“You may not know where the journey is going to lead you but have faith in that journey… Great things are ahead.” -Alysson Bourque
If you’re not happy enough with what you’re doing, perhaps that’s not what you should be doing. Sometimes, we make catastrophically poor choices with an undesirable pay-off. Alysson Bourque mentions some pointers that helped her fill the void in her life and get to where she is now. Her ride was tough, full of doubt and uncertainty. Yet, her story is an inspiring tale of overcoming fear. It’s just a matter of authorizing yourself to take on that journey and stop wasting time wandering down deadends. It’s not easy but your journey can be worthwhile.
Listen to the podcast here:
01:08 Filling the Void
05:52 The Alycat Series
12:11 Books as Teachers
21:08 Give Yourself Permission
24:15 Something More Than A Hobby
31:21 No Fear In Faith
37:23 What Makes A Kid Smile
44:13 Have Faith in Your Journey
Resources:Follow your heart- That’s where you’re meant to be. @myexpectation and @AlyssonFBourque shares how to make the journey worthwhile. #Alycat #ReadingIsFun #Faith #Journey #PermitYourself Click To Tweet
“Problems will arise… But also we can solve those problems with simple things.” -Alysson Bourque
“If you can teach your child how to expect and manage their expectations, they will have a life filled with joy.” -Art Costello
“The simplest of words… may just touch a child at the moment that they need to be touched and change their outlook on life forever.” -Art Costello
“Don’t stop what you really feel in your heart that you should be doing because of fear and give yourself permission to do these things.” -Alysson Bourque
“If you have faith, and you do what you do in faith, it will never ever fail you… because you do it for the right reasons.” -Art Costello
“Our expectations are not going to be easy, but it’s going to be worth it. I think that we can succeed in anything. And this is a simple thing that matters.” -Alysson Bourque
“You may not know where the journey is going to lead you but have faith in that journey… Great things are ahead.” -Alysson Bourque
Alysson Bourque found happiness in writing trial briefs as a law practitioner for 6 years. But this happiness isn’t in full measure as she felt a void in her heart. After receiving a delightful “GO!” signal from her kids, Alysson finally gave herself permission to follow her heart. She authored the award-winning Alycat Series, which was based on her childhood experiences. When she’s not daydreaming about her next story, Alysson is out doing author visits and speaking at conferences, schools and festivals. Her message is simple: Follow your dreams and believe in yourself whole-heartedly.
Art Costello: Welcome to the Shower Epiphanies Podcast, today, Alysson Bourque is our guests. She is an author of the award winning Alycat series. Alison earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and a Juris Doctor degree from Southern University Law Center. After practicing law for six years, she traded in writing trial briefs for writing children’s books. Alison enjoys public speaking opportunities at schools, conferences, and festivals nationwide. She hopes to inspire people of all ages to follow their dreams and believe in themselves wholeheartedly. Thank you, Alysson, for being here today. We are thrilled.
Alysson Bourque: Thank you for having me. I am so excited to be a part of this.
Art Costello: Yup. Can you tell us how this journey began, and what your journey was like?
Alysson Bourque: Sure, sure. So it’s been an incredible journey. I’ve never imagined that it would have brought me to the places that I am, and brought me so much happiness and joy. I guess I should start from the beginning where I graduated from ULO in Louisiana with the Elementary Education degree. I went on to teach first grade and really loved it, but I always, I knew there was something else I wanted to do. At that time, I thought it was practicing law, and so I applied and I got into Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge. So, I went there and I ended up graduating and practice law as the assistant attorney general sort of about six and a half years. I really liked the job. I loved the writing aspect of it. I love writing the trial briefs. I was honored to rewrite the emergency handbook for the State of Louisiana after hurricane Katrina. So we kind of rewrote it, made it work better, you know, in times of emergency. And I love the writing essay. So, I had two kids and they were young, they are about two years apart, and they were running around, and I’d get home from work, my husband would get home from work, and I just felt like I was missing out on that precious time with them at such a young age. And I talked to my husband and I said: “You know, it would be nice to kind of take a year off of practicing law and stayed home with them, and I can help them with their homework. I can bring them to school, I can attend field trips, I can do all these wonderful things.” And he is so supportive, and said: “Okay, sure.” And for about a year, I did that, and I love doing that. And it was such a special time in my life, but in the back of my mind, I felt like there was something more, there was always some void that needed to be filled. I loved being with my children. I love being, I guess stay at home mom and attending all their school events.
