ha ha ha! :)