Sunday, June 26, 2016

Straight from the Mouth of Children's Author Michelle Nott

Michelle Nott's debut early reader book is entitled FREDDY, HOPPIE AND THE EYEGLASSES. It can be purchased directly from the publisher through this link, or on Amazon, B&N, or at any bookstore.

Previously a French teacher (pre-K to University levels), Michelle is currently an author and freelance editor. After living over 11 years in Belgium, she currently resides in Texas with her husband and two daughters.

Michelle is a member of SCBWI, CBI, and Houston Writer's Guild. She has recently signed with Essie White at Storm Literary Agency.

Connect with Michelle on the net: 

Thanks for letting us interrogate you!  Can you give us a go-for-the-gut answer as to why you wanted to be an author?

I wanted to be an author because stories can be life-changing. I wanted to write stories from which someone, even one person, could benefit.

I also find writing great fun and had a lot of practice making up stories in my head as a child. I remember long car rides to my grandparents' houses, or down to South Carolina (from Ohio) when there wasn't anything else to do but stare out the window. Inventing characters and scenarios entertained me and helped pass the time.

Tell us (we won’t tell promise!) is it all it’s cracked up to be?  I mean what are the perks and what are the demands?

Anything you're passionate about is “all it's cracked up to be.” The perks of writing is, of course, writing. The days that I have huge blocks of time to write scenes or to research are my favorite. For me, the “demands” are the business side of it all. But even that I do not necessarily mind. As I used to be a teacher, I enjoy being around people, especially little people, doing interviews, school visits, and author signings.

Which route did you take – traditional or self-published – and can you give us the nitty gritty low down on what’s that like?

I took the traditional route. And that route is often the slowest. But, I did not want to be in charge of finding an illustrator, editor, printer, etc. My main goal was to write. So, for me, I needed to find a publisher, which I successfully did with the help and advice of the great writers I know in SCBWI.

Also, I have recently signed with Essie White at Storm Literary to represent my future picture books. I feel like my work is in very good hands to find the best publishing home.

Tell us for real what your family feels about you spending so much time getting your book written, polished, edited, formatted, published, what have you?

I had to ask my family this question! Overall, they agreed that it was great that I could do something I enjoyed. Plus, it works out very well that I do most of my writing while my daughters are at school. After a short break when they get home to spend some catch-up time about how their day went, we all get back to work on homework or whatever is on my laptop. Then, I'm usually caught up enough by dinnertime to enjoy a relaxing meal with my family. Family time is very important to us, and my writing schedule seems to work out best for everyone.

Do your pets actually get their food on time or do they have to wait until you type just one more word?

I don't have a pet, but sometimes my family has to wait for dinner. And more than one pot has boiled over while I had to stop and jot down an idea for  a scene. ;)

What about your plants? Are they actually still alive?

Luckily, my husband tends to the plants. I love them, but my thumbs are not green.

In writing your book, how did you deal with the phone ringing, your family needing dinner or your boss calling you saying you’re late?

I let the phone ring whenever I can. Caller ID is helpful in those circumstances. But, I always answer the phone if it's the school calling.

As for my family needing dinner, no one has officially starved. But dinner has been late on occasion. Or, I have had to change my menu plan to something quicker to prepare.

What was the craziest or insane thing that happened to you in the book publishing process?

I can't think of anything too insane... But what felt like a bit crazy at first is how long it takes for a book to get out. Between signing my contract and having the finished book in my hands took about 3 and a half years. Although now that I know everything that goes into that finished product, I understand why it does seem to take forever.

How about the social networks?  Which ones do you believe help and which ones do you wish you could avoid?

The best social networks, for me, are organizations that promote and educate on children's literature. My main ones are SCBWI and Children's Book Insider. I also have a nice critique group through the Houston Writer's Guild, which is for authors of all types of literature. All of these groups offer great ways to meet other people in the publishing industry through conferences, critique groups, monthly meetings, workshops and webinars.

As for social media, I tend to lean toward Facebook and Twitter as they are the most helpful and easiest for me in order to reach out and to connect with people. I am very new on Instagram but am curious to see how it could be advantageous.

Book sales.  Don’t you just love them (or lack of?)?  How are you making the sales happen for you?

As mentioned in the previous answer, social networking face-to-face or on-line has been a huge help. I also enjoy book signings and author visits. Children love to be able to match an author's face with a book cover.

What is one thing you’d like to jump on the rooftop and scream about?

We Need Diverse Books!

I grew up in a very typical American suburban environment. To meet anyone different from myself, I had to go off to college and then study abroad. However, my children have grown up in Belgium with a very diverse group of classmates and friends from all over the world who speak several languages and with various beliefs and home lives. Their “normal” is so different than what I experienced at their ages, and I see how so much diversity has benefitted them. I wish more people could experience first-hand the beauty of the diverse world we live in. But that's not always easily accessible.

Readers do need to see themselves in literature but just as importantly, they need to be exposed to other people, places, and stories they may never experience otherwise outside of books.

Okay, too much sugar for you today!  Here’s a nice cup of Chamomile tea and come on over and sit under the cabana and watch the waves roll in.  Now…can you tell us what you love about being a published author and how all those things above don’t matter because it’s all part of the whole scheme of things and you wouldn’t have it any other way?

Yes! What I love most about being an author is reliving my 3rd grade self the moment I held my very own book in my hands (written by me, bound together by the room mothers with cereal boxes and fabric scraps) and thought, “This is what I want to do. I want to write books.”  There is a very special feeling that comes from seeing a child enjoy my book. It means I've done something right.

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