But I felt like I wasn’t giving the world what I needed to give. And so, one night we brought our children upstairs to go to bed and we read them a story every single night, and their bookshelf is overflowing with books, and we built the bookshelf ourselves. So we were like, okay, you know, we might need to make a bigger bookshelf and the kids were: “Mom, dad, we need to buy more books. We’ve read all of these books and it’s already overflowing.” And I said: “Well, maybe I’ll write you a book. How about I just write you a story?” And they looked at me, and then they both jumped on the bed and started jumping up and down and just cheering and chanting and saying: “Yes, do it, mom, go for it.” And at that moment, that was my aha moment that I needed to do this, that these children inspired me to do something that was a void in my life. So we put them to bed, and I went downstairs, and I got a notebook and just started jotting down the first story of the Alycat series. And since then, it’s been since 2016, I have just been doing that. I haven’t gone back to practicing law. I do miss it at times, but this is so much fun. It provides so much joy and fulfillment, and I feel like this is my mission, this is what I’m supposed to do, and all because my two little children said we believe in you, and that was enough for me to believe in myself.
Art Costello: Yeah, that’s a really, really tremendous gift that your children gave you, for them to be able to believe in you enough to tell you to go write the book. I mean, to write a book series, and let me, I would just want to read something real quick. I want to read awards and honors that you’ve gotten with this book series. You’ve had the 3 Mom’s Choice Awards, the Benjamin Franklin Digital Award, the Independent Book Publishers Association Award, the Best Book Awards Finalists reviewed by Midwest Book Review, Southern Festival of Books Panelist, Louisiana Book Festival Featured Author, not very many authors at all get so quickly, so many accolades. And I think it speaks to the quality of your writing and your structure to put it all together.
Alysson Bourque: Thank you. My stories are inspired by my childhood, and my children’s childhood, and experiences. And I kind of tap into those things that I remember from childhood that made me happy. I kind of go back and see what made me sad, what kind of problems I had and how it affected my life, and those are the things that I write about. And in the book series, Alycat, she’s the main character, she has different problems that arise, just like everybody dies, and she has to solve these problems. And so, in every book she’s solving these problems with either creativity, friendship, imagination, all of these tools that kids can use. And that’s what I used. And I tried to teach my own children when their problems arise. So I wanted children to be able to have the tools to be able to first recognize that problems will arise, and it’s okay. But also we can solve those problems with simple things. Whether it is help from a friend, a listening ear, a sounding board, maybe, like in one of my books, Alycat’s helping another friend, and by helping a friend, she ends up solving her own problems. So sometimes doing those things can solve problems, imagination, creativity, tapping into those things that bring us joy can really solve a problem.“Problems will arise… But also we can solve those problems with simple things.” -Alysson Bourque Click To Tweet
Art Costello: So just like living life, it’s like everyday life. Have you ever thought about, you know, because my area of expertise is on expectations and I had that thought when you were telling me about, you know, that you present everyday problems and let children see that there is. And I believe that if you can teach a child how to expect, manage their expectations, they will have a life filled with joy and happiness. And you ever think about incorporating that kind of thought into your books?“If you can teach your child how to expect and manage their expectations, they will have a life filled with joy.” -Art Costello Click To Tweet
