In February, her debut picture book, Pippa's Passover Plate was published. And now within a day of each other her books #2 and #3 have book birthdays! Four Otters Toboggan debuts on April 1st and Sweet Dreams, Sarah from Creston Books comes out April 2nd! I wanted to chat with Vivian about Sweet Dreams, Sarah. I got to see this one from start to finish.
1. How did you come across Sarah Goode?
I had been scrolling through lists of ‘the first woman to…’ and when I read the brief description of the first African American woman to own a U.S. patent, I tried to find out more…but there wasn’t any…and that’s when I decided Sarah E. Goode deserved to have a book.
2. Was there anything different you had to do for researching Sarah?
Because there was so little information, I had to reach out to librarians…my local librarian reached out to several other librarians. One sent me an advertisement from an 1886 newspaper for Sarah’s furniture store. Another shared an 1885 photo of the street where Sarah’s store was probably located. And I also contacted the cemetery where Sarah is buried…they were very helpful and sent me the list of people buried in the family plot with a description of the cause of death. I’ve found that if you keep digging, you may find something of value.
3. How has her life influenced yours?
Sarah E. Goode was persistent…and patient…and totally goal oriented. I really felt a connection with her…because that is how I approach life and challenges. And I was even more inspired and determined to write this story after delving into the research and learning more about the obstacles she had to overcome.
4. How many revisions did you do for this story?
I originally wrote the story the month after I took a nonfiction picture book writing class in June 2014. I sent it to Rate Your Story in August…and got an 8 (1 is the best and 10 is the worst). I revised with the help of my critique buddies and submitted it to RYS again…this time I got a 3. Then I revised a bunch more and gave it to more critique buddies…and submitted it to the RYS contest and won 2nd place for nonfiction picture book…and then I knew it was ready to go. And it is the story that landed me my agent! But I tweaked it again for her…and then when the editor bought it, she requested a few minor changes. And when the first color layouts needed to be changed, I had the opportunity to make a few more revisions…and I did.
5. What are your marketing plans for Sarah?
6. What hurdles have you gone through for the creation of this book?
Every manuscript is unique…as are every editor and illustrator…and so, every publication process is unique. I think it is important to be politely proactive…and to be confident enough to speak up if you feel something isn’t working. The editor has a right to add her vision to the book…and the illustrator needs to add his…but the end product must stay true to the heart of the story as envisioned by the author. And every person on the team – author, editor, illustrator, art director, book designer – is responsible for research to make sure that their contribution to the process is accurate and authentic. This is why I am such a fan of collaboration – with each member of the team sharing information, ideas, and resources. And sometimes it is necessary to reach out to experts, especially when writing nonfiction. I sent the color layouts to sensitivity readers – and discovered the head-rag on Sarah could not be used in the illustrations that showed her after the Civil War. The head-rag was a symbol of slavery – female slaves were often required to wear it – and therefore, you would NEVER want to wrap it around a free black woman’s head unless, perhaps, it was a stylish one like Alysha Keyes wears. 😊
7. What hopes do you have for Sweet Dreams, Sarah?
I hope that readers will be inspired to DREAM…and to believe that they can build their dream into reality…as Sarah did. The editor and I have created a curriculum guide for teachers which will be available for free download on my website. In addition, I plan to invite kids to share their dreams and the steps they are taking in a Build Your Dream Initiative on my website. And my #50PreciousWordsforKids International Writing Challenge that takes place April 29-May 6 is one of the ways I try to encourage young people to express their creativity…who knows, maybe participating in that challenge will result in some of them pursuing a career in writing! :))
|Vivian, pursuing her dream of travel, here with Julie Abery in Switzerland
8. What are you working on now? What books are coming out soon?
I’ve sent a new manuscript to my agent who will be passing it along to an editor who asked for that particular topic. Fingers crossed that the editor loves it! And in the pipeline, I have two books…Making Their Voices Heard: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe. (Little Bee Books, Spring 2020) illustrated by Alleanna Harris; and From Here to There: Inventions that Changed the Way the World Moves (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Fall 2020) illustrated by Gilbert Ford.
It used to be yellow…in fact, when my sister got married and I finally had a room of my own, I painted it yellow the very next day. But I also love teal blue.
Indian! I love curries! The first time I had Indian food was on the first date I had with my hubby. We lived in NYC and a cousin of mine had recommended this particular restaurant. Stuart and I had never eaten Indian food before…but it was love at first taste! And the Karachi restaurant at 144 W. 46th Street became our favorite eatery. Sadly, the restaurant is no longer there…but the memories will never go out of business.
Favorite kid’s book?
I have so many favorites…it is impossible to choose. Little Women ranks pretty high…I must have read it 100 times. Pollyanna was another favorite…in fact, my sister called me Pollyanna because I always saw the bright side of things…some things never change, I guess. 😊
Favorite children’s author would have to be Louisa May Alcott. Favorite adult author would have to be Diana Gabaldon…I am a total Outlander fan and have read all the books in the series.
Reading 😊 Writing 😊 Revising 😊 Traveling 😊 Cooking 😊 Hiking 😊
Bonus: You can watch Vivian read Sweet Dreams, Sarah, at Diane Tulloch's blog, our critique partner in New Zealand who recorded her during Vivian's travels around the world.
To communicate with Vivian~
Writer for children—reader forever…that’s Vivian Kirkfield in five words. Her bucket list contains many more than five words – but she’s already checked off skydiving, parasailing and banana-boat riding. When she isn’t looking for ways to fall from the sky or sink under the water, she can be found writing picture books in the quaint village of Amherst, NH where the old stone library is her favorite hangout and her young grandson is her favorite board game partner. A retired kindergarten teacher with a masters in Early Childhood Education, Vivian inspires budding writers during classroom visits and shares insights with aspiring authors at conferences and on her blog, Picture Books Help Kids Soar. She is the author of Pippa’s Passover Plate (Holiday House); Four Otters Toboggan: An Animal Counting Book (Pomegranate); Sweet Dreams, Sarah (Creston Books); Making Their Voices Heard: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe (Little Bee Books); and From Here to There: Inventions That Changed the Way the World Moves (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). You can connect with her on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Linkedin, or just about any place people with picture books are found.