Updated: Apr 5, 2019
In today's episode I talk with Rhea Pechter, the creator and producer of "Little Stories for Tiny People" about how she started a podcast reading her own short stories for children.
Listen to the Episode Here:
Rhea is a children's writer and for the past years has been writing and producing a story podcast for little children called Little Stories for Tiny People. Rhea is a stay at home mom of three kids ages 7, 5 and 2. She tells how interesting it has been for her these last few years with the launch of her podcast and later the release of a picture book that she wrote and illustrated this Fall.
Rhea always loved to write stories since she was a child. She took a long break since she was a teenager until after she had kids and became a stay at home mom.
During the time when her oldest son was three and her second was one, it was very stressful for her due to the challenges that come when kids are that age. At the same time, when kids are about three years old, their imagination really takes off. They start to do imaginary play and that is when they can think things in story form, so she started to communicate with her oldest son in a story format, she would also make up little songs. All to get him to do certain things throughout the day. The times that she would approach him that way, it would appeal to his sense of wonder and imagination so it made things work better.
Rhea started to see all this creativity in her son and it was bringing out a lot in her. which helped her reconnect with the vivid imagination that she had when she was a child too. Suddenly it was relevant again. That's when she started working on her first story which was the first episode of her podcast and then became the first book that she made.
For her it was as if her son's imagination sparked her own imagination to come out again. Being a parent was a critical to her starting down that creative path.
She tells us that when she wrote her first story she imagined it as a book, but at the time she lacked the confidence for making it happen like finding a literary agent or a publisher. She kept asking herself "Who am I to think that I could do that?"
Rhea put the story away but she could not stop thinking about it. She wanted to do something with it. In those days she was always listening to podcasts. Being a stay at home mom, they helped her stimulate her imagination. She says that audio is such a personal way to connect with someone and so one day she got the idea of creating her own podcast for kids using her stories, though she had only written one up to that point.
At first she was worry about how the podcast would be sustainable being that she only had one story to share but just the act of finishing it was so gratifying for her that she came up with ideas for more stories. By the time she started her podcast she had written about 6 more. She took a leap of faith and thought if she wrote those she could probably write more.
Now her show has 100,000 downloads a month, even though she has not done much to promote or advertise it. It has spread through word of mouth. Moms whose kids listen to the podcast have found it to be very valuable and so they end up sharing it with their mom friends.
"I will take the time that is offered to me and I'm just going to accept what I have, be grateful for it and not to try to jump ahead to the next step."
Rhea self-published her first book and not only wrote it, but she also illustrated it. It was not too hard to find an audience for her book since she had already built a big enough audience for her podcast. That gave her the confidence to publish her book on her own. This was a challenge she wanted to prove herself she could do so she could feel confident and empowered. Her husband supported her dream and participated in this new venture with her, it gave them the opportunity to make something together.
Rhea tells us that though it is not a career yet, it is a path towards creating one. She is focusing on her kids right now and once they are old enough to go to school full time, she will have laid a strong enough foundation from where to build a career.
In this episode we talk about how Rhea finds balance by waking up before her kids to work on her writing and editing, which can be done in increments of 10 minutes. Doing it this way helps her feel like she has actually done some forward progress. She also has the blessing of getting help from a family member who watches the kids once a week for a couple of hours so she can do some work. She adapts and evolves as her kids grow up to new ways of finding time for her writing and podcast. Rhea says "I will take the time that is offered to me and I'm just going to accept what I have, be grateful for it and not to try to jump ahead to the next step."
Her stories are based on big things in life and they touch on things like vulnerability, empathy and kindness. She tries to bring this messages into her work.
She believes in being honest and authentic with her audience, even when she had to go on maternity leave. She explained to them being pregnant taking a toll on her and that she needed to take a break. Her audience can relate. They connect with her and are rooting for her, so she thinks they are the reasons why they share the podcast with other friends.
Rhea tells us that in order to follow your heart you have to tap into your vulnerability: "It's really being honest with yourself about what do you enjoy doing in your life, what gets you motivated, what is inspiring, what is fulfilling, what is meaningful to you, and setting aside the things that you think are the right answer."
She believes that "It is harder than it sounds and so many of us put up mental blocks to do that because if we admit that we really really want to do something that is different than what we are doing, then that means we have to take action to make it happen, which is really scary."
Rhea says that following your heart always involves that emotional vulnerability, that something about being a parent is that suddenly you have a sense of fear in your life and your priorities shift and what matters becomes clear to you. She sees it as a "Unique time in our lives and it is not surprising to see a lot of moms start to follow their heart once they have kids because everything gains a sense of clarity."
I love her perspective and how her path found her and not the other way around.
I hope you enjoyed it.
Thanks for listening/reading!
Talk to you soon!
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Rhea Petcher is a lifelong daydreamer with an overactive imagination and a fondness for rhyme. She is the creator and producer of Little Stories for Tiny People, a podcast for kids enjoyed by families around the world. Little Stories for Tiny People is downloaded 100,000 times per month and has been featured in School Library Journal, Mashable, Time Out New York, Common Sense Media, and Parents.com. Rhea published her first picture book "Little Fox Can't Wait to Dream" in 2018. She lives in Columbia, Maryland with her family.
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