Gabrielle BegunAuthor of Freddy the PennySan Francisco, CAPhotography by Lauri LevenfeldStory by Lauri Levenfeld
When I heard Gabrielle’s story, my jaw hit the ground. Being a mom of a 5-year old, I was inspired and excited to see how a ten year old had the drive and dedication to take an award-winning writing assignment and turn it into a published first book. That’s exactly what Gabrielle did (with her awesome family beside her!) and now Freddy the Penny is on sale and hopefully coming to a bookshelf near you. I sat down for a Q&A with Gabrielle, and then, asked her mom about the behind the scenes of how she took her daughter’s dreams and helped make them a reality.
Margarita…From day one, when Gabrielle came home from school and announced that she wanted to write a book about a penny, I never stopped believing in her. I was always amazed at her dedication. She began writing at age 8 and finished the book when she was 9. For a year, she would wake up at 6am every day and write for 15-30 minutes. Her dedication encouraged me to do something with her story. At first I showed her finished work to her language arts teacher in school.
She was impressed and advised us to apply to the CATE contest. When Gabrielle’s work was recognized by CATE and she received a “Writer of Distinction Award”, I knew it was my responsibility to publish it. And when she wanted to organize a first writer’s club in school, I helped her make the flyers and distribute them at school.
At the end of each year, we give a complimentary certification to each club member. And recently, when she wanted to apply for a copywriter position on the yearbook, I helped her out with the resume and the interview process. I always try to encourage my kids to pursue their dreams and to not be afraid of any challenges that they may encounter on their path as I’m always there for them and always supportive of all their endeavors.
1. Who are you? And what are you currently up to?
2. What is your biggest source of inspiration?
3. How do you keep your social and school life at balance?
4. What is one piece of advice you could pass on to others about following your authentic self?
5. What do you do for fun?
6. What is a typical day?
7. Who is your support system and how do they support you on your unique path?
8. How have your peers or adults felt about your early accomplishments?
9. Have you always known this is what you wanted to do? When did you know? Was there a moment?
10. Where do you want to be in five years from now?
My Fave Five Books/ Authors
1. Divergent (Veronica Roth)
2. Percy Jackson Heroes of Olympus (Rick Riordan)
3. Lemony Snicket (A Series of Unfortunate Events)
4. James Dashgner (the Maze Runner)
5. The Giver (Lois Lowry)
Margarita…It took me a year to find a publisher who would was interested in taking on a younger writer. I mailed out a lot of manuscripts to children’s publishers in USA and even United Kingdom. In September of 2013, we signed the contract with a small independent publisher, Lekha Ink. While they work on the book publishing process, I had to take on a few more responsibilities such as the book release party, marketing and distribution. I was astonished at how many people were willing to support and sponsor my family on this journey.
Our future plans to bring our beloved “Freddy the Penny” live to the big screen.