by Cindy Sommer
Lee: Please tell us about your Crystal-Kite winning book!
Cindy: I wrote Saving Kate's Flowers after my daughter asked me why flowers die in winter. I thought of a story to go along with her question. Using my knowledge about gardening, which I learned from my mother, I wove facts into the story, but kept it fun to read as well. My main character, Kate, a bunny, tries to bring all the flowers into the house. But her daddy is allergic. I also have environmental allergies, so I can relate to the father.
I originally wanted Kate to be a human girl, like my daughter. But the editor and illustrator saw her as a bunny. Ever since I saw the first adorable drawings from the illustrator, I loved them. I've had short stories published in children's magazines before, but this was my first picture book. I've sent out hundreds of manuscripts, but this was the first time my story clicked with a publisher. For this book to win an award is so exciting! I couldn't believe my book won. To come out on top of all those other well-deserving books and talented authors was amazing! It means the illustrator and I must have done something right. Without her pictures, my story could not have come to life the wonderful way that it did. To be recognized by your peers means so much. I am proud and humbled to have won this award. It means that I'm an award-winning author! It's a great pat on the back that I've been waiting years to receive. I guess all my hard work has paid off. Thank you so much to all those who voted. I truly appreciate it.
|Author Cindy Sommer
Lee: How long have you been involved with SCBWI, and can you share what you feel you’ve gained by being a member?
Cindy: I've been a member of SCBWI for 17 years. It has made a positive impact on my writing life. SCBWI's informative newsletters, conferences and events keep all writers in touch with other writers and make them aware of what SCBWI has to offer. It also brings authors and illustrators together for events. Writing is a lonely job, and meeting others who think like you do helps to stir our creative spirits. I've learned about writing courses, new publishers, and how to improve my writing through SCBWI's newsletters. They offer a plethora of information all geared to helping authors and illustrators be successful. Their website offers even more information. You never know what useful tidbits you'll find.
Lee: Do you have any advice to share with other children’s book writers and illustrators?
Cindy: My advice would be to keep reading books in the genre you want to write in. Keep writing and working to improve it with classes, and joining a writer's group. I know it is hard to do, but you need to be able to handle criticism. You need to read your stories to other authors. Most stories need revising. How can you fix errors if your story isn't heard by anyone? You have to put it out there. Sometimes you are too close to your story, you can be blinded by it's good qualities. You may not be able to see the awful ones that are ruining the story.
You can't expect to be successful right away. It takes work. Look for a topic a publisher hasn't done yet, and try to fill that hole in their list. Don't give up! No matter how many rejections you receive, if you are passionate about a story, keep working on it until it's perfect. If it keeps coming back, work on it some more, and send it out again. Eventually someone will see what you see, and who knows? Maybe you'll be lucky enough to have an award-winning book! A lot of it has to do with luck, and submitting to the right publisher at the right time. If you don't give up, and you keep trying, you too can make it happen.
Thanks, Cindy, and congratulations again on Saving Kate's Flowers winning the Crystal Kite Award!
You can find out more about Cindy at her website, www.cindysommer.com
Illustrate and Write On,