Please help me welcome children’s book author, Olga D’Agostino to Jemsbooks.blog Interview an Author. It’s a pleasure to have you here, Olga. Thank you so much for coming to share your books and a little bit about yourself with me and my readers.
Please tell us something about yourself.
My name is Olga D’Agostino (known as Mrs. D). I am an award-winning children’s author (recipient of multiple Mom’s Choice Awards, Beverly Hills Book Awards, and InternationalReaders’ Favorite Awards). I lived and worked in Lviv, a cultural center in western Ukraine, before immigrating to the United Statesin 1992. In 2012 I published my first children’s book, and since then I’ve pursued a career as a writer, focusing on writing children’s books that have meaning and provide valuable lessons. I speak a few languages, love reading, writing, gardening, and traveling.
My award-winning illustrated children’s books include The Trees Have Hearts, Good Morning, World!, The City Kittens and the Old House Cat, Runaway Clothes, The Royal Palm, The Little Girl Praying on the Hill and Taste of Bread.
jjspina: You are quite an accomplished writer. Congratulations for all the book awards you have earned.
When did you know that you wanted to be an author?
I think I was born with a pen in my hands. I grew up in west Ukraine, which was then part of the Soviet Union, and I lived on a farm in a small village nestled in the beautiful Carpathian Mountains until I was sixteen. Growing up without TV or toys, I learned to read by the age of four, but I had no children’s books to read.
My parents were peasants, preoccupied with one thought—how to feed their children. Buying books was not on their list of things to do. Left without books, I read my father’s newspapers and wrote on cartons, cardboard boxes, stable walls, old magazines, or just in my head, until one day I discovered a tiny village library. Then books became a huge part of my life.
The village library had a few worn-out children’s books, most of them without illustrations. To satisfy my hunger for reading, I reread these books many times. Soon there were no children’s books in the library that I had not read. Annoying the librarian, I asked for thick books meant for serious readers. She did not mind, and I started reading everything I could carry home. Memorizing words, phrases, and pages, I felt as if I were living in a different world, one that was free, brighter, and kinder.
At six, I wrote my first poem. I loved how words made me feel. Beautifully swirling in my head, looking for freedom, they created amazing pictures, providing comfort and escape.
Writing, I learned to block out the harsh reality of the life I was born into. My fantasies took me to the heights, where no one could reach me, and to places which belonged only to me. My imagination made me forget about the unfair world around me, the toys I never had, and food I did not know existed.
In high school, I showed my writing to my father, hoping he would support my dream of becoming a journalist. He looked at my notebooks and said, “Forget about writing. You cannot feed yourself with books. Go where the food is.” It was harsh but fair advice. As a farmer’s daughter, I had a slim chance of following my dream and becoming a writer. The Soviet Union was very corrupt, run by one party. Without connections and money, there was no way I could enter a prestigious college and find decent work.
I entered Lviv Business College and tried to make it on my own in the big city. After I finished college, I worked in the food industry, but I never lost my passion for reading and writing. I wrote many poems and short stories in both Ukrainian and Russian, hoping that one day I could publish them. Sadly, that day never arrived.
jjspina: You certainly have come full circle from your childhood love of reading and writing. You have had a fascinating life which clearly is evident in your writing.
What process do you need in order to write?
I do not write just to write. I do not write to create a few thousand words each day. I write when I feel, when emotions slowly transform themselves into words and then quickly overload my mind, forming sentences and paragraphs, until I let them out. I write when I am in a happy, sad, angry, or melancholy mood, or just have something to say or share with the reader.
jjspina: You do project a lot of feeling into your books.
How do you come up with ideas for your stories?
When I write, I never think what genre my story will fit. A good story always finds its place and reader. I often mix realistic fiction with modern fantasies. I think these two styles describe my books best. I twist true events with unrealistic characters, which teach children to conquer problems, build self-esteem, and overcome challenges in their lives. They also show young readers the beauty and power of nature and help them learn about the true meaning of friendship and family. It also helps them better connect to the surrounding world and care for our younger friends, the animals. I do not think that mixing two genres confuses young readers. Children easily connect to imaginary characters and often see themselves or their behavior from a different perspective.
Writing for children is like playing a game: you win or you lose. There is no middle ground. I must surround myself with their imagination. I must go to their level and see the story from their viewpoint. Children have a most unpredictable imagination and hunger for knowledge. If I do not get their attention from the first paragraph, then I have lost them. I must also see the story from the viewpoint of their parents. It is hard to be a grown-up and a child at the same time, and that is why writing for children is not an easy task. What I like most about writing for children is reliving the special moments, when I feel as if I am a child again. When my story makes me laugh or cry, then I know I got it right. In my opinion, children’s books must teach both child and parent.
jjspina: You are your own person, Olga. Good for you. You said this so eloquently.
