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Thursday
Mar072013

Can You Connect Zoos, Princesses, and Fairies?

Have you ever read and book and thought of a million questions you would like to ask the author?

My six-year old daughter always has lots of questions!

After we finished reading Out and About at the Zoo by Jo Linsdell, we noticed that she has a new book that has just come out called Fairy May.

Right now my daughter is pretty obsessed with princesses and fairies, especially the tooth fairy!

So when we got to join the Fairy May tour and ask that author some questions, my daughter started out by asking the ones that mattered to her:

  • How do you write these books? I usually start by brainstorming an idea. I jot down notes and do a few sketches and then once I have a rough outline of where the story could go I develop the characters and work on the text. In the case of Fairy May, a rhyming book, I needed to make sure the verses rhymed but also that they followed the story. You can’t just insert a word because it rhymes ;) When I have the first draft written I work on editing it until I’m happy with the final text. I always ask others to read it for me. It’s good to have others read it to do some copy-editing (this is basically when they look at the structure of the story and tell you what works and any changes you could make to make it better) and others who proofread it (checking for spelling and grammatical errors). With Fairy May I ended up rewriting the last part of the text after my copy-editor looked at it. It was a simple case of making it more about achieving her goal as opposed to passing the test. It really helped give the book the right direction.
  • What do you do to think of these books? I’m a mum to a 17 month old and a 5 year old and so I get a lot of ideas from playing with them but also from reading books and watching cartoons. I’m lucky as get to try out ideas on them to see what works best ;)
  • I love the tooth fairy! What can you tell me about your new book? I’m glad you like her :) Fairy May is a fairy who dreams of one day becoming a tooth fairy but she struggles at school and always seems to get things wrong. With hard work and determination she prepares for her test and proves that just because some things are difficult doesn’t mean you can’t achieve them.

Then I got to ask my questions!

  • What are things you would like for us to know about you? As well as my books, freelance writing and blogging I also organise an annual online event for people in the writing industry called Promo Day. This years event takes place on Saturday 25th May and will have some great presenters offering information and tips on a variety of topics. It’s completely free to attend too and open to everyone. you just need to register at www.PromoDay.info. During the event there are also areas where you can promote your work and network with other attendees. Several publishing companies take part each year and are often on the look out for new talent and many attendees have found new promotional  opportunities and paid writing jobs from past events.
  • You mention in an earlier interview  that you “could go on about how writing for children is not a simple task” and I would love to know more about this. A lot of people assume that writing for children is easy when it can actually be quite complicated. You have to consider several elements when writing for children; using suitable words for the readers age and level of understanding, text is limited and so every word counts, it has to be a good “read aloud”… In the case of rhyming books you have the added issue of finding the right words to fit the rhyme and story. Then you need to think about the illustrations. Even if you don’t do the illustrations yourself they are an important part of a children’s book and so you need to make sure text and images are balanced well through out the book. 
  • You proudly claim to be a social media junky. Why do you enjoy using social media so much? What benefits do you see? How has social media changed things for you? I LOVE social media! It’s great to be just a click away from everyone. I use my social media sites for keeping in touch with friends, building my professional network, connecting with clients, getting to know other writers and learning from how they promote their work. It allows me to study new ways of marketing, share my content (I’m also an avid blogger) and build my online reputation. As a British author living in Italy it’s really made things easier for me as far as marketing goes. I can easily build connections and grow my network with people from all over the world via my profiles and this has had a clear effect on my sales and the success of any promotional offers I’ve done.
  • In  a past interview, you share how you enjoy experimenting with writing and trying out new genres, what have you learned from exploring this way? I’m a hands on type of learner and so the best way for me to gain new skills in to jump in the deep end. It can take longer to master everything but at the end I have a more practical in depth knowledge of all the elements involved once I’ve finished. A different approach needs to be taken to different genres and different issues need to be addressed for each one. The same for the different book formats (print and kindle have different requirements when it comes to formatting). Through experimenting with different genres I’ve discovered that my strong points are rhyming children’s picture story books and non-fiction. I’ve also discovered that when it comes to writing fiction I’m a lot more critical of my work. I’ve been working on a chick-lit for a while now and keep going back to edit it. even with my short stories I’ve discovered that I’m more reserved about writing “The End”. I think it comes down to a personal perception of being judged by others. With non-fiction they can like or not like how you present the information.With fiction it’s more personal as you become more involved with your characters and so you care more what people think of them. I’ve also learnt that just because you have success in one genre it doesn’t mean you can’t have even more success in another. The first books I published were non-fiction and did well but it was my children’s picture story book Out and About at the Zoo that became a best seller.
  • Are there any connections between the animals in Out and About at the Zoo and the characters in Fairy May? No the two books are unrelated. They do have the rhyming text in common but that’s about it.
  • How did writing Fairy May compare to writing Out and About at the Zoo? Out and About at the Zoo was a fun book about discovering the different animals at the zoo and carried the message of spending quality time together as a family. Fairy May is about realising your dreams and not giving up. It also hints at the importance of dental hygiene. When writing Out and About at the Zoo I based the story on the first time I took my eldest son to the zoo. The animals are some of those we actually saw. The crocodile moving in the water and giving him a fright actually happened. From that point of view it was easier to write than Fairy May. Fairy May is all from my imagination.
  • What are some unexpected things you learned while writing Fairy May? The importance of having the right direction for my story not just a good text. In the original version the text worked fine as a story and rhymed nicely but the overall message wasn’t as strong. After rewriting the last part I was much happier with the focus of the story. Simple changes can make a big difference.
  • What role does creativity play in your life? A huge part! When I’m not writing or illustrating I’m playing with my kids. Our favourite games are the creative ones. We make houses using blankets, construct castles out of old toilet rolls and boxes, do painting and drawing, make stuff out of modelling clay… we even make our own pizzas sometimes and decorate them with funny faces and other designs. Creativity is part of our way of life.
  • What are things you do to encourage your own creative thinking? I’m always trying new things and this helps to keep me inspired. I read a lot. I do creative projects with my kids. Creativity breeds creativity.

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