Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Tamara Levitt, Happiness Doesn't Come from Headstands

AUTHOR: Tamara Levitt
BOOK TITLE: Happiness Doesn’t Come from Headstands
PUBLISHER: Begin Within Productions

Tell me a little about your book.

Happiness Doesn’t Come from Headstands is a picture book about a girl named leela who dreams of doing headstands. However, no matter how hard she tries, she’s unable to achieve her goal. She’s devastated by this as we usually are when faced with defeat, but through discovering that having a failure doesn’t mean that “she” is failure, she is ultimately able to find happiness.

This story offers an alternative to the “little engine that could” message that practice makes perfect and that if we just keep trying, we eventually reach a goal. The reality is, no matter how hard we try, we’re sometimes still unable to succeed in life. This book encourages cultivating self-acceptance, compassion and resilience in order to accept, learn and grow from defeat.

What gave you the idea for this particular story?

The story was in part inspired by my own struggle with perfectionism, which I’ve had since childhood and lead to a lack of self-acceptance or self-compassion. These were qualities I’ve had to learn as an adult and continue to practice as best as I can.

The beliefs we learn as children become our core beliefs as adults, so my intention through the work I create is to inspire healthy and empowering belief systems in children from the start, to help them become high functioning, happy, adults.

My sense has always been that if I had known some of what I know now, at a younger age, life could have been easier. Perhaps I would have been a little less afraid to fail in life, and would have been a little more resilient when I did. My hope is the struggles I’ve faced and learned from in life, can help others.

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
I invest most of my time in my company Begin Within where I create inspirational content for both children and adults such as books, apps, and transmedia properties. My goal is to help people “find the calm within the chaos.” I work far beyond what are typical full time hours, and wish I could say I was writing full time, but as an entrepreneur, my time is split between writing, working with service providers (such as illustrators, graphic designers, and printing companies,) selling and marketing my book, shipping, doing promotion, social media and blogging, along with the many other “parts” of self publishing which are too many to name. I’m a busy gal.

When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
My background is in music and I’ve been writing music since I was a late teen but it’s only been within the last 5 years that I’ve really identified as a writer. For a time, I tried to find people to help bring my numerous ideas to life, but ultimately I realized that the best way to manifest my visions clearly was to learn how to write so I could effectively bring them to life myself. Literary work doesn’t come as instinctively to me as writing music, but it’s equally as meaningful.

What do you hope readers will take from your writing?
I’ll refer to the message of Happiness Doesn’t Come from Headstands specifically.  We’re living in a time when children are experiencing more stress, anxiety and pressure than ever before and the pressure to succeed is often overwhelming. Children are learning to equate their self-worth with achievement and developing a deep fear of failure (and even trying). So it’s more important than ever before to empower children by teaching them that failure is okay, through enhancing their self-acceptance, self-compassion, and an ability to find gratitude in every day moments.

Which genres do you write, which do you prefer, and why?
I enjoy writing in many demographics and genres. My challenge is that as a self-published author I haven’t had the resources to share it all - Yet! I have been focusing on picture books as they are such a passion of mine and I will have another picture book for kids on the theme of meditation, as well as one for adults called “You Are Enough” out by the end of 2013. I’m also tremendously excited about a middle grade novel I’m currently writing, and a YA novel and script are on hold until time allows for development.

What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?
I have very little time. That’s been my biggest sacrifice.

Is there anything in your story based upon a real life event? If so, tell me about it.

Absolutely. As an artist, I have had great practice in rising from failure.  Happiness Doesn’t Come from Headstands evolved out of an idea for a television series that I had a great deal of interest in. I had received an option for it, and at one point was developing it with a production company. But after investing years of time and money into this project, I realized it was ahead of it’s time, and still required development, so I decided to shelf it. The failure of that project to me, represented that I was a failure and I fell into deep depression. Once I had some time, gaining some wisdom and clarity, I began to question that belief, and out of a desire to help others in a similar position, Happiness Doesn’t Come from Headstands was born.

The work I create is often written for myself as a reminder in times of challenge. We all need reminders, including those who regard themselves as subject authorities or teachers, and that’s okay. No one is perfect. The goal is to find acceptance and compassion for ourselves within our imperfections. This is yet another way to find the calm within the chaos. ;)

What is your marketing plan?
Oh, there is a big plan indeed! As a self-published author I’m selling my book on my website http://www.beginwithin.ca/ and also on  Amazon for US and international buyers. I’ll be starting a video blog offering blogs and interviews which people can sign up for here. I’m big on social media and facilitate my Twitter and Facebook group pages to help spread the word about my work and appreciate others helping out in that regard. I have already begun to sell my books in stores locally which are listed on my website. And I’ll be doing author readings – my first one being an event at The Bay Bloor location of Chapters Indigo here in Toronto on July 27th.  The key is to spread the word through social media, word of mouth, and offer reviews on Amazon.

Where can people learn more about you and your work?
My website Begin Within is the best place to learn more about me, and my projects. The best way to connect with me personally is through my Twitter account and my Facebook group. There, you can find out about events, contests, updates and all things Begin Within!

Any tips for new writers hoping to write in the genre of your book?
Find one person who completely believes in you and listen to them when you fall into self-doubt. I’m very fortunate to have had that one person in my life.

What’s in the future for you?
I’ll be attending the Los Angeles SCBWI book conference in August which I’m very much looking forward to. You can view my upcoming project page in Begin Within to see some of the upcoming projects I’m working on!

Happiness Doesn’t Come from Headstands 
By Tamara levitt

Leela loved to do yoga.
(Yay Yoga!)

She practiced each week with her best friend Lyle.
They could do all sorts of fancy poses.
Like downward dog,

Tree pose,

And cat pose.

But there was one pose that Leela couldn’t do.
She couldn’t do a headstand.

Each time Leela tried,
she counted…
Then she swung her legs into the air and…

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