VS Grenier (or Virginia, as we like to call her) is not just a children’s book author – she’s also founder and owner of Stories For Children Publishing, LLC; chief editor for Halo Publishing, Int; host of several blog talk radio shows – including The World of Ink Network: Stories for Children and The Writing Mama; and more! She is also a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and the League of Utah Writers.
Whew!! Virginia lives in southern Utah with her husband and three children.
Please welcome Virginia to the Spotlight!
MCA: Welcome to the spotlight Virginia! Can you please tell us about what motivated you to create your children’s picture book, Babysitting Sugarpaw?
Virginia: It was originally an assignment for my writing class. The idea bloomed from a picture of bears making a mess of a bathroom. From there I wrote a short story for my teacher. I never really thought much about turning it into a picture until the illustrator Kevin Scott Collier wanted to publish it on his online e-zine, Storybox Library.
I fell in love with his illustration of Sugarpaw in the bath. I chatted with him about the story, and he suggested I shorten it and turn it into a picture book for kids. I thought about it, but didn’t do anything until I meet Lisa Unima, the owner of Halo Publishing, Int. She really liked the story and pushed me to shorten it into a picture book and the rest is history as they say.
The antics Sugarpaw pulls on Bonnie Whiskers come from my own childhood, as I hated being left with a babysitter. I was a handful, one might say! Many of my sitters never wanted to come back. It was after one babysitter I actually liked didn’t want to come back because of a joke I pulled that I learned the value of friendship with those caring for you.
I do hope older kids who babysit also take a look at my book. They can learn from Bonnie Whiskers’ example and become a better babysitter. Kids need a babysitter who is not only strict, but also funny, lovely, and caring, too. Being a babysitter isn’t a hobby … it is a job.
MCA: Now that you have an award-winning book, what are your goals for this next year?
Virginia: I’m going to Disneyland! Okay, seriously, I’m currently working on two more books for the Sugarpaw series of children’s picture books.
The second book in the series deals with that dreaded veggie … string beans! I hated those slimy, snake-like green beans on my plate as a kid. But don’t worry Mom, Sugarpaw will discover these veggies are good for you in some magical way.
The third book in the series kids will relate to Sugarpaw as he becomes a big brother. I was 15 when I first became a big sister, and it wasn’t all fun and games either! Sugarpaw will learn being a big brother has its rewards, even if his little sister is a handful.
I’m also plan to visit schools, speak at a few writing conferences, and work as a blog talk radio show host at The World of Ink Network. I do weekly show there and really enjoy sharing about my love of writing with other authors and our listeners.
I invite you to come listen into one of our show at http://blogtalkradio.com/worldofinknetwork!
MCA: That’s a lot on your plate (minus the string beans, of course!) Have you thought about how your Mom’s Choice Award® will help you as you continue with your plans for the next year?
Virginia: 1. It helps me meet others who value family friendly products and services.
2. It sets a standard for all my work.
3. I can share the importance of reading with a wider audience.
I have won other awards for my writing and Babysitting Sugarpaw, most of them locally or smaller than Mom’s Choice Awards®.
I really feel now that I’m a Mom’s Choice Awards® Honoree, I’ll be able to reach markets and readers I may not have meet through the online world as I do with a little traveling. Being a part of this family and sharing about all the wonderful honoree is really exciting.
As a mom, I know the importance of recommendations by other moms, and a Mom’s Choice Award® signifies that. Parents, teachers, and others can visually see this recommendation for Babysitting Sugarpaw, and will hopefully even look at my other works and future books with a bit more interest.
MCA: Can you share with us what you learned about yourself as an writer in creating your award-winning book?
Virginia: I have been writing for some time and have published more than 50 titles from books to crafts for kids and adults. However, the one thing I have learned after winning the Mom’s Choice Award® is no matter what, you have to try if you want to see publication of your book.
I have had my share of rejection letters and I even have works that may never see publication; however, if I don’t try, I’ll never know.
Babysitting Sugarpaw was one of my first books, and I have grown and honed my writing talents since its publication. Even though it won two awards, one being the Silver Mom’s Choice Award®, I still have much to learn. I will continue to learn until the day I die as the rules of writing are always changing and what readers are looking for changes as well.
Lastly, reading in my genre as a writer helps me understand my readership – I learn new things about my audience by reading books they would be interested in. I also learn how to stay young, have fun and most importantly…never give up!
MCA: That’s great! Since launching your book, what has been your most rewarding experience in promoting or sharing it with the public? Do you have a favorite memory?
Virginia: Visiting schools and talking with kids about reading and writing is by far the most rewarding as an author of children’s books.
One of my favorite memories is when I ran a coloring contest. My illustrator Kevin made two coloring pages for Babysitting Sugarpaw, which we used for the contest (and I give away with autographed copies of the book).
We broke the contest into age groups and had the local writers in my writer’s group vote for their favorite coloring pages of Sugarpaw or Bonnie Whiskers. I still have the three winners’ pictures hanging up in my office. One of them wrote a message on the back of their picture telling me how my book helped them with being left at daycare and making new friends in a place they first thought was scary.
Another memory I have is when I was asked to be a judge for the writing category at one of my local elementary schools. I gave the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners an autographed copy of my book, and also worked with them to see their writing get published in my e-zine Stories for Children Magazine.
There is nothing more rewarding than watching a young author win a prize for their work and get to see its publication!
MCA: How wonderful is that! As a new honoree, do you have any questions you’d like some of the “old hands” to answer for you?
Virginia: Actually, I’ve been lucky enough to know and work with some of “the old hands” as you put personally. I have learned a lot from them and I’m looking to learning more from the others I haven’t had a chance to meet yet.
And when I do have a question, I’ll be sure to ask!
Thank you so much for this honor and I hope together we can make great things happen!
MCA: We’re glad you’re a part of our alumni, Virginia!
Contact, Connect, and Network with Virginia
The Alumni Spotlight is a periodic feature on the official Mom’s Choice Awards® blog. It is part of our ongoing effort to “shine the spotlight” on you and your award-winning, family-friendly products, services, and media.