Alysson Bourque: I do. You know, it’s funny because whenever I was a child and maybe more of an adolescent preteen, if I had a good day, I’d want that whole day to be repeated. Not the entire day, but the good vibe of the day. And so, if I had a bad day, I would look at that day when we get home and say: “Okay, what did I do today? Because maybe that’s why it turned bad. Did I use this hairbrush? Did I eat this certain meal? Did I get off on this side of the bed?” And then when I’d have a good day, I would get off on the same side of the bed. You know, I wouldn’t go on the left side, go on the right side, or I would wear this lucky outfit. And so, my expectations were so high that every day would be good. And so I often think about that, that I could write a book about not lowering your expectations, but understanding that in the end it’ll all work out. And if you know that, then you can succeed and you can get through any kind of bad day. And so, my fourth book that’s coming out, it’s Alycat and the Tournament Tuesday, I’ve kind of incorporated that a bit that Alycat’s have a brother, has a lucky ball that he plays in the golf tournament with, Alycat is in charge of going to get that lucky ball for him. And so when she goes inside, she grabs a ball, gets in the car, they get to the golf course and she realizes she grabbed the wrong ball. So in true child fashion she decides, how am I going to solve this problem? Maybe I can turn this into a lucky balls, and she — friends have some markers and she actually kind of tricks him and get the ball to youth. And of course, he does well because he practices and he works hard at golf and he’s golf tournaments. And then his ball goes in the water and the drawing washes off, and he discovers he doesn’t have his lucky ball and she, of course, is hiding in the back of the golf cart with her parents and she realizes, Oh, that was a bad idea. Well, there’s a lot of lessons learned from this book that, number one, it’s better to be honest and not trick someone even if you have good intentions, sometimes it’s best just to be honest. And second, he didn’t need his lucky ball after all, his expectations should have been on the fact that he practices hard, he’s going to do his best, and however it turns out he knows and can be happy with the fact that he worked hard towards that goal, not lucky ball.
Art Costello: Now I see why your books are so well received by people because those are tremendous life lessons and that’s what I think you focus on this teaching life lessons at your Alycat Series . Is that a fair estimation of what you do?
Alysson Bourque: Yes, yes. I definitely want life lessons for children to be introduced through books and literature, I think it’s a great way to not just, you know, as a parent when you want to teach your child something, you can talk to them and you can speak to them directly, and sometimes they’ll listen, and sometimes they’ve heard it so much that maybe they tune you out, but if you can find a book that has that life lesson that you need to talk to them about, you can just maybe casually just sit down and read a book, and the book can give them those tools without the parent or the teacher having to just say directly, you shouldn’t lie, you shouldn’t rely on luck, you need to work hard. Sometimes you can do it in a way where they enjoy the lesson, but yes, I do feel like books are a great tool for teaching life lessons.
Art Costello: When you were little, what did you read?
Alysson Bourque: I read things like Happy Birthday, Moo, I love that book. I love a lot of the Dr. Seuss books, of course, they are just such classics. And I liked Where The Sidewalk Ends, I like a lot of inspirational books, books that had a message where it wasn’t kind of in your face that you deduct the lesson and the reasoning behind it.
Art Costello: When I was young, we couldn’t get TV reception, of course, I am a little bit older than you, you know, so we didn’t have a TV, and the only thing we had in our house was an old library that my parents had collected over the years. My dad was a printer and a newspaper man, so he proofread a lot of, you know, different stuff, but he was an avid reader. So, I read The Iliad and the Odyssey and Shakespeare. I read a lot of Shakespeare, but you know, it was so beneficial to me being able to read like that when all my other friends that lived in town were watching Mickey Mouse Club, and you know, all this stuff and it really helped me form a lot of ideas in my head because I used it to get out of the situation I was in cause I wasn’t very happy. My parents were separated and we were alone on the farm and didn’t have a lot of people around us. So my escape, but my favorite book that to this day is The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. And it’s crazy because it’s about a man that dreams, and just dreams big, and then he fantasizes about living out those dreams. But when children read, there’s so many studies that have now been done about the benefits of it, you know, eye hand coordination, a lot of that. And too many kids today are growing up with video games and all that kind of stuff and not reading real books, so it’s really good. You answered actually one of my first questions was going to be how did your childhood help your writing skills and you heard the answered in it. Other than your children telling you, had you ever thought you’d be drawn to writing children’s books?
