Author Dianna Wilson Sirkovsky on Publishing her First PB- PLUS GIVEAWAY!

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Hello world!!

Welcome to my book blog, Blissfully Bookish. For this last Q & A of 2021, please welcome a good friend of mine, Dianna Wilson Sirkovsky. We actually met an SCBWI conference (live!!) a few years back, and she did something not many writers do- she published the FIRST picture book she ever wrote! Now, James’ Reading Rescue published by Clavis has landed. See her journey below…

BUT first- YAY! Dianna is generously giving away a free copy (US Or Canada)! All you have to do is comment on this blog post- contest ends Feb 4, 2022.

Please describe the journey to publication for James’ Reading Rescue.

Thanks so much for this opportunity, Lydia.

This was my first PB so everything was a challenge. I was completely untutored in all the rules of writing.  I had no idea if my story was any good, a total disaster or somewhere in between! Gradually along the way, I reached out and received help from some generous writers and structured critiques.

Then came submissions. As a debut writer, I was groping in the dark. I researched publishers to see who was accepting unsolicited submissions and reviewed their books. I also read everything I could find on upcoming books. Publishers Weekly Children’s Bookshelf was extremely helpful in providing publishers who were unknown to me.

Happily, I submitted to Clavis and I will never forget the day I received their email offering publication. I had to read it three times before it sank in!

Where did you draw the book’s inspiration?

JRR is based on a true story I read on the internet several years ago about a cat rescue shelter that ran a reading program for their cats. It all began with the young son of a volunteer. He struggled with reading and his mom suggested he read to the cats. It offered a safe, non-judgmental environment for him to practice and had the added value of helping to socialize the cats for adoption. A win/win! It spoke to me on several levels – my own son needed help with reading and I’ve been involved with cat rescue for many years. My children grew up with nine rescue cats! I felt this was a story I just had to write.

What is your writing process, and does it vary depending on the project?

The process does change somewhat depending upon the type of story – fiction, non-fiction or something inspired by a true story.  Is research required or is it just some fun idea that I need to grab and run with? I often find that I feel like a beginner each time I start a new story!  I don’t write for the sake of writing, even though I know that’s good practice – I need a specific idea/story to focus on. When the first sentences start formulating themselves in my mind, then I know it’s time to sit down and start applying myself!

Please paste a short and compelling excerpt from your book.

‘James told his class about reading to Ghost and the shelter cats. Other children wanted to read to the cats too. They practiced their reading, patiently listened to by cats who didn’t judge. And the children loved the cats and helped them not to be afraid.’

Do you have other WIPs or projects in the pipeline you would like to mention?

I have a couple of stories currently on submission and several others on which I’m doing final revisions. I don’t have an agent so submissions take quite a lot of time.

I also have an opening sentence that keeps popping up, so I have to sit down and get to writing that story soon!

I’m thrilled to say that Sara Casilda and I have another book, Just One Pebble, coming out this fall with Clavis. I’m so happy to be working with her again.

Please share your favorite books that have inspired you and served as mentor texts.

Where to begin? So many wonderful books but here are some that have helped with some of my stories: Sweet Dreams, Sarah and Making Their Voices Heard by Vivien Kirkfield; This Book is Spineless by Lindsay Leslie; Bess The Barn Stands Strong by Elizabeth Gilbert Bedia; Great Joy, Kate DiCamillo’s first PB; The Lady in the Box by Ann McGovern; The Rough Patch by Brian Lies; The Goodbye Book by Todd Parr. The Bear Ate Your Sandwich by Julia Sarcone-Roach is my favorite story within a story.

What is the best piece of advice you would give to other writers?

Don’t give up. Write your story and prepare to be patient. Time doesn’t move at the usual pace in the publishing world!

And a bonus question just for kicks! If you could be any animal, what would you be and why?

How to choose? I’m an animal lover through and through. I am particularly concerned with the plight of wolves at the moment, though. These remarkably intelligent, family-oriented animals have been maligned throughout history and are still persecuted and hunted mercilessly, particularly in North America. More of us need to stand in defense of these spectacular animals and their rightful place in our ecosystem. Thanks for asking this, Lydia!

Dianna Wilson Sirkovsky’s life has always been filled with books and cats. She renewed her love for picture books reading to her children, inspiring her to write and share stories of her own later in life. 

Her family is deeply committed to animal rescue and the ethical treatment of all animals. They had nine beloved rescue cats that shared their lives for many years. Her children now have rescue cats of their own! She works as a senior administrator at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, where she lives with her husband. She takes great pleasure in writing children’s stories inspired by true events, imagination, and the joy of adventure and discovery.

Dianna’s debut picture book, James’ Reading Rescue, illustrated by Sara Casilda, released in Oct. 2021 with Clavis has received some great reviews. JRR can be found on or at Babar Books at

Dianna and Sara have another book, Just One Pebble, scheduled for release in Fall 2022, also with Clavis.


