It’s Author Interview Thursday and I’m so glad you’ve taken out time to join me today. As you may already know, today is World Book Day and it was interesting seeing all the children dressed up as different literary characters on my way to drop off my bambinos at school. And what better day to have a children’s book author remind us why the written word matters. Today’s special guest was introduced to me by C.L. Murphy who was on the hotseat a few weeks ago. In the weeks leading up to today’s interview, I’ve been impressed with her passion to see literacy levels increase in children. Her blog contains lots of good stuff plus interviews with children book authors. Her book covers make you take a second look and she has loads of fans in different countries across the world. Without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming Kristen Lamb.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
This is the part where I want to tell you lots of exciting things, but the truth is―I’m just a simple gal from the San Francisco Bay Area. As an indie writer I find joy in telling my stories and seeing the smiles they produce on a child’s face. I am a wife, mother, and business woman that lives a quiet life. My adventurous side finds peace hiking through the Yosemite Valley and my playful side can be found hanging out with Goofy and Mickey at the “Happiest Place on Earth.” Most importantly, I am always thankful for each new day’s dawn and the promises it brings. I believe it is important to be grateful.
Tell us about the first time someone complemented you on something you had written?
Surprisingly, I remember quite well the “moment” I was complimented on my writings and the feeling it evoked. The details are a little more fuzzy. I was in grammar school and it was first or second grade. We had an assignment where we had to write a story and then make it into a bound book using material, cardboard, and book binding tape. I was so enthralled with the project, I asked my teacher if I could make two books. Our class “literary masterpieces” were proudly displayed at Parents Night. I can still remember the feeling inside when my teacher smiled down at me that night and then told my parents that someday I was going to be a writer. There was a feeling that radiated from somewhere deep inside of me that seemed to concur with her prediction.
What were some of your favourite books as a child?
When I was very young, I loved my big red book of nursery rhymes. The book was bigger than I was at the time! I’d drag it around everywhere. Then of course, I had my all-time favourite Dumbo. It was more of a treasured memory in that my grandmother (who lived next door) would always tuck me in and read it to me. She must have been so tired of that story! But I loved our routine. She would tuck me in, read me the book, and finally sing me Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah before kissing me goodnight. How could that book not be my favourite?
Oh my, now the truth comes out. The quirkier side of me loved gothic horror. Yes. I admit it. When I was really young I loved the gothic comic books. As an advanced reader, I moved on to novels rather quickly such as Frankenstein, Dracula and countless others. Of course those were contraband that I kept at my grandmother’s house. To be honest, my love of these books probably also relates to the fact that my grandmother and I would always watch the old black & white “B” horror movies together. I loved cuddling up with her as we munched on popcorn and drank Dr. Pepper. For me, the stories were never scary because they came from a safe place.
When at home I would read my favourite Nancy Drew mysteries and other childhood books. I loved Little Women, Red Badge of Courage, Diary of Ann Frank and the classics. The genres I enjoyed varied greatly. Luckily, my grandmother was an avid reader who shared her love of literature with me so my supply of books was endless.
You have currently published three books in the Dani P. Mystery series. Was it a conscious decision to write a series and what led you to do it?
The birth of Dani P. Mystery started out as a short story. It was a gift of love to my daughter. Dani, the protagonist in my series, is loosely based on my daughter and it was created specifically for her when she was seven years old.
When I became an ‘empty nester’ my family encouraged me to publish one of my stories. I always thought someday I would, but then they challenged me to make it a reality. I had worked on several projects and could have released any one of them, but in my heart I knew it had to be Dani P. It is then that I decided to create the series and share Dani’s adventures with other children.
As you mentioned there are currently three books in the series: Dani and the Haunted House (1st edition), Dani and the Mall Caper (1st edition), and Dani and the Rocking Horse Ranch. There will be more books available in the future and I look forward to seeing what Dani gets into next! The important thing to know about the books is that I always try and include some kind of message in the story, in a subtle way that promotes self-esteem or life lessons. And although the books are part of a series, they can be read independently in any order.
