Eclectic Author Mom on the Street Kolina Cicero

Whether she’s writing, caring for her children, or spreading the joy of friendship through her children’s book, Eclectic Author Mom on the Street Kolina Cicero brings grace through words and the world around her.

Meet Kolina

Kolina Cicero is a full-time mother, and a part-time reader and writer. She’s long dreamt of being an author, and in July of 2020, that dream came true as she published her children’s book, Rosie and the Hobby Farm

A former business owner, freelancer, and staff writer, Kolina now spends her days caring for her two young children and writing during the fleeting moments of stillness she manages to find. Her writing projects include working on her novel, occasional blog posts, and regular contributions to Wit & Delight. 

Eclectic Author Written Work

When did you first get into writing and when did you know it was your “calling” and something you wanted to pursue in work and play?

I’ve been writing since I learned how to string letters together to make words. I still have an old spiral-bound notebook that I remember writing in while at my grandparents’ house. It was my first short story, and it was written in pencil. The story, of course, isn’t great, but the memory is. In school, I always excelled when I wrote essays or tests were in a written answer format.

A teacher I admired once told me I was bad at test-taking. I wish I could forget that, but it’s stuck with me. The thing is, she was right. I didn’t do all that well on my ACT, nor did I ever do all that well on multiple-choice tests. But I got a full-ride scholarship to graduate school at Middlebury College in Vermont because of a good essay (as well as some good referrals), so I’ve always known my writing skills were strong. But it was only once I realized I enjoyed writing and that it helped me understand myself and the world around me that I realized it was what I was meant to do.

What is your top favorite story you’ve written in a publication?

When I was fresh out of college, I had the opportunity to write freelance articles for Lavender Magazine – dozens of them. I was so young, and yet they assigned me big stories. I even landed a couple of cover stories. I wish I could link to some of them. I have the physical copies stored safely in my basement, and every few years I’ll flip through them. It’s cathartic to see my old work and remember the feeling of seeing my name in print for the first few times.

One of my favorite stories I’ve written in the past few years is actually the most recent one I published in Wit & Delight. It’s about relationships and how the ones that matter are perennials: they weather even the toughest winters. And how sometimes, the relationships which are meant to be foundational to us just aren’t. I put my heart into this piece, sharing a vulnerable side of my personal history. I heard from many people after it was published, and the feedback was resoundingly positive. And that connection, that acknowledgment that we all have things in common – that’s why I love to write.

Eclectic Author of a Children’s Book

Speaking of which you also wrote a Children’s book “Rosie and the Hobby Farm”, What inspired you to write a children’s book, and when was it published?

I always knew I wanted to be an author, but I never expected I’d be an author of a children’s book. This story came about when my daughter was young. I read her book after book, and I guess my head just entered a space of short, simple storytelling. And one day the story about a young girl learning different values from different animals spilled out of me. I read it to some friends, they loved it. I read it to my husband, he loved it. And I decided it needed to be published.

So, I submitted the manuscript to one single publishing house, which accepts manuscripts without agent representation. Naturally, that small effort did not result in publication. I began to look into independent publishing, as I knew a couple of authors in the Twin Cities who had done that. I met with some indie publishing houses, chose to go with Wise Ink Creative Publishing, and in July of 2020, I published my first book.

I get a lot of questions about that process, so I wrote out an exhaustive explanation of how I created the book here.

What are some pros and cons of independent publishing?

Independent publishing is the middle ground between self-publishing and traditional publishing. For indie, you pay for professional services from a publishing company, like editing, proofreading, consulting, etc. The up-front costs would be a con. However, you get to make all of the decisions, which you don’t get to do with traditional publishing, which of course is a pro. Because you pay for everything upfront, once the sales start rolling in, you get all of the profit. The publishing company doesn’t get a cut, the illustrator doesn’t get a cut, because you’ve already paid them.

What did you like most about working with Wise Ink Creative Publishing to publish your book?

Wise Ink Creative Publishing helped me create a book more beautiful, professional, and impactful than I could have ever done without them. They’re pros!

Children’s Book Details

Tell us a little summary of the book and why you chose to write about that subject in particular for kids.

Rosie and the Hobby Farm is about a little girl who learns important values through the arrival of different animals on her family’s hobby farm. From the cat, she learns about patience, from the dog she learns how to be a loyal friend, from the bird she learns about self-care. In the end, Rosie feels lucky to have so many different kinds of friends from whom she can learn. 

I wrote this particular story because I think it’s important to celebrate our differences, as they are what make each of us special. I chose to tell the story through animals because kids love and relate to them, and I thought it would be a simpler way for children to understand the importance of being friends with people who look and act differently from them.

What was the most challenging part about writing and publishing a children’s book?

The selling! Writing and creating the book was easy in comparison. Selling it, on the other hand, is a job in its own echelon.

Tell us a little bit about the illustrator, why did you choose Khoa Le?

In collaboration with my editor, I looked at the portfolios of hundreds of children’s book illustrators, and I kept returning to Khoa. Her work was dark and whimsical. It was enchanting and mystical – and decidedly not Rosie. But I couldn’t stop looking at her work. And even though some friends and family, when I asked for their opinions about my illustrator options, said her work wasn’t the right fit for a children’s story, I knew she could do it. And she did. She absolutely made Rosie come to life. 