Alysson Bourque: No. No. I was always writing trial briefs. I was writing motions for summary judgment. I was writing all of these things and didn’t really have time to tap into what I really, really would have enjoyed doing at the time. I never thought about writing children’s books, but as a child, I had a really vivid imagination. So we would walk to school, and I would stare up at the clouds, and I would imagine them being characters. And when I would ride in the car and my parents would play music, I would look out the window and imagine different scenarios if it was a good song, I liked it, that I would imagine me and my little friends lying music and singing on a stage and getting to go to, you know, waterpark and a free pass. And so it was just, I know a lot of kids like to dream off into imagination. I do think that I may have done that more than most kids because the reason that I went with the name Alycat is because when I was about 10 years old, I would daydream a lot in class. I was a good student, but I would learn quickly, and so I’d have extra time. And so, I start daydreaming and my teacher, one of my teachers, she would snap her finger and she’d say: “Alycat, come back to earth. It’s time to learn the next lesson.” And so for me, that name was a representation of somebody who liked to be a big dreamer, and imagine, and go into these worlds and escape from reality. And so that’s what Alycat is for me, it is a play on my name, Allysson, but it really is based of my childhood and memories from a teacher who called me Alycat whenever I was daydreaming. And it’s just really, you know, it really stuck with me and I still do that, and I still daydream, but now I did write it down.
Art Costello: Have you ever gone back to your teacher that said that to you, and tell her or him affected you that way?
Alysson Bourque: You know, I thought that the other day and I thought, you know, I need to let her know because I tell them that story during my author visits and when I do the children laugh because they’re like, Oh, yeah, I daydream and I didn’t pay attention, sometimes I get called out, you know, I try to be relatable. So I thought about that, I said: “You know? I need to tell this teacher because I tell many people that story.”
Art Costello: You know, we’d never know the impact that somebody’s simplest word could have. Cause I had a teacher by the name of Paul King, he was my social studies teacher in seventh grade and we were kind of shunned by family, was kind of shunned where we lived and no one would associate with this. And you know, I only had a couple of friends that were around us. So, I kind of had this lonely sheltered outsider thing. And Paul King walked up to me one time and whispered in my ear: “Everything’s going to be okay. You’re doing fine.” You know, those words have stuck with me to this day. I went to my 50th reunion last year, year before last, lose track. Anyway, I went to my 50th reunion and was hoping that he was going to be there, but he wasn’t. He went to our 51st which I didn’t go to, but I have thought about telling him how impactful those words and if he even remembers ever saying them, you know, I mean, it’s the simplest of words, and it can be written words and what you write may just touch a child at the moment that they need to be touched–
Alysson Bourque: Yes.
Art Costello: –and changed their outlook on life forever.“The simplest of words… may just touch a child at the moment that they need to be touched and change their outlook on life forever.” -Art Costello Click To Tweet
Alysson Bourque: Right. If they can relate to it, if they can take something from it forever and make that something that they hold onto, maybe if they’re having a tough day, I think that’s everything, that’s why I really enjoy these author visits because I never thought I’d be brave enough to do that. I could try a case with a trial brief, but to talk in front of children can be very difficult, they asked me all kinds of questions.
Art Costello: They have very little filters.
Alysson Bourque: Personal questions, they have really made me brave, they’ve made me confident, they’ve made me be able to tell them the messages that I feel in my heart that I would love to tell them, you know, it’s mainly that, each one of them has a purpose and not to be scared of their purpose. Don’t stop what you really feel in your heart that you should be doing because of fear, and give yourself permission to do these things. There’s a lot of things that I held back from doing and maybe it was quitting or retiring from Law for a year now, close to four or five. No, actually more than that, five years. Just giving yourself permission to fail, to succeed, to try to put yourself out there, just be okay with it and not to worry about what might happen because it’s all going to be okay.“Don't stop what you really feel in your heart that you should be doing because of fear and give yourself permission to do these things.” -Alysson Bourque Click To Tweet
Art Costello: Walk me through some of the process of being an attorney and then making the decision to become a writer. It had to be a joyous decision with a lot of anks in it. You just kind of said, you know, I’m giving up something in you in a very visible position at Jay’s office. I mean, it wasn’t like you were an attorney tucked away in a little dark office somewhere, you know, you had some pretty high profile interactions writing in the manual after Katrina had to be a monumental task.
