Tom Listul wrote Monkey Made Dream with his daughter, Heather Listul Hewitt, when she was eight years old. A farmer from southwest Minnesota, he is also a singer/songwriter. Listul made Monkey Made Dream into a children’s song and has sang it at numerous coffee houses and children’s classrooms. Hewitt is now a speech-language pathologist, who works for a school district with students of all ages. She enjoys helping children develop literacy skills and a love for reading.
VS: I want to thank you Tom and Heather for being my guests here on The Writing Mama today. To get things started what do you do to help balance your writing life with your family life?
Tom: I draw ideas from everyday activity and make mental notes to myself or I write down an idea that I have that maybe I can use later on. I try to find some time each day to write down something.
VS: How long have you been writing?
Tom: I have been writing off and on since I was about 19 or 20. I go through productive times where ideas come easy and there are those other times when it is a struggle.
Heather: We wrote our song/book when I was 8 years old so you could say since then! I actually have not been good at continuing to write as I’d wish since I’ve been going to school and just finished my Master’s in August 2010.
VS: What inspired you to write?
Tom: I just started writing for the fun of it, and it has grown into an outlet that can take me many places.
Heather: Writing is a creative outlet, and it fun to see where you can go with a story.
VS: What is a typical writing day like for you?
Tom: My wish list writing day – would be sitting down with a cup of coffee early in the morning and having a creative idea that grows throughout the day. At the end of the day having a story or song that I am proud of and excited about to see where it will go from there.
Heather: A typical writing day – I don’t know what that would be like.
VS: Is your family supportive of your writing?
Tom: My family is very supportive. It is a part of their life as well as mine.
VS: What was the first thing you ever had published?
Tom: I am a songwriter. I had a song published a few years ago, but this is the first children’s book.
Heather: Monkey Made Dream! J
VS: Can you share with us a little about your current book, Monkey Made Dream?
Tom & Heather: This is a story about a little girl who wakes up one morning and finds that her brother has been replaced by a monkey. She takes the monkey to school and spends the day wondering what is real and what seems like a dream to her.
VS: What do you enjoy most about writing?
Tom: Escapement – pure and simple. It is my therapy.
Heather: I agree with my dad. I think it is a way to escape and have a creative outlet.
VS: What is the most difficult part of writing?
Tom: Coming up with an idea to write about is one thing, but finishing a story can be very difficult for me. I tend to be very critical once I start out with something I think is strong.
Heather: I think knowing where to go with an idea and how to organize a story can be difficult.
VS: What is the best writing advice you ever received?
Tom: Write something every day. Even if it doesn’t pertain to anything in particular. Just write, write, write. This opens the door for ideas to grow from.
VS: Do you find it hard to balance your personal writing time with your other jobs?
Tom: I just am having fun with it. So, whenever I get a chance to write during my day, that is something I enjoy to do. You would always like to find more time to write, but sometimes leaving things alone for a while helps spur your writing also.
Heather: Yes, I wish I was able to make more time to write. It is my future goal to create time to write! It is important to take the time, even when you think you don’t have it – even if it is only for 5 minutes a day.
VS: Do you have any other works in progress? Can you share a little about them?
Tom: I have songs that I have written that are being pitched to different artists and record companies. Also, I have some ideas that we are working on for another children’s book.
VS: The world of children’s book publishing is extremely competitive, with many authors hesitating between trying their luck with a traditional publisher or self publishing. What advice would you offer writers who are oscillating between these two publishing venues?
Tom: Well, that is a hard question. As for me, I self published my children’s book and it is up to me to make people aware of it. I like being involved with the process of getting my work to the public on my terms.
VS: How do you see the future of book publishing, both traditional, electronic, and print on demand?
Tom: I am not sure where everything will end up. I imagine self-publishing and the Internet will continue to grow. But, I hope there will always be a traditional hard cover book available to sit down and read.
Heather: I own a Nook and it is very fun to use, but I also love ready from a hard cover book. It is much more of an experience to read from a real book.
VS: What tips can you give writing parents with children at home to help them see publication?
Tom: Never give up. Always continue to pursue that love of writing and remember whatever you have written can never be taken away from you.
Heather: Use the Internet and any other sources you may have to look for outlets to share your writing. Keep working at it, if it something you enjoy.
VS: What do you think are the basic ingredients of a story?
Tom: A story that takes you away somewhere. A character that leads you there.
VS: What is required for a character to be believable? How do you create yours?
Tom: To me, it is someone you can relate to or find interesting within the story. My character in our book is based on a little girl and her younger brother that I hope most kids can relate to.
VS: Have you received any awards?
Tom & Heather: No, not yet. This is our first children’s book.
VS: Is there anything else you would like to share with us about being a “Writing Mama/Papa”?
Tom: All I can say is write because you love to write. Have fun with it and don’t put too much pressure on yourself.
Heather: Just enjoy the process.
VS: I thank you for taking the time to share with my readers about being a writing papa and mama.
You can learn more about Tom & Heather at
Monkey Made Dream is a fictional children's story about a little girl who wakes up to find a big surprise - there is a monkey in her brother's bed! She experiences a whole day with the monkey from getting him dressed to taking him to school, and she wonders all along if her brother has really changed into a monkey. The book captures a magical day with twists and turns as a little girl discovers that dreams can come true!
Publisher: Trafford Publishing
ISBN Number: 9781426949869
Publication Date: December 8, 2010
Author's: Tom Listul and Heather Listul Hewitt
Facebook Fan Page URL: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/Monkey-Made-Dream/119130761489469
Publisher Website: Trafford Publishing www.trafford.com
Amazon.com Book URL: http://www.amazon.com/Monkey-Made-Dream-Tom-Listul/dp/1426949863/ref=sr_l_l?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1293825296&sr=8-l
Places Mokey Made Dream is available for sale other than Amazon.com:
Barnes and Noble: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Monkey-Made-Dream/Tom-Listul/e/9781426949869/?itm=l&USRI=monkey+made+dream
Better World Books: http://www.betterworldbooks.com/monkey-made-dream-id-1426949863.aspx