What projects are you currently working on?
I am presently working on releasing my two new books from the “Grandpa’s Stories” series: “Where Did Grandpa Go?” and “My Grandpa is a Werecow.”
Both books are beautifully illustrated, size 8.5×11, around 30 pages each, fun to read and good for children to learn something useful.
Also, I am polishing my new novel “The Chinese Princess,”working with the illustrator on “The Kitten’s Stories” series, and correcting another children’s series, “The Lost Baby Tooth.”
Also, I am collecting some ideas for the “Carlo the Mouse”series. 2022 will be a very busy year for me.
jjspina: You definitely have a lot of projects ahead. Best of luck with all of them.
Please share your links and where to purchase your books.
You can purchase my books on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Mrs.-D/e/B008OAMKLU/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_07.
What do you expect to accomplish in 2022?
I love to write children’s stories, but I also love to write in different styles. I just finished my new book “The Cat That Wandered by Itself,” a beautifully illustrated, black-and-white style, size 6×9, about 325 pages, for readers age 12 and up. It is a heartwarming story told from the perspective of an unusual calico kitten named Nyda that went on a dangerous journey, practically using all her nine lives, if the old saying is true, but always managing to return safely to the people she loved. This book is for older independent readers and will be released in February 2022.
Also, I hope to finish my new novel “The Chinese Princess,”publish three books from “The Kitten’s Stories” series (“The Kitten in the Window,” “The Day Before Thanksgiving,” and “The Forgotten Christmas Tree”), and illustrate a few books from “The Lost Baby Tooth” series.
My books are not simple; they are intended to make the young reader stop and think about the message that the story is delivering. I am a strong believer in good-quality illustrations, calming, but fun; nothing drastic or overpowering. They are colorful and represent the story before a child starts reading it. They are also creative and perfect for a child’s growing mind. Parents can easily discuss or explain them to a child who cannot read yet. All these new stories are awaiting their turn to be published. English is a second language for me, and it takes me much longer to correct my writings before I submit them to the editor.
Jjspina: Yes, I agree with you. Your books are thought-provoking for both parents and children.
What hobbies do you have when you are not writing?
Sadly, I have no time for hobbies. My life reminds me of a runaway train, which I am trying to catch and somehow slow down. If the day had 48 hours, then I would collect cats. I love cats. They remind me a little bit of myself. Nobody can own them unless they let you.
I like gardening and flowers, beaches and walks, traveling and art, reading and books. There are so many places I have never been, and I want to visit and learn their history.
Also, I am a grandmother. I am blessed with four beautiful grandchildren. I finally have time to sit and play with them. Moving from place to place, country to country, job to job, I missed many beautiful moments when my own children were young. I wish I could reverse time and have these moments with my girls. We can have all the wealth in the world, but we cannot buy back the lost moments. The older I get, the more I value time with my family and friends.
jjspina: It appears that you have enough on your plate already without adding anything else. I agree. We cannot get back the lost time.
What is your target audience for your book?
I do not choose the story; the story chooses me. Mostly, I write for children ages 4 to 10, but I have books for older readers, like “The Little Girl Praying on the Hill,” “Taste of Bread,” and my new book “The Cat That Wanders by Itself.”
Stories are everywhere. I write what I know, not what sells. This may sound like a bad business decision, but this is the only time I do not treat writing like a business.
jjspina: I don’t think it is a bad business decision, Olga. It is admirable that you do what you want to do and what is in your heart.
Please share your books with us and a synopsis of each.
I have too many books to describe each separately, but here are a few:
Carlo the Mouse—A full series of six books. This series of enchanting books is an entertaining look into the life of a little mouse born inside a hospital’s walls. His insatiable desire for adventure gets him in constant trouble with the exterminator, the head cook, Fidel the cat, and the hospital manager, who becomes his worst nightmare.
Who Is Most Important in the Fridge? Series of three books.
These fun rhyming stories introduce young readers to delightful food characters with goofy personalities, real feelings, passions and fears, who always disagree with each other about who will feed a hungry little girl first.
The Mysterious Life Inside a Closet. A humorous story about the mysterious life inside the closet and a curious little kitten, which sneaks inside the closet and causes mayhem.
The Royal Palm. A teaching story about a snobby silver palm, which learns a valuable lesson and the meaning of real friendship.
Runaway Clothes. An instructional story about a little girl who didn’t like to take care of her clothes and toys. In the end, she learns how easy it is to lose something you love.
