Tell us about the genre of your work.
I am actually a travel writer, but our cat, a stray we found as a kitten behind the garage, is such a character that I thought she would make a fun subject for children. I plan to have a series of Miss Moo books.
Why did you choose this genre?
Well, I think it chose me! As I said before my first love is travel writing, but our cat is such a character. She chose us rather than we chose her, and I feel that the book happened the same way. When you see a good thing, you go with it. Speaking of the cat, she is on my desk right now, and as I type, she gently puts her paw on the keyboard. I feel another story coming on…
What are some of your books, stories that have been published?
Outside of the book, I have been published by Islands Magazine, Go World Travel and International Living. I also write weekly articles for Examiner.com. I am the International Pet Examiner, which combines my love of animals and travel. I most recently wrote about an animal shelter in Esslingen, Germany. In addition, just for fun, I am a website blogger for the TV show, Drinking Made Easy with Zane Lamprey (Wednesday nights on HD Net).
What ages do you direct your books?
Miss Moo is for really young children, those just learning to read so preschool to fourth grade. However, I am finding out that many adult cat lovers really seem to enjoy it too.
Tell us more about your book.
Morning, Miss Moo is the story of an ornery cat. She is on a mission to get her breakfast and will do whatever it takes; including slapping her mother’s face…and it actually works.
Morning, Miss Moo (ISBN 978-1-4269-1879-7) is available in hardcopy online from Amazon and Barnes and Noble and is available in store at all three Tattered Cover Book Stores of Denver. Hardcopies can also be purchased directly from me though Miss Moo’s Blog and if you do, they are autographed with Miss Moo’s paw print! So cute! Recently it became available in digital format for the Kindle, Nook and the iPhone and iPad for only $1.99.
Do your books have a teaching objective? If so, what is it?
Yes! The point of my story is that even though our pets, and our kids, may do something naughty, which does not mean we, their parents, love them any less. The idea is that kids will see themselves in Miss Moo or perhaps see their own pets or younger siblings in a different light.
How do you come up with the names of places and characters in your books?
Funny you should ask because Miss Moo is not actually our cat’s name. It is one of a dozen nicknames we have for her. Miss Moo is the one I chose for the book because when she meows, it sounds more like a high-pitched ‘moo’ instead. She is also black and white like a dairy cow. I thought kids would get a kick out of that. The other name in the book, The Blonde, is what I think she would call me if she could talk. In the next book, she will be wreaking havoc on my husband and his character name is “The Big Guy!”
How did you develop the character/s of your in each of your books?
Everything is based on the cat’s personality so I did not really develop very much. You could say I cheated because it was already there.
What is your favorite thing about your book/s?
Besides my cat - who I think is absolutely adorable - I really like the illustrations that Roxanne Macke created. She was able to use digital photos of my cat and incorporate them into her drawings. I also like the colors she came up with in her artwork. I told her I wanted bright colors, but not primary colors, and she knew exactly what I meant.
Is your book illustrated? If so, would you tell us by whom, and if you worked with an illustrator, can you discuss that experience?
My illustrator is Roxanne Macke, who is a graphic artist and painter, and we met through a mutual friend. We were both unemployed at the time and working on a children’s book combined both our talents. We both love animals too.
How is writing in the genre you write, different than other genre?
Children’s lit is a lot harder than people think. I got a lot of advice from my four-year-old nephew. Children’s books are meant to be read aloud and, although they do not necessarily need to rhyme, there should be some sort of cadence to them. Moreover, if they are read by little tongues, they should be easily understood and spoken.
Are there any problems in getting children’s’ books published?
Yes! It is a very competitive area. That is why I self-published, but even that was difficult. Delay after delay after delay.
Why and when did you begin writing?
I have been writing since 4th grade! OK, seriously, about the last six years I have been pursuing it professionally. People forget there is a big difference between being a writer and getting published. I have been a writer for over 20 years. I have been a published author for only six.
What is your writing schedule?
Whenever I have time, however, I do make it a point to have a large chunk of time available for writing, whether it is a Tuesday morning, a Wednesday afternoon or even a Saturday night. I also plan these blocks in advance. To truly get into a groove, you need a large chunk of time. You do not want to be writing something really special and then have to go to the dentist or something. Nothing kills creativity like having to quit in the middle of it.
What projects are you working on now, or plan for the future?
I am planning my second Miss Moo book for spring 2012. I will also have a second travel piece for Go World this summer. Moreover, this is in addition to my weekly work at Examiner and Drinking Made Easy.
What kind of advice or tips to you have for someone who wants to write and get published?
Do not ever stop writing. One of the reasons I write for the internet is the practice. Just like any skill, you have to keep doing it to get better. However, writing is the easy part. Getting published is a whole other story. You have to sell yourself as well as your writing. Do the work! Get names and personalize your pitches to that person as much as possible. Generic submissions will get you nowhere. I spend as much time writing submissions as I do writing articles.
What do you do when you are not writing?
Besides Miss Moo, we have two dogs and I love them spending time with them. My husband and I enjoy hiking in the beautiful Colorado Mountains, playing golf and volleyball and we go bowling on occasion. I also volunteer weekly at Foothills Animal Shelter. My favorite thing to do is travel. They say to write what you love and I love travel and animals. It is a strange combination, but it works for me.
Anything else you would like to add?
Nothing gets my creativity going like jogging, which is strange because I am not much of a runner. I run a thirteen-minute mile or something like that, which is horrible. However, nothing clears my head like going for a jog on a sunny morning. I do most of my writing on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays and try to go running before just to get my head in that space. I think every writer has that something that gets him or her going. You just have to find what it is.
What “Made It” moments have you experienced in life?
My first was getting that email from Adrienne at Islands, my favorite magazine. That was definitely a ‘woohoo’ moment. However, my latest and greatest thrill was when I gave my first Miss Moo reading to children at an event last February and all the kids loved it! That keeps me going.
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