Recently, my children and I have had the opportunity to read HEADACHE, the sequel to the highly entertaining middle grade book, BELLYACHE. We are so thrilled to have had the opportunity to ask the author, Crystal Marcos, questions about herself, her books BELLYACHE and HEADACHE, and her experiences writing and publishing. Please check out our review of the book BELLACHE and our review of book HEADACHE for more information about these fantastic books. Also, make sure you don’t miss the opportunity to win signed print copies of both books by entering our BOOK GIVEAWAY.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I am a mommy to a little girl who just turned 3. We just celebrated her birthday Saturday. I have a large family so it was a big event. We had so much fun! My husband and I enjoy raising our daughter here in the Pacific North West. A few things I enjoy are: reading, writing, creating, playing games, and baking.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I have wanted to be a writer since I can remember. I did go through phases where I wanted to be an actress or a singer. I guess I always knew I wanted to entertain. Writing allows me to create.
What are some of your favourite books from when you were a child and did any of these inspire you when writing BELLYACHE and HEADACHE?
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Pickles to Pittsburgh, Bread and Jam for Frances, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Socks for Supper, and many more. Are you starting to see a trend here? I really liked books that feature food and I still do! Yes, these stories definitely played a part in my writing BELLYACHE and HEADACHE. I wanted to write something that I would have loved reading as a child and something I would want to read now.
When did you first start writing BELLYACHE and when did you finish? HEADACHE?
It took me four years to write BELLYACHE. Of course, I got married, moved, and changed careers, and had a baby, all in that time period. HEADACHE as a smoother process. I didn’t have as much going on in my personal life and I had one book published. I knew a little more about what I was doing so it only took me a year to finish.
How did you come up with all the different Candonites? Were they based on your favorite candies, sweets, and pastries?
I had so much fun coming up with the different Candonites. I even visited candy stores, bakeries, and looked at aisles in the grocery store that contained sweets. I think it is important to experience what you are writing about if it is possible. I did include some sweets that family members and I enjoy.
(From the Kids): We saw the pictures of the peppermint cats on your website (www.crystalmarcos.com). Can you put pictures of other Candonites too please? Oh, and Goaltan and the Peblars too?
That is a future project. I have had a number of people ask about a version for younger children. I am in discussions about a picture book version of BELLYACHE. Condensing the book into 32 pages will be fun and also challenging.
How do you manage to juggle raising a small child, writing books, and all the other normal everyday grown-up responsibilities?
It is hard at times, I will admit, but there is one decision that is never hard and that is that my daughter and family come first. I have a lifetime to write but not a lifetime to enjoy the early years of my little girl’s life. She is only this age once. I mostly write or work when she is napping or turned in for the night. It makes for late nights. Sometimes she comes to my book signings with me. She loves books so she can browse while I work.
Can you tell us about the challenges you faced in getting BELLYACHE and HEADACHE published? How have you marketed the two books? What works? What’s a bust?
I went the non-traditional publishing route with the books. It turned out to be a great decision seeing as how my first book was nominated for the 2010 CYBILS (Children’s and Young Adults Bloggers’ Literary) Award (http://www.cybils.com/) and won a 2011 Readers Favorite Silver Award in its category (http://readersfavorite.com/review/3380).
I mostly market via social media, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, etc. I have tried many forms of marketing and found that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get people to take notice of your book. Bloggers are a powerful source of getting the word out about an author’s book and if they really love it they let everyone know! And I do mean everyone! =)
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
I guess it would have to be that the book doesn’t contain illustrations. I intentionally did this because I wanted kids to use their imaginations. What they could envision would be more fantastic than any pictures drawn in the books. The best compliment is how my books have made non-readers readers. I can’t tell you how this makes me feel. I could say amazing but I’m not sure there is a word in the English language that would do it justice.
What books are you reading right now? What do you like to do when you are not writing or reading?
I am currently listening to an audio book, The Kingdom Keepers: Disney After Dark by Ridley Pearson. We recently took a trip to Disneyland so I thought it would be fun to listen to. I am also reading Chompby Carl Hiaasen. I am enjoying them both.
(From the Kids): Is there a third book coming? What does the future hold for you?
Yes, there is definitely a third and final book in the series. It is planned as a prequel. I am currently working on a Young Adult book. I have many books planned and I am always creating in my head. Maybe that is why I smile so often. =)
What advice would you give someone aspiring to write a children’s book?
My advice would be to actually write it. Many people say I would love to write a book someday. But then don’t do it. Finish writing that book and then go from there. Don’t keep saying, “Someday, I’d like to write a children’s book.” Why not say, “I have written a children’s book!”
**Please visit Crystal Marcos at her website, www.crystalmarcos.com for more information.**
BELLYACHE AND HEADACHE BOOK GIVEAWAY
** Make sure to enter our BOOK GIVEAWAY for your chance to win signed print copies of the fabulous children’s books BELLYACHE and HEADACHE by Crystal Marcos. **