That Is How Things Are. A beautiful story about friendship between a kitten and a sparrow, and how the little kitten learns about the power of nature.
Good Morning, World! A happy and uplifting story about Baby Thomas and his grandpa. Baby Thomas wants to hug and embrace a beautiful world full of amazing things, but Grandpa takes the world very seriously. They see the same picture, but each takes a different approach.
City Kittens and the Old House Cat. A beautifully illustrated, heartwarming Christmas book about sharing and giving.
The Trees Have Hearts
Runaway Clothes: Coloring and Activity Book for Kids
The Royal Palm: Coloring and Activity Book for Kids
The Little Girl Praying on the Hill (short story)
A Taste of Bread (novella)
Somewhere Between Two Worlds (novel)
Who Let the Cookies Out?
Who Let the Cookies Out?: Coloring and Activity Book for Kids
Baby from the Moon
What Is GOOD and What Is BAD
What Is GOOD and What Is BAD: Coloring and Activity Book for Kids
Who Is Most Important in the Fridge: Coloring Book for Kids
Carlo the Mouse: Coloring Books 1 and 2
The Cat That Wanders by Itself (novel)
Where Did Grandpa Go?
My Grandpa Is a Werecow
To order paperback copies of my published books, please visit Amazon.com, https://www.amazon.com/Mrs.-D/e/B008OAMKLU/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Barnesandnoble.com, or my website, www.mrsdbooks.net.
E-book versions are also available through Amazon, https://www.amazon.com/Mrs.-D/e/B008OAMKLU/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Barnes and Noble, and Apple.
jjspina: You do have a lot of books to share. I have read many of them. They are all lovely.
What advice would you give prospective authors?
When a story is told, it is not forgotten. I strongly believe that the best stories live inside each of us. Look around and write! Let your stories see the world! Use your imagination and make your story uniquely yours. Write what you know, write what you feel, write what you love, write because you want to.
When you are ready to publish your book, do your homework and make sure your book is professionally edited. Create a professional-looking book, one which will not get lost among the millions of poorly published books. Make your book one that you would want to buy for yourself or for your child. If you are a children’s writer, forget your age and envision your book as children would. Get involved in each illustration. Nobody knows and feels your book better than you do.
Writing is an easy task; publishing and marketing is a business. These days, an author must also be a smart businessperson. To be a self-publishing author, you will have to learn every aspect of publishing. Lastly, when you publish your book, you will wish that the day had 48 hours, because there will be no time left for writing. Writers today must be very business-oriented and be devoted to social media to promote their books. So do not quit your day job yet. Wait until you become famous.
jjspina: Good sound advice, Olga, about not quitting your day job. Ha! I agree with you on all counts. Writing is the fun part, the rest is much more complicated.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
I long for people to see the internal beauty through the eyes of a child. Usually I turn for help to nature when I write. It never refuses to give me the inspiration for the characters I am looking for in my stories. I am fascinated by the wonders of nature, especially with the wind, trees, palms, and all kinds of animals. They are wonderful characters for children. With the help of these characters, children will learn about how things change and behave in nature, and sometimes how they misbehave.
jjspina: Lovely thoughts, Olga.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
I’ve traveled a lot, but have never visited China. I would like to learn more about this country’s culture and life. It would help me to better understand my main character from my new book The Chinese Princess. I am afraid that my title will mislead some of my readers, because my book is not about the life of royalty or any historical event. It is a story about people who immigrated from different countries at different times. It is interesting to observe how they are mixing with different cultures and how they accept each other. How the older generation understands the younger generation and how they act when outsiders join their traditional families. This book is fiction, but is based on my experiences as a foreigner.
jjspina: I hope you get to go to China one day. You will surely come back with some new and exciting stories to share.
If you could have one wish, what would it be?
Go back to where were before COVID-19. I would like people to be kinder and see goodness in small gestures, be more tolerant and respectful to each other, respect different opinions, and just get some sanity in life.
Jjspina: Sigh! I wish it could be so.
What would you do if you were not a writer?
I am not sure… I have been running businesses all my life. But I think I could make a good nurse or doctor. When I was young, I wanted to be a detective. I am observant and love analyzing things around me. My husband does not like watching movies with me because I often predict the ending. I admire tough professions that make people think, act, and take risks.
I am a restless soul. I need to know as many things as my poor brain can handle. My mom said I was a very determined child, always hungry for knowledge. I do not think I ever settled for anything in my life. I like challenges.
jjspina: I think you would have succeeded at any profession you endeavored to pursue.
Do you have any unusual talents? What are they?
