Today Carpinello's Writing Pages welcomes Cordelia Dinsmore, middle grade author of Michaela's Gift.
A bit about Cordelia:
Cordelia Dinsmore lives in a century-old farmhouse surrounded by fields of corn, wheat, sunflowers etc., depending on the whims of the farmers. A dog, five cats, a horse, and several humans share the small farm where she works and plays.
Cordelia writes strictly for children and has a fondness for creating rhyming picture books. When she’s not writing, she loves to grow flowers, blackberries, tomatoes, and the occasional herb. She also loves bird watching and scouring the Flint Hills for artifacts and prehistoric shark teeth.
Why did you pick to write books for Middle Grade readers?
I’ve spent most of my adult life surrounded by children and teens, so they are who I know best. I’ve been involved with foster children since the time my oldest child was very young, and they, as an entity, have so many stories to tell. Aside from that, I find it challenging to write for young people. They see the world from a unique perspective, and I try to capture a bit of that in my writing.
What types of books do you like to read?
I read a wide variety of subject matter. In adult books, my favorite authors are Clive Cussler, Nora Roberts, and J.D. Robb. I must confess that I read mostly MG books in about every sub-genre I can find. I think the quality of story one gets from a great MG book far exceeds that of many other genres. Of course, that’s just my own opinion.
When you are not writing, what do you like to do?
I spend most of my free time working and playing with my son and my granddaughter. I’ve always tried to be involved with my kids as much as possible. My daughters are grown now, but I spent a lot of hours with them in their 4H projects, Girl Scouts, Special Olympics, and other kid activities. We love to go to museums and zoos, and the botanical gardens are another favorite. I also like to garden. I’m pretty much a failure at it, but it’s a great way to spend time outdoors.
Tell us about Michaela's Gift and how the story came to be.
Michaela’s Gift is based on the wonderful memories I have of spending time at my grandparents’ house in Central Tennessee. The house was haunted – I actually saw the ghosts just as Michaela did – and the way she describes them is exactly how they looked. My mother was never the kind of woman Michaela’s mother is, but she was frightened of my grandmother’s dog, and wouldn’t let us make friends with her. I know my siblings were both terrified of Blackie, but I’m an animal lover, and I managed to make friends with her on the sly. Of course, my grandparents’ home wasn’t as magical as the one in Michaela’s Gift, but the memories, in retrospect, make it seem so.
Here's a peek at Michaela's Gift:
Twelve-year-old Michaela Cochran still believes in enchanted mountains and fairytale castles, but her happily-ever-after will never happen if she can’t convince her mother to accept the magical gift Michaela has inherited.
Michaela Cochran and her family make the trip to her father’s ancestral home every year, but this year is special. Michaela is now twelve, the age when every girl in the family receives a special gift. When Aunt Sharon explains that Michaela’s gift is a magical ability to bring one of her drawings to life, Michaela begins making plans. What she wants most is a castle high on the mountain, where her family can live together. But if she can’t figure out how to resolve the growing hostility between herself and her mother, her gift is meaningless.
Have you written other books? If so, tell us a bit about them.
I have written several other books. I currently am subbing some picture books that I wrote for my son when he was small. One is a monster book, and the other is about a cuddly elephant. I also am currently working on another contemporary MG, but I’m only about three-fourths of the way through the first draft. It’s rather dark and is proving to be a bit difficult to write from an emotional standpoint. I’m also in the process of changing a YA historical into an MG. I originally intended it for MG, but I listened to generous advice from a few people that thought it was too mature for MG, but now I know better. It’s been a great learning experience, however. Other than that, I have a few trunked novels that are absolutely horrid, and a chapter book about a cow that friends and family love, but the market isn’t ready for.
What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story?
I think my dark MG will be the next item up for submission. It’s a story of an abused girl and how she discovers her own worth. I just hope it isn’t too dark for the MG world because it definitely isn’t YA.
What advice do you have for other authors?
I’m probably one of the last people to be giving advice. I think it’s very important to read and study current books in your genre and to do it with a critical eye. Not in the sense of criticizing the author, but in seeing what works and evaluating what it is about the book that makes you like or dislike it. I think it’s also good to know that in today’s market, one needs to be open to and prepared to do a lot of marketing.
Anything else you want readers to know?
I just want to thank them for their interest in my work, and to let them know I appreciate each one of them for taking the time to read Michaela’s Gift and, if they are so inclined, giving their honest opinions regarding it. I also want to thank you so much for allowing me time to share with your readers today.
Where can readers find you and your books?
I’m so glad you asked because I have a whole list available just for that purpose!