Carmella Van Vleet
children's author and part-time ninja
Everywhere. You just have to open your eyes and look at the world in a different way. My stories are sparked by all kinds of things: words, conversations, news stories, museum exhibits, other people’s books or articles. For example, my book CLEANING DAY AT THE FIREHOUSE was inspired by a field trip I took with my son. ELIZA BING IS (NOT) A BIG FAT QUITTER was inspired by my daughter and our experiences in taekwondo class.
If I say “Pretty please” will you send me an autographed book?
Nope. Not even if you say “Pretty please with sugar on top.” One of the most surprising things about being published is how many people ask if I will give them a book. I wish I could. Honest. But I have to buy my own copies, too! I’m happy to send autographed bookplates or bookmarks, though. Contact me via my [A note to those looking for a donation: I know there are many wonderful causes out there, but I am unable to donate books or my time to everyone, so please don't ask. I love to "pay it forward" but I also prefer to help organizations and people who are already near and dear to my heart. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.]
Okay. So you won’t give me a book. Where can I buy one?
My books are available online and at traditional bookstores. You can also purchase them through many, terrific independent bookstores such as:
Be sure to check out your local, independent bookstores, too. They rock!
I’m a writer. How do I get started?
Wow. Good question. And a tough one since every writer I know pretty much took a different path. First, READ! Like all the time. Second, WRITE. Every day - even if it’s just in your head. And don’t worry if it isn’t any good. Consider it practice. Third, take yourself seriously. If you treat yourself like a real writer and tell people you’re a writer, then eventually you will see yourself that way and so will other people. And finally, if you want to be published, learn about the business. Here are a few great places to get started:
I’m a kid who writes. Any advice?
Read. Write. Read and write some more. The sites listed above are for grown-ups, but there’s a lot of great information if you’re willing to look for it. You can also check out these books:
THE YOUNG WRITER'S GUIDE TO GETTING PUBLISHED by Kathy Henderson
SPILLING INK: A YOUNG WRITER'S HANDBOOK by Ellen Potter
WRITING MAGIC: CREATING STORIES THAT FLY by Gail Carson Levine
RIP THE PAGE! ADVENTURES IN CREATIVE WRITING by Karen Benke
Do you still get rejections?
All the time. They are just part of the business. Try not to take them personally. Cry a little, stomp your feet or have some chocolate chip cookie dough and then move on.
Will you critique my story or help me publish my book?
Sorry. I just don’t have the time to read manuscripts from people outside of my small critique circle. The same goes for helping you find a publisher. Besides, where’s the fun in that? I’m happy to point fellow writers toward some trail markers, but half the fun is creating your own trail.
Are you famous? Do you know anyone famous?
I’ve never been recognized on the street. On occasion, people have recognized my book covers or name, though. I know lots and lots of writers - meaning I’ve exchanged emails with them or spoke with them in person at a conference or event. We don’t hang out at the mall together. Although...a gaggle of children’s writers crashing the Food Court would be kind of cool. Some writers I know have won prestigious awards and sold gobs of books but none of them are J.K. Rowling or Stephenie Meyer!
Why should I wear a helmet?
To protect your brain! Duh! Look, I know helmets aren’t always cool and you think you don’t really need them (especially you grownups), but they save lives. In September 2003, I was in a serious bike accident. After hitting the back tire of my son’s bike, I went over my handlebars and landed on my head. I was knocked unconscious and rushed to the hospital. It happened so quickly; I don’t even remember falling. I didn’t break any bones, but I needed stitches. And, worst of all, it took six months to fully recover from the head injury. It only takes a moment to change your life, so please always wear your helmet! Your brain will thank you.