Kid Lit Village: HUGGA LOULA

Hello Readers and welcome to Kid Lit Village! Thanks for stopping by. Just letting you know if you’re new here that Mondays are typically posts about new children’s books and they include an author and/or illustrator interview. I’m pleased to introduce HUGGA LOULA by Nancy Dearborn and Huang Junyan, published by Familius, March 2021. The topic of this one interested me since I have a picture book in progress with a similar theme.


With the healing power of a hug and an act of kindness, Hugga Loula defuses all sorts of situations and offers care, comfort, and love. Hugga Loula features colorful illustrations and the charming refrain, “If you’re grumpy or sad, frustrated or mad, just give a shout, and hug it out!”

author, Nancy Dearborn

Hi Nancy, thanks for being here today. We can’t wait to hear more about HUGGA LOULA!

How Hugga Loula Came to Be

My friend Steve and I were helping his sister move. He was getting frustrated because the other volunteers were taking a break and standing right where he needed to set down some boxes. He said, “I need. I need…” Before he could finish his statement, his niece Alessia said, “A hug,” and she wrapped her arms around his legs. 

I didn’t see this happen, but when Steve was told about it later, I realized a child taking the initiative and offering a hug to an adult was a great idea for a picture book. I wrote down character descriptions and scenes that very afternoon.

A reviewer recently wrote, “Unlike so many children’s books where the child character is being taught a lesson, the child (Hugga Loula) is the one reminding her family how powerful a hug can be to help defuse negative emotions.”

So interesting how life can present you with ideas for books if you are open to noticing what’s happening around you.

What I Love Most About Being a Writer

What I love most about being a writer is the power to create – to make something out of nothing – since a writer starts with a blank page and when they finish, they have something tangible – a story, a poem, an article, a book, etc. Writing challenges me to think and go beyond the ordinary, and it helps me see meaning in life as well as giving meaning and purpose to others. Writing is a way for my voice to be heard in future years to come. Writing gives people power to change others’ lives for the better and encourage them to see life in a positive light. 

It’s an amazing process to make something out of nothing, isn’t it? I love the creative process too.

My Path to Publication

            I had written part-time for a number of years and had over 250 published articles, stories, poems, etc. with credits in magazines, newspapers, anthologies, and a wide variety of on-line publications. However, I always had a dream to be published by a traditional publisher and kept pursuing my dream.

After I re-wrote Hugga Loula several times based on my writing critique group suggestions, I sent it simultaneously to half a dozen publishers that accepted unsolicited manuscripts. Many publishers specialize in specific areas or topics. I felt that Familius Publishing would be a strong fit because they publish adult and children’s books that support ten habits of happy families which include working together, learning together, and loving together. In my cover letter I mentioned that I thought Hugga Loula would be a great fit for their mission of helping families be happy. 

I sent out Hugga Loula in September 2018. I received an initial phone call from Familius in November 2018 and had a signed contract by the end of the month. Over the course of the next couple of years I worked with the editors revising some of the text as well as having input on the illustrations. Familius released Hugga Loula on March 02, 2021.

I refer to 2021 as The Year of the Writer because Pen It! Publishing released my picture book I Found a Wallet in July, and KDP Amazon released my middle grade novel Runaway in August. Pen It! Publishing will publish my picture book Grandma’s Stories – Twins in Trouble in 2022.

Nancy, congratulations on a great year!

Staying Positive 

I am a positive person by nature and rarely dwell on the negative. I am one of those morning people who wake up with a smile on my face raring to go. I start most days by saying aloud ten things I’m thankful for.

I avoid listening to any naysayers on my writing journey and continue to move forward in my career, pursuits, and goals regardless of circumstances or other people’s opinions.     

I view an editor or publisher’s rejection as their loss. My all-time favorite “no” was the following: “We hope you find a good match for your idea and can prove in the future how very short-sighted we were in not acting favorably upon your proposal.” 

I remind myself that just because a manuscript is turned down, doesn’t necessarily mean something is wrong with it. The publisher may already have a similar book in the works or has shifted what they’re accepting, or their slots are already filled for the next few years.

With that said, I review and re-work the manuscript, if needed, and then send it back out to a different publisher.

I keep in mind too, that timing is important. Like most writers, I have pieces in my archives that are yet to be published. This past year I re-wrote a few of them, and the publishers I sent them to accepted them. 

I work on several writing projects at once, so if one manuscript comes back declined, I have other hopefuls. With my picture books, simultaneous submissions are generally allowed, so if one publisher turns down a picture book, it doesn’t mean another one won’t move forward with it.

I also remind myself that many, many famous writers received numerous rejections before they received an acceptance. Also, sometimes it takes several books before a writer hits it big. 

Your advice is so helpful, thank you! I’m sure your positivity will inspire others.

What I Hope Readers Will Gain from Hugga Loula

Hugga Loula is a great reminder to both children and adults that a hug can defuse negative emotions and provide care and comfort. A hug helps family members feel loved and valued and says to others that you are there for them.  

Ahhh… the power of hugs! Thanks again for your time today, Nancy, and good look with all of your books!


Thank you for stopping by Kid Lit Village today! I hope you’ve enjoyed the interview.

Cynthia Mackey

If you’re curious about books by Cynthia Mackey and Paula Nasmith, please subscribe to my newsletter.

Published by cynthiahm

I am a preschool teacher/music teacher who loves to take photos and write stories in her spare time. My dream is to become a published author. Follow my journey as I work towards turning my dream into a reality.

One thought on “Kid Lit Village: HUGGA LOULA

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: