The pandemic provided an opportunity for people to pivot their career paths. Once lockdown hit, Danielle Spaar’s hairstyling salon shut down and she needed a new way to make a living. She combined her passion for writing children’s books and advocating for Alzheimer’s. Danielle saw the need for children’s books that opens communication and introduces them to Alzheimer’s. With the pandemic in full swing, she did just that. Listen in as Danielle shares how she turned the pandemic into an opportunity to share Alzheimer’s education with children on Search and Replace.
More about today’s guest:
- Get to know Danielle (DC) Spaar at D.C. Spaar Books.
- Connect with Danielle via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
Explore these related stories:
- Danielle (DC) Spaar’s books are available on Amazon.
- Check out the Alzheimer’s Association’s Parent’s Guide to helping children and teens understand Alzheimer’s.
- Tips for teaching children on how to talk to loved ones with dementia.
- Insights into facing Alzheimer’s Disease as a patient or caregiver.
- If you are interested in writing children’s books, take a look at Elna Cain’s guide.
[00:00:00] Announcer: Support for the following podcast is provided by the user experience specialist at Johns and Taylor. More information follows this episode.
[00:00:10] Joe Taylor, Jr.: What if the career you love just disappears overnight? Would you rediscover a passion from your past? I’m Joe Taylor Jr. This is Search and Replace.
Danielle Spaar liked her job. And liked many Americans at the beginning of the year 2020, she couldn’t think of any reason she’d ever stop doing it.
[00:00:31] Danielle Spaar: So, by trade I’m a hair stylist. And when lockdown happened, I was working and they were like, oh, we need to close shop. And then we were all like, what? And they’re like, yep. Our manager kept listening to the news and in Minnesota they were like, they just closed all salons.
And we thought maybe at first, couple weeks. And then we all know how that went; it was a lot longer than a couple weeks.
[00:00:58] Joe Taylor, Jr.: It’s been a few years now, since those early days of the pandemic. While some people scrambled to figure out how they’d make a living, others dove into a state of enforced vacation. Danielle knew she wouldn’t be content, just waiting it out.
[00:01:12] Danielle Spaar: I am not one to sit around or do nothing. And for my own mental health, I need to be busy and doing things and constructively. And I had written a children’s book, actually, when my son was four. He’s 17 now. And I thought, I wonder if I could publish that now.
So I went and did some research on self-publishing and I was like, you know what? I could do this. Amazon and Barnes and Noble, the self-publishing community had grown so much and there was so many resources out there now. I decided to take some education, some classes then got to work on publishing my first ever children’s book.
It was great. It really was my silver lining during a time when we just didn’t know what the future held. And we were able to even involve the family and take videos. And it was really just a family project that we all got into and excited about.
[00:02:19] Joe Taylor, Jr.: Just as the pandemic forced hairstylists like Danielle and other service workers to reconsider their career options. Lockdown forced some unexpected changes on the book sellers of the world, too.
[00:02:30] Danielle Spaar: Actually, a lot of authors, traditional published authors, fell into this realm of unknown because now it was all social media and they weren’t used to as authors. I’m more extroverted obviously as a hair stylist, but lot of authors are introverted. And now stores were closed.
Barnes and Noble was closed and everything was online. And people were saying, they need to see your face. They need, you need to go to social media. And that’s where self-publishing thrives is social media.
And the reason that I came up with the early chapter books that I did was both my kids, kind of, read ahead of their age group and the chapter books that they wanted to read were really not appropriate for their age. So that’s why I came up with the stories that I did. Cause I was like, yeah, I’m not having my six year old and five year old read certain things that I knew would either scare them or just they’d have no understanding of. And that’s where I came up with this, of course using my son’s name Logan, and a kid loved to hear stories about themselves.
So Logan was this detective, he just could find anything. And this got the attention of a secret task force. And so they recruited Logan to help them find certain lost things.
[00:03:53] Joe Taylor, Jr.: Danielle took another major life event from the early days of lockdown, as inspiration for a book that broke through to an even larger audience.
[00:04:02] Danielle Spaar: In 2020, as same as the pandemic, my dad got diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. And there were very few chapter books about Alzheimer’s. There were picture books and then there were, like, adult books. But the age group of 6 to 10, which are very precarious, they know something’s going on but they don’t know what exactly. And then some are scared so then they draw away. But they’re smart. And if we just talk to them and explain things, then they’re like, they’re kids and are like, oh, okay. And they’re great.
And so I was like, we need a book out there for this age group that opens the communication and introduces them to Alzheimer’s, but in a way that they’re like, okay, This is what my grandpa or my grandma has, and we maybe have to be a little more patient like mom is with me. But it’s okay. And we can still be around them. The older ones benefit so much.
[00:05:10] Joe Taylor, Jr.: All these ideas and life events came together in a way that helped Danielle bring a sharper focus to her work.
[00:05:16] Danielle Spaar: And so I now shifted with my books to bring awareness about Alzheimer’s and really try and get this age group for parents to be okay talking about it with them. And for older ones, sometimes they’re like, oh, I don’t wanna burden my child and have them bring my grandkids over. I went to the early chapter books and the different subjects and this one subject being close to home because I’m a caregiver myself. But Alzheimer’s, we call it the caregiver silent journey because nobody wants to talk about it.
It’s something that a lot of times people think happens when you get old. Nobody wants it. I feel like I’m giving people comfort. What I’m hearing more and more of is that parents are able to put those feelers out, talk to their kids. Because I wanted this book to be the best that it could be.
[00:06:13] Joe Taylor, Jr.: Danielle writes under the pen name DC Spaar and her most recent installment in the Logan and Emily Files series is called PJ’s Perplexing Predicament. We’ve got links to all of the DC Spaar books and to Danielle’s resources for caregivers in our show notes and on our website at searchandreplace.show.
Also in our show notes for this episode, Elna Cain documents how freelance writers and other creative professionals are using social media and self- publishing technology to reach specialized audiences of children and young adults. And from the Alzheimer’s Association, a downloadable guide for parents who want to help children understand Alzheimer’s disease. All that and more on searchandreplace.show.
Search and Replace is produced by Nicole Hubbard. With support from Amelia Lohman, April Smith, Connie Evans, and Executive Producer Lori Taylor. I’m Joe Taylor, Jr.
[00:07:04] Announcer: This has been a Podcast Taxi radio production.
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