Karen Cioffi has had an assortment of jobs; none of them she says has influenced or inspired her writing. What gives Cioffi’s writing a ‘kick in the pants’ was having to go on disability due to Multiple Sclerosis.
“After needing several years to get some health and strength back,” Cioffi shared, “I was able to write, and with the urging of one of my daughters, I turned a lullaby I wrote in the early 1970s into a children’s bedtime picture book, Day’s End Lullaby. Then I was hooked.”
Karen Cioffi is an advocate of education, reading, and the environment. She loves how reading can spark a child’s imagination and bring him or her to new worlds and on amazing adventures. Along with writing children’s books, Karen is a ghostwriter and freelance writer, and has several nonfiction books on writing and book marketing.
“I’ve been writing since I was in grade school. I’m not sure what inspired me; it was just in me to want to write. I think this is the case with most writers, whether authors or professional writers,” shared Cioffi.
Her most recently released book, Walking Through Walls, is a children’s middle-grade fantasy adventure published by 4RV Publishing. It’s based on an ancient Chinese tale and set in 16th century China. The protagonist is a 12-year-old boy who wants to be rich and powerful. He already knows more about the Eternals and their way of life than many of the adults in his village. Learning about these mystics takes his thoughts away from the possibility of working in the wheat fields all his life, like his father. There are actually a few subtle messages in this book. The most important one may be that with the right guidance and hard work, we can see beyond ourselves and build inner strength and character.
The book’s theme fits right in with two of Cioffi’s favorite sayings: the American proverb “Nothing ventured, nothing gained”; and, in accordance with M. Ghandi, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
Walking Through Walls is Cioffi’s second children’s book. Her first book, Day’s End Lullaby, is a children’s bedtime picture book. The lyrical and rhyming text has a rhythmic flow that helps soothe a baby or young child. Parents can read or sing to a child – the sheet music to the lullaby is included in the back of the book. “To me the most important feature of this book is how soothing it is, the content conveys a sense of security to the child,” shared Cioffi.
When talking with Cioffi, I noticed some things came quite easily to her, like creating the setting in her books and the beginning of the story. I asked her if there were other things that didn’t come so easy like deciding on a title or keeping the pacing and action up in the middle of the book. Something many authors struggle with and find difficult.
Cioffi shared, “I’m able to get into the story and see where the characters are heading. And, I have a sense of the setting. Then some of it just happens – the story kind of knows where it’s going on its own. It’s towards the end I flounder. My original endings are usually weak and it takes a lot of work to improve them. Most often, I have to put the story away for a while and revisit it to find a stronger ending, one that ties up all loose ends and is satisfying.”
However, do not let Cioffi fool you. She did quite a bit of research for Walking Through Walls, some for the story, and some for the reader comprehension and information section at the back of the book. It all makes for a growing trend in children’s writing as teachers and parents are looking for ways to add books to their child’s curriculum.
Towards the end of the interview, I asked Cioffi if she had any planned events coming up. “I don’t currently have any books signings or school visits scheduled, but I am doing the World of Ink virtual book tour, and Writers on the Move will be having a Holiday Gift Post on the groups’ blog site – it will list the members’ books. Since it’s the holiday season, hopefully readers will stop by and check out the great books available,” said Cioffi.
Cioffi is the founder and manager of Writers on the Move, an online group for authors through Yahoo groups. They help promote each other and share information on writing with those who visit their group blog each month. She is also the moderator of a children’s critique group and on the team at DKV Writing 4U.
You can learn more about Karen Cioffi at her sites:
In addition, come listen to Blog Talk Radio’s World of Ink Network show: Stories for Children at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/worldofinknetwork. The hosts VS Grenier, Kris Quinn Chirstopherson and Irene Roth will be chatting with Karen Cioffi about her books, writing, the publishing industry and experiences with virtual tours. Karen will also be sharing writing tips and trials, and tribulations of the writer’s life. The show will be live November 21, 2011 at 2pm EST.