Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Guest Author - Carol Zelaya

Cheryl Malandrinos of Pump Up Your Book Promotion recently introduced me to Carol Zelaya and I've had the honor of interviewing Carol. Zelaya lives and writes in the Portland, OR area. She has written Emily’s story in hope of educating children about nature’s precious gifts that are all around us when we take the time to notice.

Zelaya is touring the Pacific Northwest in 2008 and is donating signed copies of her book to several low-income neighborhood schools and libraries to share her love of reading and nature.

Welcome Carol:

DMc: What or whom inspired you to start writing for children?

CZ: A tiny little chickadee bird taught me so much about nesting and how she cared for her baby birds that I was excited to share this experience with children by writing my books.

DMc: What is the most valuable piece of writing advice you have ever received?

CZ: Not to assume that if you write it people will buy it. You have to be contributing something very special to the competitive world of children’s books.

DMc: What has been your most memorable experience in your writing career?

CZ: I love it when I go to visit grammar schools to read my books to an auditorium full of children or simply a single classroom. The children ask the best questions and want to share their own bird experiences afterward. One time, as I was leaving the school and was already walking through the outside play area, one of the children stopped me and introduced me as a real author to her friend. I was very touched by this.

DMc: Are you a disciplined writer?

CZ: Yes, once I get going on something, I have trouble stopping. I like to see the first draft done as soon as possible and then work from there.

DMc: What kind of obstacles or challenges have you experienced as a children’s writer?

CZ: The world of publishing and marketing my books, to hopefully get them on book store shelves, was Greek to me. This is something I knew absolutely nothing about. All I can say is that hiring experienced people in the book field is money well spent. Another challenge has been getting into bookstores to even do a story time reading. I was frequently rejected on my own, but the media company I hired was more successful.

DMc: Do you dedicate your writing sessions to one manuscript at a time or do you work on several projects at a time?

CZ: One manuscript at a time. I’m strictly a one at a time girl and like to finish what I start. I feel a sense of accomplishment at the end, even though I know I will be doing at least one hundred more readings.

DMc: Please share with us your inspiration behind your series Emily the Chickadee.

CZ: This is a true story that actually happened to me about seven years ago when a little chickadee bird repeatedly made her nest in the most unusual places like my flower box, flower pots and even the wreath on my front door. I realized in speaking to others that this was not normal chickadee behavior. I knew there was something special about her and that she must have felt safe with me. I named the bird Emily and wanted to share her story with others, especially children. I knew that if I learned so much from watching her, hopefully children would as well. Nature is a wonderful teacher!

DMc: If you were not a writer, what would you be?

CZ: I haven’t the slightest idea because I always felt that I was chosen by Emily to tell her story. It wasn’t something that I just decided to do, that is, to write these children’s books, but now that I have, there is nothing more that I would like to continue doing.

DMc: A signature request I like to ask every author, illustrator, editor, etc., I interview is for the individual to share with us a tidbit from their lives that the reader will find either humorous or surprising. Carol, can you please share one with us?

CZ: My mother’s name was Lee, short for Leona. Her brother, my uncle Rich, passed away shortly after my mom. I started my own publishing company, Richlee Publishing, in their honor. Neither of them lived long enough to read my children’s books, but I hope that I have made them proud. My husband and biggest supporter actually passed away suddenly last November as well. Had it not been for my scheduled work commitments surrounding my books, I don’t know how I would have made it through this past year. I felt blessed to have begun this journey and was committed to seeing it through to the end…finish what you start.

DMc: Where can our readers visit you?

CZ: Please invite your readers to visit my website: http://www.emilythechickadee.com/.

It is full of educational information for children and they can also see a nest of real chickadee eggs hatching into real baby birds. There is also a contest for children to enter to win a toy chickadee in a monthly drawing.

My books are available at http://www.amazon.com/ and also can be ordered into any bookstore.

Carol it was a pleasure interviewing you. I look forward to sharing your books with my 5 year old niece.


  1. I am a one book woman too, Carol. Thanks for sharing.

  2. We have birds who nest on our porch every year. Last year, the nest was used twice, and it was fun to watch the little ones open their big 'ole beaks, waiting for food from their mama.

  3. Carol:

    It's a pleasure to have you hear today. I look forward to your check-in.


  4. Thanks for hosting Carol today!


  5. What a wonderful interview. It is inspiring to hear of someone succesful with their own publishing company too. Thanks for the interview and the information.



Thank for you taking the time out to visit with me and to learn about my writing career.

Please be sure to leave your blog address so I can reciprocate.

I look forward to visiting you too.