Tom Dirsa

Published Work: Sweaty Eyes,  Fishing Lessons for Grandpa, BJ & the Green Monstah, Lucky: A Whale of a Tale 

Tom is a graduate of Institute for Children’s Literature. View Course Catalog >

Welcome to the Winner’s Circle where we celebrate the success of our ICL students. Today we are celebrating published author Tom Dirsa!


IMG_4431What are the names of your books? Who is the publisher?
Sweaty Eyes – Dream Write Publishing, 2014

Fishing Lessons for Grandpa – Dream Write Publishing

BJ & the Green Monstah – Dream Write Publishing, 2015

Lucky: A Whale of a Tale – Dream Write Publishing, 2017

Tell us a bit about your path to publishing, from idea to submission to published book.

I collected a number of stories about my grandson, who has ADHD, as he grew up and they are the basis for the books. In 2014, I found two illustrators through our publisher Dream Write Publishing and the dream of bring these stories to life became reality.

How long have you been writing?
During my years as a basketball coach, I wrote stories for local newspapers but it was not until I retired that I began to write seriously.

BJ and the Green Monstah by Tom DirsaWhat’s your favorite genre to write and why?
Children picture books

What ICL courses have your taken?
Writing for Children and Teenagers

How has taking our course helped your writing and/or career?

It gave me the confidence and skills to be successful.

Have any of your class assignments been published?

Five of them have been published as picture books or articles in magazines. One of them won an award from Ocean Magazine in 2012. Two more are in draft form for future publication.

Do you have a favorite writing tip you’d like to share?
Write what you know and have a passion about and do it daily.

If you could travel back in time and give yourself one piece of writing advice, how far back would you go, and what would you tell yourself?
Write each day about your day and do not depend on your memory. Over
time, memories become foggy, but notes will stir those memories and bring

Tell us about your favorite place to write and what time of day you are most productive in your writing.
I write in a room full of books, photos, and articles. I like to write during the quite of the day usually late in the evening or early in the morning.

Fishing Lessons for Grandpa by Tom Dirsa 600Please tell us the best or most valuable thing you learned from your experience with ICL.
There are three things I have found valuable from the course.

The first is patient. When I was selling door to door as a college student I was told that for every ten doors you knocked on, one person would listen to your “pitch” and for every ten “pitches” you gave you would get one sale. I see the same result submitting to publishers. The trick is to have the patience,

The second are the skills and tidbits one learns like “Show don’t tell.”

But perhaps the best thing was the encouragement I received from my instructor Heidi Roemer.

Why didn’t you take ten to fifteen minutes a day to write about your day?

A sea captain cousin of mine once said that “while we are making plans, life happens.” Regardless of how busy one gets there is always some time to write…so DO it!



Tom grew up on the tip of Cape Cod in Massachusetts and after graduating from Colorado State University he moved to Alberta, Canada for two years, which became a lifetime. Tom’s children books follow a child with ADHD as he learns to cope with the world around him. Tom’s first nonfiction book Lucky: A Whale of a Tale is a true story about a Right whale and includes interesting information about the largest whales that swim in the North Atlantic Ocean.

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© 2024 Direct Learning Systems, Inc. All rights reserved. 

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