12 X 12 Featured Author Sylvia Liu
© K Woodard Photography

© K Woodard Photography

I wish I could describe the joy I feel when I get to participate and celebrate the success of a dear friend who has worked long and hard, all while giving back a tremendous amount to the Kidlit community.

Today is one of those days, and I started writing the introduction to this post with full-body goosebumps. Sylvia Liu is one of the inaugural members of 12 x 12 challenge. Each year, she’s been on the winner’s wall (having written 12 picture book drafts). Each year, she’s provided a testimonial for the challenge. Each year, she’s volunteered to help behind the scenes not only here but over at the blockbuster website, Kidlit411. Each year, she’s cheered on and supported the success of others. Each year, we’ve watched her get closer and closer to her goal of becoming a published author. Now it’s her moment in the spotlight, and I am honored to have her here on the official release date of her beautiful book – A Morning with Grandpa.

After you are finished reading Sylvia’s terrific post about how to write a true story with heart, check out HER 12 x 12 Success Story video below. I know you will finish both feeling empowered and inspired. Please welcome, Sylvia!

We are proud to be part of 12 x 12 member Sylvia Liu’s book launch blog tour for A Morning with Grandpa. For chances to win prizes on Sylvia’s book blog tour, find all the participating sites HERE. Sylvia is offering one lucky 12 x 12 member a copy of her debut picture book A Morning with Grandpa. Get your drafts written and revisions revised so you’ll have more chances to win!

Write Your True Story with Heart

We all know many of the ingredients of writing a picture book: A great concept. A character kids will love. The importance of a beginning, middle, and end. The rule of threes. Surprising the reader with an ending that is unanticipated yet inevitable and satisfying.
But what is the secret sauce that really elevates a story? For me, it’s writing a true story with heart.

I don’t mean write nonfiction or about something serious. I mean write a story that is so true to who you are that it sings to you, tickles that quirky funny bone of yours, or resonates with your being. If you can write a story that sparks that sense of truth and the story conveys an emotion that a child can connect with (such as joy, love, hilarity, wonder, anticipation, curiosity) you’ve got a winning story.

How can you tell if your story is a true one with heart? Sometimes you just know. The story zings. When others read it, they get excited and get it. Other times, ask yourself these questions: MorningWithGrandpa_cover

1) The Marie Kondo question: Does this Story Spark Joy?

Marie Kondo is the Japanese author of the worldwide bestseller, THE LIFE-CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP. She teaches people to declutter their lives by examining every item they own and asking the question, “Does this spark joy”? If it does, keep it. If it doesn’t, donate or discard it. People have reduced their material belongings significantly using her method.

Do the same with your story. Is this one you wrote because it’s in fashion, but it’s not really who you are? Is it an idea you’ve been carrying around too long, like the bridesmaid dress hanging at the back of the closet? If it sparks joy, it’s probably because it reflects who you truly are. You can keep the story (and those rocking boots).

But, unlike clothes, you do need to venture to the mall (library) and see what is selling (being published) these days. If the story equivalent of your 70s bell bottoms is the true you, go ahead and write it, but don’t be surprised if others don’t want to buy it.

2) The Physics Question: Is there Harmonic Resonance?

Harmonic resonance occurs when an object vibrating at its natural frequency causes an increase in the vibration of another system because they are on the same frequency. For example, pushing someone on a swing at the same natural interval causes the swing to go higher. In music, resonance increases the intensity of sound.
For your writing, do your words ring a bell? Cause you to laugh, cry, or nod your head, or say, “Yes!”? When you are writing at your own natural frequency (your truth), your words will find resonance and amplify in someone else on a similar wavelength.

Morning with Grandpa
3) The #WeNeedDiverseBooks question: Is this an untold story? Does it fill a hole in the mosaic of stories?

Civilizations are created from stories, from the first myths of cave people, to fairy tales and fables, to religious narratives and more. Stories are the way people make sense of the world and how they convey their values. People in power tend to have more of their stories told.

Luckily, there is no monolithic story and publishers are looking for stories that reflect the full experience and diversity of people. Novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie made this case eloquently in her TED talk, The Danger of a Single Story.

But there is still a long way to go. My publisher, Lee & Low Books, recently completed a comprehensive baseline survey of 8 review journals and 34 publishers and found that the industry as a whole is 79% white, 78% women, 88% straight, and 92% nondisabled. The number of authors and illustrators of color who are published in trade books is correspondingly low. According to the Cooperative Children’s Book Center’s annual survey, in 2015, of the 3400 books they reviewed, 3% were written by African-Africans, .6% by Native Americans, 5% by Asian-Americans, and 1.7% by Latinos. I will share more thoughts about diversity in kid lit in other stops on the blog tour, but feel free to check out Kidlit411’s Diversity in Kidlit resource page for thought-provoking articles.