Alysson Bourque: Yes. And some of the depositions that I had to go through are so heartbreaking, and all at, I seem to be pregnant most of the time, so I’d walk into a courtroom almost eight months pregnant, you know, sometimes I would hear people kind of snickering and laughing and that was really, really tough. But I feel like if I could do that, I could do anything to change from being an attorney to a children’s book author. At first it was hard, I felt like, I almost doubted that this was my path. I kind of didn’t want to let go of that, well, you know, I still have my law degree and I do, but I don’t feel like that defines me. I noticed that some of the author visits, it’s always a blast. We always have a lot of fun. And I noticed some of the traits that I learned from being a lawyer kind of came through my office visits, you know, at some points. So we get into conversations with these children, and they’ll ask me a question, and I’ll ask them a question, and then, you know, we almost have like a nice little counter. And then when I ask them about, they’ll always say: “Oh, I have a cat at home.” And I’ll say: “What’s your cat’s name?” And they’ll say: “It’s Fluffy.” And I say: “Well, is Fluffy a white cat?” And they’ll say: “It’s a Calico cat.” And they’ll name it, and then I see myself almost giving a deposition and they just enjoy it, you know, they love talking about their families and their cats. And so, I kind of had to change that way of thinking. And of course I felt almost embarrassed at first that I was kind of given up my law practice and going towards something that maybe some people call the hobby. But for me it wasn’t a hobby. I knew after about six months at this is where God wanted me to go and that I felt in my heart completely that I was now his servant and I was here to follow his path for me, and I call it my journey often. I always referred to it as my journey. And this journey has been, you know, it fills me with joy, but I also am inspired by everybody that I meet. And I know that if I just follow God’s path and I follow this journey, even though I don’t know where it’s going, I know it’s going to lead me where I need to be, the proof is there because I keep doing that, and I keep, every time I go to another event, I meet somebody there which leads me to a different event and I always pray about it. And I always thank God for allowing me to do something that brings joy. And I just know 100% with every part of me that this is exactly where I need to be, and I’ve never felt with anything else, and my family gets to participate in it. Even my parents get to come to my book signing and we get to have like, you know, good family outing. My children are a part of it, they’re handing out stickers and bookmark, my husband’s carrying books and it’s a happy, joyful thing, and it’s not easy. I know a lot of people think, Oh, that’s wonderful, but it’s running a business essentially. You know, there’s things involved that just with taxes and inventory and sometimes you don’t know if you’re going to be able to keep doing this. But if I just trust that this is the journey and then I’m just a servant, I’m just here serving others and putting them first. I know it’s hard to explain how I know, but I know this is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.“Our expectations are not going to be easy, but it's going to be worth it. I think that we can succeed in anything. And this is a simple thing that matters.” -Alysson Bourque Click To Tweet
Art Costello: So you don’t have to explain it to me. Not at all. Because I understand that, I mean, precisely. You’ve truly had found what, not only God wants you to do, but what you wanna do. And when you do that, it brings a happiness that just transfers to everything that we do. I mean, things just fall into place and that’s why it is so important that the children learn the traits that you’re teaching because it will lead them into that. They will come to that realization, I did at nine years old. I mean, when I laid on a hill, watching the clouds go by, asking God what was going to become in me in my life. You know, I never dreamt 60 some years later I’d be talking to people that I just love and cherish, and I just followed that dream all the years, you know? Even though I had a business and all that, I knew I wasn’t doing my purpose of what God wanted and it wasn’t until my wife passed away. And I really got down on my hands and knees, had to figure out where I was going that I asked God again what was going to happen to me. And he said: “I’ve given you all the tools, you just need to use them.” And I started writing and out of it came my book, and you know, when you follow your heart and your gut, it has tremendous benefits, and that was going to be one of my questions to you. When you’re writing, do you write from your head or your heart?
