Welcome, Gabriella. I’m so excited to have you here. Gabriella and I met in a critique group a few years ago. She is so talented and it gives me great pleasure to showcase her on my website. Congrats to your success! 

Gabriella Aldeman is a Panamanian American author. She writes picture books in hopes that more children become readers and that all readers feel seen. She is also a professional translator of academic resources and children’s books. Gabriella holds degrees from Georgetown University and the College of William and Mary. Her books include Paula’s Patches (Free Spirit, 2023) and Squawk of Spanish (Charlesbridge, 2024). She lives in Fairfax, Virginia with her partner and two children. 

Tell us about your books: My debut picture book, Paula’s Patches, illustrated by Rocio Arreola and published by Free Spirit Publishing, is about a girl whose pants rip on her way to school. She tries everything to hide the hole from her classmates, only to find out that they, too, have leaky lunchboxes, spaghetti stains, and hand-me-down backpacks. Nothing some colorful patches can’t fix! Paula’s Patches can be used as a starting point for discussions of consumerism, throwaway culture, and fast fashion. 

My second picture book, Squawk of Spanish, illustrated by Romina Galotta, and published by Charlesbridge, is about a boy named Max who has trouble rolling his Rs and is embarrassed about his Spanish. He depends on Lorito, his grandmother’s talkative parrot, to communicate and bake with Abuela every Sunday. Readers will follow Max as he finds his voice and realizes that trying is what matters and that being understood is the purpose of language. 

Tell us about your publishing experience. My publishing journey started with translation. I’ve always had a passion for the written word, but I never thought I could become an author. I figured that title was reserved for the true masters of the English language and not someone that still has to mentally sound out wed-nes-day. But as I started translating picture books, I fell in love with the craft and decided to start writing my own stories. I joined a critique group and, little by little, I got to where I am now. For me, it’s all about writing. I can’t control where I’ll be, publishing-wise, twenty years from now, but I’m pretty sure I’ll still be writing. 

You wear many hats (Wife, Mother, Translator, Author). How do you find the time? I try to find pockets of time for my writing and schedule those ahead of time. If it’s not written in the planner, it won’t get done! Of course, there’s so much more to writing than writing. There are webinars, critique group meetings, and revisions (so many revisions). I have to make time to brainstorm new ideas, post on social media, and, yes, write. This makes writing time tricky, especially when promoting an upcoming book, like I’m doing at the moment. Lately, it’s been harder to find the time to write. But I can tell you that I already have my next butt-in-chair-writing session scheduled in my planner.  

What are you more passionate about—being a translator or an author? These two professions balance each other so well. Translating is like solving a puzzle. And finding the perfect word or phrase is immediately gratifying—particularly when it pertains to a picture book in rhyme. Translation requires a deep understanding of the text and has proven to be a great education for writing. But nothing compares to the creative freedom of being an author and sharing my own stories. 

Do you remember the time you actually said, “I’m an author!” How did you feel? Last year, my daughter’s teacher asked me to present at their school. She called it an author visit, even though I reminded her “I’m not an author yet.” At the time, I considered myself a writer with two forthcoming picture books. But when I sat down to prepare my presentation, everything shifted. I realized I had a lot to say about writing picture books! And on the first slide I wrote: Gabriella Aldeman, Picture Book Author.

Where do your ideas come from? My ideas start as a spark that can come from pretty much anywhere. The hard part is to figure out how it can become a story. I’ve had fully formed ideas only twice. Most of the time, an idea will remain a scribble in a notebook for months before I figure a way into the story. My idea for Paula’s Patches came from my own daughter’s ripped pants. The holes in her pants caused big feelings, mostly from me. When I was young, I was not comfortable in my clothes or the way they fit, and I would have loved a story like Paula’s.

How do you select the names of your characters? I don’t spend a lot of time naming my characters. My names are usually more utilitarian than personal, I just need them to sound well when read out loud. Paula in Paula’s Patches was first named Franklin, but then I thought she’d be better off as a girl and I searched for a name that would provide an alliteration. For my second book, Squawk of Spanish, I chose Max because I knew I needed a name that would be easy to say in both English and Spanish. 

How did you find your agent? I tried to cast a wide net when I was querying. I queried the traditional way and got rejection after rejection. In the meantime, I entered mentorship contests, and manuscript contests, and participated in Twitter Pitch parties. At the end, I met my agent, Delia Berrigan, at a one-on-one virtual event through an organization called Philadelphia Stories. We had fifteen minutes together. I took the first couple of minutes to pitch Paula and then we started talking. That’s when we really connected—we talked about ourselves, raising bilingual children, and the kid lit industry in general. By the time it was over, she asked me to send her Paula’s Patches and a few other manuscripts.  

Have you received many rejections? How do you handle the negativity? Rejections can be soul crushing, so I try to keep them out of mind as much as possible. Having a second job that keeps you busy helps a lot. Having a community of people who understands helps a lot too. Even though rejections are never personal, they can hurt, some more than others. My advice is to take a beat—eat chocolate, turn to other creative endeavors, binge watch some TV. Then pull yourself back together and plot the next step forward. 

What’s next for you? In the near future, I’ll be busy promoting my debut picture book, Paula’s Patches, which will be out in the world this summer. I’m also excited to announce that I’ve been asked to translate my second book, Squawk of Spanish. Both the English and bilingual versions will come out next year. I also have a couple more picture books in the works for publication in 2025 and 2026, but that’s as much as I can reveal at the moment. 

One last question, tell us something that no one knows—something about you that isn’t posted anywhere on your website or social media. I don’t think anyone knows I translated into Spanish the award-winning picture book Gibberish by Young Vo, originally published by Levine Querido in 2022. The Spanish version comes out this August!

I love to connect! Please follow me on Instagram and Twitter @write_between or visit my website and sign up for my newsletter at www.writebetween.com .

Anything else you want your readers to know? I’ll soon be launching a pre-order campaign for Paula’s Patches. I’ll be sending a signed bookplate, stickers, and a bookmark to anyone who preorders here or wherever books are sold. Stay tuned!

And thank you so much, Leslie, for inviting me to chat. It’s always great to connect with you!

Gabriella, Best Wishes to you in the Future! 


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