If you are in a position to tell a story that adds to the narrative and that hasn’t been told before, then you have a true story. This applies to any untold or underrepresented story.

Morning with Grandpa

4) The Vulcan question: Does it Make you Feel?

The emotional truth of a story is what makes it stick. For example, I remember:

  • The pain of loss in Oliver Jeffers’ THE HEART AND THE BOTTLE, or Jessixa Baxley’s BOATS FOR PAPA
  • The warmth of a parent’s love in Amy Hest’s KISS GOOD NIGHT, Sam McBratney’s GUESS HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU, or Julie Hedlund’s MY LOVE FOR YOU IS THE SUN
  • The despair and anger in John Marsden’s and Shaun Tan’s THE RABBITS (a must read about the colonization of indigenous people in Australia)
  • The joy of connecting with a true friend in Marlee Frazee’s THE FARMER AND THE CLOWN, Dan Santat’s THE ADVENTURES OF BEEKLE, or Meg Rosoff’s JUMPY JACK AND GOOGILY
  • The transgressive humor in Edward Gorey’s THE GHASTLY CRUMBS TINIES or Jon Klassen’s THIS IS NOT MY HAT
  • The thrill of the unknown in Maurice Sendak’s WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE

What emotions do you get from your story? Are they strong or slight? Heartwarming or gut busting? Make sure you feel something. Because if you do, your readers will too.

So, go forth and write your true story with heart. Tell the story only you—a miraculous being who won the lottery of life, made of the stuff of stars—can do.

 

Sylvia Liu is an environmental lawyer turned children’s author and illustrator inspired by aliens, bunnies, kraken, and oceans. She debuts as a picture book author with A MORNING WITH GRANDPA, illustrated by Christina Forshay (Lee & Low Books, May 2016). She spent a decade protecting the oceans and the environment at the U.S. Department of Justice and the nonprofit group Oceana, and now she paints, draws, and writes for children. She lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia, with her husband and their two daughters. Visit her portfolio at www.enjoyingplanetearth.com, her blog at www.sylvialiuland.com, and her kid lit resource site, www.kidlit411.com.

Be sure to check out the rest of the blog tour for A Morning with Grandpa HERE.

This Post Has 310 Comments

  1. It is so very exciting to see the success of people I have “met” through 12×12, Kidlit, and other online writing communities. Congratulations Sylvia! Thanks for sharing such powerful insights into your journey.

  2. Now I’ll tell you Congrats for your book! :). What a lovely idea. I hope it soars in sales and good luck with everything. I love Tai Chi by the way. I took a class in VA when I was fortunate enough to be there. Enjoy VA a little bit for me. I miss it.

  3. Hi Sylvia – I am so excited to read your debut PB and to follow the rest of your blog tour. And a huge thank you for today’s post … I have already printed it out and I know I will be returning to if often as I continue my journey, always searching for the heart of my stories! You are a true inspiration! Thank you!

  4. This resonates with me too! I was one of those one idea picture book writers. I had this one story about adoption that I thought was fabulous. It had sat in my mind for ages, then written and never edited before taking it to a very expensive person to critique. The language that she was speaking – going back to the essence of the story and finding my voice did not compute. And now that I have joined 12×12 I am emerging as an understanding writer. Thank you so very much for sharing.

  5. Congratulations on your new book. I can’t wait to read it!
    I love these questions – and your explanations of each. I’ve been working lately on focusing on telling the stories only I can tell and this came at a perfect time. Thanks for a great post. (And Kidlit411 is such an awesome resource, thanks for that too!)

  6. Congrats Sylvia on a wonderful story! Thank you for the post post and encouragement to write what brings us joy. The next part is figuring out how to make it ring and resonate with others, that;s where the wonderful 12 x 12 comes in. Glad you are a 12 x 12 success story. Can’t wait to see more of your work.

  7. Excellent post. A real keeper. I frequently hear writers say that their favorite stories are the ones they are most passionate about, since their emotion shows in the writing. Congrats on A MORNING WITH GRANDPA! Can’t wait to read it.

  8. What an awesome blog post! Sylvia, congratulations on your beautiful book! It’s so exciting to see it in print and I’m looking forward to buying your book for my children and students!

