Get ready for some fun. Meet the lovely Vivian Kirkfield, the creator of the 50 Precious Words Contest.
I had the pleasure of meeting Vivian in person. You can't help being drawn to her warm smile, great discussions, and upbeat personality. Her motto is: Writer for Children - Reader Forever.
Vivian is represented by Essie White at Storm Literary and has a book coming in spring 2017 from Creston Books.
Sweet Dreams, Sarah is the story of Sarah E. Goode, the first African-American woman to own a U.S. patent. After the Civil War, former slave Sarah moves north, with freedom in her pocket, hope in her heart, and dreams swirling in her head. The story showcases not only the invention but the spirit and determination of the inventor herself. Congratulations, Vivian!
Janie: What are you working on now?
Vivian: At the end of 2015, I participated in Kristen Fulton’s 12 Days of Nonfiction (I’m a sucker for challenges as many of you know). Starting 2016 with more than a dozen subjects I’m excited to write about has been incredible.
In January, I delved into the fascinating life of Joseph Montgolfier, the inventor of the first hot air balloon. I wrote the story…gave it to some of my critique partners…revised…gave it to more critique partners…polished it and sent it to my agent who LOVED it. The Boy Who Dreamed of Flying is now winging its way to eight or nine editors. Fingers crossed that one of them will love it also.
In February, I wrote another nonfiction picture book that is still going through revisions. And now that it is March, I’m trying to decide which my next project will be. I love to be researching one story, writing another, revising a third, and polishing a fourth. This is actually the process Kristen follows…and it seems to work well for me.
Janie: What is your writing routine?
Vivian: At this point in my life, I am retired from teaching and all the other careers I had. I’m able to devote quite a bit of time to writing. This probably makes me less disciplined, since I know I can stay up till 3am…which those of you who see me on Facebook in the wee hours of the morning will attest to.
I work several hours in the morning, several hours in the afternoon, several hours in the evening…sometimes I’m writing something new. Other times, I’ll pull out an old manuscript and see if I can create something new and exciting with it.
I do get waylaid with blogging and social media…and as I mentioned before, I am a sucker for challenges. Although the experts say we should do our concentrated writing in the morning and not even check emails or Facebook, I must admit…I don’t follow that advice even though I know I should.
But this is supposed to be fun, right? And for me, it is! Total bliss! Even the rejections are just a necessary part of the process and I try to see them as steps on the ladder. And some ladders have lots and lots of steps.
Janie: What is your favorite craft book?
Vivian: There are so many great ones out there. My favorite is Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul. Well-laid out and easy to navigate, I also love the action plan at the end of chapter which encourages you to be working on your own manuscript using what you have learned.
I’ll mention another craft book as well…Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. I found that book quite enlightening...other writers also feel doubt…wow, so I am not the only one. And I think this is why it is so important to be part of a writing community. We all need support and encouragement.
Janie: What inspires you to keep writing?
Vivian: Life inspires me to keep writing. History inspires me to keep writing. (for me there is nothing better than to latch onto a golden moment of history that has been forgotten and is calling to me to bring it alive for young readers)
Things I hear, things I read inspire me to keep writing. Even my husband is constantly coming up with clever titles and ideas. “Hey honey,” he’ll say, “this would make a great kid’s book!”
And my grandson inspires me to keep writing. He slept over last night and I commented that his blankets were all over the place and it looked like he had been exercising while he was sleeping. “Sure, Grandma,” he said. “That’s because I was sleepercizing.”
Then when he left the breakfast table, my husband said, “See you later, Alligator.” And without a moment’s hesitation, Jeremy replied, “After while, Grandpadile.” So now I have two possible story ideas to add to the others. I just need to find a better way to keep track of them all.
Janie: How did you get the idea for 50 Precious Words?
Vivian: Many years ago, Bennett Cerf (one of the founders of Random House) bet Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss) that he couldn't write a kid's book using only 50 different words...of course, Dr. Seuss proved him wrong with Green Eggs and Ham..there is a website that talks a bit about it: Some friends were talking about Dr. Seuss...it was his birthday on the 2nd...and I thought, hey, what fun...let's try to write a kid's story with only 50 words total.
Here are the rules:
50 PRECIOUS WORDS WRITING CONTEST
- Write a story appropriate for kids ages 12 or under, using only 50 words…they can all be different words, or you can use some of them over and over…just as long as the total word count for the story is 50 or less.
- It can be prose, rhyme, free verse, silly or serious…whatever works for you.
- Title is not included in the word count.
- No illustration notes please.
- Post the story on your blog if you have one and put the link in the comments OR post the story in the comments.
- Deadline for posting the story or the link in the comments is Friday, March 18th…that gives you two weeks.
- Winners will be announced on Saturday, March 19th.
- Prizes? Of course! In honor of Women’s History Month, a copy of Miss Moore Thought Otherwise by Jan Pinborough. Kristen Fulton is going to donate a place in her April Nonfiction Archaeology class and I am offering a mini-critique.
So are you up for the challenge? Check out my entry on Vivian's site. I look forward to reading yours. Show me your 50 precious words.