Posted by: Kathy Temean | May 5, 2019

Book Giveaway: SWEET DREAMS, SARAH by Vivian Kirkfield

Author Vivian Kirkfield has a new picture book titled, SWEET DREAMS, SARAH. Chris Ewald illustrated the book. Vivian has agreed to share a book with one lucky winner. All you have to do to get in the running is to leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you do to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter, reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. Thanks for helping Vivian!


Sarah E.Goode was one of the first African-American women to get a U.S. patent. Working in her husband’s furniture store, she recognized a need for a multi-use bed and through hard work, ingenuity, and determination, invented her unique cupboard bed. She built more than a piece of furniture. She built a life far away from slavery, a life where her sweet dreams could come true.


Kathy asked if I would share the journey that resulted in the publication of one of my debut picture books, SWEET DREAMS, SARAH. And of course, I jumped at the chance! I love reading posts about how a book came to be written because I can always takeaway tidbits that help me in my own writing journey.

In 2014, I took an online nonfiction picture book writing class. I learned a lot about researching and how important it was to keep accurate notes. I learned there were many sources I could tap into to find great topics to write about. And I learned that writing a nonfiction picture book story required finding a way to make the topic relatable to kids…so that when they turn the last page and walk away, they will not be saying, ‘So What!’.

After reading all there was to read on the topic of Sarah E. Goode (which was almost nothing), I reached out to my local librarian who in turn reached out to librarians of Chicago area libraries and historical societies and museums where Sarah had lived and worked. This proved very helpful and I received vintage photos of the street where Sarah’s store had been located. They also emailed me photos of advertisements from local newspapers of the era: S.E. Goode Proprietor – Furniture Store. What a thrill it was to see that!

I also contacted the cemetery in Chicago where Sarah is buried and received a list of the people who were buried alongside her in the family plot. The more you investigate, the more you can learn.

When I had as much information as I thought I would get, I started writing. I wanted to show Sarah’s perseverance and determination…how she refused to give up, no matter how many times things didn’t go her way. And even when she applied for the patent, things didn’t go smoothly. Her application was originally denied. But did Sarah give up? NO! She made changes and corrections and resubmitted it. Kind of like when we send a manuscript to critique buddies and then use their constructive feedback to make the story stronger, right?

I had worked on the story for a month or two and then I sent it to Rate Your Story to get some professional feedback. It came back with a rating of ‘8’…not very good. It needed a lot more work. So, I revised and shared it with my critique buddies and embraced their feedback and made changes and sent it back to Rate Your Story…and got a ‘3’. YES! I was moving in the right direction!

Several months later, after revising and polishing some more, I submitted it to the Rate Your Story contest…and won 2nd place in the nonfiction picture book category. YAY!

That’s when I knew the story was ready for prime time…and then I used that manuscript as my go-to submission…for a 12×12 agent, for a Twitter #pitmad challenge, while perusing the #MSWL (Manuscript Wish List), and as a random send to an agent a friend had just signed with. In each case, I received positive comments and a request to see more work. And after many months of careful contemplation, I chose one of the agents and accepted representation. At that point, she sent the story out on submission to editors and within two months, we had a book deal.

The publishing journey was a long one…we signed at the end of 2015…and Sweet Dreams, Sarah just launched on April 2 of 2019…almost four years…and that is how it goes sometimes. But whether the process is long or short, the most important thing is that at the end of the journey there is a beautiful book that will inspire kids to dream…and build their dream into a reality…just like Sarah E. Goode did so long ago.


Shhh…don’t tell anyone, but for over seventy years, I’ve been having a love affair…with picture books. As a toddler, I devoured them (both literally and figuratively) and by second grade, I already knew I wanted to be a kindergarten teacher (so I could read lots of picture books to my students). But it wasn’t until I was almost retired and my children were married with kids of their own, that I decided to write a book for parents and teachers. Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking, published in 2010, was a joy to write, but difficult to promote, especially since I had self-published it. Then, in 2011, I turned 64 and my son gave me a surprise gift. We were going skydiving!