  9. A great post. And I love the “subject headings” of your questions. Congrats on your first book. It sounds like you will be looking forward to many more.

  10. Congratulations Sylvia on your beautiful book! It looks adorable, I can’t wait to read it.
    And thank you for your advice, especially for mentioning Marie Kondo and her tidying up technique. I think I will check out her book. Maybe it will help me tidy up all the papers (and rough drafts?) that are piled on and around my desk.
    Good luck for your book tour, your book sales and your next book!

  11. Congratulations on your debut Sylvia! I look forward to reading your book. And thanks for sharing your journey and your inspirations. I definitely feel like I’m at the beginning so its great to see what is possible and can be accomplished!

  12. Thank you for sharing. I can’t wait to read your book.
    I am a latino writer and I was not aware of the numbers you mentioned on diversity.

  13. Lovely post! Thank you so much for writing from the heart and also for sharing your insight into how it is done. And congratulations on your book!!!

  14. Thanks for the great pointers, Sylvia, and congratulations on your debut picture book. I can’t wait to read it.

  15. I love your categories for evaluating stories we’re working on. I love the “sparking joy” idea and the “Vulcan” question. Thanks for sharing, and congratulations on your book!

  16. Thank you, Sylvia. Congratulations on your book! You’re so right about the emotional truth needing to come through strongly and clearly. Thanks for the questions to help us think about it.

  17. Thank you Sylvia! I can’t believe you were able to put into words something so mysterious! (Then again, you ARE a writer, after all ;)). This post is dripping with truth and elegance. I love the point about harmonic resonance. Sometimes you really DO feel that resonance physically as you write, and you KNOW that the tale is welling up from the deepest truth you have inside of you, and that it will touch others as well. This post made my day.

    CONGRATS on your book coming it! It looks wonderful and I can’t wait to read it!

  18. Thank you Sylvia for giving sharing with us your secret ingredients for a scrumptious picture book. And congratulations on your debut book.

  19. Thanks for your inspiring post. The TED talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, The Danger of a Single Story is excellent. I would encourage all to take a listen to this 18 minute talk. Congrats on A Morning With Grandpa!
    Stories with true heart are those that are read over and over again. Thank you for reminding us to not lose heart!

  20. Congratulations, Sylvia! What a wonderful, heart-warming story! I can’t wait to read the entire book!

  21. Congratulations on your book, Sylvia! I can’t wait to read it.
    Thank you for this post. These questions are great! Someone else mentioned printing this out, I am definitely going to do the same thing so I can refer to them often. Thank you for such an inspirational post!

  22. Congratulations – it sounds like it’s a well deserved triumph on your part! 🙂 Good luck with all that is to come.

  23. Congratulations on all your hard work and success Sylvia. I love the family orientation between a little girl and her grandfather.

  24. Congrats on a debut PB that I’m sure will warm the hearts and souls of thousands of kids, Sylvia. Much of what you said in this post echoes a workshop I attended this past weekend about finding the heart of a picture book manuscript. Thanks! Happy touring!

  25. I appreciate all the hard work you put into this book, it sounds and looks beautiful! Congratulations.

  26. Congratulation! What an inspiring success story you have and what a beautiful picture book! Your advice about writing a story with heart resonated with me. Like you I joined 12×12 with on story under my belt and a lack of understanding about just how important it is to write, write, and write. Thank you!

    1. I’m sure that one story was one close to your heart, so after you have written a lot more, take a look at that one again and see what you can do with it.

  27. This story revealing shared experiences with a beloved grandpa is wonderful. It certainly comes from the heart. Thank you so much. I am working on “It’s a grandma day and i hope I can touch others a little as you have touched me with the story and illustrations.Through 12×12 I have learned so much and through you, a desire to improve even more.
    Thank you,
    Jane

  28. Sylvia, the spreads from A Morning with Grandpa look awesome! And your post is so awesome, too. I love your advice from Marie Kondo – does your story spark joy. I’ve tried to clean out the house based on her system but had never thought to apply her mantra to my writing.

    Congratulations on such a stellar debut & inspiring post!

  29. Congratulations, Sylvia, and thank you for sharing great advice on creating a story to keep! I look forward to reading your book.

  30. Sylvia- I love this post so much! First of all, congratulations on your book- I can’t wait to read it. Secondly- that is my favorite Ted Talk, ever. I share it at every opportunity. I was drafting a blog just this morning where I link to it. It’s powerful- because story is powerful- even (especially?) stories for children. Thank you for sharing. ✨

  31. Hi Sylvia! I think your post is the best discussion on expressing emotions in picture books I’ve ever read or heard. You say it all and so well! If I don’t win your book, I’ll buy it anyway!

