We’re back. After a week off catching my breath and getting ready for the London Book Fair which I’ll talk about in another post over the weekend, I’m happy to say that AUTHOR INTERVIEW THURSDAY is back! This week in the hot seat we have a lady whose passion for education and increasing the literacy levels in toddlers and young children is so clear to see. It was an absolute pleasure getting to know Marta Alexander and I’m sure you’ll agree with me by the end of this interview. Without further ado, let’s welcome Marta.
Tell us about your latest book and what format is it available in?
I have recently published a series of books entitled “Dolch Sight Words Series.” It was inspired by my niece who was learning to read and needed an easy-to-use learning tool. The series includes six books for budding readers. The books will suit the needs of both kindergarteners and younger children as well.
The whole series is available on Amazon in Kindle version. However, paper versions may come out on the market shortly.
The books in the series are:
What other picture books have you written?
I have also written “Two Dinos Buy Perfume: A Silly Counting Book for Boys and Girls” that was actually the first book I published. I thoroughly enjoyed writing it. As soon as I finished it, I wanted to write more! It is a rhymed story about kitties, dinosaurs, penguins, lions, puppies, monkeys, pigs, bears, spiders and frogs. I love educational books so I couldn’t help myself but incorporate a learning factor into it as well. These fun stories help little ones practice maths skills by counting
their favorite animals.
What can a reader expect when they pick up a Marta Alexander book?
Learning while having fun. I have earned a Master’s Degree in Teaching English so creating educational books is a natural thing for me. I strongly believe children acquire knowledge through fun. That is why I always make sure my readers learn something useful while simply enjoying themselves through colorful illustrations or silly rhymes.
What has been the most successful way of promoting your books?
So far, giving away my book for free as a limited-time offer has been most successful. I have enrolled all my books into Amazon’s KDP Select program which lets anyone download my work for free if I run a promotion. The book is being exposed to millions of Amazon customers which eventually leads to a more successful promotion.
What do you love best about being a children’s book author?
No boundaries. Children have amazing imagination that lets them visualize things that are incomprehensible for adults. I love the fact that I can write the silliest idea ever and it fits right in. Children are great readers!
Where do you usually write your books?
I love to write my books on the balcony while enjoying the warm sun of California. I am usually accompanied by my two cats who are not particularly interested in my writing process. They prefer basking in the sun instead.
What is the process from when you get an idea for a book to the point it gets published?
I usually have a brainstorming session prior to getting down to writing. I love this stage as I can put down any idea which comes to my mind – again, no boundaries. Then I create a tentative draft that is rewritten multiple times. Unfortunately, I am a perfectionist, that is why I spend a considerably longer time making corrections than writing the book itself. I pay close attention to proper formatting as I understand that a great book with poor formatting will not appeal to anyone, no matter what the age of the reader is.
What mistake(s) have you made publishing your books you would advise others against?
I had this idea of a cover in my mind. I thought it looked perfect. However, while outsourcing the cover creation to a graphic designer, I didn’t explain what I had in mind in sufficient detail. When I received the cover, it was absolutely the opposite of what I envisioned. I had to have the cover completely redone which meant spending more time and money.
Do you believe in writer’s block and what do you do to overcome it?
To be honest, I don’t experience it too often. When I do, I use the advice of my Writing professor – I write whatever comes to my mind, no matter how silly it is. In most cases, the text immediately goes to trash but it may sometimes happen that I come across an idea which proves to be a game changer. What I struggle with more than writer’s block, is a lack of time. I find it really hard to set aside regular time for writing. I try to juggle the duties of my day job with writing, formatting, creating covers and publishing books. It may sometimes be overwhelming to the point that you find yourself in a situation where you have absolutely no time to write.
What were some of your favourite books as a kid?
I loved Grimm’s fairy tales. Ever since the teacher in kindergarten read one of the stories in class, I nagged my Parents to read all of them to me as often as possible. I think these fairy tales tremendously developed my imagination. I still keep some images in my head that I visualized while listening to Grimm’s fairy tales.
Congratulations Marta on recently getting married. Does your husband help with your writing projects or do you show him the door when you’re in ‘the zone’?
Thank you very much! I am fortunate enough to be working from home so I usually try to write when my husband is at work. I love to write in a quiet environment where nobody or nothing disturbs me. As you can see, my husband doesn’t get involved with my writing process. However, I think he may be a great writer so I nag him every day to start writing his own books. I’ll keep you posted!
What was your best memory from your wedding day?
I will never forget the glow on my fiancé’s face when we saw each other for the first time on our wedding day. I loved that grin and I will never forget it!
Toy Story or Shrek?
Tough choice. I will probably go for Shrek because I’ve seen all Shrek movies multiple times. I find myself quoting Donkey a lot!
Which are scarier, dragons or monsters?
Dragons. They have the ability to burn you before you get to know them better. Monsters are scary but sometimes they turn out to be good. The spooky part of their personality was only our imagination.
What are your best memories from your childhood?
My Parents used to read to me a lot. We had tons of books and I probably had all of them memorized (I know my Parents did!). I’ve always been a bookworm, which is why I believe listening to stories is the best memory from my childhood. I believe bedtime stories create a wonderful link between parents and their children.
Apart from English are there any other languages you speak?
Besides English, I speak Polish and Russian. Polish is my mother tongue and I learned Russian in college.
Do you have any plans to write any children’s books in Polish?
I would love to translate some of my books into Polish, but, believe it or not, I find it easier to write in English! Polish is a tricky language which makes it tougher to write rhyming stories. However, I hope one day in the future I will get a chance to translate my books into Polish. It would be very exciting!
What can we expect from Marta Alexander in 2013?
More educational books. I strongly believe learning doesn’t have to be boring and I want to prove it in my books. That is why I would like to focus on learning needs of preschoolers and elementary school children. However, I’m thinking of venturing out to teenage fiction as well!
Anything else that you’d like to add?
I would like to thank all readers who reviewed my books on Amazon or contacted me via email with their feedback. I absolutely love hearing from you and your kids because I write for them. Every time I read a positive opinion about my books, it always makes my day! I would also like to tell aspiring authors or those who think of becoming an author that dreams come true. Do not hesitate! Just sit down at the desk and start writing. With enough perseverance, you will put your books on Amazon too and proudly relate to yourself as a ‘published author’. Good luck!
Thanks Marta for taking the time today to share with us. I really love the fact that you brought our attention back to the primary reason we do what we do as children’s authors – getting children to enjoy reading. You currently have eight books published on your Amazon author page. Something tells me that number is going to increase exponentially in the next few months and years and Marta Alexander’s fan base will continue to grow and grow!
You can see all Marta’s books by visiting her Amazon author page at the link below