It’s Author Interview Thursday and I hope you’ve loved all the authors who’ve featured on this blog over the past few months. If you or an author you know are passionate about writing, then get in touch via the Contact us page and let’s help share your/their story with the world. And unto today’s main event. Today’s featured author in the hot seat lives in Australia and is steadily building her author profile on the social networks and through blogging plus her fun Sci-Fi book series. I’ve started reading her second book and the opening page absolutely blew me away. I love the fact she generously goes out of her way to help other authors by giving them a platform on her blog. She has so much to share with us today so please join me in welcoming Julie Grasso.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you ended up being a children’s book author?
My background is in pediatric nursing. I spent many years literally wrapping children in cotton wool. Every day I witnessed great courage and resilience from the tiny people I cared for, which inspired me to write stories about a little girl elf just like them. Add in some very funky technology, my love of science fiction and a desire to impart great values through my little girl elf named Caramel and there you have it, The Adventures Of Caramel Cardamom trilogy was the result.
What can a reader expect when they pick up a Julie Anne Grasso book?
Oommm Telepathic elves, evil clones oh and chocolate cake. I have been told that people crave pizza and chocolate whilst reading my books. But seriously you will find a fun family focused adventure, 100% suitable for ages 9-12.
What was the inspiration behind the Caramel Cinnamon character in your science fiction series and can you take us through the writing process from getting the idea for the book to the characters, theme, dialogue, plot, setting etc.
When I was in high school the kids used to call me Pixi because I am pretty small in stature and I have fairly elf like features. As I mentioned before I am also a pediatric nurse and I have used a lot of nerdy medical technology over the years. I decided I wanted to write a story about elves that have special healing abilities. I am a cupcake enthusiast so naturally I had to have them in my books. I purposefully made Caramel have a disability, because I have seen so many children come from the most impossible accidents, back to happy healthy and capable children, despite their disability. That is something that I wanted to impart in my books.
Before I started writing, I read a few books “How to” write a children’s books that were a great guide for what to do and what not to do as a first time author. I wrote a first draft which took me about 8 months, then had it critiqued by a manuscript service. That was both sobering and incredibly helpful and what began a process of revision over the next year.
The themes of my book are courage, persistence, loyalty, overcoming physical boundaries and using your gifts to the best of your ability. I don’t think I have any particular method of writing. I just write what I think my characters would say when faced with a situation.
What in your opinion makes a great science fiction book?
A book that transports me to another world, with impossible technology and characters with outrageous abilities, that are so well written that I believe every word is possible.
How do you handle bad reviews?
Laugh, cry, eat a cupcake, cry, laugh, try to learn from it, but in the end, let it go and move on to the next project determined to make it better.
What has been your most successful marketing method for promoting your books?
A year ago I would have said Amazon Select program utilizing Free promotional days. It gained me readers and exposure. Now I feel a bit jaded about the program, as the advertising post free promo’s doesn’t yield the sales that it used to. I will say, connecting with people. Be it on a blog tour, blog hop, Facebook, or in person giving your card to someone. I believe relationship is the key to gaining readers.
Julie you have a very popular blog visited by authors and readers alike. For indie authors out there looking to start a blog, what 3 tips can you give them to attract more visitors to their blog?
I think that might be in overstatement re: popularity lol. I started blogging, just to put my thoughts down. Then I connected with the Kid Lit Blog Hop over at www.motherdaughterbookreviews.com
I began linking in and meeting other bloggers, authors and readers, and it just grew from there.
My tips would be, start getting connected. Post about things other than your books most of the time. Post reviews about books you love or are reading with your kids. Draw people to your blog, but while they are there, have some information about your books. My blog is very simple, but you can find my website, my social medial links and even some printable materials to accompany my books there.
What were some of your favorite books as a child?
You know I was actually quite a reluctant reader as a child so I will have to say in my teens, Anne McCaffrey’s The Rowan series.
What mistake(s) have you made while publishing your books that you would advise other authors against?
For my first book, I didn’t realize how editing and proof reading are two different things and equally important. I have had my share of tears and re-loading to Amazon after some proofing errors were pointed out.
How do you reward yourself on completing a book or achieving a specific publishing goal?
Oh dear, cupcakes and a chai late. I don’t think I really reward myself as I see writing and marketing as a marathon. It doesn’t stop with one success, as they are often fleeting and overnight. I did make it to #1 on Amazon for Sci-Fi Kids for a few days, so I am sure I had several cupcakes that day.
Oh, I want to answer the Disney/Pixar, version. LOL, Favorite movie would be “Meet The Robinsons” I mean, it has time machines, and evil villains, just my style. Second I would say the movie “Up” It is fantastic for so many reasons. Favorite Sci-Fi, I would have to say it’s not a movie but a series. I am a serious “Fringe” addict.
What should a first time visitor to Melbourne, Australia do while there?
A first time visitor to Australia I would say, Australia Zoo, as it is in my home town of Brisbane and it is fabulous. First time visitor to Melbourne, ooh, that’s a tough one, probably visit Miss Marples Tea Room in the Dandenong ranges. It has delicious treats including a sundae the size of your head, dripping with chocolate and cream and caramel…..
What can we expect from Julie Grasso in the next 12 months?
I am very excited as my next project is a middle grade mystery that will have chapter illustrations. Stay tuned for “Frankie Dupont And The Mystery Of Enderby Manor”…. Early 2014. For The Adventures Of Caramel Cardamom, I have the final book which I am editing at the moment, so stay tuned for “Stellarcadia” due out mid 2014.
I am also going to do two conferences in Melbourne and Sydney next year. Supernova (a nerdy sci-fi conference) and Book Expo where I will be exhibiting my paperbacks for sale. But that’ not all, he he, we will be dressed as Elves, have life size Caramel cutouts, we will be giving away Caramel taffy and all book purchases will have the chance to go in the draw to win a scooter during the conferences. I can’t wait…
Where can fans and readers of your books discover more about you and connect with you?
Goodreads Book 2 http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18167976-return-to-cardamom
As I said before, publishing no matter if it is Indie or Traditional is a marathon, and you are the only one that can truly run the race. Be persistent and motivated to commit to your writing and marketing every day. But most of all, eat lots of cupcakes.
Thanks for taking the time to share with us today Julie. I really found much value in your statement that this publishing game is a marathon. I think about someone like Stephen King who spent a couple of years in obscurity before he had his major breakthrough with Carrie. If he had given up after his first rejection letter, what a tragedy that would have been. Julie has so much going on at her blog and you can grab a copy of one of her books at her Amazon page below.