Alysson Bourque: I write from my heart. I tap into emotions. I really sit down, and I don’t have a clue what I’m going to write is not something I outline. I sit down, I make sure it’s quiet. I’ll make sure the windows are open, I can see the birds, I can see the trees, and it just comes out on paper. I tap into maybe what makes me sad, what makes me happy, all of these emotions, things that feel my voice, things that give me reward, things that I struggle with, and these characters almost embody all of those emotions, and it’s amazing to me how it just comes out on paper. Yesterday, I started writing a book or not a book, writing a manuscript for a book that’s not a children’s book, and it’s just almost a daydream that’s in my head. And when I started writing it, I felt a sense of really, and hopefully one day I’ll have more time to finish that story. It’ll be a long story, but I feel in the back of my mind, I feel in my heart that I need to get that story out. The Alycat Series is a week based series, each book space in the days of the week. And so I’m on my fourth book, it’ll be released in 2020 probably about March or April. So I do want to finish this series before starting anything new. And writing in between is okay, but for the children, you know, they ask me about what’s next, and will you write all seven days of the week, and here’s my ideas for this, and I want to complete it for them.
Art Costello: And that’s, I mean, you should, I mean, but I’m also going to encourage you to write from your heart and your purpose because I’m just positive that it will be great. You know, when you have such passion and you have such insight into yourself, it really creates a very creative process to writing. I never had a manuscript or I never had a form, what do you call it?
Alysson Bourque: The outline.
Art Costello: Outline for my book. Either it just, everything came, what I learned in writing for me was I just wrote and then I let it take form when I reread it and started just putting it together so it made sense, you know? And then of course, I let editors get it, but that’s a whole nother story. But to me, it’s just amazing how in tune you are with your purpose and your creativity because so many people struggle to find their purpose in life. I mean, some people go through a whole life never knowing what their true purpose is. You overcame the fears and that’s what I’m so impressed with because it would have been really, really easy to say, I’m an attorney, I don’t have to do this, you know, I make good money, and whatever and all that. But you overcame the fear of your own limitations by moving forward and just following your passion. How much of your faith was involved in moving through that fear? Because I believe I have a thing that I always have faith over fear because faith wins out every single time.
Alysson Bourque: Yes, I like to credit my children for helping me overcome any fears of hesitation, or reservation, or fear. And they were both the reasons why I did what I did, and I stopped pressing a lot and started writing a book. I believe 100% that God used them as tools to help me because, I mean, they were six and eight years old at the time, and they made me feel and knew exactly what needed to be said for me to make that jump, by them jumping literally on the bed and believing in me, I believed in myself and I believe that that’s God’s work. That is 100% his way of getting me to let go, get back to the simple things of life. And it’s as simple as a six and an eight year old saying: “You can do it.” My faith has led me to conquer those fears, to not worry about if somebody gives me a bad review, or if I fail, or if people don’t like what I write. My faith has given me confidence to keep doing as long as I rely on God to guide me, then I have no fear, I don’t have fear to speak. I did fear speaking in a courtroom, I did, and my voice would shake and I would, you know, I would tremble, but when I go to an author visit, and it’s not because some people will say: “Because you know what you’re talking about.” Well, no, it’s not that. It’s because before the visit I prayed for these children, I prayed for myself. And I prayed that my thoughts, and my words, and my actions would be in line with what Jesus wants me to do. I go in there and I listen with an open heart, and it just goes really well. So, I rely on my faith for everything it comes first because everything after that just falls into place if you have your faith first, which is hard, it’s hard. I really don’t want to sit here and just preach because it is hard to just rely on something.