I am a good cook, organizer, and decorator. I love order, beauty, and harmony. Throughout the years, I’ve tried many things. In some I succeeded, in some I didn’t. But I learned a very good lesson: every one of my failures was a blessing in some way. I am who I am now because I failed many times, and every time I fell on my face, I learned how to fight. I did not necessarily like it, but each of my failures made me get up and look for a new way out. It forced me to move forward and pushed me closer to my destination. I cried, I complained, and I hated it. I doubted my strength, my dignity, and my ability. I thought I would never forget my devastations. But God always works in mysterious ways; as soon as one door closes, a second door opens. Now, looking back at my failures, they look more like successes, a good graduate school. As my grandpa would say, if you want to get somewhere, you must move; if you want to cross the river, you must wet your shoes. Simple and true.
jjspina: You are a talented writer, that I know. I imagine that you are good at many other things too.
Facebook pages: https://www.facebook.com/MRS.D.BOOKS?ref=hl
Mrs. D’s Books Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/Mrs.-D/e/B008OAMKLU/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Here are Olga D’Agostino’s newest books that will be available on January 7, 2020. Here is the link to the preorder.
A fun children’s book for age 4-8.
Fall in love with Grandpa, who likes taking long detours instead of sensible shorter ways!
Being able to finish what we start is very important. But we are all different and we each have our own way and pace when comes to the tasks we’re assigned to do. Sometimes, the roads we choose may look endless for others, but practical for those who are actually doing the job.
In this story, there’s a lot of drama when Grandma asks Grandpa to run some errands. What was supposed to be an easy, uncomplicated job of getting some things from local shops turned into adventurous days when Grandpa decided to do them in his own way. But at the end of the day, what really mattered was that Grandpa crossed the finish line and did a good job.
“Grandpa’s stories series” are beautifully illustrated kids books for preschoolers, kindergarteners and early elementary school students.
Here is my review of this book:
I was gifted a copy of this book and choose to do an honest review.
This is an entertaining story about Grandpa who does things his own way even if they are different. The author has done it again with this creative book about being your own person.
Grandma asks Grandpa to do some trips for her to the store, ice cream parlor, Home Depot, pizza place, etc. What Grandpa does is comical. He doesn’t just go to the local stores to pick up what he needs. He goes way beyond that and worries Grandma when he doesn’t return right away.
Children will laugh at Grandpa as he travels far away to stores in different locations to purchase the items. They will learn that it is okay to be different, to do things in your own inimitable way.
Another wonderful addition to children’s libraries that they will enjoy for years to come and want to pass on to their own children one day.
A fun children’s book for age 4-8!
A good life lesson can often be hard to accept, but not when it is presented in a fun way like in the story about Grandpa and his unusual change. One day Grandpa got sick, but after the hospital stay, something strange happened, something that changed his life in the oddest way…
So settle comfortably in your chair and get hooked on this bizarre story. And just in case you don’t want to turn into something really weird, please take care of your health. “Grandpa’s stories series” are beautifully illustrated kids books for preschoolers, kindergarteners and early elementary school students.
Here is my review of this book.
I was gifted a copy of this book and choose to do an honest review.
Olga D’Agostino is a creative author. She creates unusual and entertaining books for children that teach them about important issues. In this book Grandpa learns that he has a sick heart that needs to be fixed.
Grandpa has to make some necessary changes in his diet and add exercise to his daily regime in order to get healthy again. The illustrator does an exemplary job of showing the heart as a separate entity and how it is fixed by the doctor.
The importance of a good diet and exercise is emphasized as Grandpa’s health improves. The added comedic passages about his heart being repaired with a cow valve is funny, reason why Grandpa moos like a cow.
A nice addition to children’s library for any occasion.
Olga D’Agostino (aka Mrs.D.) Award-winning author.
Mrs.D’s children’s books are available in print (hard & soft covers) on Amazon, B&N, Dog Ear Publishing online stores, and as E-books on Kindle, Nook and most E-devices.
For more information on Mrs.D’s books, please visit:Mrs.D’s official website: http://www.mrsdbooks.netTwitter: https://twitter.com/mrsdbooksBlog:http://http://mrsdbooks.blogspot.com/
Remember: “Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.”— Emilie Buchwald
Thank you so much, Olga, for sharing your books with me and for visiting with me and my readers today. I wish you much success with your books. I hope my readers will enjoy your books as much as I do.
Thank you, readers, for stopping by to read this post. I hope you will check out all Olga D’Agostino’s books from her links above. Happy Reading! I appreciate your kind support of me, my blog, and books and those of my fellow authors’ too.
Blessings & Hugs! Stay Safe, Stay Well and God Bless!
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Janice Spina aka J.E. Spina
Jemsbooks for All Ages!
AMAZON.COM AUTHOR PAGE (All books)
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