I love meeting fellow authors and fellow moms, so I was very excited when Gracie Jagla emailed me a few months ago. She’s a #girlmom who has also written a beautiful book for kids about God. Here, I’m delighted to have the chance to chat with Gracie about her book and how it came to be. (Pssst—if you’re looking for a special Easter present for your kids, may I recommend Gracie’s book, as it’s about Easter and why that’s God’s best day ever!)
I received a copy of Gracie’s book for review; all opinions expressed remain my own. This post contains affiliate links; as an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
TKM: Tell us a bit about yourself!
Gracie Jagla: I am the happiest wife to an incredible man and mama to the sweetest baby girl. My husband and I grew up in the same town, went to the same college, and never even met until years later, when we were set up on a blind date by his mom and our local bishop!
I worked for years at a pro-life pregnancy center before settling down to become a stay-at-home mom, which is a tremendous blessing.
Never had I planned on becoming a published author—I was writing simply to have good stories to read my own children one day. So, having my stories turned into real books by Our Sunday Visitor has been a wonderful surprise.
Our house is filled with more books (and chocolate!) than I can even keep track of and my husband and I are loving life raising this beautiful little girl of ours.
TKM: Tell us a bit about your book.
Gracie: Oh, the amazing ways God can take your own work and transform it into something more beautiful! My first book is a children’s book called God the Father and the Best Day Ever, and it ended up being about something much different than what I set out to do.
The story is basically a retelling of salvation history, all the way through the Resurrection (God’s ‘best day ever’). But, unlike most stories we hear of salvation history, this one is told entirely from the perspective of God the Father. It shows God’s intense desire throughout time to have us reunited with Him and His immense joy at witnessing Heaven fill up with all his little children.
If there’s one thing I hope children and parents take from this book, it’s that God is not an intimidating Father! Rather, he is joyful, lovable and approachable.
TKM: What inspired you to write your book?
Gracie: The inspiration for this book came while I was sitting in adoration a few years ago. I was praying about Heaven, trying to visualize it and feeling disappointed that it wasn’t a place I was excited to go. I asked God for the grace to fall more in love with Heaven. What I pictured in prayer was hardly the cloudy, misty, angels-singing image that Heaven usually conjures up.
Instead, it was filled with lights, colors, people embracing. In short, it was like a glorious celebration or party! But what was most touching of all was picturing the Father in all of this, seeing through His eyes just how much the Resurrection meant to Him. We think so often about our own feelings on entering Heaven, but how beautiful it can be to think of God’s feelings on getting us back to Him!
From that moment on, I wanted to write a book that would potentially alter the way children perceive God the Father and Heaven. I pray this book, in the littlest way, helps others feel closer to God.
TKM: Who is your favourite author and why?
Gracie Jagla: A dozen authors come to mind, but as I am a children’s author, I will stick to children’s writers! My favorite children’s authors are Anthony Destefano and Katie Warner. I have a love for Anthony Destefano’s rhymes and creativity and for Katie Warner’s heart. Each of them captures not just the truth of the faith but the joy, life, and FUN of it as well! I am first in line for each of their new books and learn from them, as well as many other authors, every day.
TKM: What was the most challenging part of writing your book, and how did you overcome that challenge?
Gracie: That’s a simple one! The most challenging part of writing this book was definitely trying to put into words things that are so great, they are beyond words. This whole book is about trying to give children a glimpse of Heaven and the Father’s love. How do you even begin to describe something like that? It is intimidating and humbling, to say the least! God is so great that I knew that nothing I wrote could ever fully do Him a justice.
The number one thing I have done to overcome this is to do as much of my writing as possible in prayer, preferably before the Blessed Sacrament. I loved being in a place of such closeness to Jesus that He can oversee and guide all of my work. The closer I am to prayer, the better my writing will be. Because God is at the heart of all prayer and He is perfect!
TKM: What was the most fun or most exciting part of writing a children’s book?
Gracie: From start to finish, it has almost all been fun! But among all the joyful moments, one of the most exciting was the first time I ever saw the illustrations. Seeing these words come to life through pictures adds a whole new dimension of excitement. It’s the first time the story felt like a real book to me. Holding a hard copy of the book for the first time was pretty thrilling as well. I remember opening UPS boxes with great enthusiasm for weeks before I got my first copy of the book, only to be disappointed that it was other random purchases I had made instead of the book!
Although, I think the moment that tops all the others has got to be doing book readings for children in schools! Sharing the story with children, getting to directly see their enthusiasm—it is my favorite thing! Children are far more creative than I and have a special innocence and closeness to God. They have often shared with me their own little insights or hidden treasures on the book that I never even caught myself! Getting to read the story to children brings me back to the heart of why I write.
TKM: What advice would you give to a writer just starting out?
Gracie Jagla: Offer all of your writing up to God and then trust that He will make of it whatever He wants it to be. I never wrote with the intention of getting published; I wrote because I loved it and because it was important to me to have strong stories on the faith to read to my own children.
To be honest, I was intimated by the thought of sending my hard work out into the publishing world, to possibly be rejected. I very much felt my lack of experience and connections and didn’t even know where to begin.
But God has a way of making things work in ways we would never expect. Thanks to Him and my publisher, this book is a reality.
You can’t go wrong if you are writing about things you love and then offering them up to Jesus. Maybe He wants your work to be shared with the whole world! If that’s the case, He will help you make it happen. Or maybe He desires your work to be shared with those closest to you. I know I will write many things throughout my life that will only ever be seen by my family. And that is a great blessing as well.
TKM: Where is your favourite place to write?
Gracie: There is this adorable little window nook in the upstairs attic of our house that is just made for writing! I go and sit up in the window sill, usually covered in a giant quilt, and look down at our little neighborhood as I write. It is perfect!
TKM: Who is your favourite saint and why?
Gracie: Maximilian Kolbe has long been a favorite of mine. To be honest, I think he might be one of my favorites just because I know the most about him! In college, I read many biographies on him and got to learn much more than just the “big moments” of his life that we often hear about. Getting to know so much about a great saint like that, you can’t help but fall in love!
I think, if I had the time to learn that much about every saint, then every saint would be my favorite! Falling in love with the saints feels a lot like falling in love with God—the more you know them, the more you are able to love.
TKM: Do you have another book in the works?
Gracie Jagla: I do! My second children’s book is coming out winter 2021. It is a Christmas book called The Night the Saints Saved Christmas. It’s an imaginative story about St. Nicholas getting sick on Christmas Eve and employing help from all the saints to help him deliver gifts all over the world. But, at the end of the night, the saints find themselves back at the manger to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas. This book holds a special place in my heart and I can hardly wait to see it come to print!
In addition to the Christmas book, I always have a few other books in the works. We will see what becomes of them!
For more about Gracie Jagla and her next books, follow her on Instagram! God the Father and the Best Day Ever is available on Amazon and at your favourite Catholic bookstore. Gracie is also a regular contributor to CatholicMom.com.