What have you found to be a successful way to market your books?
Gasp. I have not begun marketing! You mean there’s more to it than just writing a book? Okay, so that’s my humour showing through. As any indie writer will probably tell you, writing a book is the easy part! Marketing is what drains your life away.
In truth, I really haven’t begun marketing my books yet. I made a conscious decision not to until I had three books in which to market. I feel it is important, especially when doing a children’s series, to have more than one book available to a child before getting them “hooked.” Right now I do have three books available on Amazon, but I am in the process of having the first two books re-illustrated by my amazing new illustrator, Katrina Glidewell. When the first three books are complete with all new illustrations, then I will begin marketing. As it is, I get inquiries all the time asking me when the next Dani P. book will be released. This is an incredible feeling, but at the same time I don’t want to let the kids down by not having the next book immediately available, which is why we are still on the soft release without a big marketing campaign.
In the meantime, I am getting out there and letting people meet Dani. I’m connecting with teachers, parents, and children. I’m slowly building the platform to (hopefully) make her a success. We have our website, Facebook Page, and Twitter account where we can interact with her readers. One of the things I have thoroughly enjoyed is the communication I’ve had between the parents/children and teachers. They make each day brighter with their notes, their pictures, and feedback. We even have a new feature on our website where we are tracking where Dani has visited. Our readers are notifying us when Dani “visits” them and we are marking those visits on our world map. We look forward to expanding the map as more people learn of this feature!
I really like your book covers as they stand out. What advice would you offer other children authors with regard to working with an illustrator for illustrations and book covers?
There are several factors one needs to consider when deciding upon an illustrator! My first piece of advice would be to take your time. Don’t rush. We all get so excited when we write that story and we want to see it brought to life, but it is so important to wait for the right illustrator to come along.
It is also important to shop around. Spend the money to get several concept pieces done from different illustrators. Who best understands your vision? Can you communicate well with them? Do they respond? All of these are key factors. And ultimately, put your agreement in writing. It is crucial for both parties to have a clear understanding of each other’s expectations.
A writer must also focus on the reality of the situation: what can you afford? Personally, I don’t expect to make a profit from my books. It would be wonderful if I did, but it isn’t the reason I write. I write for children. To share the gift of reading. However, you have to be realistic that the overall cost of production is within means to produce and sustain. Ask yourself the hard questions and be prepared to answer it honestly.
Do you think social media is a waste of time and how has it helped or hurt you as a writer?
I absolutely do not believe social media is a waste of time. But that does not mean it equates to book sales either. Social media is a wonderful way to connect with readers, parents, teachers, and other authors. The relationships, and even friendships, I’ve built from social media cannot be depreciated because they don’t bring in sales. Never underestimate the power of human connections and their true worth.
As an author friend of mine says, social media is a “time vortex.” Time disappears when on these sites. It is important to monitor the time you are investing in them and balance that out with productive time. It is all about accountability to yourself, and ultimately, to your writing.
What tips do you have for writing good dialogue?
Honesty. I believe it is simple. Become your character. Would a character on a page really speak the same in real life? And don’t forget to listen. The world is a wonderful place to learn if you’re willing to be a sponge. Soak it all up. Then pour it all onto the page through your writing.
Is there a particular book or film that inspires you to be a better writer and why?
Hopefully this doesn’t come out the wrong way, but I don’t want to be inspired by a book or a film. I want my inspiration to come from within. I want it to be genuine, and me.
I do have a book that has inspired me, but not as a writer―as a person. Many years ago, a client brought in a book for everyone in our office. He said he had received it as a gift and it moved him so much, that he bought dozens of books to share with others. The book was The Ultimate Gift by Jim Stovall. I easily understood why it moved him as it struck a chord within me as well. Truth be told, I bought several copies of it myself and shared with family members.