Art Costello: But the thing about it is that it’s a truth.
Alysson Bourque: Yes.
Art Costello: Is a truth, and that’s what I want people that are listening to this interview to understand that you don’t have to be a children’s author, you don’t have to be a writer, you can be a mechanic, or you can be a maid in the restaurant, in a hotel, or you can be a cook. If you have faith and you do what you do in faith, it will never fail you. It will serve you well and you will do well because you do it for the right reasons. And that is what is important as of this. You know, it doesn’t matter what it is you’re doing, and that’s what we need to teach our children, that when they have faith, everything always does work out as planned. It may not work out the way we want it. But in the end it will always work out for the good.“If you have faith, and you do what you do in faith, it will never ever fail you… because you do it for the right reasons.” -Art Costello Click To Tweet
Alysson Bourque: Right.
Art Costello: And I believe that.
Alysson Bourque: There’s a reason for everything. And, you know, the more I rely on my faith, the more that I see where my journey is going, and where the path is leading me. And like I said, it’s not easy. And I think that as long as, like you say, our expectations are, it’s not gonna be easy, but it’s going to be worth it. I think that we can succeed in anything. And it’s a simple things that matter.
Art Costello: Yeah. And that’s why I wanted to relate back to when you were a little girl, you know, you never dreamt that you would do. I never dreamt that I would be doing what I’m doing now at 72,you know, I mean, I just don’t, I just never would have thought that. I grew up on a little farm in upstate New York that was just so isolated, you know, was wondering where my life was going to go. But when I heard the voice that I had to just be faithful, it changed my life forever, and I became faithful to God that he was going to take care of me, and that I knew that I was saved and all those things in it. It’s a tremendous relief.
Alysson Bourque: Well, it’s our safety net. Our faith is our safety net, and it may not be exactly where we want that net to be located. It may not be right underneath this, but as long as we know that we’re going to be okay. I think what we can push for reaching for those stars, and you know, climbing as high as we came, as long as we know.
Art Costello: Yup. What kind of activities do you do on your author’s visits when you go to schools and all that? I’m interested in hearing.
Alysson Bourque: It’s just so fascinating. So when I go to these author visits, I always try to see what makes a kid smile. And over the years, what I learned that it makes kids laugh and joyful is music, and animations, and slushies, and reading, and songs, and dance, and being able to talk about their own animals. So I try to be as intuitive as I can about what makes them happy? What makes them thrive? And I try my best to make those things happen. So in the first year. I would go to the author visits and this was very early in it, and my daughter and some of the other kids would talk about how great it would be if there was a plushy that went with this series, like a little lovey. And so, that makes them happy. It’s a little thing. So, I did enough research and decided to make a plush toy for each book, kind of coordinate with each book. And I made sure that the teacher in me, I knew to make it only about seven to nine inches, because that’s usually the requirements in school. When they’re little, they can bring one up to about seven to nine inches typically. And so, we created a plush toy and kids love to see things come to life. So, I had my illustrator helped me make an animation of Alycat. I wrote songs for the books, there’s actually a song on iTunes from the Alycat and the Monday Blues. I wrote it, my husband helped compose some of the songs, he sings one of them, my children’s seeing another one. It’s like a family affair. They love songs, so I make sure we do songs and I realized that they love the interactive experience.
