I'm pleased to welcome Maria Dismondy to Michigander Monday!
Debbie: Maria, please tell us a little about yourself.
Maria: I didn't always love to write stories. Beginning in Kindergarten, I started writing in a diary. I have nineteen completed diaries. It's always been my outlet to write about my feelings.
As a teacher for over a decade, I looked for books that would empower my students to be themselves. I was disappointed that I couldn't find books that were realistic with characters my students could relate to....so I decided to write one! I wrote my first children's book, Spaghetti In A Hot Dog Bun, based on what happened to me as an elementary student. The book has opened doors to so many wonderful opportunities. I resigned from teaching and am speaking to students across the state on the topics of reading, writing, bullying and building character. I had a dream to make a difference and I am smiling as I write this, knowing that dream is coming true.
Debbie: And, of course, we want to know all about your books.
Maria: In short, Spaghetti In A Hot Dog Bun is about having the courage to be who you are. A little girl is bullied for her big hair, unusual foods and for being herself. In the end, she doesn't change who she is, she remains the kind hearted little girl and helps her bully out when everyone else walked away. The Juice Box Bully was co-authored with Bob Sornson and is about empowering kids to stand up for others. Pink Tiara Cookies for Three is about a group of three friends who have a hard time getting along because someone is always left out. My newest release is The Potato Chip Champ. It is my favorite of all four! It's a story of kindness and empathy. The message is timeless... It's not about what we have, it's about who we are!
Debbie: Other books or projects on the horizon?
Maria: I have two books waiting for publication. I am currently looking for an agent and/or new publisher to publish these books. One of the books will be my first baby board book. It is a project I am very excited about.
Debbie: Upcoming appearances?
Maria: March is Reading Month so I have been traveling to a number of elementary schools for school assemblies. I will be speaking at The World Reading Festival in Lakeland Florida on April 13th along side Herman Parrish, author of the new Amelia Bedila series. I am really looking forward to this!
Debbie: Do you have a favorite Michigan bookstore? And/or a favorite Michigan library?
Maria: My favorite Michigan bookstore is in Petoskey, McLean and Eakin. We have three libraries that are super close to our house that we alternate between. They are my favorite, not because of any reason other than the fact that it the place that my girls are developing their love for reading!
Debbie: How about a favorite place in Michigan?
Maria: My college roommate has invited me up to her cottage in the woods of Bellaire, Michigan every year for the last 14 years. We spend our days on the lake (Torch Lake). I feel like I am on a tropical vacation when I'm there. It is spectacular.
Debbie: Do you have a Michigan event or happening that you love to attend?
Maria: Great question! We are a family that loves tradition and there are quite a few local events we attend annually. In May, we go to Comerica Park for a Tigers' game and we like to watch the Memorial Day parade in our hometown Walled Lake. In July, we watch the fireworks on our lake (Walled Lake). In August, we attend the Plymouth Art Festival. In September, we visit a local Apple Orchard. Our favorite is Three Cedars Farm in Salem Township. In October, we head back to Plymouth for a Trick or Treating event in their town center. Our favorite event in Michigan is in November, the Detroit Turkey Trot. We run the race with both our girls (you can't miss us with the double stroller) and watch the parade afterwards. I am probably missing something. Michigan has so much to offer!
Debbie: A few fun Michigan people we should all know about?
Maria: Musicians come to mind when I think of Michigan people. Bob Seger, Aretha Franklin, Madonna, Eminem and Kid Rock.
Debbie: Something you'd like a non-Michigander to know about Michigan?
Maria: People in the mid-west start complaining about the winter around February. Michigan winters can be wonderful. They require a good coat, waterproof boots, a cute hat and warm gloves. We like to embrace the cold weather with winter traditions and activities. The four seasons keep you looking forward to what's next.
Debbie: Last question. Some folks in Michigan refer to themselves as Michiganders, others Michiganians. For our ongoing vote tally: are you a "Michigander" or a "Michiganian"?
Debbie: We'll add you to the tally! Maria, thank you for joining us today for Michigander Monday!