You meet the most delightful people when you get together with friends. Once a month or so, a group of children’s book authors gather at a coffee shop to share ideas about writing, publishing, and marketing. This is where I met Sarina Siebenaler, children’s author. Her adorable picture book Do Not Wish for a Pet Ostrich has become an international hit. I just had to interview her.
Barb: Tell us a little bit about yourself and include a tidbit of information not many people know about you.
Sarina: I’m a wife, mother of three children, and our rescued dog, Ellie. I live in beautiful – sunny Arizona, where flip-flops and t-shirts are mandatory for most of the year. I enjoy running and hiking and finding new travel adventures with my family.
Many people don’t know that I paint terracotta pots and make them into pot people as gifts for teachers, neighbors, and friends with kids. It’s been a hobby of mine for quite some time. It makes me happy to turn these pots into something that others can use and enjoy. You can see some of my creations here.
Do Not Wish for a Pet Ostrich
Barb: You’ve written and published a darling picture book called Do Not Wish for a Pet Ostrich, which has quickly become a worldwide sensation. Tell us about this book and what inspired you to write it.
Sarina: Thank you, Barbara. Do Not Wish for a Pet Ostrich, is a silly rhyming tale about a spunky little girl who wishes for a pet ostrich of her very own. They find themselves on a fun-filled – feathered adventure and crazy shenanigans.
At the end of this story, the little girl realizes that an ostrich may have been too much to handle. Her wild imagination reveals that she would like a unicorn, instead! The unicorn will be the next character in my Silly Books for Kids series/collection. Each book will reveal a new character, which I hope builds mystery and surprise for children in future books and encourages the love of reading.
My children are my inspiration for all my writing goals. When they were younger, they would ask my husband and me if they could have exotic pets to bring home when we would go to the zoo or read about them. I’d ask them how they would care for them, and they would have such silly and entertaining answers.
My son, who was diagnosed with Autism at 22 months of age has always been encouraged by books that make him laugh. This continues to help him with his verbal skills. I knew then that someday I would turn my love of poetry and art to picture books. I hope to make a difference in early literacy and spark the growth of emergent and reluctant readers. Bringing smiles, laughter, and learning brings so much joy to my heart. Children will always be my first commitment in my writing process. This is how Do Not Wish for a Pet Ostrich came to life.
Barb: Tell us about your school visits as a guest author.
Sarina: I love school visits!
I have done many virtual visits since the onset of the pandemic. When the children’s faces light up before a story is read, it is a wonderful feeling. I always allow the students to ask questions at the end. They are so intuitive, engaging, have the best questions, and are just so smart.
I customize my author visits for grades 5-8 too. This visit includes more of the self-publishing process. I’ve had teachers tell me that their students are now interested in becoming future writers, illustrators, and graphic designers. It doesn’t get any better than that.
Barb: Do you have any advice for someone who is starting as a new author?
Sarina: There are so many!
Firstly, hire the right talent. Never publish a book without finding an editor. This is so important, and I can’t say this enough.
Secondly, always keep learning and studying the market. It’s important to learn from like-minded peers in the industry. I read lots of children’s books as a guide that tells me what the market wants. My children will also let me know what they like in a story and what they don’t.
Lastly, do not rush the process. If it takes you 2 years to publish your first book, it’s okay. Quality should always come first. Find beta readers and make sure your interior design and text are looked over by your editor before you publish.
Barb: Do you have any marketing tips you’d like to share with independent authors?
Sarina: Readers need to know who you are and what you are offering. Starting a social media page helps get the word out of current books you have available and what you are working on too. Figuring out your niche is important too.
I use ads to help boost marketing as well. This takes practice and a lot of monitoring.
Utilizing events, bookstores, social media, schools, organizations, libraries, etc. is time-consuming, but the market is heavily saturated with high competition, and it will get lost in the market if you are not bringing it to your potential readers.
I’m still learning and growing every day.
Barb: Tell us what you like to do in your spare time.
Sarina: I’m not sure I have spare time anymore. Ha, ha!
Our children keep us very active and busy. They have interests and sports that fill up what we used to call spare time. We do try and find time to go to the beach periodically to recharge. Family time is my pride and joy.
Do Not Wish for a Birthday Unicorn!
Barb: Tell us what you are working on now.
Sarina: The sequel Do Not Wish for a Birthday Unicorn! is scheduled to be released by the end of 2021. I hope to have one book released a year if there are readers that continue to enjoy them. This time, Kat gets a unicorn for her unicorn-themed birthday party! The surprise delivery of Starlight, the unicorn from the Uni Express becomes an unexpected sight for eyes for Kat and her friends. With a little teamwork and kindness, Kat and her friends uncover her true beauty.
You’ll have to find out what character is revealed when Starlight returns and Kat blows out her birthday candles and makes a new wish!
For unicorn fans, this story will be full of color, rainbows, glitter, and of course, silly fun!
Story Time with Fergie and Friends
Right about now you’re asking why Sarina’s book is an international hit. On May 26, 2021 Sarah Ferguson read Do Not Wish for a Pet Ostrich on her Story Time with Fergie and Friends YouTube channel. It has received over 73,900 views. Watch the Duchess of York read Sarina’s book here and push those views over 74,000.
Thank you Sarina for sharing information about your Silly Books for Kids series. I can’t wait to see what Kat will wish for next. I’ll see you at our next coffee shop author meet up.
Sarina’s website and other social media links are listed below. You can purchase her book and and schedule school visits on her website.
I didn’t write a book about an ostrich, but I live in Arizona too, and I’ve written three picture books about a species of quail that reside in Arizona, the Gambel’s Quail. Quincy the Quail is a little clumsy, and bumps into cacti and bushes, but he’s a lovable character who leads his family around the Sonoran Desert.
You can purchase all my Quincy the Quail books from my website. Upon checkout, be sure to enter your mailing address and to whom the books should be inscribed.