Carpinello's Writing Pages welcomes Idaho writer Dianna Winget and her Middle Grade book A Smidgen of Sky.
First, a bit about Dianna:
I was raised in the Yakima Valley in Washington State, and have lived in the beautiful mountains of North Idaho for the past 21 years. I got my writing start by selling articles and short stories to the magazine market. But my real wish was always to write MG novels which I’m now privileged to do. I’m a member of the SCBWI and am repped by the wonderful Lara Perkins at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.
Why did you pick to write books for MG?
I was blessed to have a mom who read to me from day one, so I’ve always loved books. But I became a voracious reader when I was in the ten to twelve year old bracket. My three all time favorite books, Charlotte’s Web, Where the Red Fern Grows, and The Outsiders, were all from then. I have great and vivid memories of that time in my life, and it just feels natural to write for that age group.
Lots of different types! I love MG, of course, but I also just purchased Still Alice by Lisa Genova, South to Alaska by Nancy Barnes and Dangerous, by Diana Palmer. So you see, I jump around a lot.
When you are not writing, what do you like to do?
Read, browse my local indie bookstore, work in my garden, spend time with my husband and 15 year old daughter, and play with my two canine buddies. I also volunteer some of my time each week helping to answer people’s questions about the Bible.
Tell us about A Smidgen of Sky and how the story came to be.
A Smidgen of Sky is my debut MG, published in November 2012 by Harcourt. It centers around ten year old Piper Lee DeLuna, a young girl who lost her daddy in a plane crash and who is determined to stop her mama from getting remarried. It’s set in Georgia because I’ve always been fascinated by the South, and is loosely based on my own experiences with being a step-parent. Although the topic is serious and there are some scenes that tug your heartstrings, there’s lots of spunk and humor as well.
Here's a peek at A Smidgen of Sky:
Whether she likes it or not, ten-year-old Piper Lee DeLuna is about to get a new family. Four years after the plane Piper's daddy was flying disappeared, her mama is getting married again. The way Piper sees it, Mama's being flat out disloyal. Besides, who needs a stepdad—or a bratty stepsister, for that matter—when she and Mama are doing just fine on their own?
But when Piper Lee hatches a plan to get the wedding called off, everything spirals out of control. And by the time Piper realizes just how much damage she's done, it could be too late to fix things.
Have you written other books?
Before A Smidgen of Sky, I wrote two non-fiction books for children: Pythons—Wild About Snakes and Snow Leopards. They were published in 2010 and 2011 by Capstone Press.
What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story?
My second novel, A Million Ways, has recently sold to Scholastic Press and will be out in September. It’s also contemporary MG, set in Spokane, Washington, and is about twelve year old Poppy Parker, a girl who faces huge changes when the grandmother who has raised her ends up in a nursing home. The story has lots of action, heartache, and an irresistible German Shepherd named Gunner. I’m hoping to hear some good news about it soon.
What advice do you have for other authors?
Read, read, read, not only in your chosen genre, but others as well. Also, be willing to revise as many times as needed, and cultivate a huge amount of patience, perseverance and determination. Everything about publishing, traditional publishing at least, moves slow as molasses. You have to truly love writing in order to stick with it.
Anything else you want readers to know?
Step families make up roughly half of all families today. Yet they present a very unique set of challenges that can be tough to figure out. I’ve received lots of great feedback on how A Smidgen of Sky has helped children facing the big issues of loss, loyalty and new relationships, so if you or others you know are in that situation, please keep Smidgen in mind. And if you read it and find it helpful, I’d love to know!
Where can readers find you and your books?
A Smidgen of Sky is widely available both online and in bricks and mortar stores. It’s available in print and as an e-book. Please visit www.diannawinget.com to read the first chapters of both Smidgen and A Million Ways, to see my latest blog post, and to learn more about me. You can also find me at Twitter: @DiannaMWinget. And I really enjoy interacting on Goodreads. http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5573825.Dianna_Dorisi_Winget