Posted tagged ‘Marilyn Monroe’

Seven Questions for Vivian Kirkfield and a Giveaway!

January 23, 2020

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Once again, I have the privilege of interviewing author extraordinaire, Vivian Kirkfield. Her newest book, Making Their Voices Heard: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe, launches, January 28th. See my review here. And there is a giveaway!

Ella Marilyn cover

Thank you so much, Cathy! I’m thrilled to be here on your blog just a few days before the launch of the new book!

And I’m thrilled to have you here. In your newest nonfiction biography, Making Their Voices Heard, why did you decide to focus on the friendship Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe had for each other rather than their enormous talents?  

I knew I wanted to write a story for children…a story that children could relate to. Even young kids know about playdates and going to a classmate’s birthday party and how it feels when your friend is mad at you. How to be a good friend is an important lesson for kids. And although it’s true that each of these icons had enormous talent, each was being limited because of discrimination of one kind or another…and it was their friendship which helped break those barriers.

ella and marilyn in nightclub

Ella and Marilyn

When you begin to do research for a nonfiction work, do you have a specific plan you follow?

I begin my research on the internet…scrolling through whatever sites I can find. Then I turn to the local library and if necessary, reach out to the reference librarian to ask if she can connect with the larger libraries. I’ve also contacted the libraries and historical museums and historical societies in the cities where my subjects were born or worked. These often contain archives that are specific to the person I’m researching. In addition, if there are any living relatives whose names pop up during my research, I do try to connect with them.

How do you organize your research to make it easy for you to refer to it? Handwritten notes? Binder?

As I read, I take notes in a dollar store composition notebook…usually (and unfortunately) handwritten (unfortunate because I often can’t read my own handwriting). But I also print out pages from online sources (sometimes an online source can disappear between the time you read it and the time the manuscript is bought – at least you will have a hard copy of your information if/when the editor/fact-checkers ask about something. Then I use a manila folder for all the printed sheets and the notebook. I wish I were more organized…but so far, this system has worked pretty well. The most difficult time was when I was writing the nine nonfiction PB bios for From Here to There: Inventions That Changed the Way the World Moves (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, January 21, 2021). In only 9 months, I had to go from idea to polished submission-ready manuscript…seven polished submission-ready manuscripts (I had already written two of them when we signed the contract). If it weren’t for my fabulous critique partners, I never would have been able to accomplish such a feat in such a short period of time.

What are some of the places you go to find information? (Primary sources?  Newspaper clips? Documentaries? Videos?)

As I mentioned previously, online sources are my first line of inquiry. Then the library…with books/journals/newspapers. I also LOVE YouTube…there are amazing documentaries AND interviews…if your subject is fairly modern (within the last 100 years) there may be a wealth of information, some of the primary sources (an interview, for instance) available at your fingertips.

Another great source of information is the library…but not just the bookshelves. Many libraries have subscriptions to various databases – old newspapers, ancestry sites – and if you have a library card, you may be able to access a lot of it from the comfort of your own home and computer.

When do you know when it’s time to stop researching and start writing?

I know it is time to stop researching when I start reading the same information. Also, I try to write my pitch (what-you’d-say-to-an-editor-if-you-only-had-30-seconds-to-talk) and my one-sentence (kind of a synopsis of the story) before I start writing. If I feel I have enough information to create a strong narrative that answers the promise of my opening lines (yes, I write my opening lines early on), I stop researching and start writing. But, I’m always willing to go back and dig deeper if there are questions that remain unanswered.

inside spread nightclub

What is your secret for making your manuscripts shine?

I don’t know that it is a secret. 😊 It’s certainly something I share with all of my critique buddies, all of my critique service clients, and at any conference or webinar where I am presenting.

  1. I write about people/topics I am passionate about
  2. I dig deep with my research
  3. I search for a golden nugget that will strike a chord with my child reader
  4. I craft strong opening lines that hook the reader
  5. I utilize various techniques from the picture book writing toolbox (including assonance, alliteration, the element of three, refrains) that help keep the reader engaged and move the story forward
  6. I formulate a satisfying ending that often echoes the opening lines
  7. I read mentor texts in the genre I am writing (this happens before, during, and after I write the manuscript)
  8. I record myself reading the story aloud…and then listen back to catch the places where I trip up or where the reader will lose interest
  9. I share the manuscript with critique buddies and revise with their feedback in mind
  10. Then I record myself again…revise/polish…send out the manuscript to a couple of other critique partners…and revise/polish again.
  11. I know I am done when I listen back and am engaged from the first word to the last…and can utter an AHA, HAHAHA, or AWWW when the last word is uttered.