I’m so glad I took that leap of faith because, when my feet touched the ground, I knew there was nothing I couldn’t do if I set my mind to it. I’d been fearful of starting a blog—but after jumping out of a perfectly good airplane, starting a blog didn’t seen that intimidating any more. I began to review picture books and discovered Susanna Hill’s website where she reviewed picture books. Inspired by many of her followers who were actively pursuing picture book writing careers, I was hooked! That’s what I wanted to be…a picture book author!  I took another leap of faith and with my whole heart I jumped into critique groups, conferences, classes and of course, reading, writing and revising. I signed with Essie White of Storm Literary at the end of 2015 and have been blessed with a bunch of book deals.

But the biggest blessing has been the camaraderie of this incredible kid lit community. There is so much rejection and disappointment that it’s absolutely positively crucial to have the support and encouragement of others. Most of all, I love helping other writers follow their dream because I truly believe that with patience, persistence, productivity, and passion, those dreams will become a reality.

EPSON MFP image[/caption]

Here is the link for Darlene’s post about the Unsolved Mysteries of Sarah Goode:

Vivian, thank you for sharing your book and its’ journey with us. Looks like a really good book with nice illustrations. I bet it will be big with schools. I am sure it will make the winner very happy to receive it, too. Good Luck!

Unsolved Mysteries: Three Questions About Sarah E. Goode

When I decided to write a nonfiction picture book story about Sarah E. Goode, I had no idea how difficult it would be to find information about her. I mean, you’d think, a person who was one of the first African American women to receive a U.S. patent would have a lot written about her, right? Especially since she’d been a slave when she was a child. Just think about that…from owned to ownership. Those words actually spurred me on as I dug deeper, trying to unearth more information.

I turned to my local librarian and she reached out to some of the larger libraries in the country. We were sure that the Chicago Public Library would have loads of stuff – after all – Sarah lived and worked and died in Chicago. But, when the librarian at the Harsh Research Collection answered our plea, here is what she said: 

Wow! Your author seems to have amassed much more information than we ever dreamed there would be. We have nothing in our files on Goode and her name only comes up every Black History Month when some unlucky child has her name assigned for a report. All we’ve ever been able to lead them to is a photo of the patent and a brief blurb in a “Black Inventors” book. Essentially nothing more than can be found on the internet. 

When I read her reply, I knew that I had to pursue this story because Sarah had obviously not received the recognition in life or in death that she deserved. She was a trailblazing courageous young woman who could inspire the children of today to build their own dreams.

But even though I searched high and low, there were three things I was not able to track down and verify.


Searching around the internet, I found two or three sentences repeated on just about every website that had a bit of information (often untrue) about Sarah E. Goode. Several of the websites had her photo.


There is no known photo of Sarah E. Goode. The photo that appears on several websites? I don’t know who it is, but it is definitely not Sarah.


Some websites say Toledo, Ohio. Some websites say Toledo, Spain. What?

I can totally understand the confusion. On the 1870 Chicago census, Sarah was 15 years old and her parents listed her place of birth as Toledo, Ohio. However, in the 1880 Chicago census, when Sarah is a married woman of 25, she listed her place of birth as Toledo, Spain.


From all the research I’ve done, I surmise that Sarah might have been born in Northern Virginia…a slave state in 1855, the year of her birth. The border of Northern Virginia runs along the southern border of Ohio…a free state in 1855. It might have made sense for Sarah’s father, a freeman, to claim that his daughter was born in Ohio where she would be considered free. And, as for Sarah claiming she was born in Toledo, Spain, again, we can only guess. Perhaps she thought if she said Spain, that would grant a bit of the exotic to her existence. I doubt we will ever know the true story.



By 1883, a time when most women didn’t own anything, Sarah owned a furniture store in downtown Chicago. She built the innovative cabinet bed and applied for a patent. A year later, her application was returned – DENIED. Other similar inventions had already been patented. Sarah could have given up. But she didn’t.

Carefully she changed a word here and a sentence there, explaining more about her unique mechanism, the idea that had come to her so long ago. Slipping the paperwork and a bit of her heart into the envelope, Sarah sealed her fate and sent it off.

A year later, on July 14, 1885, Sarah’s patent was granted. In 1886, her business appears in Chicago’s city listing. But sadly, by May of 1887, an advertisement in the Chicago Daily Inter-Ocean newspaper shows another vendor selling cabinet beds that look just like Sarah’s. “Manufacturer of these beds went bust and we are now the exclusive distributors.”