  32. I am amazed at the many hats that Sylvia wears!! She’s always been positive in her comments, responds to help anyone with any questions…is an amazing artist and easily becomes everyone’s virtual friend!! I’m so excited to get her book and have her autograph it someday! NO one deserves this success more!! Congratulations Sylvia!

  33. Congratulations on your book, Sylvia. Can’t wait to read the whole thing. Speaking to the heart with your heart is what I,m trying to do with my writing too. Hope I get there! Thank you so much for sharing your insights.

  34. Your post brought me goose bumps! Congratulations on your well deserved success. Your story as an author resonates with me. I too had one story that I clung onto for two years and now (with the help of 12×12) I am coming up with new draft ideas to work on. Your words encourage me to continue. Incidentally I can’t wait to read the full book, A Morning with Grandpa. I live in China and often see the local people, mostly the older generation, practice Tai Chi by the lake early in the morning. It’s so enchanting!!

      1. Hi @SylviaLiu. My Sons attend an International School which has a fairly wide range of international books in the library, of course there is a public library with an English section and there is an International bookshop. Besides that we rely on amazon and a chinese online equivalent called Taobao. If ever you find yourself in China, be sure to look me up! We usually have one author visit a year to the school. Last year Ed Vere came along and this year we were lucky enough to meet and learn from Emily Gravett – Both very inspiring!!

  35. Sylvia, your metaphor of harmonic resonance for a story with heart made it to my Winner’s Wall of quotes I keep on Stickies on my desktop. Thank you for getting straight to the heart of writing!

  36. Thank you for this great post, Sylvia! I’m starting a list of things to look for in my manuscripts with these on it. Happy for your debut! 🙂

  37. Sylvia- You always have such inspirational nuggets to offer.
    Joy- what a wonderful question. “Does my story spark joy?” OR, as you mentioned, does my story spark an emotion or multiple emotions in general. The emotional impact of a story is such an important barometer. It is difficult to hold onto the initial emotional response we have to our stories during a first draft. Revisions have a way of putting our emotions into a vacuum of sorts. As I read your post, I realized that one of the (many) benefits of stepping away from a manuscript and putting it into the proverbial drawer, is that perhaps the emotion that resonates within our story will strike us more clearly when we have fresh-er eyes. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts and wisdom about emotion, diversity, physics and so much more!

    I am so excited for your debut to hit the shelves.

  38. Sylvia, you have a wonderful way of tying things together. I love the connections to Kondo’s book, Star Trek (yay!), and physics. You have me thinking about how my stories fit into a bigger picture—since I fit the majority categories so squarely. Congratulations on your book!

  39. I am over the moon for you and your debut, and wishing I had some “rocking” boots to get me in the right frame of mind for my pb re-envisonings. But I know it isn’t me. So I guess it’s back to the sensible shoes. 🙂

  40. Congratulations, Sylvia! Your book looks lovely. I can’t wait to read it! And thank you for sharing your advice and heart with us. 🙂

  41. Congratulations, Sylvia! Great advice on the need to just keep working on new material. It is so inspiring to see how your hard work has paid off! I also appreciate how much you support your fellow aspiring writers.

  42. Thank you, Sylvia. Your post is truly inspirational as well as motivational. I fell into PB writing while taking a break from my YA. I thought it would challenge me in a different way. My first PB manuscripts lacked heart, but in my recent ones I’ve pushed myself to dig deep. Your post motivates me to go even further.

  43. Congratulations Sylvia, on the success of your story! And thank you very much for your “tell it from the heart” blog post. Writing is definitely work, but if it doesn’t have some heart, it doesn’t sing. After rereading this post, I am more determined than ever to always work from the heart!

  44. Oh! What a beautiful story. It reminds me of time spent with my own beloved grandfather. Congratulations on your new baby…and thanks so much for sharing your inspiring words with us, both here and in your picture book.

  45. What a lovely story. Intergenerational stories like yours always bring me joy and rekindles memories of my special times with family. Thank you for sharing your journey.

  46. I thought I had commented on this already but I don’t see it- I apologize if I’m repeating myself here! I love this post- and I LOVE The Danger of the Single Story- my very favorite TED talk. Congratulations on your new book!

  47. What a beautiful post. Congrats on your “work of heart” hitting bookshelves!! Thank you for sharing your journey with us and inspiring us to continue toward our wildest of dreams.