inside spread nightclub 2.jpg

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

No manuscript will ever be perfect. Please don’t try to make it so. Pour your heart into the writing and be willing to revise if several critique buddies point out similar problems. Polish until you feel the story sings. But at some point, we need to go from writing and revising mode to submitting mode because the song of your story won’t be heard if it’s sitting in your drawer/computer/notebook. And even after an editor acquires your manuscript because she loves it, there will probably be additional revisions required…or at the very least, requested. Be open to the perspective of the editor and illustrator…but advocate for this story because you are responsible for putting an accurate, authentic, and consistent book into the hands of children. Never forget that this is YOUR story. Your words. Your heart on the page.

Thank you so very much, Cathy, for the opportunity to share my thoughts and spread the word about my newest picture book that launches January 28: MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe (Little Bee Books, illustrated by Alleanna Harris).

As always, Vivian, it is my pleasure to have you as my friend and as a guest on my blog!

THE GIVEAWAY!

Vivian has generously agreed to give away a copy of her newest book or a fiction/nonfiction picture book critique.

For a chance to win, please leave a comment below. For an extra chance to win, post this giveaway on social media, and make sure you state where you posted it in your comment. Please note:  You must be a resident of the U.S. and at least 18 years of age to enter. The giveaway ends on Thursday, 1/30/20 at 11:59 pm EST. The winner will be randomly picked and announced on my 2/6/20 blog post. Good luck to all!

Learn more about the fabulous Vivian Kirkfield:

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, banana-boat riding, and visiting critique buddies all around the world. 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 where she hosts the #50PreciousWords International Writing Contest and the #50PreciousWordsforKids Challenge. She is the author of numerous picture books. You can connect with her on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Linkedin, or just about any place people with picture books are found.

 

 

 

Sneak Preview of a Fabulous Book!

July 11, 2019

ella and marilynI had the opportunity to read Vivian Kirkfield’s upcoming nonfiction book, Making Their Voices Heard: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe. With a lyrical quality to her writing, Vivian Kirkfield has written a beautiful story of friendship between two iconic personalities, Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe. They were different in many ways, but they both had the same hopes and dreams. The author piques curiosity by giving readers a bit of background information about each woman. Ella Fitzgerald wanted to share her music with the world, and Marilyn Monroe hoped to become a great actress. How did these two women forge a life-long friendship? When Marilyn was offered a role in a musical, the first thing she did was to buy her idol’s records to listen to and study. Those records were Ella Fitzgerald’s. Marilyn’s performance in the movie was hailed by critics. This gave Marilyn a voice in her career and future projects. She immediately bought a ticket to Ella Fitzgerald’s next concert and remained afterward to thank Ella for her inspiration. A special bond formed between the two women. During that time, Ella wanted her voice to be heard by everyone, but because of racial discrimination, Ella was not allowed to perform in certain places. Marilyn stepped in to help. She made a bargain with a very popular nightclub owner promising to bring reporters to promote his club if he would hire Ella Fitzgerald to sing. It worked! After lengthy preparations, Ella Fitzgerald was finally able to share her music and voice with the world. Vivian Kirkfields’s talent for telling an inspiring story can be felt with every page turn, and Alleanna Harris’ captivating illustrations harken back to the Golden Age of Hollywood. I highly recommend adding this book to your collection.

Coming this January!

 

A Visit to Chicago

November 29, 2011

 

My husband, my daughter, and I just blew in from the windy city. Our annual trip to Chicago coincided with the beginning of the Christmas season. For one day, and one night, the three of us ate, drank, and were merry in one of our favorite cities. Spirits were high, and the weather was unseasonably warm. It was a perfect day to be caught up in the sea of people bobbing along the streets and sidewalks.

Visiting a big city is the ultimate good time. There are museums, parks, sports teams, fabulous restaurants, unusual architecture, and in Chicago, The Magnificent Mile. Energy and excitement ooze from everywhere. If you do nothing else other than walk the city streets, it’s an experience not to be missed.

“Chicago, Chicago, that toddlin’ town

   Chicago, Chicago, I’ll show you around…”

During the day…

 At night…

 

The Water Tower

The Fourth Presbyterian Church

 

A Fountain of Light

Modes of Transportation

The “L”

A Car

A Horse and Carriage

Our Visit to Marshall Field’s (aka Macy’s)

We had brunch around the famous Christmas tree in the Walnut Room

Inside Marshall Field’s

  Outside Marshall Field’s

And there are always celebrities to see…

A Peek at Marilyn Monroe

Chicago rocks!


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