Today we feature the incredibly talented Ana Crespo in the KidLit411author spotlight! Ana is the author of THE SOCK THIEF which was just released by Albert Whitman & Company. Ana has some great giveaways for you!
- A signed copy of THE SOCK THIEF
- A free written critique of a PB manuscript followed by a phone call! and
- A "free pass" submission to her editor, Kelly Barrales-Saylor, at Albert Whitman & Company!
Tell us about your background and how you came to write for children.
I used to work as an Academic Advisor at a small Indiana University campus, where I met many wonderful people If we had stayed in Indiana, I probably would never have become a children’s writer, because I would still be an Academic Advisor. I truly loved my job! However, we moved to Colorado.
For a while, I had my own translation company, translating works from English to Portuguese and vice-versa. It was BORING (yes, with all capitals).
To have fun, I started writing stories for kids. Stories had been floating in my mind since I started reading again (read about how I became a reader here), but it had been a long time since I had written anything.
When I was a new mom, it was very hard to find stories featuring Brazilian characters, so that was my initial focus. In 2012, I started pursuing a career as a children’s book writer. That same year I attended the local SCBWI conference just to learn how much I didn’t know about the industry. I spent an entire year working on my craft, learning about the publishing world, submitting my work, and receiving many rejections.
In 2013, I attended the same conference again and met my editor. She bought THE SOCK THIEF, which was just released by Albert Whitman & Company. A few months later, she bought four more manuscripts.
What projects are you working on now?
Oh, I am working on so many things. Right now, I am marketing THE SOCK THIEF, contacting and visiting schools, attending conferences, developing my website, and a few other things. It’s a lot of work!
In addition, I am working on my next books – JP AND THE GIANT OCTOPUS and JP AND THE POLKA-DOTTED ALIENS (beautifully illustrated by Erica Sirotich–see what JP looks like here). So exciting! Also, I am working on new manuscripts. I have a few ones ready and have been submitting them. I don’t have an agent, which makes the submission process difficult and, often, pretty frustrating.
When is your next project due out?
That would be the JP series. The two first books come out in September 2015. The other two are tentatively scheduled for March 2016 and September 2016. The books tell the story of JP, a young boy whose vivacious imagination causes him to struggle with his feelings. But, as the reader will find out, if managed well, JP’s imagination can be lots of fun.
What is your typical process for writing?
This is probably the hardest question you could ask me. I hate routine and the word ‘process’ makes me itchy, so I had to think carefully about how to answer this one. And the funny thing is that I might actually have a process.
First, I need to have the TV on. I know this is probably weird, but I can’t work in complete silence. Also, although people say that you shouldn’t worry about writing a perfect first draft, I do. I rarely write down a story until I have a plot in my mind. And, if I need to write it down because I am afraid I might forget it, I write down my first thoughts about the plot and not the actual story.
When I finally have a plot figured out, I write down my first draft. I read and reread it a few times that same day. I ALWAYS read it aloud. Sometimes I even play with page breaks, because they help me figure out what is missing in the story. Then, I let it be for a week or so.
When I pick it up again, I usually make more changes and more changes until I feel the story is perfect. And, usually, that’s when I take it to my critique group. They will notice things I hadn’t noticed and the editing process will start again.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Well, although I am published, I do not have an agent, so a lot of what I do is what I think every aspiring author should be doing.
The first thing is to work on your craft (by attending workshops, conferences, being a member of a critique group and, of course, practicing).
The second thing is to network. The problem is that networking can be expensive. While it is relatively easy to find free online opportunities for professional development, finding free networking opportunities is not. I, for instance, cannot afford to attend those extremely attractive weeklong retreats or workshops. (If you can, make sure you do! I hear they are amazing.) Therefore, my networking is usually limited to the local SCBWI conference and I try to take full advantage of it. I pay for critiques, post-conference workshops, and anything else that will give me the chance to spend some time with industry professionals.
Where can people find you on the internet?
Life has been so busy lately that I haven’t been keeping up with social media. Right now, I am on Twitter (@AnaCrespoBooks), and on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/AnaCrespoBooks). Follow me and like me! I don’t usually write blog posts, but I have a blog (http://booksbyanacrespo.blogspot.com). I also have a Pinterest account, which I never use. With THE SOCK THIEF out, though, I might start pinning. Of course, you can also find me through my website (www.anacrespobooks.com), which I try hard to keep up-to-date. And you can find me on Pinterest!
What is one thing people don't know about you?
People probably don’t know that I collect bobbleheads. It all started with Dwight, from The Office. My co-workers and I used to watch episodes of The Office during lunchtime and Dwight was our favorite character. When I left, they gave me a Dwight bobblehead. Now I have nine bobbleheads and I am always looking for more.
Ana Crespo likes to pretend she is wise just because she has all four wisdom teeth. However, it's not really her wisdom that makes her a picture book writer – it's her wild imagination (or her silliness, as some people like to call it.) Wise or not, silly or not, Ana is lucky to have a career that allows her to keep imagining way beyond her childhood years. Ana lives in Colorado with her family.
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