To find out more about Dianna Wilson Sirkovsky, or get in touch with her:



Website: still in construction

33 thoughts on “Author Dianna Wilson Sirkovsky on Publishing her First PB- PLUS GIVEAWAY!

    jillburns7 said:
    February 3, 2022 at 12:30 pm

    Great interview! Wow! Reading and cats, who could ask for anything more? Congratulations, Dianna!


    Janna MacLean said:
    January 29, 2022 at 2:58 pm

    Hard work, persistence and the love of the writing craft pays off eh! I’ll keep going! 😉😁

    Liked by 1 person

    Steena Hernandez said:
    January 28, 2022 at 6:38 pm

    Hi Dianna. I enjoyed this interview so much! This is exactly the kind of book I search for to enjoy with my kids. We are a book and cat loving family! Congratulations, and thank you for sharing your experiences!


    Barbara Senenman said:
    January 27, 2022 at 10:08 am

    Congratulations on your book! Congratulations on finding that inspiration to write that book. It’s amazing where we can find these story ideas! I must read the newspaper more!


      DiannaWilson Sirkovsky said:
      January 29, 2022 at 2:27 pm

      You’re right, Barbara – you just never know where inspiration may strike from! Thanks so much for your kind words.


    Amanda West Lewis said:
    January 27, 2022 at 9:53 am

    Great interview, Dianna! Your warmth and generosity really come across on the electronic page. I still remember vividly the 3 of us meeting at that SCBWI in Montreal. Seems a million years ago, and haven’t we all worked hard since then! I love what you say about rescue cats, and that your live has been filled with them. Of course this story was a natural fit for you to write about. Clearly you were the perfect person to tell the rest of the world about this great place where reading and cats come together. Thanks for writing it, and bringing joy to my morning in the form of cats, books and your smile.


      DiannaWilson Sirkovsky said:
      January 29, 2022 at 2:26 pm

      My dear friend, this is so lovely! It was, indeed, a magical weekend when the three of us met for the first time at the SCBWI conference in Montreal! I remember it so well. Thanks for your support and for giving joy back to me!


    seschipper said:
    January 26, 2022 at 10:17 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story! We love reading and animals, and I’m a teacher to boot! Looking forward to adding your PB to our collection! Thanks, Lydia, for this post! 🙂


      DiannaWilson Sirkovsky said:
      January 29, 2022 at 2:29 pm

      I’m excited at the thought of your possibly reading JRR to your class! I hope you can and that you all love it as much as I do. Thanks so very much!


    Dianna Wilson irkovsky said:
    January 26, 2022 at 7:38 pm

    Lydia, thanks so much for this lovely interview and helping bring JRR into the spotlight! Much appreciated, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    Sarah Meade said:
    January 26, 2022 at 5:05 pm

    Congratulations, Dianna, on both books! Looking forward to reading them.

    Liked by 1 person

    authoraileenstewart said:
    January 26, 2022 at 12:51 pm

    I’ve seen other videos of kids reading at shelters and pounds. How wonderful you took the idea and created a pb. Best wishise!

    Liked by 1 person

    Kim A Larson said:
    January 26, 2022 at 12:51 pm

    I loved reading the inspiration behind the story. Congratulations, Dianna! I look forward to reading your book!

    Liked by 1 person

      Lydia Lukidis responded:
      January 26, 2022 at 1:17 pm

      It’s a goodie!


      Dianna Wilson irkovsky said:
      January 26, 2022 at 7:33 pm

      If you loved the inspiration, Kim, I hope you’ll love what I did with the story. Thanks for your kind words!


    Marla Yablon said:
    January 26, 2022 at 12:19 pm

    Thanks for writing this wonderful book!


    Pamela Harrison said:
    January 26, 2022 at 12:01 pm

    The events leading up to having your very first picture book manuscript accepted for publication is amazing. I love it! Congratulations, Dianna! Having been a language arts teacher for thirty years, I also love your first book’s concept. What a great interview!

    Liked by 1 person

      Dianna Wilson irkovsky said:
      January 26, 2022 at 7:35 pm

      I really feel so lucky, Pamela! I’m so glad that someone other than myself loved this story enough to help it into the world. Thanks for your kind words!


    Angie said:
    January 26, 2022 at 10:55 am

    Dianna, I just love this book! I mean, look at the cover? Cats, books, a young reader, heart! It has it all. 🙂 Congratulations!

    Liked by 1 person

      Dianna Wilson irkovsky said:
      January 26, 2022 at 7:36 pm

      Angie, I love it too! Sara did such a wonderful job with the cover and illustrations – she is truly the gift that brought JRR to life. And you’re right, how can you go wrong with cats, books and a darling little boy? Thanks so much for your kind words!

      Liked by 1 person

    Ann Harrell said:
    January 26, 2022 at 9:10 am

    Congratulations, Dianna, on this tender and inspiring story! How can a story about reading and animal rescue not be a win-win!

    Liked by 1 person

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