  48. Oh, Sylvia, I so identify with your one story scenario. I did that with a biography for several years, which never went anywhere. Those groups you mentioned are so vital to our careers, and the people in them are most generous and helpful. I must get a copy of your book—it sounds delightful.

  49. All I can say is thank goodness that Julie allows us to return to this post to make a comment…somehow I missed it! And that is sad…since you had so many wonderful points to share with us. And the link to your 12×12 Success Story video! And finding out more about how A Story with Grandpa came to be!
    I’m so very happy for you, Sylvia…you are one of those shining lights in this kid lit community that we are all very grateful for. 🙂

  50. I love this: “When you are writing at your own natural frequency (your truth), your words will find resonance and amplify in someone else on a similar wavelength.” So true and inspiring!

  51. Thank you for this great post Sylvia! I love A MORNING WITH GRANDPA. Can’t wait to see more of your work hit the shelves!

  52. Thank you for the inspiration, Sylvia! This really resonates with me. Writing a story with heart feels so much better than writing a story that is “in fashion.” Congratulations and good luck with your book!

  53. Yes, it’s odd. I read this much earlier this month and thought that I had commented. In any case, I do find it interesting that children’s literature is so heavily biased toward women while adult publishing is just the opposite (info from VIDA). But the stats for other types of diversity are quite similar. Wondering if advance and earnings for children’s lit is correspondingly low because more women are involved in it.

    Congrats on beating the odds, Sylvia! I love your book!

  54. Love your advice on making our stories heart felt. I am surprised that it is taking a commitment on my part to let go and feel the story. Also to get rid of excesses or distractions and find the joy. Thank you for your article and congrats on your book.

  55. Thank you so much for your insights and a huge congratulations on the release of your debut – and hopefully many more!

  56. Congratulations, Sylvia! I can’t wait to read A MORNING WITH GRANDPA. Got to love a true story with heart!

  57. I loved reading about your path to publishing, Sylvia. Many congrats on the book! I’ve requested our library order a copy 🙂

  58. Thank you for sharing this inspiring post Sylvia! I’m so happy for your success and can’t wait to read A MORNING WITH GRANDPA. 🙂

  59. I live vicariously through the success of others and find great inspiration from it. Thanx for sharing

  60. Congratulations, Sylvia, on your picture book debut! It looks delightful and I can see the heart in it just based on the sample pages 🙂 I look forward to reading it. And thank you for your beautifully stated and helpful post! I will take your words to heart as I revise and create manuscripts.

    Linda

  61. I love your questions (and the catchy memory tricks for them)! Thanks for the encouragement to persevere and write great stories that are true to who we are.

  62. Thank you and congratulations, Sylvia! I wrote a new draft this morning that has been simmering for some time, and this post will help me bring out the heart as I revise and revise and revise.

  63. This is so full of information, that I’ll have to reread it many times to get the full effect. Well done. Thank you, Sylvia and congratulations on a great debut book.

  64. Thank you Sylvia for sharing this background info about “A Morning with Grandpa.” Looking forward to reading it and looking at the illustrations! Even more I appreciate your sharing the book’s path into being.

  65. I can’t wait to read your book, Sylvia. Your thoughts are writing from the heart resonated with me since I am drawn to these types of PB’s. Thanks this peek inside your thinking.

  66. Great post, Sylvia! Thank you for sharing your journey with us and I totally agree with your advice to keep working on new material. I loved when you said, “write a story that is so true to who you are that it sings to you, tickles that quirky funny bone of yours, or resonates with your being.”

  67. Thank you, Sylvia, for the four beautifully articulated questions that we should be asking of our manuscripts. They set a high bar—which is as it should be if a manuscript is to deserve the investment and commitment required to transform it into a book. And if the book is to be worthy of the expectation and faith a reader will bring to it. Congratulations on which looks lovely.

  68. Congratulations on your book! An inspiring post that has encouraged me to persevere with a story I really want to tell, despite being unsure about its marketability.

  69. I never thought to apply Marie Kondo’s principle to my writing. I have found myself tearing up as I finish reading a manuscript it two of mine. Thanks for your insightful suggestions, Sylvia. I’m thrilled you are finally published. That ought to ‘spark joy’ for sure!

  70. I’ve read your name so much online in kidlit circles recently. I can’t believe you’re a debut author only now! Thanks for your great post and ideas. Congratulations on your book journey!

  71. I envy and admire you at your preserverance to getting your book published. Gives all of
    us wannabes hope. Can’t wait to see a copy of the whole book. Thanks Sylvia.

