Friday, January 27, 2023

From Sketch to Final Art: ABUELITA AND I MAKE FLAN

page from ABUELITA AND I MAKE FLAN by Adriana Hernandez Bergstrom

The story of ABUELITA AND I MAKE FLAN is a combination of several real-life events. I was inspired to capture a moment in time where it felt like everything was going wrong as a kid, but still able to find safety and love from my grandparents who accepted me as an imperfect child deserving of love. Anita, the main character, is a blend of real life people in my own family including myself. The Abuelita character was drawn from a combination of several real-life people including my great aunt, both my grandmas and their friends. 

What’s real-life inspiration and what’s not? I really did break a wedding dish, but it belonged to my mother, not my abuelita. The truth is my family did not bring much more than their suitcases with them from Cuba. I really did - and still do! - make a LOT of flan, but I helped my great-aunt, Marta, who had severe arthritis doing all the things Anita does in the book. In real life, I did more crafts like sewing, crochet, and cake decorating with my grandma. I chose flan because it’s delicious and it reminds me of our big family get-togethers which I miss very much.

I started work on ABUELITA AND I MAKE FLAN back in 2017. It was in large part thanks to SCBWI which connected me to a critique group which then led to a mentorship program at WNDB, critiques at SCBWI conferences, Highlights Foundation courses, Storyteller Academy and other educational resources and eventually my agent! Community has been pivotal for growth and feedback in the publishing world, and the success of this title making it to bookshelves everywhere.

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Tumbling into A New Year - 2022 Wrap Up


Happy New Year!

The last few weeks of any year for me are typically about reflecting, month by month on the year that just finished. I snatch any quiet moment I can during the holiday rush to write down my thoughts on what went well and what didn’t professionally and personally.


Then the first few weeks of the year are a mirror of those last two weeks, and I take time to think about what I want my year to look like. I ask myself questions like: How can I participate in successful, fulfilling activities that re-energize or inspire me? What are some activities that drain me?

What elements of my life need to be edited out? I make a deliberate effort to imagine where I want to be at the end of the year, to imagine what success feels like, and then I write it down. This is how I set my intentions for the year. 


So it’s gone for six years now. 2022 brought to fruition a lot of seeds planted years ago doing these kinds of reflection and intention exercises. The path of my life has finally brought me here, to reflect upon the publishing of my first book as an author and illustrator.

This is no accident! It’s the course I set for myself, and worked toward year after year. It’s the learning and revising, and reflection all adding up. You too can set the course of your creative year, and I encourage you to take the time to reflect and set intentions for 2023.


Wishing you a super 2023!


Some favorite success-building creative activities:

  • Reflection journaling or sketching like The Year Compass ( - it's a free journaling tool).

  • Setting intentions and creating a plan for success

  • Choosing a word of the year for motivation or focus

  • Idea generation community activities like Tara Lazar’s Storystorm (

  • Editing workshops or critique group meet-ups
  • Accountability communities like 12x12 or Storyteller Academy or your local SCBWI conferences

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Closet Cleanout FLASH SALE!

 Happy first day of Hanukkah!

I decided it's time for a FLASH SALE because my inventory closet is full. I just received stock of more holiday cards, and realized I need to make room for next year's books! TUMBLE's preview copies arrived and I should be getting Countdown for Nochebuena's previews soon, too.

So, a 25% off Flash Sale was my solution.

Everything except original art and risograph prints are on sale. Yes, even signed copies of my books are on sale. Cards, holiday cards, prints of all sizes... all on sale.

I need to make room in my studio! Please help!



Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Celebrating Progress

Eight years ago, I was still in Germany, sewing and knitting for my baby and myself. I started doing surface patterns and illustrations every now and again for knitting magazines. I still carted around all my art supplies with the thought I'd get back to that dream of illustrating children's books one day.

Five years ago, I still had zero books published, and was recently re-emigrated to the U.S. I was picking myself back up after missing my community and friends I'd made in Germany. I decided to dust off my paintbrushes and started painting whatever was in my head and start taking my art seriously. I started an art collective and together we worked on getting better at our craft.

But, goodness I was rusty! My first paintings were rough, but I needed to get through making a bunch of my 'okay' work to get to where I am today!

Then three years ago, I illustrated my first picture book! To me, it was a proof of concept. I could be a children's book illustrator. Look, here's the proof! That made me work even harder at refining my own stories.

And in a few weeks, my first book as author and illustrator will be hitting bookshelves near you!

When you hear 'progress not perfection' I hope you'll think of my journey. Every action you take toward your dreams is progress. Every painting you finish. Every drawing you refine. It's all progress.

image from ABUELITA AND I MAKE FLAN, Anita helps find ingredients
snippet from my upcoming book, ABUELITA AND I MAKE FLAN, Charlesbridge 2022

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Are We Really So Powerless?


It has been super difficult to simultaneously work on happy, cheerful art and stories for children… when yet another school shooting takes their lives… and nothing in this country changes. The dilemma is that I try to keep my deep emotions separate from the person I present to everyone. My paintings and artwork tend to be jolly and upbeat, but I am a sensitive person. I feel things deeply. I am a mom to a school-aged child, a former teacher, current children’s book author-illustrator… and unfortunately I’m also a gun violence survivor. If you know me personally, you already know the circumstances. How can I show up when I feel heartbroken inside?

The label ‘gun violence survivor’ empowers just as much as it disempowers. The reason you are a survivor is nearly always out of your control. A person you knew (or didn't) decided to use a gun to hurt people you loved, knew, or were randomly nearby. And that feeling of being powerless is terrible, awful and very frustrating.

So, I am struggling with how to stay true to the inherent promise I make to you, my readers and friends and family, while also expressing my extreme distress concerning the recent school shootings.

I'm a fan of turning big feelings into positive action. If preventing gun violence is something you feel strongly about as I do, there are organizations out there that have been trying to help keep people safe from gun violence for years…

And many other organizations exist around solving the issue of gun violence.

I don't believe we are so powerless to change as a nation. How many more people will be lost to gun violence until things finally change?