Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Fiona Page Talks About Being Blind and Bettina the Bold


Fiona Page is a children's author who could inspire us all.  Despite her blindness, she had a goal of becoming a published author.  Her inspiring story for children, Bettina The Bold, is her reward for patience and hard work. 



Please tell me how long you've been writing, and why you decided to become a writer.

I was speaking to groups all over Georgia and some eastern seaboard states when I had to give my vocal cords a rest—doctor's orders. I could not imagine not being able to talk for two months, so I decided it was time to write down my experiences since becoming blind. I wrote for six months. Forty-seven stories, then I tired of it and gave it to an editor. We sent it to one agent who let it sit on his desk. It wasn't his genre, so I got discouraged. Then seven years later, my editor is bugging me to do something with it. I picked it up again and got excited to finish it for my legacy to my grandchildren.

Are you a full-time writer or a part-time writer, and how do you organize your writing?

I am retired so I guess I am a writer when the creative thoughts come. I write early in the morning and late at night.

What influences your writing?

People and experiences

Is this your first published work?  What other types of writing have you done?

I have written articles as a speaker, which were included in books by a group of speakers. I have recorded and sold several collections of stories about my life and two recordings about the Okefenokee Swamp.

Why did you choose to write a children's story?

Late one night, it came to me that I needed to share my fear, frustration, and attitude through a creature. I wanted children to understand that making connections with other people meant we have to develop the right attitude no matter what we are faced with. It was ironic that I choose the name Bettina and to call her a queen. I later discovered Bettina is the name of a Peruvian species of butterfly, and that there is a Queen species in my hometown. That sealed the story's fate. It was meant to be written.

What was the process of creating this book from the first idea to the final published?

The story wrote itself. My grandchildren gave me ideas for improving it by their actions and words. They talked about making friends. My granddaughter needed to learn manners. A few months later, I met a visually impaired young woman who took an interest in the story and she edited it. Another friend of mine is a wonderful artist, and she was meant to create the vision book.

What are your thoughts on traditional versus self-publishing?

Times are changing. I was told not to self-publish. I was discouraged by one traditionally published author, but I didn't have the time nor the ability to find publishers on my own. I just picked up the phone and started calling printing companies because I knew I would have to market it myself anyway—what did I need a publisher for except to give it national recognition? I wasn't sure it was good enough for national recognition. I had to test it first. Now I know it is good enough. I have a book I am very proud of with the help of a great team. I think making a recording of it was important for students who are visually impaired. My goal is to put it out there for all who face challenges.

What is your marketing strategy?

I have had twenty-five years of telling stories in schools. I am using word of mouth which I believe is most effective. I call every day looking for a place to share the book. I am placing the books in nature stores, gift shops, and selling at festivals.

What are your thoughts about children's writers needing an agent or not needing one?

An agent can certainly help one find national recognition, and I have been told if one signs with a publisher, advice from the experienced is imperative. On the other hand, all that cuts into profit and control of one's vision.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing?

Please visit my website, www.fionapage.com, for more information about me and my writing.

Do you have any tips for writers who are new to children's literature?

I am so new myself that the best advice I can give is get a lot of opinions, but remember they are only opinions. Evaluate carefully. Join a critique group. I have not and wish I had. Now I don't have time.



Please give us a brief synopsis about your current book and when and where it will be available.

In the piney woods of southeast Georgia, a Queen butterfly named Bettina emerges from her chrysalis into a world of darkness. Wondering why it is so dark, she sets out to find the sun. What Bettina doesn’t understand is that no matter how hard she tries, her eyes don’t see. Bettina is blind.

Frustrated, Bettina pushes a hungry bee. She insults a friendly grasshopper. Feeling as though she doesn’t belong, she wishes she could go back to being a caterpillar.

Finding Bettina lost and lonely, a blind bat named Helen befriends her. Helen encourages Bettina to change her attitude. She instructs her on how to use polite behavior to attract friends as well as how to use her other senses to see. In an amazing transformation, Bettina sheds her unfriendly ways and becomes the social Queen butterfly she was born to be.

Bettina the Bold is available on my website along with my memoir which came out after the children's book. Both books are also available on Amazon and in the independent bookseller's catalog.

2 comments:

  1. Wow, what a delightful sounding book!
    One of my daughters is named Fiona. She's delighted to learn about a writer named Fiona. I read her the book's description and she said it sounds great because she too needs to learn to be polite because, in her words, "It's not easy." LOL

    ReplyDelete
  2. The book does sounds quite wonderful. Best of luck, Fiona.

    ReplyDelete