You’ve got a friend in me….Toy Story. I love the entire dynamic between Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and Andy. In today’s life too many things are disposable and friendship shouldn’t be one of them. There is always room in our heart for one more. Although, I am a person that values genuine friendship over acquaintances. My grandmother always taught me that it is better to have a few true friendships than a multitude of false ones. It is all about quality over quantity.
What three things should a first time visitor to your city/town do?
Living in the San Francisco Bay Area there is never a loss of things to do, whether it is taking in the theatre, strolling through Golden Gate Park, visiting Napa Valley, or heading out to the ballpark!
The possibilities are as varied as the personalities that visit! There is truly something for everyone. Of course, you can always visit one of the many libraries!
What can we expect from Kristen Lamb in the next 12 months?
In addition to re-releasing the first two books, it is my hope to have the next two books in the Dani P. Mystery series released as well. The fourth book in the series is Dani and the Hidden Treasure and the fifth book is Dani and the Magician. That is a lot to accomplish in such a short period of time, but I like setting goals. It is always good to be striving toward something.
Where can readers and fans connect with you?
I love connecting with Dani’s readers! You can find us at:
www.twitter.com/danipmystery or @danipmystery
Any advice for authors out there who are either just starting out or getting frustrated with the industry?
Decide whether you want to be an indie author or publish traditionally. Then have patience. Being a writer isn’t glamorous. It takes a lot of hard work, even longer hours, and it doesn’t happen overnight. But if you have a voice that demands to be heard, it is worth it.
Thanks for sharing so much with us today Kristen. I really loved the tips you gave on working with an illustrator and how we shouldn’t rush into working with the first person who comes along. As its World Book Day, I’d like to encourage everyone to checkout Kristen’s page on Amazon or any other retailer of your choice and pick up one of her books. We’d also love to hear any questions or comments you may have and as always do share this interview on your social networks.
Really fun and interesting interview! I enjoyed reading every bit.
Thanks Jamie. It was fun having Kristen on the hot seat and answering all my questions.
Thank you, Jamie! I appreciate your support and for reading the article. I had a lot of fun participating.
Super duper interview, David! As you know, we’re big fans of K. and her mystery series.
Thank you, C.L.– and Lobo!
We are big fans of yours, too! I hope everyone will take a moment to read your author interview as well. Another insightful interview by David.
Thanks for stopping by today Cathy. Muchos muchos gracias for introducing me to Kristen. You have to agree she did have some mouth-watering, tasty nuggets of wisdom to share today. 🙂
Thank you, David. I’ll take that as a high compliment coming from you. I wish you every success in your own endeavors and look forward to staying in contact in the future.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank David for inviting me to participate in this interview. It is always such an enjoyable process meeting other authors and answering their questions and gleaming information from them as well. David was a pleasure to work with during this process.
Also, what an honor that my Author Interview fell on World Book Day! I’d like to call on everyone to please read with a child. Not just for World Book Day, but every day. Their future success depends upon it!
Thank you everyone for stopping by today…now go out and celebrate! What book will YOU choose?
It really was a delight having you today and its super cool it fell on World Book Day. Guess what? I actually downloaded a copy of Dani and the Haunted House to my Kindle and will be reading it with my daughter tonight. Happy World Book Day!
Thank you, David! You brought a smile to my face this morning thinking of a father and daughter reading together. How appropriate for World Book Day! Although I’m sure that happens A LOT in your household.
Here’s a tidbit: All subscribers of http://www.danipmystery.com receive a free downloadable coloring book of Dani and the Rocking Horse Ranch. Your daughter might enjoy the activity. And don’t worry, we do not pester our readers with emails. At most, maybe only 3-4 per year and we keep all email addresses completely confidential.
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the book!
Great interview, Kristen and David!
Kristen, I look forward to the next Dani P books.
Thank you, Kim! As an author yourself, you know how much goes into this process. (Check out Kim’s book: Oh, Brother! A Nico and Tugger Tale) But it is always a labor of love. The opportunity to share our books and the gift of reading is priceless and worth all the effort!