  72. Thanks for this great post, Sylvia. Finding our own truth and capturing the purity of emotion is key to a successful pb. I look forward to reading A Morning With Grandpa. Congrats!

  73. This is a wonderful post. Great questions to consider and good answers.

    Congrats on your book. It looks wonderful.

  74. Astoundingly beautiful post, Sylvia! And so spot on. The best stories are the ones that come from the heart.
    A MORNING WITH GRANDPA clearly hits all the marks. Congratulations!

  75. Thank you Sylvia for such a lovely post! Something that has been most helpful to me as a new writer is the sharing of the journey- your video explaining that you need more than one story, and also detailing the timeline is so helpful and encouraging. I found myself in the past becoming discouraged because things were not happening quickly- I would get into the mode of “why isn’t this falling into place?”, and hearing of how others worked at getting published is helpful!
    Your suggestions regarding writing what is true to me make me realize I need the courage to know myself and put it out there- so thank you!

  76. Thank you Sylvia for this wonderful post! You’ve written so much to think about – I found it informative as well as motivating! It really “sparked joy” for me. (I loved that book – it really has helped me “clean up” and organize my life!) I enjoy doing yoga and my class does yoga once a week at school – I can’t wait to share this one with them! Congrats on your new book!

  77. Thank you, Sylvia. I adore this post. I love the sparking joy question about life and use it but similarly never thought to apply it to writing/books. But I will now! Thanks.

  78. Hi Sylvia, this looks like a really fun book between a grandpa and grandchild. Your illustrator has really brought out the dynamics in their relationship. I look forward to reading it.
    Daniell

  79. Sylvia, congratulations on your debut picture book. I look forward to reading it. Your post “sparks joy” and encourages me to continue working on a story about family which I’ve been fiddling with for a while. I’ll be figuring out how to weave more “gut busting” emotion into it.

  80. What a beautiful post and what good questions to ask yourself about the feeling behind any manuscript. Thank you, and can’t wait to read your book!

  81. A great post, and it’s so true. Even when my daughter was young, she could no longer listen to The Giving Tree because it was just so sad to her. She empathized with the tree and therefore, to this day (and she’s 18) I still joke that I’m going to read her the story again. That’s how much power this book carried. And congrats on your success. I look forward to reading it.

  82. Congratulations, Sylvia. I think we all know what it is like to have the “one” story and often how hard it is to step away from that in order to dream up other ideas and other tales. Well done!

  83. Thank-you for your thoughtful reflections and advice on writing for children.
    I have a lot to think about in applying to my writing.

  84. Congratulations Sylvia, your success is greatly deserved! Thank you for sharing your questions, I’m sure many of us will put them on Postits for future reference!

  85. Great questions to ask! I especially liked the one about “harmonic resonance.” Congratulations Sylvia!

  86. Sylvia, you definitely are not a single story writer/illustrator. You are well on your way. Congratulations on the debut picture book!!!! Looking forward to reading more of your work and basking in the visual glory you create. You. Are. Awesome!

  87. Thank you for all of the meaning in your post! And, what a long time it took to get to the bottom of the comments. Congratulations to you!

  88. Sylvia, I’ve been seeing pictures of your book everywhere and I can’t wait to read it! Thank you so much for your insight on writing a story with heart. I think it is important for writers to stay true to themselves, but sometimes it takes a while to figure out who you are as a writer. I often wonder if the writer I want to be is in conflict with the writer I really am. Ah, the danger of profound thought 🙂 Thanks again!

  89. Congratulations, Sylvia, on the launch of your beautiful book. Great post as well. Your words resonated with me. Thank you!

  90. This is very helpful advice. I think asking critique partners whether a story sparks joy or other emotions would be valuable, since we’re often too close to our creations to know whether others feel what we are feeling. I will use these tips! Thanks.

  91. Sylvia, my hope is renewed and my determination enthused. You wrote: ” I mean write a story that is so true to who you are that it sings to you, tickles that quirky funny bone of yours, or resonates with your being. If you can write a story that sparks that sense of truth and the story conveys an emotion that a child can connect with (such as joy, love, hilarity, wonder, anticipation, curiosity) you’ve got a winning story.” I don’t write for the market. I don’t write for commercial appeal. I write for me, and for my inner little girl; for my grandson and his exuberance. I’m glad you found a home for your story which, from the words and illustrations shown, sparkles love, joy, commitment, fun, family.

