Stephanie L. Jones is on a mission to inspire others to give and practice gratitude daily. She’s shared her message on the power of giving, gratitude, and goals, with thousands, from the stage and through her books, The Giving Challenge, and The Gratitude Challenge. She lives out her dreams with her hubby, Mike.
Gabi loves giving. It has always been easy. That is until she meets her match, Mr. Brink, while visiting her grandma. But Gabi is persistent. She refuses to give up until she has brought a smile to the faces of all she meets. And in the end, it’s Mr. Brink who gives her a gift she will never forget.
Lewis hopes kids and readers come away from Giving Gal with simple ideas on how they can give, that we shouldn’t judge people by their outside or attitude. And, that sometimes giving stretches us. Persistence in being kind might turn around someone’s day.
The Inspiration Behind the Story
In Stephanie's own words, her inspiration behind the story began January 1, 2011. "I set a goal to give a gift every day for a year. Me one person looking for a way to make a difference in one other person’s life each day. My definition of a gift was simple: giving and expecting nothing in return. I gave a gift every day for 522 consecutive days, and that journey changed my life. I wrote my first book, The Giving Challenge, sharing inspiring stories from my journey and teaching people new ways to give. People loved the book and shared new ways they were giving and being stretched in their giving. I even got to go into some classrooms and talk about the writing process and giving. The children loved it! They are so kind and generous, but I realized that not everyone is taught about or how to give.
On the opposite end of school-aged children, I led a book club for The Giving Challenge at a senior living community. With tears in his eyes, one gentleman said, “I’ve read your book three times. I was never taught this.”
My heart broke. It never occurred to me that people didn’t know how to give. What a difference he could have made if he had been taught about giving.
I often got asked in interviews, have you always been a giver? I would respond, 'I was raised a Giving Gal.' Over the years, speaking and continuing to give, I could envision Giving Gal as a character in a children’s book series. One day while floating in a kayak, the first story came to me. I typed it on my phone, and the rest is history."
Writing and Publishing Challenges
The life of an author is not always easy. We asked Lewis what some of her challenges with her experience were when writing and publishing Giving Gal.
Lewis told us, "I had a clear picture of what I wanted Gabi, aka Giving Gal, and each scene of the book would like. I’m a dyslexic, and one of the challenges dyslexics have is getting out of their head what they want to convey onto paper."
"It took me months to write out a paragraph for each scene my illustrator, Angelina, would use to create the illustrations," Lewis continued. "And let’s just say the first couple of versions of Gabi were disastrous. I cried, struggling to figure out how to convey what was in my head to my illustrator.
"But with persistence, she kept working and finally created a character I, and now many children, love," she added.
What was the most inspiring part of your journey in creating this book?
"The most inspiring part of the journey of creating this book was watching family and friends read and flip through the pages in front of me. The first time I read it to a classroom of children, it was all I could do not to break down crying. As I read each page and looked up, the expressions on their faces and the emotions they felt melted my heart. That’s what this whole journey has been about—teaching children about the power of giving and how it can change someone else’s life, maybe even their own."
Authors often find inspiration and help along the way until they finally cross the finish line of having a published book. Lewis takes us deeper into her inspiration and those that helped her.
"For Giving Gal, in particular, Michelle Medlock Adams. She has written over 100 books, and many of them are best-selling/award-winning children’s books. She coached me through the process, gave me incredible feedback, and encouraged me every step of the way. I’ll be eternally grateful to her for her support and her belief in Giving Gal. "