Tuesday, October 13, 2009
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.
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.