I’ll keep you posted on the new releases!
Thanks again! 🙂
Thanks for stooping by Kimberly. I’m so glad you liked our interview.
What an outstanding interview, David! I thoroughly enjoyed it, thank you! It was fun to learn more about Kristen and the practical advice she shares. My daughter (and now several of her friends!)is a huge fan of The Dani P. Mystery Series and she thinks that Dani is “pretty cool”! Thanks for sharing this interview with everyone!
Thank you, Donna! I truly appreciate your support and your little Gomee Girl’s as well! I am glad she and her friends are enjoying Dani’s adventures. Dani thinks you are all “pretty cool,” too!
I appreciate you stopping by and reading the article!
Thanks Donna. Kristen made it an epic Author Interview Thursday.
Thank you David for this awesome interview with such a beautiful, talented, and authentic Author, Kristen Lamb. I’ve been following her on Twitter & FB. After reading this interview, I feel like I’ve known you my whole life, Kristen! I am an aspiring author and you have inspired me so much to keep writing! I am so looking forward to buying your whole series for my grandchildren! Much Success to you Always! Happy World Book Day Everyone!
Thanks Jeanne. Your kind words are much appreciated. Kristen rocks! Wishing you all the best with your books.
Thank you, Jeanne. Your words are so moving and appreciated. May I just say, don’t ever give up on your dream. It is a slow process, one I am still wading through, but no journey is without trials and tribulations. In the end, we are stronger for it.
I have enjoyed connecting with you through social media and look forward to watching your dreams come true!
Wishing you all the best!
Wonderful interview. K. Lamb is amazing. My daughter is a major Dani P. Fan! Even dresses up like her! The plot line drew her in and never let her down. She is a 3rd grader testing at a higher then 10th grade reading level, so keeping her drawn in sometimes is hard to find in age appropriate books. Dani P. Always keeps her entertained and wanting more. Looking forward to more adventures with Dani P.
Your words go straight to my heart. I am so happy your daughter has found a friend in Dani P!
My daughter was also an advanced readers at a very early age so I know the difficulties you face in presenting your daughter with enough of a challenge to keep her invested in reading appropriate material. I am so happy we could help fulfill that role! It is one of the reasons I feel it is so important to throw “challenge words” at children. They are smart and capable of learning them at an early age.
The idea that your daughter dresses up as Dani P. brings an instant smile to my face. It means we are doing something right if she feels that kind of connection with Dani. Thank you for sharing that with us!
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to our website, http://www.danipmystery.com. If you subscribe, we will send your daughter a downloadable coloring book of Dani and the Rocking Horse Ranch. I promise, we don’t pester our subscribers! Also, we welcome photos (or just let us know what State or Country you’re from) for our Around the World Map!
Wishing you the very best!
Such a fun interview! I’ve caught a few of your interviews, but it is always a pleasure to learn more about one of my favorite children’s lit authors. Great, engaging questions and answers 🙂
I loved reading “Camp Counselor” in your name. It is such a vital role in any community. Keep up the good work in mentoring today’s youth and inspiring their young minds.
Thank you for following my interviews! It means so much to me that you are keeping tabs on Dani’s progress and that you consider me one of your “favorite children’s lit authors!” I hope I can do your faith in me justice! Stay tuned, because there is more exciting adventure coming your way from the Dani P. Mystery series!
I look forward to connecting on the next round. Until then, wishing you all the best!
Your kind words are much appreciated. You are every author’s dream! Watch out for more Dani Mysteries as I know Kristen has so many more adventures with Dani to share.
What a great interview! I really enjoy finding out more about who is behind the stories.
Thank you, Barbara. David asked some great questions, which made them easy to answer. I appreciate your taking the time to read & comment! I hope you will continue to follow the Dani P. Mystery series.
Thanks Barbara! That is what I really look forward to when I do these interviews – getting to know the storyteller behind the story. Kristen’s definitely convinced me to visit her neck of the woods if and when I’m in San Francisco.