Carmella Van Vleet
I'm a former elementary teacher who has been writing full-time for the last twenty years. My debut children's novel, Eliza Bing Is (Not) A Big, Fat Quitter, received a Christopher Award and was nominated to four state award lists. And my debut picture book, To the Stars! The A First American Woman to Walk in Space, was on the 2017 Amelia Bloomer list. I like lists, cooking shows, taekwondo, and Pez dispensers - but not necessarily in that order.
Why I became a children's book author
From a very young age, I wanted to be a writer. The reason for this is simple: I loved to read. Reading was like magic! I'd read a book and wonder how an author created such a real character or captured an emotion perfectly or carried me away to a new place. And just like you might wonder how a magician pulls off a trick, I wanted to figure out how to do that. When I write, I think about the kind of books I would have liked to read as a kid.
I'm especially fond of The Monster At the End of This Book. It's one of the first books I remember my mom reading to me. I also love Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. (I even have an Alexander tattoo!)
I very proud of my middle grade novel, Eliza Bing Is (Not) A Big, Fat Quitter. It was inspired by my daughter who has ADHD and our experiences training in taekwondo. Eliza's voice was so much fun to listen to!
I'm a full-time writer so I have the whole day to work. My most productive time seems to be the afternoon into early evening. This was a challenge when my kids were little because it meant dinner was sometimes late.
I think the best way to find your personal style, or voice, is to write. And then write some more. Your voice will start to shine through. And once you find your voice, embrace it!
I like practice martial arts, watch baking shows, and explore photography. I love to read, of course, too,
Make books available at all times. Give books as gifts. Read with your children. And let them see you reading for enjoyment, too.
I have a critique group, but I tend to test out my ideas on my family more often. This worked better when my kids were little, but they're still (mostly) game to let me bounce ideas off them even though they're all adults now. After having an author mom for most of their lives, they're actually pretty good at knowing if something is or isn't working.