Jan. 30, 2015
We are delighted to introduce Carrie Charley Brown, founder of the REFOREMO Challenge (Reading for Research Month) a Picture Book Panelist for the CYBILS awards, mom and educator. Be sure to enter the Rafflecopter at the end of the interview to win a picture book critique from Carrie!
Tell us about your background and how you came to write for children.
I’ve always been someone who thrives on creativity and the arts. Whether it was drama, storytelling, crafts, or vocal music, I felt connected to the art of creating. I also loved working with children and I knew I would discover an avenue that offered it all as an elementary teacher. During my studies, I took a Children’s Literature class, where I wrote and illustrated my first picture book. I made it a goal to publish one day. My teaching years allowed me the opportunity to study the picture book form up close and personal. My favorite part of the day was always the drama and expression surrounding storytime.
Then, one day in 2010, the writing ideas started pouring out of me. They hit me on the way to work as I was driving 70 mph down the highway! I hate to admit it, but I was that crazy driver writing feverishly on my steering wheel! I’d grab whatever napkin or receipt I could find, and scribble notes while attempting to keep my eyes on the road! But, with such a demanding schedule already, the ideas got stuffed into a notebook for a later date. After two years, the notebook began to burst and my ideas couldn’t wait any longer. With a supportive husband behind me, I left my teaching career in 2012 and wrote full-time for an entire year. Even though I had to return to the classroom in 2013, I continued writing and developing a plan to succeed in the kid lit world. In 2014, I opened a part-time tutoring business, along with online KidLit Services, which enable me to write full-time again.
What projects are you working on now?
After just completing my responsibilities as a Round One Fiction Picture Book Panelist for the CYBILS awards, I’ve taken on the full-time project of creating a new writing challenge for picture book writers. ReFoReMo, or Reading for Research Month, will encourage participants to consistently read picture books as mentor texts. In fact, we’ll do it together, with a goal of reading 105 books within the month-long event. Author-educators will provide useful tips to guide us, along with current stellar picture book recommendations. Registering for the event enables chances to win prizes and opt for entry into a private Facebook Group, where we will discuss revelations as we read.
Outside of ReFoReMo, I divide my time between consistent picture book writing (at least one new picture book manuscript per month), revising, and submissions. I have a Picture Book Critique Service which combines the 20 years of experience I have as an educator with my writing background. I also publish lots of new content for my own blog and others, such as Writer’s Rumpus, Kids Are Writers, and Petite ReviMo to name a few. And in those spare moments (if there is such a thing), I create video for other KidLit authors through my KidLit Video Production Service.
What is your typical process for writing?
Unfortunately, I am a work-a-holic. My writing process is hard to turn off. I am constantly involved in some component of writing or KidLit and I love every minute of it. I work an average of 12 hours a day on writing or writing related activities. I thrive on multi-tasking and keeping busy, but one of my goals for this new year is to learn to take breaks! If anyone has suggestions on how to break a work-a-holic, leave me a comment below.
In the spirit of ReFoReMo, I will offer one component from my revision process:
After I have an idea, I research to see what else has been done on the subject. Like many writers, I scour Amazon to see which titles strike a similar concept or theme. Then, I take it a step further and check out lots of those books from the library. I analyze the mentor texts to understand how picture book elements work for great authors and how their concept differs from mine. From the outside looking in, people may not think fiction takes research, but it absolutely does. For more details about my process, check out the guest post I wrote for Petite ReviMo, and consider joining us for ReFoReMo, where lots of mentor text information will be shared.
Where can people find you on the internet?
A little bit of everywhere? While there are a few social media avenues I have not yet explored, I am readily available in a wide variety of places. My personal Facebook page is a mixed bag, but I am a member of many Facebook writing communities that explore writing in different ways. I reserve Twitter, Google +, Pinterest, and Linked In soley for writing-related purposes. A full collection of my own KidLit videos can be found on my YouTube Channel. Of course, my blogsite, Carrie On…Together!, is open to the public and shares tons of great author interviews and writing resources, as well as the KidLit Services I offer to other authors. It is also the home of ReFoReMo.
What is one thing people don't know about you?
People have asked me how I came up with my name. That’s just what happens when a Charley marries a Brown! It really is my name. ☺
Most would not know that I have Cinderella, little orphan Duffy, and Aunt Eller on my acting resume. Ironically, I played in YOU’RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWN, too. (Carrie Charley Brown meets Charlie Brown!) At one point, I planned on triple majoring in theatre, music, and elementary education. As much as I loved performing, I now have to challenge myself to speak in front of others. (Although, I’m perfectly comfortable hamming up a planned video performance.) Others may view me as an extrovert when I am really an introvert. It must have been all that acting experience! I plan to challenge myself to take part in community theatre again one day.
Carrie Charley Brown juggles ideas every day as a children’s writer, teacher, blogger, and mom. She is the founder of the 2015 ReFoReMo Challenge, or Reading for Research Month. You can learn more about Carrie’s writing journey, her KidLit Services, ReFoReMo, and many other amazing authors and resources, at her blogsite Carrie On… Together!