Part-time Parkite pens children’s book
Valerie Harper Pensis’s children’s book, “God Loves to Hear From You!” is available on Amazon.
Valerie Harper Pensis’s new children’s book, “God Loves to Hear From You!” was written out of love for her grandsons River James and Hunter and her love of her Christian faith.
“I just want to be that grandmother whose grandchildren want to be with all the time,” said Pensis, a part-time Parkite who is a host at Deer Valley’s Royal Street Cafe. “I also want to try to instill in them that I’m their second biggest fan – God is their biggest fan.””
“God Loves to Hear From You” is based on the simple idea of children communicating with their parents.
“As parents, we love it when our children call, and I can picture God waiting for us to acknowledge him and thank him for things,” Pensis said.
The 26-page paperback, which is available on Amazon, started out as a scrapbook for her oldest grandson, River James.
“I had taken photos and pasted them on pages and wrote down some thoughts,” Pensis said. “When Hunter was born, I decided to write a book and add him into it.”
Much of the inspiration for the text came from two Bible verses that hung in Pensis’ father’s workshop.
One, citing a verse in the book of Mark, reads: “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”
The other, citing Matthew, reads, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
“These were written on separate sheets of water-stained paper, which I had framed,” Pensis said. “So, seeking God comes from my dad.”
But Pensis didn’t want her grandsons to only worship because she did.
“I don’t want them to go to church out of tradition,” she said. “I want them to go find out for themselves.”
Pensis’ next step in publishing the scrapbook was to find an illustrator. She started with her acquaintances,but their illustrations weren’t what she had in mind.
She took her search online to Etsy, an online storefront for independent artists, and found Virginia-based artist Tracey Taylor Arvidson. Arvidson came with experience illustrating children’s books and has won awards for her work.
The two began working with each other remotely.
“I still haven’t met her face to face,” Pensis said.
All of Arvidson’s illustrations in the book feature a dog and his chew toy somewhere on the page.
“When River (James) was born, they had a Boston terrier, named Doc, who would follow us everywhere, even if was just to change River’s diapers,” Pensis said. “So, I decided to put him on every page, along with his toy.”
That concept was inspired by the “Little Critter” children’s books by Mercer Mayer, according to Pensis.
“Mercer Mayer would put a spider or something on every page that kids could look for,” she said. “So when families read my book they can look for the dog and the toy.”
Pensis’ text is a rhyme about the simple joys of a child’s life.
“It’s funny because I don’t think in rhymes,” she said. “But when I write, I write in rhymes a lot. And I think I got that from my mom.”
Pensis turned to Park City author Katie Mullaly, who writes the “Land of” children’s books and regularly speaks on the creative process, for self-publishing tips.
“I took one of Katie’s classes and bought her book about self-publishing children’s books,” Pensis said. “I decided to publish through Amazon’s Kindle direct publishing, and the book is printed on demand.”
Mullaly also gave Pensis tips on creating her own publishing company.
“My friends call me Valie, so I decided to name my company Dear Valie,” she said with a laugh. “It’s an ode to the fact that I’ve been working at Deer Valley for the past nine years.”
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