  92. Sylvia – Thank you for your post and your great advice. Congratulations on your book!!!
    So happy for you.

  93. Hi Sylvia, What could be better than sparking the joy in a child? There is no higher calling. Thank you for a lovely post and for reminding what should be at the core of my writing. Congratulations on your upcoming book!

  94. You got yourself a fan, Sylvia. What a beautiful blog. June will be the month to declutter!!!!
    Loved it.

  95. What a heartwarming ending to such an amazing post. I had a smile on my face the whole time I was reading. Whenever my head is filled with doubt about that path I’ve chosen, I remind myself that I am writing about something I’m extremely passionate about, my story, the story I want to tell.

    Thank you for this…

  96. Mazel tov Sylvia — I hope it has been a GREAT month!
    Thanks for the post too. I just started that Marie Kondo book (I never seem to an early adopter…) so #1 made me giggle especially. I love the idea of applying it to writing!

  97. Congratulations on your whirlwind of book events, blog tour, and amazing writing conference. I hope you list of ‘craziness’ grows longer and longer!

  98. Thank you for sharing your wisdom. I can’t wait to walk out of the bookstore with your debut book in the shopping bag. Congratulations!

  99. Congratulations Sylvia. Thank you for the tips and the questions we should ask ourselves about our own stories. I look forward to reading A MORNING WITH GRANDPA.

  100. Congrats Sylvia! I have loved the philosophy of “does this spark joy?” and have been using it for a few years but I haven’t thought to apply it to my writing until now. Thank you!

  101. I’ve talked with several friends lately about the ‘joy’ concept with decluttering. It is the talk in many of my circles and just helped a friend declutter her spare room with joy in mind. Now, as I take that to my writing, I see the value even more. Thanks.

  102. What an inspiring post! Those questions are so thought provoking! I know you must have some great stories to tell. You,also, show a great commitment to diversity. I need to come back to these questions and relook at my stories. Thank you. Success and blessings.

  103. I love this. One of my favorite memories as a child was doing things with my grandparents and the few weeks that I spent with them during the summer.
    So many good writing tips as well, make this a very good post.

  104. Thank you, Sylvia, for an encouraging post on more than one level.
    Congratulations on A Morning With Grandpa. I have requested that my local library purchase a copy of your book. I look forward to reading it.

  105. You put your wisdom into words that resonate with writers of all time and ages. Emotion plays such an important part in writing, but joy comes with a story that is well done and sings back to you whether you are thinking about it, or reading it. I find I fall in love with my stories and the characters to where I am ready to defend them to the end. Finding an agent and publisher who share in the excitement and joy of my stories is still eluding me, but you have validated me and my writing. Thank you.

  106. Great story about the power off perseverance. Thanks very much for the stats on publishing by diverse authors. I’m a numbers persons and this really helps me to contextualize what we’re doing!

  107. Thank you so much for your beautiful post, whose beauty comes from truth and love. I know I’ll be rereading it, revisiting your advice, as I stumble along writing my own MSS. Much congratulations for your book.

  108. Thank you Sylvia for a great post. Your an amazing person that offers great advice and I look forward to reading all the great recommendations.

  109. Congratulations on your book! I look forward to reading it. Thanks very much for the great advice in your post. I will keep those questions handy and use them to evaluate my stories.

  110. Congratulations Sylvia. I can’t wait to read your book. Thank you for this encouraging post. I’m sure we will be seeing many more of your books soon.

  111. I love your post Sylvia. Every book that matters hits an emotional cord. Thanks for reminding us the true meaning of books.

    Congratulations on your book! 🙂

  112. Thanks, Sylvia! I will go forth to write with heart, stories that will spark joy. Thanks for that advice.

  113. Congratulations! A Morning with Grandpa is beautiful, can’t wait to share with my family. And thanks for the wonderful advice, too 🙂

  114. What a great list of questions for writing and life! Thanks for sharing your wisdom and heart with this post.
    Amanda Sincavage

  115. Great post. I’ve been seeing your book around and it was just used as a mentor text in another class I’m taking. I love how Grandpa never tries to fix his granddaughter and they share their own styles and personalities! Best wishes on your writing journey.

  116. Thank you Sylvia – your post offers four wonderful touchstones for creating, evaluating, and revising. Words to write by!

  117. What a unique and refreshing way to look at stories. I love that you share how to find what resonates and what adds to the narrative, as you put it. And we are so focused now at looking at what is trending yet you’ve reference books that are classic and have left such a lasting impression on me. I often use Edward Gorey books as examples of stories that have left an indelible impression on me.
    I have to look for your book today! Thank you for sharing it with us!