We may never know why Sarah lost her business – illness, bad luck, or jealousy and possibly violence from business competitors—I did discover that her mother and one of her children had died the year before. She had lost two of the people she had loved the most. But there is one thing Sarah will never lose: her place in history. Sarah E. Goode will always be one of the first African American women in U.S. history to be recorded as earning a patent for her invention.

And now, the next time young students are given the name of Sarah E. Goode as a Black History Month or Women’s History Month project, there will be a book they can take out from the library, Sweet Dreams, Sarah. The author’s note, timeline of Sarah’s life and list of African American women patent holders in the back matter add rich STEM content to the book.

Thank you Vivian for sharing your new picture book’s journey with us. You are tearing up 2019. What a great year for you. Wishing you continued success.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. This looks like an interesting book!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, what a life – such struggles and disappointments. But no one can take away that ‘first’. Thank you Vivian for your dedication to tell this trailblazing woman’s story.
    I’d love to win my very own copy of this inspiration. – Vicki

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Way to give Sarah acknowledgement for her very significant accomplishment to history. Now no one has to dig too far to learn about her life. I’m hoping you have more books planned in the future that shed light on important figures like Sarah.


  4. This book is fantastic! The science nerd side of me wanted to know about her invention, and I ended up learning history as well. Job well done, Vivian!


  5. What a great story! I’d love to see one of the beds she made. I wonder how many still exist today. Thanks for the chance to win a copy of this fun book.
    I’ve tweeted a link to this post:, and pinned an image on Pinterest with a link as well:
    Thanks again, have a great day everyone!


  6. The moment I finished reading this, I reserved it at my library, a branch of the Columbus,Ohio Library System which has 14 of this title with a waiting list of 3. Wow! Great response to a first book – and also great reviews, as I discovered on Amazon. Congratulations, Vivian, for your perseverance and talent.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Carole, for letting me know about the Columbus Ohio LIbrary System…they have 14 copies??? WOW And there is a list of 3 people waiting to get one of them??? That is fabulous news!!!


  7. Congratulations, Vivian! Such an incredible story of perseverance. I am so glad that Sarah Goode’s story is getting the recognition she so deserves.


  8. I LOVE this story of Sarah and am proud to have featured it on my blog. I am sharing this on FB and Twitter.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I can’t wait to read this book. This book has had quite the journey!


  10. Vivian- congratulations on a wonderful book about such an important topic! I will help promote this as well, good luck to you!!


  11. Thanks so much! Vivian’s inspiring journey to nonfiction PB author gives us all license to dream. Happy book birthday.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. We cannot have too many books like Vivian Kirkfield’s “Sweet Dreams Sarah” to inspire kids to never give up on their dreams, no matter the obstacles. Vivian’s book journey in this interview was a ‘great read’ itself. Sharing this interview on my Facebook page!


  13. SWEET DREAMS SARAH sounds amazing. i can just image all the children it will inspire! Thank you for this lovely interview!


  14. Great interview you two!


  15. What a compelling story and amazing person to share with kids and all other readers! I can’t wait to read the details in the back matter and share this one with my daughter. Fingers crossed for the giveaway copy…


  16. This is excellent! It looks like a great book and it will inspire kids and adults to follow their dreams and pursue their new ideas! I’d love to win a copy!


  17. Can’t wait to read this with my kids and my students!


  18. Vivian, your story inspires me so much! Your can-do attitude gives me courage to keep writing, although I don’t think I’d ever skydive!


  19. I can’t wait to read this exceptional book! I do wonder about Sarah’s persistence to make it happen! I would like to win a copy but I am so far away! Greetings from Greece! I have tweeted o link to this post :


  20. I love all this new info about what might have happened to Sarah and her business. Congrats again, Vivian!


  21. Tweeted, FB and Pinterest. Thanks for opportunity. Sounds like a marvelous book.


  22. This book is so beautiful (Chris is an aMAZing talent!) and both Sarah AND Vivian are inspirational 😀 😀 😀


  23. Your story, Vivian, is a case study of Journey to Publication. Thank you for continuing to show us there’s not one-way to get there. ❤


  24. Love historical fiction picture books. Will post on FB too.


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