I know Vivian Kirkfield is a talented writer but I didn't know she's written Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking, a book for parents and teachers of young children. I wanted to know more. What brought her to write this informative book? What was her passion? I thought you would enjoy meeting Vivian who has been a writer since 2010.
She says: Books have always been a large part of my life. As a young child, I helped turn the pages as my mom read to me. When I got older, I spent every spare minute, inhaling stories like Little Women and every fairy and folk tale I could get my hands on. One of the reasons I loved being a kindergarten teacher so much was that I got a chance to read to the kids every day!
Thanks for being with us.
Would you share the reason you wrote this book?
As a parent, I often made up sweet stories for my own children as we waited at the doctor’s office or drove in the car. But I didn’t get serious about writing until 2005. With our children grown and married, my husband urged me to write the book I had always wanted to – a resource of story recommendations paired with quick and easy activities...the book I wished I’d had when I was teaching and raising my kids. These days, parents are even busier...with little time for activity planning. I wanted to provide a simple action plan for parents – no batteries required...powered by a child’s imagination and a parent’s participation.
What do you want others to learn from this?
Our daily lives become so busy – filled with responsibilities and obligations to family, friends and job. But we have to remember that we have a responsibility and an obligation to ourselves...to be all that we were meant to be. If you have a dream, pursue it. If you have a goal, keep trying to reach it. You can do it! Be tenacious. Be passionate. Be happy. Be compassionate. And always be kind.
Was it years before you brought this book to fruition?
Let me preface this by saying that in 2005, I knew NOTHING about this whole writing/publishing business. I looked up literary agents online and in books. Then I sent several dozen query letters, mostly by snail mail. I actually got about half a dozen positive responses with requests to see a proposal. Proposal? I had no idea what that was. In the end, after working with literary agent (I choose a teeny tiny agency where my timid shy self felt comfortable – not the best vetting, to be sure) to polish the proposal (which I eventually learned how to write), she was unsuccessful at getting any interest from a publisher – (she had no online presence and everything we did was via snail mail and I was completely out of the loop as to what she was doing for me)...so in 2009,I decided to strike out on my own and self-publish.
Once I made that decision, I completed the manuscript and asked my daughter, to format it for me. She took it from what looked like a college thesis and made it into a real live book! And my daughter-in-law, a talented artist, used old photos of my own three children as models for the cover art. And my sister, a lover of books and reading (yes, it runs in the family), my husband, a published author in his own right, and my son, Peter, a young man with great attention to detail, were my editors. So it was a beautiful family project from start to finish and was finally published in September of 2010. I planned it to be the first of a series of parent-teacher resources that utilize picture book stories, craft projects and cooking activities to build self-esteem, develop literacy skills and strengthen the parent-child bond.
I know you’ve dabbled with illustrations. Have you thought about illustrating your picture books with your artworks?
Most children love to draw, dabble and doodle until someone tells them what they created isn’t any good. Unfortunately, this happens to many kids. I’m glad I took Mira Reisberg’s Illustrating Picture Books class last year...it empowered me with the knowledge that yes, I can draw. Whether I will illustrate my own manuscripts is another story. My daughter-in-law has come up with some very creative ideas for illustrations that might work for someone like me who doesn’t have a lot of art training. We’ll see what happens. I’ve got a 15-word manuscript I am working on right now that I would love to illustrate.
What’s next for you?
After the parenting book came out, I started building a presence on the web and in social media channels. Of course, I had no idea what I was doing and tried to be everywhere. I was blogging every day. YIKES! But the good thing was that I connected with lots of wonderful people and was introduced to this amazing kid lit community. Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday. Julie Hedlund’s 12x12 Picture Book Writing Challenge. Tara Lazar’s Picture Book Idea Month. Are you seeing a theme here? I began writing picture book stories. I felt like I was home. I had found my bliss.
I’m hoping to secure an agent soon – I want to go the traditional route with my stories. I write. I revise. I submit. I read. I participate in several online critique groups where incredible partners have helped me hone my stories and grow in my writing. Last year I took six amazing picture book classes...thank you Emma, Susanna, Kristen, Renee, Jodell and Mira. And I continue to connect with anyone and everyone who wants to talk about why books should be an important part of every child’s life.
Although she is not a fan of heights and was always a rather timid child, Vivian Kirkfield is constantly taking leaps of faith. She self-published Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking, went skydiving with her son, flew half-way around the globe to speak at the 2013AFCC/SCBWI conference in Singapore, and is amassing a respectable pile of submission-ready picture book manuscripts. When she isn’t scribbling stories, Vivian is hiking and fly-fishing with her hubby, reading, crafting and cooking with kids, and sharing self-esteem and literacy tips with parents and teachers. To learn more about her mission to help every child become a lover of books and reading, you can follow her on Twitter, connect with her on Facebook, like her Show Me How page on Facebook, visit her blog at Picture Books Help Kids Soar or contact her by email.