Family Support and Lifestyle

Do your family, husband and friends support you as an author? How so?

Yes, in unimaginable ways. All of my close friends and family purchased copies of my book when it first came out, and several continue to buy copies to gift for baby showers and birthdays. They’ve watched this story morph from a little typed up one-page story to a book that’s sold in more than a dozen shops and bookstores around the Twin Cities, including my favorite bookstore on the planet, Magers & Quinn. They also send me photos of their kids or their friends’ kids with my book, and it just makes my heart sing.

What has been your favorite part since publishing your book/ Have you read it to any classes or organizations?

My favorite part about publishing my book has been watching my daughter experience it all. When we go to bookstores and libraries and we find Rosie on the shelves, it’s the coolest feeling. I’ve done some virtual storytimes for classrooms and would love to do more in-person when that becomes a viable option. It’s so great to see how children appreciate and connect with my story. Sometimes I see a photo of a kid with my book, or a video of a kid reciting page after page that they’ve memorized, and I have an out-of-body experience. I can’t believe that something I created is so loved by the people I created it for.

Author Rewards, Challenges, and Goals

What was the most challenging part about writing and publishing a children’s book?

The selling! Writing and creating the book was easy in comparison. Selling it, on the other hand, is a job in its own echelon.

What are some of your goals for the future as an author?

I’ve been working on a novel for a few years and I hope to get it published. I haven’t yet decided if I will pursue the independent publishing route like I did for my children’s book, or if I will try to find an agent and do traditional publishing, but the plan is for this novel to be in print someday.

What is your biggest dream as an author?

I think having a book on the New York Times Best Sellers list is every novelist’s dream. But more than that, I want to publish books that truth tell, despite being fiction. I want readers to see themselves in the stories I create. Mostly, I want my words to help people feel less alone. And then if my books happen to become bestsellers, that would be an added bonus.

Where can one purchase your book and follow you on social media?

You can purchase Rosie on my website: https://kolinacicero.com/book. I’m @kolinacicero on all social media accounts.

Eclectic Author Style

Which three words best describe your style?

Comfortable,classic, eclectic.

What are your favorite places to shop?

Madewell, Target, and small shops.

Who’s your favorite style icon?

My daughter. She’s so unapologetic with her choices.

What’s your best style advice?

Confidence is cute (and so is comfort).

What are 5 items you are most likely to have in your purse at all times?

Chapstick, a pen, my wallet, my phone, and a book – always.

What should NEVER make a comeback?

Low-rise pants.

What fashion/style did you love at the time but now cringe when you see old photos?

A fake tan.

What’s your best style secret (e.g., Spanx, fake eyelashes, good makeup, etc.)?

Solid brows.

Stilettos or flats?

Definitely flats, but not ballet flats, I’m not a fan of those. I like boots, tennis shoes, and I’ve been wearing Birkenstocks since high school. There is absolutely nothing more comfortable.

Eclectic Author Family

What’s your favorite way to spend time with your family?

I love what author Ryan Holiday refers to as garbage time. The casual moments on the couch reading a book, on the floor doing a puzzle, at the table painting. It doesn’t have to be anything special, it’s just about being together.

What’s been your best family vacation?

In the spring of 2019, my husband and I, as well as some of his family, took our 18-month-old daughter to Latvia, Germany, and France. This May, assuming the state of the world doesn’t stop our intentions in their tracks, we will be taking our daughter, now four, and our one-year-old son on a 13-day trip to Italy.

Best parenting advice:

You’re going to get a lot of unsolicited advice. Disregard all of it and do what your gut is telling you to do. Also, find mom (or dad) friends.

Parenting true confession: 

My kids watch a lot of TV and my daughter eats “cheesy pasta” nearly every single day.

What’s your go-to family dinner?

Rice or farro bowls of any assortment.

What’s your favorite family restaurant?

Nong’s Thai Cuisine.

Eclectic Author Life

What’s your favorite show to binge-watch?

This may sound a little pretentious, but I don’t watch TV – with the exception of PBS Kids and Disney+ with my kids of course.

What’s your favorite beach read?

I don’t have a go-to, as I’m always reading something new. But a story about adventure would be good. The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah comes to mind. Also, I’ve only read the books once and it was not on a beach, but the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy would be great on vacation.

Who’s your favorite author?

The pseudonymous Elena Ferrante, the author of the Neapolitan Quartet and a few other great novels, is my absolute favorite author. Last year, however, my eyes were opened to the genius of Donna Tartt, author of The Goldfinch, and now I think Ferrante has a competitor.

What’s at the top of your travel bucket list?

 I have yet to travel to South America, and I’d really like to do so. I’d also like to go back to Asia, particularly Vietnam.

What’s your favorite way to unwind at the end of a long day?

I read before bed every night. If I can’t, for whatever reason, I feel very thrown off-kilter.

Writer Author Mom

We love how Kolina has inspired others with her written work. Whether through her lifestyle, publications, or children’s book, we can tell that her calling of writing has left an impact on many. We can’t wait to read what she comes up with next. To keep in touch follow her on Instagram or you can find her children’s book here.

For more interesting and inspiring moms, be sure to check out FamilyApp’s Mom on the Street page!

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