So in the beginning, I had a giant Alycat mascot, and it came from overseas, it’s all I could afford. It was kind of like the styrofoam piece together. I had my neighbor one day helped me put on these little vinyl hearts on this dress that was pretty much falling apart, and we just made it work. I write to school, and we did all their visits for three years with this mascot. And this mascot is usually the costumes usually worn by teachers, and librarians, and upper school students, and they give hugs to the children. The kids LOVE IT and it’s just AMAZING to see them smile. Well, over the last three years it’s kind of fallen apart, I knew I needed to get something made that was a very good quality. And so, I needed help from my community and my little Alycat fans. So I reached out, and I started a fundraiser for a new brand new Alycat mascot, a really nice quality. The ones you see at these major football games, you know? I was like, we’re going to go big on it because it makes the kids so happy. So what I did was, if they donated to the fundraiser, I would send them a book. So it wasn’t where I was just collecting money, and they got a book, and then they’re getting recognition into the fourth book. Their name will be enclosed in special thing section. So we were able to get that money raised, and I have two offer visits so far with this brand new Alycat mascot, and it is huge, it has a fan inside the head, and it made such a wonderful joyful effect on these kids. I have a video on my Facebook page on the Alycat Series Facebook page that I posted last week, and the video is almost up to 7,000 views with this mascot dancing and me teaching, of course, I made up a little eight count dance for the Alycat shuffle that we created. And it is getting so many views, and I was so fearful of dancing. I used to dance in high school, that was like years ago and I was so fearful for doing that, but the kids were smiling, so I was like, Oh, we’re just going to do this. And I uploaded that video and it’s like taking off, my kids call it going viral. It’s not really going viral, but it was able to do something that I was fearful of doing. But it was again, same thing because kids thought it was a good idea. And so, the visits are always interactive, there’s songs, there’s dancing, there’s, it’s just a whole experience. And when they can discover that reading is fun.
Art Costello: That’s important. I mean, that’s really important that kids understand that reading is fun. Where can people find you? What are you got going, and you know what’s coming up and all that kind of stuff that we could kind of start to close it out as we get down into our final minutes of our visit.
Alysson Bourque: Well. I have a website, www.alycatseries.com, A-L-Y-C-A-T-S-E-R-I-E-S.C-O-M. And I have my books, and coloring pages, AR tests, Common Core test, all kinds of great videos, and animations. For people to check out my visits, I always post on Facebook, I do events. This weekend I’ll be doing an event, it’s ALS walk, Walk to Defeat ALS, and so Alycat the mascot will be set up in a tent, and taking pictures, and we’ll donate a portion to proceeds to ALS. And I have some upcoming school visits, I love doing school visits. I am located in Louisiana, but we do travel all over. We make a little family getaway out of it, and I will be headed up to the Northeast in March for a book tour around Delaware, New York, New Jersey when the new book comes out. And so, people can head over to my Facebook page to check on upcoming events. And I do have an Instagram, The Alycat Series. And of course Twitter, Alysson F. Bourque where they can find some cute little pictures of these fun little events. And of course, my YouTube page, it has all the songs.
Art Costello: Yeah. Well that’s great. What you’re doing is so critical. So many kids need the positive input into their lives right now with families split the way they are, and in the world splitting the way it is. They need some stability in it and the Alycat can provide that for them, and that’s really a blessing to us all. Is there any parting thoughts you want to bestow upon everybody?
Alysson Bourque: I just want to encourage people to follow their hearts, and their faith, and you may not know where the journey will lead you, but have faith in that journey and not to be fearful of where it will lead. And if you could give yourself permission to feel the fear and get past it, or to do things that are out of your nature, that great things are ahead. And as long as you rely on your faith, you’ll have your safety net.“You may not know where the journey is going to lead you but have faith in that journey… Great things are ahead.” -Alysson Bourque Click To Tweet
Art Costello: With that folks, Alysson Bourque, the Alycat Series, pick it up. I’m going to encourage you, we’re going to include it in the show notes any information that we can to follow Alysson, and purchase her product and her books. And it’s been an honor having you on, and I am just thrilled that you’re reaching heights of success, but I think we’re going to be hearing a lot more about Alysson Bourque for quite a few years. So, and it’s been a pleasure having you on.
Alysson Bourque: Thank you. This has been a lot of fun and it’s such a joy talking to you.
Art Costello: Well thank you. Everybody, you know where you can get ahold of me, expectationtherapy.com. Again, thank you for listening in this week. Alysson Bourque is definitely a gift from above, and I’m going to cherish her, and I want you to cherish her too. So, Heather White, take us out of here.
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