DIANNA WILSON-SIRKOVSKY: Will Write for Cookies Plus Giveaway

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

Dianna Wilson-Sirkovsky

Hurray for following your dream! Our Will Write for Cookies guest is certainly doing that. I met Dianna via email a little more than a year ago when she reached out to thank me for inspiring her to continue moving forward with her dream to write for children. She’d read my blog posts and identified with someone who had turned the page to a new chapter in her life. She already had a book deal in the works and she wanted feedback on a manuscript she’d been writing. I’m thrilled to say that the book deal book JUST launched! And the manuscript she’d been writing was just acquired! And this wonderful author is giving a wonderful giveaway: a copy of JAMES’ READING RESCUE to one lucky winner and a Picture Book Manuscript Feedback to a second lucky winner. Woo-hoo!

Dianna Wilson-Sirkovsky’s life has always been filled with books and cats, passions learned from her Grandma Marg and her mother, Isabel. She renewed her love for picture books while reading to her children, inspiring her to write and share stories of her own later in life. Her family and herself are deeply committed to animal rescue and the ethical treatment of all animals. They had nine beloved rescue cats that shared their lives for many years. She works as a senior administrator at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, where she lives with her husband David, who shares great ideas for stories and is her sounding board. Her daughter Laura (who has five rescue cats) gives her great support and honest critiques of her writing! Her son Garrett (with one rescue cat) is a magnet for cats – they are drawn to him like catnip! She takes great pleasure in writing children’s stories inspired by true events, imagination, and the joy of adventure and discovery.

ME: Welcome to Picture Books Help Kids Soar, dear Dianna. I know that your books are going to help kids soar…and I know that everyone is excited to hear a bit more about your journey, so let’s get started!
Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?

DIANNA: Hi Vivian! And thank you so much for having me on your blog. I’m going to have to put on my thinking cap for your question. That’s a long way back! I know that I took out loads of books from the library. I loved the Anne books by L.M. Montgomery. I fell in love with picture books when my children were small. I love the wonderful Fern Hollow books by John Patience and the Franklin books by Paulette Bourgeois, so beautifully illustrated by Brenda Clarke. Really, there are so many wonderful books; it’s hard to have favorites.

ME: What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started writing?

DIANNA: How to choose?! All the rules!  I think the most valuable things I’ve learned are about story arc, the rule of three, the ‘dark moment’ and everyone’s bugaboo – show NOT tell! Another important thing I’ve learned is that characters must earn their names – i.e. they must be important enough to the story to be given an identity. I found that really interesting.

ME: Where do you like to write – inside, outside, special room, laptop, pen and paper?

DIANNA: I wrote my first few stories using pencil and paper. I’m now comfortable writing on the computer – I find the words flow just as easily. I generally write in my ‘office’ which is to say in my daughter’s bedroom, kept ready for her visits!

ME: When do you write – early morning, late in the day, middle of the night, on schedule, as the muse strikes?

DIANNA: I am not a disciplined writer – I don’t write every day, for sure. Lately, I’ve been so busy revising that I haven’t written a new story for a couple of months now, although I do have one waiting and tapping me on the shoulder from time to time. Therefore, the honest answer would be that I write as the muse strikes.

ME: Why do you write for children?

DIANNA: I love children and children’s books, particularly picture books. As an amateur artist (but definitely not an illustrator), I love and appreciate what illustrations bring to a story. I think most of all what draws me to these books is the endless opportunity to create something wonderful.  Something vibrant, funny, adventurous, tender, silly, imaginative – bringing to life the next story patiently waiting its turn to be told.  Hopefully creating a book that someone will love and keep forever.

Also, if you have any thoughts or advice for aspiring writers, please share.

DIANNA: I know that sometimes writing feels like climbing Mt. Everest but don’t give up. Writing is like any other skill – the more you learn and practice, the better you become. So, keep researching, learning all the dos and don’ts and do not let them scare you into giving up. Keep writing and find a critique group where you feel comfortable. I have some wonderful CPs in several different groups and they have been such a help and support to me.     

ME: Thank you so much, Dianna. That is fabulous advice! And I know you have some fabulous advice for us regarding a special treat we might want to try.

DIANNA: Here is a cookie that I love from Elana Amsterdam at ElanasPantry.com. It is delicious and healthy, so I don’t feel so guilty! They are gluten free and can also easily be dairy free.

Cranberry Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookies

Delicious and nutritious!  Thanks to Elana.

2.5 cups blanched almond flour (not almond meal)
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp baking soda
½ cup butter or oil – I sometimes use a combination of coconut and avocado oil. Don’t use all butter.
½ cup agave nectar OR honey OR maple syrup – I use a combination of honey and maple syrup.
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
½ cup dried cranberries OR dried cherries
1 cup walnuts toasted
½ cup mini chocolate chips
Lemon or orange zest – my own addition

Instruction:

1.    In a bowl, mix all dry ingredients together

2.    Stir wet ingredients into dry

3.    Add dried berries, nuts and chocolate chips

4.    Teaspoon onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet or roll into 1-inch balls and press onto sheet

5.    CHILL at least ½ hour before baking

6.    Bake at 350 for 7 – 10 minutes

Enjoy!

Thank you so much, Dianna. This looks like a perfect Holiday Cookie!!! And I love that it is gluten-free!

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend. Why not stop by your local indie to snag a copy of this fabulous book! If they don’t have it in stock, request it…that’s a great way to insure the success of a new book. Also, leave a review on Amazon or some other book site. And please don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the generous giveaway – There will be two winners…one will win a copy of the book, JAMES’ READING RESCUE and another person will win picture book manuscript feedback from the lovely Dianna. Maybe you can tell us what your favorite book or book series was as a child. And please let us know which prize you would prefer if you are one of the lucky winners.

Phonemic Awareness – With Fun Games to Play

phonemic awareness I’m guest posting today over at Sarah Forrest’s Easy Read System Blog. Summer is a time when many families are traveling – why not build this important skill with fun games that help pass the time.

I hope you will hop over and read it: http://www.easyreadsystem.com/news/building-literacy-through-vacation/

Please stop by again on Friday for a super picture book review and activity.

2012 Positive Parental Participation Reading Challenge Comment Page for February

English: Children working on the phonogram mov...

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It’s hard to believe that January is already behind us.

Thanks to everyone who participated last month and left comments and told us about the books they were reading with their children.

I’ve got to get ready for two school programs…in the morning, I’ll be at Freedom Elementary, reading Oliver Button is a Sissy.  What a great story that encourages kids to be true to themselves!

In the afternoon, I’ll be at Buena Vista Montessori, reading one of my very own picture book stories, The Balloon Man.  Life sometimes puts obstacles in our way and we need to be prepared with creative solutions…this is a story that helps children think outside the box.

I’ll be using Random.org to pick the winner of the picture book…to be announced in the Perfect Picture Book Friday post.

Anyone who wants to join in the Reading Challenge for February, please use this post leave your commnets and books read.