  118. Great to read such a heart-ful post. Glad you found the nuggets within yourself, as we all must do, to create works that enrich many others. Thanks for revealing your insights, Sylvia.

  119. Congratulations on your beautiful book. Yes, we understand the world with stories. Love this line,”writing at your own natural frequency (your truth), your words will find resonance and amplify in someone else on a similar wavelength.”

  120. I love stories about different generations learning from each other and particularly from grandparents, perhaps because my grandfather was a major influence on my life. Thanks for your contribution.

  121. Some great advice in this post Sylvia. Thanks for sharing. I’ve added your book to my collection. I love that it includes a grandfather. Grandparents are so important to a child’s development, especially today when parents are so busy. I love the language and the bond that the girl has with her grandfather. Good luck with your new books.

  122. Posting for Kim Benson:

    Congratulations Sylvia for your dedicated hard work!

    Like the person who commented earlier, I too have copied your words of wisdom for my future reference.
    For over 25 years of reading to my four children as they grew up (youngest 18 ), I have always bought or borrowed books that made me ‘feel something’. Those are the books (even the ones that make us feel silly) that are closest to my kids’ hearts and they still remember. Those are the books that connect us and make us feel joy.
    I look forward to reading your book! Thank you!

  123. Thank you, Sylvia! What a great message and I appreciate the questions to consider for our own works. Looking forward to reading A Morning with Grandpa!

  124. Congratulations and thank you for the great post, Sylvia! Your video is inspiring and sparks a spirit of creativity and excitement within me. I look forward to adding your new book to my collection and I wish you good luck and a lifetime of well wishes.

  125. Finally! I got time to read this post and I’m so glad I did. I appreciate the examples listed and the ‘categories of heart’ reflected there. Wonderful post. Thank you!

  126. Congratulations on your book, and thanks for your post! Your words have given me much to think about and another way to review my manuscripts. Thanks!

  127. Sylvia, thank you for the truth you express–it’s helpful to be reminded about the “spark of joy.” Congratulations on your book! May your success continue to grow!

  128. Oh, Sylvia. I absolutely believe that messages come to us when they are supposed to and your words are today’s message, coming to me on a gentle breeze. This post brought warm tears to my eyes. Thank you.

  129. Congrats on your debut book and becoming part of that 5% of Asian-Amer authors! (Maybe 5.5% now?) Interesting stats!
    I love that you say to write the book that only ‘you’ can write, whoever you may be. Great encouragement.

  130. Wow! I am inspired and reinvigorated from Sylvia’s post! Our work MUST ring true to our heart!! Thanks, Sylvia! And thanks for following YOUR heart to pursue writing books for children. I look forward to reading your blog. You fed my writer’s soul with encouragement!! Thanks!

  131. Sylvia, Thank you for the list of books you provided above. The end of the school year has finally arrived. As I shelved hundreds of books yesterday and today, I lamented that tall stacks of Sponge Bob books and other titles flooded the return bin. A book can change a life simply because it can change a perspective or turn on an interest–and it can happen at a young age. Congratulations on your first of many contributions to our civilization.

  132. A lovely story and insightful questions – that I read at the right time. Thank you, and best wishes for A Morning with Grandpa!

  133. Thank you, Sylvia! I will definitely be asking these questions as I write. Can’t wait to read A Morning with Grandpa!

  134. I love Yoga and loved seeing it in the book. As our traditional form of excercise it has a special place in my heart. I am going for my own copy and I know I am going to love it with my kids! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, amazing insight. By the way did you know 21st June is international Yoga day 🙂 Just trivia.

  135. Dear Sylvia,
    Congratulations on the publication of your picture book. What a tremendous accomplishment!!
    I appreciated your blog and the insights you shared. And you have provided such a nice list of resources, the other book suggestions, to read and savor as examples as stories with heart. At the WWMW SCBWI conference in Chicago recently, an editor from Chronicle Books emphasized that every true story has a dynamic message that is being imparted or shared and it sounds like your book accomplishes that with the magic of the relationship between the two characters and how special the bond is as grandparent and child learn from each other. Thank you for expressing your ideas about your journey and what you have found helpful to be inspired and write from your heart. Best wishes to you.

  136. First – Congratulations Sylvia!
    Secondly- Fantastic Post! I love the four questions. What a great framework to hold up against the stories I’m working on and see if they pass. Thank you for this!

  137. I love the images, but even more, the relationship between the grandfather and granddaughter. Intergenerational connections are so important to understanding life–along its continuum. Bravo for a job well done.

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